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The Hacksmith: The World’s Brightest Flashlight

12/3/2020 | By The Hacksmith

This project was created by Engineering Superheroes of Hackmith Industries.

DO NOT ATTEMPT to Re-Create

The Imalent MS18 is the world’s most powerful flashlight. Or at least it was until recently. After experiencing a power outage, Hacksmith Industries wanted a backup light that could illuminate the entire facility with battery power. 300 LEDs later, the team had designed the world’s brightest (and possibly biggest flashlight). Is it overkill? Probably. Is it amazing? Definitely.

See how it was made in the video below!

How Does it Work?

The Imalent MS18 costs around $800 and contains 18 Cree LEDs that generate so much light that the flashlight needs a fan to keep it from overheating (and it still can’t be left on its highest setting for too long!). You could probably beat the MS18’s luminance with a reasonable number of LEDs -- maybe 25 -- but why just break a record slightly when you can shatter it?

The giant flashlight has 300 LEDs, which creates significant challenges in power management and heat dissipation. The LEDs sit on custom PCBs that hold six lights each. There are 50 of these PCBs in total.

Since LEDs are constant current devices, the voltage running through them can vary, making them get dim as the battery they are connected to depletes. To tackle this issue, each PCB has a constant current LED driver to keep a steady voltage going to the LEDs.

With the power management situation handled, that just left the overheating issue for our friends at the Hacksmith. Typically, a heat sink is attached to each PCB to dissipate heat. But with 50 PCBs (with constant current LED drivers connected to them), the design was getting a little crowded. Plus, the heat sinks on the market were simply too small for a design with 300 LEDs. Their solution? The LED PCBs and constant current drivers sit atop one giant heat sink that was plasma cut from a large aluminum piece. The heat sink also has holes throughout it to fasten the PCBs on.

The flashlight is controlled by a control PCB that is button-activated to change between 3 modes: low, high, and turbo. The light is powered on and off by a massive blue button. The control PCB is connected to the 300 LEDs with bundles upon bundles of wires.

With everything stuffed into an enormous body made from a plastic trash barrel, the world’s biggest and brightest flashlight was almost to light up the world. The final piece of the puzzle was something to focus the light beam. A Fresnel reading magnifier was attached to the barrel’s front end to focus the LEDs, making the design a true flashlight instead of a giant, unfocused light ball.

Schematic and BOM

More Hacksmith Creations with LEDs

You can find more Hacksmith projects with varying degrees of blinding lights on Maker.io!