Using a phone as a front light

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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Mr Tom
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Using a phone as a front light

Postby Mr Tom » 11 Dec 2020, 8:17pm

The other day I got caught out with only my back light and my phone with me when it got dark. I was wondering if it would be possible to use a smartphone as a light and looked it up. It turned out there are apps to turn your phone into a bike light, with brightness control and flashing /steady beam. If you have one of those stretchy phone mounts then you can just swap it round so it faces the other way.

I tried it, and found the light wasn't that easy to see when I was riding towards shop windows or other reflective things, compared to a cheap regular light. Still, could be helpful if you were stuck in the countryside. Has anyone else tried this? Don't know what the law is about it.

xerxes
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby xerxes » 11 Dec 2020, 8:45pm

Don't think it will work on my Nokia 3310. :)

mercalia
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby mercalia » 11 Dec 2020, 9:42pm

just take a spare battery light with you, one of those tiny Frog ones that uses button cells.

eg

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2pcs-Bicycle-Lights-Super-Frog-Silicone-LED-Bike-Light-Front-and-Rear-Bike-Light/184562461269?_

Lidl some times sell these. They are very small and can be stored any where & cheap enough

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mjr
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby mjr » 11 Dec 2020, 10:48pm

Mr Tom wrote:Has anyone else tried this? Don't know what the law is about it.

When flashing between 1 and 4 times a second, it would be indistinguishable from a legal light, although it would be debatable whether it is legal or not because the law is written in terms of hardware lights, not software ones. To be legal, a light must either meet a recognised standard in steady mode or not have a steady mode.

I have ridden lit by a phone, after my main light ran flat (this was pre dynamo) and the spare had been switched on in the bag. Ok to be seen, but useless for seeing by.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Sweep
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby Sweep » 12 Dec 2020, 6:48am

Coming next, using a light as a phone, a condom as a tube.

In short, I wouldn't consider it - carry a spare light/batteries.

Can't think of why I would have to resort to a phone.
Sweep

thirdcrank
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby thirdcrank » 12 Dec 2020, 8:06am

Sweep wrote:Coming next, using a light as a phone, a condom as a tube.

In short, I wouldn't consider it - carry a spare light/batteries.

Can't think of why I would have to resort to a phone.


Beat me to it. I was going to suggest scrapping the phone, learning Morse code then buying a decent front lamp which could be used for communication by signalling.

BTW, how long will a fully-charged phone provide a light?

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Sweep
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby Sweep » 12 Dec 2020, 8:15am

thirdcrank wrote:
Sweep wrote:Coming next, using a light as a phone, a condom as a tube.

In short, I wouldn't consider it - carry a spare light/batteries.

Can't think of why I would have to resort to a phone.


Beat me to it. I was going to suggest scrapping the phone, learning Morse code then buying a decent front lamp which could be used for communication by signalling.

BTW, how long will a fully-charged phone provide a light?


I don't know, but you may of course run it down so much that, doh! it will no longer work as a phone. Which you might need in an emergency.

Folks' desire to/think it clever to use their phone for everything puts me in mind of crappy gadgets from the 50s (before my time but have seen the ads) which proclaim, "it's a ****, it's a ****, it's a ****** but do none of the things very well.

Going forward to go backwards.
Sweep

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Sweep
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby Sweep » 12 Dec 2020, 8:19am

thirdcrank wrote:
Sweep wrote:Coming next, using a light as a phone, a condom as a tube.

In short, I wouldn't consider it - carry a spare light/batteries.

Can't think of why I would have to resort to a phone.


Beat me to it. I was going to suggest scrapping the phone, learning Morse code then buying a decent front lamp which could be used for communication by signalling.

BTW, how long will a fully-charged phone provide a light?


I don't know, but you may of course run it down so much that, doh! it will no longer work as a phone. Which you might need in an emergency.

Folks' desire to/think it clever to use their phone for everything puts me in mind of crappy gadgets from the 50s (before my time but have seen the ads) which proclaim, "it's a ****, it's a ****, it's a ****** but do none of the things very well.

Got do dash, got to dot the i's on a patent application for shorts impregnated with a slow burn compound I can set fire to, allowing the modern cyclist to ditch the rear light
Sweep

pwa
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby pwa » 12 Dec 2020, 8:36am

Mr Tom wrote:The other day I got caught out with only my back light and my phone with me when it got dark. I was wondering if it would be possible to use a smartphone as a light and looked it up. It turned out there are apps to turn your phone into a bike light, with brightness control and flashing /steady beam. If you have one of those stretchy phone mounts then you can just swap it round so it faces the other way.

I tried it, and found the light wasn't that easy to see when I was riding towards shop windows or other reflective things, compared to a cheap regular light. Still, could be helpful if you were stuck in the countryside. Has anyone else tried this? Don't know what the law is about it.

Good idea. Not ideal, but you already know that. If you are stuck with no better alternative, then yes, it sounds like a lot better than nothing.

Jdsk
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby Jdsk » 12 Dec 2020, 10:10am

Sweep wrote:Folks' desire to/think it clever to use their phone for everything puts me in mind of crappy gadgets from the 50s (before my time but have seen the ads) which proclaim, "it's a ****, it's a ****, it's a ****** but do none of the things very well.

I won't comment on what other people think about other people or their devices.

But my iPhone carries out a vast number of functions very well. And is smaller, lighter and cheaper than the range of devices that I'd otherwise use. Just brilliant... and unpredicted!

Jonathan

Jdsk
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby Jdsk » 12 Dec 2020, 10:12am

thirdcrank wrote:BTW, how long will a fully-charged phone provide a light?

A few hours. But NB the point above about running it down so that it can't be used to communicate!

Jonathan

Jdsk
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby Jdsk » 12 Dec 2020, 10:13am

pwa wrote:
Mr Tom wrote:The other day I got caught out with only my back light and my phone with me when it got dark. I was wondering if it would be possible to use a smartphone as a light and looked it up. It turned out there are apps to turn your phone into a bike light, with brightness control and flashing /steady beam. If you have one of those stretchy phone mounts then you can just swap it round so it faces the other way.

I tried it, and found the light wasn't that easy to see when I was riding towards shop windows or other reflective things, compared to a cheap regular light. Still, could be helpful if you were stuck in the countryside. Has anyone else tried this? Don't know what the law is about it.

Good idea. Not ideal, but you already know that. If you are stuck with no better alternative, then yes, it sounds like a lot better than nothing.

Yes.

But this thread will probably have helpfully reminded a few people to check their better alternative!

: - )

Jonathan

pwa
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby pwa » 12 Dec 2020, 10:22am

Jdsk wrote:
pwa wrote:
Mr Tom wrote:The other day I got caught out with only my back light and my phone with me when it got dark. I was wondering if it would be possible to use a smartphone as a light and looked it up. It turned out there are apps to turn your phone into a bike light, with brightness control and flashing /steady beam. If you have one of those stretchy phone mounts then you can just swap it round so it faces the other way.

I tried it, and found the light wasn't that easy to see when I was riding towards shop windows or other reflective things, compared to a cheap regular light. Still, could be helpful if you were stuck in the countryside. Has anyone else tried this? Don't know what the law is about it.

Good idea. Not ideal, but you already know that. If you are stuck with no better alternative, then yes, it sounds like a lot better than nothing.

Yes.

But this thread will probably have helpfully reminded a few people to check their better alternative!

: - )

Jonathan

I always have two totally independent lights on the front, and the same on the back.

Jdsk
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby Jdsk » 12 Dec 2020, 10:27am

Everyday I have the dynamo lights, the back-up battery lights, the helmet position lights and wrist indicators.

Touring I have those (except for the wrist indicators) plus a head torch... and a companion with all of the the same.

But I felt for that comment about run-down back-ups in the bag!

Jonathan

thirdcrank
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby thirdcrank » 12 Dec 2020, 11:15am

There was a time when bike lights were completely and utterly unreliable and usually not very bright. There was probably more excuse for "bobby dodgers" in those days.

eg I was once out after dark with my front lamp out and the CTC-member parents of a cycling chum drove by. My friend's dad lent me his pen torch and in line with the recent fashion for literary quotes it was like burning a farthing candle at Dover, to shew light at Calais.

Modern bike lamps might be described as bobby dazzlers (although a search online doesn't reveal the meaning or origin of that expression.)

There are few bobbies these days to dodge or dazzle. And few excuses for riding without lights.

Trivia: I see that tomorrow is the anniversary of the death of Dr J