Make a $200 "tactical" flashlight for about $15

Picture of Make a $200
Are y'all aware that flashlights can cost $200, $300, or more? I always thought Maglite was the top of the line, but nooOOOOoooo! Briefly check out these tactical flashlights to see what I'm talking about. AND DON'T FORGET TO HIT THE BACK BUTTON TO COME BACK HERE.

I got interested in high powered flashlights through a friend who had discovered them. All I could do was dream of the bright light, until, while surfing the Internet I came across the Candlepower forums. is where they talk flashlights and make-over flashlight projects. The projects range from changing the bulb out to rewiring and adding logic circuits. After plenty of reading I came away with a plan to get started and build this simple but very bright flashlight.

This flashlight has most of the guts of a $200 model. I like this flashlight better than the $200 models because it is much lighter weight and if it gets lost, I won't feel too bad about the cost. This one is much brighter than anything you can get under $100 and almost as bright as the really expensive ones. I made mine in an hour.

What makes a $200 flashlight worth the money? First of all their major customer is the Federal Government. The US Army, Marines, FBI, and all the police departments around the country use these lights. So supply and demand is what keeps the cost high.

What makes a tactical flashlight so nice? As the Surefire advertising says...

SureFire, the tactical technology company developed Special Operations Lights for law enforcement and military applications where intensely bright light is used to startle, disorient, and control anyone on the receiving end, and where hard use in tough environments is expected. Featuring optically coated and tempered Pyrex lenses and Mil-Spec Type III hard-anodized finishes, these flashlights also have an internal shock isolation system to cushion the lamp assembly against impact, plus double O-ring seals for redundant moisture protection.

How does mine compare? Well, it has an intensely bright light which will startle, disorient, and control anyone on the receiving end (and you can see what varmint is making all the noise in the dark). Mine is not for use in tough environment, does not have shock absorbers, O-rings, Pyrex lens or an anodized finish. Basically all it has is that intensely bright light thing going for it, oh, and mine is intensely inexpensive.

Mine has a very bright spot, good projection, no visual "artifact," batteries last a decent time, and it will clip right onto your rifle. Actually mine won't clip to your rifle, but is very light weight, will hang from a tree, and did I mention inexpensive. In fact this one is made from one of the cheapest lights I could find, so it is not going to attract the attention of someone looking to steal your very cool high powered beam.

In order to make this light, you need a cheap flashlight body, new bulb, new batteries, and a custom made battery holder.
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bikemike55526 days ago
This is interesting, but I feel it's pretty far reaching to call it a tactical flashlight. Anyway, you can find a T6 led drop in for $7 on ebay and a host body on Solarforce's website for $11, that's a "tactical" light.
tiredlumens3 months ago
I modded a old Coleman night sight 2d flashlight with basically the same concept but instead of 3 a123 lithium batts I used 6 aa nimh rechargeable batts in series with some battery adaptors. I used the same bulb as in kipkays and your mods and all I can say is WOW!! Haha that cheap little krypton bulb can really pump out some lumens when it is overcharged a bit with good batts. Defiantly not as good as halogen and xenon bulbs but it really impressed me. Nice instructable!!
Squidyman7 months ago


I always wanted to mod my flashlight after going on a Boy Scout campout and my light was pathetically dim. Now I can *attempt* not to blind anyone with my really awesome flashlight! (that probably cost less than everyone else's as well) Thanks for the tutorial :)

Gogo1878 months ago

Nope, check your dates kids, Kipkay did it *after* this one. No need to get petty about it. We're all a family here, learning from each other. Competition need no be a part of that.

I did this just to get familiar with it and it was easy peasy. Nice and bright - not too hot yet.


davin3121 year ago
I bought a fenix pd32 that was far less than 200$. Surefire is overpriced for what you get and other flashlight brands like fenix or 4sevens are reasonably priced
dchall8 (author)  davin3121 year ago
Yes prices have fallen considerably over the 6 years since I posted this. I'm buying my torches from Sam's Club, 2 for $20. They are so much better than my Instructable, but back at the time, this was a pretty good hack.
londobali2 years ago
Nice 'ible!
am following you... :)
lloydrmc2 years ago
Nice job!
SIRJAMES092 years ago
AWESOME!! Loved reading this one!!
TY for sharing Sir!! :)
bahi3 years ago
Useful and well done instructable, thanks.
Oimi3 years ago
Is it possible to make something equally bright using the same steps or similar with LEDs?
dchall8 (author)  Oimi3 years ago
I'm sure it is. I was looking at that technology when I first wrote that Instructable, but it was a little beyond my scope. Look around for more on that topic.
Oimi dchall83 years ago
Damn, maybe someone else can share their thoughts/experience?
sunshiine3 years ago
I love this! Super to share with all my guys! Thanks for sharing.
kwknowles3 years ago
Got a good flashlight at the thrift store for a buck. Had the other parts except batteries and bulbs. Local hardware store had Maglite replacement bubbles for 6-Cell C & D. 2 Krypton for $5 (I put the spare in the little clamp under the reflector). Got curious though and bought the Xenon for $4. It's much brighter and of course more bluish. I love this flashlight! Excellent Instructable!
555mst5554 years ago
lol...kipkay hack, anyways, i tried this on an everready torchlight and it worked briliantly, but the heat from the bulb had nowhere to go, and beacuse the body is made out of plastic, there's no proper heatsink. and after a few months, it stopped working, for no apparent reason. But i suspect that the major cause is because it doesnt have a proper heatsink.
dchall8 (author)  555mst5554 years ago
I melted one with Kipkay's design, too. There are pictures somewhere buried in the replies to his Instructable. Mine has the metal spacer for the battery which apparently does absorb some/dissipate some heat.
is the light emitted stronger than the bulb that comes with the torch im looking for a high power torch i can go shooting wit at night im from ireland so battery sizes are different
poppyo4 years ago
I read this a few yrs back it seems. Also one for a smaller 5-6 " version that didn't require the PVC, & adapter, but DID require that one hollowed out the barrel w/ a 5/8" drill bit (not a spade as I discovered). I found that Ray-O-Vac didn't make tha smaller version w. a reg bulb, but an LED instead. I did find an EverReady, which I still have, and a version like it @ Sears. Can't find either anymore. But I have found $2 -5.00 flashlites I have converted to 9V "torches". Except, I couldn't leave them on more than a few seconds at a time to get a quick glance around, as they would melt the reflector. AND shut themselves down. I just recently thot, and took the plastic lense off the front to let it breathe, and have had no problem since. I "grooves me out" to find a nicer, rubber-coated sometimes, flashlite for $5.oo & make it into one that will lite up the house down the street, or temp blind someone, or find a contact or glasses screw on the floor. Then I found a small version of the Army flashlite which has the reflector at a right angle to the body @ an Army/Navy store for $5.00 and the 3V batts. fit w/o adaption. !
spartan19964 years ago
great instructable I was about to spend £60 (it costs $60 aswell) on a flash light for airsoft but now im definatly making this maybe even try a kipkay style idea and hook it up to a laser tripwire on my house lol we have had 2 atemmpted burgalrys in 3 weeks lol.
Shadow13!4 years ago
You could use this instructable to make it into a bright scuba light, although I don't know what affect it will have on the brightness and it will make it heavier.
P.S. This instructable is not mine.
E_MAN4 years ago
Why don't you just use a 9v battery???
And this is a good idea. I will try it!
dchall8 (author)  E_MAN4 years ago
If a 9-volt would fit into the little flashlight, then yes.
julian_blnc4 years ago
How many lumens does the flashlight give off?
dchall8 (author)  julian_blnc4 years ago
I can't measure lumens. All I know is what you see in the images. If someone made me guess I'd say about 100. That's based on comparison with the Maglight and several 150-lumen flashlights I've owned.
Ive done this before, way cool.
TOCO4 years ago
Well, sorry to give you all of that grief. I guess that yours was before kipkay.
hey, didn't kipkay already do this?
dchall8 (author)  jsimon19434 years ago
At the risk of looking defensive, Kipkay published his flashlight mod after mine. In fact he credited me for the inspiration in his Instructable
dchall8 (author)  solarblade904 years ago
Yes, sort of. Kipkay "already" did his two days after I posted mine.
couple questions. do i need an aluminum refletor and glass lense to do this? whats the run time on this? will the bulb fit a maglite
dchall8 (author)  unaffiliatedperson4 years ago
These lights run hot. Every bulb is a little different. The cheap light I started with was all plastic and seems to have lasted. If you look at Kipkay's Instructable that he published a couple days after mine, he used a different flashlight body. I tried it and melted the bulb holder beyond use. Look at the comments after Kipkay's flashlight post and you'll see the pictures of my melted light.
TOCO4 years ago
Good instructable but it doesnt count if you copy kipkay.
dchall8 (author)  TOCO4 years ago
Check the dates. Kipkay was inspired by my Instructable to make his.
Nerfball64 years ago
 Could you have used smaller diameter washers that fit inside the pvc pipe, and then cut the pipe longer? No need to glue and would still be centered (provided the pvc is centered).
dchall8 (author)  Nerfball64 years ago
That's a great idea!  I think it would work fine and be much faster and easier to make.  Remember to wrap the outside of the pipe with rubber bands or something to help center it inside the flashlight. 
Colonel885 years ago
Won't the light burn out becasue it is rated for 7.2 volts and you put in 9?
dchall8 (author)  Colonel885 years ago
There is some tolerance for overvoltage in most bulbs.  Otherwise they would all have a very short life.  I have had bulbs simply flash on and burn out but not all of them do.  I usually buy 2 at a time. 
Kasaron dchall84 years ago
Why not jam a resistor in there?
Coffee bean5 years ago
 Great Mod. I personally still prefer my Fenix l2d, only $55. However this would make a great light you can had to a young kid. I would be a little nervous to hand my Fenix to a 5 year old.
I'm going camping in Colorado in a few weeks and I think you just solved my flashlight issue. This project will be useful!!
Grey_Wolfe6 years ago
Think, I'll go with a twelve volt bulb, and either use four 123's if they'll fit, or use three A23's and parallel them for more battery life. At least this way, I don't need a logic circuit to keep from killing someone. Namely myself and my family. May need to modify the head or get a different case altogether, not sure how much heat the 12v would produce, but at least it'll run at capacity. Not as hardcore, but at least it's safe.
Not necessarily. If the 12V bulb draws too much current (think big halogen) for the 123's to handle, they'll explode or at least cut off from the internal short circuit protection. Don't use A23's, even three in parallel will have tons of internal resistance and don't really have a place in anything decently bright. Also, overdriving a bulb won't cause a fire unless the whole head melts and the bulb manages to touch something flammable since the plastic will insulate the bulb's heat. The batteries sure won't be stressed by the 1 amp drain of the KPR118. The most dangerous thing that might happen is the window melting and the bulb envelope exploding, sending shards of glass out the front. But from my knowledge, this only happens with halogen bulbs if you touch them and leave oil on their quartz envelope.
rhinsen5 years ago
Just FYI.... I just did this project today (4-28-2009). Here is what it cost me. Bought the Rayovac flashlight (model IN2D) at Lowe's for $5.94 (+tax). Bought two 2-packs of the Surefire batteries (model 123A) for $4.97 (+tax). You only need 3 of these batteries for this project. Bought the bulb (model KPR118) at RadioShack for $1.79 (+tax). I had the PVC pipe, washers, and nuts on hand so no cost there. Total for me was: $13.46 (total includes the tax). One thing I would like to point out, I used a bigger piece of PVC and slid the smaller one inside the bigger one. This worked perfect and made for a better fit. Also, I did not glue the spacer in because when I screwed the cap on everything was very secure. Very happy with the outcome of this project. Flashlight is very bright. Thanks for the submission of this project....
Will give it a try with a surplus Navy Flashlight.
polcn6 years ago
Could you do this in a mini maglight? If so, how would you approach it?
dchall8 (author)  polcn6 years ago
Not really. The CR123 battery is 3mm bigger in diameter and won't fit into the mini Maglite.
i have halogen bulbs left over that run on a max of 12 volts you thinck i can rig them to work here
dchall8 (author)  disturbedreaper6 years ago
Don't know but I'd give it a try. The clue that they don't work would be melting of the plastic near the bulb.
they probaly will they get realy hot but woth a shot with an old beat up flashlight
Karnivore6 years ago
Thanks a lot for this! I can think of SO many ways to use this kind of tech...
could i possibly just buy a heat sink from radioshack?
dchall8 (author)  the_anaconda6 years ago
Instead of what?
the one made from nuts washers and a bolt
dchall8 (author)  the_anaconda6 years ago
It's more of a spacer than heat sink, but if you can find something at RS that fits, go for it. I have another flashlight from Harbor Freight that I modded to take 2 CR123 bulbs instead of 4 C-cells. I made up the big gap with a 3-inch bolt with nuts and washers on each end. One battery goes up front, then the long spacer, and the other battery goes in the back. That keeps everything centered. If you want a good flashlight, as far as I can tell, for not much money, check out Sam's Club. They have a pair of aluminum lights with 4-watt bulbs. They run on 3 AAA cells. Cost is roughly $30 for two flashlights. My flashlight buddy and I split the cost just in case they weren't such a good deal, but they are the brightest lights either of us have. So we're going to split another package of them. They are made of aluminum with a plastic lens and no stippling on the reflector. Still the light columnates very well. I am guessing the switch will be the thing that breaks on these things, but for now I think it's a good deal.
jackspeer7 years ago
I built the light as instructed with the exception of using the Maglite 2 D cell Aluminum body for the conversion. It was $11 more ($17) at Lowes. The light is super bright and works great.
What did you do about the space between the pvc pipe and the ID of the flashlight. My 2D mag light and the 3/4 pvc left something missing. Pipe very loose inside mag light-will not stay centered. Tks GE
It's been so long ago that I built it that I had to look at it to reply. The 3/4 PVC is smaller than the ID of the Mag light, however, when I put it together I hold the PVC with the batteries upright and slip the flashlight housing down over it the I turn it over and screw the base on. I just did it 3 times and it lit right up each time. The spring on the base will hold it in place once it's screwed on. You got me to thinking about this. I have a piece of 1" schedule 40 in the shop so I checked. It is a perfect fit for the ID of the Mag light, however the 3/4 schedule 40 won't fit inside the 1". Tomorrow I'm going down to the HD to see if a piece of thinwall 3/4 will fit inside the schedule 40 1". My seems to be working OK as is but It would be nice if it fit tight. I'll let you know
What about placing three O-rings at regular intervals around the pvc to snug it up? Or just wrap it in a few places with electrical tape till desired diameter.
dchall8 (author)  M1ashooter6 years ago
Recently I started wrapping mine with rubber bands.
dchall8 (author) 6 years ago
Suddenly I only see one comment? Wha happened?

Anyway I'm not sure who mentioned Ebay but I can almost guarantee you it was not me. I'll never shop there.

You can get 40 batteries for $34 at Battery Junction
u probaly only see 1 comment 'cause you are on page 2 not page 1
M1ashooter6 years ago
Pray tell me where on Ebay you can buy those 3v batteries for $1.00. Best I could find was 4 for $7.50. GE
miniopa17 years ago
could you use a 9volt batterie for this somehow? like use leads for it to touch all of the metal?
dchall8 (author)  miniopa17 years ago
I suppose you could figure something out. You can get 9-volt connectors at Radio Shack and other electronics houses.
like if I were to solder the connector in place in the light then could put the batterie in and out.
Ok I went to radioshack and picked up some 9 volt connecters and Am goingto try to see what I can do, Need to work on my soldering thought before hand.
While it would work expect the run time to be short, 9v batteries don't have very much capacity and you cant draw as much current as lithium batteries are able to supply.
deth2all6 years ago
Ok thats cool but check this flashlight, it can light a fire just by shining light on something
dchall8 (author)  deth2all6 years ago
Why not post an Instructable?
b1heqh546 years ago
BTW; good instructable. I think the original author did a fine job of being quite clear about how his Mod is and isn't like a "tactical" light...
giannyl6 years ago
thanks for the tips! i will try
spylock6 years ago
I bought my pops a SUREFIRE for Christmas,it was a display model and still cost over eighty bucks,but its super bright,and well worth the bucks when compared to a minimag which I own.
emac6 years ago
pelican flashlights are also GREAT ( they make great watertight cases too)
Firehawk37 years ago
Thanks for this awesome Instructable... I was able to modify my Army issued Angle Head Flashlight to be brighter than my surefire. This will be so helpful because some Army schools do not allow surefire flashlights or headlamps for land navigation.
karatechess7 years ago
Um... a cold knife through cold butter? Anyway, I know what you mean!{{{<br/><br/>
westfw7 years ago
Part of the problem is that a Surefire (et al) flashlight is like Designer jeans or famous wine. You're paying exponentially more $$$ for (one hopes) SLIGHTLY better quality and a famous name. If all you wanted was a really bright flashlight, there are things close to this for MUCH less $$. Check out Deal Extreme, which seems relatively well respected over at Candlepower forums.

BTW, unless you've lined up special sources for batteries, you need to be prepared for sticker shock once you've used them up. A place like Target will want about $5 each for those lithium cells, and non-discount stores will rip you off for close to twice that.
actually surefire (et al) flashlights are higher quality. they last longer, have a more even spread of light, and power management. Plus they have total reflection technology to maximize efficiency and output. plus they are much more rugged and are water resistant. on the other hand, designer jeans are a ripoff, b/c you only pay for the name. also, if you order batteries online you can get the 123 batteries about 50cents a piece at cabelas or surefire, 24 for 12 bucks, so buy online b/c the rl stores rip you off.
Dangit, they are actually 25 bucks for 12 so 2 bux and change for a dozen. My bad.
dchall8 (author)  westfw7 years ago
I get my batteries at Lowe's. A pack of two is $5.73 plus tax. One battery is more like $7 plus. Go figure. If you look online you can get them for a dollar each plus delivery.
westfw westfw7 years ago
BTW; good instructable. I think the original author did a fine job of being quite clear about how his Mod is and isn't like a "tactical" light...
CanDo7 years ago
I am disheartened to see this likened to a quality 'tactical' torch. All I can say is that if you haven't already, go to for a good, long time, then come back and decide if this is what it is projected as. There is new technology which allows cheap ($60) lights to surpass Surefires, but this just doesn't come close to comparing. If I see a beamshot, perhaps I'll change my mind a little bit. But there are certain, vital features which this still can't possibly have. Regulated output? This light will get dimmer over time. Incan bulb is very inefficient. Plastic is fragile... Etc. It's a good instructable. This might be good for some people, perhaps a fun project. But for an extra fifteen dollars you'll have 10x the product.... So long as you don't actually need a good light for your profession or life, it would pass.
Bennybear CanDo7 years ago
It was supposed to be a simple, cheap and quick light. Not a perfect project. He even said so. Ten minutes doesn't produce a Surefire, no matter the stuff you have.
ya for the price of 2 of those $6 batteries you could build a pwm controlled ultra bright led light that would be brighter than that run on fewer batteries and have efficient dimming.
I don't think it works quite like that. The batteries are $1 each if you know where to go and are necessary for any sort of high performance light of similar size.
3x123 = 9 or more AA's Voltage Wise
the voltage out of the batery doesnt really mater you can build tiny boost converters like the one from the minty boost to change the voltage of any batteries to almost any voltage and as for capacity if you used ultra bright led's they use far less energy than any incandesant bulb. idont know iam not a flash light expert but i know electronics prety well and it seems like a more logical (yet more complicated) for a diy high end flash light. I see if i can get time to try it and ill post it
That would be extremely cool. Before investing too much money or time, may I recommend running the details of your idea by the folks on I'll be looking forward to this....
cool. I am going to research a bit on light output of led vs incandescent from the cost point. ill see if i can build one for cheap.
dchall8 (author)  25Kilovolt7 years ago
I'm interested too.
dchall8 (author)  CanDo7 years ago
CanDo said the stuff in italics...
There is new technology which allows cheap ($60) lights to surpass Surefires, but this just doesn't come close to comparing.

Do you want to do the Instructable for this? If not, tell me what the technology is and I'll see what I can put together.

If I see a beamshot, perhaps I'll change my mind a little bit. But there are certain, vital features which this still can't possibly have. Regulated output? This light will get dimmer over time. Incan bulb is very inefficient. Plastic is fragile... Etc.

Beamshots will take a couple days. I've given away all my "spare" flashlights. I should be able to compare my stock RayOVac, RayOVac conversion (this Instructable), stock 3-watt Mini-Maglite, a 2C Maglite converted to 9 volts, and a stock Princeton Tec Surge. Sorry but I'll never have a Surefire to compare with.

-Regulated power output is a different Instructable.
-An off the shelf incandescent in an unmodified power circuit is much brighter than an LED. The LED can be made to be more efficient but without a regulator, it normally is not.
-Yes plastic is fragile, and light weight, and inexpensive when compared to machined aluminum or titanium.
-I would go further to suggest using an antireflective coated glass lens, but cost creep is a serious issue with this project.

This might be good for some people, perhaps a fun project. But for an extra fifteen dollars you'll have 10x the product....

I'm all ears (and eyes). How would you spend a total of $30 and have a much better light? Seriously! Let's make the comments a learning experience.

So long as you don't actually need a good light for your profession or life, it would pass.

Fortunately that's 99% of all flashlight sales.
CanDo dchall87 years ago
~The technology that be: Cree LED's. They put to shame Surefires and that whole lot :)
~I'm looking forward to the beamshot :)
~99% of incans are brighter than 99% of LEDs, This holds true for the brightest of both as well. However, there is new technology (aforementioned Cree LED XR-E or Seoul P4) which puts to shame incans in this class.
~If plastic suits your needs that's fine. For that which I need brightness, I also need a sturdy case.
~Lights for about $30:
Just examples you could find for 30 or under...

I apologize for coming off as confrontational. I was a bit panicky at seeing the misnomer, and don't want anyone thinking that they are going to do this and end up with a top-of-the-line torch. Just for the record, I don't own any light over $35 (broke student syndrome) and think it utterly foolish to buy something like a Surefire if you don't need it. I just don't want anyone thinking that I'm some snob sneering at a "plastic" light.
If this suits your needs/wants, you want a fun project, and are aware of all of the options and alternatives available, I'd say have fun - it's a well written instructable and deserves the positive rating.
dchall8 (author)  CanDo7 years ago
The beamshot will be good to see. Without having one (yet), I believe my brightest light is the Princeton Tec with a Xenon bulb and eight AA batteries.

Regarding buying a finished light: the Princeton Tec is probably my only venture into that. My supply of Maglites are just empty hulls waiting to be pimped.

I'm planning a new light using dan's circuitry with at least one cyan Luxeon 3.
CanDo dchall87 years ago
"So long as you don't actually need a good light for your profession or life, it would pass. Fortunately that's 99% of all flashlight sales." I see this as very unfortunate. If for some reason, the population was in need of high quality, mass-produced, lights, we'd see some great competition and prices come down (we actually are seeing that, thanks to China). :)
DIY Dave7 years ago
boltgunner7 years ago
What makes an Instructable fun to me is that if the author gives specific part numbers and sources for the parts, someone new at fabrication can have the fun of making it themselves, which becomes a springboard for more challenging projects. Authors - NEVER assume all of us out here know where to get the pieces - frankly, if you can make stuff from parts and pieces you find at Lowes, Home Depot, the Shack, or the Web, that's great! I for one am buying the parts for this flashlight and will report back when I am done. Went to HD though for the flashlight since I have an HD credit card...
slasinski7 years ago
I dont see what so special about this, its just a brghter flashligght.
ampdavolts7 years ago
It's a great instructable because you've made it simple for beginners. The advancements in LED emitters are coming fast and strong. Incandescent bulbs are nearly obsolete now--but for now, your plan is good. YES, CR123 batteries can be bought for a buck each. Another source for these Lithium primary cells is by mail order. See Flashlight Reviews online for details. These are "Titanium" brand, and are very popular with their users. BTW, at this time of writing CandlePower forums has been down for some days. I hope it's up again real soon. A newbie to all this, I just got my first high efficiency flashlight--a Fenix P2D. It arrived only just today from the Fenix store online. Like the seller of the TITANIUM brand cells (also arrived today), the delivery was rapid--from Stateside. So--here I have a miniature CREE powered flashlight of high quality and not of very low cost. I suspect it compares light-wise with your $15 project light, though the cost is hardly in your ballpark. I like your light for its stealth, cheapness and practicality for -most any casual user-. The plastic, the yellow color, are all pluses in my estimation. My new, tiny Fenix light will be much easier to lose, eh? Yes! OH, I too have heard about Deal Extreme. Went to that site, and WOW, they have all kinds of incredibly cheap lights and gizmos, and knock-off lights with CREE and Soul emitters. And the prices for the lights are way low, in the ballpark of your project light. In result, I've ordered some of the Deal Extreme lights. It will be interesting to compare a $20 Deal Extreme light against the top-drawer $$ Fenix. Deal Extreme is in China, so orders all ship from there, but the goods do come in good time, in about two to three weeks. The mass-market flashlight sellers in the USA (the purveyors of junk, like Maglight, and all the run of the mill cheap flashlights, have seemed to resist the LED revolution. One reason? Everready/Energizer sells BATTERIES--this is their bread and butter. No profit in selling battery-efficient flashlights for them. That's always been their aim: sell batteries, since 1902, or whenever it was they adopted that name (now Energizer). Forgive my editorializing? I like your instructable. It's very brightly done. My hat's off to you--well, I don't wear a hat, but you know what I mean: thank you!
dchall8 (author)  ampdavolts7 years ago
Thanks. I appreciate your comments. Nothing against Deal Extreme but I did see a counterfeit Luxeon bulb. It was spelled Lux_on and had a blob of something that looked like it might have been solder where the 'e' should have been. The quality of the setup was not there. I never thought about the foot dragging on converting flashlights to LED. Another problem if the batteries last forever is that eventually one of them will leak and ruin the light.
Curiously enough--it's today's alkalines that always eventually leak. Recall the old and now hardly-seen carbon zinc cells? They were sold as "leakproof". Recall Ray-O-Vac and EverReady offered "replacement of your flashlight if this battery should ever leak. It's in the chemistry, I suppose. I don't know why they can't make alkaline cells leak-resistant over the long haul. "HD" (carbon zinc) cells are still standardly supplied with VCR remotes, and such things that still use AA or AAA cells. We don't often see alkaline cells supplied with new gear. Why? I guess because they LEAK. I'm new to Lithium primary cells. I will be surprised if they too leak. There are experienced people here: Q: Do Li primary cells keep dry when they age? I really dislike the ruination caused by forgotten alkalines. dchall8, I'll let you know how the DE order comes through, how the quality of the stuff turns out. I like that they have a forum format for each offering---users openly discuss the merits and demerits of the goods. They all, especially the firm itself, seem to be quite aboveboard--they talk about the warts and all. Cheers, and thanks to you for your work here.
yeah i've gotten better at the older bulbs, bottom +, side -.
i have actually got a defective flashlight (it was the switch)....
Foxfur7 years ago
Despite the "coulda, shoulda, woulda's", This instructible is SUPERB!
The beauty in it is its elegant simplicity.
Sure, we could add a binned 4100K, 140 Lumen, Luxeon K2 emitter, add in a synth sapphire window and install a diamond PVD or sputtercoated reflector, BUT, where is the simplicity there?

I laud you and your project. I am going to build one this very evening.
Thank you Sir,
25Kilovolt7 years ago
Dude for the price of the lithium batteries you could some ultra bright led's and build a boost converter to run it of a few AA's and it would probably last longer.
dchall8 (author)  25Kilovolt7 years ago
And, of course, that would be a much different project, far beyond the scope of this simple conversion of a flashlight. Yours would be one for someone who knows the difference between normal LEDs and ultra bright and someone with some knowledge of what a boost converter is, how to solder, and where to find the parts. There are lots of people here who can do that, so let them have the glory.
westfw7 years ago
So what's bulb life like, given that you're driving a 7.2V bulb with 9V ? (For all I know, "tactical" flashlights overdrive their bulbs too...) I'm inclined to agree that you've only gone partway to implementing "tactical"; you did "much brighter", which is fine. I don't even understand all the jargon that goes round in CPF( "reverse clicky" ?! ) But bright is good! (reminds me of the time we went exploring the lava tubes with WAY inadequate flashlights... Sigh)
dchall8 (author)  westfw7 years ago
I can't tell you what the bulb life is. I've used half a dozen. Bulb #1. Kept and hasn't burned out. 2. Burned out like a flashbulb. 3. Replaced the previous one and gave it away. 4. Gave it away. 5. Gave it away. 6. Gave it away. The real tactical lights use Xenon bulbs. I have never used one, but I have one in my Princeton Tec. You'll see it in the beam shots I hope to take later tonight.
hmm.. or you could but a mini maglight, and also put a LED in it (they sell maglight LEDS at target for $9.99) if you do that it'l run you a lil more, but it will be cooler looking, ajustable, Metal, and black :-) . Good instructable tho!
His purpose was to get a very bright flashlight, not an LED (very dim) flashlight. If you want very bright, you'd either need this lamp or very many LEDs (and still not get as bright).
pyro22 LasVegas7 years ago
LEDs are not that dim. Ive got a 3 watt led flashlight that is very very bright. while it might not be quite the same as a shurefire I havent seen a LED light that wasn't bright. (excluding things like those keychain lights)
LasVegas pyro227 years ago
I'd like to see the specs on that flashlight! It's got to run batteries dead extremely fast. The LED lightbulb replacements available from C.Crane run 2 Watts to drive 18 LEDs and produces 31 lumin. That's not really much light compared to incandecent bulbs that produce about 17.5 lumins per Watt.
westfw LasVegas7 years ago
You're a bit behind the times. Current state-of-the-art for high power LEDs (NOT the kind you put 18 of in a flashlight) is about 80 lumen per Watt at 1W, and about 160lm running at 3W in flashlights (you can still have inefficient LED drivers, of course.) Even Dan's ultimate headlamp gets an honest 50lm/W before his "corrections", and thoses LEDs are a generation behind...
dchall8 (author)  westfw7 years ago
I think I agree. I have a 3AA, 3-watt Minimaglite that should not need batteries for awhile. It really is quite bright in the great outdoors. And I just priced those 3-watt Maglites at Lowe's. The demand must be incredible because the price just keeps slipping up. I got mine for $15 last December. Now they're $30.
pyro22 pyro227 years ago
Dang it!!!!!!!! I just did some research and found out that my flashlight (came in a 2 pack and was given to me by my father) is not actually 3 watts but 1.25. there is an almost the same flashlight (3 watt) from the same company that I got mine mistaken with. Oh well mine is still extreamly bright and I can deal with it. sorry.
dchall8 (author)  pyro227 years ago
Seriously. Aim your 3-watt and your keychain at a wall six feet away at the same time. Then come back here and report your findings.
dchall8 (author)  !Andrew_Modder!7 years ago
Those are good ideas for different Instructables. Minimags don't take well to the CR123A batteries. The outer diameter of the Minimag is just about the same diameter as the battery itself. I have the 2C Maglites that look cool and all. But if you can make this flashlight, then the 2C Maglite conversion is pretty simplistic. I can post it if you want.
Coffee bean7 years ago
only prob is the body isn't metal
dchall8 (author)  Coffee bean7 years ago
At the risk of maybe giving too serious a reply, surely you can make the adjustment from a plastic flashlight to a metal one without having to create a new Instructable.
or maybe just do something to make it more durable. Like maybe rubber ends, o-ring, or lots of duct tape.
neveryona7 years ago
yeah - but can you use these to beat up perps, suspects, defendants, and other minorities? I thought not. Plus this one looks like you can't easily wash blood off it. So that's where the police and military get their 200-300 worth... i guess :)
Great instructable! I wish I had one of these flash lights. They can set fire to newspaper. (video)
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post that lol,id build it
nptd5067 years ago
Great instructable! I loved it! I am going to make one of these, I just need some spare time and the parts.