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Thread: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

  1. #61

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    This thread makes me nostalgic for the "good old days" circa 2006, when I first became aware of CPF.

    Nowdays we're lucky to get a runtime plot for an important Mag LED light months after it's first available in the stores. ;>

    In those bygone times, whenever a new Mag LED light was released, it provoked huge interest and generated long threads full of runtime plots, lumen measurements, and beamshots.

    Before long disassembly instructions, complete with detailed pics of the light's innards, would appear.

    Following that there would be an analysis of the light's circuitry, complete with efficiency measurements and oscilliscope screenshots.

    Eventually there would be long threads full of discussion and pics of various modifications made to the stock light.

    The technical talent, creativity, and relentless determination of CPF regulars in those bygone days was nothing short of amazing.

    Anyone else remember threads on the "freeze pop" technique? Now that was amazing.

    .

  2. #62

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Okay, I'll be a little more clear on what I mean.

    I've tested this a few times and after what feels like 5-6 minutes, the light will cut down to the lower power mode. It does this with brand new alkaline batteries, as well as depleted ones. It does it consistently. It may be a new feature released recently. It may be an old feature that I just happened upon that they stopped putting on new ones. I don't know. It's a bit irrelevant. It does what it does.

    Now, in terms of what happens after this...all you have to do is turn the light off and then back on. No waiting required. As soon as you do, it returns to its 100% mode and stays there for another 5-6 minutes before doing the same thing and you have to repeat the process all over.

    Makes a lot of sense to me, considering the 100% mode is usually really bright - too bright for a lot of situations if you ask me. It may also be that the LED is driven slightly over what it's rated for, thus it's required to let it 'rest' to preserve the life of the LED. Don't really know. It could also be a safety feature. Could also be to prevent alkaline batteries from leaking...? Makes sense, since most people that buy Maglites generally don't care or want to care what they put in them. They just want them to work for a long time, every time.

    Anyway! I hope this helps. I'm confirming this, without a doubt, and stating for a fact that it is not due to drops in voltages.

  3. #63
    Flashaholic* Robin24k's Avatar
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    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    I just ran mine for 6 minutes on alkalines, and when I turned it off and then back on again, it was the same brightness. I will double-check with Maglite to see...if this dimming is indeed a new feature, the XL200 that I'm getting tomorrow should also have it.

    A side note though...mine is a pre-production unit, so this is an older light. What's the serial number on yours?

  4. #64

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Robin24k View Post
    I just ran mine for 6 minutes on alkalines, and when I turned it off and then back on again, it was the same brightness. I will double-check with Maglite to see...if this dimming is indeed a new feature, the XL200 that I'm getting tomorrow should also have it.

    A side note though...mine is a pre-production unit, so this is an older light. What's the serial number on yours?
    Not sure on that one bud. I ended up taking it back because the diode burnt up on it - the inside of the emitter was black and dark. I got another one, this time it does not dim. I tested the included batteries at just below 1.6v before use, and I was able to run it for 4hrs on high without any problems. Of course it did kill the batteries mostly. Now it'll go on high for about 20 seconds then click down to lower because of the drained batteries. Seems a lot of people have varying problems with the light...unfortunate.

  5. #65
    Flashaholic* Robin24k's Avatar
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    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    I think your first light might've been defective from the beginning, which was why it was dimming.

    Quote Originally Posted by KijanOZ View Post
    Now it'll go on high for about 20 seconds then click down to lower because of the drained batteries.
    Wait, what? You need to replace the batteries if they're drained...

  6. #66

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Robin24k View Post
    I think your first light might've been defective from the beginning, which was why it was dimming.


    Wait, what? You need to replace the batteries if they're drained...
    Lol, I know that. I'm saying that once you drain the batteries it'll go on high then drop down to low mode. That's all. :P

    Also, another very interesting thing to note is that the low mode on the XL50 is actually a strobe as well. That's right, the "low mode" on the XL50 is actually a strobe - I guess this is yet another way it conserves power. I wasn't sure at first but then, sure enough, I pointed at a ceiling fan and got ghost images of the blades. It's subtle but it's definitely there. It's just so quick that your eyes cannot see it under normal conditions but point it at a high velocity object and you'll notice it right away. You could also look at the beam through the viewfinder of a digital camera and see it I'm sure - much the same as you can see the refreshing of a TV or monitor on video.

    Edit: And yeah, that's kind of what I was hinting at to begin with. Defective light! :P
    Last edited by KijanOZ; 06-03-2011 at 01:31 PM.

  7. #67

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Quote Originally Posted by KijanOZ View Post
    Also, another very interesting thing to note is that the low mode on the XL50 is actually a strobe as well. That's right, the "low mode" on the XL50 is actually a strobe - I guess this is yet another way it conserves power. I wasn't sure at first but then, sure enough, I pointed at a ceiling fan and got ghost images of the blades. It's subtle but it's definitely there. It's just so quick that your eyes cannot see it under normal conditions but point it at a high velocity object and you'll notice it right away. You could also look at the beam through the viewfinder of a digital camera and see it I'm sure - much the same as you can see the refreshing of a TV or monitor on video.
    that's PWM, and yet another reason Mag haters hate Mags. Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) pulses the light to produce the effect of reduced output. basically, as you mentioned, it's a really fast strobe. if the frequency is high enough, the strobe effect will be completely undetectable. but the Mags use a frequency too low to avoid causing that visible strobe effect when shined on moving objects; try shining it on flowing water. Most good flashlights use PWM at frequencies high enough to be undetectable even on moving objects or use current control, which produces constant light at reduced levels. Current control is more efficient and produces longer run times. PWM gives you more output flexibility.
    Last edited by robostudent5000; 06-03-2011 at 11:35 PM.

  8. #68

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Hey Robin24k, I asked you a question about the XL series lights over on the thread that I started on the XL50.

    You never answered, so maybe you didn't see my question over on that thread.

    You mentioned several times about removing the battery carrier from the XL lights for long term storage to avoid draining the cells.

    I asked if you had tried unscrewing the tail cap about one turn instead of removing the battery carrier?

    As you unscrew the tailcap at some point the light will stop responding to button clicks. Back the tailcap out a bit more, just to be sure. At that point the circuit is broken and there should be no standby current flowing to drain the cells.

    I think this is a more convenient way to store the light long term. When you need to use the light you just tighten down the tailcap.

    Your method involves finding the battery carrier, removing the tailcap, inserting the carrier into the light, then tightening down the tailcap.

    The tailcap lockout method is commonly used when storing away lights that have standby currents.

    Is there something peculiar to the XL series that I'm missing that makes the tailcap lockout method undesirable?

    .

  9. #69
    Flashaholic* Robin24k's Avatar
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    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Sorry...CPF isn't fully reliable with topic replies, so I might not have seen it.

    The threads on the XL-series are fairly short and the battery contacts are quite long, so unscrewing the tailcap makes it wobble. I'm afraid that the tailcap will fall off entirely if the light is tossed around with other stuff, which means you would also have to hunt down the tailcap in addition to the battery carrier.

    Personally, I just refrain from using any XL-series lights as emergency lights. My XL200 is my EDC in a belt pouch, and my XL100 and XL50 sit on my desk in case the XL200 is not at hand.

  10. #70

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Robin24k View Post
    The threads on the XL-series are fairly short and the battery contacts are quite long, so unscrewing the tailcap makes it wobble. I'm afraid that the tailcap will fall off entirely if the light is tossed around with other stuff, which means you would also have to hunt down the tailcap in addition to the battery carrier.


    Thanks for the response, Robin24k.

    Tailcap on my XL50 takes just over 2.5 turns to go from tightened down all the way to free in my hand.

    Loosening it 1.5 turns always locks out the light reliably, so it still has one complete turn left before it'll come free of the body threads.

    Seems to me that's secure enough for storing around the house or in the glovebox of a vehicle.

    See your point about not carrying the XL50 that way in the pocket of a rucksack, because bouncing around in a rucksack the tailcap could possibly loosen and fall off.

    For carrying the XL50 in a rucksack, I'll do what I always did when carrying my good old 2C incans in a rucksack:

    1. Remove the tailcap.
    2. Remove the back cell, rotate cell 180 degrees, then replace the cell.
    3. Replace the tailcap.

    Except instead of rotating one cell, I'll rotate the whole battery carrier.

    .

  11. #71
    Flashaholic* Robin24k's Avatar
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    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Reversing the battery carrier is probably not a good idea, the positive contact on the LED module could short it out, and the pointed end now facing backwards could damage the tailcap. I don't think the tailcap will even screw down properly with the battery carrier reversed.

    Actually, having things not properly assembled (loose tailcap) bothers me more than the possibility of the tailcap coming off, so I never use any lock out tailcaps or things of that sort. Just a pet peeve of mine...hate it when things aren't assembled or aren't assembled correctly. My laptop (Dell Latitude E6410) has been laying in pieces for about a week now because I'm waiting for replacement parts to arrive, and it's really starting to get on my nerves. UPS Ground is ridiculously slow, and the long weekend only makes it worse.

  12. #72

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Robin24k View Post
    Reversing the battery carrier is probably not a good idea, the positive contact on the LED module could short it out, and the pointed end now facing backwards could damage the tailcap. I don't think the tailcap will even screw down properly with the battery carrier reversed.


    Thanks for the warning.

    You wrote that the XL series has protection built into the design of the carrier to prevent damaging the LED if inserted backwards.

    I'll be careful the first time I try reversing the carrier.

    .

  13. #73

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    what about inserting a thin piece of plastic/rubber/vinyl between the carrier and the tail cap?

  14. #74
    Flashaholic* Robin24k's Avatar
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    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    The tailcap is more difficult to screw on properly if it's in backwards, but it will still do so. However, there's no way the tailcap can get both + and -, so the light won't operate. That being said, there's no guarantee about shorting out the other end, so I would be careful and make sure everything is OK.

  15. #75

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    After over a month of daily use the Duracell alkies that came with my XL50 are getting kinda tired. Swapped out the old Duracells with new ones to compare the high output and it appears to be the same, so I put the old cells back in.

    When cliked on the light comes on at full high and maintains that level for several seconds before it begins to dim. It dims in a series of barely perceptible discrete steps, eventually reaching a level that looks identical to low level. You have to watch it closely to notice the stairstep decline in output.

    As the cells become more depleted the time to dim from full high to low output shortens, until it happens so fast that it seems to switch directly from high to low.

    After letting the cells rest and recover for a few hours, the high output will stay high longer and the stairstep dimming can be seen once again.

    I'm thinking the XL50 may have a setup something like the Icon lights, where the output automatically declines in a stairstep fashion to extend the runtime.

    Robin24k, have you noticed declining stairstep behavior in your XL50?

    .

  16. #76
    Flashaholic* Robin24k's Avatar
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    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    I think that might just be the almost dead alkalines, I use NiMH and haven't noticed any curious dimming patterns at all.

  17. #77

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Robin24k View Post
    I think that might just be the almost dead alkalines, I use NiMH and haven't noticed any curious dimming patterns at all.

    I know my observation is due to the light running on nearly dead alkies.

    However, so far as I know, alkaline decay curves aren't observed to occur in discrete steps.

    I can see the output dimming in discrete steps, not gradual, smooth dimming like other lights exhibit when running on depleted cells.

    It could be that the this stairstep dimming behavior also occurs with fresh cells, but so gradually that it can't be seen.

    Wish I had a decent logging meter so I could plot the XL50 output over time. I'm guessing that it'd look something like an Icon light's stairstep output.

    .

  18. #78
    Flashaholic jonnyfgroove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Here are runtime graphs for the XL100 if that's of any use.
    "Push back the night" - Bob Weir

  19. #79

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Quote Originally Posted by jonnyfgroove View Post
    Here are runtime graphs for the XL100 if that's of any use.

    Thanks jonnyfgroove! I hadn't seen XL100 runtime graphs before.

    Knew the discrete dimming steps weren't due to my imagination.

    This is a fairly sophisticated scheme of regulation, conceptually similar to the system used by Icon.

    Eight minutes of flat output with alkies, then controlled stairstep dimming for something like an hour, then a gradual decline.

    Sixteen minutes of flat output with NiMH, then stairstep dimming for about an hour and a half, then a gradual decline.

    Thanks again for pointing out these runtime plots.

    .

  20. #80
    Flashaholic* Robin24k's Avatar
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    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Just wanted to point out that the "runtime graphs" are deceptive. It's current vs. time, ignoring the fluctuating voltage completely.

    Output vs. time is what you would want to look for, and unfortunately, I don't have a light meter.

  21. #81

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Robin24k View Post
    Just wanted to point out that the "runtime graphs" are deceptive. It's current vs. time, ignoring the fluctuating voltage completely.

    Output vs. time is what you would want to look for, and unfortunately, I don't have a light meter.

    Voltage won't decline that much within a time of several minutes. Since power is voltage times current, these plots will approximate the output power - at least over short periods of time during which the voltage doesn't change much. The scale between the very ends of the graphs may be off a bit, but the basic shape of the curves is probably about right.

    You can see the stairstep changes in current, and hence output power, in nearly any short section of the graphs that you look at.

    I think it's really cool that Mag has built an inexpensive, mass market light with stairstep regulation. Icon is this first that I remember reading about, and now Coast has a few models with a similar regulation scheme.

    Good for Mag for recognizing a good design and copying it. ;>

    I really like how my XL50, while running on nearly dead cells, still gamely fires up and gives me a few seconds of full power throw whenever I click its button. And it does this reliably, over and over and over. Great design.

    The declining stairstep regulation is also probably why the original alkies have lasted so long in this light despite daily use.

    .

  22. #82

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    This thread caught my attention as I just purchased an XL50 about 3 months ago. Pretty nice light for $25 except for the dimming feature. I had already decided to return mine until I happened upon ths post. My example seems to drop down to a lower level within 4 or 5 minutes on high, with either alkalines or rechargeables. I thought it was defective until I read on here about others having the same thing happening to them. Although I don't like that feature, nor the lack of focus or clip, I'll probably just keep it anyway because it seems to be brighter than 104 lumens and for $25, I've bought a lot of worse lights.

  23. #83

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    I have recently bought the XL50. I have to say it is the brightest small light I own. I also ow the twist head maglite and a 4 D cell Maglite with the LED conversion. I would suggest this light to anyone looking for a small, bright light for around $30. The only problem I have is hitting the tail switch while it's in my pocket. Other than that, it is a great light.

  24. #84

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Quote Originally Posted by rebelbayou View Post
    Pretty nice light for $25 except for the dimming feature. I had already decided to return mine until I happened upon ths post. My example seems to drop down to a lower level within 4 or 5 minutes on high, with either alkalines or rechargeables. I thought it was defective until I read on here about others having the same thing happening to them.
    is this a real feature? it seems like it happens to some people, but not to others. IRRC, one poster had the dimming problem on one XL50 and exchanged it for another that didn't dim.
    Last edited by robostudent5000; 07-18-2011 at 06:50 PM.

  25. #85

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Quote Originally Posted by robostudent5000 View Post
    is this a real feature? it seems like it happens to some people, but not to others. IRRC, one poster had the dimming problem on one XL50 and exchanged it for another that didn't dim.

    First, I don't believe the dimming is a "problem," but rather a purposeful "feature" of the light's scheme of "regulation."

    Second, it won't be naked eye observable to most people because the human eye isn't that sensitive to small changes in brightness.

    Should be easy to observe with a decent logging meter, but any fine detail won't be observable with the ancient, non-logging meter that is all I have on hand for brightness measurements.

    In other words, a standard runtime plot made using decent equipment should show the stairstep regulation in plenty of detail.

    .

  26. #86

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Robin, did Mag ever let you know if the dimming was a built in feature or not?

    rebelbayou said in his post that he doesn't like the fact that his XL50 dims after 5 minutes. I just think that if there's a good enough chance that he can get a replacement that stays bright, it would be worth it for him to know.
    Last edited by robostudent5000; 07-18-2011 at 08:55 PM.

  27. #87
    Flashaholic* Robin24k's Avatar
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    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    I actually haven't checked with them about it since I didn't notice it on mine. That being said, my XL50 was one of the first ones off the production line, so that could also be a reason. I will try to check with them about it and get back to you guys.

  28. #88

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    thanks Robin. i think that would be really helpful.

  29. #89
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    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    Quote Originally Posted by parnass View Post
    Does the XL-50 tail switch provide a momentary feature when partially depressed? If so, does the momentary action turn on the light at the brightest level?

    Thanks.
    I know this is very late, but I'll share anyway. I just got an XL50 this week and was playing around with it. I noticed that four clicks could sort of serve of a momentary action. Essentially if you press the button again while in strobe mode, it keeps the LED on at 100%, and then releasing the button will shut it off. I know it's not really momentary action but it's half way there at least. Plus, it's alot easier just to press the button on and then off instead of four clicks. Anyway just thought I'd share.

  30. #90

    Default Re: Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight Review

    I know I am way late to this party. Have 3 xl50's. Have been using on as bike light along with PT EOS Bike. It gives great throw and works well with the eos. I have been concerned about regulation and runtimes so I decided to do a little test with some new rayovac precharge I just got. I went ahead and put them on charger to top them off. Stuck them in the 50 and turned it on HI. I used a minimag led AA to compair brightness with, the 50 was brighter. After one hours I checked again compairing to minimag. Minimag was brighter. I did quick turn off and back on. The 50 was back to being brighter. This happend 3 times(3hours) after the 3rd time I noticed the 50 dimmed about 10 minutes into the 4th hour. Quick off and on and it would hold max brightness for 10-20 seconds then dim down. I check battery voltage at 1.01 volts. Also compaired to another 50 . The amount it dims down was unnotice unless another light was there to compair with. I am very happy with 3 hours on hi. I recharged and have been running same test on the low again compairing to another 50. 6 Hours into the voltage was 1.29. Test will continue..........12 hours voltage 1.22 no loss in brightness when switched off and on.... 14 hours restart does not restore brightness, Hi is close to low on 50 with good batteries, Voltage 1.12..... 16 hours consideralbly dimmer, voltage .91 back on charger.
    Last edited by chadvone; 11-14-2011 at 03:13 PM.

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