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...

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Premature LED Burn Out?

So during the biannual shaken process back in June, Ninomiya-san at BeAmbitious (my go-to shop for all things non-OEM) noticed that the front right parking light bulb had burnt out. So, in order to pass shaken, he went ahead and replaced the burnt out LED bulb for a cheapo standard bulb.
Not pretty as you can see - but looks very OEM and period correct, actually
So much crisper and modern looking, no?
If you recall I did a lot of research for this post back in December 2016 where I upgraded the cheap LEDs I was using as front parking light bulbs to a pair of high power (130 lumens) units from Philips.

The T10s on the left I used for the parking lamps.
Of course, Murphy's law - these bulbs weren't cheap, but since I can't find the receipt, the 3 year warranty means nothing... 

So I went back on Rakuten and tried to look for the same bulbs. I was going to be sneaky and buy another set and then return the burnt out one (assuming the stock numbers were relatively close, etc...)

It seems Philips has outsmarted me, however. Because, I could no longer find the 6200K 130lm T10 bulbs. Instead I found these:

I went ahead and bought them, figuring that I might as well replace both sides and that 6000K from the LEDs would not be that much of a change from the 6200K of the early unit. 

Anyway, as you know it's not rocket science to replace these bulbs - you just need small hands like mine and it's relatively easy. Although admittedly this time I cheated and removed the airbox on the left and the washer tank on the right to get easier access.

And the end result (just in time for the GTR50 event):

Ahh...back to symmetry (and thus normal). Given that the headlights are rated at 6200K, I don't see any difference between them and the 6000K parking bulbs, do you? 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Two More Problems Due to WORX Auto Alarm

In the course of getting ready for last Sunday's GT-R50 Japan invite, here are two more items of note - one which I cannot fix, the other which I managed to make look better until I'm able to replace with new.

First, I was horrified to find out that, without asking me, the IDIOT had drilled into the frame of my car!  As well as drilling a hole into my trusty carbon fiber Garage Defend GT Cooling Panel that I had installed over 10 years ago!

I simply don't know why he couldn't have used an existing hole elsewhere to install the hood/bonnet switch for the alarm.  Or used the location where the previous shop had installed the switch, hidden away towards the rear.  Maybe I will have to relocate itself myself later, as the wiring for the switch is easily accessible. Easy for any competent thief to quickly find and cut. UNBELIEVABLE. COMPLETE INCOMPETENCE.

Well, this gives me an excuse to buy a new Cooling Panel...more money needlessly wasted...not sure what to do with the hole in the car though.

Second, after picking up my car I had noticed that the rear rotors seemed to have more rust on them than usual.  After washing my car, sure some rust always quickly appears on the rotors, but they come off after a quick spin.  This was different. The rust was on the rotor hat, not the rotors themselves. The fronts don't have this problem, as the hats appear to be alloy and not painted steel.
that looks... HORRIBLE...
Yeah it looks bad and I suspect it's because WORX is located right near the Pacific Ocean, subjected to those ocean winds. So obviously despite Nakamura telling me my car would be well looked after, it's clear that it was left out in the open for the 6 months it was there. Perhaps a weekly wash or a cover would have prevented this, but obviously that wasn't happening...
I removed the wheel and found this.
The good news is that when I pointed this out to the guys at Nissan Prince Tokyo Motorsports Factory, they reassured me that it's only surface rust. Ok, but it still looks HORRIBLE... I tried to live with it as the rotors are getting worn anyway and so I was thinking of replacing the whole set anyway, but until then... yeah I just couldn't bear to see it each time I drove or worked on my car. Also, having been told my car would be displayed at the Nissan section at the GTR50 event, I knew I had to do something quick (and I had no time to change out the rotors or hats).

So, a few weekends ago in September when it wasn't raining here in Japan I jacked up the back of the car and got to work.
About to attack the rust with a wire brush
A few minutes later, the ugly rust was pretty much all gone
 Once I got rid of as much rust as I could, I had two choices. Leave as is or paint with some kind of anti-rust coating.

I tried some anti-rust gel, but that would wear off and then the rust might start up again. Plus, you could still see it.  Luckily I still had some Rust-O-Leum paint left over from a project I did and featured here as well as on Speedhunters.

Looks so much better, even though not carefully done

I admit, because I will need to replace it anyway I didn't bother taping newspaper and doing the spray painting properly. Hence the overspray.
With the wheel back on, no rust that draws your eye

Anyway, I hope this is the last of the surprises from WORX, but I suspect it's not.  Apologies to my readers, I don't mean to beat a dead horse but... my God this guy is bad.

So, I might as well ask - what rotors should I get? To keep costs low I think I want to stick with OEM rotor hats so whatever works with those. Can anyone introduce me to a place that can offer the rotors such as AP Racing or Alcon without a huge markup?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

On Display at Nissan's GTR50 by Italdesign Event at Daikanyama T-Site Morning Cruise

So, if you haven't seen the social media and press coverage by now, last Sunday (Sept 23) from 0700-0930, Nissan unveiled to the Japanese public, at the Daikanyama T-Site Morning Cruise (think, Cars and Coffee) near Shibuya in Tokyo, their handmade one-off R35 made in conjunction with Italdesign, the GTR50!

Of course, I am writing here because I was lucky enough to be invited by people at Nissan to display my R33 GT-R at the event.  Obviously word went out to the R35 owners, who showed up en masse, but of course no GT-R event is complete without the historic models there as well.

Obviously, Nissan agreed because they brought along their KenMary GT-R Racing Concept as well as the R33 GT-R LM homologation street car!
Wow. Just WOW.
Anyway, this invite is why I stayed up late the days before working on various things (coming in future posts!), and how I discovered how my brake lights weren't working. Luckily as you read in the previous post the guys at Nissan Prince Tokyo Motorsports Factory quickly fixed the problem, but for a few minutes I was worried that I might not be able to make it to this event!
"My kind of Taxi" is how Dino described this...
So the day started early for me - even though the event itself began at 0700, Dan Passe from Nissan had told me that the Nissan crew would be there at 0600 setting up.  In addition, my buddy Dino had asked me to pick him up at Haneda airport at 0530 as he would be flying back from doing a press event for the new Nissan Altima.  Hence the photo above.

As we pulled into the Daikanyama T-Site parking lot at 0620, we were initially rebuffed but when told I was invited to display, quickly ushered in and told where to park.  As we pulled in, I knew it was going to be interesting because there were about 5 people taking photos as we pulled in. Minor celebrity status? LOL.

There was already a crowd forming around the GTR50, so I took a quick look - it's an interesting looking car and much better looking in person than in photos. Kind of like me! Lol.
Dino doing his stuff
Fitted luggage!
I was actually working on some fitted items for my car trunk as well (but the entire system got thrown out by Nakamura at WORX!!) but I will have to redo it in the near future.

I quickly got bored, as most cars there were R35 GT-Rs. There were some interesting cars, like an original Sylvia and Fairlady, even some old American muscle, but then I spotted this:
People starting to check out my car...
I ended up answering some questions about my car, and then I met two guys who knew who I was - one guy from Switzerland (Joel) and one guy from Germany (Amin). Both students, hope they have a great time in Japan!

Then the guy who ended up parking next to me in his r32, Mischa, was someone who Dino knew and who pulled into the parking lot JUST as the Nissan guys were looking for a BNR32. So as you can see he parked next to me.  Mischa and I quickly checked out each others' rides - his car sports an engine made by Top Secret, and of course mine has the Mine's unit.
And yes, that is a REAL Hakosuka GT-R there too...(another random addition that morning!)
Obviously Mischa takes much better photos than me - I think I was generally distracted...

Incidentally, Mischa took many more photos and put them up on the "Tokyo Drivers Club" Facebook page, if you are interested.

I also met a couple of other like minded R33 GT-R owners - Ken and Tomocchio (Japanese guy but Italian at heart?). Ken has a Series 3/Kohki like mine, but in "standard" form.  Tomo, now this guy had a Series 1/Zenki, mostly standard as well, but what he did was VERY interesting.
Blue on the left side...
And red on the right side...
 Tomo explained that "red is for passion, but blue is for cool" or words to that effect. Have to give him credit for originality, although if I recall correctly some race cars used to have different (red/blue) colored wheel lug nuts (single mount) for left and right side.

Anyway, come 0930, I had to go so Dino and I got back in and left. Tomo was nice enough to send me these photos:
Dino's elbow there...
Followed out by Mischa
And again as we left a bunch of people (like the guy on the left there, crouching) was taking photos as our cars were leaving.

Of course, most people were there to check out the GTR50, but I am glad that I was able to meet some other R33 fans as well as some others I haven't mentioned. You know who you are!