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  1. #1
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    Input for bicycle light User Interface

    Howdy light fans! I'm working with George of TaskLED to come up with a great UI (User Interface - hey, some folks don't know what it means!) for the bFlex LED driver board. We already have two complete UIs on the board (selectable through the menu) - the 'F' mode is optimized for fixed lighting (lanterns, automotive, home) and the 'P' mode is for portable lighting (flashlights). The 'B' mode of bFlex will be specific to bicycle needs. Now is your chance to be heard!

    Everything that the uController can do is controlled by a single momentary button that can be mounted remotely, or stay on the board. There are two ways to enter info via that button. A Click and a Press. Two distinct actions, one that releases the button immediately after use, and the other that holds the button down for a moment until the effect is achieved. George and I have spent countless hours, and have refined after many months and even years how the UIF and UIP function with that single button. I've learned quite a bit in this process, and would also like some fresh ideas from folks who aren't as mired in the details as I can get.

    My basic outline for the UI so far is that it should have:
    High (Level will always be settable in the menu)
    Low (Maybe settable, or maybe just a consistent percentage of high, or one low level regardless of High setting)
    Strobe. (should this be settable? What are some of the best choices for frequency and "on" duration? We can certainly make this settable in the menu or directly from the UI. Is it something you'd want to change often, or something you'd set once, and leave it alone?)

    Let's have your input! There are no promises that your ideas will be incorporated, but I can guarantee that it'll help shape the final product. I have plenty of ideas on how to incorporate some of this, but would like to use you guys as a "clean slate" before putting my ideas up here.

    Let me be very clear here that I do not do the coding or the circuit design. That's all George, and he stamps his name on the boards to prove it! Plus he's reading this, so I can't secretly take more than my share of credit. My job is to do all the really hard thinking. I try to figure out what the user will want, and how to make it the most practical to use. Then George translates it into code, and we both program a board and test for hours. Some days we'll go through countless versions of code and too many hundreds of clicks. Eventually we get it right... and that's the process I'd like to start all over again with this new UIB. So bring it on.

    And one final note: Who can get some great housings made? We can by the LEDs, we can create and sell the circuit and code - but we have no way of finding that perfect housing that easily and firmly attaches to a bike. Something that could hold 2-3 LEDs, have a magnetic switch, can house a reasonably-sized Li-Ion battery, and has a great bar mount would be the bee's knees. I'd love to discuss that aspect as well, because once we get this UIB done, I'll be sitting here wondering what the hell to do with it!

    Ok, NOW bring it on.
    Last edited by darelldd; 12-13-2006 at 11:04 AM.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Great idea...

    Hoping somebody would take this ball and run. I think you're suggesting a grass roots MTB community effort to develop a LED based bike light. Something cheaper and better than what's out there. Looking at the current technology I don't see why a 3 LED - 400 Lumen system couldn't be put together for less than $150.00. Actually, that might be a good objective.

    My take on the UI
    3 levels of brightness
    1 strobe

    Simple and easy.


    I have a very good mechanical design tech that works for me and access to a machine shop. The machinist is not cheap but we could use him for the prototype. While waiting on my XR-Es to show up I've been playing around with several designs. You're correct in stating that the housing will be the important thing to focus attention on. Batteries, optics, LEDs, driver circuit are there. The housing has to meet thermal management requirements while being both rugged and small in size.


    Bob

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by il2mb
    My take on the UI
    3 levels of brightness
    1 strobe

    Simple and easy.
    The MOST simple is to have to scroll through each one of these every time you want one. Man I hate that. Slightly fancier is to have it come back on in the mode you last used, but still have it scrollable. And next... does the strobe have brightness levels... or just one? Which one? Strobe cycle time and duration suggestions?

    I have a very good mechanical design tech that works for me and access to a machine shop. The machinist is not cheap but we could use him for the prototype. While waiting on my XR-Es to show up I've been playing around with several designs. You're correct in stating that the housing will be the important thing to focus attention on. Batteries, optics, LEDs, driver circuit are there. The housing has to meet thermal management requirements while being both rugged and small in size.
    Excellent.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Cool - I was just wondering about the same exact thing earlier today and if it existed. My thoughts are:
    2 modes - constant and flash
    3 levels - Low, Medium, High for the constant mode, maybe for the flash also.
    I don't think the Flash would need to be adjusted that often if ever. I would think it's a mode that would be used for daytime running lights or commuting and what not. If there were a way to tweak the settings that would be an added feature, but hardly something you would do very often.
    I suppose the simple use for a momentary switch would be off-Low-Med-Hi-flash, but it's always a pain to have to run through all the modes one of which is OFF while riding. I would like to see something more like where press and hold cycles through Off-Constant-Flash while a momentary click in both the Constant and Flash modes cycles through the power levels.

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    I'm working on a light now (also waiting on XR-E's) and I was thinking that it would be really cool if I could somehow hook up the b-flex to a speed sensor to vary the brightness. Wouldn't it be cool if your light got brighter or dimmer based on your speed? Probably too much to ask for but I thought I'd throw it out there.

    Tom

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by darelldd
    And next... does the strobe have brightness levels... or just one? Which one? Strobe cycle time and duration suggestions?
    Good question. I would suggest that brightness levels in constant mode are mostly to extend runtimes. Sometimes it is to match other lighting, ambient lighting or not to blind other riders. In contrast brightness levels in the strobe mode are probably less important as It's more about being seen - I would think the ability to adjust the frequency of the strobe would be good, but don't know what would be appropriate.
    A buddy of mine rode offroad with a Minewt from niterider in the strobe mode and said he was about to have a seizure after a few minutes from the strobe effect reflecting off everything.

  7. #7
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    [QUOTE=mjzraz]
    I suppose the simple use for a momentary switch would be off-Low-Med-Hi-flash, but it's always a pain to have to run through all the modes
    Yup! I'm not a big fan of that method. It is the easy way to implement it, but not the best for use! First order of business is that I plan to have a click turn the light on at the last used setting (even if batteries are changed, etc). To change mode, I'd either use a press from off, or a press once on.

    I would like to see something more like where press and hold cycles through Off-Constant-Flash while a momentary click in both the Constant and Flash modes cycles through the power levels.
    Press and hold to cycle is likely the best bet. I try to reserve a click from off to be ON, and a click from on to be OFF. Its REALLY nice to have consistency in that, so no matter what else you remember, you can ALWAYS click on, and click off. The rest is just gravy. So we can use press from off and press from on to adjust things and/or cycle.

    The hard part here is determining how to cycle and how to adjust... so it make sense and doesn't lack consistency.

    Most people think this UI stuff is straight forward. It ain't! Not if you want to do it right.

    Thanks for the input folks. This is gonna be great.
    Last edited by darelldd; 12-13-2006 at 07:51 PM.
    -= Darell The EVnut

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by wittyname
    I'm working on a light now (also waiting on XR-E's) and I was thinking that it would be really cool if I could somehow hook up the b-flex to a speed sensor to vary the brightness. Wouldn't it be cool if your light got brighter or dimmer based on your speed? Probably too much to ask for but I thought I'd throw it out there.

    Tom
    Yikes. We'll take that one under advisement.
    -= Darell The EVnut

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjzraz
    Good question. I would suggest that brightness levels in constant mode are mostly to extend runtimes.
    Yup. Strobe will also extend (about double) runtime as well. And reduced output AND storbe will make it better and better.

    In contrast brightness levels in the strobe mode are probably less important as It's more about being seen
    My fear is that if we blink 3x XR-E's running at 750mA, that some guy is gonna be annoyed enough to pull his car over, get out, walk over and kill you.

    I would think the ability to adjust the frequency of the strobe would be good, but don't know what would be appropriate.
    I've been playing with my own blinky lights and counting the freq's of the other lights I saw on the road tonight (I live in a college town, so we have TONS of bikes on the road at all times of day). Looks to me like 2 flashes/second with equal on/off is a good bet. We'll probably start there. If we hate it we can change it. The fewer things we have to have adjustments for the better.

    A buddy of mine rode offroad with a Minewt from niterider in the strobe mode and said he was about to have a seizure after a few minutes from the strobe effect reflecting off everything.
    I'll bet! I've tried that before as well, and ended up enjoying riding in the dark better!
    -= Darell The EVnut

  10. #10
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    Hi Darell, I didn’t realise you were a fellow MTBR / CPF’er!

    I have a few of George’s drivers and used to keep in touch from time to time (okay once a year if I’m lucky…), but have been incredibly slack lately!

    (If you do read this George I have finally put my prototype “Big Driver” to use after close to a year and a half of talking you into selling to too me! )

    The only drivers I have from George that have a UI are the early nFlex with the original firmware, and they have worked very well for my application. However for bike use I would probably simplify things even further. For example I really don’t need the auto-sleep (I have mine disabled) or nightlight options, and although I don’t mind choosing from 7 different brightness levels, I have noticed it drives some of my riding buddies nuts! I really like the way you can adjust the drive current, and the UI is perfect in that regard as far as management goes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darell
    Most people think this UI stuff is straight forward. It ain't! Not if you want to do it right.
    I did a “Human Computer Interaction” course (basically UI design) as a part of my computing University degree this year, and I have gained a whole lot more respect for guys like you and George who design microcontroller based interfaces like this!



    Naturally everyone will have different ideas as to what the “ultimate” UI should contain. After sitting down for a while and having a bit of a think, and reading through the bFlex datasheet, the following is what I think would make an ideal UI for cyclists. Some of it is already implemented in George’s drivers, while some of it is not.


    Management functions:

    Drive Current Adjustment
    - (constrained by the driver board, no issues with the original UI)

    Brightness Settings Adjustment
    - I would really like to have three brightness levels, no need for a strobe in my opinion. A High level which is not able to be changed, and two adjustable levels between 100% and off would be more then enough. If any of the two levels are set to the extreme (100% of off), they are simply omitted from the normal working UI.

    This should allow users to set two lower levels that they are comfortable with or simplify the light and turn it into a simple on / off controller.

    Force Level
    - If more then one brightness level is set, then it would be nice to have the option to turn the light on at a preset level. If disabled then it would just remember the last setting that the user has selected before powering off.

    Voltage Warning
    - It’s a fantastic idea, although I would implement things a little differently. Personally I have no need to make the main LED’s flash or provide warning. I would much rather that it was all done through the STAT pin as follows with two options.

    Option 1 would be to have STAT high until the low voltage condition, when it would then be selectable to either have the STAT pin flash at 1 second intervals, or go low.

    Option 2 would be to have the STAT pin low until the low voltage condition, when it would then be selectable to either have the STAT pin flash at 1 second intervals, or go high.


    User functions:

    Functionality
    - The normal on/off and up/down scroll through brightness levels as used in the nFlex firmware is more then sufficient, and easy to use in my opinion.


    As you can see it’s mostly a pretty simplified UI, but it would work well for me.



    Quote Originally Posted by mjzraz
    A buddy of mine rode off road with a MiNewt from Nite Rider in the strobe mode and said he was about to have a seizure after a few minutes from the strobe effect reflecting off everything.
    Generally I would have thought the strobe would be used in emergency situations, or perhaps possibly on the road. I certainly wouldn’t use it as a light source off road!

    Quote Originally Posted by Darell
    My fear is that if we blink 3x XR-E's running at 750mA, that some guy is gonna be annoyed enough to pull his car over, get out, walk over and kill you.
    I think I would too!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom
    I was thinking that it would be really cool if I could somehow hook up the b-flex to a speed sensor to vary the brightness. Wouldn't it be cool if your light got brighter or dimmer based on your speed? Probably too much to ask for but I thought I'd throw it out there.
    Cool idea, but personally it would annoy the hell out of me!

    As far as I am aware the last I heard from George’s comments was that the bFlex hardware is pretty much not negotiable at this stage? It would require a fair bit more code, and would be a bit of a pain to implement too. If you really want to do it, some of the “Buck Puck” range from Led Dynamics has an adjustable output based on a PWM input, which could be adapted to work in a scenario like you mention.


    Cheers, Dave.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by darelldd
    Yikes. We'll take that one under advisement.
    IMHO, this is not a very good practice... 20 years of dirt biking with magneto lighting taught me the shortcoming of dim lights when you start into the tough, slow going stuff. The light goes dim just when you are trying to navigate through rocks, tight singletrack, etc etc... I like a remote switch for brightness control and I will decide the light intensity thanks . I'm not going to reach up to my helmet light while I'm truckin down the trail at night... Remote switching seems like a nice safe feature... The bflex has this feature . BTW, I just got mine and will hook it up this weekend. These products are already packed with advanced features - nice job guys!

    I know... voice activated -

    "I've fallen and I can't get up" = flash mode ...
    Clap and it goes on and off - no that's too hard when you're holding onto the bars ...

    I need to think about this some more ...

    Cheers
    GEVELTERSCHMIDT RACING

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Low_Rider
    Hi Darell, I didn’t realise you were a fellow MTBR / CPF’er!
    Yup, howdy. Somewhat new here, as I just finished my MTB last month!

    The only drivers I have from George that have a UI are the early nFlex with the original firmware, and they have worked very well for my application.
    Excellent. We aim to please.

    However for bike use I would probably simplify things even further. For example I really don’t need the auto-sleep (I have mine disabled) or nightlight options, and although I don’t mind choosing from 7 different brightness levels, I have noticed it drives some of my riding buddies nuts! I really like the way you can adjust the drive current, and the UI is perfect in that regard as far as management goes.
    Indeed! that UI was not meant for the bike obviously. Nice that you can disable certain features though, eh? The different levels need not cause concern. Just pick one you like and either set it as your force, or never change it. Done! But anyway...

    I did a “Human Computer Interaction” course (basically UI design) as a part of my computing University degree this year, and I have gained a whole lot more respect for guys like you and George who design microcontroller based interfaces like this!
    Excellent! Most people don't even give it a second thought, and pretty much assume that it all just falls from the sky into the chip in an organized fashion. The number of hours it takes is staggering. From my side of things, I mostly just dream stuff up, and George performs the magic. The most rewarding part is finding the bugs. But MAN that can be tedius! (sp?)

    Brightness Settings Adjustment
    - I would really like to have three brightness levels, no need for a strobe in my opinion. A High level which is not able to be changed, and two adjustable levels between 100% and off would be more then enough. If any of the two levels are set to the extreme (100% of off), they are simply omitted from the normal working UI.
    High will be constrained by the max current setting in the menu. My plan is to have no more than four levels total. Three is likely enough. I doubt that they'll be adjustable though... that's why you've got levels to choose from! The goal is to add as few more menu choices as possible. I'll talk about the strobe later.

    This should allow users to set two lower levels that they are comfortable with or simplify the light and turn it into a simple on / off controller.
    It will always be a simple on/off. Just like with nFlex, once it is set up the way you like, click ALWAYS turns it on (at whatever level you've set), and click ALWAYS turns it off. Nothing else you need to do if that's all you need/want.

    Force Level
    - If more then one brightness level is set, then it would be nice to have the option to turn the light on at a preset level. If disabled then it would just remember the last setting that the user has selected before powering off.
    I'm certain this is how we'll do it - in other words not changed from previous UIs.

    Voltage Warning
    - It’s a fantastic idea, although I would implement things a little differently. Personally I have no need to make the main LED’s flash or provide warning. I would much rather that it was all done through the STAT pin as follows with two options.

    Option 1 would be to have STAT high until the low voltage condition, when it would then be selectable to either have the STAT pin flash at 1 second intervals, or go low.

    Option 2 would be to have the STAT pin low until the low voltage condition, when it would then be selectable to either have the STAT pin flash at 1 second intervals, or go high.
    Your dream is answered. bFlex already lets you choose to use the main LED or a stat pin for V warn. Settable in the menu. All menu items that are available for the other UIs will be available for UIB - provided they make sense.

    Generally I would have thought the strobe would be used in emergency situations, or perhaps possibly on the road. I certainly wouldn’t use it as a light source off road!
    The strobe is for visibility in an urban environment. It is NOT ever intended for use to light your way. Think of it as a front blinky like the red one in the rear. Used so others can see YOU when you don't need extra light to see where you're going in light-polluted environments.

    Thanks tons, Dave!
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darell
    High will be constrained by the max current setting in the menu. My plan is to have no more than four levels total. Three is likely enough. I doubt that they'll be adjustable though... that's why you've got levels to choose from! The goal is to add as few more menu choices as possible…

    It will always be a simple on/off. Just like with nFlex, once it is set up the way you like, click ALWAYS turns it on (at whatever level you've set), and click ALWAYS turns it off. Nothing else you need to do if that's all you need/want.

    I realised that the “high” setting would be the maximum of that particular drive current as set in the menu like the nFlex. I'm sure three or four brightness levels would be plenty.

    I agree any adjustment would be pain to implement, especially when you’re talking multiple brightness levels to adjust. Perhaps if you only had a choice of two levels total, one at 100% and one adjustable it would be doable? It’s still much easier to keep it to a set number of preset brightness levels though like you mention. My on/off statement was from the point of view that if you did have adjustable brightness per level functionality, and following my little idea you had all the levels disabled, then the only user functions would be on and off, like a SPST switch.

    I know some riders who hate all of the fiddling around with various brightness’s, although with a controller like this most guys who use them will be enthusiasts like us, who will jump at having another function to tweak! I guess if you have the force mode then in fact you will only have to click on and off anyway. Am I going around in circles yet?


    Quote Originally Posted by Darell
    Your dream is answered. bFlex already lets you choose to use the main LED or a STAT pin for V warn. Settable in the menu. All menu items that are available for the other UIs will be available for UIB - provided they make sense.

    I realised that after reading the datasheet before I posted the first time, but it appears that currently the STAT pin only operates as follows:


    “bFlex reports the low voltage condition via the STAT pin on the PCB. STAT will drive high (~2.5V) when the low voltage condition is detected. It will drive back to 0V when the low voltage condition is no longer detected.”


    While the main output LED’s can be configured in a number of ways, It would be cool if you had a few more options with the actual STAT pin output and could configure it to operate like the two options I posted, or at least something similar.

    "Option 1 would be to have STAT high until the low voltage condition, when it would then be selectable to either have the STAT pin flash at 1 second intervals, or go low.

    Option 2 would be to have the STAT pin low until the low voltage condition, when it would then be selectable to either have the STAT pin flash at 1 second intervals, or go high."



    Quote Originally Posted by Darell
    Excellent. We aim to please.
    The nFlex has been my “rock”. I have built a fair few of my own drivers, and when they have let out the magic smoke I simply switch back to the nFlex and continue on. I remember George was a little concerned with how I wanted to run that particular driver to begin with, but after a few emails he sent one off and it’s survived my abuse for a couple of years now with no problems at all.

    Be sure to keep us posted as you work on ideas Darell!

    Dave.

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    off road considerations

    Quote Originally Posted by darelldd
    Press and hold to cycle is likely the best bet. I try to reserve a click from off to be ON, and a click from on to be OFF. Its REALLY nice to have consistency in that, so no matter what else you remember, you can ALWAYS click on, and click off. The rest is just gravy. So we can use press from off and press from on to adjust things and/or cycle.
    Thinking of the conditions of MTB night riding...

    A click from the on position could easily occur while attempting a press. Say you hit a bump and your finger comes off prematurely, suddenly it's really dark. With that in mind, my ideas are:

    1. 2 modes, full power and low power. Full is used for riding, low is used for around camp. Mediates current.

    2. Each mode has 4 settings, very low, low, med, high. Like lowrider suggested, if a setting is at either boundary (off or 100%) it's deleted fromt he sequence.

    3. Adjustment: double click to go dimmer, click to go brighter. The idea here is that when you need less light a double click is easier to manage.

    4. Long press (at least 1 second) for off.

    5. Can the voltage warnings be configure to act more as a guage (eg 1/2 time remaining...)?

    6. Somehow lock the settings so when I loan the lights they don't come back mixed up!

    Thanks for your work on this, I've got some bFlex's on the way and am stoked to start getting more features from my Cree, K2 and LuxIII systems.
    Dave

    Anything is possible. The impossible just takes longer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hairball_dh
    Thinking of the conditions of MTB night riding...

    A click from the on position could easily occur while attempting a press. Say you hit a bump and your finger comes off prematurely, suddenly it's really dark. With that in mind, my ideas are:
    Thanks for bringing it back to the end user, rather than UI theory...

    Fact of the matter is, you are trying to do a lot with a single button. No matter what, it will be a code, and people will have to remember in a less than ideally intuitive way how to operate their light. Also, there is power in common language - a lot of lights operate on the "click on", "click to change light levels", and "press and hold to turn off". If you do something really different, it will be weird for people to get used to, and on the showroom floor might be a turn off, so to speak.

    Personally, i don't think there is anything wrong with the standard approach, assuming you have just a couple light settings. Beyond that, it definitely gets cumbersome, and you need to start looking into fancy UIs. I would contend at that point, though, sticking with a single switch is a bad design decision.

    Back to the original thread, i think a simple click to turn off is a bad idea. You want it to be hard to turn off the light. I know i adjust light level while i am riding, and don't want to get cast inadvertantly into darkness.

    On should be easiest
    Changing light levels can be less easy
    Turning off should be hard

    -Damon

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    Thanks for all the clarification, Dave. I think we're on the same page now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Low_Rider
    Am I going around in circles yet?
    Well, sure. But as bike riders, that's pretty much what we do.

    While the main output LED’s can be configured in a number of ways, It would be cool if you had a few more options with the actual STAT pin output and could configure it to operate like the two options I posted, or at least something similar.

    "Option 1 would be to have STAT high until the low voltage condition, when it would then be selectable to either have the STAT pin flash at 1 second intervals, or go low.

    Option 2 would be to have the STAT pin low until the low voltage condition, when it would then be selectable to either have the STAT pin flash at 1 second intervals, or go high."
    I gotcha. Just wanted to make sure you knew that we were already at least PART way there.

    Be sure to keep us posted as you work on ideas Darell!
    I'll do my best! I can tell already that it won't make everybody happy, but hey - what does?
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Quote Originally Posted by hairball_dh
    1. 2 modes, full power and low power. Full is used for riding, low is used for around camp. Mediates current.

    2. Each mode has 4 settings, very low, low, med, high. Like lowrider suggested, if a setting is at either boundary (off or 100%) it's deleted fromt he sequence.
    Interesting concept. Two chain rings, and a 4-speed cluster. My guess is that we'll just end up with a choice of four levels. Way the heck easier to deal with. Always remember that we're dealing with just one button here!

    4. Long press (at least 1 second) for off.
    I'm hearing this more and more...

    6. Somehow lock the settings so when I loan the lights they don't come back mixed up!
    The menu settings are basically "locked out" Changing the brightness back to where you want it would always just be a click away. This is yet another reason that more simple = more better. I want the minimum number of changeable items to make the product useful. You add more, and suddenly you are eaily lost in a maze of button clicks and presses.

    Thanks for your work on this, I've got some bFlex's on the way and am stoked to start getting more features from my Cree, K2 and LuxIII systems.
    Great! The current bFlex will give you an idea of how the current UI's work, and what we're "starting" with.

    Thanks tons for your input.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Quote Originally Posted by GMF
    Thanks for bringing it back to the end user, rather than UI theory...
    Indeed that's what we're here for. The bad news is that however it works out in the end, it'll all have to conform to the "theory" as well. Working around the limitations of a single button interface is the single biggest challenge that we face with these UI's.

    Fact of the matter is, you are trying to do a lot with a single button. No matter what, it will be a code, and people will have to remember in a less than ideally intuitive way how to operate their light.
    Yup. The idea is to make it as simple and intuitive as possible. Making it perfect is not an option.

    Also, there is power in common language - a lot of lights operate on the "click on", "click to change light levels", and "press and hold to turn off". If you do something really different, it will be weird for people to get used to, and on the showroom floor might be a turn off, so to speak.
    Interesting that you bring this up. You say "a lot of lights" do this, and yet the experience I have is that UI's are all over the map. I have seen very little consistency. If I had to take a shot at the most common, it would be: Click on-high, click-low, click-flash, click-off. Nothing to remember, but also very tedeious to operate. If "simple" is the top priority, something like that would be the result. When I started thinking on the UIB, my first thought was similar to yours - I wanted to keep the on/off business identical to how we've done *our* past UIs. That way everybody who uses any of the UIs knows exactly how to turn it on and off without having to think. I'm quickly coming around to the fact that the UIB will break away from "our" convention in that regard though. The UIB will just be what is best for biking. I have no intention of doing anything "really different" from other lights that are out there, unless they make no sense at all. Please also realize that we aren't out to make a commercial bike-lighting product with this. We want to have a small, efficient circuit and UI that appeals to the somewhat skilled do-it-yourselfer. If there comes a time that we can get a real commercialized product rolling, then a purpose-built circuit with potentially multiple inputs would be in order - and that would be awesome. The power switch would be separate, and maybe a slider for brightness so you could tell at a glance what "gear" you were in. No chance shutting it off while trying to change levels, and you go to any new level directly from any other level. But that's a challenge for a different day. Today we're trying to figure out how to best implement a bike light UI with just one button interface.

    Personally, i don't think there is anything wrong with the standard approach, assuming you have just a couple light settings. Beyond that, it definitely gets cumbersome, and you need to start looking into fancy UIs. I would contend at that point, though, sticking with a single switch is a bad design decision.
    I'm still not sure what the "standard" approach is. Click on, click low, click flash, press off? My problem with that is if you want to adjust while on the go, you rarely want to cycle through the modes you don't want. Yet with only a few modes, and by not cycling through OFF, at least it is usable. I would personally much rather get almost immediately to the mode I want, without having to cycle through unwanted modes. And yes, it is complicated, and the extra complication has to be weighed against the drop-dead-easy cycle approach. The single switch is not a design decision for a bike-specific application. The circuit exists, and we're trying to adapt it for this use. I agree that one button is not ideal. We have, however, already made some amazingly powerful and simply UIs in the past with just this one button.

    Back to the original thread, i think a simple click to turn off is a bad idea. You want it to be hard to turn off the light. I know i adjust light level while i am riding, and don't want to get cast inadvertantly into darkness.
    This is what I'm coming to realize. I also wouldn't likely be fooling with ANY light at any critical riding moment! Seems like press for off is a concensus.

    On should be easiest
    Changing light levels can be less easy
    Turning off should be hard
    This makes a nice little poem.

    Thanks for your input!
    Last edited by darelldd; 12-14-2006 at 12:55 PM.
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    This is great, guys. I just went back to my original outline that I didn't share with anybody yet... and re-shaped it with many of these suggestions. So far it looks like a great balance of totally simple, yet useful features... It'll have a strobe option that won't get in the way of the "constant" mode and will have adjustable levels when on. In fact, it is so simple now, that it doesn't seem like I've done anything. That's when you know you've done something right!

    Off will be via a PRESS.

    I'll let it ferment a bit longer while we wait for others to find this thread and comment. At this point, it follows GMF's poem to the letter.
    Last edited by darelldd; 12-14-2006 at 01:20 PM.
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    I have a question.
    Is this to be a mtn bike off road light strictly or a muli use commuter light?

    The reason I ask is because of the two (for me) disturbing attributes that seem to be included as givens. The strobe utility, and the mention of a handle bar mount.



    Beyond that I would like to see this scheme used.

    Click once to light in dim mode then press to ramp up and release to set when desired illumination is reached. Press again to continue ramp up. To ramp down, click and then press until desired illumination is reached. Three clicks turn the unit off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WorldWind
    I have a question.
    Is this to be a mtn bike off road light strictly or a muli use commuter light?
    I likely shouldn't have brought up the enclosure/mount situation, but wanted to toss it out there to see if I got any bites. This discussion is really only about the UI, and I'd like the options to be flexible enough so the circuit could be used in an off-road light, a commute light, or one that could go either way depending on conditions.

    The reason I ask is because of the two (for me) disturbing attributes that seem to be included as givens. The strobe utility, and the mention of a handle bar mount.
    Oooh. I don't like disturbing people! None of this is "given." And as I mentioned before, the handlebar mount is irrelevant. We're only working on the UI. What you use the circuit in is totally up to you. You can mount it on the bars, on your helmet, or staple it to your chest. The strobe utility is nothing to be afraid of. It'll likely be included as an option to make the light useful for urban commuters, but you can ignore it completely. I won't make anybody scroll through the blinky mode. Promise! Just pretend it doesn't exist, and go on about your business.



    Beyond that I would like to see this scheme used.

    Click once to light in dim mode then press to ramp up and release to set when desired illumination is reached. Press again to continue ramp up. To ramp down, click and then press until desired illumination is reached. Three clicks turn the unit off.
    Noted. Thanks!
    -= Darell The EVnut

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by darelldd
    Interesting that you bring this up. You say "a lot of lights" do this, and yet the experience I have is that UI's are all over the map.
    I'll admit I haven't used every bike light out there (although a few), and certainly not all sorts of flashlights and camping lights, but in the bike light world, it really does seem to come down to two flavors for single button lights:
    1. the hard switch - the simplicity of which i like and appreciate
    2. the "smart" switch - the versatility of which i appreciate
    For the smart switch on high performance lights (not talking about your $5 rear blinkies), functions map kind of like this:
    • on = either click, or double click (the latter to prevent accidental turn on while in a bag, or something) which puts you in the brightest setting
    • power levels = single click to scroll, usually reducing the power some amount each click. Flash, if present, is at the "bottom" of this cycle. High-med-low-flash-high...
    • off = push and hold
    I was at interbike this year playing around with several lighting systems. Since i can't remember specifically how they uniquely operated, i'm fairly confident they closely followed this language (i didn't have to think about how to use them). Now, again, I am talking about reasonably successful high-end ($150 and up) bike lights - not your cheapo knock-offs, or various camping lights, etc.

    I do like this thread, and it is great you are asking and following through with the question - i'm curious to see what you come up with.

    The cycling specific scenario i see is:
    • riding to the trail head (lights on high)
    • meeting up and BSing with your buddies (click-click to low, or turning off if you are a battery scrooge)
    • starting off on the trail (either switching back to high, or turning on to the preferred high setting)
    • coming to a slow fireroad climb (click back down to low)
    • etc.
    I guess what i'm trying to get at there, is for a bike light, when turning on, you generally want it on the highest setting. I believe Princeton Tec goes to the lowest setting, but i think that results in net more button clicks as you more often want high beam rather than low. I'm not sure if you really want it to remember the last setting you were in - i can see benefits to both ways.
    The only addition i can see maybe being helpful would be a feature where if you havn't pressed the button for several seconds, a single click automatically bumps you to high, no matter where you are in the low-med-high cycle. I admit i sometimes get annoyed when products think for me, though.

    -Damon

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMF
    I'll admit I haven't used every bike light out there (although a few), and certainly not all sorts of flashlights and camping lights
    No, me either. I've seen some wildly bad UIs though!

    Great input on the "standard" UI that's out there.

    [*]on = either click, or double click (the latter to prevent accidental turn on while in a bag, or something) which puts you in the brightest setting
    In our other UIs, we have an optional lockout that is activated by clicking three times in a row. The light goes out, and the only way to get it back on is to click three times from off. But since we're now likely to be clicking away to change levels while the light is on (since a press while on is likely to be reserved for OFF) I'll have to rethink that. Two clicks for on doesn't fit with your poem, but I see the reason for it here. The BEST way for lockout, is to simply install a toggle switch somewhere between the battery and the circuit. Then there is no standby current loss (which is very small, but can make a difference after a month of storage) and it acts as a lockout. We can even control what happens when power is next applied... does it wait for the button to be pressed, or just come ON. In this way, you can make THE most stupid, simple light ever. The "hard" switch as you call it. Just put a toggle in there and use it for on/off. End of story. This "power on" choice is a menu setting that already exists in the firmware.

    I do like this thread, and it is great you are asking and following through with the question - i'm curious to see what you come up with.
    I'm glad I started it. No matter what happens, I'm getting some awesome feedback.

    I'm not sure if you really want it to remember the last setting you were in - i can see benefits to both ways.
    And the beauty is that you'll be able to choose how it operates. This is a menu setting that we already have for the other UIs. If you set it to a "force" level, it always comes on to that level from off. If you turn force level off in the menu, then it remembers where you left it the last time it was on. So you wouldn't switch back and forth. You'd choose the operation to be the way you most want it, and set the menu and forget it. If you like it to come on at high, you simply set the force level there, and it won't remember at which level you left it.

    The only addition i can see maybe being helpful would be a feature where if you havn't pressed the button for several seconds, a single click automatically bumps you to high, no matter where you are in the low-med-high cycle. I admit i sometimes get annoyed when products think for me, though.
    Ah. I'm glad you included that last sentence. The sort of functionality that has the switch acting different after a certain time is one that gets us in trouble in a hurry. Especially in this application, I'd like the function to remain constant no matter when you do it. The last thing I want is somebody stopped on the trail, pounding away at this thing trying to remember some timing sequence. Simplicity almost always wins out over this kind of convenience.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    From the point of view of both a commuter and an avid night trail rider the UI for a trail system should be very different than for an urban rider.

    At the extreme maximum proficiency side of trail riding at night, is a mix of eye sensitivity to the changing available light and just the right amount of artificial light. Too much light is worse than no light because it instantly distroyes an estblished level of night vision in both your self and the other riders in your group.

    Only rarely do I use maximum illumination on the trail. For me a system that had to cycle through brightest to get to an optimal setting would be a deal breaker.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WorldWind
    At the extreme maximum proficiency side of trail riding at night
    I'm not sure we can or even should go after the "extreme maximum proficiency" rider with this item. In doing so, we risk alienating the other 99% of riders... including me!

    Only rarely do I use maximum illumination on the trail. For me a system that had to cycle through brightest to get to an optimal setting would be a deal breaker.
    Until this comment, pretty much all I've heard from other night riders (I'll admit right here that I personally have yet to ride trails in the dark on my own bike, though I do commute in the dark on lit urban and and un-lit country roads... and plan to trail ride at night after I get a good light built!) - is that there is no such thing as too much light. I've got hard-core riders using 2x HID on full blast who complain that they need more. Obviously, not everybody has the same needs.

    Not having to use "maximum" brightness would depend heavily on how bright the light could be, yes? One light's max bright might be medium or low on another system.

    I am curious what product you currently use for the extreme case of riding that you mention here.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    By EMP riding, I mean being able to navigate successfully in the night environment without trying to turn the night into daytime. A rider that has lost or never acquired night vision because his light is to bright is at a distinct disadvantage and can only see what is directly in the focus of his beam, he has tunnel vision and needs brighter and brighter lights and sees less and less. This rider is not stealthy and efficient.

    I took your talk of a smart user interface to indicate you were Not one of those who felt that ‘the more light the better, at the flick of a switch’ was the best way. Please forgive me I did not intend to derail your thread.

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    Brrrrrr... it seems that I am always late posting

    My idea (you can read too about it in the taskled forum) is to simplify the use of High and Medium beams in order to change between them as fast as possible without rotating through all the possible modes.

    Here it is the thing as I see it (3 power settings and maybe a blinking one... that I may never use but that it's good to have there ):

    LONG CLICK (or PRESS, as you whish to call it):
    -> Power ON at MIN if the lights are OFF (more or less, prevents an accidental power ON of the lights while carrying or intalling them).
    -> LOW power if the power is MED or MAX (prevents a total power OFF in case of short circuit or accidental long click of the button while ridding in the middle of the rocks ).
    -> Power OFF if the power is MIN (it's harder and less dangerous to accidental power OFF the lights while you only need the MIN power than when you are ridding with full...).

    SHORT CLICK:
    -> Switch between MED or MAX power (fast and clean change between two modes... you will always know which mode is the next and will be able to quickly change to it if you need it...).
    -> MED power from MIN power (if you suddenly need more power, it's useful that you can get it fast).

    Blingking mode? It would be possible to use it, maybe fast double-clicking the button or something like that from MIN power to activate it (you won't need to use the blinking mode from full power lights ), and a simple click to fast return to MIN power again.

    To be able to select (individually) each power level will be a good thing too, maybe in steps of 25 (best thing) or 50 (good thing) mAh.

    As this is something that you don't do each day, 40 clicks in the worst case (25 mAh steps from 0 to 1000 mAh range) won't be so many clicks after all for a really good fine tune of the LEDs.

    The settings menu may be a secuential one, something like this:

    1st setting MIN power: let's say 10 clicks and a press to record the 250 mAh setting in the memory.

    2nd setting MED power: starting from the MIN power setting (10 clicks) let's say we add 12 clicks more (a total of 22 clicks) and a press to record the 550 mAh setting in the memory.

    3rd setting MAX power: starting from the MED setting (22 clicks) let's say we add the last 13 clicks of the day (a total of 35) and a press to record the 875 mAh setting in the memory.

    The blinking mode may be based on the MIN power setting (let's say the same output power or a % of it) and you may even add a setting option in the menu in order to select between 1, 2 or even maybe 3 blinks per second if you find anoying the standard 2 blinks/sec setting...

    I think that as always, I'm talking too much

    Thanks for reading and excuse my english performance

    Regards:
    Drakon
    Last edited by Drakon; 12-15-2006 at 08:23 AM.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by WorldWind
    By EMP riding, I mean being able to navigate successfully in the night environment without trying to turn the night into daytime. A rider that has lost or never acquired night vision because his light is to bright is at a distinct disadvantage and can only see what is directly in the focus of his beam, he has tunnel vision and needs brighter and brighter lights and sees less and less. This rider is not stealthy and efficient.
    Though I wasn't aware that this is what was meant by EMP, I fully understand the night-vision issue. My goal and push for other lights I've helped design and build is to get back to the LOW end. Most folks want bright. Bright is good, I want/need low for all the reasons you mention. And not just for biking. Just navigating around a truly dark campsite safely requires a really low, low in your flashlight.

    I took your talk of a smart user interface to indicate you were Not one of those who felt that ‘the more light the better, at the flick of a switch’ was the best way. Please forgive me I did not intend to derail your thread.
    I do NOT feel that more light is better in general. Having more light as my disposal, without *having* to use it is most definitely "better." This is one of the main reasons to use an adjustable interface as we are designing here. You have not derailed the thread in any way... please don't go!

    I'm still interested in what sort of product gives you the control you desire, so I can figure out how best to emulate it. Are there powerful lights out there that allow you to cycle through levels without having to eventually cycle through high levels?

    We (you and I at least) agree that being forced into using more light than is needed is a BAD thing. How to implement that (along with all the other needs of being hard to turn off, being adjustable to other levels, etc) with a one-button interface is a difficult one indeed. Creating an interface that can be adjusted up or down, instead of around the cycle every time would be close to ideal. My fear of a complicated UI is what keeps me from just brute-forcing it in there, however.

    And I'm serious when I say that *most* others who have commented about light DO want as much light as possible. I'm not saying it is right or wrong for them... I'm just saying that's the common desire in a bike light. And we need a good balance between what the "typical" user wants... and what I want.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    I have two lights I've built with George's drivers. One has the Fatman driver while the other has the MAxflex driver.

    Make the UI simple, getting too complex to apease everone will just overcomlicate a single buttin UI. Give me a low and a high setting. But make the high setting user settable. The low setting would be used when you stop so you don't blind your buddies and the high would be used while riding. The only reason I can see to have more settings would be if you were riding in a 24h race and need to extend your battery life as long as possible.

    What I like about the fatman is the diming is done with a potentiometer, there are no buttons to fiddle with, just turn it up or down. I find the maxflex to be more difficult to use on the trail.

    I like what hairball_dh suggested. User selectable brightness settings, and if any are set at the end of the spectum, remove it from the rotation. That way users can configure how many brightness levels they want. However, I would want the max brighness (100%) to be user settable.

    Click to turn on and change brightness. Press for off. The press needs to be at least 1 second, if not two seconds. With the maxflex UI the click and press are too close and I find myself somtimes getting into the adjustment mode or turning the light off by accident.

    For the night riding I do (mtb) there is no need for a strobe, I wouldn't use it. If it is incorporated into the UI the button sequence needs to be very different than normal operation so it isn't accidentally turned on (ie not a simple click or press).

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmitchell13
    I like what hairball_dh suggested. User selectable brightness settings, and if any are set at the end of the spectum, remove it from the rotation. That way users can configure how many brightness levels they want. However, I would want the max brighness (100%) to be user settable.
    Good point... it could be done in the way that you can select 0% in order to disable one of the levels if you don't want it, leaving the others user selectable, even for the strobe thing could be used this (1,2,3 or 0 blinks per second for example).

    I like this idea because if someone wants strobe, can enable it, if someone likes 4 levels plus the MIN one, can enable them, if I want 2 levels plus MIN one can enable them and if you want only 1 level plus MIN one, the same

    It would be harder to program this, but I think it will worth it.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drakon
    It would be harder to program this, but I think it will worth it.
    Not all that hard, actuallly (as I speak confidently of George's abilities as if I had some hand in it!) We already do similar things in the menu. Creating the menu entry that was intuitive for setting these would be a challenge for both of us, but far from impossible.

    So let's say you can now have four "modes." In the menu you can set each of those modes to be what ever you want. You can set
    1- high
    2- med
    3- low
    4- strobe


    Or you could have
    1- high
    2- med-low
    3- 0
    4- 0

    That kind of thing. then do we just cycle between the four (or fewer if any are set to zero) modes? If in the second example, you click while on, you just cycle between the two levels you've chosen. Simple as that. No worry about getting into strobe mode, or other levels that you'll never use. If in example one, you click while on, you must scroll through all four to get what you want.

    We'd add one menu item that allows you to set several levels, and maybe a strobe level or three for each of these modes. And if set to DARK, then that level is skipped.

    It would work, and is an option I hadn't considered. It would be shipped with some pre-chosen levels so it could be used out of the box - but adventurous souls could change it at any time. Hmmm.

    If done this way
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Quote Originally Posted by darelldd
    Not all that hard, actuallly (as I speak confidently of George's abilities as if I had some hand in it!) We already do similar things in the menu. Creating the menu entry that was intuitive for setting these would be a challenge for both of us, but far from impossible.

    So let's say you can now have four "modes." In the menu you can set each of those modes to be what ever you want. You can set
    1- high
    2- med
    3- low
    4- strobe


    Or you could have
    1- high
    2- med-low
    3- 0
    4- 0

    That kind of thing. then do we just cycle between the four (or fewer if any are set to zero) modes? If in the second example, you click while on, you just cycle between the two levels you've chosen. Simple as that. No worry about getting into strobe mode, or other levels that you'll never use. If in example one, you click while on, you must scroll through all four to get what you want.

    We'd add one menu item that allows you to set several levels, and maybe a strobe level or three for each of these modes. And if set to DARK, then that level is skipped.

    It would work, and is an option I hadn't considered. It would be shipped with some pre-chosen levels so it could be used out of the box - but adventurous souls could change it at any time. Hmmm.

    If done this way
    I like this direction you're talking about!!! It would work very well, for me anyway.

    However, for the users of the strobe fuction I would like to see a unique button action to activate "strobe" mode. Maybe a 5 or 10 second press. This could toggle between the strobe and constant-on mode. That way in strobe mode you could also toggle through the brightness levels.

    Hey George,
    Once this new UI is developed could we get old drivers upgraded to the new UI?

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmitchell13
    I like this direction you're talking about!!! It would work very well, for me anyway.

    However, for the users of the strobe fuction I would like to see a unique button action to activate "strobe" mode. Maybe a 5 or 10 second press. This could toggle between the strobe and constant-on mode. That way in strobe mode you could also toggle through the brightness levels.
    Gives me a new idea. PRESS button for ~ 3seconds to turn off, but keep holding it another three seconds to switch to strobe mode. That frees up a press from off so that we can do something else with it. I don't see anybody needing to get between constant on and stobe in a huge hurry, so this would work well, I think. And those who don't want strobe will still not be bothered by it.

    Hey George,
    Once this new UI is developed could we get old drivers upgraded to the new UI?
    All I can tell you for certain, is that yes, it CAN be done. Just a matter of reprogramming the existing boards.

    What does everybody think of making this thing so that a secondary (primary?) power switch also needs to be used? That would free up a button click, and solves the "lockout" problem as well as battery rundown during storage. Designing this way would force that second switch to be needed, however. Otherwise, the secondary power switch CAN be used optionally, while we still incorporate on/off into the single-button interface.

    Anyway... I'm not home for the weekend, so won't be as responsive as usual!
    Last edited by darelldd; 12-15-2006 at 02:18 PM.
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    I like the idea of being able to enable/disable several power levels.

    I don't like very much the idea of a double click to go downwards in the power levels because some buttons are hard to handle this way and in some cases may be a pain in the ass to dimm the lights...

    I like the idea of leaving the strobe mode out of the loop of power, but I'll add that it would be a good idea to leave the MIN power out too. This way, in case of a short circuit in a remote button or an undesired press/hold button, the lights will go to MIN (better than going straight to OFF).

    As it is better a pic than a thousand words, here is one with some ideas collected.

    BLACK things are fixed and not settable ones.
    BLUE ones are fixed but settable.
    RED ones can be enabled/disabled
    GREEN ones can be enabled/disabled and are settable too.

    The CLICK is that, a click in the button (maybe 1/2 second or less), the PRESS let's say that is a 1 second long click, and the LONG PRESS (X) is a X seconds long click (very long one ).

    I really love this sort of posts
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Ok, folks. I've digested this and spun it around in my head. I've bounced it off George, and here's where we're gonna start. Remember that this is all compromise, and is tuned for simplicity, consistency real-world use. I won't make everybody happy. I've made peace with that. Please to tell me if anything here is a real show-stopper though!

    As shipped, the light will come on at "med" level with a click. More clicks just cycle to high and med around and around. To turn off, you must press the button for 1.5 seconds. If that's all you need, that's all you need to know. Stop reading here.

    But wait. There's more. If you're adventurous, and a wee bit nerdy, let me bore you with a few details. Stick with me... this is harder to describe than to use.

    Strobe: You toggle over to strobe mode by clicking on to constant and then pressing the button to turn off, and keep holding it. Light will go off (duh), and two seconds later will come back on in strobe mode. This is the only way to switch between the two modes and should be hard to accidentally accomplish. I don't see too many folks wanting constant and strobe in the same riding session. At least not where they can't easily stop and perform this five-second toggle.

    There are a total of three levels available for both constant and strobe. L1 and L2 are settable out of eight brightness choices in the menu (same as UIF). As shipped, L1 is disabled, or "dark". It can be turned on at any time, and the others can be adjusted to different levels at any time via the menu. The brightness of constant and strobe will both be effected by the one additional menu item. L3, or "hi" will always be the max current set in the menu.

    There will be an "emergency low" mode for when you have little battery and still need to navigate, or what to conserve as much battery as possible yet still see in the dark. From off, you press for 1.5 seconds and it goes into "emergency low" mode. This mode is factory set to be useful, and VERY efficient. About 50-75mA. This mode is independent from all others and is not adjustable. This is also where you will access the menu. After you are in low mode, you click three times, and the menu acts like it does in all other UIs. Accessing the menu is not something you'll do often once you have the uController set up the way you want.

    Here is the synopsis:

    Two modes: Constant and strobe.

    Click from off - Turns on to the last used mode and level, or last mode and force level if force is set in the menu. (does nothing if auto-lockout is set in the menu!)
    Press from on (1.5 seconds) - turns off (keep holding button another two seconds, and it comes on in the alternate mode.
    Press from off (1.5 seconds) - comes on in "emergency low" mode that is factory set - say 50-75mA. (another press turns it off, or three clicks takes you to the menu)
    Click from on (in strobe or constant mode) - cycles through levels UP.

    One new menu item will be added to what we already have in nFlex, bFlex, etc.
    -> Set two optional light levels.
    Click for menu item (nine?)
    Flash sequence tells us it is listening. (goes dim)
    Click for level to set (one or two) with accompanying flashes for each click (level 3 is always set via driver current limit)
    Flash sequence tells us it is listening. (same)
    cycle through eight (same as UIF) levels including dark, to set the level in question. Stop clicking when you reach the desired brightness and flash sequence tells you it is programmed.

    Initially ships with level 1 dark (so it is skipped in the use cycle, not "off"). So as shipped, it'll come on at "med" level, and cycle between med and high with clicks. Within the menu, user can set L1 to be something other than dark, and so have three levels to play with. Or, both L1 and L2 can be dark, so there is FULL ON, or nothing. Strobe levels will match constant levels.

    All other relevant menu options work the same as in the other UIs (drive level, auto lock, power mode, reset, sleep, force, Vsense and Vstat).

    Strobe will be 2 flash/sec, alternating between set level and 1/10th of set level - So not ever "off". Levels follow same munu adjustability as for constant.

    As shipped, this will be fully functional and easy to use, with nothing to learn. Click on. Click high. Click low. Click high. Press off.

    If the user would like, it can be customized in several ways. And as I said before, it will be WAY easier to use than it is to describe.

    Nomex suit on. Comment away.
    -= Darell The EVnut

  36. #36
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    Good job! Headlight UI- Niterider

    Hey guys,

    I've been following this thread for a bit because I thought I'd be the first to make a cree-powered bikelight. Apparently I've been beat!! But that's great that we all are willing to make something truly unique.

    On the other hand, it's great to use some tried-and-true techniques. I have a couple older Niterider digital halogen lights. They have a very nice simple UI and it goes like this:
    (I will use "click" and "press" terminology here)

    -click on, click through the 3 light intensity levels (6, 10, 15 watt) for the first menu
    -press and hold for 1.5-2 seconds to turn off (it remembers your previous intensity level and uses this next time it is turned on)
    - press and hold for about 4 seconds to enter the secondary menu which consists of a nice strobe pulse (about 1.5-2 flashes per second), a steady super low light mode (3watts), SOS Flasher mode for distress signal, and another beacon style strobe (1 flash per second). This menu wraps around and repeats itself with clicks until you exit it with a press and it shuts off. Turning it back on with a click always brings it back to the first menu.

    Hope this is very clear. Great functionality and I really couldn't want much more. All with a single button and easy to remember.

    A suggestion could be a super cool 4 led mini fuel-guage feature like these halogens have. I really like this feature- it keeps you from being stuck with no light and you always no when to bring an extra battery.


    Rock on guys

    Can't wait to see what you all come up with. This is a great colloboration.

  37. #37
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    I have been meaning to reply for a while now, but each time I check this thread someone has posted an opinion from a slightly different point of view. It’s been really interesting to read what riders consider to be important in terms of functionality. I have given up trying to make a comment on each suggestion that took my attention…


    Darell I really like your solution! I had to read your post a couple of times to get everything straight in my mind, but its all clear now. The separation of the strobe and constant modes was on my mind for a while, but I couldn’t think of an easy solution myself. I think you’ve nailed it with the off / 2 second press routine to change modes. The “never off” approach for the strobe flash is a great idea, and makes a lot of sense.

    I must admit that I really liked the scrolling functionality of the nFlex between brightness levels, with the change of direction from brighter to dimmer each time the button is pressed. Although I guess a click-by-click approach may be a little more defined, and a bit easier to use considering there are only a maximum of three levels to choose from (which is plenty). It’s likely a better approach.

    Thanks for considering the implementation of adjustable levels too; I think it will make a lot of users happy. As you mention, not only the fact that levels can be changed, but removed altogether is great for those that really only need on / off functionality.

    All up I think it’s a great UI, I’ll be purchasing a couple of boards from George as soon as he has a few loaded up with the new UI!


    Outside of the UI discussion, the comments about accidental switch triggering are interesting as from my perspective it is just as much a hardware issue (implemented by the user) as it is software. I can see the sense in a requirement for a longer press or click to turn the light on or off to prevent external triggering, although it makes sense for the switch itself to be designed or implemented in such a way that accidental triggering is prevented.


    Quote Originally Posted by mtb760
    A suggestion could be a super cool 4 led mini fuel-gauge feature like these halogens have.
    Welcome to the boards mtb760! The trouble with such a fuel gauge is the extra I/O pins that the microcontroller would require, and the fact that the bFlex can operate off quite a large input voltage range. Add to that the varying cell chemistries and battery pack capacities, and you just have too many variables to make it practical. I think in most cases the user configurable low voltage warning functionality will suffice as a warning, if set correctly by the user.


    Cheers, Dave.

  38. #38
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    Coming rather late to this, but particularly interested as I had been considering a TaskLed buck driver board (currently have a fatman), but have ruled it out as I'm not keen on the current firmware, and so will be making my own controller running on a PIC as an add on board (and using a buckpuck, since there is no current TaskLed buck driver with the "pot" input I require).

    My personal spec I have planned at present (though since I can reprogram, this may be subject to change depending on what I find works)

    State: off
    double click - turns on into last selected power level.

    State: high power
    click - goes to medium power

    State: medium power
    click - goes to low power

    State: low power
    click - goes to ultra low power

    State: ultra low power
    click - goes to high power

    State: medium, low, ultra low
    press - goes to high power

    State: high power
    press - goes to last selected lower power level

    State: all on
    long press - turns off

    You'll note I don't have a strobe mode here, as that's not a requirement for me - others' suggestions of holding the button down after turning it off (that or a long press when already off) seems good to me. I have 4 power levels, each of which is ~1/2 the current of the previous one, which seems a reasonable way to go with LEDs, as half the current implies ~60% of the lumens, and ~75% of the perceived brightness, so I have effectively 100, 75, 56, 40% perceived brightness levels.

    Finally, and the crunch reason why I'm not using a TaskLed smart driver, not only do I want a warning when the voltage gets low, I also want it to actually cut off when the voltage gets even lower, in order to protect my LiIon battery without the need for a separate protection circuit (I have this in my current homebrew halogen PWM controller). I'm also considering the option of having it automatically switch to lower power modes (and prevent the use of higher power modes) at certain voltage thresholds.

    One final question since we seem to have the right man to ask here: what microcontroller is being used on the TaskLed products? Just wondering whether I have the right tools to reprogram one if I bought one of the smart boards, which would rather simplify my electronics, working on the assumption it is possible to in-circuit program it.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrism
    One final question since we seem to have the right man to ask here: what microcontroller is being used on the TaskLed products? Just wondering whether I have the right tools to reprogram one if I bought one of the smart boards, which would rather simplify my electronics, working on the assumption it is possible to in-circuit program it.
    I'll even go further...

    If the drivers were in-circuit reprogramable... why not offer a "development kit" ?

    Driver (or drivers), programmer for that drivers, some bits of documentation and the original UI (to reset the driver if something goes wrong ) in the same pack will be a good deal for those of us that have some ideas and programming skills...

    This way we may even share UIs

    What do you thing about this?

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by darelldd
    Ok, folks. I've digested this and spun it around in my head. I've bounced it off George, and here's where we're gonna start. Remember that this is all compromise, and is tuned for simplicity, consistency real-world use. I won't make everybody happy. I've made peace with that. Please to tell me if anything here is a real show-stopper though!

    As shipped, the light will come on at "med" level with a click. More clicks just cycle to high and med around and around. To turn off, you must press the button for 1.5 seconds. If that's all you need, that's all you need to know. Stop reading here.

    But wait. There's more. If you're adventurous, and a wee bit nerdy, let me bore you with a few details. Stick with me... this is harder to describe than to use.

    Strobe: You toggle over to strobe mode by clicking on to constant and then pressing the button to turn off, and keep holding it. Light will go off (duh), and two seconds later will come back on in strobe mode. This is the only way to switch between the two modes and should be hard to accidentally accomplish. I don't see too many folks wanting constant and strobe in the same riding session. At least not where they can't easily stop and perform this five-second toggle.

    There are a total of three levels available for both constant and strobe. L1 and L2 are settable out of eight brightness choices in the menu (same as UIF). As shipped, L1 is disabled, or "dark". It can be turned on at any time, and the others can be adjusted to different levels at any time via the menu. The brightness of constant and strobe will both be effected by the one additional menu item. L3, or "hi" will always be the max current set in the menu.

    There will be an "emergency low" mode for when you have little battery and still need to navigate, or what to conserve as much battery as possible yet still see in the dark. From off, you press for 1.5 seconds and it goes into "emergency low" mode. This mode is factory set to be useful, and VERY efficient. About 50-75mA. This mode is independent from all others and is not adjustable. This is also where you will access the menu. After you are in low mode, you click three times, and the menu acts like it does in all other UIs. Accessing the menu is not something you'll do often once you have the uController set up the way you want.

    Here is the synopsis:

    Two modes: Constant and strobe.

    Click from off - Turns on to the last used mode and level, or last mode and force level if force is set in the menu. (does nothing if auto-lockout is set in the menu!)
    Press from on (1.5 seconds) - turns off (keep holding button another two seconds, and it comes on in the alternate mode.
    Press from off (1.5 seconds) - comes on in "emergency low" mode that is factory set - say 50-75mA. (another press turns it off, or three clicks takes you to the menu)
    Click from on (in strobe or constant mode) - cycles through levels UP.

    One new menu item will be added to what we already have in nFlex, bFlex, etc.
    -> Set two optional light levels.
    Click for menu item (nine?)
    Flash sequence tells us it is listening. (goes dim)
    Click for level to set (one or two) with accompanying flashes for each click (level 3 is always set via driver current limit)
    Flash sequence tells us it is listening. (same)
    cycle through eight (same as UIF) levels including dark, to set the level in question. Stop clicking when you reach the desired brightness and flash sequence tells you it is programmed.

    Initially ships with level 1 dark (so it is skipped in the use cycle, not "off"). So as shipped, it'll come on at "med" level, and cycle between med and high with clicks. Within the menu, user can set L1 to be something other than dark, and so have three levels to play with. Or, both L1 and L2 can be dark, so there is FULL ON, or nothing. Strobe levels will match constant levels.

    All other relevant menu options work the same as in the other UIs (drive level, auto lock, power mode, reset, sleep, force, Vsense and Vstat).

    Strobe will be 2 flash/sec, alternating between set level and 1/10th of set level - So not ever "off". Levels follow same munu adjustability as for constant.

    As shipped, this will be fully functional and easy to use, with nothing to learn. Click on. Click high. Click low. Click high. Press off.

    If the user would like, it can be customized in several ways. And as I said before, it will be WAY easier to use than it is to describe.

    Nomex suit on. Comment away.
    I like it!

    When can I get one? (you know someone was going to ask sooner or later )

    Can I have my Maxflex driver updated with the new UI?

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrism
    What microcontroller is being used in the Task Led products?

    The nFlex runs an ATMEL microcontroller, quite possibly the ATtiny15L from my rough part number search. I assume that the bFlex would be the same. And yes, this processor supports in circuit programming. However, read below…


    Quote Originally Posted by Drakon
    If the drivers were in-circuit reprogrammable... why not offer a "development kit"?

    While I can’t speak for George, I know he spends a huge amount of time and money developing the hardware and software for these controllers. The microcontroller doesn’t just control the UI side of things, but controls the actual constant current regulation (switching chip) too. I don’t imagine anyone would be keen to give that kind of code away. On top of that, anyone with a little knowledge in microcontroller coding will understand that the process is often one of trial and error; it’s not as simple as writing a bit of code and heading off for a ride! From my point of view if you have the knowledge to develop this kind of code from scratch, then designing and building your own regulator wouldn’t be too much of an extra hurdle.

    This is not to say that I don’t like the idea. A group designed open source controller with a development kit would be a great idea, especially if a microcontroller with a few extra I/O pins was used to allow for extra control / indication / interfacing etc. It’s just a matter of time and being prepared to put the effort and money into such a project.

    Anyway I’m getting off topic, back to the UI discussion!

    Dave.

  42. #42
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    Nice!

    Quote Originally Posted by darelldd
    Ok, folks. I've digested this and spun it around in my head. I've bounced it off George, and here's where we're gonna start. Remember that this is all compromise, and is tuned for simplicity, consistency real-world use. I won't make everybody happy. I've made peace with that. Please to tell me if anything here is a real show-stopper though!
    No nomex suit required - sounds like a great solution. I'm impressed that you changed the off to a press - you seemed set on making that a click initially. Thanks!

    Next question - do you have an anticipated ship date for this implementation?
    Dave

    Anything is possible. The impossible just takes longer.

    2 Epic

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Low_Rider
    While I can’t speak for George, I know he spends a huge amount of time and money developing the hardware and software for these controllers. The microcontroller doesn’t just control the UI side of things, but controls the actual constant current regulation (switching chip) too. I don’t imagine anyone would be keen to give that kind of code away.
    I have no practical knowledge about electronics itself (I spent a few classes with a 8085 simulator, but no IC to mess with ) but... can't you read that info (the program) from an already programmed driver?

    If I could, I'll make my own (and not so tiny ) driver to mess with and purchase one of TaskLed ones to put in my lights, but I can't make such a thing (my own one, I mean) because I don't know a thing about designing circuits and my soldering skills are hardly enough to solder the wires to an "already made" driver .

    But what I can make is program them with a little help to start on, and that's the reason for my question. If it can't be done, I'll of course buy them with the bikers UI ready to use instead of the trickier development kit

    I'm curious and love the DIY as far as I can lead with it, that's all

  44. #44
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    Thanks for the input, folks.

    I'm all but certain that we will NOT offer up a "development" kit. As LowRider has pointed out so well... while this is basically a hobby for us, we aren't keen on just giving away the cow, ya know? We are listening to input, and these CAN be reprogrammed at a later time. We aren't going to allow others to reprogram them, however. Once programmed, the code is locked into place, so it can't be read back out. It can always be replaced (overwritten) but can't be just swiped. It is a lot of work, folks. And for the low price of these circuits, you'll now get THREE complete UI's and a way to switch between them and multiple ways to adjust them.
    -= Darell The EVnut

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtb760
    -click on, click through the 3 light intensity levels (6, 10, 15 watt) for the first menu
    -press and hold for 1.5-2 seconds to turn off (it remembers your previous intensity level and uses this next time it is turned on)
    - press and hold for about 4 seconds to enter the secondary menu which consists of a nice strobe pulse (about 1.5-2 flashes per second), a steady super low light mode (3watts), SOS Flasher mode for distress signal, and another beacon style strobe (1 flash per second). This menu wraps around and repeats itself with clicks until you exit it with a press and it shuts off. Turning it back on with a click always brings it back to the first menu.
    This really amazed me. What we have here is damn-near the same UI that we're starting on. Really, the only difference is that my press from off takes us to the emergency-low mode (and the area where you can access the menu). In the UI above, there is no menu, and this low mode is tossed in with the strobes and everything else. Other than that, they've quite similar!

    We've decided to even allow adjustment of the emergency-low mode in the menu. We'll also allow adjustment of the "low" part of the strobe. You can have the "low" part be off (for a REAL blink) or at some low level so there is no off state between flashes. The "high" part of the strobe will be tied to the same menu setting that controls the constant-on levels.

    So again - it'll ship with some reasonable defaults, but damn-near everything can be fine-tuned by the end user if he wishes. A "typical user" (nobody here, of course!) will be thrilled to just us it as it comes out of the box, since that's what everybody is used to, right? Nothing "settable." You take what they give you.

    I'm glad there's no huge dissent. George and I have discussed this thing at length, and he's ready to get rolling on coding. It'll take us at least a couple of weeks of back-and-forth, and physical hammering on the thing. And I'll certainly announce here when it is ready.

    Who's got the mass-produced fixtures ready to go?
    -= Darell The EVnut

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrism
    State: medium, low, ultra low
    press - goes to high power

    State: high power
    press - goes to last selected lower power level

    State: all on
    long press - turns off.
    Thanks for sharing, chirsm

    I considered using press while on to perform similar functions as you've shown here. In fact that's exactly how press works in our two other UI's. But I chose not to add that functionality since pressing is also how you turn the light off. One thing I got from the crowd is that they never want to chance having the light go off while trying to change some setting. So we lose some of the fine-tuning that you have, but gain the confidence that adjusting brightness (with clicks) will never accidentally turn the light off. Obviously, coding for your own use is far less limiting!

    I think you've got a great list there.
    -= Darell The EVnut

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by hairball_dh
    No nomex suit required - sounds like a great solution. I'm impressed that you changed the off to a press - you seemed set on making that a click initially. Thanks!

    Next question - do you have an anticipated ship date for this implementation?
    Yeah, well... This old dog can still learn new tricks. My big thing originally was to have consistency across the UIs. Well, that was dumb! The whole point of a bike-specific UI was to make these kinds of changes! Folks who use this for a bike are not going to use it for a flashlight, ya know? So yeah, I realized the utility of making it hard to turn off, and here we are.

    I'll have a ship date for you right after we have a finished product.
    -= Darell The EVnut

  48. #48
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    Well, I can only say that it's OK for me, because the bike UI is very simple, you can choose from one to three levels in the menu and in case of a sudden shut off, one click will restore the previous lighting level, isn't it?

    I'll prefer a user selectable low level (one 75 mAh LED isn't the same as three 75 mAh LEDs) and that low level before the cycling lighting levels instead of from the off menu (two clicks to have the lights full on, two press to have them off and the low level between the full off and full on mode), but what the hell, we can't have all, can we?

    Thanks for the oportunity of collaboration on this little UI proyect.

    I'll be waiting news of those new drivers with this new UI inside to make my first purchase

    Regards,
    Drakon

  49. #49
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    Firstly on the UI, in case you can't be bothered to wade through the rest of this:
    My concept with a long press to change level and a longer press for off is that the level change occurs when you have held the button down for long enough so you have visual indication that you can stop pressing. To turn off you have to keep the button pressed for significantly longer - of the order of 0.5s for level change, 1.5s for off, which seems to work fine in my current prototype with no real chance of accidentally turning it off. I'll report back when I've used it a bit more! BTW my controller will be used both for bar mounted bike lights and headtorches for orienteering, which are the two applications in which I use high powered lights.

    Now onto the reprogramming stuff!

    Personally, whilst I could design (or simply copy the design of the Fatman I own ) and build my own regulator, it's not something I'm an expert at and would rather let somebody else do, whilst I sometimes write microcontroller code as part of my job, so hopefully know fairly well what I'm doing with that! They are really two totally different fields. Though anybody up to programming the uC should be able to source their own development tools (it's not like it's hard to find them), so I really can't see a market for a development kit even if you were willing to do that.

    My question about ICSP was more a question of whether the appropriate programming connections were available on the board, as virtually all modern microcontrollers allow this. If you can do updates I guess the answer to this is yes.

    Not at all interested in taking your existing code and doing anything with it, as I am quite capable of writing a UI from scratch (in fact I have one currently on a PIC interfacing to my Fatman giving varying levels of dim - though haven't yet implemented what I describe above) so the fact your code is protected - as I'd expect - is not an issue for me. Though if reprogramming the micro is possible you may just have one more (rather troublesome) customer for a uC board. I can't see how the interface to the regulator from the uC can be that complex since one is digital (at least in terms of outputs), whilst the other is analogue, so presumably you have some sort of digitally controlled resistance in much the same way I do, and it shouldn't be that difficult to make that bit work - though if I am going down this route it would be really nice to have interfacing info.

    I guess at this point I should just try e-mailing George and causing him trouble - had a fairly lengthy correspondence on similar subjects when I bought my fatman, though hadn't then occurred to me that I could simply reprogram the chip he installs. I did actually even give him my thoughts on UI at the time, though that was a little less complex than what I have now. Having checked back through I find he already told me that he's using an Attiny45 (at least for the maxflex), and was trying to persuade me at the time to try programming AVRs instead of PICs - now wondering if that was a hint that I could reprogram his controller!

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drakon
    Well, I can only say that it's OK for me, because the bike UI is very simple, you can choose from one to three levels in the menu and in case of a sudden shut off, one click will restore the previous lighting level, isn't it?
    Quite true. But in our UI, you won't be turning if off accidentally unless you lean on the switch for a while!

    I'll prefer a user selectable low level (one 75 mAh LED isn't the same as three 75 mAh LEDs) and that low level before the cycling lighting levels instead of from the off menu (two clicks to have the lights full on, two press to have them off and the low level between the full off and full on mode), but what the hell, we can't have all, can we?
    Somewhere up above I explained the latest thinking on this. We'll be letting you choose the E-low level in the menu. The lowest choice will be our lower limit of 25mA - the lowest we can reliably go with the circuit. Then we'll offer some log steps up from there. I didn't put this level in the main "constant" mode area for a couple of reasons. First was, there's no reason to cycle through three levels. This e-low level is not bright enough to allow you to really ride. It is there purely to use if you have no other option or backup light. If you REALLY want a super-low level in the "constant" mode cycle, just make L1 the lowest setting, and you should have pretty much what you need.

    Thanks for the oportunity of collaboration on this little UI proyect.
    I'll never know why - but I REALLY enjoy UI design. Its been fun hearing the input and modifying what I first had in my head to better suit the geeky MTBr masses.

    I'll be waiting news of those new drivers with this new UI inside to make my first purchase
    We'll make you happy as soon as we can! Top secret info just in - I should have the first cut of the UIB to test.... tomorrow!
    Last edited by darelldd; 12-22-2006 at 01:48 PM.
    -= Darell The EVnut

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrism
    Firstly on the UI, in case you can't be bothered to wade through the rest of this:
    My concept with a long press to change level and a longer press for off is that the level change occurs when you have held the button down for long enough so you have visual indication that you can stop pressing. To turn off you have to keep the button pressed for significantly longer - of the order of 0.5s for level change, 1.5s for off, which seems to work fine in my current prototype with no real chance of accidentally turning it off.
    Yup, I totally understood. When on, if you press it'll go full bright after a short while, and then finally off. That something that I was considering, but didn't end up going that way. The big difference is that you don't have to listen to customer complains with your UI - you get to make it just how you want it. There's no question that your way adds utility. My way just makes it totally simple. Press when on does just one important thing. OFF. Click does everything else. Can't get more simple than that, and simple was the priority.

    My question about ICSP was more a question of whether the appropriate programming connections were available on the board, as virtually all modern microcontrollers allow this. If you can do updates I guess the answer to this is yes.
    The answer is yes, as you've surmised.

    See the little grid of 2x3 pads on the right side? There's your programming "header." This is the actual bFlex into which this UI will be shoved.


    I could answer most of your questions here, but as you also realized - better for you to go directly to George. I've warned him that you may be dropping him a line.
    Last edited by darelldd; 12-20-2006 at 06:18 PM.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Quote Originally Posted by darelldd
    The big difference is that you don't have to listen to customer complains with your UI - you get to make it just how you want it.
    Very true . Whilst I do expect to distribute my lights it will only be to people I know well who can come back and get it modded if they don't like it (though I may just give them your UI and save myself all the hassle ) That's all for me here, as I've gone off-line to annoy George now - thanks for all your help!

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    Quote Originally Posted by darelldd
    We'll make you happy as soon as we can! Top secret info just in - I should have the first cut of the UIB to test.... tomorrow!
    OMG... that was FAST!!!


  54. #54
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    Eeek! You sound just like my wife!
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    I didn’t fully read some of chrism’s posts until after I wrote this, but it might be useful for others too:

    I don’t want to detract from George’s excellent drivers here, but I’m just thinking for those who are interested in developing their own UI, why not use a Led Dynamics Buck Puck / Boost Puck or other similar manufacturer / driver and interface it to your own microcontroller? You probably won’t have the same efficiency or electrical control as George’s drivers, but you’ll be able to develop your own UI with a microcontroller and development environment of your choice. Just a thought.


    Quote Originally Posted by Darell
    Eeek! You sound just like my wife!
    “What, not another project?!...”

    You’re a champion, let us know how you go – with the UIB powered bFlex that is!


    Dave.

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    Quote Originally Posted by darelldd
    Eeek! You sound just like my wife!
    Ha ha ha

    Just for fooling around a little more with the new UI ... will be too much to add another low voltage warning?

    I mean a "Low Battery" warning that let you calculate how more will they last burning safe and a "You are gonna killing your cells" that let you know that from that point on, the battery will be damaged if you keep using your lights.

    I don't know if it's possible with the bFlex hardware to feed a dual color LED (yellow = Low and red = Killing Battery, for example), but with 2 low warnings available will be a good thing.

    Well, the UI itself will be the same (with a new setting to mess with ), but I think it can be useful to have those 2 different voltage warnings...

    In any case... it's one 0.1 sec light off the only warning that the main LEDs give? I mean that it's easy to miss that event... maybe 2 fast blinks + 10 sec normal + 2 more fast blinks will be a more noticeable event and it won't be anoying at all...

    And now a question about the current bFlex UIs... when you turn on lights with low battery and the low voltage warning enabled... the bFlex waits to warn you? I mean that from OFF, one 0.1 sec shut down won't be visible, will be it?

    At this rate I think that I'll end driving you crazy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Low_Rider
    I don’t want to detract from George’s excellent drivers here, but I’m just thinking for those who are interested in developing their own UI, why not use a Led Dynamics Buck Puck / Boost Puck or other similar manufacturer / driver and interface it to your own microcontroller? You probably won’t have the same efficiency or electrical control as George’s drivers, but you’ll be able to develop your own UI with a microcontroller and development environment of your choice. Just a thought.
    Pretty much what I am doing at the moment - though interfacing to a Fatman, which is one of George's non-smart boost drivers - and it is a little more straightforward than trying to reprogram the chip on one of his boards. If anybody is interested in that then I can provide some tips, particularly with regard to using Microchip PICs, which I am relatively expert in.

  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrism
    Pretty much what I am doing at the moment - though interfacing to a Fatman, which is one of George's non-smart boost drivers - and it is a little more straightforward than trying to reprogram the chip on one of his boards. If anybody is interested in that then I can provide some tips, particularly with regard to using Microchip PICs, which I am relatively expert in.
    George and I have NO problem with anybody doing their own coding, of course. We aren't out to take over the world with a UI to end all others.

    I am curious if this is specifically for the challenge of it, or if there's something significantly different that you'd like the UI to do, that I'm not providing.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drakon
    Ha ha ha

    Just for fooling around a little more with the new UI ... will be too much to add another low voltage warning?

    I mean a "Low Battery" warning that let you calculate how more will they last burning safe and a "You are gonna killing your cells" that let you know that from that point on, the battery will be damaged if you keep using your lights.

    I don't know if it's possible with the bFlex hardware to feed a dual color LED (yellow = Low and red = Killing Battery, for example), but with 2 low warnings available will be a good thing.
    Since the V warning can be set to any V you choose, it would be best to set it above "certain death" mode, and understand that you just have a short while to rectify the situation. There is no exact point at which the batteries are damaged, so adding yet another "you're dead" warning just seems like too much trouble. The version of UIb will only have the one settable warning.

    In any case... it's one 0.1 sec light off the only warning that the main LEDs give? I mean that it's easy to miss that event... maybe 2 fast blinks + 10 sec normal + 2 more fast blinks will be a more noticeable event and it won't be anoying at all...

    And now a question about the current bFlex UIs... when you turn on lights with low battery and the low voltage warning enabled... the bFlex waits to warn you? I mean that from OFF, one 0.1 sec shut down won't be visible, will be it?
    No, there is not just one warning. The warning continues, at the interval selected until V rises enough, or the light is shut off. Here is the relevant part of the instructions:

    -----------------
    If the user does not want to wire a status LED to the STAT pin but still wants an indication of low voltage occurring, then the main LED(s) can be set to flash at a specific interval to give a visual warning. The main LED(s) will flash off for 0.1seconds, long enough to warn the user, but short enough that the user can ignore the warning (in an emergency) and continue to use the light.
    • 0 click (dim) → Main LED(s) flash once per 1 sec (undervoltage) - default
    • 1 click (brighter) → Main LED(s) flash once per 5 sec (undervoltage)
    • 2 click (brighter) → Main LED(s) flash once per 10 sec (undervoltage)
    • 3 click (brighter) → Main LED(s) flash once per 30 sec (undervoltage)
    • 4 click (brighter) → Main LED(s) flash once per 60 sec (undervoltage)
    • 5 click (goes off) → No Main LED(s) flash for undervoltage
    ----------------

    Our current struggle is to figure out how to make this more obvious if you are in strobe mode. Any ideas? Maybe in strobe mode, we'll double the fash rate for a few cycles every set interval.

    At this rate I think that I'll end driving you crazy
    Too late. That ship has already sailed.

    We're getting closer ever moment on this, folks. I have been testing since yesterday, though not evertying is implemented. The UI can be chosen from the menu, the menu can be accessed from the new UI. Constant has three steps, as does strobe. Emergency low is available. It turns on and off as it is supposed to. We need to work on all the brightness tables (and by "we" I mean George here). It is coming along great.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Quote Originally Posted by darelldd
    George and I have NO problem with anybody doing their own coding, of course. We aren't out to take over the world with a UI to end all others.

    I am curious if this is specifically for the challenge of it, or if there's something significantly different that you'd like the UI to do, that I'm not providing.
    If you're asking me, then a bit of both. I'd also started on the project before I became aware of your smart drivers being available (ie over a year ago). I've been playing with things like this for a while now - have been using a halogen PWM controller with code I wrote for several years.

    I've already listed details on my UI plan - the most significant absence in yours being an automatic cutoff/power decrease at low voltage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by darelldd
    Since the V warning can be set to any V you choose, it would be best to set it above "certain death" mode, and understand that you just have a short while to rectify the situation. There is no exact point at which the batteries are damaged, so adding yet another "you're dead" warning just seems like too much trouble. The version of UIb will only have the one settable warning.


    No, there is not just one warning. The warning continues, at the interval selected until V rises enough, or the light is shut off. Here is the relevant part of the instructions:

    -----------------
    If the user does not want to wire a status LED to the STAT pin but still wants an indication of low voltage occurring, then the main LED(s) can be set to flash at a specific interval to give a visual warning. The main LED(s) will flash off for 0.1seconds, long enough to warn the user, but short enough that the user can ignore the warning (in an emergency) and continue to use the light.
    • 0 click (dim) → Main LED(s) flash once per 1 sec (undervoltage) - default
    • 1 click (brighter) → Main LED(s) flash once per 5 sec (undervoltage)
    • 2 click (brighter) → Main LED(s) flash once per 10 sec (undervoltage)
    • 3 click (brighter) → Main LED(s) flash once per 30 sec (undervoltage)
    • 4 click (brighter) → Main LED(s) flash once per 60 sec (undervoltage)
    • 5 click (goes off) → No Main LED(s) flash for undervoltage
    ----------------

    Our current struggle is to figure out how to make this more obvious if you are in strobe mode. Any ideas? Maybe in strobe mode, we'll double the fash rate for a few cycles every set interval.


    Too late. That ship has already sailed.

    We're getting closer ever moment on this, folks. I have been testing since yesterday, though not evertying is implemented. The UI can be chosen from the menu, the menu can be accessed from the new UI. Constant has three steps, as does strobe. Emergency low is available. It turns on and off as it is supposed to. We need to work on all the brightness tables (and by "we" I mean George here). It is coming along great.
    I thought that it was only ONE 0.1 sec shut off to alert

    I asked for another warning level because it's very difficult to safety calc the remaining burning time (batterys get older, temperature afects, you have different power levels and you don't use them the same way in every rides, ...), so a "don't waste power" warning when you still have some treasured burning time and a "battery is dying" one will help you to know how far can you burn your lights without killing the cells. Ni-Mh for example use to drop quickly the voltage from 1.2V at about 20% remaining charge.

    Depending on your setup, you could set the first warning at 11.8V in a 10x1.2V NiMh battery (for example) in order to detect the start of the drop and the second one to 10.5V to avoid overdischarging it. From first to second warning you can use safety the power level you like without caring about how long it has been from the warning and if you are going too far or not with the cells.

    The first warning might have the blinking pattern you talked about, and the second one might be a hard blink ten seconds before an automatic dimm to a very low level to safety stop if you decide it (and overideable with a click if you need it).

    I think that it will be really useful with non regulated battery packs (those battery holders with AA cells, for example) and I say so because I have recently killed some brand new AA cells and that wasn't the first time I suffered that fault

    The settable low voltage level (or the two individual settable levels if it were the case) is a must because of the wide range of input votage the driver can handle and the different battery types out there, and I like a lot this feature

    As always, thanks for listening
    Last edited by Drakon; 12-22-2006 at 05:24 PM.

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    Hey... you guys on vacation or something?!

    Been working away on this, and we have everything in place. We're now making sure that the menu works logically (it didn't) with the UI, and ironing out the rough edges. We will NOT have settable strobe modes - you'll choose from three options that will scale with max current setting. Basically high, med and med low. Allowing the user to change levels in the menu turned out to be crazy since the low level could then be set higher - or at the same level as the high level of the flash. Easy to get lost, so we ditched it. A choice of three strobes levels is enough! Especially considering that this crowd will likely never use it. We also lost the force menu option. Would NOT make sense once we allow the user to *remove* some levels. If you remove Level 1, and then set force to Level 1... what do we do? So you can choose to use between one and three levels, and scroll through the ones you choose. The last-used level of either mode (constant or strobe) will always be remembered for when you next turn it on - if you turn the unit off, change the batteries, change the mode - whatever.

    Just about everything else will interact with the menu in the normal way. Autolockout will be a bit different in that it will still allow Emergency Low to be accessed - otherwise we have no way of getting back into the menu once it has automatically locked out. Just found that one today - oops. To lock out EVERYTHING, you just do the manual lockout of three very fast clicks from Emergency Low.

    Ok... this probably isn't making sense to everybody. I'm steeped in it, and can see it in my sleep. Just know that it is all working, and we're just tuning it up at this point. When ready, we'll have online instructions. And at that point, it should make a bit more sense.

    As shipped, I still plan to have just two constant levels activated. When it arrives, you'll click it on, click to switch between high and med levels, and press for off. It is THAT simple if you don't want to get geeky with it. And if you DO want to get geeky with it, you'll be able to choose your levels of constant-on (and how many levels), set your auto-sleep time, choose if you want an external power switch to control on/off, enable electronic autolockout, set your max current level, set your LOW Voltage warning level, and HOW you want it to warn you, change the UI to the fixed, portable or bicycle format, and finally - reset the whole thing to "factory" specs if you get totally lost.

    Oh... and of course you can make it strobe too.

    OK, back to eating fattening holiday baked treats...
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Quote Originally Posted by darelldd
    Hey... you guys on vacation or something?!
    Don't push you too hard... you must be on vacation too, musn't you?

    It sounds fine for me, and who knows, maybe in the future I have the guts to reprogram my bFlex to make some experiments and tests... does George accept messed up bFlex to reset it's firmware?

    Good job guys

    I wish you a great New Year

  64. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darell
    We will NOT have settable strobe modes.
    The simplification of the strobe modes makes perfect sense. In my opinion in situations where you may need a strobe you would want it as bright as possible! As you say, most of us will probably never use it on a regular basis anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darell
    We also lost the force menu option.
    I didn’t pick up on the fact that the “Force” option would be made practically redundant with the removable levels implemented. My lecturers would be very disappointed with me, this is the kind of stuff that I should instantly pick up. But hey I’m holiday too!

    Quote Originally Posted by Darell
    OK, back to eating fattening holiday baked treats...
    Yeah I’m making the most of them while it lasts, I figure I have all year to ride it all off again…

    Dave.

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    Nice work on the UI Darrell, I mean George

    I'm patiently waiting for the unvailing of the new UI...

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    Do you have any news Darell?

    With the speed that this UI has been developed I guess it wouldn’t be too far away from being finalised soon? Not that there’s any pressure!

    Let us know how you’re getting on!

    Dave.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Low_Rider
    Do you have any news Darell?

    With the speed that this UI has been developed I guess it wouldn’t be too far away from being finalised soon? Not that there’s any pressure!

    Let us know how you’re getting on!

    Dave.
    The same for me

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    Rumour has it that the boys are “beating on” the final code now to make sure it’s solid. It won’t be far off now!

  69. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmitchell13
    Nice work on the UI Darrell, I mean George
    Right on both accounts. It certainly isn't either or... even if George does the hard part. My favorite part of the process is pointing out when George misses something - which isn't all that often, so it makes the find all that sweeter. The latest one he's blaming on me, of course!
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Quote Originally Posted by Low_Rider
    Do you have any news Darell?

    With the speed that this UI has been developed I guess it wouldn’t be too far away from being finalised soon? Not that there’s any pressure!

    Let us know how you’re getting on!

    Dave.
    Sorry that I haven't responded sooner - and thanks for the wake-up email. Nothing has slowed down on this end, but the way this forum sends thread subscription notices drives me nuts. If I don't log in between alerts, I don't get any more. Sucks.

    Anyway, it is going as well as can be expencted. The coding is basically done. We're just yanking it in to shape now, and making it play nice with the other UIs and the menu. Not as easy as it seeems - ever.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Ok... if you promise not to hold us to it - we're planning (hoping?) for a final version on Monday.

    If it tells you anything, we're on internal revision 16 right now. And as of now, everything works as intended. And that can change in an instant. Stay tuned... and if you don't hear from me by Monday, come wake me up again.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Whew. Well, I guess nobody held us to it. I tried to post last night, but the site was down??? Anyway, I was sick all weekend, and barely recovering now. I spent today re-writing the manual to incorporate the UIB. Nothing else is changing, and we are on what we consider the last pre-release version now. If we tested it all, it would take a week. We're doing the best we can, and I'm sure it'll be released to the wild some time this week. George has a bunch of circuits built up in anticipation of all the crazy MTB buyers, so we should be set when I pull the trigger. Stand by.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    When can we get a look at the new manual, or the UIB addition?

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    Chomping at the bit here...just ordered my Crees and battery, I just need a driver now (nFlex or bFlex).

    I want to (for starters) make a single Cree-XRE-based light powered by an 8-AA 9.6V NiMH pack. If I eventually get a bigger/higher-voltage battery (12-14.4V), I'd like to try to build a dual Cree light system...

  75. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Y-Wrench
    When can we get a look at the new manual, or the UIB addition?
    How about.... NOW? The formatting is a bit screwed during paste, but I think you can make it out.

    Please note: All the manual pieces that follow are preliminary, and several items have already subtly changed since I posted.


    7 UIB (Bicycle Optimized User Interface) two modes (constant and strobe).
    There are 6 operating modes for both constant and strobe lighting in UIB. They are described below.
    7.1 On/Off Mode UIB
    To turn on the light, click the switch. The light will turn on in the previous mode (constant or strobe) and at the previously used level. (Force setting has no effect and cannot be set when in UIB).

    To turn off the light, press the switch.
    7.2 Adjustment Mode UIB
    From on (constant or strobe), clicking the button cycles up through all available levels. There are three factory-set strobe levels that scale with the Max Current menu option (see Sec 10.5). The quantity and brightness of constant levels is chosen in the menu. You may have one two or three brightness levels in constant mode (see Sec 10.9). Each time the brightness level is changed the new level is stored in EEPROM ready to be retrieved next time the unit is turned back on.
    7.3 Emergency Low Mode UIB
    From off, press the switch to enter Emergency Low Mode. This high-efficiency level is set in the menu (Sec 10.9). Emergency Low Mode can be used when the batteries have discharged to a point where they may be damaged if high-drain levels continue to be used. This mode can be used at any time when low-level lighting is wanted or needed.

    To exit Emergency Low Mode, press the switch. A click will then turn on in the last-used mode (constant or strobe).
    7.4 Lockout Mode UIB
    To prevent accidental turn on or unintended use the light can be electronically locked out. Lockout can be manually selected each time prior to turning off the light, or a menu option (see Sec 10.4) can automatically lock out the light each time it is turned off.

    To manually enter lockout, begin with the light in Emergency Low Mode (Sec 7.3). Then click the switch rapidly three times, no more than 0.3 seconds apart. The light will blink each time the switch is clicked, flash once, go dim for 2.5 seconds, then flash three times and turn off. The three flashes indicate that lockout mode has been enabled. The light is now in lockout mode and can only be turned on again by three clicks spaced no more than 0.3 seconds apart.


    7.5 Autosleep Mode UIB
    If Autosleep is enabled (Sec 10.1), the timer will reset and start counting whenever the switch is clicked or pressed. When the selected number of minutes goes by without a click or press, the Autosleep function will commence dimming the light. The brightness level will visibly drop after each subsequent minute until the lowest light level is reached. After an additional 10 minutes elapses from the start of dimming, the light will turn itself off. Both constant and strobe modes use the 8-level brightness tables of UIF for the dimming sequence. Strobe mode additionally alerts that the Autosleep sequence has begun by also entering into a harsher strobe that completely shuts the LED off between flashes.

    A click during any time after the dimming has commenced will return the light to its starting brightness level prior to dimming having started.

    To turn off the light at any time during the sequence, press the switch.

    7.6 Constant-Strobe Mode Selection Mode UIB
    To change from Constant Mode to Strobe Mode, begin by turning the light on in either mode. Then press and hold the switch until the light goes off, and then comes on again (about 4.5 seconds total). The light will now be on, in the alternate mode. The last-used mode is stored in EEPROM and will always be selected when the light is next turned on.
    Last edited by darelldd; 01-10-2007 at 06:10 PM.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    And here is the one new menu entry:

    Nine Clicks – UIB Level Selection
    Initially the LED will be dim to indicate that Level One is in setting mode. One click brightens the LED to indicate that Level Two is in setting mode. A second click brightens the LED to indicate that Emergency Low Level is in setting mode. Subsequent clicks cycle between all three level setting choices. Once the level you wish to set is chosen, wait 2.5 seconds. The LED will flash once and come back on dim, indicating that you will now set the brightness associated with the level you have chosen. Click to cycle the brightness levels, or to disable the level. (Emergency Low cannot be disabled). The indications for the brightness levels of Level One and Level Two are shown here.

    • 0 click (dim)  L1 (dimmest)
    • 1 click (brighter)  L2
    • 2 click (brightest)  L3
    • 3 click (brighter)  L4
    • 4 click (brighter)  L5 (default for Level Two)
    • 5 click (brighter)  L6
    • 6 click (brighter)  L7
    • 7 click (brighter)  L8
    • 8 click (goes off)  Disabled (default for Level One)

    Levels One and Two are optional. Level Three is always the max current level set in Sec 10.5.

    The indications for the brightness levels of Emergency Low are shown here. Emergency Low level can be set to one of three options:

    • 0 click (dim)  LE1 (dimmest)
    • 1 click (brighter)  LE2
    • 2 click (brightest)  LE3 (brightest, but still low power)

    Note: The strobe levels are factory set and scale with the Max Current setting (see Sec 10.5).
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimgskoop
    Chomping at the bit here...just ordered my Crees and battery, I just need a driver now (nFlex or bFlex).
    We're literally dotting the I's and Crossing the T's now. We plan on one final testing of the pre-release version, and then we'll release it to the wilds. George is madly trying to build up a bit of stock so he can fulfill orders. He doesn't do pre-orders, so please be patient. He's gotten several emails already. What's up? You guys don't trust me? When it is released, I'll post it here.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    When will the new UI be implemented? If I order the board now, should I specify that I would like the Bicycle UI on there, or will it already be shipping that way?

    Or should I just be patient and be thankful that you and George are making a sweet product and wait for you to tell us when it is available...?

  79. #79
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    Thanks for sharing!
    Also, as a commuter I live on the strobe mode, so thanks for not only hanging on to it, but adding a little extra to it. Tell us when you're ready.

  80. #80
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    Welcome to MTBR Movemint!

    If you have a more thorough read of this thread you will notice that the production boards currently have a total of two UI routines installed. This thread has followed the development of a third, bicycle specific UI which is close to completion but is still in development. This UI will be available along with the other two UI’s on the one board, allowing the user to select which UI they would like to use.

    As Darell mentions, he will post here when the bicycle UI is released. As George does not do pre-orders it would probably be best not to contact him unless absolutely necessary. I’m sure replying to excessive amounts of unnecessary emails would take quite a bit of time out of his day.

    Dave.

  81. #81
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    Thanks for the perfect reply Low Rider!
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Just doing a fine-tune on the manual (already slightly different from what I posted above) and realize that I've done a bit on how to enter the menu from UIB as well. Slightly different from the other UIs. Here is that part.

    To access the Menu in UIB, begin with the light in Emergency Low Mode (Sec 7.3), and click the switch rapidly three times, no more than 0.3 seconds apart. The LED will blink with each click, then flash once, then light up dim. The Menu Mode is now active and you can select the Menu you wish to access.
    -= Darell The EVnut

  83. #83
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    And one more bit. My favorite bit, actually. I put a summary of the UIs and menu options on one page - it will be near the front of the manual for quick reference.

    4 Overview of the User Interfaces (UIs) and the Control Menu

    4.1 Fixed (UIF)
    Intended for lanterns, household and automotive lighting. Eight brightness levels. Ability to turn on at lowest setting, and quickly change to highest setting without scrolling. Press while on to scroll all levels. Click turns on, and click turns off.

    4.2 Portable (UIP)
    Intended for hand-held torches. Five brightness levels. Ability to turn on at lowest setting. Ability to switch directly to high setting from any other level. Press while off to scroll all levels. Click turns on, and click turns off.

    4.3 Bicycle (UIB)
    Intended for bicycle lighting. Separate modes for constant and strobe. User-configurable quantity and brightness of “constant on” levels. Three scrollable levels for strobe. Emergency low mode accessible from off. Click scrolls chosen levels (constant or strobe). Click turns on and press turns off.

    4.4 Menu features/choices of all UIs
    Bold is factory default.

    0. Electronic Lockout (enable)
    1. Auto Sleep (disable, 15min, 30min, 1hr, 2hr, 4hr, 8hr)
    2. Force Level (disable or choose level for initial on. Not available in UIB)
    3. Power On (enable/disable “on” function when power is applied)
    4. Auto Lock (enable/disable automatic electronic lockout after each use)
    5. Current Drive level (350ma, 500mA 750mA, 1000mA - all intermediate brightness levels scale to this max level)
    6. V Warn (protect rechargeable batteries by setting a warning flag at a chosen Voltage level. Enter in form xy.z) [00.0 - disable]
    7. V Stat (choice of how the light warns that V Warn level has been reached. One flash per 1, 5, 10, 30, 60 seconds, or no flash/stat pin only)
    8. UIB Const Level (choose quantity and brightness of levels in UIB constant mode) [two levels, L3 and L5]
    9. UI selector (UIF, UIP, UIB)
    10. Reset (menu selections reset to factory defaults for all UIs)
    Last edited by darelldd; 01-10-2007 at 06:09 PM.
    -= Darell The EVnut

  84. #84
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    And with that, I've just put the manual to bed.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Thanks for the answer Low_Ryder. It's a shame that in text based environments inflection can not be heard. The answer you left me seemed a bit harsh and chastising. Telling me not to bother people and to be more thorough in my reading. Probably just me taking it the wrong way.

    I have talked to George about other products in the past. I was wondering if the board could be reprogrammed in the future/user upgradeable, etc. I should have been more specific and just asked that.

    A simple answer to my question without belittlement would have been preferred, but again, it is probably just me misinterpreting your inflection.

  86. #86
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    Sorry Movemint it wasn’t intentional! Perhaps I should have worded things a little better then I did. I have come across a little harsh in my posts in the past too, I need to use a few more emoticons or think things through before posting! Either that or I need a good swift kick!

    I was just trying to let you know that most of your questions had been covered in this thread.

    While these boards aren’t really user upgradeable, they do have the ability to be reprogrammed if future compatible UI routines are released.

    Cheers, Dave.

  87. #87
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    Right again! But just to be totally clear, I'll answer for myself this time.

    When will the new UI be implemented? If I order the board now, should I specify that I would like the Bicycle UI on there, or will it already be shipping that way?
    The new UI will be implemented as soon as we're done creating it. If you order the board now, you cannot specify the UIB, because it does not yet exist in its final form. When the UIB is ready for release, ALL of the bFlex boards will include it, so no specification will be needed. They will still default to UIF, but UIB will be on board.

    Or should I just be patient and be thankful that you and George are making a sweet product and wait for you to tell us when it is available...?
    This would be the best choice. Especially that genuflection part.

    Please note: I don't intend for any of this to sound harsh or snotty. The problem is, I AM harsh and snotty, so sometimes my meaning is misinterpreted.
    Last edited by darelldd; 01-10-2007 at 07:17 PM.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Sweet!

    Thanks for the replys from everyone. I did not mean to come across as harsh either. The specifics of the boards and electronics are something I am just learning about. I have been doing a ton of research on electronics, LEDs, batteries, etc. but it is all a bit new to me. I thought I had somewhat of a valid question and in turn felt like the response was harsh.

    Thanks for the help, I know everyone is just looking out for each other. No animosity toward anyone on this board.

    Can't wait to get a board from George, so I can go on the weekly night rides!

    ...sorry for the smiley overkill...

  89. #89
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    The final manual is now up on George's site. We're obviously close. Fingers crossed that neither one of us finds anything odd during testing tonight.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    I just had a quick read through the new manual – it’s looking good! Good luck with the testing, I’m sure it will be fine!

    I’m looking forward to having a play!

    Dave.

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    The more I think about that UIB, the more I like it

    Very, very good job you both, Darelldd and George
    Last edited by Drakon; 01-13-2007 at 07:55 AM.

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    Hi Darrel,

    I have been a mtbr member for some time but never posted and had to re-register a couple months ago .

    What I would like in a UI is simple.
    First I will say the mtb light I actually use these days is a 4 by 3 watt LED modified Maglite head made by Elektrolumens and further modified by Modamag on CPF.
    It has a simple toggle

    Right Low
    Center Off
    Left high

    This replaced my Planet Bike Alias bike light for my bike. That is now my loaner light setup. It has a conventional

    Single button that I always hated cylcing through to go from low back to high.

    Here is what I would like in a single button UI

    First a stepped toggle or rocker switch instead of a single button.
    Single button and simple and practical just do not seem to go together when actually riding on a trail.

    Since toggles can break in crashes a rocker switch would be better.
    Here is my ideal single stepped rocker switch UI.


    SOS - Strobe - Off - High - Low

    This way I can cycle directly back and forth from High to Low to High as needed.
    Strobe would be great as a visibility light when somebody needs to ride on lit streets since strobes draw more attention then a solid light. SOS would be a very long lasting emergency mode just in case something bad happens when riding solo at night.

    Take Care,
    mtbkndad
    Last edited by mtbkndad; 01-13-2007 at 11:34 AM.

  93. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbkndad
    Hi Darrel,

    I have been a mtbr member for some time but never posted and had to re-register a couple months ago .

    What I would like in a UI is simple.
    First I will say the mtb light I actually use these days is a 4 by 3 watt LED modified Maglite head made by Elektrolumens and further modified by Modamag on CPF.
    It has a simple toggle

    Right Low
    Center Off
    Left high

    This replaced my Planet Bike Alias bike light for my bike. That is now my loaner light setup. It has a conventional

    Single button toggle that I always hated cylcing through to go from low back to high.

    Here is what I would like in a single button UI

    First a stepped toggle instead of a single button.
    Single button and simple and practical just do not seem to go together when actually riding on a trail.

    Here is my dream single stepped toggle UI.


    SOS - Strobe - Off - High - Low

    This way I can cycle directly back and forth from High to Low to High as needed.

    Take Care,
    mtbkndad :wave:
    But with the current UIB you can set only 2 levels (high and low) and change from one to another with a sigle click, the ON thing is also a click and the OFF option a press... so it's as easy to use as a stepped toggle...

    The problem of a stepped toggle here is that the microcontroller only acepts clicks (it only has one input line).

    I think that the way to go in order to make what you want, is to design a physical interface (the stepped toggle with its own electronics) connected to the push button terminals of the bFlex. This way could make the stepped toggle to send the correct "clicks" or "press" to the bFlex in order to make automaticaly what you want, but I think that this isn't necesary at all with the bFlex UIB.

    What will be fine is the SOS mode inside the strobe levels of the UIB...


  94. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drakon
    But with the current UIB you can set only 2 levels (high and low) and change from one to another with a sigle click, the ON thing is also a click and the OFF option a press... so it's as easy to use as a stepped toggle...

    The problem of a stepped toggle here is that the microcontroller only acepts clicks (it only has one input line).

    I think that the way to go in order to make what you want, is to design a physical interface (the stepped toggle with its own electronics) connected to the push button terminals of the bFlex. This way could make the stepped toggle to send the correct "clicks" or "press" to the bFlex in order to make automaticaly what you want, but I think that this isn't necesary at all with the bFlex UIB.

    What will be fine is the SOS mode inside the strobe levels of the UIB...

    Yes, I did not say the setup being discussed in this thread could necessarily do what I want.
    I am just giving food for thought.
    I would like to have ALL of those functions at my disposal without having to "set" for a specific mode.

    My current bike light suits my needs fine so in reality all I need is-

    High - off - Low.

    I am actually more interested in the beam characteristics and battery run time of any given light then the UI. I spent some time trying different combinations of optics and reflectors to get the beam I wanted. I could live with an okay UI and a useable amount of light with a great beam pattern. I could have the best UI available, but if the beam characteristics are wrong I would not use the light.
    I know that is not the focus of this thread. For the sake of the thread I would love to, at some point, see somebody make a rocker setup that goes

    SOS - Strobe - Off - High - Low

    Take Care,
    mtbkndad

  95. #95
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    First the big news (that some of you discovered last night already)... The bFlex with UIB is now available for order. Postal holiday on Monday, so nothing will ship until Tuesday. But the product can finally be ordered. Thanks for you help and patience with this project. Fun to be there at conception AND birth, eh?

    Product: http://www.taskled.com/bflex.html
    New manual: http://www.taskled.com/leds/bflexui.pdf
    Order page: http://www.taskled.com/order.html
    -= Darell The EVnut

  96. #96
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    mtbkndad -

    I do appreciate your input on this, and see advatages in a rocker as you demonstrate. And as others have pointed out, if you want hi/lo/off - we have that in spades with this offering.

    One of my design goals was to keep the user from NEVER stumbling into strobe unless they really wanted it. And while your solution achieves that, it unfortunately requires a switching situation that we don't have available to us currently. A linear UI also has the issue of "accidental off" which seems to be a major show-stopper for most here.

    And a final note on SOS... I've simply never found the utility. If you want attention, just make it strobe. If you are bleeding out on the roadway, the chances that you'll find/use/remember where SOS is are slim... and the chances that anybody looking for you will find SOS more "urgent" than strobe are slimmer. And it is a mode that the user wouldn't use 99.9999999% of the time, unless he does so accidentally. I've been steeped in flashlight UIs for a while, and everybody just LOVES including the SOS mode. I just don't get it - and it gets in my way.
    -= Darell The EVnut

  97. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbkndad
    I could have the best UI available, but if the beam characteristics are wrong I would not use the light.
    Oh, and to add... this is the beauty of this circuit. You get to choose what light it goes in. In that way you get the beam you want AND the best UI out there - if I may be so humble.

    Now I'm gonna go check on linear switching and see if at some future time we can have that as an option.
    -= Darell The EVnut

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    Nicely done, Darell!

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    Quote Originally Posted by darelldd
    mtbkndad -

    I do appreciate your input on this, and see advatages in a rocker as you demonstrate. And as others have pointed out, if you want hi/lo/off - we have that in spades with this offering.

    One of my design goals was to keep the user from NEVER stumbling into strobe unless they really wanted it. And while your solution achieves that, it unfortunately requires a switching situation that we don't have available to us currently. A linear UI also has the issue of "accidental off" which seems to be a major show-stopper for most here.

    And a final note on SOS... I've simply never found the utility. If you want attention, just make it strobe. If you are bleeding out on the roadway, the chances that you'll find/use/remember where SOS is are slim... and the chances that anybody looking for you will find SOS more "urgent" than strobe are slimmer. And it is a mode that the user wouldn't use 99.9999999% of the time, unless he does so accidentally. I've been steeped in flashlight UIs for a while, and everybody just LOVES including the SOS mode. I just don't get it - and it gets in my way.
    I do like the UI you designed and may actually build something for myself with it instead of having others do that for me for a change.

    Accidental off is very bad, I agree. With a setup like I suggested for future consideration accidental off would be difficult to achieve. That is also why I like the toggle that Modamag put into my Elektrolumens Quad Mod bike light. I can go from low to high to low with the light never going off since it switches so fast. With just a toggle and High - off - low it is actually harder to turn it off then to high or low.

    Regarding SOS, virtually All of my riding is in Southern California mountains on single track and fire roads that have very unforgiving terrain. Most of my night riding is done solo. The idea of SOS mode is that if I am on a long solo ride and tumble off a single track or fire road the SOS mode would get more run time then a straight strobe. Plus most people recognize the SOS signal even when they do not know morse code.

    I agree that on a highway straight strobe is a is just advantageous as SOS. I am thinking more in terms of being in a potentially bad situation and not knowing how long the blinking will be needed. In a case like that fairly slow SOS signal could save precious battery life and would also be noticeable to people who may be searching for the person that is stranded.

    Once again, I have been really itching to make something myself and this product you have created is probably going to get me to do that when I get time.

    Take Care,
    mtbkndad

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    While definitely interesting, I’ve seen similar SOS style threads go on for months on other forums in the past. Personal preference and varied applications make it a very hard topic to discuss!

    While I recognise your need for an SOS, I do tend to follow Darrell’s thoughts particularly in terms of being noticed and getting in the way of normal operation. Ignoring the SOS concept for a moment, as far as extended run time is concerned the adjustable nature of this UI means that with a “typical” battery / bFlex / emitter setup, the “Emergency Low” (brightness level adjustable) or “Strobe” (brightness preset and can’t be changed) modes will provide days of light.

    Also in a situation where I wanted to conserve battery life, I think a strobe or SOS would drive me crazy, particularly if the light was being used to light a work area or whatever.

    Cheers. Dave.

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