Fluorescent illumination system

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Doug Goncz, May 28, 2003.

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  1. Doug Goncz

    Doug Goncz Guest

    Hello all.

    I just finished mounting an AC outlet in between my Space Bars. It fits just right. It's connected
    to two 14 watt spiral fluorescent bulbs, in desk lamp housings on the end of the Space Bars. Each
    has a switch. Power comes from a 6 pound DC servo motor mounted on a big round board in the middle
    of the main frame triangle, chain driven from the rear wheel with a flip flop hub and a 48T track
    cog I made. The DC power goes to a Radio Shack 140 watt inverter. The only link I haven't installed
    yet is cord with a plug in the inverter, wire along the top tube, and spade lugs at the outlet.

    It's really bright. The generator, inverter, and ballast each run cool and the whole system inluding
    the drive seems quite efficient. Later I'll ride at night on local trails to see how it feels, that
    is, how much drag it adds.

    I think I've avoided a lot of drag by keeping the chain and motor speeds low. I could use a 38 T
    cog I have to have the lights come on at a higher road speed. The track cog is actually a BMX
    spider and a 48 T chain wheel. The motor can also be driven by a tandem crank on the left side.

    The interface to the Space Bars uses the side screws that hold the bars on their mounts, which are
    in turn strapped to the handlebars with stainless bands. I used a jigsaw to cut off all the
    protrusions from a lightweight blue plastic outlet box from Home Depot, then drilled 1/4 inch holes
    to allow some adjustment of the position. I sawed the box on a taper matching the Space Bars, and
    rubbed the saw marks flat on a bit of sandpaper stuck to my workbench with double sided tape. Once
    that was done, the outlet mounted easily with a long Phillips screwdriver. The bottom of the box is
    open, but since the sides are tapered, the waste I have set aside might be made into a cover that
    would nest into the box.

    There is an outlet face plate of steel, extra large, installed facing inwards, opposite from normal,
    because here are two strips of Velcro on the Space Bars from a previous "dashboard" of thin plywood.
    Those kind of get in the way of the face plate. A triple tap allows the wires from the lamps to
    stand symmetrically, and look good.

    The system does add some weight. One day, I'll use the motor for propulsion as well as generation. I
    have a daylight visible SVGA screen pen tablet coming and that will have to go somewhere. Maybe I'll
    mount the outlet upside down. I could add a support from the fork to the Space Bars to make sure
    that on bumps, the stainless straps don't slip. I'll never run out of batteries, and never have to
    wait while they charge. So it's useful.

    I will post pictures to my AOL file space some day.

    There are also two cigarette lighter sockets on the Space Bars, outboard. These are for 12V
    accessories. I have already cycled in a circle until a cigarette lighter heated and popped out from
    the electricity generated. That was a pretty noticeable load. I had to go around like three times.

    This sure beats the 35 watt tractor headlight I had. That thing was a pain at low speeds. Since the
    filament was cold, it drew more power when not visible than when in operation. It was a real drag.
    This system comes on when the generator hits 12 volts and the inverter switches on automatically.
    Then the ballasts start up and the lights come on. The new system is brighter, too, although it's a
    more distributed wash of light than the headlight. I frosted the headlight to get rid of that
    annoying uneven distribution of light caused by the many facets of the front glass.

    I'd like to compare this to an HID system, if any of you rec.bicycles.tech readers in the DC
    area have one.


    Doug Goncz, Replikon Research, Seven Corners, VA http://users.aol.com/DGoncz If a computer won't do
    what needs to be done, lie to it. Don't try this trick on people.

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