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LED Strip Installation (part 2)

2/14/2010 9:25:44 AM

This article completes the installation of 15" LED strips to be used as saddlebag marker/running lights on my Yamaha Royal Star Venture.  The first part of the article may be found here (http://ridebellchain.com/ReadBlog.aspx?BlogID=18).

As you may remember from the previous article, my goal is to install lighting to enhance visibility of my bike from the sides. I purchased the LED strips (15", red) at Walmart for around $15.  Here's a picture of the packaging so you can find it easily.

BTW, it comes with a small battery and switch to demo the lights...I kept them...you never know when you can use this stuff, but it's a free switch and power source (12v)...you never know!

So I fought with a wiring dilemma for the last week, and that's why I broke this article up into two parts...I just wasn't sure if I wanted to drill any holes in my beautiful side bags! I also wanted to make sure it would not be a problem getting the bags off without ripping apart the wiring, so I added quick-release connectors as you will see.

So the first thing I did was build out the connectors. They are crimp-on connectors, but I used a bit of solder to make sure things didn't vibrate apart. The connectors I'm using have both male and female parts. The male part (pictured below) is a hollow bullet connector, and what I did was heat it up from the outside, then inserts a piece of solder into the hollow part.  When it melted, I simply inserted the wire end in, and let it cool.  Then I used a small pliers to crimp the little parts that hold the cable on.  Then you push the bullet part into the connector from the BOTTOM.  Use a thin, needle nose pliers to gently push it all the way until it clicks into place.

MAKE SURE YOU NOTE THE POLARITY OF YOUR CONNECTORS! I used the solid black wire as ground, and assigned the ground to the SQUARE hole on the connector, and the black wire with the thin white stripe on it was made the positive (+) connector using the triangular side of the connectors. You can only plug them in one way, so stay consistant.

For the female ends, you need to make sure you don't get any solder into the receptable part, or the male end will not slide in...so as you can see in the picture, I'm careful to make sure the pin is level so solder will not get in there when it's liquid.  You don't need a lot of solder.

Now that my quick-disconnects are made, I'll continue with the power end of things.  At first, I thought I would just use the quick-splicers to grab power from the tail light assembly.

After looking at the small bird's nest of wires, along with my other "splices" for my big brake-light-bar, I realized I only have room for one more splicer in there, so I used the red power wire with the splicer, and I grounded the green wire to the frame directly.

The red power wire will provide power to both connectors at the same time, as will the green for ground.

Now that I have all the electrical worked out and in place, it's time to mount the lights.  They come with an adhesive backing, so make sure you clean the area you are going to put them with a degreaser so it doesn't fly off at 75mph!  I used Windex.  I wanted to mount these lights between the chrome bars on the saddlebag protector to give the illusion of even more lights, and you'll see in the final pictures, that it really was a good selection area, as at some angles, it looks like 3 strips of lights on each side!

I started at the back of the bag once I decided how much I'd like to see from the back of the bike, knowing that they will wrap around.  Here I had to be carefull, because it's a compound curve and I didn't want to bow the strip and create an area with stress that will eventually lead to the strip peeling away.  Luckily, the rear part of the protectors used the same lines!

As you can see, the black wire from the LED's blends in with the black paint, which drove my final decision to just route the wires without drilling.  This is where each bike's installation differs, so the only bit of advice I have for you here is that if you do drill, remember to use some silicon to plug the holes around the wire to keep things watertight.  Figure out how you're going to route the wires to the tail assembly, and then you need to add in the connectors.

I simply twisted the two wires from each plug together in preparation to soldering them to the leads coming out of the tail light assembly we did eariler.  When you solder, make sure the heat flows through whatever you're trying to attach the wires to...I usually have the soldering element on one side of the wire, and the solder on the other, and let the heat melt the solder and pull it through the wires.  I also use heat shrink tubing around all connections because tape unravels eventually.

Now I can attach the leads from the LED's to the power cables (above).

All soldered up!  We have POWER and lights!  Test by turning on the ignition until your running lights are lit.

Everything is tied up neatly, and hidden behind the license plate.  Good job if I say so myself!  :)

Here's a shot of them on during the daytime (garage open):

Here's the "night time" look:

A great project, and a lot of fun to do!  Please let me know what cool stuff you're working on at Mark@RideBellChain.com

Ride Safe and Have Fun!
Mark Turkel



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