Picture of Simple POV wheel lights
This Instructable will show you how to make POV lights for bike wheels that generate random colors and patterns and doesn't require any electronic circuit boards or special skills. When I first saw a monkey light I thought that is cool can I make one? Then I saw the electronics and thought probably not. After a bit more thinking maybe I don't need the electronics just to make random patterns. So I built it, not knowing what i would get in the end but it works pretty good. You don't need much to make them and should only take a couple of hours. Other road user certainly notice you at night and children point and say "look mummy his bikes on fire"
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Step 1: Getting Started

Picture of Getting Started
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The way the circuit  works is very simple. If a flashing LED is wired in series with a number of normal non flashing LED they will all flash. As flashing LEDs flash at slightly different rates it only take a few seconds before you start to get some interesting patterns and colors. The parts you will need can be bought quite cheaply from an electronics hobbies shop or if you don't have one near by, from the internet. I chose red blue and green LED ribbons and red 1 HZ flashing LEDs, and you will also need two 9vot batteries.
Parts List
  •     3 LED ribbons (red blue green)
  •     3 flashing LEDs
  •     2 Nine volt batterys
  •     2 Battery snaps
  •     Cable ties
  •     Clear plastic or acrylic
  •      Switch
  • Soldering iron
  • Hot glue
  • Insulation tape
  • Wire cutter/ stripper
neklausk6 months ago

thats too much wires ma dude

Ravirar11 months ago
It would be cool if this was pedal powered. :)
stevecinstrfme11 months ago
Wouldn't this circuit more accurately be described as Series/ Parallel since part of it is in series and part of it is in parallel?
Homee201011 months ago
Nicely done. Since I am a cycling commuter, I shall build this, especially with these shorter days and I'm often riding 13 miles in the dark. Have the front and rear lights already, but this will be cool.
liquidhandwash (author)  Homee201011 months ago
thanks homee
johnbee7011 months ago
Great start man ! You know, if you make a plan of a snap-on housing for the batteries, and simplify the contacts (like maybe a rotating "switch" that goes on and off as the wheel and its lights go around and contact is "intermittent", eliminating the need for a flasher.) Then of course you have the light generators that were popular (and much more effective) before these goofy flashing lights came on the market, I mean like doing 60 miles an hour down a dark mountain road surrounded by trees, so you don't even get moonlight nor light from neighborhoods a half mile away, right? So you need a constant source of light on a bicycle or motorcycle, or you're gonna hit something you didn't see because of the shadow patterns from the Flasher! Anyway, got on a tangent there! ha,ha! (The reason I mention that stuff is that I lost my lights in a similar way, because I was going so fast down a windy hillside, it burned out my generator! Fortunately the guy behind me (a pickup truck) had his lights on, and I used those to make it down! When he passed me at the bottom, he hollered out the window that I was really going fast, hollered back that I'd just bought it and was testing it out! We laffed and went on! Oh well, just another moment in our own little twilight zones! Good thinking Man! Have fun! Happy Halloweeeen ! ha,ha! (Oh, by the way, that rotating switch wouldn't be cheap, but you could sell a Kit (Shark Tank Moment?) and it would sell ! Free Country ! Good Luck !
nfaction11 months ago
I learned a trick back in my electronic assembly days with hot glue that a compressed air can is your friend. If you turn the can up-side-down when you spray, freezing cold air comes out and can instantly cure your hot glue. This also has the nice advantage of keeping your glue clear and cloud-less. Plus the added advantage of setting quickly.
liquidhandwash (author)  nfaction11 months ago
thanks thats good to know
carrbuck1211 months ago
There from Argos
morgoth_lord11 months ago
Maybe setting the leds in clear plastic tubing and fastening it to the spokes will make for a cleaner setup and will give better light for both sides... I see Burning Man builds with these setups coming up!!!
liquidhandwash (author)  morgoth_lord11 months ago
Thanks I hadn't thought about putting the ribbons in tube
imatoymaker11 months ago
Nice project. Was looking for information for a DIY IR flood light recently and this guy had a circuit you might find useful.
liquidhandwash (author)  imatoymaker11 months ago
bettbee12 months ago
I wonder whether you could rig something up with capacitors so the pedaling of the bike would be the power supply and the capacitors would let it out at the right voltage/current? (I can't but I thought someone here might know how.) No batteries to replace then.
Magnet on the forks and a Coil on the spokes would do that, certainly enough to be able to run one of the smaller systems, not sure about this one since it needs 9v.
audreyobscura12 months ago
liquidhandwash (author)  audreyobscura12 months ago
Thanks Audrey, I was going for fabulous, but awesome is even better.
double awesome!
imalan5412 months ago
With it working better when the battery voltage drops, I would try hooking the 2 9v batteries up in parallel. Positive to positive, negative to negative. This will give you 9v at double the capacity which will make the batteries last longer.
agulesin imalan5412 months ago
LED strips (ribbons) work at 12v so 9v batteries in parallel won't be enough, even if you connect ten of them in parallel.
liquidhandwash (author)  imalan5412 months ago
It needs around 16 volts to work correctly, as below that voltage the brightness drops dramatically. It more when you first turn it on with new batteries the flash rate it a bit off with the Led ribbons staying on too long, after about 10 minutes or so it starts to look really good. It just that first time you turn it on with new batteries, the voltage is close to 20 volts, but they then settle down to 18 volts, which works much better.
depotdevoid12 months ago
Very cool! Any chance of some video?
liquidhandwash (author)  depotdevoid12 months ago
thank you, I tried to take a video of the wheel in action but haven't had much success, Its a bit like filming a spinning propeller I keep getting some strange looking results that don't look like anything that you can see with the naked eye, and dont do the project justice.
I had difficulty getting decent video of my CCFL wheel lights too.  I'm not sure what a good solution would be, but it would still be nice to see it in action.
sekitori12 months ago
Nice !
Elegant and simple - the best ones...
You got my vote.
Any ideas on wheatherproofing this ?
liquidhandwash (author)  sekitori12 months ago
thankyou. you can get water proof LED ribbon, plus heat shrink and a battery box, and it would be water tight. The sun is pretty harsh here so Im not sure what you can do about that.
Jedrokivich12 months ago
Great project! Voted :) Try using some heat shrink tubing instead of electrical tape to tidy up those wire connections.
Random has it on lock. My idea was wedging a 3LED bicycle tail light integrated circuit after selecting what color LED to flash. This idea purpose is much more appealing. Nice Work. Any fried "bulbs" yet?
liquidhandwash (author)  audioadvisory3812 months ago
No "fried bulbs" But I have noticed the patterns change and look better as the batteries run down. 18 volts is probably a little too high but I haven't had any fail.
led_freak12 months ago
That's a great project. It's such a smart idea to use the flashing LED's circuit instead of building something complicated. I really like your way of thinking.:)
liquidhandwash (author)  led_freak12 months ago
Thanks led
bakunin12 months ago
Very cool! And well documented.
Don't fret about the photos! It is notoriously hard to take snaps of blinkenspokes in motion.
In fact, I really like your creative solution to the problem: stop the bike and spin the wheels!
liquidhandwash (author)  bakunin12 months ago
Thanks, i thought it was just my crappy camera