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  • Build: Natasha
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J. Sinclair/CONCEPIA LLC J. Sinclair/CONCEPIA LLC I really need stronger glasses for this work!

So it's been a while... my bad. What can I say? The winter here in Pennsylvania this year has been harsh. And even though I have seven years of living and working in Siberia under my belt, I have to say this winter sucked. With temperatures in the teens (negatives for Celsius users), the van was impossible to heat, and even my house was in a permanent state of chilly. Thank god for electric under blankets, otherwise I would have frozen in my sleep. Oh, and there was a woman for a couple of months. Isn't there always? Not anymore, so Natasha gets my complete focus now.

Anyway, here we are on the home stretch of the build. The last significant part was to mount the rear tail light. I had originally purchased a combined brake/tail/turn/license plate light (see photo to left) that would have fit nicely up under the rear lip of the seat, but it just looked too modern for the cafe racer style. So I went back to a classic cat's eye tail light.

Mounting this was relatively easy but I had to also mount turn signals to make Natasha legal in WA. But wherever I put them they just looked 'wrong', and disrupted the clean lines of the seat/rear of the bike.

So I took out the incandescent bulb and fittings from inside, then made my own custom LED board. Sounds simple but I actually spent about ten hours working on just this part of the bike. There was a lot of trial and error with mounting the LEDs on the board. I have to say my eyesight isn't what it used to be, and I relied heavily on the magnifying glass that is mounted on my little soldering work stand. I would really like to have designed and etched a custom PCB, but that would have been overkill for a one off. So the soldering on the back of the blank board might be a little funky in places, but it works. I discovered on the website that I purchased the LEDs from (lighthouseleds.com) that they have a current limit/driver that eliminates the need to calculate the right resistor for a given set of LEDs. It outputs exactly 20mA's, with a wide range of input voltages. This is particularly helpful for automotive projects where the voltage can vary quite a lot, and saved me a bunch of frustration working with resistors.

I'm pretty pleased with the final result; a combined tail/brake/turn/license plate light in an old cat's eye body, made for about $16 in parts, albeit with ten hours work. :)

Once I've had Natasha on the road for a bit and all the LED's continue to work then I'll probably encase it in some RTV or something, to properly waterproof it. The case of the cat's eye is pretty snug, but given it's location right behind the rear wheel, I'd love to eliminate any moisture getting in there at all.

I also installed a little waterproof toggle switch under the seat which cuts all power to the ignition. This is a fail safe for the RFID ignition if I find it draws too much current over an extended period. I'll be able to cut all power while the bike is off the road.

Current hours on build: 212.0 

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170 John Street

Friday Harbor, WA 98250

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