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LED Lightbar Backlighting DIY

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by MTopp, Oct 14, 2014.

  1. Oct 14, 2014 at 1:08 PM
    #1
    MTopp

    MTopp [OP] Professional bear handler

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    Hey all, I'm on instagram (matttopp) and follow multiple truck pages, seeing many different lightbars. The ones that stand out to me most are the cool backlit ones-whether with a single color or RGB ones. All the guys who do this charge for the service and obviously don't want to show how to do it(for their business's sake). I have no business and wasn't about to pay for someone to do it before I tried, so here is my DIY thread on it to help everyone out.

    Supplies:
    --Lightbar - 3D or 4D optics work best
    --Strip of LEDs(I used "supernight" 5050 RGB LED strips (color shift)) get them on eBay or Amazon:

    Recommended Buy the strip seperate: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DTOAWZ2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    AND then buy a BETTER RF controller similar to this one here: http://www.amazon.com/SUPERNIGHT-Co...3443118&sr=8-1&keywords=rf+rgb+led+controller

    OR they sell a kit, not as good:
    http://www.amazon.com/SUPERNIGHT-Wa...592&sr=8-4&keywords=5050+supernight+led+strip

    ---solid color LED strips(only one color): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DTOAWZ2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    --You NEED this mounting tape or similar, the tape that comes with the strips is junk and doesn't insulate the strips enough:
    http://www.amazon.com/3M-03614-Scot...3442304&sr=8-13&keywords=3m+double+sided+tape

    --Metric allen keys
    --#2 phillips screw driver(sometimes needed)
    --silicone
    --OPTIONAL: I bought some universal Lamin-x clear film to protect lightbar lens from UV fading http://www.lamin-x.com
    ---might want these to use the leftover RGB strip: http://www.ebay.com/itm/261009626105?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT
    ---might want some RGB splitters: http://www.ebay.com/itm/251600873240?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&var=550502765129&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT
    ---Also, mentioned later, but it'd be a good idea to buy some waterproof connectors for the RGB wires:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005DVX9YA/ref=ox_sc_act_title_6?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A3AZW35WSKZ6W8

    Also, I bought the RGB/colorshift LED on the page below and am going to put it in the cab of my truck near the switch so I know what color my RGB LEDs are set on without getting out and looking at it:
    http://www.oznium.com/prewired-surface-mount-led

    Warnings/Advisements: I do not reccomend you have the rgb LEDs on while the lightbar is on, as they will likely be burned out/fried.

    Foreword(for the 4D optic bar): The initial write up I did was on a cheap, piece of junk ebay lightbar. I purchased a much better 30" and 20" cree 4D optic lightbar from @ledlightbar and @seatough_led on instagram. The results of the backlighting on the 4D optic versus the standard optics on the ebay bar are much better. Here are some pictures:

    For the dissasembly of the bar, you can follow the one below this, but its very simple. Remove the screws holding on the lens, remove lens, then remove the screws holding on the optics, remove optics. Then you're ready to install the LED strip.


    \/This is the power wire side and the other side. You cannot loop over the power wires or behind them easily, so I started and ended the strip on that side.

    Picture of how the strips were ran near the power wires:


    For running the RGB wire out of the bar, I unscrewed the one end cap, careful not to damage where the power wires are soldered to the LED board. Then used a dremel to grind down a spot for the wires.




    Other option for running the RGB wires for a better seal is to drill a hole in the end cap, run the wires through then silicone it very well like so(be careful with the main power wires here):

    I had some trouble getting the LED strips to stick inside the 20" lightbar due to some excess glue or electric grease type stuff. I used laquer thinner on a rag and wiped the inside where the strip would go then used hot glue to make the strip stick:


    Results:

    Video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjnHzEWKlNY

    Installed:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    it does color change. Will add pics later.

    Foreword(for the cheap LED bar): First off-I bought a cheap, $80 ebay epistar LED bar because 1) Wasn't sure if I was gonna destroy it or not, 2)I am not a hardcore offroader and got a lightbar mostly for looks and to flip on and off while light offroading 3) It was inexpensive and still is very bright
    A cree LED bar from OKLED or rigid is better, but much more money. This backlighting mod should be possible with any LED light bar as long as it has physical screws on the front and sides as I will show in the pictures.
    (Sorry for cell phone pics)

    Step 1:
    Examine your lightbar for the screws.
    [​IMG]
    The little silver things there are small allen key screws(you can see I removed some)
    [​IMG]
    The side allen key screws
    2)
    Start by removing the side larger allen key screws on one side all the way and on the other side, just take out the top 2 and loosen the other ones.
    [​IMG]
    After then removing all the smaller screws along the face of the lightbar, slowly pull up the sides that were held down by them(you can see the left is pulled up and right side is not).
    [​IMG]
    Once both are pulled up and out, slowly pull the glass/plastic up trying to keep that original seal in-tact. You'll now see the philips head screws in the center of each quad lens for the LEDs.
    [​IMG]
    Start removing those gently and pulling up the quad lenses(LEDs will look different on a cree LED bar).
    [​IMG]
    Then get your LED strip(use 5050 LEDs, they're the brightest I know of in strip form). I usually take the "3m" tape they have on them already and add my own legit 3m doublesided tape to them, as the supplied tape is garbage.
    [​IMG]
    Run it along the inside edge there right where it fits in perfect and loop from one side and down the other
    [​IMG]
    Then cut the strip at the end(I should not have cut where I did-too short) I am going to redo it and have strip go a little longer.
    [​IMG]

    Modifications I did to this bar:
    At this point, it was an experiment, so I didn't really car what happened to the lighbar. First, I trimmed the optics down.
    [​IMG]

    Then I added "double strip" - you should probably NOT do this as it damaged the lightbar and caused LEDs to go out and could cause a fire: Just so you can see results...
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Last step:Reassemble your bar in opposite order

    You can run the RGB wire just out the side or possibly drill a hole out one side and then silicone all the way around the wires. I did this on the cheap lightbar, but am not sure how well that will hold up against weather and fogging, so it'd be better not to do this and just run the wire around the side.

    For the wire you may want to use a waterproof connection:
    -- http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HXR0RYM/ref=ox_sc_act_title_3?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A3H1EWDZP7Z5TC
    -- http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005DVX9YA/ref=ox_sc_act_title_6?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A3AZW35WSKZ6W8

    Update 2/8/15:
    Ok, so after doing this project, I've decided doing the back-lighting on a standard optic lightbar with epistar LEDs (like above) does not attain very good results. The lightbars with cree LEDs and either the 4D or 3D optics work A LOT better, without modifications. See comparison pictures below:
    Picture from: http://www.seatoughled.com or seatough_led on instagram:
    [​IMG]
    Other Pics:

    Actual Output Comparisons:





    I AM NOT responsible for you damaging your lightbar, proceed at your own risk.

    Thanks for looking. Open to comments, suggestions, and if you would like, I could probably do this install for you, just PM me and we could work out the details.


    My instagram if you'd like to contact me by direct message, instead of through the forums: matttopp or MATTTOPP
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2016
    Grumpy likes this.
  2. Oct 14, 2014 at 1:22 PM
    #2
    Half Caf

    Half Caf Well-Known Member

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    Looks interesting. Do you have any photos of it in action?
     
  3. Oct 14, 2014 at 1:28 PM
    #3
    MTopp

    MTopp [OP] Professional bear handler

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    Not yet. I will say that any of the ones I have seen done are not very visible during the day. Its really better for dusk and at night
     
  4. Oct 14, 2014 at 1:39 PM
    #4
    MTopp

    MTopp [OP] Professional bear handler

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  5. Oct 14, 2014 at 1:47 PM
    #5
    Zombie Runner

    Zombie Runner Are these black helicopters for me?

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  6. Oct 14, 2014 at 1:53 PM
    #6
    AR15xAR10

    AR15xAR10 #blackriflesmatter

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    At a boy :thumbsup:
     
  7. Oct 14, 2014 at 3:53 PM
    #7
    XPOTRPR

    XPOTRPR #safetydevelopment

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    fuck.. yes...

    SO doing this with mine! even with just my white LED strip I have in the garage (for my rock lights)

    but now Im thinking of swapping my white strips to RGB with a controller.. and do my rock lights and the bar like this!

    good job OP. thats awesome!!
     
  8. Oct 14, 2014 at 4:54 PM
    #8
    MTopp

    MTopp [OP] Professional bear handler

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    Get the rgb ones! Even with the basic 44 key remote that comes with the "super night" LEDs (those are the best brand) they're nicer! I'm gonna have mine hooked to a spdt switch-on with parking lights/off/on whenever. And you want 5050 LEDs, brightest possible in strip LEDs. The super nights are less on eBay too
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2014
  9. Oct 14, 2014 at 5:01 PM
    #9
    XPOTRPR

    XPOTRPR #safetydevelopment

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    thinkin about it.. only thing is.. I love my white strips. I bought 64 feet of them... and they are the 5630 LEDs.. :cool: bright as hell.

    BUT.. this is very tempting.. and making me want to swap em out.. hmmm..
     
  10. Oct 14, 2014 at 7:06 PM
    #10
    MTopp

    MTopp [OP] Professional bear handler

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    Ohh, nice, 5630 is brighter I think and that is a lot of strip haha
     
  11. Oct 14, 2014 at 7:11 PM
    #11
    ntilehman

    ntilehman Well-Known Member

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    That is a very cool DIY. Innovative.
     
  12. Oct 14, 2014 at 7:59 PM
    #12
    MTopp

    MTopp [OP] Professional bear handler

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    Thanks, and Moose1988 is correct that 5630 are the bightest strips, but they do not come in the rgb LED model, only single colors. So if you want a single, brighter color, go with a 5630 LED light strip
     
  13. Oct 14, 2014 at 8:25 PM
    #13
    XPOTRPR

    XPOTRPR #safetydevelopment

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    Yup. That was what I found as well.. and thus explains my dilemma.. lol

    Ditch the super bright leds.. and go with the color changing.. or no color changing but have some badass bright rock lights. Lol
     
  14. Oct 14, 2014 at 8:37 PM
    #14
    medic2230

    medic2230 Ditch Doctor

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    Cool idea and nice write up Matt. Is there a video somewhere of one mounted on a truck to check out?
     
  15. Oct 14, 2014 at 9:03 PM
    #15
    MTopp

    MTopp [OP] Professional bear handler

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    Not sure, there's one on instagram that I know of, if you have an account there I could tag you on it.

    Otherwise, I will complete my DIY and get some more pics for y'all within a week I think
     
  16. Oct 14, 2014 at 9:05 PM
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    XPOTRON

    XPOTRON The Game Has Changed

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  17. Oct 14, 2014 at 10:58 PM
    #17
    memario1214

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    Looks good! :thumbsup:

    Thats funny you posted this... im actually working on something similar. Mine should be much more visible in the day though. :notsure:
     
  18. Oct 14, 2014 at 11:00 PM
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    T4RFTMFW

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  19. Oct 14, 2014 at 11:13 PM
    #19
    tacomonazul

    tacomonazul Well-Known Member

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    http://www.tacomaworld.com/forum/2nd-gen-builds/227832-my-never-end-build.html
    subd! This is an awesome idea! Can the LED bar be hooked to the remote as well?
     
  20. Oct 14, 2014 at 11:33 PM
    #20
    bullaculla

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    This is a pretty cool idea.
     
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