Mini Review & Teardown - Manker U11 (Pic heavy)

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ImA4Wheelr
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Mini Review & Teardown - Manker U11 (Pic heavy)

Got this light from a giveaway hosted by freeme here.  He currently has a GB on the light in his GB thread.  There are several good reviews already done on this light.  Such as these here on BLF (In order of OP date:

So I will just kind of fill in some the gaps. 

Initial impression after using just a couple days:

Really like the light.  Very compact.  At first I thought it might be a AA light.  The finish and look are first class. Very high quality all the way around.  The the brightest stock single cell (can use 2 cells, but I only used it with a 18650), single emitter I have ever come across.  I would prefer if one could reverse through the modes, but the UI has some nice features that make that not a big deal.  Initially, I was not going to tear down the light because I like it so much.  I, however, became concerned with how slow the light heated up considering it's output.

Arrives in a nice box that would be good for gifting.  Love the AR coated lens and reflector.

Tear Down:

After removing Bezel, Lens, Reflector, and Pill Retaining ring (See ReManG's Review Thread linked above).  The pill just slides out and this is the only concern I have with the way my light was assembled.  The pill fit may seem tight when you first remove it.  In my case it just had some burs.  Once I got it out, the burs had smoothed and the pill slid freely.  I recommend adding some thermal paste between the pill and the body of the light.  You don't have to completely remove the light engine.  Just slide it up enough to have access to the sides of the pill.  You don't have to remove the side switch cover to pull out the pill.

 

Innards:

I didn't need to remove the switch cover.

The driver got hung up once it got to the threads.  Back lighting helped me see it was the USB port housing that was catching.  Used an Exacto knife to remove some of the thread peaks.  Then, a thin pick to help guide the driver out.  Pushed from below with a hollowed out plastic ball point pin tube.  Took some finagling.  The driver needs to come out straight and level.  Pushing down lightly on the vertical switch board while using a pick on the USB housing kept it level while pushing the driver out.

Inside of head:

Driver in head.  22mm with slight filing will fit.

Bottom and inside views of pill:

Has to be a buck driver since it can take 2 cells.  Looks pretty complicated.  Wouldn't mind replacing it with a DD +7135 loaded with Tom E's Narsil.  Would probably beef up the pill to body thermal path if I ever do that.  Voltage sense resistor is under the Red LED Lead.  It's labled R010.  So .01 ohms.  Not much room for increasing current there.  Some pics:

Inner spring was not soldered to its pad on my light.  Outer spring was not centered and barely touched 2 of it's pads.  The board is really glued in.  So will need to fix while in the cap.

Conclusion:

I'm a big fan of this light.  I would recommend that thermal paste be added between the pill and body.  It's easy to do and does not require any soldering.  While in there, why not throw in a DTP emitter base?  That will require unsoldering and soldering 2 wires.

Some of my favorite features:

  • Size and shape of light.
  • Output
  • Finish
  • AR lens
  • "Breathing" light switch
  • Tail stands.

 

Edited by: ImA4Wheelr on 04/11/2016 - 10:23
ReManG
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Sunava…. Never thought to just pull on the assembly… Great breakdown and review. I too have been impressed with this light and now you have opened up many more mod potentials here. Moppydrv would be nice, but how to keep the internal charger as well….

Keep us updated on your mods and perhaps one of the driver gurus will poke in here and let us know how to keep the charging circuit…

will34
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Interesting, it seems like some of the driver components are in the e-switch board?

ImA4Wheelr
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^It does seem to. You reminded me that I forgot to include a picture showing the interface between the two boards.

Wonder if a new switch board designed that would convert the light to DD. That way the horizontal board could be kept with the USB charger. Would probably need to disconnect or pull a couple components from the horizontal board. This driver would take some studying to sort out the USB charger from the buck driver. Not something I have to knowledge or time to sort out. Would be cool though if one of our driver geniuses figured out a way to make the UI customizable and the light DD.  The light deserves it.

Since the light has pretty good output already and the UI is interesting to me. I think I will just bypass the voltage sensor, swap the emitter, and slightly improve the thermal path and electrical resistance.

texas shooter
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I was comparing this light to the SolarForce L2M. They are nearly identical in size except one runs on 18350’s and of course the other on 18650’s. Just for fun facts the bezels are close but not interchangeable. Low battery blinker kicks in at 3.18 Volts.

emarkd
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Wow, I never noticed that the pill slides out either. I’ve had mine apart and swapped emitters in it several times, but that pill has never budged and I never considered pulling on it. Then again mine doesn’t seem to heat up slowly. In fact it gets quite hot, quite quickly. So maybe mine’s just tighter to start with. Mine’s also a couple of months older and has the notched lens retaining ring, too, so it could be different in other ways as well.

Either way, I also really like this light and appreciate the full teardown. The factory UI is…okay, workable, but its not my favorite. Now that we know how to get to the driver it may be worth swapping it, or at least trying something different. Thanks!

ImA4Wheelr
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^ Thanks. In your and ReManG's defense, it was tricky to figure out. Sounds like your version is built to tighter tolerances. If I had your light instead of mine, I might not have figured it out. Regarding the UI, It would seem that one of the board wizards could design a DD driver that has a vertical board the momentary switch. The top of the sliding pill supports the top part of the vertical board. Seems like it would be worth sacrificing in light USB charging. The USB port could be turned into a light tube and make water tight.

 

EDIT:  Since the voltage sense resister is of such a low value, I tried straight up shorting the pads.

 

I only had a xpl2 XM-L2 handy to connect it to.  Using a fully charged INR18650-30Q and keeping the stock 24 gauge leads, I got something like the following currents:

1    Moon - Still very low.  Don't remember the current but you could still look at the emitter directly while on

2    1 amp (I think, It was late and I didn't take notes

3     4.5 amps

4     4.6 amps

5     4.6 amps

So it looks like 4.6 amps is about the max (might be slightly higher with the xpl) with just a resister mod.  Next step will be to find a resistance value that give 4.6 amps in Mode 5, but still offers good mode separation.

ReManG
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This will be interesting, please let us know what you find…

kiriba-ru
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How did you pulled the pill out? Beating smth soft from battery side?

MRsDNF
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Nice work ImA4Wheelr.

 

djozz quotes, "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

                      "My man mousehole needs one too"

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ImA4Wheelr
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^
Thank you kindly MRsDNF Smile

kiriba-ru wrote:
How did you pulled the pill out? Beating smth soft from battery side?

Not knowing what was going on below the pill, I slowly walked it out from above by gently prying, pulling, jiggling, tapping, cursing, etc. Once I had it all apart I cursed one more time because I could have done just what you suggest in your question. I think the cursing is the most important part to the whole process.

Once it was taken out once, no pressure was needed to slide it anymore. There were just a couple burs holding it down.

kbear99
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Nice tear down. This indeed is a great light in terms of both build and performance. Much better and noticeably brighter than my Nitenumen NE01. They’re roughly similarly priced but the U11 is in a completely different quality category. It’s become my favourite 18650 EDC. And thanks to the tear down it’s good to know the quality of the innards are commensurate with the exterior. I’m going to pay more attention to other Manker lights.

Having said that, the lens on my U11 is loose. When I shake the light the lens rattles. I wonder if anyone else has this problem? Is there supposed to be an O-ring over or under the lens? How do you remove the front bezel? I suppose you’d need some sticky rubber to twist it off.

texas shooter
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kbear99 wrote:
Having said that, the lens on my U11 is loose. When I shake the light the lens rattles. I wonder if anyone else has this problem? Is there supposed to be an O-ring over or under the lens? How do you remove the front bezel? I suppose you’d need some sticky rubber to twist it off.

Mine rattled I used a rubber pad used for opening jars. I then placed an extra O-ring in the bezel’s recess over the lens.

kbear99
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Thanks texas. I doubt if I have an o-ring this size. Guess I could contact Manker for one.

somnambulism
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This 27mm glow-in-the-dark o-ring fits great in the U11, if GITD is something you’d be interested in.

kbear99
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somnambulism wrote:
This 27mm glow-in-the-dark o-ring fits great in the U11, if GITD is something you’d be interested in.

Cool. They’re blue too! Thanks!
Coolcat2005dj
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Nice review buddy,,planning to buy NW one. Smile

MG
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Appreciate your nice review. Manker seem to be pushing the boundaries a bit. Interesting to watch and maybe buy at some point.

ImA4Wheelr
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Thank you for the nice comments.

somnambulism wrote:
This 27mm glow-in-the-dark o-ring fits great in the U11, if GITD is something you’d be interested in.

Nice tip.

wle
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i like it but
it is too big and heavy
my other EDC is a DQG tiny 18650, which has a completely opposite UI – hard to switch between the 2 lights
moonlight mode is too low
would like more evenly spaced [logarithmically] lumen levels

the charger is nice
the LED color is nice
the side blue LED ‘dragon mode’ is fun for about 10 minutes

this is hard to explain, but usually the reason for wider and longer heads is to get a more focused throwy beam
this is not throwy, it is semi-flood at best {which is fine for a pattern BUT…}


they could have made the light smaller if they were going to have that beam pattern
the DQG uses a very short TIR to focus the beam – and it makes the light about 10mm shorter, which is a LOT
these guys made a wide and long head but then orange-peeled it, wasting the focus and size

a lot of the other features [blinky modes, “super turbo”, light level programming] don;t really seem that useful after you see what they actually do
the light levels for instance, yes you can change them, but the levels you can use are not really what i want

also the turbo mode and super turbo are not very different from plain old ‘high mode’ with the batteries i use [cheap or laptop recycles]
i am not going to buy $20 batteries just to get 40% more light for a few minutes

wle

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GrayEd61
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I have both the U11 and DQG 4th. Got the DQG first and it was my EDC until the U11 came along. I bought it based on positive reviews here (4wheeler’s included) and don’t regret it in the least. A good flashlight for the money.
The U11 carries deeper and has rounded edges which I find more comfortable. I like the larger switch too (the DQG’s switch is small) and its much brighter when needed. The USB charger is handy when traveling but I’ve only used it once and that was to make sure it worked.
All this said I’d gladly swap the UI from the DQG unto the U11. Much more intuitive for EDC use than the oddly organized UI on the U11.
The U11 is a good flashlight and I will EDC it again today over the DQG but the UI holds it back from greatness.

wle
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yes i would like to redo the UI also on the U11.

it annoys me that the thing has a USB port, and i KNOW that is how it is initially programmed, so you could redo it from there, but no one knows how.

i actually wrote to manker from their web site, and asked that – no reply.

wle

"You never have the wind with you - it's either against you, or you're having a good day."
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Tom E
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I'm ordering one from the US warehouse for $29.56 with freeme's code: MKU11. Shouldn't be a problem getting a Attiny85 driver in there. Planning on doing it to a T01 as well, and lot less space in the T01 from the looks of it. It's very similar to this light: http://www.gearbest.com/led-flashlights/pp_71296.html, which was and still is one of my favorite budget lights, but the U11 is a lot more quality. I got 85/Narsil on one of those Zy-T11 clones. My Manker U21 given to me by Manker for a review died, but it was a blessing in disguise - now it's throwing a lot further and more lumens with a dedomed XPL V6 0D and running Narsil utilizing the RED LED under the switch cover, and powered by a LK 5000 of course.

I've taken my T01 apart and appears to dis-assemble the same exact way as this U11. The U21 scales up from these designs with a separate USB charger board, but I tossed it.

Tom E
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I got my light, actually just ordered another. Wow, it's really a nice carry light/EDC. I got it all apart, as done here. Mine needed more help to get the pill out - it seemed like a tight press fit. I used a screwdriver and hammer and tapped all around the edge of the driver, around the spring.

I totally mis-judged the spacing from the pictures above. There basically is no room between the driver components and the shelf the MCPCB sits on. I don't think a piggyback board can fit in there with the stock driver stripped, even with the OSHPark thin boards. Ideally would be best for a driver board replacement, as ImA4Weelr shows. Securing the switch board though is the challenge, as well as getting a properly sized driver to file down and fit. I think it's do-able, but not easy, maybe not pretty.

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Tom E wrote:

I got my light, actually just ordered another. Wow, it’s really a nice carry light/EDC. I got it all apart, as done here. Mine needed more help to get the pill out – it seemed like a tight press fit. I used a screwdriver and hammer and tapped all around the edge of the driver, around the spring.


I totally mis-judged the spacing from the pictures above. There basically is no room between the driver components and the shelf the MCPCB sits on. I don’t think a piggyback board can fit in there with the stock driver stripped, even with the OSHPark thin boards. Ideally would be best for a driver board replacement, as ImA4Weelr shows. Securing the switch board though is the challenge, as well as getting a properly sized driver to file down and fit. I think it’s do-able, but not easy, maybe not pretty.

Keep us informed. I’ve thought about this mod a number of times. But held back because of the challenges you describe. I think it is definitely doable though.

Tom E
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I spent some time on this over the weekend. I sanded down the outer pill surfaces to try and make the pill insertion/removal easier. I somewhat succeeded - it's easier, but I messed up the MCPCB shelf a little, but sanded it all down to smoother than it was, getting rid of the typical circular machine marks on the shelf surface.

I dremeled down a 20mm Noctigon to replace the poor stock non-DTP MCPCB of 1 mm thickness. The new Noctigon fits, can be screwed down with the stock screws, and is thinned down to 1.25 mm. Hope the 1/4 mm will do ok when re-assembled.

I really like this light but they went cheap with the pocket clip and MCPCB - these are not components you find on $60 lights, not even on most $30 lights. It's pretty ridiculous actually considering they are over-driving the light at 3.6A (over-driven for stock lights) and not using a copper DTP MCPCB. You lose a considerable amount of lumens and can't get the heat out, so thermal sag has to be killing what this light can really do - super thin non-DTP, cut down shelf, what were they think'n? Makes you wonder if they do this stuff intentionally to keep the light from getting hot in the hand, or are they just that cheap?

Still have to decide what LED to use - think'n of a dedomed XPL W2 1A, or least a V6, and/or possible domed NW XPL. Though it has a OP reflector, a dedomed XPL should still get some decent throw - a good downsized match up with the U21 I have now, dedomed, FET+1, Narsil that does ~240 kcd, 1,600+ lumens.

For the driver/electronics, for now will just try 22 AWG LED wire upgrade, bypass springs, and see how it does.

I do want to check some things out for driver replacement. Thinking a 20 mm driver w/trimming and attempt to mount the vertical switch board to it, stripping the electronics, but seeing if I can re-use at least the RED SMD LED's w/Narsil control. Best solution would be a custom laid out OSHPark board, though not sure if you can get enough precision for the vertical board mount - OSHPark tolerances aren't that good. I'll lose the USB charging, but no great loss.

 

I took pics, hopefully will post them up soon.

Edit: Here's my break down and mods so far. Didn't get the LED mod done yet:

 

I trimmed down a 20 mm Noctigon to fit (rotary tool w/sanding drum), using the soldered on wire to hold it to sand down the thickness to get close to the 1 mm thick stock MCPCB:

 

 

Before:

After:

 

Sanded down the shelf. I mangled it a little while trying to manipulate it with heavy needlenose. This pills fits very tight in mine. The surface scratches and mangled edges are all sanded down so not much interference with the MCPCB mounting. Probably a better bond than it was stock with the circular machine marks, still showing on the outer edges:

 

Pretty much perfect fit now. Had to extend the wire cutouts to get the screws to fit well, and with the cut top, the wires can pass thru as before. I'll probably angle file the edges of the PCMCB at the pads in order to avoid an erroneous contact with the pill housing:

Tom E
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I finished the mods for now, stock driver, stock XPL V5 1A version:

  • Before, stock on SANYO GA full charge: ~3.5A at the tail, @start: 1,139 lms, @30 secs: 1,088 lms, 16 kcd (taken at 5m) for 253 meters

Mods: XPL V6 3D on 20mm Noctigon, as shown above, filed down to ~1.25 mm thick, trimmed to fit, GC Extreme under the MCPCB, thermal grease on the outside of the pill, cut down the 24 AWG LED wires to min length, driver spring bypass and tail spring bypass w/22 AWG wire

  • After mods, on SANYO GA: 3.46A (@tail w/clamp meter), @start: 1,221 lms, @30 secs: 1,159 lms, 17 kcd (taken at 5m) for  261 meters

Also received my 2nd U11 from GearBest. This one had the smooth bezel (no notches), added a LED centering piece, different body design w/slight differences, different finish - flat black and not glossy black, and the biggest problem was the missing screws holding down the MCPCB, probably having the direct result of a large output droppage in the first 30 seconds.

MRsDNF
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Amazing mod Tom. Thanks for showing. Thumbs Up

 

djozz quotes, "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

                      "My man mousehole needs one too"

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

Tom E
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Thanks, but I always seem to miss taking the final assembly pics - I get so excited and impatient at the end, I forget to take them.

ImA4Wheelr
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Nice mod Tom.  I have some limited resistor mod info in Post 7 above if you decide to stick with the stock driver.

Tom E
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ImA4Wheelr wrote:

Nice mod Tom.  I have some limited resistor mod info in Post 7 above if you decide to stick with the stock driver.

Considered it, but making the top 3 modes the same max level doesn't sound good. Was think'n of experimenting with resistor values, but for one - it's in a nasty spot, plus it's already a pretty small value - don't have resistors to use. I'm still going to do more research on mounting a replacement driver when I tear down the 2nd piece.

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