Brighter signal lights - cheap, easy and not LED - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 12 Old 05-07-2009, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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Brighter signal lights - cheap, easy and not LED

While riding with another Strom-rider recently we both commented on how relatively dim the signal lights are on these bikes. So I've been combing through the threads here, on VSRI and on ADV on LED 1156 replacements, add-on LED brake and signal lights and so on, and really, I'm not much further ahead.

Despite the larger power requirements, fragile nature, and limited brightness of standard 1156 incandescent signal bulbs, they are abundantly available, cheap, and the light is omni-directional. LEDs on the other hand are brighter, have a low power draw, are much more durable and long-lived, but are expensive and hard to source. They are also a point sources of light (not like a lazer, but the small size of the light source makes them functionally similar for our purposes) and somewhat directional.

In any event, I thought I'd decided to get some of the 5 watt super bright LEDs from superbrightleds.com, so last night I spent a couple of minutes opening up one of the rear signal lights to see what was in there (don't get me wrong, I had a fair idea what would be in there and wasn't expecting dancing girls and a brass band or anything like that).

I was surprised, however, with what I didn't see; any reflective material inside. The inside of the signal light housing is the same black plastic inside as out. Black is an interesting colour, one of its more useful properties is its ability to absorb and not reflect light, but not so useful when you don't want those things to happen.

Twenty to twenty-five seconds of thought went into considering how to shed some light on the problem, so to speak, like using gold or silver leaf, or lining the inside of the housing with aluminum foil, until I remembered there was a can of silver rust-paint that I'd used when customizing the ceiling fans in my children's bedrooms (you really can't beat Disney princess colours on a ceiling fan with silver highlights!).

So, I cut a signal-light-housing shaped hole in a piece of cereal box cardboard, threw some rags over exposed motorcycle parts, popped out the bulbs, unscrewed and taped off the sockets, removed that little brass bit to the inside of the housing, and sprayed the interior with the silver paint. Next, I went back into the kitchen and made the kids' lunches. This is an important step as the time required to properly prepare lunches, fill juice boxes, put it all in to appropriate Princess, Cars, and another Princess lunch box, put it all in the fridge, and clean up the kitchen, precisely coincides with the drying time for Rustoleum chrome silver rust paint.

Back into the garage I went to reassemble the signals, promptly getting silver paint all over my hands from the puddle of runoff paint gravity sent to the bottom of the signal housings. Clearly I should have made ham and cheese rather than PB & J for the kids.

Once they were back together I gave them a try, quite pleased that I managed not to cut or short any of the lead wires to the signals. Light from the modified signals appeared brighter and was more uniform across the lens. I compared them to the as yet unmodified front signals and found the fronts exhibited a bright spot in the middle of the lens and a falling off toward the edges. The light from the rears was more uniform from edge to edge on the lens and seemed brighter overall.

The time to complete this little mod, not including lunch making, was about ten minutes, the bulk of which was taken up with the cutting of the cereal box cardboard with the ultra dull scissors that reside in the garage. I think I'll try the fronts tonight.

...and before someone bitches, no, there are no pictures. Use your friggin' imagination

Asides: Covering and masking the bike seemed like a no-brainer, although once I started pulling apart the signal housings and stalks, I thought about melting the solder and completely removing the signals from the bike. While I'm sure it would have made the whole job shop-perfect, this was really meant to be a quick experiment and I just decided to get on with it.

The masking and covering of the bike did its job, but what I didn't consider was that spraying anything under pressure into a small, confined space will have an eqaul and opposite reaction, at least for the paint that didn't stick, of spraying right back out at me. So today I'm a little bit shinier than usual. Oddly, no one in my office has commented on just how bright I am.

'04 650, and goshdarnit it's fun - matte silver (#9 in the Silver 'Strom Club)
farewell to an '81 KZ550, '83 GPz750, '83 V45 Sabre, R-Reg GT380, '84 GPz550, early '70s DT175, and a '72 Peugeot 102

Last edited by KZDon; 05-07-2009 at 04:10 PM.
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post #2 of 12 Old 05-07-2009, 04:35 PM
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Brilliant! In more ways that one.

I'll do something similar to my Wee, but instead of using paint, I'll use an aluminum pie pan. Cut and stick it on with double sided tape and viola. I'll avoid the paint dry time and pooling issue and hopefully end up with similar results. This lack of waiting time is important as my little one is not going to school yet and lunches are not required.

My KLR signals are big and bright with standard 1156 bulbs due to the fact that they have a reflector. I was not aware the Strom signal housing had no reflector. Thanks for the insight!

Hope that helps,
Tim
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post #3 of 12 Old 05-07-2009, 04:46 PM
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I've had a similar result using the reflectors from junk flashlights ('torches' to our UK brethren).

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post #4 of 12 Old 05-07-2009, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
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My strom riding friend has let me know he plans to do something similar with the silver stick-on faux carbon fibre stuff. It is retro-reflective so should do an even better job.

'04 650, and goshdarnit it's fun - matte silver (#9 in the Silver 'Strom Club)
farewell to an '81 KZ550, '83 GPz750, '83 V45 Sabre, R-Reg GT380, '84 GPz550, early '70s DT175, and a '72 Peugeot 102
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post #5 of 12 Old 05-07-2009, 06:59 PM
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A couple weeks ago i hought of the very same idea. I had a roll of that chrome tape that they use on air conditioning ducts. I pulled out the element housing and put the chrome tape on the inside of the housing. Made it alot brighter. You can get the chrome tape at lowes for around 5 or 6 bux. I figure itll do untill i get the led bug again and make some, or just buy some pre made.

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post #6 of 12 Old 05-11-2009, 01:59 PM
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I did the same thing way back when. The only issue I ran into was that the paint wicked away from the plastic in some areas as if there was some release compound or oil on it. It took several light coats to cover.

Please don't post just to criticize the question. Either you have an answer or you don't.
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post #7 of 12 Old 05-13-2009, 05:39 PM
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Sorry, but that's way too complicated of a fix to a simple problem.. Just use some reflective foil tape to line the signal buckets. Takes all of 2 minutes and there's no mess. I'll bet the reflective foil reflects a lot more light than any spray on coating too.
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post #8 of 12 Old 05-13-2009, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csr67 View Post
Sorry, but that's way too complicated of a fix to a simple problem.. Just use some reflective foil tape to line the signal buckets. Takes all of 2 minutes and there's no mess. I'll bet the reflective foil reflects a lot more light than any spray on coating too.
That is also what I did, I know that it didn't make them any dimmer.

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post #9 of 12 Old 05-13-2009, 07:15 PM
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two words
SOLAS tape

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post #10 of 12 Old 05-13-2009, 07:19 PM
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I have been using aluminium foil reflectors in my rear turn signals for over two years.
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