Newbie getting started-
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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    Newbie getting started

    I like to DIY most things in my life, I have the tools, mill, etc. I would really like to make lights for myself and my kids who mountain bike. I can make the housing, bar mounts, helmet mounts, etc but i have no knowledge about which LED's to order, charger, electronics. I can solder and have made things with common electronics in the past. Are there any threads I'm not finding to help figure out what I need to order for LED's and electronics that go with them. There just seems to be so much to it. Thanks for any help you can give.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    General consensus nowadays seems to be that 4500K is the ideal LED color temperature for cycling, whether road or mtb. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any such emitters available powerful enough for solitary use in bike lamps, you’d have to go with multiple arrays and find corresponding optics/reflectors. OTOH Kaidomain now offers a CREE XHP70.2 M4 50G NEUTRAL WHITE 5000K HIGH CRI90 LED EMITTER which is in the ball park and likely the best you’ll find retail right now AFAIK. They even offer an optic to fit, preferable to a reflector which could cause ringing and tint shift.

    Also on their site you can find bicycle mobile power boxes and chargers. And buried somewhere are Magicshine style 5.5MM X 2.1MM 20AWG male leads, though I couldn’t find them there at the moment. If you contact KD they’re sure to provide the proper link. Worse comes to worst, you could just order a few of their extension cables and cut off the female end for your lights.

    For batteries, check out the Sanyos at the 18650 Battery Store.

    Okay I know nothing about electronics in terms of driver boards, but Kaidomain offers those as well.

    Am sure others here can give you much more complete and better info as to what might work for you, triathloner.

  3. #3
    arc is offline
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    For a while there were decent quality Chinese lights popping up and the prices were low. Lower than it would cost just to buy the materials. Light building and the information just faded away.

    If you are new to night riding probably the first thing you need to do is figure out what you want for a light. Different riding conditions and personal preference require different things from a light. Colour temperature, beam width, output level, run time and thermal capacity are the main ones. Scar and Vancbiker have been building lights for a long time and they are at opposite ends of the spectrum. It might be wise to buy a couple of KD 2 lights in different colour temperatures and ride with them and make note of what you like and don't like about them. Also Kaidomain's KBR series of battery packs are very good. The cells are well balanced, waterproofing seems good and the protection boards are reliable.

    There is a review thread for the KD2 in the other forum with a lot of information to help get your feet wet. You can take it apart, see what a bad thermal design looks like, understand what poor waterproofing is and be amazed that it works as well as it does. Then pop the driver out and compare it to a schematic of a buck driver to get comfortable with the electronics. Next add a sense resistor to see what working with the small boards is like and see what happens when the heat sink is too small causing the light to step down. If something breaks along the way a new driver is 8 bucks or your out $16.00 at worst.

    You can keep the lights as backups or gut them for parts. The leds are good and can be used in another light. The driver in it has a really good user interface and by the time you get to this point you will be able to identify what components need upgrading to run a higher power light. I'm tempted to cut the light in half, take the driver side and bolt it to a piece of aluminum flat bar. The other side of the flat bar would get a 4000k P2 bin xhp70 and a Ledil Jenny-20 optic. Drill and tap a few holes to mount things, put a few holes in for the wiring and stick a go pro mount on it. Unfortunately the holder for the lens is hard to find. It would be ugly as sin, probably too floody for a helmet light and likely take a bit of work to make it waterproof.

    Both the led and silicone optic are the most efficient out there, and if the driver holds up there are very few lights that would be more powerful. It might make a great starter project for you.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    May 2005
    While one used to be able to save some money and get what they wanted by the DIY route, the flood of cheap lights from China has pretty much dried up the interest in DIY lights. It's been about 3 years since I last built one. My current setup works so well that I have not bothered with anything new. Plus, since I retired, I'm not night riding as much as I used to.

    Taskled make the best drivers from a quality standpoint. Being USA designed and built though makes them pretty expensive. I use them because quality and reliability are factors I appreciate in something that should it fail makes getting out of the woods sketchy. One of the U/I settings available suits my preference as well. I like just a high and low setting for normal riding, and an extra low setting that needs a long press of the power switch to access. This gives me a low level for stops, fixing a flat, reading a map, etc.

    Since I have not built anything for a long time, I'm not up on the latest LEDs and optics/reflectors. Currently I'm using dual CREE XPL-HI LEDs with LEDDNA 20mm spot optics for my helmet light and dual CREE XML-2s with 35mm Fraen narrow reflectors for the bar light. These fairly narrow beams suit my preference for longer reach but not not much sidelighting. Some folks find they like flood type beam patterns so these combinations won't suit them.

    Unless you know already what you want in a beam type, I'd not spend too much time in building a fancy housing and making a really nice DIY light. Buy some stuff and knock out a quick build and try it. If you find you want wider, narrower, brighter, different U/I, etc. you don't have tons of time lost in a fancy housing that won't fit a different optic, driver, or LED.
    GoPro adapters for bike lights

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