LED conversion: High Mount Brake light | Ford Explorer - Ford Ranger Forums - Serious Explorations

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LED conversion: High Mount Brake light

Parts needed for conversion:
1) 13x 10mm LEDs the brighter the better with resistors for a 12volt system (yes I know running is 14 volts). I bought my LEDs from eBay and they were supposed to send me 560ohm resistors, but sent 470ohm ones instead. I used them anyways to get the most brightness out of LEDs while pushing burning them out. If they burn out I will put in some extra resistors to bring up the ohms.

2) Drill bits 1/8, 1/4 and 3/8. I used a drill to make the 1/8 and 1/4 holes (go slow or the bit will catch and possibly break the reflector, go slowly). To be on the safe side after the 1/4 bit catch a few times, I hand twisted the 3/8 bit.
This worked for me, but I am sure someone can come up with an easier way. I did think about heating the largest bit and plunging it into the plastic to make my holes, but did not want to make a mess or worse.

3) You will need heat shrink tubing to cover the positive leads of the LEDs and the resistors.
4) Electrical tape
5) Solder 60/40 and soldering iron (I tried the "Cold Heat solder iron" and solder it did not work for this kind of soldering. I spent lots of time just trying to get the one resistor soldered to the LED)
6) Thin stranded automotive wire about 2 feet
7) Needle nose pliers
8) Crazy glue, silicone glue or hot glue stick gun (whatever you have)


Read all steps first before doing mod. I had to make changes in the end to make the light work better.

Wanting LED brake lights like the newer cars on the road, I decided to make my own. I picked my high mount brake light as it will be the easiest to convert to LED. Can't say I was unhappy with the brightness of the brake light, but some LEDs would be better... and not get super hot, as you can see with the melted housing and reflector.

After taking apart the housing I started to make my holes. The current brake light had 5 lights. I decided to put one LED on each side of the stock holes. This will give me a total of 13 LEDs mounted.

The plastic reflector looks pretty brittle so I decided to start with a small drill bit and work my way up to a 3/8 inch bit. After making all the holes they needed to be files slightly so the LEDs would fit nicely.
I used some crazy clue to keep them from falling out and then hot glued all the LEDs in place.


I soldered the resistors to the Positive leads on the LEDs. I stripped the insulation off of 2 lengths of wire 12” each. After soldering the wire to Resistors (positive side), I wrapped it all with electrical tape so it does not short out if it makes contact with the body. I left the negative side of the soldered wires unwrapped. I used my tester to find the positive wire from the truck and then knew where to solder my leads. I utilized the stick sockets on the black plastic bulb holder. This was done so I can plug the connector from the truck right in without any issues. I wanted to keep the truck side as stock as possible so if I had issues I can just plug in a stock brake light setup.

NOTE: You will notice the LEDs sit at a 45° angle to all the stock holes. I will skip ahead and say that this will not work too well. I thought the reflectors would be enough to shine all the light out through the brake light, but it was not. What I had to do was take every angled led out ( pain as they were glued) and make the angled holes oblong so the LEDs can all face outwards like the 5 in the stock holes. I used a small 3v battery to test all the LEDs. I tried my best to align them all straight to get the maximum amount of light through brake light. Once again I crazy glued them to hold them still then hot glued them securely.
Unfortunately I had a picture of this procedure, but deleted it by accident from my camera and the light is already mounted.

This was a very loosely detailed write-up. I did not go into every single step, because for many it would be the basics you should know if you’re going to attempt this.

The results were IMO worth it. I am still a newbie with my digital camera so the picture of the brake light in operation does not do it any justice. You can see the different bright spots of the LEDs. The difference is most noticed in daylight or bright light conditions. You can see the LEDs in the sunlight unlike the stock bulbs.

Thanks
 

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BrooklynBay

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trucku

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Thanks :salute:

Part / Model : X921-50

White LED Set of 50 Super Bright 10mm 130000mcd+ NR F/R

Each Order = 50 LED(s)
Applications:

* Advertising Signs
* Indicators
* Traffic
* Automotive Lighting
* Home Lighting

Features:

* Ultra High Intensity Rating (130000mcd+)
* Sharp Color Rendering
* Low Power Consumption
* Longer Life Time
* I.C. Compatible

Typical Electrical & Optical Characteristics

(Ta=25 Degree C) :

DC forward voltage : VF (IF =20mA)


3.2V-3.4V Typ, 3.8V Max

DC reverse current : IR (VR =5V)


100uA

Intensity luminous : Iv (IF =20mA)


130000mcd+

Packing Dimension

Radiation Diagram

Viewing Angle: 12 Degree

10mm White Narrow

No they are not the Luxeon LEDs. I think the Luxeon were like $5 each, but not sure. I bought 50 Super Bright LEDs and resistors for $18 shipped from ebay. The resistors are 470 ohm resistors.
 




Critter92X

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Nice job,and good write up.I may try this sometime.
 




trucku

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Can this please be moved to " Article Submission For Elite Explorer Membership"


Thanks guys
 




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storlied

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Can this be done with the 5 SMD LED's? Would it look weird?
 




explorerguy89

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good idea =]
 




BrianDye

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Can this be done with the 5 SMD LED's? Would it look weird?


It could, and that would be plug and play, you'd have to get the 1 LED styles though, not the ones that have like 5 LEDs on each one like we use for the gauge LED conversions..
 




Hitchhikingmike

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Good thread! how did I not see this before? I'm going to look into this some more...
 








outlier

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Very nice. :thumbsup:

Instead of starting a new thread about a similar procedure, I'll add to this thread instead.

I'd noticed that another 194 bulb had burned out and replacing them is a bit of a pain. The heat from the bulbs had distorted the silvery reflector portion and the black plastic bottom housing. That makes for something a bit difficult to pry apart without breaking it somewhere.

So this time, I thought I'd just replace all of the incandescent 194 bulbs with LED bulbs. I'd previously done this with my other vehicle, a Nissan Pathfinder and liked the look.

I used this part from Mouser Electronics: LE-0503-03R. These are red water clear LED 194 bulbs that focus bright red light through the top of the LED like a lens. They do not distribute the light evenly like a normal incandescent bulb.

You will want the red bulbs. Don't get the white bulbs from their catalog. Behind the red plastic top brake light cover, the white LED bulbs glow a strange amber color, not red at all. If you want to do something crazy, they do have green LED bulbs (probably would also make for amber/orange) or blue if you want to try out a purple top brake light. Cops may not like a purple brake light though, so don't say you weren't warned! ;)

Installation is not plug and play unfortunately. Each LED bulb has a lip around its center which interferes with pressing the silver plastic portion back into place. The LED bulbs at that portion are too wide to fit through the holes in the silver reflector. I had to open the reflector bulb holes with a Dremel tool, which took only a few minutes. Work slowly and carefully for as Trucku notes, the plastic is brittle—very much so.

How's it look? They're bright, but not too bright. As they are a focused LED, they cast five bright red circles on the top brake light, and do not illuminate the entire lens like incandescent bulbs. It's a cool modern look. Bonus is that I won't have to replace any more top brake light bulbs. :thumbsup:
 




Stic-o

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You know I wonder if a 2nd gen LED 3rd brake light could be cannibalized for a 3rd and 4th gen brake light mod. :scratch:hmmmm
 




outlier

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Checked out the high brake light last night and it looks great. The LEDs do uniformly light the brake light lens at night. Very bright, but not blindingly so. You can still see the focused red circles slightly at the center of each single lens. Perhaps when I have a chance, I'll take and post some photos.
 




01STrunner

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I know its an old thread but thats exactly what I want. How are these LEDs holding up?
 




FIND

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Generally speaking, you wouldn't want to do it this way... You should be using a higher quality LED, like a luxeon or agilent superflux, and you would want to use Red or red-orange colored LEDs so that you aren't making light in a wavelength that won't make it through the red lens, which is naturally acting as a filter. Also, you would want some type of voltage regulation for something since automotive voltage can vary, so setting up your LEDs to run on a specific voltage can shorten their life when the voltage varies.

These kinds of things are fine when they are not for safety related lighting like courtesy lamps, but I don't recommend doing things this way for things like your brakes.
 




01STrunner

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I was planning on using the color led for the lens or bulb being replaced. So red for brakes. White for cargo light. Amber for turn signals. Still looking around. Starting to wonder if I won't just stay with halogen
 




outlier

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Mine are still working fine in both vehicles. No problems at all.
 


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