Cheap High Power Helmet Light

Introduction: Cheap High Power Helmet Light

This site had me addicted for quite a while during the summer. During that time a built some fun stuff. See my trailer submission. One of the things that I really liked was the lighting ideas. Especially since I ride my bike at night a lot.

This helmet light set up is cheap, easy to build and works quite well.

Step 1: Materials

Materials List:

1 qty helmet
3 qty 12v automotive taillight bulbs LED #3156 others will work also but that is what I used. (2) white (1) red. I got my from:
1 qty small length of adhesive backed velcro (hook and loop fastener)
10 qty zip ties
1 qty small length of speaker wire or similar
1 qty small piece of metal, plastic or other stiff material for battery backer
2 qty 9v batteries best if rechargeable
1 qty old bike inner tube
1 qty small switch
1 qty small length heat shrink tubing
2 qty wire nuts
1 qty 9v battery plug. Available at any electronic supply store or salvage from and old toy or electronic device.

Tools Needed:
Wire cutters
Wire strippers
Soldering Iron
Drill and Bits

Step 2: Assembly

I forgot to snap pictures of the first couple of steps but they are pretty easy.

Solder wire leads to the end of the bulbs. They will only work one way so test your polarity before final solder. I ride rain or shine so I put some water proofing over them. I put a small length of bike inner tube with a little heat shrink tube to keep it tight.

I scavenged a 9v battery plug and a small switch from an old toy train my kids had broken. The 9v plug was separated so the + and - could be put in different places. I soldered pig tails of wire to the switch and the 9v battery plug parts.

I drilled a few holes in the piece of metal and zip tied it to the back of the helmet. This is the backer for the batteries. I put velcro on the batteries and a loop around for good measure. You will notice the batteries are plugged end to end creating a series and results in 18 volts. That is why the plug had to be separated in to two.

Once all the parts were prepped I put small pieces of velcro on the bulbs, batteries and switch. The two white bulbs face the front and the one red faces the back. After some trial and error I mounted all the parts. Once finalized the position of every part I zip tied over the velcro just for good measure.

Finally the wires were trimmed to length and wire nutted together. The wiring is simple; all the white wires go to + side of the battery supply, all of the black wires from the bulbs go to one side of the switch, then the wire from the - side of battery pack goes to the other side of the switch.

Step 3: Results

The final results work very good. I recommend rechargeable batteries since it will go through batteries. I have not tried it straight through for timing, but I can get a few evening 45 minute rides in on a charge.

The weight of the batteries on the helmet is enough for you to definitely feel. After a couple rides I got used to it. Now it is normal to me.

The light is very bright and works well. I try to be careful not to tilt my head up too high while on the road. Running them over the 12 volts really cranks out a blinding beam.

I thought I might have a durability issue with the bulbs running over 12 volts but it has been several months of use with no failure yet...

It is hard to take a good picture with my camera but you get the idea. Nice and bright.

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    9 years ago on Introduction

    I don't know if I would trust this setup to be weatherproof. The exposed electronics in rain and snow may be an issue. And to be honest, it's quite unsightly. Also, the 9v battery is a less than ideal platform as 9 volts are pricey, less common, and don't last very long. Ideally you'd want a rechargeable pack, or AAs. Also, the rear light is unsafe, as it will confuse motorists. Rear lights need to be red, and a quality LED tail light will be bright enough to get you noticed. And two lamps may be overkill. It just adds more weight and power consumption. One helmet headlamp, and one bar mounted headlamp is best.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the feedback. I do not ride much in the rain or snow but what light wetness I have had no issues thus far. As for the 9 volts I wanted something that would be light on top of my head. They fit the bill and I was able to get a pretty cheap rechargeable set up pretty cheap. When they fail I will look for something more suitable. The rear lamp is red it does not look it until it is lit up. You can see it in the pictures with it in use. I have found the helmet light is best used with a bar light too. I did the two vs. one since I am often off road and it gives just a bit more width to the beam pattern.

    Keep the feedback coming I like to know what people see in my designs.