The UltraFire C88/XM-L - as it Should Be
Once again, E1320 has created an absolute gem of a flashlight. This December past, E planned to re-emitter a few C88s and offered to make one for me. Per past builds, I was given a choice of drivers and what kind of draw I was looking for. I've been so pleased with the 5-mode/no-blinky he used in my F15, we went with that and a few weeks later the much anticipated box from the East arrived with my prize, ensconced in generous layers of bubble wrap. This is the C88 as it should have been. A better suited torch for a high performance build you'll never find and of course, the C88's drop-dead sexy good looks doesn't hurt either. This is a case where Foy picked one of the hottest flashlight designs on the market, got the exact driver/emitter combination he wanted, all wrapped up in a fully potted, high quality C8 size mini-thrower capable of accepting multiple battery configurations. The MCU-C88 as interpreted by E1320 is a knock-out flashlight and gets an enthusiastic . . .
Bottom line: The MCU-C88 reminds us that UltraFire can produce a worthy product. If you already own a C88, you may be pleased with its quality but less than satisfied with its XP-E performance. A properly driven XM-L blesses a merely good C88 with greatness. It can run on three AAs, an 18650 or even a 26650. Its robust construction shrugs off heat with a laugh, its machine work is top drawer and the finish is beautiful. And as you can see, the C88 is definitely a looker. The C88/XM-L retrofit is popular and it's easy to why. This is an outstanding flashlight.
What I like:
- gorgeous design
- thick, heavy feel
- large screw-in pill
- bright/great throw
- stainless steel bezel
What I do not like:
- too short for a protected 18650
- scalloped tail cap
UltraFire MCU-C88 XP-E/Q5 Flashlight (original light)
$35.29 from Kaidomain http://www.kaidomain.com/product/details.S009365 (don't know where E got it from) Foy paid $65 for this build.
accepts 3 x AA primaries, 1 x 18650 or 1 x 26650 lithium-ion battries
regulated 5-mode user interface with mode memory: moonlight, low, medium, high and turbo
anodized 6061 aluminum
tail standing reverse clicky with 16mm boot
no IPX rating listed but no ingress noted after 20 minutes in the shower
tail cap draw: (3 x eneloop AA)
.02 amps - moonlight
.09 amps - low
.58 amps - medium
1.24 amps - high
2.65 amps - turbo
.02 - moonlight
.13 - low
.84 - medium
1.74 - high
3.53 - turbo
26650 King Kong: <<update>>
.02 - moonlight
.13 - low
.84 - medium
1.73 - high
3.53 - turbo
Foyometer: comparative light meter reading
33 - Foy's dimly lit office
150 sag to 130 - L2P/UF XM-L
151 sag to 145 - C88 with 3 x eneloop AA
166 sag to 161 - C88 with IMR 18650
To start with, let's acknowledge the obvious; the MCU-C88 is one fine looking lighting instrument. This is what a flashlight is supposed to look like and the all business shape feels as good in the hand as it looks. This is also a very rare instance when the losers in the design group convinced that all males like strike bezels were out-voted. This spectacular stainless steel bezel gives the C88 a slick, upmarket appearance . . . I did however, give this beautiful piece a good lap job, first with padded 150 grit followed by 10 minutes or so with a worn out sheet of padded 320 grit sand paper.
I'm not convinced the "cooling fins" as cut on the C88 do as much for heat dissipation as the combination of increased head mass and a thick chunk of a pill do. My limited experience and non-engineer observations have concluded that a strongly driven, thinly made flashlight with the emitter mounted on a small pill equals; nowhere for the heat to go. The C88 is generally thick everywhere, especially the head. It has a large, heavy screw-in pill and when fully potted as E has done, the result is a torch that simply does not overheat, even at 3.5 amps.
E did a pretty good job here but I still want to take this opportunity to say; people that get their balls in a knot with loud, righteous indignation over a slightly off-center emitter need to get a life. Your slightly off-center emitter will never mean the difference between life and death on your next search and rescue, assuming you ever take your flashlight anywhere more dangerous than the back yard for beam shot photos.
Also, however tacky some feel it is, Foy loves the GITD bezel o-ring.
Foy's C88 isn't perfect but you pretty much need a magnifying glass to see its flaws. The scalloped tail cap is the only design element I don't care for. It would have looked better uncut.
This over exposed shot still shows the beautiful lathe work . . .
I forgot to include thread closeups but I must say that these feel like silk. They are not square cut but they are smooth as butter.
This is the massive pill with some fine soldering by E and we have what might be some Fujik making an apperance. This kind of mass really helps conduct heat away from the emitter/driver.
I didn't unscrew the pill but this is the other side, looking down the tube.
Plastic battery magazine holds three eneloops nice and snug.
A protected 18650 is just a touch too long. I need to find a black spacer but until then - no biggie.
The C88 feels fat in the hand until you hold something really fat.
Below are some beam shots taken with a 1/4 second shutter speed @f2.8 . . .
Solarforce L2P with a 3-mode UltraFire XM-L drop-in.
C88 with three eneloops.
C88 with an IMR 18650.
I'm not crazy about the tint but the brighter hot spot indicates the increased throw the C88 has over a P60.
This is some sexy good looking flashlight but if you want the go with all this show, ya gotta step up to an XM-L.
Great job E for some quality work. This C88 has been completely reliable so far with not a single hiccup.