I was on the road today from shortly after sunrise until well after dark. Mrs. the Poet needed navigational help again to get to her part-time job, and I took advantage of the bus pass to pick up supplies for the DIY bike light project. I stopped in at BG Micro and picked up some 4.5V Solar power units, a switch, and a 3*AA battery box with leads to power the conversion project. If I got my sums right I should only have to charge the batteries in this light once as long as the unit gets 2 hours of bright sunlight for every hour I ride at night. The solar units are sized to power 3S NiMH cells, and 3 of them will be enough to keep the batteries up if they are charged before entering service. I wouldn’t have enough power to bring 3*AA batteries up to a usable charge from dead, but I can keep previously charged batteries up to or near full charge. YAY! sun. The pack should keep the lights burning near full output for at least 10 hours without charging, and these lights put out a phenomenal amount of light for their cost. But light output alone would not justify the time and expense of doing this project. I could get much more light for the same amount of money (if you figure my time at minimum wage), but it would not have the cool factor of this light. Plus, this is a system that throws intentional light to the side to the side that lets drivers know I’m coming even when they can’t see the front of my bike or the headlight. That other light that puts out (fractionally) more lumens for less money does not do that, nor does it put light out as evenly as this light (I have already tested the lighting units, this is not supposition on my part but a side-by-side comparison). And my DIY light does it on one less AA cell and is solar-powered, to boot. Go Team Witch!
I realize I’m seriously building this up, but that’s because I think this project will perform as advertised, and have the benefit of being fun to plan and build. Of course if you build it then you lose the fun of planning it in exchange for building a known good project. And THAT assumes that this project will work as a whole. I know the bits work, but I can’t say the same about everything together. But when the project is complete I will document the build on a Wreck Free Sunday post.
And links tomorrow!