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Tag Archive: nighttime commuting

ICEdot Crash Sensor for smartphones

Editor’s note: We have an unofficial policy here at Bikecommuters.com not to publish articles about “crowdfunded” bike gear/trips/accessories…we field about 10 or 15 a week, on average, and frankly, very few of them are all that compelling. The following, however, is a project that is quite compelling and we are bending our own rules to let you know about it. Read on:

We got an email and presskit from Jonathan Gates, designer at ICEdot.org. They are currently in the midst of developing a very novel setup for bicyclists, outdoorspeople or anyone else who may need such a device. Basically,

The Crash Sensor is a slim device that will mount as an aftermarket device onto any helmet. When paired with the ICEdot app on a smart phone, the system is able to detect motion, changes in forces and impacts.

In the event of an impact, the device sends critical data to the app which sounds an alarm and initiates an emergency countdown. Unless the countdown clock is stopped, the app will then notify your emergency contacts and send GPS coordinates of the incident so that appropriate follow up actions can be taken.

ICEdot is conducting a fixed funding campaign via Indiegogo. You can visit their funding page by clicking here.

The first component is a small “puck” (the sensor itself) that attaches to the helmet:

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And, of course, there’s the smartphone app it communicates with via Bluetooth:

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As we mentioned, this could be a very cool device, especially for bike commuters who have to travel the “unbeaten path”, or commute at night…in the event of an emergency, ICEdot’s sensor and app could save lives. We’re all hoping ICEdot is successful with their funding campaign, and if you want to help out, swing over to their Indigogo page and do so.

Reflective Tape DIY – “Get Visible!”

Holy Reflective Metal, Cyclists! Agent Mir.I.Am reporting for duty here:  Check out this little DIY project I’ve had my eye on for quite some time: Stealth Reflectors from Bike Commuters.com reader, Raiyn…  It’s based on the fact that I am underpaid and unlikely to buy that spiffy Bright Bike kit or not quite crazy enough to “Get Visible” like these luminous peeps in this email forward inter-tube video.  Anyway, if you’ve recently cleaned your frame you might be interested in this easy number.

One lovely afternoon, boyfriend tells me that he gets free shipping through the Jungle Website if he spends a couple more bones so do I want anything from Jungle Land?  YES PLEASE!  Last week the postal service delivered our Jungle package and it was this

3M reflective tape for less than three bones each!? I'll take two.

Praise to the Amazonian Jungle Goddesses for taking my (boyfriend’s) sacrificial three dollars for a 36″ long sliver of Ruban Adhesif Reflechissant! Or, thank you tricksy false Amazon.com for convincing us to spending more money on your website with promises of freedom of shipping…   With this new gift bestowed upon me, weekend crafties were in order.  Finally!

Yes I had one of these, and it is now dead after two weeks of approximately 1-hour night time commutes. Time to change a battery!

Super Tangent: I ADORE BLINKY LIGHTS.  Brian (aka boyfriend) will often enter the LBS with me in search of something simple like a spare tube, a shopping trip he envisions taking only 5 minutes tops.  It always ends with him dragging me away from the blinky lights display; I can sit there -literally- for a half hour playing with Knogs, Planet Bike headlamps, and those ghetto spoke multi-colored LEDs that die after 6 hours of commuting. **GASP! Shiny Things!!! Yes, yes, I do need more than two headlights.**  I also dig reflective and neon colored shiz  and don’t care if this makes me a visibility dork…. My next reflective purchase will definitely be a pair of these hotties at Art n Flea from Vamos Threads.  Needless to say, I freaking love reflective and hi-viz anything!!!  On to the DIY part.

Please excuse the hipsta-matic photo qualities, as I have yet to purchase a digital camera of considerable quality (my current cameras include broken underwater digital camera from WalCrap, outdated Kodak Polaroid, cell phone without internet access)… Thus, we are relegated to the use of boyfriend’s so’called “iPhone” and emailing photos back to myself.  Bear with me, bike commuters.

Some tools required for the DIY “Get Visible” installation:

This photo was apparently taken from a DIY scene in 1776. *Dirty cutting board optional, clean cutting surfaces are also acceptable.

STEP 1: Cut a hole in the box.

STEP 2: Put your junk in the… oh wait. No, step two is measure the length of piece you want to cut against your bike frame.  Here is a picture of me and the bumblebee Scott Speedster doing just this, way back… back in TIME.  Like 1972, considering the amber glow from the hipstamatic iPhone thing.

Really, accuracy is not much of an issue...

STEP 3: Now you cut it using your fangs!!  Like this:

Anything semi-sharp with the exception of a plastic spork should do it!

STEP 4: Apply willy-nilly!  I stuck these reflective tape pieces all over my bike-parts that were white so it has the same bumblebee Scott Speedster label-whore design as the original.  Maybe if I happen upon a large amount of scrap reflective tape, I will just bling the whole damn frame!  Another idea for acquiring reflective tape comes from this Instructable, where they suggest hitting up your local safety equipment store and asking for reflective sign scraps for free!

Hopefully this increases my visibility.  If any of you Oahu riders happen to see my Bumblebee Speedster cruisin’ around Chinatown, take a pictha with a flash so we can check if this reflective tape works… Lacking photography apparatus at the moment.  Anyone else have super easy DIY tips on how to get visible like the crazy headband  chick in that video?!! (Seriously watch this lady, she is cracking me up!)  I’ll start with Vamos Threads reflective leggings…  In the meantime, maybe it’s time to change the battery in my Spoke Light:

TRON TIME!!! Blinky crack party!

Hopefully this post will show you how 15 minutes, some shadow fangs (or scissors) and reflective tape can add a little bling to your frame without breaking the bank.  So easy, why did I wait 2.5 years?  Maybe it’s the fact that I only clean my bike once per season… oops!  Wham BAM!  Mir.I.Am.  Catch you next time my cycle monsters.

Review: Portland Design Works’ Spaceship/Radbot 500 Lights

A few weeks ago, the good folks from Portland Design Works (PDW) sent us a courtesy set of their Spaceship headlight and Radbot 500 rear blinkie for testing and to hang onto when we’re done putting them through their paces.

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Upon opening the box, there is a startling similarity between the Radbot blinkie and the perennial favorite — the Planet Bike “Superflash” — the LED lens looks identical to the main one on the Superflash. There are some similiarities in the attachment hardware, too, and I’ll get to that in a minute. The LED in the Radbot is rated at 1/2 watt, and it is as bright as anyone could ever need in a blinkie.

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As far as the light goes, the similarities end with that 1/2 watt LED and lens — in my opinion, the PDW Radbot is vastly superior to my old favorite in several ways. First, the case is held together with a screw…no more bouncing down the road only to hear batteries and case parts tinkling down behind me as the road bucks them off. An additional benefit is that the gasket seal between the two halves of the case is compressed better, giving it more resistance to water intrusion. I haven’t gotten to test this yet, but I’ve been dismayed at times by the ability of my old Superflash to let water past its gasket, and the PDW just seems more resistant to that. I hope I’m right!

Second, the body of the blinkie contains a largish DOT reflector rather than auxiliary LEDs. Having the reflector built in helps with legality issues — many municipalities require a rear-facing red reflector, and too many bikes don’t have ’em. Third, the light is actuated by a press on a real button, not a soft spot in the case. I like that…and that button has a built-in delay to prevent accidental turning on while the light is floating around in your pocket or backpack.

The Radbot 500 has three modes — an organic slow pulse (like a slow heartbeat), a slow pulse followed by three ultra-quick blasts, and steady-on. The pulsing with three blasts is my favorite mode…either flashing mode is different enough from other lights on the market that they should really stand out on dark streets. The light is powered by two AAA batteries.

The Spaceship front light has two modes — flashing and steady — and is powered by two AA batteries. As you can see from this photo, there is good side visibility and a neat feature…a lighted strip of blue along the top of the light’s body. What’s the purpose of this? Why, to look extra cool, that’s what!

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The light itself is not strong enough for a “to see” light, but it serves admirably as a “to be seen” light. The light pattern is a very tight spotlight with a strong blue cast at the center of the beam, and it just doesn’t light up the road very well. But, in flashing mode, cars can’t ignore that flash…it’s bright enough to do the job of alerting motorists to your presence.

The light set comes with lots of hardware…a traditional seatpost mounting clamp, a nice adjustable handlebar clamp for the front light, a seatstay loop to hold the light bracket if your seatpost is too short or too obscured to mount the light there, a bracket for standard rear racks (thank you, PDW — not enough companies include these!!!) and the stainless mounting nuts and bolts for affixing the bracket to the rack. If you already own Planet Bike front and rear lights, you’re in luck; the clip interface is identical for both front and rear holders and you can just clip on your new PDW lights and get to ridin’ without any hassles.

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The handlebar clamp is an improvement on the similar Planet Bike model…adjustable to fit 22 mm bars all the way up to 31.8mm “oversize” bars. It’s less likely to slip than the PB mount, too…although I had to add a wrap of friction tape under mine as my handlebars are an odd in-between size. Once the clamp is tightened down using the thumbscrew, it’s pretty solid.

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Overall, I really like this light set — especially the Radbot blinkie. It’s my new favorite and I look forward to many miles with this light. The Spaceship makes a good “second light”, especially when coupled with something a bit more powerful for rider visibility. This set goes for about $45.00, so it’s a good deal too.

Check out PDW’s other smartly-designed and innovative parts — they’ve got a lot of good things going on — by visiting their website.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.