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Thread: Total Geekiness

  1. #1826
    Senior Member trx1's Avatar
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    On a Mission from God FunkyStickman's Avatar
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    Okay, I finally got around to trying out the bulbs, and man, I had forgotten what a difference it was...

    Here they are (I think the attachments will show up in this order 50W halogen, 20W halogen, two 4W LEDs, and one 4W LED. It looks like two LED bulbs easily match the output of a 50W halogen, at 1/6 the power... pretty amazing.

    Also, the 20W halogen was marked as 36 degrees, and it looks like the rest are close to that... maaaaybe 45 at the most. 36 degrees is a standard medium flood pattern.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Senior Member trx1's Avatar
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    as long as u can see in front of u.....thats what matters

  4. #1829
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    Which bulb did you use, the 6500K or the 3500K warm white? That output looks fantastic!

    Walt

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    On a Mission from God FunkyStickman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wilber.71 View Post
    Which bulb did you use, the 6500K or the 3500K warm white? That output looks fantastic!

    Walt
    It's extremely bright, and ridiculously cheap. Those last two pics are the 6500K bulbs, the first two are regular halogens.

  6. #1831
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    For now I'm happy with dual MagicShine headlights and dual MagicShine taillights. I only get 1h runtime with this setup but that's enough for my commute and I carry two batteries. Those two MS headlights on HIGH make a really awesome Salmon Blaster at night

  7. #1832
    Senior Member genel's Avatar
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    I picked up an everready XP8000, external laptop battery/charger on Woot. More then enough power to drive my three MR16 LEDS, but it has crappy connectors. THe 12V and 18V outputs use those crappy coax power connectors. And only work if everything is completely still. Any vibration will break the contact. Right now I've got the connector taped to one side which will work for a few minutes of riding then I have to stop and find a new sweet spot. I've tried three different connectors adding a bit of solder to a connector and even sodering a bit of wire to the side of the connector to make the fit tighter. No dice.

    I'd love to open it up but it's sealed,and it looks like what might be screw heads are covered over and sealed. Everything else about this setup is pretty good, more then enough light and time, and a very low weight. But the unpredictable blackouts are very frustrating.

    Anyone else try to use these for a light with better results?
    "Why is there a hill after every meal, but not a meal after every hill?"
    --Overheard on Grabaawr

  8. #1833
    Tor
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    GeneL: Haven't tried this, but you can try taking it to an electronics store and test mating connectors to see if you can find one that fits tight. If that doesn't work, or sounds too touch and go, you can also snip the cable off, and either solder a better one on (since you can solder battery tabs I see no reason you can't solder that connection live - but the risk is yours) or solder direct. The middle solution is probably the one I would pick in order to keep the battery and have a reliable connection.

    Tor

    P.S. I haven't forgotten about building my system. I got a different job than I thought I would, and haven't had to do much evening/night commuting, so the project got put on a slower track than I planned.

  9. #1834
    Senior Member genel's Avatar
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    After another frustrating commute I decided to study the XP8000 a bit more. A magnifying glass and bright light showed that the 12 volt connector I was using appears damaged (this was a Woot purchase after all). The little gizmo at the bottom of the connctor that engages the ridge at the bottom of the plug is bent against the bottom. Preventing the plug from fully engaging. The 18 volt connector has no problem.

    A ittle time with the soldering iron and I had an 18 volt adapter. A bit of research seems to indicate that MR16 LEDs are compatible with 12 volt AC. It seemed safe to assume that the lights would work at 18 volts DC, and be even brighter. So I hald my breadth and plugged in the 18 volt connector.

    A short test ride seems to have solved my problem with vibration but tomorrows commute will tell.
    "Why is there a hill after every meal, but not a meal after every hill?"
    --Overheard on Grabaawr

  10. #1835
    Senior Member genel's Avatar
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    Tor, the XP8000 is a seelf contained li-po battery pac with 12v 18v and 5v usb connectors. It uses a simple 18v charger, so I figure all the LI Po charging circuitry is build into the pac. I used it all summer as a travel charger for cell phone, mp3 player, and camera. But my real intention when I purchased it was for the bike light.

    While I wouldn't think twice about breaking open and hacking a NiCd pack, I'm reluctant to mess with LiPo. Hence my frustration with the 12v connector.
    "Why is there a hill after every meal, but not a meal after every hill?"
    --Overheard on Grabaawr

  11. #1836
    Tor
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    Ah, yes. For some reason I didn't catch that it would have jacks, rather than female connectors on a lead. I should have known from your earlier post that you would probably have already snipped a wire to put on a better female connector. I probably wouldn't be concerned about messing with anything between the protection circuit and the outside world, but there probably isn't much space there to work with. Hope it goes well tomorrow.

    Tor

  12. #1837
    Senior Member genel's Avatar
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    Success! Lights on solid all the way. Finally, enough light to ride comfortably.

    Front: Three MR16 LED's 6 5 and 3 Watts. XP8000 battery pack, mounted on a Rivendell "Dave's Rack" LED's mounted in 2" PVC pipe connectors. I used a dremel router bit in a drill press to machine a bit of a lip that the lights fit snugly into, with a bit of silicon caulk holding the lights in.

    Rear: 2 Whelen TIR III flashers, I run one solid, and one flashing. 9.6 volt NiCd battery from RC plane. These are so bright that in the dark cars will swing into next lane.
    "Why is there a hill after every meal, but not a meal after every hill?"
    --Overheard on Grabaawr

  13. #1838
    Tor
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    Glad it is working. While I am not by any means an EE (and may be revealing a lack of knowledge here), I do have a few questions that might be worth considering.

    First 12VAC is quite notably different from 18VDC (although I do agree that the peak voltage of the former is around 18V), and the latter has quite a bit more power than the former. If 12VDC is run through a diode bridge and capacitor I believe you will end up with something very much like 12VDC. Obviously you don't have instant death, so that indicates that 18VDC isn't terribly far out of tolerance.

    Running the LEDs at 18VDC I would try to be aware of extra heat build-up, and reduced battery life from expected life for the battery. Of course you could just measure power consumption at 12VDC and 18VDC to see if there is a notable increase. Without a spec sheet permitting 18VDC operation, I would be inclined towards carrying a spare bulb in case one gets fried, although it looks like you already have two "spares" with you

    Tor

  14. #1839
    Senior Member genel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tor View Post

    First 12VAC is quite notably different from 18VDC

    Running the LEDs at 18VDC I would try to be aware of extra heat build-up, and reduced battery life from expected life for the battery.
    Tor
    Actually I am an EE which is probably why I'm having so much fun with this project.

    The 12V AC spec implies (at least to me) that there is definitely some type of bridge and voltage regulator inside the bulb package. Remember that the actual physical diode will never have a voltage drop more then a few volts, so they have to control this somehow. A heat test showed that after 15 minutes in my garage the package was not noticeably warmer. LED's are primarily killed by heat, the reason that we're getting increasingly bright LED's is primarily better designs for heat dissipation. Since they're all rated for 10's of thousands of hours, a bike light that reduces the life span by as much as 90 percent is still good for the 100 hours or so I use it per year. It would be nice if one could get a schematic of whats inside but I'm not goning to hold my breath.

    I'm kinda hoping the 3 watt bulb fails first so I have an excuse to buy another 6 watt.

    The concern for battery life is real. But LIPO battery's are only good for a couple of hundred recharges in a year or maybe two any way, before they're at 75% capacity. I'm planning on Woot having the XP16000 on sale by then!

    Thanks for your comments!!!
    "Why is there a hill after every meal, but not a meal after every hill?"
    --Overheard on Grabaawr

  15. #1840
    Tor
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    Quote Originally Posted by genel View Post
    The 12V AC spec implies (at least to me) that there is definitely some type of bridge and voltage regulator inside the bulb package. Remember that the actual physical diode will never have a voltage drop more then a few volts, so they have to control this somehow.
    Naturally. I was thinking more along the lines of a linear regulator being used instead of a switching circuit somewhere early in the power handling. Of course if not sized to be only a very small drop this would seriously degrade efficiency, so it would seem unlikely to me that they would use such a thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by genel View Post
    A heat test showed that after 15 minutes in my garage the package was not noticeably warmer. LED's are primarily killed by heat, the reason that we're getting increasingly bright LED's is primarily better designs for heat dissipation. Since they're all rated for 10's of thousands of hours, a bike light that reduces the life span by as much as 90 percent is still good for the 100 hours or so I use it per year. It would be nice if one could get a schematic of whats inside but I'm not goning to hold my breath.
    Very much agreed. As indicated above, the heat I was wondering about would be rather significant, so the feel-it-with-the-hand test seems likely to be good enough.

    On some other LED lights for area lighting I have some experience with (120 or 277VAC supply), the biggest lifespan issue they are having is with the driver circuitry, and the company has actually made the driver replaceable in at least some of their lights. I would expect this to be the source of reduced lifespan, especially as you aren't getting increased heat.

    Quote Originally Posted by genel View Post
    I'm kinda hoping the 3 watt bulb fails first so I have an excuse to buy another 6 watt.


    Quote Originally Posted by genel View Post
    The concern for battery life is real. But LIPO battery's are only good for a couple of hundred recharges in a year or maybe two any way, before they're at 75% capacity. I'm planning on Woot having the XP16000 on sale by then!

    Thanks for your comments!!!
    Well, if you aren't getting increased heat in your bulbs, then I, with my somewhat limited knowledge, see no reason to expect any noticable shortening of battery life or lightset runtime per charge. Congratulations on good lights.


    I meanwhile have ordered a few more parts to improve my setup, and will hopefully be putting the first stage together in a week or so.

    Tor

  16. #1841
    Tor
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    I did it! I have finally put together what I am calling version 1.0 of my lights. Most of these images are a little dark, but you should be able to see the important bits.

    First image:
    Back-Lights_out.jpg

    This shows the back assembly with the lights on it. I used some maple that I had lying around the shop for the mounting assembly, and attached it to my rack using wire strung over the cross struts on the rack, down through the maple, and twisted underneath. I don't recommend this mounting method, and I expect that version 1.01 will feature an improved mounting. You can also see in this image the grey electrical box I used for the rear connections. The lights are off in this picture.

    Second image:
    Brake_Mounting.jpg

    This is a better image of the mounting, showing the maple runners and the wiring more clearly. You can also see the 4"x4" box for rear connections much better - about $7.50 at the BORG[1]. It is the one with no ports or knockouts for conduit. I drilled holes for the wires where I need them just large enough for the wire in question to slip through.

    Inside the box (that I am not going to show you, on account of the mess it currently is) is the terminal strip to make the various connections (battery to fuse; fuse to main power; main power to front, beehive tail light, and main tail light; brake light power to brake; returns to battery).

    Third image:
    Front_Box.jpg

    Here is the front connections box. Not used much right now, but I have plans to fill it up. Right now it houses main power to brake switches and brake switches to back. Running between the boxes is a seven wire cable, which I have plans to fill, but haven't gotten to do so yet. The cable should be available by the foot at your local BORG for a little over fifty cents a foot.

    Fourth image:
    Caliper_Switch.jpg

    This may be the most interesting bit in this system. Shown is the rear brake light switch. The switch used is the SPDT roller lever switch available at Radio Shack, and probably any electronics supplier better than Radio Shack.

    I mounted it by drilling through my solid aluminium brake lever with a #47 bit and threading it to #3-48. I also threaded the mounting hole in the switch (if it wasn't designed for a #3 screw, I would be rather surprised) and used the only #3-48 machine screw I could get hold of to attach it. This is also repeated for the front brake.

    More pictures (particularly of the lights on) in the next post.

    Tor

    [1]BORG = Big Orange Retail Giant = Home Depot

  17. #1842
    Tor
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    Now for what to some of you is surely the more interesting part of the system: the lights in operation.

    Tail light mode:
    Tail_Lights.jpg

    Top light: Beehive marker light from Super Bright Leds. Draws 85mA (haven't measured myself, but IIRC this light was tested by someone else in this thread and it measured up to specs.) Seems to produce a rear-weighted half-sphere of visibility - just about right IMHO.

    Bottom light: 61 LED ST series Stop/Turn/Tail Light, also from SBL. Rated 60mA in tail light mode. Please note that this picture is taken from well outside of the visibility cone produced by this light.

    On either side of the bottom light are 3" round red reflectors, bought from SBL because I was already placing the order. I would otherwise have walked into an auto parts store for these.

    Image two - The Brake Light:
    Brake_Lights.jpg

    This image was taken using the camera in manual mode to force the same settings as the last image, as can be seen by the similar effect of the beehive light on the camera sensor. Please note again that the camera is well outside of the brake light cone of visibility, so the effect is not striking. In early twilight the 450mA brake light can throw a nice red wash on a wall 30' away from itself, covering a good six feet in diameter area. The tail light mode is no weakling either.

    Battery: The system currently runs off the 13.2V 4500mAh NiMH pack I got when I purchased my HID headlight that I intend to phase out in the future as I can get better headlights. From a full charge and an ~55min runtime I measured 13.5V immediately after shutting down the system, so I think my battery is in fairly good shape even though it is a few years old, given the load I put to it. Not sure just how much I ran the brake light though.

    All in all, I think the system is going well. I've certainly learned a few things, and found some things that could have been done better, but I think for what I have done the system I have now is quite good on the whole.

    Future upgrades include: Aluminium brake light mount; better headlights (road beam pattern in particular; I don't think a light bright enough above horizon to get drivers to flash lights is a good idea); two headlights (road beam and round tight focus high beam with easy access switch); and others.

    Comments are welcome.

    Tor

  18. #1843
    GN BIKN
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    Quote Originally Posted by genel View Post
    I'm kinda hoping the 3 watt bulb fails first so I have an excuse to buy another 6 watt.
    Where did you get your 6W, and how does the light output compare with the 3W?

    The reason I ask is I just bought the 4x1W (claimed 360lum) MR16 from DealExtreme. Light output is several times that of an older 3W Luxeon MR16 that I've had for a few years, which is great. But it's still maybe 1/2 the total light output of my 20W EnergyAdvantage halogen overvolted at 14.4V, supposedly about 650lum -- and considerably less than half the on-center brightness, thanks to the LED's broader beam. Its output complements the 20W very nicely, but is still inadequate as a primary light for actual roadway illumination in dark, wet conditions.

    Bottom line: still looking for an MR16 LED (if one exists) that is considerably brighter than the "360 lumen" 4W unit I just got from DealExtreme.
    I like bike lanes. I also practice VC when I'm not in them.

  19. #1844
    Ride More seedsbelize's Avatar
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    I've been thinking about a similar system, only using something other than wood to keep the weight down. My thought was that if my profile is much wider than a bicycle, it would be more likely to be respected by whatever is approaching from behind.

  20. #1845
    Tor
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    Seedsbelize: The profile may help, although then you would lose some of your ability to maneuver through tight spaces. I certainly feel the extra inches on my tail when I am parking my bike. Something wide also makes it difficult to lean your bike against a wall, which I do quite often. My setup is just under the width of my panniers, so that still works well. A wide setup will also have some aerodynamic drag (though I tend not to worry about that near so much as safe and useful) that you may want to consider. I suspect that the drag of a wider design would probably would be rather greater than using wood over a lighter material for the mount in a narrower design.

    As for mounting materials, I don't consider wood an optimal material. I work with wood a lot, so I tend to have various pieces around, and it's easy to work. To do the job long term I would think aluminium bar stock would do a much better job on the whole, but that would have been an additional expense and been more difficult to install.

    I definitely feel like I needn't worry about drivers being able to see me at night with the same lights they see on the backs of cars all the time. At twilight cars often really slow down to pass me when I am on the shoulder of the highway. When I need to take the lane for any reason I do flutter my brake light as cars approach, both to provide the signal, and because it is a signal when driving that the slow or stop is greater than usually expected and to take care.

    I'll be very interested to see what you come up with and learn if you build some lights for yourself.

    Tor

  21. #1846
    Ride More seedsbelize's Avatar
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    I was thinking of using it only for the trip home from town, through the countryside. That's where I encounter problems, day or night.

  22. #1847
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    My system is finally wearing out, at least the headlights (12V, Optronics metal housings, MR16 bulbs, 10Ah NiMH), so time to upgrade/replace.

    What is the brightest narrow beam LED in an MR16 base bulb out there?

    Any other housing choices out there besides the metal Optronics? Needs to be as (or more) durable as the Optronics, which I've regularly patched and repaired but they're now used up and need to be replaced.
    Longbikes Slipstream

  23. #1848
    Senior Member Iowegian's Avatar
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    No M16 but if anyone wants M11 housings I have this stuff. (Specialized Fireball) works but NiCad batteries are shot. Free to a good home if you pay the shipping charges (would prefer to split it to two people if there is interest).


  24. #1849
    Senior Member trx1's Avatar
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    neat way 2 b seen thats different
    http://www.autozone.com/autozone/acc...uestid=1350805 for the front fork...not the brightest, but just something different

  25. #1850
    Senior Member genel's Avatar
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    Reworked the headlights on my setup this year. Two 6 watt narrow beam LEDS, and a 4 watt bulb. Each LED has it's own switch on the top of the switch box. I'm using a 14 V NiMH battery pack for normal use. But for the next couple of months will probably use an 18 volt LIPO pack and only use a couple of the bulbs. Rear lights are a pair of Whelen TIR III's. I usually run these with a 9 volt nicd. But they'll run fine on a 9 volt battery.


    The three MR16 bulbs mounted in PVC connectors.

    Battery case with switches. Power Pole connectors throughout.

    Dual Whelen TIR III's, I usually run the left one flashing and the right one steady.
    "Why is there a hill after every meal, but not a meal after every hill?"
    --Overheard on Grabaawr

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