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Physlis
05-02-2010, 01:42 PM
This is a project I've been looking into for a while now but just recently got the motivation to move on it. The title pretty much says it; I'm going to be using LEDs for all my external lighting minus the headlights. I know this has been discussed a few times but I don't remember anyone actually doing it.

Here goes:
Did some research into all this a few months back. The most reputable source I found was an application for a motorcycle but the process seemed sound. It gave me all the specs and steps taken to make it work properly, then added what could have been done different. I'm going to try to do the refined product on a larger scale, hopefully achieving if not exceeding my goal.
Link to source material. (http://www.hunterdogs.org/GeneralInfo/ST4sLEDTailLightConversionV2_2a.pdf)

Supplies:
50 (each) red, yellow and white 15k lumen LEDs , 140 deg. viewing angle
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/sdc11963.jpg
10 perferated copper boards
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/sdc11964.jpg
Old set of USDM taillights
Standard bulbs for each application

What I've done:
My first step was to remove the translucent plastic from the bulb housings. Apparently Toyota intended for these to remain in place for eternity, they used some sort of super-epoxy to hold them in. My first try resulted in a cracked lens while using a sealant remover and some screwdrivers over a few days. On the other side I decided to use a heat gun, and minding not to melt the plastic or lens, took about 15 minutes to remove.
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/sdc11955_122975.jpg

Inside there are 2 covers; one for the reverse light and one for the turn signal. I used the heat method to remove those as well.
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/sdc11954.jpg
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/sdc11962.jpg

Now with all those removed and out of the way, you can see there isn't really much as far as reflectors go inside. This was most of the concern in the topics I read, how to use the stock reflectors for the light pattern. Guess that's not really as big of an issue.

My next steps will be to properly size the boards, arrange the LEDs and mount them to the housings. More pics and updates as I progress.

Lagos
05-03-2010, 07:14 PM
Nice! Looking forward to your progress!

Siyx
05-03-2010, 07:29 PM
You peaked my interest. LED light setup on an older car would look sweet.

Carolina91GT-S
05-04-2010, 03:37 AM
Awesome project....I want to see it go.

~Chris

Car_Barn_Bandit
05-05-2010, 05:30 AM
I was all ready to whine about the inability to dim LED's in the dashboard.

but...

LED external lighting! Rock on man!

pintoBC_3sgte
05-05-2010, 07:09 AM
sweet... interested in the outcome :)

TomsGT4
05-05-2010, 06:02 PM
I used the oven to separate two bad clear corner lenses to make one good one.
Worked very well.

Physlis
05-10-2010, 11:07 AM
Well some good news/bad news.

Good news: Met a guy (Chris) at the local Radio Shack who understands the voltage vs. amperage vs. resistance and all the math involved. I think I was in the store for at least 1/2 hour running numbers and trying to figure out what exactly I'd need. From what we figured, I can run 6 leds in series w/o a resistor to do full brights and only 1 resistor and a diode to do dim and maintain proper voltage.

Bad news: Wired up a test unit with a few of the extra leds (50 reds do 1/2 of 1 taillight w/9 left over with the spacing I used). I did it the same way as the link above but ran into some issues. When I turn on the lights, leds come on at (I'm guessing) low. When I hit the brakes (bypassing the resistor and diode) they would go dimmer or flicker a bit. Not sure why they're doing this but I'll talk to Chris again to see what he thinks. I may have just hooked it up improperly since I've never wired a board before or used bad jumper wire from component to component.

Also on amount of leds required; since 50 only do 1/2 a lamp I'll need to order 7 more packs for a total of 400 red leds. Not sure how many more I'll need for the turns as they're different sizes but I should be able to cover the reverse lights though with what I have.

I'll get pics of the mock-up later as my laptop's SD card slot decided to quit on me.

UtahSleeper
05-17-2010, 09:37 PM
Are you buying in bulk online? Or all locally? I could imagine this could get pricey.

Hope you find out more, cause this is something I am planning for one of my cars.

Physlis
05-18-2010, 02:24 AM
UtahSleeper: I'm getting them through eBay for just under $20 w/free shipping for the 50pk of leds, the boards are about $15+S/H. I think I'll be looking at around $300 total for the whole project (rough estimate, probably over) which still isn't bad for updating a 20 year old design and doing all the exterior lighting.

Didn't get to talk to Chris this weekend, was preoccupied with 2 separate projects; My Celica Prime build and I was re-installing stock seatbelts in my temp DD '00 Integra Type-R. Talk about a pain for interior maintenance, they have 1 giant panel for each side from bumper to doors with fastners everywhere.

Physlis
09-03-2010, 06:41 AM
Sorry about the delay in this, I've been preoccupied with a lot of other things for the past few months; suspension swaps, bad timing belt on the Teg, a few weeks of vacation and lots and lots of work.

Anyway, got some updates for you guys:

First off, I figured out the dimming problem. I didn't realize that the running lights and brake lights ran independant of each other. Since I had both hooked up to the same LED string I was essentially overloading them, so the dimmed to save themselves.

Original design: (pic to come)


Over the past 2 days I re-designed the LED layout and wiring to accomodate the "problem". I will be running 12 LEDs per row with 7 rows. The 4 odd rows will be running lights, the 3 even rows will be brake lights.

Today I finally got a 2-row setup wired and tested and even tested it out behind the colored lens to check visibility.

Test set: (pic to come)

I was a little worried when I tested it today, at first it was in almost direct sunlight and they seemed very dim. However after the sun went down I tried it again and the results are excellent. The running lights put a nice red glow in the hatch area, the brakes on the other hand lit up the whole car.

Day test:
Running lights
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/sdc12334.jpg

Brake
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/sdc12336.jpg
(Yes, I know one isn't lighting. Might just be a bad one)

Night test:
Running lights
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/sdc12338.jpg

Brake
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/sdc12339.jpg

These are all outside the housing, just the lens in front of them. I'm going to re-wire and adjust how they attach and then I'll get it put in.

I think they'll work just fine.
Next step will be to wire up a whole unit for side-by-side comparison. Provided all goes well I'll then step it up to the full set with blinkers and reverse lights.

Physlis
09-04-2010, 01:20 AM
Added pics, I'll get the rest later.

SweetGTS
09-19-2010, 08:28 AM
interesting!

Physlis
10-17-2010, 01:23 AM
Ok, I know I've been slacking a bit on getting things rolling but I finally finished the first unit! Before anybody notices, my supplier changed LED designs somewhere between my orders. They still do the same thing but the style is a little different.

Circuit board with all the LEDs and resistors/diodes in place.
http://i432.photobucket.com/albums/qq48/Physlis/My%20Celica/Celi%20parts%20and%20upgrades/LED%20tails/SDC12368.jpg
http://i432.photobucket.com/albums/qq48/Physlis/My%20Celica/Celi%20parts%20and%20upgrades/LED%20tails/SDC12369.jpg

Wiring it up. Red=Brakes, white=running lights, black=ground (obviously). Looks a little like modern art, lol.
http://i432.photobucket.com/albums/qq48/Physlis/My%20Celica/Celi%20parts%20and%20upgrades/LED%20tails/SDC12370.jpg
http://i432.photobucket.com/albums/qq48/Physlis/My%20Celica/Celi%20parts%20and%20upgrades/LED%20tails/SDC12373.jpg

Put in the housing to check clearances
http://i432.photobucket.com/albums/qq48/Physlis/My%20Celica/Celi%20parts%20and%20upgrades/LED%20tails/SDC12371.jpg
http://i432.photobucket.com/albums/qq48/Physlis/My%20Celica/Celi%20parts%20and%20upgrades/LED%20tails/SDC12372.jpg

Starting to clean-up and reduce the wire count for final connections.
http://i432.photobucket.com/albums/qq48/Physlis/My%20Celica/Celi%20parts%20and%20upgrades/LED%20tails/SDC12379.jpg
http://i432.photobucket.com/albums/qq48/Physlis/My%20Celica/Celi%20parts%20and%20upgrades/LED%20tails/SDC12380.jpg

Inside the housing with the lens in place, now I'm ready to test.
http://i432.photobucket.com/albums/qq48/Physlis/My%20Celica/Celi%20parts%20and%20upgrades/LED%20tails/SDC12385.jpg
http://i432.photobucket.com/albums/qq48/Physlis/My%20Celica/Celi%20parts%20and%20upgrades/LED%20tails/SDC12386.jpg

Side-by-side LEDs vs. standard bulb.
W/O flash (night) running lights then brakes
http://i432.photobucket.com/albums/qq48/Physlis/My%20Celica/Celi%20parts%20and%20upgrades/LED%20tails/SDC12381.jpg
http://i432.photobucket.com/albums/qq48/Physlis/My%20Celica/Celi%20parts%20and%20upgrades/LED%20tails/SDC12382.jpg

With flash to simulate daytime visibility, running lights then brakes.
http://i432.photobucket.com/albums/qq48/Physlis/My%20Celica/Celi%20parts%20and%20upgrades/LED%20tails/SDC12383.jpg
http://i432.photobucket.com/albums/qq48/Physlis/My%20Celica/Celi%20parts%20and%20upgrades/LED%20tails/SDC12384.jpg

Overall I think they came out very well, although I think the running lights are a little bright. I might try a bigger resistor or just piggy-back another one in to see if it makes a difference. I also need to reduce the amount of wire I had left over or just use smaller wire (the wire I used came in a foglight kit). Once I get that figured out I'll be making the rest of the units, then on to mass production if I get enough interest.

So what do you guys think?

Car_Barn_Bandit
10-17-2010, 02:37 AM
I am currently working a lighting manufacturing company. I would probably use a lens diffuser to create an even spread so you cannot see the LED hotspots. Looks great man!

temperacerguy
10-17-2010, 03:18 AM
Very nice, I do quite a bit of LED work, with the quantity of LEDs you are working with, and the confined space. I would highly recomend making a printed circuit board to power all of the LEDs. There are many ways to make your own circuit boards using cheap copper clad boards, a laser printer, photo paper, some acid and an iron. (just look online for the how-tos) You can do it with a sharpie, but the printed versions come out so much cleaner.

Also, rather than having two circuits running binary (for brake lights/running lights), I would just wire it so that you have different resistance circuits so that either all the LEDs are on FULL on, or all the LEDs are dimmed. As for a difffuser, you can make your own by frosting a sheet of lexan on both sides (by sanding both sides with 200grit sandpaper) and mounting it between the LEDs and the inside of the lens.

Good luck, and great job on the project.

besign
10-17-2010, 05:15 AM
wow so cool , i ll save this page for try to do on my celica .. but i think i ll buy spare rear light for do this .. ha ha

Galcobar
10-18-2010, 06:37 AM
Makes it a lot more feasible for those who want to black out their lights -- no worries about it being too dim.

Physlis
10-18-2010, 11:35 AM
^Definitely, I've been debating for a while whether I smoke mine or not. I'm starting to think it might be a good idea.

@temperacerguy: I tried doing it the way you suggested with my first attempt (I haven't gotten pics of it yet) and had very poor results due to the way our taillight bulbs are wired. When the running lights and brake lights are on, both filaments in the bulb are lit. When I tried to used the LED instead they would almost overload and dim/flicker, that's why I went with the parallel circuits. Of course if you know how I could make it work I'd be willing to learn. I'll definitely look into making my own boards too.

@Besign: Defintely use a spare set, I bought a set of vented tails and used my old ones for this prototype. But like I said, if there's enough interest I'd be willing to build these as-ordered for people with installation instructions. If not, just PM me (once I get the whole thing refined) and I can get you the info.

While I'm on the subject of specs; I'd like to ask that nobody rips off the design and tries to profit off this or claim it for themselves. I've put a lot of hard work into the R&D to get it to work and I'd be kinda pissed if I got undermined. There's a little more revealed about how it works than I'd like but I want you guys to see what I'm doing.

temperacerguy
10-19-2010, 09:06 AM
Here's the way you can run it.....

Negitive, LED, LED, LED, LED, LED LED, (splice branch 1) diode, resistor, 12V from running lights. (splice branch 2) diode, resistor, 12V from Brake Source.

you will need to play with the resistor values, and this would be easiest to do with a pair of variable resistors. If you send me the specs on the LEDs that you used, I can make up a test board and give you the resistor values that you need. the theory is that when the brakes (both circuits) are on, it's getting X voltage, and when only the running lights are on, you are getting <X volts.

As for stealing your design... Sorry, but I've been doing this for years, and already had planned on doing this to my AT

Physlis
10-19-2010, 07:10 PM
I might have to give that a try, I'll shoot you a PM with the specs and see what we can come up with. It sounds like that's a similar set-up to what was in the link I used for reference, I may have just done it wrong in my first one.

As for thievery; I know pretty much everyone on here has wanted to do this for a while so I didn't mean "my design" as in LED tails in general, just this specific method and pics.

klapa
10-23-2010, 12:16 AM
Very interesting and a good job too!

My primary business is designing drivers for LED lighting.

I am guessing here that you are not using "superbright" LED? Normally you would need to run the LED is a constant-current mode rather than a constant voltage if you were using the really bright LED - as generally they heat up and when they do the resistance goes DOWN.

You may well find that getting a PCB made is cheaper than you think - and it would certainly make for a much more robust design and a much less labor intensive assembly process. Try Sierra Proto Express website - you can get a quote on-line.

You might also think about movong away from through-hole type components and rather using surface mount if yu do get a PCB made.

Superman
01-02-2012, 02:35 AM
Did this ever work out?

CollapsedNut
01-02-2012, 04:41 AM
Oh neat. I would like to do something like the newer Toyota cars uses for the rear. Its like two rows of 6 LED's and you can clearly see each LED. Looks neat.

Physlis
01-02-2012, 09:00 AM
Sorry about the lack of updates guys, the project got pushed to the side and lost it's momentum, then dropped off my to-do list. Hopefully I'll get some time to work on it soon and at least finish the prototype.

celica9303
01-02-2012, 07:13 PM
Fail. I was looking forward to this

Physlis
01-02-2012, 08:46 PM
Don't worry, they will get some progress soon. Now that the holidays are over and the decorations are away I have a little more room to break out my projects, just gotta find my workbench again, lol.

MCcelica
01-03-2012, 03:20 AM
If you do get this done soon and the result works out, I may send you my 6th gen lenses and have you do 'em. Lol

Physlis
01-11-2012, 05:05 PM
^I'd gladly start work on a new set, I'd just need the cost of supplies covered.


Not really an update but some fyi on what's going on.

I got around to pulling the tails out of my storage container (read all-trac) so I at least have them sitting in front of me and not out of sight, out of mind. I'm trying to find an old electronics "expiriment set" I had in high school to try different resistors to make the lights a little dimmer but when I left home my folks packed it away somewhere. Once I find that I'll be able to "swap out" different strengths by simply moving the wires from one to the next and find out what I'll need for mass production. Also, I think I may have found a more efficient way of wiring all the LEDs in place but I still need the test-bench to try it out. Hopefully it'll work because it should save me ~30% build time over separately wiring each LED in the series.

MCcelica
01-11-2012, 07:52 PM
^The 6th gen isn't going anywhere for a while, so take the time you need.

Physlis
04-26-2013, 05:38 PM
Ok, so it's been a good while with no real updates. I keep getting backed up on other projects and financial responsibilities so my motivation has been lacking to say the least.

I have been thinking about making some adjustments to the current setup however. I've been paying more attention to other cars with LED taillights and a new thought occurred to me: what if I "boxed out" the lights? As in what if I had a 2-row LED "box" perimeter that was always on as running lights and the centers only lit up when braking?
I'm thinking along the lines of these:
http://i00.i.aliimg.com/photo/v0/288464754/Audi_A6L_LED_Tail_lights_Assembly.jpg

Before I jump in and try something new, what do you guys think about the alternate design?

buffalohunter7321
04-27-2013, 04:01 AM
I like it and have two 88 trac's that I would like to do. I can send one set to you and when that set is done and returned, I can send the other set to be done.
I assume this will be plug and go!
Now how much will it cost me + S&H to 45404?

Physlis
04-27-2013, 01:27 PM
Well I guess that makes 3 generations to build for...personally I think a set for a 1st Gen would look pretty slick. As far as a price quote and all that, I have no idea at the moment, I still have to finish up the prototype set. It will be plug-n-play though as I'm using stock bulb connections to assemble them, and once I steamline the process it should only take a few weeks to do it all properly.

Final assembly once I start building for customers will include resealing the housings, sealing/padding the bulb connectors (the edges are sharp), silicon spraying the entire unit to protect from moisture, light dividers if going with my "new" arrangement, and I may throw a couple of other options in the mix if I come up with any.

Hopefully my life will calm down enough soon that I can get back to working on these, between my job and everything else I never seem to have any time. I'll be going back on unemployment come June/July so that should give me the opportunity I need to get it all figured out and done, but I will be tinkering with this between now and then.

buffalohunter7321
04-27-2013, 02:32 PM
When your ready send me a PM. My "Black" should be on the road by July and ready for the switch over.

buffalohunter7321
08-13-2013, 04:49 PM
Hey Physlis, how are things coming on the LED rear lights upgrade?

And do you think you could do a set for a 87FX-16? It is going to be down for a while for body and right rear strut tower repair. KYB went through the top after my son hit a pot hole. So it will be about a year before it is road worthy with repairs and complete rust restro and new paint all around.

Physlis
08-13-2013, 10:58 PM
I knew someone would be asking soon, I could feel it lol. Unfortunately progress has been slow and eBay apparently cleared my "watching" list and I lost my supplier's info. There have been some other obstacles that have been draining me of motivation for work but I'm finally getting them managed. Seeing as I am now officially unemployed though, I have an abundance of free time again and I also did manage to track down another LED and board source so I don't have to scramble if I run out.

Sorry to hear about the other ride but I don't see why I couldn't work on something for it. Once I finish up the current design I'll have the assembly process down which will make other sets a lot easier to build. Seeing as I have 5-6 potential builds ahead I guess I better get to it:burnrubber:

buffalohunter7321
08-14-2013, 12:33 AM
Sorry to hear about the Job and being laid off. As a Union Labor for 32 years and being laid off from two to four times a year from different companies! I can relate. I pray you get unemployment.

The FX is fixable just need the time to get on it. Cut out the bad and replace with good metal that will be even stronger. I like seeing how close I can duplicate different parts with just a plane sheet of metal. Probably will install a rear strut brace to help out the towers.

Looking to start on "The Black" around the end of the month. So let me know when you want me to start shipping to you, hopefully soon. But the cars have made it this far with there original equipment, I guess they can go a little further on them. No pressure, but pressure, no pressure, but pressure. Just kidding LOL, Jack

Physlis
08-14-2013, 03:44 AM
Nah, the job thing was no big deal. I was on military orders for about a year for the Reserves for training into a new career field so I get unemployment benefits.The nice thing is I'll only be on it long enough to bridge the gap between now and a deployment early next year so I don't really have enough time to justify getting hired somewhere then leaving again, but enough time to get back on my projects and moving forward.

I do want to get into fabrication like what you're getting into, I think it'd be a great skill to have. Maybe another project while I'm off...

As far as pressure to get done, it's good to have some. I need the motivation to get working and finish something for once. If all goes well I'll at least have my current prototype rewired in the new design in a few weeks, the rest of the unit will just be a matter of mocking up and test fitting more than actual functionality. If one works, the rest will too, so there's no need to build all 4 before I start work on other variations. I'll definitely let you know once I'm ready to build the ones you need.

buffalohunter7321
08-14-2013, 04:43 PM
Motivation, Motivation, There is Nothing that motivates like $$$$.

Do you think you'll be able to come to a Sept. meet in up state Ohio?

Physlis
08-14-2013, 08:05 PM
Very true on $$ as a motivator, haha! I may be able to make it to the meet depending on where and what my circumstances are, but having the time off certainly won't be an issue unless I have my Reserves work weekend the same time.

Good fortune found me today as I rediscovered the electronics experiment set I've been looking for. Now I can test different resistor values to try and dim down the running lights for those not wanting to tint thier lenses. This should definitely help speed up my prototypes.
Still looks pretty good for being 15+ yrs old and being stored since I got out of high school.
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/img_20130814_145653_579.jpg
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/img_20130814_145711_628.jpg

Physlis
08-16-2013, 09:14 PM
Another update, Woooo for progress!

First the bad: Apparently the resistors in my test bench are really weak ones, the whole thing wasn't designed with 12V in mind...however I can replace them easily with more powerful resistors once I pick some up.

The good news: I found my prototype and supplies (they mysteriously vanished as soon as I found the test bench) and cut out another board for the new arrangement. Just for some numbers; the original setup runs 7x12 or 84 LEDs, 48 for running lights, 36 for brakes.
The new version will run 15x9 or 135 LEDs, a 2x2 perimeter of 80 for running lights, and an interior box of 55 LEDs for brakes (5x11). Granted, I could've used the same number of LEDs for the new setup but I think this will be a bit more efficient and look better when lit.
The only downside is that with the LEDs so close ether I actually have to sand down the sides slightly of every other one or so in order for it properly. A small sacrifice for a good looking product. These will also have dividers installed to "contain" the light pattern.

And now for pics:
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/img_20130816_150441_530.jpg
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/img_20130816_150541_274.jpg

buffalohunter7321
08-17-2013, 02:48 AM
Wow. AL some talent. Me Frist, Me Frist. LOL
Just let me know when you want me to send the light assembly.

Physlis
08-29-2013, 05:07 AM
Made a little more progress today before another lightbulb :idea: (or was it an LED?) came on in my head. I got 3 full-length wires soldered down (with intent to cut them where necessary for proper power flow) when it dawned on me to instead use a single solid wire looped through the board pre-cut to bridge each LED in lieu of the braided wire loosly laid across the tops.
Not only will it be easier to cut and position, but it should also reduce labor time dramatically. It'll cause a little more supply demand but the time and headache savings will be worth it, and I'm sure I can draw down waste as I get closer to the final product. So now I'm on hold until I can find the proper size solid wire.

Now I do know one thing everyone is going to want to hear (or maybe not); price points.
Since I found a new supplier for my LEDs and boards, and factoring in cost for wires, solder, and sealant for the lenses I'm looking at needing to sell these at around $200 per set in order to continue production once I'm up and running...:eekconfused:
Now mind you this IS for a 100% custom set of lights, handbuilt for your needs, and almost all of it is supply costs. Enough LEDs and boards alone to build a set for a 5th gen (4 tails in 2 diff sizes, turns, and reverse lights) is almost $150.
I'm trying to keep costs as low as possible for you guys without cutting corners so you get a quality product, I'm not spending $50 and pocketing the rest. Once I actually get a full working set built I can asses the final price more accurately but for now that's what we're looking at. I just hope that doesn't scare you guys out of line.

Honestly, if someone wants to take one for the team I'll build thier's first once this new prototype board is finished, I won't even do the rest of mine until I get a set out there. Hopefully I can demo it at the meet as a proof-of-concept and I can get rolling on full-scale production.

Shadowlife25
08-29-2013, 05:19 AM
Just a thought for you, if you are interested...

Why not do up a full circuit schematic and have your boards professionally made? It is inexpensive to do and will provide you with a high level of uniformity. Depending on what software you use for the circuit design, most all of them also allow you to set trace width, use via's, set mounting holes, use multiple layers(if needed).
Just something to think on. Especially if you plan to offer this as a "kit". Anyone who will be interested in this will want it to be a pretty much bolt on affair. That's just how the consumer market works. I would also assume that you would want to provide the highest quality possible along with a good lifespan.
Lastly, I would spend some time over at Mouser or DigiKey. If you build your own circuits etc. you can actually make this entire thing for MUCH, much less.
I know that with time and life things going on as well as inexperience (not a slight so please don't take it that way :) ) it may seem a bit over your head, but I think if you follow through, you could end up with something really neat.

Best of luck!

Edited to add:
If you do the work on the circuit schematics and come up with a working prototype design (in a digital form), I can get you a quote for production ready units from my suppliers. ;)

crymson
08-29-2013, 05:43 AM
to add to ShadowLife's post

I know that there is professional level free software for doing this, I have a co-worker who designs controllers for amateur rockets this way. He builds 1 inch square and 3 inch square boards for different applications, and they cost him between 2 and 5 dollars each, and his are a good deal more complex than a bunch of LEDs running in series.

Physlis
08-29-2013, 05:58 AM
I appreciate the input Shadow and no offense taken, you bring up a lot of great points. Fortunately time is on my side for the forseeable future and I can get into basic production, at least for the prototypes on different generations and the few people currently interested. Once those are done I don't see why I can't step it up.


Why not do up a full circuit schematic and have your boards professionally made? It is inexpensive to do and will provide you with a high level of uniformity. Depending on what software you use for the circuit design, most all of them also allow you to set trace width, use via's, set mounting holes, use multiple layers(if needed).
I had considered doing printed boards for ease of construction for a while and still may once I finalize the design. In the last 3-4 weeks alone I've tweaked it as many times and probably will again to make it more efficient and quicker to build. I'll definitely look into it though once I have the design set.


Especially if you plan to offer this as a "kit". Anyone who will be interested in this will want it to be a pretty much bolt on affair.
Actually I'm meaning for this to be an in-house resto-mod system. I want to give buyers the option of sending thier lights to me and I'd put it all together or, using premade templates, I'd build the plug-n-play modules for them to install at thier leisure (maybe with a set of instructions on how to disassemble thier housings).


If you do the work on the circuit schematics and come up with a working prototype design (in a digital form), I can get you a quote for production ready units from my suppliers. ;)
It would be nice to see what a professional shop could do versus what I'm coming up with on supplies. Definitely something else to look at.

Shadowlife25
08-29-2013, 07:31 AM
I appreciate the input Shadow and no offense taken, you bring up a lot of great points. Fortunately time is on my side for the foreseeable future and I can get into basic production, at least for the prototypes on different generations and the few people currently interested. Once those are done I don't see why I can't step it up.


I had considered doing printed boards for ease of construction for a while and still may once I finalize the design. In the last 3-4 weeks alone I've tweaked it as many times and probably will again to make it more efficient and quicker to build. I'll definitely look into it though once I have the design set.


Actually I'm meaning for this to be an in-house resto-mod system. I want to give buyers the option of sending their lights to me and I'd put it all together or, using premade templates, I'd build the plug-n-play modules for them to install at their leisure (maybe with a set of instructions on how to disassemble their housings).


It would be nice to see what a professional shop could do versus what I'm coming up with on supplies. Definitely something else to look at.

@Crymson, iirc you may be referring to the free version of EAGLE as it is most common for novices.

My partner and I use a variety of different software for the work we do, but EAGLE is in "toolbox" somewhere for quickly throwing some design ideas down.

The best tools to use are circuit sims for both digital and analog purposes. Makes it to where you can solve a lot of potential problems before ever even going into the proto phase of things. Which in a professional capacity, anything that saves you time and money = GOOD.

What I am saying is that essentially, if you do your work in the digital realm first, it will save you lots of headaches. You can program in the resistor values you need as well as all of your other components and even test the circuit and measure at any point. It is a great way to go about things.

My partner and I have a few pretty good and inexpensive sources for this stuff so if/when you get to the point that you would like to explore some of the things I mentioned, please let me know.
I have to tell you, getting to see a professionally made version of something that only existed in your head previously, is an awesome experience. :)

Oh and the only thing that makes a "12V LED" is the resistor value. ;) So if you can find the colors /lumen/view angle values you want to use on mouser or digikey, then you can pretty much do it all yourself for an absolute fraction of the cost. Also, they make SMD LED's and resistors, so if space was ever a concern... lol

Anyhow man, just trying to share some of my experience with you. I hope some of it helps.

- Mario

celica9303
08-30-2013, 02:02 AM
Made a little more progress today before another lightbulb :idea: (or was it an LED?) came on in my head. I got 3 full-length wires soldered down (with intent to cut them where necessary for proper power flow) when it dawned on me to instead use a single solid wire looped through the board pre-cut to bridge each LED in lieu of the braided wire loosly laid across the tops.
Not only will it be easier to cut and position, but it should also reduce labor time dramatically. It'll cause a little more supply demand but the time and headache savings will be worth it, and I'm sure I can draw down waste as I get closer to the final product. So now I'm on hold until I can find the proper size solid wire.

Now I do know one thing everyone is going to want to hear (or maybe not); price points.
Since I found a new supplier for my LEDs and boards, and factoring in cost for wires, solder, and sealant for the lenses I'm looking at needing to sell these at around $200 per set in order to continue production once I'm up and running...:eekconfused:
Now mind you this IS for a 100% custom set of lights, handbuilt for your needs, and almost all of it is supply costs. Enough LEDs and boards alone to build a set for a 5th gen (4 tails in 2 diff sizes, turns, and reverse lights) is almost $150.
I'm trying to keep costs as low as possible for you guys without cutting corners so you get a quality product, I'm not spending $50 and pocketing the rest. Once I actually get a full working set built I can asses the final price more accurately but for now that's what we're looking at. I just hope that doesn't scare you guys out of line.

Honestly, if someone wants to take one for the team I'll build thier's first once this new prototype board is finished, I won't even do the rest of mine until I get a set out there. Hopefully I can demo it at the meet as a proof-of-concept and I can get rolling on full-scale production.
I'll be the guinea pig, I happen to have a set of taillights I will donate for a prototype. Ill bring em to the meet on the 28th of Sept..

celica9303
08-30-2013, 02:03 AM
Mario has some good ideas.

allTRACway
08-30-2013, 04:56 AM
also willing to be a guinea pig since my car will be sitting for quite some time

Carolina91GT-S
08-30-2013, 01:21 PM
For parts and components....look at Deal Extreme, they are great for DIIY projects that can turn into mini mass production. and they have very good specs info for whatever you are looking to buy. photos with dimensions etc, even for small items like LED modules.

~Chris

MCcelica
08-31-2013, 11:39 AM
I can also be a guinea pig. I have two sets of tails for a car that won't be driving for a long time. So even if they get messed up, I won't be hurtin' too bad.

Physlis
08-31-2013, 02:54 PM
I guess "guinea pig" is a bad choice of words..I planned on building a set for anyone interested once I got running, and testing would be nice before I tried to expand. However the biggest holdup is lack of supplies; when I started all this I only bought enough supplies to start building and get things mocked up. I definitely don't have enough to finish a full set with the new version's LED requirements. What I'm saying is in order for me to build the first few sets they're gonna need funded up front. I don't like working that way, ideally I'd never have someone pay for something until it was ready to ship. If any of you wouldn't mind doing that, I'd get on them right away and whatever I don't use I would refund to you once the set was complete.

Now I don't expect anyone to jump up and volunteer until I can show a working version, so who knows, I may have the new batch of supplies ordered by then. In the meantime I'd like to start an "official list" of buyers (read "testers" cuz honestly this first wave are all betas) that way I can keep track of who wants what. It's the usual: Name, Gen, quantity, and Version 1 or 2. If there's another design you want to try or want it modified a little, put custom and pm me. Again, no rush on committing to this, I got a month until I need the prototype done and to work out the bugs and a lot can change.

This is what I have so far as interest in no particular order, correct where needed:
1.buffalohunter7321, 2x 4th
2.celica9303
3.allTRACway
4.MCcelica, 2x 6th

buffalohunter7321
08-31-2013, 11:44 PM
I need a address and a amount of $ you need.
I can only send one set at a time and will need them back in working condition, before I can send the 2nd. pair.

allTRACway
09-01-2013, 02:29 AM
I will be smoking my lights all but the reverse lights so your original idea works for me

MCcelica
09-01-2013, 03:55 AM
PM me an address and an amount you need. I can send you both right away. One thing to keep in mind, though, is mine are coupe lenses. Coupe lenses are far less common (but the verts use them), and fairly different from the liftback lenses. Whenever you're ready is good to go.

Physlis
09-02-2013, 05:18 AM
I really appreciate the enthusiasm guys! Let me get the prototype built, bugs sorted and put on display and then I'll start taking orders.


I will be smoking my lights all but the reverse lights so your original idea works for me

As far as brightness goes, this new set might react the same as the original. I have to get it finished and wired before I'll know, so the new version may work for smoked tails as well.

Physlis
09-15-2013, 02:19 PM
Ok, so I finally was able to pick up some solid wire to get all the LEDs linked and more progress has been made. All I need to do now before on-car testing is to finish linking each strand of LEDs, install a resistor and diode for the running lights and then wire it all to a bulb.
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/img_20130915_091332_630.jpg (http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/showimage.php?i=23254)

Physlis
09-20-2013, 02:47 PM
Ok, so I got the whole thing wired up and connected to a bulb socket, plugged it into the car, aaaaaaannd...nothing. No runners, no brakes, nothing.
I had the old prototype plugged in as well to check my work and it was operating fine, but the new version just sat there. So I hooked up a set of jumpers and began testing smaller sections of LEDs while it was still plugged in.
Turns out the car doesn't put out enough power to fire more than 5-6 LEDs in series, At 7 they get so dim they're barely on. 6 is suitable for running, 5 is brighter for brakes. Looks like I have to reimagine how this will all be linked.

I'm not discouraged yet, I can at least have a rudimentary version running by next week for the show (if I still make it) so I'll have something to display. My only fear now is that all the required units might pull more power than the lighting system puts out.
Won't know for sure until I get this set running and have them both hooked up.

Physlis
09-27-2013, 04:43 AM
So I finally made some more progress, kinda..

Monday I rewired the whole thing to run the shorter series' of LEDs; 6 for running, 5 for brakes. Then today I made a mad dash to wire the whole thing for testing today before I tackle the rest of my list of non-taillight related tasks before saturday's meet.
It isn't pretty and it works, but I do need to double-check some spots for issues. My main goal was to at least have something to show on Saturday, and I do. A lot of LEDs aren't lighting but I know its a hasty wiring issue and not a bad-concept one, so please keep that in mind.

Well, without any further adeu, a working protoype:
Mocked up behind the lens, new version on the right:
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/img_20130926_142221_575.jpg (http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/showimage.php?i=23265)

Running and brakes in simulated darkness:
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/img_20130926_141735_305.jpg (http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/showimage.php?i=23261)
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/img_20130926_141746_244.jpg (http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/showimage.php?i=23262)

Same in direct sunlight:
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/img_20130926_141843_158.jpg (http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/showimage.php?i=23263)
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/img_20130926_141856_534.jpg (http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/showimage.php?i=23264)

I realize 75% of the brake light isn't functioning, I think I have a grounding issue on those strands. The LEDs all operated before I hastily attached the power source leads, so I have to double check that.
Honestly I may not fix it just for the simple fact this is a proof-of-concept and not the full product, it's a glitch caused by me rushing and not something that will happen on a customer set I'm going to ship out.

I'm following Shadow's advice and looking into other suppliers of LEDs and I think I've found something else that will work just as well, if not better. I'll need to do more testing to find the bugs, like how many in series, brightness, etc but the extra "re-do" will be worth it.
A few that I'm looking at are used in traffic lights and other high-profile situations so reliability/visibility shouldn't be an issue, it'll just be finding that brightness sweet spot. And as I'm running short on my current LEDs, the timing couldn't be better.

celica9303
09-27-2013, 06:00 AM
Good job! See ya Saturday

MCcelica
09-29-2013, 07:15 AM
Awesome. Glad to know you're making progress.