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Today I integrated my turn signals into the tail lamp. It wasn't actually all that hard.

Video: http://images.jfet.org/20040822/imgp1627.avi

Here's a quick write-up of what I did.

First, you have to remove the taillight. It's attached with three screws. Easy enough.

Probably the hardest part is cutting the clear cover off of the white plastic casing. I used a Dremel with a fiberglass cutoff wheel and made a cut all around between the clear/white interface. My cut was parallel to the surface, although you could make a perpendicular cut in some areas I guess. A better way would be to heat up the plastic at the interface and pry it apart, since it appears that's the way it was put together.



Now that you've got it apart, you have to take all the screws out. Don't lose them.

After all the screws are out, you can remove five pieces---a five-LED strip, a four-LED strip, two Z-shaped pieces of metal, and the plastic cover over the circuit board. Basically, you want to cut out the vertical legs of metal that connect the two outer LEDs to the rest of the five-LED strip.

Now you have a choice. Do you want those LEDs to be off except when they're flashing, or do you want them to be dim like the rest of the lights and get bright when flashing? The former is easier and perhaps more noticeable; the latter might look a little cooler, plus it's easy to go from the latter to the former (but not the other way around).

If you only want the light to flash but not dim, you'll just need some wire and a couple 470 Ohm resistors (Radio Shack is your friend). Put a 470 Ohm resistor in series with the one of the wires, then connect the resistor to one side of the LED and the other wire to the other end. Drill a little hole in the plastic case and run the two wires out. You'll just need to connect these to the turn signal leads (if it doesn't work, try swapping the wires---LEDs only conduct in one direction).

If you want the light to be dim and get brighter when blinking, you need another couple resistors (4.7 kOhm) and a couple diodes (1n4001, 1n914, whatever; they only have to be able to handle about 20mA). Connect the 4.7 kOhm resistor from the pin marked "T" on the circuit board to the + side of the LED (the side closer to the edge of the taillight assembly).


(ignore the sloppiness in the wires; I cleaned it up a bit after taking the picture)

(here's how I ran the wires)

You also have to run a wire connected to the the 470 Ohm resistor (which should also be connected to the + side!) through a hole in the casing, along with the ground wire.

Here's a closeup:



If you went the two-resistor route, you can have it either dim or dark when the blinker is off. To have it dark, just connect the turn signal wires (make sure the polarity is right or it won't work). To make it dim, you'll need a diode in series with the 470 Ohm resistor (band towards the LED). This is because the + turn signal wire is pulled low when the signal is off, which forces the light off; putting a diode in series pointing towards the LED prevents the turn signal pulldown from stealing the weak supply current from the 4.7 kOhm pullup.

Whichever way you did it, you need to do one more thing: the z-shaped metal pieces have to be bent and reinstalled slightly differently:



These pieces are part of the circuit; make sure to put them just as pictured!

I used silicone adhesive to close the assembly back up, since it's waterproof, strong enough for this application, and is easier to apply here than epoxy.

In order to get the blink rate right, you'll want to buy a different blinker relay. I found an EL12 at Pep Boys and installed it thusly:



This writeup is pretty skimpy, so I'm sure you have questions. Feel free to ask, and sorry if my instructions are slightly incomprehensible.
 

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kwantam, I noticed you didn't include the legendary 'flux capacitor' in your instructions, interesting....

Seriously, that mod, to me, looks very intimidating yet tempting. How long did it take? How does the lens look all sealed up again? It might make a good winter project.........winter, you remember that 5 month stint when you cant go outside? [smilie=m:
 

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MikeP said:
It might make a good winter project.........winter, you remember that 5 month stint when you cant go outside? [smilie=m:[/quote]

5 month? Ouch. there might be 5 weeks a year I can't ride. We get more down time due to rain, than cold! Don't mean to rub in!! Cold just don't cut it for me!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
MikeP said:
kwantam, I noticed you didn't include the legendary 'flux capacitor' in your instructions, interesting....
I can't make it too easy for y'all, can I? You have to figure out where the flux capacitor goes by yourself. :D

MikeP said:
Seriously, that mod, to me, looks very intimidating yet tempting. How long did it take?
It took me a couple hours, but it could take you more depending on your level of experience. I've got lots of build/test/debug cycles under my belt (see, for example, http://web.jfet.org/nixie-1/, not to mention my master's thesis, which was a work of both art and magic :) )

MikeP said:
How does the lens look all sealed up again?
You can't tell it was ever apart, or at least I can't.



MikeP said:
It might make a good winter project.........winter, you remember that 5 month stint when you cant go outside? [smilie=m:[/quote]

I hear we don't get that kind of thing around here (haven't experienced a Texas "winter" yet), but being originally from Iowa I'm quite familiar with the whole "only ride 7 months of the year" thing---and even that's pushing it some years.
 

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Did you seal it back up with rtv or anything? I'm guessing without that you are going to have a lot of condensation build-up in that lens. Let us know how it looks after a month. I would love to do this and have been investigating kits.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
atkinsr said:
Did you seal it back up with rtv or anything?
Yup, silicone aquarium cement. I'll let you know how it holds up.

BTW, I'd recommend using a 330 Ohm resistor instead of a 470. It'll take the additional current and probably be a little more visible. I'm not gonna screw with mine, if anyone does it, yeah, 330 Ohms.

Oh yeah, use a 1/2 Watt resistor if you go to 330 Ohms. You probably won't blow up a 1/4 Watt (since it's only on for about 50% of the time during blinking), but may as well be safe and use the 1/2.
 
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