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Thread: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* Techjunkie's Avatar
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    Default One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    I modded a Streamlight SL20 today. Well, I built a custom drop-in is more like it. The person who I did it for wanted the light to be able to be returned to stock at any time. There was not a lot of room to work with, so everything I added had to be cut, filed and shoehorned to fit. On with the slide show...

    Here's my clamp meter zeroed at the LED leads and a DMM ready to take a tail-cap consumption measurement. I'm not sure how much charge the battery had on it at this point:



    Here's the owner's previous drop-in, an MC-E based Terralux TLE-110. What a power hog. Check out the tailcap measurement.



    Here's my "drop-in". Same pack, same unknown charge. 2.8A output, and far less consumption measured at the tail.



    Even after trimming down the reflector and base, I still couldn't make everything fit without one reversible "mod". I replaced the pan-head screw with a countersink screw of the same thread, and dropped the plastic shroud about 2mm. To return to stock, the original screw can be reinstalled and the plastic returned to its stock position.



    Here's the original drop in with the stock polycarb lens:



    Here's the custom XML mod with a 54mm AR coated glass lens:



    And now for the requisite beamshots. All camera settings at the same F stop, ISO and shutter speed, but the white balance was on auto for the TLE drop-in and forced to something else for the other two shots, so ignore the "tint":


    control, lights on:



    Terralux TLE-110:



    Custom XML drop-in:



    Notes for the owner:
    1) The driver will strobe when the battery pack is low. I ran it for 12 constant minutes on the charge that was on it before that happened. I verified this was not a thermal event causing the strobing by allowing the light to cool and then observing the same thing almost immediately at the next power-on. Immediately after that, I charged the battery for a few minutes put a little more charge on the battery and was then able to run it a few minutes more with no strobing. After 1-2 minutes, I shut it off instead of waiting for the battery to sag again.

    2) The battery pack is the OEM pack from Streamlight, but I'm not sure how old it is or how much charge was on it when I received it. Also, I don't know if you keep the light off the charger how badly it will self discharge. You might want to consider replacing/upgrading to an aftermarket NiMH pack that works with your light and charger. Batteryjunction has one for $25, which isn't much more than the standard NiCd variety.

    3) Avoid unassembling the light. Things really are shoehorned in there. To reassemble properly, the wires must be carefully tucked inside the switch compartment area with forceps or needle nose pliers and coiled just right to make sure they're not pinched anywhere. If curiosity gets the better of you, or the glass lens ever breaks and you have to reinstall it, make sure you mind the color coding of the switch leads that connect to the driver. I used a red and black sharpie markers on each set to label the pos and neg. (Red to red, black to black.) If the Sharpie wears off, then hopefully you'll dig up this thread to reference that the driver's input wires are green for pos and white for neg. I'm pretty sure the driver does not have reverse polarity protection and it will die if the leads (or battery pack) are reversed.

    4) I hope you like it. I am very pleased with the improvements to throw, brightness and power consumption. Hopefully, it will be more reliable than the Terralux modules that gave you so much trouble. I don't know anything about them other than the troubles you described and the power consumption that I observed. Based on that, I'd guess that they were overheating internally, causing the first to fail and the second to perform flaky the way it did/does. I still can't understand why they chose the little 34mm Fraen microfaceted plastic reflector when they could have fit a much larger metal reflector to tighten the beam and distribute the heat to the head.
    Last edited by Techjunkie; 07-25-2011 at 05:59 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    HOLY SH!(*^*%*^%$)(*&_

    Gimme,gimme,gimme!

    PP coming!

    So you know, it had a full charge the day before I sent it but had to use it some that last night,so i'd say somewhere around 60-75%???
    my typin is bad and my speeling is evenworse...

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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    Quote Originally Posted by houtex View Post
    HOLY SH!(*^*%*^%$)(*&_

    Gimme,gimme,gimme!

    PP coming!

    So you know, it had a full charge the day before I sent it but had to use it some that last night,so i'd say somewhere around 60-75%???
    Well, if that's the original pack, then it's probably time to replace it considering its age. Most NiCd are notorious for high self discharge and capacity loss over service life, so if you do replace it, I recommend an aftermarket NiMH pack. I replaced my DeWalt cordless tool NiCd packs with NiMH and the replacement pack has provided much longer service life, more torque and no "memory" effect.

    By the way... If I had known that the light had a forward click switch, I would have pushed harder to give you a low mode to conserve battery life. Full blast is awesome, but if your pack is on its way out, having just that one mode will really show its age compared to a low mode (although this mod does draw less current than the Terralux drop-in did).

    I scheduled a FedEx pickup for later today, so I guess you'll have it back Monday or Tuesday.

    P.S.

    I put some paper in the tailcap to keep the light from turning on in the box. Unscrew the tailcap and remove the paper before using or trying to charge in the cradle.
    Last edited by Techjunkie; 07-23-2011 at 01:12 AM.

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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    @houtex:

    FedEx picked it up today at 12:12 PM. I can give you the track number from your pre-paid return label via PM if you empty some items from your inbox/sent folder.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    (Delivered today @ 9:30 AM)

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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    Hey,the light went to the wife's work today and she brought it home. DAAAAAAAAYYUUUMM!, what an improvement. I'll let you know how she works out on the streets, esp after my first door knock with her.
    my typin is bad and my speeling is evenworse...

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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    Quote Originally Posted by houtex View Post
    Hey,the light went to the wife's work today and she brought it home. DAAAAAAAAYYUUUMM!, what an improvement. I'll let you know how she works out on the streets, esp after my first door knock with her.
    Maybe you should use your knuckles to knock on doors... that light's pretty heavy... don't you leave dings? If it's the lens you're worried about, maybe you can knock with the tailcap instead of the head. I hope it serves you well.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    The light is awesome. It's as bright as my Thrunite XM-L with a little bigger hotspot, but in the body of the hefty SL20 and it's rechargeable.
    Last edited by houtex; 07-28-2011 at 03:03 AM.
    my typin is bad and my speeling is evenworse...

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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    Well, you can tell 'em to eat their hearts out, 'cause it's one of a kind... for now, anyway. I can be bribed to make more if the price is right.

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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    houtex,

    Just checking in to see how the mod is holding up and if I should start ordering parts to make any more for your buds. I'd have replied to your last PM, but your inbox is full.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    I loaned it out to my Sgt. the other night while I worked the desk. He LOVED it. So far everything is great. I'll start asking around tonight and see how many are ready. Inbox eready.
    my typin is bad and my speeling is evenworse...

  12. #12

    Question Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    Nice work.

    Is that an SL20 in the pics, or an SL20X? The switch looks different from my SL20. Some parts are interchangeable (battery stick), some aren't (charger), and apparently the lamp modules are one of the things that don't swap out.

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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    Quote Originally Posted by Train_Watchman View Post
    Nice work.

    Is that an SL20 in the pics, or an SL20X? The switch looks different from my SL20. Some parts are interchangeable (battery stick), some aren't (charger), and apparently the lamp modules are one of the things that don't swap out.
    I'm pretty sure that was an SL20. I recall it was D-sized, not C-sized if that helps.

  14. #14

    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    I think the SL20 and SL20X both use sticks of five "half-D's." The one I just removed from my SL20 (charging all day, and no "juice") just says "ML-5000" on it. The previous one (I hung on to it with the idea of recycling rather than discarding it), is from Saft, and says "6 VOLT 2.2 AMP" on it. The other numbers on it don't seem to match up with anything on their site, but I think they still make those.

    I think the SL20X has its charging indicator on the flashlight switch, as in your first three photos above, but the indicator LED on the SL20 is on the charger.

    Maybe I'll try the SL35 lamp module and "dimmer/flasher" tailcap that other others have used.

    Thanks for the reply.

  15. #15

    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    Hello Techjunkie
    I'm new to cpf, I have a sl20 with the teralux upgrade. The flashlight has not been working lately. I was wondering if you can modified mine like you did houtex. If can please respond back. thank you.

    I'm still learning how to use cpf.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    saw that this thread was bumped so I gotta give an update.

    Still going strong. After I don't know how many foot chases, door knocks and surviving a fall off the 3rd story of this "5star" motel.

    asked where I got it every time someone new sees it in action. Just do it.
    my typin is bad and my speeling is evenworse...

  17. #17

    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    Quote Originally Posted by houtex View Post
    saw that this thread was bumped so I gotta give an update.Still going strong. After I don't know how many foot chases, door knocks and surviving a fall off the 3rd story of this "5star" motel.asked where I got it every time someone new sees it in action. Just do it.
    What is bumped?

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    Administrator Norm's Avatar
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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    Quote Originally Posted by mavreal View Post
    What is bumped?

    Just what is a "Bump" anyway?


    Bump?

    Norm

  19. #19

    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    Quote Originally Posted by Norm View Post
    Oh I see thanks Norm.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    Wow! Are you still doing these? I'd love to have one of my SL20Xs modified in this manner! I like my Terralux, but this looks so much....better!

  21. #21
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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    Quote Originally Posted by SoCalDep View Post
    Wow! Are you still doing these? I'd love to have one of my SL20Xs modified in this manner! I like my Terralux, but this looks so much....better!
    SoCalDep,

    Yes - I still do these on request, thanks for asking. Below are the results of a pre-1986 SL20 mod I did for another CPF member. That one was even more challenging, as the older model charges the battery through the lamp filament. I had to use some high power diodes to preserve the charging function and issue some warnings about never installing the battery backward or connecting the leads wrong if the mod were ever removed and reinstalled. Here's some pics:




    The mod is very labor intensive, which is why the cost is not cheap. This is not a sales thread, so I won't discuss prices or payment here, but you can PM me if interested.

    Things to note:

    • The mod takes a few days. If what you're sending me is your only service light, I'll try my best to get it done over a weekend and back to you ASAP.
    • I make no representations about warranty of the light or the mod, but my reputation is very important to me. I'll make every reasonable attempt to do right by you if the LED or driver fail during ordinary use. While I do make every attempt to make the mod completely reversible, I don't represent that Streamlight would continue to honor the light's warranty after the mod / custom drop-in installation has been performed.
    • The parts I use for the reflector and base and the AR coated 54mm lens and the driver come from various vendors in China. It takes me about a month to source the parts, for which I require a partial deposit which is non-refundable in the event that you opt out for any reason and I am unable to sell the parts to anyone else as loose parts or in another mod.


    Regards,
    TJ

  22. #22

    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    The light that Techjunkie made an LED for above in post #1 is definitely a SL-20X and not a SL-20.


    Here is a picture of the newer (latest model) SL-20X (light on the left side of the picture) and the older SL-20 (light on the right side of the pic).
    Notice the difference in the switches. They also use different charging sleeves.

    Pic credit: This picture was taken off CPF in the past. Author unknown at this time. The picture is not mine. However, I have both of these lights and can confirm each light model.

    [IMG][/IMG]
    Last edited by NotRegulated; 09-27-2012 at 05:31 PM.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    Quote Originally Posted by NotRegulated View Post
    The light that Techjunkie made an LED for above in post #1 is definitely a SL-20X and not a SL-20.


    Here is a picture of the newer (latest model) SL-20X (light on the left side of the picture) and the older SL-20 (light on the right side of the pic).
    Notice the difference in the switches. They also use different charging sleeves.

    Pic credit: This picture was taken off CPF in the past. Author unknown at this time. The picture is not mine. However, I have both of these lights and can confirm each light model.

    [IMG][/IMG]
    The light in post #1 matches the SL20X on the left, but notice the switch on the light in top pic of post #21. That is an SL-20. I have done both. The SL-20 is more challenging and required me to be more inventive, to preserve the charging function and avoid damage to the driver or battery.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: One of a kind: Streamlight SL20 custom XM-L drop-in

    Hi, I just saw this thread while searching for lighting options. I have just recently been put back on night shift after 10 years on evenings and decided it was time to reinvest in my handheld lighting options. I'm seing that flashlights have come a LONG ways since my initial investment in '01. So, I have an SL-20x...is that something you are still interested in modifying, TECHJUNKY?

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