Knowledge Base - How To:- Modifying Rear Lights With LED's
Dismantling the existing light units.
I found the best method is to heat up the light clusters one at a time in my oven at 100 C for about 5 minutes.
It should be nice and warm (wear gloves) but nowhere near melting you just want it hot enough to give it some bendiness and to allow the sealant to go soft. .
Then by inserting a plastic ruler or similar into the gap between the red lens and its surround you can gently prise the lens off the back part. Just be careful to make sure you don't crack the plastic, so put it back into the oven every few minutes to keep it nice and soft. .
I found the rev 2 units really easy to get apart, but the rev 3's to be much harder due to the design of the little tabs that click the lens into place, in the end I cut them off with a knife before I could pull the lens off. Don't worry though because the sealant is enough to keep it together once its gone cold again.
I found it much easier to buy lights or strips ready made-up for other purposes rather than soldering hundreds of individual led's myself. Just make sure they run on 12-14v and shine the right colour of course! .
I used the flexible 24 LED strips (from ultraleds) on both cars as they can be bent into circles or even cut to different lengths and also they just connect directly to 12v so are really easy. .
On the rev 3 units I used the 4" truck lights (from superbrightleds), but because they are about 1" deep I cut the circuit board out from its case to save space. .
The biggest problem to bear in mind is the lack of room there is inside the light clusters, so try to get something that is pretty slimline.
Wiring the LED's to the bulb holder.
I didn't want to touch the wiring of the car at all, so that the units can be removed easily later on, so I instead connected the wires from the LED's to the base of a normal bulb. .
To make this first smash the glass off the bulb (inside a plastic bag to catch the glass as it explodes everywhere) then pull the little filaments off so you have 4 little prongs left. The longer ones are the sidelights and the shorter ones the brake lights..
Then to work out which side is plus and minus I used a bulb holder I got from a scrapyard connected to a 12v power supply I had indoors. This way you can test the lights as much as you like without having to go outside to the car at all..
I soldered the leads from the led's directly onto the little prongs, and then covered them with heatshrink tubing. The big thing you want to achieve is as short a connection as possible as it will leave you more room inside the light cluster for the led's, so to do this I soldered the wires on facing downwards (towards the bulb base) and then covered the whole thing with a 1.5cm piece of 15mm plastic pipe, and then glued it on with a glue gun. This way you can make it watertight, and the whole thing is as small as possible.
Fitting the LED's into the light cluster.
On the rev2's I made a piece of perspex that sat inside the cluster, and mounted all the led's onto it, but on the rev3's the circular units I made were just the right size to pop inside the shape of the lights..
Once you've got the led's all ready to go in I would recommend you put your fake bulb into the bulb holder and insert it into the light unit before you glue the led's into the light, that way you can be sure there is enough room to connect the light when you finally put it into the car. Then just glue-gun or use clear sealant to fix them in place and Bob's your uncle.
Reseal and enjoy!.
Once more heat the lights and the loose lenses up in the oven to get the sealant nice and soft and then gently squeeze them back together. If you used a glue gun like me just make sure the reheating hasn't allowed anything to move about inside the lights before you put the lens back on. Now you should be able to put the lights back on the car just as they were before and enjoy your hard work. :).
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Created : 2011-10-06 10:03:04, Last Modified : 2011-10-06 10:03:04