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      10-01-2015, 09:19 PM   #1
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vtl's full LED conversion

I am on the quest to replace every last halogen on my car. It has been a bit of a long process with some custom work involved so I thought it might be interesting to create a thread about it.

Goals:

1. Convert every last halogen in the car to LED
2. The LED replacement must be as bright or brighter than the halogen
This is actually more challenging than you think. All the interior bulbs are pretty weak so pretty much any white LED will be brighter. But the exterior bulbs are between 15w-35w on my vehicle so this calls for very bright efficient LED replacement. Halogens can emit a lot of light in a very compact space but an LED will need a lot of heatsinking when we are talking about higher light outputs.
3. Do this as cheaply as possible without sacrificing quality
I loathe the sellers who are selling chinese LED bulbs then putting the word 'BMW' on them and charge 5x the price. I buy everything individually.

BMWs are perfect candidates for full LED conversions since ALL the bulb warnings can be individually coded in NCSExpert. Theres two warnings to know about:

Cold check: Does a bulb check on engine start and periodically when driving. This sends a short pulse to a halogen bulb. Because halogen bulbs are shit, they do not react fast enough so they don't light up. But this is perfect for the cold test since the FRM module wants to test the bulbs without actually lighting them up.
Warm check: Measures the bulb current while activated

I started off with the easy stuff, interior bulbs such as footwells, map lights, glove compartment, boot light are all easy replacements nothing special going on here.

But my dome lights were a bit of a pain. You can get direct fit e82 specific dome panels but these were quite hard to find when I was shopping around. I found a listing on ebay saying e82 compatible for $30. I thought it was a bit steep but I wanted a proper panel instead of just a normal W5W bulb replacement. Turns out it was just a panel for a 5 series BMW which was too big. The seller sent me anothe replacement which was a different style but again, did not fit

Being the electronically inclined person that I am, I noticed the 2nd set's LED dome would physically fit in the housing but the socket was just two short steel pins that wouldn't reach. But the first set I had a long PCB. I just soldered the socket from the first LED's PCB onto the 2nd set's dome. This is the result:

Fits quite nicely




I did have to solder some extra resistors in parallel to keep the FZD (dome switch unit module) module happy. You don't get any warnings on the idrive but I got some minor codes when scanning it with INPA. All fixed now though.

Did the angel eyes with an ebay bulb, nothing special, everybody has these:



After seeing all the latest cars with LED signal lights I was getting a bit jealous. I wanted that instant activation look. Unfortunately the E82 LCI blacklines are really nothing special (they do look nice though) and use halogens for all the signals.

After doing much searching on ebay I settled on these bulbs:

There are plenty of signal bulbs on ebay and most are garbage. At a minimum they have to be cree bulbs and they have to look chunky enough to heatsink. Luckily signal bulbs aren't on all the time. If these had to be run at 100% duty cycle then they might not last that long. There are 4 brake lights in total for the rear and 4x indicators. The indicators were really expensive (around $40 for a pair) but that is because cree amber LED chips themselves are quite expensive. You really need to get the crees since amber LEDs are quite low efficiency compared to white LEDs.



I am very happy with the results. I have some video of it:



Because of the slow shutter speed of the camera, the LED activation doesn't look as fast as it does in real life. I happy with the brightness as well, they are only a little brighter than stock but the main goal for the signal lights is to have the activation speed of an LED.

The reverse lights were a bit of a challenge. These are W16W bulbs which is a pretty narrow base. I could not find anything suitable that would be bright enough to replace these bulbs. I already tried some cheaper cree bulbs with no success. Looks like some custom work is called for. I was very happy with the P21W LED replacement bulbs used in the brake lights. The hole in teh light housing is more than big enough to accomodate a larger diameter bulb.

I bought another set of the black P21W bulbs and got to work:

Cut open the base with a dremel to see what we are dealing with:




Salvaged the W16W base from the shitty bulb that wasn't bright enough:



The base is a bit rough from where I cut it, need to chuck it up in the lathe to machine the face flat, wrapped up the LED in masking tape to protect it when being clamped by the lathe:



Result of the machined face:



Resoldered the DC-DC converter and soldered on legs:



The DC-DC converter is actually a press fit into the nylon base! Score Just needed to file down the square edges of the PCB and its snug.



LED with some tape for a test fit:



The bulb fits through the hole in the rear light housing just fine.

Results

SOOO much brighter! Probably at least 3x brighter (note that the human eye response is logarithmic)




To finished these off and get it all structurally sound, I machined an aluminium sleeve to fit over the LED and the base. Used JB weld epoxy and super glue:



Note the JB weld fill inbetween the ring and the base


Machining the ring took me ages. I only had a 25mm thick solid bar and I didn't want to order a round tube of the correct size and have to wait for postage. Had to take off like 80% of the material so its a slow process. Had to drill, machine the outside diameter, then use a boring bar to get the inside diameter. If I just had the correct bar stock it would have been a really quick job.

I now only have 4 halogen bulbs left on the vehicle, the side repeaters and rear fogs!

I will be doing something similar for the rear fogs and will code the rear fogs as brake lights.
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Last edited by vtl; 10-02-2015 at 08:30 AM.
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      10-01-2015, 10:25 PM   #2
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That is a really impressive achievement. Great job!

Have you thought about selling these as a complete kit? *winks*
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      10-01-2015, 10:59 PM   #3
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If you are willing to sell the reverse light bulbs (pending they fit blacklines) they will sell like hotcakes!

Please let me know your price if you're prepared to sell them!
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      10-01-2015, 11:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OzJustin View Post
That is a really impressive achievement. Great job!

Have you thought about selling these as a complete kit? *winks*
I would be very interested in a complete kit.

Great thread!
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      10-01-2015, 11:20 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by totti84 View Post
If you are willing to sell the reverse light bulbs (pending they fit blacklines) they will sell like hotcakes!

Please let me know your price if you're prepared to sell them!
They take a while for me to do so I'd need a minimum 4 people interested for it to be worthwhile for me to sell them. Takes a bit of time desoldering, cutting, machining then finally glueing everything together.

Some of the pre-lci e90 guys were interested but could only get 2 people interested at $70 a pair.

I think the lci blackline uses the same bulb cluster as the prelci and the only difference is the nice LED strip. Does your bulb holder look like this:



This is what it looks fitted:


If I can get an extra 2 people interested then I'll go ahead and make up some sets. Will be a bit of a lead time for some of the parts, probably another 3-4 weeks.
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      10-01-2015, 11:29 PM   #6
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I'll try and get a photo of the cluster over the weekend for you!

Thanks mate
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      10-02-2015, 12:33 AM   #7
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Happy to do some reverse light sets but not really interested in doing a full kit, i'll rather just post the links for you to buy them:

Brake lights (you want 4 of these):
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/121462658829

Indicator lights (you want 4 of these so buy 2 sets):
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/321605956014

Theres a whole bunch of interior lights, ill add the links when I can.

These are the interior lights
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/en/showpa...diagId=63_1056

Quote:
Originally Posted by totti84 View Post
I'll try and get a photo of the cluster over the weekend for you!

Thanks mate
PreLCI
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/en/showpa...diagId=63_1054

LCI
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/en/showpa...diagId=63_1295

Looks like the bulb holder is a different part number (although looks the same to me). Definitely the reverse lights are the same W16W bulbs. You just need to check the hole for the reverse lights, hole diameter needs to be at least 18mm. My housings are about 2-3mm bigger than the LED bulb so it fits easy
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Last edited by vtl; 10-02-2015 at 08:35 AM. Reason: I meant reverse lights, not rear fogs
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      11-10-2015, 10:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vtl View Post
Brake lights (you want 4 of these):
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/121462658829
[/url]

Indicator lights (you want 4 of these so buy 2 sets):
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/321605956014
Hang on, the mounting PCB only has one place for a brake light and one place for an indicator light per side, as shown in the pic.

So wouldn't you only need 2 LED globe units for brake and 2 for indicator, rather than 4?

Are you replacing the front indicators too perhaps?
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      11-10-2015, 04:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by einserM View Post
Hang on, the mounting PCB only has one place for a brake light and one place for an indicator light per side, as shown in the pic.

So wouldn't you only need 2 LED globe units for brake and 2 for indicator, rather than 4?

Are you replacing the front indicators too perhaps?
Only has 1 brake light on the PCB per side but there is another brake light that fits into the rear light housing on its own. You just twist it 1/4 turn to remove it.

Yes the extra pair of indicators are for the fronts. I had to remove the wheel to access the little plastic hatch that gives you access to the front indicator bulbs.
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      11-10-2015, 04:35 PM   #10
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Ok that makes sense, havent actually taken a real good look at the lights yet! Thanks for clearing that up. Your posts make me want to buy a lathe it seems super useful for diy
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      01-18-2016, 06:09 AM   #11
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The rear fogs are the only halogens left in the light housings so I figure I may as well change them out as well. I chose to use the same LEDs I used for the reverse lights

I machined up some steel bolts this time. This is because steel is solderable and so I can solder the bayonet bases to the custom ring.

The rings were epoxied to the LED and the bases were soldered to the rings. This required some trial and error. The light housings are designed to reflect the light from a specific bulb and size. If the light source is deeper into the the housing then it won't reflect all the light efficiently. I found my replacement bulb was actually less visually apparent than the stock halogen bulb. I had to shorten the ring to make it appear as bright as the stock bulbs.

I will code the rear fogs as brake lights to take advantage of the crisp activation of these new bulbs.
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      01-18-2016, 06:13 AM   #12
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A few of the fellow forum guys wanted some of these custom reverse lights, heres some pictures of the making of the bulbs.

I have a couple sets spare if anyone is interested.
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Last edited by vtl; 01-18-2016 at 04:40 PM.
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      01-18-2016, 06:38 AM   #13
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I'm interested in the reverse lights.
Was there any conclusion on lci?
Will they fit?
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      01-18-2016, 06:41 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiley1175 View Post
I'm interested in the reverse lights.
Was there any conclusion on lci?
Will they fit?
Yeah works on LCI tail lights no problems.
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      01-18-2016, 07:38 AM   #15
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Are the reverse lights the only ones that need to be modified?
$70 or more, I'd be 100% down for a full kit!
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      01-18-2016, 04:32 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by admirable View Post
Are the reverse lights the only ones that need to be modified?
$70 or more, I'd be 100% down for a full kit!
Only thing I can do are the reverse lights, not looking to sell kits.

If you want the signal bulbs, post #7 has the links to the indicators and brake lights.

- Both the dome lights were custom. They were pieced together from two lights that didn't fit. Also had to solder some extra resistors, luckily they had spare footprints on the PCB to allow for this. E82 specific dome lights do exist but pretty hard to find when I was looking to buy.
- Reversing lights were custom
- Rear fogs were custom (although I cant imagine many people wanting LED fogs anyway)
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      05-21-2017, 05:40 AM   #17
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Hi VTL are you doing the reverse lights? I'd love to buy a set. Cheers
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      08-25-2017, 01:54 PM   #18
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Yes I would like a set too!
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      08-25-2017, 07:04 PM   #19
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Vtl's reverse lights r awesome, I could drive backwards at night!
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      08-30-2017, 11:14 PM   #20
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Sorry, all the sets were sold and not really interested making any more. Despite how simple they look it was a bit of a time sink making them up.
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      09-03-2017, 07:16 AM   #21
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Thanks for sharing this, awesome work.
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