Cylon Scanner Bike Light





Introduction: Cylon Scanner Bike Light

Inspired Evil Mad Scientist's Cylon Jack-O-Lantern I've build a Cylon bike light for my son...

First of all, read EML's article to make sure you're comfortable with the electronics. I had a lot of issues getting the 555 timer to reliably trigger the 4017, so used the 9v LED flasher circuit from Bill Bowden's site which worked much better (for me). Use the following component values: R1=10K, R2=100K, C1=0.47uF

I built my circuit on two pieces of stripboard:

1) A long piece with 3 LEDs per channel plus the resistor, capacitor, transistor circuitry than gives the LEDs their 'afterglow' effect.
2) A small piece with the 555 and 4017 which was shaped to fit in an Altoids tin along with a 9V battery.

Step 1: Prepare a Plastic Tube

I bought a one foot length of plastic tube from my local hardware store. You need three holes:

1) One large central hole to thread the wires through. Use your biggest drill for this and make the hole even larger with a knife if necessary.
2) Two smaller holes that wil be used to mount to the Altoids tin. Use your smallest drill for these - the screws will make their own way. They should be about one inch either side of the large hole.

Step 2: Mount the LEDs in the Plastic Tube

Thread the wires through the large hole in the plastic tube and solder onto the LED board. You will need long wires initially, they will be cut down at a later step. Solder the wires onto the control board and test that everything is working.

The inner diameter of my tube was a bit smaller than the finished circuit so I had to squeeze it flat to get it in. This has the fortunate side effect of holding it in place.

Caution and care is needed at this stage to ensure the wires don't get caught up.

Step 3: Altoids Tin

Drill three holes in the lid to match those on the plastic tube, and use some self-threading screws to attach the two. I'm going to mount the tin with the hinge on top so the weight of the plastic tube keeps it shut.

I drilled one hole on the side to mount an on-off switch, and four on the bottom through which I threaded cable ties (to attach to the handlebars).

Step 4: Final Assembly

Trim the wires down to a minimal length, insulate your circuit with some electrical tape, and stuff it all into the tin. I added a piece of foam to keep everything snug and to stop it shorting on the tin.

Mount it onto the handlebars using zip ties and enjoy the adoration of every other two year old in the playground. At least, you will if they are still there when it gets dark...



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    The link to the schematic is broken, can you please post an image?

    2 replies

    Bill Bowden's excellent site has moved to The circuit you need is the following:


    Ahhh, I see. I misread what you wrote and thought that you were linking to a schematic that would avoid the 4017 chip (Unfortunately, I don't have one and I just spent a lot of money on my solid state Tesla coil so I can't order at the moment). Thanks anyways!

    Reminds me of the scanner on the front of the classic Knight Industries 2000 (K.I.T.T.) I like it!


    Any chance you could post the schematic or close-up shots of both sides of the breadboards? Once you do that, I bet you'll have a very popular instructable! If you can't add it, please feel free to email me the info directly, my 6 year old would love it if I added this to his bike!

    Cool! How would you rate that project for cost and difficulty? Do you think a teenager (12-14) could make one? Thanks!

    1 reply

    I didn't keep close track of the costs (I already had some components). I'd guess at about $30. Could a teenager build it? That depends upon the teenager. I could probably have built it at that age, maybe with a bit of parental help. The tricky part is getting the layout on the strip-board correct - a bit harder than using a pre-made customer circuit board.

    "Michael? Michael!? I've found myself in a revolting situation. My onboard processor has been taken out of my TransAm frame and been placed onto a childs' three wheeler. KITT to Michael... Helloooooh...? Rescue me, please! I know we're off the air, but still..."

    Your boy will love it! It will make him feel extra special. Good to see there are other dad's going that extra (s)mile. BIG well done. (Got to do it for my next child - thanks) ;-)

    Oh oh oh!! He has to be the coolest kid on the street! That is awesome!! Not to mention a great pred deterant. What person would snatch a kid from that thing. Looks like it would melt them or something... Hows you son like it? Is he all like "Yup it's cool dad I scanned all, it's safe!!"

    1 reply

    It's still a few days until his 3rd birthday, so we shall see. I hope he doesn't read Instructables yet... Thanks for your kind words :-)