The idea for this instructable was to build a lighting system for my bicycle helmet that can charge with solar power during the day at work so I can use it for my bike ride home after dark. I used my existing bike helmet (Adult Standard Razor) and different components I recovered from dumpsters or bought on the super sale at different stores.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
Solar Spotlight (bought on clearance at Walgreens for $1)
Low Voltage wire (100 yard spool from Home Depot)
red LED's (Scavenged from circuit boards of appliances thrown away/Mardi Gras throws)
2 Solar Panels and charging circuits from solar yard lights I bought at deep discount from Walgreens because they were cracked and didn't have yard stakes anymore (67 cents each!)
5 Minute Epoxy
Step 2: Separate Solar Cell and Charging Circuit From Spotlight
For the first Step I separated the top part containing the solar panel, battery and charging circuit from the LED spotlight. I then soldered longer wires from the spotlight to the charging circuit so it would be easier to attach the assembly to the helmet(and not make it any taller than it already will be)
Step 3: Mount the Spotlight to Helmet
The next step I took was to mount the spotlight to the helmet. I wanted a secure mount that I could also tilt so I used the stake that came with the light and the power of the almighty epoxy. First I cut down the stake (so you know, it fit through a ventilation hole in my helmet but not into my brain). Then I trimmed the peg from the spotlight that fits over the stake and used epoxy to secure the light onto the stake, and the stake onto the helmet. I kept the tilting part of the mount so i could fold the front down If I wanted a lower profile and also i can adjust the spotlight when making repairs or what-have-you in the dark.
Note: I had added the strip of foil tape to make my helmet more visible at night earlier this year, and during the course of this project peeled most of it off so the epoxy could get a better grip on the plastic of the helmet.
Step 4: Soldering the String of LEDs
Using some scrap wire I soldered some red LED's in parallel. I found these LED's in various broken appliances and gadgets I found in the trash(Also, here in New Orleans, after Mardi Gras, broken things with LEDs are not hard to come by). I used red LED's because its the normal color associated with Safety Lights. (and because I wanted to save my more colorful LED's for a Robot Halloween Costume.
Step 5: Modifying the Solar Yard Lights for the Red LED Strand
The Next Step I took was to take apart the two solar lights that I bought on sale at Walgreens (67 cents each, they had no stakes and cracks in the case the light sits in, but neither of those features mattered for my project) I took each one apart, removed the LED, and soldered wire leads in their place. I then connected the two modified solar lights in parallel to the string of red LED's for the back of the Helmet. I kept the original charging circuit boards in place in the lights because I want the Helmet to click on whenever it become dark as I am cycling.
Step 6: Attaching the Panels and Strand of Rear Red LED's to the Helmet
Yay! No more accidently burning yourself with a soldering iron on this project. The next steps only involve getting epoxy all over yourself. I arranged the solar panels/battery holders on the top of the helmet and held them in place with clear tape while the 5-minute Epoxy dried. I also oriented the LED strand along the back of the helmet and put dots of epoxy along the strand to secure it to the helmet.
Step 7: The Finished Helmet
And Voila! The finished helmet. I've decided to call it the Navigator because it reminds me of the Alien/Robot/Spaceship from Flight of the Navigator for some reason. I've been testing it on my bike rides to work this week and far so good! I leave work close to dusk and the light clicks on about a mile or so in when it gets dark. I thought about cleaning it up a bit and painting it but decided I kind of like the Trash Tech look for now.