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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

CFL Headlight and Taillight, Mounted and Wired In.

Something brought up by Fechter on Endless Sphere is that some CFLs are rated at one specific voltage and frequency, such as 110V 60hz.

Unfortunately if the CFL is one marked for a specific voltage and frequency, then they are not using a typical switching power supply front-end on it; they are probably using a linear power supply front-end. That means that yes, you could make it work, but you would have to rebuild the ballast inside.

Way cheaper and easier to just go get the other kind of CFL.

FWIW, I took a look around at the ones at various supermarkets and whatnot the last couple of grocery runs I made after starting this, and all of the ones I saw that had the bulb base visible and/or not in a non-openable package were listed as wide-range inputs, so they would probably all work. I haven't seen any of the other kind like you have in a while, but they're probably still being made.

There are also some that use an electronic ballast control chip, though I haven't seen inside them yet. Those chips have some sort of voltage protection in them, that might include UVLO; if so they probably won't work either.

Some new updates; I got the taillight "permanently" installed in place of the old taillight,

and mounted the cups/lens/CFL assembly as the headlight on the front stem in place of the old flat CCFL, but I couldn't find any of the metal cans and whatnot I thought I had and wanted to use for the CFL holder/reflector.

THe "redout" is because there's a white door less than two feet away from the taillight. :)

The lights are now run (as my old ones were) thru the headlight Hi/Lo switch on the lefthand control cluster from the Honda scooter (which also has the turn signals and horn button). Lo turns them off, Hi turns them on. Ground for the system is same as everything else, thru the breaker, so flipping that turns it all off, motor included.

I also managed to blow up the first CFL (the one wired straight to the cap) by somehow connecting it backwards to the power, even though I had tied a knot in the negative wire as always to be sure which way it went. :( It's just the transistors, and I probably have some I can use as replacements around here somewhere. Probably both NPN if like other schematics I've seen. So now I have that plain screw-in setup I was talking about, a little earlier than planned. :roll:

I let the setup run for a couple of hours after finishing the rewiring, and it ran fine the whole time. Just before turning it off, I tested with my "Extech" DMM that has a temperature probe, and got around 135F/60C inside the taillight housing. About 10F cooler inside the headlight housing, which doesn't make sense, since it has the WHOLE CFL inside it, instead of just the glass bulb, plus it's lined with the styrofoam cup and the plastic one outside that (and a bunch of tape).

On the headlight housing, I cut away part of the tape on either side to let light thru in a couple of little rectangles and taped on a pedal reflector on each side to give me amber side markers.

Cheap and cheesy, but it is now slightly more visible from the sides. It'll be better and more effective in the more final version once I find those cans, or make something out of sheet metal cut off something else.

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