PHOTOS of some ultra-compact modded lights & smallest 18650 zoomie ever!

Been awhile since I’ve posted any photos. Haven’t done any major new mod builds, but I have continued to tinker with my existing lights and thought I’d post some updated photos. :slight_smile:

From left to right:

  • Manker BLF Special Edition A6 (unmodded, shown for scale) - 121mm long 18650 tube style light with reflector.
  • Aleto N8 - 92 mm long 18650 zoomie. modded with black duracoat, electronic sideswitch with rubber button, FET driver with moppydrv firmware, 20mm aspheric lens, rubber grip, 5000K XPL HI.
  • Aleto N8 - 88 mm long 18650 zoomie. modded with black duracoat, electronic sideswitch with metal button, FET driver with moppydrv firmware, 20mm fresnel lens, 5000K XPL HI.
  • XTAR WK42 - 77 mm long 16340 reflector. modded with FET driver with moppydrv firmware, 4000K XPL HI.
  • Convoy S2+ mini - 73 mm long 18500 triple. modded with electronic sideswitch, external heatsink, lumodrv firmware with FET driver, Triple XPL 3D.

Here’s a closer look at my current EDC:

It is a heavily modded Aleto N8 zoomie. The stock Aleto N8, which is no longer available, was the smallest 18650 zoomie ever marketed at 107mm long. For me, that wasn’t small enough for pocket EDC so I shrank it by 19mm. At just 88m long this is quite possibly the smallest 18650 zoomie ever built! The entire light is 4mm shorter than a Sipik 68.

The battery compartment has limited space, but does allow the light to fit 18650 cells up to 67mm long including button top Samsung 30Q, Efest 35A and LG HE4. Works with flat and button top. The flood mode is nearly 90 degrees wide. Much wider than that of a Sipik 68. Peak throw at turn-on with a fresh Efest 35A is approximately 29k lux. Downside is because the light is so small, it gets hot FAST. Turbo timer is set around 15 seconds or so due to heat.

The switch is a soft touch metal button, that requires minimal pressure to activate. The button is small and deeply recessed between a #6 finishing washer making accidental pocket activation very unlikely.

The light is so small that just looking at it, it looks more like a 16340 or 14500 light. The build is unusual in that the majority of the interior of the light is battery compartment. The relatively small pill only extends halfway down the bezel. Typically, lights with sideswitches mount the sideswitch in a compartment ahead of the battery compartment. Not so these lights, where the sideswitch is mounted on the outside of the battery tube and the battery extends below the switch.

I like this one for EDC because of it’s small size, good tint, extremely wide usable beam and ability to focus. Also, the outer casing is all metal so it’s faster to pull out of the pocket than my other Aleto N8.

I previously posted a long build thread detailing what went into modding the Aleto N8 . I ended up with two N8s, because after modding it so much I had enough spare parts to make a second one.

My other Aleto N8:

This one is very similar to the previous light. Main differences are I added a rubber grip to the body tube and installed a 20mm aspheric lens instead of a fresnel. Driver is the same. Due to the more efficient optic, this one is brighter … over 40k lux at turn-on with a fresh cell. The rubber grip around the body tube and rubber button provide exceptional grip, and the button is stiff enough that tailcap lockout isn’t necessary for pocket carry.

The rubber grip on this light is the “ribbed” portion around the battery tube and is in 3 sections.

Biggest downside compared to the fresnel lens version is its longer length (94mm), and that the rubber grip makes it slightly harder to pull out of the pocket.

Here’s some more photos of both of my Aleto N8s side-by-side:

The “frosted” look to the lens in the bottom picture of the leftmost light is actually the rings on the fresnel lens. The rings are so small and tightly packed they aren’t visible from a distance. This light has the fresnel lens mounted behind a glass protective lens.

Convoy S2 Mini+:

This is what happens when you take a Convoy S2+ mini, shorten the pill, remove the tailcap, add a sideswitch and external heatsink. I made a previous thread detailing the build on this light, but this photo shows the final external heatsink design.

Despite being much shorter than a stock Convoy S2+ mini 18350 light, my modded version runs on a much larger 18500 cell.

At 73mm long this light is tiny, but powerful. On an IMR 18500 cell it outputs around 2500 lumens on a fresh cell of beautiful 3D tint light. Very floody and impressively bright. Definitely not a thrower though.

The finish looks a bit “homemade” though. I don’t have the ability to apply fresh anodizing and Duracoat takes forever to cure. To try to match the Convoy S2+ mini’s beautiful grey anodizing, I mixed up acrylic hobbypaint and applied that, with a layer of super-glue as a lacquer on top. It looks ok, is very tough, and most importantly… is extremely fast and easy to apply. Biggest downside is the superglue looks too shiny, even when lightly sanded after application.

I’ve since revised this method with a new technique that gets rid of the shine. After applying the super-glue coat, I paint over the glue with a second layer of flat acrylic colored pain. If any of it wears through all it will reveal is the super-glue. This new method works well, but I haven’t yet tried updating this light with it.

This is the second light from the right in the top picture. Not much to see since the exterior of the light is unchanged. Of the lights posted here, this one was by far the simplest mod. Latest update involved replacing the emitter with an XPL HI 4000K and the driver with a FET with moppydrv. This light has beautiful tint and amazing throw for such a small reflector light, though powered by an IMR 16340 cell it’s not an ultra-compact powerhouse like the other lights in this post.

Here’s a link to my previous BLF post describing this mod. Entire mod takes about 3 hours. While not hard, it’s still much more complex than a simple driver and emitter swap. The mod required making a new switch platform, and installing a new switch. Also, it was necessary to drill out some of the interior of the head to make room for the new driver.

See Post #12 for beamshots from the Aletos.

As always, so much appreciation for the trailblazing you do on the small ones…

I think your finish on your 18500 triple is fine, too many people put emphasis on flawless finishes… Mine all end up looking used and your skills painting to match are much better than I could ever do…

Thanks again, and I always look forward to your builds…

Thanks. I really enjoyed working on these lights.

For some of my more recent builds it’s been a fun exercise in trying to see “just how small can I get this light?” (Aleto N8 zoomies, Convoy S2+ mini, and DQG Tiny III triple) I’m pretty pleased with the results. :bigsmile:

Incidentally, even though the Aleto N8 is no longer available, I see no reason why other 18650 zoomies couldn’t be made as short using similar techniques.

Watching your DQG triple build was like watching your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your brand new car… Quite a dilemma, wreck a Tiny III to make a better light…. That was a feat, and while not without problems, your perseverance paid off…

That 18350 mod into the short 2500+ triple is incredible…

I love this stuff. Can you show them in both zoom in/out?

Nice work! What is the metal switch you are using on the N8?

Same tiny microswitch in both N8s. Got a bag of 50 of them for something like $2 on Ebay.

The coverplate that goes over the switch is made out of sheet aluminum. For the rubber one, I originally had it screwed in place. The 4 screws are still present, but I assembled and disassembled it so many times I ended up stripping the threads so it’s basically superglued in place now. I can still remove it with a screwdriver when needed. For the rubber button I cut down a standard 16mm switch boot.

The metal switch on the smaller N8 was made in the same manner. This time I didn’t attempt to screw down the cover. Instead it’s a single curved piece glued down with arctic alumina. The metal piston for the button was taken from one of my DQG Tiny 18650s that I’d turned into a host. I originally made my own piston out of a few pieces of aluminum glued together, but it didn’t look nearly as good as the DQG’s. The metal ring around the metal piston looks like it came as part of the switch… but it’s actually just a nickel plated #6 brass finishing washer. I filed the bottom flatter and widened the opening in the center with needle nosed pliers. The ring is glued on with silver epoxy.

The metal ring around the button’s piston serves 2 purposes: It holds the piston in and prevents it from falling off the light. Also it turns what would otherwise be a slightly protruding metal button into a deeply recessed one making accidental pocket activation extremely unlikely.

Here’s the same ring and button piston mounted in a DQG 18650 Tiny III (these pictures were taken before I converted this light into a triple). The finishing washer looks so good it looks like the light was manufactured with it:

I like your aletos. How many lumens are they?

I don’t have any way to measure their exact output. On the other hand they are both:

  • equipped with XPL HI emitters on copper Noctigons
  • have FET drivers
  • use 22 gauge wire and have 22 gauge wire spring bypasses.

At a guess, maybe 1500 lumens at turn-on with a fresh cell. This declines rapidly as voltage decreases and the turbo timer kicks in. My guess is sustained output at 50% power is closer to 750 lumens.


I am in Awe of your Ingenuity.

Like anyone with skills, you make it look so easy.

Quiet, Genius at work!

I’m still at the 50% Kill or Cure stage. Half of what I touch I “Mod” to death. LOL

Appreciate your sharing these with us, and giving us inspiration (for what to do with our “Dead Mods” box contents).

S-L :bigsmile:

Here’s a picture of the Aletos with a Sipik 68. All lights shown with bezels retracted.

Here’s a picture of the same lights with all bezels extended fully:

Note the much longer travel distance of the bezels on the Aletos compared to the Sipik. This is because I fine-tuned the travel distance so the bezel stops about 1mm from the top of the LED to give maximum possible flood width. I don’t think the focal length on the optics used on the Aletos is any longer than that of the Sipik. And in the case of the fresnel it might even be shorter.

The Sipik’s bezel just doesn’t retract very far and as a result gives a relatively narrow flood. This is probably partly because the Sipik 68 was originally engineered for a domed XRE emitter. The XRE sits much higher up than the XPE found in current generation Sipik 68s. Instead of re-engineering the light when they changed to the flatter emitter, they simply used the same parts.

Visible on both Aletos in the above picture is an area of slightly uneven bare aluminum just ahead of the switches. This is actually aluminum tape covering the electrical connection between the switch and the driver. There’s a small hole in the body tube under that tape. After the pill is screwed down, I reach into that hole with a tweezers to grab the switch wire from the driver. I then solder that wire to flat contact made of thin sheet brass or tin (insulated from the body tube with Kapton tape) that goes along the top of the body tube to the switch. This entire connection is in a recessed area of the body tube so the sliding bezel shouldn’t touch it. Once the connection is soldered up I put a piece of Kapton tape over it followed by a piece of aluminum tape which serves as the outer cover.

This cover is “strong enough”. Most of the time it is covered by the bezel and is only revealed when the bezel is extended. It’s strong enough to withstand occasional contact, though I do try not to touch it with my fingers. I considered making a permanent cover with arctic alumina, or gluing the edges of the tape down with super glue for a more secure fit. I rejected those because I like being able to easily desolder that switch wire in order to service the driver or bezel o-ring. If I remove the cover I always replace it with a fresh one.

Here’s a picture of all 3 lights in flood mode:

Notice how much wider the beam is on the Aletos compared to the Sipik. Note that in this picture both Aletos are at 2% power while the Sipik is running on a lithium primary at full power.

Same picture but at a different angle illustrating how much wider the floodbeam is on the modded Aletos compared to the stock Sipik 68:

Again both Aletos at 2% power. If I had the Aletos at 100% power I’m not sure the Sipik’s beam would even be visible. It would be completely washed out.

All lights in spot mode at full power:

Unfortunately, this picture doesn’t really show much because of the auto brightness adjust on my iphone. The actual light from the Aletos at this very short range on white paper was blinding to the eye and both are far brighter than the Sipik.

Awesome job on those Aleto zoomies! Wish we could still buy them…

40kcd in a pocket sized sk68 is a very desirable package

Long distance beamshots? :bigsmile:

Well, not very long distance, but best I can do at the front door with my iphone camera. Distance to the tree is 140’ as measured in Google maps:

Control shot:

Aleto N8 with 20mm aspheric (40k+ lux):

Aleto N8 with 20mm fresnel (28k lux):
The fresnel has a shorter focal length so produces a wider hotspot.

Stock Sipik 68 with XPE on lithium L91 primary:
The hotspot is barely visible at this distance.

Here’s a picture of the Aleto N8 with aspheric’s flood mode:

And the flood mode with the fresnel lens:
Flood isn’t quite as bright, but is slightly wider and has softer edges. The fresnel also has a wide corona of light outside of the main flood. This wider circle is caused by light coming off the tips of the fresnel ridges.

I took a picture of the Sipik 68 flood mode, but it isn’t useful as the autoexposure setting came out differently than the much brighter Aletos. Needless to say the Sipik’s flood mode only illuminates approximately 1/4 the area of either of the Aletos. And even that portion is far dimmer than any portion of the area illuminated by the Aletos.

Even though I haven’t found any other suppliers of the Aleto N8, I think it would be possible to mod a different 1x18650 zoomie, such as the MXDL SA-811, to be similar in length to my modded Aletos. However, one nice thing the Aletos do have is heatsink fins. the SA-811 is very lightly built with no fins.