Step 7: FAQ's...

Q- I can not find any reed switches, what can I do?
A- Many online vendors ship worldwide. If you do not have a credit card I sugest you call the suppliers directly to discuss alternate payment options.

Q- I do not wear gloves when I ride, can I still use this system?
A- See Page 9 of this Instructable for an alternate trigger that does not require gloves. -OR- See next question.

Q- Can I use a regular on-off switch if I do not want to mess with all the magnet stuff?
A- Yes, the commercial design for lighted bar ends does use standard switches if you want to check them out here for ideas.

Q- Can I mount the lights facing forward if I do not like them pointing off to the sides?
A- Sure, you will need to come up with a way to mount the LED's so they point foward though.

Q- How much does it cost to build a set of these lights?
A- Even if you had to buy gloves, the LED's, a magnet, a reed switch, and some wire it should not cost more than $25USD. I paid $12 for 10 reed switches and a couple resistors from Mouser, $3 for a 4 pack of magnets from Wal-Mart, $3 for a multi-pack of LED's from Radio Shack, and I used wire and gloves I had laying around my house.

Q- I do not know how to solder, will you build a set of lights for me?
A- I would consider it. Send me a private message if you are seriously interested in having one built. Keep in mind that my time is worth money and although materials are only about $25, the price tag for having one built and shipped would be closer to three times that amount. I am consider offering just the parts for sale as a kit that you could buy and assemble.

Q- Is it street legal?
A- You should check your local laws. Personally, I am far more afraid of being run over by cars than I am of being ticketed by the police. If you use certain type of lights, such as flashing red or blue lights, you are increasing the risk of drawing unwanted police attention.

Q- How long do the batteries last?
A- The answer depends on what batteries you use.

Q- Can I install these lights on my _ _ _ _ _?
A- If you have space to mount the lights and batteries and can get a magnet close enough to trigger the reed switch, this system can be installed almost anywhere.

Q- Your instructions did not tell me to wear safety goggles and I accidentally soldered the reed switch to my eyeball. It really hurts.
A- At this point a handlebar mounting is out of the question but a magnet mounted to your eyelid can probably still be used to trigger the switch.

Q- Can I make the lights blink or strobe?
A- Substitute blinking LED's for a simple blink. For a side to side strobe effect I imagine you could use the sink-or-source ability of an astable 555 circuit to create a square wave that would strobe the LED's back and forward. That is well beyond the scope of this project and you would need to enlist the help of someone more knowledgeable about circuit design.

Q- How can I remove the lights if I get tired of them?
A- Just reverse the installation instructions. Pop the handlebar plugs out and remove the LED's from the holes they were mounted in. Pull the whole mess of wiring out through the right side of the handlebars. You can reinstall the old plugs with the holes in them or buy inexpensive replacements at your local bike shop.

Q- I made a bicycle related Instructable, will you link to it?
A- Sure, post a link in the comments section. If it is awesome enough I will add a link somewhere in my Instructable as well.

The next step contains some quotes about bicycles.
What a great idea. Thank you for posting. I was wondering about the idea of installing brighter LED lights. I see you mentioned you would need a larger battery source. What size battery source would be required using those superflux LED. I live in Vancouver,BC and it is quite grey a lot of the time due to it being in a rainforest on the coast. Be well?
Has anybody ever thought of making a turn-signal on a bike with a device that is similar to car indicators?? e.g When you turn the handle-bars it automatically puts on the right indicators and when you pull on the brakes, it brings on a stop light ?? :)
A number of people have done one or more bicycle brake lights, triggered by lever pull. I am planning to do this soon myself. <br>I can foresee a problem or two with the automatic turn indicators. Even in a car (at least the ones I've driven), you have to turn the indicators on manually. But they CANCEL automatically. I think with a bike, you would probably want to activate the turn signals manually also; this gives other traffic a bit of warning time. As for auto-cancel on a bike, hmmm. I'll think about that. Scooters and motorcycles have turn indicators, but they are manual on, manual off. (At least the ones, etc.)
The anti theft bike taser idea you describe has been on my mind for years. Forget it - it may be technically legal but if anyone is seriously injured or killed you will be legally responsible, if caught. The alarm idea is brilliant. Flame thrower would be nice - and would also help with visibility I think >;/ - but again - liability is a beeyatch.
Hmmm... How to fit pressurized fuel inside the handlebars? I'll have to think on this one for a bit, but it must be completed. For Science!!! :-D
Not if there is a big sign on the side of your bike that warns of electric shock!!!
Will the sign be in every language? What about illiterates, blind people, children, pets? Very, very sketchy.
Yeah but, no offence to blind people here, why would a blind person steal a bike??
No, see, it would work the same way a company can have an electric fence around their property. All you have to do is have a sign.
Hmm, good point - let us know if you develop a prototype! Thanks
You are correct about liability but let's be honest- Who here wouldn't like the satisfaction of knowing that some creep felt the sting of 800,000 volts when they tried to steal your bike.
Nice post mate. Did somethin similar to my fixie. wired a set of 8 AA's in series to power these automotive LED's. concealed it all in the handlebars and but a low profile button switch onder the handle bar tape.
Reed switches...very clever. I like the idea, but wouldn't you want lights to point forward or backward instead of out to the sides?&nbsp;You already have reflectors on your spokes so cars can see you when they're perpendicular to you. My concern is that a single LED's output is so small that even if a driver saw it, that they wouldn't think you were a big firefly.<br />
you should try adding a solar pannel and a rechargeable tripple A or double A.
Is there any way to invert the switch-on system? So the light will be on when you take off your hand from the handlebar, say when you are pointing your direction.
Neat instructable Instead of using the reed switch you could use a darlington pair or transistors as a touch sensor and just wrap two pieces of wire around the handle bar for the contacts, this way all you have to do is grab it and its on.
Great idea! Just a couple of suggestions. First, all the comments here talk about automation. I suggest less automation. A simple push on/push off switch built into the bar end cap would be fine. This way you simply push the bar end cap to turn the light on and push again to switch it off. Second suggestion: if you really want to use a reed switch how about mounting the magnets permanently on the handlebar. The magnets could be on a snug fitting ring that you slide or twist on the handlebar to get the magnet in the correct position near the reed switch. This way you don't have to remember to bring your gloves or magnetic rings. Everything would right there for you. -Yep
Very nice work, I think I'll made it. Just a note (maybe you or other ones already point this): Your handlebar have to be aluminium type, otherwise reed switch can't sense the magnetic field from magnet. Iron shield magnetic fields.
Alternatively, buy a couple TireFlys and embed them in your handlebar endcaps. They're motion activated, so you wouldn't need to mess with a reed switch and magnet. They also flash. On the downside, they use small, relatively expensive lithium batteries by default, although I'm sure they could be converted.
This is an interesting idea. The only downfall I can see would be that the lights would go off if you sat at a stop sign or stop light for more than a few seconds.
Really thorough =D.<br/>Great job =].<br/>
This is AWESOME, but if I made it, I would use some bigger batteries and some ultrabright LEDs.
Due to the small diameter of my handlebars I could not find a suitable method for installing larger batteries. I am considering re-making the lights using <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.us.kingbright.com/images/catalog/SPEC/WP7676CSURC.pdf">SuperFlux LEDs</a> but as you pointed out, I will need a better power source first.<br/>
It would also be interesting to mod this into the starter circuitry as either an extra security feature or instead of a key, how cool would it be to get in your car, but a magnetic object on the dash or control panel, and have your car start...
I believe you would need to use a relay but there is no reason this would not work with most older cars. Most modern cars have RFID tags built into the keys and other security features that would make converting the ignition switch much more dificult (although not impossible).
How well would this work on "ergonaomic" handlebars? I have different places to grab hold while I'm riding. Then again, the endcaps are facing inward so i guess it's a mute point
You could make the LED's stick out further and use difused or wide angle LED's for a neat effect.
is that speedometer a catseye?
Yes, I believe it is.
i thought that you would use a photo resistor to use a night time
A photoresistor would turn the lights on any time the bike is in the dark. This would be a form of automation but would drain the batteries very quickly and would cause flicker if you ride where there is other ambient light such as street lights.
"I suggest buying multiple switches because they break easily. " They're breaking quickly for you because your magnets are too strong. Just a hypothesis.
I should have elaborated on that statement. The switch housings are made of very thin glass which is easily broken if dropped or squeezed too hard. I broke several switches while prototyping this setup.
Wouldn't it be easier to make this using either a proximity sensor, or even a pressure switch under the seat to sense when you are sitting on it? Seems like it would eliminate a lot of extra parts. Also, check ebay for reed switches, I sell them on there sometimes like 6 for 5$ and whatnot (we recycle industrial parts).
There is no way to run a wire from the handlebars to a switch under the seat without drilling holes in (and compromising the structure of) the handlebars. Same problem with the proximity sensor. I used a reed switch because it was the cheapest and easiest way to accomplish this. There are certainly other ways that these lights could be automatically triggered but none that are as simple and inexpensive as a reed switch.
Cool, just curious. We sell new / used stuff, so I have seen proximity, reed, etc and other switches by the bucket-full in all sizes and shapes. I've sold some for as low as 4.95 on ebay. I would have never even thought of something like this, now the ideas are flowing...I've always wanted to use these for something...
Once you start using reed switches you'll be hooked for life. I just ordered $50 worth of components from Mouser Electronics this morning so hopefully I'll have some other neat instructables using reed switches/LEDs to share soon.
Yeah, blinkers would be better. You might set it up as follows: Have one on switch, and on off switch, so that when your palms are on the bars, one switch turns on, and when your fingers are on the bars, on switch is off. Then, when you want to indicate, you lift the fingers of that hand off the bar, and the light turns on. The double switch is essentially necessary so that the light doesn't stay on when you leave your bike (no hands), Make sense? I was also thinking that an electromagnet could be used to make a similar switch, and this had me thinking that I could use the power source from a radio on an alarm clock to close a switch. This switch could then turn on, as an example, a coffee maker. Basically a timer switch which you set daily, so that you don't have to worry about your coffee maker melting while you're on vacation.
How about a two reed switches on either side of the handlebars, but inside of where you normally hold onto the handle bars. This way, when you want to indicate a turn, you simply touch more towards the center of the bars on the side in which you want to go. Viola!
or have a reed switch on either side and tap your hand on the handlebar to indicate which way you want to turn.
Have one on switch, and *one* off switch.<br/>
Nice Instructable! But wouldn't it be better to use a PhotoDiode instead of a read switch so that the light only turns on at night? Just a thought...
If you wanted to do that you would just ad the photodiode into the circuitry along with the reed switch, otherwise the lights would turn on wether or not you were riding it.
A couple of things. First, the reed switch - easy - just use magnetic switches made for the alarm systems - the ones that you put on windows and doors. They come in both normally open and normally closed versions. Secondly, forget about the signs warning anyone of anything. You are still responsible! Sounds dumb but it's true. After all, you can't hang a sign on your chest denying responsibility for any murders you commit. With that thought, remember that when your car is damaged at the superstore parking lot they really are responsible even if they have signs denying it. Call any attorney and just ask! By the way, I love the idea of the lights in the bar plugs! I'll be looking for all the mods to this idea.
Maybe its just me, but when I'm biking and I come to a stop I tend to lean towards the direction I intend to go. If I am already in motion and I turn suddenly it would be nice to alert the folks behind me. The only real problem I see is in controlling the switch's sensitivity. Anyhoo I was just looking for a way to make a neat light effect useful!
How about some kind of tilt switch (mercury or otherwise) could be put in so that turning (which is to say leaning) the bike causes the low side to flash? This would be an automatic turn signal of sorts ... flashing in the direction of people you are turning in front of .
This is a neat idea but the purpose of a turn signal is to signal your intent to turn <em>before</em> the turn begins. Once you are in mid turn, other drivers don't need a flashing light to see you are turning.<br/>
could turn them into indicators instead of riding round corners 1 handed :|
This made me think about turning blinkers for a bike...
This is a great idea. I wonder if there'd be a way to make these light sensitive, such that they'd come on at dusk....

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