At another side-project site of mine I have been doing a multi-park review of a “chainless” bike. Instead of a chain, it uses a shaft. Instead of a derailleur, it uses an internal hub. The concept of a chainless bike is very, very old, but Dynamic Bicycles in Rhode Island has taken the idea and updated it with modern technology.
If you have any interest in biking tech, drop by and check out this review:
The Dynamic Bicycles Runabout 8 model is a hybrid bike (meaning it’s bigger/heavier than a street bike, but not quite a mountain bike). Getting rid of the chain solves a ton of problems/challenges with maintaining/tuning a traditional bike. Very cool.
A relatively new e-Bay store, Newell Development, has a listing for the YQ8008 three-arm bicycle LED light for $74.96 with free shipping from China. This model typically sells for around $130, but many e-Bay stores have it for around $80 with a $20 shipping fee. This $74.96 price is the lowest I have found so far.
They list the item as “generic” but I wrote them to ask if it was a YQ8008 (they use all the same official photos) and they responded:
“…it is Original with 100 Modes Programmable DIY Bike Bicycle Wheel Spoke Light. And it is in stock.”
Although the XuanWheel has four arms (so it can display images at lower speeds), the YQ8008 has a higher LED count per arm and thus produces a higher resolution image. You can check my comparison chart to see more details.
I have also found the YQ8007 (two arms) for $40 with free shipping from GearBest.com. I have received one to review. It shipped on 8/11 and was received in Iowa on 8/20, so just over a week — not bad. (As of this update, it is currently $36.)
2015/8/24: Added note that it now is shipped by Amazon, and qualifies for Amazon Prime shipping.
2015/12/8: $72 on Amazon currently, and there are some reviews now (and notes from the seller explaining why the iOS app is “untrusted”. Buyer beware!)
The XuanWheel (or is it Xuan Wheel?) just saw a $10 price drop. It is currently $79 at Amazon with shipping from Amazon, so it qualifies for Amazon Prime. This model has four arms, and thus produces an image (or moving video) at lower speeds than the cheaper two arm models.
See Also: There is also the YQ8008 (now found for $75 on e-Bay with free shipping) three arm unit which has a higher density of LEDs no each arm for higher resolution photos. XuanWheel is probably better at slower speeds, and YQ8008 probably has better images at higher speeds.
2014/8/10 – Adding link to manufacturer of YQ800X series products.
Last year, I posted an article discussing a cheap bike wheel LED display I picked up for $6 on e-Bay. Recently, I discovered many other ones seem much better. The cheap one I have has 32 blue LEDs, and is single sided, so you can only view it from on side of the bike. Since then, I have discovered full color versions with more LEDs and, most importantly, double-sided so they can be viewed on either side of the bike. Here is a rundown of my researc so far, mostly posted here so it can be indexed in Google, BING, etc. and maybe help others.
I will post links to the items available from Amazon (but NONE are actually sold BY Amazon, and most ship from China and take weeks to arrive). I have found hundreds of e-Bay stores selling them, too, often at far lower prices.
There is a company called ExcelVan that makes several, ranging from $20 to over $100.
Update: Since the original posting, I think I have located the manufacturer of these devices. They produce YQ8001 to YQ8009. Some use preset patterns, some are programmable (they call them “DIY”), and some can even do video. I will try to put a chart together as I learn more.
Here is the YQ8003 installation video:
By searching for the “YQxxxx” numbers, you can find them being sold all over e-Bay and other online places — most shipping from China. The prices vary greatly. GearBest has the YQ8007 (they claim) for $40.99 with free shipping, for example.
There is a difference in how they work, too. Some just display static photos, and some can display animation. But, the best one (maybe), is the XuanWheel.
I believe it started out as an IndieGogo campaign called HaloWheel, but since Halo Wheels is a name of a bike wheel brand, maybe that’s why they changed it to XuanWheel? It is a double-sided, four-armed one that is programmed via Bluetooth over an Android or iOS device. This HaloWheel (per IndiGogo name) or XuanWheel (per website) runs $89 on Amazon (there is a $5 discount code right now) with free shipping (from China, so it takes a month to reach the USA). I found similar devices on e-Bay for as low as $73 (they may be knockoffs or clones).
This one looks like it can synchronize both wheel displays (if you have two). I could not find ANY information on what size hub it would fit, so I asked on YouTube and they replied:
The diameter of the hub should not be larger than 3.8 centimeter
WARNING: Their iOS app is not in the App Store. Instead, you just go and download it direct from their website. Assuming you like to just download random apps from sites in China… Yes, just like Android, you can directly install iOS apps without going through the App Store. BUT, they are not supposed to do that. That is, I think, how developers allow beta testers to get access to their apps before they are done and submitted to Apple. They only get a limited number of installs this way, I believe, and they are not meant to be distributing software like this. At least the iOS device will warn you:
And lastly, there is even the Monkey Light Pro by Monkeylectric that sells for $1000. It looks good, but not $1000 good!
More to come… I am hoping to have a review unit of one of these in a few weeks.
UPDATE: Commenter wb8nbs pointed me to Hokey Spokes, which at $20 16-LED spoke lights that can display preset patterns or simple one line text. The unique thing about them is you can use just one, or multiple. They sync to each other using infrared, and from the demo videos, it appears they all just do the same thing so all patterns look symmetrical (thus, any text would show the same in three places of the wheel when using three of these). Not color, but you can get them in different colors and create interesting rainbow effects. Not the most cost effective solution, but if you just want cool lights, one would be pretty cheap, and they ship from Indiana!
Due to finances, about the only form of recreation I have these days is riding my bike. I like to take casual rides on the many trails here in Des Moines (Iowa is famous for it’s massive bike trail network).
A few years ago, I came across this neat LED display that attaches to a bike wheel and created images using persistence of image (i.e. lights flashing real fast as the wheel rotates, which the eye sees as a complete, though flickering, image):
Go there and look at the pictures and watch the videos. It is able to display full color and even animate images (I love the Pac-Man and Ghost images they show). It works by having a row of LEDs that flicker on and off as the wheel spins. The wheel has to spin very fast to show an image, so they sell kits with multiple circuit boards of LEDs. The more on the wheel, the slower it has to turn to show an image.
It looked really cool, but it came in a kit, and I am not really that capable of an electronics person. Plus, the kit with three circuit boards was $113.
A found similar (much cheaper) devices on Amazon, though most of them just did preset patterns and didn’t let you load your own. You can find some simple LED wheel lights at Amazon for around $13 that can display short text messages:
Do some searching and you will find all kinds of cheap POV displays for bike wheels. I even found one for around $12 that was programmable via USB:
None of these are anywhere near as cool as the Adafruit SPOKEPOV kit, but they might be pretty neat for the money.
Then, I came across this one on from an e-Bay store:
It had two rows of LEDs and could attach to the hub of the bike and display messages or graphics. At the time I found it, there was a seller auctioning them off, and I picked one up for $6 (shipped from the US, even). Unfortunately, the device was not like the pictures show — it was not in color, just blue (the description says this, but all the listings, including Amazon, use pictures showing one with color).
Also, the device would not fit the hub of my bike (the bolts were too short), nor the sensor on the frame (the bracket was too small). I am not sure what tiny little bikes these were made for, but my old 1998 Trek wasn’t one of them.
However, with a bit of rigging, it was easy to attach the device to the spokes of my bike (rather than clamping it around the hub) using some tape, and then I could do some quick experiments.
If I get time, I would like to experiment with a very low-cost version of this, using an Arduino-style device and a strip of the high speed LPN8806 addressable LEDs. An Arduino in a plastic enclosure with batteries could easily power two segments of 32 LEDs (wider spacing than the commercial units, though) and do full color. The only other hardware would be a magnet and a sensor so the device can tell when the led strips circle around.