Instructables

Automatic Activated Blink Signal

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Have you ever gotten in an accident while riding a bike at night or close to an accident? Gotten honked at because of irresponsible drivers who aren't paying attention to the road? Or simply just want to make bike riding more safe? Riding visibility on a bike is at all time lows during night time considering of little space we take up and as well as us not being able to have car headlights blinding everything and everyone. If you agree with at least one the above statements, then the Automatic Activated Blink Signal is just for you!! Check out the awesome EL panel, lighting up like lightning! Drivers will be sure to notice you riding, and not crash you! It will ensure 100% safety when you're riding your bike through dark streets at night as well as having hands free operations.


This project will automatically turn on an EL panel with a mercury tilt switch. By extending your arm or raising it slightly, the mercury will complete the circuit, resulting in the EL panel to light up brightly whether solid or blinking. Give this project a try, and you'll be amazed.
 
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Step 1: Materials

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First, you'll need to gather the necessary materials for this awe-inspiring project:

1. EL Panel w/ AA-powered AC Inverter  [2] *these may be separate or if you'd like to have solid EL panels, soldering might be required)
2. Mercury Tilt Switch [2]
3. Velcro strips [4-6 pairs]
4. 1.5V Button Cell--LR44 / AG13 [2]
5. Electrical Tape
6. Armband [2]


[#] indicates the amount needed

Step 2: Placing the Button Cells

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First, grab a piece of electrical tape--just a tiny piece, enough to double side and fit snugly attached to the battery.
Next, use the piece of electrical tape and "loop" it so that both sides are sticky.
Stick it to any side of the button cell and place it in the battery compartment--with the negative side of the button cell touching the spring of the battery compartment.
Repeat these steps for the second battery compartment. 

*The negative side is the side without writing!*

Step 3: Inserting Mercury Tilt Switch

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Now for this step, you'll have to be very cautious because the tilt switch contains mercury--which is very toxic.
Put the mercury tilt switch into the battery compartment to fill in the available spot.
Manipulate the mercury tilt switch so that the two wires are on opposite sides of each other.
MAKE SURE to bend the leads slowly and flex them accordingly! You don't want to make this more difficult for yourself.
Make sure that one wire is on the positive side of the battery compartment and the other wire is touching the button cell.
If you wish to make it more secure, solder one of the ends to the positive side where an AA battery is suppose to go.
This will ensure the switch does not slip out while riding.
Slide the cap back on to seal it tight.
Repeat this step for the other battery compartment.

*Point the mercury filled bulb toward the positive side*

Step 4: Testing

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Plug in the battery compartment to the EL Panel plug.
Raise the battery compartment to about 15 degrees so that the mercury completes the circuit.
If you were successful, then the EL panel will have lit up once you plugged the battery compartment to the EL panel. 
If not, then open the cap back up and manipulate the tilt switch a bit more until it works.
Make sure to not break the mercury tilt switch because of MERCURY POISONING.
Repeat this step for the other completed EL panel.
There should be two options, whether it be blinking or just fully on. Make sure to switch this on to test it, tilt the battery compartment up and down. 
ALSO, THE CONNECTIONS FROM THE PACK TO THE EL PANEL IS FRAGILE. TRY NOT TO BEND IT A LOT OR YOU WILL NEED TO SOLDER IT BACK.

Step 6: Placing the velcro onto the armband

For the bands, we cut off shirt sleeves. 
We did not purchase LED armbands because they were expensive in stores and if they were cheap we had to order online.
It's summer so might as well make a sleeveless shirt.
After cutting off the sleeve, but a thin enough strip for the velcro to have about 1/2 and inch of clearance on both sides (top and bottom)
We had couple sets of Velcro lying around. The adhesive on the velcro does not hold onto cloth very well.
So we had to stitch them on. There are many methods of stitching. Go google it. For our method, we just went around in circles.
Mainly stitch down the corners
Make sure both pieces of Velcro are not on the same side of the band. When you loop it around your arm, you'll understand why it won't make any sense.
Put one on the end (doesn't matter which side) and the other on the back side of the opposite side.
When you loop it around your arm, the two pieces of velcro should attach itself so it's a matching pair!
DO THIS FOR BOTH BANDS! 

Step 7: Placing the Velcro that corresponds to the EL and Battery

Now, we must put on the velcro that corresponds with the battery pack and EL panel. 
Fuzzy goes to spiky remember. 
See how there is the stitching from the back of another piece of velcro. 
MAKE SURE YOU STITCH THE CORRESPONDING VELCRO ON TOP OF THE STRAP THAT OVERLAPS THE OTHER.
THEN STITCH THE OTHER ONE IN THE MIDDLE. 
It doesn't matter which one goes where as long as it turns out like this. You can just spin it around and stick them to the corresponding piece of Velcro.
The double layered velcro will take some muscle to puncture and pierce with the needle. Do with caution.

Step 8: Velcro on your EL and Battery

Place the band on your arm. Fit it accordingly.
Make sure the velcro corresponding to the EL panel is on the back part of your arm and the battery pack in the front or near the front.
Just stick the EL onto Velcro and just angle it however you want. However you want.
Make sure to point the arrows toward the ground so when you do lift your arms, they do point to the designated direction. 
Same with the battery pack.
When you attach the battery pack, make sure the wiring goes up your arm and toward your body. This means it will trigger when you lift your arm and not drop your arm.
Angle it according to how high you want to lift your arm. Test it for how you fancy. 
Attach EL first and bring the wire toward your body and place it on the velcro, this will ensure the wire will not be flying everywhere and get caught on anything. 

Step 9: Finished product and trouble shooting

Now you're iron man with blink  signals.
BE SAFE OUT THERE!
When removing, make sure you remove the pack or panel before unstrapping the entire band.

TROUBLESHOOTING!
-Flickering and loose connection.
Nothing a little piece of tape securing the ends of the switch to the battery can't help
-Light not turning on. 
Make sure the ends are touching either battery and positive plate and mercury is touching ends
Battery is dead. or could be wire disconnecting.
-The EL panel and wire have disconnected.
Solder it back. Be careful not to melt anything!


sconner12 years ago
Good idea except that all hand signals (left turn, right turn and stop) are done by the left hand.
From bikeed.org: The right turn signal has historically been the left arm outstretched and bent upward at the elbow. This action completed by a motorist sitting upright in a car is clearly visible. For a bicyclist in riding position, this signal may be difficult for motorists to see. Some states now allow the right outstretched arm to indicate a right turn. Always use hand signals when turning, changing lanes and even when changing position in a given lane. Motorists will appreciate the courtesy and respond in kind.
CTY1995 (author)  sconner12 years ago
Although your comment is true, there are lots of people in this world who does not know or forgot the hand signals. This way, there would not require any memorization of what direction your arm needs to be.
baltika CTY19952 years ago
It also depends on local laws. Where I live (BC, Canada, where we drive on the right) it is legal for cyclists to signal right hand turns with the right hand. However I still use my left hand.
We all expect people who drive cars to know the rules of the road, and obey them.
We cyclists should too.
Not in the UK!!!

Awesome! You should enter this into the Father's Day Challenge that is ending at midnight tonight!
Nemweb2 years ago
You could add a transistor oscillator to make it more cool! But anyway, great project!
I like the idea and I support what it stands for (I'm a bicycle commuter in an unfortunate location) but I do wonder whether it's good practice to break from traditional hand signals? Of course, I'm starting to encounter drivers that don't know the hand signals (it would seem) and that's a bigger problem. I hope this rig works well for you.
great idea...really diggin' that rat-tail too!
CTY1995 (author)  Aber1Kanobee2 years ago
Thanks! Haha i'm sure Michael appreciates all the love his tail is getting :D
It's NICE but....

It would be better to EITHER have both hands on the handlebars and have signals that run like that,

OR

If you make HAND TURN SIGNALS, to have something that slips on the back of the hand - as aquard as that sounds.... with bands between your hands and the bar grips....

Or to activate the switches without lifting your arms....

AND to have the turn indicators visible from the front, side and back...
CTY1995 (author)  Wroger-Wroger2 years ago
They do run like that.
Considering that 2/3 group members in CTY1995 ride with Risers, it's clear that your arms motion is not much of a factor. Remember that the tilt switch can be adjusted to your fancy! Which means, either more lift or less!
Basically, adjusting to the proper angle of your liking is all within your locus of control.
But we'd be glad to add stitching to a pair of gloves to show that it is possible and have the same attributes as this product!

Thanks for the advice as well! Helps us build our ideas on improvements!
Yeah and get rid of all the square sharp corners and edges...

They have a nasty habit of gouging into you in a slide or fall, as well as catching on things like back pack straps and all that.

Perhaps a round disk might be better.
CTY1995 (author)  Wroger-Wroger2 years ago
that's nothing a little pair of scissors can't handle! Yeah the EL panels do have sharp edges. We'll most likely round out the corners to prevent the penetration of skin! Thanks for the advice!
A disc is quite an odd shape for this project.., but we take suggestions all into consideration!
gtoal2 years ago
Gtreat minds think alike I guess Unfortunately I did mine three weeks too soon for the bicycle competition. Good luck with yours!
CTY1995 (author)  gtoal2 years ago
Our inspiration was from you! The materials that you listed were quite expensive and really hard to acquire with a tight budget considering that we are high school students.
So we modified to it to fit our budget and our fancy. With cheap and easy to acquire resources, as well as dangerous ones (mercury), we were able to recreate one with similar attributes but without the need for cash and a more flexible and user friendly interface. We're still tweaking it, and getting feedback from comments.
But all in all, thank you for your inspiration!
gtoal CTY19952 years ago
Yeah, I had kind of guessed that. There's nothing wrong on Instructables with taking someone else's instructable and incrementally improving on it, in fact it's actually encouraged, but you're expected to acknowlege that you've done so by mentioning it in the 'ible. But it's OK, you're new here and you'll know the next time.

By the way I've made two improvements since I posted mine - the first is to skip the button cell and use the standard AA - but with a 'battery interrupter' in series - look for examples here on instructables. Battery Interrupters were designed as a way of controlling battery powered devices for the disabled, so making one with a tillt switch would actually be a dual-use technology, letting disabled people find other uses for the tilt switch part. And the second is that I found a cheap wrist strap wallet at a sports store, which not only lets you move the indicator closer to your wrist for better visibility, but it also gives you a nice insulated zippered pouch to store the battery and transformer, if you want to get the bulk down by doing away with the plastic case.

regards,

Graham
CTY1995 (author)  gtoal2 years ago
Yeah sorry for not mentioning it, but thanks for understanding!
Wow, that sounds like a quite an improvement! I never heard of an interrupter so i'll most likely look into that!
I really like that strap on wallet idea! But that's all you, so you should add that on. It's a really good improvement, maybe put something reflective on it as well? Visibility is always a good thing to have more of!
Absolutely genius. This is an amazing project. :D
CTY1995 (author)  jessyratfink2 years ago
Thanks!
Foxtrot702 years ago
Excellent project! What is the source of the EL panels you used?
CTY1995 (author)  Foxtrot702 years ago
http://www.thatscoolwire.com/store/item.asp?Category=&SubCategoryID=&GroupID=&SKU=FELP-2ARRW

Thanks to gtoal!
jbording2 years ago
Well done. Very well done.
CTY1995 (author)  jbording2 years ago
Thanks Bording!
Wow! This is grate for when I go bikeing. It is absolutely geenius.