Brake Light Backpack overpowered with LED pixels

led-motorcycle-backpack

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.

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Fabricating headlights for an F250

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.

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Animated turn signals add a little bit of Cylon to your automobile

[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.

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Bicycling in the fall

bicycle

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.