LED Facts and How To's..

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DTMAce
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LED Facts and How To's..

Postby DTMAce » Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:36 pm

Ok, updated this today, May 28th 2011. This is gathered from some older posts on bstuff and stuff

FACTS:

I have been getting a few members that have lots of questions/concerns with the use or installation of LED's for your vehicle's lighting.  Please note, while I will be trying to help you all sort out and understand some of this, I make no guarantees as to how each particular car (or it's electrical system) may operate the lighting with the choices of installation.

Things I know for certain:

1:  LED's use LESS POWER, in fact way less power than conventional bulbs.  That means they draw very little power from your electrical system while in use.

2:  The turn blinker/hazard flashers base their load and blink speed on the 1157's/2057's. Those bulbs are the 2 in the front bumper facing forward and the 4 in the rear tail lights.  These are the only lights that affect your blink speed for both turn signals and hazards.  If a bulb were to fail, your lights would blink slower, or faster, and one of the turn indicators would light up indicating a missing or defective bulb.

3:  All 4 side marker lights, the 3rd brake, the outer rear tail (194's) the reverse lights(1156/2056) and the license plate will NOT affect your blinkers or hazards.  Yes I know that the front two side marker lights blink with the turn signals, but they do not affect the blinking or the rate.

So what does this mean?

Basically, unless you are replacing your turn bulbs (1157/2057's) with LEDs, you will not have ANY problems using LEDs for any of the other lights.

Okay, so what if I want to change all my lights to LED's?

Well this is quite simple, and there are many ways to accomplish this task.  The easiest way, is to replace the conventional bulbs with LED's equivalents.  However there are some guidelines to follow to help you decide what lights will work best for your application.

1:  Price.  I took the time to shop around, checked with different places.  I will not buy my lights from Ebay for example.  Too many rip off's, poor LED quality, etc.  I took the time to browse and found http://www.superbrightleds.com  Here you can find LED's for nearly anything including many automotive applications.  It was here I found all the replacement bulbs as well as some useful information regarding the LED's themselves.  My entire project cost me 155 bucks shipped for all the bulbs and LEDs for my conversions.

2:  Color.  This is an important part of LED's.  The best results for maximizing the brightness of an LED installation, is using the color THAT MATCHES your lens color.  Amber/Yellow for the front turn lamps and front side markers.  Red for the rear side markers, 3rd brake and tails.  White for your reverse lights.  Those of you with clear side markers however, while you can use white it may be more legal to use the amber/red in their respective lenses.  DOT requirements should be followed, many local law enforcements can be picky.

3:  Angle.  Many LED's have what they call viewing or radiant angle.  This means how the light shines from the LED.  A narrow angle means the light is more like a beam (similar to a focused flashlight for example) whereas a wider angle means more light is spread around the LED.  A narrow angle will put more light in one place, where a wider angle will give you more "fill" but may lessen the overall brightness level.

4:  Quantity.  This refers to how many LED's are used in the bulb or conversion.  Obviously the more LED's the more brightness level you will have.  Various LED's will have different levels of power or angle, affecting how many it may take to achieve a proper lighting effect.  

5:  Resistors.  Now many have expressed confusion as to what this means with the use of LED's.  All of the automotive LED lighting I am discussing here are already set for 12v use, and have the proper internal resistors as well as protection circuits on many of them to make them work correctly as a light.  
HOWEVER.  With regards to the turn signal/hazard bulbs (1157/2057) they do not draw enough power to make your flasher work correctly.  This means you may need to install a LOAD resistor to SIMULATE the way the original bulbs used power, so the flasher thinks it has normal bulbs connected.  This is also considered a more correct way of fixing the issue.

6:  LED Flashers.  This is also part of the confusion.  LED flashers (or called LED compatible flashers, also called heavy duty flashers) can be used in SOME VEHICLES instead of resistors to make the lights blink at a proper rate.  This is done by a computer circuit in the flasher to blink at the proper rate regardless of the amount of power the bulbs are actually using.  In other words, this will work with nearly any bulb, and will blink the right speed no matter if bulbs are connected or not.  It doesn't care.  This is the most preferred (and easy) way of making sure your LED's work properly as TURN SIGNALS or HAZARDS.  One note of caution.  If your vehicle has a system to monitor if your lights work or not, they still may think the bulbs are out, when they aren't because of the lower power usage of the LED's.  That can ONLY be fixed by using a resistor as explained above.

Now that is a lot of information.  Please feel free to ask me anything about HOW things would work, or point out your own experiences.  I am sure there are those among you that know as much or even more than I do, I welcome your input.

As for my personal application, here are the footnotes:

All of my side markers (front and rear) and 3rd brakelight in the spoiler are CONVERTED to LED. This means, instead of putting in an LED bulb, I took the lights apart and put my own LED design in place.  Basically eliminating using bulbs completely.

The rest of my exterior lights all used LED drop-in replacement bulbs.  Here is the full list:

Front turn signal lamps (in the bumper next to the fog lights) - 2 Amber 24 LED Narrow Angle 1157's.

Tail lights - Total of 10 BULBS - 2 Red 6 LED Narrow Angle 194's, 4 Red 24 LED Narrow Angle 1157's, 4 White 24 LED Narrow Angle 1156's.

Rear license plate bulb - 1 White 5 LED Narrow Angle 194.

Now I had options of various bulbs, some with more LEDs, some with brighter LEDs, etc.  I went with the 24 LED bulbs because first of all they were the largest number of LEDs on a single bulb that would fit the housing sockets!  The 30 LED bulbs will not fit, they are too large.  There are some brighter high wattage LED lamps that would work fine, but I passed on them for two reasons.  1:  They were nearly double the price of the 24LEDs, and 2:  They had a lot of heat as a by product.  I was afraid they would burn out faster than the other choices, or even possibly cause damaged to the bulb socket due to the heat.

Currently you can see the lighting in the last 5 pics of my restoration thread below in my signature.  I have since installed load resistors for the turn signal/flasher circuit. I had to use 50W 6 Ohm resistors for EACH bulb location. I simplified my installation somewhat, by installing the 4 for the rear lights in the trunk, tapping the wiring located there. The front 2 I mounted to the steel bumper. The resistors put out serious heat. Do NOT mount them on anything plastic or outer body metal. The ones in the trunk are mounted on the inner trunk structure below the decklid hinge.

Anyone else who has worked with or had experience with LED installations on the Beretta, by all means enlighten us.  If you want more info or need clarity on anything above please ask.  I spent over a month researching this stuff before I even bought my lighting.

HOW TO DO YOUR OWN LED MARKERS AND 3RD BRAKE LIGHT:

Well, I tried to keep this simple, but here is the list of things you will need:

1:  Third brake light assembly with a good lens.

2:  Passenger and Driver side front and rear marker housings again with good lenses.

3:  LED Strip lights, available here.  You need 2 strips of RED LEDs, and 1 strip of AMBER LEDS.  These come in 19.5" lengths with 30 LEDS per strip.

4:  18AWG wire.

5:  Solder.

6:  Soldering Iron.

7:  Cutting/wire stripping tool.

8:  Clear 30MIN (set) Epoxy (available at Wally World) and mixing tools. This has now been replaced with clear silicone! Use that instead for better flexibility and waterproofing.

9:  1/8" Plexiglass or similar.  Doesn't have to be clear.

10:  Sandpaper.

11:  Razor bladed knife of some sort.

12:  Drill and some drill bits.

13:  Heat Shrink Tubing.

14:  Electrical tape.

15:  Awl or other pointed tool.

16:  Silver paint (if desired).

17:  Masking tape for the painting.

18:  Patience.


Ok, to start with, try to pick your car parts that have as good a lens as possible.  You want ones without cracks or melted.  The housing where the bulb goes will not matter, we are cutting it off anyway.  As for the 3rd brake, same thing, we are going to separate the silver 4 bulb housing from the lens, and you want as nice a one without cracks as you can get.

To separate the lenses, I used a folding razor knife that has the changeable blade, but whatever works for you is fine, so long as it is sharp.  I took the knife and cut at the seam between the lens and the housing, and it would take a few passes before the glue would start to loosen. Once you get it started it gets easier.  Do not just force peel the parts apart, you may damage your lens.  Just work at it with the razor knife till they separate.  I found it wasn't too difficult to do, especially since some of them were already starting to come apart anyway.  The hardest parts are where the screw goes through.

Once they are separated, you can clean any remaining pieces of the housing off the lens with the knife, and/or start with sanding the formerly glued area on the lens smooth.  You don't have to get carried away, but the flatter and smoother the better, and you want as much of the housing plastic gone from the surface as you can.  Take care not to damage the reflector prisms inside the lens.

When working with the 3rd brakelight, you will need to do a bit of extra sanding, to make the edges flat enough to glue to the backing.  Make sure you sand where the screws go through as well, so that everything is the same.  If the area where the screws go have any cracks, shore them up with some epoxy first, let it dry a day, then sand.  I actually used a table sander to work on some of this, if you have one, it will make some of this easier.

Once you have your lenses done, you then need to CLEAN them.  Most of these get filled with dirt, so use some dishwater soap and an old tooth brush, get in there and clean them good.  Do not use an abrasive cleaner.

Go and find your housing(s) that you removed from your markers.  You will need to cut off the "ears". The tabs that hook in on your bumpers opposite of your screws to help hold them on.  What you need to remove is the entire end that sticks up.  I just used a pair of cutters and clipped it right where the back of the hook meets the bottom of the base so that you end up with the whole end of the thing basically.  I will try to put up a picture tomorrow.  You will need that piece so it can be glued to the backing.  This has to resemble the original light when we are completed.  You will not need anything off of the housing for the 3rd brake light.

Once your lenses are cleaned, and you have your tabs, you need to cut your backing material.  I suggested clear plexi because I had some here, but make sure you do not use any more than 1/8" thick!  You need to cut these to the shape of your lenses, so they will fit near flush.  They do not have to be as small as, but don't make them smaller than the lens, or they will be harder to glue on.

With regards to the 3rd brake light, you need to be sure the plexi covers from screw hole to screw hole.  This is so it mounts properly and is not sticking in too far.

Once you get those cut out, you are ready to cut your LED strips.  These strips are adhesive backed, and they stick good, so you don't want to have to peel them off and back on.  You need 12 LEDs per marker, and two strips of 18 LEDs for the 3rd brake light.  You will use two full strips of RED LEDs and will have 6 AMBER LEDs left over from the front ones.

Each strip has places where they can be cut. (indicated by a line with + - symbols next to it).  All strips come with a short piece of 18AWG wire on one end, but you won't be using it.  I started with the front lights, cutting 8" (12LEDS) for each one, leaving the leftover 4" with the original wires to be used for some future project (like say LEDs in the mirrors or something)

I then trimmed the strips very flush on the ends with the LEDs on each end, as they are a tad too long when just cut at the line.  Since we are soldering the wires in on the middle of the strip, we do not need solder tabs at the ends, so cut them away.  (this is ONLY for the markers)

Once that is done, I then peeled back a tiny bit of the adhesive backing near one of the center solder points, so I could temporarily stick it to the plexi.  Then with a bit of adjusting and repositioning, I centered the strip so it had ONE LED in the center of the short space where the original bulb would have been.  If you do it right, you would have only one LED there, and the rest of the strip will fit perfectly inside the entire bezel and look nice.  Took me some trial and placement.  Once you have it, use a pointed tool, like a narrow pick or awl, and make dents in the plexi THROUGH one of the + contacts and one of the - contacts in that near center solder point.  These dents have to be good enough for your drill bit to be able to stay centered.

With the 3rd brake light, this is more difficult.  I would do this after you done the others, so you learn how to do this better.  What I did, was clip them to 18LEDS per strip, then lined them up, and used tape on the LED side to hold them together flush and even, so they were like one larger strip.

Then you will need to do some soldering.  You need to connect two of the + together and two of the - together.  Any two will do, but you only need to do them once.  I did the + on one end, and the - on the other end, since I was again routing my main wire in the center.  Once this is done, THEN you can position and mark your place for the main wires to be drilled like above.

When it comes to drilling these, make sure you use a bit that is as close to the same size as your wire.  You don't want the hole to be sloppy loose, I had mine rather snug.  Be sure to drill them straight as possible, and go slow.  If you turn the bit too fast or push too hard you will damage your plexi.

Once that is done, you can poke your wires through and solder them onto the LED circuit, or solder then poke your wires, whatever works for you.  What I did was run the wires through first, so it held them for me, then poked them through the backside of the LED strip, then soldered them.  Clipped the soldered ends short so they didn't stick up to high, then pulled the wires and strip together down flush to the plexi.  AT THIS POINT, test your lights. Make sure they operate.  I used a red and black wire so I knew which one is which.  These are protected a bit, but do not hold them a long time with the wrong polarity.  If you connect them to 12v and nothing happens, reverse them.

If you test them and they are working, then you are ready to stick them to the plexi.  I would stick the center down first, then work out each end.  Make sure you keep them as straight as possible, with one edge if you can.  You want them in the center as much as you can though.  This part takes some patience.

If you manage it, this is what it will look like:





This shows you the back where the wires come out and how it looks powered.

Now, assuming this went ok, you are ready to do some gluing.

First off, you need to use a bit of sandpaper (finer the better) and rough the edges where the plexi glues to the lens, and where the tab glues on.  I also sanded around the wires, so I could epoxy them as well.  I was going for a sealed light, to prevent water or dirt from getting in.

Once the plexi has been prepped, go over everything again, make sure the LEDs are firmly adhered to the plexi, the sanding is good, and the lens is clean. Test and double check to be sure your LEDS are working.

Once you are ready, you need to get your epoxy.  I am using a Devcon 2 ton clear Epoxy, with a 30 min working time and a 2 hour handling time.  Trust me, you want the 30 mins.

Mix up a fair amount, probably what would cover a quarter when mixed, then the fun begins.  My best results where putting the epoxy on the lens directly.  I would just dab it on with the mixing stick, but try to keep the amount to a minimum so you don't have it going everywhere.  I just held the lens, but if you can find a way to do it so you don't get glue on everything, go for it.  once you get glue all around the edge and around the screw hole, you are ready for the plexi.

I started on one end, and gently laid it across.  You want to keep the LEDs centered so they don't get glue on them.  Then I used either rubber bands or hinged clothespins to clamp the two parts.  Then worked to make sure the plexi was as centered as possible.  Once you have it centered, just make sure that your glue shows up all the way around the lens edge and around the screw hole.  This helps to seal the light so water and dirt can't get in.

Now at this point, you can let that cure for a couple hours, or if you feel savvy enough you can go ahead with the next two things.  One is coat where the wires come out of the plexi to seal them and keep them from working loose or damaging the wires.

With the markers you need to glue on the tabs.  I did all of it at the  same time, but it might be easier to do this part after the rest cures.

First you need to make sure the tabs are ready.  On the bottom side, they have ribs that stick down.  These need to be removed, either by sanding or carving.  You want the bottom to be flat.  I used the table top sander and just ground the ribs on the bottom off that way.  Once they are flat, they can be glued onto the plexi.  Make sure the spot is well sanded!   Once  you are ready to glue, be sure to use plenty of it.  Get the glue to coat up on the sides a bit so it gets a good bite on the tab.  make sure the "tab" is sticking out past the end of the light, so it works like it should.  (When you start to take a set apart, it helps to have an original to compare and make sure it is in the right place, if you have a spare, or take a picture of it)

Once all this gluing is done on the markers and 3rd brake light and they are cured, you will need to drill through your plexi where the mount hole is.  I had waited till after it was glued so there were no line up issues, etc.  Then you can then do two more things.  If need be, you can sand the edges, make sure the plexi is near flush all the way around.  Two, you can paint the backside of the plexi.  I did this to the markers so they had a bit of reflectiveness to the light, force more light out, and make them a better reflector.  I did not paint the 3rd brake light.

Now, all you have left to do, is wire them into the car and put in your screws.  Once the paint dries.  LOL

Couple of tips.  I soldered my connections, to prevent future issues with say a crimp connection going bad etc.  Then I heat shrinked and taped the wire.  Once mounted, the markers can be slid right through the bumper cover holes, so removal of a cover DOES NOT mean you have to cut these back off.  The brake light is another story.

One other point to make.  When you insert the light and put the tab end in, sometimes that can be a tight fit, not letting the light go flush.  Do not force it, or you will crack your tabs off.  I found that out the hard way.  Instead trim the inside of the cover a bit so the fit is more loose for the tab.  Then it will work just fine.

When wiring, before you solder/crimp/etc, check your polarity.  Turn on your lights, and either use a volt meter, or just quickly touch the wires from your LEDs to the ones on the car.  Once they light, make note of what color is which.  Connecting them quickly in this manner will keep you from damaging them in case they are backwards.  They just won't light the wrong way, but if connected long enough they might be damaged. (they are protected, but you never know)

Then screw them fast and sit back and enjoy like these:







Questions, ask.  If you guys want to sticky this, fine with me.  If you want me to make them for you, ask, we can work something out.

Hopefully I didn't make this too confusing..   LOL
Last edited by DTMAce on Sat May 28, 2011 9:48 am, edited 1 time in total.


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LED Facts and How To's..

Postby Money pit Beretta » Thu Jan 15, 2009 3:43 pm

For the love of monkeys someone pin this! :)


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Re: LED Facts and How To's..

Postby DTMAce » Sat May 28, 2011 1:20 am

No one ever did!

Actually, I REALLY need to update this! Will do it later today, since I have the 2 yr old this weekend!


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Re: LED Facts and How To's..

Postby 90GTZHO » Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:39 am

yeah we need the pics back in it too :)

Awesome write up man! Cant wait to see some of these at he fest!


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Re: LED Facts and How To's..

Postby Wanako » Sat Jun 18, 2011 1:33 am

MODS Where you at?!? We're always bitching and moaning that we need more technical writeups to post and help our community, well there you go! Pin this bitch!

:burn:

edit* Chris, would you happen to know if there is an LED replacement for digi-dash bulbs? that would be epic!



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Re: LED Facts and How To's..

Postby DTMAce » Sat Jun 18, 2011 7:21 am

Actually there are. Just go to www.superbrightleds.com

Have to look up the bulb that they take, but they have them. I just haven't gotten around to doing mine yet, they even have the ones for the interior lights too, most are just 194s I think. Will try to update the pics later on today, if I get time.


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Re: LED Facts and How To's..

Postby daguse5853z » Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:43 pm

ummm instead of wiring resistors in for your turn signals to blink right why not just get a electronic flasher?

Be warned though, if you have digital cruise control (94-96?) and you switch your brake lights out for led bulbs your cruise most likely will not work anymore. The computer reads the resistance in the brake light circuit and if its too low or open then it disables the cruise. Not much in the gm service manuals about it but it is mentioned. That might be a advantage to using resistors but not my cup of tea lol.

I made a led brake light for my gtu spoiler bc the stock stuff was rusted to pieces. I made a little tray that would sit behind the red lense, the 2 screws for the lense hold the tray because its sandwiched between the lense and spoiler. I bought some led light strips from advance auto. I think the name brand was optix? I found out that 4 -3 led strips filled the tray the best. I positioned the strips in the tray after i wired them together and poured silicon caulking over them. Been working great! I woulda rather used epoxy or something but i didnt have any around plus i wasnt sure how its react to the plastic that housed the strips or if it would cure clear.



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Re: LED Facts and How To's..

Postby DTMAce » Sat Jun 18, 2011 4:25 pm

DTMAce wrote:
5:  Resistors.  Now many have expressed confusion as to what this means with the use of LED's.  All of the automotive LED lighting I am discussing here are already set for 12v use, and have the proper internal resistors as well as protection circuits on many of them to make them work correctly as a light.  
HOWEVER.  With regards to the turn signal/hazard bulbs (1157/2057) they do not draw enough power to make your flasher work correctly.  This means you may need to install a LOAD resistor to SIMULATE the way the original bulbs used power, so the flasher thinks it has normal bulbs connected.  This is also considered a more correct way of fixing the issue.

6:  LED Flashers.  This is also part of the confusion.  LED flashers (or called LED compatible flashers, also called heavy duty flashers) can be used in SOME VEHICLES instead of resistors to make the lights blink at a proper rate.  This is done by a computer circuit in the flasher to blink at the proper rate regardless of the amount of power the bulbs are actually using.  In other words, this will work with nearly any bulb, and will blink the right speed no matter if bulbs are connected or not.  It doesn't care.  This is the most preferred (and easy) way of making sure your LED's work properly as TURN SIGNALS or HAZARDS.  One note of caution.  If your vehicle has a system to monitor if your lights work or not, they still may think the bulbs are out, when they aren't because of the lower power usage of the LED's.  That can ONLY be fixed by using a resistor as explained above.


Just to add. The use of electronic flashers will not work with some of our cars, probably the ABS vehicles. Mine would not work, as the ABS would come on with it installed. Once I went to the load resistors it was fine. As I stated above, they may be required regardless if your vehicle depends on seeing the bulb load irregardless if the flasher is the electronic type or load based.

As for the GTU spoilers, I have a plan put together for them. Just need to complete the assembly. Two styles will be offered, one with 2 high powered (like 3W) LEDs that can be mounted on an aluminum version of the holder (for heat dissipation and corrosion resistance) behind the original red lens and a clear panel version (tinted if desired) using multiple LEDs akin to what you described.

As of right now, working to finish a project this weekend.


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Re: LED Facts and How To's..

Postby DTMAce » Sat Jun 18, 2011 6:22 pm

Here are a pile of the shots with the lighting that I have, along with some others mixed in....

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Yep, lots of pics. Anyway.


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Re: LED Facts and How To's..

Postby daguse5853z » Sat Jun 18, 2011 10:52 pm

the abs thing is new to me but i pulled my bulb out of the dash bc its been on for years! lol I hooked up a solus to it and drove around and all my sensors are working right with no delays or anything so I dunno. Those sidemarkers are sick to btw!



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Re: LED Facts and How To's..

Postby Chevyracer89 » Fri Jun 24, 2011 1:30 pm

What year beretta did u do this on?



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Re: LED Facts and How To's..

Postby beretta » Sun Jun 26, 2011 2:53 am

I cant wait to get some LEDS into my cars, i need to do the 3rd brake light on the Z the bulbs in it are NFG and my mechanic wanted me to fix it before i even drove it but hey a bulb/s can blow any time so oh well.

I have been thinking of something for the filler panel, i have a clear one taken apart right now but havent had much time for anything right now, work keeps me pretty crazy insane busy in the summer. I wanted to attempt this and make something work before sharing my idea, i wanted to be the first to try it lol... i wanted to take the strip LED's and put them in the filler panel and spell words with them, like BACK OFF or something and hook it to a switch. would be cool to see the filler light up in some way shape or form /even letters. maybe even just 1 strip of red straight across at some point around the middle maybe and have it come on with running lights.

Going to have a look around tomorrow and see what i have for marker lights i can salvage and get started on taking them apart, my Z the 2 back ones were both broken but i think the lens's are ok, i put the markers from the 88 into the Z to have it certified lol, the joys of having 2 of the same car, swap parts around, if i know my mechanic was going to be picky on the 3rd brake light i would have just taken the spoiler right off for that 1 day.

Anyways, great write up, im going to make good use of this.



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DTMAce
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Re: LED Facts and How To's..

Postby DTMAce » Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:50 am

Chevyracer89 wrote:What year beretta did u do this on?


If you haven't already figured it out, its a 94 Z.

lol

Going to be getting back into making some more of these up for those that want some, just let me know. Currently designing a weather resistant option for GTU spoilers with 2 styles:

1 with high wattage LEDs (2 total) that would go behind the OEM red lens and look stock.

2 with multi lower wattage LEDs that will be mounted behind a clear/tinted panel cut to fit the opening, eliminating the OEM look completely.

Also hope to finally start working on my custom tail light LED mod later this summer! :D Stay tuned for that.


94' Z26 Project - 95' Base Project - Custom LED Light Conversions!
Chosen Proposal Submission & Committee Member for Beretta Fest 2012 in Traverse City Michigan

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88_GTU
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Re: LED Facts and How To's..

Postby 88_GTU » Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:55 pm

I would be very interested in the second option for the GTU. Let me know when you may have these ready.
Thanks for all the hard work!
J


88 GTU 5spd 67k black
89 GTU 3500/5spd swapped 79k white
08 TBSS LS2 AWD

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snowblindburd
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Re: LED Facts and How To's..

Postby snowblindburd » Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:38 pm

Here's a crappy night photo and a video of Chris' work =). Thanks again man!

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