LED Bike/Child Trailer




Introduction: LED Bike/Child Trailer

About: I'm a nerdy dad who just loves to geek out on D.I.Y. Projects. In the immortal words of Ron Swanson "People who buy things are suckers".

I had recently purchased a new child bicycle trailer for my little girl. As winter is coming and the sun is setting much earlier, I decided she needed an upgrade to keep us highly visible and thus much safer from inattentive drivers. Since there are limited options for night visibility, and they are expensive and generally worthless; it was time to DIY. This tutorial will guide you through the creation process of the N.V.L.E.D.U.S......."Night Visibility Light Emitting Diode Upgrade System". Please excuse the poor photos, I lost most of my images due to a corrupted SD card and had to settle for these poor Iphone photos and videos. Since the Make It Glow contest has begun, I decided to just roll with it and upload what I had left. Enjoy!!!

Step 1: Inventory Checklist....

Items you will need to make it glow...

Specific Items...

2 - 8 AA Battery Holders with snap connectors (make those 10x battery holders if you intend on using 1.2 volt Rechargeable Batteries, which you should) - http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062242

2 - 9v snap connectors to 5.5 to 2.1mm Male DC plugs - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005D65LEG/ref=oh_details_o06_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

2 - 5.5x2.1mm 1 Female to 2 Male Splitter 2 Way DC Power Cables (you can make your own 3 way splitter, but I got lazy) - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0050H9A18/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

3 - 5 meter SMD 5050 Water-resistant 300LEDs RGB Flexible LED Strip Light Lamp Kit 44Key IR Remote Controller (Save the Male 2.1mm DC plugs included in this kit...you will use them later) - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AJJDLHQ/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Lots of assorted Heat Shrink tubing sizes and lengths...I cut mine to size but bought this kit to make sure I had what I needed - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008WWC6FU/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

1 - 10 meter roll of 4 color RGB cable spool for 5050 4 pin connections - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009VD3EW8/ref=oh_details_o08_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

1 - 4 Pin Splitter for One to Two LED RGB Color Changing Strips (optional depending on if you choose 1 controller or 2) - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0077IPRAG/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i04?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Lots of LED PCB RGB LED Strip Any Angel Turn Connector, 4 Conductor, For SMD5050 depending on how many turns you need to make (I ran out and had to solder the remaining connections; which took forever so buy plenty!!!) - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006VZKSNC/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i02?ie=UTF8&psc=1

1 - 10pack 10 inch(30cm) 2.1 x 5.5mm DC Power Pigtail Female - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CUKHN0S/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

3 - 48cm LED (any color) Flexible Neon Strip Light - http://www.ebay.com/itm/331029282421?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649

1 kit - LED bike lights *KIT BOTH WHEELS* - safety spoke wheel lights ( I didn't want to build this portion so I bought these from this great company, support them!!!) - http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=271298916515

1 - 2" X 15' roll of Industrial strength Velcro with sticky backing - http://www.amazon.com/Velcro-Industrial-Strength-Sticky-Back-Fasteners/dp/B00006RSP1/ref=sr_1_6?s=office-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1384269340&sr=1-6&keywords=velcro

22 - AA Batteries....(26 if you use the 1.2V Rechargeables) - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004UG41W8/?tag=thewire06-20

1 - Bicycle underseat bag - http://www.amazon.com/BV-Bicycle-Strap-On-Saddle-Medium/dp/B00A3W8EG2/ref=sr_1_3?s=cycling&ie=UTF8&qid=1384269959&sr=1-3

1 - 4 Pin Connectors Male for Led Strip Lights RGB 5050 3528 Insert Easy Use - http://www.amazon.com/20pcs-Connectors-Strip-Lights-Insert/dp/B008LR35VK/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1384270085&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=rgb led light strips connectors

Non Specific Items...

1 - Black roll of Electrical Tape

1 - Soldering Iron

1 - Roll of Rosin-Core Solder

1 - set of "Helping Hands for Soldering"

1 - Pair of Scissors

1 - Pair of Wire Strippers

A big bag of black 8' Tie-Wraps/Zip Ties

A measuring tape

1 - Exacto Knife

1 - Mini hot glue gun and plenty of hot glue

Step 2: Let's Get Started - Draw Your Wiring Diagram

I know it looks terrible but you need to figure out what will work for your bike and/or Bicycle trailer. I started with the power, and worked my way down. The bicycle frame will run on its own power supply, and the trailer will run on its own.  I plotted my paths which I would run my LED strips. Pictured is an example of the bike frame set up. From the power pack, I would connect the 9v snap connector to male 2.1 plug, which would lead into the LED Controller. From there I would connect the LED strip female plug included on the strand. I would measure my lengths, cut and add the quick snap connectors to attach the next length in series. BE MINDFUL AS TO THE ORIENTATION OF THE "12V-R-G-B CONNECTIONS WHEN PIECING THE STRANDS TOGETHER. Altering their polarity will mess the entire thing up!!!
The path I followed for the bike was this.....

From below the seat....

Under seat bag containing the power pack, and RGB controller box...
I made the connection and followed the front of the center down rail.....
It connected to the bottom of the back lower right frame, then another connection to the bottom of the upper right rear frame...
Another connection and it then came down the back of the center down rail, and onto the left side, repeating what I did on the right side...
I used another connection and added the next strand to the bottom of the top rail that ran the inside of the frame heading towards the front on top and wrapped around back to the center down rail...
one last connection to flood the ground on the bottom of the lower frame....

Step 3: Cut and Strip Your Lights to Length...

The light strips couldn't be easier to cut. Look for the cut points (indicated by scissors and the dual sided copper points). Make a clean cut down the center. You will then need to "peel" the waterproofing back to expose the connections. I used my exacto blade and carefully cut until I felt I had reached the strip. I then pushed the blade toward the end of the strip, and the waterproofing simply came off. Be careful not to cut the strip or scrape the sensitive points.

Step 4: Connect and Bench Test Your Connections...

This can't be more important. Plug your power after every connection and make sure everything is working the way it should. I liked to set the controller to "white", which illuminates all the R.G.B. lights at the same time; this would tell me they were properly connected as I made my way through the strand. Because they are in series it's easy to troubleshoot when something doesn't work. Just find the connection where one works and the other does not, then figure out how you goofed it. I will say again pay SPECIAL ATTENTION to the orientation of your connectors. Repeat the process until you finish the strand.

Step 5: Weather Proof Your Connections...

No electrical connections are complete without a bit of weatherproofing, especially in this application. Once you're done with the strand, it's time to seal it forever; like marriage :(
I used the hot glue to seal it all internally.
After it dried I used the heat shrink and e-tape to make sure moisture stands no chance.
Don't skimp on this step, make it last so you don't need to fix it!

Step 6: Connect the Finished Strand to Your Bike...

Once the strand was complete I added the Velcro and connected it to the bike. I cut the 2" velcro in half, then again once more to make 1/2' strips about 12" in length. This made them a bit bigger than the strand (which is fine) and easily manageable strips lengthwise so I could add and cut when necessary. If I was weary about anything I would use the tie-wraps to make sure they wouldn't move anywhere. Finally plug it in to make sure you didn't knock anything loose during install.

Step 7: The Bike Rims...

I won't talk about these too much since I just didn't have the patience to create these on my own. The company I listed in the inventory step has these readily available and they are super cheap. There are tons of instructional videos on how to install their product. What I will say is they are plenty bright, work as advertised, and are dirt cheap so it was well worth the free shipping to have them delivered to my doorstep hassle free. Support!!!

Step 8: Your Bike Is Done...Let's Hook Your Baby Up!!!

Ok now it's time to build the child bike trailer. Don't be scared, this one will go quick now that you know what you're doing!!! To get started you will need to grab your set of 3 waterproof vehicle LED strands. The reason I chose these is because I wanted to have an alternative lighting system in case the controller/s failed. This would serve as an independent source.
I soldered the female 2.1 DC jacks to the wires coming from the lights, paying special attention to the positive/negative leads. Afterwards I heat-shrinked the cables to waterproof. I laid them out and attached them to 3 sides of the trailer, one in the back, one on each side. These were attached to the side of the lower frame pointed down at the ground.

Step 9: Make the 3 Way Splitter for the Previous Step...

Once the lights were laid out in their respective locations, I had to make a female to 3 way male splitter. This would provide power to each of the strands. I say again make sure to solder the connections carefully paying attention to the positive/negative leads. Bench test to make sure they glow. Heat shrink to seal once finished. Afterwards I velcroed/tie-wrapped them to the frame.

Step 10: Add the LED Strip Lights to the Frame After Building...

The movie is an example of the 1st set of lighting I added to the bottom of the frame. You can notice that not all the lights are firing, this is because my battery pack was dying, I was freaking out until I realized what was going on. The 1st set was solely on the undercarriage of the trailer. The only exception was once i finished underneath I added an extra runner cable with a quick connector so I could add the flag. I wrapped the flag with the strand, and made sure I could remove it easily should I need to.

Step 11: Add the Sidewalls of the Trailer..

I added an independent strand to the sidewalls of the trailer. This traced the window to add some three-dimensional depth to the project. When I came to the back of the trailer, I added an extra 2 or 3' of the RGB cable to make sure I could still open and use the back storage area. Thankfully this was the last strand I had to make as I was completely exhausted building this project.

Step 12: Add the Power Pack and Light It Up!!

To summarize the trailer lighting set up....

I had all 3 of the waterproof automobile flex strands leading into a single female 2.1 DC jack power source. I had 2 independent LED light strip strands each independently controlled.
From my single power source. I split the line once, added to one end the 3 auto lights. The other end had the other splitter. From there the 2 RGB controllers were powered. 
By carefully pointing my remote, I could set them to separately control their respective strands.
This is a bare bones set up and cost about $100 USD total.

Whilst riding people honk their horns, wave, smile, and generally pay respects to the floating UFO down the street.
Most importantly, they see me and my daughter and stay far away from us; even in the pitch darkness of the night!!!
I hope this made sense, and please feel free to ask me should you have any further questions.
Good Luck!!!!!
Papa LRG  

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After which timespan do you have to recharge? You might want to add that to your instructable ;)


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

Thank you so much for the kind words!!! It was a bit of a challenge but I would do anything for my little one :)