Blinky LED Bike Bag

Bicycle riders can never be too visible: the more visible you are, the less chance there is someone will hit you. That’s the idea behind the Arduibag, a neat open-source project from [Michaël D’Auria] and [Stéphane De Graeve]. The project combines a joystick that mounts on the handlebars with a dot matrix LED display in a backpack. By moving the joystick, the user can indicate things such as that they are turning, stopping, say thank you or show a hazard triangle to warn of an accident.

The whole project is built from simple components, such as an Adafruit LED matrix and a Bluno (an Arduino-compatible board with built-in Bluetooth 4.0) combined with a big battery that drives the LED matrix. This connects to the joystick, which is in a 3D printed case that clips onto the handlebars for easy use. It looks like a fairly simple build, with the larger components being mounted on a board that fits into the backpack and holds everything in place. You then add a clear plastic cover to part of the backpack over the LED matrix, and you are ready to hit the road, hopefully without actually hitting the road.

Like any good project, [Michaël] and [Stéphane] aren’t finished with it yet: they are also looking for ways to improve it. In particular, they want to reduce the number of batteries, as there is currently a large battery that drives the display and another smaller one that drives the Arduino.

20 thoughts on “Blinky LED Bike Bag

  1. Good that it shows lots of different animations whilst in night mode.

    Not sure though that the choice of animations is great though, especially the choice of a blue colour. I’d have something resembling bicycle tail lights (so red colour) as that’s what drivers are more accustomed to.

    However, that’s just a firmware tweak. They’ve done well with this project.

    Kinda puts my rig to shame: http://www.longlandclan.id.au/~stuartl/bikeforums/2015/03/03-commuter/img_20150303_044917_709-720×540.jpg

  2. (·3·) Some minor improvements/suggestions:

    1. make arrows for turning bigger or just make it like blinkers :) It may be hard to see the edges of the arrow.
    2. Make the device start in “night mode” by default. Or you’d go blind at night starting it D:
    3. Waterproof the design. If it rains and it gets through the zipper or the textile it’d splash the components after a while
    4. Easier power on/power off
    5. Small display on the remote to check what you just sent to the bag :3

    1. The arrow probably wants to be well and truly off-centre to make it clear even if you don’t see its shape. Probably make the body of the arrow narrower to accentuate the head too.

      I have indicators on my bike (see above), but have placed them at the very extremities, so on the ends of the handlebars, and on each side of a motorcycle top-box. There’s no flashy animations either, just a simple NE555 driving an IRF540N MOSFET and some diode OR logic, wired dead-bug style. So much less to go wrong. The system has worked fine for nearly 5 years now.

      I can understand the use of Bluetooth links here, since it means you haven’t got cabling to worry about. That’s important here since the lighting system is in a backpack, not mounted to the bicycle itself.

      Horizontal separation of the indicators is an important consideration though, as this will help drivers identify the direction intended by the signal. Probably more important than colour, given the prevalence of red/orange colour blindness.

  3. Neat project, nicely done. But in traffic … you’ll probably end up paying a fine when police sees you displaying animations on your backpack. Those things are considered as distractions for other drivers.

  4. Excellent idea. Changing modes without a reboot would be nice as would a light sensor to automatically switch in and out of night mode under changing light conditions.

  5. how to improve it?
    throw it in the trash

    there are rules and regulation in civilised countries about illumination and signalling for road vehicles including pedal cycles. these are what other road users are used to and expect.
    Its bad enough that cyclists adorn their bikes and themselves with bright flashing lights that contribute nothing to their visibility and only distract others and destroy their adapted night vision.
    a static red rear light to the relevant specification and a static white front light attached to the bike, not the helmet, angled to allow sufficient reaction to obstacles and not aimed to blind others is all of the lights you should need.
    a hi-vis jacket will make you far more visible and importantly identifiable to other road users at a much greater distance than any light, especially a flashing one. with sleeves it will also allow others to recognise your hand signals.

    there are countless better ways to warn someone of an impending incident ahead than attracting their attention to your led sign when they should be watching the road.

    1. 2 road vehicles types 2 measures? Car use left/right flasher, service vehicles use blinky yellow light, motocycler may use red blinky light (in night mode) to increase visibility which a bicycle may need !
      Like you wrote blinky “distract” you, for sure your brain is more alert to see a blinky light over all static light from every shop/ads/road lights. You will likely to react to such blinky light than a visible vest.

      Blind others? I guess you never encouter some LED light car that are bright like hell like if there were in high beams. (I guess they may be missaligned or have huge angle of light that come right into your eyes?).

      Sure there are some law too to respect (color selection, no useless animation (all menu selections/bluetooth/Mario gift)) otherwise we will end with the same problem as why we use blinky light in the first place – be much alert on blinky light VS all the static light.

      This is just bad something like the “MERCI”/”THANKS” message seem to go into the illegal part of the law… but hey you can’t use your GPS in your car either :D!

      NOTE: I’m just the dummy citizen that read news here and here about law so…

    2. a static red rear light to the relevant specification and a static white front light attached to the bike, not the helmet, angled to allow sufficient reaction to obstacles and not aimed to blind others is all of the lights you should need.

      I disagree on not having the headlight on the helmet. I used to have one purely on the bike, but I found having it on the helmet instead is much more versatile as it’ll be facing where I’m looking, and quite often you’ll be looking the direction you’ll be headed next.

      That’s useful information to other road users, and is very useful if you’re attempting to navigate in an area you’re not familiar with, since the headlight will be illuminating the signs you’re looking at.

      The other advantage being when you come off, it indicates where your head is.

      The key is not to have it so bright that it blinds people. I have mine on low power and use a wide beam to avoid dazzle. Having it on the helmet means I’ve got better control of its direction than I would with the headlight on the bike itself.

      1. It’s great until you turn around and look at the driver behind you and destroy their adapted vision. Or look at a pedestrian and end up shining a light in their eyes.
        It’s difficult to argue the point however, rules about showing only red to the read etc. usually covers the vehicle and not the rider, the same way as technically a driver could hold a flashing blue light in their hand out of the window and not technically break any rules about lighting. over here anyway.

        I laughed at the head coming off comment however I remember a few years ago a pedestrian being hit by a car and they had to wait for daylight to find the body. there was a big stink because the council had turned off the streetlights to save money so perhaps a light would have helped them but certainly a reflective jacket would have been very effective. If his head had come off I guess there wouldn’t have been much rush to get him to hospital anyway.

  6. “Bicycle riders can never be too visible: the more visible you are, the less chance there is someone will hit you.”

    Please stop spreading the “cyclists are hard to see” myth. “I didn’t see them” != “I wasn’t looking.” Isn’t it amazing how drivers can spot a pothole or a police car a mile away, but “can’t see” a 6 foot tall object with reflective and blinking bits in front of them?

    It’s not my job to get a light so bright it sears your retinas. It’s your job to look in your mirror or otherwise make sure your way is actually clear before you turn/merge/change lanes, and stop staring at your stupid phone.

    Ask any motorcycle rider – “SMIDSY” – Sorry, Mate, I Didn’t See You – is so common it’s an acronym, and as GoPros have become more common, this lie is getting increasingly caught out. “I didn’t see them”, when the video clearly shows they weren’t looking. Go watch dashcam videos and you’ll see video after video of drivers doing stupid stuff and hitting other cars because they didn’t look before they go. A dozen+ studies over the years have shown most cyclists are hit because the driver was at fault, doing something dangerous or illegal – not because the cyclist “wasn’t visible.”

    Most any bike light on the market is visible for a mile or more thanks to high efficiency LEDs. Car headlights have never been better. Most sports apparel is now festooned with reflective bits. The problem isn’t that cyclists aren’t visible enough. It’s that drivers aren’t looking.

    1. Here here! I just got to work on my bicycle and I’ve started to tell other cyclists to tone it down on the lights. Even in broad daylight, most of my close-calls have resulted in ‘SMIDSY’.

      Cool project, but wrong message.

    2. If you have or even think you need to have lights so bright it sears retinas, you are doing it wrong, BUT IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO BE VISIBLE, you irrisponsible idiot. You think drivers of cars are solely responsble? Think again.

      Yeah, people sure are visible with their black clothes going around like they are drunk, staring at the phone, not caring at all about the laws just expecting the crosswalk will somehow magically protect them. It’s like there are no laws for bikers and pedestrians, since there’s no license needed for it.

      I’ve said it before and i say it now, pedestrians, bikers, should not have any rights over cars. 2 tons of metal versus flesh and bone, guess who loses every fucking time. Pedestrians and bikes and stop really, really fast, cars don’t. So why don’t you take your car hating attitude somewhere else, buddy, that’s right, in the corner there.

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