If you ever take your bike out and share the road with large automobiles, you know that sometimes it can get a little hairy. As a biker, you will stand no chance in a collision with a vehicle. Communicating your intentions, i.e. turning and braking, can certainly reduce your risk of getting in an accident. [Mike] didn’t like the traditional idea of taking a hand off the handlebars in order to signal to traffic so he did something about it, he built turn signals and a brake light for his bike.
The business end of this project is the rear-facing light bar mounted under the rider’s seat. It is made from Radio Shack project boxes and mounted to an off-the-shelf L bracket. A bunch of LEDs were installed in the project boxes, the yellow turn signal LEDs are arranged in the shape of arrows and the red brake light LEDs are in an oval. Inside the project boxes you will find the 9v battery that powers the circuit and also a breadboard that is home to the circuits responsible for blinking the turn signals.
Check out the switch assembly that is mounted to the handle bars. It was built using an old reflector bracket which was already the correct size to mount to handle bars. As you would expect, there is a toggle switch for turning the turn signals on and off. A little bit more interesting is the brake switch. It is a hinge-lever style limit switch and positioned in a manner such that it is activated when the brake lever is pulled. There is no additional thought or effort required on the cyclist’s part!
Something that is certainly not expected on the switch assembly is the headphone jack. [Mike] likes to listen to music while he rides and a cord dangling around from a backpack or bike bag gets in the way. On the rear light bar, there is a headphone jack that allows an MP3 player to be plugged into. The audio signals travel up the same CAT5 cord used for the turn and brake signals. This allows only a short run of headphone cable from the handlebars to [Mike’s] ears.
[Richard’s] community in Kenya had a problem. The people depended on local livestock for survival, but the local lion population had started consuming that very same food source. The result was that people suffered from loss of the livestock, but the lions also suffered when the people killed them to protect their source of food. [Richard] knew he could do something to help both his community, and the lion population. He ended up building a lion attack prevention system.
He first tried a sort of scarecrow, to keep the lions away from the cattle. Unfortunately the lions proved to be too “tricky” and quickly realized that the scarecrows were no threat. Then one day, [Richard] was working with a flashlight. This led him to realize that the lions seemed to be afraid of moving light. That gave him the idea for his invention.
He had previously taken apart his mothers new radio, much to her dismay. He learned a lot about electronics in the process. He combined his electronics knowledge with this new knowledge about lions, to create his lion attack prevention system. The core component is the turn signal circuit from a motorbike. The circuit is hooked up to a rechargeable battery and a solar cell. This all runs through a switch so [Richard] can turn it on only when needed. The circuit is switched on at night to keep the lions away. [Richard] claims that they have experienced no lion attacks since the system was put in place two years ago!
This protects both the local cattle as well as the lions themselves. The whole thing is powered from the sun, so it’s likely to last a very long time. This kind of project may seem simple to many readers, but it’s a great example of the good ideas and ingenuity that can grow out of necessity. Oh, did we mention that [Richard] is only 13 years old? His invention is now reportedly being used all over Kenya and has led [Richard] to receive a scholarship to what he calls “one of the best schools in Kenya”.
While this hack has clearly changed the lives of many people in [Richard’s] region. You don’t have to make something overly complicated to change the world.
Continue reading “Kenyan Teen’s Invention Protects Cattle and Lions”
Here’s another Flora Arduino based project from [Becky Stern]. It’s a backpack with brake lights and turn signals for use when motorcycling, but it should work just as well for bicyclists. From this view the project looks pretty normal, but things get downright crazy when she decided to use the WS2801 pixels for the LEDs. Sure they take all the work out of driving an array of LEDs, and they offer full color and dimming levels. But when you see the bulk of cabling and PCBs this adds to the project (shown in the video after the break) we think you’ll agree that this was an interesting choice.
That issue aside the project is a lot of fun. The system doesn’t patch into the motorcycle’s electronics. Instead, it uses an accelerometer to detect when the brakes are applied and light the LEDs according. The turn signals are switched with an RF remote control that can be mounted on the handlebars.
Anyone looking to hack outerwear with electronics can learn form the fabrication techniques used here. [Becky] details how to make holes in the bag and sew parts to them, as well as using Sugru to waterproof vulnerable components.
Continue reading “Brake Light Backpack overpowered with LED pixels”
The amount of time that is going into these custom headlights is just staggering. [Mcole254] is working on his brother’s truck, replacing the stock headlights with High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps and rolling some nice LED features into the mix while he’s at it.
The build starts by removing and disassembling the stock headlight assembly. In order to get the enclosure apart he heated it in the oven until the glue was softened and the parts could be pried apart. The goal is to replace the reflectors with an assembly that suits the new lamps and LEDs. Above you can see the white pieces which were vacuum formed from a mold that [Mcole254] made from wood and PVC. He tried several iterations using his home-made vacuum former but couldn’t get the definition he really wanted. The most recent posts from him show some massive 3D printed parts that will be used instead.
While inside he added a line of amber LEDs for the turn signal. You can seem them mounted along the silver strip between the upper and lower reflectors. A demo of those super bright additions is embedded after the break.
Continue reading “Fabricating headlights for an F250”
[StarfireMX] churned out a fantastic turn signal replacement for his Mustang. When he switches on his blinker, a chasing pattern of amber LEDs is shown on the front corner of his car. Pretty cool, and as far as we can tell this is still street legal. But once he gets onto private property [StarfireMX] can have a little bit more fun with the replacements. The LEDs are actually fully addressable RGB modules. They can display a variety of colors and patterns, with wireless control from a touch-screen unit he also built.
Both the turn signal unit, and the remote controls are Arduino driven with XBee modules for wireless communications. Pop the hood and you’ll find even more blinky lights to accent the engine, which are also tweaked using the remote control.
Don’t miss the demonstration video after the break. Near the end of the clip you can see how the controller is mounted with heavy-duty Velcro behind the grill. Inside the project box there’s a voltage regulator which drops the 12V down to 5V and can put out a whopping four amps to make sure the LEDs have plenty of current.
Continue reading “Animated turn signals add a little bit of Cylon to your automobile”
Every year, as it gets cold, many of us put our faithful two wheeled companion away for the winter. Despite that, there have been a veritable smorgasbord of bicycle related projects posted to instructables this last week. In honor of our human powered transportation, lets take a peak at a few projects.
Bicycle safety is always paramount. They can be fairly difficult to see compared to a car. There are many ways to make them easier to spot, such as wrapping them in reflective material, or adding blinking tail lights. Even if people do see us, they often have no idea where we are planning on going. To remedy this, we can always add turn signals. It can also be hard to see where you are going at times. Adding a head light, or helmet light can really help. If you’re not a big fan of LEDs and want a little retro flair, you can always add an oil lamp.
For those who live in warmer climates, or just can’t give up their bicycles, you may wish to add some festive decorations. Covering your bike in Christmas lights doesn’t look too difficult, and a CFL lit wheel is a cheap way of adding some cool effects.