Title: Where'd that Pop-It go?!
Rank: Donating Member
Location: Cleveland/Shaker Hts., Ohio
Car: 13 Tribeca-me, 13 FXT Touring-wifey
[Mods - please move to correct Forum if this is deemed inappropriately placed here. I put this Walk-Through here simply as the "Headlight Clearing" Walk-Through is in this section. Thank you.]
RPM CCFL (Cold-Cathode Fluorescent Lamp) DDE (“Daylight Demon Eyes”) installation walkthrough:
This is actually a fairly easy, if somewhat time-consuming and, at one specific point, rather tedious. As a weekend shade-tree greasemonkey who does all of his own bolt-on installs, I’d rate this installation project a 6 out of 10 (10 being hardest) for difficulty.
With that said, let’s begin by preparing all tools:
- 10mm socket (all bolts)
- 12mm socket (battery + terminal bolt)
- power drill
- 5/64-inch pilot drill bit
- 1/8-inch “main” drill bit
- flat-head screwdriver
- Phillips-head screwdriver
- electrical tape
- “clear” two-part epoxy – super-fast setting
You should begin this project with the removal of your headlamps from the vehicle, and bivalving/opening them via the “headlamp clearing” method – this is a step which I will not cover, as it is thoroughly documented in the “How to clear your headlights” walk-through:
For those of you who are virgins to baking and cracking open your headlight, I would highly recommend that you read through the entire referenced thread, as there are tips aplenty within. It really will be worth the extra 15-20 minutes of your life to actually go through that thread, make notes, and print things out for reference.
Also, for headlight-clearing first-timers, I would recommend that you do one light at a time, this way, you always have the opposite side for reference. I would go so far as to remove/bake/re-install only one headlight at a time, allowing for easy comparison.
In any case, I will proceed here as if though you’ve already had experience with the headlight opening/clearing, and we’ll pick-up the install from the point where the headlights have been removed from the car.
Ideally, you should have pre-tested the product before even starting on the bumper and headlight removal steps. But in this particular case, I found this to be impossible as it is necessary to gain access to the side-marker/signal lamp wiring harness in order to complete even initial wiring.
I’ve done quite a number of lighting-accessory installs on different vehicles, and I can’t count the number of times where a transformer was defective from the factory, or a connector was broken-off and unable to be repaired – with me ending up returning the product for a replacement even before the install got started.
Now, I sincerely believe that RPM has supplied us with a superior product, but even so, pre-install testing is a good precaution, particularly on something this tedious and time-consuming (i.e. requiring opening the headlamp units).
Using RPM’s cited directions:
Hook up the main power harness/relay/fuse assembly to the body/chassis ground and the positive (+) battery terminal. There’s a great ground right behind the main fusebox on the driver’s side of the vehicle, between the battery and the driver’s side strut tower – the supplied wiring is just long enough to use this ground, and then nicely lay the wiring “behind” the fusebox (remove the fusebox cover to access this ground) and wrapping around it, finally locating the relay adjacent to the positive battery terminal.
PIX – reference below thumbnails (hold your cursor over each thumbnail at the bottom of this post, it will bring up a small dialog window with the name of each picture so that you can reference it):
- “main harness ground”
- “main harness routing”
Again referencing RPM’s directions, hook up the main power supply wire to your positive (+) battery terminal. Use the nut facing “up” from the battery, directly under the red protective cover. You can route the wire and connector up and through the retaining ring of this protective cover, allowing for both a neat install and for the cover to retain its function.
Once this is done, trail the distal (towards each halo-ring/transformer assembly) ends of your harness toward each headlight housing. Obviously, the longer part will head towards the passenger’s side – the shorter of the two will be used for the driver’s side, which is closer to the relay/fuse assembly. Don’t worry about an exact placement yet, at this point; you’re just pre-testing the units.
Using RPM’s directions, connect the respective transformer units to each end of the main wiring harness. Here, I found that my wiring harness were equipped with a red and a brown wire – with matching red and brown wires coming from my transformer boxes. This is distinctly unlike what RPM wrote in the original directions, but it’s now plainly obvious which wire should go with which!
Once this is done, use the supplied Vampire/T-tap to splice in, on the passenger’s side, the marker lamp wiring.
Reference the picture below:
PIC: “pass side marker splice”
What you will need to do is to CAREFULLY slice open the tape that is currently sealing the end of the corrugated black-plast conduit that leads up to the harness plug for your passenger’s side side-marker/signal lamp. Once this is done, again carefully, withdraw the three wires that are resident within, and single-out the BLACK wire with BLUE STRIPE. This is the wire you’ll want to tap into for power, and the result will be that the halo will turn on whenever you engage (“turn on”) your side-marker/parking lights, but will NOT flash with your signal lamp (nor will they flash during lock/unlock cycles). In the picture cited, please ignore my many different taps – they were for an aborted lighting project, I am only trying to show the black/blue-stripe wire in this picture.
There are many different places to tap for this energizing switch, and what I’ve chosen is simply my personal preference. It’s just as easy to tap in to the fog-lamp, or any other powered circuit to energize the relay.
Once this is done, you can simply lay out the transformer boxes on either side, go in the car and switch on accessory power and turn on your marker lamps – now, carefully simply touch the bare exposed wiring ends of each CCFL ring to the exposed metal inside the plug that leads from the transformer (the plug on the end of the white wire), and you should see the CCFL ring light up completely and brilliantly. Polarity does not matter.
Once you’ve ascertained that the units are working, it’s now time to warm up the oven in preparation for baking your headlamp units, and in the mean time, it’ll be a good time to lay out your wiring.
I chose to run the long segment of the harness to the passenger’s side through each headlamp void, across the front of the car via threading first through the circled support brackets, and then tensioned up and over the black clips that hold the grill in-place on each side, then “under” the hood latch (held in-place there via two sets of daisy-chained Zip-Ties), and finally tensioning up and over the other set of clips on the opposite side. The harness end is again routed “inside” via the headlight void on this side of the vehicle.
You can see some of this arrangement in the picture below, which shows the initial routing through the headlight void and the support bracket - but unfortunately, I realized too late that I had not snapped any pictures of the final routing, which fully tucks the wiring out of the way….my apologies:
PIC: “pass harness routing 1”
The driver’s side harness is considerably shorter, and you can just lay that, now plugged into its transformer (which you pre-tested, too, right?) on top of your battery or main fuse box until you’re ready. I laid the passenger’s side harness/transformer on top of my factory under-hood air-ram/duct unit.
Now, get back inside and bake your headlights….
Once you’ve got them opened up so that there’s three distinct components:
- main headlight housing (rear), encompassing lenses and high-beam reflectors
- main trim and signal/marker reflector housing (middle section)
- main lens section (forward)
It’s now really time to get to work. This is where the bulk of any troubles which you might encounter will occur, so proceed carefully.
First, lay out your halo-rings.
Be extremely careful in handling these rings. They are quite fragile.
Some of you may complain about this, but honestly, from one lighting enthusiast to another, I’ll confess to you that this is the trade-off we take when we use CCFL. They are unparalleled in their brightness, even-ness of color distribution, reliability/durability, as well as are relatively affordable – but they’re more fragile than either flexible “neon strings” or the relatively much tougher (if also somewhat brittle) acrylic rings that you will see most “Angel Eyes” halo-rings marketed with. Of course, “neon strings” are unacceptably dim for this application, and even the best LED-based acrylic-tube “Angle Eyes” are only barely visible during dusk/dawn, can easily be drowned-out by HIDs or even more powerful standard/conventional incandescent lighting, and provide for a much more unevenly-lit halo effect. Unless you wish to devise some kind of heat-sinked (we’re talking about CHUNKS of aluminum, here – not small chunks, at that) system so that you can use Luxeon-Star LEDs, there’s simply no way to get the kind of performance that CCFL offers, at the present time.
For my install, you can see that I positioned the ring so that the ends of each halo are at the 11-o’clock and 2-o’clock location in the passenger’s side unit, and, conversely, in mirror-image fashion, at 1-o’clock and 10-o’clock in the driver’s side unit.
Below, you’ll find the passenger’s side unit pictured:
PIC: “halo position 1”
For the passenger’s side unit at the 1-o’clock and the driver’s side at the 10-o’clock locations, I can thus anchor each ring on the upper corner where the black-ish “backing” of each light housing comes up to meet the chrome “ring” that surrounds our low-beam projector lens. Referencing the above picture (passenger’s side), I’ve circled where this location is.
Now, before you glue things down, you’ll want to get a good idea of the lay of the wiring coming from each end of the CCFL tube.
As you can see, I simply took both of mine and made a complete circle out of it. This is my aesthetic preference – to make things seem like a complete ring in daytime. Some of you may prefer immediately trailing out the wire where the hard CCFL tube ends – thus hiding away as much of the wiring as possible. In that case, you’ll need to drill two individual (but smaller holes). With my setup, I drilled one hole, first using the 5/64-inch bit as a pilot (be careful not to damage/scratch the chrome trim ring around the low-beam projector!), then using the 1/8-inch bit to make my final wiring pass-through hole.
PIC: “hole for halo wiring”
With the wiring hole(s) established, you’re now ready to secure the halo-rings.
Referring back up 4 paragraphs, you’ll again remember my chosen anchor positions for the CCFL rings.
At each of these locations, I used a dab of quick-setting 2-part epoxy, “clear” colored, of course, to anchor down the rings. You’ll want an epoxy that sets as fast as possible, otherwise, you’ll be sitting there FOREVER trying to hold the ring in-place and immobile, and that’s not going to produce a good result – trust me on this one, it’s going to be a mess, you’ll end up getting fatigued and the assembly will slide around, and that’s not going to be pretty.
You’ll want an epoxy that sets in –UNDER-- 5 (five) minutes. Mine, for reference, starts to “gel” in less than 1, and will completely harden by the 3 minute mark. Not much time, but it’s good for this kind of install as it will quickly and surely hold the mark.
So, it’s important, then, that you establish your ring placement with good authority, first, before you attempt to epoxy things down.
I would now recommend that you give each “anchor” a good hour or two to dry and cure – to let them reach operational bonding strength – before proceeding to anchor the other end, which is now “floating.” I ate dinner and watched Sin City with my wifey while I waited. Go do something similar.
I’m recommending such a set-time as you’ll be placing a bit of stress on the assembly by gluing down the free end. Without letting the anchoring position truly “anchor,” you’re just asking for trouble.
Now with one anchor established, I simply use another dab of quick-setting epoxy to glue down each free end. You can see that on this end, if you reference the picture above, I used the “quick-gelling” property of my epoxy to build a “bridge” from the end of the halo-ring to the black area right behind the chrome trim ring. Please reference back to the picture above if you need a visual.
Note that I chose this location as it gave me what I considered to be a good stand-off distance. This is purely personal aesthetic preference. The tube is flexible enough to allow you some leeway in terms of final anchor location.
At this time, I decided to let the epoxy dry/cure fully, overnight, for maximum strength. Take a cue – this isn’t a bad idea. Start the project on Friday evening, and finish Saturday morning….
The next day, I started by carefully threading the wiring coming from each CCFL tube-end through the hole that I made. This allowed the wiring to pass behind the “middle” main trim section.
Now, simply mock-align the “middle” trim section, with wiring now trailing through it, against its backdrop, the “rear” main section. You’ll then quickly find the matching spots to drill through, which will thus allow the wiring to completely exit the (to-be) sealed headlamp housing.
PIC: “rear housing hole”
Although it is indeed possible to simply trail the wires out of the “rear” main section through the gap provided by the low-beam reflector housing and by drilling access holes through the low-beam locking moisture-shield, it’s my personal and most humble opinion that this could get those very small-gauge wires too close to the low-beam lamp heat-source. I thus chose to go an alternate route, even though it required a bit more drilling.
Once you’re done drilling through the main “rear” section, it’s time to pop it in the oven again, in-preparation for final re-seal.
While that’s baking, take a minute to prep your CCFL wires by taping their metal “lead” ends together with a few very thin and very neatly wrapped layers of electrical tape. This will protect them from the hot, gooey silicone goop as they pass through the hole you’ve made in the “rear” main housing, and will keep them together as one for an easy push/pull through the hole.
When you take the rear unit out of the oven, work quickly to place the front (now composed of both the forward lens assembly as well as the “middle” trim assembly) two parts against this rear portion, and quickly thread-through the taped-together wires, being careful not to tug too hard (so as to either damage the wiring or to loosen your painstakingly made bonds from last night!).
Once they’re pulled “all the way” through, quickly finish your re-sealing.
PIC: “wire through rear housing hole”
At your leisure, you can now remove the tape covering the bare wiring ends.
With the headlamp unit back together, it’s now time to reinstall each housing to its respective side, and finalize the DDE install.
I actually simply “temporarily” bolted-in both headlight housings using just two bolts (one on each end of the bracket), giving it just enough support so that I can hook up the CCFL wiring and do a final test/check before truly putting everything back together.
Once the headlamp units are stable, you can now finish-up the wiring of the CCFL tubes by completing the clip assembly for the tube end of the leads, as described by the RPM directions. The last step in hooking up your DDEs is to simply plug in this end (male) into the receiving (female) clip coming from the transformer.
Now, all that’s needed is to tidy up to finalize the install. For the transformer units, I simply Zip-Tied them to the front chassis beam, outboard of each hood bumper. I highlighted them in yellow so as to remind myself of a critical electrical junction point, in case I ever needed to service them for whatever reason.
To give everyone an idea of how bright these CCFL based DDEs are, here are a few pictures.
The first is a close-up, shot during the daytime, with my LGT inside the garage (PIC: “daylight closeup”). The next shot is of my LGT, this time the entire front-end, from farther away (PIC: “daylight shadow”). These shots would be an approximation of the more brightly lit hours of dawn and dusk.
I took some night-time shots, but they came out absolutely horribly as I used only a makeshift “tripod” (actually, it was my BBQ grill……). I’ll break out the actual tripod tomorrow night and try to get some better shots, but trust me, this setup looks absolutely brilliant, and the rings are easy visualized to pedestrians/oncoming traffic.
<-- I love Winky, my "periwinkle" (ABP) LGT! - Allen / Usual Suspect "DumboRAT" / One of the Three Stooges
'13 ISM Tribeca, '13 FXT Touring, 5th Subaru Family
Last edited by TSi+WRX; 10-01-2005 at 11:35 PM..