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Bicycle turn signals get the Ben Heck mod treatment (video)

Alexis Santos

Ben Heck's devised hacks for everything from console mashups to wheelchairs, and now he's turned his attention to the humble bicycle turn indicator -- something we've seen reinvented from time to time. Heck's take on the device uses a LilyPad Arduino and a backpack modified with an array of lights in the shape of two arrows. Merely pick a direction by jabbing one of the satchel's shoulder pads with your chin, and the appropriate lights will blink for 20 seconds. Sure, the existing contraption is slated for a giveaway, but the build process will be detailed on the next Ben Heck Show this Friday. To catch a glimpse of the construction in advance, mosey past the break for a quick video preview.

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New Wearable Technology Allows Bikers to Activate

Turn Signals with LED Backpack on "The Ben Heck Show"

element14's master modder uses Arduino LilyPad to build battery-operated pack

CHICAGO – July 29, 2013 – Wearable technology takes new form in the latest episode of The Ben Heck Show airing Friday, Aug. 2 on element14, the first collaborative engineering community and electronics store for design engineers and technology enthusiasts.

Heck's latest build is a battery-powered backpack with mounted LED lights that blink for 20 seconds in the form of arrows. The backpack is actuated by two 3D-printed switches mounted on the shoulder pads. Wearers of the pack can deploy "left" and "right" signals by turning their heads in the corresponding direction and flipping the switches on and off with their chins.

Central to the pack is a set of wearable microcontrollers from the popular open source electronics prototyping platform Arduino, which Ben sews in with conductive thread.

Like past builds, Heck's backpack will be given away in a contest to one viewer. Entry details and deadlines can be found on the element14 community. Also at the community, visitors can find helpful information, design tools and tutorials for more wearable technology projects. A new line of wearable, Arduino-compatible Adafruit microcontrollers can be found for purchase at the community's parent site Newark element14.

Known for turning the latest design and tech trends into projects, The Ben Heck Show is celebrating 10 million views worldwide since the program first launched in September 2010. Show fans span the globe and can be found in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and Sweden, among other countries.

Heck's popular past builds include a handheld Raspberry Pi gaming console, an all-in-one gaming system incorporating the PS3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii U, and a portable 3D printer.
The trailer for the new wearable technology episode of The Ben Heck Show is live and can be seen at:

The Ben Heck Show airs weekly online at element14. Dedicated to the science and art of system and hardware modding, the show caters to a global audience of design engineers, students and electronic and tech enthusiasts. Each episode spotlights a build of popular electronic devices and educates viewers on the underlying technology powering each project.

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