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[General] HOW TO: Custom LED high mount brake lamp

WL2005HBD

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Hi everyone, here's the how to on my LED brake lamp. I made this for my WL Statesman. I only finished it a few days ago, so I'm not liable for any damage caused by this mod and although I can't see any issues arising, I'm covering my bases.



Holden designed the WL series with LED brake lights, yet, made the high mount an incandescent, kind of making it useless. I changed it to make it brighter, redder and light up much faster, now it matches the brake lights and looks surprisingly factory.
I don't see why this mod wouldn't work not only for any Commodore with a stop light house, but any car on a 12V DC system.

The CANBUS system in the WL will give you errors if you just hook up an LED, and you will probably end up burning the LEDs out. This is why my design incorporates resistors. I haven't had any globe errors based on the resistor values I used. Your results may vary.
Pictures coming soon.

You will need:
A veroboard (PCB), $7.95 from jaycar
5mm red LEDs, 3mm will do, but 5mm fits better on the veroboard (at least 3000mcd, I used 5000mcd), bought 50 on eBay for about $5.
5W 39ohm wire wound resistors (based on my calculations, yours may vary, depending on your design)
Solder
Soldering iron#
A test battery (AA can work, I used a 6V as my LEDs were very forgiving)
Some insulated wire, any gauge should be adequate as its quite low amperage.
13mm spanner
Pliers/flat head screw driver#

Steps:
First, we need to access the brake lamp. This may vary between models, but for VT-VZ the following should apply:

To do so, remove the bottom base of the rear seat by pulling the draw strings on each side. It should disengage. Move it away.
Now, Remove the top half of each side rear passenger backrest by undoing the 13mm bolt under it. The seat disengages by sliding it toward the roof, but, before sliding the seat upwards, remove the seatbelt ski ports by sliding them upward toward the roof, don't pull them toward you, they will snap, I made this mistake.
Now slide the seat backrest toward the roof until it disengages from the chassis.

Pop the middle seat backrest downward. Removal isn't necessary.
There are 3 trim plugs, along the front of the parcel shelf facing the front of the car. Undo them all, they're quite stiff and are a bitch to get out, I ripped mine with pliers, they're finned and seem to be designed not to be removed. Tell that to my pliers Holden.

Open the child seat anchor (if you have one), undo the 13mm bolt and remove the anchor.#

Take out the trim plugs on either side of the rear shelf speakers. #I found removing the trim plugs easier if you levered them with a flathead screwdriver, then ripped the s*** out of them until they come loose with pliers.

Slowly pry/remove the parcel shelf, working the edges, takes a bit of manoeuvring but will come undone. I can't really describe the best way to do this, but rest assured, if you followed the previous steps it WILL come off. The speakers do not need to be removed, nor the grilles.

Go into your boot and you will see 3 black clips holding the brake lamp in, squeeze them and push thru until it comes loose. Make sure you remove the bulb and bulb holder from the assembly first.

Now, remove the assembly and take it out of the car.#

You will notice it's 3 separate components holding it together. The first is the black tunnel to the window which attaches via 2 side clips to the 'light house'. Carefully disengage this. Then you will see the red lens surrounding this light house, carefully remove the lens, it unclips quite easily.
This light house is now what we will work with. It should look white with a silver inside. This reflective surface is now useless anyway.

I recommend tracing the light house onto the PCB.#
Using ohms law (Supply voltage MINUS LED voltage drop, multiplied by current in Amps) I came to the following conclusion:#
So for me: 13.6V (rough running voltage) minus 3.2V (LED drop) = 10.4V, divided by 0.24A (.02A x 12 LED) = 44 ohm. I chose the closest, and also incorporated the fact when the car is off, my voltage may be as low as 11.8, so I chose 39 ohm. You may choose differently. 5W may also have been overkill, you can safely use 2.5W per line.#
E.g. If you were to use LEDs with a voltage drop of 3.4V and only 10, then your calculation would be this:
13.6 - 3.4 = 10.2. Divided by 0.2 =
51 ohms. For the wattage needed, use the following:
10.2 V (dropped after LED) multiplied by amperage drawn (0.2A) = # 2.04 Watts. Pick the next higher value for safest.


Once traced, create 3 lines of 12 x 5mm LEDs in parallel. Because i used a veroboard, the copper tracks were already existing. I placed the LEDs in a line with the anode (positive leg) all lined on one track, and the cathode on the other. I spaced mine 1 hole apart. Once again the LED configuration is up to you and what will fit inside your lamp house.

Soldering is up to you. I recommend soldering it on, then picking up the PCB, pushing your finger on the LED whilst soldering the joints so it sits flush into the holes, stopping the light from angling, do whatever you feel necessary to create a neat good joint.
Once done, you will have successfully soldered 3 lines of 12 LEDs (or however many you chose)

TIPS: solder in PARALLEL, NOT SERIES. # And please make sure the LED polarity is checked each time before soldering. The longer leg is the anode (positive).


Test each line with a battery and wire. If any one of the LEDs do not light up, first check that the contact is adequate. If this fails, now replace the LED as it may be a dead one. If its all good, you now need to solder a your resistor to each positive line (totalling 3).

I did this by running a 20cm wire from the PCB, to each resistor. Solder the wire to the PCB and the other end to the resistor. I then twisted the other ends of the resistors together, so they all meet as one. This splits the load evenly. Run one larger wire from the tip of the resistors.#
Do the same for the negative side. This side does not need resistors. Remember to solder the wires very close to the first LED, as you will be trimming the PCB.

Now cut your PCB to shape. It will not fit initially, so you'll need to cut carefully in small bits. Keep trying to fit it until it fits tightly and snug. I didn't need any form of adhesive.
Thread the wires through the globe hole. Make sure the LEDs face 90 degrees toward you.
Test one more time with the battery, if it's all good, let's go test it on the car!

Now, because there are resistors, it should be safe to place the positive wire on the positive terminal of the battery and the negative wire on the negative post of the battery.

It should light up. If its all good, reassemble the light assembly in reverse of before.
Reinstall the parcel shelf and assembly into the car, take note that wires are not exposed and that your resistors hang into the boot, not in the parcel shelf, this is why i made roughly 20cm of wire from the PCB to the resistor. This is very important.

Once all assembled, hook up your positive wire and negative wire to the original light globe holder. I trimmed mine off and added custom plugs for plug and play. You can do as you like, just remember to 1. Insulate, and 2. Make sure your resistors either slightly hang free, or are mounted on metal.


This is my wiring set up. The red wire with exposed conduit is actually my negative. I know, I should have colour coded. The hanging white rectangles are my resistors. One is missing as a mate accidentally ripped it out. I'm now missing a line of LEDs, yet it's still heaps brighter than factory.

Resistors get VERY HOT, especially when driving for extended periods with heavy braking. Do not mount them on plastic or carpet! I made the mistake of wrapping my resistors in tape. Although it was aesthetically ok for a day, the tape soon became weak and nearly melted. Resistors are designed to get very hot and dissipate heat. You might like to mount them on the roof of the boot, I let mine hang free, supported by wires. It's up to you, as long as they don't touch any plastic or carpet/fabric.

Get someone to place their foot on the brake, the Lamp should light and stop as fast as the tail lamps now.#

Enjoy, and post pictures of your finished work!
 

WL2005HBD

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Thanks man
If you manage to give it a shot post up some pics!
 

Torquative

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I'll be trying this in a few weeks when I have the spare time :)

Also resistors probably aren't required

when I replaced my WK halogen rear lights with the WL LED rear lights I had bulb failure warnings due to the resistance.
After alot of research I found this, which from what I could gather resets and thus re-loads the new lower resistance into the BCM, and it worked first go.
I must point out this was replacing the rear lights with genuine LED rear lights, so it may not work for this. I'll be trying it myself first so if no one beats me to it I'll let you know



REAR LAMP FAILURE WARNING SYSTEM BULB RELEARN PROCEDURE
This procedure must be carried out if the battery has been disconnected. Ensure battery is fully charged and functional before carrying out the following procedure:
1. Ensure all rear light bulbs are working. Replace/repair any faulty bulbs/wiring.
2. Turn ignition OFF, parking lamps OFF and stop lamps OFF.
3. Remove and reinstall fuse F31 from engine compartment relay housing, to reset BCM.
4. Start engine and allow to idle.
5. Switch parking lamps ON.
6. Wait 5 seconds.
7. Press brake pedal and hold.
8. Wait 5 seconds.
9. Switch parking lamps OFF.
Wait 5 seconds.
10. Bulb relearn is now complete, turn engine OFF and release brake pedal.
 

WL2005HBD

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Yeah that sounds good :)
Moreover the reason I put resistors in too is because these LEDs have a forward voltage of only 3.2V. I wired them in parallel so without resistance, a full 12-14V will run to each LED, surely frying them. If you're gonna go resistor less, I recommend wiring them in series of 4 each.
I chose the high wattage of the resistors to confuse the BCM into thinking the globe exists, but I chose the 39ohms because this is the calculation to stop LEDs wired in parallel from frying under a naked 12-14Volts
 

Torquative

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ah, yeah .... good point :)

Well I'm hoping to tackle this project next week when I hopefully have the stuff to do it :)
 

ORANGEPACKER

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Hi everyone, here's the how to on my LED brake lamp. I made this for my WL Statesman. I only finished it a few days ago, so I'm not liable for any damage caused by this mod and although I can't see any issues arising, I'm covering my bases.



Holden designed the WL series with LED brake lights, yet, made the high mount an incandescent, kind of making it useless. I changed it to make it brighter, redder and light up much faster, now it matches the brake lights and looks surprisingly factory.
I don't see why this mod wouldn't work not only for any Commodore with a stop light house, but any car on a 12V DC system.

The CANBUS system in the WL will give you errors if you just hook up an LED, and you will probably end up burning the LEDs out. This is why my design incorporates resistors. I haven't had any globe errors based on the resistor values I used. Your results may vary.
Pictures coming soon.

You will need:
A veroboard (PCB), $7.95 from jaycar
5mm red LEDs, 3mm will do, but 5mm fits better on the veroboard (at least 3000mcd, I used 5000mcd), bought 50 on eBay for about $5.
5W 39ohm wire wound resistors (based on my calculations, yours may vary, depending on your design)
Solder
Soldering iron#
A test battery (AA can work, I used a 6V as my LEDs were very forgiving)
Some insulated wire, any gauge should be adequate as its quite low amperage.
13mm spanner
Pliers/flat head screw driver#

Steps:
First, we need to access the brake lamp. This may vary between models, but for VT-VZ the following should apply:

To do so, remove the bottom base of the rear seat by pulling the draw strings on each side. It should disengage. Move it away.
Now, Remove the top half of each side rear passenger backrest by undoing the 13mm bolt under it. The seat disengages by sliding it toward the roof, but, before sliding the seat upwards, remove the seatbelt ski ports by sliding them upward toward the roof, don't pull them toward you, they will snap, I made this mistake.
Now slide the seat backrest toward the roof until it disengages from the chassis.

Pop the middle seat backrest downward. Removal isn't necessary.
There are 3 trim plugs, along the front of the parcel shelf facing the front of the car. Undo them all, they're quite stiff and are a bitch to get out, I ripped mine with pliers, they're finned and seem to be designed not to be removed. Tell that to my pliers Holden.

Open the child seat anchor (if you have one), undo the 13mm bolt and remove the anchor.#

Take out the trim plugs on either side of the rear shelf speakers. #I found removing the trim plugs easier if you levered them with a flathead screwdriver, then ripped the s*** out of them until they come loose with pliers.

Slowly pry/remove the parcel shelf, working the edges, takes a bit of manoeuvring but will come undone. I can't really describe the best way to do this, but rest assured, if you followed the previous steps it WILL come off. The speakers do not need to be removed, nor the grilles.

Go into your boot and you will see 3 black clips holding the brake lamp in, squeeze them and push thru until it comes loose. Make sure you remove the bulb and bulb holder from the assembly first.

Now, remove the assembly and take it out of the car.#

You will notice it's 3 separate components holding it together. The first is the black tunnel to the window which attaches via 2 side clips to the 'light house'. Carefully disengage this. Then you will see the red lens surrounding this light house, carefully remove the lens, it unclips quite easily.
This light house is now what we will work with. It should look white with a silver inside. This reflective surface is now useless anyway.

I recommend tracing the light house onto the PCB.#
Using ohms law (Supply voltage MINUS LED voltage drop, multiplied by current in Amps) I came to the following conclusion:#
So for me: 13.6V (rough running voltage) minus 3.2V (LED drop) = 10.4V, divided by 0.24A (.02A x 12 LED) = 44 ohm. I chose the closest, and also incorporated the fact when the car is off, my voltage may be as low as 11.8, so I chose 39 ohm. You may choose differently. 5W may also have been overkill, you can safely use 2.5W per line.#
E.g. If you were to use LEDs with a voltage drop of 3.4V and only 10, then your calculation would be this:
13.6 - 3.4 = 10.2. Divided by 0.2 =
51 ohms. For the wattage needed, use the following:
10.2 V (dropped after LED) multiplied by amperage drawn (0.2A) = # 2.04 Watts. Pick the next higher value for safest.


Once traced, create 3 lines of 12 x 5mm LEDs in parallel. Because i used a veroboard, the copper tracks were already existing. I placed the LEDs in a line with the anode (positive leg) all lined on one track, and the cathode on the other. I spaced mine 1 hole apart. Once again the LED configuration is up to you and what will fit inside your lamp house.

Soldering is up to you. I recommend soldering it on, then picking up the PCB, pushing your finger on the LED whilst soldering the joints so it sits flush into the holes, stopping the light from angling, do whatever you feel necessary to create a neat good joint.
Once done, you will have successfully soldered 3 lines of 12 LEDs (or however many you chose)

TIPS: solder in PARALLEL, NOT SERIES. # And please make sure the LED polarity is checked each time before soldering. The longer leg is the anode (positive).


Test each line with a battery and wire. If any one of the LEDs do not light up, first check that the contact is adequate. If this fails, now replace the LED as it may be a dead one. If its all good, you now need to solder a your resistor to each positive line (totalling 3).

I did this by running a 20cm wire from the PCB, to each resistor. Solder the wire to the PCB and the other end to the resistor. I then twisted the other ends of the resistors together, so they all meet as one. This splits the load evenly. Run one larger wire from the tip of the resistors.#
Do the same for the negative side. This side does not need resistors. Remember to solder the wires very close to the first LED, as you will be trimming the PCB.

Now cut your PCB to shape. It will not fit initially, so you'll need to cut carefully in small bits. Keep trying to fit it until it fits tightly and snug. I didn't need any form of adhesive.
Thread the wires through the globe hole. Make sure the LEDs face 90 degrees toward you.
Test one more time with the battery, if it's all good, let's go test it on the car!

Now, because there are resistors, it should be safe to place the positive wire on the positive terminal of the battery and the negative wire on the negative post of the battery.

It should light up. If its all good, reassemble the light assembly in reverse of before.
Reinstall the parcel shelf and assembly into the car, take note that wires are not exposed and that your resistors hang into the boot, not in the parcel shelf, this is why i made roughly 20cm of wire from the PCB to the resistor. This is very important.

Once all assembled, hook up your positive wire and negative wire to the original light globe holder. I trimmed mine off and added custom plugs for plug and play. You can do as you like, just remember to 1. Insulate, and 2. Make sure your resistors either slightly hang free, or are mounted on metal.


This is my wiring set up. The red wire with exposed conduit is actually my negative. I know, I should have colour coded. The hanging white rectangles are my resistors. One is missing as a mate accidentally ripped it out. I'm now missing a line of LEDs, yet it's still heaps brighter than factory.

Resistors get VERY HOT, especially when driving for extended periods with heavy braking. Do not mount them on plastic or carpet! I made the mistake of wrapping my resistors in tape. Although it was aesthetically ok for a day, the tape soon became weak and nearly melted. Resistors are designed to get very hot and dissipate heat. You might like to mount them on the roof of the boot, I let mine hang free, supported by wires. It's up to you, as long as they don't touch any plastic or carpet/fabric.

Get someone to place their foot on the brake, the Lamp should light and stop as fast as the tail lamps now.#

Enjoy, and post pictures of your finished work!
 

ORANGEPACKER

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HI, IT'S NOW 2017 LOOKING TO ADOPT YOUR LED HIGH BRAKE LAMP INSTRUCTIONS ON MY WL CAPRICE, DID ALL GO WELL AFTER CHANGING TO THE LEDS,WERE THERE ANY ONGOING PROBLEMS AND LASTLY CAN YOU POST A DIAGRAM OF THE SET UP. THANKS ORANGEPACKER.
 
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