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Rob's Homemade LEDs

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By Rob - Posted on 07 November 2006

Rob's Homemade LEDs - Close Up

This article is very old now, it's best to look around our forums to find some newer information.

I'd been thinking about night riding for some time, and having bought an el-cheapo set of halogen riding lights to try it out was liking it a lot. The el-cheapo lights consisted of 5W+10W beams fixed to the bars and that could be switched independently. While OK for fire trail this didn't seem adequate for technical stuff so went looking for more powerful sets.

Not happy with the pricing of available offerings, and thinking things could be built up a lot cheaper a bit of a mission followed. What you read here are the results, and on the whole, am very pleased how things worked out.

This is a fairly lengthy article, it's split into several pages:

Alternatives to LED

Halogens just suck far too much power and give a rather yellow light. I've heard good things about HID lights from a brightness perspective, but seems they take a while to warm up, don't fade gracefully and cannot be dimmed - plus, they are rather pricey.

So let's go LED

At time or writing, LEDs are just coming on to the market but the prediction here is in the next year or so they are going to overtake all other forms of bike (and other) lighting. Again, at the time of starting this project the Lupine Wilma 4 was the target to aim at - this retails in Aus at a whopping $995! It does contains four, 3W Luxeon LEDs though in a very nice looking package. A new contender from Ay UP! came to my attention just as the project was being completed, and although these are not dimmable and have no battery gauge or warning - at the price, unless you want the 'fun' of DIY they look do a very tempting option.

That said, the secret weapon for us is the Cree XR-E LED - the above mentioned LED systems use Luxeon LEDs, but at time of writing, the XR-E was the absolutely best LED you can get your hands on - with up to 160 lumens (the 'new' K2 Star is rated up to 130) at 700mA (at 3.75v drop this is a frugal 2.6W power consumption). No doubt LED outputs will continue to rise, and here's the good part - the control and hardware built here should allow one to swap out to the latest and greatest as and when needs arise.


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