Backing up at night really sucks when you have tinted windows.I really wish I had the factory Nav so I could just add a backup cam, but currently, times are tough and my wife would kill me if I spent the money to convert it, or even buy a head unit with a screen (which will happen one day). So my solution is a set of homemade LED lights that are wired into the reverse lights and bolted to the rear bumper. It's going to cost me roughly $30 when it's all said and done.
I'll show you how I made these. I'm waiting for my LEDs to get here. Once they get here, I can get the LEDs soldered up and run my wiring. Each light pod will have 36 superbright (15000 mcd) white LEDs. The pods are made of black ABS plumbing pipe and will be attached to the bottom of the rear bumper on either side of the hitch.
2 qty - 1-1/2" ABS cap (Lowes) $1.88 ea
2 qty - 1-1/2" ABS street trap adapter (Lowes) $1.35 ea
2 qty - 1-1/2" ABS cleanout adapter (Lowes) $1.17 ea
2 qty - 1-3/8 x 1-3/16 x 1 rubber stopper (Lowes) $1.99 ea
1 qty - 3/8" fender washers 4/pack (Lowes) $1.27
1 qty - 3/8" hex nuts 5/pack (Lowes) $1.04
2 qty - #100 o-ring 2 x 1-3/4 (Ace Hardware) $0.79 ea
72 qty - white LED's (eBay) ~$5
24 qty - 120 ohm resistors (eBay) ~$2
1 qty - circuit board (Radio Shack) $3.99
1/8" thick plexiglass already had
1 foot - 3/8-16 threaded rod already had
2 qty - o-ring to seal plexi lens (Ace Hardware) need to get
Here's most of the parts laid out.
The cleanout adapter will be glued into the cap and this will act as the back housing. The circuit board will be cut to rest on the shoulder at the bottom of the threads. The street trap adapter will thread in and "sandwich" the circuit board.
To seal this thing up, I wanted to add a lens. I'll use 1/8" thick plexiglass for the lens. I bored out the threaded side of the street trap adapter on my "******* lathe" (pics below) to allow the lens to be closer to the end of the adapter and allow room for the LED's. This picture shows the stock piece on the left and the modified piece on the right.
Note: If you have access to a lathe, it would probably turn out much better. I actually have access to a lathe, I was just lazy and decided to try it at home. If it didn't work, I'd just buy another piece.
******* LATHE: (see note above) I used a 1-1/2" holesaw wrapped in electrical tape as a make shift collet. A drill bit through the work piece and the holesaw to keep it from spinning. This was chucked into my drill press. I clamped a sharp wood chisel to the work table and used the drill press quill feed to lower the part onto the chisel. Kind of the opposite principle of moving a carriage/tool post towards the chuck of a lathe. The ABS is really soft and cuts really easily. I had my drill speed set too fast and it was starting to melt instead of cut. After I got the diameter and depth cut the same on both pieces, I actually used a thick steel ruler to square up the shoulder of the bore with the custom collet chucked into a hand drill. Like I said, this stuff is really soft and cuts easily.
Here I've got the circuit board marked for cutting. I drew up the pre-drilled circuit board layout on AutoCAD to figure out how I was going to layout my LEDs on the pre-drilled board.You can see the template I printed out.
I cut of the smooth end of the street trap adapter and sanded it smooth. Here it is threaded into the cleanout adapter with the circuit board sandwiched between the two. Notice the shoulder for the plexiglass to rest against in the first and last pics.
Plexi taped off and marked for cutting.
Exploded view of the pieces. The white tube on the right side is the center tube from a roll of taillight lens repair tape. I will cut it down to proper length to sandwich between the circuit board and the plexiglass lens. This will keep the lens sealed tight against the o-ring (not pictured) and spaced off the LEDs. I thought about just gluing/siliconing the lens in, but would like the option to replace the lens in the future if needed. ***Could be adapted to accept a red or amber lens for extra brake or turn signal lighting***
To reduce vibrations, allow for adjustability, and provide enough clearance to get all the way below the bumper, I'm using rubber stoppers. They are 1" thick and provide the perfect spacing. The rubber is fairly soft and will form around the light housing once tightened down. I needed to get a hole in these so I used a piece of 3/8" steel tubing. I sharpened the inside diameter by using a combination of a rat tail file, countersink bit, and a regular drill bit. Once the inner diameter was sharpened, I chucked the tubing into my cordless drill and centered the tubing on the stopper. I "drilled" into the stopper from both sides. I then used a bench vise, a large socket and a washer to "punch" the tube through the stopper. It's not the cleanest hole, but I knew a regular drill bit would never cut through the rubber. This worked better than expected. Besides, no one will ever see the inside of this hole.
Here they are fully assembled. The housing was drilled and tapped for the 3/8" threaded rod. I thought about using a jamnut to keep the rod from backing out of the plastic, but the rubber stopper does a good job acting as a jamnut when installed on the truck. I'm still waiting on my LEDs and resistors to get here, but otherwise they are done. I'm thinking I'll bedline these things before I install them as the trimming/sanding/smoothing didn't turn out quite as well as I'd hoped.
Here is one of them installed. The other will be evenly spaced to the other side of the hitch. The threaded rod runs up through factory holes in the bumper. A fender washer on top of the rubber stopper keeps the top of the stopper from deforming, but the bottom of the stopper conforms to the curvature of the housing. A fender washer and nut on the top side (inside) of the bumper sets your tension on the stopper. The elasticity of the stopper will keep the threads from coming loose, as well as dampen vibrations.
Hope you all enjoy. Hopefully, the LEDs will be here in a few days. Then I have to try to find some more free time to get them wired up. Damn job always gets it the way of the fun stuff.