email the fat hippy
mountain bikes - work - 3D - motorbikes - computers

lights mtb video rides links

Generally following my notes, Tony Stott built a much more professional looking set of lights than I did, yet still for a very cheap price.  With his kind permission, his report to the mtb-oz mail list on how he did it is reproduced here, along with a number of photographs.
 

Tony Stott's Home Made Lights

I just visited Jaycar Electronics here in Sydney, and found a young staff member there who has built his own bike light set coincidentally loosely following Tony F's ideas.

Here is the drum:

Battery  The 5.1 amp nicads talked about here recently weighed 1.33 kgs for 10, whereas the SLA "block" of 4.1 amps weighed 1.66 kgs. (The lad helpfully fired up a set of digital scales from stock to conduct the weighing....) However, 10 nicads would cost $149, compared to $34.95 for the SLA. I will just buy 2 SLA's, and carry a spare if the trip is expected to be long enough. Plus, the SLA will be a breeze to maintain compared to relatively fussy nicads. Obviously, one charger will be enough for both SLA's. (They obviously also have the 7 amp "big mother" weighing about 3 kgs that Tony F referred to as well)

Mounting  A bidon cage with suitable mods will hold the battery, as per Tony's recommendations. (Spare goes into the backpack as a parking brake!)

Lights  "Globes" The larger (still less than 2 inch diameter) 12v 20W and 33 degree lights cost a huge $4.95, complete with sealed cover. BUT, Jaycar have got a 12 degree "high beam" in their computer inventory, with availability unspecified - YEEHAA!! What a good double eh? All you have to do is paint the rear black to avoid driver blindness. I will probably just buy two 33 degree ones to start with and swap out one to a spare once the 12 degree retina burner arrives.... Hey for $4.95 extra, who cares!

Socket  There is a round socket which plugs into the two pins on the back of the light, which has 5 inches of wires attached, plus two indented screw holes, so the go is to bolt these sockets onto a small glass or fibre board, which in turn gets mounted to whatever you hang it off your bike with. You can then simply plug in whatever lights you want. He suggested covering the joint with a piece of heat shrink to help keep the globe on board, and lessen the chance of water entering the junction of light and socket. These sockets cost about $3 each from memory.

Switch  I will be getting a 4 way 20 amp (good for total wattage of 120 watts, or SIX of these lights!) switch, so I can select off, wide, spot and all lights - cool eh? This would mount near the stem. Sound pretty promising? The guy was very interested in mtb-oz, so I gave him details about getting on the list, so very soon, I anticipate:- Having a new list member able to answer your bike lighting questions "from the horse's mouth" so to speak, and probably (if he knows a good thing), a ready-made "shopping list" or kit from Jaycar comprising all the relevant bits. I am very enthusiastic (bet you can't tell), and will buy all the bits tomorrow, and take video snapshots of all progress. I will then find somewhere on the net for you to see 'em.

Part II  Hi to anyone interested in the next episode of my light building (sorry to the rest of you).

I bought all the components at Jaycar yesterday, for $95, and I finished them tonight and tested them. Here's my experience... I spray painted the back of the globes with dark paint (I used paint for polycarbonate, but see below about this). Just mask the front face before painting, as you want to stop light coming through everywhere else...

To mount the lights, I bolted the sockets onto a flat piece of 2 mm aluminium (I mentioned 2 mm polycarbonate, but couldn't find any in the shed, so I offed to the local wreckers, and bought a 50 cm by 8 cm piece for 2 bucks. I drilled the holes to mount the sockets, plus two more for the wires to pass through, and a central hole to mount my waterproof wiring/switch container, which used to be a 35 mm film canister. At the top of the small plate, I drilled a bigger hole, and bolted on the mounting bracket from my (hopeless) Topeak 1001S "Nite Buster" lights (bullduster is more like it) The two globes will fit in the sockets side by side (I say "will" 'cos I dropped one of the bastards and it broke... there goes $4.95... will wait till the 12 degree one arrives). I therefore can advise that they are not polycarbonate, which means you can paint 'em with most spray paints. I gave the broken one a squirt with enamel, and the paint took quite well. The canister hangs out the back, with a 3 way switch in the lid, and the wires coiled inside.

I couldn't find a 4 way switch, so will be content with either wide or spot lighting. 40w (both lights together) is too big a drain on the battery anyways... The switch is almost level with the front of the steerer tube, to one side, while the front of the globe(s) is just ahead of the bars. One of my shifter cables is in front of the wide beam, but the spot will have a clear shot.

I had been a little worried about the globes just being held by their pins, so I superglued o-rings (No. 10 "Fix-a-tap" from water taps bought at Hardwarehouse) onto the globe and socket, and then warmed up some heavy duty heatshrink tubing with mum's hairdryer, which has nicely grabbed the o-rings and pulled them tightly together. Sometimes less is more....

I then discovered a huge advantage of the 4 ah SLA battery.. it fits in my Topeak Survival saddlebag! This looks like I can therefore avoid any fancy mounting brackets, unless of course the battery is going to poke its way out of the bag... I will obtain a Velcro strap to sling through the saddle rails and under the saddle bag as a safety measure...

Testing testing... Out on the road tonight, until the cursory charge in the battery disappeared, the wide lighting was fantastic. Reflective street signs, car reflectors and road markers 200 metres away lit up like beacons, and MY fat frame certainly couldn't go fast enough to run out of light. I had a few scares though, as I saw lights on cars in driveways, and thought somebody was reversing, until I realised it was a reflection of my light. It would have been interesting to head off into the bush, but that will wait until tomorrow night for now. There was no apparent vibration, which I put down to the globes being very lightweight, and the heatshrink tubing no doubt adds a measure of damping. Roll on the 12 degree 20w moth toaster! (I might even buy a 50w globe just to see what happens!)

Summary This has been good fun, and $50 per hour for 20W lighting is a bargain (obviously a bigger battery would improve the ratio even more, but as I mentioned in an earlier post, shoving a second 4 ah battery in the backpack would give 4 hours of continuous use, which is more than I could say for the rest of me at this stage. I am taking video shots, and will probably send 'em to Tony F, to hopefully add to his already impressive collection. After all, his successful implementation and description is what inspired me to follow his lead!

For anyone interested in building their own lights along the following lines, I have some spares which I had to buy to build mine (bloody packets & minimum lengths!), So... for the cost of sending me a stamped self-addressed envelope, I will send the following useful items, until I run out... 3 x "Disconnect female terminals" (opposite of a spade terminal) 1 x spade terminal 2 x 1" lengths of heavy duty shrink wrap (similar thickness to a bike tube) 4 x sets of 15 mm nuts & bolts 4 x small nylon tie-wraps.

Thank you and it's goodnight from him

Epilogue

Tony made a few changes, as this later post reveals.  No doubt ,more details will follow...

Attached are some pix of my mk 2 lighting, using Tony F's original concept, and Steve's suggestion for using aluminium tubing. It was a bit pathetic of me to spend x hours buffing and polishing, but the final job is real wanky - I am tempted to paint the insides red for the full effect!

The lights are really awesome, and while the 10 degree job is definitely tunnel vision material, a quick flick of switch #2 and the world is ablaze.

Good fun!

Thanks for both your suggestions. (my original versions, using heatshrink, were hopeless, as the heat shrunk the shrink until it split (obvious really)

Copyright 1998 Tony Stott
Reproduced and marked up by permission.