DIY: Cheapolite! Powerful 6 x AA / 2 x D / 3 x D / 4 x D / 5 x D / 6 x D flashlight, very cheap

DIY: Cheapolite! Powerful 6 x AA / 2 x D / 3 x D / 4 x D / 5 x D / 6 x D flashlight, very cheap

I have created some homemade flashlights pretty easily some months ago and I would like to share the instructions with you so you can create some too in case you are interested. They are very bright and cheap for their power output. I call them "cheapolites".

You only need to buy two products in Dealextreme (free worldwide shipping) or more optionally (Kaidomain also offers free worldwide shipping, but looking for cheaper products in other similar webs as Focalprice, Manafont, Tinydeal, etc. is a good idea):

1) A good drop-in that fits Maglite D versions or clones that can accept different range of voltage input. Here you have some options (you only need one):

* 5 x R2, 5 modes (my choice) for 33.65 USD: (single mode for 33.96 USD here:

* 6 x Q5 for 27.10 USD:

* XM-L T6 for 19.70 USD:

* Hybrid for 26.35 USD:

2) A Maglite that uses D batteries or a clone. If you chose 2D version, I recommend using AA batteries through AA-to-D adaptors which work in serial so that you can rise up the voltage input. For longer versions (3D or more) I recommend using just D batteries unless you are sure that the drop-in module accepts more voltage. Here you have some clone options (you will only need one):

* 2D (my choice) for 12.38 USD:

* 3D for 13.51 USD:

* 4D for 13.90 USD:

* 5D for 15.13 USD:

* 6D for 17.90 USD:

3) Just in case you chose 2D version, I recommend this serial 3xAA-to-D adaptors (you will need two) for 1.99 USD: (I would also recommend magnets, you will only need one but here they come in packs of 20 for 2.50 USD:

4) Optionally, you can buy some improvements or modifications, for example glass lens for 1.31 USD: (colored effect for 1.77 USD: In that pages you can find packs just in case you want more than one flashlight and then you save some money (for instance 5 pack for 2.59 USD: You can also buy some o-rings (including GITD, Glow in the dark), lube or whatever you want. Use your imagination! :)

Now the simple steps to assemble all together and make it work:

1) Make the drop-in fit into the flashlight body. It's very likely you will need to sand down or grind the drop-in and even the flashlight body in some cases. This can be a little bit tired but it's funny.

2) Put batteries inside the flashlight body. If you chose AA batteries with adaptors (read above), you will probably need to use a magnet (or whatever that makes contact) at the positive pole of the first adaptor you insert in the flashlight because adaptors have a very flat positive pole.

3) Create contact between positive-positive and negative-negative of the drop-in and the body (flashlight body must be clean enough). Remember that the negative of the body is the body itself. This is the last but sometimes the most difficult step. You can use metal pieces, copper wires, springs… whatever! just make a good metallic bridge to make the contacts work. You won't need to solder. If it doesn't work or it blinks just try several times screwing and unscrewing, shaking… until you figure out what it's working wrongly so you can fix it. You need to make it work flawlessly so take your time. Don't worry, it's not difficult at all :)

3) If you want, improve your flashlight with glass lens. Do you want a floody flashlight? Then just sand down the lens :) Good o-rings and good lube are both a good idea too. I didn't use any heatsinking method but maybe you want to use some foil paper or other thing to improve this.

Here you have some possible examples:

4D XM-L T6 flashlight:

* 4D body for 13.90 USD:

* XM-L T6 drop-in for 19.70 USD:

* Total: 13.90 + 19.70 = 33.60 USD (without including batteries)

6D 6 x Q5 flashlight:

* 6D body for 17.90 USD:

* 6 x Q5 drop-in for 27.10 USD:

* Total: 17.90 + 27.10 = 45 USD (without including batteries)

2D 5 x R2 flashlight using AA batteries:

* 2D body for 12.38 USD:

* Two 3xAA-to-D serial adaptors for 1.99 USD each:

* 20 * 8mm magnets (you will only need one) for 2.50 USD:

* 5 x R2 5-mode drop-in for 33.65 USD:

* Total: 12.38 + 2*1.99 + 2.50 + 33.65 = 52.51 USD (without including batteries)

That's all! I hope you enjoy it doing it as I did. I would love to see pics of your work and your beamshots ;) I am sorry about my English.

Thanks for the links!! thats some great references to get started.

I have a similar looking torch (external appearance, mine has the bulb connected to the reflectors) bought from a local departmental store 10 years ago, but i bought a 4D and a 1D version in grey. Probably not the same torches, but the 1D came with a 4x serial AA adapter which mean that it was mechanically and electrically the same as the 4D minus the tube length.

Regardless, these builds your showing are pretty cool!. Just thermal issues as is the norm with drop-ins.

This is not a good idea. For example, Energizer E95 alkaline D size battery maximum discharge current is 1A ( ). The Power of 4 D size batteries at 1A is 4*1.5V*1A = 6W. The Power of XM-L T6 dropin is 3.35(XM-L Vf at 3A)*3A = 10.05W(LED driver efficiency - 100%). The real LED driver have efficiency less than 80%, so the power of XM-L dropin(80% driver efficiency ) is 12.6W. At that power the current throught 4D batteries will be 12.6W/(1.5V*4)= 2.1A,

that is much more than Energizer maximum discharge current

Can always try to use NiMH? Are Alkalines only rated to 1/8C discharge or so? (I realised it was low, but not this low?)

Thanks for the information. I am using 6 x AA alkaline until now without any kind of problem. When you think it's not a good idea, do you mean it could explode? I hope not. In fact AA batteries get very hot after using the light for a while...

No, it probably won't explode, but you'll get abymal runtimes since batteries in general and especially alkalines provide less capacity under higher load. The cheapo 3AA adapter also tend to have high resistance which ironically helps limit the current. IOW, it works, but not a terribly well engineered product. But whatever, it's just a hobby.

Personally, unless you really like maglites, I'd just go get the Trustfire 1200 -ish 2x18650 body or clone that these drop-ins were originally designed for. It's pretty cheap at ~13$.

Unfortunately neither that or the maglite is designed for heatsinking LED's, so some foil wrapping is probably a good idea.