Bike Wheel Lights Hack

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Introduction: Bike Wheel Lights Hack

About: Passionate maker

Night time visibility is an important factor in the safety of riding a bicycle. But who am I kidding this light is simply cool and that's why you want it :D Fortunately the light is super simple to build, doesn't require any special tools or skills. Just time and patience.

Also, check out the video with the entire build process documented.

Step 1: Before You Start

There is a couple of things you'll need:

- glow in the dark paint: here or here | 4x 20g bottles are more than enough

- 12x UV LEDs - just get 100 of them as they are so cheap

You will also need some masking tape, paintbrush and wire to hook up the LEDs. Lastly, you'll need a battery holder for 2 AA batteries or you can you power bank like I'm doing.

Step 2: Painting

First and the most time-consuming step is painting the wheels. It's pretty straightforward however. You could try painting the circle free handed but that probably wouldn't end up great. Instead, it's a lot easier to mask out the outline of the circle. First of all, find a spot where you want the circle to be and clean the surface thoroughly. I started with a wet sponge to get most of the dirt out and then followed with some alcohol and paper towel.

Next, mask everything that's not supposed to be painted. Instead of trying to place the masking tape precisely in the shape of a circle, simply make a rough outline. Grab a compass and mark a line on the tape that is a set distance from the edge. You can then take an x-acto knife and cut along the line. It is a lot easier when you put the wheel back on the bike, rest your knife on the frame and slowly turn the wheel. That way you'll have a perfect circle and you might not even need to draw the line first.

When painting, make sure to leave a lot of paint on the wheels. The surface might appear uneven and too thick when the painting but once it dries it will be fine. Check the video for reference at 1:17

Once your paint has dried I'd suggest putting on a protective clear coat. Just avoid spraying on the braking surface.

Step 3: Wiring

When it comes to circuits it couldn't be any simpler than this. all 12 LEDs connected in parallel directly to a battery. Well, that is if you're using 3V battery. If you decide to use a power bank which is a lot more convenient in my opinion you need to add a single 22Ω resistor in series. Both schematics are right here.

When it comes to mounting the LEDs to the bike I used a custom 3D printed holders. which you can download btw. but those aren't necessary of course. The LEDs can by simple glued to the frame. But really there are dozens of ways to do it so I'm gonna leave it to your imagination.

You might also notice I'm soldering everything together but that isn't necessary either. If you don't have soldering iron simply twisting the legs of the LEDs together will do the job. Maybe even something like twist wire connector could work but that might be a bit too bulky.

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    17 Discussions

    0
    l11110110011l
    l11110110011l

    7 months ago

    Thank you for this idea. It's some sort of "Luna Lights" but very cheap. Your 3D models are very useful. About other - you need a bit fix your electric scheme.

    1) Each LED need a resistor because LEDs are non perfect as we want and some of them will take more voltage in this case than the others and will burn after some time. Then next LED and etc. At least 1 Ohm resistor you need if you have same input voltage as LED needed. Scheme without resistors will work but not long as can.
    2) 22 Ohm - not enough for 5V input (USB power from power bank), LEDs should burn and very quick. If UV LED take 3.0-3.6V and 20 mA then you need a 100-70 Ohm and 1/8W resistor for each. For 3V (AA battery case) - 1 Ohm with same watts.
    3) If you have no 3D printer - you can cut a cable holder and make case for this lights with hot glue.

    Also you must notice next fact: some power banks can disable power if load will be too low, for power savings.

    0
    MarekL23
    MarekL23

    Reply 5 months ago

    Hi, i have a question, did you count the 22 ohm resistor in your calculations, or you just have to connect 1 resistor to each LED, without the 22 ohm ?

    0
    _Gyro
    _Gyro

    Reply 5 months ago

    it's one 22 ohm resistor for all 12 LEDs. The LEDs must be connected in pareallel

    0
    l11110110011l
    l11110110011l

    Reply 5 months ago

    In this case (one resistor for all leds) some leds will take more current because of disbalance of primary led specs. For 5V 22 Ohm resistor will provide 65 mA. It's in 3 times more than the normal current for uv leds.

    0
    l11110110011l
    l11110110011l

    Reply 5 months ago

    No, i didn't count this resistor because it's a wrong way. You need add these resistors for each led.

    0
    vincent.schwerdtfeger
    vincent.schwerdtfeger

    10 months ago

    Hi great video and instructions. How about dirt getting on to the wheels? is the coating easy to clean? Also how do you mount the cable on to the LED holder?


    thank you

    0
    ecurtain
    ecurtain

    12 months ago

    Oh, this is really clever, and the end result is simply great. Very professional looking!

    The tip about using UV LEDs to charge the paint is very useful.

    Thanks!

    0
    wobbler
    wobbler

    1 year ago

    Great idea! I have an electric bike and don't want to mess aroumd with extra batteries, but this is a great way to keep the power on tbe forks, not the wheels.

    However, instead of painting I looked up glow in the dark spoke on Amazon and it came up with beads you attach to the spokes. I like the idea of putting tbese on spokes and shining uv leds on to them, so I'll put this on my "projects to do" list.

    Thanks for the idea!

    0
    Royke
    Royke

    Question 1 year ago

    Nicely done,

    how much paint do you need to do a standard bike wheel ?

    0
    _Gyro
    _Gyro

    Reply 1 year ago

    I used almost 4 of those 20g bottles. but I also managed to drop one and spill everything :D so it was more like 3 bottles. And my floor glows now as well :D. Thanks for asking, updated the step as well :)

    0
    AndreasO1
    AndreasO1

    1 year ago

    When i have V-Brakes the Glue will "brake away"!?. But the idea is really great!

    0
    Thorondor95
    Thorondor95

    Question 1 year ago

    This would be a bit complicated, but would it be possible to save battery life by timing the LEDs to switch off when the tape is charged, then turn them on after a minute or so?

    0
    _Gyro
    _Gyro

    Answer 1 year ago

    Sure. Even something like 555 timer could work but honestly, it's an unnecessary complication. On a bike you will be stopping on red lights an what not so with a timer it might just make bright spot when stopped and then be off for another minute when moving.

    0
    nqtronix
    nqtronix

    1 year ago

    When I clicked on the thumbnail I thought this was done with either
    EL-wire or some LED strip, either would have been a nightmare to mount
    and wire up. So I'm pleasantly surprised with the glow-in-the-dark pain
    and UV LED solution you've come up with. As a bonus, the light is way
    more even than it would have been with EL-wire or an LED strip.

    Thanks for sharing!

    0
    nikdo_nic
    nikdo_nic

    1 year ago

    nice idea

    0
    _Gyro
    _Gyro

    Reply 1 year ago

    thanks :)