Lexus SC300 Rebel LED Project
Created and Documented By: Chip Swieringa - swieringac@gmail.com

Introduction

For the past few months I have been experimenting with Luxeon Power LEDs. My initial test platform was 12-18v flashlights. After creating a number of extreme flashlights with Luxeon K2s, I felt confident I had learned enough about working with Power LEDs to move on to other more interesting platforms.


 

BEGIN PROJECT REBEL

GOAL: Install ridiculously powerful LEDs into Lexus SC300 door lights.

KEY ELEMENT: Luxeon ENDOR STAR (P/N: 07007-PWC-08-3)

Features: Three (3) surface mounted Luxeon Rebels.

Total Output: 500+ lumens at 1000ma drive current. This is the highest light density LED currently available on the market.

 

 

PARTS:  1 Endor Star LED
 1 LuxDrive 1000ma LED Driver
 1 Heat sink
 Arctic Alumina Thermal Adhesive
 High-temp Silicone Adhesive
 20ga power wire

 


STEP 1: Fabricate Heat Sink

Power LEDs tend to generate a bit of heat.
Without a heatsink of some kind they will very quickly fail.

For LED cooling purposes I bought 29 salvaged server CPU heat sinks in bulk.

These sinks are a bit difficult to work with but are the best I've got for now.

 

Heat Sink Close-up

 

1a. Here comes the dirty work!! Dremels, hacksaw's, etc.. etc.. make this possible.

 

1b. Two mini heat sinks ready for action!


 

STEP 2: Modify Bulb Housing

2a. Now its time to modify the bulb housing from the car.

But before I pull it out, I want to test polarity and make sure I know what is Positive (+) and Negative (-) on the door plug. This way I will know how to get things wired later.

I also wanted to test fit the heat sink and make sure it would fit up inside the door all the way. And it very easily does!

NOTE:
Red Wire WITH White Stripe is Negative (-).
Solid Red Wire is Positive (+).

I used a Sharpie marker and drew some black on
the Negative (-) wire to eliminate any chance of confusion.

 

2b. The reciprocating saw makes short work of the plastic bulb housing. I cut it off as close to the bottom as possible.

 

 

STEP 3: Mount Heat Sink

3a. I didn't just want to glue the heat sink in. I also wanted a more reliable mechanical fastener. One screw will do the trick.

 

3b. Glue time! After liberally applying high-temp silicone to the sides of the heat-sink I have it clamped down for about 2 hours.

NOTE: Make sure the heat sink is not too high in the plastic housing, the Endor Star requires a few millimeters of clearance to fit inside the factory lens cap. Make sure its not too low either otherwise the LED base won't contact the heat sink. You gotta Goldilocks it!

 

 

STEP 4: Mount the Endor Star LED

4a. While the silicone adhesive is still curing I will mount the LEDs. Arctic Alumina thermal adhesive makes this job quick and painless. I love this stuff!

NOTE: Since the Endor Star base is electrically neutral you can actually use any kind of thermal adhesive; Arctic Silver or any other type of thermal epoxy will work just fine.

 

 

STEP 5: Meanwhile...

5a. While the adhesives are curing... I decided I wanted to be able to plug and unplug the new LED housing just like I could with the original.

I used the plug terminals and other pieces from the plastic bulb housing to recreate the factory plug. Now I can just plug it right into the door.

 

5b. The new plug is soldered onto the Power Input of the LED driver. Having checked the polarity on the car in Step 2 helped make sure I got this soldered correctly.

 

5c. Its time to glue the LED driver onto the housing. Once again high-temp silicone does the trick.

5d. After the LED driver is secure, I need to solder the LED wires from the driver to the Endor Star.
After that it's time to test this bad boy!

 

5e. MY GOD!! At 11:00PM my entire kitchen is DAYLIGHT! This is not even funny. The amount of light this unit emits is absurd. What kind of monster have I created???

After a 30 minute wait for my blindness to subside....

 

STEP 6: Active Cooling

After 10 minutes of testing it became clear that I should address the thermal stability of this luminous monstrosity. The heatsink was a bit warm to the touch, not nearly enough to endanger the LEDs. But a good friend of mine (NJW) always told me, "Better off excessive than sorry!". His philosophy is really the basis of this whole project. So let's stick with it!

I want to absolutely ensure that these LEDs will never overheat while stuck in the car door.


6a. Active cooling is going to require some small 40mm fans. These particular units are 5v fans from two video cards circa 2002, they are 10mm thick.

Due to the 5v nature of these fans I will need to limit the power they receive via a 100ohm resistor. This will supply the fans with ~4.75v while the car is running at 14v.

 

6b. After roughly placing the fan, I need to solder in the resistor, and attach it to power. Due to the proximity of the metal heat sink fins I protected the resistor and its leads with heat shrink. That makes it a bit difficult to see...

 

6c. Now for a quick test with power before attaching the fan securely. It works like a charm! This fan pushes roughly 3.5 CFM which is more than enough. The heat sink permanently remains cool to the touch.

These old fans have sleeve bearings that are a bit worn. That causes them to be a tad bit louder than I would like. Eventually I will be replacing them with new and quiet 12v ball bearing fans which will also eliminate the need for the resistor.

 

6d. The fan is now securely attached. All my zip ties are somewhere else, so I'll make due with a modest amount of high-temp silicone.

 

6e. The evil twins are prepared for installation. They look menacing and ominous.

 

 

STEP 7: Lexus Install

7a. The new LED housing plugs into the car perfectly.

 

7b. There are no words to describe... ...

The Korn song 'Blind' may help convey how these lights make me feel! :)

 

7c. Mission Status: Complete - Pathological Level of Brightness Attained






NOTE: Yes... I installed Blue Cold Cathode's in my climate control. Its much nicer than the nasty orange, like the radio, which will be torn out pretty soon anyway. You can read more about that here.

 

Created and Documented By: Chip Swieringa - swieringac@gmail.com SupraForums and ClubLexus:
NeSSuS-GTE

 

Last Updated - April 18, 2008