bicycle lighting upgrade plans

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by anerobic, Nov 22, 2004.

  1. anerobic

    anerobic New Member

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    i'm trying to get more light on the very dark road ahead of me. i'd like make a lighter system for not much money. currently i use a 6v marwi system with two front lights and a bottle cage NiMH battery (4.5 amps).
    i ride for 1 hour in the dark twice a week. i'm using what i think are 10-20 watt halogen MR11 bulbs. it bothers me that 6v bulbs are $20 each when 12v bulbs are $3-4 each. it also makes my skin crawl to think of spending $499 for a rechargeable HID flashlight.
    i'll keep my housings and switch to 12v mr11 bulbs. i can solder 8 LI ion batteries together into a pack (3.6 volts in series x4, then two of those in parallel) and stuff them in a spare bottle. the system will be 14.4 volts, 4.6 amps, so i'll overvolt the 12v bulbs by 20%. i think this will give me 50% more light. each bulb will stilll last a long time at 2 hours per week, and the 12 v bulbs are cheap. i can run 40 watts (overvolted) for 1 1/2 hours. i think this will be a lot more light. i can get a li ion smart charger that will go up to 16 v for $30. the 8 li ion batteries will cost me $60.
    this will give me a bright overvolted halogen system which is light <400 gms for the battery), and cost $90 for the upgrade
    i'd sure like an HID bulb but i think you need to add ballast etc (do you?) and the bulbs themselves seem very expensive-$80-100 each? LED's don't seem quite ready yet. comments?
     
    Tags:


  2. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    anerobic wrote:

    > i'm trying to get more light on the very dark road ahead of me. i'd
    > like make a lighter system for not much money. currently i use a 6v
    > marwi system with two front lights and a bottle cage NiMH battery (4.5
    > amps).
    > i ride for 1 hour in the dark twice a week. i'm using what i think
    > are 10-20 watt halogen MR11 bulbs. it bothers me that 6v bulbs are
    > $20 each when 12v bulbs are $3-4 each. it also makes my skin crawl
    > to think of spending $499 for a rechargeable HID flashlight.
    > i'll keep my housings and switch to 12v mr11 bulbs. i can solder 8 LI
    > ion batteries together into a pack (3.6 volts in series x4, then two
    > of those in parallel) and stuff them in a spare bottle. the system
    > will be
    > 14.4 volts, 4.6 amps, so i'll overvolt the 12v bulbs by 20%. i think
    > this will give me 50% more light. each bulb will stilll last a long
    > time at 2 hours per week, and the 12 v bulbs are cheap. i can run 40
    > watts (overvolted) for 1 1/2 hours. i think this will be a lot more
    > light. i can get a li ion smart charger that will go up to 16 v for
    > $30. the 8 li ion batteries will cost me $60.
    > this will give me a bright overvolted halogen system which is light
    > <400 gms for the battery), and cost $90 for the upgrade
    > i'd sure like an HID bulb but i think you need to add ballast etc (do
    > you?) and the bulbs themselves seem very expensive-$80-100 each?
    > LED's don't seem quite ready yet. comments?


    First of all, your Marwi system is probably already overdriven -- your "6V"
    bulbs probably have "5V" filaments in them. This is common practice now with
    commercial systems, especially for the low beams. If yours don't seem too
    bright, they're probably older. Newer style bulbs might brighten them up quite
    a bit.

    But even an overvolted 10W bulb can't come close to the HID-like output you're
    looking for. A 20W bulb overdriven by 20% can. I guess this is your idea. Of
    course you know the downside is bulb life, but the situation is worse than you
    imagine. You'd be lucky to get more than 20-40 hours. I know because I've done
    it. The usual rule of thumb predicts this -- for each 10% you overdrive the
    bulb, you reduce its life by a factor of 10. Since most MR bulbs are rated at
    2-4000 hours at 12V, 14.4V means a 20-40 hour life. Not only that, they're more
    likely to die from vibration, etc. So if you're going to do this, carry a
    spare. I know this from experience too.

    A note about bulbs -- there's a reason the branded bike light ones are more
    expensive. They have custom reflectors, and better quality control, to ensure
    an even beam pattern of usable width. The ones you get in the hardware store
    are all over the place. Some are great, some terrible, even if they're marked
    the same. Better test one before relying on it. I've noticed the Bikecurrent
    folks seem to gravitate toward the $20 bulbs, rather than mess with
    unpredictable generics.

    About batteries -- messing with Li-ion isn't for novices. These require truly
    dedicated chargers, thermistors built into the battery pack, etc. You can start
    fires if you screw up with these.

    I don't think Li-ion has enough oomph to drive 40W worth of lights anyway.
    Nicad certainly does, NiMH probably does, but Li-ion probably doesn't have that
    kind of current capacity. If you load overload your batteries like this, they
    won't last long -- either in runtime or total life. Nor will your lights burn
    brightly, because your batteries won't be delivering maximum voltage.

    Your batteries are not 4.5 amps. They're 4.5 amp-hours, which means that with a
    *one amp* load they'll theoretically run 4.5 hours. To run 40W at 14.4V, you'll
    need a theoretical 2.78 amps -- and that's without testing your bulbs at 14.4V
    to see how much current they'll actually draw. My guess is that each overdriven
    20W bulb will draw 25-30W. You need to hook one up and test it, and you need to
    choose an appropriate battery for *your* application.

    Back to the drawing board. You will start to see that the designers of
    commercial systems are not stupid.

    Actually, a single, overdriven 20W bulb can work very, very well. I encourage
    you to experiment, but do it in a way that you can put your system back to its
    original configuration if you need to.

    Finally, you'll get far better answers, and maybe some good suggestions, from
    the Bikecurrent mailing list.

    Matt O.
     
  3. anerobic wrote:

    > i'm using what i think are 10-20 watt halogen MR11 bulbs.
    > it bothers me that 6v bulbs are $20 each


    $5.60 at Pureland Supply:

    http://www.purelandsupply.com/item.jhtml?PRID=1369342

    --
    "Bicycling is a healthy and manly pursuit with much
    to recommend it, and, unlike other foolish crazes,
    it has not died out." -- The Daily Telegraph (1877)
     
  4. LEDs are ready

    Luxeon emitters are 3 watts each, with a better efficiency than halogens.

    I bought two XM-3 flashlights from elektrolumens. They are just a little
    less bright than my 5 watt headlamp, but with a wider spread. They take
    rechargeable AAs. They will run for over 1 hour on these. At $40 each,
    they are a great deal. Just use an old bike light mount and you are ready.

    Wayne also has some 3 Luxeon lights that really light up the place.

    If you are a DIY kind of guy, you can buy the emitters and lenses or
    reflectors direct from him for as good a price as anywhere. Don't over
    juice them and heatsink them very well.

    "anerobic" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    >
    > i'm trying to get more light on the very dark road ahead of me. i'd
    > like make a lighter system for not much money. currently i use a 6v
    > marwi system with two front lights and a bottle cage NiMH battery (4.5
    > amps).
    > i ride for 1 hour in the dark twice a week. i'm using what i think are
    > 10-20 watt halogen MR11 bulbs. it bothers me that 6v bulbs are $20 each
    > when 12v bulbs are $3-4 each. it also makes my skin crawl to think of
    > spending $499 for a rechargeable HID flashlight.
    > i'll keep my housings and switch to 12v mr11 bulbs. i can solder 8 LI
    > ion batteries together into a pack (3.6 volts in series x4, then two of
    > those in parallel) and stuff them in a spare bottle. the system will be
    > 14.4 volts, 4.6 amps, so i'll overvolt the 12v bulbs by 20%. i think
    > this will give me 50% more light. each bulb will stilll last a long
    > time at 2 hours per week, and the 12 v bulbs are cheap. i can run 40
    > watts (overvolted) for 1 1/2 hours. i think this will be a lot more
    > light. i can get a li ion smart charger that will go up to 16 v for
    > $30. the 8 li ion batteries will cost me $60.
    > this will give me a bright overvolted halogen system which is light
    > <400 gms for the battery), and cost $90 for the upgrade
    > i'd sure like an HID bulb but i think you need to add ballast etc (do
    > you?) and the bulbs themselves seem very expensive-$80-100 each? LED's
    > don't seem quite ready yet. comments?
    >
    >
    > --
    > anerobic
    >
     
  5. anerobic wrote:

    > i'll keep my housings and switch to 12v mr11 bulbs. i can solder 8 LI
    > ion batteries together into a pack (3.6 volts in series x4, then two

    of
    > those in parallel) and stuff them in a spare bottle. the system will

    be
    > 14.4 volts, 4.6 amps, so i'll overvolt the 12v bulbs by 20%.


    I've done much the same thing. I used eight Sony 18650 lithium Ion
    cells from a notebook battery pack, and rewired them 4p2s, for an
    8.9Ah, 7.4V pack. One thing to note is that the batteries don't have a
    flat discharge curve like NiMH or NiCd. They start at 4.2V/cell fully
    charged, and work their way down to 3.0V/cell when they're discharged.
    I used a simple linear low drop-out voltage regulator to ensure my
    light always ran at 6V. Otherwise you'll be putting 16.8V into your
    light when you first switch it on, which is likely to blow it.

    A second (more important) consideration is to ensure the battery has a
    low-voltage cutoff. Lithium Ion cells don't like being discharged
    below about 2.7 to 3.0V/cell. Discharging them to less than 2.5V can
    shorten their lives considerably.

    > i can get a li ion smart charger that will go up to 16 v for
    > $30. the 8 li ion batteries will cost me $60.


    I've used a lab power supply thus far to charge my battery, but am
    planning on building something more convenient. Don't skimp.
    Lithium-ion batteries catch fire if incorrectly charged.

    > this will give me a bright overvolted halogen system which is light
    > <400 gms for the battery), and cost $90 for the upgrade


    My pack weighed about 350g, and the regulator about 20g. Not bad for
    over 50Wh of energy.

    > i'd sure like an HID bulb but i think you need to add ballast etc (do
    > you?) and the bulbs themselves seem very expensive-$80-100 each?

    LED's
    > don't seem quite ready yet. comments?


    My next upgrade will be to replace my 6V 5W light with a luxeon-III
    based light. To do so I'll need to build a buck-regulator to regulate
    current to the led rather than voltage. My use is as a light that
    provides good illumination for all-night rides, rather than something
    to blind people, so the efficiency of the luxeon leds in the 2-3W range
    is just what I'm looking for.

    Regards,

    Suzy
     
  6. jasong

    jasong New Member

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  7. jasong

    jasong New Member

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    I recently bought a 3w luxeon from superbrightleds.com and am not very pleased with it. It's their narrow (45deg) version and it is a very dispersed beam. In comparison with a cateye el500, it has nowhere near the focusing power that their optics has. I've also played around with up to 32 superbright white LEDS in a MR16 base and this also is very diffuse.

    They claim these lights are comparable in light to 10-25watts halogen, but a $5 MR16 20W 12V spot halogen bulb blows them all away (12V UPS battery supply, 2.5 Ah) and has a perfect dispersion pattern to give a bit of light on the close road in front of the bike. Of course battery life is the issue there.

    I rode the other night with a dual cateye el500 / luxeon 3w (what I mentioned above) and it was ok. Cateye could project well into the distance and luxeon could meet it focusing and cover the closer stuff.

    I think I'll end up with a system with a 20W halogen light I flick on when descending quickly, but for anything below 20mph keep the low power Luxeon or cateye going. The problem with the el500 has been that it's actually a bit too focused to cover well in close proximity. Perhaps a three base system with a small mr11 LED fixture for close up, cateye for <20mph riding, and 20W halogen for further. I may tap a hole in the cateye and build a 10 cell nimh pack that has multiple taps (to get 6V for the cateye) so I can power everything off one source. Still haven't tested an MR11 20W halogen to see how well it compares with the mr16.

    BTW, cheap $1 Wal-Mart Dcell flashlight housings make for perfect, customizable, lightweight holders of MR16 bases. Heating, even with the 20W halogen, has never been an issue with what one would call normal night riding weather (<70 F degree ambient, >10mph). I still don't understand the fellow whose well written homebrew page with many tech specs (and interestingly placed women) recommended to avoid plastic housings for poor heat dissipation reasons. The cheap AA lights also can fit MR11 bases.

    I
     
  8. anerobic

    anerobic New Member

    Joined:
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    ...Actually, a single, overdriven 20W bulb can work very, very well. I encourage
    you to experiment, but do it in a way that you can put your system back to its
    original configuration if you need to.

    Finally, you'll get far better answers, and maybe some good suggestions, from
    the Bikecurrent mailing list.

    Matt O.[/QUOTE]

    thanks for your experiences. what is the bikecurrent mailing list?

    "Back to the drawing board. You will start to see that the designers of
    commercial systems are not stupid
    ."
    i don't think designers are stupid, at all. i just believe that you can do almost as good a job a for a lot less money if you DIY.

    "I don't think Li-ion has enough oomph to drive 40W worth of lights anyway.
    Nicad certainly does, NiMH probably does, but Li-ion probably doesn't have that
    kind of current capacity. If you load overload your batteries like this, they
    won't last long -- either in runtime or total life. Nor will your lights burn
    brightly, because your batteries won't be delivering maximum voltage."

    the eight cells should be 4.8 amp hrs. 50w/13v = 3.8 amps. max discharge current is 2.5c (5 amps). these are 2400 mah cells. seems like it should work. I only need light for 45 min-1 hour. it's usually light by then.


    You'd be lucky to get more than 20-40 hours

    at 1.99 a bulb i'll be happy with a lot of light. 40 hours would be 20 weeks at two hours a week. if it works, i can live with that.


    About batteries -- messing with Li-ion isn't for novices. These require truly
    dedicated chargers, thermistors built into the battery pack, etc. You can start
    fires if you screw up with these


    the battery pack will have printed circuits to control charging and discharging.
    and a dedicated charger for li ion batteries, which shuts off when they're full.
    the batteries are here;
    http://www.batteryspace.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=945

    and the charger is here;
    http://www.batteryspace.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=1230

    i'll have to try this out. hope it does what i want....
     
  9. anerobic

    anerobic New Member

    Joined:
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    nice to know you've done something similar. i'll wire my 8 16580 cells a little differently, to give higher voltage. that gives me cheaper bulbs.

    the battery pack will have a controller of sorts to regulate charging and discharging. the voltage regulator sounds like a good idea. 16.8 volts sounds like it might blow out the bulbs right away. i'll see if i can incorporate that. any suggestions??
    the charger is made for li ion batteries and is "smart", so it will shut off before it's too late, i hope.
     
  10. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    anerobic wrote:

    > thanks for your experiences. what is the bikecurrent mailing list?


    www.topica.com/lists/bikecurrent

    > "Back to the drawing board. You will start to see that the designers
    > of commercial systems are not stupid."
    > i don't think designers are stupid, at all. i just believe that you
    > can do almost as good a job a for a lot less money if you DIY.


    In your case that's probably true, because you already have the light head and
    at least one good bulb. The savings are in supplying your own battery pack,
    which lets you invest more in a top quality charger -- a good way to go. This
    project is definately worthwhile, but you may want to modify your plans a
    little, after consulting some experts. Thus the Bikecurrent recommendation.

    > the batteries are here;
    > http://www.batteryspace.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=945
    >
    > and the charger is here;
    > http://www.batteryspace.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=1230


    Be careful with some of these internet discount houses. Sometimes the batteries
    are poor quality. Make sure the dealer has a good reputation -- what kind of
    success have others had with their products? Again, Bikecurrent is a good place
    to ask this stuff.

    In the past, I've had great luck with The Nicad Lady (www.nicdlady.com).
    They'll even build custom packs cheaply enough to preclude doing it yourself.

    Good luck,

    Matt O.
     
  11. >>>> http://www.purelandsupply.com/item.jhtml?PRID=1369342
    >>>
    >>> These are flood lights- I think I'd prefer to have
    >>> something under or at a 20deg pattern.

    >>
    >> In that case, they're $6.98 for 10-watt, 10-degree
    >> "Narrow Flood", or $8.32 for 20-watt "Narrow Flood"
    >> from 1000Bulbs:
    >>
    >> http://www.1000bulbs.com/category.php?category=793

    >
    > Would these bulbs fit in the Niterider casing?


    Certainly: they're standard MR11 lamps, like the standard Niterider lamps.

    --
    "Bicycling is a healthy and manly pursuit with much
    to recommend it, and, unlike other foolish crazes,
    it has not died out." -- The Daily Telegraph (1877)
     
  12. anerobic asked:

    > what is the bikecurrent mailing list?


    It's an e-mail listgroup hosted by Topica, on the subject of bicycle
    lighting. You can read the archived messages, or join up, at:

    http://lists.topica.com/lists/bikecurrent/

    --
    "Bicycling is a healthy and manly pursuit with much
    to recommend it, and, unlike other foolish crazes,
    it has not died out." -- The Daily Telegraph (1877)
     
  13. Matt Cahill

    Matt Cahill Guest

    Tanerobic <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > i'm trying to get more light on the very dark road ahead of me. i'd
    > like make a lighter system for not much money. currently i use a 6v
    > marwi system with two front lights and a bottle cage NiMH battery (4.5
    > amps).
    > i ride for 1 hour in the dark twice a week. i'm using what i think are
    > 10-20 watt halogen MR11 bulbs. it bothers me that 6v bulbs are $20 each
    > when 12v bulbs are $3-4 each. it also makes my skin crawl to think of
    > spending $499 for a rechargeable HID flashlight.
    > i'll keep my housings and switch to 12v mr11 bulbs. i can solder 8 LI
    > ion batteries together into a pack (3.6 volts in series x4, then two of
    > those in parallel) and stuff them in a spare bottle. the system will be
    > 14.4 volts, 4.6 amps, so i'll overvolt the 12v bulbs by 20%. i think
    > this will give me 50% more light. each bulb will stilll last a long
    > time at 2 hours per week, and the 12 v bulbs are cheap. i can run 40
    > watts (overvolted) for 1 1/2 hours. i think this will be a lot more
    > light. i can get a li ion smart charger that will go up to 16 v for
    > $30. the 8 li ion batteries will cost me $60.
    > this will give me a bright overvolted halogen system which is light
    > <400 gms for the battery), and cost $90 for the upgrade
    > i'd sure like an HID bulb but i think you need to add ballast etc (do
    > you?) and the bulbs themselves seem very expensive-$80-100 each? LED's
    > don't seem quite ready yet. comments?


    Performance has the CygoLite z-Force HID for $279. Still more than
    you seem to want to spend but spending $499 for an HID is not
    necessary. I have one of these and I really like it.
     
  14. Slash

    Slash Guest

    On Thu, 25 Nov 2004 00:05:30 -0800, LioNiNoiL_a t_Y a h 0 0_d 0 t_c 0
    m <[email protected]> scribbled:

    >>>>> http://www.purelandsupply.com/item.jhtml?PRID=1369342
    >>>>
    >>>> These are flood lights- I think I'd prefer to have
    >>>> something under or at a 20deg pattern.
    >>>
    >>> In that case, they're $6.98 for 10-watt, 10-degree
    >>> "Narrow Flood", or $8.32 for 20-watt "Narrow Flood"
    >>> from 1000Bulbs:
    >>>
    >>> http://www.1000bulbs.com/category.php?category=793

    >>
    >> Would these bulbs fit in the Niterider casing?

    >
    >Certainly: they're standard MR11 lamps, like the standard Niterider lamps.


    Would it be possible to swap out a 15W Niterider (Digital Evolution)
    lamp for a 20W lamp?

    -Slash
    --
    "Ebert Victorious"
    -The Onion
     
  15. Pizza Man

    Pizza Man Guest

    > >
    > > Would these bulbs fit in the Niterider casing?

    >
    > Certainly: they're standard MR11 lamps, like the standard Niterider lamps.


    I would like to try some do-it-yourself bicycle lighting.

    It seems that finding lamps/bulbs, wiring, switches, batteries, and
    chargers is pretty simple on the web.

    Are there any sources for lamp housings and bar clamps suitable for
    bicycle use?

    Thanks, Tracy
     
  16. [email protected] (Pizza Man) wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > > >
    > > > Would these bulbs fit in the Niterider casing?

    > >
    > > Certainly: they're standard MR11 lamps, like the standard Niterider lamps.

    >
    > I would like to try some do-it-yourself bicycle lighting.
    >
    > It seems that finding lamps/bulbs, wiring, switches, batteries, and
    > chargers is pretty simple on the web.
    >
    > Are there any sources for lamp housings and bar clamps suitable for
    > bicycle use?
    >
    > Thanks, Tracy


    Try these links:

    http://www.crw.org/CheapLights.htm

    http://nordicgroup.us/s78/

    Mark
     
  17. > Would it be possible to swap out a 15W Niterider
    > (Digital Evolution) lamp for a 20W lamp?


    From what I've read, I gather the Niterider DE has current-limiting
    electronics that will give you only 15 watts maximum, regardless of the
    lamp. There has been some discussion about "cutting the yellow wire" to
    get more output, but I haven't seen a report of success.

    --
    "Bicycling is a healthy and manly pursuit with much
    to recommend it, and, unlike other foolish crazes,
    it has not died out." -- The Daily Telegraph (1877)
     
  18. Pelican has just brought out a 1 watt Luxeon headlamp (headlight?) with
    3AA pack on the back, that blinks, and has 3 light levels.

    http://www.pelicanproducts.ca/new20products/new_2630_light.htm

    It is Pelican's model 2630 headlight.

    However, the $10-$17 "Made In China" Luxeon headlights are a cheaper
    alternative to this Pelican and the (Princeton Tec) Yukon HL headlamps.
     
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