Friday, April 27, 2012

Digital Niterider to LIPO conversion

I have a few old late 90's vintage Niterider Digital Head Trip units that I'm still using occasionally for commuting. One has the original NiMH battery, one has a home-made NiMH setup. This works fine, but both battery packs are super heavy and outdated by the newer Lipo batteries that are available. I have plenty of 11.1volt LIPOs around for flying electric RC planes, but unless the voltage is lowered to something my old 6V Niterider's expect, the vintage lights will go up in a puff of smoke.

My first go at making an adapter didn't work, see this post. The original UBEC I chose didn't output enough voltage, so the head unit thought it was dealing with a flat battery.

So, I ordered a UBEC from hobbyking that outputs 7.2 volts, for a low, low price of $5.04 + shipping.

I finally had a few minutes to solder up the new UBEC and see if it works... For a cable, I cut the wires off of an old and dead Niterider pack. If you don't have that available, you can go to Radioshack and pick up some DC power connectors and make your own cable. Just be sure to bring your head unit with to make sure you get the right connectors. Also take care to get the polarity right.... otherwise you'll have more smoke!

Make sure to place any heatshrink you want to use on the wires before you solder them together!

Soldering UBEC output to Niterider cable
 There are plenty of good tutorials on youtube on how to solder EC3 connectors. It's quite easy once you've had some practice.
Niterider connection on the left, EC3 battery connector on the right

Before I  placed the heatshrink, I tested the system out:

Let there be light!
The Niterider head unit battery gage showed a full charge. That's good, but with this conversion the battery gage won't really work, it'll read full until the second the UBEC shuts down. Make sure to be aware of your expected battery life and plan accordingly, because you'll have no warning when this happens. There are nicer UBECs available that do have a LIPO battery gage, you could easily use one of those.

Finished adapter


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  3. It did work the first couple times I tried it, then it abruptly failed. I ended up buying a set of MagicShine lights off of amazon.com. They are much, much brighter than the old Digital Niteriders.

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