Introduction: The Green Helmet (Solar Powered, Safety Lit, Weatherproof Bike Helmet.)

Picture of The Green Helmet (Solar Powered, Safety Lit, Weatherproof Bike Helmet.)

A solar powered, trickle-charged, weatherproof, safety bike helmet with changeable parts.

> See 45 second video of helmet
> 2-minute video of construction and use
> Charge time: 5-8 hours in full sunlight to charge 4 AA batteries. I used 3 AAA batteries, so it charges in more like 4 hours. It will charge in bright cloud cover as well.
> Runtime being tested, but so far, seems like several hours.
> Replaceable 5 or 10mm LEDs, flashing or not, in O ring sealed mounts.
> Flexible weatherproof solar panel.
> Detachable batteries and panel for use as a AAA battery charger for camping equipment like headlamps that use 3AAA batteries.
> Removable the AAA batteries can be easily taken out and charged in wall if needed, or regular AAAs can be used.

I thought this would be a well-suited application of solar powered trickle charge panels. I only ride at night about an hour a week, so during the day the helmet can sit in a window and charge. Helmet mounted lights also free me from having lights mounted on my bike that need to be detached to keep from being stolen. It works in the rain and so far is always charged when I need it.

This project could be done in many different ways and I spent a lot of time trying different parts and ideas. The key breakthroughs for me were to use 3 AAA batteries, vs the 4AA's that came with the Solar Panel because they were a better balance of weight to the right amount of power and milliamps. I ended up using a simple soft case Velcro wrapped to the helmet, and relied heavily on Black Shoe Goo! (I think it's the new duct tape). Most of the work was getting an easy rapid prototype idea to work rain or shine, for months on end, and be versatile with replaceable parts. I kept it flat black because the helmet is flat black, so chips don't show. And I'm in New York City, where black is the default color.

Good luck! Let me know if you come up with better ideas.

Caleb John Clark. Made at NYU, Tisch School Of The Arts, ITP dept. for Build in Despina Papadopoulo's Softness of Things class
Oct. Nov. 2007

> My Portfolio
> my TechTrek.Tv show

Step 1: Parts & Tools

Picture of Parts & Tools
Tools: Basic electronics tools. Wire cutters/strippers. Sander or file. Heat gun. Electrical tape. Solder iron. Breadboard might be nice for testing, but not needed.


Helmet: Bern black Brentwood with visor pads for summer:

Solar Charger: Flexible Solar Battery Charger SolLite-4AA by Silicon Solar. (I used a different case with 3 AAA batteries).

> 2, Giant 10mm Rainbow Flashing LED: Flash slow, then fast, through red, green and blue. Electronic Goldmine:
Or if you want a longer run time, use regular single color flashing 5mm bulb, say green in color from the sites below.
> 2, Red Clear 10mm Flashing LEDs. Electronic Express:
> 2, Yellow Clear 10mm Flashing LED. Electronic Express:
LED Mounts
Waterproof, replaceable bulb mounts. Takes 5mm or 10mm bulbs.
6, White 10mm 24 inch wired mounts: 593-CNX460X24124 CNX460-X02-4-1-24 VCC LED Lens Mounts from Mouser Inc.

LED Mount Lenses
Clear Water Tight O-ring Fresnel lenses: 593-HMS462CTP HMS462CTP VCC LED Lens Mounts: Mouser Inc.

Battery holder/switch
Radio Shack: "AAA" Battery Holder (Holds 3 Batteries)
Item #: AC-1100-270-0412
Switch: Radio Shack DPDT Submini Slide Switch. Model: 275-407

3 high quality rechargeable AAAs, Ni-Cad seems the choice of lots of solar products.

9 volt battery snap connectors
2, nine volt battery connectors.

Soft Case: Case Logic MP3 Mini Disc Player Shuttle:

Black Shoe Goo: To fill in around mounts and reinforce/waterproof solar panel connectors, and soldering and switch on battery holder:

Standard 'gap filling" super glue for LED pre-Shoe Goo mounting, wiring and reinforcing Velcro edges

Standard Black Double sided Velcro

Reflective Velcro bike wrap

black shrink tubing (electronic stores)

Krylon ultra flat black spray paint. (hardware stores, could use gloss Krylon "Fusion" paint too)

Step 2: Install LED Mounts in Helmet

Picture of Install LED Mounts in Helmet

Before you start gluing, test the LEDs in a bread board, or 3AAAs in a case, or a 4v power source, just to make sure it all works.

The Shoe Goo is for holding and building in the mounts, but also the mounts are placed so as to let air in the front two vents still, and a little out the back and top. You could put lights in all the vents I suppose. Or skip the top ones altogether.

1. Sand 2 of the LED mounts ribs off on two sides. These are for the top two lights so they fit into the tight vents

2. Super glue the six mounts into the vents. I used "gap filling" supper glue. Super glue dries fast, so place them where you want them and then hold them until the glue sets. Let dry. Make sure the O rings can be unsqrewed!

3. Shoe Goo in the big holes. I had to do one at a time since Shoe Goo flows with gravity. So I mounted the helmet in a vise, with one vent pointed up, taped the backside of the helmet's vent, and filled the gaps. Then let it dry for 24 hours. Then repeated for each vent.

4. Spot super glue wires into the air vents of the helmet.

5. Put another layer or two in vents where the Shoe Goo settled.

Step 3: Reinforce Solar Panel

Picture of Reinforce Solar Panel

I broke my first solar panel from moving around the leads that connect to the panel too much.

On my second panel I reinforced the leads with...what Shoe Goo! Both on top and underneath.

Step 4: Velcro

Picture of Velcro

Now it's time for putting the Velcro on the Panel and helmet. It doesn't really matter if you painted or not. You'll have to paint as a last step anyway.

1. I put the fuzzy side of the Velcro on the Solar Panel. I don't suppose it matters. Either way, start with the panel. I used six pieces of Velcro running perpendicular to the where the wires leave the panel, and dealt with the overlap at one end vs. ripping the last piece. It's hard to cut.

2. Mount other Velcro side to the Panel's Velcro, NOT the helmet, this will insure alignment.

3. With the solar panel's bottom showing the sticky (as in glue) side of the Velro, place it squarely on the top of the helmet. Press down hard on all sides.

4. Separate the solar panel from the Helmet, leaving one side or the Velcro on the helmet. Now fix up the helmet Velcro.

5. I edged both the solar panel's Velcro and the helmet's Velcro with super glue. I figured it would keep water from seeping in, but also mean I could someday get the Velcro off of the helmet much easier then if it'd glue down the Velcro on the entire surface.

Step 5: Wiring

Picture of Wiring

I tried 3 different tactics for holding the back batteries. First I tried solid plastic containers for holding wallets when camping/rafting. I was going to mount them directly to the helmet, but be able the take the batteries out of the container. After sever cases and lots of glue, it proved not the way I wanted to go. So I found the little soft case to Velcro on, much better. Could even be smaller.
Either way, the wiring is pretty simple since there's no chip.

1. Get the six white and six black wires twined together.

2. Put on some shrink tubing, like 4 inches.

3. Solder and electrical tape about 8 inches of red wire to the white wires, and black wire to the black wires.

Battery holder to panel connection

Use the black and red wires that come with the battery holder to attach to the solar panel's wires I kept them slaved together since I figured I'd have the batteries with the panel mostly, but you could put any kind of connection. You're going to need an extension of wire too, so two solder joints.

I went from 4 AA's to 3AAAs because it worked fine and was light. I think you'd need about a 150ohm resistor if you went with 4AA's because I burnt out a bulb or two.

1. Cut the 4AA charger that came with the panels. (or if you don't mind the weight, just use it. But beware of the watts, they can blow LEDs)
2. Solder about 8" of red and black wire to the panel's wires. Tape.
3. Put on about 8" of shrink tubing over the joint, close to the panel.
4. Run the wires up into the battery case's hold for ear phones.
5. Then solder to the AAA battery holder's wires and tape.

Power and Switch
Now we've got to get the power to the lights and put a switch in. You could use a variety of switches and cases here, but here's what I did.

1. I carefully soldered red and black wires of a standard 9volt battery clip to the battery case's leads at the same place the leads that came with it attached. However, since I used 9volt battery clips to make it detactable, I soldered Red to black, and black to red And be very careful not to melt the plastic. I did, and had to buy another holder. Cover everything with black Show Goo. Let dry.
2. I mounted the switch guessed it - Black Shoe Goo! Be careful not to glue the switch though. I had to stand around moving it every once i while until the Goo set. You could also super glue it, but that ruined one switch for me.
3. Cut the black wire and wire it to the switch on both the 9volt clip end and the battery case end. Solder, cover with more black Shoe Goo!
4. Once it's all wired, and it works, heat gun the tubing to tighten it around the wires.

Step 6: Paint

Picture of Paint

Now a final coat of ultra flat black paint and we're done. I used ultra flat black to match the original paint on the helmet, the black Shoe Goo, black solar panel, and black case. This way cratches won't be visible. You could use any color though, if you put a few coats on.

1. Buff, bondo, Shoe Goo, very carefully sand, any bumps or blemishes.
2. Detach panel and case.
3. Tape up Velcro to cover
4. Take off O ring lenses and wrap LEDs in tape, or take out LEDs and cover holds they go into.
5. Wash with rough sponge, rinse, dry
6. Spray paint. Let dry a full night.



edina2015 (author)2011-10-26

So if you do wreck the solar panells will get ruined right?

calebjc (author)edina20152011-10-26

If you hit the panels, yes. But I hear one should get a new helmet after a crash anyway. This helmet was not modified at all structurally, the lights were put in existing vents. I would not cut or modify any helmet personally ,as it can change how safe it is. If you can, embed the lights deep too, so the don't catch on anything as Pellepoloton pointed out.

pellepeloton (author)2008-08-02

Is this a safe helmet I ask? First, it looks like an old helmet without slippery hard shell? I have seen a lot of helmets where the original plastic cover has fallen off so it only has polystyrene shell left. Hit your head into asphalt and it does not slide but grips and twists your neck!! I will not speculate what will happen next. Secondly, those added modifications stick out, and in the case of hopefully unlikely accident or even hitting a tree with your helmet, it will get caught causing your head to twist? The primary purpose of any helmet is to protect the wearer from shocks and reduce the possible injury and any modification added into helmets may compromise these.

i dont even wear a helmet.

YellowRex (author)Yerboogieman2009-11-30

 I hope someone deserving gets your organs.

No helmet bikers (motor or otherwise) make the best donors.

Yerboogieman (author)YellowRex2009-11-30

No kidding. If you can find a helmet that fits my head, i will buy it.

Xellers (author)Yerboogieman2008-09-02

And you claim this as if it were a good thing?

Yerboogieman (author)Xellers2008-09-02

i don't know, but i just saved a bunch of money on my car using the new Google chrome. they're uncomfortable and hurt my head, although its probably going to hurt my head even more when i crash on pavement. its a lose/lose situation.

jillg (author)Yerboogieman2008-09-24

i just got google chrome. waaaaaay better than microsoft internet explorer

NetReaper (author)jillg2009-02-14

WTH why use either when u got firefox

Yerboogieman (author)jillg2009-01-19

Firefox is better.

NetReaper (author)Yerboogieman2009-02-14


Redgerr (author)pellepeloton2008-08-14

it looks prety safe to me :O i imagin that it is one of those really expenceive ones that they modified, it looks like one of mine. also it could be a skatebord helmet, they are made differently but do about the same thing :O hope i helped :O

calebjc (author)pellepeloton2008-08-05

As I've said, the modifications might compromise the safety I think. I'm not qualified to judge that, but I didn't cut the helmet at all or alter its structural integrity, and the lights might break off before the helmet broke, I'm guessing. This was a school project and made for New York City night riding in the wilds of Manhattan.

callmeshane (author)2007-11-15

This is actually really well done... Pity someone isn't making helmets with thin recess's in them to take a a couple of AAA batteries. I ride my bike all the time... and it's great.... BUT.. I don't agree with bad (read exceedingly stupid) fashion trends - such as using "all black" helmets (and other clothing) on bicycles, ESPECIALLY at night.... Of all the cumulative things that you can do to keep yourself from getting run over, wearing black or dark colored clothing, this is probably the dumbest, along with no lights at all. Once many years ago, there was a new industrial estate going up near where I lived. And it had a stretch of dead flat very wide and absolutely straight and mostly unlit road... about 3km of it. So no people, no cars, no houses... no cops.... and in the middle of the night...... So I opened the motorbike up a bit... And my bike was as loud as.... with the throttle opened up - a tad... I had my lights on and everything..... And right in the middle of the road, some idiot of a kid, with NO lights, NO reflectors, WEARING BLACK pants and sweater and helmet... This idiot rode off the footpath and straight across the road - right into my path.... I was only speeding a little bit...... not much... And I had to BRAKE HARD and SWERVE to stop from running right into him..... And the thing is that because of the lack of lights and the way he was dressed, and he came across the road from the footpath, in an unlit area..... I was not able to see him, until he was just about wrapped around the front of my motorbike...... I still to this day, regret not having gotten off the bike and having beaten the daylights out of them, instead of coming back to yell at him.... "Get some some fucking lights" So just because all the other idiots use black colored helmets, doesn't mean you have to as well.... The trend or fashion for wearing BLACK helmets, is a stupid thing for stupid people. SAFE cycling counts, High visibility and being EASY to see, make for a lot of survival bonus points. Accumulate them.

callmeshane (author)callmeshane2007-11-18
This kid on the bike in all black with no lights, on the unlit street.... he came fast from the side of the road and I had like a second or so of vision to brake and swerve.....

If had not of braked HARD and swerved I would have hit him square on and he WOULD have died..... and I would have wrecked my bike, probably have hurt myself a bit and then had heaps of problems with the cops and the paperwork and all that.... and these are MAJOR hassles I just don't need.....

My bike is a BIG BMW Desert bike with crashbars and all.... and it has pretty good head lights...

Black clothing - it almost TOTALLY absorbs light.....

Toss in background lighting and other distractions and car drivers generally are going to have a hard time seeing you, until you become a hood ornament.

One of the BEST night time clothing accessories is to go to the clothing recyclers, and buy some larger BRIGHT WHITE cotton business shirts....

They fit over everything, they ARE highly visible and they are cheap...

A few of the red and white and yellow prismatic reflective tape strips on the WHITE helmet...

Toss in front, side and rear reflectors and good head and tail lights...

And some reflectors in the spokes.....
Bicycle Victoria is a self organised collective of bicycle groups and it runs some big shows.....

And even they are pushing to crunch people who ride without lights... Although I think fining people is unproductive, and making them pay for a NEW set of lights, is productive, never the less what I once saw - like a FOOL, as impingements upon my liberties and intelligence, that these "safety things" are generally well thought out, practical and very good things to do and have.

The stats for fatal and serious injuries without lights are pretty bad......

Increase the fine for riders without lights

Bicycle Victoria today has called on the Victoria Police to increase the penalty for cyclists riding without lights.

The call, on the shortest day of the year, comes after a recent Bicycle Victoria survey revealed that more than a quarter of bike riders are riding on roads at night without proper bike lights.

Despite a three-year campaign to get riders to use lights, Bicycle Victoria is disappointed that there has been no change in the proportion of riders without lights in the run up to the shortest day of the year.

Harry Barber, CEO of Bicycle Victoria said today, “We are now calling on the police to raise the fine to one penalty point or $108 for riders who do not have working lights at night.”

The current fine is half a penalty point - $54.

Mr Barber said a higher deterrent was needed to make riders understand that riding at night without lights increases the risk of collisions and road trauma.

“Our surveys indicate that around a third of all fatal collisions are related to dark conditions,” said Mr Barber.

In Victoria, between 2000 and 2005, a quarter of all collisions (23.56%) leading to riders being killed or hospitalised were in dark conditions.

  • In 2004 four of the eight cycle fatalities occurred at night or in semi-darkness and involved cyclists riding without lights or with inadequate lighting. (VicRoads June 2006)
  • In 2005 none of the seven fatalities were associated with lights or light conditions
  • In 2006 five of the thirteen cycle fatalities occurred at night or in semi-darkness

A survey of 4 500 drivers in Queensland confirmed that motorists find it frustrating when bike riders don’t use lights at night. The survey (RACQ October 2006) put riders without lights at night at 7th on the top ten annoying things for motorists. In this survey, riding at night without lights was the bike rider behaviour that was most annoying for drivers.

This is a good read... a little superficial in comparisions..
A good name (author)callmeshane2008-07-27

Dude, chill out. Wearing a black helmet isn't going to kill you. Wearing all black on a black bike without reflectors or lights is. Just because the guy's helmet is black, you don't need to freak out on him.

Spook-rabbit (author)A good name2009-08-22

Not to mention those light on the helmet which were the focus of the instructable. Why are we worrying that he used a color to blend in with the SHOE GOO?

NetReaper (author)callmeshane2009-02-14

spaz much?

Rimwulf (author)callmeshane2009-04-30

I had black jacket that I wore but it was striped with gray reflector material so I was seen.

njzammit (author)callmeshane2007-11-16

i agree with what shane is saying becuase you won't see them at night.. aspeciaaly this which is a matt black what i recommend is some glow in the dark tape and make a couple of lines, just to make it a bit more visible.

fungus amungus (author)njzammit2007-11-16

glow in the dark tape is useless. I'd recommend some of the 3M reflective tape. You can get it in glossy black so it won't look weird.

njzammit (author)fungus amungus2007-11-17

i wanted to say reflective tape sorry.. ps 10x for pointing it out...

BeanGolem (author)njzammit2008-08-19

There are many places online to get some killer any-color-you-want reflective tape. Even black. hah. So in the day time it blends in perfectly but at night it lights up white in headlights.

Yow, that was a bit of a hefty rant, but it's true, too many people ride wearing all-black and no lights or reflectors at night. I call them bike ninjas and there are lots of them in SF. Some of the worst offenders are those who ride with a blinkie on their messenger bag and then ride with the bag high up enough so that the blinkie faces straight up and does nothing. What's so tough about mounting it on the bike?

njzammit (author)fungus amungus2007-11-16

if you call them ninjas.. i'll call them Kamikaze!! i think some mountain bikers think it's makes them look uncool to have lights on a bike.. well if you are reading.. ITS MUCH MORE UNCOOL IF YOU END UP WITH A DOZEN BROKEN BONES AFTER AN ACCIDENT!!!

FaqMan (author)2009-01-19

Good job on this its safe reusable and power its self.

JellyWoo (author)2008-12-04

cool, how much did the solar panel cost?

JellyWoo (author)calebjc2008-12-05

cool, thanks.

agis68 (author)2008-09-25

Nice job pal but but useless......because yes the light is ok but what waste of the helmet!!!!.....ts....ts.......ts

Bisquick the ninja (author)2008-07-27

If callmeshane was not being stupid HE wouldn't have had to worry about it!! Did you ever think that he might have been a ninja trying not to be seen by spy satellites!!!??? If you were a ninja hunter and you saw some freak running down the street wearing reflective tape on his back in the shape of a target wouldn't you feel compelled to shoot him!????!!!!!?!?!?1 Dude! Don't change a thing calebjc! Except next time add some tear gas that shoots out the back so if someone is chasing you on there bike you can just push a button and make them cry like communist pansies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !!!!! !!! !! ! !

Bisquick the ninja (author)2008-07-27

I'm liking the black!! it's perfect for beginning ninjas who don;t want to hurt themselves buy falling out of a tree on there heads!

foxtrot4697 (author)2008-07-27

try making a wind power one.when you're biking the breeze will spin the spinny thingy

teeps (author)2007-11-30

Really great instructable! Just wanted to give a heads up that these helmets can be found for way below MSRP over at Sierra Trading Post

bofthem (author)2007-11-20

Would you consider submitting this to the Mashup contest?

Maybe the laser cutter contest too?

calebjc (author)bofthem2007-11-20

sure, I joined the groups. didn't see how to add my instructable though, i'm still getting used to the GUI of site...I didn't think it was applicable at first glance a few weeks ago, but seems like I was wrong. The mashup and laser titles threw me.

Zetheros (author)2007-11-16

you know, it seems that every time I fall from a bike, it's near impossible to land on your head. usually it's either the chin, the elbows, etc.

pellepeloton (author)2007-11-16

Is it safe in case of accident? Safety is compromised after modifications! First : as someone pointed out it is black, not making the helmet visible on some conditions? Second: is that bare polystyrene helmet painted black. Good helmets have hard sliding surface which means that if you hit your head to asphalt it will slide and not stick breaking your neck! Third: Any attachment like the solar panel and battery compartment could cause helmet getting caught in case of accident. I have broken my both collarbones on cycling separate accidents and would not risk having a head injury if I can help it.

larrymroy (author)2007-11-15

Your setup renders the helmet null. The attachments will easily penetrate the helmet in an accident, making it useless. Thus, turning the rider into a memory.

calebjc (author)larrymroy2007-11-15

Yeah, it totally compromises the safety of the helmet. I figure since the lights are a small percentage of the surface area of the helmet, it will depend where it hits, and most likely, it wouldn't hit on a light. And they are in vents, so the original structure of the helmet has not be altered. The front one could push in on a direct frontal hit, but if hit on the side, they'll snap off I think. The Shoe Goo is totally cured now and amazingly dense, but also not brittle. More like sneaker soul rubber.

csiprun (author)2007-11-14

Hey, do the visor and ear pads detach on that helmet?

calebjc (author)csiprun2007-11-14

Yes. I picked it for that purpose. You can Velcro in summer visor and clear vents, or winter ear protectors and closed vents. It's a snowboard/ski/skateboard/bike helmet.

jongscx (author)2007-11-12

Personally, I would just go with one big light in the middle, so you wouldn't have to mess with the cross distance of the two lights, plus cars will automatically assume you're a motorcycle instead of a car... But my helmet has vents all over the place, so it was more convenient to do that anyway. good job caleb

calebjc (author)jongscx2007-11-13

And that would be a little cheaper, you could only do one light up front, and one in back if you wanted.

jongscx (author)calebjc2007-11-13

I just bought a headlamp, like spelunkers use... only a lot cheaper, since it was on clearance. It's center-mounted, using the original straps, running them through the vents. It has 1 red , 2 large whites, and 1 uber-bright possibly halogen (probably not, but it's too bright to be a regular filament bulb). It works great, switch on LEDs for dusk, when I need a little light to be noticed, but not necessarily illumination, the halogen for when I actually need the light to see, and the red... you know, for when I need light, but don't want to be noticed... (yeah sketchy) or if I'm riding with my IR gear on (Kidding...) It works great, since it's meant to be on your head, it was built simple and light, can hardly notice it's there. Plus, it has a built in tilt thing, so I can adjust the light throw on the fly.

calebjc (author)jongscx2007-11-13

Right on. I have a 3AAA headlamp and I think i'd use that instead if I needed to see the road too. And just the the solar to charge those batteries at home or on trips. In NYC it's all about safety on all sides, and it always seems light enough to see the road at any hour.

-insertnamehere- (author)2007-11-11

It's like a rave party on your head! (just make sure to not go by anyone with epilepsy) jk

jongscx (author)-insertnamehere-2007-11-13 you've given me the idea of the strobe-helmet...

tinman01 (author)2007-11-11

I love this idea, frankly it rocks and looks good to boot. However, does the use of the solvent weaken the foam of the helmet, making it less protective? Any thoughts about how to test (non-destructively) Also does this throw the balance of the helmet noticeably off?

About This Instructable




More by calebjc:Treadmill Walking Desk. Under $200.Bar Codes for Babies: A Mobile From BoxesTeach Your Unborn Child About Star Trek
Add instructable to: