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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

CFL Headlight AND Taillight Test Ride and More Pics

Test rode it today, with the lights just taped and zip tied in place, using the new inverter setup (works a lot better than the celphone adapter, especially since it's getting colder out there; is already 48F and dropping, and the lights pulse some at startup, then smooth out and brighten noticeably as they warm up over the first 30 seconds to a minute.

In the driveway pics below, when the overheads are on, that's 4 four-foot 40W fluorescent tubes (bluish type), left on for a few minutes to warm up to full brightness (it's cold enough outside to make a difference to those, too, apparently). The bike is parked so the headlight is where the average car's rear bumper would end up if parked under the carport (didn't measure it). The front pics are taken while standing at the wall the bike is pointed at. The rear pics are taken from across the street on the sidewalk edge. The only other primary light source is the mercury-vapor streetlight on the T intersection a few dozen feet away.

This new taillight is WAY better than my 8-LumiLED taillight, even including the other 8 LumiLEDs that are side-markers on each end of it reflecting off the back of the cargo pods.

Oh, and the taillight is just connected thru the screwbase--I didn't bother opening it up to bypass the diodes, since the input voltage is now so much higher. I'll probably take the bypass off the headlight, too, so I can just make a screwbase mount and be able to replace the light any time with any regular CFL. Then I can more easily try different wattage versions and brands (and colors) to see what happens with each one.

The headlight is much better than my old front headlight, even if it looks like it's made from crap in daylight, it looks great at night. :)

Needs a better beam, though; it has too much of the light being scattered close to the bike, and not enough cast far ahead. Still far better than I had before, but not good enough for a poorly-lit road or canal path at full speed (20MPH). The lens helps some, just not enough. I think I will work on some parabola style reflectors to put around the base of the CFL in front of the ballast section, and work from there to improve the concentration of more light in the center, while still letting it get a lot of diffuse spillover for side-lighting and visibility.

I'm also going to take some amber pedal reflectors and put them in slots on the sides of the light tube to give me front and side markers. :)

The taillight will go below the brake light bar, where the existing taillight is now. At the moment it's just ziptied above the bar.

Oh, and that helmet light comparison:


  1. I have to give you credit on these. They make for some very bright tail lights. I'm just waiting to see what you come up with for the front focus problem on the headlights. I know it's going to be interesting.

  2. I'm now looking for my box of old copier lenses, and some telescope parts. I might have the right combination of lenses to make this work that way. Alternately, a large Fresnel lens might work, with a metal bowl as a sort-of-parabolic reflector. None quite appropriate for that around the house, so will have to take a look at yard sales and thrift stores.

    I know I have a couple of those clamp-on lamps around here with the metal reflector dishes, and they'd be perfect, if I had any idea where they were. :(


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