Kayak Running Lights

With the Texas Summer in high gear, it’s been necessary for us to get out either really early or late in the day. While it’s still pretty darn hot, the evenings are nice because you can watch the sunset and the bats emerge from the Congress Avenue Bridge.

The other night we found ourselves in complete darkness — without any running lights. While I wasn’t too worried about small boats — I did want the cruise boats to see us.

Having a bunch of LEDs on hand, and some PVC pipe — and not wanting to spend money of purchased lights — I came up with this:

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It’s made out of 1/2″ PVC pipe.  The uprights are thick-wall (high pressure) — so they don’t flex. The bottom gets screwed into a board (painted exterior white) using a cap. White LED at the top, red and green on the sides.

That little part you see sticking out (under the LEDs) is where the batteries and switch are located. I found that 3V Lithium batteries fit perfectly into 1/2″ thin-wall PVC (but not thick–you must use thin). I used some caps, screws, and a spring to make my own battery holder. The black thing on the other end is a rocker switch. Since most of the parts are just press-fit, removing the batteries is easy — just pull off the little pipe extension.

Normally you’d want the red and green up front, and the white at the back (so the length of the boat can be determined). But for Version One, I just kept it simple and all together. Better to have some light than none at all. My next version will probably have the tall white light assembly in the back, with a smaller setup up front. My key is to have to lights tall enough, since we run so low in the water.