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A simple little project: LED sidemarkers for a Honda

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  • A simple little project: LED sidemarkers for a Honda

    Everyone has done a project involving LED tail lights or front turn signals, but I haven't seen one involving the front sidemarkers. I've thought about this for a while since I don't like how they look lit up with a single bulb and LED bulbs don't distribute the light properly, they also are not bright enough during the day.

    I have clear/white sidemarkers so I have to use amber incandescent bulbs. Usually the coating peels off after a few months, I also don't like how pale they look during the day.

    So I'm going to set out trying to stuff an LED board in there. This thread will serve as a write-up and progress of this project.






    The main part of this project involve cracking open the sidemarkers. They are fused together and somewhat of a pain to open. You have two options: use a heated blade (very sharp and thin, use an Xacto knife!); score the seam with a knife and pry them apart. The first is the easiest, the second method takes lots of time and can result in you cracking the lens. The final result is this, nothing fancy:


    For this to remotely work you need to get flat-top "superflux" LEDs and a 0.062" PCB. There is less than 5mm between the front face of the reflector and inside face of the lens:


    I got a bunch off eBay from China for a couple bucks and a PCB from RadioShack for $5 or so:


    The board needs to be cut to fit the housing. It is approximately 9x42 holes.


    Paint the face silver so that it blends in behind the lens.


    Here are the feet of the LED as it comes, they need to be cut down just before the standoffs.


    Like so


    If you don't do this the LED will sit too high up off the board.


    Like I said before, there is less than 5mm of clearance inside. The PCB is 1.6mm thick, the LED itself is 2.5mm, this gives ~4.1mm. You also have to account for the solder pads on the reverse side. With the feet uncut, the LED is 5mm tall.


    But the issue is now the feet don't stick through enough.


    They barely peek through and the shitty RadioShack PCB only has copper pads on one side, the holes are not tinned through.


    I was thinking of drilling the holes out bigger, but that destroys the pads. I also thought about grinding off the standoffs on the legs but I am not going to do that for 72x4=288 legs. So I had to find a better board and this is what I came up with.


    You can see that the holes are tinned all the way through to the other side. Once I apply the solder it should pull it all the way through and fill out the hole so even with such short legs there should be enough contact.






    That's all I have for now. I need to cut off the legs off these LEDs and will update then.





  • #2
    Here's the next update since the first pics are a couple days old ... and because I can only attach a limited amount per post.



    Turns out the new board works much better. The solder flows thoroughly into the hole and makes good contact with the shortened legs.


    Here's the pile of 288 legs.


    And the pile of 72 LEDs ready to mount.

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    • #3
      good luck with your project

      I have a question regarding painting the pcb. Do you use regular paint and sand the board before painting? I assume it does not affect the electric circuit once it's built/painted.
      Last edited by ileontic; January 20th, 2013, 09:38 AM.

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      • #4
        I did switchback superflux side markers a couple years ago. Pretty sure many have. The side marker housings were permasealed too, PITA. All my exterior lighting is LED except headlamp main beams. Good Luck!

        Last edited by sall; January 20th, 2013, 11:20 AM.

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        • #5
          i don't have a side marker in front, otherwise i'd have already done something with it

          nice work so far!
          The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time

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          • #6
            I thought the long legs were designed to be the "heatsink" so these type of LEDs wouldn't need one. Wouldn't cutting them short reduce heat dissipation and eventually the LED will get too hot and burn out?

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            • #7
              In for updates

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              • #8
                Originally posted by KurumaOtaku View Post
                I thought the long legs were designed to be the "heatsink" so these type of LEDs wouldn't need one. Wouldn't cutting them short reduce heat dissipation and eventually the LED will get too hot and burn out?
                that would be the case if he was running them all the time. if i'm not mistaken, i believe many side markers only work with the turn signal or entry lights, so they're only momentarily flashing so there is plenty of time to cool down between uses. if he were using the same idea for tail lights or front marker lights, then i think the premature burnout could be a much more feasible possibility. though they are no-name led's off ebay, so it's very possible they still have the chance to die a early death..
                The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by KurumaOtaku View Post
                  I thought the long legs were designed to be the "heatsink" so these type of LEDs wouldn't need one. Wouldn't cutting them short reduce heat dissipation and eventually the LED will get too hot and burn out?
                  You are correct, the leads do act as a heatsink, and more importantly they act as a thermal path to extract the heat to the copper plane of your board. Or, more accurately the cathode does so. The anode side has very little effect. The standoffs may have a minimal effect to, allowing airflow around the package, but since the PMMA body of the led is a poor thermal conductor, this is of little importance. Some makers (Cree for instance) offer leds like this without standoffs.

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                  • #10
                    Looks good! In for updates!!

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                    • #11
                      Yeah on my side markers no diffuser/reflector. Just clear lens. LEDs visible on the 'chrome' board.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ileontic View Post
                        I have a question regarding painting the pcb. Do you use regular paint and sand the board before painting? I assume it does not affect the electric circuit once it's built/painted.
                        Unless the paint is somehow metal based there should be no issue with the circuitry.



                        Originally posted by sall View Post
                        I did switchback superflux side markers a couple years ago. Pretty sure many have. The side marker housings were permasealed too, PITA. All my exterior lighting is LED except headlamp main beams. Good Luck!
                        Oops that first sentence is from my forum I post on, no one has done LED sidemarkers there as far as I know.



                        Originally posted by KurumaOtaku View Post
                        I thought the long legs were designed to be the "heatsink" so these type of LEDs wouldn't need one. Wouldn't cutting them short reduce heat dissipation and eventually the LED will get too hot and burn out?
                        Originally posted by soundman98 View Post
                        that would be the case if he was running them all the time. if i'm not mistaken, i believe many side markers only work with the turn signal or entry lights, so they're only momentarily flashing so there is plenty of time to cool down between uses. if he were using the same idea for tail lights or front marker lights, then i think the premature burnout could be a much more feasible possibility. though they are no-name led's off ebay, so it's very possible they still have the chance to die a early death..
                        Unfortunately I literally had no choice in choosing the LEDs. The big names don't make flat top flux-style LEDs and I absolutely needed this kind for this to work. There is simply not enough room in these tiny sidemarkers. I'm aware that they are heatsinks and I'm pushing my luck cutting the legs off but again I have no room. So we will see where this goes. They do stay lit all the time though as sidemarkers, unfortunately. Hopefully they don't prematurely die on me. If they do then it was fun either way and no big loss since I can easily replace the housings.




                        Originally posted by Faites777
                        I did the Accord/Prelude; ALL of the lights years ago when 'superflux' was the rave Got the Euro-clear lens; looks retro-tastic with everything visible.

                        can be a weekend project; these marker lights will get foggy/water intrusion if not seal completely. goodluck and enjoy.
                        Hopefully I don't have this issue. I'm going to use an ABS/PC automotive epoxy that should seal it up good. I had issues with them leaking even BEFORE cutting them open since they're cheap aftermarket units, so it can't be any worse.

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                        • #13
                          What such work for such unimportant lights! I love it lol. You have be really creative. I didn't know about flat-top superflux or through-tinned boards.

                          Why so many LEDs? Are you going to use a PWM or something and incorperate it into the signal? I think you should!

                          I had to make my own flat-top LEDs before, I just ground off the domes with a Dremel.

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                          • #14
                            ^yep, though i find the dremel a little course, so i followed up with wetsanding the led's with 500 and 1000 grit sandpaper.
                            The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time

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                            • #15
                              I suppose if you really want them to look clear... for me it didn't matter

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