Lately I have gotten back into flashlights a little. Not only did I get a really interesting light designed by flashlight connoisseurs that I wrote about recently, but I also received a P60 drop-in that I can put in any one of a bunch of different P60 hosts that I have. The drop-in uses a recently introduced Cree XP-L “High Intensity” LED, which instead of having a round dome of clear plastic over the light emitting die, has a clear flat surface. The dome works well in gathering light and shooting it out generally in one direction, but if you’re going to use a reflector anyway, the dome acts like a magnifying lens, making the die appear bigger to the reflector and therefore harder to focus. The flat window results in a smaller appearing die that the reflector can focus better, resulting in more throw. The light I got recently has the domed XP-L “High Density” LED while the drop-in has the tighter focusing XP-L “High Intensity” LED, and in a somewhat larger reflector that is used in P60 drop-ins. It has less light output overall and isn’t drawing as much current as in the smaller high performance light, but still shines more light on distant objects.
The new drop-in got me playing around with some of the different P60 hosts I have to find a good home for it. Some of the hosts really aren’t that great and I had fun a few years ago baking a couple of them in the oven to turn them from black to a copper color. I found one light that was kind of a failed purchase for me. I ordered the host and drop-in together when it was advertised having a super duper LED (for the time) SST-50 LED, but when it arrived, it had kind of a run of the mill XM-L LED instead. The seller gave me a partial refund eventually, but the XM-L drop-in wasn’t something I would want. It had a cool white tint and the modes were High, Medium, and Strobe. I really don’t like cool tints and like strobes even less. But the host seemed decent: a clone of a nicer Solarforce L2, which itself is a clone of a pricey American light, the Surefire 6P, used by a lot of police officers. It came in boring black like another nearly identical clone I already had. So I thought I might try baking it today and seeing how it would turn out. At first it didn’t look like it would change colors, but after 20 minutes or so on broil it finally changed to copper. The body tube looks like the color of new copper pipe, but the head and tail came out more of a brown. I still think it’s an improvement.
As I was rummaging through my old drop-ins I found one I had bought a while back with a Cree XT-E LED. The XT-E came out in 2012 with a flurry of other LED’s I wrote about, but was never adopted in flashlights due to a distinct yellow spot in the beam. So I never had much use for the otherwise cool white XT-E drop-in, though I liked that it had 3 non-blinking modes. I also found a Nichia 219B LED mounted to a copper circuit board that I had ordered a couple of years ago. I like buying new LED’s so I can add their pictures to the Flashlight Wiki, but the Nichia LED has a great tint and high color rendering so I was hoping to use it in a flashlight one day. It occurred to me that it might not be that hard to remove the XT-E with the ugly yellow spot in the beam and swap in the Nichia LED. My soldering equipment is really awful because I never have spent the money to get a good setup. Still, I got out my crappy soldering equipment and after being frustrated with one soldering iron, found another that worked okay and let me remove the XT-E and install the Nichia 219B. And it worked! So that was pretty nice. Now I had a new-looking 2-tone copper colored host and a 3-mode drop-in with one of my favorite LED’s and no strobe!