SkyWolfEye Cree XM-L 18650 Torch

It’s been a bit quiet around here for a couple of weeks, as it’s the run-up to Download Festival here in the UK, so I’ve been busy sorting everything out for that. Just in time a new order has come in!

Due to a small accident with the old Maplin torch from a while back, (turns out they don’t float when dropped in the canal – ooops), a new one was sourced. Maplin is very expensive considering the imported crap they peddle these days, so I figured eBay would be the best bet for cheap imported crap 😉 This unit came with a few accessories, so I’ll start with the torch itself.

18650 Torch
18650 Torch

This is an aluminium unit, and does feel quite well built for the price, but it does have a few disappointing things. The lens assembly at the front is movable so focus the beam – the range goes from wide flood to a very small spot.

Power Switch
Power Switch

The power switch on this torch is at the back on the cap, covered by this obscenely brightly coloured cap.

Lens Assembly
Lens Assembly

The lens is a simple plastic moulding, but it produces a nice wide beam.

Enthusiastic Numbers
Enthusiastic Numbers

On to the battery supplied – this claims to be a 5.8Ah 18650 cell, which as far as I’m aware do not exist. I’m always dubious of lithium-ion cells from eBay, the Chinese seem to be well into a race to put the biggest numbers that will fit on the label. (I’ve even seen a USB powerbank claming to have 100Ah of capacity!). The largest capacity cells I have at present are LG HG2 18650s, and those are only rated at 3Ah a piece. They’re also relatively expensive.

Label
Label

The manufacturer couldn’t even get the label spelling correct! Although they do apparently have a 10 year “sheef” life. Never seen that from an 18650 either. They tend to discharge on their own if left unused in about 12 months. I wouldn’t like to think of what the self-discharge rate of these dodgy things is, and I don’t intend to keep them to find out either!

Battery Capacity
Battery Capacity

After a quick blast on the charger to top them up, on the discharge tester they go! This test was conducted at 1A, and this now shows the true capacity of 1.439Ah, which is honestly better than I was expecting. Already having high quality cells I wasn’t fussed about this aspect of the purchase, I knew these cells would end up in the bin.

LED Module
LED Module

Unscrewing the lens housing at the front gives access to the LED module – this is a Cree XM-L die in here, although it might not be a genuine Cree (or possibly a factory reject). The LED housing is aluminium, the LED uses this as a heatsink.

Positive Contact Spring
Positive Contact Spring

Nothing special about the back of the module after it’s been unscrewed from the barrel. There’s a couple of O-Rings to seal the sliding lens assembly, I lubricated these with some silicone grease to try & make the housing somewhat splashproof.

Control PCB
Control PCB

The control PCB is pulled out of the housing to reveal the circuitry. The LED is controlled by a SOT-23 mode IC & a SO-8 MOSFET. There’s nothing complex about the LED current limiting, just a bunch of SMD resistors in parallel to set the limit. This torch, like 99% of Chinese import torches from eBay, has a multi-mode IC with SOS & strobe. I don’t need this crap, and it’s easily bypassed.

Modifications
Modifications

Here I’ve desoldered the MOSFET from the board & jumped across it’s drain & source connections, converting the torch to simple ON/OFF control.

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