Repurposing Surplus Bicycle Lamps- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Repurposing Surplus Bicycle Lamps

    This is a sample of the work so far:









    So finding myself evicted from my rent stabilized apartment in NYC, had to move into the old farmhouse I'd previously been letting out upstate. Nice place but. Soon realized the kitchen lighting at night was woefully inadequate for my purposes. Replacing the overhead fixture's CFLs with the relatively new Philips 14.5W (100W equivalent) Soft White LEDs helped a bit but I was still working in my own shadow at the counters. Adding to trouble, the induction cooker I'd recently purchased to supplement the lugubriously slow to heat glass-top range had no place to rest but on the middle bank of cabinets where there was no dedicated light such as that in the range hood or over the sink, D'oh! While pondering which of the crappy under-counter LED setups to purchase on Amazon, I suddenly had a memory flash: Few months ago, while attempting to charge all the cell packs on the bike I'd just docked, one of lamps on my handlebars suddenly illuminated full blast. Realizing I'd mistakenly inserted the male end of one of the chargers into the loose female lead of cable splitter rather than into a cell pack, I immediately yanked them apart before catastrophe. Luckily neither light head nor charger seemed damaged in any way and I'd put that little experience behind me until that eureka moment:

    Still having both a coupla free cable splitters laying around as well as a pair of female to female adapters to spare (from that disappearing Fenix battery case fiasco on AliExpress) I pulled the "wrong" tinted Yinding as well as my KD 880 clone (modded with 20 X 30 diffusing optics) off my commuter and dug up the generic, single emmiter 808 clone I'd upgraded with like an XM-L2 5B1 or something and double diffusing lenses. Found that when connected to my two remaining quality chargers, a MagicShine and a Nitefighter, lamps ran without problem. On the cheaper chargers, power indicators turn red on the brightest setting (Mothra and SS 3X I'd also tested flash theirs) though they still seem to run okay. Cycling through all modes when attached to the cheapos, indicators will remain red/ flashing even after lamps are brought back down to lowest levels. Huh. Anyway, as these lamps will probably all over-heat if powered on High indoors (although I don't keep the kitchen above 63, and most often it's about 57 in these colder months) I just run them on Medium. KD clone is a cinch because it has two control buttons, so can just set it and forget it. Yinding and 808 clone have to cycle through modes, but fortunately they are similar in that it is just two clicks on both to Medium and two more clicks to Off, so easy to remember how to operate safely. 808 clone has the warmest tint but the lowest lumens so I use that one directly over my Duxtop induction cooker, hot cocoa doesn't look too sickly under it. As you can see, had to mount it from a butter knife wedged between the wall cabinets; kinda ghetto maybe but at least the knife is 19th Century Sterling so in the immortal words of Basil Faulty, I think I got away with it.* Because Yinding still has stock optics and 2 x XM-L2, mounted that one high up, where it casts a perfect spot onto the base cabinet next to the range. Color goes pretty well with light from the range hood too. 880 clone unfortunately is just NW 3C, still looks kinda harsh and cool indoors, especially in comparison with the Philips and CFLs. But the diffusers do an acceptable job of illuminating the whole sink area, which includes the two little adjacent countertops. Good quality light for food prep, and at least the unpleasant cast keeps me from forgetting about it and leaving the thing on too long.

    Only trouble is, kitchen is now monopolizing my two good chargers. ledoman, tell KD they have to get yours into production right away!!!

    *Don't mention the war.

  2. #2
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    Let me see if I have this right; You're running the lamps directly off the chargers?...I never thought of doing that before but just be careful. I'm not sure the chargers are going to hold up long if you do that. Just don't leave the house with the lamps on. You never know what might happen since the chargers aren't really designed for that kind of thing.

    For the last two days I've been home bound by the east coast's blizzard. With the high winds and heavy snow it was a high possibility that the power lines might have gone out. Thankfully they didn't but if they had I had enough battery power from my bike batteries to illuminate my home for several days. BTW, great idea on reusing the old lamps.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Cat. So far the chargers haven't even gotten warm. So I suppose their sensors interperate the resistance from the lamps as that of a battery mid-charged thus are not putting out full power? Their indicators all stay red of course, otherwise they wouldn't be delivering more than a trickle.(Interestingly, on the charger, Mothra (the 4x XM-L2) goes a bit dimmer on the highest of its four settings than on the second highest.) Again, all lamps indicate low battery on H with the cheaper chargers MJ-808 clone just blinks for a split second then goes out. With the MagicShine charger to which it is currently connected, the light head will eventually heat up on when on H but hardly even gets warm on L no matter how long it's left running; great thermal path on that old work horse. Yinding and KD880 clone do get quite warm to the touch on their lowest modes and pretty hot when tested on H but neither even stepped down, as they typically do rather quickly when run off of battery packs indoors (at least at normal room temperature, not the ice box I'm living in now, brrr).

    Am surprised though that no one else here seems to have tried using chargers this way, even on an experimental basis and knowing the risks. Anyway it's just a temporary solution for me (I think) until all the new LED under-counter light bars and pucks I've ordered come in. They should be much warmer than the bike lamps, says 2700-3000K. Incidentally the adapters that come with these 12V sets are supposedly fine to be left running all the time. Though like you said, I wouldn't leave the house with LEDs on. They might repulse burglars, but word is that they actually attract vampires. Who knew?

  4. #4
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    It seems like a fire risk to me, although I do like the idea of using these lamps for other uses. You said it was temporary anyway. The chargers may get confused by the fact the the voltage is staying constant when it's expecting an increase in voltage (of the battery) over time. I don't know how the chargers work exactly to be honest.

    I have a few halogen style lights that have use a power brick to output 12V DC (or is it 20V?). Those are definitely made to be plugged in all the time. I believe that you can also buy a power brick that allow you to select a DC voltage level with a small switch. That would ideal. Set it to 7.5V DC output and that would be it. Then the only problem would the of the light head potentially overheating.

    Great idea of reusing the lights though.

  5. #5
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    Thanks varider. Think you might be crediting these chargers with too much intelligence though. I don't understand ANYTHING about them, still am sure they are not predictive but rather immediately responsive. As to fire risk, again they have not gotten in the least hot or even warm, whereas if I throw on a significantly drained battery these chargers will heat up right away. It's more the lightheads that worry me, because they are certainly not designed for use in an indoor, stationary setting without even a cooling fan. Which is why I'm careful not to run any of them on H other than for brief testing periods when they have my undivided attention.

    Yeah I guess I could just buy dedicated voltage converters but they'd be at least the same price if not steeper than the $15 I just paid on eBay for two 8.4V 2A chargers, which also of course have the benefit of being able to charge my battery packs as well. Anyway if this old wooden house burns down I'll be covered at least in ashes, if not by insurance.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by andychrist View Post
    Am surprised though that no one else here seems to have tried using chargers this way, even on an experimental basis and knowing the risks. Anyway it's just a temporary solution for me (I think) until all the new LED under-counter light bars and pucks I've ordered come in. They should be much warmer than the bike lamps, says 2700-3000K. Incidentally the adapters that come with these 12V sets are supposedly fine to be left running all the time. Though like you said, I wouldn't leave the house with LEDs on. They might repulse burglars, but word is that they actually attract vampires. Who knew?
    Was quite busy not even had time to read this thread. I'm running two lights in parallel directly from the 12 power supply at lower modes to lighten my chilli seedlings. Of course the light are not using ordinary drivers but somewhat modified DX driver in a 4 and 6 up lights. I've found it even more efficient than with 8.4V one so I'm using 12V instead.

    The lights were seldom on the bike because of their weight. Now they are of some use at least

  7. #7
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    That's interesting ledoman. I was thinking about starting some spinach and arugula seedlings under LEDs but was concerned the waste heat might be too much and cause them to "bolt." Guess multi emitters run low on 12V are efficient enough to avoid this problem. Maybe I should order more of the 12V under-counter puck lights, they are 3-LED clusters of 3W a piece and dimmable. Guess if I incorporate them on a timer I can also throw a small 12V fan into the mix, along with a thermostat/humidistat.

    Thanks for the input!

  8. #8
    Yeah!
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    Don't purchase the crappy under counter lighting. Purchase the full LED strips. You can get them with adhesive backing and either bare, IP67 or better ratings. The come with wires pre-soldered at both ends. Cut and stick, add a 12V transformer, happy times.

    Amazon is the place to get them, overstock shows up there for $5 a roll (@15ft). Pay attention to the type of LED and how many per roll.
    I will suffer no butt-hurt fools!

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    Yeah I was looking at the LED rolls, cheapest I saw for the higher density was like $10 or $11 per 16 feet. But they didn't offer info on lumens or wattage per foot, and honestly I wasn't impressed by any of the photos didn't seem like work lighting just ambient or mood. At least the crappy puck lights I ordered come with everything and at 3W per 3" I can group them closer together where I need more light. And the bar lights I ordered have a "milk cover" which should be helpful as a diffuser. Anyway there is still plenty of space left in my kitchen and glassed in porch for more lighting so guess I'll try the strips next. Thanks for the suggestion, Flamingtaco.

    In the mean time I just took a MagicShine extension cable, cut it in half, and wired the female end to another 808 clone modded with my remaining XM-L2 5B1 star from FT. Convenient not having to connect a female to female adapter when pluging into the charger.

    Also noticed, when running the lights on high, the charger indicator is full red; on Medium, it picks up a little green and on Low it's about 50-50. On strobe it flashes red-green-red-green.

  10. #10
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    Andy if you are going to grow anything there are growing led lights with proper wave lengths. Not as efficient but since I only need to help seedlings until daylight is long enough I'm using also led stipes in blue, red and white color. Blue is more important for growing so I've used double density on that stripe. Just to inform you.
    So I'm using both led stipes and bicycle lights

  11. #11
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    Nice work Andy, good way to fix lack of lighting!!! LIke cat, I could light my house up fully for a few days on all the lights and batteries I have. And with my hobby charger, as long as my vehicles have fuel, I can recharge lol. Never thought of actually wiring the stuff up for more constant usage. Lord knows I could use more light in my garage hehe.

  12. #12
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    Yeah ledoman I've grown plants under red and blue fuorescents and also horticultural bulbs before. Was looking at dedicated plant lights on Amazon but they are all so ridiculously overpriced for the wattage compared to any standard warm or cool LED bulb available right now. Like you though, I only need to start seedlings indoors before transplanting them into a garden. Also, have got a little sun room, just that in winter the light needs to be supplemented. So some color strips as you suggest along with a few spots should be enough to tide them over until the first frost-proof date up here in late Spring, thanks!

    Tell me about it tigris. With the bundles of bike lamps around the house, I shouldn't need any of the built-in fixtures at all. But have to admit, the current LED bulbs on the market are much more competively priced and efficient. Just that I needed to illuminate certain areas where full-size fixtures either would not fit or be too difficult to mount.

    My next "bright idea" of course is to trick out an exercise bike with something like a dynamo hub instead of a friction resistor to power the plant lights a few hours a day (as well as mobile devices, etc), would certainly beat running a generator indoors! ;-) But dunno where to even start looking with that project. So again, any input would be more than welcome!

  13. #13
    Yeah!
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    Quote Originally Posted by andychrist View Post
    Yeah I was looking at the LED rolls, cheapest I saw for the higher density was like $10 or $11 per 16 feet. But they didn't offer info on lumens or wattage per foot, and honestly I wasn't impressed by any of the photos didn't seem like work lighting just ambient or mood.
    Estimating lumens is easy. Google the LED, to find lumen/watt, multiply by the total string watt which they do provide, subtract 30% loss.

    Ex: 5050 LED's are 80lm/w min, 90lm max.
    This strip right here is 72W
    (90*72)/30%=4536lm

    The product description for this one does mention 900lm/meter, 900*5=4500lm

    The Amazon images have reduced exposure so you can see the LED color and the roll. The strips are bright enough, but aren't spotty work lights. You can install multiple strips and achieve any desired brightness you want. I like using two strips, a 300led and a 600led 5050 strip, under cabinets for three lumen outputs. I honestly can't imagine ever needing more light than this, but YerMMV.
    I will suffer no butt-hurt fools!

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