Introduction: CCFL Bike Wheels! (Now With Video!)

About: depotdevoid is short for The Depot Devoid of Thought, the place where you go when you lose…

Just a word of caution, this instructable involves modifying CCFL's, which run on very high voltages.  This can be dangerous, so you should definitely take care when you're doing this, you could easily zap yourself pretty bad.

Way back in the day, when I made my first instructable I decided I really liked the idea of wheel lights. The contest I entered had the monkeyelectric wheel lights as the grand prize, but sadly, I didn't win.

When I saw there was a new contest going for ways to "Light up your ride," I knew I had to enter! I went to my stuff drawers, rummaged around, and came up with this. It was a very simple build, from concept to completed in about 2 1/2 hours, and I think the final result looks quite nice. It's not the monkeyelectric lights, but it's still pretty cool!

****EDIT: Per g-ram's request, I've added the video below. Apologies for the low quality, my camera is not very good for night or low-light video. This should at least give some indication of how it looks in real life.

***UPDATE 5/3/10:  If you decide to make a wheel light like this, post some pictures and I'll send you a patch!***

Step 1: Stuff!

I have a couple of old dressers full of things that I've horded, dismantled, broken, fixed, saved, and created. My stuff drawers. So, I was lucky enough to have all of these materials on hand. I'm guessing if you had to go to radioshack or the internets and buy everything here, you'd probably be looking at around $20-35.

Here's a list of the essentials:

1 CCFL computer case light with driver board
2 4-AA battery holders
1 Switch
Lots of zip ties
Hot Glue (Of course!)
Electrical tape

Step 2: Prepare the Battery Holder

Since the CCFL driver board takes12VDC and then steps it up (I think I read 670 volts), It takes 8 1.5 volt batteries. This is a lot to cram into a bike's wheel, and if I had it to do over again, I'd have got to the store and bought one of those little 12 volt batteries they use in wireless doorbells, or just used a stack of button cells. Sure, it wouldn't last as long, but it would be much lighter and smaller.

I ended up hot gluing a couple of battery holders back to back. A couple of quick touches with a soldering iron and some wire, plus the addition of my pushbutton switch, and the battery pack was all ready to go.

Step 3: Attach the CCFL to the Battery Pack

The driver board was conveniently wired red for positive and black for negative, so another quick touch of the soldering iron, plus some electrical tape to cover the bare parts, and everything was ready to test. I was very pleased to see that I got it working, and didn't electrocute myself in the process.

At this point, I hot glued the battery pack to the top of the driver board's case, and also added a couple of slots in the bottom of the case to run a zip tie through. I put everything back together and slapped some epoxy on it for additional strength, and also added some more zip ties to hold everything together. I've learned you can never be too careful!

Step 4: Install Everything in the Wheel

Okay, so you've got everything put together, now go get your bike and plug it all in. The hardest part of this step was threading the batteries into the spokes. I've got those "hybrid" tires that are supposed to be an intermediate step between mountain bike tires and super skinny racing bike tires, but the hub was quite large enough to accommodate the whole shebang.

I used the zip tie I'd earlier threaded into the bottom of the driver case to attached the assembly to the hub, then used two more to attach the assembly to the spokes, to keep everything from moving. I ran the CCFL along one of the spokes, securing it with three more zip ties. Finally I made sure all the wires were secure and out of the way, and snipped off the loose ends of the ties.

Step 5: All Done, and Final Thoughts

That's the end, I bet you're exhausted! Actually, I really was exhausted, since I got the idea at about 10:30 and kept working on it like an idiot until around 1 in the morning. Up and out of bed at 7 am, yay!

So, this is a pretty neat addition to my bike. I like the way it looks, and the extra weight of the batteries really isn't very noticeable. I'm not going to be moving too terribly fast, so I don't think it will become an issue. It's definitely the wrong season for this, and here in the pacific northwest it's going to rain from now until early June, so if I want to really ride anywhere with this thing, I'll have to waterproof the batteries and the driver. The CCFL itself is already pretty well sealed, which is nice.

As I mentioned earlier, if I get the opportunity I may switch all those bulky AA's out for something smaller. I really like using AA's and AAA's, since I've got a huge pile of rechargeable batteries already, but if I can find something higher voltage that I can recharge, I might go with that.

And now we come to the end! As always, please leave me a comment if you have any thoughts on the instructable, the idea, my writing, et cetera, et cetera. Thanks for looking, and please vote for me when the time comes!

Oh, and if you make something based on this instructable, post some pictures below and I'll send you a patch!

Light Up Your Ride

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Light Up Your Ride