Introduction: DIY Glow: Ground Effects Lights for Your Bike!
An easy DIY project to add ground effects lights to your bicycle or other means of conveyance, utilizing inexpensive and commonly available cold-cathode lights. They look cool, and really do increase your visibility at night. Since putting them on my tallbike everone is asking to take my picture.
Step 1: Prototype
I tried this first on my tall bike, I just bought some CCFL's at Fry's and zip-tied them on, powered by a lead acid battery i had laying around. It was pretty cool, but i broke a tube a few days later, Simply zip-tying the tubes on caused them to flex, and any further pressure would cause the glass inide to flex, not something glass should do!
I decided to add a strip of polished aluminum behind the tubes to act as a reflector, directing more light downward, and to help reinforce the acrylic tubes. In addition it would mean the straps would not go over the tubes but under, alleviating the source of bending, and not obscuring the light.I'd also want a better battery pack, as six pounds of lead is hardly noticed on already heavy tallbike, but not really welcome on nice lightweight bikes.
Step 2: Materials
1. A dual tube Cold Cathode Flourescent Light kit, commonly available at computer stores, cheaper on the internet, i got mine at Fry's for $15.
2. 12v Battery, i improvised a AA holder out of sprinkler pipe, and used NiMH cells. Any old 12 or 14 volt battery pack will do, the tubes draw about 0.6 amps, so 2 amp-hour should be plenty. you should be able to put something together for $20
3. Aluminum bar, 5/8"x1/8"x2', To reflect more light downward, as well as reinforce the tubes, i had this already, but it's only about $3 at home depot
4. Foam, to pad the back of the tubes
5. Velcro straps, I used RipWrap cable straps i found at Fry's
I utilized some things i had laying around, and spent about $20 but even if you bought everything in the store, it should be about $45. It's not as slick and bombproof As the Fossil Fool'sDown Low Glow, but it's cheap and effective.
Step 3: Reflectors
First I cut the aluminum bar into two 12" lengths. Then I sanded one side fairly smooth with some 400 grit emery paper, and buffed it to a mirror polish with some tripoli compound. Next i sanded the last inch on each end to a rough finish, as well as a spot in the center, to give a good bond for epoxy.
On the tubes, which have square end caps, i touched one face of each end with a drum sander, leaving the acrylic very rough, and taking the material down almost flush with the tube.
Then I just glued the tubes to the reflectors with some thirty minute epoxy, putting a dab in the center to back up the tube.
Step 4: Padding
While the epoxy set, i cut some small blocks of minicell foam to glue to the backs, and attached it with contact cement.
Step 5: Velcro
After wiring my battery up to a molex connector, the epoxy was kicked, so time to velcro everything on.
I used thins RipWrap stuff i found at Fry's, $6 for 45 straps, comes on a roll, just tear them off as needed. any old velcro straps will do, or zip ties.
Step 6: More Velcro
I decided to try it on my track bike, as it's tight clearances are unforgiving. If it fit on the fixie, it'll fit any bike. I know for sure that while more durable, the tubes of the Down Low Glow, that Paul Freedman sells are too fat for this bike. One small reason i went the DIY route.
Took about five minutes to velcro everything on, now to test it.
Step 7: Galvanick Lucipher
Let there be light! The pictures really don't do it justice, it is a ridiculously bright thing to be putting on a bicycle, but won't blind anyone.
I think the blue is the coolest color, but i think green is the brightest cold cathode. White may be bighter, but wouldn't be as eye-catching. Whatever color you use it looks awesome. Combined with a mutant bicycle it makes for a street level UFO.
I took the fixie for a ride, and while the reaction wasn't as strong as with the tallbike, it definitely turns heads. The feeling of ridng on a carpet of light is pretty cool too.
Step 8: Further Thoughts
So, after breaking one of the unreinforced blue lights, and tearing a cable off one of the green lights, I've got some ideas for the next one.
1) put the CCFL tubes in bigger acrylic tubes like these
2) resolder up the tubes to some wire
3) put the battery and inverter in the peanut butter jar bottle pack like fungus amungus did.
I'm ordering the acrylic tubing, when i rebuild it, i'll post up a new instructable.