Stephen

Build #2, April 18, 2012: Lights shipping & Another head banging event

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[UPDATE]
OK, slightly more good news. So the issue that I describe below is actually slightly different than I originally perceived. Here's what I know for sure...

Taillight: No problems.

Headlight:
Main LED status indication CAN be turned off. This is good, and exactly how it should be for bar operation. This avoids the lightening strike mode issue that I described below. This is how I will normally ship the light (also in Threemode as noted below) unless, you're using it primarily on the helmet and would like me to enable the main LED status indication for you. The caveat however, is that the light must remain in multi-mode (all 5 power levels available, just like the taillight) in order to do this.

The basic problem is that once the operation mode is changed in programming mode (from multi-mode to .... threemode for example) then the main LED status indication is lost and cannot be turned back on, except with the "factory default restore" operation. After you do this, the only other programming option for the headlight that would be necessary would be to change the thermal shut down limit to 60 degC.

Bottom line is that the headlight can be run in any mode (duomode, threemode, trimode, or multimode) WITHOUT main LED status indication, but if you want main LED status indication, the light MUST be run in multi-mode. I'll update the users manual with steps for how to do this yourself.

I'll leave the rest of the original blog below, just for historical purposes, so you can see how this has made my head spin around three or four times, but just be aware that some of it is incorrect, which is why I needed this update. In the end, it appears to be a very minimal and livable issue, albeit somewhat irksome that it wasn't caught before. The benefit of the added flashmode functionality I think was well worth this small bug. And considering the speed at which this fairly major firmware revision was made, it's actually quite remarkable that there weren't any major bugs. Of course, this little one has since been fixed in firmware, so any Maxflex boards that you purchase from TaskLED in the future will not have this issue.

[END OF UPDATE]

The good news today is that I've shipped out 9 lights so far this week! The build process is still going relatively smoothly, just slowly. Looks like I have 12 remaining pre-paid orders that I will continue working hard to ship out day by day until they're finished. After that, I'll be sending out reminder emails to those that have received PayPal invoices, but are waiting to pay until the lights are ready.

As a side note, I was doing a bit of testing last night and discovered something ODD with the battery detection functionality on the headlight. I have all the controller boards pre-flashed with my custom firmware, ready to use directly with the taillight. So for the headlight, I only need to make a few changes before shipping them out. Specifically:

1. Change from Multi-Mode to "Threemode."
2. Change the thermal protection limit from 50 degC to 60 degC.
3. Disable main LED indication for battery status.

The reason for no. 3 is that normally, for a bar mount application, you have the case-mounted STATUS LED to tell you how the battery is doing, and you don't need to be bothered by the main LEDs telling you as well. For a helmet mount application, however, it'd be nice to have the main LEDs tell you about the battery, so you don't have to take off the helmet to determine.

Well, the "head banging" part of this is that I just found out that a nice little "bug" was left in the firmware when my boards were re-programmed... specifically, the one line of code that allows updates to be written to flash memory for the main LED status indication. So the end result is that we won't be able to disable the MAIN LED indication of battery status. Fortunately, it's pretty subtle when running in steady mode. When the battery is less than 20% remaining, you'll see a very short "double blip" in the output every 10 seconds for the remainder of the battery's life. For the last minute (one-minute warning), you'll see a short "triple blip" every 10 seconds. It's really only when running in "lightening flash" mode at night, that it could get a bit annoying. During that last 20%, every 10 seconds, it will transition up to steady level 5 for 3 seconds, with a short double blip down to L3 right in the middle of that 3-second window. It will then resume the normal flash pattern for another 10 seconds before repeating. So, if you're riding at night in "Lightening Flash," mode and you think that the momentary level 5 periods are causing a problem (potentially too bright for oncoming traffic), then the best bet will be to stop, and switch over to level 3 steady mode (you might need to stop, because you have to turn the light off momentarily to get back to steady mode.) This was precisely the reason why I don't recommend "Lightening Flash" mode with the taillight. However, the situation is not quite as serious with the headlight. One, because it's not as devastating at night in level 5 as is the taillight, and two, because, you'll immediately be able to see when it starts happening and take the appropriate action.

Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men...
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