Introduction: Budget Bicycle Warning Lights

Get a safety boost, and recycle old plastic! These omni directional warning lights increase visibility, can double as turn signals, and attach to the handlebar ends. Cost can be under $5, with many parts being commonly found recyclable items.

WARNING, Make at Your Own Risk
"I am not responsible for, and expressly disclaim all liability for, any damages or injuries resulting from attempts to reproduce the tasks described. If you are at all uncomfortable or inexperienced working with anything in this project please reconsider doing the job yourself."

DO NOT USE POWER TOOLS WITH HAIR THAT HANGS DOWN, OR WHILE WEARING LOOSE CLOTHING, OR DANGLING JEWELRY!

DO NOT ATTEMPT SOLDERING WITHOUT FORMAL TRAINING!

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A WORKING PHONE, 1ST AID KIT, AND ANOTHER ADULT NEARBY IN CASE YOU NEED HELP.

Step 1: Materials and Skills

Required basic skills: wiring, hardware, power tools, crafting

Total Price: $3 - $30, depending on if parts are salvaged or new

Electrical:

  • (2) JUDCO Push-button Switch SPST
  • (2 ft.) 20-22AWG wire
  • LEDs or small lamp (I got mine from old flashlights)
  • Electrical tape

Hardware:

  • (2) Metal or plastic washers, ~1.5" OD x 0.75" ID
  • Small nuts & bolts
  • (2) 1" Cable clamp or P-clamp

Salvage:

  • (2) Orange tinted pill bottles
  • Straws
  • Plastic bottle caps
  • Hard plastic poker chips (optional)

Tools:

  • Wire strippers
  • Scissors
  • Glue gun or glue
  • Drill
  • Pencil

Recommended:

  • Work Gloves and Safety Goggles
  • Basic soldering and electronics skills
  • Heat shrink and soldering tools
  • (2) JUDCO waterproof button hats or covers
  • Bench vice
  • Duct tape
  • Drill bits for metal washer
  • Glue gun

Stores: Home Depot, Lowes, Harbor Freight, DigiKey, JamesCo, Mouser, Goodwill, Radio Shack, Fry’s Electronics

Step 2: Battery Holder

  1. Choose lights. Either salvage LEDs or lamp from an old flashlight, or buy new LEDs.
  2. Lights determine battery requirements. This demo came from a 2 battery flashlight, but can easily be adapted for 3 batteries. AAA batteries fit well, AA batteries will need a larger straw.
  3. Cut straw open length-wise with scissors. Squeeze in AAA batteries, cut off excess straw.
  4. Cut 1/2" pieces of excess straw to finish covering the ends of the battery, secure with with electrical tape. Leave the middle open to remove batteries.
  5. If using 3 batteries, tape a 3rd piece of straw in the middle.

Step 3: Battery Leads

  1. (USE LEATHER GLOVES AND SAFETY GOGGLES TO AVOID INJURY) Take ~6" of wire and strip off ~1" of insulation on one end.
  2. Coil the wire into a swirl using pencil, pliers, or tweezers.
  3. Use electrical tape to secure the metal coil under the flat (-) battery end.
  4. Take a nut that fits in the other end of the tube, on top of the (+) battery end. Remove batteries, and then use a pencil to hold the nut in place while gluing the nut to the inside of the tube.

Step 4: Light Housing

READ POWER DRILL MANUAL TO AVOID INJURY

  1. Find a bottle cap that fits the end of your handle bars. A pill bottle cap fit mine. If the cap is just too wide, then add some tape to the cap or handlebars.
  2. Get a drill bit the size as the bolt (mine was 3/16") and drill a hole in the center of both lids.
  3. Put the caps top to top. Check that the bolt fits through the holes.
  4. Screw bolt into the battery holder.

Step 5: Light Wiring

(USE LEATHER GLOVES AND SAFETY GOGGLES TO AVOID INJURY)

LEDs

  1. Tie the (+) LED wire to the small bolt head.
  2. Tie the (-) LED wire to the button lead, then secure with solder and heat shrink or a wire nut.
  3. Tie the other button lead to the battery (-) wire, then secure with solder and heat shrink or wire nut. Test

or Light Bulb

  1. Cut a hole in the plastic sealer on pill bottle lid so the lamp tip (+) sits in on the bolt head. Secure with glue.
  2. Secure the button lead to the metal lamp body (-) using electrical tape or solder.
  3. Tie the other button lead to the battery (-) wire, then secure with solder and heat shrink or wire nut. Test

If the light doesn't work make sure:

  • the batteries are fresh
  • the amount of batteries matches the LED or lamp voltage
  • the bolt is shiny new
  • the bolt is long enough to pass both caps and lock into washer
  • the washer is securely glued to straw
  • the batteries and wiring is secure
  • your using a functional lamp or LED

Step 6: Push Button Mount

READ POWER DRILL MANUAL TO AVOID INJURY

A.) If using plastic poker chip, secure it with a vice then use a drill to make a 3/4 in. center hole for the button.

B.) If using washer, give it a coating of paint that works with metal.

  1. Use a vice to secure the washer or plastic chip.
  2. Get a drill bit the size of the clamp bolt (mine was 3/16), and then drill the second hole in the washer.
  3. Attach the cable clamp or p-clamp to the handle bar, then secure washer to clamp using nut and bolt.

Step 7: Fit Onto Handlebars

MAKE SURE ALL EXPOSED WIRE IS COVERED WITH HEAT-SHRINK OR ELECTRICAL TAPE!

  1. If soldering, clean joints with alcohol. Seal the heat shrink with a lighter or heat gun.
  2. Twist the orange bottle onto the cap over the (-) wire.
  3. Roll tape around (-) end of battery to support the end from bouncing inside the handlebars
  4. Roll tape around (+) end of battery so it pushes against inside of the handlebar securely.
  5. Remove any handlebar end caps, then slide the battery tube into the handlebar. The outfacing bottle cap grips the handlebar end.
  6. Place the push button in the washer and secure with the plastic nut. Add waterproof button covers if necessary.
  7. Test it. Make another light for the opposite handlebar end.

Step 8: Conclusion

  • Handlebar ends are visible from front and back, more than head or tail lights.
  • Use generous amounts or glue and tape for it to survive bike rides.
  • For curved or racing handlebars, try strapping a PVC or plastic tube on the handlebars to mount the lights.
  • Works better in low-light. For more money and luminosity, buy a mini LED lamp under 6 volts.
  • The battery holder is reusable, just pop out old batteries and replace them.
  • Please give your dead batteries to your local electronics recycling facility.

Good Luck!

Comments

author
joelR98 (author)2016-11-02

thug maaaaaaaaannnnnn

author
edwin07 (author)2016-05-26

Loved your project. Keep it up!

author
jeanotP1314 (author)2016-05-19

Good project!

You should try it on the bicycle contest!

author
EricS8 (author)jeanotP13142016-05-19

Thank you! It's in the contest and ready to take votes.

I got the idea after seeing the warning lamps on industrial machines.

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