Instructables
Picture of Magnetic Induction Bike Lights (Mod)
For staying safe at night, magnetic induction lights are a great way to go. They just bleed off a tiny sliver of your momentum to generate nice, bright light. They're perfectly silent (unlike dynamos) and need no batteries (unlike clip-on bike lights.)

Just to be up-front, this instructable doesn't contain details on how to build induction coils or the lights themselves. I adapted commercially available magnetic induction lights to fit my bike perfectly, opening up the cases so that I could separate the lights from the coils.

A short video is below, showing the initial test of the separated coil, the finished setup, and how it looks at night:



Read on to see how it was done!
 
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Step 1: "Reelight," its Shortcomings, and Other Options

Picture of "Reelight," its Shortcomings, and Other Options
REELIGHT-FITT2.gif
reelight.jpg
Reelight is a commercial product by a Danish company. At present, they're the only large manufacturer of these induction-powered bike lights that I know of. I've attached some diagrams from their manual, below, showing how the lights work.

The problem with Reelights, though, is that they are mounted directly on the wheel axles. This makes the actual product small and compact (the coil and light are in one integrated unit) but has a number of shortcomings:

  • The lights are very low to the ground, making them less apparent to drivers
  • The arms can flex a bit as the magnets pass by them, so they have to be adjusted every so often
  • The arms are kind of ugly

Separating the coil and the lights would solve these problems. The could could be mounted directly on the frame, making it smaller and less obtrusive. It would be much more secure, requiring no adjustment. Finally, the lights could then be placed anywhere on the bike, connected by wires.

One last, big drawback of Reelights is their cost. They cost anywhere from $25 for a low-end one to $85 for a fully-featured pair, plus shipping. So I'm also including some links to help people get started with making their own induction coils, circuits, and lights.

Okay, onwards to how my Reelights were set up!
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safesearchoff4 months ago

would it be possible to mount the coil & circuit to the spokes, and instead have the magnets be fixed to the fork, in order to wire LEDs to the tire rims/spokes themselves? or would the motion of the wheels mess up the way the magnets moved within the coil itself?

monjnoux7 months ago
great job! an inspiration for my next mod!
berserk1 year ago
I have a reellight, and a cheaper Danish (or more likely Chinese) knock-off, love them. I thought about opening them to separate components when I first got mine, but when it didn't want to come apart easily I chickened out. Good for you for going through with it.
Dranem1 year ago
Why haven't you put all the magnet on the same wheel, and the two coils in the same housing? Like that, each coils is used with four magnets...

F:Pourquoi n'avez vous pas mis tous les aimants sur la même roue et les deux bobines dans le même logement ? Comme ça, chaques bobines est utilisées avec quatre aimants...
Tkdwn Dranem1 year ago
Like! :P
Ian012 years ago
Step 2, photo 5. What's the tool in the background that looks like a nail clipper?
Unkful2 years ago
Hey Nagutron, thanks you for these photos and share it, I'm really glad to see your manual, but I have 2 questions. What is capacitor's value (in F)? and, if you only put one of these, may be posible that only one of the couple of led works right? I think that so the coil makes AC and I think the leds are reverse biased to fully profit the AC. I think may be better put 2 capacitors, one for each led, what do you think?
nagutron (author)  Unkful2 years ago
Sadly, the whole thing's been coated and the details aren't visible. For a more from-scratch approach, see these instructables: http://www.instructables.com/id/Contactless-dynamo-powering-bike-safety-lights/ and http://www.instructables.com/id/Contactless-dynamo-bike-wheel-lights/
lets say i wanted to make my own induction charging system. where can i go to find the plans for the charger and the induction coils. i know how to make the coils the problem i have is i dont know how to use them. and help would be greatly appreciated.
nagutron (author)  golddigger15593 years ago
I've never built one from scratch, but this guy did and he has some details in his instructable:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Contactless-dynamo-powering-bike-safety-lights/

I'd love to see photos of whatever you make, when you're done!
nagutron (author) 4 years ago
Note: Reelight now makes lights that do all of this out of the box: http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=578686
nagutron (author)  nagutron4 years ago
 I also wrote a blog post on the new lights. There are photos and PDF in the post.
onrust4 years ago
  These light are GREAT!  I had only one complaint.  When I would walk away from my bike they kept flashing.  Every TWEAKER in the area would be drawn to my bike.........they had to go!  
  If this is not a problem in your area,  these are well worth the money.
rpvanpatt4 years ago
 do you kno about how much volts are created with the coil?
cantsolder5 years ago
Which solder joint on the circuit is positive and which is negative? I plan to directly wire mine rather than use a jack. Also if thicker wiring was to be used on the coil would there be more windings or fewer windings? Do windings have to follow a certain direction?
nagutron (author)  cantsolder5 years ago
I actually don't know which side was positive. I just did the dumb thing and kept track of which wire went where on the lights, and kept those connected on the proper side through all of the components I added (wiring, audio jack, audio cable, coil.) There's probably a better way...
cantsolder5 years ago
One reason why I went to this instructable was that my front Reelight 120 failed (the rear is still working great). I heard a ticking noise inside the housing just before it failed. When I opened up the housing the two strands going to the LEDs had completely broken off their solder joints, leaving the two strands attached to the coil. I think the fragile connection between the LED and coil strands broke during use and the rest broke off when I dremeled the housing. Reelight should have put in beefier wires as there is a lot of vibration on a bike wheel as well as jolts from everyday riding. Maybe speaker wires will work.
nagutron (author)  cantsolder5 years ago
Yes, those wires coming off the coil really are extremely thin. I thought that that just made them difficult to hack, which is excusable, but it they're also less durable under normal use, i'd say that's inexcusable.
cantsolder5 years ago
Having the coil separate from the lights makes more sense; especially for small wheeled bikes. Reelight should consider this and design their nest gen lights to allow remote mounting. Is there a way to do this with electrically conductive glue? I am sensitive to solder fumes and don't handle a soldering tool very well anyway.
funbob5 years ago
Nice insight into the reelight. Can't see what the values are of the capacitor are from the photos. I have some of those hard drive magnets, I also think they would be ideal for this project.
ampeyro5 years ago
could this produce more power putting it further to the enter of the wheel? (maybe it's not correctli written, but, i'm not english)
wobbler ampeyro5 years ago
Actually, you should get more power/voltage by putting the coils further out from the centre as the increased linear speed of passing the magnets past the coils should raise the voltage.
ampeyro wobbler5 years ago
it's vhat i vas trying to say
what is it you mean non english may be a little proplom for reading this
I want to first put power/charge: usb divices, electric bell, batterys and lights. and how much does 1 magnet make with 1 magnet???
is the coil u have used copper if it is then y not just get a lot of it and then make ur own coil that will work in a bigger area for more power and were can i get the magnets like theese and i want to make a betta 1 so i need more to generate enough power to charge a project i am working on...
A dead harddrive (new or old) will provide perfect magnets for this use. Be careful not to let the magnets stick to each to each other, though, they are quite difficult to get apart.
i mean the magnets he used there difrent and i have tryed many hard drives and i only have 1 magnet thats from 3 hard drives only 1 so i dont get them that easy
but again i can use my dremal to cut off those bits that are stoping me to use them...
(removed by author or community request)
thepelton5 years ago
Any idea how much voltage is produced by each pass of the magnet past the coil? What ocurred to me is that if it was 3 volts, or a little more, you could power a bright LED with it, and if the voltage exceeded 3 V, you could either add another LED in series, or a resistor.
nagutron (author)  thepelton5 years ago
I actually worry that the voltage will vary greatly with the speed of the wheels turning. I wonder how complicated a voltage limiter would be, or if it would be needed; I know little about electronics.
If you stored the power from the inductor in a capacitor before passing it on to the light/LED, wouldn't that effectively even out the power levels to the light?
nagutron (author)  chuckr445 years ago
That's what the commercial Reelights do. You can see the capacitor in the close up shots on step 2. I hope at some point that someone designs a cheap, easy-to-build circuit that we can all use.
Sorry, but same here.
neuraxon775 years ago
Excellent! You may also want to add side reflectors, you disappeared in the night test when you turned side on.
nagutron (author)  neuraxon775 years ago
Yeah, thanks. I've since added some great tires (Specialized Armadillos) that add built-in reflection along each rim. They're great and the most puncture-resistant tires I've ridden, too.
milokp nagutron5 years ago
I do like my Armadillos, but the sidewall reflector gets covered with road dirt way too quickly. Not to mention I found a sizable chunk of glass sticking out of my rear just last week. I'm disapointed in that. But the instructable; I'd never thought of induction charging bike lights, I might have to do that for side&rear lights. Front light is a 30 LED shop light with a LiON rechargable that lights up the night quite well. Good job on the rebuild, and lots of pictures to boot!
wobbler5 years ago
Depending on how often you use the bike in the dark, you could feed this into a simple battery charging circuit (using Schottky diodes to eliminate diode losses) and then switch the battery on when necessary. Alternatively, you could use the battery only when stopped. I did this in the past on a bottle dynamo with a simple voltage comparator on a relay (to stop any voltage drops) and switched in the battery whenever the dynamo voltage dropped. That worked with old style bulbs and kept the lights on at traffic lights etc., so it will certainly work with LEDs. However, I currently use two high capacity (7Ah) D-type NiMh driving a puck based 3W Cree headlight made from a Tescos (UK) torch (extremely bright and cheap at £12.99p and sturdy) and a standard 3V flashing front and rear light.
PKM5 years ago
Any idea how much power you can usefully get using these things? They are fine for visibility-only "marker" lights but I think a 3W led headlamp might make your wheel "cog" a bit (or just not get enough power). I'd love to have a go at making the induction coils but I suspect it's a bit too time-consuming.
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