Easy-to-assemble and inexpensive first DIY light?

Interesting. If I understand correctly, though, the XR-E is a lot lower-powered than an XM-L or even an XP-G2 running at similar amperage. The gears are beginning to turn here. I’m thinking I may get it, swap out the emitter for an XP-G2 (because the amperage would be similar enough that the switch shouldn’t fail, right?) and the reflector if it’s plastic (maybe even if it’s aluminum), and use the XR-E on something else later. Maybe something smaller. Just a quick thought, as I’m a little doped-up at the moment.

Either way, it looks like I’m going to renege on that “hand off wallet until head is clear” rule…

Generally speaking, an XR-E will be a better thrower because it has higher surface brightness and a tighter beam angle. An XR-E at 1A would outthrow an XM-L at 3A, even though the XM-L puts out much more light.

Lux vs. Lumens:

Lux = spot intensity at the brightest point in the center

Lumens = total light output across the entire area

XR-E = high-lux/low lumens

XM-L = low-lux/high lumens

Figures. Just when I thought I had it all figured out…

Ah well, I am enjoying reading all the charts and graphs and plain text info on all of this.

I went ahead and ordered that C8 on ebay. I mean, for $6? Come on, I had to. Almost ordered two (and may yet, and tell the wife I blame the meds) — one to keep and one to mod. Now I need to figure out the rest of my plan so I can dissect it when it arrives. That’s right. Even though it fits the bill, I want to take it apart and “fix” it. You know…if it ain’t broke, mod it till it almost is.

:bigsmile: that’s the spirit. :bigsmile:

Alright, so is there some way to tell this? Like, say I spot an emitter I haven’t read about before. Is there something in the specs which tells you it’s a better thrower or flooder? Or is it only by trial-and-error, and the efforts of people on this forum?

Seriously, I’ve learned soooo much in the span of the day here. It’s the best way I can imagine spending a day recouping. You guys are great, and that’s not the drugs talking. Well…not just the drugs at least. :wink:

There is a lot of information in this thread.

But if you have any questions about other specifics I didn't mention feel free to PM me. :)

Hey Pulsar, any chance you’d still be willing to part with that host? Since I went ahead with the generic C8, I wouldn’t expect the same deal (the helping me get started factor isn’t really there now), but I have to tell you that burnt orange is calling me. I’m already eyeing a P60 project anyhow, so I think it would be great (especially since I’m not totally sure I’ll actually change the C8).

So if you’re still willing to work with me on it, I’m interested. These pain meds really aren’t messing with my mind like I had hoped expected, so I’m not worried about making dumb decisions…but I am excited to start tinkering. If you’d rather not, no big deal. I’ll find another host.

Wow! You must have had that at the tips of your fingers, rojos!

Your post is worth a lot, to a lot more of us than just the OP!!

And now I’ll go back to reading and learning more from it!!

Thank you!


well… Funny story… Come to find out my fiance really, really liked that light and didn’t know I stripped parts out of it. I told her I was going to give it away, and her face dropped… So tomorrow I got to order parts to make it the best I can possibly make it for her.

But it’s not hard to do it yourself. Just take the pill, lens, all orings and switch assembly out and bake it in the oven, or use a torch. You can fade them like gords does. If you search m10 flame here you should find some info from gords.

I’m really sorry, but I didn’t know she actually liked any of my lights, especially my cheapest one

Hey, no worries! I actually think I developed a plan anyhow. I’m looking at a list of parts, all from fasttech. In fact, if anyone has any input, I’d appreciate it. Here’s what I’m thinking:

Host: http://www.fasttech.com/products/1601/10002463/1198400 (alternately available with a smooth reflector)

Emitter: http://www.fasttech.com/products/1609/10001903/1136801

Driver: http://www.fasttech.com/products/1612/10001683/1122302-8-amc7135-4-group-25-modes-led-flashlight-driver-c

Plus a couple batteries (http://www.fasttech.com/products/1420/10000377/1182401 maybe?) and a charger…because I still haven’t found mine after the recent move. Maybe even some spare silicone tailcaps.

Any idea how to tell what size that reflector is? Thought of trying out one of each (smooth and OP), for the sake of it. I dunno, not really sold on that host. Going to look around a bit more I think.

What else am I missing?

ETA: Just read all about baking/torching/heatgunning/wood-firing the anodized finishes. Friggen awesome. Thanks for that heads-up! This thread is so dang informative!

ETA: The idea behind this second light is: since I already bought the C8 with the XRE, and that’s supposed to be a dedicated thrower, I figured I’d contrast it with a dedicated flood, with a much warmer color to boot. Plus, I may not do anything to the C8, but I’ll actually have to put this one together. I’m thinking that’ll give me a good picture of the whole realm of possibilities.

The emitter is going to be a very warm temp, I'm assuming you realize that? This will result in reduced brightness but with a more yellow color closer to what a standard incandescent flashlight would have. This page has a chart to give you an idea of the color range of the various temps:


The emitter you selected is listed as 2800-3000k making it on the warm side of the scale. Some people like these as it looks more natural, and give better color rendering while a cooler emitter is brighter but makes colors look faded and washed out. I have a flashlight with a very warm XR-E emitter that I use when grilling; this allows me to see the condition of the food I'm cooking better than a cool emitter.

The host you listed will have a very small emitter reflector; I would assume only 18-20mm; only 23mm for the host overall diamter, take away a couple of mm for the bezel and that doesn't leave much. Again, this will be very floody, not a thrower at all.

I don't know about the cells you selected; I typically purchase these:


...as they are decent cells and are generely reviewed positively. Typically, it is not recommended to go cheap on your cells.

Chargers: I use this one, and have never had any issues. Protected cells are a tight fit, but they work. It's will chage two cells, and is a universal charger so you can charge 10440s, 14500s, 16340s, 18350s, and 18650s.



If you ever antcipate moving up to 26650-based lights, I use this charger: <Added! Read GaryB's warning below!>


It's bigger, fits the protected cells better, and supports up to 26650-sized cells.

To make you own gold/copper/bronze colored lights; just disassemble the a black-anodized host entirely, making sure there are no o-rings or other non-aluminum parts on the light, and put in a toaster oven on the hottest broil setting for a while. It will start out by turning a dark brownish color and moving through a deeper bronze tint through until it becomes a goldish color. You can stop the process at any time if you find a color you like. The final color will depend on the temperature and the anodizing on the light, so different pieces may not match perfectly when you are done.

keltex78, you linked the same charger twice. And that TR-006 has had many issues reported from users having it burn up. Maybe you got an ok one. The TR-005 has been well reviewed without issue but is only recommended for 26650's and/or very high quality high capacity 18650's due to it's 1.5A charge rate.


Thanks for the heads up, I corrected my link above, and added a warning about the 006. Maybe I did get a good one; I've used it to charge 26650s and 18650s for a few weeks now with no issues. Maybe it'll burn up on me eventually, or maybe I'm lucky.

Or maybe I should buy the Nitecore 4-bay charger and not worry about it... :bigsmile:


Love the input. I am still on the fence for the ground-up build. Leaning toward a P60 for a few reasons. First is, I still play with Legos so it seems like a fantastic choice for building and rebuilding. Also, I really want to play with baking it. Wondering if there’s a way to use some kind of heat sink to make designs while baking — maybe solid copper, like a ground wire? Not to be forgotten is that building a P60 is highly recommended among y’all and it’s clear you know what you’re talking about. Who am I to argue?

I didn’t realize it but that build I listed up there is basically an exact copy of the one you linked earlier, keltex. And the P60 build I’m looking at was also recommended somewhere up above. So, apparently, my original ideas are not so original. Anyhow, I’m looking at about $30, batteries and charger included for the whole build, whichever way I choose to go. That’s a bit more than I wanted to go, but I think I’ll manage.

I am going to go thumb through the WTS ads and see if there’s anyone selling any part of what I’m looking at. I figure it would be nice to help a fellow member, and get some parts sooner to boot.

By the by, the P60 build I’m considering (which is apparently not my own idea) is as follows:

Host: http://www.manafont.com/product_info.php/ultrafire-wf501b-flashlight-tube-metallic-black-no-led-emitter-p-4050

Empty drop-in: http://www.fasttech.com/products/1616/10002206/1159000 (unsure whether I’ll go smooth or OP)

Driver: http://www.fasttech.com/products/1612/10001683/1122302

Emitter: http://www.fasttech.com/products/1609/10001903/1136801-cree-xm-l-t4-7c-2800-3000k-white-led-emitter-with- (still want to try a warm one)

Paper insulators: http://www.fasttech.com/products/0/10001923/1138102-paper-insulation-gaskets-for-cree-xm-l-t6-led-emit

It should be awfully floody, which is alright because I’m expecting that C8 with the XR-E, which is supposed to be very throwy. I like the idea of trying out both ends of the spectrum. Once again I’ll ask - is there anything else I’d need for this build? Are there any problems you can see with the compatibility of all these parts?

Sounds good to me; the 501b wouldn't be my first choice for a high-powered XM-L drop-in as it has more airspace inside the head to restrict heat sinking. The 504b and Sky Ray host I linked above have less space meaning less wraps of aluminum/copper foil between the head and drop-in/pill assembly. A lot of hardcore flashaholics here use copper foil, but I just use aluminum and get good results. On any high-powered P60 drop-in, I highly recommend you do this to improve heat transfer from the drop-in to the body. Just wrap the pill tightly with tightly/neatly folded aluminum foil until it becomes a press-fit into the host:

+1 Especially when driven with the 2.8A driver you linked. I have a fake Solarforce L2 which is basically a 504b. I really like it. Also consider the copper foil I linked above (although aluminum foil will work too) and don't forget thermal glue for gluing your emitter down on the pill. I'd pickup both OP and SMO reflectors (perhaps complete reflector & pill combos) so you have both to play with try.


As a newbie myself I stumbled into this thread and found tons of useful information. Mouser.com is a great place to spend some shopping time. As is lighthound.com when looking for hosts. The Solarforce L2P is fantastic, for about $22 with no drop in module. Solarforce also makes a turbo head, the M3, that is outstanding and a great place to start for modding to high intensity with XM-L emitters…it has a very deep aluminum reflector but is mildly driven (can’t get a reading on the amperage at the tail on mine with my cheap dmm, but I’ve read other’s posts at around 2.1A for 700 lumens)

Will definitely keep an eye on this thread as it’s links and suggestions are top level. Thanks everyone, especially you Boris the Spider for your pointed questions that get all these great answers! :wink:

Sorry if this tends to muddy the waters, but I’m on the same trail, ISO “pretty” hosts. That “” means “IMNERHO”, of course, but I had to share this one:

Here’s a classic example of Old-School Class

It’s not “lego-able”, but the reflector and lens should “work” as-is; and once you can measure its diameter, replacements (designed to optimize whatever LED you choose) are a HK Post trip away. You may have to sacrifice some dead PR-base bulbs, but who doesn’t have a few of those lying about?

Obviously you won’t be able to push massive current through your LED without some serious Al plugs and fillers, but a mildly-driven XM-L (perhaps with 26650s) or XP-G would still make this one’s original light appear foolish and silly. Even if it’s a ‘C’ size body, you could still lose your single 18650 in there, and have plenty of room for Al and drivers (although probably NOT on the customary round boards).

I’m not in any position to pull the trigger on this one, so if anyone takes up my challenge, how about a new thread for “Hot Rodding the Oldies…”?

Sorry if this is OT, it just seemed to fit, to someone who’s…

(full disclosure: I started this hobby “hot-rodding” old flashlights; it’s just that none of them are worth looking at)

Yeah, these guys are great! I went from knowing virtually nothing about these lights in general to being very comfortable picking out parts to build one, all in the length of this thread. In fact, I’d be comfortable answering questions about what to look for in a driver to use with which emitters thanks to the awesome links with lots of technical data. Just need to work on my practical (hands-on) knowledge now.

I’m so excited to build this thing and move on to the next project. Maybe I’m demented, but I’m even looking around for ideas on custom tubes so I can do a real ground-up build. I haven’t a lathe, but I can be pretty crafty. That’ll be a little ways down the road though…

ETA: Garry and keltex - I took a look at that other host. I didn’t realize initially that there was a difference in the spacing which would create a thermal issue, but I do like the appearance of the other one a little better. It’s less “tacticool” and just more classy. Looking for thermal paste on either fasttech or manafont so I can add it to one of the orders. Probably just going to use aluminum foil for now. I can get fancier later.

Check out some of OldLumens' work, he sets the bar pretty high...