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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Brake lights and horn

The Electricle™ has a brake light now. And a horn.

The light itself used to be a Microtek 35MM film adapter/backlight for a scanner--I just put a red stagelight gel on it, and a bit of silicone to seal it against splashes. Bolted it in place of the clip for the light I've been using on my helmet (which acts more or less like the 3rd light on cars/trucks, making me just a bit more visible, which is always good).

The light already runs on 12vdc, so I just hooked it up to the switch I've now got on the rear brake lever, and (via diodes to make an "or" gate) to the headlight switch, so when I turn on the headlight I get the very bright solid taillight, or when I don't have the headlight on, I get a brake light when I even lightly pull the brake lever, before the brake actually engages, so I can indicate my stop before I actually begin braking.

I was going to put a few more diodes into the taillight circuit so it would be dimmer than the brake, but I knocked over my bin of parts and didn't have time to sort them out yet tonite, before makin' some food and getting to bed (and posting here while I eat first).

Horn's not real loud, but it'll getcher attention if I need it to, most times. I don't need one often, but I have *really* needed it those few times--for some reason my yelling voice isn't enough, but a horn people are sort of conditioned to respond to by paying more attention for at least a moment, looking around them. Maybe it will save me from a scrape someday. It only weighs a couple dozen grams, if that, so not much effort to carry around.

LTL on THEMAnime pointed out that I:

  • "might try and find an LED trailer light. They make smaller rectangle lights that are already set up for dim and bright, and because they are LED they don't take up much power."

I've checked out those kinds of trailer lights, and they're kind of pricey for somebody that still doesn't have a fulltime job (not for lack of trying), but does still have fulltime bills. :-) I don't quite have enough super-bright red LEDs to build one yet, though the circuit is really easy (you just light up more LED's for the brakes when using the taillight, or all of them if the taillight isn't already on).

The scanner light was two bucks (along with some other junk at the same time, some of which I've already used), and the diodes and other parts all came out of the same old laser printer I got another motor and controller circuits from (still in the design stage), which cost nothing because it was given to me.

One more thing about the scanner light is that it appears as a single non-directional flat red "plate" of light. All other lights I have seen "pre-made" are fairly directional to the rear, especially if made from LED's. So for cars not right behind me, I'm not nearly as visible on an otherwise badly lit road, especially if their headlights are not pointed at me or my reflective stuff. With the "plate" of light, if they are anywhere up to about 85 degrees from straight behind me (to either side or above!) they can still clearly see my taillight/brakelight (though they might not be paying attention, they *could* see it if they were!).

That's the single overriding reason I built this one this way.

As a bonus, there's plenty of room in the plastic casing to hold rows of amber LED's on each side above the red bar, to make turn signals in, and on the ends facing left and right to put marker lights in (probably red LED's with diffusers). The whole thing is still pretty small, fitting down under my cargo bucket, just about even with the top of the wheel.

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