Redesigned Bike Light Controller

[JP] was looking for a bicycle light to do some night biking around his home. He found a reasonably priced light that suited his needs, but when he started using it he found that the controller was a little lackluster. To solve some of its problems, he ended up building his own lighting controller from scratch.

The original controller’s main problem was that the it didn’t debounce the input from the single pushbutton. This meant that a single press of the button might cause it to cycle through two or three different modes, which was inconvenient and annoying. The new controller took care of this along with implementing several new brightness modes and a “strobe” mode for commuting to work to help alert other drivers of [JP]’s presence on his bicycle.

While [JP] notes that an Arduino would have been very easy to use in this situation, it wouldn’t have fit in the original enclosure. He went with an 8-pin ATtiny45, which was perfectly sized for what he needed. Everything fit together perfectly and is much more useful than the original. Maybe next he could pair it with a light that is even brighter than the one he’s currently using.

17 thoughts on “Redesigned Bike Light Controller

  1. Hint, strobe mode does not make the road safer. When a light is blinking it’s not possible to estimate the distance and speed of your bike. Distracting cars, as they need to put more focus on you to get these estimates. And thus they can put less attention on the rest of the traffic.

    (I ride a lot of bicycle, but I also drive by car during the night, at which point I noticed the strobing bicycle lights do not help at all)

      1. Yes, very much so.

        I hate strobe lights on bikes, both as a cyclist and driver.

        One time whilst driving I almost ran over some idiot with flashing front light because I couldn’t tell how far away they were and how fast they were coming towards me, and it really didn’t help that there were no street lights and I was trying to pull out into a road by looking in one of those curved mirrors because the junction angle was so bad,

        It annoys me the UK government has allowed strobe lights for bikes and only recommends using a steady light on unlit roads.

    1. It may not make it safer, but it also doesn’t make it any less safe. The problem I notice is that when I don’t use my strobe, people are less likely to notice me altogether. This is why I think people should have at least two lights on, one solid and one strobe.

      1. A solid light is fine, but it needs to be bright enough. I see a lot of people riding bikes with tiny LEDs that are too easy to miss, especially in busy situations with lots of other lights, or bad weather.

    2. Neither is especially safer than the other. Strobe lights catch the eye, solid lights let the driver judge distances. Most of the time drivers don’t take the time to look for cyclists so a strobe light is probably slightly safer because they at least know of your existence.

  2. I drive at night time or evenings. The strobe function on some of these bikes is worse than high beams to my eyes. If the light was a solid light pointed downward it would help me identify bikes distance and possibly get out of their way. I am all for sharing the road, but when my pupils are dilating back and fourth with the strobe, its difficult to see anything at all. My usual response to these bikers is to pulse my xenon projectors back and fourth from high to low beam causing them to either slow down and stop or change course. IMHO strobe functions should be illegal on the road, we are all sharing the pavement together, I have no desire to run anyone over nor do I have any desire to sideswipe a car next to me because the person on the bike decided to screw with my eyes.

    Simple solution for anyone who rides a bike.
    1 – solid light pointed properly.
    2 – wear a reflective jacket.

    I used to bike myself, and besides having a white reflector in the front and a reflector in the rear, I never needed much more than that. Only reason I stopped riding is because is because I got tired of figuring out new creative ways to store the damn thing when not in use. It did not help that I had two bikes stolen either.

  3. Hey guys, I agree with your comments about on/off strobes on bike lights, they do make it harder for motorists to judge distance. That’s one of the factors why I felt it necessary to redesign the light controller in the first place.

    “Also, the “strobe” mode on the light was an epilepsy inducing 8-( super bright flashing mode that would only serve to annoy motorists and have no use on the trail. Also annoying.”

    The lighting modes I use are

    “Lighting modes
    * 100% constant
    * 50% constant
    * 15% constant
    * 15% constant with a 2Hz, 100ms, 100% flash strobe AKA commuter mode

    The strobe-plus-steady lighting mode is very effective at catching drivers eye’s when commuting; I think Exposure lights have this lighting mode. It has the effect of providing the super birght flash to make you noticed without blinding people whilst providing a steady light so that your speed can be judged more easily…”

    Boo to strobes by themselves. Yay for solid+strobe!

    1. using “strobe mode” on a trail can be fun, like trying to play Quake on a DX4-100!

      My light came on in “steady” mode, next press was strobe mode,
      One night I encountered a “bovine of unspecified gender” (cow or steer), when I went to turn off the light it went to strobe mode, this REALLY pissed of said bovine and I endedup with 3 brocken ribs and a concussion.

      I modded it to simply turn on

  4. If bikes are supposed to abide by the rules of the road, then strobes of any kind are illegal. If you don’t understand this then stick one or more on your car or truck and watch what happens when you cruse the strip.
    Just get lit up. At least a watt or two LED minimum. This will use lithium rechargeable power as AAA AA stuff yet alone tablet batteries are wimps. At 5 watts you are totally seen, as this into regular motorcar lighting. Don’t over do it.

  5. Great post, I want to ask you about a different aspect of night rides; tail lights. If you ride alone in the woods its one thing, but if you ride with your buddies then strong/blinking tail lights are a big distraction, I mean ride to close and you’re totally blind and smash into a tree. I’ve been working on a product that I want to crowdfund soon and would love your opinion on it if you have the time, didnt realy think it would be a mountain biking product but researching into post like yours made me think about it. check my site if you can, the campaign is not up yet so I can still change things around with the prototype. definitly will consieder a single track video at night now :)
    Cheers Offer from SombraCycle

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