How do you get started in modding

Hello everyone. I see that some folks here like to do the flashlight modding thing. What does that mean? How would a total newbie get started in the hobby of modding? I do not own a dremmel tool or a lathe or a grinder, etc. I am not saying that I am going to mod, but would like to learn the basics of how it is done, what is done, and what it all means. :)

I've gotta learn to solder, I think that is the first step. Then I can fix some of the stuff I break, or get better connections than what came from the factory.

solder? seriously? I want to learn to do this but somehow have to be able to see such small things. Can the members of this forum do that for me? LOL :) I am not sure if my 10x reading glasses would help me or not know unless you try I guess. LOL :)

These things are tiny, but if you can magnify them and light the work well enough you can probably do it. If you want to put a new LED or driver into a light, you pretty much need to be able to solder tiny parts. Doing the stuff Match does with lathes and whatnot is beyond the scope of what I can do.

+1 on learning to solder. I have two dead drop-ins with cracked/separated connections. My wife bought me a small soldering kit and I just haven't had a chance to take the plunge. Like anything else; won't be a big deal after you do it a few times.


so it looks like you must know how to solder to mod. Well I will just have to try. My cousin has a soldering station and maybe I can learn from him. He is a mechanic for a living, not an electronics guy if that makes any difference. I am thinking that he does not do very small items like we are typing about here.

You need to learn how to take things appart ..

Then put them back together ..

Soldering is easy , the electrics is usually easy , + and - ...

It may look hard , but its not .

Luckily I can solder, just not sure if i am proficient enough to tackle things this small.

And that is the reason that if you are a LEO, you want to pay the extra bucks for a Nailbender drop-in.

There is a difference between a casual hobby flashlight and one that your life (or someone else's life) depends on.

Its a good start to know the basics like taking the lights apart and putting them back together like old said. Its also good to get an idea what LED and driver you'll be working with and their max voltages and amperages. soldering the contact springs and switches would be a good start. some of these lights that we get don't have really good solder joints. going over it with some extra solder might help with possible future problems. if its not shiny and it looks dull and sloppy theres a good chance that its a bad solder joint.


The Biggest hangup to basic modding is fear of ruining the light. Best thing to do to get started is take the cheapest light you own, and pretend you just threw it away. Now that you've chalked it up as a loss in your mind, begin by completely tearing it down to its base components, then put it back together just as it was. If it lights back up, success! The rest of basic modding is merely parts substitution.

I only took my first light apart late last year... so this is a relatively new hobby for me as well.

This sounds like fun to me. :) I will just have to find out if I can see something that small first of all and go from there. :)

I am not normally hard on a light. I can not even remember droping anything....not even those night stick Maglites. However I am a bit nervious about a drop-in from Manafont being so cheap that if I ever do drop the may not work any longer. Again these are newbie concerns and may have no basis in fact at all. :) I do want to learn to solder even if it is just general things and not tiny stuff like flashlights. How far do you have to take down a light to see its guts? I have a light that I feel I paid way to much for from the CPF marketplace. Surefire 6P host with Overweady and McClicky parts in it and a Thrunite dropin. I found CPF before this p[lace....anywhio back on topic. How far do I take that light down to see just exactly what you guys are talking about and what I am in for if I learn modding?

Just for giggles just to give you an idea about my eyes and such I took the drop-in out of my light and with my glasses could read Thrunite off the reflector of the drop-in. I then figured out that the pill unscrews from the reflector. I then tried to see the LED and that is where things go down hill. I saw this little tiny spec that was a different color than the rest of what I was holding and by feel could I tell that there was a dome over the top of the LED. Now I think if I were to do any of this soldering I would need serious magnification beyond what I own. LOL How about this....why not send Match or Foy to my house and give me hands on training? LOL

Excellent instructions on modding a mag, Bob! A mod that would be perfect for simpleman or anyone that finds soldering too challenging (or just wants an easy, effective mod).

On another note, modding cn be as simple as changing the tail switch boot to another color or installing a GITD o-ring as a lens gasket. Modding can be as simole as that to manufacturing your own body components on a lathe. If you've done anything to a light to make it different than it was when you got it it then you are a modder already. :)


Found a pretty good thread on soldering for beginners

i knew how to solder (mostly) and had ugly donut hole with p7 in mte.. so i tried to swap it for an xm-l and it isn't pretty, but it works nicely

you'll find that replacing leds and drivers is easy and fun

but modding like match? that requires serious skills!

I pulled out my Looky which I use when I need stronger magnification than my glasses and even with that I still can not see the solder joints on the pill nor the lines in the LED like you see in those closeup macro pics. Just FYI. So maybe I will have to stick to those basic mods if I decide to do so. :) That is ok and just fine, hey you have to learn somehow. Here is that looky.

No I did not buy this crazy overpriced item, the dept. for the blind did and I am thankful for that.

How did I start? CPF when I joined back in 03 when it was friendlier. I still use it for info on modding.

That, plus screwing up! Learning by my mistakes. Best to practice on a junker light first and if you ruin it, so what? (I got good at my antique radio restoration hobby also but I won't tell you how many times I got knocked on my arse also!!)

I do not, and have never owned a lathe. Only access I have is to a bench grinder. Otherwise, I use all hand tools. Same fixed income boat as you so I still use the tools I had from before I had to quit work in 2004.

You can do it though... here's a plug for the mods I did. Needs to be bumped so others can see it anyway. Hand tools only.

The rush that you get when your mod lights up and works... nothing like it!

Start out simple, go slow, walk away immediately if you get frustrated and come back to it later, and learn the best time of day for you, when you feel the best. My best mods come at 3 in the morning; I'm a night guy. I do yoga to keep centered-nothing like it for me-so modding right after a yoga class is good, right after I've meditated and gotten in the 'zone.'

And don't listen to the rich guys on CPF that tell you to spend big bucks! Take what you need and leave the rest.


Neither can I. Not because of anything other than age-impaired vision. I used to be able to read the 1 point Flyspeck Sans font as printed on most motherboards (And their manuals), but now i can't. I often see things in my photographs which my naked eye had missed.

A good scanner can be useful for seeing stuff my eyes can't. You can then magnify it to a suitable size.

A couple of weeks ago I managed to repair a watch - the local jeweller had quoted a week's pay to fix it. The parts cost about an hour's pay.

And the 6 hours it took me to fix it - but it was a learning experience. I was still ahead of what the jeweller wanted to do the same job by about 30 hours' pay.

My first mod was on a (By the standards of the time) cheap light (I paid something like $40 for it) I'd broken. 6 years later it still works even if it is rather dim by today's standards. I own single AAA lights that are brighter.