EL Helmet Kits are bright and versatile safety light add-on's to your bike or motorcycle helmet for added visibility.
In Closing -
Thank you visionary backers and reviewers for your support on the project. Although the goal was not reached, here's why this project was still a success:
> Three thousand people viewed the video and are now aware of EL Technology if they were not before. Of those three thousand people, over thirty decided to become backers. So 1% of people exposed to the product became customers. I'm not in advertising but I think that's pretty good.
> The product design evolved and got better. New suppliers and business relationships mean better product and more exposure.
> The Highway Patrol went on record that the product is legal. As they don't do endorsements that's a very good thing.
Also I want to thank some outstanding people for their work, talent, insight, and support that didn't make it in the video credits:
Alan Dawson, Michael McDermand, Loretta Schnieder, Brian Szymkowski, Lindsay Taylor, Claire Umeda & Robert Zuchowski.
What's an Electroluminescent Helmet Kit?
Physically it's two 1/2" by 18" strips thinner than a credit card that can be easily applied to the flat surface of a bicycle, motorcycle, safety or just about any helmet to give the wearer 360 degree low light visibility.
Anyone who's ever ridden a bike or a motorcycle on city streets at night knows visibility is your first line of defense against motorists.
The goal of making the EL Helmet Kit was to make this amazing technology easy to use and put it all together in a kit that will work on just about any bicycle or motorcycle helmet.
A brief history
Electroluminescent or 'EL' lighting technology has been around for a half century. Chrysler was using it in dashboards in the 1960's. The US Air Force has replaced incandescent lighting with Electroluminescent lights on it's runways in extreme environments. Under testing they were found to be more power efficient, highly durable, long lasting and were visible at four times the distance of incandescent lighting (https://www.dropbox.com/s/od65a98xtx1ilei/TD%20USAF%20Electroluminescent%20Lighting%20Applications%20USAF.pdf). Similar 'EL Wire' kits with battery packs have been in use for years at events like Burning Man. Why? Visibility. So you don't get run over, and because it looks super cool!
The fairly recent availability of EL in preformed tape and panel configurations make it many times more visible than in the wire form. Naturally this technology could and should be used on the road.
To accomplish this a new battery pack is needed. The goal of the prototype power pack was to overcome the main limitations of other available DC power inverters.
> It had to have a single power connector like you'd find on any other consumer device, not like inside your computer.
> It had to have simple controls that could be operated with gloves on.
> It had to have battery life to last 12+ hours.
> It had to stay cool, and have a large operating temperature range.
> It had to successfully shield the high pitched audio resonance of the magnetic coil that drives the Electroluminescent strips.
And it worked!
The prototype power pack successfully fulfills it's criteria and is unique in the market in it's feature set. All this was done using off the shelf technologies.
A Hammond Manufacturing 1593 Series case proved to be the right size, versatile and strong enough to do the job with some modifications. The OEM wiring that comes on the EL Strips is changed out in favor of an 1/8" plug with like receiver on the power pack. And a large LED rocker switch is added so it can be used easily with gloves on and not left on accidentally.
This wasn't a shot in the dark. Several early units and 15 real world testers provided feedback for months to get to the final prototype.
Testers were in three groups. Bicyclists, Motorcyclists and Kids (Cross-Sport & Bike).
Where do the funds go?
By purchasing the components in larger quantities the prototype kit can be offered at a reasonable price and fund research into the next generation kit.
The next step towards a new power pack is to gather more information on permanent rechargeable power sources like you'd find in an RC car and evaluate their performance against the prototype.
Following that would be to do design a new enclosure. This depends greatly on the battery size and configuration so the previous step really needs to be resolved first. Not that it's not already being worked on...
This is a much larger and expensive process that would likely require a different Kickstarter project to move forward into molding and fabrication. Luckily the resources of silicon valley are at the doorstep.
20 Second Kickstarter Video
But is it legal?
The short answer is YES.
After a lengthy investigation the official word from the CHP is that lighting on the rider is not the same as on the vehicle and therefore not covered under the vehicle codes restricting add-on lighting.
The full text of the CHP's response is in Project Update #7
What if it stops working?
After securing the very best EL Tape-to-wire connectors on the market from a US based manufacturer of Industrial Electroluminescent Products, EL Helmet kits will have a full repair/replace warranty for a period of one year against mechanical failure.
Electroluminiscent Helmet Kit Project featured on Kickstarter Conversations
EL Helmet Kits featured on TechHive
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
As there are multiple suppliers for the parts needed in the kits, a supply problem isn't very likely.
Limitations on quantity of kits is to ensure they will all be delivered on time.
Shipping priority (Sept vs. Oct) will be given to the Green, Green Rainbow and Razor Kits as a thank you for choosing the rechargeable option.
Eventually, they have an operational lifespan of over 8,000 hours.
So if you had it on all day, every day, it would last about a year. Two hours a day, every day, over ten years!
-60°c to 60°c or -58° F to 140° F
EL Helmet kits are very energy efficient. A single brand name 9v battery will last 14 hours in constant use.
No. In stress tests neither the EL strips or battery pack never went above room temperature for the entire life of the battery.