Instructables

Ultimate Night Vision Headlamp - 500+ lumens with only 8 watts

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Headlamp flashlight technology takes a quantum leap! You can have it all: * Intense brightness * Lightweight * Long life * Low cost * Rechargeable * Unbreakable * Small * Waterproof * Unique shocking turquoise color

Race proven! I put the light to the ultimate test by competing in the Gold Rush 24-hour Adventure endurance race in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Many of the other competitors had $500 HID lamps from NiteRider, Light & Motion, etc, yet throughout the race nearly everyone that saw my light commented as to its extreme brightness or asked where they could get one. It was that much brighter than anything else.

Specs:
brightness: 500+ lumens / 7 million+ mcd @ 15 degree
weight: 120 gram headlamp + 60 gram electronics + 280 gram battery pack = 460 gram total
cost: $60 including batteries
lifetime: 3, 6, 12, 24 hours (4 brightness settings)
size: headlamp portion 5cm x 5cm x 2.5cm
rechargeable: Ni-MH or Lithium-Ion batteries (your choice)
unbreakable: LED technology

Tech:
- Cyan (or Green) high power/high efficiency LED's
- high-transmittance TIR lenses
- high-efficiency DC/DC step-down converter

None of this was possible just a couple years ago, but now it can be done easily with inexpensive components you assemble yourself!

i've got several other power-LED instructables too, check those out for other notes & ideas.

This article is brought to you by MonkeyLectric and the Monkey Light bike ilght.


 
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futureboy2 years ago
WHERE ARE THE BEAMSHOTS!!!!!!??????!!!!111one
djzadjza2 years ago
hey, awesome light. i found a buckpuck on luxeon's website. this was the description;
The 3023-D-E-1000 BuckPuck 1000mA dimmable driver is a 5-32VDC, high efficiency, true current regulating driver specifically designed to power one or more high power LEDs or LED arrays.

Ideally suited for powering all configurations of Luxeon Rebel LEDs, the 3023-D-E-1000 driver exhibit high efficiency and require no external current limiting resistors or additional heat sinking. A fast response current-sensing circuit makes it ideal for applications where flashing or strobe operation of the LED is required."
do you think this buckpuck would still need the two adjustment switches? could i just use the dimmer knob? do you think 2 9v batteries would be a suitable batterypack? here is the link to the description

http://www.luxeonstar.com/1000mA-Ext-Dimmable-BuckPuck-Driver-With-Leads-p/3023-d-e-1000.htm
as always,
thanks and great 'ible
SurvivalistAlex
Have you tried this Config yet? I built the original but would like to build more with my cycling club and this would be key!!!
No I haven't tried the config. I haven't had the spare time
In many of the comments here, there is a reference to a "buckpuck"

Please would someone tell me what a buckpuck is ?
A buckpuck is a LED driver, a component which delivers constant current needed by LEDs (especially high power LEDs).
Oimi2 years ago
End result for light intensity appears to be fantastic. Is there a way to make this more attractive and weather/batter proof? It all looks a bit fragile because everything is exposed.
From my experience with night orienteering, I found that a red light is worthless because green plants absorb the red light. Thus, they appear black like the rest of the night. A green light should reflect well from the leaves, making them easy to see. However, the green light may not reflect well from other color surfaces. White light has all the colors and will reflect off of any colored surface. I would like to see this headlamp made with white LEDs.
bsangpulnak3 years ago
Mr.Dan, If I want to put an ac power supply to your project by using a ADC converter, what should I do so that I still get that monstrous lighting capability?
camaxwelljr3 years ago
tto F'n cool!
Joell3 years ago
Hey good job with this project. I especially like the design decisions to use specific wavelength LED's to take advantage of characteristics of the eye. Well done! :)

I found this instructable because I'm trying to make an illuminator for a basketball court for night playing. Would it be sufficient to just omit the lenses because the LED's would still be putting out 45 lumens/watt from your datasheets wouldn't they? Plus the light would be more diffused and wouldn't be blinding to look at i imagine.

Basically this design is appealing because of the contained batter pack and stuff; there isn't a readily available power socket nearby.

Thanks in advance :)
Hy! Gr8 job....
I like 2 Try this...
crobson3 years ago
hey. was wondering what sort of lumens i would get off white ones. as i would like to build one for work... and white would be better.

thanks.
bbennett23 years ago
Is there a way to use 2 turquoise, and 2 red leds on this model, and then use one of the buttons to switch in between the 2 colors? I'd like a headlamp with red led's so that I do not lose my natural night vision when hiking at night; however it would also be nice to have the turquise lights for times when I want a more traditional headlamp... any suggestions?
Turquoise-colored light is still within the range of your night vision, so you don't need to switch to red.
snotty3 years ago
I made mine solar powered.

Someone asked me "Is that solar powered?" I had my solar charger at home but the question prompted me to make my helmet solar charged. 

40 minutes later I had a thin film panel and a diode on there and it's working fine so far.

Now to make a charge level indicator.
blacknkhak6 years ago
i like the idea a whole lot. here are a few suggestions . watch band instead of head band puts the light where your hands are which is extremely helpful for construction related applications. a simple automotive rheostat switch with a single resistor would vastly improve light intensity issues and provide a moonglo effect for periods when only tiny light is necessary. another fact is more bulbs don't mean more light. the intensity of the flashlight does not increase with more bulbs and the light spread increases only modestly while battery life is diminished greatly. four widely spaced bulb would work better than four closely grouped ones.
brad blacknkhak6 years ago
I'm sorry, I have to disagree no almost everything you said. 1) This was built to be a bike light. A watch band bike light wouldn't be useful. You want to put it on your wrist, that's fine. 2) An automotive rheostat would significantly reduce the efficiency of the circuit. While running at low power you'd be losing large amounts of power to the "dimming" circuit. Truth be told, cutting power to individual lights would be a better way to dim this unit. 3) More bulbs DOES mean more brightness, provided the system has enough power drive all four. If you want more spread (not really useful for bike riding), then you can angle yours differently. If multiple lights in the same place didn't "add" brightness, you wouldn't be able to see city lights from space.
blacknkhak brad6 years ago
does having four tires on a bike make it go faster? if this idea was meant to be strictly for one application then why call it head lamp and not bike light? all modern rheostat circuitry is identical to your "buck puck" only undoubtedly clunkier. finally , a significant problem most people have with very bright and focused lights in dark areas is blindness, creating a bike light with a less tight beam would allow for a general field of vision that would undoubtedly allow for natural eye movement that occurs autonomous of the head's orientation. PLEASE UNDERSTAND your creative undertaking is first rate in my view my suggestions are only intended to illustrate enthusiasm.
Maybe someone already mentioned this but I think brightness is added logarithmically which means twice the number of bulbs does not mean twice the amount of perceived light. Sound volume works this way; you need way more (maybe 10 times more?) for it to sound twice as loud for our ears. And I think our eyes see in the same way. Maybe someone who really knows can tell us if we need 10 times more LED to increase perceived brightness 2x.
oops , peripheral blindness. sorry
mrsayao3 years ago
Hey Dan, Great work, I've been meaning to pick up this project for several years now and here I am, you're truly an inspiration!! I was able to source most of the parts, the only difference is that I'm using a single 9v alkaline battery due to portability needed. How would I calculate the resistors I need? I'm using 4 green LEDs that are spec'ed similar to the cyans. I'm not using this setup for a headlamp, so I don't need the full brightness, yet I'd still like to use resistors to lower the brightness further. I purchased a buckpuck rated for 1000mA. With 4 LED's hooked up @300mA each (1200mA total), does that mean I don't need the resistors since the buckpuck will only output 1000mA max? Each LED would be receiving 1.75v @ 300mA (2v accounted for the buckpuck).... Please please correct me if I'm wrong! I have a somewhat basic understanding of all this, but I don't have a teacher to tell me otherwise! Thanks!
For 9V use 3 LEDs in series (if Vf of LEDs is <3V) or 2 parallel pairs of 2 LEDs each. In general you want the power supply voltage a few volts more than the batteries. Now you can use a simple resistor to set the current. Say your forward voltage is 6.8V, at 9V in you have to drop 2.2V so for example 220mA, you need 2.2/0.22 or 10 ohms. For power it's V*I so 2.2*0.22 <0.5W use two 20 ohm 1/4W resistors in parallel if you don't have 1/2W R's, or 3 30 ohm, or 5 47 ohm etc. see below for why to use more larger Rs (small wattage).

The brightness will dim slowly as the battery power drains and the voltage drops, I consider this a good thing, rather than suddenly running out of light. For more fun (and a bit more work) you can arrange a set of switches that add in one 47-50 ohm resistor in parallel, for each switch (little DIP switches are good for this) Each switch will add in 40mA or so. Thus you can cheaply and easily adjust the brightness to the need at the time. Your eyes adjust to a huge range of brightness, often 40mA of light is all you need if you aren't trying to read and want to stay somewhat dark adapted. There is no need to have the light on "full blast" when you don't need to waste that power. And it's a lot cheaper than a IC current regulator.

Look up series and parallel if you aren't sure which is which.
I hope this helps, I love having cheap LED lights that I can adjust to the need at the time. I also do a similar trick with an LM317 wired as a current regulator, but that's another story.
Hi Gavin, thanks for the info! I studied hard and was able to complete
my project, http://www.instructables.com/id/LED-Light-Up-Sims-PlumbBob-That-green-pylon-above/ . I ended up using 3 LEDs with a buckpuck like how Dan did because of my own limited experience with electronics. He does use a LM317 in a different istable. Can you check out my istable and let me know what I can improve on? I decided on not using any switches to control the current, I bought a 1000mA buckpuck but only needed 750mA to achieve the best efficiency, so I calculated the resistor value and put some in parallel in order to get closest to 750mA. Thanks again!!
mrsayao3 years ago
Hi Dan, I have a crap load of 9V batteries at my disposal. They're duracell alkaline... will they work? Would I be able to use 2 of the batteries to account for the overhead, since the buckpuck is regulating the voltage to the LEDS? Also, will I burn out the main big switch since it's rated at 14v? Great work!!
gatorbill3 years ago
great diy project,dan!!.....very detailed,and complete. i am going to check out your other articules. thanks so much for posting!!
instruct394 years ago
i have 3 words for you, and they are SHOOP DA WHOOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Couldn't you just use red?or a cyan/red
why red? because red photons(light particles)do not affect your night vision(as far as I know)
so your eyes will still be able to see in the dark sort of if the light dies and as
Lol loy1 said the rod receptors will still work when you turn off the light.
This is for brightness, not truly a "night vision" headlamp.
you did actually read the title, fool,
its called a "Ultimate Night Vision Headlamp" so it is for night vision
although not necessarily as i was saying if the light fails then your night vision would remeain active
The author is saying this is for seeing at night, not seeing in the dark.
yet you fail again, it is dark at night therefore my argument stands. let me rephrase this... the human eyes are adapted to see(ish) at night if they need to. this is done by opening the pupil to allow more light in. it is dark at night, yes? the human adaption to light levels is known as NIGHT VISION seeing as nighttime is dark. you can test the pupil thing in a dark room with a torch. However i was saying it would be good to be red as red light unlike all other light does not interfere with human night vision other colors would disrupt dark seeing abilities ... if i had a torch (not red) and it failed (batteries?) and i had no way to recharge the torch my eyes would be adapted to the ample levels of light but red light would not make ur eyes used to high light levels so it would illuminate while allowing your "night vision" to maintain itself even if the torch dies.
You're right about the red light not affecting your natural night vision, but night vision equipment allows you to see without casting light over the area.  This is basically a very bright head lamp, not true night vision. 
yes but if its batteries failed then if the lights where red your natural dark seeing type style abilities would not be compromised. also i never meant night vision as in splinter cell type things i meant seeing in the dark without a light source.
Hopefully one's batteries won't die, and if they do, then it will take ~1 minute for your eyes to fully adjust.
well your certainly optimistic. i was i only pointing out a simple way it could be improved but seeing as potential improvements and ideas are such foolish ideas to you i think I'll go and do something else
I appreciate your ideas, but in this particular Instructable the author is trying to attain as much brightness (for our eyes) as possible, and using a red light would decrease that. For your own project you could make a red one easily.
why would red decrease that?
sorry about double post the reply didnt seem to work first time
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