my brain gears are turning-- signal and brake lights

Discussion in 'Electrical' started by RedBaronX, Aug 15, 2010.

  1. RedBaronX

    RedBaronX Member

    OK yes I know that there are units you can buy that are brake and signal lights, but I want something bigger and more vintage... something that looks more integrated into the bike...

    A couple options for the turn signals are: one three way switch, maybe a rocker switch, thumb activated, for selecting between left, right, and off. Other option is spring loaded press buttons, one on each hand-- press the button with your thumb to signal, release the button and it's off. I guess which I choose will depend on what kind of hardware I can find, but I think I like the press button idea better (impossible to forget to turn the signal off).

    For a brake light, that might be harder because its a matter of figuring out how to complete the circuit. I guess the brake handle itself could press a button, but I don't know how well I like that...

    Anyone scratch-build signal and brake lights? All things considered, I think the turn signals are pretty easy and straight forward. We used to build simple circuits like that all the time when I was a kid. For the brake light, it's a matter of figuring out how to complete the circuit.

  2. RedBaronX

    RedBaronX Member

    OR... I can just look at motorcycle parts... because I am finding lights and switches for at least turn signals... motorcycle turn signals will require using (and mounting) a 12 v battery somewhere

    but it gives me more options.

    still need brake light activation....
  3. mudbug

    mudbug New Member

    If I remember right...I think there are some lighting "kits" designed for mini-choppers that might address your needs.

    I'm still researching the basics of building a bike and lights are wayyyy down the road from that at the moment.

    The kits I saw were made for the small displacement mini-choppers and were used with the small 49cc engined bikes.... Don't recall if they ran off the motors or a small battery.

    I would think LED's would be less taxing on any battery. I was looking at the LED lights on Ebay earlier today,but know very little about their requirements. I did notice they need some sort of relays or controllers to function as turn signals.

    I'm in the dark on electrical stuff and I'll have to research it better than I have,but maybe those ideas will steer you in a direction to find what you need.

    Good Luck..
  4. kerf

    kerf Guest

    I've built my own system from scratch but it's not built to look retro or "flow" into the bike. I ride a lot in the dark and I don't mean riding down a lit street after sundown, I mean pitch black. I need a system that will throw enough light for a 30-35 mph cruse speed, in my case that means at least 1500 lumen's. A 55 watt halogen driving light & 12 amp hours of battery power is the heart of the beast, along with turn signals, brake light and hazard flashers.

    I like riding in the dark but I have a strong desire to live to tell about it. Bicycle lighting systems won't facilitate the latter.
  5. motorpsycho

    motorpsycho Active Member

    OR, you could hook up a push-pull microswitch to the rear brake caliper that is pulled by a spring when the brake caliper moves (when you squeeze the brake lever.) Pull the brake, the spring pulls on the microswitch and closes it, making contact inside and completing the circuit. The reason I say use a spring is because it will allow the switch to "open" (break the circuit) when you release the brake.
    The problem there tho is you would have to find a microswitch for the voltage that you want to use.
    I know for sure that there are 12 volt microswitches out there, but if you plan on going with a 12 volt power supply then you would be ok.
    Most microswitches have a spring inside them already so they require some pressure to close the switch (pull), and when you release the pressure, they close (push) on their own. Microswitches require very little movement to make them open and close, and I think if you hooked it to the brake caliper, there would be enough movment there to open and close a microswitch. PLUS microswitches are fairly small, and it would be easy to hide one.

    For your turn signal idea, I like the 2 button idea because it is easy and simple. would have a lot of wiring to run (in my opinion anyway). I personally don't like a lot of wiring and I hide every bit of wire I can, but if you are ok with stringing more wires on your bike, then it's fine.
    One button on each side of the handlebars (one for left, one for right) and then 2 wires to each button, unless you get buttons that ground themselves to the handlebars.

    L.E.D.'s would be the way to go for the brake and turn signal lights because they take less power to run, they are brighter than incadesent bulbs, and they last a whole lot longer. You would have to get a flasher of some sort, OR, you could take the easy way and use your buttons and thumbs as the flasher. Just push and release, push and release when you want the turn signals to flash. You would just have to remember to get in the habit of doing this rhythem when you are using the turn signals. This is what I would do because it will be a lot easier than trying to hook up a flasher , or a controller board to make the lights blink on and off without releasing the buttons.

    I am not an electronics person but I know enough to make some things work.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2010
  6. AussieSteve

    AussieSteve Active Member

    I'm with kerf. You want a headlight that lights up the road at night and makes you more visible in daylight. LEDs are rubbish compared to a decent incandescent bulb.

    Mine's a dual headlight with 2 x 18W/18W bulbs, used as 18W for low beam and 36W for high beam. (12V 5Ah SLA battery.) (Pics in my album.)

    kerf, your 55W sounds wonderful. Particularly for daytime visibility, the more light the better.
  7. james65

    james65 Member

    turn sig brake light

    Diy lighting
    If you look real close you can see the turn signal sw lever comming up thru the left grip (chrome bat). lights are 21 led clusters.
    Also an incandesant headlight(almost never needed day or night). I love my china girl engine!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 16, 2010
  8. kerf

    kerf Guest

    Keep in mind, at 30 mph and a 1 1/2 second reaction time, plus another 1/2 second for the brakes to begin to apply, you will travel about 88 feet. That's not including stopping distance for you and the bike. Being able to visually resolve a threat, far enough down the road to react to it, is the most important aspect of lighting. Getting enough light to be seen is easy, it's the other part that hard.
  9. AussieSteve

    AussieSteve Active Member

    1 1/2 seconds reaction time? Maybe you. For most of us, about 1/2 second.
    Definitely not 1/2 second for the brakes to come on after application.

    #1 Getting enough light to be seen in daytime is not easy.

    It's not that hard to get a light that lights up the road, at night, by comparison.
    Also, if you can't see quite as well, you might hit a pothole and get a bruise or two.
    If you can't be seen well, you could be hit by a car and killed.
  10. motorpsycho

    motorpsycho Active Member

    i don't know, on my bike anyway, i would rather be able to hide 4AA batteries to power 3 l.e.d.'s than try to hide a 12 volt battery that powers 12 volt incandesent lights.
    4AA batteries provide 6 volts of power and with 3 l.e.d.'s, my headlight lights up the road in front of me a good 15-20 feet.
    of corse, i'm not one of those guys who rides his bike in traffic at night...i just putt around my neighborhood or around on the backroads, rarely at night.
    but when i do take a night spin, my headlight works just fine for me.
    I have never ridden my bike in traffic, or in a setting where there are a lot of people.
  11. RedBaronX

    RedBaronX Member

    This is going to be my primary source of transportation for at least another month as I save up enough money to repair my car. After that, it will still be ridden for fun, as a supplement to my car, and for shorter around-town trips.

    I guess what I really meant (especially after looking at motorcycle lights parts) was that I wanted something a hellua lot more substantial than the handful of bicycle turn signals I've seen... so, something as "integrated" as what you see on a motorcycle I guess. My bike is very military and utilitarian looking (as opposed to slick and artistic). "Integrated" means someone doesn't look at the bike and blurt out "what the heall is going on with those LIGHTS"

    I think for what I really want, 12v is going to be the way to go. I won't be riding in pitch black, but I will be riding on low-lit residential streets at night. It doesn't need to be 100% from scratch, but I know that there isn't going to be many "made for motored bike" lighting kits.

    I was finding small-ish 12v batteries, some were rechargeable, and some even had solar panel chargers. "More wires" isn't too much of an issue, because I think that will go with the overall look.

    So, I'm going to finish waking up this morning, and start processing everyone's ideas. I'll also have to relearn how to read circuit diagrams (haven't had to read one in 25 years). I've got ideas for what I want to do with the battery
  12. kerf

    kerf Guest

    Small nylon camera bags or under seat bags from Wally World work fine for me. Just strap m' in.
  13. kerf

    kerf Guest

  14. RedBaronX

    RedBaronX Member

    TOO SIMPLE! :) I need something convoluted and complex! :D

    I"m going to be adding leather tool bags and saddle bags, so I might do a leather battery bag as well, but I will need to have a waterproof box inside.

    I've already got a lights set coming that runs off the magneto, and I think that will suit me just fine as I take time to plan everything out.

    and heck, if visibility is REALLY bad, our city buses have bike racks on the fronts of them now. I can hitch a ride home that way if fog or rain is insane. That gives me time to come up with a GREAT lights system that is perfect in every way.
  15. RedBaronX

    RedBaronX Member

  16. kerf

    kerf Guest

    Our buses also have bike racks and as an added bonus, usually only three riders per bus. Take your pick of seats.
  17. Stoltzee

    Stoltzee Member

  18. motorbike-scubaguy

    motorbike-scubaguy New Member

    James65 that switch that has the tab on it, is that for a brake light? I would assume it would be, since it is on your brake lever. How does it work? I want to do the same setup for my brake light.
  19. james65

    james65 Member

    Brake switch

    Yes that is a brake sw and it worked for two years. It was still working when I sold the bike to make room for new builds.
  20. motorbike-scubaguy

    motorbike-scubaguy New Member

    So how does it work? When you pull the brake lever does it let the tab go out turning on the brake light or?