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Custom LED tail lights

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Has anyone out there made a custom LED tail and brake light? Custom, as in homemade from LEDs and parts from RadioShack, eBay or the like? What is the mcd rating of the LEDs you used? I see 30000mcd red LEDs, and know how to wire them and everything. The viewing angle is about 20deg on the LEDs I'm looking at, so if I arrange 9 or so in a horizontal line, with a few lines underneath each other (say 5 lines, that would give 45 leds, many more than any store bought LED tail lights), on a curved surface, it should fix the side visibility problem for most pre bought LED tail lights. Anyone had luck building a bright LED tail light? I love building things myself, so want to have a go, plus there are no 6v LED tail lights out there for my ancient XT250. I am thinking of using the stock lense and housing, removing the bulb and reflector, then using the reflector mounts to bolt in a custom curved LED tail and brake light.

Should be fun, any pics would be great. I have a feeling I saw a custom one on here somewhere, though no long term review or finished product pics, only a few pics of construction and the huge amounts of solder:eek: . I love LEDs, and plan to motard my other bike (XT550) with full LEDs - blinkers, tail, instrument lights. Not the headlight, obviously, but the LEDs will give the headlight more juice. If I can successfully build a highly visible tail/brake light from LEDs for my 250, I'll have somewhere to start for my XT550, even though the 550 is 12v, and can easily buy LED parts, I love building things.

Cheers :smirk:

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Done it way too many times to even think about it. from cars to house to bikes to MX

You have to understand a few things about LED's to make it work successfully, LED's are rated for certain voltages, however, they're very succeptible to burning out if your voltage/current fluctuates too much (which is the case on bikes).

So what you have to do is drop a resistor in before the LED to cut back on the current - even if your voltage is matched, also remember that if you are going to run LED's in multiple arrays that you'd like to obtained LED's that are matched.

Here's a link you can use to help you find the resistance for any given LED:

http://led.linear1.org/1led.wiz

If you're running a 12V system and don't understand much about LED's, the safest way to go about it is to buy prewired LED's (come with resistor and set up for 12V) that are available at Walmart in the auto bling section.

Now the way I made the light module was as follows:

Took a 1/16" piece of flat black plastic - the type that is bendable, sometimes found as a bottom liner in gymbags etc., cut it to the general shape I need to fit (inside contour of fender works for me).

I lay out my LED's on it by drilling 5mm holes and pushing the LED's into it.

The first light I made for my WR was half red, half blue LED's and had a blue/purple look to it at night, more blue during the day, I ended up making another all red afterwards and am using that one now.

Once the led's are laid out on the backer board, (LEd's are wired already BTW)

I place this portion inside a plastic shell that I use for a mold, just find any PET-G scrap container similar to what screws come in that is the approximate size you'd like - I drill a hole to feed the wires out through, take some clear resin (available at Michael's and used to make fake water in modelling), mix it up and pour it in, surrounding your LED's - I try to have 2" in front and at least 1/2" behind the mounted LED's. Basically, it'll be one mass with a wire coming out of it.

Once this cures, I hacksaw it to the shape I want (contour of inside of fender, sand it down nicely and paint the whole thing black, then I sand the face that will emit the light, from 200 to 400 to 600 to 1000 to 1500 to 2000 to 3000 grit - at this point it's basically buffed smooth.

I use goop or shoe goo to mount it to the underside of the fender, no screws needed. Final product is pretty much one indestructible mass of solid plastic.

Mine's just a tail light, to make a brake/tail light, there are several ways to go about it, either use separate LED's, and place higher resistors on the running vs the brake LEDs, or run the two separate power leads to individual resistors, then individual diodes then to the LED's - this will allow each LED to shine at both a low and high setting depending on whether the brake is used or not.

If you want to get into headlights, there's ways to do that too, working on mine as we speak.

Here's a few pics of my blue/red one.

DCFC0118-1.jpg

DCFC0126-1.jpg

DCFC0005-1.jpg

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Nice instructional. I actually saw the first two pics in the post I saw a while ago, but didn't see the one mounted on the bike. Looks nice. I know about resistors and LEDs, so just have to get the parts and build it. I don't know much about how I'll use all the LEDs for tail and brake, I was going to use a few LEDs for tail. and all the LEDs for brake, though all the LEDS running dimmer will be better, I'll just find out how to run the resistors etc to make them dim for the running light, then bypass for the brake so they're at their full brightness.

Thanks for the pics, and instructions.

Anyone else???

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Fishpost, I've given you the way to run both running light and and brake light power to the same LED above already.

you're going to feed two different power lines to one destination (LED).

In order to do that successfully and not backfeed down either power feed from the other is to used Diodes, not light emitting diodes, just regular diodes - the black ones with the silver stripe.

Each supply power feed gets a resistor, the running lights will get the higher of the two resistor ratings, this will ensure that the lights are dimmer when used as running lights, more power will be fed to them once the brake is activated thus making them brighter.

The only thing necessary at this point is to make sure that power doesn't get backfed down the other circuit, this is where you install a diode on each power feed line right before the LED connection. Diodes are essentially the same as check valves would be in a fluid environment, they allow power travel from + to - but stop any power from backfeeding up the other supply line.

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Fishpost, I've given you the way to run both running light and and brake light power to the same LED above already.

Sorry, I did realise you told me how to do it, I just meant I'll have to put everything together and get it working. I understood what you were saying, I'll just have to take it from words, and put it into a circuit. It was just the way I phrased it. Sorry for misunderstanding, and thanks again for the instructions. Now to buy the bits and pieces. I'll probably use eBay, as the only electronics store around here wants $1.98 each for bright LEDs. I can buy about 50 on eBay for a little over $10 with free resistors.

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I just an LED replacement bulb off eBay that fits the brake light socket :smirk:

Yeah, but do you know where there are any multi-voltage ones that will operate on 6 volts? Most I see need at least 8 volts. Are they bright in a little bike tail/brake light lens? Most of the LED replacements get a bad reputation in cars for their small viewing angle, and small bright spots in the middle of the lens, but a bike I'd think would be better as it already has a tiny tail light anyway, so would light up most or all of the lens anyway.

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I've had good luck making led tail light replacements with leds from superbrightleds . com

I have some videos on my Youtube acct. Username JESTEPHENS

BUT can anyone help me find a supplier of 1157 and 1156 bulb bases with wire leads? I've been making mine from spent bulbs, but I remember running across a source for these pre-made bulb bases. I just can't find it again, I don't even remember the price, but want to check it out again. Thanks!

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Ingenious design...

I wanted something that didn't look homebrew but was still something I could

put together. I cheated and went with LED lighting from customdynamics

led.gif

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