Thursday, November 10, 2011

Did I just reboot my bicycle light?

This is kind of ridiculous.

I've been liking my Serfas True 500 bike light. It's one of the new generation of bicycle lights - compact, LiOn, charges from a mini-USB cable and power supply, and brighter than you can believe. These lights are a generation after the Ixon IQ that we were excited about in 2008.

Even if you're not a bicyclist you've seen these; in blinkie mode they are impossible to miss. In fact blinkie mode is so conspicuous its almost rude; I only use it in dim daylight.

These lights are amazing. Sometimes progress happens. It costs less than a replacement NiMH battery for my $350+ NiteRider gear of the 1990s, is brighter, 1/10th the weight, 1/10th the size and so on.

On the other hand, these are techie things. So progress is imperfect.

Coming home in the dark on a blustery sub-freezing night my Serfas was totally dead. Nothing - despite charging off my laptop just minutes before. Not good. Fortunately I use a Blackburn Voyager Click light as a sidelight (I go with one forward light, two lateral very bright white blinkies, and 1-2 posterior red LEDs and reflector), I made that an emergency front light. Aside from almost running over an off-leash wee doggie who dashed in front of me I made it home fine.

At home I plugged in the Serfas. Nothing happened. Not a blink.

Then, for lack of anything else to try, I pulled the battery. Looked fine, so I put it in. The light worked. It was fully charged.

So what happened?

Well, maybe the battery compartment wasn't quite closed. It seemed closed, but maybe it was a bit off. Or maybe this light has an embedded OS and I rebooted it when I pulled the battery. Could be either, but I like the second. This is one weird world we live in.

PS. The current generation of ultra-light and compact USB LiOn bicycle lights are amazing utility flashlights.

Update 5/1/12: This time it started turning itself off. It came right on when I pressed the power switch. I discovered tapping it on a hard surface would turn it off. Not an obvious bulb problem though; once it was off tapping didn't make it flicker and a power button turned it on again. I pulled the battery and again it seemed better. A bad battery sensor? If this is a widespread bug the Serfas True 500 deserves a recall.


Dan Swift said...

Pulling the battery/electricity solves all kinds of problems on devices -- phones, laptops ... even TVs and projectors!! It's up there with "have you tried rebooting your computer" which also takes care of some weird problems. Power cycling is not an uncommon occurrence in my life.

MaysonicWrites said...

I wonder how dangerous powerful blinkies are to people prone to seizures when exposed to rapid TV blinking?

JGF said...

I wonder too, though I suspect photosensitive epilepsy is pretty rare. Wikipedia has an article ..., but it doesn't give prevalence data.

People with epilepsy can't drive, so someone with PSE seeing a flickering light would usually be able to turn away.

These new generation lights are pretty rude in the dark though, so I use that mode in overcast or dim daylight.