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Halo Euro Style Switchback Sequential LED Taillights

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Old 12-29-2017, 06:22 AM   #1
Tsumi
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Default Halo Euro Style Switchback Sequential LED Taillights

Basically exactly what the title says it is. It's a project I've been working on and off on for the past year, though actual work probably amounted to about 10 weekends. Took a lot of research and trial and error to accomplish this, and overall I'm quite pleased at how it turned out.

The original inspiration came from Radioflyer's Euro mod for halo taillights. However, I didn't like the look of it when the turn signals weren't in use, which prompted the idea of doing switchbacks. Then I decided to do sequentials, again another Radioflyer inspiration from one of his past projects. So here it is, a halo LED taillight mod combining Euro style, sequential, and switchback. Not quite perfect, probably most likely due to my amateur soldering skills.


Here are pictures of the circuits that make it happen.

This one is the main control circuit. It handles the sequential LED function. The basic idea is to use a constant current source to charge a capacitor, linearly increasing the voltage over time. The voltage of the capacitor is then measured by LM3914 controllers, which light up the LEDs according to voltage sensed.



This one is the power distribution board. Since I was putting more amps through the LEDs than the ICs can handle, this setup was necessary. This also allows both sides to be controlled from one control circuit, and ensures both sides are synchronized in the case of hazards. Essentially it is a bunch of PNP transistors that are turned on and off by the ICs.



This is the primary power input as well as the switchback function board.



I still have to make a harness and wire in the opposite side before I can install this in my car. The control circuits will be kept in a box which I will mount somewhere on the rear bumper, haven't quite figured out where yet.

Things I would do differently... I would use a variable resistor to control the speed of the sequential function. It was a pain trying out various resistor combinations to make it fit the flash rate. Rearrange the layout so there's not as many wires crisscrossing, but that is the result of doing things by trial and error. Not rely on circuit simulators too much... horribly inaccurate. The values I ended up using were probably two magnitudes of difference, and it caused me to initially believe that the simulator was completely incorrect (it wasn't, it just made a single flash take 30+ seconds instead of the <1 second the simulator claimed).

Last edited by Tsumi; 12-29-2017 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 12-29-2017, 09:31 AM   #2
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Sounds interesting, but havenít been able to get the video to play.
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Old 12-29-2017, 12:08 PM   #3
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Yup, looks like a cool project but video is having an issue. Would be cool to see the lights at work.
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Old 12-29-2017, 01:18 PM   #4
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Fixed.

Youtube tags don't work, had to change it to a link.
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Old 12-30-2017, 02:15 AM   #5
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Very nice! That's an interesting implementation

Just a question that I couldn't answer for sure from the video: with parking lights or headlights ON is just the halo, and when you brake the center portion gets added to the halo, right?

Then, as they video shows, the turn signals or hazards take place in the euro portion of the lens. Cool!
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Old 12-30-2017, 02:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GCG View Post
Very nice! That's an interesting implementation

Just a question that I couldn't answer for sure from the video: with parking lights or headlights ON is just the halo, and when you brake the center portion gets added to the halo, right?

Then, as they video shows, the turn signals or hazards take place in the euro portion of the lens. Cool!
That's correct. On my test bench, I have everything hooked up to make sure that the switchback function is working correctly and nothing unexpected was happening (this actually gave me some trouble for a few days). Other than the turn signal, it behaves exactly like the halo mod.

I actually bought the unmodded version and did the halo mod myself. It was surprisingly easy, much easier than past guides indicated. All I had to do was remove a resistor from each light. None of the desoldering the wires, adding resistors, and so on. Alternatively, cutting a trace or removing a diode would have worked as well.

Currently putting everything in the box and wiring up all the connectors. Next step will be to make the rear light harness (doing this myself so as to not spend $90 on a harness I would be cutting up anyways), so hopefully tomorrow will just be the installation.
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Old 12-30-2017, 12:54 PM   #7
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Cool look and well thought through!
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Old 12-30-2017, 01:11 PM   #8
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Can't wait to see them on the car honestly. I think they'll look great compared to any other sequential attempt I've seen on these cars.
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Old 12-30-2017, 02:16 PM   #9
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I'm curious where you found red/amber LEDs that bright
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Old 12-30-2017, 02:41 PM   #10
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I'm using these LEDs: https://www.tme.eu/en/details/ostqga...ux/optosupply/

The orange portion is overdriven at about 40 mA. I found that the brightness difference between 40 mA and 80 mA isn't that great, and at 80 mA, it appears more of a reddish-orange. The red portion is driven in the stock configuration, which I believe is approximately 150 mA. Time will tell how long these last, but since my car is a manual, I wouldn't be standing on the brakes during a stop. Probably would try out one of these LEDs if they burn out: https://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale...lux+red+yellow
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Old 12-30-2017, 03:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsumi View Post
...I actually bought the unmodded version and did the halo mod myself. It was surprisingly easy, much easier than past guides indicated. All I had to do was remove a resistor from each light. None of the desoldering the wires, adding resistors, and so on. Alternatively, cutting a trace or removing a diode would have worked as well...
I did the same, but followed the posted guides. I didn't want to disassemble the unit, so I couldn't determine the circuit and make a diagram. Would you mind to share the circuit diagram?
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Old 12-30-2017, 04:11 PM   #12
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I didn't need to disassemble anything other than removing the cover to remove the resistor. I put a soldering iron to where it was connected, and a small flathead screwdriver to wiggle under the resistor and pop it out. Any of the three options below would work.


Last edited by Tsumi; 12-30-2017 at 04:11 PM.
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Old 12-30-2017, 04:33 PM   #13
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I guess you were able to figure out the original circuit to determine how to mod it for halos

Did you do a circuit diagram of the original design? If you did, would you mind posting it? Thanks!
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Old 12-30-2017, 05:35 PM   #14
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The design is fairly basic if you just follow the traces. You can think of the lighter green areas as one big wire connecting everything in that area. By realizing that, I figured out that the area that I highlighted was the only area that connected the parking lamp circuit to the inner LEDs, so disrupting any part of that would disconnect the inner LEDs from the halos while leaving the halos intact.

At the area where the wires come in from the plug, a set of two diodes per wire allow you to reverse the polarity while still allowing it to work, since LEDs can only conduct in one direction. There is no need to touch or modify this area.
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Old 12-30-2017, 10:08 PM   #15
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Tsumi, I think you did a heck of a job. Not to hijack the thread, but I have a couple ideas I’ve been fooling with. One, is to adapt a mustang sequential harness with the intention of adding another light somewhere. The other is how to create a front ‘cornering light’. I had them on my Maxima and they were actually pretty good in practice.
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Old 12-31-2017, 01:23 AM   #16
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I was able to see the video now and I must say it looks amazing. Great job.
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Old 12-31-2017, 03:47 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chasboy View Post
Tsumi, I think you did a heck of a job. Not to hijack the thread, but I have a couple ideas I’ve been fooling with. One, is to adapt a mustang sequential harness with the intention of adding another light somewhere. The other is how to create a front ‘cornering light’. I had them on my Maxima and they were actually pretty good in practice.
Thank you. Got them installed on the car, finally. No videos yet, it's pretty late. Took me the entire day to make the harness. Took me a while to figure out the best way to solder wires together, and then made a few mistakes (a few lines were too short). Plus I had a few custom things going on with the harness as well (backup camera, 3rd brake light flasher, provision for a rear fog light, and custom hazard setup).

Not working perfectly unfortunately. The charging circuit appears to behave erratically at times, and of course the timing is off as well. I suspect that it is due to the different and constantly fluctuating voltage of the car. I'll probably change out my zener diode setup for some sort of mosfet for a more regulated voltage, but I've had enough of working on this for now, lol. It mostly works and I'm happy with it so far. I'll probably spend the next few weeks at work researching how to improve the circuit.

I think I read you bringing up the cornering light somewhere in a different thread, and I've had some thought regarding it as well. I'm thinking an LED pod light in the popup headlight shroud, but I haven't seen any suitable LED pods. The size that can fit in there is pretty limited. Also, my FX-Rs have a very wide spread so it's not a priority project, haha.

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Originally Posted by mstromquist View Post
I was able to see the video now and I must say it looks amazing. Great job.
Thanks!

More to add:

Seeing it on the Corvette at night, it is clear that the orange LEDs are about half the brightness of the red LEDs. However, the orange LEDs are visible and discernible from the red (especially with the sequential function) from any reasonable distance behind the Vette.

Last edited by Tsumi; 12-31-2017 at 04:21 AM.
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Old 12-31-2017, 06:39 AM   #18
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Considering how much you have those lights doing, its amazing that it works at all, but the good thing is once you get part of the way, I think you’ll perfect it.
My main concern about the cornering light is how it will stay constantly on while everything else is flashing.
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Old 12-31-2017, 06:56 AM   #19
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Considering how much you have those lights doing, its amazing that it works at all, but the good thing is once you get part of the way, I think youíll perfect it.
My main concern about the cornering light is how it will stay constantly on while everything else is flashing.
That is actually fairly easily solved using the same principle as my switchback function. Basically, turn signal input -> diode -> capacitor in parallel with the switch part of a relay. The capacitor keeps the relay in the on position during the off part of the flash. The other part of the relay will just need to be connected to something that is on, either direct to battery, parking light circuit, or headlights. The trick is finding a capacitor-relay combination that stays on for the duration of the off period. You will want a relay with high resistance to minimize the size of the capacitor. In my case, I used two 470 uF capacitors in parallel (total 940 uF) for one relay rated at 700 ohms.

The other thing to consider is that in the car's I've driven, the cornering lamps don't turn on above a certain speed. Don't want to surprise people while signaling to change lanes at highway speeds.

The other spot I've considered is on the air dam.
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Old 12-31-2017, 08:16 PM   #20
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Finally got the chance to take a video of it on the car. As you can see in the video, it's not quite perfect. I already have some plans on how to fix it. Most likely I will eliminate the 555 timer and use a PNP transistor to drain the capacitor after the circuit is shut off.


A picture of the box that makes the magic happen. It is ziptied to the back of the bumper where the license plate is.



And a picture of the harness for anyone interested in my amateur workmanship.


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