Designing new bike light... any ideas?

G

GrainOfLight

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Hey Bikers!

Recently, I went out to purchase a new light for my bike. The main features I wanted in this light were: Good performance, durability, functionality and most of all a light that LOOKED GOOD and complimented my bikes style.

There was a problem: once I began searching I realised how lacking the LED bicycle light market is on elegant stylish lights. The majority of all I could find were black plastic/aluminium with no real wow factor.

So I have decided to build my and would like to get some people’s ideas with the design:
- What is the standard handlebar width that I should make the mount so that it can accommodate a broad range of handle bars?
- What is your preference on light modes? Do you tend to use medium more than high? Is it worth incorporating a flashing mode in the driver?
- What about battery life? How long do you really need the battery to last for? I will make it USB rechargeable, so will 2 hours be enough? Do people prefer light-weight or do they want a longer life battery and hence a lighter unit.
- I intend to use 1xCR123A battery and an XM-L2 Cree led, I am aiming for approximately 300lumens. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what driver and battery combination I should be using to get my desired specs? Does everyone think 300lumens (on high) will be enough for the general everyday rider? (Cruising the city and backstreets etc.)

I hope my first forum post isn’t too much of a ramble. I appreciate any feedback at all, even if it is just answering one of my questions!
Thanks – looking forward to your ideas :cool:

Cannot wait to build this light!
 
angerdan

angerdan

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Hey,

which of the lights above $50 did you consider during your search?
I would mention especially the Philips Safe Ride 80. Its has 270lm, full metal housing and large reflector.
There's also the Specialized Flux Expert.

To give your idea of building your own light some input, these are my suggestions:


  • 2x 18650 instead of 1x CR123A (due to the population of this cells and much higher capacity/archivable runtime)
  • option for additional external power pack (4x 18650)
  • charging over USB-C with own circuit for each internal cell (USB-C is the newest USB-plug)
  • possibility of charging and use of the light simultaneously
  • remote switch (illuminated, powered via cable, custom functions programmable)
  • reflector & hidden/indirect LEDs (to minimize blending)
  • neutral white LEDs (< 4.500K) with CRI >80
  • >300lm
  • runtime >3h at full power
  • temperature-dependent control of LED
  • soft pulse mode instead of the very irritating flash mode
  • additional RGB-LED for standby-mode (like on the MJ-880, looks very cool)
  • use of the Cateye or Busch & Müller Quick-Release Bike Mount
  • also optional screw mount option
  • case optimized for each upside-down/upside-up attachment
  • replacable cables for external power pack and remote switch
  • at least splash and dust proof, better IP44/IP65
  • Display with estimated running time and current level/mode
  • additional remote from app (WiFi)


Something else for your inspiration:
mtb-news.de/forum/t/die-selbstbaulampen-der-ibcler-teil-1.434819/page-193#post-12367138
mtb-news.de/forum/t/elektronische-lampensteuerung-selberbauen.196704/page-21#post-4498298
mtb-news.de/forum/t/die-ultimative-ibc-extremlampe.300808/
 
Last edited:
S

SemiMan

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As opposed to making us design the light for you, why not show us your design assumptions and how you arrived at the initial specs. Given the limited amount you have written I question whether you have done this.

Do I care how it looks? Not really. Does not get in the way, works, does not say "steal me" .... far more important.
 
Steve K

Steve K

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Elegant and stylish haven't been considerations of mine. I've been making my own lights, so "utilitarian" is the best I hope to achieve.

My commuting bikes are equipped with dynamos, so I only use battery powered lights for bikes where I don't expect to be out in the dark for long, or for visibility enhancement.

300 lumens (a modern LED driven at 3 watts) seems to work for me pretty well. With a good set of optics, i.e. non-symmetrical, this does a fine job. For the "enhanced visibility" mode, 100 lumens in steady should be fine, or a strobe would work too.

Handlebar mounts have gotten tricky since handlebar tube shapes have strayed from simply being round. Not sure how this is being addressed by the big manufacturers.
 
G

GrainOfLight

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Hey,

which of the lights above $50 did you consider during your search?
I would mention especially the Philips Safe Ride 80. Its has 270lm, full metal housing and large reflector.
There's also the Specialized Flux Expert.

To give your idea of building your own light some input, these are my suggestions:


  • 2x 18650 instead of 1x CR123A (due to the population of this cells and much higher capacity/archivable runtime)
  • option for additional external power pack (4x 18650)
  • charging over USB-C with own circuit for each internal cell (USB-C is the newest USB-plug)
  • possibility of charging and use of the light simultaneously
  • remote switch (illuminated, powered via cable, custom functions programmable)
  • reflector & hidden/indirect LEDs (to minimize blending)
  • neutral white LEDs (< 4.500K) with CRI >80
  • >300lm
  • runtime >3h at full power
  • temperature-dependent control of LED
  • soft pulse mode instead of the very irritating flash mode
  • additional RGB-LED for standby-mode (like on the MJ-880, looks very cool)
  • use of the Cateye or Busch & Müller Quick-Release Bike Mount
  • also optional screw mount option
  • case optimized for each upside-down/upside-up attachment
  • replacable cables for external power pack and remote switch
  • at least splash and dust proof, better IP44/IP65
  • Display with estimated running time and current level/mode
  • additional remote from app (WiFi)


Something else for your inspiration:
mtb-news.de/forum/t/die-selbstbaulampen-der-ibcler-teil-1.434819/page-193#post-12367138
mtb-news.de/forum/t/elektronische-lampensteuerung-selberbauen.196704/page-21#post-4498298
mtb-news.de/forum/t/die-ultimative-ibc-extremlampe.300808/

Wow, thankyou so much for such a great response! It has given me a lot to take into consideration that I hadn't even thought about :)

My main questions arise with the USB-C and charging circuit: USB-C is very new on the market and I have only seen it released with the new apple mac and chromebook, do you think there is a charging circuit available for lithium Ion batteries or this will be something i have to build myself? i.e: Just use an existing USB charger circuit and do some soldering to make exchange the USB ports.... This will remove any of the beneficial features of the USB-C circuit other than having the input plug to be USB-C?

Possibility of having charging via USB and use of light will be a must. You think this is something i could incorporate all in the USB circuit? i.e: Have the USB input to do the following: Charge the cells when turned off, charge the cells when turned on (seems straight forward), also be the connection point for the external battery pack... Is this asking to much form one intput?

For now, im going to go with one CR123A cell, and then possibly design a larger scale light after i have this one sorted. I only need thi slight for a quick 1 hour max commute to work :)

I love this idea of soft pule mode, some of those high frequency flashers can almost cause an attack :crazy:

Thanks again - look forward to hearing your thoughts on this!
 
angerdan

angerdan

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My main questions arise with the USB-C and charging circuit: USB-C is very new on the market and I have only seen it released with the new apple mac and chromebook, do you think there is a charging circuit available for lithium Ion batteries or this will be something i have to build myself? i.e: Just use an existing USB charger circuit and do some soldering to make exchange the USB ports.... This will remove any of the beneficial features of the USB-C circuit other than having the input plug to be USB-C?
I'd just think two steps ahead with the C-type USB-plug. Maybe USB-micro (B) will be more usable the next three years.
Maybe the USB-Plug should be just power the Lamp when no internal batterys inserted or they'r voltage is to low


Possibility of having charging via USB and use of light will be a must. You think this is something i could incorporate all in the USB circuit? i.e: Have the USB input to do the following: Charge the cells when turned off, charge the cells when turned on (seems straight forward), also be the connection point for the external battery pack... Is this asking to much form one intput?
I guess it would be more easy if you make it controlled by a switch. Except you're very good in electronics ;)

For now, im going to go with one CR123A cell, and then possibly design a larger scale light after i have this one sorted. I only need thi slight for a quick 1 hour max commute to work :)
If this way is easier for you - why not? From my point of view 18650 is the most preferred size/type, so i would also use this from the beginning (so you would experience all the properties of this cells).

Thanks again - look forward to hearing your thoughts on this!
I'm curious about what you will do with this input. Did you also take some closer look at the functions of the Specialized Flux Expert?
It has also pulse and is rechargable via USB. Many of my points are included in this light.
 
G

GrainOfLight

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@angerdan Thanks for the insight. I did like the functions on the Specialized light and will definitely incorporate some features of it into my light the best i can.

I understand your point on the 18650's, but I think in the end i will make 2 light sizes; one with 18650 and one with CR123A. I will then see which one I prefer, i.e size vs battery life. One of the main features of my light will be the ability to easily remove and keep the light with you, so i think the smaller size will be better, but I will have to lose half the battery capacity in doing this. Maybe, ill try to create an adapter kit that allows the same light to have both batteries, but that can be for further down the track. :)



The design wont differ much as they have the same rated volatge and diameter.
 
G

GrainOfLight

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Below are some pictures where I have completed the first basic circuit for my light. It includes a Buck driver 1A, CREE XM-L2 LED, USB rechargeable input, 18650 (which i'm thinking of replacing with a CR123A).


My desire is to have selection of 4 modes for the LED: High/Medium/Low/Pulse. Most flashlights come with a high frequency strobe, but i would like to incorporate a soft pulsating mode that dims the light high to low. I will be looking for a driver that comes fully integrated with this feature.

5503351428629261783.jpg
 
subwoofer

subwoofer

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To the OP, have you seen the Blaze Laserlight? 300lm output, USB rechargeable, sleek metal housing, unique safety laser.

I've got one for review and will work on it as soon as I can.
 
G

GrainOfLight

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To the OP, have you seen the Blaze Laserlight? 300lm output, USB rechargeable, sleek metal housing, unique safety laser.

I've got one for review and will work on it as soon as I can.

That's a pretty interesting light! I love the laser feature of projecting an image of a bike!
 
G

GrainOfLight

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A quick update:

Fine tuning the wooden tube for the light exterior. I will need to create some type of interior reinforcement as the wood is becoming very fragile and thin. This wooden tube prototype is allowing me to figure out the strength and durability of boring and turning out a piece of maple wood. At the moment i think I will need to come up with an alternative solution as the impact resistance of this piece is very low. It looks great though!

5755291428928914813.jpg
 
Steve K

Steve K

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The wood finish will look nice. How are you incorporating a heatsink into the design? (assuming that this is an LED light and not incandescent)
 
subwoofer

subwoofer

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A quick update:

Fine tuning the wooden tube for the light exterior. I will need to create some type of interior reinforcement as the wood is becoming very fragile and thin. This wooden tube prototype is allowing me to figure out the strength and durability of boring and turning out a piece of maple wood. At the moment i think I will need to come up with an alternative solution as the impact resistance of this piece is very low. It looks great though!

As lovely as the tube looks, I would say that wood is a very impractical material to use for anything bike related and especially lighting related.

I currently have vice envy (loving that chunky well used vice) :sick:
 
Steve K

Steve K

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on the subject of wood and bikes... there was a concept bike at recent handbuilt bike show that used some wood sleeves in the hub shells...

16800168286_cf24f791a3_z_d.jpg


something like this on a tubular aluminum light might let you combine the wood finish with polished aluminum and still get heat out of the package.
Or maybe use wood with copper instead?? That might be an attractive combination.
 
G

GrainOfLight

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The wood finish will look nice. How are you incorporating a heatsink into the design? (assuming that this is an LED light and not incandescent)

Great question! For this wooden piece shown in the picture I was merely attempting to create a tube to see what structural integrity I could achieve. The durability and strength is not great, so this wil be turned into a show piece prototype. For this flashlight I used a CREE XM-L thermal pasted onto an aluminium slug, which is inside the flashlight. The LED is ran at <1000mA so the heating isn't a problem and the 1"x1" diameter slug seems to dissipate it well.

Ill post some pics of the finished flashlight a little later.

My next step is to try and create a light that is much more durable and will include a heat sink that is exposed to the ambient air for better thermal properties.

Cheers!
 
Steve K

Steve K

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If your light was running at 0.5W, I'd be more inclined to say heating isn't an issue. At close to 3 watts, parts will get hot without a few square inches of heatsink surface area.

I look forward to seeing the next step. :)
 
G

GrainOfLight

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As lovely as the tube looks, I would say that wood is a very impractical material to use for anything bike related and especially lighting related.

I currently have vice envy (loving that chunky well used vice) :sick:

I totally agree! The structural integrity and durability is not great and this was just a test to see how think i could get the wood before it became too weak. This will be a show piece prototype that will be made into a flashlight, maybe a light for on the bedside table :) The next step for me is to try and source a way to make the structure of the wood durable with extra reinforcement. This will also incorporate an aluminium heat sink exposed to the ambient air for better thermal properties!

Ill post a picture of the flashlight a bit later on; it does look sexy on my desk, a nice functional paperweight indeed! :cool:

Cheers!
 
G

GrainOfLight

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Wow these look amazing! To increase the structural integrity I was thinking of sectioning off the wood like this! I will definitely need to have some interior reinforcement like the alloy shown in your picture and will do my best to have it so the wood is one piece. This will be my second prototype attempt.

Thanks for the insight, I appreciate the ideas!

on the subject of wood and bikes... there was a concept bike at recent handbuilt bike show that used some wood sleeves in the hub shells...

16800168286_cf24f791a3_z_d.jpg


something like this on a tubular aluminum light might let you combine the wood finish with polished aluminum and still get heat out of the package.
Or maybe use wood with copper instead?? That might be an attractive combination.
 
G

GrainOfLight

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Prototype flashlight with LED circuit integrated: CREE XM-L2 ran at <1000mA, powered by 1x18650 rechargeable battery with Carclo Optic, frosted medium beam, USB MINI-B recharging point and LED indicator.





 
S

SemiMan

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One drop .... which will happen often .... and done ... little pieces.

If you insist on wood, I would go aluminum body with a laminate. Much stronger and much better thermal performance. I do question the market viability.

Wood "look" can be done with a high quality photo wrap followed by a clear powder coat for strength.
 

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