Sunday, February 23, 2014

Lights and Batteries

In 2010 I tried to make all my electronics work off of AA lithium batteries.  My GPS (and spare), Spot, SteriPEN and riding light all ran off of AA’s. Even for my phone I carried a small charger that was powered from AA’s.  The only device that did not use AA’s was a AAA powered camp/head light.  I think I started with 4 extra batteries.  My back up plan if I missed finding replacements was to steal the SPOT or SteriPEN batteries to run the GPS and or light.  I never had much trouble finding replacement lithium’s although I do think I bought a set of regular alkaline’s one or two times to get by.  

I did have two ‘power’ issues, first the recharger for the phone did not work very well, the phone would only reach about ½ charge and get extremely hot. Ok I guess for a true emergency but not for routine use. The second issue was my riding light.  It was a DiNotte AA 200L.  At the time this was the best AA light available.  Their new version is probably still the best for a light, powerful, disposable battery light.
The main problem was the same issue that comes with any battery powered light, on high setting they only last 1-3 hours.  So you always run them on low or med while worrying about running out of power.  Also even on high the 200 lum output (while more than adequate for pavement and some dirt) is lacking for some TDR conditions.  I fell at night after getting trapped in a rut, mainly due low lums coupled with washed out 'white light' conditions on white colored dirt. And I did finish with dead 'night light' batteries, I ran most of the last 60 miles of pavement by moon light or occasionally with my camp light on low when I saw a car......

However, all in all I was happy with my 2010 choices and it’s tempting to copy the same strategy for 2014.  But I am testing a new Exposure light and dynamo hub.
I will also be testing a Sinewave Cycles dynamo powered USB charger.

I have not wired up the sinewave USB charger yet but have built up the dynamo hub and done modest testing with the Revo light.

Hub results—like everyone else who has tried the SP PV-8 Dynamo Hub (aka Exposure) I simply cannot ‘feel’ or notice the small amount of drag inherent in these dynamo hubs.  So from a efficiency point of view the extra drag question is a non-event.
I added several layers of shrink tubing to reinforce the power cord at the hub/plug interface.  Now its pretty much water proof plus significantly less likely to succumb to damage from mud, tangled weeds and plug-on plug-off wear & tear.

Revo light performance—the revo has 4 led’s.  At slow speed 2 led’s light up and at higher speed all 4 light up (up to 800 lums). 
When you stop the 2 low speed led’s stay lit and slowly fade away.

At slow speed the 2 led’s are fine for climbing or pavement and when the second two led’s kick in I have enough lums for most downhill conditions.  So far I am impressed but need to get in some real off road night riding to truly get a feel for this system.

More to come……

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