I’ve given it new batteries maybe every other year, but otherwise paid it no attention. Motorists, on the other hand, seem to notice it as none have plowed into me from behind while it has been in use. Today I write to say thanks to this humble little light and the folks who worked to make it so.
When clipped to my seatpost, I pull it down to get it going. It is old, so now it slips into the on position on its own on each and every ride. I need to remember to shut it off. Easy at night as the light is bright as all get out, but I often fail to notice that it is on after daylight rides. I come into the garage twelve hours later and find it happily blinking away. Still, the batteries last years.
Today I noticed it would not shut off. In the off position, the LEDs still blinked. Dimmer blinking than when on, but on nonetheless. My first thought was time for a new blinky. I wanted to know who made it to buy another. That’s when I saw that I had a genuine made in the USA blinky. Made in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to be more precise. The googles suggest the company might not be in business. Victim, more likely than not, to competition from companies producing lights in markets with cheaper labor. I did find a mention in the New York Times, December 8, 1991:
“Nighttime is often the only period of the day when busy athletes can work out. Reflective clothing is useful only when a light source, such as car head lamps, shine on it. VistaLite, a company in Lancaster, Pa., recently introduced a new safety light that can be seen in total darkness or fog from a distance of at least 2,000 feet. The device, the Cuelite, depends on a miniature semiconductor, a light emitting diode, to produce a beam of light. The Cuelite operates on two AAA batteries, which the company says will have a life of about 200 hours. The 1.5-ounce light comes with a neoprene rubber strap, so that it can be worn around a leg or arm. Price: about $20. Available this month at sports stores; for locations, telephone VistaLite at (717) 291-1287.”
Called the number, but it is not in service. Seems like I was on my own, so I had a go at fixing it. Here is a video of me opening the thing. My fingers are yellow from grating turmeric root!
It takes some effort to get it open.
Slide the frame clip and a ramp pushes a rubber plunger with a metallic pad on it. The metallic pad pushes against a sensor on the circuit board. The sensors are the grey circles, one on each end. One plunger but two sensors. That way you can put the thing together either way and it still works. Extra expense, but a smart design.
At first I thought the plunger wasn’t fully retracting. That the metallic pad was always in light contact. I ruled this out, though, after I installed the batteries directly onto the circuit board (leaving the back of the case with the plunger out of the picture altogether). Still the dim blinking.
I remembered that instructions told me to clean contacts on my Aurora slot race cars with a pencil eraser. Maybe the sensors in the light were oxidized and unable to fully open the circuit (shut off the light). I lightly scrubbed both sensors with an eraser and viola–no blinking until the unit is turned on. I might get another twenty years out of this little gem! I am so happy!
Yesterday I pedaled to the upholsterer to drop off a deposit and then to the grocery to get items needed for moussaka. Just a short ride, but fun to be out in what was beautiful weather. Pouring rain just now. A good day to solve electrical mysteries. A good day to work, too, but I have chewed through all that I have to do. Something will turn up.