1500 LED Conversions
(Pannier) Side running lights mod
IS NOT A SIMPLE PLUG-IN REPLACEMENT LAMP CONVERSION, IT IS A PROJECT.
In this mod I put in WAY more images and details that most
project participants will need but they are here for those that do or
want all the details spelled out to feel comfortable before proceeding.
This conversion eliminates the 3 or 4 incandescent side lights
in the side running lights, shown above, and replaces them with
one or more 19.5" red LED strips from superbrightLEDs.com. Feel
free to use whatever you want but you need a very low profile array due
to the small amount of space available and the desire to have the LED's
emitters as close to the reflector face as possible. In this
conversion I am using two full length strips because I want more light
and I have the 3 bar chrome covers and I want the LED's to be centered
in each window. That will put 54 high output red LEDs on each
Here is a shot of what the
side running light bar will look like when finsihed. Mine
3 bar chrome as shown.
These LEDs are all being lit with a 9 volt alkaline battery so you can
imagine what 12 or 14 V will look like.
The parts I used are shown below and as I said they came from
superbrightLEDs.com, but any supplier is fine.:
- Total cost for this conversion
is $56.80 including shipping (4 ea @ $12.95, 30 led
2 strips per side)) plus supples.
- You could do this with one strip per side instead but this will
be a 2 strip
per side project.
Current draw for each 2 strip lamp is about 100ms @ 12v per side.
They are not waterproof but we take care of that later. Get the
red ones if you want it to be seen through a red lens.
Part 1, Getting rid of the old and preping for the
you have to
take the running lamp assembly out of the saddle bag.
I'll leave that to you but the gist of
it for each side is:
Take off the chrome cover clips on the side and rear of the box.
Remove the two phillips head screws inside the holes that were covered
by the clips.
Remove the lower rear corner cover under the saddle box. (wiring
plugs are here)
Remove the 3 8mm acorn nuts inside the saddle bag holding the running
light assembly in place.
Remove the running light assembly. (You will have to cut the wire where
the plug-in is but leave enough wire to splice back in when we put the
new assembly back in).
Fish the wire harness out as you pull out the running light assembly.
Now the fun begins....
CAREFULLY, release the 8 tabs holding the red front lens on. DO
NOT PRY AGAINST THE RED TABS. THEY LOVE TO BREAK OFF!
Instead, you want to lift the black plastic part up (it's flexible) and
over the tab without putting any side stress on any of the tabs.
Now just for fun, there are spots where the red lens (brittle) and the
black (flexible) housing meet that are hot glued inside to hold it all
together (even though it is not waterproof) so what you have to do is
clear one tab. Then while holding it carefully fit your knife
inbetween them and twist pry just a little until you can do the
next tab and repeat. Do one whole long side before you start tabs
on the other long side. Now let me say you WILL break off at
least one tab. Try to make it one of the middle ones if you can
as we will be sealing all this up later with new adhesive which will
hold things together with or without one of the tabs.
Here is where NOT to pry. DON'T PRY AT THE TAB. Pry
tab. I have also been
able to carefully lift the loop with a knife tip while prying up from
the side edge wise. But don't pry the tab itself. Did I
mention not to pry at the tabs?
Now that you have lived through the first hard part and gotten the red
lens totally removed from the black rear housing, you are ready to
start gutting the old from the lamp assembly.
Pry out the lamp assemblies and cut the wires right where they exit the
rear housing. They are super hot glued in. Note the super
hot glue in the track just under the knife. This is a preview of
some work ahead.
Once you get all the wiring and lamps removed, this is what the
housing should look like. We are going to need to cut down the
tabs that held the lamps in place so we have room for our LED
substrates. Basically they need to be ground down to the height
of the platform outside of the trough the tabs are in. DO NOT
GRIND THE ROUND SILVER PARTS. Those are holding the mounting
bolts. Notice the remaining piece of a broken off tab. See
how I know about that?
After grinding, (I used a Dremel moto-tool with a !/4" side
cutter). This is what it should look like. The remaining
heights aren't real critical but try to keep it the height of the rim
around the trough that the tabs are in.
These will be support platforms for the substrate (platform) that will
hold the LED strips and we don't want them too high to fit when the red
lens is replaced. Don't worry about the chrome reflector
paint. It won't be used.
Now is probably a good time to get at the Super hot glue in the mating
channel surrounding the outer edge. This should be removed to
ensure your red lens goes back on and that you can get a water-tight
seal when we re-assemble it all. This stuff is murder. I
used a farily dull pocket knife to get the point and front edge forced
in a little bit and then do a small lateral pry to get the
adhesive to START to break loose on that side. Then I did
the opposite side and then repeated again until I had gotten at least
the sides of the adhesive track broken free. Then I took the tip
of the knife and forced it along the bottom of the channel under the
adhesive and twisted it on axis to pry up the bottom of the
adhesive. This stuff is a real chore and it took me about an hour
or more to get it cleaned up enough to ensure the red lens would fit
easily into a bed of new waterproof clear adhesive all around
later. Be careful and pay attention where that knife point is
going to go when it breaks loose and IT WILL so DON'T GET STUCK OR
CUT. BE CAREFUL!!!!! I
made the mistake of waiting till later to do the cleanup in the glue
channel. I ended up running the knife over the LED strip. I
got lucky since it was dull as I mentioned. A sharp knife would
have easly cut through the already mounted LED strip or knocked off an
LED so do it all now is my advice.
Part 2, On with the new
Take out your LED's and a pair of siscors and carefully cut the
sections apart between the wires and the next strip if there are more
than one strip sent together.
Use a 9 volt battery and verify that all the lights in each strip are
working. Now is the time to find out. You will be doing
this test at many points in the process.
As much as it seems a waste, we need to reduce the length of the strip
from 30 LEDs to 27 by cutting the strip at the cut point with
This point is between the 4 solder pads. (You can
always use the 3 leds by soldering leads to them somplace else.)
You get a funny feeling cutting them off and not using all of the LEDs.
Now you will need something thin preferably non-conductive to mount the
LED strips onto. You have seen me refer to these as the substrate.
It can be aluminum, or plastic but I prefer some old fiberglas circuit
board material. It MUST not shrink or grow as conditions change
so don't use something organic like wood.
This material should be thin since you won't have much room inside
there, This board material is strong and only .062" thick.
I simply tape sections together. since the LED strips will hlp
hold it and it will be adhered to the housing soon enought anyway.
We want a little flex as the light assembly is not flat anyway, it's
Here is what the substrate will look like beside the straighened out
The length shown allows for the ends to hang over at the ends and still
support the LEDs on each end and fit the display and mounting space.
Next you want to determine where along the substrate you want the led
strip to be. To determine this, look at the reflector space to
see where you want the light to come through.
You can see large reflector cells near the edges and fine cells in the
center. Since I have 3 bar chrome, I want the LEDs to be in the
center of that but in the fine cell area.
By referenceing this point inside the housing, I was able to determine
that the LED's should go along the inside edge when the other subtrate
edge is up against the side wall inside the housing.
This is ideal because it will give me a nice glueing track once the
mounting gets serious.
Now that this has been determined, I'm ready to peel the backing and
adhere the LED strip to the substrate. I want all the LED's
supported and the ends hanging over slightly. This will give a
place for the wires to come off of the LED strips at one end and an
adhesion point for the other end. Make sure you stay on track as
you apply the strip to the substrate since this will be what sets where
you see the lights once done.
Remember to press between every LED to get the adheasion consistant all
the way down. After this point, you will have to be really
careful not to knock off any of the LEDs or damage the flexible strip
Time to test the strips again... Nice huh?
Lay the strips in place with the wires at the end with the hole in the
back for the cable. Push the substrates up against the walls and
use a piece of tape to hold them there using the center mount bulge as
a stabilization point.
Also tape the ends to hold the strips. Notice that at this point
I have the LEDs lined up top to bottom.
Tie the two sets or wires in parallel, red to red and black to black
and apply the test battery.
Carefully set the red lens over the housing without snapping it in
place and see if the LED points are where you want them.
Also take note that you could have used only one strip or even a single
substrate, but I wanted independent movement capability and also the
narrower strips allow for less rigidity.
I decided that I preferred a staggered array pattern rather then the
squared look of the aligned rows above so I simply loosened the
tapes and staggered and centered the set in the display area,
giving me the precise positioning I wanted.
Much better. Suit yourself. It should be what YOU like.
Ok time to set things in place.
First I want to protect the ends with doublstick foam tape. Both
ends. Don't really need those pads shorting out on the chrome
Attach the wires with solder and heat shrink tubing.
Shrink the tubing, attach the old wiring tubing and tuck the wiring out
of the way so that it doesn't lift the substrates and is as low
in height as they are.
Note the old way vs new side by side.
(Yes SERRASJ members I DO own a hot
glue gun.... see? It's Professional and everything. I don't
do everything with a butane torch.)
Do the ends and down the outer edge of the substrate. You
may need to tack sections and hold them down a little till the glue
cools, just like you would do welding metal.
Also, pay close attention about any high spots. You really
don't want any of the LEDs touching the bottom of the red lens or it
will break them off pronto.
Instead, add a few hot glue blobs in critical places to be sawed off
with your pocket knife just above the height of the LEDs like a rubber
Glue a tack blob in the center between the substrates on top of
the center mounting base. Take the scotch tape off first.
Here is the other end. I buried the wires and tacked them down
too and added a bunch of hot glue to the end of the cable sheath for a
strain releif and some water resistance.
And again the protective sawed off flat glue blob foot. This end
is up because I didn't get the soldered wires off the end far
enough. If I had, I probably wouldn't have needed the blob here
but it is a good thing to have anyway.
Power test again here.
Now it's time to waterproof these babies even though the manufacturer
did not. Get some Crystal Clear acrylic or just some rattle
can automotive Clear Coat as I did.
Spray two coats (with about 30 minutes between coats). Make sure you
get both sides of the led's where the solder points are along each
outside edge, on each coat. Also get the little resistor chips
Don't worry about overspray as there is nothing that will be showing
once mounted. You don't have to mask off the LED tops, in fact
you want them sealed too.
Once dry from both coats, inspect it all and do another power
test. Last chance before we seal it all up permanently.
It should all be very glassy and shiney all the way. Note the two
glue strips left in the outer track. I left them there so
you would know where to fill the channel in the next step except
you do it all the way around with no gaps.
Actually that is left from when I got lazy and had to remove them at
the end and sliced across one of the strips with the dull knife.
But is served as a good indicator tool didn't it? :)
What's that on my monitor in the background.
It all starts getting pretty exciting about here...
Place this adhesive (or silicone adhesive if you ever want it apart
again) in the track all around. Take a knife and make the glue
track full everywhere, but flat at the height of the of the top
of the trough..
You don't want the adhesive going in and gettting on the inside
of the red lens where it shows. The wet adhesive will make the
re-snapping of the red tabs back into the black housing slots
easy. Start at one end and do both sides before moving to the
next pair. Do all four pairs and wipe off the excess. Be
careful not to get any on the show side of the red lens and if you do,
make sure you don't melt the lens surface cleaning it up.
Let it dry overnight. Seal the cable outlet and any holes on the
rear of the housing and let that dry too.
Now you have a water tight, water
proof, bright LED assembly that should impress , attact driver
attention and give you endless years of service. Nice Work!!! Plus you saved a boatlad of watts doing
If you are like me you will grab your 9v battery and run around showing
it to your wife and anyone else who will look.
Mount it in the reverse that you removed it. Splice the cable
back on to the connector that you originally were smart enough to leave
pigtails for. Solder and heatshrink tubing there. Test
I'll add a final picture of the bike back together and everything
mounted once my newly painted saddlebag gets back from the painter.
Let me know if you have any better suggestions or problems with this
mod project. I'd love to hear it.
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