This year I’ve discovered what others have know for a long time. The MR-16 lamp… overvolted by 20% … puts out a fantastic amount of light. It’s not perfect but for the price it’s hard to beat! It doesn’t have the run time of LED or HID but it doesn’t have the cost of those either. You might be able to make an LED system that puts out what a 20W MR-16 puts out but you wouldn’t be able to do it with a single lamp nor would the light be as concentrated as a single MR-16. This is my attempt to collect the how-to for a pretty good system in one place.
There are other systems out there (the Pond Scum light is nicer looking and more waterproof) and most of the ideas for my system comes from them. There’s lots of tweeks that could be made for my system and will probably be made in the future but you can put this whole thing together in an afternoon and be on the road as so as your batteries are charged. All prices are estimates and I've added links where I have them.
Run time is around 1.5 hours with the 3.3 Ahr batteries.
First the result (seen elsewhere but repeated for your enjoyment)
Optronics QC-777 $20 JC Whitney
Hampton Roads Pin Back track lamp $20 Home Depot
MR16 12V 12° bulb $3 each Battery Space
Remote switches $4 Battery Space
Dean’s connectors $4 Hobby Town
Polarized Speaker wire $10/spool Radio Shack
Helmet mount $10 Battery Space
Handlebar mount $ 10 ea Battery Space
Space Bar $20 Performance
1” aluminum tube (fits lights better ) for Spacebar $4 Local hardware store
3.3 Ahr batteries $19 ea Battery Space
Cage Rocket holder $10 ea REI
Chargers Maha C777 Plus II $70 (I have 3! But you can get cheaper ones at Battery Space) I like these chargers but they are expensive and they have an analyze function that most people won't need. Battery Space sells less expensive, less sophisticated ones.
Velcro – sticky back and regular - $10 Local hardware store
Misc nuts and bolts $5 Local hardware store
For my 3 lights with all the stuff except the chargers, I have $294 in it plus shipping and tax.
In all honesty, however, I had the batteries, the Spacebar, the battery holders, the wire, connectors, the bulbs and, finally, the chargers. I have another full set of lights that are based around Niterider lamp heads (similar to TrailRats) but juiced to 14.4V. They put out around 700 lumens per lamp which is very respectable. The Retinal Burners are just a fun experiment in how far over the top I can go
Here's another DIY called the Pond Scum that's pretty slick too. Mine are a little more robust because they have a metal housing. Price is about the same per lamp.
Next up Construction tips.