limited production :: hand crafted :: high performance :: rechargeable :: premium flashlights

This is my blog about creating a startup LED flashlight business. I'm a designer, fabricator, and strategist and I'm passionate about making ideas real. I believe that products are about people, that they should be built to last, deliver real value, and that we need to do a better job than we have in the recent past.

Most of my career has been contract or freelance work and I've crafted products and strategies for both big international companies and startups. I also used to work in the "industry" fabricating special effects for film and TV, along with the occasional hot rod. Bottom line, I love making things.

I'm starting this blog so you can follow along, from day one, and see what it's like to start a business, or fail in the process. Only time will tell, but I hope you find this interesting enough to stay tuned, comment, link, like, tweet, and (most importantly) participate in turning this idea into something tangible and valuable.

For a good place to get started with general info about who, what, why, etc., check out the "Stickies" on the left side of the page. Thanks for stopping by and please don't hesitate to ask questions and get involved!

Please sign up for my email list to get updates and notifications for contests and giveaways!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Production Run #1 For Sale Now! (...also a few design changes)

Hi everyone,

I'm excited to announce that Production Run #1 is now for sale in the store! In this post I'll update you on the new features and changes. One of the most exciting is my custom titanium pocket clip. I designed it myself and had it waterjet cut, just up the road, at Keller Industries in San Carlos, CA.

Waterjet from .040" CP2 Titanium
You'll have to check out the store for more images of the clip attached to my lights. The good news is, you can remove/install it without any tools and it doesn't require permanent (and ugly) screw holes for attachment. Making this work (and accommodating the new switch) required a significant re-design of the tailcap. Highlights of the design changes:
  1. McClicky tailcap switch
  2. Provision for the "no-tools" Ti pocket clip
  3. Improved fit for all 18650 batteries (protected, unprotected, flat top, button top) 
  4. More LED/Driver options (subject of a separate post, so stay tuned)
  5. Serial numbers! 
More detailed info after the jump so read on...
The McClicky is significantly taller than the ShingingBeam switch
1) McClicky tailcap switch. If you know what that asked and I delivered. If you don't know, the McClicky is the most famous switch in the flashlight moding business. Yes, famous, really. It should be more durable, reliable, and carry more current. I had to lengthen the entire tailcap to fit it in there and machine a new component. I actually spent weeks on this simple change. In this shot you can also see the shoulder I added to hold the Ti pocket clip. 

No tools required to install or remove the clip
See, that's all there is to it. You need to wiggle the Ti clip down over the o-ring but that keeps it from falling off while you install the tailcap. It's clamped very securely between the tailcap and the body. This DOES NOT affect the water proofing (because of another small change). If pre-production owners are interested in the clip email me directly. The answer to the question, "is the clip backwards compatible," is...sort of. :) 

It's in the details (click me) 
On the left you can see the little retaining ring I now have to machine since it's not possible to screw the McClicky directly into the tailcap like the old switch. If you click the above image to enlarge it you will also notice a little blob of silver solder I have placed on the tip of the spring. This prevents the hard edge of the spring from damaging your expensive batteries. This was not an issue with the old switch. 

Yep, still talking about that pesky tailcap
The new design is one the left. Can you tell the difference? I had to increase the bearing surface depth by .0625" because the new o-ring configuration sits deeper into the tail of the light. On the plus side that means I have to cut fewer threads and can reduce the machining time by about 30 seconds.

Finally! Moving on to a new component
This change is also the result of moving to the McClicky switch. I needed more internal space since the switch is taller, so I reduced the length of the copper post that holds the LED driver. No biggie.

Yep, more details
So two things in this shot are different. I should really make this into a game. First, I added a solder blob to the end of the spring (click the image to enlarge). It comes from the factory razor sharp. Mystery right? On the pre-production lights I sanded the end flat but that's really fidgety manual work on every light. I thought the solder blob would be a better solution and I'm actually adding conductive material (silver) instead of removing it by sanding off the gold plate.

Oh yes, there is one more change. I always have the modders in mind when I'm making these lights. I added a little notch to the side of the copper post where you can (carefully) insert a tool underneath the board and pop it out if you want to swap out the LED.

You've made it to the end! 
Whew, I'm tired of typing. Are you tired of reading? I had these labels custom printed by a company that specializes in...serial number labels. People will ask why I'm not machining the numbers. 1) my machine won't do it 2) these are custom lights and are serialized based on the order sold, not the order manufactured.

#1 is going to my Dad. I'm keeping #2 for posterity and #3-#6 have already been pre-sold. That means the next person that buys a light will get Serial Number 0007. Who wants it


  1. Wow, talk about continuous improvement. It looks like your design changes are positive improvements. However, I don't like the idea of the serial numbers being placed on stickers. To be honest, a $200 light should have its serial number engraved somehow. I know your machine can't engrave, but labels cheapen the light. Everything else looks great. Love the change to McClicky.

  2. After reading some nice stuff in your article I really feel speechlesscustom video productions