THE TRAIL MARKER LIGHT IS DEAD!

Sep. 12th, 2017 01:26 pm
furr_a_bruin: (RayBall)
[personal profile] furr_a_bruin
...all hail the trail marker light! [grin]

What I mean is this; the design I came up with years ago (shown here) has become untenable. It takes a fair bit of dexterity and practice to put them together and even then, it takes a while. Given all the other tasks I've taken on at Badger Flat, I've been looking for ways to simplify and speed up what I have to do there - and the process of putting together SIXTY of these things was an obvious place to look.

The new trail marker lights will be based on these vertical CR2032 holders. I'm currently thinking of adding a small resistor to even out the light delivery - the LEDs will be a bit dimmer at first, but not burning so much energy in the first day or so will mean they'll be brighter toward the end of the run. Same LEDs, same CR2032 cell - just a different, more efficient way of putting them together at the run. And I've been able to order them through AliExpress for the insanely cheap price of 9¢ each - and while that IS a bit more than cost of the binder clip plus bingo chips, the convenience at the run site is well worth the price of the upgrade; I bought 200, so I'll have plenty even if I do lose a few to curiosity next year. The resistors are cheap; I'll have to check and see if I still have a record of what resistance I found best back when I was thinking of replacing a leg of the LED with a resistor; I might have to re-do some of my testing if I can't find that info, though as I recall - it was the smallest resistance I used that worked out the best in terms of having a similar brightness but still evening it out over time.

I also realized that I can use glue dots to stick the "warning" note to the cell holder, and the cell holder to the inside of the little zip-closure plastic bag so the LED is always properly aligned; then all I have to do on-site for assembly is pop in the CR2032 cell and seal the bag! (I actually did consider the idea of a switch so the cells could be pre-loaded... but that adds unnecessary cost and complexity.) I might consider the idea of using a plastic isolation tab like we often see in electronics that are delivered with a battery pre-installed; that would mean just yank the tab and seal the bag - I'll have to see how difficult it is to pop the cell into the holder when it's in the bag already.

While discussing this with someone who often helps me retrieve the trail marker lights at the end of the run, I had the idea that I needed something to make them more visible in the daytime - as the light which is helpful at night simply can't compete with ol' Sol when he's up and around. Given the nature of the event and my own club affiliation, the solution was obvious - rainbow ribbon! I figure a swatch of about 4" cross-wise on the tree with the light pinned to the middle should make them a LOT easier to see and retrieve. I was originally thinking of doing something to avoid fraying of the ribbon... but considering that a lot of the pieces will probably have to be discarded due to tree sap, I don't see the point in putting a lot of extra work into a chunk of ribbon. This is another item I'm getting insanely cheap direct from China - $10.50 for a fifty yard roll of 7/8" wide ribbon; I found a 20 yard roll of 5/8" ribbon on Amazon for $11.90, for comparison. And yes, having to fiddle with the ribbon will add a bit of time to putting up the lights - but sometimes I get REALLY stressed out about finding the last few lights and spend way too much time on that; having something that makes that process go faster is worth a little extra time on the installation side.

Needless to say - once I get the parts and know what resistor value I need and so on, I'll be posting again about the new Version 3 Trail Marker Light. ;)

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