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Super Long Thread Question - Motorcycle Turn Signals

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by aoeu, May 6, 2014.

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  1. aoeu


    May 6, 2014
    Warning! Long post, but only long because I wanted to give you as much detail as possible.

    Hi guys, I'm new here. I have a question about a project and I've signed up just to get answers and I apologise if that seems a bit selfish! I have searched and read about 30 different threads on here already but many of the threads have assumed knowledge. My electrical skills are simple soldering and following basic schematics which I learned years ago in school. I would appreciate any input on my project.

    Create a custom LED turn-signal for a motorcycle. Must be simple design based on plug & play type parts. I do not have the means to custom design circuit boards however I can solder simple things together. Note I have bought and tested a variety of automotive-specific LEDs and they do not fit the application/not bright enough.

    • Must be bright, I guess that 100-150 lumens would suffice. I need it much brighter than standard because the housing the LED will go inside is very small, with the light opening being only a 13mm diameter circle. Traditional globes use the entire plastic housing as a lens, but here I need to compensate for the small opening by using a much brighter LED.
    • Needs to handle 1hz flashing. An electronic turn-signal relay (standard in motorcycle) will be installed which will do the flashing. I don't need the driver itself to have flashing functionality.
    • Needs to be comfortable operating in summer temperatures (I guess max of 40degrees ambient + sun). Most of the time the bike will be in motion to cool and rarely if ever will it be left on while stationary in heat. I would like to design with longevity and reliability in mind.
    • Ability to vary brightness in my prototype (would be good but not essential) so I could get an idea on how bright I need to make things.

    What I have come up with so far
    My current research has found I need a few things for a successful project: an efficient LED, a 'buckpuck' type driver / constant current, good heat management. It sounds like the resistor path is not the best method despite many commercial turn-signal products using resistors.

    LED: XPG-R5 . I chose this because it had a decent working range starting from the minimal brightness I wanted. It was cheap and could fit into my housing.
    Driver: 1000mA Buckpuck with potentiometer . I chose this based on some google searching. I know a member here mentioned the Meanwell drivers but I was a bit lost looking for the right product.

    My basic circuit will be:
    Bike battery 12v -> Electronic flasher relay -> Buckpuck -> LED
    The LED will be attached via a thermal adhesive compound to a metal bolt which is then wound into a metal housing. The bolt will likely be steel and have the tip polished to ensure good mating surface.

    • Will this work? Not in the crude sense, but is this the 'smart' way to do things while keeping it simple and within my means? Keep in mind I hope to make this out of parts that can be bought and wired together simply.
    • The bike has 4 turn-signals (Front left/right, rear left/right). Can I just use two buckpucks and then wire two LEDs in series to each, or will I need one for each LED?

    Thanks for any input. If this works I will go ahead and purchase the parts and start some testing. I'm an amateur motorcycle enthusiast and are making these custom indicators as the current offerings are too expensive/ugly/not to my taste
  2. shrtrnd


    Jan 15, 2010
    Just some input that I can think of:
    I don't know where you're at, or what motor vehicle laws you may have there.
    I would assume that there are certain laws concerning the minimum/maximum brightness, and also the visible angle your lens must have to meet road requirements.
    I'd check into that, and make sure you've complied with the minimum acceptable standards before you start building.
    There are a wide variety of very bright LEDs available (and more all the time), as well as reflector housing and lens types available.
  3. aoeu


    May 6, 2014
    At this stage it's purely a proof of concept thing. If I can get it working it's going to feature on custom bikes that aren't road registered but will sit at shows all day long. I won't be using it on my road registered bike or anything. I do want it to look and work great however.

    Thanks for your input!
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