DIY LED Indicators
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Thread: DIY LED Indicators

  1. #1
    Senior Member LittleCowTW's Avatar
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    Hello everyone,

    On a previous thread of mine some people expressed interest in my indicator set up because I wired the LED's myself and I mounted the LED holders directly to my round headlight bucket. Heres what it looks like.





    In this thread I will attempt to recreate the process that I used to make this happen.
    acekool likes this.
    Persistence is the better part of genius.

  2. #2
    Senior Member LittleCowTW's Avatar
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    Disclaimer #1: I am not a professional electrician and by no means an expert of any kind, I am just a guy that tinkers in his garage much like many of the people on this forum. The positive results that I have gotten with these indicators are a direct consequence of trial and error, mostly error. And so I have found a way to make this work and to make it look nice, but I can not guarantee that everything I did was by the book...because I never read it. that being said if you see something that you know is fubar I strongly encourage you to let me know so that I can fix that part of the thread.



    Disclamer #2: Not everybody has a round headlight bucket into which they can mount LEDS, but never fear, because the idea behind this build is universal. Once you go to radioshack and look in " the drawer " for the first time you will see that there are a million ways to do this and options for all componets are boundless. So do not feel like this thread is not for you.



    Disclaimer #3: This project is shockingly cheap, shortly I will post a quick shopping list that is unlikely to break thirty bucks and will definitely leave you with extra parts. That being said I am boldly making the assumtion that if you are taking on a task like this then you already have soldering iron technology in your garage. if not, never fear, it will be a little more costly for you on account of purchasing an iron and some rosin core, but you will be glad you did! It is just hot glue for big kids and it is cheap to start doing. Ill post some links for that as well.
    Persistence is the better part of genius.

  3. #3
    Senior Member LittleCowTW's Avatar
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    Shopping list:

    1: Rubber Grommet set, these grometts are essential when mounting your own electronics as they provide vibration protection as well as waterproofing and corrosion resistance. the kit will last you the rest of your natural born life.

    http://www.amazon.com/180-Piece-Rubb...ds=grommet+set

    2: 60 watt soldering iron "the cheap one" and spare tips.

    3: one spool of rosin core solder of whatever ratio suits your fancy.

    4: A package of heat shrink tubing that is used to insulate the naked wiring that you undoubtedly have after soldering your stuff together. The pack will last you 100 thousand years.

    http://www.amazon.com/127pc-Shrink-A...ds=heat+shrink

    4: A heat gun or a bic lighter or a hair dryer to shrink the insulation.

    5: LEDS of the brighness level that you require (details to come)

    6: Resistors of appropriate rating to suit your LEDS (details to come)

    7: LED holder, (the chrome threaded mounts that I use are one of many different options, but they look the coolest and they focus the light much like a flashlight, making the LEDs even more visible during daylight)

    8: Alligator clips, these will give you the extra hands you need to cradle your componets as you will see in the pictures for just a few cents each.

    *Note: Loose the grommet set, solder, iron,heat gun, and you are left with basic componets from radioshack totalling perhaps 15 dollars.



    WHAT? you dont know how to solder!?!? Not to worry, as with all things the 1980s took care of that for you! watch the first video in this youtube series and you will know everything you need to know about the many facets of soldering.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIT4r...6EC0F1F93C1837
    Persistence is the better part of genius.

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  5. #4
    Senior Member LittleCowTW's Avatar
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    Choosing LEDS:

    When choosing your LEDS, look at the back of the package and view the "MCD" rating, this determines your brightness level and, depending on the application, will have a profound impact on the outcome of your project, I use 5mm 2.1 volt 630 mcd LED's for my indicators with 260 ohm resistors as I have found this brightness to be adequate.



    Persistence is the better part of genius.

  6. #5
    Senior Member LittleCowTW's Avatar
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    Choosing Resistors:

    In order to keep from breaking the rated voltage of each LED you must wire in a resistor to the possitive Terminal of the LED (the long leg). Here is a link to a resistor calculator that will help you choose a perfect Resistor.

    *Note, if your LEDS are too bright you can either buy new ones or up the resistance (in my humble opinion). For my high beam indicator I used a 680 ohm resistor to take the edge off of the brightness.

    http://led.linear1.org/1led.wiz
    Persistence is the better part of genius.

  7. #6
    Senior Member LittleCowTW's Avatar
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    Choosing holders:

    I use threaded stainess steel LED holders with lock washers to mount my LEDs, Options for these are plentiful. Just make sure that you choose holders that have an inside diameter that matches your led size and shape as the holders are the most expensive component. They also make LEDS that are all in one that have resistors and holders built all together, but they are more expensive and dont look quite as high speed to me. Your choice.
    Persistence is the better part of genius.

  8. #7
    Senior Member LittleCowTW's Avatar
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    Actually installing the LEDS on your bike is the easy part, first you must set up your leds and holders in advance so that you wont have to go back and tinker with them in the middle of your mounting process. Once you gather all of your materials you should have a set up that looks something like this.



    Next Use aligator clips to hold your resistor to the positive terminal (long leg) of your LED and solder in place. Be sure to slip the rubber piece from the holder onto the legs of the LED prior to any soldering. *Note: so far as I can tell it does not matter which way the Resister goes on. it does its job backwards and forward.***Update! It has recently been brought to my attention that it is unwise to apply heat shrink directly to the housing of a resistor, the resistor generates a certain amount of heat as it cuts down the input voltage and by wrapping it with heat shrink it is possible to reduce the life span of the resistor. The solution is easy, simply use two lengths of heat shrink and leave the body of your resistor exposed so as to wick away any accumulated heat. I am going to leave my indicators as is for now and see if my circuit fails at some point. The XT550 indicators have been going fine for nearly a year, if i have any problems i will let you all know.****



    Next slip some heat shrink over the whole set up and shrink it down.



    Once that is done your led should slip tightly into its holder and look quite nice.



    Repeat this process for all of your LEDs. Remember to keep track of which LED is which color. If you DO forget you can use a multimeter set to check resistance to verify the color, LEDS are very sensitive.

    Persistence is the better part of genius.

  9. #8
    Senior Member LittleCowTW's Avatar
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    A note on turn signals:

    after I did this project I discovered that the turn signal circuit works by routing electricity one way for left blinkers and he opposite way for right blinkers. Meaning that the bulb for your turn signal indicator takes electricity from two directions. This is not possible with LEDs as Diodes only alow electricity to flow one direction. The only plausible solution to this problem for me was to wire two LEDS for blinkers. instaled backward from one another. Giving you a left blinker LED and a right blinker LED. If somebody knows a way to set up a single LED I am all ears. They DO make double duty LEDS but finding them in the same color has been impossible for me so far. i tried using a four terminal, seven color blinkin LED on the TW but it exploded in about 1 second, I decided not to press my luck.
    Persistence is the better part of genius.

  10. #9
    Senior Member LittleCowTW's Avatar
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    Wiring your LED's to your bike:

    This is as simple as taking the positive and negative wires from the old indicator bulb and hooking them up to your LEDS. Making sure of course that the LED is corectly posistioned so that the long leg (which now is very long due to the resistor) gets soldered to the positive wire.*Note, the following pictures were taken when I did this project on my other bike, xt550, but the bucket is identical and the wiring is the same.

    Use aligator clips to hold your work in place while you solder, be sure slip your shrink wrap onto your wiring prior to soldering.





    Solder on and shrink wrap your grounding wire, then repeat the process for your remaining LED's. Be sure not to mismatch wiring, I say this because i got mixed up several times while doing this. It is a good idea to write down which wires go to which indicators prior to cutting them. Once you have soldered on all of your leds, apply an extra wide heat shrink insulator for added protection and veryify that your LEDS are working, now is a good time to decide if your brightness is suitable. and rewire if necessary.

    Persistence is the better part of genius.

  11. #10
    Senior Member LittleCowTW's Avatar
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    Ok, so there is the first half, I must now go to work. Part 2 will be drilling holes and installing grommets and LED holders to the bucket(or wherever) I will post part two tonight after I have taken a few example pictures.



    ****Pathetic excuse #1: Had me a 12 hour day at work yesterday, got to be in at 6 this morning, part two will have to take a back burner until tonight/tomorrow morning. But it will be done, i just dont want to do it tired and drop the ball on something. you know, for the benefit of all our anonymous users that dont have the luxury of clarification.****
    Persistence is the better part of genius.

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