The P.u.l.s.e Parking Light

[Anool]’s brother loves his motorcycle, and when he came across a ‘breathing LED’ mod for the brake light, he had to have one. Being tasked with the creation of a pretty cool mod, [Anool] came up with p.u.l.s.e., an extremely small LED controller and a slight tip ‘o the hat to Pink Floyd and the second or third greatest CD packagings.

The circuit is a slightly Apple-inspired mod for the  parking light that keeps the lamp fully lit when the Neutral Detect line on the bike is high, and slowly pulses the LED in a ‘breathing’ pattern when the Neutral Detect line is low. Not a lot of logic is needed for something this simple, so [Anool] turned to the ATtiny45 and the Arduino IDE to accomplish his goal.

[Anool] created a circuit in KiCAD that would plug in to the lamp socket of his brother’s bike. A cluster of LEDs replace the T10 lamp inside the parking light, and a small amount of code takes care of the logic and breathing effect. It’s a great mod, and the astonishingly small size of the board puts him in the running for the smallest Arduino we’ve ever seen.

Videos of the light in action below.

36 thoughts on “The P.u.l.s.e Parking Light

  1. I must say: I think its a good idea that when someone brakes, his lights come up from one microsecond to the other, so they have a harsh visual impact on your retina and is noticed immediately. Having brake-light, that gently blends into your vision is kind of the wrong way. A brake signal should be interrupting. But hey, thats just me.

      1. No, Brian wrote “he came across a ‘breathing LED’ mod for the brake light” maybe he meant headlight?

        Anyhow, the breathing is cool, but not sure I’d want any light to do that on my bike; it just seems like it would get annoying.

        1. A parking light is a secondary use for a brake light (and/or head lights) , so that statement is correct. As your car/bike would be parked up when the mod is in use I guess it wouldn’t be that annoying to you as, presumably, you wouldn’t be there.

      2. @koswix You’re right, I just skimmed the article and saw the video and connected it with the “breathing LED’ mod for the brake light” and thought I knew what was going on. I admit: I was wrong.
        Anyhow, the discussion is open: Could it or even should it be considered to, at one point in the evolution of human transportation, that we reconcept the idea of lightsignals on said transportation devices? For example in the event of a near-full automated vehicle future where a google self driving car is able to work fully on its own. We could argue that in this case, we could think about focusing more on: Raising pedestrians awareness, not car-to-car awareness. The driver doesnt need to see the lights anymore, as the selfdriving car is handling everything by rf now. We could think that cars could look more like a transportation pod. When the driver is gone and there is no need for a human with a field of view of 120° degree, the whole concept of linear driving car (car = four tires in one direction). If a self driving mechanism is operating, there were no reason for linear motion. It could be an omnidirectional motion pod. No front, no back. So where would the brake-lights be? A red glowing dome on the ceiling and a (and now wer are finally there) a _breathing_ red ring around of every transportion pod, so pedestrians will notice them with primery comfort, as the pod themself dont need the antique technique of visual signaling anymore.

        1. Not only do you need to wait until the self-driving car is finalized but after that only the rich can afford it I’m sure, at least the first few decades, because it will need a shitload of sensors and very reliable licensed and approved and checked electronics..
          And people drive cars from the 20’s for fun, so you would have to have a pretty authoritarian system to force the entire population to switch to your ‘pods’ and abandon all their cars. So yes realistically for the next 100 years at least you need warning lights because even with approved self-driving cars available the entire population won’t switch to them in a day.

          Not to mention that I’m sure there will be a great many people that do not want self-driving cars and will aggressively protest against being forced.

          1. Of course it would be a city-limits-first evolution like car-sharing models with free parking in city limits are offered already today. The third Backlight in the center of the rear window was implemented into the automobile-world within years by political motivation. I see enough room for a fast adaption of major parts in the next 50 Years.

          2. 3rd light is dirtcheap and can be easily retrofitted to ANY car though.
            And who wants a car they can only drive in a city? Not even cabbies I expect.

  2. Easily changed code, and use it for a different bulb than intended here. I particularly like the ambulance LED brake lights that flash quickly a few times to GET YOUR ATTENTION and then come on solid.

    …. but I ride a motorcycle, so I’m biased….

  3. On a slightly related note: Nowadays I almost every damn day see cars with one of their lights not working, half the time the brake light too. What’s with that? Are the bulbs of poor quality these days because the focus is on LED lights you think?

    1. I think it’s more likely to be because it’s more difficult to check if a brake light is working. Also your powers of noticing things and remembering them have improved (who am I to call it confirmation bias).

      1. I think a large part is that the police dont stop people for having lights out unless it’s as a reason to pull a motorist over to look for something bigger. Patrol Officers do have productivity goals to meet and time spent warning a motorist is time they could be writing tickets for infractions with higher fines.

          1. Here in Oklahoma, we used to have an annual safety inspection for our vehicles. That would catch a lot of bad bulbs. They have since done away with the inspections, and bad bulb sightings have increased around here.

    2. They blow more now partly because they carry current all the time for the car’s “bulb fail” circuitry and partly because there are a lot of cheap bulbs. Run some tests on a flea market 30p brake light bulb and an Osram or Philips costing three times as much, shock, they last more than three times as long.

  4. Intriguing idea, but I wonder about the legality of such a light. I’ll admit that I don’t know, but I suspect that a light like this could cause an inspection failure depending on the local laws.

    1. That is the problem. You, me, and the cop all know it improves safety, but it’s only authorized for emergency vehicles and he may have the “vaporous quota” we know exists but never exists. He/She may well be sympathetic as you had over your license and registration but does a lot of writing on a little carbon copy slip. Solution, just make it as bright as allowed and leave the decorative pulsing to “chick magnet mode.” in the parking lot.

      Perhaps mitigate your exposure by tying it to an accelerometer so it flashes so only during higher braking.

      1. Depends on your state/country. In my state, a motorcycle’s low beams, and I believe brake lights, are allowed to strobe when it is daylight and the vehicle isn’t braking. You need either a night detection circuit or a third switch position to have solid low beams at night so you don’t blind oncoming traffic. And you need a solid brake light when you grab the handle/floor the pedal. Otherwise, 4-wheel and more vehicles aren’t allowed to have any flashing red or blue lights unless they are emergency vehicles; and flashing yellow for only certain purposes.

        So you might want to check locally, safety stuff generally does have a way of making it into the lawbooks. Though here they still have legal non-DOT skull caps but won’t allow hearing protection; and I’m not certain about footwear but I see too many out with full face helmets and shorts+sandals. I’d rather donate my organs than keep my head intact after crashing in shorts.

        1. “they still have legal non-DOT skull caps but won’t allow hearing protection”

          Yes, we have stupid laws like that around here also. It’s usually what you see when people who have never ridden a motorcycle create laws for them. You end up with moronic nonsense that you are forced to abide by.

    1. 555 timer, a lot easier for this sort of project than bare bones op-amps. Less soldering when using a micro-controller though and they are getting so cheap nowadays…

  5. rofl, gotta love Dave’s comment !!
    About the Brake Light, that’s a typo. The controller just flashes the front PARKING light (not the head lamp) when the Bike is in NEUTRAL (not moving).
    Regarding local regulations, I’m based in India – enuf said. Look up for “traffic in India” on Youtube, sit back, and be much amaze !!

  6. On the subject of lights and vehicles, on my next incarnation of my bike light setup I plan to have the back light slowly loop fade between 50%-100%-50% brightness, as I think it would be more noticable than a steady light and not as ‘obnoxious’ to other road users as a dazzling blinking light.

    Could I run foul of some UK law by doing that? and/or would it be too much of a distraction to drivers?

    As a cyclist and driver I find that the cyclists that only use a flashing rear light to be quite difficult to judge how far they are away if there isn’t sufficient street lighting nearby – I almost ran over some idiot who only had blinking lights on their bike, it was on unlit roads at night and I was pulling out onto the road they were on, I could only see a blinking light in the road safety mirror and had absolutely no idea how far they were away.

  7. one of the advantages of using the micro-controller was that I was able to adjust the fade parameters nicely using two different fading step values. When the LED is at high and medium brightness levels, the steps are larger. At low brightness, the step changes become smaller so that the transition is very smooth.

  8. Anool would you be so kind as to use your micro-controller to have an adjustable rate of time between the two brightness levels and also is it easy to include a photosensitive resister also with sensitivity control to put the light full on when sun down or darkness occurs. Would you post your circuit with where these changes to your circuit would be placed. Thanking you in advance for your post and valuable pulse light.

    1. You could add a LDR to PB3 and I guess it ought to work. You’ll have to find someone to help you with the new code, since I’m a hardware guy and I just hacked together the code for p.u.l.s.e. from example codes I found in the Arduino IDE and online forums.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.