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Old 10-10-12, 11:00 PM   #1
stevepusser
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Anyone else played with the $1 solar outside yard lights?

They charge all day, then switch on the LED when it get far into dusk. I picked up a few of these at the local Dollar Tree. You can pop the tops off, giving you the cell, battery, and white LED on something like a hockey puck. Taping 3 together into a triangle, letting charge all day, then testing in a tent at night: they put out enough light to read by when in the gear loft or in a wide-mesh bag, and ran pretty much all night (as far as I can tell)

So for $3.00, one can get a tent light that'll last at least for years and is very lightweight. If one goes bad, you still have two working. How will candle lanterns compete with that, when there's no chance of fire or accidentally burning your fingers?

Next, I plan to disassemble one to see if I can rig the solar cell to the stem and the LED over my cyclocomputer on some sort of stiff yet bendable wire...let's see if there's enough slack wire inside to make it easy.

You can get solar tent lights on Ebay, but they run about 10X more expensive than my triangle light, and look a lot heavier.
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Old 10-11-12, 01:03 AM   #2
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keep you from tripping over tent guy lines..
but you can get cordage that will reflect your flashlight, too..
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Old 10-11-12, 02:57 AM   #3
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Thanks for the ideas. Would be good to see some pics of what you end up with.

You can also find LED flashlights at dollar stores. You could use the solar panels from the yard lights to charge batteries.

The brighter flashlights could be useful for some applicaions.The milder light from the yard light LEDs can be good for reading. Most of the flashlights are unnecessarily bright for that use.

Good for e-readers that need a light source too.

Last edited by Niles H.; 10-12-12 at 01:06 PM.
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Old 10-11-12, 06:57 AM   #4
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Interesting idea, I guess it ultimately comes down to weight/size/convenience of the solar rig verses batteries and your personal preference. In a touring situation where you should be able to purchase fresh batteries at regular intervals the self-sufficient angle isn't a big deal. I suppose it could be a cost savings for a long tour.
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Old 10-11-12, 11:25 AM   #5
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a headlight, Ie on your head , will be handy.. after dusk,
to see in the pot when dinner is on the stove.
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Old 10-11-12, 12:03 PM   #6
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The op is my kinda guy. A tinkerer. Often the ultimate value of the tinkering is zilch. The fun of rearranging parts into something that might be useful is priceless.

Stay in touch on this Stevep.
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Old 10-11-12, 01:09 PM   #7
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That is interesting! I'm still enjoying bringing these string lights along on treks and tours. Definitely a frivolity, but they're homey and fun.
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Old 10-11-12, 07:29 PM   #8
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I use them on my boat as anchor lights.
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Old 10-12-12, 10:44 AM   #9
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My brother brought a couple on backpacking trip this summer. His idea was they would keep us from tripping on tent lines in the dark. They worked fine, but as there was a full moon, they were superfluous.
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Old 10-12-12, 11:18 AM   #10
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I use them on my boat as anchor lights.
I always threatened to pit them on the pilings so I could get my sailboat into the slip more easily in full darkness, but never did.

On tour I go pretty minimal when it comes to lighting. I carry a 0.2 ounce eGear PICO Zipper light and a red lens eGear Tag-It Safety light that also weighs less than an ounce.

The zipper light has been down the Pacific Coast from Seattle to San Luis Obispo and on the ST from San Diego to Sarasota. The original battery is still going strong. Given that it is rated at 15 hours and I have hardly put a dent in it's life I guess you could say I don't use a light much. I tend to use it for 5-15 seconds at a clip and fairly seldom at that.

The Tag it light I use in lieu of a tail light if caught out after dark. It is rated at 250 hours of battery life in flashing mode and will probably last me a long time before I need to replace the batteries.
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Old 10-12-12, 01:12 PM   #11
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+1. I have done tours where the only light I used was my cheapo cat eye handlebar light. But having grown up with those junky incandescent flashlights, LEDs are like xmas every day. So I do carry a few of them at times. I have the bike light. A small light for my cap, and a book light, a fancy deal from the dollar store.

Currently my favourite light, amidst are the super tacticals, and compact camping lights, is the army angle head light. I use them instead of headlights on my bike, I grip them in one hand, but can still hold the bars. They are all around good for stuff around the camp. They are durable, cheap, and have a burn rate that saves batteries but still gives sufficient light for most of my stuff. They cost about 7 bucks. They come with a bunch of lenses that are great for entertaining kids and so forth.
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Old 10-12-12, 01:40 PM   #12
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Cool idea, steve.
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Old 10-12-12, 09:43 PM   #13
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I kept them in the closet after a full charge--one unit is still bright after 2 nights and one days continuous use, but the others died after about 24 hours. Obviously there's some wide range in variablity in what's inside the thing.

I still haven't taken one apart, though--got tied up in compiling and packaging Firefox 16.0.1 for the small Linux distro I help with (speaking of tinkering!) Just tonight I think I figured out why my build was crashing...

Also it seriously rained here in San Diego for the first time since spring, so had to test the pet food storage panniers I adapted for keeping my stuff dry. The pet food storage containers are shaped more like traditional panniers than the cubical cat-litter buckets:

http://www.petsmart.com/product/inde...ductId=3437187

The 28 qt one can hold a bit more than a jumbo nylon pannier, but I also added a couple of 15 quart ones for touring. A couple of hooks on the top, plus a reusable zip tie through a small hole in the bottom flange and looped around the seat stay, holds them on tightly with very little wobble. I put some adhesive shelf liner plastic onto the buckets for UV protection and so the world can't see what expensive stuff I'm hauling...I want to see if I can get everything in those two 15 quart ones for a tour.

Last edited by stevepusser; 10-12-12 at 09:58 PM.
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Old 10-13-12, 05:16 AM   #14
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For around the campsite, I prefer a LED headlamp on my head. Bike touring, I use rechargeable batteries for headlamp, bike lights and GPS but if I do not have a chance to recharge the batteries I can buy AA and AAA batteries.

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... ... On tour I go pretty minimal when it comes to lighting. I carry a 0.2 ounce eGear PICO Zipper light and ... ... ...
I got several of those on sale a few years ago, they were great Christmas presents. I keep a couple on my key rings. Got a large supply of batteries shipped from China on ebay. I have had it turn itself on in the pocket and drain the batteries, so if it was my only light on a trip I would take a spare set.
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Old 10-13-12, 08:09 AM   #15
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For around the campsite, I prefer a LED headlamp on my head. Bike touring, I use rechargeable batteries for headlamp, bike lights and GPS but if I do not have a chance to recharge the batteries I can buy AA and AAA batteries.
That is probably the best type of in camp light for most people. The thing is that if I have to dig it out of the pannier or handlebar bag I usually don't bother. I found that when I carried one I very seldom actually used it. The Pico on the other hand is on a chain around my neck so always right there. I still don't use it much but when I need to I turn it on for a few seconds.

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I got several of those on sale a few years ago, they were great Christmas presents. I keep a couple on my key rings. Got a large supply of batteries shipped from China on ebay. I have had it turn itself on in the pocket and drain the batteries, so if it was my only light on a trip I would take a spare set.
Again I am probably a bit weird on this, but before I found the Pico I was considering just not carrying any light at all other than the red blinkie. In the 5000 or so miles I have been carrying the Pico it has never accidentally turned on and if it did I wouldn't be overly concerned to go a day or two with no light. I do tend to scorch things when cooking in the dark without a light, but usually fix dinner in daylight.

I can see where it would be more likely to get turned on in a pocket though. Worst case I could use the red blinkie on steady. It wouldn't bother me all that much to do without either of them, and you can buy some kind of small light in any town big enough to have even a minimal store. Then again at 0.2 ounces having a second one along wouldn't be a big burden, I just don't consider it a priority.
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Old 10-13-12, 01:46 PM   #16
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I've been playing with the same thing this summer. Good description: hockey puck with an LED sticking out. I have several of these things taken apart and placed around the yard on fence posts. I'm testing how weather resistant they are (wife thinks I'm nuts). If you cover with a frosted material (even a translucent plastic beer cup) it seems to diffuse the light and feel brighter.
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Old 10-13-12, 05:10 PM   #17
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I finally took one apart. It has a 200 milliamp/hour NiCad conventional (with button on + end) AAA battery inside, plus a little circuit board. Trimming excess plastic away from the solar cell, plus abundant use of self-fusing silicone electrical tape for assembling and mounting to the handlebar, and I now have an automatic cyclocomputer light. It looks more like something from thereifixedit.com, though.
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