bike lights

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upgw

Guest
i'm gonna start a lighting project. i was thinking of using those 55 watt halogen headlights you can buy at auto supply stores. do you think it is gonna be too bright. i was thinking of using a dimmer so i can control the brightness. so when it's really dark, i can use the whole 55 watts. and when it's only slightly dark, i can just barely light it up.

would this save battery power? would a dimmer even work with a halogen bulb.
 
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likearock111

Guest
i'm gonna start a lighting project. i was thinking of using those 55 watt halogen headlights you can buy at auto supply stores. do you think it is gonna be too bright. i was thinking of using a dimmer so i can control the brightness. so when it's really dark, i can use the whole 55 watts. and when it's only slightly dark, i can just barely light it up.

would this save battery power? would a dimmer even work with a halogen bulb.

One 55W halogen bulb would probably be plenty to see at night, but not a complete waste. I am using two 12V, 35W MR16 halogen bulbs and normal indoor tracklight fixtures for headlights, and I have absolutely no problem riding at night. One 55W would probably also be fine.

A dimmer is a cool idea. You can use dimmers with 12V halogens, but they need to be specifically "low-voltage" electronic or magnetic dimmers. Personally, I'd just make my own dimmer circuit, because I really enjoy circuit design. Somebody has written up a pretty solid design that should work for your purposes here. This cirucit actually has several key similarities to the turn signal circuit design I posted in a thread earlier. If you decide to go this route and end up having any questions, just let me know.

In general, a dimmer would allow you to use your lights for longer. The rationale here is that the circuit would require some power to operate. Therefore, if the circuit's power requirements are small in comparison to the power requirements of the bulb (like a halogen), then you'd be using power more efficiently by dialing in the optimal amount of light with a dimmer. However, if the circuit's power requirements are medium-large in comparison to the power requirements of the bulb (like an efficient, low-current LED), then adding a dimmer might not actually be worth it. In your case, though, I'd say it's definitely worth a shot.

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Also, from http://www.lighting-fixtures-ceiling-fans.com/lutron_dimmer_switches.html#bulbs:

Magnetic Low Voltage Dimmers dim these light bulbs:
(Magnetic Low Voltage Dimmers are "backward compatible". They can also dim normal, line voltage light bulbs.)
Low voltage light bulbs - PAR36.
MR16 - 12V and 24V.
All kinds of normal bulbs - 120V or 130V.
R and BR bulbs.
A lamps.
line voltage halogens - PAR lamps.

Electronic Low Voltage Dimmers dim these light bulbs: (Electronic Low Voltage Dimmers are NOT "backward compatible". They cannot dim normal, line voltage light bulbs)
low voltage light bulbs - PAR36;
MR16 - 12V and 24V;
Xenon;
 
U

upgw

Guest
i was also thinking of hooking up a rear trailer light. so should i run it parallel with the headlight wire. i want to be able to turn one on and the other off if i wanted to.

i also want to be able to flip a switch and have the rear light flash on and off. i think that is a better way of getting peoples' attention when they're whizzing by you at 60mph. i would hate to splatter my blood and guts on someone's windshield. i'd feel bad for the person and of course i probably wouldn't be able to get up to clean up the mess either.

so how do you get the light to flash anyway?
 
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likearock111

Guest
Yup - putting the two lights in parallel is the way to go for what you want. Really, though, all this means is that they'd both be connected to the battery independently.

The flashing light deal is a little more complicated, and it can be done at least a couple of different ways. I would suggest basically building one red "turn signal" in one of the three ways listed below:

1) Buy a flashing red light somewhere.

2) Buy the proper type of automotive flasher for your lights (LED vs. incandescent) and wire it into your system. Adamtheha went this route, so you should probably direct questions there. The link is

http://motoredbikes.com/showthread.php?t=11107

3) Make your own turn signal flashers. If you're interested in going this route, you can read more than you'd probably ever want to know at this link:

http://motoredbikes.com/showthread.php?t=9057

Although the title implies that it is for LED lights only, it will handle pretty beefy incandescents (including typical trailer lights) with no problem. I'm not going to lie: it's not as easy as buying pre-made stuff and wiring it in. BUT, if you like circuits or want to learn, this would be a pretty good option for you. If you have questions here, let me know.
 
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upgw

Guest
i was also thinking of making a battery pack out of aa or d rechargeable batteries. is this possible? the lead acid battery is very heavy. i want a lighter battery. i think i'll get more mpg this way. the standard 12v 7ah battery weighs 6 pounds.

i also have a bunch of 18v batteries from power tools. would i be able to use those or would the voltage be too high? is there a way to lower the voltage.
 

adamtheha

Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2008
Messages
72
If you're looking for a simple 12 volt battery solution, here are a few:
1. Wire 2 lantern batteries together in series. 2 x 6 volt = 12 volts - Caution, very low amperage, won't run too many items together.
2. Find an inexpensive "burgler alarm" battery with charger, typically 20-30 bucks at Home Depot or elsewhere. Rechargeable and more amperage.
3. Buy a dedicated motorcycle battery with charger and trickle charger. This will give you more power for more lights, but don't overdo it, those batteries are not cheap! If you go with mostly LED tail lights, you could wire in a 35-55w headlamp without drawing too much power. I wouldn't bother with 18v batteries, they would blow any LEDs you have, and possibly other lights too. Also would be harder to wire up a battery like that, you'd have to solder directly to it.
 
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likearock111

Guest
i was also thinking of making a battery pack out of aa or d rechargeable batteries. is this possible? the lead acid battery is very heavy. i want a lighter battery. i think i'll get more mpg this way. the standard 12v 7ah battery weighs 6 pounds.

i also have a bunch of 18v batteries from power tools. would i be able to use those or would the voltage be too high? is there a way to lower the voltage.

I wouldn't go for AA or D batteries. If energy per weight is what you're looking for, go lithium. Again, the lighter the battery, the shorter the battery life (a vast over-generalization, but roughly correct). Assuming you want to run a 12V 55W halogen and nothing else, and using P=I*V (which is being generous), we're talking on the order of 4.5-5A continuously. Therefore, assuming a perfectly-charged battery, you'd need 5 amp-hours just to have light for an hour. Also, if you go the SLA battery route, you really don't want to be running them down completely (harms the battery), so a 7AH battery might be reasonable to power JUST your 55W halogen for an hour.

You shouldn't use 18V batteries as-is. That is a baaaad idea. If you're really serious about using these 18V batteries (I wouldn't recommend it), you will definitely need a voltage regulator capable of handling the amperage you need. All voltage regulators do is convert an input voltage of V1 (18V) into an output voltage of V2 (12V in your case). ALL voltage regulators introduce some level of inefficiency into the system and waste power to some extent. Therefore, you should try to get one that is as efficient as possible. "Switching regulators" are probably what you should investigate. Check out digikey.com (best place online for circuit components, period) and jameco.com (limited selection, but some unique components). If you have questions here, let me know, and I'll get back to you in a couple of days (currently visiting family). My suggestion is to not go the 18V route.

One of the few areas I'm willing to accept a significant amount of weight addition for my bike builds has been the battery. I ride at night, and I want a serious lighting system. You may only need it for early dusk riding. If so, maybe a less powerful system is in order. If this is the case, I would suggest going with a smaller wattage halogen (some people have used down to ~20 W for this type of riding and had positive results). Also, consider the net weight difference. Say another battery pack would weigh 2lbs. The net difference is 4 lbs. I don't know about you, but I'm a big enough guy that 4 lbs is only about a 2% weight change, not counting the weight of the bike and motor. I think there could be much worse ways to spend 4 lbs of weight, especially considering the potential safety impacts (seeing/ being seen at night).

Let us know if you have any more questions.
 
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upgw

Guest
lithium ion sounds good. do you know where i can get a rechargeable 12v li-ion battery for cheap. they give more power and weigh less right?
 
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likearock111

Guest
I haven't used lithium batteries for my projects, so I can't recommend a good source. Yes, lithium has one of the best energy to weight ratios out there right now.
 

datz510

Member
Joined
May 9, 2008
Messages
204
I am working on my own solution to the lighting question right now.

Check out these 9 LED flashlights for sale on Amazon for dirt cheap:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000LIQQ7M

I ordered 2 of these to mount on my handlebars, With 18 high power LEDs, they should be extremely bright. I may have to take them apart and do some soldering internally to improve vibration resistance, but othr than that, for $10 and a little ingenuity, these should make for a kickass headlight setup.

I'll post up some photos once I get the lights to compare them to known brightness lights.
 
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