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RADIOS 16 headlight LED conversion

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RADIOS 16 headlight LED conversion

Old 01-09-22, 09:20 AM
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Andy Antipas 
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RADIOS 16 headlight LED conversion

After posting my Moto-Gugie 650b conversion, several people wrote suggesting I convert the vintage RADIOS 16 headlight to LED. I have used LED bulbs in vintage head and tail lights, and they are bright, but the LED bulb in a vintage headlight, doesn't have a reflector that works properly. Bright light goes everywhere, and not towards the road where one needs it. Folks mentioned using Busch & Muller headlights, which look to be excellent quality. However, I was hesitant to spend a lot of money to hack it apart not knowing if I could put it all together and make it work. After some shopping around I bought a Herrmans 100 lumens headlight, which was about half the price. The Herrmans housing is all plastic and I was able to disassemble the whole thing. I spent a lot of time with different sanding drums on a dremel tool and what I thought would be a quick conversion turned into a 4 hour event.... I was able to do the conversion without modifying the RADIOS 16 headlamp and can return it to original configuration. From the exterior, the only addition is the ground wire, which I attached to the headlight mounting bolt and added a plug so I can disconnect the headlight from the bike if necessary. With winter conditions here in Durango, I won't be able to test for a month or two, and it remains to be seen if the Herrmans internals will be durable.












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Old 01-09-22, 11:09 AM
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Nice job! I have not really seen any good quality lighting with a vintage look available for purchase. It's probably too much of a "niche" market for a manufacturer to try and produce for. But, where there is a will there is a way!
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Old 01-09-22, 11:23 AM
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That's pretty slick, Andy!
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Old 01-09-22, 11:27 AM
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Fine looking bike, too.

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Old 01-09-22, 12:02 PM
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Fabulous project….
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Old 01-09-22, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by andy antipas View Post
...i was able to do the conversion without modifying the radios 16 headlamp and can return it to original configuration.
fantastic!!!
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Old 01-09-22, 12:35 PM
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The best of all worlds, very cool @Andy Antipas.

Originally Posted by Oldairhead View Post
Nice job! I have not really seen any good quality lighting with a vintage look available for purchase. It's probably too much of a "niche" market for a manufacturer to try and produce for. But, where there is a will there is a way!
Busch&Mueller do make a couple of vintage-inspired models, but unfortunately, they're at the low end on brightness:

Classic (25-30 lux):


Retro (17 lux):
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Old 01-09-22, 12:46 PM
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Nice work! It warms my heart to see one of these classy old lights get a chance to be useful and seen!

I've been thinking about ways to mount LEDs in place of the flanged light bulbs, but haven't gotten beyond a few pencil sketches. Can you share how you mounted the tiny headlight into the vintage one? I'm guessing it might be RTV'ed (i.e. silicone caulk) onto the reflector?? One of my own goals is to make such a conversion without impacting the light mechanism itself, which does make things a bit more difficult.

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Old 01-09-22, 04:25 PM
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LED installation

No RTV silicon involved. I kept sanding off plastic on the headlight housing until it slide inside the RADIOS housing. It is a sung fit and takes a bit of wiggling to get it back out. It took a lot more sanding than I thought it would. A dremel tool with sanding drums are a must. It would take much longer if sanded by hand. There is a nut that holds the top of spring loaded latch that needs to be cleared. Plus, there are a couple of rivets in the bottom of the Radios housing that need to be cleared as well. I was able to run the wires out through an existing hole in the Radios housing. It was a slow process of sanding and test fitting.
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Old 01-09-22, 04:40 PM
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Radios Reflector vs. LED Reflector

I don't think you would be able to use the Radios reflector. What actually emits LED light is tiny little area much smaller than an incandescent bulb and it emits that light away from the reflector and not towards it. As I mentioned in my original discussion at the top of this thread, one can use LED bulbs in the old Radios headlight. It screws right in, but the light emitting part doesn't utilize the reflector. The light scatters everywhere and isn't focused like the modern LED headlight designs. People will see you coming, but you may not be able to see where you are going.

The LED itself is in the top of the Herrmans light and it shines down onto the reflector, which is at about a 45 degree angle to the horizontal plane. it is a very different way to direct the light when compared to an incandescent headlight. By making the Herrmans housing fit inside the Radios housing, we are utilizing all the modern design elements. In addition to better lighting, the Hermans light and other brands have a capacitor that keeps the headlight shining when you stop at an intersection/stop light, which is a nice feature.
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Old 01-09-22, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy Antipas View Post
I don't think you would be able to use the Radios reflector. What actually emits LED light is tiny little area much smaller than an incandescent bulb and it emits that light away from the reflector and not towards it. As I mentioned in my original discussion at the top of this thread, one can use LED bulbs in the old Radios headlight. It screws right in, but the light emitting part doesn't utilize the reflector. The light scatters everywhere and isn't focused like the modern LED headlight designs. People will see you coming, but you may not be able to see where you are going.

The LED itself is in the top of the Herrmans light and it shines down onto the reflector, which is at about a 45 degree angle to the horizontal plane. it is a very different way to direct the light when compared to an incandescent headlight. By making the Herrmans housing fit inside the Radios housing, we are utilizing all the modern design elements. In addition to better lighting, the Hermans light and other brands have a capacitor that keeps the headlight shining when you stop at an intersection/stop light, which is a nice feature.
No argument that the optics in the old lights were ... "less than optimal".
Fitting modern optics and electronics into an old light is going to provide the best light pattern. Some of the old lights, like my little Jos block dynamo, are fairly small, so I wanted to see if I could come up with a way to mount two LEDs into the spot where the bulb was. Two LEDs offer the benefit of being a better match to the dynamo than a single LED, and I want them to be aimed to the side in order to throw light mostly into the reflector.. sorta.

My concept would mimic the beam pattern that a bulb would produce, in the best case scenario. My little Jos light never produced much light, and the beam was pretty sad, but it was authentic. Honestly, I'm amazed that I was able to see the road at all back then. It's mostly a project of passion, or at least a project of weird curiosity.

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Old 01-09-22, 10:09 PM
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Nice job!

I converted a lot of headlights to LED in the days before good LED headlights became commercially available. Pain in the neck.

I want to hear how the light is. I normally use an 80-lux B&M headlight. What's 100 lumens in comparison? (I know, rhetorical question ... it's not as simple as converting inches to centimeters).
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Old 01-10-22, 12:57 AM
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I've had a few people ask me about doing this, now I know who to send them to, if you're willing!
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Old 01-10-22, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
.....
I want to hear how the light is. I normally use an 80-lux B&M headlight. What's 100 lumens in comparison? (I know, rhetorical question ... it's not as simple as converting inches to centimeters).
IIRC, lumens is a measure of how much light is produced by the source (in this case, a LED).
Lux is something I don't typically use, so I had to check wikipedia: "The lux (symbol: lx) is the SI derived unit of illuminance, measuring luminous flux per unit area.[1][2] It is equal to one lumen per square metre."
As such, it depends a lot on the way that the light is shaped.
If the beam is very tight, then the lux will be greater than if the beam is wide, assuming the same light source is used.

Lumens is useful when comparing light sources such as LEDs, since there is no way to know what sort of optics will be used to shape the beam.
Lux is much more useful when comparing lights, assuming that the beams are roughly comparable.

I will say that modern white LEDs produce about 100 lumens per watt. A dynamo headlight should be able to produce around 300 lumens.
Overall, a light that produces 100 lumens is going to be noticeably dimmer than a standard LED dynamo headlight. Even so, it's also going to be brighter than if an incandescent bulb was used. I've compared an old Lumotec incandescent light with an early LED dynamo light. At the same power level, the incandescent Lumotec was just a feeble glow by comparison.

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Old 01-10-22, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by steelbikeguy View Post
IIRC, lumens is a measure of how much light is produced by the source (in this case, a LED).
Lux is something I don't typically use, so I had to check wikipedia: "The lux (symbol: lx) is the SI derived unit of illuminance, measuring luminous flux per unit area.[1][2] It is equal to one lumen per square metre."
As such, it depends a lot on the way that the light is shaped.
If the beam is very tight, then the lux will be greater than if the beam is wide, assuming the same light source is used.

Lumens is useful when comparing light sources such as LEDs, since there is no way to know what sort of optics will be used to shape the beam.
Lux is much more useful when comparing lights, assuming that the beams are roughly comparable.

I will say that modern white LEDs produce about 100 lumens per watt. A dynamo headlight should be able to produce around 300 lumens.
Overall, a light that produces 100 lumens is going to be noticeably dimmer than a standard LED dynamo headlight. Even so, it's also going to be brighter than if an incandescent bulb was used. I've compared an old Lumotec incandescent light with an early LED dynamo light. At the same power level, the incandescent Lumotec was just a feeble glow by comparison.

Steve in Peoria
Thank you for that explainer! I knew some of that ---well, I knew that lux and lumens measure different things, and that lumens is not a useful measurement for my purposes.

Which is basically another way of saying it's hard to believe what a difference a properly shaped light makes.

If you are adept with BikeForums searching (ha, ha, ha) you may find some old threads of mine in which I showed how I modified old headlights to take LED's. The first thing I tried was those LED bulbs that replace incandescent flashlight bulbs; the best thing you can say about those is they're better than incandescent flashlight bulbs. I eventually settled on bright LED's on the little hexagonal aluminum stars; you can get excellent optics for those. The LED plus the 'lens' (it looks nothing like a lens. There's another name for it that I'm not going to bother googling right now) forms a cylinder about 3/4" long and 3/4" across, which is pretty easy to fit into any old dynamo lamp.
At first I fooled around with bridge rectifiers and voltage limiters of various kinds, some of which I probably didn't understand anyway (I'm an archaeologist, not an electrician). I eventually settled on a pretty foolproof way of making a decent headlight: just wire the headlight and taillight opposite [You have two wires coming from your dynamo. One goes to the + on the headlight and the - on the taillight. The other goes to the - on the headlight and the + on the taillight], so they flash alternately, and you don't need a bridge rectifier or anything. It flashes at low speed, like all dynamo headlights. The light from a light like this was good enough for my night time commute for several years. Not as good as the B&M I'm using now, though.
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Old 01-10-22, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
...
Which is basically another way of saying it's hard to believe what a difference a properly shaped light makes.
very true! At this time, there isn't much advantage to making your own headlight, other than desiring special features. Even then, it's probably best to find a damaged commercially built light and modify the electronics (and I've got such a light ready for a project, eventually)

Originally Posted by rhm View Post
.
... I eventually settled on bright LED's on the little hexagonal aluminum stars; you can get excellent optics for those. The LED plus the 'lens' (it looks nothing like a lens. There's another name for it that I'm not going to bother googling right now) forms a cylinder about 3/4" long and 3/4" across, which is pretty easy to fit into any old dynamo lamp.
At first I fooled around with bridge rectifiers and voltage limiters of various kinds, some of which I probably didn't understand anyway (I'm an archaeologist, not an electrician). .....
As you note, it's not that hard to put together a reasonably decent light with little specialized knowledge. I've made a few over the decades and am still using two of them.
I'm an electrical engineer, so it's natural to fool around with the electronics. I seem to have focused on very strong standlights, though.
Retrofitting "subtle" LEDs into retro/vintage lights is an interesting variation on the theme, though. The problem is primarily mechanical, at least in terms of getting the heat out of the LEDs and getting them positioned properly in the existing reflector. I don't have much for tools, so this will involve a lot of work with the hacksaw, file, and probably the Dremel. It's an intriguing problem, regardless.

Steve in Peoria
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Old 01-10-22, 05:34 PM
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I actually have a B&M IQ Cyo on which I managed to snap off the plastic molded mounting clamp (note: don't try to change the angle of the lamp when it's firmly attached to the bracket). Otherwise, it works fine. Glad to send it off for postage to anyone who wants to experiment.
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Old 01-10-22, 05:43 PM
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Is it cynical to suspect that a light manufacturer's choice to rate in lumens or lux reveals something about their motivations? Lux is a measure of how good you are at getting light to the target, whereas lumens just tell you how much light you're spraying out. And needing a lot more light to make up for that is no problem, because a bigger number is a selling point...
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