XM-L MOD: UltraFire X1 18650

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Be-Seen Triker
Be-Seen Triker's picture
Last seen: 7 years 3 months ago
Joined: 02/17/2011 - 13:17
Posts: 49
Location: Oregon, USA
XM-L MOD: UltraFire X1 18650

This is a quick mod of the 18650 UltraFire X1 in order to make the mostly DOA from Manafont into a usable torch.  The mod involves a very conservative 1.4Amp NANJG 101-AK 5-mode driver and an XM-L emitter on a 16mm heatsink.  The emitter is the one from LCK-LED: p/n XMLAWT-00-0000-0000T6051, which was advertized as an 1A; $7 special.  I don't know about such things so I'm going to have to trust this is really an 1A.

This is my 2nd XM-L and my 1st XM-L mod.  This host had a host of problems... at 1st, it didn't even work at all; then it flickered when unscrewing the head; then I rebuilt the switch and I got 75% reliability.  Being a simple Q5, there is no love lost in this slight DOA shortcoming.  For $15, it is a nice low power XM-L upgrade host.

Here is the light with my new Callie's Kustoms 3100mah cell.

[image of light and battery]


1st thing 1st: remove the pill; remove the driver.  The pill comes out easily with a pair of needle nose pliers and the glass and reflector will drop out with.  The emitter is not glued; just heat sink compound.  Unsolder or clip the leads and remove.  Next; push the wires into the pill's holes and use a small screwdriver or drill bit (or whatever) and press out the driver/brass ring combo.  You will probably toast the driver in this but again, no loss here.  Why is there a buck driver in an 18650 light anyway?  Yes, that is real masking tape insulating the driver board buried in the pill.  Note; no spring either.  You will have to remove the brass ring by removing the solder on the "inside".  I cleaned up the solder on the ring with a sharp X-Acto knife.

[image of pill disassembly]


Here is a quick look at all the parts left over once the driver is discarded:

[image of full parts inventory]


I soldered the wire to the 5-mode NANJG 101-AK-A1 4x AMC7135 driver and soldered it into the brass ring.  Since this light doesn't have a spring, I also added a blob of solder to the center for flush head cells.  Again, I cleaned the excess solder on the edges of the brass ring with an X-Acto knife as prep for the press-fit later on.

[image of driver in ring - inside]

[image of driver in ring - outside]


I also modified the pill slots.  I made the slots deeper so I can pry out the brass ring in the future instead of pressing on the components.  A Dremel with a carbide cut-off wheel makes short work of this.  You want the slots to just below the shoulder.

[image of pill mod]


Another poor fit was the reflector itself.  It "should" index in the pill but the shoulder was to big or the hole to small in the pill.  I put the reflector in the lathe and made short work of the excess material.  It now indexes nicely.  This is important since this is what pushed the emitter heat sink to the pill.

[image of the reflector mod]


The emitters I got have 16mm heatsinks.  This did not fit well into the pill.  I smoothed out the edges of the heatsink and it dropped right in.  Probably the same deal as the reflector.

The driver is loosely located with the wires twisted to help with terminating the emitter.  As always... + to + and - to -!  Tinned the pads and some pre-forming of the wires, and whallah... termination complete.  I used a set of channel locks to press the brass driver ring into the pill.  I'm feeling pretty good about these connections.

[image of terminated emitter]


Next was to optimize the supplied insulator to step around the wires.  Again, I want the reflector to press on the heatsink to ensure good contact.  The wires are thinner than the thickness of the insulator so all is well.

[image of modified insulator in place]


The pill is now ready to reinstalled.  Install the o-ring; place the lens and the reflector on the pill and screw the stack into the head.  I suggest driving in the stack from below rather than dropping everything in.  Use the needle nose pliers to tighten the assembly.  The o-ring in front of the lens is what is providing pressure to the heatsink.  Don't be shy!

[image of driver in head]


This is a good time to do an ohm meter reading.  I didn't read any dead shorts so I'm happy.  If all is good, the emitter will look something like this:

[image of emitter relation to reflector]


Next is the switch.  It is highly under-spec'd for an XM-L at full output, but then again, the host isn't going to handle the heat of a full XM-L without leaving blisters.  At 1.4 Amps, I'm sure I am still over spec'd but I tested it against another 1.4 Amp torch and it worked... so here goes:

This switch design just plain sucks!  It is no better than casual contact to the housing and questionable contact with the spring.  So 1st I soldered the spring to the switch:

[image of switch to spring]


Next I bend a contact strip into a horse-shoe shape and solder it to the small stub of a contact.  I back the clip with o-ring halves to make positive spring loaded contact to the housing.  It is a bit hard to see, but anyone attempting this will see the need and the solution.

[image of "horse-shoe" contact]


If everything was tucked in properly, the end result should look something like this:

[image of switch assembly]


Also note there is no o-ring on the tail!  I tried the head o-ring, but it binds at the slots for the pocket clip.  I might have to find a smaller o-ring if I want waterproof to some extent.  As-is, it will leak like a sieve.  But no matter for now as I don't have any grand designs for this light at this time.


The last thing I noticed as a shortcoming is the battery fit.  There is tons of room for protected cells, but the label on the Callie's Kustoms made it just fat enough to not fit.  I removed the label and the fit is now snug but comfortable.

This light should now appeal to a few of you...  The low barely registers on my 2-amp meter; med is 400ma, and high is 1.4 amps.  Remember that strobe and SOS is also easy to remove from these drivers.  This light is a F.L.O.O.D... a very nice flood, indeed!  No discernible hot spot with this OP reflector.  This is a shot on a black foam at about 10":

[image of beamshot on black foam]


The light came from Manafont for $15.  I consider this a host rather than a complete light.  It is a nice compact 18650 light but the switch keeps me from making a pocket-rocket out of it.  As it is now, it will make a very nice bike light.  With the Callie's 3100, it should provide 2 hours of solid runtime with great illumination of the road ahead.  I will need to get an o-ring in the tail though.  I think I'm into this right at $22 and 2 hours of tinkering.  It really doesn't compare to any other light I have... and that makes it unique in my collection.


E1320's picture
Last seen: 1 year 6 months ago
Joined: 03/30/2011 - 05:26
Posts: 3369
Location: New Hampshire

Nicely done mod, very well documented as well. I usually glue the emitter down with Fujik to help with heat dispersion.  I use emitter covers and apply some Fujik over the solder point to have 2 layers of non conductive material between the solder points and the reflector to prevent a short this is especially important in a biking application. I would suggest using some electrical tape cut in a circle on the back of the reflector so the wires don't contact the reflector causing a dead short when you hit a bump.

I am already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.

brted's picture
Last seen: 5 days 8 hours ago
Joined: 01/12/2010 - 19:44
Posts: 2371
Location: Atlanta

Nice work! And a great write-up. I have a modified X1 as well and every now and then it stops working which I think has something to do with the spring and tail switch, which your mod might remedy. Generally I can just push the spring so it is standing straight up again and it will work. I use my X1 all the time. Even though it has some shortcomings as a host, I like the compact size and the fact that it has a clip.

jacktheclipper's picture
Last seen: 7 hours 10 min ago
Joined: 10/31/2010 - 21:18
Posts: 4847
Location: Florida , U.S.A.

Excellent work and photos . Very clear .Thanks .

Match's picture
Last seen: 2 years 11 months ago
Joined: 11/14/2010 - 11:57
Posts: 1488
Location: South Carolina, USA

Be-Seen, like others have mentioned you've done an outstanding job with the write-up and photos of this mod.  Good job!  I like how you've taken shots of all the important parts, along with mentioning the little details such as notching the pill deeper to allow the brass ring to be removed more easily.

I like it!

Buwuve's picture
Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: 02/11/2011 - 14:49
Posts: 1975
Location: Germany

It looks really nice. Thank you for the documentation and the great pics.

Light up the darkness.

Crux's picture
Last seen: 2 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 05/03/2011 - 16:27
Posts: 227
Location: Northcoast, Ohio, USA

I appreciate the detail you put into this post.  Keep up the good work!

I was going to suggest the XP-G route too.  Let us know if you try it and how it works.