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Old 02-03-13, 12:24 AM   #1
john0
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Question USB Tail Light with Pulse (Not Blink) Mode and Wide Beam?

USB tail light with a mode where the light pulses gradually brighter and dimmer -- instead of blinking/flashing on-off?

With a wide beam?

Under $50.
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Old 02-03-13, 12:41 AM   #2
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Light & Motion VIS 180 and 180 Micro do just that. The 180 Micro is $50 MSRP or about $41 from Amazon.

However the mounting system sucks. I just bought one today and did not like the rubber strap mounting instead of a bracket that lets you quickly take the light on and off. Also the USB port broke the first time I tried to plug it in. I'm taking it back for a refund tomorrow.

The quality of the light output itself if very good IMHO. It just that it has certain other issues associated with it.
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Old 02-03-13, 01:10 AM   #3
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Cateye TL 570 has a pulse setting amongst its set to choose from. It also has motion and light sensors - turns itself on when the bike is moving at night - turns itself off when still or in day. My kids' bikes have them because they often forget to turn lights on and off.
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Old 02-03-13, 01:31 AM   #4
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I've been using the Cygolite HotShot 2W USB for a few months. This thing gets plenty of respect from overtaking cars. I haven't seen a brighter tail light, and there are several modes to choose from.

$34.95 at our Cycling Center, as I recall.
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Old 02-03-13, 07:46 PM   #5
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Radbot 1000 has a "throb" mode
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Old 02-03-13, 09:03 PM   #6
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Thanks for these suggestions.

The pulse of the L&M Vis Micro is still too rapid for me -- I want a "heartbeat" from medium bright to high:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAj1QAqrOEE

Also I see that they do have an optional rack-mount that the light can dock with, which I need. But it's $10... + $11 shipping. $21 and a hassle for the plastic mount that should come included.

http://www.lightandmotion.com/bike/vis180micro.html
click the "EXTRAS" link


The Cateye TL-LD570-R is very close to what I'm looking for. I definitely like that big "rear reflector" kind of design (I'll be mounting it on a rear rack), and it seems to have very wide visibility:

http://www.cateye.com/en/products/detail/TL-LD570-R/

But the pulse is still a bit too fast for me. Also it looks hideously jittery-while-pulsing here, though that might just be a video compression artifact:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycXfFdHnsDY

But the deal killer: it's not rechargeable.


The Cygolite HotShot 2W USB is the one I'm trying to find an alternative to.

It has a notoriously narrow/focused beam, and although the flash speed can be slowed down (not sure how far), I don't think it has a fading "pulse" option.


The Radbot 1000 has a mode that alternates a slow pulse with a flash cluster. Not rechargeable in any case.


Why does the universe, and its henchman the bike industry, make life a matter of tradeoffs with no actually good option?
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Old 02-03-13, 11:11 PM   #7
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...The Cygolite HotShot 2W USB is the one I'm trying to find an alternative to.

It has a notoriously narrow/focused beam, and although the flash speed can be slowed down (not sure how far), I don't think it has a fading "pulse" option.
The Hotshot does indeed have a mode that fades and is adjustable in speed. The beam pattern is narrow but can easily be widened by just putting a piece of scotch tape across the lens. Doing so though significantly lessens the intensity of the output.
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Old 02-03-13, 11:37 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by john0 View Post
The Cateye TL-LD570-R is very close to what I'm looking for. I definitely like that big "rear reflector" kind of design (I'll be mounting it on a rear rack), and it seems to have very wide visibility:

http://www.cateye.com/en/products/detail/TL-LD570-R/

But the pulse is still a bit too fast for me. Also it looks hideously jittery-while-pulsing here, though that might just be a video compression artifact:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycXfFdHnsDY

But the deal killer: it's not rechargeable.
Runs fine on NiMH AAA cells making it rechargeable. Given the long run time per charge it's not that much extra effort to swap in a pair of recharged AAA cells every once in a while. For a tail light I'd recommend the pre-charged type of NiMH cells (Eneloop kind) since they hold their charge much longer when not in use.

But I'd opt instead for the brighter HotShot as primary tail light and add one of these or something similar as a secondary and to provide a wider beam. Best to have at least two tail lights since you might not immediately notice if one fails for whatever reason while riding at night
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Old 02-04-13, 07:12 AM   #9
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Always two back lights - whatever you do. Batteries conk out completely quietly and sometimes with little warning.

fwiw I favour one of these attached to the back of my jersey as a second light. That way it follows me off the bike if I'm working on a flat or something. Also the magnetic switch is nice - it's always death of the switch that has killed off other lights I've owned and the little mag switch has soldiered on for ages.

http://www.yellowjersey.org/magswich.jpg
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Old 02-04-13, 07:17 AM   #10
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Runs fine on NiMH AAA cells making it rechargeable.
+2

It's better than integrated rechargeable. Rechargeable batteries have a certain number of cycles in them - they're never a custom cell, so you could always get a replacement - but sometimes it's a very difficult job to remove the old one and replace it. Maybe you're an ace with a soldering iron in which case disregard.
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Old 02-04-13, 12:42 PM   #11
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Almost just gave in and bought Hotshot... but I'm NOT sticking tape on a shiny new fairly expensive high-tech device just to make it usable (for me). Did consider opening it up and buffing inside of lens with sandpaper. NOT.

Cateye rejected as I don't actually like its "pulse" -- but idea of (claiming I will eventually get) rechargeable batteries and charger, opens up general option of cheap blinkies.


This Serfas Stop Sign has a "rolling mode" that is pretty OK (see video), $15, AA batteries:

http://www.modernbike.com/itemgroup.asp?IGPK=2126175925

Oh... but there's a drawback. Is that possible? No QR rack mount available. But can screw it to rack (if holes match) and hope thieves don't bother.


This Planet Bike Rack Blinky 5 has a QR rack mount included, also $15, AAA batteries:

http://www.amazon.com/Planet-Bike-30...dp/B0015R1N76/

Guess what... no pulse mode.


And no, I'm not covering myself with a flock of blinkies and walking into places forgetting they're still strobing. Like Some People We Know.
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Old 02-04-13, 05:50 PM   #12
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'Kay so an Amazon review for the Serfas Stop Sign says it will fit on a "standard" rack tailight mount, which I hope this is ($5):

http://www.modernbike.com/itemgroup.asp?IGPK=2126174969

But now I see that a battery recharger costs $20.

So now I'm up to $40 for my "forget expensive USB taillights that don't actually have the features I want, and just get a cheap battery blinky". Which is the same price as the Hotshot (plus rack mount).

Which is 10x as bright, with an adjustable "pulse". Just not with a beam that can be seen if it's not aimed at your eyes... they say.

This is just getting easier and easier.
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Old 02-04-13, 10:38 PM   #13
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Check out Serfas.com. Unlike PDW's product videos, Serfas has taken a video of each of their tail lights as seen by a car traveling at 55 mph as it approaches the bike from the rear. Don't think any of them have that particular 'pulse' pattern you're wanting, though.

One light I can think of that is visible from off axis as well as directly behind and has programmable flash patterns w/USB charging is basically 2x the budget- and that is if you can find one to be had. That light is the Nite Flux Red Zone 4.
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Old 02-04-13, 11:33 PM   #14
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But now I see that a battery recharger costs $20.
Not really. Here's one for less than $12 and includes both a couple AAA low self-discharge cells for your rear light and a couple bonus AA cells for whatever else you may have that takes that size cell:
http://www.amazon.com/Rayovac-Platin...dp/B003D7LHKY/

Stores like Target and WalMart also usually have decent prices on combo packs of chargers and AA/AAA cells. If you have anything else in your house that uses AA or AAA cells then it makes sense to switch over to rechargeable NiMH cells, so I wouldn't ascribe the cost of the charger to just your rear blinky.
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Old 02-06-13, 07:05 PM   #15
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OK thanks.

I think I'll just sit here with analysis paralysis for a few weeks.
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Old 02-07-13, 08:30 AM   #16
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Have you considered the PDW DangerZone? I have one mounted on my helmet, and a PDW Red Planet on the rack. I turn the Red Planet to "steady" all the time, recharge the two AAA each weekend after about ten hours of use (it's still fine at that point, I can go two weeks or twenty hours on steady before it gets dimmer, just a habit I'm in though). The DangerZone has a mode that I think is what you're looking for, it flashes gradually, first the top LED, then the bottom, then both, repeat. The LEDs are not parallel, so if you mount it horizontally, I think you'd get a nice spread. Using this mode I can go two weeks easily (but still recharge every two weeks out of habit).

Edit: The DangerZone uses two AAAs, I know your original post says USB rechargeable, but later you were open to batteries, so.. yeh.

Last edited by Dwayne; 02-07-13 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 02-07-13, 09:40 AM   #17
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The NiteRider Solas has a nicely diffused beam and is rechargeable, and bright. I don't remember if it has a pulse.
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Old 02-07-13, 10:20 AM   #18
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I know I mistakenly posted a light that wasn't usb chargeable above, but there is something to be said for usb charging. I don't do it, but one of the guys in my lab has a whole array of lights charging off of his computer every day. I guess if you got in the habit of removing batteries and charging them up it would be similar. I keep intending on putting a thumbscrew on my PDW Radbot 1000, the screw is annoying
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Old 02-07-13, 02:42 PM   #19
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The NiteRider Solas has a nicely diffused beam and is rechargeable, and bright. I don't remember if it has a pulse.
The Solas has Constant High, Constant Low, Rapid Flash, and "Combo" which I'd describe as "dot-dot-dot-dash".
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Old 02-07-13, 03:10 PM   #20
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Out of curiosity....why the focus on the pulse bright to dim, repeat, feature?

This does not seem to be as noticable as a flash.....and that is the whole point of a rear blinky to be noticed.
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Old 02-07-13, 03:56 PM   #21
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I think a good combo would be one light on a slow pulse, and another with a more staccato flash. People say a flashing light is harder to gauge distance to, and so you should run one steady and one flashing. But maybe that steady one could actually be pulsing between dim and bright.

Or maybe you should just run 3 lights.
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Old 02-07-13, 06:54 PM   #22
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People say a flashing light is harder to gauge distance to, and so you should run one steady and one flashing.
Yes, that's often stated, but I don't really get it. Neither a flashing nor a steady single light let's you judge distance with reasonable accuracy. That's why there are lots of UFO reports by people seeing Venus or a distant weather balloon in the sky and thinking it's some flying object much closer. A bright light far away looks the same as a dimmer but closer light - without other context there's no way to determine the distance (our binocular vision is only useful at triangulating for much closer distances than apply for a bicycle in traffic).

My view is that the function of my rear lights is to be noticed while the driver is still far away. That allows him to steer in a direction so he won't hit me and if he eventually gets close enough he'll be able to gauge the distance accurately based on seeing my various reflectors which will let him see the size of my bike and body.
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Old 02-07-13, 10:40 PM   #23
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Reading this thread made me remember to try out the scotch tape diffuser on my Hotshot. Covering the lower half of the lens with a piece of tape and leaving the upper portion original seems to work quite well for me.

FYI Use dime for a template to cut out a half circle of tape to apply. No air bubbles and it looks halfway professional.

I've tried the rechargeable AA/AAA route before for various things. After regularly burning the chargers up within a very short time (the just died, not actual fire) I gave up on them. Nothing but positive experiences with Li-ions so far.
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Old 02-08-13, 12:17 AM   #24
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Serfas Shield is a great alternative, it's brighter then the Hotshot and has a wider beam. This chart will show you the superiority of the HotShot over others mentioned here: http://bicycles.blogoverflow.com/201...-light-review/

Here is small selection of beam shots: http://www.bikeforums.net/attachment...2&d=1335801807

Actually you could take any $50 headlight and buy some taillight repair reflective tape and cover the clear lens of the head light with it, and that "new" taillight will be brighter then almost all dedicated taillights till you get up around the $350 range! I did that with Cygolite ExpiliOn 350, ended up putting 3 layers of the tape on to get the red I wanted. That tape cost about $2 and can be found at any auto parts store.

In fact if you by chance have one of those to be seen taillights you could convert it to a taillight then instead of buying a new taillight spend that money for a better headlight.

I'm sorry, I'm thinking too much again.
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Old 02-08-13, 12:40 AM   #25
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Out of curiosity....why the focus on the pulse bright to dim, repeat, feature?

This does not seem to be as noticable as a flash.....and that is the whole point of a rear blinky to be noticed.
Because rapidly-flashing blinkies are a hideously garish light pollution, and borderline physical assault on the general public.

I notice that cyclists feign ignorance that there could be anything offensive about using them... until the subject of pack riding comes up.
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