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LED lighting upgrades FAQ
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obieoberstar
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:01 pm    Post subject: LED lighting upgrades FAQ Reply with quote

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spent some christmas money this week.

upgraded some bulbs on the 79 westy with LED's from superbrightleds.com.

rear parking/brake light bulb. the LED was a direct replacement for the 1157 style bulb. visibility noticeably improved with super-fast response from the bulbs when the brakes were applied.

dash panel instrument lights. i originally had the higher wattage bulbs that ratwell mentions in his recommended upgrades section. brighter, but still had a orange-ish 'glow'. with the LED's, the display on the instruments was a very clear white, with a hint of blue from behind the dash insert. 3 bulbs reqired with a clock for my 79. my display for heater controls is not currently being used, but the same bulb works there too.

the downside to dash LED's is that there is no dimming of the lights. i don't think that this will be a problem because they look so good now. the 'fog' of light is gone. numbers are crisp.

the dash LED's i purchased were slightly larger than the original ones in the area of the base. i believe i cross-referenced the numbers correctly. they fit with some patience.

1157 bulb for tail light-- 115x-x3X1W
dash bulb-- 24-xHP (cool white)

very nice present to myself.

awesome upgrade with very little effort or time.
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EZ Gruv
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about some before/after pics.
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obieoberstar
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sorry, no before pictures, only after.


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tail lights on, not the brake.
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SGKent Premium Member
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

not meaning disrespect - I hope it is not that dim in real life.
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obieoberstar
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

none taken.

the parking lights are not much brighter, but the brake lights are more noticeable in daylight.
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BUSBOSS
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

obieoberstar wrote:
tail lights on, not the brake.
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I hope it's just the photography but those tail lights look dangerously dim. You might be inviting a traffic stop for those and your license plate light.
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skid
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you get white leds? Maybe red ones for the tail lights would make them seem more brighter?
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obieoberstar
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the tail light led's are red when lit. they are not that dim. poor picture. in real life they are the same as or brighter than the normal bulbs.

the license plate light is what it is. it is present and functioning.
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skid
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, I only say that because on the website you listed there were pics of lights together. One red and one white, in the pics on the website the led\s that were red looked richer and the white ones looked more like that.

Photographing stuff like that never turns out like you see it in real life, at least with my camera anyway. As long as people can see them then that's all that matters.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

obieoberstar wrote:
the tail light led's are red when lit. they are not that dim. poor picture. in real life they are the same as or brighter than the normal bulbs.

the license plate light is what it is. it is present and functioning.


You might want to check the law in AZ. "Present and functioning" won't make it in CA. The law requires that the license plate lamp must "be so constructed and placed as to illuminate with a white light the rear license plate during darkness and render it clearly legible from a distance of 50 feet to the rear".
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been wondering if there were any LED replacements that were actually on par with / better than OE with well loved wiring.

Why is there no dimming on the gauge cluster? Call it the haze of bad nights sleep from a teething baby, but doesn't the variable resistor in the headlight control thing drop the voltage? If it were the current I could understand the LEDs soldiering on until virtually nothing was squeezing through. With voltage the curve may be a little different but LEDs dim too. I dunno.
Anyhow I want to do an LED setup too for teh gauges. Mostly because of the extra back lighting I (should) have connected to the dimmer circuit.

Do they make dual "filament" bulbs for the tail lights?
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obieoberstar
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the tail light led's are direct replacements for the dual filament 1157 style bulbs. takes care of the parking light and brake light just like the old bulbs did.

i will have to check on the AZ laws regarding license plate lights. when taking the pictures the other night i was surprised how bad that license plate light really was.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RatCamper wrote:

Why is there no dimming on the gauge cluster? Call it the haze of bad nights sleep from a teething baby, but doesn't the variable resistor in the headlight control thing drop the voltage? If it were the current I could understand the LEDs soldiering on until virtually nothing was squeezing through. With voltage the curve may be a little different but LEDs dim too. I dunno.
Anyhow I want to do an LED setup too for teh gauges. Mostly because of the extra back lighting I (should) have connected to the dimmer circuit.



The reason there is no dimming (actually "minimal" dimming) is because a resistor drops voltage only in proportion to current. The LEDs draw less current so there's less voltage drop through the resistor.

You could fix this if you wanted by running an appropriately sized resistor in parallel with the LED.

I run green LED's for the gauge cluster and like the look. I don't feel the need to dim them.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WhirledTraveller wrote:
RatCamper wrote:

Why is there no dimming on the gauge cluster? Call it the haze of bad nights sleep from a teething baby, but doesn't the variable resistor in the headlight control thing drop the voltage? If it were the current I could understand the LEDs soldiering on until virtually nothing was squeezing through. With voltage the curve may be a little different but LEDs dim too. I dunno.
Anyhow I want to do an LED setup too for teh gauges. Mostly because of the extra back lighting I (should) have connected to the dimmer circuit.



The reason there is no dimming (actually "minimal" dimming) is because a resistor drops voltage only in proportion to current. The LEDs draw less current so there's less voltage drop through the resistor.

You could fix this if you wanted by running an appropriately sized resistor in parallel with the LED.

I run green LED's for the gauge cluster and like the look. I don't feel the need to dim them.


Good point. It'd be easy to do that or something similar in. I want to go with green or blue LEDs for my backlighting. The fuel gauge has a green backlight and looks great.
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fastmc25
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice gift to yourself.... I recently upgraded my interior lights to LED's from Superbrightled.com ... I love the look and the crisp lighting.... I also replace my front map lights with LED's ... love them....

I'll have to look into the dash bulbs next i guess.... dang it.... Laughing

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RatCamper wrote:
WhirledTraveller wrote:
RatCamper wrote:

Why is there no dimming on the gauge cluster? Call it the haze of bad nights sleep from a teething baby, but doesn't the variable resistor in the headlight control thing drop the voltage? If it were the current I could understand the LEDs soldiering on until virtually nothing was squeezing through. With voltage the curve may be a little different but LEDs dim too. I dunno.
Anyhow I want to do an LED setup too for the gauges. Mostly because of the extra back lighting I (should) have connected to the dimmer circuit.



The reason there is no dimming (actually "minimal" dimming) is because a resistor drops voltage only in proportion to current. The LEDs draw less current so there's less voltage drop through the resistor.

You could fix this if you wanted by running an appropriately sized resistor in parallel with the LED.

I run green LED's for the gauge cluster and like the look. I don't feel the need to dim them.


Good point. It'd be easy to do that or something similar in. I want to go with green or blue LEDs for my backlighting. The fuel gauge has a green backlight and looks great.


Because of the nature of LEDs, trying to dim with voltage drop (resistors) is sort of like lowering a weight by pushing it off the edge of a table; at some point it will seem to just suddenly go over the edge (off). It will work somewhat but not linearly as expected, and furthermore the voltage drop by the resistors will defeat some of the power saving advantage of having LEDs, because they drop the voltage by turning it into heat.

A better method is Pulse Width Modulation (PWM), essentially turning the voltage completely on and off continuously but very quickly. The device below solves the problem by varying the length of time for each ON cycle, not the actual output voltage, giving an illusion of dimming. However the dash lighting circuit has to be separated from any non-LED loads, or the modulator could be overloaded (as labeled, this one is 12vdc @ 8a). I recently bought one of these off eBay, but have yet to install it. I am going to remove the potentiometer, install it somewhere on the dash and mount the box under the dash with a lead soldered back to the knob.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FlowerPowered wrote:
RatCamper wrote:
WhirledTraveller wrote:
RatCamper wrote:

Why is there no dimming on the gauge cluster? Call it the haze of bad nights sleep from a teething baby, but doesn't the variable resistor in the headlight control thing drop the voltage? If it were the current I could understand the LEDs soldiering on until virtually nothing was squeezing through. With voltage the curve may be a little different but LEDs dim too. I dunno.
Anyhow I want to do an LED setup too for the gauges. Mostly because of the extra back lighting I (should) have connected to the dimmer circuit.



The reason there is no dimming (actually "minimal" dimming) is because a resistor drops voltage only in proportion to current. The LEDs draw less current so there's less voltage drop through the resistor.

You could fix this if you wanted by running an appropriately sized resistor in parallel with the LED.

I run green LED's for the gauge cluster and like the look. I don't feel the need to dim them.


Good point. It'd be easy to do that or something similar in. I want to go with green or blue LEDs for my backlighting. The fuel gauge has a green backlight and looks great.


Because of the nature of LEDs, trying to dim with voltage drop (resistors) is sort of like lowering a weight by pushing it off the edge of a table; at some point it will seem to just suddenly go over the edge (off). It will work somewhat but not linearly as expected, and furthermore the voltage drop by the resistors will defeat some of the power saving advantage of having LEDs, because they drop the voltage by turning it into heat.

A better method is Pulse Width Modulation (PWM), essentially turning the voltage completely on and off continuously but very quickly. The device below solves the problem by varying the length of time for each ON cycle, not the actual output voltage, giving an illusion of dimming. However the dash lighting circuit has to be separated from any non-LED loads, or the modulator could be overloaded (as labeled, this one is 12vdc @ 8a). I recently bought one of these off eBay, but have yet to install it. I am going to remove the potentiometer, install it somewhere on the dash and mount the box under the dash with a lead soldered back to the knob.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Thanks for the explanation and the elegant solution. Where can I buy the PWM controller?
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got a DIY kit from http://www.allspectrum.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=1488

Ebay sell's them made up and ready to use.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found that painting the light guides in the dash with white paint really brightens up the output of the stock bulbs. I was thinking about LEDs for the dash but decided to try the inexpensive route first. This works good enough for me to not need LEDs, plus I still have full dimmer control, which I use because now they're too bright Laughing

For a great LED, "dual-filament bulb", I used this
http://www.aircoolednut.com/cmgallery/thumbnails.php?album=126
for my motorcycle. It puts out red light, 360 degrees, so not only is light thrown out directly behind but also off the reflector in the light housing. Highly recommend it.

BTW, capturing lights in pictures can be tricky. Just because they look dim in pictures doesn't mean that's how they'll look in person Rolling Eyes
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Air_Cooled_Nut wrote:
I found that painting the light guides in the dash with white paint really brightens up the output of the stock bulbs. I was thinking about LEDs for the dash but decided to try the inexpensive route first. This works good enough for me to not need LEDs, plus I still have full dimmer control, which I use because now they're too bright Laughing

For a great LED, "dual-filament bulb", I used this
http://www.aircoolednut.com/cmgallery/thumbnails.php?album=126
for my motorcycle. It puts out red light, 360 degrees, so not only is light thrown out directly behind but also off the reflector in the light housing. Highly recommend it.

BTW, capturing lights in pictures can be tricky. Just because they look dim in pictures doesn't mean that's how they'll look in person Rolling Eyes


Painting white, good idea. Sort of like how I painted the insides of the tail light housings with chrome spray paint. They were brownish grey and had the consistency of old cake. I mostly sprayed them to adhere the porous mess together. Figured I might as well get some extra light in the process.

I never thought of using a PWM controller there, and yet I've used PWM on LEDs elsewhere. Potentially a good idea, as long as it cycles fast enough. I'm painfully aware of LEDs being pulsed unless the rate is up near 100Hz at least. But then I'm also a freak who has limited ability to see IR light sources.
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