MXDL SA-76 "Turbohead" (PICS warning)

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kramer5150
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MXDL SA-76 "Turbohead" (PICS warning)

Just thought I'd share my latest pickup...  I wanted a compact 18650-XML light I could cigar hold easily on my night-time jogs around the neighborhood.  For this application the weight had to be well balanced between an XML throw-head and the tailcap.  The body tube needs to be smooth without knurl, yet firm-grip-able between my knuckles.  I wanted a good tight beam XML thrower (or at least one that leans more towards that).  I need to be able to spot dogs and other potential threats well in advance before they become threatening.  So I landed an MXDL SA-76... pics and commentary in line.  ENJOY!

I bought the light at easylightbuy for $27 shipped. heres the URL:

http://www.easylightbuy.com/mxdl-sa76-cree-xml-t6-led-5mode-flashlight-torch_p2456.html

Note the macro setting on my camera tends to distort the scaling of images, so items closer to the camera appear MUCH bigger than they really are.

**EDIT I JUST CONFIRMED PROTECTED CELLS DO  NOT WORK WITH THE TAILCAP MODS SHOWN BELOW... See post# 23

Some glamour shots

Size comparison with the HD2010

Business end, a single well centered XML.  Nicely done stainless trim-bezel threads smoothly on the turbohead.

 

Stainless body tube, silicone grip rings, heatsink area

Tailcap + orange switch boot. A true lockout tailcap design, I was not expecting this!!  True to the $urefire original, this one can be used as a twisty-ON-OFF.

Turbohead and heatsink area.  Really nice typeII anodize.  Sorry about the dust.

 

TEAR DOWN PICS TO FOLLOW:

Turbohead, reflector and XML.  You can see the plastic reflector disk that centers the LED perfectly at the focal point in the parabola (or whatever profile the reflector is).

At the heart, a decently well heatsink'd XML.  Plenty of thermal grease.  This light does not use a thermal adhesive, its a white grease... which is GOOD, because I plan on doing some copper heatsink mods inside the "pill" at a later date.  So the LED slug is easily removed and replaced.

Heres the pill / engine compartment.  Nicely done with a thick silicone O-ring gasket to seal out the elements against the turbohead.

Stainless battery tube butts up flat against the -B ring on the driver board.  VERY nice, I can lube up the threads as much as I want and not worry about lube-gunk creating electrical resistance through the circuit.  I like nice lubey-smooth threads, so my personal preference is to have current flow diverted from the threaded areas of the light.

O-ring sealed, hex-bolt retainer secures the driver in the pill.  Like before, this area of the light is not  part of the conduction path... so lube it up all you want. You can also see the silicone O-ring that tightens against the turbohead/reflector assembly.

Taking apart the hex-bolt retainer, pill and driver.  This thin spring doesn't really serve any purpose.  Its not part of the electrical circuit.  I think its just there to help hold the driver in place when the stainless body tube is removed.  I can take it out, but I decided to leave it in place.

Strange to have a BIG torroid transformer in a single cell light?  Makes me wonder if this light is also 8.4V capable?... but I am not about to try and cook something.  You can see theres a lot of room in the engine compartment.  I am working with some other forum members here for some custom heatsink work and a custom programmed 8x7135 driver... Stay tuned for all that!!  But heres the stock engine.

Heres that strange spring on the driver board, with the camera flash on this time.

Heres the stainless body tube threads that go into the head.  Very nicely done, tight fitting O-ring too.

 

Tailcap threads and O-ring.... again nicely done.

Switch gutts and pill.  And heres where the problems begin.  The brass threaded retaining ring you see is a "spring floating" design.  The brass collar you see there is LOOSE (!!!) its a free-spinning component, that uses a spring of all things to make electrical contact with the switch.  BAD!! design IMHO.  I have NEVER seen this kind of thing before in any light.

Heres the culprit.  The threaded retainer is too thin, not thick enough to reach the switch board.  So they used a spring to bridge the gap.  It makes good electrical contact, but the problem is when you tighten the body tube into the cap, it doesn't stop spinning!  Theres nothing "firm" in there to bump against the body tube.

Heres the brass plunger and plastic slider-piece.  I took off ~1-1.5mm from the base flange of that plastic piece with a dremel.  I dont know if this was necessary or not, I did it thinking it would free up some more range of motion for the brass plunger.   They could have used a brass collar piece in place of the dreaded spring, I might make this mod at a later date too.

 

Heres the rev-clicky

Nice -B spring.  Firm and thick.  I took a moment to re-flow the solder.  I like my solder joints to be nice and robust.... but thats just me.

Heres my solution to that pesky spring.  The original on the left, the upgraded one on the right.  Plan is to compress the spring coils all the way so it simulates a collar piece and gives the threaded retainer a firm platform to tighten down against.

Rubber boot and plastic pieces that make up the button.

New spring, I took from a P60 drop in.  I might replace this with a copper collar piece... we'll see how well this performs.

The other thing I did was to invert the retainer, just flip it over and tighten it down.  This gives the stack-up of parts enough height to bottom down against the stainless battery tube.  As I mention before, this is a LOTC design so the circuit does not conduct current through the threads.  So the battery tube needs to make firm contact against the switch retainer.

All buttoned up!

 

A nice cuban cigar hold!! comfey and secure.

 

One last note...

Tailcap current measurements with a 2200mah panny CGR18650E

HI = 2.15A

MED = .75A

LO = .21

It also has a noticeable PWM on lower modes.  Hopefully this will all change when I get the new 7135 driver in there.

The one area of concern I have is the somewhat tight fit of the cell.  All my panasonic, Sanyo, sony and samsung unprotected cells fit great, nice and snug with no cell rattle.  Even hitting the tailcap and forcing the 18650 to move around does not interrupt power enough to mode flip it.  Outstanding for  my intended use as an active carry light.  However I dont know if protected cells will fit without really crushing them.  Its OK for me since I only use unprotected cells.

Feel free to post up any questions and comments, and stay tuned for future mods too!!

 

 

 

 

Edited by: kramer5150 on 05/20/2012 - 12:11
kramer5150
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I finished updating the driver to an 8x7135 board form E1320.  Since no one makes a 20mm board, I had to use the OEM driver as a dummy and sandwich layer the 7135 on top of that.  I desoldered the torroid and all the SMT components from the 20mm board, checked the +B and -B traces for shorts and conductivity, and then sandwiched the 7135 onto that.  Had I known this was going to turn out so well, I would have taken step by step build pics.  But heres the finished board, with red and black wires for the LED.  It just drops right in.

 

I left some space between the two boards (just to play it safe), although I could have pressed them flatter against each other.

 It is now just four modes.  More importantly the ANNOYING PWM is fixed and no more disco.  Modes are set up as candle-LO-MED-HI-TURBO.  Current at the tailcap reads:

.002, .095, .640, 1.35, 2.79

I am working on some heatsink mods and a U2 emitter upgrade.  With the U2 emitter, I think I can get this one near the 45-50K LUX ballpark.  Although part of me wants to stay with the OEM T6 emitter, I got lucky on the tint on this one, its a very nice pale-cream color.  The hot spot diameter is slightly smaller, and the edge of the spot circle is more clearly pronounced than my 3.5A modded HD2010.  Outstanding little light, and a great MOD host.  The tailcap issues I noted above have been completely resolved.

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Nice light and many pics.. how much? Where? Beamshots?

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That is a clone of the Skyray A01 and probably came off of the same assembly line. You need a link to where you got it and how much.  After getting my HD2010 I'm crazy for this format and may have to get one of these to mod up.

I see you posted the link.  Thanks! Smile

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Kramer, you obviously own both lights.  Is it even worth getting this one if you already have an HD2010? How do they compare to each other in performance and tint? Obviously the thinner bodied MXDL will be easier to carry cigar style.  Is it worth another $27 to have both?

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Nice review and awesome pics!  

 

Don wrote:

"But as I said long ago, you are more likely to be killed by a dead fish dropped by a seagull in the Sahara Desert than by a lithium ion

kramer5150
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JohnnyMac wrote:

Kramer, you obviously own both lights.  Is it even worth getting this one if you already have an HD2010? How do they compare to each other in performance and tint? Obviously the thinner bodied MXDL will be easier to carry cigar style.  Is it worth another $27 to have both?

Hi Johnny... No its probably not worth getting.  Stock the HD2010 is brighter and throws farther too, and theres no visible PWM on the HD2010.  I didn't make it a big point in my first post, but the SA-76 low modes have a very pronounced PWM flicker.  I can't stand PWM flicker, so hopefully I can upgrade this one with an 8x7135 soon.

I hope to take some beam shots tonight to illustrate the difference in brightness.

I think the only major advantage the 76 has, is its just smaller and easier to carry when used actively.  The grip rings keep it firmly planted in my hands.  Its also a little easier to mode flip with my thumb too, as the HD2010 is just a little big for one handed operation.  I also like the LOTC on the SA-76.  I pack carry lights this size so I want to make sure I have a redundant fail-safe to make sure the switch doesn't accidentally turn on.

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JohnnyMac wrote:

That is a clone of the Skyray A01 and probably came off of the same assembly line. You need a link to where you got it and how much.  After getting my HD2010 I'm crazy for this format and may have to get one of these to mod up.

I see you posted the link.  Thanks! Smile

Yep... looks like another variant to the skyray A01.  I searched that one and another forum member also had tailcap problems... its just a piss-poor design all together.   I got mine to work reliably and to my liking, but I don't think this light is one I can openly recommend without some hesitation.  I think its best for experienced owners and modders too... people who like to take stuff apart and tweek around.  I don't think its a light you can just use out of the box... like the HD2010.  In fact this is probably the biggest difference between the SA-76 and the HD2010... the latter will work out of the box.

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BUMP for driver mod in post #2

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Nice work on the driver mod! Now that you have done it, do you still think it's not worth me getting one and doing the same?

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JohnnyMac wrote:

Nice work on the driver mod! Now that you have done it, do you still think it's not worth me getting one and doing the same?

Much tougher call now that the LED sees 2.8A... the two are much closer in overall brightness and the PWM is gone.  I think the U2 upgrade will further close the gap between the two.  I think I would now answer YES... but only if you find the HD2010 big, and bulky to hold and use actively.  I can cigar hold the SA-76 and take out the trash very easily (for example).

One things for sure, the stainless steel threads are really smooth against anodized aluminum.  I generally avoid metals like Stainless steel, brass and titanium  because they are thermal insulators.... and in that sense some of the worst metals for general heat sinking.  But in this case its a good blend of black anodize aluminum and the nice "feel" of stainless.

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You had said the hot spot was smaller on the SA76.  Does it throw better than the HD2010 now?  

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JohnnyMac wrote:

You had said the hot spot was smaller on the SA76.  Does it throw better than the HD2010 now?  

I still expect the 2010 to significantly out throw it.  Its a bigger/heavier all aluminum host, Its LED is driven at ~3.5A, and its using a brand new/fresh 26650 cell.  The immediate thermal path from the LED (pill assembly) is thicker and heavier in the HD2010.  Colder tints also seem to travel farther than warmer colors.  The HD2010 (at least my sample) still has a slightly hotter spot... within its hot spot.  I would expect that hotter concentrated area to reach farther than the modded SA76.  I'll have to take them out tonight and compare them in the field but I fully expect the HD2010 to dominate....the question though is by how much?... and does the SA76 come close enough to justify its use instead, when you also factor in its smaller size + easier carry advantage?

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What else (light-wise) are the tailcap threads compatible to? I like the tailcap-wouldn't mind having just it on some of my lights.

Rich

"I am the flashlight king! I can light anything!"

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thanks for all the details and pics.

this light looks HUGE (at least to me) until I actually saw it in your hand...

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dorpmuller wrote:

What else (light-wise) are the tailcap threads compatible to? I like the tailcap-wouldn't mind having just it on some of my lights.

Rich

The first thing I did when I got it was try it on my 6P/M2/L2... no dice there.  Thats as far as I tried though.

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How did I miss this thread initially? 

Anyway enough about me. Thank you for the review kramer5150. That is an attractive mini thrower. Nice big head. If the reflector was a little deeper then it might really rock and make super mega big candela scores. I wonder if you have a lux meter?  Or acces to one. I am sooo curious about it.

I really like that very small form factor. It is soo tiny in your hands! Comparing to your watch makes it look itty bitty tiny miny Smile

I think I'll buy one of these for my single 18650 thrower needs. (Like I have that)

Did you ever get around to making a better heat sinking solution? Or have you decided it is not worth it? Does it heat up fast and evenly when turned on?

Ohh I cannot get this right now. But I would throw a 3,8 A driver in there faster than you could say let there be light!

 

TY for the review and the nice pictures. And for documenting how nice a mod host it really is. Those tailcap issues you mention I consider to be very small. Thanks to your pictures it seems I have a new target to aquire Smile (My wife may still kill me though!)

~ Ledsmoke ~

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Ledsmoke wrote:

How did I miss this thread initially? 

Anyway enough about me. Thank you for the review kramer5150. That is an attractive mini thrower. Nice big head. If the reflector was a little deeper then it might really rock and make super mega big candela scores. I wonder if you have a lux meter?  Or acces to one. I am sooo curious about it.

I really like that very small form factor. It is soo tiny in your hands! Comparing to your watch makes it look itty bitty tiny miny Smile

I think I'll buy one of these for my single 18650 thrower needs. (Like I have that)

Did you ever get around to making a better heat sinking solution? Or have you decided it is not worth it? Does it heat up fast and evenly when turned on?

Ohh I cannot get this right now. But I would throw a 3,8 A driver in there faster than you could say let there be light!

 

TY for the review and the nice pictures. And for documenting how nice a mod host it really is. Those tailcap issues you mention I consider to be very small. Thanks to your pictures it seems I have a new target to aquire Smile (My wife may still kill me though!)

Its probably an easy thread to miss.  MXDL has been around forever.  I first remembered reading about this brand in the BessieBenny thread that CPF moderators butchered.  So MXDL goes back to ~2005 time frame... most of their lights are what I would consider poor designs, with a LOT of DOA reports on CPF.  So its easy to disregard the brand as a whole.

Nope I am still working on the heatsinking improvements.  I need some help from a local machinist on that one.  But I'll update my thread when its ready.  I'll probably stay with the 2.8A driver, the truth is its just not a very big/heavy light.  I don't think it has the heatsinking mass to sink that much heat away from the LED... even after the heatsink improvements.

Thanks for the kind words too!!  Oh one more thing, the macro setting on my camera distorts the scaling of the images... my watch is not really THAT big.

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Is that the same light that is on ebay here, for $22.90 incl shipping?

Curious if anyone has the ebay version

Rats, finally sold my 2010 509hp Mustang...now I can buy more lights!

Sold the red one too! Now guess what I drive, doing my penance for 500 hp commuters...

http://dreammustang.com/

http://i884.photobucket.com/albums/ac47/Ha

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trooplewis wrote:

Is that the same light that is on ebay here, for $22.90 incl shipping?

Curious if anyone has the ebay version

Mine is on the way, 1-3 weeks, hopefully...

unique engrish language... Smile

 

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viffer750 wrote:

trooplewis wrote:

Is that the same light that is on ebay here, for $22.90 incl shipping?

Curious if anyone has the ebay version

Mine is on the way, 1-3 weeks, hopefully...

I just pulled the trigger on this as well.
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trooplewis wrote:

Is that the same light that is on ebay here, for $22.90 incl shipping?

Curious if anyone has the ebay version

I would venture to guess they are identical.  20mm boards with L-M-H-DISCO-SOS are not very common, so theres a good chance the driver and IU are identical too.  $22 is a really good price for this light too.

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unique engrish language... Smile

 

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Just a little update.... I am really happy with this light.  I have had it now for 3 or so weeks and it's performed flawlessly, taken 2-3 hard drops to the floor completely in stride.  I am using it this weekend at my cousins house, heonly uses trust fire gray protected cells and my suspicions are confirmed... The tail cap mods I did do not work with protected  cells.   The extra 4-5mm is to long to make battery tube  contact.

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Kramer, I got mine a couple days ago and yesterday I put in a Nanjg 105 v2 in it with moon, med, & high modes. I like it a lot!! I don't know what high measures because the only reading I get from it is low but that is .007A. I have to assume it,s getting the full 3A on high. It's still not as good as the HD2010 but the reflector is smaller by a few mm and not as deep (also by a few mm) but I did manage to turn off a street lamp once while my HD2010 does it every time.

My original driver looked nothing like yours but did put out the identical 2.16A. It manages heat extremely well and is super nice to hold and looks pretty awesome IMO. Thanks for the heads up on this one. Cool

EDIT:  Forgot to add that I installed a spring on the driver to fix the horrid mode changes with the slightest bumps.

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unique engrish language... Smile

 

viffer750
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I got an ebay version today. It's exactly the same, as the mxdl.

Surprisingly good quality, much better than a common C8 etc...

Tailcap current is ~2.5A with a sanyo cell, and at this current it throws out a nice 36kcd. Not so bad, but will be better with a little more current.

unique engrish language... Smile

 

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There is now a blank driver adaptor available which will make putting new drivers in this light very easy.  

See here.

"You are making progress if each mistake you make is a new one."

Remember - Most great discoveries start with maki

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VFMaddict wrote:

There is now a blank driver adaptor available which will make putting new drivers in this light very easy.  

See here.

Nice blank dummy board.  Although there is a risk using it in this light because the battery tube needs to touch the -B pad on the board.

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Then this slightly larger one filed down should sort that.

"You are making progress if each mistake you make is a new one."

Remember - Most great discoveries start with maki

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Just use the original board as your base.  That's what I did.  Just put electrical tape over the components so nothing shorts out but be sure to leave the outer ring exposed where it contacts the inside of the pill.  Works great for me.  I love this little light.  Not the biggest or baddest thrower but really comfortable in a cigar hold, throws very well, manages heat better than most lights and, with a KD V2 driver in it, has great moon mode and crazy brightness.  All that and it looks awesome and tough, too.  Love the head on this thing.

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