|Welcome To The Hahntronix LED Bike Light Page||Back to the HahnTronix Home Page|
This page was last updated on: 10/28/10.
Bike light products and other useful stuff:
Night riding rules - Some rules of the road for after dark riding and other random thoughts.
User Interface - All my lights use a common user interface. You can change the way your light works to suit your needs.
ECD400 - A small handlebar light that kicks out a respectable 400 lumens. It can run on a number of power sources including 8 AA batteries.
BFL2010 - A very bright handlebar light most useful mountain biking at night, but also handy commuting. Available in a several brightness levels ranging from 1200 to 2000 lumens.
BRL2010 - A very bright tail light. Selectable brightness levels make it useful for day or night commuting. Available in a brightness levels ranging from 350 to 450 lumens.
BHL2010 - A small lightweight helmet light. Available in a brightness levels ranging from 450 to 700 lumens.
Accessories - You can order just a light head from me or a whole system. This page lists some of the accessories available for my lights.
Battery Health - Information on the care and feeding of batteries.
Battery Sources - I sell batteries to use with my lights, but if you need extra capacity, or have some unusual requirements, you might want to check out these links to places I've bought batteries from.
DIY Batteries - Pictures and instructions on how to build your own battery packs.
Backup lights - Always carry a spare light along when riding after dark. This page has descriptions of some of my favorites and links to where to buy them.
How to Order - Pricing for my lights and how to get them.
The history of Hahntronix Bike lights
I usually work as a contractor or consultant for companies building electronic widgets (pager watches, pacemakers, video cameras, etc.). But from time to time I've had real 9 to 5 jobs. Whenever I can I try to figure out a way to ride my bike to work when I find myself working a regular schedule someplace close to home. I lived in the Pacific Northwest (near and in Portland, OR) for about 14 years. Riding your bike to work there was considered eccentric, but not suicidal. Most towns in Oregon had bike lanes or bike paths that could usually be woven together into a reasonable ride to work. I always rode with lights when riding at dusk or after dark (or before dawn for one rather long 12 mile each way commute I used to do). Bike lanes usually get crossed by cars, and you sometimes have to cut across 3 lanes of traffic to get to the left turn lane. Oregon drivers tended to be pretty respectful of cyclists, but were sometimes distracted. I usually rode with a couple of red LED blinkies on the back of my bike (one on the seatpost, one on my rack), a yellow or green blinkie on the front and a 5 watt halogen bulb (those seem way too dim to me now). It wasn't a perfect system, but in 14 years I never got hit by an automobile (had a few close calls but no impacts).
When I moved to the Hudson Valley in 2001, I wound up buying a house on a fairly quiet country lane that happens to be a county road. It's posted at 30 MPH, but folks sometimes drive nearly twice that fast on it. I bought a cycling mirror and learned where the bail-outs were along my road. I realized that my little red LED blinkies were not going to cut it on the narrow windy roads of Ulster County, especially after dark. I mostly work from home, so I resigned myself to daylight riding only.
Since I've moved to the Hudson Valley, I've met a lot of cyclists who are afraid to ride on the roads, especially at night. Even people who think nothing of risking life and limb hurtling down dark rocky leaf covered single-track will act afraid of riding on the roads. This just feels wrong to me. Gas taxes don't pay for all the costs associated with roads. For example I pay several thousand dollars each year to to my town for a very minimal police force and to clear the roads in the winter. As far as I can tell, the police force mostly enforces the speed limit and cleans up after road accidents. I'm not complaining, they do a good job. And the roads seem pretty clear of snow most mornings after it snows. My taxes are well spent. I just get tired of motorists telling me I have no "right" to be on "their" road because I don't pay taxes. That's just not so.
I feel that as a cyclist I should have the same rights to ride on local roads as motorists do to drive on them. If I'm going to ride on the same roads as cars, I think I should have the option to use headlights and tail lights as bright as the ones used by cars. A bright headlight and a fairly bright tail light gets a driver's attention. I've always wanted a lighting system that was visible even in bright sunlight.
In 2003 I found a few online forums that were dedicated to helping people build their own high powered LED bike lights. I built a few for my own use and for friends. Soon I was hooked.
Over the past few years I've designed several different types of bike lights. I experimented with several different LEDs and LED driver circuits with the idea of coming up with a simple, cheap, and reliable bicycle lighting system. With each light I tried to find a simpler, less expensive way to build the light. I wanted a bright light that I could sell for less than more well known light manufacturers. I figured if I could make a light that was brighter than you could buy from larger bike light companies, and could sell it around half their price, I'd have a product that should be easy to sell.
I started out using some of the driver boards available from Chinese surplus sites, but came to the conclusion they weren't very reliable. They were designed to drive flashlights, which typically are not left on for hours at a time. I've tried several different LED driver chips from US manufacturers and finally found a few from National Semiconductor that I like, the LM3409, the LM3406 and the LM3404. They are all buck converters. They require a higher input voltage than the LEDs forward voltage.
What I came up with for my first commercial light was the BFL-1000.
It uses a Cree MCE LED and can put out about 600 lumens (after allowing for losses from the reflector and plexiglass cover I used). It's pretty waterproof. I wouldn't use it as a dive light, but have dunked a few in a bucket of water and left them there overnight. There was no water inside the lights the next morning. I figured if my light could handle immersion in water for a few hours it could handle wind driven heavy rain.
Road riding at night with a decent light is fun. I was able to bomb down steep hills after dark without outrunning my headlight. Then I discovered riding single track at night. I joined a local mountain biking club called the Fats In The Cats. Folks became interested in my lights and I sold a few to fellow club members. The feedback I got encouraged me to start selling the BFL-1000 online.
The above picture was taken with the BFL-1000 set on high. I don't think this picture really helps you see the shape of the beam it produces. I'll try including a road picture at some point. The beam has a small hot spot that transitions to a much dimmer flood.
Unfortunately, by the time I was ready to start selling my first light design, a Chinese manufacturer had come up with a fairly inexpensive single emitter LED light that is pretty bright. They claim the light is 900 lumens, but the actual values is probably closer to 550. The quality of the electronics and batteries seem very questionable to me. They had to cut corners somewhere to keep the price so low. They sell a complete light and battery setup for less than it costs me to buy parts to build one of my lights. So I've decided to not compete with them in the single LED emitter market.
I decided I'd switch to selling a dual LED design. I call my new light the BFL2010 (for Bright Front Light year 2010). It puts out about 1300+ lumens. 1300 lumens is about mid-range for what a standard halogen car headlight can produce. I can also build custom order versions (using more expensive LEDs) that put out over 1800 lumens. I'm researching building headlights that can produce 3000 lumens.
I've designed a tail light I'm calling the BRL-2010 (for Bright Real Light year 2010). This light is bright enough to get motorists attention in bright sunlight. It will be available in a range of lumen outputs, and like all my other lights run off a wide range of battery voltages.
I'm also offering a BHL-2010 light that is designed for helmet use. Right now I'm building these on a custom order basis. It will be a bit less bright than the BFL-1000, but will use better optics and have a lower profile (important for riding under tree branches in the dark). The price will depend on how many lumens the light produces (brighter LEDs are more expensive). The inexpensive version will produce over 450 lumens. I'll offer a high end helmet light that will produce a fairly narrow 700 lumen beam.
My goal in building bike lights is to offer customers options they won't find in other commercial lights, both the cheap Chinese ones and the more expensive domestic ones. I want to let people choose what type of batteries they want to use, and not get locked into buying expensive replacements from me. I want to work with customers to design lights with optics that work in the environment they ride in. I want to encourage people to ride whenever and wherever they please.
Time to take back the roads. Time to take back the night.