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I'm feeling dirty, you?
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Here in Perth, Western Australia, there will be a 12hour night race in late november blah, blah, blah...

The 'same' event run in January this year, where I run a halogen, handlebar, SLA light system. It was a secondhand Cat Eye HL-NC200 that came with 6W and 10W bulbs. Unfortunatley I couldn't afford expensive batteries and managed to rig up a homemade SLA battery system and run on low, low wattage bulb to allow the cells to go the distance. And I mean LOW wattage.

I recently bombed out the lights this month and it's unrepairable. The first highlight I came across on my research was Niteflux, an Australian company that sells for AUD$300... two 5Ah NiMH cells, 5W & 15W bulbs, variety of mounts and chargers.
I thought I'll save up and give them a go, seeing I get NiMH cells, two tough light units, variety of mounts including the all important helmet mount.
Surprising resembilance to the Vistalight Nightstick Code 20.

At the time of this post: AUD$1=US$0.72 and AUD$1=CAN$0.94

But only tonight I discovered so called high-output LED lights, these are more 'be-seen' LEDs but ones that actually luminate your path. As you all should already know, LEDs consume amazing low amounts of power.

What I need to know has anyone have experience with high-output LEDs?

I've narrowed down three companies, BLT, Cat Eye and NiteHawk.
BLT: Their Enduro-Ray lights output are aprox. 50W and 20-25W at power consumption at 12W and 4W respectively. Single 4.5Ah NiMH battery is all that's needed.
Unfortunately the big bummer with BLT is the high price, the prices I'm finding point out around US$630 aand US$500, which puts it between top-end incandacent and the gas-discharge lights.

Cat Eye: HL-EL500 (aka PowerCube) is pretty much a HL-EL200 (aka OptiCube) on steriods. Output is claimed at 1000 candlepower which is just over 9x the output of the Opti Cube.
I've used a OptiCube for on-road, in the pitch darkness this pretty damn dim... so if you've use a OptiCube maybe you/I can imagine it 9x brighter. But is it bright enough?

Nite Hawk: Until now I've never heard of Nite Hawk, browsing through their products.
They have their Emitter series which LED's max. output is rough equal to a 10W halogen, and comes in analog or digital versions. There are 4 version digital/analog and with/without chargers and batteries. The main advantages is see with these lights are their use of AA-size batteries (so can get my hands on some Lithium battries and go nuts!) and the low price.
For the entry model "Emitter" sells direct from them for CAN$74.95 (without freight costs) which is roughly AUD$79.85. Analog system without batteries or chargers.
Top of the line model is the "Digital Emitter w/ Rechargeable Ni-MH Batteries & Charger", CAN$134.95 buys you a digital power regulator, NiMH batteries, smart charger and power adapters for the charger.

The Emitter series is a handlebar mounted light but I think I can use a universal "Helmet Mount Base" for CAN$19.95. But I'm checking with Nite Hawk first.

BLT: http://www.blt-lights.com/hiint.htm
Cat Eye: http://www.cateye.com/en/products/viewProduct.php?modelId=17&catId=7&subCatId=2
Nite Hawk: http://www.nite-hawk.com/bikeemitter.html

Again what I need to know has anyone have experience with high-output LEDs?, and important additional info is that I'm running solo again.
 

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the wrench
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469 Posts
luckillt i have just got back from a 24 that i did with using a high out tput led system. its not a off the shelf system its one that i built from ordering the parts from a electronics retailler. for the race i was running my prototype 5w led light as my helmet light and my blt 10w halogen on the bars. both lights were comparable in brightness allthough the led is alot whiter of a light. as far as performance goes i had no problem seeing around twisty singletract and seeing my way through fast descents with the led light. the other neat thing about the led systems is theat there is no brownout like a halogen or hid system its either all or none, but with the runtimes available running out of battery should be a non issue.

the nice thing about the led is depending on the way the control circuit is set up you are able to run the bulbs way past the brownout voltage or a halogen system. on a 7ah battery i can get well ovr 6.5 hours. i recommend using nimh or li batteries when using led as they will take the large discharge better than a led acid.

as far as purchasing a led system i would wait a few years because right now they are way over priced seeing how my led system cost me a nominal $50CAD to build and has the same performance as the blt 4w system.
 

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Gone riding
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jonowee, to be honest I'd forget about BLT and Cateye if your in need of serious LED lighting.I haven't had any experience with the nite hawk gear so I can't really comment, but it looks like they're only using a single 5w or 3w Luxeon Emitter, so as garboui said, it would make a really nice helemt light, but probably not quite so good as a bar light. The great thing about luxeons is that depending on the binning code, the colour temperature can be anywhere between 5000 and 8000k, which often excedes what a lot of expensive HID systems are capable of.

Luxeon LED systems are very capable of putting out truckloads of light. Unfortunately though, many manufacturers aren't producing LED systems with decent quality Luxeons/LEDs, and are really only useful for riding around town.

Although I am very biased, checkout Erics excellent range of lights at http://www.nightlightning.co.nz/

The Endurenz is a great light, with 3 - 3watt luxeon stars, putting out a preceived 16 + watts of light.
http://www.nightlightning.co.nz/multisporters.htm

For more (random) luxeon info check out the on-going Homemade lighting system thread here:
http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=852

(Just a quick note though - Toms system used his own optics, luxeons and control circuitry, so only the housing is Erics, therefore the results that he got may well be totally different to Erics final systems which may use different binned Luxeons, different controller etc.)

And check out Lumileds homepage for more info on Luxeon emitters and stars:
http://www.lumileds.com/

Hope that helps a bit. :D

Cheers, Dave.

EDIT: and garboui, can you post some pics of your system? (Either here or in the homemade thread would be great!!)
 

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I'm feeling dirty, you?
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855 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the links to websites and the LED lighting thread.

Learned useful info like these high-output LEDs generate a fair amount of heat. The LEDs I play around with are cool to touch.
 

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Gone riding
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Yeah Luxeons (like produced by lumiled) put out a fair bit of heat (depending on wattage) and need to be heatsinked. However, you'll find that the beam itself doesn't put out nearly as much heat as a Halogen or HID.

There is a huge difference in light output between a standard super bright LED and a luxeon, you would need heaps of normal LEDs to get close to the 1 watt of light produced by the base level Luxeon.

A read through the datasheets on the lumiled site will give you a bit more info about light output, colour, heat etc. Generally there are 3 different output Luxeons, 1, 3 and 5 watters, but there are many different bins availiable (they code each luxeon with an ID relative to colour temperature, light output etc.) On top of this Lumileds produce two styles of Luxeons, the Emitter, which is a tiny luxeon that needs to be bonded to the shell/heatsink/whatever, and the Star, which is pretty much an Emitter on it's own little star-shaped aluminium/PCB board which can be bonded/bolted/clamped to the heatsink.

Eric uses three 3 watt Luxeon stars in the Endurenz, but also uses one watters if needed. (I'd much rather the 3 waters though!! :D )

Another advantage of Luxeons is their long life. They don't have a filiment like a halogen, and aren't damaged by vibration. I have heard of a few HID systems where the bulb has died pretty quickly, and cheaper halogens definiately don't last all that long, depending on the terrain and how they're treated.

Cheers, Dave
 

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Light & Motion (www.bikelights.com) has a new H.O. LED system called the Vega.

[EDIT]-
Basic specs:

-3w Luxeon Star Power light source: 85 lumens/ 10,000 hour LED life
- TIR (total internal reflactance) Acrylic reflector
- Integrated NiMH rechargeable battery
- internal current regulator
- three output settings
- total weight w/ bar mount: 218g

Their web site hasn't been updated to reflect thier newly revamped '04-'05 product line...the Vega does not appear to be listed on the site as of yet.

Not sure of cost as of yet.

Yea though I ride through the Valley of the Shadow of Death,
My bike and I shall ride ahead of all evil.


Racing 'Round the Clock
www.teamtwentyfour.com
 

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the wrench
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469 Posts
i found the luxeons to produce a more true white lite than the hid systems tend to be a little more blue because of the fact tjat it works on an arc. the current "be seen" led lights like a super doppler made bu blt at 30, 000mcf @10* calculates to be about 8-10 lumens where as the 5watt luxeon has a total emmitance of 120 lumens.

i will post a pic of my setup but to what low rider said before there is no reason why it wouldnt make a good handlebar light.
 

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the wrench
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469 Posts
Low_Rider said:
EDIT: and garboui, can you post some pics of your system? (Either here or in the homemade thread would be great!!)



heres some pics of my light system. the outer shell id made from 1" copper pipe caps which i used so they would act as a heatsimk as well. the luxeon is attached inside with a thermal epoxy. the back half contains the power management circuit for the led as well as acts as more heatsinking. i have plans at making a funny machined one in the near futuer which i will keep you guys posted on. on a standard blt sla battery i can get up to 4 hours withought damaging the battery. the circiut will actually let me run a battery down to 2.7 volts while maintaining full ligkt output. the holder is made with a botched up reflector holder and a pump strap. i had really just gave it its first use atthe last weekends 24 hour race and it did not move around on my halmet one bit and it survived a good crash as whell which is the cause of the scratched lens.
 

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Gone riding
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Thanks for the pics!!

i will post a pic of my setup but to what low rider said before there is no reason why it wouldnt make a good handlebar light.
Sorry about that, my words didn't qute come out right on the screen..... I think i was trying to talk about nitehawks stuff.... can't remember, too tired!!

Do you mind if I ask what your circuit is based on? Is it a simple current limiter (Like a LM317 or similar) or something else??

Cheers, Dave.
 

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the wrench
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469 Posts
Low_Rider said:
Thanks for the pics!!

Do you mind if I ask what your circuit is based on? Is it a simple current limiter (Like a LM317 or similar) or something else??

Cheers, Dave.
the circuit that i used is based on the sp6682 which gives me the full drive potential for the luxeon v .
 

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Gone riding
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Ahh cool the Sipex stuff... I've got a few of their samples on the way.....actually I ordered them a week or two ago, they might even be here today! Zetex make some good driver chips too, but they're a little difficult to get this side of the pond.... I've got a few various boards etched and ready to go, I just have to get around to building them up..... like I need more things to tinker with...... :D

Cheers, Dave
 

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That Waters Guy
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611 Posts
Good advice, this thread

The only thing I would throw out is that if I needed a lighting system, and one of the LED systems worked for me and I thought it had comparable performance to the HID systems, I wouldn't let the fact that in three years the LED system will be significantly cheaper keep me from buying one, especially if I was going to use it a lot.

The HID lighting systems are fragile, finicky, and short-lived. LEDs are none of these, and are far more versatile since they can run in multiple power modes. Yes, it seems like a chunk of money to throw away now vs. waiting a year or two, but three years from now the LED system that you "overpaid" for will be good as new.

In contrast (and there will be a lot of contrast!) :) the HID system will be yellowed and dim, assuming you haven't had to pay the bucks to put a new bulb in. And if you do have to put a new bulb in, then that's definitely money thrown away.

This isn't to knock HID systems -- they put out large quantities of light -- but HID lights will not be around for very long once the LEDs enter the really bright light market. And I'm not claiming the LED systems are as good as the HIDs, because I haven't seen them to compare them side-by-side.

Rolland
 

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Gone riding
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Yeah, and expensive HID system will still kick the guts out of some decent LED systems, but thats not the point. As we have mentioned, it's more the runtime for battery size, colour temperature, light wheight, and durability that make LED systems so good.

And really, (I'm not sure of HID bulb prices) a Luxeon could quite possibly be cheaper then a HID bulb to replace.

You sound like you've used a decent LED system?? What did you run??

Cheers, Dave.
 

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That Waters Guy
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I've used LED systems, but not HID-quality ones

Low_Rider said:
You sound like you've used a decent LED system?? What did you run??
Cheers, Dave.
I use NightRider HID and have a bunch of buddies who race the Edmonton 24 Hour ice race (on dirt bikes with spikes) with those and automotive HIDs rigged for their motorcycles so I have a bit of data on the life cycle of HID systems in abusive environments.

Fortunately? the ice race is always the same weekend as 24 Hours of Old Pueblo so I get to be sunny and warm while they're dark and cold... :)

And oh yeah, if there are any moto-head 24 hour crazies out there, checkout the 24 Hours of Starvation Ridge, in Goldendale WA in the fall. If you thought mountain biking for 24 hours was hard, try dirt biking. But maybe I just suck at dirt biking.:)

Anyway, it's not so much as having worked with ultra-high brightness LEDs in specific as having worked with computer bits in general, and the price / performance of LEDs is clearly on the hockey stick to greatness.

I have a small fortune in maglites that are rotting because a dinky high-brightness LED works just as well, is $8, has a battery that lasts forever, and doesn't go out if you drop it.

Rolland
 

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The Sagebrush Slug said:
And oh yeah, if there are any moto-head 24 hour crazies out there, checkout the 24 Hours of Starvation Ridge, in Goldendale WA in the fall. If you thought mountain biking for 24 hours was hard, try dirt biking. But maybe I just suck at dirt biking.:)

Rolland
I've long been seriously interested in doing some 24hr solo offroad motorcycle races.

Yea though I ride through the Valley of the Shadow of Death,
My bike and I shall ride ahead of all evil.


Racing 'Round the Clock
www.teamtwentyfour.com
 

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That Waters Guy
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I'll post it when it happens

TeamTwentyFour said:
I've long been seriously interested in doing some 24hr solo offroad motorcycle races.
There's a solo category. Dunno if I will do it or not. Maybe, we'll see.

I'll post event information when it comes out. It's a hoot, a very painful hoot...
 

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Gone riding
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Anyway back on topic, jonowee, have you found out anything new, or made a decision as to what you'll get?? If you're thinking of the Endurenz or something from NightLighting, don't hesitate to contact Eric, he's pretty good at bouncing E-mails back to you.

Let us know what you decide on!

Cheers, Dave.
 

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Why LED?

Why LED, personally I have never found them to be sufficient- Even the so called Hi-Output ones...

Take a look at Light and Motion's gear, they are pretty cheap here in Australia. I got my L&M Solo Logic from PhantomCycles for $425 AUD with the turbo charger... 3hrs run time, 3hrs charge time, they are pretty bright also. You can get the L&M Arc NiMH/Lith-Ion HID set for around the same price if you were to import them from Larry at www.mtnhighcyclery.com . $615AUD is the price www.phantomcycles.com.au has got the NiMH HID set for.

I wouldn't run just LED's, I would think it would be a better idea to run them in conjunction with another sorce of light... Maybe LED's on the Head and other Bar lights, VisaVersa... or Run LED's on both Helmet and Bars. I am however interested to see what you think of them :)
 

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Gone riding
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I think the interest in LED's is their DIY appeal.

Yeah, there's a lot of "SUPER - BRIGHT" hyped up LED rubbish on the market, I can even think of a few *quality* brands that use LED's along with their HID and Halogen globes just so that they can say they have a super bright LED light.......

The main thng that draws people to true *LED* systems is their extra percieved brightness in comparison to their power draw. Along with longer burn times, the systems are way lighter, and they have a better colour temperature then a halogen globe (and depending on the bin of Luxeon possibly even better colour them a lot of HID systems).

For example, with a 3 - 3 watt Luxeon system and a 4Ah battery, you could expect run times of up to 6 hours depending on the drive circuitry, and still be producing a perceived 12-16 watt + of light. (Note perceived, you'd only really have around 8-9-10 watts of power draw.)

As mentioned earlier, there are limitations to current LED systems, but for the DIY folk, endurance racers, and anyone that wants a light-wheight system with huge burn-times, a quality LED system is a great idea.

On top of that, although the actual LED's are pretty expensive, total system costs are very competitve with the prices you just mentioned.

Cheers, Dave.
 
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