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Thread: Helmet Light

  1. #1
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    Helmet Light

    I'm pondering the purchase of a helmet light. I have a MagicShine 900 on the bar, and it works well. The helmet light would be:

    1. A back-up light for the MagicShine
    2. Something I could aim in corners/turns
    3. Something I could aim at cars (if need be)
    4. Something to aim at the computer (mine isn't back lit)
    5. Something to help with repairing a flat at night.

    I'm thinking about something like a Planet Bike 2 watt Blaze.

    Your thoughts/comments/ideas/experiences would be appreciated.

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    I am a caffine girl colleen c's Avatar
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    Anything particular features you like with the PB 2w such as the strobe function? If that is not a feature you need then there are better choices than the 2w blaze. The MS light is a bright light and I personally like my backup light to be almost as bright or somewhat close to the MS. A 2W light may not be your need for the #2 corner throwing and #3 aim at car.

    Many memeber had pretty good luck with a Terralux 220 lumen flashlight. It is bright enough to be use as a backup. The cost is better than a PB 2W blaze and gives out more lumen while still using standard battery.

    If you want a comparable backup light on your helmet that can do those need you listed and have it be as bright as your MS, then you probably have to use lights that take 18650 battery and I strongly recommend the SST50 emitter instead of a P7. I ran a Shiningbeam MG P Rocket (similar but mine was the preminum) on my helmet for several month and it was brighter than my MS with ability to throw around corner and at car close by. Battery life was a concern until last night. I did a longer night ride and rode till my battery die and that flashlight usinhg better quality battery AW18650 2600ma lasted me 1h23minute! No typo there. Over one hour of use. The last 23 minutte was a little dimmer than the first hour but not by much at all.

    I now run a MG X Thrower on my helmet. It is a good flashlight for throwing a far beam. It can also be used as a backup although the flood is not as good as other flashlight because of the larger reflector, but yet enough spillage to cover a wide area. The downside to the light being use as a helmet light is the weight and size. It has a large reflector and slightly heavier than a MTE P7. It is not so bad after I got used to it on my helmet. Runtime: believe it or not, last night I got 1 h 37 minutes. Holy cow! That's 37 minute more than I expected for a 800+ lumen flashlight running off AW 2600 MA 118650. Those SST50 are so much more efficient than the P7.
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    Quote Originally Posted by colleen c View Post
    If you want a comparable backup light on your helmet that can do those need you listed and have it be as bright as your MS, then you probably have to use lights that take 18650 battery
    Personally I prefer not to mount on my helmet lights that use lithium based rechargables which can explode.

    Yes, I accept that rechargable lithium ion batteries can be used safely, and that there are better and worse brands out there, but overall the risk of an untoward incident is much higher with lithium rechargables than with just about any other common rechargable cell. Using them safely requires knowledge and some minimum test gear, but I doubt very much that every user of said batteries has a digital volt meter and knows what to look for in over/undercharged cells.

    If going down that route, it is a good idea to get educated first and to avoid the temptation to treat li-ion cells as being as innocuous as an alkaline or NiMH cell. Treat them like a little bomb and they'll serve you well. Mishandle them and...

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    I just helmet mount the Magic Shine and put the batter in my jersey pocket. Works well....

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    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mwatkins View Post
    Personally I prefer not to mount on my helmet lights that use lithium based rechargables which can explode.
    Note that that was a non-protected cell. There's always the chance, but I don't know why the heck someone would use non-protected cells unless they were putting them into a pack which had its own protection.

    FWIW, NiMH could probably do the same given that it's sealed inside a pressure vessel (flashlight). Short out a NiMH AA and see what happens. It's not as violent, but if you seal them both inside a pressure vessel, I bet they have EXACTLY the same result - both will build to the flashlight's bursting pressure then it'll explode. That means that even though the NiMH will take a few seconds longer to reach that pressure, when they let go they'll both have the same force.
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    I always treat my Li-Ion with respect. I took all my DX 18650 and took them to work to use with my P7. I replaced those now with the AW protected cell to use at home. I never charge them when I am away from home and when I do charge them, I have a timer set so that the charger cannot overcharge if it fails. My charger also never rest on a table top that can catch fire, instead it is on the floor made of marble which is much more fire proof. I store the unused flashlight and battery in a metal container box that is lined with a very high temperature thermal ceramic Kaowool. Every now and then, I do check the SOC of each battery.

    As for using them as a Helmet light, I avoid using multi cell flashlight and always use better quality protected cell. I agree that Li-Ion can be a hazzard, but so can any equipment that uses lithium battery will always carry some kind of risk including everyday electronic such as laptop or cellphone. However, not very many people will have something like their laptop with multiple cell on top of their head, regardless I think sticking with better quality stuff when the condition requires it will decrease the likelyhood of injuries.
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    How about demoting the MS 900 to helmet duty and getting the next size up MS for the bars?

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    I just picked up a CREE 5 watt headlamp from E-bay that runs off 3 AA's for $16 delevered. Claims 300 lumens. They have a 3AAA and a rechargable version too. We've got plenty of AA rechargables so I went with that one. Straight out of Hongkong so the quality of the racheting deal where it tilts forward feels a little cheep, but that's only because it is... The rest of it is fine and has worked well the few times I've used it so far. Don't know how it will hold up to rain, but it says that it's water resistant. It's bright enought to see around corners and will get a drivers attention for sure and is hardly noticible on your helmet. I'm looking forward to pairing it with a MS on the bars, but as it is now paired with my old Cygolight it's pretty good.

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    It should be noted that I did not say li-ion cells are categorically dangerous in all use cases.

    Li-ion cells are not "consumer" products, but often they are recommended as though they are. In fact these are building block tools - they are OEM products - meant to be used in very controlled ways in products that have special protection designed into them. By using such a product in essence the user is becoming their own systems integrator and should assume all the risks attendant to that activity.

    There are good reasons why Duracell and Energizer do not market consumer li-ion rechargable cells -- they simply are not suitable storage devices for the masses.

    It seems worthwhile to raise this issue in discussion occasionally because, in my opinion at least, li-ion re-chargable solutions get thrown out as suggestions rather casually to users who may be completely unaware of the potential issues. If the potential dangers never get talked about here, how is someone new to the game to learn? Hopefully not by trial and explosion!

    Certainly shorting a cell is a hazard for any type of cell regardless of chemistry, although an alkaline or NiMH is unlikely to produce the explosive force li-ion chemistry can. A mistreated li-ion cell can move into thermal runaway under certain conditions which are rather easy to achieve and once in thermal runaway they quickly get to explosive potential. Mistreating a li-ion cell can be as simple as over-charging it or over-discharging it. And in multi-cell lights and devices it only takes one bad cell to ruin an afternoon.

    So-called "protected" cells of various quality can also fail. Even the "AW" protected cells lauded by the hobbyist community can be over-discharged under the right conditions.

    For the serious user who knows what they are dealing with, is willing to invest in a good charger, willing to avoid multi-cell lights/devices, will use a multi-meter, and especially will pursue the necessary knowledge -- for that user probably the usage risks are minimal. But for everyone else li-ion cells present a real potential danger that is best avoided.
    Last edited by mwatkins; 09-26-10 at 07:11 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mwatkins View Post
    It should be noted that I did not say li-ion cells are categorically dangerous in all use cases.
    Can you elucidate when they are and are not dangerous? What precautions should be taken?
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    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    I'm very happy with my Solarforce L2 helmet mounted. The nice thing about using this type of light is that they use a standard P-60 drop-in, which means that you can upgrade the LED (bulb in layman's terms) for cheap as technology advances.

    http://www.sbflashlights.com/Solarfo...rce-L2-p4.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by mwatkins View Post
    Personally I prefer not to mount on my helmet lights that use lithium based rechargables which can explode.
    Yes, there is a chance that your LiIon cell can explode. There is also a chance you'll get hit by a car on your ride. The latter is probably more likely to happen.

    Use quality protected cells and charger and you should be fine. Use cheap UltraFire/TrustFire cells and chargers and you need to take more precautions. I have UltraFIre cells and the WF139 (newer) charger and I don't leave them alone while charging. Even when I use my Pila charger and AW or Pila cells, I don't leave them alone to charge. Also, I never use more than 1 x 18650 cell in a flashlight. This reduces the chance of an explosion significantly. Having dis-similar charge states in LiIon cells is dangerous.

    I helmet mount my Naibender SST-90 LED 3-mode drop-in module in a Surfire 6P host bored to accept 1x18650. 600lumens OTF (out the front).
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Y(L|S+ View Post
    Yes, there is a chance that your LiIon cell can explode. There is also a chance you'll get hit by a car on your ride. The latter is probably more likely to happen.
    I don't agree with the analogy as presented.

    Riding a bike without due care and attention to cars and traffic is inherently dangerous and in the same vein so is using li-ion cells in typical "consumer" fashion. You and another here claim to behave differently - that's terrific. Clearly in your research you've discovered that li-ion cells need to be thought of differently than standard primary cells or NiMH rechargeable cells. Commendable.

    Perhaps I'm a stickler for safe use of these cells because I'm a technology geek by profession or maybe it's because I've been a systems integrator and understand risk and who owns it. Or maybe I'm just a safety geek.

    If the discussions being held were more balanced then one could be sure the safety message is getting through clearly enough. As of this writing that doesn't seem to be the case. Li-ion cells are virtually by definition not suitable for the average consumer, yet the preponderance of discussion around li-ion cells and flashlights is decidedly consumer oriented in the nature of "I know what you need - just buy this and that off of ^insert internet site(s) here^".

    There is a reason why you don't see li-ion rechargeable cells with Duracell or Energizer or Sanyo labels on the shelves of your local grocery store today and it has nothing at all to do with market share and everything to do with safety. They are not, I repeat, suited for consumers primarily because they are inherently more dangerous. On their own they are not an "end user" product. They are truly meant to be used by systems integrators such as laptop vendors who build entire solutions (packs, chargers, charging and monitoring software in firmware) to make them "safe enough" for consumers. These vendors either own or control the entire power ecosystem in their product, and are responsible for it. Such is not the case with pot-pourri light and power technology mix and match done by lay people like you and me.

    One could argue that some flash light manufacturers are taking on at least part of the systems integrator role, and indeed if the light is designed from the ground up to use cobalt based li-ion technology and will absolutely shut off the light before the li-ion cell reaches a dangerous level of discharge, then that is a light to consider. If you don't know that for a fact, the light isn't worth buying at any price. Over-discharge is one of the worst things you can do to a common LiCo-ion rechargable cell - it is here where you've potentially created a time bomb.

    But even having identified a good reliable light that will only safely discharge a li-ion cell you've still only considered one aspect of the product ecosphere -- discharging. You still have the cell and charging components to take into account.

    By selecting cell A, charger Y, flashlight N you -- the end user -- have taken on the role of systems integrator. By taking on that role you take on all the risk. The experience is not at all like walking into a hardware store and buying a flashlight, charger and some cells, even though it feels like the same experience. It simply isn't.

    The consumer goes to a hardware or drug store, sees a plethora of mostly multi-cell flashlights, and makes a purchase decision. There are no warning signs on the displays because generally speaking what they buy isn't ever likely to explode in their face. They'll often run down their lights until there is barely any output and then swap the cell(s). Even if they are slightly courageous and venture into rechargable NiCd or now NiMH cells for their lights, the worst situation they'll likely run into is diminished cell cycle life, no matter how wanton their treatment of the cells in and out of the light and charger is.

    That's "consumer" use of cells and lights.

    Despite the world wide availability of li-ion cells (largely via the internet) li-ion cells are not consumer grade products. If used in the same manner many abuse alkaline and NiMH cells, li-ion cells are inherently dangerous. Your car analogy is truly apt in this case.
    Last edited by mwatkins; 09-27-10 at 12:25 PM.

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    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    ^^^

    Care to site any examples of rechargeable protected lithium batteries exploding in a single cell light?

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    I'm with Ziemas, I'd like to hear just what situations to avoid.

    How do I know that Dinotte did the integrations work on my light properly with its Lithium-ion cell and charger? Is there a genuine concern here, or is this simply a scare tactic?
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    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein View Post
    I'm with Ziemas, I'd like to hear just what situations to avoid.

    How do I know that Dinotte did the integrations work on my light properly with its Lithium-ion cell and charger? Is there a genuine concern here, or is this simply a scare tactic?
    It's a scare tactic. The vast majority of cases of exploding lithium batteries are primaries, not recharagbles, and on top of that all the cases of exploding recharagbles I've ever heard of are due to mismatched cells being used together in multi-cell lights, not single cells randomly exploding, and certainly not quality protected ones.

    Some people just like to worry. Personally someone coming out of a blind driveway concerns me far more than the li-ion light strapped to my head ever will.

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    I use this with my Niterider 350 bike mounted system. It is rated for 145 lumens which I believe to be accurate. You can get it for less than $20. It is a great bargain and uses AA batteries.

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    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mwatkins View Post
    I don't agree with the analogy as presented.

    Riding a bike without due care and attention to cars and traffic is inherently dangerous and in the same vein so is using li-ion cells in typical "consumer" fashion. You and another here claim to behave differently - that's terrific. Clearly in your research you've discovered that li-ion cells need to be thought of differently than standard primary cells or NiMH rechargeable cells. Commendable.

    Perhaps I'm a stickler for safe use of these cells because I'm a technology geek by profession or maybe it's because I've been a systems integrator and understand risk and who owns it. Or maybe I'm just a safety geek.

    If the discussions being held were more balanced then one could be sure the safety message is getting through clearly enough. As of this writing that doesn't seem to be the case. Li-ion cells are virtually by definition not suitable for the average consumer, yet the preponderance of discussion around li-ion cells and flashlights is decidedly consumer oriented in the nature of "I know what you need - just buy this and that off of ^insert internet site(s) here^".

    There is a reason why you don't see li-ion rechargeable cells with Duracell or Energizer or Sanyo labels on the shelves of your local grocery store today and it has nothing at all to do with market share and everything to do with safety. They are not, I repeat, suited for consumers primarily because they are inherently more dangerous. On their own they are not an "end user" product. They are truly meant to be used by systems integrators such as laptop vendors who build entire solutions (packs, chargers, charging and monitoring software in firmware) to make them "safe enough" for consumers. These vendors either own or control the entire power ecosystem in their product, and are responsible for it. Such is not the case with pot-pourri light and power technology mix and match done by lay people like you and me.

    One could argue that some flash light manufacturers are taking on at least part of the systems integrator role, and indeed if the light is designed from the ground up to use cobalt based li-ion technology and will absolutely shut off the light before the li-ion cell reaches a dangerous level of discharge, then that is a light to consider. If you don't know that for a fact, the light isn't worth buying at any price. Over-discharge is one of the worst things you can do to a common LiCo-ion rechargable cell - it is here where you've potentially created a time bomb.

    But even having identified a good reliable light that will only safely discharge a li-ion cell you've still only considered one aspect of the product ecosphere -- discharging. You still have the cell and charging components to take into account.

    By selecting cell A, charger Y, flashlight N you -- the end user -- have taken on the role of systems integrator. By taking on that role you take on all the risk. The experience is not at all like walking into a hardware store and buying a flashlight, charger and some cells, even though it feels like the same experience. It simply isn't.

    The consumer goes to a hardware or drug store, sees a plethora of mostly multi-cell flashlights, and makes a purchase decision. There are no warning signs on the displays because generally speaking what they buy isn't ever likely to explode in their face. They'll often run down their lights until there is barely any output and then swap the cell(s). Even if they are slightly courageous and venture into rechargable NiCd or now NiMH cells for their lights, the worst situation they'll likely run into is diminished cell cycle life, no matter how wanton their treatment of the cells in and out of the light and charger is.

    That's "consumer" use of cells and lights.

    Despite the world wide availability of li-ion cells (largely via the internet) li-ion cells are not consumer grade products. If used in the same manner many abuse alkaline and NiMH cells, li-ion cells are inherently dangerous. Your car analogy is truly apt in this case.
    Uh, what about my mp3 player, mobile phone, netbook, kitchen stick blender, etc, etc, etc, that all are made by major manufactures, and all use li-ion batteries. Are they all going to kill me too?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziemas View Post
    Uh, what about my mp3 player, mobile phone, netbook, kitchen stick blender, etc, etc, etc, that all are made by major manufactures, and all use li-ion batteries. Are they all going to kill me too?
    It is clear from the sarcasm and examples you cite that you have completely missed the point I made. To restate: li-ion cells are not consumer products, they are intended to be used by systems integrators. Properly integrated into a system designed with safety in mind, they are safe enough to put in the pockets of billions.

    The examples you've provided were all built by systems integrators, not instead bought piecemeal by yourself and assembled into a system. Far from it, they were designed from the ground up by a team of people as a system, from power cell to device to charger. The manufacturer is the systems integrator. Apple takes on full responsibility for every aspect of the iPod, as does Sony or Nokia for their phones, Dell for their laptops, or Kitchenaid for their hand held blenders. Either they or their suppliers or both have teams of people looking at the design and implementation of these products in all aspects not the least of which is safety, long before they hit the shelves. Despite the necessary and costly attention to design and safety, some of these products have been the subject of consumer safety recalls specifically because of flaws in their lithium ion or lithium polymer power packs and/or charging systems.

    In the case of a flashlight produced by one manufacturer in one country powered by a cell produced by a completely unrelated manufacturer perhaps in another country charged by a charger made by yet another manufacturer -- who is the system integrator?

    You are.

    Your flashlight plus the third party li-ion cell(s) it contains plus the third party charger is a system which was integrated typically not by one company but by you, the purchasing individual. If you are lucky perhaps two of the three components were actually designed and tested to work together. If you are unlucky perhaps two of the three components have merely the appearance of being designed and tested to work together in a safe manner.

    I'm not engaging in an esoteric discussion merely for debating points. While the situation has improved somewhat over the past few years there are today chargers on the market today which can be ordered via the internet that are simply not safe. Likewise there are cells available at all price points that are simply not safe and there are flashlights which when used with li-ion cells simply are not safe.

    Aside from the technology, the apparent familiarity on the surface -- a battery, a charger, a flashlight -- to that which many people are already familiar can easily lead to unsafe usage patterns. Unless your "system" has the safeguards to prevent over and undercharge, or too-rapid discharge, you can damage cells to the point where they become dangerous. Consumer devices you've cited have those safeguards. Unfortunately some discrete products aimed at hobbyists and the uninitiated through internet discount sales outlets do not.

    Unless posts like this are out there, they'll never know.

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    I am a caffine girl colleen c's Avatar
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    If this a very common thing with the explosion and I was a man, I'll be super over cautious with running a Netbook on my lap. Sort of give new meaning to the word "Defrag"
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    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    ^^^^

    Do you have anything concrete to give us as an example as I asked for previously, or are you just going to continue with the fear, uncertainty, and doubt?

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    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mwatkins View Post

    Aside from the technology, the apparent familiarity on the surface -- a battery, a charger, a flashlight -- to that which many people are already familiar can easily lead to unsafe usage patterns. Unless your "system" has the safeguards to prevent over and undercharge, or too-rapid discharge, you can damage cells to the point where they become dangerous. Consumer devices you've cited have those safeguards. Unfortunately some discrete products aimed at hobbyists and the uninitiated through internet discount sales outlets do not.
    Uh, they're called protected cells. Personally I use ones from AW, but I've heard Redilast are good too.

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    I use a Fenix O-light connected with a two fish lockblock to one of the helmet vents. If you have an old flashlight lying around that is not to big or bulky all you need is something you can use to attach it.
    lil brown bat wrote:
    Wow, aren't other people stupid? It's a good thing that we're so smart. Yay us.

  24. #24
    Senior Member socalrider's Avatar
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    Mar 2004
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    Upland, CA
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    Litespeed Liege, Motorola Team Issue Eddy Mercxk, Surly Crosscheck Cyclocross bike, Fisher Supercaliber Mtn. Bike
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    when using a MS light as your main light, a smaller flashlight or helmet light is more for being seen than seeing.. Aiming the smaller light at cars does get there attention, I prefer a smaller flashlight, mounting can be easily done with Twofish bike bloks, parallel mounting.. It is extremely secure, 7.00 through amazon..

    http://www.amazon.com/TwoFish-Bikebl.../dp/B001F307JK

    My current favorite smaller light is the Romisen C8II.. The Romisen RC-C8 II has a fully adjustable beam from tight focus to wide flood, I use a single 18650 and 4+ hour runtime on high mode if needed.. Also works with other battery types: 17670, 2 x CR123A, 3 x AAA's, comes with aaa holder.. Has 3 modes, high - low and flashing.. The flashing mode is a more reasonable 120 pulses minute..

    http://www.shiningbeam.com/servlet/t...8-II-Q5/Detail

    If you want to go very small form factor, I would look at single cell AA romisen lights or cr123 lights.. I use this one for running at night, simiar to light above, but only high and low modes.. It is under 2 ounces..

    http://www.shiningbeam.com/servlet/t...6-II-Q5/Detail

  25. #25
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    Highland Park, NJ, USA
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    "Hildy", a Novara Randonee touring bike; a 16-speed Bike Friday Tikit; Dahon Curve D3 folding bike; a green around-town cruiser; and a Specialized Stumpjumper frame-based built-up MTB.
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    mwatkins, your point is well taken, but you're repeating the same points. I'd very much like to know what exactly can go wrong with lithium-ion cells, ad not just "they might explode". We've all heard about batteries catching on fire in consumer products.

    I'm not using systems I made myself, but I find that a small comfort.

    Unless you can cite examples or somehow explain what exactly could go wrong, I suspect that people are going to assume you're simply trying to scare people and keep making their own setups.
    Tour Journals, Blog, ride pix

    I'm in the celtic folk fusion band Baroque and Hungry. "Mended", our new full-length studio album, is now available for download.

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