Author Topic: Bought some helmet lights off eBay; look promising  (Read 632 times)

Danneaux

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Bought some helmet lights off eBay; look promising
« on: January 02, 2018, 08:52:00 AM »
Hi All!

A month ago, I ordered an LED blinky off eBay to attach to my helmet, figuring the higher vantage point might result in greater visibility in traffic (I have to negotiate a short stretch of dense urban traffic and cross two highway on-ramps if I want to take the most direct way as I travel north from my home). Astride my bike, my helmet is about 1.8m/6ft above the ground, easily visible above the average sedan and through the windows of taller SUVs, crossovers, and pickup trucks.

It arrived a couple days ago. After wanting a helmet light for the last 35 years to augment my bicycle-mounted lighting, I seem to have found it in a COB LED. A COB ("Chips On Board") packages multiple LEDs on a circuit board behind a diffuser or diffraction screen so they appear to be a single lighted panel. They don't have much throw, but they are very bright and also fairly large so they avoid the pitfalls of point-source illumination and provide the viewer with enough visual reference to fairly determine how far away the light is.

I prefer user-replaceable batteries so I can swap in new cells to replace depleted ones on long day (night) rides, so I looked for a COB LED helmet light that used AAA cells instead of embedded rechargeable batteries. I found one design that was both very lightweight and cost only USD$3 incuding shipping. It is bright enough to be easily daylight-visible, attaches with a gel strap that holds securely and doesn't hurt the helmet mounted to front, rear, or both, and has five solid/flashing modes in red and/or white. If you want the same kind, search for eBay vendors selling "COB LED helmet light" and check the description to make sure it uses AAA cells. Mine can be mounted in any of four orientations and has a spring-loaded ratchet to aim the light vertically or horizontally. Mine holds securely, but I feel confident it would deflect or detach safely in an accidental fall. The same light(s) will attach almost instantly and just as securely to seatpost, handlebars, or frame.

I haven't owned the light long enough to determine practical battery life. I intend to use it only in more congested traffic and might even detach and store it in my handlebar bag or a rear jersey pocket till it is needed. I'm powering mine with Eneloop rechargeables and it works fine so far. I do wish the light had more red-only blink variations, but I'll probably use it in solid-red mode most often. I think the red-white combo is most visible but also most confusing and even illegal ("white light to rear prohibited"). The solid white on the front provides a nice, diffuse light to read maps on my handlebar bag or check my computer readout at night. Nice.

Photos below showing mine attached to the rear of one of my helmets. For videos of my example blinking in all modes and colors, go here:
Front: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1MyFpvFzSCUBoD8iJmt-J-3UumWaLPCys
Rear: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1YmhjWZnebSdrOePQBL6x_oMzctJMaAXR

Best,

Dan.

jags

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Re: Bought some helmet lights off eBay; look promising
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2018, 04:14:36 PM »
looks good to me Dan, i was out today very dull and wet weather here i had my cateye on blinky and my front light on ,can't have enough light on the bike in this winter weather.

anto.

Andre Jute

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Re: Bought some helmet lights off eBay; look promising
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2018, 07:49:26 PM »
You should ride with your front lamp on all the time, Anto, including bright sunshine, so that cars coming from the front can mark you and see you're a cyclist. A blinking back lamp cannot hurt either, especially if you're passing through shadows casts by buildings or trees. I used to get over 200 hours from the batteries in the Catey TL-1100. And these LEDs inside modern lamps have MBTF ratings of 50,000 hours, so you'll never wear them out, so there's no reason to "save" their usage.

I run front and back lamps whenever the bike moves; they're permanently on.

mickeg

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Re: Bought some helmet lights off eBay; look promising
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2018, 08:11:38 PM »
I have bought several red blinking taillights on Ebay, shipped from China.  They are cheap but I think they are usually worth their low cost.  That said, they often corrode easily if they get wet, so don't be surprised if they do not last after many rain days.  I always use two taillights on a bike, I have never yet had both taillights fail.  One of my taillights quit after a couple weeks in Iceland, but the other lasted for the rest of the trip.

I just ordered a couple more cheap taillights from China a couple days ago.

I recharge NiMH AAA batteries that I use in them.  I use a variety of AAA rechargeable batteries including some that are over a decade old.  But I have had such good luck with the low discharge NiMH batteries that I bought at Ikea, I am pretty close to discarding all my older rechargeable batteries.  The Eneloops are also good, so I would keep those.  Ikea also sells some cheaper rechargeable but I only buy the low discharge ones that cost more.

My rechargers that I use when bike touring only charge batteries in pairs.  So I mark my batteries (color coding) and keep the same batteries in a pair together for both discharge and later for the recharge.

jags

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Re: Bought some helmet lights off eBay; look promising
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2018, 10:44:48 PM »
You should ride with your front lamp on all the time, Anto, including bright sunshine, so that cars coming from the front can mark you and see you're a cyclist. A blinking back lamp cannot hurt either, especially if you're passing through shadows casts by buildings or trees. I used to get over 200 hours from the batteries in the Catey TL-1100. And these LEDs inside modern lamps have MBTF ratings of 50,000 hours, so you'll never wear them out, so there's no reason to "save" their usage.

I run front and back lamps whenever the bike moves; they're permanently on.
i use lights all the the time Andre better safe than sorry.

anto.

energyman

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Re: Bought some helmet lights off eBay; look promising
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2018, 11:03:47 PM »
There was me thinking that the new bright light in the west was of some religious significance but it was Dan on his bike with his new lights !

 ;)

Andre Jute

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Re: Bought some helmet lights off eBay; look promising
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2018, 11:52:56 PM »
There was me thinking that the new bright light in the west was of some religious significance but it was Dan on his bike with his new lights !

 ;)

It's the Guiding Lamp Over the Three Magical Bicycle Tourers.

Danneaux

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Re: Bought some helmet lights off eBay; look promising
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2018, 12:59:57 AM »
Quote
There was me thinking that the new bright light in the west was of some religious significance but it was Dan on his bike with his new lights !
<snerk!> Hahahahaha! I was drinking some tea when I read this, and now have to clean my computer screen, e-man!  ;D ;D ;D ;D

Thanks for the good laugh! I'l do my best to hold things yup at this end.  ;)

All the best,

<Hahaha!> Dan.

jags

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Re: Bought some helmet lights off eBay; look promising
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2018, 09:48:54 PM »
Thanks Dan for the lights i'm well impressed .
i'd say the flashing red and white light is illegal  here so it will have to be  just red ,curious to see how long the battery life is .
it's a far stronger light than my cateye  even with new batteries ,easy seen during daylight hours  ;)

anyway thanks again Dan your a gent.

Anto.


Danneaux

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Re: Bought some helmet lights off eBay; look promising
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2018, 10:31:23 PM »
Aww you're welcome, Anto. :) 'Just hope they'll keep you safe on those night rides. Those little lanes and that uphill busy intersection are worries.

The question of battery life is still open for me. I'm using Eneloop rechargeables and have not yet exhausted the initial charge when using the lights (I'm waiting for the rest of mine to arrive). One thing I find irritating is once the batteries are installed, they're hard to remove without something to pry the end one out. I think I'll super glue in a piece of ribbon under the + terminal of the lead battery so when I pull the ribbon, the battery will pop out to grab and extract more easily.

Use 'em in good health.

All the best,

Dan.

jags

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Re: Bought some helmet lights off eBay; look promising
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2018, 03:28:33 PM »
swiss army knife is your only man for contrary  batteries   ;D ;D
thanks again Dan much appreciated.

anto