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Retro Bike Taillight Upgrade - Incandescent to LED conversion (With Magnetic Switch)

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Picture of Retro Bike Taillight Upgrade - Incandescent to LED conversion (With Magnetic Switch)
I love my retro bikes. I've had about 6 of them over the years and despite their quirks (and sometimes dangers) you learn to love these beautiful steeds.

But you know what REALLY annoys me? My Incandescent dynamo taillights and the amount of tiny little bulbs I've been through over the years! If there's one thing that everyone here on Instructables knows "If it can be made better with an LED, then what the HELL are you waiting for?"

This instructable was created for the 2013 bike competition, It basically substitutes the dynamo system with a closed unit LED system that is triggered using a magnetic switch so to completely maintain the original look, integrity and beauty of the taillight while providing the convenience of a long-life lithium-LED set-up.

I had been thinking about doing the conversion for a few months but the competition gave me the kick in the butt I needed, so here it is!

Strap in Retrophiles, your 1960 stylings are about to meet 21st century reliability!
 
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Step 1: To Begin

This is a fairly simple procedure and anyone who knows simple electronics and bike bits will be right at home with this conversion.

Parts & Tools You'll Need
  • Your original bike taillight
  • 1 cheap LED bike light - One of the small ones, preferably red with a flashing function.
  • 1 small Reed Switch - A type of magnetic switch, I salvaged one from an old cycle computer sensor, but any electronics store will have one.
  • A small Neodymium Magnet.
  • Some thin insulated wire - Again I salvaged some from the cycle computer, you don't need much, 30cm or so.
  • Some decent Electrical or Gaffer Tape.
  • A Soldering Iron, Solder and a Solder Sucker (If that's the way you roll).
  • Willingness to part with tradition.

Find a comfortable place to work with your bike close at hand, Let's get started.




bobcat19471 year ago
Super instructable. Hacking this light fixture to upgrade is great. Your pictures captured the progression very well. DId the original led fixture have a 'clicky' switch? Do I understand correctly then, that the reed switch and magnet replaced the clicky?
Doodyideas (author)  bobcat19471 year ago
Hey Bobcat! The reed switch does indeed replace the original 'clicky' switch, or be it simply a circular springy piece of metal that makes contact when pressed down (You can see this component really clearly in figure 5).

The momentary switch (on when held down) just tells the circuit to 'move' to the next function (On, Flash or Off) when contact is made, hence when the reed switch is closed/activated buy the magnet the same function is performed.

Saying this, you could replace the reed switch with any momentary switch, ie drill a hole and install one on the top etc, but the 'non-invasive' option was what I was going for here. Thanks for the feedback, Happy building! D
Thanks for the quick and thorough response!
Very detailed instructable! Great Work!
rimar20001 year ago
This is useful and very well explained.
Doodyideas (author)  rimar20001 year ago
Thanks Rimar, Appreciate your encouragement, your track record is an extremely motivating body of work. After many years of treating Instructables as the online bible of think-tank brilliance I'm excited to finally pen a few gospels of my own ;)
What a cool build! Thank you so much for sharing this.
Doodyideas (author)  audreyobscura1 year ago
Thanks Audrey! No worries, It's definitely inspired me to get more of my crazy projects on here! :)