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Old 03-09-08, 11:28 AM   #1
JPMacG
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What's up with front light technology?

It appears to me that front light technology is in a state of rapid evolution. High power LEDs seem to be taking over the market. Imports from China and Taiwan are incredibly inexpensive. Are the days of the expensive HID lights coming to an end? Are bike lights about to become a low-cost commodity where one can get all the light he needs for under $30? Are some of the well known players going to exit the bike market?
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Old 03-09-08, 12:05 PM   #2
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you can already buy all you need for $30 or so
$16 http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.9060 according to this its 200 lumens (brighter than a fenix and same lumens as a dionote)http://www.batteryspace.com/index.as...OD&ProdID=3049 same exact light

and then a planet bike blinky for $20. At the end of the day most of it comes from china anyway.
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Old 03-09-08, 01:36 PM   #3
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I think you've summarized the overall trend. The major players aren't going to have to exit, but they're going to have to change their product line-ups, reposition themselves, retool (or outsource), and change their cost structures.


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It appears to me that front light technology is in a state of rapid evolution. High power LEDs seem to be taking over the market. Imports from China and Taiwan are incredibly inexpensive. Are the days of the expensive HID lights coming to an end? Are bike lights about to become a low-cost commodity where one can get all the light he needs for under $30? Are some of the well known players going to exit the bike market?
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Old 03-09-08, 04:14 PM   #4
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If you asked me 2yrs ago I would have said HID's over LED's. If you asked me last year I would have said LED's are coming very close to HID's brightness. Yes LED's are rapidly advancing. In the last few years the lumens have jumped quite a bit. Having seen the Lupine Betty online being sold I have to say LED's have come par and above-par to HID's now. I have checked some of the HID pricings recently and the prices of the HID's are dropping all over the place I've checked online. Yes HID's give a lot of light. However from my understanding and research thier faults and replacement costs add up quickly if the bulbs go on you. Also to my understanding HID's don't like to be dimmed where as LED's can be dimmed a lot to save power and no need for a HID's warm up time for the bright light. LED's are instant on.

SSC P4 LED's already cost ~$5.82 USD on DX and give off ~240lm.
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Old 03-09-08, 06:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JPMacG View Post
Are bike lights about to become a low-cost commodity where one can get all the light he needs for under $30?
I think you are oversimplifying the market. $30 for the light assembly or $30 for light and power supply? HIDs were expensive because there was one supplier for the light and ballast, so the price for those two parts was set at >$100.

There are several options for sourcing LEDs, but an LED is useless until it's configured for our use and installed in a decent housing and connected to a power source.

Bike lights are also a niche market, so there's not a ton of money to be made. There are also a few entrenched players, so the barriers to entry for a new company to come in and corner the market with low cost products are high.

I've tried lots of lights over the years and think it will be a challenge for any manufacturer to market and sell a light for under $150 that can be used to meet the varied uses of bikers (off road, on road, commuting, etc) every day and take the abuse of riding in cold, rain, snow, etc. and last multiple years.
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Old 03-09-08, 07:16 PM   #6
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There is only so much room for "boutique" light makers. Currently people are paying a lot of dollars for their lights because they are all small volume manufacturers.

Take your 15$ generic wallyworld 3w halogen 4aa light. Replace the bulb with a LED and add a resistor. Remove the reflector and add an optic and a metal plate that forms the front. Mass produce. You now have a 20$ 100lm light. It will still rattle and let water in. For an extra dollar it can have a constant current driver 350mA(but I expect to see 2c resistors).

Suddenly my minewtx2 140 lumen 140$ light isn't such good value and nightrider start selling them for 80$, or go out of business.
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Old 03-09-08, 09:58 PM   #7
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DIY a very bright light and power it with a dynamo for battery free riding.
Use this LED. http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.1445

in this holder and lens http://www.luxeonstar.com/item.php?i...HS-HEB1-LL01-H

stick it in your favorite housing, in this case a 1" PVC pipe coupler that cost less then a $1.

I use this circuit to power the LED headlight or power/recharge a cell phone, GPS, or other USB device.

My headlight is as bright as a halogen 15-watt MR-16 setup with no possibility of running out of battery power.
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Old 03-10-08, 04:49 PM   #8
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Thanks Scott. That is really nice. I was starting to think along those lines myself, although I would probably use a home made battery pack instead of the alternator hub.

I'd like to include a regulator so that the brightness does not vary with battery pack charge state, and so that I can accommodate different battery types. The only LED regulators that I found on a google search are constant current sources based on an LM317 IC. I would like something more efficient than this. Are there high efficiency regulators for driving LEDs? I guess it would have to be a switching DC-DC converter with a current regulated output.

Thanks
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Old 03-10-08, 05:01 PM   #9
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Taskled do a good range of constant current drivers. Bike specific ones which let you control drive currents from 50mA to 1A.
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Old 03-11-08, 08:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JPMacG View Post
Thanks Scott. That is really nice. I was starting to think along those lines myself, although I would probably use a home made battery pack instead of the alternator hub.

I'd like to include a regulator so that the brightness does not vary with battery pack charge state, and so that I can accommodate different battery types. The only LED regulators that I found on a google search are constant current sources based on an LM317 IC. I would like something more efficient than this. Are there high efficiency regulators for driving LEDs? I guess it would have to be a switching DC-DC converter with a current regulated output.

Thanks
W2ANZ
Here you go.
http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.6190



High, Medium, Low, SOS strobe and off. Has mode memory. Automatically shuts down at 2.6 volts to prevent damage when using rechargeable batteries. Maximum 4.5 volt input voltage so you can use 3 Ni-MH rechargeable batteries or 3 disposable alkaline batteries. In high mode it's feeding 1,000mA to the LED for 224 lumen output with the latest Cree or SSC emmiters.
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Old 03-11-08, 06:57 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulrad9 View Post
I've tried lots of lights over the years and think it will be a challenge for any manufacturer to market and sell a light for under $150 that can be used to meet the varied uses of bikers (off road, on road, commuting, etc) every day and take the abuse of riding in cold, rain, snow, etc. and last multiple years.
I don't know about multiple years but the Fenix lights I've been using were 57 bucks and they've taken all I can throw at them so far including everything you mentioned.
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Old 03-11-08, 08:06 PM   #12
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Thanks guys for the information on the current regulators. It looks like I am about to begin a new hobby.
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Old 03-13-08, 03:06 PM   #13
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LED Brighter than HID?

HID is still brighter than LED, as far as I can tell. There are certain drawbacks, especially durability and price but my $100 13 watt TrailTech HID puts down a lot of shine for the buck. There is little doubt that LED will surpass HID in the future (and already has in price and reliability) as the technology evolves, but right now I'm not ready to say it has happened just yet.
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Old 03-13-08, 05:01 PM   #14
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RIP HID! That is what the little card that came with my Lupine Betty reads anyway. One Betty definitely spanks my two NR HIDs anyway.
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Old 03-13-08, 07:54 PM   #15
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Current generation LEDs that we have in our bike headlights run about 70 lumens/watt. But the companies that make these things claim that in the lab they are getting closer to 130 luments/watt.

And then I saw this:

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008...lightbulbs.php

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Researchers at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, have made a discovery that brings LEDs closer to widespread adoption. They discovered that by coating blue LEDs with a layer of nanocrystals specially engineered to turn the blue light into warm white, they could produce light at efficiency of over 300 lumens of visible light per watt. "Typical white LEDs are less well matched to human eyes and provide only about 30 to 60 lumens of visible light per watt," so these would be 5 to 10x better! That's also better than CFLs which are closer to 80 lumens/watt.
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Old 03-14-08, 08:54 AM   #16
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LED lighting in the home is here now.
http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.11264



These are new and cost is high as to be expected. First adopters will pay a premium price of $55.89. Advantages are no mercury, 100 times the life of current mercury filled florescent bulbs, at less than half the energy used.
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