Another slightly random project - car dome light LED conversion-
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  1. #1
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    Jul 2004

    Another slightly random project - car dome light LED conversion

    not for the faint of heart, this took me quite a while and a considerable amount of swearing!

    Anyway, I modded the rear dome light on my Focus wagon a winter or two ago so I could get more light out the back of the car when I finished night rides. I've been meaning to do the same to the front ever since and a blown bulb provided the impetus.

    Starting materials:

    4 XR-E WW of unknown bin

    3 12V lightbulb drivers (got a bunch of bulbs in a job lot)

    A handful of spare optics, include a bunch of really funky "Ledil Strada": optics that JonnyC on BLF very kindly sent me

    Some alu plate, small heatsinks, Dell computer back plate blanks (the ones that cover the expansion slots, v. useful things) and 4#40 nuts'n'bolts

    What it used to look like

    making the heatsink/ mounting plate

    see? Dell expansion covers are the shiz!

    the back..

    the front, with LEDs mounted

    LEDs wired up, more or less (optic is just for testing)

    drivers wired up. Took quite a bit of trial and smoke before my electronically disadvantaged brain figured everything out

    now with all the heatsinks on and everything wired up. Took me forever to figure out why one of the side LEDs wasn't lighting up (went through a couple of drivers sadly) until I found an open break in one of the LED wires.

    now with funky optics on. There's a Strada DN on the left most (driver) centre pair, a Strada T DN (asym) on the passenger side centre pair and pod (has a Carclo in the pic, but it was too focused so I changed it) and a Gaggione XM-L spot optic (from Ofroad'bent) on the driver's pod.

    all together (before I took it all apart again)

    from the side

    from the other side. The whole assembly is hot-glued in and doesn't move. Hopefully it'll stand up to long term vibration, although it's not going to fall anywhere if it does come loose and its in there fairly tightly.


    All on 1s, AWB and no idea about aperture

    Centre light on

    Pretty decent Scooby colour rendition. Hopefully we'll be getting some of those brownies back too.

    Passenger pod

    driver's pod

    all on!

    The centre light is wired into the dimming circuit and so dims to off like the original light did, although it cuts out much sooner (I'm guessing the voltage drops below the Vf+overhead of the 2 LEDs in serial). It's a bit brighter than the original, I think (poor memory), but the back seat gets way more light now so the kids can see what they're doing when they get in and out of the car. Side pods are awesome, even if they don't get used much!

    I also really like the Strada optics - they give a really nice smooth light and the asymmetric one does a good job of putting the light where it needs to be without a sharp cut off. I would have used one on the driver's side pod too if I'd had enough.

    Another plus - never having to replace a dome light bulb again! Woohoo! That said, the 4 nights this took would probably cover about 10 years of bulb replacements

  2. #2
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    Sep 2007
    Cool. I should have done photos and a write up of the map light replacement I did a while back. I used ledil twiddle optics which have a unique aiming feature like the over head lights on an airplane.

    As an added bonus if you leave the dome light on over night accidentally the battery is not run down it still starts right up.

  3. #3
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    Jul 2004
    nice, that would have been cool to see. This was the best compromise between getting some light into the back seat and not blinding the front seat occupants! There's some pretty cool stuff coming out on the optic front for general purpose lighting though.

  4. #4
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    Reputation: Ofroad'bent's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
    I swapped about 15 interior lights on my van to LEDs, but they were just drop-ins. Probably took less time for all 15 than Matt's one job, but probably less total lumens too.

  5. #5
    M8 M12 M15 deez nuts
    Reputation: Leopold Porkstacker's Avatar
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    Apr 2010
    Thatís a whole lot of work considering DealExtreme sells drop-in replacement festoon LED lamps for just a few dollars. I made several of my own replacement automotive lights in the past, only to realise shortly thereafter that a more cost-effective drop-in solution could be purchased from DealExtreme.
    Donít frail and blow if youíre going to Braille and Flow.

  6. #6
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    Reputation: mattthemuppet's Avatar
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    Jul 2004
    well, this was pretty cost effective as it cost me $0 and my time is free Plus I've found the tint on cheap LEDs to be simply awful with the bare LEDs creating alot of unpleasant glare, whereas these warm white LEDs plus optics makes for a very pleasant light. It's not for everybody, but I like it and I know it'll last pretty much forever

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