Friday, December 7, 2018

One Last LED Post for the Year

So while I ponder whether to keep those super bright LEDs for my rear license plate...

Sharp eyed readers may have noticed that I had another pair of LEDs (25) that I had ordered from Pika-Q, but which I did not discuss in my last post.

Although I was really tempted to replace the orange rear turn signals, the ones on the Pika-Q site all apparently seemed to require the use of resistors. And because I'm too lazy to figure out how it all works, never mind do the wiring, it's something I will have to research further and do at a later day.

Long time readers will instead know that I've been obsessed with trying to figure out how to improve my one back up lamp.  Since Series 3 (Kohki) cars only have a back up bulb on the left side, with the right side being a rear foglight, the back up lamp needs to be as bright as possible. Not only to let others know I'm backing up, but also so that I can see what I'm backing up into.

So when I found this bulb, I was pretty excited.
Oh yeah! 500 Lumens!!
I think there are other bulbs that are brighter, but for the S25 bulb, this was the brightest I could find.

I was happy with the claimed 500 lumens rating because as you know back in July I replaced the failed HID bulb with an LED from PIAA with a claimed 300 lumens brightness.

So here are pictures of the before and after - can you tell the difference?

With the PIAA bulb

With the PIKA-Q bulb

PIAA bulb

PIKA-Q bulb
Again, to the naked eye there is a notable difference, one that the iPhone camera does not pick up. Perhaps you can tell by how the back wall gets lit up?

PIAA bulb 
PIKA-Q bulb
You can tell that the area which is lit up is higher up on the wall with the PIKA-Q bulb.  Also the cardboard box is more uniformly and brightly lit up.

Here is a direct comparison of the difference in design

So, the next logical step would be to replace the turn signals with orange LEDs as well... so tempted but the resistors...

Friday, November 23, 2018

More LED Madness - Final Result of Rear Lamps Plus

So as I indicated in my last post, I decided to complete the rear tail lamp LED experiment by ordering 2 more so as to have the complete 4 bulb set.  That, and I also wanted to experiment on a couple of other areas. So I went ahead and ordered a few more things...

A few days later the box arrived. Last time I forgot to take a photo, but these guys do a good job with box marketing. Check it out:
Very slick. About the size of a medium sized book. Super light though of course.
 On opening, it contains the usual receipt, advert, and warranty (but in a nice translucent plastic sleeve), plus a set of black cloth gloves - perhaps to protect your hands from burns as you remove the old bulbs? Or maybe to prevent the transfer of oil from your hands onto the new bulbs? (I thought this was an issue only with xenon bulbs?).  And then of course the bulbs themselves.
I swear Japanese product packaging never ceases to amaze me.
So 3 types of bulbs (T10, S25 (aka 1156), and the red double S25 (aka 1157), for which I will go into more detail later.

Of course I had to wait a few days until I got off work early, but then fitted to the GT-R as soon as I could. But first to review:
OEM incandescent bulb on the left, the Pika-Q LED 30lm/200 lm bulbs on the right
Unfortunately, the iPhone camera simply does not do the new bulbs justice, which to the naked eye, "pop" in brightness compared to the old ones.

Also - last time I had noticed that the license plate bulbs (which are aftermarket LEDs too) seemed a bit dim. Might as well see what happens when I replace with Pika-Q brand T10 leds, right?
So here is a close up of how it looked before.
And here is what one of the old T10 LEDs look like. I can't even figure out their specs (such as brightness), having bought them several years ago.  I do remember thinking that the lighting looked much WHITER than the yellowish OEM bulbs. But maybe 20 lumens?

When I searched on the Pika-Q site, I simply went ahead and tried to find the brightest T10 bulbs I could find. This model, at a claimed 100 lumens, seemed to be the best ones.

Here is how it looks. Pretty plain packaging for all that hype.

Anyway, what's important is to see the difference. So I went ahead and unscrewed the clear plastic covers to access the old bulbs, and put in one of the new ones to check out the difference.
Old bulb on left, Pika-Q on the right. WOW.
Ok so the new one is brighter, but how about when it's all back assembled?
So the new LED is so bright the old one appears to barely illuminate.
Anyway, despite the now real danger of the police being able to read my license plate from a kilometer away at night, I went ahead and replaced the left side with the new LED as well.

Pretty incredible! 
I then took the following 3 photos so you can see the difference between the old red bulbs and the new ones.

Two on the left are not LED
Left outside one still not LED
All 4 LEDs
What's interesting is how bright the license plate now is - remember, those bulbs are a claimed 100 lumens while the red ones are only 30 lumens at rest (200 when braking).

What do you guys think? License bulbs too bright?  Oh, and the other 2 bulbs I received? That's for my next post...

Thursday, November 15, 2018

More LED Madness - Rear Lamp LEDs, Part 3

OK OK so my OCD got to me...despite the Phillips LEDs being significantly brighter as well as instantaneous in lighting up, their design - with those wide fins - results in dark vertical shadows that of course bother me.

So, it was back to searching Rakuten for alternatives.  Unfortunately,  I could not find another well known brand name manufacturer that sold an LED of the right size and spec, and equal or greater brightness.  I did, however, find an online store called "Pika-Q" that specializes in automotive LEDs.

Despite the silly name, not only did they have an S25/1157 (P21/5W) product claiming 200 lumens of brightness, they offer an 18 month warranty as well.
Just in case someone at Nissan asks me for LED advice, I got these which fit the NV200 Nissan van.
As the design shows, not only are these fin-less, but also shoot a red beam directly backwards through a lens, using Chip on Board (COB) format, with the underlying circuit board white colored (thus Pika-Q calls them "White COB").

Here are the specs:
200 lumens when braking, 30 lumens tail light. Power consumption of 6.0W and 0.8W respectively. 
So I went ahead and ordered one pair to test out. My thinking was, while there might be other LED bulbs that claim to be even brighter, I would be happy if these worked out by being just as bright as the Phillips, so long as the dark spots were gone.

A few days later, they sent me a pair of these LEDs in a nice flat box with some other goodies (free black rubber work gloves... I'll post a photo later) and so I went out and immediately fitted them.

Immediately, I could see that the dreaded black vertical lines were gone (left lamp below):
Philips bulb on the right... and does it look slightly more orange?
And taking a close look, the colors seemed a bit different.  In order to confirm this, I took this next photo:
Pika-Q is definitely redder, whilst the Philips has a bit of an orangish tinge
I took some video too. This first one, I wanted to make sure both the Philips and the Pika-Q lit up at the same time.  Unfortunately it's not very well focused, but check out the two Philips LED bulbs on the left, and the Pika-Q LED bulbs on the right...

Actually, the fuzziness helps make the vertical lines on the left side stand out more...

This one is better:

And further, maybe you can tell the color is different?

Here are two photos to show the differences:



Anyway, based on this result, I went ahead and ordered another pair of these red LEDs from Pika-Q, to complete the other side.  But, I took advantage of this timing and ordered a couple of extra items, which I will feature in my next post.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

More LED Madness - Rear Lamp LEDs, Part 2

With my mind made up to order the Phillips red LED bulbs for the rear parking/brake lamps, I went ahead and placed my order with Rakuten, and then a few days later:
Because I wasn't sure if this was going to work, given the cost (around 6000 yen),
I only ordered one box containing one pair.  If this works, I will order another pair.

First thing I did was to measure the width to ensure it would fit.

Then it was off to the garage to install on the car.
So after installing, the increase in brightness was immediately apparent. I was definitely going to switch to these!
Right side has the LED bulb.
You can see that the left lamp, which is the standard incandescent, looks a bit dimmer, and a bit more reddish, than the the brighter LED on the right lamp. Although - is it my imagination - the LED side actually appears more orange than red??

Here are some videos to demonstrate the difference between the LED bulbs (on the left) vs the incandescent bulbs (on the right).

First, brake lights only - note how the LED on the left lights up a few milliseconds before the standard incandescent bulb on the right.

More interesting actually is how the right side lamp "fades out" - which I actually think is very cool! (Should I keep the standard incandescent bulb??)

But, with the brake lamps coming on a few milliseconds faster, that means a quicker reaction by the car behind me, thus resulting in a lowered chance of being rear ended, right?
At 100km/h, the car behind will react 0.3 seconds slower, for a 9 meter difference, if you brake with incandescent bulbs compared to the LED bulbs (because your car will have moved 9 meters between your stepping on the brake pedal and the rear lamps lighting up)
Second, the parking lights only. Again see how the LEDs light up faster.

Third, the parking lights on - then braking - so this is how it would look like running at night.

Putting aside the coolness factor of the standard bulb fading out, and of course the safety factor due to the LEDs coming on more quickly - I noticed upon close inspection that the "fins" of the LED bulbs were causing shadows.
With LEDs 
Without LEDs
As you can see above,  it looks like the standard incandescent bulb side also has some vertical lines but they are not as obvious as the LED side... what to the brightness but not so sure about these lines... (and yeah the orangish color bothers me a bit too...)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

More LED Madness - Rear Lamp LEDs, Part 1

So even though the aftermarket offers full LED conversions for the 33's iconic rear lights:
I never thought it looked right. Somehow, the natural analog glow from a light source behind the four red rings always looked perfect. And while modernization is a good thing, not at the expense of loss of character, I believe.  So I never really thought about an LED upgrade for the rear lights.

However...After my last visit to Hong Kong late last year, I had the pleasure to meet with a few like minded GT-R friends.  One of them had an R32 GT-R with impressively bright brake lamps.  When I asked, he told me he was using red LEDs in place of the standard bulbs. I had previously tried out a white LED bulb in the rear foglamp area and always thought it a bit uninspiring.

Doing some research, I found out that indeed, with a red lens, one SHOULD use a red LED. The Sylvania Automotive lighting website was particularly useful.

Courtesy Sylvania Automotive via Amazon
So the answer seemed simple - just buy one of the 1157R LED ZEVO bulbs from Sylvania Automotive's lineup - except the Amazon sellers I found would not ship to Japan. Plus, of course, just in case I would want a bulb that is recognized as legal for use in Japan, right? 

Thus, I began hunting for other LED manufacturers who sold directly in Japan.

Meanwhile, another issue raised its head. As you know, I have a Series 3 (kohki) BCNR33, which means when braking, only the OUTER 2 of the 4 afterburners lights up brighter. When not braking,  at night, the inner two and outer two turn on and have the same brightness.
When braking
When not braking all 4 light up evenly.
I knew that the outer two thus used a 2 filament bulb (1157 aka S25 double) rated for 21W and 5W, but had assumed that since the inside ones did not light up, those bulbs were single filament bulbs (1156 or S25 single).  Thus, I was planning on buying or creating my own adaptor  - 1156 socket (in the car) to 1157 socket.

Luckily, I then checked my own BCNR33 technical page and found that the series 3/kohki cars listed the usage of four 1157 bulbs - meaning that while the inside bulbs were also the two filament 1157s, apparently they never receive current for the higher voltage (because the braking current never reaches them).  Intrigued, I went to the car and found that indeed, the inside bulbs were 1157 bulbs, and their sockets were designed for 1157 bulb bases (180 degrees difference in the pins but pins at different heights).  But, only 2 wires leaving each socket, thus confirming that only one filament would be lit up.

So, this meant I could simply buy four 1157 LEDs. It also meant that I would not have to worry about different levels of brightness across different bulbs, if I used bulbs from the same brand and which had the same model number. 

The next step was to find an LED that actually fit! Many that I saw seemed to have new shapes much larger than a regular incandescent bulb. And, the LED would have to give off light not only to the sides but also directly to the rear (so near 360 degree illumination, just like the incandescent bulb).

So, back to the car to measure depth from the base of the socket to the edge of the inside of the lens (68.5mm) as well as the diameter of the hole the socket would have to pass through (26 mm).  The S25 bulb I measured was 24.6mm in diameter and 48 mm tall from the base. 

The caliper has a little rod that comes out the bottom to measure depth
Looking back at the left rear inside light.

Now came the heavy duty research part. First, while I studied the various designs available, most of these seemed to be cheap Chinese ebay-type offerings. I am NOT going to entrust my own personal safety to LEDs which might prematurely fail without warning.  That means I would like to stick to name brands, presuming their products are built to last.

Second, I wanted LEDs that would be brighter than the regular halogen bulbs.  To do this, I first had to look up the brightness of the average incandescent 1175 bulb. One site I found claimed a standard 21/5W bulb would have a brightness of 440lm and 35lm. I wasn't sure what to think of this as no LED 1157/S25 double bulb I found, could match these numbers. And yet, major brands like Sylvania and Phillips seem to be offering bulbs with lower lumens numbers yet claim they are brighter than the standard bulb.

I found another guide that demonstrated that for the same lumens, it takes more wattage for an incandescent bulb versus an LED bulb. And yet another showing conversion formulas as well as showing that incandescent bulbs have a typical luminous efficiency of 12.5-17.5 lumens/W versus LEDs at 80-100 lumens/W.

At this point, I was totally confused. The only thing I could figure out was there there appeared to be two types of aftermarket LEDs - those that use SMD ("surface mount diodes") and those that use CREE chips of various specs. The SMD bulbs almost always listed a large number of chips, while the CREE chip bulbs seemed to be more compact and have 8 chips or less.

What I ended up doing was ordering, again from Philips, their red S25 double bulb - approved for car use in Japan, and having a light output of 115 lumens (braking) and 15 lumens (taillight).

In my next post, I will demonstrate what happened when I got them...and my final decision on using LED bulbs...