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Daytime Running Lights (DRL) revisited
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jmranger
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:58 pm    Post subject: Daytime Running Lights (DRL) revisited Reply with quote

I know... There are plenty of DRL threads already, and plenty od DRL modules supplier too. But for whatever reason, since reading this thread, I've been wondering what would be a good way to implement it in the vans.

"Good" being defined as easily undone, efficient, simple, reliable...

I started by looking at the VW way (Bentley 97.234 and up). There's quite a few things that I didn't like:
- parts are NLA.
- the circuit turns on parking lights too
- DRL are on when key is on and engine not running, or engine running but alternator not charging.
- reduction in lighting intensity is done with an inline resistor (actually a wire), which just wastes power.
- bypasses typical installation of headlight relay, therefore causing ageing of ignition switch (but not headlight switch)
- compatibility of light-reducing resistor with high-power headlight unknown

However, what I liked is that there are plenty of connectors available, in particular M2 that provides access to the low beams AFTER the headlight relays, if they're installed.

Here's how it all ended:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

It'll be velcro'd just above the ground stars, between the sheet metal and the left air duct.

Inside the box (don't tell me that I need to improve my soldering skills Embarassed )
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Circuit comes alive when the alternator feedback signal kicks in. From there, any time the headlight switch is in the off position, "pulse" the headlights 70 times/second, keeping them on for 70% of the duration of each cycle. Since it's fully off 30% of the time, it's equivalent as using 30% less watts. And you also see why it's a good thing that we're not going through the headlight relays Shocked

In greater details:
U1 is a voltage regulator (generates 3.3V from a 12V supply - which in this case is the alternator feedback signal). Exact part is an LM2936.
U2 is the microcontroller that drives the show. A single input (the headlight switch) and a single output (either nothing or a PWM wave around 70 Hertz and 70% duty cycle). Exact part is an ATtiny25.
U3 is a high side driver - a silicon relay, sort of. Exact part is an VN5E010AH.

Goal achieved: no crimp required, and therefore installation is 100% reversible...

And yes, it works. We'll see for how long Laughing

Feel free to ask questions. This is somehow a "thank you Samba" post.

Jean-Marc
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Zeitgeist 13
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is there an amperage limit one needs to be concerned with when using an alternator's D+ signal as a relay trigger?
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did mine with the SA grille. Replaced inner 55w H3 bulbs with 25watts. Ran separate wires to the dash with relay tied to a ignition relay.
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timichango
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Jean-Marc—I take it you don't have a Canadian Vanagon, eh?

Mine is and has the stock DRL system, which introduces a weird issue with the headlight relay kits that the vendors sell.

Given your understanding of this system, and your comments about your dislikes with it, I'm wondering if you're the perfect person to run this issue by:

Basically, with the headlight relays installed, I've been told that with the headlight switch in the 'on' position, the hi/lo beams correctly derive power from the relays. However, as you mention, with the HL switch in the 'off' position, the DRL light circuit is stepped down through a resistor, which is still taking power from the ignition switch thereby defeating the ign. switch protection purpose of the HL relays since most of the time the van is on, it's still pumping HL current through the ign. switch.

Any idea how to easily resolve this shortcoming in a stock DRL setup? I'm surprised that this isn't mentioned anywhere in the literature for any of these relay kits.

In essence, I'm wondering if the easy fix is simply sticking a third relay in place of the resistor in the stock circuit, and then replacing it with another resistor on the high-current side of the new relay?
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zeitgeist 13 wrote:
Is there an amperage limit one needs to be concerned with when using an alternator's D+ signal as a relay trigger?

I was worried about this too. I measured the fridge relay load on D+: 135mA. My DRL box adds just under 1mA. If I understand the wiring diagrams correctly, late Westies with DRL had two relay triggers on D+: J277 (page 97-239 or 97.242) and the fridge relay (page 97.33b). So it seems safe at least up to 250mA.

[Edit: after re-checking page 97.242 (see the other post below), I now believe that the two relays are cascaded. I'm changing my guess to "not much more than one relay trigger load - 135mA or so.]

timichango wrote:
Hey Jean-Marc—I take it you don't have a Canadian Vanagon, eh?

Your guess make sense, but no, I do Wink. DRL weren't yet mandatory when my '87 was built.

timichango wrote:
Mine is and has the stock DRL system, which introduces a weird issue with the headlight relay kits that the vendors sell.

Given your understanding of this system, and your comments about your dislikes with it, I'm wondering if you're the perfect person to run this issue by:

Basically, with the headlight relays installed, I've been told that with the headlight switch in the 'on' position, the hi/lo beams correctly derive power from the relays. However, as you mention, with the HL switch in the 'off' position, the DRL light circuit is stepped down through a resistor, which is still taking power from the ignition switch thereby defeating the ign. switch protection purpose of the HL relays since most of the time the van is on, it's still pumping HL current through the ign. switch.

Any idea how to easily resolve this shortcoming in a stock DRL setup? I'm surprised that this isn't mentioned anywhere in the literature for any of these relay kits.

In essence, I'm wondering if the easy fix is simply sticking a third relay in place of the resistor in the stock circuit, and then replacing it with another resistor on the high-current side of the new relay?

Unless you're running high wattage bulbs, I wouldn't worry too much. The headlight switch is protected, and the ignition switch is almost a "regular maintenance" item - and cheap. If you are running high-wattage, well... Things get complex really fast, since the Bentley documents three different DRL wiring. Since your signature says that your van is a 91, I'll guess that you have the latest (page 97.241).

I'd need to study it a bit more, but I think that the correct fix would be to add a relay between relay J89 terminal 5/56b and N53. With high wattage bulbs, it might also be wise to replace N53 or to add an extra resistor, so neither N53 nor the wiring overheat. Since we're talking of a resistor that'll dissipate anywhere between 10W and 50W, component selection and placement is critical - it'll literally be burning hot. So yeah, what you said - with caveats.

A separate way to somewhat protect the ignition switch could be to disable the part of the circuit that activate the parking lights. If I'm reading the Bentley correctly, this can be done by disconnecting pin 8/87 on relay J89 (on the first DRL setup) or by removing J277 on the later two. Whether this is legal, I can't say.

Have you asked the opinion of your relay vendor?


Last edited by jmranger on Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:45 am; edited 1 time in total
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timichango
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jmranger wrote:

Unless you're running high wattage bulbs, I wouldn't worry too much. The headlight switch is protected, and the ignition switch is almost a "regular maintenance" item - and cheap. If you are running high-wattage, well... Things get complex really fast, since the Bentley documents three different DRL wiring. Since your signature says that your van is a 91, I'll guess that you have the latest (page 97.241).

I'd need to study it a bit more, but I think that the correct fix would be to add a relay between relay J89 terminal 5/56b and N53. With high wattage bulbs, it might also be wise to replace N53 or to add an extra resistor, so neither N53 nor the wiring overheat. Since we're talking of a resistor that'll dissipate anywhere between 10W and 50W, component selection and placement is critical - it'll literally be burning hot. So yeah, what you said - with caveats.

A separate way to somewhat protect the ignition switch could be to disable the part of the circuit that activate the parking lights. If I'm reading the Bentley correctly, this can be done by disconnecting pin 8/87 on relay J89 (on the first DRL setup) or by removing J277 on the later two. Whether this is legal, I can't say.

Have you asked the opinion of your relay vendor?


Yes, I'm running high wattage headlight bulbs—hence the relay upgrade. I reckon it's not an issue with the bulbs in the high-beam position, given that these don't turn on with the DRL circuit. But since I'm running 80w/100w hella 9004 bulbs, I'm concerned that the additional load through the ign. switch—even with the stock voltage reduction resistor in-line—is going to be an issue sooner or later, and I'd like to figure out a solution.

Yep, It's a Canadian '91—I'm operating on the assumption that this is the correct wiring diagram:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I'll ask GoWesty about their opinion on how to resolve this shortcoming of their relay kit, but I'm not holding my breath that they've got anything constructive to say... anticipating a clueless shrug from that end Wink

I'll confess to finding the bentley wiring diagrams super confusing—I can't for the life of me figure out how to read them properly, or translate the diagram to the physical circuit in the vehicle, so I'm fairly stumped.

If I'm understanding your explanation correctly, you're saying the new relay should go between the the J89 relay and the N53 resistor (which I can't locate in the diagram)—since the point of installing a relay there would be to use the stock DRL headlight current as nothing more than switching voltage, wouldn't it be possible to simply delete the stock resistor and replace it with the new relay, while installing a new resistor (or repurposing the old one) inline with the high-voltage side of the new relay?

Confused Confused

Thanks!
-T
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love the information, although it seems like I am one of the few people that hate the DRL system, I pulled the relay from the Passat too. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

where did the box and circuit board come from? What custom soldering did you do. A simple explanation for a total noob would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

timichango wrote:
I'll confess to finding the bentley wiring diagrams super confusing—I can't for the life of me figure out how to read them properly, or translate the diagram to the physical circuit in the vehicle, so I'm fairly stumped.

Quick introduction to Bentley diagrams:
- The top grey box is the fuse panel itself. Lines in that part are circuits "within" the fuse box. (If you haven't seen it already, the pictures in this thread are worth a look.)
- The connector numbers just below the top grey box (E13, B1, ...) are the pin number on the fuse box. A map of the pin number location is on page 97.68.
- I call numbers in the grey area at the bottom of the pages "track numbers". They're used to connect components far apart on the diagram. As an example, below J89, on track 11, there is a "19" in a square box. This connects to track 19 (page 97.243), where you'll find the opposite connection (a "11" in a square box on track 19) - and N53 that you were looking for.
- Connections at the bottom of pages are ground. The circled number is only an indication of where that specific ground is located in the van.
- Diagram on page 97.242 should be seen as a "list of changes" compared to the normal wiring of your 1991 van, so starting by understanding pages 97.204 and 97.211/212 helps.
- Do not take for granted that current always flow top-bottom. It doesn't. I often add little arrows to indicate the current flow in parts of the circuit.
All of this in more details in pages 97.1 to 97.5

In this specific case:
- J89 is an unusual normally closed relay, as indicated by the fact that contacts are drawn in the "closed" position. Basically, the relays stop feeding the DRL lights when fuse S9 has voltage (track 26), and per 97.201, S9 is the fuse for the right high-beam. Load current comes from a jumper connected to J277, and from there from terminal X on ignition switch. (track 9 page 97.204). There, the diagram shows that the X terminal is only energized in the second position of the key, not in "off" or "start" - but you know that part already.
- J277 is a normally open relay that feeds the parking light. Following the wires on the page, the trigger signal comes from the alternator feedback - same signal that I use for my box. Two "under load" outputs, one to terminal "T1a" - which I couldn't find anywhere else - and one to fuses S7/S8 - the parking light fuses.

Thinking a bit more about this, I'd guess that T1a is actually used to feed the fridge relay, and that my "can feed two relays triggers" comment above is wrong... If you can confirm what's connected on T1a, that would be interesting.

Another important thing to note: all that relay logic is done prior to fuses, so if anything goes wrong here, there is no protection. This is why many people choose to add fuses on anything that connects to the "30" (battery) terminal on the fuse block.

timichango wrote:
If I'm understanding your explanation correctly, you're saying the new relay should go between the the J89 relay and the N53 resistor (which I can't locate in the diagram)—since the point of installing a relay there would be to use the stock DRL headlight current as nothing more than switching voltage, wouldn't it be possible to simply delete the stock resistor and replace it with the new relay, while installing a new resistor (or repurposing the old one) inline with the high-voltage side of the new relay?

Not sure I fully understand this part... The purpose of the relay is to get the current through a different path. The purpose of N53 is to increase the resistance of the circuit, therefore reducing the current, therefore reducing the light intensity - the good old Ohm law. The location you describe as "inline with the high-voltage side of the new relay" is exactly where N53 currently sits - and where it still is in my proposal. So there's something I don't understand.

ZanaEvyPapa wrote:
where did the box and circuit board come from? What custom soldering did you do. A simple explanation for a total noob would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

The box and circuit were custom made. Simple explanation: I wanted DRL on my van, didn't like what I could purchase, so I made one.
The PCB (blue/purple board) was built by these guys from drawings I provided, bare (as seen on top of the 3rd picture). The chips came from here. I soldered them together. No soldering in the van - that was one of the goals.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cool, have you considered putting together a kit for us less inclined folks to purchase?
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wasn't really planning to, but if there's interest, I can think about it.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jmranger wrote:
Zeitgeist 13 wrote:
Is there an amperage limit one needs to be concerned with when using an alternator's D+ signal as a relay trigger?

I was worried about this too. I measured the fridge relay load on D+: 135mA. My DRL box adds just under 1mA. If I understand the wiring diagrams correctly, late Westies with DRL had two relay triggers on D+: J277 (page 97-239 or 97.242) and the fridge relay (page 97.33b). So it seems safe at least up to 250mA.

[Edit: after re-checking page 97.242 (see the other post below), I now believe that the two relays are cascaded. I'm changing my guess to "not much more than one relay trigger load - 135mA or so.]



Thanks for the update. Coincidentally I'm designing a DRL setup on an off brand German vehicle, and I've been looking for a relay trigger. D+ makes a lot of sense, but I didn't want to interfere with its critical role in completing the alternator functions. I'm thinking a small icecube relay may not represent too much of a disruption in this circuit. If this works on that car, I may try and replicate the same for my van. In my case, I'm planning a completely parallel circuitry that does not pass through the headlight switch. It uses the city lights in the front 7" Euro headlights and the spare "fog" slots in the rear housings. In a technical sense, it's not a true DRL system.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow JMRanger, awesome info and explanation—super helpful, and I'll spend some time wrapping my head around this. More questions to follow, no doubt Smile

jmranger wrote:

Not sure I fully understand this part... The purpose of the relay is to get the current through a different path. The purpose of N53 is to increase the resistance of the circuit, therefore reducing the current, therefore reducing the light intensity - the good old Ohm law. The location you describe as "inline with the high-voltage side of the new relay" is exactly where N53 currently sits - and where it still is in my proposal. So there's something I don't understand.


I'm pretty sure it's me who doesn't understand, but I'll try to articulate my (probably flawed) understanding/thinking about the stock setup and your proposed fix:

    • DRL headlamp load is supplied from the Ign. Sw. X terminal via relay J89 / terminal 5/56b --> Resistor N53 --> Fuses --> Lights

    • The problem with this setup in conjunction with the available relay kits and high-wattage bulbs is that in the stock DRL setup, load current is still coming from the Ign. Sw. X terminal

    • Your proposed solution, as I understand it, is to add a third (normally open) relay between J89's terminal 5/56b and the N53 Resistor. Chewing on this suggestion, I *think* that this would mean altering the wiring to be as follows:

    Ignition X terminal --> J89 term 5/56b --> new relay (TRIGGER) --> ground

    ...and...

    Battery --> new relay (LOAD) --> N53 + another Resistor --> lights --> ground.

    Essentially, converting the output of J89/term. 5/56b to trigger voltage rather than load, and migrating the remainder of that circuit from N53 onwards to draw from the battery—or another fused high-current source (where?) via the load side of the new relay.


    • Any idea where N53 is located, physically? Would it be possible/advisable to replace this no-doubt aging component with a contemporary, heat-sinked chassis-mount resistor like this: http://bit.ly/Sa3oTK ? What would the desirable spec be for the upgraded dimming resistor in terms of ohms/watt reduction/heat tolerance/etc.?


Thanks!
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That sounds about right.

In summary, I see three different things to do:
- installing the extra relay. I think we're on the same page on this. And no, I don't see another location for the battery connection (except maybe sharing the connection used by the low-beam relay you've already installed, since they're mutually exclusive - but this is only useful if you're running short on pins on terminal 30)
- updating N53. Regarding its location, I've never seen one, but per this thread, it's only a long wire - which make sense, since it's a good way to build a low-value resistor while spreading the heat load. Regarding whether it should be replaced, I'd say not more than any other wire in the harness that carries a medium/high load - unless it looks roasted. Regarding the extra resistor to add, I don't know at this time what the correct Ohm/Watt values would be. I'd aim to get roughly the same amps as there was originally in the system, but that may be a bit hard to identify. V=RI & P=VI are your friend... Keep in mind that the resistor value of the headlight bulb is significantly different when the bulb is operating and not - therefore it might be easier to make measurements in amps rather than in ohm.
- protecting everything. Here again, I don't really have solution, only concerns. What happens if your new relay (or one of your headlight relay) shorts from trigger to load? Dead battery-ground short, and a very likely fire. So I feel that a fuse is missing somewhere. But this is the case in roughly all relays in the fuse panel, per the original VW design. So the action that needs to be taken here depends a lot on your personal ability to handle stress Confused I've seen people talking about adding a 50A fuse near the battery, on the wires that feeds the 30 terminals on the fuse block, but I'm not sure anyone did it yet. If so, I'd like to get more info on that setup.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jmranger wrote:

- protecting everything. Here again, I don't really have solution, only concerns. What happens if your new relay (or one of your headlight relay) shorts from trigger to load? Dead battery-ground short, and a very likely fire. So I feel that a fuse is missing somewhere. But this is the case in roughly all relays in the fuse panel, per the original VW design. So the action that needs to be taken here depends a lot on your personal ability to handle stress Confused I've seen people talking about adding a 50A fuse near the battery, on the wires that feeds the 30 terminals on the fuse block, but I'm not sure anyone did it yet. If so, I'd like to get more info on that setup.


That makes sense—would seem like protecting the whole affair would be a good idea. I guess the main concern would be making sure the fuse was rated high enough to accommodate the necessary loads, but low enough to prevent a fire? I installed fuses near the battery in my aux batt. install for the same reason, but didn't realize there were protection shortcomings in the stock electrical setup.

I'll do a google around on the site and see what others have done here on that front.


ALSO:

I was pleasantly surprised that GoWesty got back to me with a darned detailed response which mirrors your suggestions:

Quote:
Since the DRL circuit is a separate circuit (only present in a very small percentage of vehicles), you would need to add a third relay to get that circuit off of the switches.

It is true that the headlight load is higher with the new bulbs, but since it is getting reduced via the resistor, it is still no more than the stock lights would present, with the lights on. I agree it is not ideal to have any appreciable power flowing through the switches, but, the kit does accomplish its goal of allowing the use of higher wattage bulbs. Since only vehicles manufactured for Canada, after May of 1990 came with this system, it is just not practical to address this situation with our kit. I have never even seen a vehicle come through with this set up (one may have, but we just didn't deal with, or address the headlights). Perhaps we could put together an additional relay kit for these vehicles, I will look into that when I have a bit of free time. I will also add a note to the website to alert potential customers to this situation.

Looking at the wiring diagram, I would add a standard, Bosch style, relay, after the stock daytime running lights relay, wired as follows:

Cut the Yellow/Red wire from Pin 56b of the normally closed Daytime Running Lights Relay (relay J89 on p. 97.242 of the Bentley).
Pin 85: Ground to chassis
Pin 86: Yellow/Red wire; output from the relay
Pin 30: Power from fuse panel (P-terminals)
Pin 87: Yellow/Red wire; output to the lights
*You will want to use at least 14GA wire for the Pin 30 and 87 connections.

You may want to fuse the Pin 30 power from the fuse panel to protect the extra wiring you are adding (the factory DRL relay wiring was unfused until it hit the output fuses of the headlights).

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I sometimes wonder whether they're lurking here Laughing

Yes, same solution. Nice that they replied so thoroughly.

Two comments, though. Apparently, they looked too fast on the Bentley, and they haven't noticed the two other setups, because the May 1990 is wrong. By the way, before going further, you should confirm that the setup in your van matches that third setup - no point in fine-tuning your solution if it doesn't.

And I also wonder why they recommend fusing this third relay and don't include them in their standard relay kit, which have the same issue - or do they?
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jmranger wrote:
I sometimes wonder whether they're lurking here Laughing

Yes, same solution. Nice that they replied so thoroughly.

Two comments, though. Apparently, they looked too fast on the Bentley, and they haven't noticed the two other setups, because the May 1990 is wrong. By the way, before going further, you should confirm that the setup in your van matches that third setup - no point in fine-tuning your solution if it doesn't.

And I also wonder why they recommend fusing this third relay and don't include them in their standard relay kit, which have the same issue - or do they?


There were no fuses in the original kit, no. I just asked'em the same question Smile

I'll poke around a bit and try to confirm the setup that's in my van matches that DRL setup on 97.242 in Bentley.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i'm sorry, this all seems to complicated for me, i just switch on the lights, have done for every mile i have ever driven, it's habbit now after 24 years of driving
i have a buzzer wired in, just incase i get out and forget them, but that's not that often
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timichango
Samba Member


Joined: April 07, 2012
Posts: 858
Location: Squamish, BC, Canada
timichango is offline 

PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately, we gots legalities to contend with up here Wink After a certain year of car, they gots to turn on on they's own when the car's running.

Though, in principle, I agree. Pulling the DRL relay, and resorting to flipping the switch on during the day would be easier than dealing with retrofitting automation—or managing the existing automation in the face of other upgrades, as it were.

That said, I'm sure there's some argument somewhere that the daytime running lights shouldn't be as bright as lights used for illumination. Not sure how much of an issue it is to run full-bright lights during the daytime, but there's got to be some reason they bothered sticking a resistor in to drop the DRL lumen output.

We run into this dichotomy in the bicycle world all of the time: illumination lighting vs. visibility lighting has different needs.

Eager to hear more knowledgeable folks chime in.
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