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Old 07-03-2007, 10:07 AM
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Can I build this wireless led brake light cheap?

I have need for a wireless third brake light/turn signal set up. I couldn't find and good after market kits on the web. This one http://www.pickupspecialties.com/Wir...ing_lights.htm
is made for trailers but the price is WAY more than I had in mind and the lights themselves are far from elegant (I was thinking something more along the lines of the little Harley led turn signals).

Anybody know how I could cobble together a wireless brake light with reasonably priced Radio Shack components? (Keep in mind you are talking to an electrical imbecile who needs VERY specific directions and component descriptions to attack any sort of electrical project.) Anybody made their own wireless brake lights?

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Old 07-03-2007, 03:42 PM
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Doc here,

At $136 Fazools..That IS pretty cheap!

I did a little research, and there are hobby kits out there, (generic Multifunction IR Xmit/Rec Kits) That when built, and adapted to suit your needs, run upward of $250 to $300 at the end of the day. None are Actually made for Vehicle towing.

Ramsey, Jameco, Fry's Electronics All carry some form of this type project kit..and prices start out at (for a GOOD one) about $100..and with that, you get a bag of component level parts, A Blank pre~Drilled Circuit card, and a handful of instructions..YOU must assemble and test.

One of the drawbacks is you need separate Coded Channels for each function, (Brake, Tail, Backup, Turn Left & Right, like a TV remote) So as no one channel crosses over to another lighting them all..

Another , Is interface to the real world..for this you'll need a handful of mini reed relays, (to go from small signal activate to actual lamp circuits) These can get expensive when you add them up.

A Big Drawback is power for the remote system on the towed vehicle..this will require a "Hefty Battery" to last without going dead before the tow is done. For a small battery (which must power the LED's as well as the receiver) may cost as much as $30..

Given that, the $136 price ain't that bad..

Doc
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Old 07-03-2007, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by docvette
...One of the drawbacks is you need separate Coded Channels for each function, (Brake, Tail, Backup, Turn Left & Right, like a TV remote) So as no one channel crosses over to another lighting them all.
Actually, I'm not looking to do an entire trailer lighting package...I just included that link because it was about the only "wireless" type package I could find on the web.

What I want to do is put a third brake light (and possible turn indicators if I can) in the back window of my '32 pickup. I don't need or want tail lights or backup lights. And I could live without turn signals if it would make the thing affordable.

The reason I don't want to hard wire the lights is that I would have to tear out the back upholstery panel to run the wiring...and with the way that panel is installed I run a pretty high risk of damaging it (or at least the Christmas tree snaps) when I pull it out.

At present I use one of these motorcycle LED's in the rear window (photos below). It operates off a mercury switch which is gravity activated when the brakes are applied and the mercury sorta sloshes forward in the switch. It works but isn't 100% reliable and doesn't work at all if you brake real gently.





What I was thinking was something more along the lines of a RF controller (like a TV remote) rigged to the brake pedal to activate the switch in this motorcycle LED (or a similar light).

Also, regarding batteries, my little motorcycle LED operates for a year or more on one set of nickle sized batteries.
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Old 07-04-2007, 08:50 AM
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You probably could do something similar to what you have now, but if you added a capacitor and a bleed off resistor across the LED to act as a buffer to the mecury switch sloshing. You may even be able to modify what you have now. Not sure on values, you would have to play with it but you can buy a bunch of caps and resistors for just a few dollars
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Old 07-06-2007, 01:12 AM
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Doc here,

Well, IF you want to get creative..(and I don't know your electronic skill level..but have seen all your work and if it's like that should be pretty good when done..)

Something to ponder..

Get a kids Cheapie RC car..not the expensive one with 8 function..etc..but one of those $29 Go forward, turn, and back..ones..strip the RC Receiver out of the car, and strip the plastic away from the hand controller..

Configure ONE channel (say Forward) to fire a reed relay instead of a servo..Then the contacts to light the LED's..(two small battery's are needed for this..

Configure the transmitter to "Full On " the with a jumper soldered in place, and the on/off switch to a relay contact that the center wiper has the battery power on it, activated by the brake lamp power from the BL switch..

You'd have to play around with it to get it the way you want..but it is creative..Battery's would be problematic.

Mount the XMT under the dash, The Rec in the lamp housing.

Doc
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Old 07-06-2007, 08:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by docvette
...Get a kids Cheapie RC car..
I KNEW Doc could come with something novel and creative.....

Fact is I've got a couple of those RC cars around...great, now I'm using RC cars as donor vehicles. Won't THAT look good on my resume.

Unfortunately, my electrical skills are equivalent to Buster, my dog and I lost you somewhere right after "Configure ONE channel..."

a) What's the actual process for "configuring" a channel on the sending unit.

b) what is a REED RELAY and can I find them at a Radio Shack? Any special size/rating etc? Does the reed relay serve the approximate same function as a normal relay in a car?

c) Are the "reed relay" and Rec (receiver) one and the same thing? Does the reed relay get fired by the RF of the toy car transmitter? Is the reed relay hard wired to the contacts to light the LED's (like the LED's in the little motorcycle unit in the pictures above)?

d) By "configuring the transmitter to full on" do you mean the on/off switch on the transmitter should always be in the on position (or if the on/off switch is removed I'd just solder the connection closed?

e) Here's the one that really got me lost. "...and the on/off switch to a relay contact that the center wiper has the battery power on it, activated by the brake lamp power from the BL switch.." I guess my major question here is, what is a "center wiper". Also, in this configuration, is it the toy car RF transmitter actually being activated via juice from the brake lamp wire or the reed relay?

Actually, maybe if you drew up a simple sketch of the circuits/components/and what is firing what, I might be able to grasp this all a little better.

Fact is, I think you are onto a pretty good setup here...not just for my application but potentially for other "hard to wire" lighting as well. I just need to get the schematic clearer in my mind.

BTW, it seems to me that if you had TWO of these toy car transmitters you could fashion turn signals along with the third brake light. Maybe it's even possible to use two of the functions on ONE transmitter (forward and reverse for example) that could be wired to the left and rear brake/turn signal wires to give you full indicator/brake lighting on the LEDs.
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Old 07-06-2007, 11:02 AM
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Interesting. I tore apart one of my radio/car transmitters (the oldest and simplest one I have) and discovered that it is really only one switchable function. It reverses the motor on the car. When you turn the switch "on" on the car the wheels immediately spin forward. When you hit the switch on the transmitter, it reverses the motor. This would probable work for a third brake light but I was sorta hoping I could figure out how to make one transmitter run two turn signals and the brake light. I have another little radio/car with full steering as well as reverse. Maybe I'll open up that box and see if it might be adaptable.
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Old 07-06-2007, 04:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cboy
I KNEW Doc could come with something novel and creative.....

Fact is I've got a couple of those RC cars around...great, now I'm using RC cars as donor vehicles. Won't THAT look good on my resume.

Unfortunately, my electrical skills are equivalent to Buster, my dog and I lost you somewhere right after "Configure ONE channel..."

a) What's the actual process for "configuring" a channel on the sending unit.
Figure out what needs to be "On" To receive a signal, and Activate The servo motor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cboy
b) what is a REED RELAY and can I find them at a Radio Shack? Any special size/rating etc? Does the reed relay serve the approximate same function as a normal relay in a car?
A Reed Relay is a mini (about the size of a nickel) Relay that draws micro current..and yes, you used to be able to get them at Rat Shak..

Quote:
Originally Posted by cboy
c) Are the "reed relay" and Rec (receiver) one and the same thing? Does the reed relay get fired by the RF of the toy car transmitter? Is the reed relay hard wired to the contacts to light the LED's (like the LED's in the little motorcycle unit in the pictures above)?
The reed relay will activate when a signal is received by the Transmitter AT the Receiver (old) Servo motor wires..The servo wires will be the coil of that relay..The CONTACTS will be the Power from the remote battery, and The normally open side will be the LED's..

Quote:
Originally Posted by cboy
d) By "configuring the transmitter to full on" do you mean the on/off switch on the transmitter should always be in the on position (or if the on/off switch is removed I'd just solder the connection closed?
Wire the power on at all times..(so you don't need to switch it on and off every time you drive the car.) HOW you do it depends on how the switch is wired..


Quote:
Originally Posted by cboy
e) Here's the one that really got me lost." and the on/off switch to a relay contact that the center wiper has the battery power on it, activated by the brake lamp power from the BL switch "I guess my major question here is, what is a "center wiper". Also, in this configuration, is it the toy car RF transmitter actually being activated via juice from the brake lamp wire or the reed relay?
A Center Wiper is the movable contact of a relay or switch..the others are Normally open, and Normally closed stationary.

This is on the transmitter end (under the dash..) Wire the controller to activate when power comes on..(Full Forward, or whatever, on power) ..Next Remove the power switch, (from the board) install two wires and wire them to a regular relay..Centerwiper and Normally open.The Coil of that relay to be controlled by the brake lamp switch output..Power to the unit is supplied from batterys (or a 12 volt to ?? Regulator IC)..from the relay contacts..

See..You have to remember, you can't power things right off the car battery..Most of that R/C Stuff is anywhere from 3 volts to 9 volts..Also the need for the reed Relay at the LED side..you have to control the relay, with Servo Power (small voltage/Current) to an array of 12 volt LED's..

A Regulator in the 78xx 79xx Series will solve almost all those problems at the dash end for hard wired / Dropped power..BUT you don't have that in the remote LED Array..so a good battery is mandatory..LED's don't draw much, but a Receiver will..so you want some good grade rechargeable batterys..that will last for months at a stretch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cboy
Actually, maybe if you drew up a simple sketch of the circuits/components/and what is firing what, I might be able to grasp this all a little better.
I can thunk one up for "Generic" and get it into the schematic software (If that still works ) For you as I have time to do it..a few days..BUT you will need to adapt it to your R/C Circuit to make it play..


Quote:
Originally Posted by cboy
Fact is, I think you are onto a pretty good setup here...not just for my application but potentially for other "hard to wire" lighting as well. I just need to get the schematic clearer in my mind.
It's worth a shot anyway!
Quote:
Originally Posted by cboy
BTW, it seems to me that if you had TWO of these toy car transmitters you could fashion turn signals along with the third brake light. Maybe it's even possible to use two of the functions on ONE transmitter (forward and reverse for example) that could be wired to the left and rear brake/turn signal wires to give you full indicator/brake lighting on the LEDs.
Or One with multi~Function Channels..each CHANNEL will perform a different function..Those are the expensive units..I think , make the "Cheapie" play first..then convert the more expensive unit..better Chance of success!

Some things you will need to know:

Power requirements for the Transmitter.

Power Requirements For the Receiver,

Power.Current output At the servo for both. (will it run LED's and relays without help?)

Doc
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Old 07-06-2007, 06:24 PM
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Believe it or not I think I understand most of that...at least enough to start some experimentation. I think you can even postpone the drawing until I see what kind of difficulties I encounter.

Thanks once again for sharing your expertise.
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Old 07-06-2007, 06:55 PM
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I think you should re-consider. Those Chinese toys have the cheapest and most poorly designed electronics in them. They are definitely not designed for longevity and to stand up to the extreme temperature swings that a car can have. If you are going to to it, do it right. Something as important as brake lights should not be Mickey Moused.
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Old 07-06-2007, 09:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T-bucket23
Something as important as brake lights should not be Mickey Moused.
I agree...but these are not my actual brake lights. I have nice bright LEDs already installed. This is only for a third brake light which is basically just "insurance". Most hot rods are not equipped with ANY third brake light so whatever I install is better than nothing at all.

If I was going to spend the money to build some high buck super duper wireless system I'd just take the truck down to Dan TwoLakes' Shop and have him take out the rear upholstery panel "professionally" so I could hard wire the system. It's just not worth investing a lot of money, at least not for my particular application.
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Old 07-06-2007, 11:16 PM
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Doc here,

Yeah, If it were your main brake lamp system I would NOT advocate a wireless system..

Most of the Cheapie RF/IF circuits operate in the range of High Power output Public Service Band Radios..It would be hard to explain to a cop why every time he talks to Dispatch your lights go nutz.....

The Chips Themselves are all MILSPEC..good to 125 C..environments is not an issue..and most are all made by the same sub~Contractor..

Granted, Board design leaves a little to be desired...(mass produced, Cheap, Imported) but for a first generation Proto..good enough to "perfect", and move on to the "Second Generation" more expensive circuit..(or not..)

I say, go for it..

Use a Double pole single throw relay on the receiver end (LED lamps) and connect the circuit you have now through the second set of contacts...using the Center wiper#2 , and the normally CLOSED terminal #2 from the system you now have ..This would be a "Fail Safe" in case the receiver fails, or the battery fails, and the relay DOES NOT Energize, the LED's will STILL light from the Mercury Switch as it does now..If you are worried about that on the third brake lamp.

Doc
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