12 lights - 2 days and 1 very tired old guy - Maglite Mania! 11:00 PM it's DONE!!!

I said I was going to build 12 Maglites for the Holidays. Well, I decided to make sort of a reality build, with a time limit and time frame, blow by blow. I am going to mod 12 of the 2AA Mini Maglites. Two of each color (Black, Red, Blue, Green, Grey and Camo). All of them will have copper heat sinks and will be Direct Drive with Nichia 219 leds from IS. The Nichias will be reflowed onto 14mm Cree XP-G stars. The optics will all be TIR and vary from 15 degree to 45 degree. There will be some form of cosmetic mod on all, except for the Camo, which will remain stock looking.

I actually don't have 48 hours, since I am starting at 8:00 AM Saturday and I have until Midnight Sunday. I did one thing in advance and that was to cut the copper pipe for the heat sinks last night.

I was supposed to have orders come in yesterday. I ordered 8 2AA Maglites from Lowe's online. They were supposed to come yesterday. They didn't! Damn, I'm already under pressure. Now I have to go run around town to try to find 8 2AA Maglites in the right colors. 8:00 AM and the wife's feeling really bad. Have to go to Wal-Mart to get some things for her, then I have got to find the lights!

8:30 and I'm just leaving after getting the wife set up for her morning coffee! Went to Wal-Mart and lo and behold, there is a new shipment of 2AA Maglites, that weren't there Friday! I must have a Rose stuck up my butt, cause I just came out of the first trouble smelling sweet! Back to the house and here's all the Maglites.

4 of them came from Zbattery, the rest from Wal-Mart. 9:00 AM and it's time to start getting them out of the packages.

9:20 AM and they are ready to go.

Only 8 have holsters. The Zbattery ones didn't. Too late to get more, just go with it.

Batteries anyone?

I need a helper, just to take out the trash!

9:30 AM - time to go inside and get food cooking for the wife and take care of the cat. Ya, I got plenty of P***y around the house, but they don't know a thing about being helpers!

9:45 AM - back to disassemble the lights.

Here they are, ready to mod.

Back to the house, to take care of more stuff inside.

10:00 AM - finally, back to the mods. Time to put some parts into the Degreaser and get them bubbling away.

10:10 AM - Time to get out the Heat sink components.

and the Copper shot.

I decided to set it up as an assembly line. Put down the larger discs, set the copper pipe pieces on them, fill them with shot and solder them all at one time.

Well that BS went well! Damn, Damn Damn!!! I ain't got time for this crap! Why the hell did I ever try this stupid idea!!

(Hey, any decent reality show has to have some turmoil in it, LOL)

I did set them up in an assembly manner. Here's the large rounds with the copper pipe sections soldered in place.

Filled with Copper shot and then they will be filled with solder.

The smaller rounds are soldered and will go on top of the heat sinks to the right.

11:15 AM - Stage 1 complete.

11:45 AM Stage 2 complete, with the center posts soldered on. The soldering is done. This is the easy part. The time consuming part will be to clean off all the excess solder off every one of these buggers. That will take up the rest of my first day and I haven't even started on leds and wiring or cosmetics yet!

I really am going to be a tired old fart by Sunday night.

And the parts are still cooking in the degreaser. I have turned them over and now it's time for lunch dammit!

DiGoirno! and this post will take care of lunch (after I fix the wife's lunch that is).

See you in a while crocodile.


1:30 PM - Lunch is over and the wifey is trying to sleep. I'm back in the garage and the parts in the degreaser are done.

1:40 PM - Starting on the heat sinks. They require a lot of filing! The OD has to be filed down, since the 3/4" top disc is "a little" too big and all the solder has to be filed down. The OAL has to be checked and the bottom post has to be filed down if the OAL is at max or above. It's trying my patience...

2:20 PM - two down, 10 to go.

2:50 PM - four down eight to go.

3:30 PM - six down and screw it! I'm taking a nap. Ya, A Nap, got a problem with that? Huh?

It is a pain and all that Pizza always makes me sleepy..... ZzzzZzzzZzzz


5:00 PM - So much for a nap. I finished off the DiGiornos and went to the couch to take a nap. The cat decided I was a great pillow. She slept and I read a book. Way of life...

So, I am back at the Heat sinks again. 6:25 PM and they are all finished.

All of them fit in the heads, but a couple of the posts are just a little off center, not much and it wouldn't hurt, but I need to make sure the post won't touch the body. Besides, I am using larger posts now, which are more stable, so, less clearance. I'll just go ahead and open the mouth of the bodies.

6:35 PM - First I will work on the Isolation washers. They go between the positive contact and the post.

Both sides need to be sanded, so they will stick to the AA Adhesive. I do them by rubbing them across a sanding block, with my fingers. No wonder my fingers are so swollen all the time.

7:00 PM - Washers are done and it's time to make the positive contacts.

A small piece of 0.012" thick copper sheet and use a washer as the guide.

I cut the pieces into squares first, then I cut across rhe corners to get an Octagon. Then cut again across the 8 corners and round it off with sand paper. Yes, I just hold those tiny things and sand them by eye.

7:55 PM - A damned hour later and I can't feel my fingers any more. I tried turning on the radio to keep me awake, but I can't find a decent rock & roll station in all of East Texas. What the hell... Gettin tired. This is about 6 hours more than I ever spend out here. Whine, whine, whine. Can if I wanna...

8:00 PM - Time to open all the bodies up at the mouth. Make 'em big mouths.

Now those pesky center posts will clear.

8:20 PM - Done with that and on to removing the ano on the tops of those bodies, so they will make contact with the heat sinks.

8:40 PM - Done with those. Time to polish those 5 tail caps and bezels that I had in the degreaser.

Done, Done, Done, Done, Done...

9:30 PM - I am done for the night. I need some rest. I need to be fresh to try to reflow 12 Nichias onto XP-G stars and a good night's sleep ought to help. Those things are so small and so picky that I don't want to try them when the hands are swollen and the eyes are burnin.

Looks like I've got a good start on gettin this build done. I still have some cosmetic stuff to do and I have to do 12 leds and wire them, but I might just make it by tomorrwo night. It isn't like I got a lot of time. Sundays are busy. Housework, watering and weeding the garden and all the rest, so it will still be a race to the finish.

What reality show would finish hours before the deadline anyhow?


Day two and the day isn't starting well at all. I woke up from a sound sleep with my wife calling my name. Then I heard the shower running. I panicked. She knows not to try to take a shower by herself. In my half sleep stupor, I immediately envisioned the worst (I'm a card carrying pessimist). I floundered around for my glasses and rushed to the shower. She's sitting down and wants me to wash her hair for her... right now!...

OMG, I had to do all this when I was a kid and my grandmother was bad, now.... well you just gotta love it or go crazy.

I didn't get to the garage till about 11 AM and all of a sudden I'm way behind. Behind the 8 ball and the next shooter is a champion at 8 ball!

Later on I will produce some more photos of the build, that is if I can get my wits together. I'm supposed to be reflowing this morning and already got the heebie jeebies from the early morning fun!


11 AM - Behind already. Time to reflow those nasty little stars.


First I have to flow solder on the stars. They are bare stars. I am running at about 600 degrees F. I use just a tiny bit of solder and just touch it to the pads.


I use these tweezers to hold the leds and move them. It's nerve wracking with these tiny things and I'm doing 12 of them? Who the hell thought this up?


Sitting on a star waiting to be reflowed. I turn my iron up to 790 degrees F, for the heating of the star. I dab some solder on the iron and hold it against the underside. It takes all of about 4 to 8 seconds to heat the star. I wait till the led sucks down fully and evenly on the star.


11:45 AM - Stars are done. Move on old man, time's a wasting!

Heat sinks all need to be drilled. I'll just save time and "do them by eye". Yep, you know how that's going to turn out. After three f*&%$# bad holes, it's time to mark them all. I have to drill them at an angle, so the wires are on the inside of the center post. It's nerve wracking with a hand drill.


1:00 PM - Heat sinks are finally drilled. A couple are off, but still workable. It will have to do. They're functional and time's a wastin! Especially when it's lunchtime! What, you say? Lunch? Dammed right!

2:00 PM Back from lunch. Lunch for the wife I mean, you didn't think it was for my lunch.

2:30 PM - Put all the stars on the heat sinks with AA.


3:00 PM - Done - As I said, some of the holes are a little off, but it works and the wires go in. Ready to wire them up.

3:30 PM - Had to break, to check on the household. Now it's time to start soldering. I'm looking at it all and the time and I'm gettin very nervous. That doesn't help when you're wiring.


Leads Cut.


Positive contacts have to have a drop of solder on them.


Pre-soldering sub-assemblies is done. Ready to start putting them to the stars.

4:00 PM - Starting to solder the leads.


I solder the ground inside the center post and then to the star.


I double check each one for continuity.

BUT - I didn't bother to do something did I? I didn't test out all the stars to see if the leds work! Damn, here I go again. Hurry up and rig up two AA batteries, to test each star! Know what? One of them isn't working!!! Ratten frassen *$&#^@. Now I have to take it back off the heat sink and try to salvage it.

I found that one of the pads didn't settle right. I took the led and dabbed some solder right on the led pads as well as the star pads. I have seen problems with these Nichias before. Same issue, solder not sticking to the led pads. I even used flux on all these too. I fluxed them after the star pads were soldered, to help this issue. Well... 11 out of 12 is probably pretty good, for my soldering. Guess I should be glad, but time is slipping by, by ,by.

5:30 PM - Finally! The pills are all done and they all work!


Now I can put a few lights together. The two Camo lights and the 5 lights with polished bezels can go together!

6:00 PM - 7 down and five to go.



Wrong camera for real beam shots, but they work!!!

Five more to go. I need to do some minor embellishments to these five, but it usually take me about 1-1/2 hours each to do that. I just haven't got time for that! I've got less than 5 hours left! Damn it's been touch and go all the way! I got to get back to it and try to knock them out! One slip and it will ruin one, so fast but perfect! Right!


11:00 PM and they are ALL DONE!!!!

I spent the last couple hours of the build polishing and filing on the last 5 lights.


I cut grooves in the tail caps and polished the very ends. I also added copper rings to all five.


For the bezel, I just flattened it and polished just the end. Kinda simple, but I was running out of time.

Here's some shots of all the lights.






Here's beam shots of 15 degree, 30 degree and 45 degree TIR optics.


15 degree at 6 feet.


30 degree at 6 feet


45 degree at 6 feet


15 degree at 20 feet


30 degree at 20 feet


45 degree at 20 feet

I really wasn't sure I could get this done in the time I had, which ended up being considerably less than 48 hours. I set the goal, to see if I could do it and just to give y'all a smile to see O-L bust his butt to get it done. I thought it would be a fun thread.

These are the lights I am offering for holiday sales. I am early for that, but I'm not a holiday guy anyhow. Never celebrated any holidays all my life, so it's better if I just do this now rather than later.

I will be putting up a sale thread in the next couple hours. Yes, it's late, but it gives some of the other countries a chance at one of these lights.

Thank you everyone for watching this thread. I hope you got a kick or a laugh out of it.


3/4" and 5/8" Copper discs were from "bopper" on Etsy. I buy Copper Sheet there too.

TIR Optics come from CNQG. The 20mm diameter ones were used for the 2AA lights.

Solder from Radio Shack 60/40 with flux in the center.

Lights from Wal-Mart and hard to find lights from Zbattery.

Nichias and Stars from Illumination Supply.

A marathon!! 8)

Looking good, Justin!

Wow! You can do it OL!

So does this mean I need to be awake at midnight when they are posted? :P Nie work though.

This will definitely be going in the mod reference thread, old lumens can probably have a post all to himself tbh… :bigsmile:

fokin niiiiiiiiiiice :smiley:

Very cool!

O-L is a one-man MagModdingMachine !!!

Very nice.

Wife? Sleep? tsk, tsk, tsk… young whippersnapper just can’t handle it :wink:

If so, at least my chances are a bit better now!
Too bad they usually pop in the market just at the time when I’m in bed :bigsmile:

Slow down OL. I have sworn off buying any new lights until after the holidays and I want one of your Nichia 219 builds.

I will probably revive that Flaglite interest thread you posted a few weeks ago. Save your strength. :slight_smile:

Go O.L. Go, looking good!

Yep, he will probably post them up monday morning at 3 in the morning to make sure I don't get them all. ;) I'll admit I'm tempted by whatever he is doing with the greased lightning.

A mag light modding factory………. :slight_smile:

See the interest thread. Yes they will be sold. All 12 will be sold in the same thread, so there’s a better chance for people to get one.

Justin, you are a MODDING MACHINE!!! a danged maniac…but a MODDING MACHINE! :slight_smile:

You inspire us all. THANKS! Dan.

More photos in the OP.

Finished for tonight. The first 24 hours is declared dead and gone. I will go back to it tomorrow. Still got a lot to do, maybe too much.