PT Apex+++ (Apex with an XM-L)

Hi guys. I know the Princeton Tec Apex isn't quite a "budget" light, but I figure some of you might be interested... I put an XM-L into my Apex. Read about it here:

(I figured that the other place was more appropriate, since the Apex isn't a budget light)

CPF is being awesome again.

Nice profesional work there from the CPF admin.


(I figured that the other place was more appropriate, since the Apex isn't a budget light)


Unlike a certain other site (where if you talk about a budget light the post is shamed into oblivion), most everyone here appreciates all types / prices of flashlights. So by all means, please post it here...besides, it gives Mr. Admin more page-views/month .

...and of course this site actually works.

Exactly what Match said. Also, you won't have to worry about losing your posts here like what happens over there on a weekly basis since they haven't figured out that doing routine back-ups is mandatory when running a website. That's just common fargin' sense!!! tsk tsk tsk

I would happily copy and paste it here, but that other site has been down all day and I don't want to retype it from scratch. :)

Here it is.

I bought a PT Apex a few years ago, with the luxeon LED. I later upgraded the LED to an SSC P4. Loved that. I named that the Apex+. Then in 2010 I made it the Apex++ by sticking in an XP-G warm white Q5. Today, it has become the Apex+++, containing a cool white XM-L T6.

- my XP-G had too tight a beam, but it could be because I burnt the dome slightly with my soldering iron, or the LED’s height wasn’t correct
- the XM-L produces a much broader beam than the XP-G; not sure if it's broader than the SSC P4 or stock Luxeon III but I think so
- my XP-G beam was ringy; the XM-L beam is too, but much farther out towards the periphery so I don’t notice it at all in use. The main beam (can I call it a "spot" even if it uses a collimator, not a reflector?) is much bigger and more useful, like a headlamp should be.
- the XM-L tint is quite green
- because the XR-E’s max current is 1A, I would assume that the SSC P4's max. current is also 1A, so I would assume that the driver is pushing 1A or less. At 1A or less, I've read some people's opinions that the XM-L should not produce much more output than an XP-G. I think I’m getting more output, but possibly because my XP-G is a warm-white Q5, and possibly because I burnt a spot on the XP-G’s dome.
- because of the rings, I’m still not getting as much brightness as I should be. Some light is essentially lost to those rings.
- I used aviation snips to trim the star down to an approximate shape, then filed it to get it to fit into the plastic holder
- it wasn't easy to center the LED—you'd have to file it symmetrically, which I didn’t, so my beam is a little bit lopsided, but it’s not noticeable at all in use.
- I filed the star just enough so that it was a tight fit inside the black plastic LED holder
- solder the LED before you put it on the heatsink, or the heatsink will make it tough to heat up the pads
- working with a regular-sized star was much easier to work with than the 10mm XP-G board, because the pads are way bigger and farther from the LED (see comment above about burning the dome!)
- I used my recently purchased desktop vise, and it helped a lot
- total mod time = 1.5 hrs, including some trial & error. If I did it again, it would take an hour
- outdoors: wow, this thing lights up everything now. I don’t remember what the Apex or Apex+ were like, but I do remember that their beams were quite wide and even, which I really liked. The Apex++ I didn’t like much because of the narrowness of the beam and of course the ringiness. I had to move my head around too much. I think the Apex+++ has the widest beam of all, and it’s excellent. It lights up the whole yard, and lights it up very evenly. It makes the Apex a great headlamp again.

Pics: (note: the wall is not white, so the colours aren't accurate, but the relative difference is a good indicator)

The Apex++ with XP-G warm white LED:

Apex+++ with XM-L cool white LED:

the vise I bought:

the LED after cutting and filing down the board:

Hey cool, Mr. multiples of 3... how'd you do that?

i know google caches pages , so I just put in your link. I did this is chrome ,and works in the google . "cache:"

Thanks for the review. I have an old Back Diamond Ikon that I modded to XP-G and added an external heat sink to handle the additional heat. Since the XP-G has less resistance than the old luxeon that it replaced, it gets driven much harder by the stock driver board. The XM-L has less resistance than a XP-G and should get an additional boost. All things being equal, the XM-L produces more lumens per watt that the XP-G, so it will definitely be brighter, especially noticeable at 1A or above. My setup is a 3 x AA and is as bright as my brightest XP-G flashlight... all in a very compact package.

Thanks to your beam shots (and making me jealous), now I have to tear apart my Ikon again to jam an XM-L in there. Tongue out