Posts Tagged ‘How to’

The Idea

There is something to be said about the V-LEDS experience in your car. It is amazing how replacing a bulb with V-LEDS  change the look of your car. Whether you replaced the dome lights or parking lights, using V-LEDS drastically improves the aesthetic appeal of any car. This simple fact spurred on conversations about another product idea. This idea was based on a product we already sell, the switchback. We have been playing around with some prototypes of this new design over the last couple of months and it is turning out to be a really cool idea.

The Concept

The concept is simple. Two different colors of LEDs built onto the same bulb. What if you had the ability to flip a switch and change your high beams or fog lights from white to blue, green, red or amber? That is what the SHO line is, an LED lighting system for showing off. It’s illegal to drive around with blue and green lights on your car. But what about when your car is parked or on display at a car show? With the flip of a switch you can instantly change the look of your car with these new lights.

The Finished Look

Here is what your car can look like with the SHO line by V-LEDS. These will be available soon and we will keep you updated on our plans of releasing them and different applications that they can be used for.

On the Left the SHO lights are white and they change to red by flipping a switch.

Let me know what you think of this concept. What colors would you want to see on an LED like this? You can leave a comment or send me and email to tech@v-leds.com.

Thanks for reading, James

My last post was on how to make a quick and easy test light. This is a little trick you can use to test your LEDs. Use this to verify which contact on your LED is the positive and the negative. If you think you have a defective LED you can use this to confirm if it’s the LED that’s not working or if your cars socket is the problem. Items needed to make this tester include a fresh 9 Volt Battery, a couple of lengths of wire and some electrical tape. This is easy to do, lets cover the steps.

Look at the picture below. Start out with your wire, tape and battery. Strip some sheathing off of both ends of the wire. Fold back the wire on one end. Note the positive and negative terminal of the battery and place the wire on top of each terminal. Fold the tape over and use it to hold the wire onto the terminals of the battery. And you’re done!  To use this new tool just touch the bare wires from picture #4 to the contacts of the LED, note which wire is positive and negative. If the LED  lights up you have the polarity correct. If the LED does not light up, reverse the wires and try again. If it still doesn’t light up than either the battery is dead or the LED is not working.

This little battery tester has helped me in may different ways. If you do not have a 9 volt battery, any battery will do. I have done this with power tool batteries too, just don’t use any batteries larger than 12 volts. You can use this for more than just testing LED lights. I first used this setup to test for speakers in cars when the radio harness was cut off. After I located all of the power wires I would use this to test the remaining wires to match up the pairs of speaker wires. And you can see the speaker move in or out too, which tells you what speaker wires are positive and negative.

I have had people ask me if you can get shocked by touching both wires at the same time, the answer is no. It is very rare that you would get shocked by 12 volts DC power; it is possible, but you would have to be trying really hard.

Thanks for reading. If you have another use for this type of tester of if you have another invention that you use on a regular basis please share. You can email me direct at: tech@v-leds.com or leave a comment below.

James, the tech@v-leds.com.

Have you ever needed to troubleshoot a problem with your electrical system and there is not a test light around? Do you have a little MacGyver in you? If so than this quick little invention can be a lifesaver if you’re stuck in the woods or the local auto parts store is closed and you need to get some work done. If you are working on your car you most likely have the necessary items laying in front of you. If you’re like me you usually have random tools and supplies hiding under the seat from the last time you worked on your car. Regardless, the only things you need to build this test light are a couple short lengths of wire, a dome light bulb  and  some electrical tape. (If you are in a bind you can use any bulb from your car and any tape will work)

The steps are easy. 1) Locate all the necessary items. 2) Strip 2 Inches of the sheathing off of the wires. 3) Wrap the bare wires around each end of the bulb. 4) Tape the wires in place and strip about 1/2″ of sheathing from the other end of the wire.

This thing is pretty simple to use. If you need to find +12 volts just hold one of the wires to ground and touch the other wire to the circuit that needs testing. If the light turns on you have power.

If you need to find a ground you can hold one wire to +12 volts and touch the other wire to ground. If the light turns on you have power.

Hopefully you remember this when you need it most. Or you could just buy a test light and keep it in your car just in case.

Thanks for reading. Be sure to share this with your friends, you never know who might be in need of a test light.

James the tech@v-leds.com

Things have been pretty busy around the shop lately. New products coming in that need to be tested, vehicle specific kits that needed some tweaking and I did some pretty sweet headlight customization too. I always seem to be writing about how to fix some LED compatibility issue, this time I am going to show off some work I completed recently. V-LEDS sponsored a drift car last year that competed in the Formula Drift circuit. We met a lot of people who are involved with the drift circuit and they quickly caught the V-LEDS lighting bug. One of the teams sent us their headlights and asked us to work our lighting magic on them. Here is what we came up with for this particular set of lights.

Stock 370Z headlights

These lights are from a new Nissan 370Z. They are pretty nice light housings and almost seemed to be begging for V-LEDS touch. We did not get to see any pictures of the car and the race team only had a couple of simple  requests, AMBER LEDs around the projector headlight and to black out all of the chrome. I have been perfecting my headlight baking skills lately while testing our new Bi-Xenon projector upgrade kit and quickly set up my industrial sized easy bake oven.

The V-LEDS industrial sized easy bake oven.

Here it is in all its glory. It doesn’t look like much, but its amazing what a heat gun and a cardboard box can do! After baking the headlights in here for a while I was able to pry the front lens away from the back portion of the housing.

After getting the lights disassembled it was time to get modifying!  Prepping and painting the chrome parts. We had a friend who works at a machine shop cut us out some nice aluminum rings to go around the projector headlight lens. I disassembled some of our 194_HP_A and 194_2_HPFS_W_6K LEDs and soldered wires directly to the circuit boards. I used some epoxy to mount the LEDs to the “landing strip”area of the housing and to the aluminum ring. Here are some pictures that show how the project progressed through some of these steps. I tested the Amber LEDs around in the aluminum ring after it was assembled and it looked pretty dope. At this point I could not wait to get everything done and put back together to see it complete! If you click on the image it will take you to the complete photo gallery on our website.

This project went pretty smooth considering all of the custom fabrication involved. I am very happy with the way they turned out, hopefully the race team likes them too. I can’t wait to see them lit up on the car, but we have to wait until the next race season to see the complete package.

The Final Product

Thanks for checking out my work. Let me know what you think in the comments.

James, the tech@v-leds.com

Before we get started  I need to preface this article with a disclaimer. This is not a modification that should be attempted by everyone. This is only a guideline for those who fully understand how what they are trying to accomplish. V-LEDS cannot be held responsible for any damage that occurs to your vehicle while performing this modification. With that out of way lets get started.

This modification is relatively simple. I have done this before in the past, but never really thought much about it because we offer electronic flashers and load resistors that fix hyper-flashing issues. But what about the cars that we don’t have an electronic flasher for? Or for that customer who does not want to splice load resistors into his wiring harness. You can also look at this from an efficiency viewpoint. LEDs are very energy efficient and load resistors burn power to create an electrical load to trick the flasher unit, this defeats using the LEDs for this purpose.

Lets cover why you would even do this in the first place. We do not offer electronic flasher units for every car or truck out there.  If you happen to own a newer Honda/Acura you know that already. It is pretty spendy for the GM vehicles that use the LM487 flasher and Lexus vehicles lose the confirmation light flash of the security system when you replace the flasher unit with and LED compatible version. What if you could just modify the flasher unit that came in your car? How would you go about doing it? Before you modify anything you should probably understand how it works. Lets start with understanding how the flasher unit knows when your bulbs burn out.

As with any electronics, flasher units function within a set of rules. These rules are pretty simple when it comes to a  flasher units hyper-flashing circuitry. The rule here is wattage and the flasher unit is looking for a specific value of wattage. The flasher unit monitors the wattage of both blinker circuits (any car that uses these style of flasher units will  have 2 blinker circuits, a left and right) and compares the value of these circuits to a resistor that is located on the circuit board of the flasher unit. The resistor is a metal “HOOP”. This hoop is designed to be within a specific wattage range, anywhere from 42-54 watts depending on the wattage of your cars original blinker bulbs.  See the diagrams below to see what the hoop looks like. Depending on your vehicle, it  may look different from these examples.

Toyota/Lexus Flasher Unit

Typical Ford Flasher

So now that you understand how this part of the blinker circuit functions we can start to understand what needs to be modified in order for it to work with V-LEDS. We already know that LEDs have an much lower wattage draw than the filament bulbs. Another factor to consider is that an LED actually stops voltage. LED is the acronym for Light Emitting Diode, and diodes do not carry any electrical resistance (OHMS) across the positive and negative contacts. This changes the value of the blinker circuit and the flasher unit recognizes this as a burnt out bulbs and starts to hyper-flash.

This simple modification will allow you to change the value of the flasher units resistor hoop to match the value of your V-LEDS. After you have removed your flasher unit from your car and removed its cover take a look to see if yours has the resistor hoop. If you find that yours has the hoop you can go ahead and start, the process is pretty easy. All that needs to be done is to remove some material thickness from the hoop. This will change the value of the hoop, and by doing so changes the value to match that of your V-LEDS. You can use  a dremel tool with a sanding drum or something similar to do this, either way you do it be sure to take your time. Be sure you do not overheat the hoop, you can melt the solder joint on the circuit board. Grind small amounts of material off of the hoop. I ground down the face of it first and then ground down the top of it. Reinstall the flasher unit and test the blinkers periodically to ensure that you get it just right. While tested I found at one point the blinkers were flashing normally for about 5 seconds then would go back to hyper-flashing for a few seconds and  would continue to go back and forth. I ground off just a little more and it worked flawlessly. If you get this just right the flasher unit will function the same as it does with the filament bulbs. This means that if one of your V-LEDs stops working for some reason the blinker circuit will hyper-flash to let you know. That is what I consider a bonus!

The process is really quick and painless.  After I removed the flasher unit it only took about 15-20 minutes to grind it down while testing it. After about the 5th time I got it perfect. It is a pretty straight forward job once you understand what needs to be done. The picture on the right shows how the hoop should look when it is complete. All that’s left to do is to place the cover back on the flasher unit and install it in the car.

Go ahead and test it out for yourself and see how it works. Let me know if it works for you too.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question, or you can contact me directly via email: tech@v-leds.com

James, the tech@v-leds.com

I have been fielding this question more and more lately. I experienced this problem first hand before I worked here at V-LEDS. I diagnosed the cause of the problem and then I was able to come up with a solution to fix it. Lets find out the cause first.

My experience was stumbled upon after the car I worked on left the shop. The customer called back a short time later and stated that he noticed something weird when he was parking in his garage. When he stepped on the brakes he noticed that the white LEDs that were installed up front were lighting up at the same time. I did not know how to explain this, this was my first time using any products from V-LEDS. I then contacted V-LEDs and asked if anyone had seen or heard of this happening before. At the time they had not. (this was about 3 years ago) So I asked the customer to bring his car back to the shop and leave it with me so I could try to fix the problem. I figured that the source of this problem was the brake lights, because it happened when the brakes were pressed. This particular car, a 2007 Shelby GT 500 uses 3 pair of lights for the tail-lights/brake lights. I used the best of best from V-LEDS, and had installed 3 pair of the 3157_92_R LEDs. Up front I had installed the 3157_60_SMT_WA1_6K. What I noticed was this:  when the parking lights are in the off position the white LEDs on the switchbacks would come on at about half power when the brake lights were on. I removed the taillights and grabbed my DMM (digital multi meter) electrical tester and got to work. The condensed edition of what I found is this: With the Parking Lights off and the Brakes lights on about 5 volts would show up on the parking light circuit. I reinstalled the original filament bulbs and the problem went away. So I concluded that the LEDs were causing the issues. I didn’t think much more at the time other than that it needed to get fixed so the customer could have his car back. I had plenty of electrical components in my shop and went straight for the diodes. I figured i could use a 2 amp diode to keep the +voltage from back feeding into the cars parking light circuit. I installed 6 diodes, 1 for each brake/parking light and it fixed the problem.

This all happened a few years back. Now that it is my full time job to help customers of V-LEDS find solutions for problems that can occur from replacing filament bulbs with LEDs I have seen other variations of this same problem. These include, when the brake lights are on: the dash lights dim, the navigation or radio display dims, and the fog lights come on. Some of you just want to know how to fix it, but others are interested in WHY it is happening in the first place. So I would like to take the time to explain why. Here goes…

There is an electrical component on a circuit board inside the LED bulbs. This component is responsible for the output brightness of the LEDs on the bulb. This means that the LEDs are being run at half power when the parking lights are on, and full power when the brake lights are on. This is how our LEDs differ from a filament bulb. In filament bulb there are 2 separate filaments, a low filament and a high filament. They are not connected internally and they both operate at full 12 volts. Each of the 2 filaments are of different wattage. This is how a dual intensity filament bulb works.

In the pictures below there is a diagram showing how to install the diode inline on the parking light circuit and an illustration that explains how a filament bulb works compared to an LED bulb.It also shows how the voltage back-feed happens.

This diagram shows how to install the diode inline to fix the problem

This illustration shows how a filament bulb works VS an LED replacement bulb.

If you have any more questions about this or if you are experiencing similar problems feel free to contact me via email here:  tech@v-leds.com, and I can give you a hand.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this article, I hope it helped you out.

James, the tech@v-leds.com

Not too many ask this question but I seem to remind a lot of people that they should re-aim their headlights after they install an HID kit. Aiming your lights may seem like a difficult task, but is relatively simple once you understand how to do it. There are a few different resources that I have found useful online and they all follow the same procedure. We will cover this procedure shortly, but first I want to help you understand why this should be taken into consideration.

The first reason that I suggest re-aiming your lights is for safety. Properly adjusted headlights keep you from blinding oncoming traffic. The halogen bulbs you just replaced are about 1/3 as bright as the HID kit you just installed. Your lights may have been out of alignment before, but they were dimmer and it may have not been that noticeable. (if you had to remove your headlight housings during installation you will definitely need to adjust the height and direction of your headlights) But now that you have HIDs installed you are going to notice a difference, and so is everyone else on the road. Whether they were aimed down too low or up too high, properly aligning your headlights will maximize your investment and keep you safe.

Lets move on to the how. A Google search of “headlight adjustment” will bring up a ton of information. I have read through a lot of articles and they all point to the same measurements and distances for properly aligning your headlights. I have assembled what I think is a simple guide to do this. Important things to consider before starting this are: Is your gas tank full? Is your trunk (if it’s a car) or bed (if it’s a truck) full of heavy stuff?(groceries, golf clubs, bricks, wood, sand bags, water bottles etc) Are your tires aired up to the correct pressure? It sounds small but remember that if your car or truck is squatting in the front or rear while you align the lights, your lights will be pointing a different direction when you unload this stuff!

The Following guide is for reference only. I am not citing any DOT laws or claiming that this guide abides by any laws that pertain to your local State or Province. I am simply helping you help me, as I find myself continually blinded by headlights that are aimed incorrectly.

This first illustration shows 2 different distances that you can work with. Choose one of these distances for your car to be from a flat vertical surface (a wall). The diagram on the left is the optimal distance for this procedure. If you do not have that much space to work with you can use the diagram on the right.  Keep in mind that your car needs to be square to this surface and on a level area. You can use the side of a building or your garage door as long your car is on a level surface.

Lets start with measuring out the wall. You will need to use some masking tape to mark these measurements out on the wall. You will need to measure the distance from the ground to the center of the headlight assembly. This is your H Line. Use the masking tape to mark these measurements on the wall. Now locate and mark the center of your car on the wall. This is your V Line. Next measure the distance between the center of your car and the headlights. These are your V RH and V LH lines. Every car is different and these measurements must come from your specific car. When you are done with the measuring and taping your wall should end up with a pattern that looks like this illustration. The dark lines represent the masking tape. The V stands for Vertical, the H stands for Horizontal and the RH and LH represent Left Hand Side and Right Hand Side.

Before we get to aiming your lights you will need to locate the adjustment screw. From my personal experience each cars  headlight has a different style of adjuster screw. If you are having a tough time locating your cars adjustment screw consult your vehicle manual. There should be 2 adjustments per headlight. One is for vertical (up and down) adjustments and the other is for horizontal (side to side) adjustments.

Now its time to turn on your lights. Aim your lights one at a time so there is no interference from the other headlight. (you can disconnect the 12 volt power supply to the HID ballast that is not being aimed to turn it off) This illustration is split into the same 2 distances from before. This illustration has measurements listed as guidelines only. Every car is different and these measurement should be used as a reference point only. Not every car has a distinct cut off line like this illustration shows, but you should see something similar. Above the line should be dark, and it should be very bright underneath. Use the adjustment screws to align your lights as close to this as possible. Perform this for both sides of the car and you’re done. Now its time for the test. When it gets dark go for a drive. How are your lights? Are they too low, or too high now? Can you see better? Are people still flashing their lights at you? From here you can make minor tweaks to the adjustments to dial it in perfectly. This illustration shows measurements for high beams as well. Depending on your car you may be able to adjust them separately from the low beams. If your car has separate adjustments than you can adjust your high beams too. All you have to do is add additional V LH and V RH lines for them and adjust them according to the diagram as well.

The main point to focus on while aiming your lights is to keep them pointed no higher then the headlight assemblies. If your car is lowered your lights won’t reach as far. Remember if you aim them up just a little bit it may be fine at 100 ft. but at 1000 ft. they may be pointing at the tops of trees.  If you you have a lifted truck you may need to aim them down a bit to keep from blinding people too. Just keep that in mind and everyone driving towards you will be happy.

On another note, remember what each set of your lights are for. Your low beams are you main source of light. They are designed to illuminate the ground in front of your car and shouldn’t cast light out too far. Your high beam lights allow you to see beyond the reach of your low beams. And fog lights are designed to illuminate the sides of the road and just in front of your car. Think of them as tools to help you see. You wouldn’t use a hammer to drive in a screw would you? Or a screw driver to drive in a nail? So don’t use your fog lights as low beams, or your low beams as high beams, or your high beams as search lights. Use the correct tool for the job!

Thanks for reading. I appreciate any feedback. Feel free to leave a comment or email me directly if you have any concerns or questions regarding this guide. My email is: tech@v-leds.com

James, the tech@v-leds.com