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  1. #1
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    All-in-one LED bike light for my commuter

    last winter I felt the need for a non-flashing bar light on my commuter. I have a non-flashing light on my helmet (very helpful for the "please don't pull out and kill me" moments) and a flashing light on my bars, but the strobe effect on my bars is a bit distracting in the dark and a non-flashing bar light would get me more forward visibility and let me keep the attention catching flashing light.

    The mechanic at my local bike store also gave me the guts of a Lezyne all-in-one front light (battery is part of the light), so I'll be using the control/charging board from that, which simplifies things a bunch.

    anyway, design will be 2 LEDs in parallel (Cree XP-G2 and XP-L) with 10deg optics, the Lezyne Macrodrive board, 2 Panasonic NCR18650B batteries (~3400mAh each) in parallel, momentary switch at the back. This will also be my very first "from solid" bike light, now that I have a mill. One cavity on the front for the LEDs with a nice thick piece of lexan, which should also give some side lighting. One cavity underneath for the batteries and driver.

    Squared up a nice piece of alu to the right size last night with my facemill (about to start the larger side)


    and bevelled the edges with a 90deg router bit


    next up is drilling the holes for the charging port and switch, then starting on the LED cavity

  2. #2
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    Nice to see the start of a new build!!!!
    GoPro adapters for bike lights http://www.pacifier.com/~kevinb/index.html

  3. #3
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    thanks vanc, it's been a long time coming! My other all-in-one lights are still in use every day, although they've been through several switch/LED/battery changes.

    BTW, the DTI you gave me all those years ago is still doing duty - it's in an indicol for tramming the vise/ sweeping bores

  4. #4
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    finished the back end - hole for a charging cable and switch, plus some grooves for water breaks and cooling


    cut off the excess material at the front of the light using the bandsaw


    cut the overhang to size and the recess for the lexan front plate


    now need to grind a face grooving cutter for the o-ring grooves and bore the recesses for the LEDs

  5. #5
    Killer b.
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    Cool, I look forward to seeing your progress.
    Posting on the basis that ignorance shared is ignorance doubled.

  6. #6
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    thanks understater, I hope I don't disappoint

    did the layout for the LED recesses and o-ring groove


    and ground a broken 2mm endmill () into a face grooving tool


    however I ran out of both clearance between the tool and the overhang and energy, so I'll grind the tool down to fit, hopefully tonight.

  7. #7
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    ground down the shank of my face grooving tool last night and cut the o-ring grooves.


    Then drilled and started to bore one of the LED recesses. first time boring on the mill, boy it takes forever compared to the lathe! Should be able to finish off the LED recesses this weekend, after I've cut the grass, built some shelves for the shed and given my bike a service (new chainring, chain, clean cassette etc).

  8. #8
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    This is looking interesting!

    Your machining skills and equipment have come a long way too.
    GoPro adapters for bike lights http://www.pacifier.com/~kevinb/index.html

  9. #9
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    thanks! I have a lot of free "head time" on my bike every day to mull over ideas. This morning was mostly about a replacement for my rear on-and-flashing light which is slowly dying a death

    things are slowly coming along on the skills front. I'm now at the point where I can think of, design and make something on the lathe and it comes out pretty much as I intended (made some end caps and a 2 piece axle for my DT 350 hubs this summer). My mill skills are further behind and I'm struggling to hit dimensions with the dials (no DRO yet), but the Grizzly 6x26 I picked up after moving here really makes a difference.

    Didn't get anything done this weekend as Saturday was lawn mowing then bike maintenance (had to "re-nipple" the rear wheel), then Sunday was making a couple of big sets of shelves for the shed. Late night at work today so I should make some more progress tomorrow night, fingers crossed.

  10. #10
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    alright, small pause in this light for 2 reasons. One, I found out why making a 2 piece boring bar arbor is a bad idea, so boring the last LED cavity is on hold until I either make a one piece arbor or do the boring on the lathe. Two, my rear on-and-flash light is flaking out with both a finicky charger and a self-switching off switch. So I'm currently remaking that as that's a far more important light to have working. Should hopefully get that done this weekend - already make most of the housing and the new "sled"

  11. #11
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    took a while to get back to this, but the nights are drawing in and I'd like to get it done sometime before 2019..

    finished the LED cavity bores by setting the body up in the 4 jaw on the lathe. Took longer to set up than on the mill but WAY less time to bore. Made the 1st of 4 screw ups - one cavity is 0.35mm deeper than it should be, so I may need to make a thin shim under the optic (or LED) to make sure the front plate holds the optic in place.


    the 2nd and 3rd screw ups were related to drilling the holes for the LEDs and cover plate. The LED screws are slightly off center in the bores (a smidge too high) as I indicated off the outside of the light instead of the bore of the cavity. Won't do that again. 3rd screw up was a 7/64 drill that made it into the number section of my 115pc jobber drill index (it's a bitsa!) which I used instead of the #39 drill I needed for a 4-40 form tap. Still enough thread depth to hold, but annoying never the less. Got the face place drilled, countersunk and chamfered at the edges.

    finished the recess for the bottom cover plate and chain drilled the cavity out with a 3/8 drill. Cleaned that up and roughed to depth with a lovely new 3/8 3 flute coarse rougher. Next up is to finish the sides with the 3/16 long reach finisher and start cutting the features in the bottom for the driver and batteries.


    nice pile of chips


    screw up #4 and the biggest one of all


    anyone see a problem here? Yep, messed up my dimensions and don't have enough length to fit the driver/charger board

    Oh well, guess that gives me a good excuse to build a 2 channel driver that I had designed years ago. For the charger I can use one of the microUSB charger boards that I used in my tail light build. Just have to redesign the innards to fit everything in there.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattthemuppet View Post
    ......Yep, messed up my dimensions and don't have enough length to fit the driver/charger board

    Oh well, guess that gives me a good excuse to build a 2 channel driver that I had designed years ago. For the charger I can use one of the microUSB charger boards that I used in my tail light build. Just have to redesign the innards to fit everything in there.
    At least you can salvage it.
    GoPro adapters for bike lights http://www.pacifier.com/~kevinb/index.html

  13. #13
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    yep the irony is that the Lezyne driver was the last piece of a broken light that was the inspiration for making this light!

    First I need to fit the charger board, then work out where the new driver board can go. The hope is to have it flat against the roof and under one of the batteries. A bit plus is that this driver board has a through hole for screw mounting, which will help with securing it.

    One thing making this light has shown me is that I really need to get on with learning CAD. There have been several interference issues that might have been caught if I had a 3D model to look at instead of several pages of drawings. I started learning Fusion360 over the summer, so I'll have to get back to that this winter break. It'll be a big boon in using my 3D printer too!

  14. #14
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    CAD is definitely handy, but can often be a huge time suck. For doing lights, I'll only model the housing and then build it. I do not model all the components and then put them together as an assembly to check fit as it just takes more time than I'm willing to put in. Plus they are usually pretty simple assemblies.

    For more important/complex things though, it is awesome to be able to check for interferences in the virtual rather than the physical. I did some boat parts this summer that my customer wanted my parts to fit as closely as possible to a cast aluminum gearcase. I measured up the gearcase and modeled it and then used that model to create the profiles/contours of the part I was going to make with just 1mm clearance. Worked a treat. That would have been nearly impossible with out CAD.
    GoPro adapters for bike lights http://www.pacifier.com/~kevinb/index.html

  15. #15
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    I can see that. For me I've just been surprised by how many gotchas I've come across. Hopefully those will reduce with experience, with or without CAD. It's still on the list though, being able to use CAD will be so handy for a lot of things - calculating surface area for anodising would be one!

    Anyway, made some more progress on the light. Main body is almost finished, need to make a bracket to attach it to the bars, a bottom plate and a plug to seal the charging port.

    channels for the batteries were cut with a rather lovely 5/8 3fl ball nose end mill. With a few thou step over each side of center a 18650 battery fits very snuggly. Small groove cut for the charging board at the back, drilled and tapped a hole for a retaining screw this morning (not in pic)


    grooved the sides with a 4mm endmill for cooling and to remove a bit more weight. This light is still going to be heavy, but it's my first one piece light so I didn't want to push things too far. It'll also be bomb proof, which is important for a light that'll be used as much as this one will.



    I pulled something in my lower back working on the shed last weekend, so my wife is confining me to the couch when she's around. Progress will be slower than intended.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattthemuppet View Post
    ......so my wife is confining me to the couch when she's around.
    When I first read that I thought it said your "so my wife is comforting me on the couch". My first thought was "you lucky devil".
    GoPro adapters for bike lights http://www.pacifier.com/~kevinb/index.html

  17. #17
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    ha ha, no such luck. She even dropped a pyrex bowl on my head this morning so my back wouldn't feel so bad. Bowl was fine though

    she's gone shopping so I can sneak into the garage for some shop time...

  18. #18
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    back is feeling a bit better and the wife is out and about, so got some more work done on the light today.

    Finished the bracket, which will connect the light to a handle bar bracket. Broke a lovely M4x0.7 form tap in the process which I was very sad about.




    both sides were supposed to be solid, but I overshot and went into the side relief. Oh well, it should be plenty strong enough as is.

    Finished the grooves on the top of the light too. Here's what it looks like with the bracket attached. The bracket is slotted so the light can be adjusted left or right of center as needed.



    next up, the bottom plate. This will be a little tricky as it will project inside the light cavity and have an o-ring groove around the perimeter of that projection. The bit projecting inside will also be relieved and have a drilled/ threaded post to mount the driver. Then the outside will have 4 countersunk holes for attaching it to the light and some more grooves.

  19. #19
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    bottom plate is done

    marked out, drilled, clearance drilled, form tapped 4-40 and countersunk all the screw holes


    brought the surface down to the right height with a face mill, then cut and chamfered 3/16 grooves


    bottom of the cover has a 1/16" o-ring groove around the periphery, a tapped post for the driver and the rest cut away to save weight.


    and the other side


    only thing left to do is make the charger port plug which I'll get to this week.

    current weight of the body+bottom plate+bracket is 159g (bracket is 9g). Given that the original block should have weighed ~600g that means I've removed 75% of the original piece of metal!

  20. #20
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    last bit of machining done thanks to HW's funeral shutting down the whole Texas A&M system.

    charger port plug. The o-ring at the end is for sealing, the one in the middle fits into a groove cut into the bore of the hole that the charging cable will go through. Took some finessing to get the groove depths right that the plug fit snuggly without being hard to get out.


    in place


    also made the o-rings for the bottom cover and the LED face plate, using some 1.5mm o-ring cord. Both plates seal well and you can see that there is 100% squish around the o-ring for the LED face plate when the face plate bottoms out against the housing.


    This light shouldn't let water in even during one of my "biblical" bike rides where I feel like I should be swimming home instead of riding.

    Next up is anodising, after that driver construction and programming.

  21. #21
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    Nicely done! I really like the use of the O-ring to seal the front. Much more elegant than the typical DIY'ers silicone job.
    GoPro adapters for bike lights http://www.pacifier.com/~kevinb/index.html

  22. #22
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    thanks! Yeah, I'm surprised how well that came out. I've had enough of silicon sealant in lights to last me a lifetime. I found some website to calculate groove depth and width for a particular diameter o-ring and this one was pretty much perfect.

    3 out of 4 parts are dyed and anodised.

    Thorough cleaning with acetone first then Dawn dish soap until they pass the water break test. You can't see them very well, but hydrogen bubbles are coming up from the anode.


    broader pic of set up. Bubbles visible in this pic and the next are from a couple of weighted loops of tubing fed by a fish tank aerator. In the anodising tank that stops the part heating up and burning, in the dye tank is just aids in having a uniform temperature.


    dye tank is coming up to temperature, should be at 140F by now


    nice'n'cold anodising tank. I have a bunch of old ice packs I keep in the freezer. I stick them in the tank first thing and by the time I've finished puttering around, the tank is a good cold temperature. They're back in the freezer so that I can stick them in again before anodising the housing.


    those parts are now anodised - you can see that they've turned a slight golden grey colour



    20min in the dye tank then 5min steam/5min boil in water on the hob and they're done


    not industry standard perfect, as they're a little patchy in places, but good enough for me!

    The housing is currently in the anodising tank, that should be dyed and sealed by dinnertime or just after.

  23. #23
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    Finished the housing




    I think it turned out pretty well.

    Tomorrow I'll transfer the components off of one driver onto my dual channel driver board and see if I can remember how to program the things. If that all goes well, the rest is plain sailing and I should have it done by the evening. If not, well...

  24. #24
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    Looks nice! I need to grow a pair and explore the sorcery and dark magic that is anodizing.
    GoPro adapters for bike lights http://www.pacifier.com/~kevinb/index.html

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