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Old 01-27-10, 04:55 PM   #1
mwysen
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Opinions needed for future bike light design!!!

I am designing and building a bike light as a design project in college. If you consider yourself to be either very knowledgeable or an expert, and you have semi-extensive experience with bike lights, please email me... Your ideas along with others will go into the concepts I develop, one of which will be prototyped in the near future...

Send me an E-mail, or reply to this thread...
Your help would be greatly appreciated,
-Matt
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Old 01-27-10, 10:27 PM   #2
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bump...

I realized I am making this a bit of a hassle for people...If anyone can just copy and paste the following questions into a reply and answer them, or even just some of them, it would really save my ass...

Thanks in advance for any replies.

How long have you owned/ridden bikes?

What kind of bikes do you have, and what do you regularly ride?

Do you use your bike light(s) often?

what kind is it/are they?

Are you happy with it/them?

If you are not, what is wrong with them?

What are the features you look for in a light, or cannot live without?

Have you had a light that you own break? What broke?

Have you had any bike lights stolen?

Do you want a light for safety, legality, or seeing the path/road in front of you?

Would you prefer a more integrated lighting solution, or a quick, easily removable light? Why?

Rechargeable, regular batteries, or generator powered?

Any additional comments, stories, or suggestions relating to bike lights or their design?
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Old 01-27-10, 10:34 PM   #3
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What do we get for doing your homework?????
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Old 01-27-10, 10:52 PM   #4
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money?

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What do we get for doing your homework?????
I really need the help, so...how is $4 via paypal in the morning?
just send me your paypal email along with your answers.

-only if people take it seriously/ give me more than one word answers - limit first 3 people... has to be answered by the AM tmrw
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Old 01-28-10, 03:04 AM   #5
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really? nobody wants to make a quick few $?... if you consider what minimum wage is nowadays, you will make way more than that in just a few minutes... Its just a few simple questions....
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Old 01-28-10, 03:52 AM   #6
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I want a to-be-seen light for my helmet that is white in front and red in the back. I want them to be strobes of at least 1/2 - 1 watt in power. I would mind wearing a battery pack in my vest.
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Old 01-28-10, 08:19 AM   #7
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How long have you owned/ridden bikes? uh, 15+ years

What kind of bikes do you have, and what do you regularly ride? Road bike, Winter "Road" bike

Do you use your bike light(s) often? Almost always.

what kind is it/are they? Home brew - LED lights.

Are you happy with it/them? Yes

If you are not, what is wrong with them?

What are the features you look for in a light, or cannot live without? Beam pattern is probably the most important. Bike lights should project an even beam ideally.

Have you had a light that you own break? What broke? No

Have you had any bike lights stolen? No, But mine are securely fastened on. I leave them on at all times, however, I never leave my bike in a public place unattended for more than a couple hours. Even then I lock my bike in a visible, high traffic area (regardless of where the bike rack may be located).

Do you want a light for safety, legality, or seeing the path/road in front of you? Yes

Would you prefer a more integrated lighting solution, or a quick, easily removable light? Why? Oo, I like integrated. My system has a single battery pack and a single on button located on the front light to control both front and rear lights.

Rechargeable, regular batteries, or generator powered? I love me some rechargeable, and li-ion just can't be beat for power density. The prices are coming down making them very attractive.

Any additional comments, stories, or suggestions relating to bike lights or their design?
Personally, I think most bike light designers put too many modes into bike lights. I suppose 27 modes looks good on the advertising sheet. However, I only ever use 2 modes. On or Flashing.... unless you consider off a mode... then I guess I use three modes.
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Old 01-30-10, 07:58 PM   #8
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You need a light that can outperform both of these for a front light on brightness and runtime:

Magicshine ($100) - 500+ lumens

or for the budget minded,

Terralux Lightstar 220 (2 x AA) - 180 lumens

Get us more lumens with better runtime while preserving a small form factor (pocket-sized is best, like the Terralux) and you've got yourself a winner. Not much more complicated than that.

I doubt you'd be able to engineer such a light on your own, unfortunately. The Cree LEDs and P7s that are in use for those two lights took a ton of research and investment by some large companies to mass produce at a good price.

Perhaps I'm misinterpreting your original question - maybe you'd be better off designing a nice enclosure and just socking the Cree or P7 LED into it. It's hard for me to imagine a better enclosure than the Terralux ,though, which is about as big as the 2xAAs used to power it.
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Old 01-31-10, 08:11 AM   #9
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There must be some professor somewhere that just keeps recycling this project. It comes up here every 3 or 4 months. My suggestion is to search for previous people asking the question - the answers probably haven't changed in the last year.

And tell that professor to grow some creativity and come up with some new projects.
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Old 01-31-10, 07:12 PM   #10
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Make it so the battery is SIMPLE to recharge. I like my AA Dinotte, but if I were to list the steps necessary to recharge the batteries it would take ---- too long.
A charger that plugs/unplugs into the battery pack, so you don't have to take anything off the bike. That's what this world needs!

The light should have a socket. You park your bike in the garage, plug the charger into the socket, and plug the charger into the wall. That is all.

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Old 01-31-10, 09:49 PM   #11
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Thanks for the replies... I am still looking over all the info you guys sent me. As far as I know this professor has never done this project before (or so he tells us), and I have never seen any similar projects at my school, but sorry to post the same questions up again.
-Matt
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Old 01-31-10, 11:58 PM   #12
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there must be some professor somewhere that just keeps recycling this project. It comes up here every 3 or 4 months. My suggestion is to search for previous people asking the question - the answers probably haven't changed in the last year.

And tell that professor to grow some creativity and come up with some new projects.
AND WE NEVER SEE THE FINISHED PRODUCT
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Old 02-02-10, 11:46 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mwysen View Post
Thanks for the replies... I am still looking over all the info you guys sent me. As far as I know this professor has never done this project before (or so he tells us), and I have never seen any similar projects at my school, but sorry to post the same questions up again.
-Matt
Art Center again?

If you'd spend the time and read through just this one sub-forum, you will learn more than you ever thought possible about lights, what people like, and what they need/want.

For some reason, these requests just bug me. No intro, no explanation, and no previous particiaption in the forum. Just lots of questions and "please help." I guess I'm just grumpy this week.
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Old 02-02-10, 02:36 PM   #14
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AND WE NEVER SEE THE FINISHED PRODUCT
Of course not. I don't think these people get jobs in the field when they graduate.
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Old 02-02-10, 05:20 PM   #15
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800 lumens, dimmable, generator charged battery, integrated CF construction, removeable with one hand, beam pattern mainly forward and down, under $100.
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Old 02-02-10, 05:29 PM   #16
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Take the Magic Shine and make it better while keeping the price under $100:
  • 900 REAL lumens
  • solid, stable mounting mechanism, yet easy to take off
  • 3 modes: good strobe mode, high and low with, no need for more fancy modes
  • mode button that's easy to operate with gloved hands
  • 100% weatherproof: the light, the cables and the battery
  • Rugged cable connectors

A.
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Old 02-03-10, 04:22 AM   #17
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Dynamo LED headlight would be nice under $50, take Magicshine and make it run off dynamo with battery backup.
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Old 02-03-10, 04:26 AM   #18
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Of course not. I don't think these people get jobs in the field when they graduate.
You think they graduate?
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Old 02-03-10, 09:50 AM   #19
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Take the Magic Shine and make it better while keeping the price under $100:
  • 900 REAL lumens
  • solid, stable mounting mechanism, yet easy to take off
  • 3 modes: good strobe mode, high and low with, no need for more fancy modes
  • mode button that's easy to operate with gloved hands
  • 100% weatherproof: the light, the cables and the battery
  • Rugged cable connectors

A.
More lumens is not needed. It's plenty bright as is. Maybe stop advertising it as 900 lumens.
I actually have started using a P7 flashlight instead BECAUSE it has a medium mode. High is too high, and low is too low on my commute.
Agree on everything else.

I would add:
bike lights intended for use on the road should have a proper, full beam cutoff like car headlights do. Flashlight type beams with no cutoff are fine offroad but are antisocial on the roads.
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Old 02-03-10, 09:54 AM   #20
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You think they graduate?
Actually, I think that if/when they graduate, they wind up designing what their bosses tell them to design, and it's NOT bike headlights. It's another cookie cutter me-too design on a copied product that nobody needs. Not to be too cynical or anything...
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Old 02-03-10, 06:54 PM   #21
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The reason we don't simply go through each thread seeing what each individual person likes and dislikes about a particular light is that it is extremely hard to get data that is easy to juxtapose. That is part of our research though; one which I already completed. For that phase I try to use some tools like the reviews on amazon, which although is not always expert opinion, gives you a wide range of opinions for each product from different types of users.

The reason I came on this forum is to gain expert opinions. Hopefully ones which delve deeper into the actual use of bike lights, and gain generalized opinions on lights which I can use to develop a set of design criteria.

And no, I do not go to the Art Center...

As for this quote: "Actually, I think that if/when they graduate, they wind up designing what their bosses tell them to design, and it's NOT bike headlights. It's another cookie cutter me-too design on a copied product that nobody needs. Not to be too cynical or anything..."

Yeah, that is pretty true. I think it is obvious that most people starting in the design field do indeed have to design what they are told, much like a student must design what they are told in school. And there are concrete reasons for why these companies tell their designers to design boring stuff; they sell and the company makes money. Most people who buy bike lights are not extreme enthusiasts like the people on this forum, additionally, a design that will be produced in the millions cannot be catered to one person's needs. Even if the design did perfectly meet your needs once it left the drawing board, it most likely would be something totally different after engineers and manufacturing/cost cutting teams got to it... so sorry, but design, much like life, is a *****

Finally about this gem: "For some reason, these requests just bug me. No intro, no explanation, and no previous particiaption in the forum. Just lots of questions and "please help." I guess I'm just grumpy this week.

I had two weeks to complete all my research on this, have no previous experience with bikes outside of mopeds and riding one when I was a kid (so of course I have no previous participation). Forums like this can be an extremely useful research method if people are kind and willing to help instead of making smart ass comments. If you would like, I can put my resume and life story up here along with the full project brief. I just figured that if somebody noticed the "Please help" followed by a page-long description, then followed by a long list of questions for them to answer, chances are pretty good they would stop reading halfway through the description.

Thank you to all the people who did actually help me out with a few responses.

A couple people mentioned full beam cutoff/ dimmable lights for city use... do you just mean an additional setting, or a more integrated design? I was actually looking at other mobile light applications that might be transferrable to bikes, and found this; a switch which mounts to the grip of a tactical firearm and screws in to replace the stock battery cover for the flashlight mounted to the gun. Although it would be great for dimming your light quickly, it would require more installation, making it both a target for theft, and more difficult for the casual user... Just a thought though.

http://www.socomtactical.net/images/...e%20switch.jpg

I'm really not trying to be a prick about this, I'm just trying to let you know my reasons for doing things the way I did. If you actually would like to know more about the project let me know...

As of right now I have found the majority of people I surveyed are casual bikers (or maybe the more advanced ones are all just ******** and blew off the survey), many of whom do not even know the type of bike they own, and thus my design will cater more toward the ease-of-use sector. Also, most people said they primarily use their bike light for safety reasons, not to illuminate the path or road in front of them, or to avoid problems with police (legality).

I'm sure lots of people will disagree with those two factors, but that's what happens when you don't provide input...

Thanks again to all the people who did actually give me some usable feedback...

-Matt
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Old 02-04-10, 07:50 AM   #22
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Actually, I think part of the reason you may not get the responses you might hope is that lighting technology is getting pretty good these days. Apart from the lack of full cutoff, $60 or so will buy you a flashlight, LiIon batteries and charger and a bicycle mount that is actually better than any of the headlights that are actually made for bicycles out there for anything like that price.

The problem is that in the US at least, anything made for bicycles falls distinctly into two categories: it's either cheap, useless crap made for kids with toy bikes that doesn't work well in the first place and breaks quickly, or it's high end boutique stuff, marked up 400% for the weekend warriors trying to impress their friends, who PREFER that bike lights cost $800+, so they can brag about how expensive their stuff is.

There's precious little well built stuff at a reasonable price, because the market is very small in the US.

The market for flashlights is huge though, and as a result the prices get driven down due to competition and mass production, and with the addition of a simple rubber block a flashlight is a bike headlight.
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Old 02-04-10, 11:41 AM   #23
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So...........................................................................why don't they make a bike light that is as easy to recharge as a cell phone?

As you can see, I'm lobbying for this.
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Old 02-04-10, 02:34 PM   #24
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Take a look at the Cygolite Trion 600 for an example of a design well done. Yes, it's not as cheap as the Magic Shine which I might have bought if budget was more of an issue, but it is well built, completely integrated into a single unit and has intelligent features and controls.

If I had to ask for anything it would be more for the rear than the front.

(1) better integration with the taillight, i.e. when the headlight is switched on the taillight automatically comes on. bluetooth anyone?
(2) fail sensor for the taillight, i.e. a warning beep if it is switched on and there is no light output.
(3) integrated G-Force sensor - trigger solid bright when decelerating, turn off when acceleration starts so the taillight will effectively become a brake light. Maybe also enable a rear facing panel to light up red on the headlight at the same time.
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Old 02-21-10, 06:51 PM   #25
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Some designs...

Thought I would update everyone on these. I have some 3-d models, but no camera to take pictures with (new battery is in the mail). Any input would be greatly appreciated. I know some of these seem to ignore some of the comments people have posted here, but they have developed out of my design criteria and input from my professor and class, as well as local bike enthusiasts. Pardon the quality of some of the sketches.


Simple design for a slap-bracelet type light, mostly for safety purposes.




Here are a few sketches of similar concepts/ different aspects of the same idea.These replace your current grips; they house batteries inside handlebar, has front facing white lights on inner-side of grip, and has flashing/solid red LEDs housed inside a slit through an aluminum hemisphere on bar ends. Solves the problem of integrating the front and rear lights onto one switch (red lights on bar ends stick out so they can be seen from both sides and from behind, while the aluminum protects them from being damaged in case of a drop. The appearance could be made so they do not look too far from plain grips, and an allen set-screw could be used to lock them in, helping protect against theft and keeping them from turning on the bar.



Two ideas for safety lights that could be integrated into the seat or seat post. Could be activated by weight of rider, then have an auto-off after a minute or two (eliminates lights turning off when you stand up on pedals while riding. Some problems include: fat asses/clothing hanging over the LEDS and blocking their visibility, or riders who have their seats so low the lights in the seat post would not be exposed. Charging could be done by removing the whole seat using a quick-release, possibly using a USB connection.


Fits over the stem and has a bendable light head, attaches using silicone bands, similar to design of the knog frog. Can also be attached in a variety of other places since head is bendable.


(Pardon terrible sketch) Pedals replaced with lights; downward facing white lights in front, and red safety lights in back. Battery clips on and off, weight of battery pack keeps pedals correctly oriented. Battery also tapers so that it is somewhat protected in event of a fall or dragging pedal on sharp turn. (gets thicker as it gets closer to centerline of bike)


Another silicone rubber body light, stretchable arms enable the light to be mounted in various places, using any combination of rubber arms. Perhaps more of a safety light than anything else


Let me know what you think. Again, sorry If I didn't meet any of the requirements you had, but I'm trying to work to please a wide range of people right now as well as develop something new and innovative. Also, I am not an electrical engineer, nor a manufacturing cost estimator, so suggestions having to do with price or complex electrical components are not really up to me...
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