An Update and a Mod

Posted: June 17, 2012 in 12 in 12 for 2012
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The coming of spring demands a great deal of concentration when you live in an area that is frozen half the year. For April and May this has meant new projects progressing, outside interests fighting for attention, and the progression of older projects resulting in resolution of old issues. Unfortunately, due to the fact that there are those who feel it is their right to knock off ideas they find from others without attribution or recognition, I am struggling with how to proceed with this effort going forward. I enjoy exploring new ideas and sharing discoveries. I despise finding the results integrated into others offerings without so much as a nod to its source.

That said, for this installment of the 12 in 12 project, I focused on making progress in development of portable light originally introduced in the 52 in 52 project in 2010, and a spring project that is personal and fun.

The Battery Project

In week 4 of the 52 in 52 project, I presented this combination table torch/flashlight. At the time, I relied on lead acid emergency light batteries in an effort to create a reliable light for emergency use, using readily available components. Unfortunately, since then, I have found the approach flawed. The batteries were not reliable when connected in series to generate 12VDC, the charging components were not able to keep the batteries conditioned, and the discharge characteristic of the batteries produced an unacceptably short on-time when removed from the stand. Further, the batteries were far too heavy to be practical, and were expensive.

To solve this, I have experimented with several different battery and charger combinations, looking for the right mix to produce the desired result.

The current state of this project utilizes Lithium Ion batteries with smart circuitry coupled to a charger designed specifically to charge these types of cells. By sizing the charger and battery capacity, and making adjustments to the current being fed to the LED, I have finally realized success.  This latest configuration operates for over 100 minutes on the battery pack alone at full current (1A), while the charger works as the low votage power supply when the light is in its charge stand. The charge time is also significantly shorter than with the other battery approaches attempted.

You can see more of this at the Lumenique 12 in 12 summary for April.

The LED Motorcycle

Spring means the return of good weather and the desire to get into the wind. For this purpose, nothing beats a motorcycle, so I’ve had several for the purpose over the years.

In keeping with the SSL theme, this one has had all of its lighting converted to LED, including the signal and forward lighting, as well as the instrument light. This has required some interesting fiddling with the interface between a 33 year old bike and new technologies. For example, LED lights do not present a large enough load for the signal flasher to work in either turn signals or emergency flashers. This required the addition of an electronic flasher component, while the forward lighting is a work in process, now requiring a boost driver to utilize high output LEDs from a 12V power source, not to mention protection all around to accommodate a charging system that can vary system voltage as much as +/- 20%.

There have been several mods to this errand toy, some are subtle, some not so much – including the building of the seat base on the plastic modeler, and several billet parts on the CNC machining center. The 50’s hotrod theme conceals a bike that is fully electronic, including the ignition system and instrumentation, replacing points and mechanical guages of the original.

So, while not a lighting product per-se, this project incorporates electronics more than a typical new bike, regardless of its street presence.

More can be seen of this at the Lumenique 12 in 12 summary for May 

What’s in the Works

The end of June will bring a surprising new addition to capabilities. Hint: It combines craftsmanship once common in centuries past, with technologies just emerging today. No. it is not based on candles, oil lanterns or gas lighting. The end result is not going to be easy to knock off either.

Comments
  1. David Tibbitts says:

    Kevin,

    Is that motorcycle the old Z1 you had in Vegas?

    DT.

    • kwillmorth says:

      No, that was traded long ago for a quad, that was sold off. This is ’79 KZ650 I bought here and have had around for a couples years as a hobby project. It was a complete disaster when I got it, bent forks, twisted trees, rust, and a mix of other messy bits. I stretched the swinger, electronified it, lowered it, made a bunch of custom parts for it, and generally went through it enough to make it a reliable errand bike for around town and for a country rip when the mood strikes.

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