25 February 2007, 17:32 by mark hoekstra

LED throwie bike lighting

...bike lights for minimalists…

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Because of a LED-throwie-campaign I did for Bright, I had some material left.

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Well… at Brightlive I used up all the material for making throwies but because some people made single throwies with more than one LED, I had some batteries, magnets and tape left. Getting some fresh LEDs didn’t prove to be too hard(...). Anyway, even with new LEDs this is way too little material to come up with a new throwie-campaign, so what to do with it?

Of course, LED throwies are courtesy of Graffiti Research Lab. That’s also the reason you won’t find it in my projectlab as a project on it’s own even though I have been doing some campaigns now, it’s their project, not mine. LED Throwies are an open source graffiti technology developed at the Graffiti Research Lab, a division of the Eyebeam OpenLab.

LED throwies at grl.com

How to make LED throwies at instructables.com

Anyway, time to continue!

LED throwie bike lighting explained

In my hometown (Groningen) and actually all over Holland, people have been switching to LED-lights on their bike the last couple of years. Normally bikes have a dynamo and some ordinary lightbulbs but especially in bigger cities, that kind of lighting doesn’t survive… So people have been switching to these LED-lights which are available in a wide variety. I’ve got a couple of them myself, but somehow I either forget them (because I leave my home when it’s still light outside), the batteries are empty or they are borked (which happens quite a lot). Next to that, most of these lights come with mounts you have to put on your bike and even those don’t survive in a big city. I’ve actually been biking around with a front light in my hand for quite some time… Now only recently I learned (from someone else! phew…) that the police in this town still gives you a ticket (which is around 30 euros) when your lights aren’t attached to your bike and/or when your lights flicker (which a lot of these sold LED-lights do). So here we have our prerequisites for succesful bike lights in the big city ^_^

  • the lights need to as portable and small and possible
  • the lights need to be attachable to the bike without some fragile mounts on the bike
  • the concern is visibility for others, for biking around inner cities you don’t need headlights.
  • the lights need to burn steadily, not flicker

And, of course, the main goal here is not getting a ticket when you get held by a cop(...). I mean, any young person in this country (students for instance) will feel quite comfortable biking around without lights in the middle of the night… ^_^

So… with that in mind I tried to come up with a better solution than my current lights. I’ve been experimenting with switches and stuff, but that made it too complex for our needs. So in the end, no new material next to what you need for making throwies is needed! It’s actually quite simple…

How to make LED throwie bike lighting

Well, I did take pics of these steps, on my bike, in the middle of the night, but guess what? Those pics turned out to be way too dark… So I made them again, with some daylight and in my house. And even though I have been parking my bike in my livingroom before, somehow I didn’t feel like doing that again (my bike is really dirty), so here we go… the steps explained:

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The exact same material you need for a throwie, although I’ve been using two magnets next to each other, instead of one…

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Two magnets with a piece of duct tape over it. This is what you attach on your bike.

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The battery with the LED (one leg on each side of the battery, when it doesn’t light up, switch the legs around… the longer leg of the LED goes to the positive terminal of the battery) held down by the magnets… It’s a backlight for our bike!

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...and a frontlight too! ^_^

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Here you have them both, our LED throwie bike lights!

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Oh, by the way, a battery replacement has never been easier!

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This is the material we need to carry around when we parked our bike somewhere…

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Now I put it in a little sealbag… even though I have just thrown the components in, the chances that this will shortcut (which will drain the batteries of course) are very little I guess…

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The seal bag with the components turns out to be so small, it will easily fit in your wallet. This way you will always have bike lights with you!

it’s time to put them on the bike!

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Here’s the frontlight attached to my steering…

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...and the backlight (yeah yeah, I’ve got an old and rusty bike but I tend to like it that way)

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...my bike from a distance

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So here you have it! LED throwie bike lighting, bike lights for minimalists!


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As mentioned in the Message from Mark's family this site has been made static. This means that it will be no longer possible to comment on his ideas and projects, but that we all can continue to cherish his creativity.

             you can find all of my projects overhere