LED Taillights for Sunbeams?

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ToyTrainGuy
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LED Taillights for Sunbeams?

Postby ToyTrainGuy » Sat Dec 04, 2010 5:44 pm

I have been looking for a LENS-FILLING ARRAY of maybe 30 individual lights covering the entire Sunbeam taillight lens for awhile. I have seen firsthand the difference between a single LED bulb fixture & a flat array of so many individual bulbs, & I can tell you it is a huge difference. All of us have seen the rear of the new high-end cars like the Caddys & can see him hit his brakes an 1/8 of a mile back. With such a small demand from the Sunbeam community, I knew it would be nearly impossible to get someone to design & produce such a circuit board for our cars. Last night, while paging through the new copy of Classic Motorsports magazine, I came across a small ad for a company making these LED-arrays using the stock lenses of several British & German cars. Using the stock lenses, does not alter the appearance of the taillight until you use it. I spoke to “Steve” who said that while he doesn’t have a design for Sunbeams, if he could get several commitments from Sunbeam owners, he would go ahead design & produce them. I did not ask about price, but I am sure they are not cheap. I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I can buy something that might keep me & my car of nearly four decades from being plowed under by a “giggly-girl” texting while driving her huge SUV, cost is no object. I firmly believe that better rear illumination will save any vehicle from getting creamed on the highway, especially in fog, rain, dusk & dawn conditions.

Steve’s website is: http://classicautoleds.com/

I sincerely hope that others on this Forum will join me, show some interest, contact Steve at 541-619-8335, & maybe get these produced for all of us.

Thanks,
Clark

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Re: LED Taillights for Sunbeams?

Postby sunbeam2005 » Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:34 am

I sent an email he said he needed tail light houseings to make a prototype, I guess he should look at the Alpine I-III and IV-V. Hope this comes about, I would loan him some houseings if I could get a good price. :mrgreen:
George Coleman

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Re: LED Taillights for Sunbeams?

Postby ToyTrainGuy » Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:19 am

George,

Thanks for the reply, hopefully some others in the community will show some interest & inquire about this product also. As I have said before, this is a modification that is invisible using the stock taillight lenses until the lights/stoplights/brakelights are actually used.

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Re: LED Taillights for Sunbeams?

Postby tigertoms » Thu Dec 23, 2010 1:09 am

I have been experimenting with LED lighting for some of my cars. While my observations are anecdotal I have formed rather firm opinions based on my experiences. I have tried a significant variety of LED arrangements and types in four different types of cars, Jag, 56 Dodge, 63 Avanti, Tiger. Only the SMT (Surface Mount Type) exceed the brightness of a conventional bulb in all directions. Essentially, the lens and reflectors on our cars were designed for light from a single point source, the bulb filament. LEDS like Steve shows mounted on a board, are not as bright as SMT LEDS and they have a very narrow directional emission. Typically they are bright only when viewed from a very specific angle. And what are the chances the ditz on the phone combing her hair is going to be at that angle, let alone see it anyway.

I have found SMT LEDS mounted in the standard base mount work the best in our application. They should be front and side firing lights. But again, because they are not a single source light, therefore the parabolic reflector and the fresnel lens really can't do their jobs. The result is a less than bright functional light visible form all angles. To be honest, I went back to a conventional bulb on the TIger. But what I did do that made a huge improvement, greater than LEDS, was to get the lamp reflectors chrome plated. Now the lamps can do their jobs.

What I am looking for are the red lEDS that police and fire service vehicles use. Now those suckers are bright.

Here's a sight for SMT lamps.
http://www.ledlight.com/t20-wedge-18-ul ... light.aspx
TT
TT.......TE/AE #2

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Re: LED Taillights for Sunbeams?

Postby ChuckIngram » Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:02 am

Hi Tom
What a great idea.Chrome base for the tailights.
I won't go chrome but I do have an extremely bright metallic silver paint.Seeing the car is in the nice warm garage I will give it a try and see what comes from it.

I hope you and yours have a peaceful Christmas.

We are trying.
Chuck Ingram
64 Lister clone
62 former V6 Alpine has now become 302 V8
Enjoy today as we don't know what tomorrow will bring

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Re: LED Taillights for Sunbeams?

Postby Theo » Thu Dec 23, 2010 5:00 pm

I bought some of the 1157 and 1156 replacement bulb arrays, probably 8 years ago. I experimented with them and like Tom, found that the brightness was not what I'd hoped for. While the individual LEDs look bright from the right angles, the overall effect is not great.

Since then, however, the LED industry has made some huge strides and you can now get seriously powerful LEDs. As Tom notes, you need significant side illumination. LEDs are specified by their half-angle, which is the angle off the center axis where the brightness reaches 1/2 the peak value. Most of the old 'superbright' LEDs had half-angles of 15 degrees or less. Good if you're illuminating a lightpipe but not so good otherwise. What we need is something with between 60 and 120 degrees half-angle.

The next thing you need is good old-fashioned power. The LED has higher efficiency than incandescent, and it's nearly monochromatic, but an 1156 or 1157 has a 25 watt rating on the signal filament and 8 watts on the running light filament. If you want to outshine that then you're still going to have to expect to put in at least a couple of watts of electrical power, if not five or six. So the old generation of LEDS where an array of 10 LEDs dissipates maybe one watt, is not going to impress that much in bright daylight. The current generation of LEDs that are designed for automotive signaling, can be had in 1 and 3-watt versions, and a few of those will outshine an 1156.

The last thing that you need to look at is the LED color. It is important to use a red LED behind a red lens, and a yellow/amber LED behind an amber lens; otherwise a great deal of your illumination is going to just warm up the lens material or get reflected back inside. White LEDs, specifically, radiate only a very small portion of their spectrum in the red/yellow color zone, and these should definitely not be used to replace an incandescent bulb in the taillights, in spite of their visual brightness when they're uncovered.

Hypothetically speaking, if I was to design a PCB to take, let's say, 3 to 5 of these in each of the upper and lower tailllight assemblies, would there be takers?
http://search.digikey.com/scripts/DkSearch/dksus.dll?Detail&name=475-1317-1-ND
You can see that the price isn't insignificant. You're paying for the PCB (in low quantities, that will be on the order of $10 - $15 per side) and then the LEDS, plus some regulation components so they don't blow up when your electrical system burps. Figure a 12 LED (3x4) taillight set for $80, or a 20 LED set for $120. That would be assembled and tested...
Less is more.

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Re: LED Taillights for Sunbeams?

Postby ToyTrainGuy » Sat Dec 25, 2010 6:29 am

Theo,

Yes, I am in. Please put me down as a buyer of your LED taillight project. I don't know much about the science of the lens angles, etc. but I have seen firsthand what the major differance is in illumination between the single 1157 bulb & an array of 20 LEDs per side on my 1940 Ford. I posted this originally after posting it on the CAT-Forum, maybe you could post your ideas there also & get enough interested owners to make it worth while for all those involved. Thanks for your help!

Clark Vegazo

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Re: LED Taillights for Sunbeams?

Postby Theo » Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:33 pm

I did a bit of searching... found that the brightest red LEDs are on the order of 50 lumens per watt, which is about five times what a 25W (1157 style) can reach. I ordered up some of them and built a prototype circuit using five LEDs and a LM3409 constant current controller. The LEDs I used have a nominal rated current of 350 mA, which corresponds to about 0.8 watts each, so this array is currently using 4W of electrical power in 'brake' mode, and about 1 watt in 'taillight' mode. The LEDs are arranged on a 0.9 inch circle, more-or-less centered on the turn signal lens (just for testing purposes).
Image

The problem with this is that the light kind of gets washed out due to the limited dynamic range of the camera. From further away and at an angle you can still see that the LED array (on top) easily outshines the incandescent bulb.
Image

An interesting comparison is what gets projected onto the inside of the garage door.
Image

Image

The left side brakelight on my Tiger (on the right in the bottom picture) has the earlier internal-screw style lens with the circular pattern in front of the bulb - but you can see that it doesn't actually throw the light anywhere of significance. The right side brakelight has the outside-screw style lens with the vertical bars, and it spreads the light so much you can hardly see the illumination on the door. The LEDs, however, make a nice light show on the door.

So this is with five LEDs... I'd considered making an 8-LED array but I think that would almost be overkill. It would be more effective to rewire the taillights to use both the upper and lower bulbs for the tail/brake function and keep only the top for the direction indication (this won't work for Tigers configured with amber upper lenses). So maybe people should have the option.

Unfortunately I somehow gapped out completely on the cost of this thing. My cost on the LEDs is about $3 each, the regulation circuit came in at about $9 and the PCB will still be about $6 minimum. So I'm in for $30 each in parts cost for a 5 LED light... that means the assembled cost is going to have to be on the order of $50. However, if I were to spend $100 and save my car getting rear-ended it's cheap.
Less is more.

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Re: LED Taillights for Sunbeams?

Postby ToyTrainGuy » Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:53 am

Theo,

Thanks for all your work so far. Your demonstration was superb.
Are you considering to make pcb-arrays for both the upper turn signal lens and the bottom tail / stop light lenses for the late model outside screw variations? Will your arrays use a wired-in bulb base that can be simply inserted to the stock bulb sockets? I suppose the pcb will be cut in such a shape as to simply fit in behind the lens to locate it.
All I can say again, is tell me when & where to send the money!

thanks!
Clark

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Re: LED Taillights for Sunbeams?

Postby Theo » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:42 am

Hi Clark,
I've found a place that sells the bulb bases so it would be possible to do the wiring that way. One thing that is important then, is to ensure that the fittings in the existing taillight are clean and there are no pre-existing problems in the wiring harness. The best way to mount the LED array would be to use a couple of screws and attach the PCB directly to the metal taillight housing, but that would require drilling and I can see people not being too keen on that. Next-best is to use the taillight lens to wedge the PCB in place; this would require some standoffs or something to keep the PCB from resting direcly against the lens material. I'll have to look at what's the best way to go there. Double-sided tape would definitely work for attaching the PCB to the taillight housing... maybe that is a reasonable alternative. I have a bunch of that stuff that is made for attaching automotive trim and it has amazing tenacity.
Less is more.

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Re: LED Taillights for Sunbeams?

Postby ToyTrainGuy » Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:05 pm

Theo,

Have you tried posting on the CAT-Forum to see if you can get anyone else interested in this project, so that you can reduce your cost with more units? Honestly, I don't care what it costs myself, I feel that strongly that it is a worthwhile project. I am glad that you are someone that feels he can accomplish this task, as it is more than I could do. Keep me posted.

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Re: LED Taillights for Sunbeams?

Postby Theo » Sat Jan 08, 2011 11:50 am

I put up a posting on the CAT forum as well. Got an email from another interested person... I have some PCB layout to do and I'll post an update when it's ready.
Less is more.

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Re: LED Taillights for Sunbeams?

Postby ToyTrainGuy » Sun Jan 09, 2011 5:31 am

Theo,

You 'da Man! Seriously though no hurry from me to ge this done, I'm just glad to see someone do it. Please take your time.
Ironically, I spent 20 years in a pcb building factory at Motorola, but never went to Tech-School & was the "mechanic" in a whole group of Electronic-Techs, so I leave pcbs to someone else.....
thanks, Clark

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Re: LED Taillights for Sunbeams?

Postby ToyTrainGuy » Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:51 am

Theo,

I know how everyday life can get in the way of projects, but have you had time to make any progress on the project?

Thanks,
Clark

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Re: LED Taillights for Sunbeams?

Postby henry_v » Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:36 pm

Gary OConnor of vintageleds.com now has available for purchase state of the art automotive LEDs to upgrade your existing Alpine or Tiger driving, turn and brake lights. Gary profession is automotive LED lighting, and he designs and builds these products to bring our vintage cars out of the dark ages. The old 1156/1157 bulbs at full output are less than the output levels of current day running lights. The safety factor of being seen by other motorists is worth the upgrade.

These lights are the best safety feature you can get for your Tiger/Alpine. Available for US and European spec.

Gary used my Tiger to design and develop these amazing lights. I must let everyone know I purchased the pre-production set and I have not and do not receive any compensation for promoting Gary's products. If you have any questions about Vintage LEDs for your Tiger do not hesitate to contact Gary.

http://www.vintageleds.com/sunbeam-tiger.html

Respectfully,
Henry Vicioso


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