Lighting noob questions-
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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Lighting noob questions

    I've been riding for a long time, but never much night riding due to the prohibitive cost of most systems out there. I've been wanting to do a 24 hr race and again didn't have the $ to fund lighting.

    Now I've found this forum and perhaps hope that I can make my own set up that will cost less than what I can buy.

    Questions for you who have been doing this for awhile:

    1. How much light do I need for a 24 hr race? I'm assuming I'll want a bar mount light and a helmet mount one, but how much illumination will work?

    2. How do people typically deal with battery life/charging for 24 hr races? I assume more than 1 battery pack and I guess how many depends on how long they last, which depends on how much power is being pulled out of them, and so on.

    3. Can I really put together a system that will work for a 24 for a lot less than what I would pay retail?

    4. I already have a charger from R/C racing. Will this work to charge? I guess I probably need to look at the specs on the charger, eh?

    I likely have access to parts to make a good housing for it, either machined/anodized aluminum or possibly stainless or titanium and the ability to laser weld either one of them. I also can get some thermal conductive adhesive easily and my wife is a certified at micro soldering. I'm possibly lacking a little in the electrical engineering aspect, but can maybe draw on some of the people I work with to help there.

    I would need to buy the LED/boards, lenses or reflectors, drivers, switches, and batteries.

    Any help you can provide would be great. I didn't see a DIY lighting FAQ, so I thought I'd ask. I'm looking at several scrap aluminum housings on my desk that might work perfectly (about an inch diameter and 1.25" long, black anodized with threaded holes in the back end).

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: troutie-mtb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Sounds to me like you are in diy nirvana with all the right things around you
    to do a serious low budget light system .

    if you hav`nt already have a look at my tiny light thread .
    you would need a little more heat sinking than that one if on the helmet
    but one is enough lumens for a race
    2 is better so you have a back up if one goes belly up .

    Have you no batteries from your RC days

    post some piccys of yopur scrap bits for us to drool over and make suggestions

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: tamen00's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    I was in the same spot as you a year ago or so... I made a few DIY Dinotte style lights and have been using them.... next light will be a couple that troutie just mentioned in his tiny light thread as soon as the parts arrive.

    Below is the cost for the lights I am using now for 24 hour solo races... they work fantastic and put out about 600 lumens total I guess after optics loss and everything. Setup was Cheap, get 14+hours runtime with the batteries and they have been used in 13+ races without an issue!! (mostly 12 hour races)

    3 DIY Dinotte style lights (do a search for that thread.... awesome, easy to build inexpensive)

    3 R-2 cree leds. I thnk they were 8 bucks each from candlepower forum (cheaper now!!!)
    DX 3256 drivers (4 for 6.97, used 3)
    Optics (not sure what kind, about 3 bucks each from CP forum)
    Al pipe (5 dollars ace hardware)
    AL barstock (8 dollars metal yard... had to buy a foot, thatsa lot of heatsink)
    switches (stole the switches and endcaps for the lights from harbor freight flashligts 4.00 dollars)
    Batteries: 4, 7.2 volt 4000 mah li batteries from battery-space (80 bucks)
    4, 7.2v 2200 mah li batteries from battery-space 40 bucks
    Rubber o-rings 5 dollars (buy extras)
    Glue, therma adhesive, shrink wrap, wire, etc.... 20 dollars
    connectors dean ultras 5 dollars

    So, all together, with enough batteries to last the entire night with out having to recharge, total cost was about 200 dollars.... pretty good deal. And they are super lightweight and when you build them, just build a couple of extra lightheads to have as backups just in case.... good luck with the build!

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    I do have some R/C batteries, old NiCd 7.2V. I'll have to see if I can find them and what kind of shape they are in.

    In between work today, I've found in my desk 4 scrap aluminum housings that would probably work perfectly. I may have more if I actually get a chance to dig around.

    I also talked to an elec. eng. tech and asked him if he'd done anything w/ LEDs. He showed me a picture of the taillight he made for his Harley for about $10.

    I think I'm onto something here!

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