DIY Superbright Bike Headlights

These lights were made almost two years ago, but I thought I would share them with the DIY community anyways. They are really, really bright. They have been given various names such as "The Face of God" lights etc; I also find that cars give me an unusually large amount of respect on the road at night when running with these lights (and two taillights purchased from http://www.mec.ca set in non-flash mode), probably because they are wondering what the heck I am. I have never been given so much space on the road as when I am running at night with these lights on

This is an example of how well these lights light up a dark trail. The exposure is the same between both pictures (you can tell because of the taillight).

Like all cyclist I like having kickass gear (as I am told is now street cred). I wanted a set of bike headlights that I could use in town at night OR in the middle of the country where it is truly dark. So these suckers had to be bright and they had to have some decent battery life. The halogen systems are bright but they only last a couple hours and they cost an arm and a leg. Most small systems are suitable only as a token light to let motorists in the city know you are there, they are not effective for lighting up the road at all. Frustrated because of the lack of decent bicycle lights in the world, I decided to build my own. Parts used:

  • Two mr16 superbright led bulds
  • some misc abs fittings from the hardware store
  • some ni cad batteries and a charger.

Superbright led's are ... well bright and they have low power consumption so they are a natural choice for my project (especially since they are inexpensive). I ordered two mr-16 halogen replacement bulbs from http://superbrightleds.com for about $15 each. The abs fittings probably cost no more than $5 so the real expense here is the ni cad batteries and a charger. I used ni cads from rc car batteries and the matching charger. If you already have an over-priced halogen light set you may want to try slapping in some of the suprebright led replacement bulbs although there may not be enough voltage for most replacements because the halogen systems run off 6 volts. IF you are building from scratch you will probably want to ditch the halogen globes, I took mine off by GENTLY cracking them with a hammer. This should leave you with a round premade circuit board that will be easier to build a case for than the globe.

With circuit board in hand, head to a hardware store with lots of abs fittings. The ones I chose are showin in the picture, they are some sort of coupler between ABS and another pipe type. THey have a long threaded section with a a screw-on cap that has the center cut out. As it turned out they were the perfect size for my circuit boards. Building the casing isn;t too hard, you may need a hack saw (to shorten the threaded tub) and a drill (to make a hole for the wires to come out). I have bothered to waterseal my lights yet, the front is open and the hold for the wires is facing downware. I will probably cut to small plexiglass shields and seal them in place because I have noted some weather damage lately. Once the lights are assembled you just need to connect all the wires with scotchlocks or a soldering iron. I don't have an switches or resistors in between the battery and the lights but I should have them, I have just been to lazy to add them (and there is enough resistance on the circuit to prevent damage from too much amperage.). They over-priced solutions have their batteries mounted in a waterbottle or in a small canvas pouch to velco onto the handlbars. I took the lazy solution and just bungie in to the back rack. I took the front reflector off my bike (again not something I would recommend to the masses) and installed the lights there instead figure they would do more good.