TerraLUX MiniStar LED kit for MiniMag review

I got my LED kit about a week ago in the mail. I've been using it at work
all this week.
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I *really* like it. The light is quite a bit brighter than the original
bulb. Our shop has good lights in the ceiling, but virtually no task
lighting as there are no specific work areas.
The colour of the light emitted is much more desirable than the original
bulb. At first glance it certainly looks blue-white, but you can see objects
of all colours easily. Distinguishing a black cap screw from a dark brown
raw casting from 1m (deep inside a dark die) is really easy with this colour
of light, much easier than the original bulb.
Installation is easy. The included reflector replacement takes no time to
switch, and the bulb is more simple to install than the original has it has
the drive circuitry make it easier to hold on to.
It's true that the LED kit doesn't allow as tight a focus as the original
bulb. I find this doesn't really matter at all. The weak light coming from
the original makes a tight focus a requirement. The LED's brightness more
than makes up for the lack of focus. I find myself not being nearly as
concerned about the focus of the tool with the new bulb as the old, it's
just so bright. I just turn it on (it starts at the most focused position)
and go. Really convenient.
Obviously the only drawback is the price. After shipping and taxes, it cost
me about $50 Cnd. Worth it in my opinion as I use it every day for work, and
am useless without. I don't think I'm going to replace the bulb at home,
however. I just don't use it enough.
Sorry for the rambling nature of this review. Always something else to do.
Reply to
Robin S.
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You will also find that brightness and color stay essentially constant for the entire life of the batteries, while the "old" one would get dimmer and redder as batteries aged.
There are a number of 1-watt Luxeon flashlights available costing about what you paid, but most do not employ electronics as good as the TerraLux. Those that use 3 cells probably have no elex and won't have constant brightness over battery life.
Reply to
Don Foreman
I recently got a Streamlight ProPoly 4AA Luxeon light from
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for about $27 shipped. Thus far, I've been very happy with it. Good regulation, good runtime, and decent throw. It's a fair amount bigger than a 2AA MiniMag, so maybe not a direct replacement, but still a great light cheap.
Reply to
Ben Hockenhull
I've got a 3-LED one branded by Smith & Wesson, fairly often on sale in the MSC flyers which fits rather well in a leather holster for a Mini-Maglite. These are available in white, red, or blue light IIRC. Mine is white.
Noticeable differences between it and the Mini-Mag are:
1) Switch is by tightening or loosening the retaining ring at the back, with a button in the back for momentary actuation, instead of the twist of the front to both switch and focus the Mini-Mag. If the front ring on this is anything but tight, you get flickers from poor contact.
2) Light is brighter and far more even than that from the Mini-Mag. This is particularly apparent when using it to read by, as the patterns from the reflector and lamp ripples in the Mini-Mag make it necessary to move the light a lot to get a reasonably even light patch on the particular line which you are currently reading
3) You can't focus it to concentrate more light on a more distant object. I was just wading through a web page which listed lots of LED flashlights and some LEDs to drop into existing incandescent lamp flashlights, such as the Mini-Mag. That might give you back the ability to focus the light.
4) Battery life is really nice -- but keep some spares on hand, as you will get no warning that your batteries are nearly out of juice. The colors doesn't shift, and the brightness changes so slowly that you don't notice it. (So -- I tend to replace the batteries about when I would have replaced those in the Mini-Mag, just to be sure.
I've also got a couple of cheap 14-LED flashlights from hamfests. Both are actually well made, in spite of only costing $20.00 each. They have machined aluminum cases, with O-ring seals at each end. They are switched by twisting the front or the rear to loosen or tighten them. They both use three C-cells. The only difference between them is that one is white, and the other UV (Ultra-Violet). (It is interesting to see what will glow under UV illumination -- and this is quite a portable source, making such tests easier.) The white one has a black-anodized case, and the UV is violet in color.
Enjoy, DoN.
Reply to
DoN. Nichols
I have a large spotlight/lantern that runs off a 6 Volt cell. I keep it around for emergency lighting in power outages. I've been thinking an LED replacement bulb would be nice, except the light telecopes to work upright as a lantern, which means you need a fairly omnidirectional bulb. It uses a flanged bulb.
I tried to find a picture of the lantern on line, but it doesn't appear to be made anymore. The closest thing is a D-Cell verion:
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I found a place online with LED bulbs, but their 6V ones don't appear to be regulated, and it isn't clear how omni-directional the LEDs are:
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Does anyone have a link for an LED bulb source that might work better? I can always use an unregulated bulb, and the prices at the place above are cheap enough, but I'd prefer a constant output device.
One other question comes to mind: are the regulators they typically use for these bulbs reasonably efficient (i.e. switchers), or do they just dump the extra voltage as heat (linear)?
Doug White
Reply to
Doug White
There are two different lenses available with this LED. The original is a side emitter (shown on the linked page) and there is now a spherical forward emitter which supposedly has better throw. I have one on order, but have not received it yet.
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Reply to
R. O'Brian
The LED's you found have 3.2 lumens of output, beam angle of 22 degrees. A 1-watt white Luxeon is omnidirectional in one hemisphere, has total output of 45 lumens.
Some LED flashlights do have fairly efficient switching regulators, others just use resistors.
For 6-volt operation (which means down to 4 volts with 4 alkaline cells), a surprisingly good solution is a low-dropout linear regulator. It's very simple, provides constant output over life of batteries, avg efficiency is about 70%. A synchronous buck regulator is more efficient but considerably more complex.
Reply to
Don Foreman
The Luxeon based "EverLED" looks like what I need, but at ~$40, I may wait a while.
Does anyone know where you can get the best price on these things? I did a "froogle" search, but only got 1 hit.
Doug White
Reply to
Doug White
According to Doug White :
Hmm ... you might look into this site:
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scroll down to the third offering, the
====================================================================== TEKTITE LED Bulb for 4 Cell Maglite Part # LPR-113 ? Extra High intensity Luxeon LED Replacement Bulb ? Replaces most flange type bulbs of 4 cell [6.0 volt] Flashlights ? Replaces PR-113, KPR-13, HPR-50, ======================================================================
Note that they warn that it will not work with a lantern which has the negative side at the center button.
What I found may be more expensive -- but it might be a better device. It looks as though it is designed to properly spread light to the reflector.
The one which I gave above might work better -- but I have never examined one in person, so I don't know.
I would expect that those which have regulators at all are switching regulators. There is not really adequate provision for getting the heat out from a normal flashlight.
Good Luck, Don.
Reply to
DoN. Nichols
All the major IC manufacturers make "LED Drivers" on a single chip. They will require a few outboard components, but not much. They are dirt cheap too. But *small*, being mostly surface mount - so you need a tiny iron and a magnifier to work with them. They are >90% efficient. Some will do the dim trick too. Most will drive a large string of LEDs.
But that means they will fit in tiny spaces too and not get hot...
That's what's in these flashlights - one of these chips and related outboard components.
I'm sure Mouser and DigiKey handle at least some of them... a google search would probably turn up more mfrs and data sheets.
Reply to
That efficiency is attained only when driving a string of LED's. It won't be attained when driving a single Luxeon because of the drop in a schottkey diode, and few of the driver chips are capable of the 350 mA required by a 1-watt Luxeon. Some that are: Zetex, Sipex, Maxim. I doubt that the difference between 75% and 90+% would be noticable in terms of battery life. More important is if they work clear down to end-of-life battery voltage of 0.8 or 0.9 volts per cell. That narrows the field considerably. The Zetex chips can do that. I don't know what chip TerraLux uses, but it behaves as though it uses a Zetex chip.
Careful! Many or most of the 3-cell Luxeon flashlights just use a dropping resistor.
Reply to
Don Foreman
Correction: The Sipex SP6651A does use synchronous rectification. It will only go down to 2.7 volts so it would require a 3-cell supply for good battery life. Only goes up to 5.5 volts so ya can't use a 4-cell supply. This chip can also drive a 3-watt Luxeon. A 3-watt Luxeon in a 3C Maglight would be a *serious* flashlight with "throw" of easily 100 meters.
I have not used this chip. Future carries it, if you don't mind paying $9 shipping for something that could be mailed with a 37-cent stamp. I may get a couple next time I buy Luxeons -- may be a while.
Reply to
Don Foreman
$50, wow! I picked up this one for about $6 US at the local omputer joint:
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Has three LEDs and they don't advertise all the wonderfulness that yours does, but at about a tenth of the price it'd be interesting to compare the two.
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