Custom LED Modules: Motorcycle LED Auxiliary Lights by Reuben Perry
I will begin by making clear that these modules can be used for so many different applications – although the principles are the same for just about every application, I will be running through my particular purpose of adding lights to my motorcycle.
Row 1: All off, Aux lights off, amber lights on, white lights on.
Row 2: The custom set up, the rest are same as above, but from the front.
As a motorcyclist, I greatly value the possibilities of making others more aware that I am on the road amidst them. While I make myself more visible, it doesn’t change the fact that I drive as if no one can see me. Safety – is my first priority.
To be more visible, I add lights! I am an LED fiend. I LOVE LEDs. I found some motorcycle LED running lights on one of those ‘affordable’ Chinese ‘we have everything’ websites. I had purchased items from them before that were decent, so I thought I would give those lights a shot. I purchased 4 LED lights for a total of $50. Not bad, right?? They worked great for a while and I was quite pleased with them. Only a handful of months and a few thousand miles down the road, one of them burned out. A couple months later, one of them lost the focusing lens on the freeway, and a couple months later, one of them kept loosening and twisting to point backwards!
My solution was to build my own. This article is to show you how I did it, and how easy it really was – and all for under $200. If you have absolutely NOTHING in your garage, then you will spend a small amount more on some basic parts like wires, cable ties, etc…
To make sure I got high quality parts, I contacted my favorite LED supplier, LED Supply (http://www.ledsupply.com) and priced out the parts I would need. There were still just a couple things they didn’t supply, but I will give you links or ideas for those. LED Supply has a handful of options for the LED housings, and many options for the LEDs and Optics! I chose their ‘Dynamic LED Housing’ because it allows many different applications, but the biggest reason is because if the lens or LEDs get damaged, or if I want to change the optic pattern, or colors of LEDs, I can do it simply by unscrewing the housing and swapping parts out!
I wanted to add some bright white auxiliary lights, but also wanted to be able to have some fog lights. Why would I want fog lights on my motorcycle – I drive across a swamp on my way to work that gets extremely foggy on cold mornings – fog lights would be useful for the mile or two of fog. So I asked LED Supply if they could build me a custom 3-up star for my project. 2 white Cree XPLs in series, and one amber Cree XPE2, on one star. They happily obliged and I set off building my own high quality aux lights!
I’ll give you my parts list, and then give you my step by step process WITH PICTURES! How lucky are you?
My parts list:
- (2) Dynamic LED Housings @ $9.99 each: http://www.ledsupply.com/led-heatsinks/dynamic-led-heatsink-housing
- (2) LED Housing Base @ $7.25 each: http://www.ledsupply.com/led-heatsinks/led-housing-base
- (2) Custom 3-Up Cree High Power LED Star @ $19.99 each: http://www.ledsupply.com/leds/custom-3-up-cree-high-power-led
- (2) BuckBlock DC LED Driver @ $17.99 each: http://www.ledsupply.com/led-drivers/buckblock-dc-led-driver (one of these powers the two in series cool white LEDs in one housing at 2100mA)
- (1) BuckPuck DC LED Driver @ $ 13.82: http://www.ledsupply.com/led-drivers/buckpuck-dc-led-drivers
(with wires connected, no dimming; powers both amber LEDs, connecting the two housings so the amber LEDs are in series at 1000mA)
- (2) Carlco 3-Up Lenses @ $1.50 each: http://www.ledsupply.com/triple-carclo-led-optics (I used the 10507 Narrow Spot, but you could do medium or wide or even elliptical!)
- (1) Arctic Silver Thermal Epoxy @ $19.99: http://www.ledsupply.com/accessories/arctic-silver-premium-silver-thermal-epoxy (I chose the silver for better heat transfer, but the Arctic Alumina would work really well for only $10)
I didn’t get this, but it’s a good idea to get the electronic waterproof spray from them as well so you don’t have to worry about riding in the rain. @ $15.99: http://www.ledsupply.com/accessories/led-seal-silicone-spray-sealant
Other items I had to find elsewhere:
- (1) 1/4×20 threaded stainless steel rod. You only need about 5”. @ $5.24: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-1-4-in-20-tpi-x-36-in-Stainless-Steel-Threaded-Rod-802477/204274013
- (2) Copper threaded ¾” female threaded fitting that the housing mates to perfectly and can also act as additional heatsinking @ $4.07 each: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-3-4-in-Copper-Pressure-Cup-x-FIPT-Female-Adapter-C603HD34/100347144
- (2) Copper ¾ cap @ $1.30 each: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-3-4-in-Copper-Tube-Cap-C617/100344250
- (2) Copper ¾ 90 degree street elbow @ $2.88 each: http://www.homedepot.com/p/3-4-in-Copper-Pressure-90-Degree-FTG-x-C-Street-Elbow-C6072HD34/100347411
- (1) Copper ¾ pipe (only a small amount is needed) @ $6.38: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Cerro-3-4-in-x-2-ft-Copper-Type-M-Hard-Straight-Pipe-PSLE-750M002/203654971
About 4 feet of marine grade 4 conductor audio cable. I got 50’ for $20, but just search ebay for OFC 4 conductor.
- (2) Set of marine grade 4 pin connectors @ $8.99 for 5 sets: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XJT4BYU/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=I3FV1ENI7HQKIZ&colid=11M43671FO5FV
- Pair of Chrome P-Clamps for 1-1/4” highway bars (D-1.25) @ $23: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00OFTFW8C/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
(this one was hard to find at a low cost)
- (2) in-line fuse blocks @ $6.99 (for a pack of 5): https://www.amazon.com/KOLAWIN-Automotive-Truck-line-Holder/dp/B0722CYVJX/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1504065920&sr=8-3&keywords=mini+inline+fuse
- (1) 1A mini fuse (for the amber LEDs) At a local auto shop
- (1) 3A mini fuse (for the white LEDs) At a local auto shop
- 3’ 10awg wire cable (I had this laying around, but it’s pretty cheap at HomeDepot
- A dozen or so Chromed Stainless Steel wrap straps @ $9.20 for 100: http://www.ebay.com/itm/100Pcs-Chrome-12-Stainless-Steel-Header-Wrap-Straps-Self-Locking-Cable-Zip-Ties/152364369288?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649
- Aluminum polish if you want to make it extra shiny @ $6.99: https://www.amazon.com/Mothers-05101-Mag-Aluminum-Polish/dp/B0009H519Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1504066292&sr=8-1&keywords=mothers+aluminum+polish
- (2) 12V automotive rocker switches (or any kind of auxiliary switch you want to use).
- (1) Any soldering iron
- Assortment of electrical connectors @ $10.99: https://www.harborfreight.com/520-piece-terminal-set-67686.html
- You may need some larger ring connectors, depending on your battery terminal bolt.
- Last but not least: my wiring diagram!
With that finally out of the way, we begin!
Step 1: READ EVERYTHING FIRST! You never know if you want to do something a little bit differently!
Step2: Get your parts!
All boxed up!
Out of the box.
Out of the packaging.
Step 3: Dry run mate the parts together.
Step 4: Polish everything you want to shine! I used Mother’s Aluminum Polish and a shop rag.
Step 5: Next, only if needed, drill the center hole of the led star and heatsink for the 4 conductor cable to fit through. A crescent wrench or a vise would be best to hold the star in place.
Step 6: Solder the wires onto the star terminals. Make note of which wires you have going to each positive and negative pad.
Step 7: Use a hacksaw to cut the threaded rod into sections just long enough to thread into the heatsink block, and go all the way through the p-clamp with enough room for a locking nut.
Step 8: Mix a small amount of thermal epoxy and apply it to one end of the threaded rod. Thread this into the heatsink block without coming out the other side. Wipe any beading or excess away from where the rod enters the block.
Step 9: For the best possible mate, grind off one point of the copper female threaded fitting. Grind this point down until you have the best fit into the heatsink block.
Marked points to grind.
Dry run to check fit.
Step 10: Mix a small amount of arctic silver epoxy 1:1 and epoxy the copper fittings onto the heatsink blocks. I positioned mine with the hexagon points toward the rear of the heatsink to protect the LED housing itself, but positioning is completely up to you. MAKE SURE that when you epoxy this, that you don’t have any excess coming forward from the copper fitting. The LED housing needs to be able to thread down against the fitting for best thermal conduction.
Step 11: Drill a hole in the copper caps just large enough for the cable to fit through (sorry no picture). Cut 2 pieces of ¾ copper pipe just enough to fit the street elbow into the cap. Assemble the copper assembly as you see in the previous picture. You can epoxy these, solder, or duct tape if you want… I want to chrome plate them in the future…
Step 12: Solder the cable ends to the 4 pin connectors in a similar method of my wiring diagram… and remember to use heatshrink tubing to protect those connections! Yes, I’m using computer molex connectors… but you should use marine grade waterproof connectors.
Step 13: If you haven’t done so, remove the gas tank from your bike. Prepare the power cables with inline fuses (or use your own fuse block) and use the terminal connectors on the end in case you need to pull the circuit apart ever in the future. Use the diagram included in my parts list.
Positive connections with in-line fuse blocks.
Connectors for the switches and to ground.
Step 14: Mount your custom LED Lights! Use cable ties to secure the cable along your crash guard bars, or wherever you’ve decided to mount them. I used chromed stainless steel cable ties.
You can barely see the cable ties!
Step 15: Fit the drivers between the top two frame bars and use electrical tape (or whatever you have around) to mount them securely. Connect the (+) and (-) cables to the switches, and the drivers to the switches (not the battery yet!!)
Step 16: In my case, the switches are mounted in the left neck cover, but you can have them anywhere… Finish mounting the switches.
Step 17: Connect the power cables to the battery – I connected the positive to the battery, and the negative to a nearby grounding bolt.
At this point, your lights are mounted! If you haven’t done so, properly align them so you’re not blinding oncoming traffic and so you get maximum visibility.
There is no need to remove the front forks as is shown in the pictures – I just happened to be rebuilding the forks, brake calipers, and adding an LED headlight at the same time!
The finished project with amber lights and white lights with separate switches. If I have them both on at the same time, I get a slightly warmer color white.
Please let me know what you think! I appreciate the questions and comments!