01 September 2012

LED-ing My DeLorean Window Switches

Some might say I have an obsession with my window switches.  I have been struggling with these switches for the last two months.  Technically, this is the fourth part of the 'window switch' series.  But, there will never be a "Part IV" with anything involving a DeLorean...just ask Bob Gale.

Now that I have solved the problem of the switches, I have decided to have them light up.  The little jumper plates have been located and installed.  So now, they light up.  Everything is fine...or is it?  You know that I cannot just this go without more modification.  The lights are green, using an incandescent bulb and a green lens.  I like blue, and LED's...just like how I prefer Luke's blue lightsaber over the green on.  Wait, wrong trilogy.

Here are my two options for LED window switches.

1.  In addition to the incandescent ones (K101177) for $70 a pair, DMC sells an LED version (K101177A) of the light switches for $85.  I already have the incandescent ones and I am too cheap to pay another $85 for another set.  I am not even sure if the LED ones are green or blue.  Which leave me to the other option.

K101177(A) - DeLorean Window Switches
2.  Do the modification myself using my existing switches and some LED's....blue LED's  The good part of this option is I can get the LED's at work for free.  I like free.  Plus, it gives me a chance to play with my wire welding skills, some people call it soldering, and learn something about LED's.

Green lens with incandescent bulb
How am I going to do this?  As usual, I am just going to wing it...gull wing it.  When the lens is removed you can see that how the bulb gets power from the contacts.  I will use these contacts to power the LED's.  Well, what else am I going to use.  First, I have to build some sort of 'platform' for the LED's to rest on.  Then figure out how to route the wires to get power to the light emitting diodes.

Now, I know very little about electronics.  I know how to solder and to line up "+" and "-"...but that is about it.  So, I enlisted help from co-workers and staff from the Electronics Lab.  These guys in the Electronics Lab are crazy smart.  My though was, "just solder some LED bulbs onto the contacts and call it a day".  I was informed that I needed resistors for the LED's.  I told him there would be twelve volts running through this thing and he did the math on what resistor I need...right there, in his head.  It was like Rain Man.  I got my LED bulbs and resistors and ready to go.

Surface mount resistors are really small
Each switch will use two LED's for maximum light output.  Originally, I was going to use the bulb kind of LED's, but they were too big as I have limited space to work in.  So, the solution was surface mount LED's and resistors.  Surface mount resistors are really really small.  My first attempt at soldering resulted in two burnt lights and two burn resistors.   The problem was, other than the fact that I have no idea what I am really doing, was the wires I had were too small and the soldering iron I had did not have a temperature control.

L to R:  Original lens and bulb assembly, custom made platform, surface mount blue LED's, 560 ohm resistors
On the fly design, I had to find a solution to another problem.  Solution, keep the surface mount LED's and use the regular resistors as a 'wire' to connect all the elements.  Easier to solder the regular resistors.

Wire welding
Wire welding is fun when you do it right, frustrating when you burn bulbs and resistors.  I got the hang of it after a while.  I really admire the folks in the Electronics Lab who do this every day and on a smaller scale.  I guess it can me a form of meditation...like sculpting.

Soldered parts, LED with resistor
A resistor was soldered on to one side of the LED.  After clipping the extra wire from the resistor, I soldered it to the other side of the LED.  This was done twice for each switch.  Notice that the parts are mirrored to each other.  This is to allow for connection to the positive and negative (or is it live and ground?) contacts already in the switch.

LED assembly
The soldered parts go on the custom platform I made.  The wires go into the slot, pushing against the contacts to close the circuit.  This again, is my 'on the fly design'.  I should trade mark that.  My original plan was to solder directly to the contacts.  This new design will allow me to switch out the assembly and parts in case a bulb burns or if I want to chose another colour LED.  I also have the option of going back to original incandescent bulb with lens...highly unlikely.  One older idea was to recast the lens in a blue to get my desired blue light.

Incandescent bulb with lens vs. my LED assembly, no need for lens
These suckers are bright,  I guess I could have went with one LED.  But, if you are going to do it right, you might as well over do it.  After a lot of testing to see if my soldering was good, everything seems okay and we have light.

New blue LED's vs. incandescent bulb with green lens
The incandescent bulb gives off a softer glow.  I have not seen this since I first got the window switches.  While it matches the green in colour and intensity of the shifter plate, I still like the blue.  Pictures shows some ridiculous bleeding and glow from the LED's.  This is due to the camera I used and the ambient lighting.  There is a little bleeding of light.  Time to duplicate what I did for the other switch.

Completed LED modifications
The design is rough, but it works.

Cool blue lights in the center console
Project complete!  Final stats:  Three burnt surface mount LED's, two burn surface mount resistors, two burnt #11 (30A) fuses.  Hopefully, this is my last issue/modification with these window switches.  Now, I need to figure out how to make the shifter light blue.  Looks like I will need to make a blue shifter panel and replace bulb with a blue one.  Another day.

1 comment:

Martini said...

Super cool man. I've done a very insignificant amount of soldering myself, using my dad's ancient (read MASSIVE & HEAVY) soldering gun. I think I too would've had a difficult time with those freakin' tiny LEDs and resistors! The only modification I want to do to my window switches is paint the arrows back onto them.