A Light Reflection on Side Visibility
Chose to make a new thread on this. Confession: this video was cobbled up from the test run trying to figure out how best to do it, but can stand in until I do it right!
Rebuilt helmet light and converted low beam unit for a dyno light. Both are 4-500 lumens so total a weaker halogen car headlight, but they cover less area. The helmet light got an amber hood to add a side marker light.
Helmet light sans amber hood:
With the hood side and front 3/4 views (front view is a burnout).
By brianmcb at 2011-02-23
I wanted to know how well it worked and I had not videoed the tail light setup, the dyno light, or reflectors. We often do not show up as well as we think we do to motorists who actually are looking and driving carefully. I wanted to know how well this stuff works or how badly it doesn't if I was riding by a road/drive and a vehicle was approaching on a cross road. The distance is close to that travelled in 1 second at 50 mph. I will need to redo this since I accidentally took the camera out of focus setting up in the dark among other bad choices. A daylight version will be valuable, too. The video, and then my take on it:
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To understand what you are and are not seeing:
Reflectors: Not as extensive as some of you have. But not too shabby either.
Clothing: Well faded blue jeans, ANSI vest. I wore about the darkest jacket I'd select..
Tail lights: A planet Bike Superflash on helmet (see above), SUV height. The Princeton Swerve Is on the left seat stay about a MIata driver's hieght, and the Radbot with a wider output is on the back of the rack, a typical mounting but lower than optimal. All are in flashing mode. The Radbot and Swerve are close enough vertically to look like a single larger light from straight behind even form this angle in some frames.
Head lights: A narrow angle high beam on the helmet with the side output and a spot-flood on the front of the front rack. Both seem to have minimal glare,
I doubled the speed to save time viewing except for one section repeated at normal speed. The first seen through the trees, shows that the helmet light's amber side output works better than the side output of the blinky tail lights. A little weird and ghostly. But a pedestrian should see that coming even if not carrying a flashlight.
I was going to cut the launch out as my butt end isn't too scenic, but you see the hot spots of the headlights on the pants. New meaning for the term 'hot pants'.
These are surprisingly low. The drive slopes down at that point AND the camera is atop the truck cab about a foot above the driver's viewpoint. When I redo this video I will break out the tripod to set the camera at driver height and also put the highs on for a pass. The truck will be level. That said, this angle of headlights will happen sometimes. The ANSI vest would light up as if one fire if it caught some beam here.
The lack of overhead street lighting greatly cuts down the ANSI vest and the reflectors return. Vehicles approaching in either direction would also light me up like a Christmas tree. So my riding dark roads and wanting more lights makes sense as the reflectors are mostly AWOL for lack of light here. The reflective stuff shows up for the brief time the bike is directly in the headlights. Just in time to tell the driver what he has or is about to hit a cyclist if he or the cyclist runs the stop sign.
The beams of the bike's headlights hit the intersection well ahead of the bike and add a saftey factor. It was easier to see this on the camera for some reason. The lane in front for the truck should be headlight bright, so I may not have brightened the video enough.
The truck high beam and daytime videos will be interesting. Rain in forcast for a while so don't hold your breath!
Last edited by BrianMc; 03-21-2011 at 08:04 AM.
Interesting, Brian! It looks like some drivers would be inspired to slow down just to see what kind of spacecraft the little green men actually pilot. If you have a chance show a still pic of the helmet with the amber light...I don't really get what you have there.
Edited original post. There is a very slow very low flying aircraft feel about the bike when only the lights show up. As lnog as no one panics and starts shooting, that will work!
Quite a setup you`ve got now. Have all your DIYs been solids and all the blinkies been off the shelf?
Well, I started at square one. Day time ride bys where evreything should be easy.
1. Camera is cr....er...inadequate to this task.
2. I will try again with a different camera.
Conclusions even the sh....er low resolution provided:
1. The dark jacket was beaten by the one with white and light blue sections.
2. The ANSI vest on the jacket with the slashes of light color on sleeves was best.
3. Lookiing at the camera (cross traffic) with the flashig helmet light was very effective.
4. It needs to be started early: not many flashes in time to go by.
5. The white front and rear panniers increase side visibility a lot.
6. BUT I can't see 2" wide 6" long red reflective tape on them? The front side facing white tape on white I understand but RED on white?
Lucky I could confirm the obvious.
So this is what a near sighted person who went out to the mailbox without their glasses would see.
A differnt camera and a daylight practice run:
Starting with a Day Ride By Shooting:
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Flashing lights are great attention getters, BUT... OK let's say your light flashes twice a second with a pulse of about 1/32 of a second, a camera can miss it at 16 frames a second even with no dropped frames. Also, at 15 mph, in that half a second you travel 11 feet or almost a traffic lane. So traffic on a side street that doesn't scan properly doesn't get many flashes to see you in the straight ahead area if they are approachng at speed. I looked at several single frames and found the helmet light flash fairly often, the others rarely. The motion of the bright vest trumps them even on an overcast day.
This was exactly the kind of overcast day where lights might be thought to supplement bright clothing well and help visibility. Front and rear, they did. On a sunny day, the ANSI vest seems to glow. I did not do a dark jacket versus ANSI vest and light colored jacket with this camera. Trust me. even with the near sighted camera, the difference was huge. A slam dunk.
I expected the weak side output meant for night use on the Radbot, Swerve, and Helmet mounted PBSF no be AWOL. You don't even see it on the side firing PBSFs as the bike moves away from the camera. Just not enough lumens to compete with that much sky light. I was surprised that the side firing PBSF's even when not eclipsed by my legs did not show up very often, though I caught a couple of frames where they did. They have very narrow beamy output which make a spot of only a few pixels. As the helmet light showed in the behind view, if you are in their beam they are pretty impressive given their low output.
So the side firing PBSF's need to be remounted preferably at about my waist/driver's eye height. They might actually be worth the effort, working at that height. If mounted to the vest, they'd transfer between bikes.
The Helmet light NEEDS full power in the day or it's all but useless. Looking at cross traffic would help this light's visibility. I did that in some passes riding to the right, and you can see a flash or two. I placed the camera so that when I rode by at the end, it would be "too close". If a drivers eyes were where the camea was with respect to the bike, the vehicle's door is about 1 foot away, the mirror, closer yet. Except when I turned the bar and aimed lights directly at the camera, I saw no issues with excessive light. All lights show well from front/rear except the aforementioned side firing ones.
This camera has no low light capability. So it won't do the no lights ride-by. I suspect the near sighted version of the dark ride-by is accurate, just out of focus. So we know the errand/commute bikes lights work fine to be seen by. There is video to support the same conclusion for The Duchess in "Another Commuting Thread About Lights." and the headlight is brighter now.
So now I need a threepeat with the camera set betwwn the car's headlights wiht the car level, high and low beams. I could use some of mechBgon's reflective tape on the jacket and bar bag, and as leg bands. Be interesting to see how well the light weights show up.
I saw a guy riding past a few times in a safety vest. Then I saw a guy riding past in a safety vest with what appeared to be garbage cans strapped to his bike. It was strange so I closed my eyes for about 3 seconds and rubbed them with my fists to clear my vision. Probably a bad idea because in that time I hit something. Might have been him, might have been a mailbox.......
I don't have any suggestions for side lighting, but since there is so much homebrew going on I thought I'd throw out an idea for tail lighting. You mention heights and directional pointing of the tails to be visible most effectively to certain drivers. How about a cluster of blinkeys mounted on a bobblehead type spring? Might be possible to spread the hot spot of the beams out more by just spraying the area with an ever changing pattern.
Rodar: No problemo. Laughing all the way to the bank. They cost $14. Add mounting hooks and reflective tape and they are 'Ghetto Panniers'. When I pay off the upgrades I have, I may splurge on something with more Cycling style (less than 300 miles to go).
With regards to effects on drivers, I am treated like I am contagious - given WIDE berth with the panniers on. Suits me fine. I likely push their weirdometer off scale. Flowers poking up out of a front pannier gets me the full courtesy treatment. Sans panniers, a rear mounted briefcase would likely earn more points, as a front one is not seen until they are already crouding me. Spandex earns lesser treatment again.
I wonder what bme107 would have said if I had mounted the big orange Thermos (c) Brand cooler on the front rack, too? It's great for frozen food in summer grocery trips and sensitive sallad and fruits in winter, but is as aero as a barn door. Being ORANGE it is very visible. I was curious about how well the panniers increase visible mass and being white, do they show up well? And they do both well. Nice to know what drivers see. Also I want to see how their tape shows up at night. So needed a daytime baseline. Wanted to shoot tonight but it took too long to reset the timer/date stamps. Oh well, it seems to get dark on a regular basis, doesn't it?
bme107: Goal: to help neighbors not hit me. A win-win if ever there was one, right? This is just a bit more complicated than I first thought: You don't just slap a light on and assume it is visible.
1. We are seen at different angles as a motorist pulls up to an intersection or by our approach, or both at the same time.
2. We travel the width of most intersection in one or two seconds giving a very short time to be seen compared to traffic overtaking us or oncoming.
3. We are small relative to what the motorist is used to seeing/looking for.
4. If they do see us, they often misjudge our distance and speed.
5. We have to protect our night vision so broadcasting a lot of light indiscriminately is counter productive.
Twain said scientists get too much conjecture out of too little fact, so I will make changes and get new day and night video. Then add more conjecture!
All in good fun. No?
We ride in different locations for different purposes with different styles.
I've re-read #5 several times and each time I pull a different subtle meaning. Can you expand?
Yes, all in great fun. Am in the midst of the attempt to keep the party rolling!
The cyclist needs to see danger because his greatest asset for safety is manoeverability. A light which diminishes night vision helps passive safety at the expense of active safety. That said, refer to discussion after the recent video because I think some of the concept of reaching out to the cars at an angle, fits.
So new test:
Well, I expected confirmation on the last run that the side firing PBSF's helped some and that the side output on cloudy days of the blinkies wasn't completely swamped. A couple of pats on the back, pack it up, and job well done. No joy.
Even allowing for legs obscuring them, and angle effects as I apporach, AND the fact there are only a few flashes to see in such a short time, the side firing blinkies had little impact. And the side output of the blinkies? Only the helmet PBSF showed and it required frame by frame checking. Underwhelming.
The camera has about a 30 fps rate in daylight, could be faster but it will capture most of the flashes. It is a little near sighted not being HD (720 x 480). So after a couple of attempts I determined that what I see on screen is about what I see in person when twice as far away as the camera was. So moving the camera 50% closer is an approximation for what the driver likely sees. Good enough for amateur work.
Secondly, I can remove the angle effects and judge mounting height issues without riding by, in fact without a bike, but a stand as a stand-in. I wanted to see if the Radbots were equal out of both sides and I wanted the actual bike mount heights or close. That led to an issue of not being able to shoot both Radbots straight on at the same time. I didn't want to do it all over again. So if you play the trail of the bottom one flashing into the lead of the top one flashing, they can be compared well enough.
I did get the time stamp dates changed last night not realizing the cameras internal clocks gain about 48 hours in 24. Now I understand long duration timer instablility. So the dates are still in the future but this week not near the end of the decade and the time is close.
This is all building needed expertise to rerun the night video. So here is the latest test:
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I have to conclude that for support of an ANSI vest in the daytime, the PBSF's even when mounted high, don't cut it. They never claimed day use but I'd hoped cross traffic being a lot closer would still see them before the crunch was unavoidable. Higher is better but the effect is larger closer and for the PBSF. Which speaks to its tighter beam. The intensity of the Radbot 1000 is higher when seen in larger thatn my editing format. So you move more into the higher intensity part of the beam. The Radbot has a longer 'On' part of it's cycle and that reduces it's run time but makes the chances of seeing it's flashes much higher. The lovely funky and wildly attention getting patern of the PBSF isn't seen unless the motorist is too close for comfort if not imminent on stopping. The side ouput of both lights is for all practical purposes non-existent on a cloudy day.
When the cyclist is far enough away and approaching an intersection with a driver stopping his vehicle or already stopped, the bike's headlight(s) if powerful enough, serve well in addition to bright clothing. If the cyclist is exiting the intersection as the motorist approaches, then the tail lights, if powerful enough, supplement the light colored clothing to reduce the left hook into the back of the bicycle. So it is the brief time from when the beam of the bike's headlight is past until the bike has cleared the front of the vehicle's path that is of interest.
Such a light should be angled toward the front, or shoot straight out to the sides from near the front of the bike. A direct blinky at least as powerful as the Radbot 1000, if lower than saddle height, aimed slightly up. Law says it can't be forward of the mid point of the bicycle in most jurisdictions, if it is red. Yellow/Amber aimed at 45 degrees from bar height? Or on the front corners of the helmet? Green though legal, I think is confusing. At night, even with the poor quality video, the amber hood on my helmet light obviously does very well. I can also aim that light at one vehicle, and have done so to good effect. So maybe I can up it's side output for day use in a switchable manner.
Food for thought, but it looks like I need to dismount the side firing PBSF's as a waste of weight to haul around and of rechargeable AAA's and replace the one on the helmet with a Radbot.
Made a baffle to reflect the light of two of the three LEDs to the side. It likely loses about 20-30% of the output, but the directionality is mostly straight out the sides. A higher efficiency setup won't fix it though.
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Considering that we ride toward the cross traffic, the angled brightness is more important than the right angle brightness in terms of being seen sooner and as a percentage of the trip to and through the intersection. The unbaffled light at 45, 30 and 0 degrees is pretty darn bright. What the ride-by daylight video missed was the rotation of the driver's head and the interception of light from those other angles as the bike approaches. Of course, this assumes that the driver ACTUALLY turns the head to check for cross traffic. Someone who missed the stop sign and is blowing the intersection is only going to pick a cylsist up in peripheral vision and likely too late. No lights, bright clothing, or reflectors will help you then. Looking at drivers on cross streets certainly ups the visibility with this helmet light sans baffle, so I can only pray they are looking AND seeing.
The pulses are fast and minimal time down between so shouldn't be missed because they are too few or too brief in duration.
Looks like I need a camera person to pan the next video shoot of ride-by at night to do justice to lights and reflectors. Kathryn is a bit of a technophobe so I will need to recruit a bit farther afield.
Bri, I was waiting for you to pedal by,and then realized you were using a stand. The lights don't look very impressive by day,it looks like bright colors (helmet, jacket, etc.) would have more effect during the day.
^ This is about what I see at about twice the distance. It is not what you'd think standing next to the bike and looking at the lights flash. The helmet beam head-on is brighter, as are the headlights and tailights. But side visibility? Even with clouds, the bright clothes win. Full sun, or better a lowering sun shining at your back or front if on the tops or straight bars? You glow like you're radioactive.
So this exercise was worthwhile. Vehicles approaching from the sides do not get as bright nor as long a warning of my presence. Add the fact that they are usually preparing to go rather than stop and not looking nearly long enough, and I had better not leave the ANSI vest at home, which I accidentlaly did once - never again.
I tried riding by the keyfob camera at night throgh the light from the car headlighs. It looked like a moving time lapse of speed lines. I was a blur. Warp speed. Not what I needed. So to slow it down so the camera might tell me something, I walked the bike:
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Blinkys love the night. "I didn't see you" won't cut it.
The frame rate is likely about 6 fps so the camera can gather enough light. So I walked slower than it appears. The focus suffers light hand holding a 1/8 second exposure on a still camera. Maybe I should have done the bridal step and stop. Though the video isn't what I wanted, I think that it met the need (barely).
Even at night, the side firing Planet Bike lights don't add much. Very happy with the rest. The video doesn't show much reflective material above mid body light up in even the high beams. I think that is largely artifact. To get enough light for the camera, the car headlights were right behind it and not twice as far away where my eyes match the camera. Highs flare out higher with distance. The beam won't flare so much on the wheels and crankset, either. Also, low beams have a sharp cutoff and the car was still tilted down a bit, but not a lot, and certainly there are lots of intersections with more grade near them.
Now I need to sort out the shades on the headlights. I can cut the beams off above car door handle height, and need to. And yes, they are maybe a bit brighter than the car highs at 1.4 A, and the lows at 0.7 A. I wonder what the 3 amp output looks like? ? For trail use on the 3rd bike I don't have. (Yet.)
Enjoy. Back to the lighted piece of street where the keyfob cameras work better to play with the headlights.
Brian, these are great, but now you're making me more paranoid.
I had to ride into a sunrise this morning, and I knew that my blinkies and reflective stripes couldn't possibly be cutting it. And as soon as it warms up a bit more I'll be ditching my reflective jacket. I think I finally have to get one of those vests.
^ Newfangled, I prefer to think of it as improving the odds, rather than paranoia. I also know most of these drivers are neighbors who DON'T want to hit me or have all the hassles that ensue if they are not that concerned about me.
I think it is good to know how easy/hard it is to see you on your bike from the driver's perspective to better predict their behavior and act accordingly. Also to decide on safety related purchases for your commuter. It is amazing how bright lights can appear up close in daylight and yet they can't compete with skylight at useful distances. It is also amazing how much easier light/reflective clothing is when it doesn't appear that much better up close. We need to remember the attempt to be more visible is very well received by most drivers (at least here). A sort of sharing the road where we have gone more than halfway and they want to respond to that in kind.
Riding away from a sunset/lowering sun washes out blinkys, and dark clothing is poor, but the ANSI vest lights up with light at those angles. Riding into a lowering sun/sunset is the worst situation. The bright low rays blind drivers coming up on us and our lights have little contrast, and hiviz clothing is in shadow. At low angles but not Sunset yet, I found that the Radbot 1000 is visible, not great and two are better, that my 200 lumens of tail lights (and by inference, the Dinnote 140') show better. Leoplold Porkstackers taillights are 3-5 times brighter if you want more. The 140-200 lumnen lights better work: they are brighter than car brakelights! Driving, I see brakelights through the glare. Power counts riding into a sunset.
My favorite spot to test tail lights under low angle sun has a school building that will eclipse the sun at the horizon, I tested with the sun about 30 minutes before that eclipsing. But at the end of that 1/4 mile I might get a good 'riding into the sunset test', as there is a slight elevation, plus the better angle being farthest from the school. Videos made to date on tail lights in low angle sunlight are in the Another Commuting Thread about lights second last page. Another look closer to sunset would be worthwhile in both directions. Trying to get a better camera for this.
Paranoia is good.
And yeah, it will be low sunrises for at least a few more weeks. This morning I could barely see, and if you combine that with all the potholes, water, and snowpiles on the roads I don't have a lot of faith in the drivers around me.
Any opinion on a mesh vest like this? I like the idea of a mesh for staying cool, but because of that it's not high visibility, it's just reflective. It would still probably leave me (and my dark jerseys) with the problem of not being visible during the day?
And so from all your tests, it looks like the radbot is definitely preferable to the superflash?
There is a small percentage of drivers that should not ever be driving or on any given day at the time you are cycling, they are not fitr to drive. That's not paranoia, it's reality.
The lack of faith is a good thing as it means you are paying attention and assume you are invisible to them.
I wondered about the Carhardt ANSI vest but it is meant to go over the work clothes of construction workers working near hot tar. It fits nice over my winter coat and loosely over my jerseys so air flows well. I gave it a whirl over my cycling jerseys last summer. I did not have an issue even at temps of just over 100 * F. They make a mesh version in traffic/neon yellow-green, too. But I found no need. Maybe if you are laying hot asphault it is necessary, or it you are a person that runs on the hot side, or cycle in 110 * F Arizona Summer, like Solrider.
Radbot 1000 wins. I am buying two more Radbots so I don't need to swap one bike to bike and replace the Planet bike Superflash on the helmet, though I'll need to fashion a new mounting system. Radbot 1000: levels out at 25 lumen output, the Planet Bike Superflash at about 12 lumens both are about higher on fresh cells and drop over about 1/2 hour close to their steady output. The pulse duration is longer on the Radbot 1000, but the crazzy Superflash pattern is wonderful at night. The first video here shows twin PBSFs versus twin Radbot 1000s at night. If you look at the intensity of the Radbots in the day in the 3rd video up from this post, you can see they are more intense there too and that translates into being seen farther. The day video needed higher resolution to be more definitive, but the Radbots show better further down the road,
Hope that helps.
Do the radbot and superflash have different mounting brackets? The replacements sure look the same:
I've got a bunch of the planetbike brackets, and I'd love to be able to use them if I picked up a radbot.
That's another thing they got right. 100% compatible with PBSF light brackets!
The Planet Bike Turbos and PDW DangerZones are waiting for new fenders to come in and complete the order. I also have plans to increase the side output from the 100 lumen tail lights. I wanted some baseline video and needed more experience with the new camera. I share it here to clarify my earlier attempts and hope it is of interest.
The reason for my interest is that traffic data show that vehicle-bike collisions (in Canada and the US) hitting the cyclist from the sides including both left and right hooks, are more than twice as frequent as being hit from the rear and front combined. A certain percentage of the drivers in such accidents will be people who would hit an ambulance with lights and sirens on, so will be unavoidable, but the majority are people who are trying to drive safely and need a little help to do so and avoid us. A definite win-win.
The following video has the camera 100 feet from the nearside of the road and 120 from the far side. About 1 second at 68 mph, 2 at 34 mph with no slowing to an imaginary stop sign. Figure 1.5 to 2 seconds away for the faster speed, and 3 to 3.5 seconds at the slower. Two seconds is a normal reaction time. In some jurisdictions, the driver has not stopped legally if the wheels are not stationary for 3 seconds at the stop to allow the driver looks each way at blind intersections. Local interpretation is that if a driver has paused more than 1/2 a second they are yielding to vehicles rolling up through the stop sign or stop line. This means most drivers are spending far too little time looking and yielding to traffic including cyclists. Add to that the fact there are few cyclists, so drivers are not used to looking for a cyclist, and we have a recipe for the cyclist to get hit.
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Taken due south about quitting time or rush hour on the last sunny day we had in mid April (before we got 5.65 inches of rain in 24 hours), (Lat & Long: 39.3 / -85.5) Daylight Savings Time at the very western edge of the Eastern Time Zone, NA so about 3:00 sundial time. Tables will supply the solar position if you want it. The ANSI vest shows well. It is even more visible on the more upright position Schwinn. Deep in the drops on a road bike I suspect it is almost worthless. ANSI shorts would be better. My next helmet will be more visible. Both the headlights and tailights show well when the camera is in their beams. This would be the case with the driver approaching and stopping at the 'intersection' and the bike approaching or receding from the 'intersection'.
I will need a repeat at the 50 foot point and stopped positions (the latter looking both ways) to confirm what I think I learn from this. It appears that the headlights and taillights on this bike show well even at a fair distance in bright sunlight IF the driver is in their beams. The Planet Bike Superflash light on the helmet is not carrying its weight, though. The ANSI shows very well and once the bike is close enough that the driver is no longer in the headlight beams, it is all that shows well unless the cyclist rotates the helmet to shine the helmet light at the driver (last pass left to right). The frame is small diameter steel tubes, and the wheels and tires are deep Vees and 32 mm, but there just isn't much 'there', there to see. Classic falt rims and 28 mm tires would be even less noticeable. A smaller cyclist won't have as much ANSI vest, either.
I used the lower output level for the helmet light and it is not enough in bright daylight. If there isn't a lot of other traffic and driver attention overload, the movement of the bike itself is an attention getter. This makes me wonder what proportion of cyclists were hidden from view by traffic such as being in a dedicated bike lane along side regular traffic. It argues for looking for problem intersection on a commute and taking the lane if that seems to be safer.
If catcalls from the maturity-chalenged younger drivers' passengers are any indication, I am being seen by those drivers using their eyes when they have a clear sight line to me. I also have some good reports back to me.
Given I have twin headlights and tailights on this bike, I can pivot the individual lights out to cover a wider angle in the day. Looks like I should. A flashing mode on the DIY tail lights would not hurt, either.
There is a new King of the under $30 AAA blinky tail light.
This thread is a review of the Planet Bike Turbo compared to PDW DangerZone, Radbot 1000, Planet Bike Superflash, and Princeton Tec Swerve.
In output it is 50% brighter than the Radbot 1000, 200% brighter than a Superflash.
I have also tested a bubble to add side output to my DIY tail lights:
My video of the mod was sideways, so I need to redo. But it was impressive at night. At 100 feet away the Radbot 1000 and Planet Bike Superflash side output were negligible.
The new PB Turbo will be interesting to compare with it
Keep you posted.
A SUNNY day! Been very rare this spring. Over 18" of rain since April 1.
I converted the second tailight to the bubble lens. The camera covers the same width as what I see straight ahead at the same position as the camera (within my glasses frames), without a head turn. Real people would turn the head, but the fisheye effect of the video kicks in if I made a wider view and it becomes unclear how well the video stands in for a driver. I made one at 50 and one at 100 feet, and they say the same thing as the 25 foot video.
The headlights and taillights are angled out as much as I could physically without new mounts (about 45 degrees).
Flashing blinkys aimed sideways were easily misssed. Moved them to the top of the rear fender to simulate a rack mount and to avoid my legs hiding them. Even on full the Danger Zone with its wider angle than the Turbo, can be seen, but isn't really saying 'Bike!' very loud in bright sunlight
The angled headlight anounce the bike right into the 'intersection' straight in front of the camera. The angled taillights show well just before the bike exits left and then right. The spill area of the beam isn't as strong as the headlights (20%) so that isn't surprising. Drivers turn their heads so these taillights would be seen sooner and better. The right hook after the bike passes should be less likely as the driver turns throught the beam of the right one and into the beam of the left one.
The rear aimed Turbo and Radbot 1000 add no daytime side lighting. Unsuprising. The Danger Zones sitting on the fender can be seen. But full sunlight isn't their strength. I think this says you could use 100-200 lumens in an oval beam on each side for the day. Having already seen the helmet light at night, I thionk the bubble lenses will provide more than enough side output at night.
So lights bordering on too powerful at night for street use are OK and help some in full daylight when angled out. They will offer a lot on overcast days or when riding in shadow. There is a period of time when the bike crosses in front of a car approaching the intersection, when the headlights can no longer be seen and the angled tail lights are not yet obvious. This broadside (or nearly so) time could use a day specific light. I suspect that the actual risk of a driver not seeing you in front of his grill is small, and for that small fraction of drivers who cant see big yellow school busses or emergency vehicles with flashing light arrays, maybe a bright light won't do diddly. All human endeavors have risk.
I will try to reride this on a cloudy day to see if clipping a pair of high power blinkys to fire sideways off a rear rack helps that much wiht less skylight to deal with.
If you have twin headlamps and lailights, this angled technique, seems to work to allow a good night system to be a good day system.
Hey Brian, did you do anything clever to mount your pbsf/radbot to the back of your helmet? From the pics I can't tell how it's attached.
I use a tiewrap to attach a PBSF to the back of my helmet:
Originally Posted by newfangled
Depends how you define 'clever'. Here it is on the old helmet:
Originally Posted by newfangled
The PBSF and the Turbo are both very beamy lights. I discovered videotaping them that if I leaned forward, looked down, or used the drops, the camera did not see the light. So drivers could not either.
I found use a piece of plastic tubing as the hinge. a chunk of plastic to reinforce the pivot, a piece of spring wire from a crummy soldering iron rest, Gorilla Glue, and two wire ties. I hooked the center of the wire behind a rise in the back of this helmet. I was stingy on the first glue job, so when it showed signs of giving up, I was a little too liberal. On the new one, I re-contoured the wire to follow the back of the helmet.
Here it is on the new helmet using a Turbo snapped into the old SuperFlash back. The Turbo s a it touchy in this back, but it works.
A closer look at the wire fit on the back of the new helmet.
The bobbing light takes a bit of time to get used to but it trains you how to move our head more smoothly.
Hope this helps. My opinion based on video for a visible rear helmet light for drivers, you either use a wide angle light like the Nite FLUX Red Zone 4, a medium angle light like the Dinotte 140, the Magic Shine Tail light and the Cateye LD1100 OR you use a pivoted narrow beam light like the Turbo, Radbot 1000, or semi medium beam Danger Zone.
That's more complicated that I expected.
Both of those ways help...but zipties have a nasty habit of fracturing unexpectedly when it's super cold out. For my little turtle light I'm using some double-sided velcro, so I may try to adapt that somehow.
You could use a piece of loop velcro on the back of the light and on the helmet and a longer folded hook piece of velcro with one side of the fold on the light back the other side of the folded hook velcro on the helmet making a hinge where the hook piece folds.
Originally Posted by newfangled
You can also use the metal center wire type of wire tie that is plastic coated. to get a hoop to hang a light from so it can pivot. Where there's a will there's a way.
New software downloaded this week for the POV camera has boosted its night abilities. New batteries due in a couple of days to replace dying ones. So I can try the headlights at 2 and 3 A and see if I can find a setting that looks on video like it does to me at 1.4 A (or close). I had a trial video of the Red Zone 4's on the helmet sides, that shows that they work pretty well in that location for cross traffic.
Rolling Out New Things
Well the new batery packs are overdue. So no new video yet of the side light effects of the Red Zone 4's or more power to the headlights.
Being seen among the distractions on the road is one thing, being recognized as a bike so the driver sees your small lights as a closre bike not a more distant motorcyle or car, is another. Most car-bike accidents are side impacts of some sort, the most serious ones happen between 5 and 11 PM, and a large portion of those occur with the cyclist traversing an intersection. So lighting up the wheels to make you instantly recognized as a bike is interesting. One caveat is that an ounce of lights on the wheel near the rim feels like a battery pack on the frame or the added weight of a dyno hub. The following options will not function significantly in daylight. IMHO none are good enough to be the sole lighting on the bike unless it is a very well lit urban environment and reflective/bright clothing is used. I still think bright head and tail lights are the foundation of active lighting safety.
More efficient LEDs make wheel mounting a possibility:.
125+ lumen wheel arc lighting (programmed to fire for or aft only):.
revolights. join the revolution. by Kent, Adam & Jim — Kickstarter
Project 'Aura' another take on the theme:
Uses a dyno hub and slip rings. Wear on those is an issue for a commercial version, and does it mean no disc brakes? The LEDS turn red slowing down which might be illegal on a front wheel in many states. White/Amber for the front would be better.
Lots of small leds all over (not my taste, but being run over isn't either, I wonder if it would reduce the theft rate?):
The Brite Bike |
Monkey Lights (Graphics programmable: 'Whatchu/Lukinat', 'Too/Close', "Itza/Bike' The Biohazard symbol? Might force the aesthetically sensitive driver to try and run you over, though.) They have a new small version for near the rim which might increase the effectiveness of a reflective rim and tire sidewall stripe. No idea of whether they show up soon enough for a driver to avoid a collision, or not. A little active light would help the reflective surfaces, though.
Bike Lights * Wheel Lights * Spoke Lights * by MonkeyLectric
There are other 'spoke lights' in that vein
The light up your rim with a single UV source and fluorescent rim tape concept is the 'Lunasee' sytem. It appears to be in commercial production.
Lunasee Active Side Lighting | Bicycles - YouTube
Lunasee | Active Side Lighting (home)
How it Works Video (how it works)
Highly reflective tape for the DIYer:
IDENTI-TAPE - 1" High-Intensity Reflective (Conspicuity) Tape (from mechbgon page)
Velocity Reflective Rims for those building new wheels/bikes:
Velocity - Content Template
When I bought my Deep Vees, the reflective model was twice the cost, and graphite in color in the day. So I elected standard aluminum finish. The Polished Aluminum si also twice the price and more reflective than the standard rim.
Reflective Skins for Deep Vees not using rim brakes (since the tape is backed, it should be able to be cut down. The identi-tape site has such cutters, so you can fit Deep Vees with machined side walls and rim brakes, Dyads, or other makers 'V profile' rims by narrowing the tape, I think. It appears the daytime color is selectable and you can have different colors on each side, if you buy 2 in different colors.
rimSkin - Customize Your Velocity, Weinmann & Other Deep V Wheels
It's not as cool, but these guys sell a couple of different spokelights SpokeLit | Nite Ize. They're currently on the market, and pretty cheap, but I wish their videos were more convincing.
Which reminds me of these things (from the mechbgon site):
They're terrible. Not as reflective as they should be, and the lights do nothing. I've seen people using these as their only lights/reflectors, when they'd be much better off with at least a rear strobe and some reflective tape.
And speaking of reflective tape, I've found that auto parts stores or anywhere that has a trailers section usually has good stuff for cheap. The colours are limited though, so they don't have the snazzy black-reflective that's available online.
Those rimskins are pretty slick. I got some reflective dyads ordered for a wheelset build right now, but I might try cutting up the rimskins and doing alternating color/reflective patches. that'd be attention-getting especially with my glow-in-the-dark On-One Pompetamine frame.
I also have one of these that seems to work well for side visibility.
BikeGlow Safety Light at REI.com
No reference light makes it hard to tell if the video camera or the lights are ineffective. The run time on those batteries indicates 10 lumens spread all over. A PBSF has about 13 lumens once the NiMH settle in at 1.25 volts or so in a tight beam, maybe 5 degrees. So they have diluted it by over 100 fold, to about what those useless pre-PBSF LED tail lights had. So the camera is fine the lights are lousy. Maybe if they lit up a reflective rim.
Originally Posted by newfangled
I have commercial trailer tape on the errand bike. Had it on the good bike before it was painted and the fenders replaced. In the videos it shows up when you are dead in front of the driver, otherwise the angle is wrong. I may be picky, but i think warning the driver he or she is about to collide with a cyclist will have a minimal effect on the extent of the injuries sustained. The identi-tape has a prism design that returns light from a wider set of angles. It sounds like Mechbegon has used it. Maybe if he reads this and he has video to show of his bike riding into and out of a vehicles headlights we might get an idea of how big an improvement they provide.
Originally Posted by newfangled
If the rim tapes like the rim treatment use the glass sphere reflective method, they should also be more angle tolerant and the video of the wheel shows hat the brake area and the angles lopk equally bright, and that is NOT the case with the trailer marker tape.
I was thinking that it would be good on the rims. Silver and gold are the brightest and the best colors to blend in with my fenders and rims in daylight.
The alternate pattern will show only when stationary. Rolling you will effectively reduce the brightness of the returned light from the reduced area of reflective rim. You want all of what you paid for.
Originally Posted by NateHawk
Interesting. I would eclipse a lot of it pedaling. The video is not taken at driver height if I remember right, by certainly cats and skunks and possums will see the bike better. Would have liked to see different frame styles at different distances. While I admire the easy installation coiling the triangle tubes, too much output is up into the riders eyes, and down. I figure it will take 10 feet to outline each side of my bikes either not doing the fork or skipping the seat tube. Since my legs eclipse most of the seat tube from most angles, catching the fork blades would be better. Definitely says bike. Looks like it shows better than the Lunasee, but not as well as the two not-yet-commercialized wheel lights. Maybe running one each side on the forks and stays would light off reflective rim tape. I can see it getting in the way a lot, too. Priced right.
Originally Posted by NateHawk
Interesting comment about the alternating pattern.
Originally Posted by BrianMc
I set it on blink (there are two blink speeds) and while the legs do eclipse a lot of it and wrapping it around the frame does send light in places that are not useful, it actually is pretty vivid.
How about these for side visibility?
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/h1QTTJH3oIs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Hokey Spokes were included in my comment about there being other companies like MonkeyLectric.
This review indicates the cost for three on each wheel plus 3 AAAs each is $200-$300, and they add 12 ounces of rotating mass though on average at half the radius of the wheel. Not powerful enough for daylight but then the worst side collisions are at night.
The Monkeylectric setup is best with two for balance, which means $60 x 4 + $30 for AAA's =$270 and about 7 ounces but they are uglier in daylight. The MiniMonkey is cheaper at $50 each $230 with batteries for two on two wheels, has the batteries in a hub mount case, is lighter s less rotational inertia, mounts close to the rim so likely will light up reflective rims BUT isn't avaialble just yet, though you can preorder. Doesn't look like you can just opt for no pattern in one color. A single one resolves into a whole wheel pattern at about 12 mph, but will unbalance the wheel at some speed, The large version does that at 20 mph, the small with a hub battery will be OK to a higher speed.
Looks like the BikeGlow is the best value safety-wise (light for the buck). It can be used in clothing,too for that 'Tron' look.
Many states limit use of blue to emergency vehicles, and limit red for the rear. I would think there are too many officers with too little to do if they hassled a cyclist for being more visible even if the colors are not by code. While I am not advocating we all be scoflaws, safety trumps a stupid law. Can you see a court scene if there was a collision? Plaintiff: "I mistook the bike for an emergency vehicle because of the blue lights!" Judge: "Are you saying that because you thought it was an emergency vehicle, it was OK to run into the defendant? Case dismissed."
^ Brian, I think most of them use 3xAAs rather than 3xAAAs. (that's what the monkeylectric and hokey spokes say, anyway). That's not so bad, especially if you have some rechargeable AAs kicking around.
Regarding traffic laws, here's a review of the monkeylectric - Review: A month with MonkeyLectric LED Light System for Bikes – Boing Boing Gadgets - apparently the flashing lights confused german motorists and attracted german drunks.
Do you think having both wheels lit up is vital? It would definitely help people to quickly identify you as a bike, but I think that having only the front wheel lit up would provide a lot of the benefits at half the cost.
My mistake about the AAs. I had a project in mind using AAA's and misread. Explains the run times and still be visible. They'd only be about an hour on high with AAA's. Two and a half watts on high, assuming about 50 lumens per watt (colors), 125 lumens per unit. About 375 lumens for a triple wheel. But it is not focussed. 2.5 watts would be two XP-G bright whites at about 400 mA about 200 lumens each in a narrower band. I sure don't need drivers doing anything crazier than now.
About needing two wheel's worth: one should get you 80% or more of the benefit with one. Yes, you lose instant identification by drivers that you are a cyclist, but if the rear had a lesser product like spokelites, if a driver was unclear for a second they'd know the next. The psychedelic effect isn't needed which makes the Aura look more reasonable. Also I suspect that most of he side collisions are left and right clips and broadsides, all needing more front visibility.
As an experiment, I was thinking that I could clip my two Red Zone 4's to my wheels (200 lumens in flash mode, haven't looked it up but guessing half that, no flash). A few ride-by videos will be enough for me to get an idea if it gains enough to be worth pursuing.
The new batteries have come, so I have some video to shoot.
I tried a 75 gm (2.6 oz) Nite FLUX Red Zone 4 clamped to t he front wheel's valve stem. BTW three AAA NiMH are 90 gm. So this is a light wheel light. The plan was to have the other on the helmet but apparently I needed to recharge them. ;(
I rode slowly as I tried flash and solid modes on the one with charge remaining and I am familiar with the video missing the flash with me flashing by so to speak (but not flashing myself to save your tender retinas). .
The camera is zoomed to show the same width of field as I get standing where the camera is. In a test run, both Red Zones worked but the one on the helmet seemed brighter so the lower angle affects the camera's take on this, at least. I intended to do a close (near lane) and far (opposite lane) views but traffic going by messed me up.
The Red Zone on flash in the highest setting is about 200 lumen with an eight hour runtime (1/4 duty cycle). On the highest full on setting it is 60 lumens. About 1 2/3 as bright as a Turbo, twice as a Radbot 1000, and 4 X as bright as a Superflash. It works better on full, and one per side would do it. Vehicles to either side between the cyclist and cross traffic would hide this light so light on the side of a helmet would still help, and now I wonder if non-flashing would actually be more visible. I actually had theis eclipse deal and a person turn left into the road I was at and turning into. He had already looked where he was going and did not see me at all. A wheel light would do nothing in such a case. The wheel's motion is attention getting and gives speed, the height and head movement would make a helmet light on full different from other lights and demand attention. I want a retest with both on solid to see whether helmet or wheel or both would be best.
You need wide forks to fit a Turbo in your wheel near your rim. Won't work on my bikes without mods.
New camera firmware upgrade increased night sensitivity. Judging by a ride with the camera. It picks up the main beam a bit too hot, but better, thjough it still drops weaker light a cyclist can still see well by but at a lower cutoff. .So pretty close. Much better than it was.
New battery lets me drive the lights up to 3.0 A for four hours if I want. Not enough light for the heat and lower run time at 3.0 A so the driver for the two lights is set at 2.0/2.8 Low/Hi. That makes the spill a bit too hot for oncoming drivers even at 2 A. So I added amber shades to the hoods to get side markers and a my side of the road beam:
By brianmcb at 2011-10-16
The twin Nite FLux on the seat post at a 45 degree angle can be seen from the front quite well:
A video of night ride bys withe the camera aoomed ot about my field of vision. This should be close to worst case, given I am over 1000/20 before the trifocals. The first round by (2 passes) is at 2 Amp Front, 0.5 A Helmet, then, 2.8 A Front, 0.5 A Helmet, then 2.8 Front 1.0 A Helmet, then 2.0A front 1 A Helmet, then a pass from the right with the Helmet at 1 A looking for a long time at the camera, as if it was a risky driver, then a shorter 0.5 A helmet liht at the camera on the way back, and finally coming home about 2' from the camera. Note the mail box light up at 2.8 A before the bike gets there.
<embed src="http://img689.imageshack.us/flvplayer.swf?f=P32343109" width="1280" height="740" allowFullScreen="true" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"/><br/>
This was a big enough file without graphics and music. Play a CD of your choice. "You Light Up My Life", "As Long As I Can See the Light", etc.
Car headlights and overhead lights will wash this out some so the headlight and tail light washes on the pavement may not be as noticeable, but other aspects will be more visible. I may try my usual spot for that this week. Looks promising.
Nite Ize Spokelit
One of the cheaper wheel light options. Two one facing each way on front wheel, approaching at an angle to camera similar to driver turning his head that direction while stopped or stopping at an intersection, Return is like the bike being hidden by a building or trees and just showing up. The return past the camera is what a left hook would see but on the left not the right. Unlit, no vehicle lights.
<embed src="http://img402.imageshack.us/flvplayer.swf?f=M5cd" width="640" height="380" allowFullScreen="true" wmode="transparent" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"/>
Now, that is a weird look. Poison Dart Frog Green (no amber in stock) is a.. er.. 'nice' touch. It harmonizes so well with the Dark British Green bike.. as you can so clearly see. Now I look like an alien on a unicycle. If they can't figure it out with one wheel lit up, they aren't likely to do better with two, especially with the tailights washing the back of the bike red, like that.
The coin cells can be bought in volume for less than $1 the pair, and last about 20-25 hours. The rechargeable cells are too high a voltage, and with the charger cost 3 X the original light. I figures about 7500 miles worth of the unrecharegable ones. Not exactly a great return on investment especially if they fry the LED. SpokeLits look enough like reflectors when turned off, that I think theft is a non-issue, though they slip off easily enough.
I measured output at about 6-7 lumen which is half the old PBSF, but then you aren't trying to be seen a half-mile away by overtakng vehicles. I am aiming for drivers approaching or at the intersection or oncoming and turning left. The light isn't in a tight cone but spread out both sides, all angles. No effect on night vision though you can see them flicker by, going round. Might bother someone with epileptic sensitivity. I find the Turbo on the helmet inside or close to a reflecting surface a far more nauseating experience.
Wicked*Mart had them in the bike friendly town in the next county. Cheaper on Amazon.
Last edited by BrianMc; 10-22-2011 at 09:36 PM.
Thanks again, Brian. Your video is a lot more convincing than the one on the niteize website.
I might actually pick a couple of those up, now. They should hire you for PR.
Something In Seasonal Colors
First more red. Here are the revamped DIY tail lights (battery). Something like Dinotte 300s in beam. (Santa is helping me with dyno ones for the errand bike, Rodar.) They are on the seat post with a HotShot between for distance.
The white are two posts up and the first post in this thread. A little gold (amber) thrown in.
The green are a pair of these:
The Red Zone 4's moved off the seat stays and to my ankles. Rudolph had to have had glare issues. Very festive effect:
Pedal lights1.mov - YouTube
The head lamp and helmet pair says bike bu the pedal acion kick in at 11 seconds away and the spoke lights at seven, then they get brighter in a hurry as the headlights become less so. Now if I can just get them to stop long enough to look. ;(
I videod the new Brooks Jacket versus the same jacket with the ANSI vest at 4 PM with a lowering sun. Riding east looking east, and riding eat looking west. One pass with and without the ANSI vest over the Brooks. The impact of hi-vis sleeves over a less visible jacket (from previous rides) was surprising as was how the ANSi vest's reflective stripes reduce how well the rider shows up particularly from the back. I was surprised how well the jacket did with light over the shoulder or to the rear.
<embed src="http://img810.imageshack.us/flvplayer.swf?f=Mafff" width="640" height="380" allowFullScreen="true" wmode="transparent" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"/>
As a night dedicated item, the ANSI vest needs more/better reflective stripes. Maybe a biohazard symbol.
Glad you had a good experience with these. I had *two* break on me in less than a week of riding. The first one went the first day it saw any water at all (intermittent light rain, and with the battery pack and all connections housed inside my seat pack). The second one lasted all of 3 days in completely dry conditions. Ugh. Good thing REI stands behind the products they sell.
Originally Posted by NateHawk
Super cool concept. Serious durability issues! (And, I'm not the only one to have those issues. Check out reviews online before you buy one.) If they resolve the durability problems, I'll buy another one in a heartbeat.
I have it on my new On-One Pompetamine now and have run into some issues with battery pack durability. I have it in a little neoprene pouch tucked under my seat rails right now. Several times it has cut off on me while riding pretty tame roads. And a couple times the batteries completely fell out of the pack. I put a zip tie around the pack to hold the cover on and it seems to have done the trick for now.
Originally Posted by ubernerd
That's a different problem than I had. When both of mine quit, the battery pack and switch were still working fine, but something in the illuminated part was dead. If I disconnected the battery pack from the light and turned it on, I could still hear it generating the pulses that should have been flashing the filament. (If you listen carefully, there's a slight whine/hum when the unit is turned on.) As soon as I connected the filament, all noise ceased and I got no light.
Originally Posted by NateHawk
Sounds like you got a better built one than I did. Lucky you!