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[HOW-TO]: LED Strip Lighting For Roof Top Tent (RTT)

Discussion in 'Technical Chat' started by mudthedoor, Apr 30, 2014.

  1. Apr 30, 2014 at 10:29 AM
    #1
    mudthedoor

    mudthedoor [OP] Sconnie

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    [HOW-TO]: LED Strip Lighting For Roof Top Tent (RTT)
    By: MTD
    4/30/14

    So I got my Tepui Autana about a month ago and after a couple camping trips of fumbling in the dark (which can be fun sometimes ;) ) I deiced that I was going to install some LED strips to liven the place up. This walk through will go through materials needed, fab of mounts, and installation.


    Parts Needed:

    1. 5 Meters of Warm White 5050 LED's - Make sure that you get warm white because the output is much better than the blueish cool white LED's
    2. 22 GA Wire
    3. 2x Rocker Switches
    4. Rocker Switch Holder
    5. Heat Shrink
    6. Female Blade Terminals
    7. GB Wire Surface Mounts
    8. Wire Wrap
    9. 20GA Aluminum sheet - To fab the inside switch mount
    10. ZIP TIES!!! - Every one loves zip ties right!?

    Fabrication of Mount:

    The switch that goes into the tent can be mounted easily by forming a quick bracket out of sheet metal. you dont need any special tools to do this just a tin snips and some pliers to bend the metal. Drill/cut a hole that is big enough for the switch you have selected then bend the metal into the shape of a box with two rear tabs that overlap, making sure to leave enough clearance for the wires in the back.

    IMG_20140427_142910_645+%2528450x800%252_55e009a4915c7f130c24a139f42c5ec16594715f.jpg

    Test fit the switch

    IMG_20140427_142905_139+%2528450x800%252_646bf9c3fb32ce02e909288faa58244dd18e6b16.jpg

    Next hold the mount with a pliers and drill a hole through the back two overlapping pieces that will be bolted to the tent. You can then take out the center bolt in the hinge and reassemble with the switch mount in place. It worked well for the depth of my mount because the socket used to tighten it down fit in the mount then i could use an extension through the switch hole.

    IMG_20140427_145051_948+%2528450x800%252_57eb0601b008b14bfea4ac40169c3a1f392197ce.jpg


    Even after deburing those edeges on that sheet metal I noticed they were sharp so I took some hose i had laying around and slit it so it would slip over the edge. Then I zip tied it to keep it in place.

    IMG_20140427_150823_657+%2528450x800%252_f19e6b12476761bf8bd2164d165d79cba9e2d26c.jpg


    Instalation/Wiring:

    Next we put up the in-tent led strip. Wire side will go to the side that has the switch on it. I found it easiest if you don't peel the back of the strip until it is routed through the fabric loops that hold the tent fabric to the tent poles. I used a zip tie then on the wire end to hold it in place while peeled the back and stuck it up where it belongs.

    IMG_20140427_135337_267+%2528450x800%252_50fcdecbb0a8114d7d985701f3a451d69ded21f3.jpg

    IMG_20140427_135057_044+%2528800x450%252_019566beeebc2bd02b9f7ad86fdb44820b09fab8.jpg

    Now for the fun part if you havent already put the wires from the LED's into the wire warp and neatly zip tie it to the tent pole down to where the swtich is mounted.

    IMG_20140427_135721_404+%2528450x800%252_84f2c5d2d3089402d0ee62d4f19d53adc100061d.jpg

    When you get to the switch cut your power wire and crimp on a female spade terminal and connect that to one of the switch terminals. The end that you just cut then can have a female terminal crimped on to it and can be run out of the "Hinge" flap out of the tent along with the ground wire. This will be the power cable for the tent. Here is what it looks like, sorry I don't have any intermediate pictures.

    IMG_20140427_150906_098+%2528450x800%252_28ebdb0f093823b50b6b6ff0f304f8cdf2dfda10.jpg
    IMG_20140427_150823_657+%2528450x800%252_32310dd23fef4f390cc9fd9fd27d9d30b8b3488d.jpg
    IMG_20140427_150833_765+%2528450x800%252_3e70ee120b1d901cdfcce446f4094a63defa4ee3.jpg

    You are done with the wiring in the tent then, and it can be folded up. Here is what the switch will look like with the tent folded. There is just enough clearance in my tent where it will not catch on the mattress.

    IMG_20140427_153817_602+%2528450x800%252_61fdc7fecf0b2dccd78b0be9f439f47b474043be.jpg

    Now it is time to mount the lights for the annex/under the tent. First thing I did was cut the LED strip to the proper length and then stick them down so that they won't get caught by the ladder. I did this first so that I can get the exact wire lengths that I need to make it look clean.

    IMG_20140427_131157_558+%2528800x450%252_05ee04f9d436a1d4e2188aeb8c04b63308979fdd.jpg
    IMG_20140427_131119_536+%2528800x450%252_25960c342c4940693213886b77519418d1512886.jpg


    Then it came time to wire them. I mounted my switch using one of the ladder bolts. I ran the exact amount of wire through conduit along the outside of the tent bottom using the stick on wire mounts.

    IMG_20140427_181355_165+%2528450x800%252_d3124a8bfe820dd86bcbbb1a441a52d7a8f028ec.jpg
    IMG_20140427_181400_868+%2528450x800%252_629b395da285a6a488f89dc0fe49d775ed3495db.jpg
    IMG_20140427_182324_272+%2528450x800%252_e907e860bbb1d4772c67a80f87ccec6598a7cddd.jpg
    IMG_20140427_182318_159+%2528800x450%252_0bb04d8643f9489bb44419a9c6878c8ace100634.jpg


    I suggest that you solder and then heat shrink all connections in lue of using butt connectors because it will be much more durable in the long run.

    Wiring them to the truck is more application dependent, but for my 3rd Gen 4Runner I ran a power and ground out of the cab through the conduit boot that is on the hatch then up and out to the tent. I used a 2 pin quick connect trailer plug that i got from nappa. make sure with this pulg that the hot side is the insulated pin otherwise you have the potential of blowing fuses if it rubs against the body when not connected to the tent.

    IMG_20140504_125818_175_9c35e19c42fb41bf84be91f23898c19ccfa8d3d8.jpg
    IMG_20140504_130802_786_0beef429cd239f94ea1aaee47c0a46a710d30fd0.jpg
    IMG_20140504_134350_611_ed5b8f2bca6aee8551795f979313eb14107c37d5.jpg


    Results


    Genesis 1:3 NIV

    And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

    3ububevy_3107a3eac12254d300e388d8643b4e339f5f764e.jpg
    IMG_20140427_135721_404+%2528450x800%252_9dc2376213897c4c123023346f11c93c232a307d.jpg
    IMG_20140427_135731_540+%2528800x450%252_795ae1a87b80856ad26ccc937047edc966d2d4a4.jpg
    IMG_20140427_135736_279+%2528800x450%252_912779f1012aad566aa7daef1e7439fdb304eaa3.jpg


    No images of annex lights.... Yet.....
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
    Pirhett likes this.
  2. Apr 30, 2014 at 7:20 PM
    #2
    RacecarGuy

    RacecarGuy Well-Known Member

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    Tagging this for later. Definately interested since my RTT just came in.
     
  3. May 8, 2014 at 10:26 AM
    #3
    mudthedoor

    mudthedoor [OP] Sconnie

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  4. May 8, 2014 at 10:30 AM
    #4
    PcBuilder14

    PcBuilder14 Well-Known Member

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    I'll have to remember this one... :cool:
     
  5. May 8, 2014 at 10:33 AM
    #5
    T@co_Pr3runn3r

    T@co_Pr3runn3r XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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    Would be nice to have the need for this cool mod...............as in having an RTT.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  6. May 8, 2014 at 10:38 AM
    #6
    abarber11

    abarber11 Well-Known Member

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  7. May 8, 2014 at 11:34 AM
    #7
    RigidTaco

    RigidTaco Bearded Bandit

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  8. May 8, 2014 at 12:10 PM
    #8
    davidpick

    davidpick NWXPDTN

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    Very cool. I did a similar mod on my new RTT using waterproof LEDs from vleds.com and lamp wire and a rotary lamp switch.
     
  9. May 8, 2014 at 12:42 PM
    #9
    mudthedoor

    mudthedoor [OP] Sconnie

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    Yep the ones I have linked are water proof too :) its a sweet mod I really am digging it. Does the lamp switch have a dimming fn ? I am going to add a dimmer I think.
     
  10. May 8, 2014 at 1:11 PM
    #10
    HomerTaco

    HomerTaco TOYWERX Vendor

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    Very nice!
     
  11. May 8, 2014 at 3:20 PM
    #11
    JLink

    JLink Well-Known Member

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    Lifted, Locked, Armored. Ready To Wheel.
    Nice write up but I don't like the switches you used.
    In my opinion an inline switch is a better option because it's lower profile. Less likely to get caught on something and break off. I don't have a picture of the switch I used right now but maybe I'll update this post with it.

    I'm interested to see pics of the annex lights since I haven't gotten a chance to install mine.
     
  12. May 8, 2014 at 3:44 PM
    #12
    RigidTaco

    RigidTaco Bearded Bandit

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    Can this be had in a dimmer style?
     
  13. May 8, 2014 at 3:55 PM
    #13
    JLink

    JLink Well-Known Member

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    Lifted, Locked, Armored. Ready To Wheel.
    Probably. I have a dimmer switch for the LEDs on my front bumper.
    It's real pricey but here's the link. http://stores.advmonster.com/rotary-led-dimmer-with-high-beam-bypass/

    I'm sure there's other options available


    Edit:
    Here's something worth trying- http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000BQRQ32/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?qid=1399589809&sr=8-3&pi=SX200_QL40


    And the switch I used is similar to this-
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000FPANMK/ref=pd_aw_sims_6?pi=SS115

    I just have it ziptied half way up the hoop that the wires run up.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  14. May 8, 2014 at 5:01 PM
    #14
    mudthedoor

    mudthedoor [OP] Sconnie

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    Haha i don't like the one in the tent either, but it was what I had lying around, will probably end up updating with and inline, but for now its good. :rolleyes:

    I do like the outside one though, nothing can possibly get caught on that thing and its just right there whenever i need it.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  15. Jun 4, 2014 at 9:07 PM
    #15
    zscott

    zscott Well-Known Member Vendor

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    Alright, all you electricity pros. I tried to wire up some bed lights using this method, When I have them wired straight to the battery they light up great and everything is cool. I put a little rocker switch in the side of the bed near the rear and when I run the current through it, the lights are extremely dim. The switch is rated to 16 amps which was pretty standard among the ones I saw.
     
  16. Jun 4, 2014 at 10:32 PM
    #16
    zscott

    zscott Well-Known Member Vendor

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    Must have been a bad switch. Rechecked everything and swapped it out and now it all works like a charm.
     
  17. Jun 5, 2014 at 5:20 AM
    #17
    mudthedoor

    mudthedoor [OP] Sconnie

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    Haha glad you figured it out Scott!
     
  18. Jun 5, 2014 at 2:06 PM
    #18
    zscott

    zscott Well-Known Member Vendor

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    Thanks for the writeup
     
  19. Apr 19, 2017 at 8:42 PM
    #19
    cmyersgo

    cmyersgo Well-Known Member

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    Okay maybe I missed it but where did you plug them into? Coudltn you use the outlet in the bed of the truck or no?
     
  20. Apr 19, 2017 at 8:54 PM
    #20
    abarber11

    abarber11 Well-Known Member

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    You could. Mine runs from the tent to a quick connect/waterproof connector (so that I can unplug it when i store the tent) and then is hardwired to my aux battery. These are 12v so work best hardwired to a battery. To use the outlet in the bed you'd need the keys in ignition and on acc I believe
     

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