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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This is what I did today:


New six LED high mounted third brake light. This is the light from Uptown Dog Co. Installation is a snap - two screws, remove the bulb mount from the old fixture, plug the LED's into the bulb mount, install the bulb mount in the new fixture and install the two screws. Ta Da! I already had the SmartMadness flash unit - works great with the new light. The only complaint I have, and it is not a big one and easy to remedy, is there was a tab sticking up on the top of the light where it came out of the mold. I tried to shave it off with a knife but the plastic is too hard. I will sand it down smooth later as it was getting dark and I still had to fix the Camo Jetta you see in the background. Once it is sanded down no one will know it was there - photo below.


This is the tab I will remove. In the photo the fixture looks gray - it is actually black.


Here is a close up shot with the lights off so you can see what it looks like. I need to paint my screws black so they do not stand out so much - will get to that soon as well.

I picked the car up from Tafel Motors today where they activated my fog lights and updated my transmission software to get rid of the annoying 'won't go into reverse' issue. It definitely shifts differently now :D

My new front plate and fog lights. I have the tax decals for the plate, but as you can tell from the photo I have a crooked eye so Mrs. Claus will help me get those on later. I also have an HID kit for the fog lights which will go on when I get more time.

That's it for today - more - lots more to come!

 

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Real nice pics! Ive been looking at those brake lights too. We got the same red/black smartie :wink:
So, lit they are red, otherwise clear? And how does the black bits match the hatch black bits?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Real nice pics! Ive been looking at those brake lights too. We got the same red/black smartie :wink:
So, lit they are red, otherwise clear? And how does the black bits match the hatch black bits?
Yes - when lit they are red - and quite bright. I have the flasher unit and according to family members who have been behind me it is a very effective combination - much more attention getting than the single incandescent bulb. And the price is definately right :D

As for the black - it matches very well - the only exception at the moment is the tab where I tried to shave it down with an exacto. Since the plastic was so hard it made it slightly gray - however I have not sanded it down yet - I think with some careful sanding with fine grit (400-800-1200) it will come out looking really great. Overall I would give the lights a 4.5 of 5 stars, with the small tab the only minus, and at half the cost of the Brabus lights an awesome deal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ouch!

My front license plate is no more - the dealer was nice enough to wash my car before returning it - their automated car wash tore the European front plate off my car. The plate is slightly bent and scratched up but salvageable - but the frame is in pieces. It was a generic one-size-fits-all plastic frame. I would like to replace it with a more substantial frame - suggestions from anyone who has a frame and is happy with it would be appreciated.

I am in the middle of my 'mod vacation' - so far I have added the Stebel horn - really loud, upgraded the driving lights to HID, and I am about halfway through installing under-car LED's. I have been taking photos as I go along - I will post them when I have more done on the car.
 

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My front license plate is no more - the dealer was nice enough to wash my car before returning it - their automated car wash tore the European front plate off my car. The plate is slightly bent and scratched up but salvageable - but the frame is in pieces. It was a generic one-size-fits-all plastic frame. I would like to replace it with a more substantial frame - suggestions from anyone who has a frame and is happy with it would be appreciated.

I am in the middle of my 'mod vacation' - so far I have added the Stebel horn - really loud, upgraded the driving lights to HID, and I am about halfway through installing under-car LED's. I have been taking photos as I go along - I will post them when I have more done on the car.
What are you doing in Kentucky and Indiana? You belong in southern California.....dude.

Uptown Dog Company
 

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Yes - when lit they are red - and quite bright. I have the flasher unit and according to family members who have been behind me it is a very effective combination - much more attention getting than the single incandescent bulb. And the price is definately right :D

As for the black - it matches very well - the only exception at the moment is the tab where I tried to shave it down with an exacto. Since the plastic was so hard it made it slightly gray - however I have not sanded it down yet - I think with some careful sanding with fine grit (400-800-1200) it will come out looking really great. Overall I would give the lights a 4.5 of 5 stars, with the small tab the only minus, and at half the cost of the Brabus lights an awesome deal.
From now on, I'll check every light going out for that nub and take it down if it's there. Never noticed one on the light I put on my car. The flasher really adds a safety factor. If anyone runs into you when you hit the brakes, they have no excuse.


Uptown Dog Company
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Mods, Mods, Mods...


Front panels and front fenders removed, side valances are also off. This was to allow access for the new air horn, and the siren/P.A. speaker, as well as to add the HID kits for the driving lights. Note the laptop playing the YouTube video on removing the front and side panels as a single unit - nice way to save time and effort.


HID kits for the driving lights are tie-wrapped to the front bumper mount between the bumper and the front of the car.


Stebel Air Horn installed - sorry no photos showing the actual installation. The largest issue was finding a location that kept the horn in the proper position, and that would not interfere with the replacement of any body panels. The chosen location is close to the original horn location so that the original wires can be used to activate a relay. The angle that the horn needed to sit on required cutting the plastic 'gasket' that is provided as part of the horn mounting kit on an angle. The part of the 'gasket' attached to the horn provided no problems, however the part of the 'gasket' that is on the outside of the bumper kept sliding to one side when I would attempt to tighten the horn. The solution was to take two large crescent wrenches and put a 'notch' in the bumper that would hold the 'gasket' in place so it would not move - you can see the 'notch' in the above photo - just to the right of the 'gasket'. You can also see the HID kit for the driving lights.


The horn is wired directly to the battery with the original horn connections activating a relay. (The wires have not been cleaned up/tie wrapped yet). This horn is very loud and has two modes. The first mode is just a loud two-tone blast, the second mode alternates the two tones in a very loud and irritating pattern. Low-Hi-Low-Hi-Low-Hi. A switch to control which mode is active is being installed in the interior - more on that later.





Next issue - I have three items that need to make noise out the front of the car (besides the air horn) - the first is a musical horn that plays 'Here Comes Santa Claus' among other favorites. The second is the HAM radio. The last is a public address system. All three will share a single 100 watt siren speaker from an old volunteer fireman's car. The speaker magnet weighs five pounds, so it needs very secure mounting. It is also rather large with the cone mounted on the front, so placement was a real issue. After several attempts at fabricating a metal bracket to hold the speaker I could not find enough mounting points to support the weight. New idea - what if I created a mount that allowed the speaker to 'rest' on the frame? Due to safety concerns I did not want to drill, weld, or in any other way damage the frame/bumper, so the mount would need to be creative. With the unusual shape of the frame and the surrounding mounting points I would also have a good deal of fabrication to do. As I have very little in the way of metal working tools I turned to wood for my prototype. I created a prototype mount out of MDF and liked how it fit and worked, but MDF would never stand up to the elements. After trying several other materials, nylon was chosen. My dad had several stair treads that are used to replace old wood on outdoor decks - they look and work like wood, but are actually made of nylon. He took my pattern and fabricated the mount out of one of these stair treads. In the photos you see tie wraps - this was the initial idea to attach the mount in a non-damaging, non-permanent way. These proved to be not strong enough to support everything and were eventually replaced with metal strapping. There is still a small issue with the clearance of the cone - it is just a hair too tall to fit into the hole where the speaker is installed. I am hoping to extend the cone another inch to clear the top of the hole where it is mounted - more on that and photos later.


Dash removed to install separate wiring bus for all mods that are not directly connected to the battery (Air Horn and HAM radio are directly connected). All other devices will be powered through a Tsunami Power Distribution Block that will be mounted behind the dash. This allows me to centralize all the fuses for all the modifications, and to have each device use a dedicated fuse. The Power Distribution Block will be directly attached to the battery for always on power, and to the SAM using the extra power connections for switched power (I purchased the factory cable for adding additional fuses to the SAM - cost was less than four dollars). This way I hope to avoid interfering with any of the cars electrical systems, and it also provides an easy way to remove everything if I ever need/want to.




Sunglasses holder removed - this will be the new location for the head unit of the HAM radio. The actual radio will be mounted under the passenger seat.



Drivers side - panel behind the Tridion removed to allow access for routing HAM radio antenna cable. I actually broke one of the plastic tabs at the top of this panel trying to figure out how to remove it. It still has the two screws and the other tab so I am hoping it will be OK...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

Next there was an issue with the under-car LED's. I have two 24" tubes - one for the front, and one for the rear. Then I have two 48" tubes for the sides. I wanted a clean look, and also to avoid having the tubes hanging where they could get crushed by someone lifting the car improperly. The solution? Remove the side valances and install them between the valance and the frame, out of the way of the proper jacking points. The issue can be seen in the photo above - the tubes are TOO LONG! However, after studying on it a bit I noticed that the 48" tubes were really two 24" tubes soldered together at the middle. There was my solution! I would open the tubes, remove the 48" piece, desolder it into two 24" pieces, cut the tubes in half and then wire the two halves together. Now the two tubes could 'overlap' just a bit so that they would install INSIDE the valance, and away from the proper jacking point. You might have noticed a small problem with my solution - all the light will be INSIDE the valance. Never fear! There is a solution for that as well, more on the solution later!


Removal of the end cap


Removal of the silicon and the rubber stopper


Removal of the end cap with wires attached


Removal of the silicon and the rubber stopper with wires attached, sliding out the 48" LED strip...


Preparing to desolder the 48" strip into two 24" strips


Preparing to cut the plastic tube in half. More later as I put it all back together!

That is all for tonight. I am tired and need some sleep. Questions, Comments, and Criticism (constructive) is welcomed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
More work...

So, today I have put back together one of the 48" undercar LED strips.


Soldering on the wires to connect the two 24" pieces...


The re-assembled LED strips - ends are sealed with Permatex Black Silicon Adhesive Sealer.


Closer photo of the connection between the two LED strips. I used telephone cable because it is single conductor, and has 8 wires inside a plenum rated outer casing. The two strips were originally connected with 8 small copper wires, so single conductor wire seemed best.

Also completed today - the Santa Speedo...


This is just after completing the install in the factory speedometer housing...


This is what it looks like from the drivers seat.

The sleigh also got some new stickers for the back window...


It is kind of hard to see - but the far right reindeer is Rudolph...


This shot shows the new stickers, along with the new Venturi Generators on the back of the roof line.

Also installed today is the new HAM Radio antenna mount...


This actually requires a special mount as the roof is not metal. Most antennas are designed to use the roof as the ground plane for the antenna. Due to the plastic roof an antenna and mount specifically designed for non-metalic car applications was used.

The HAM radio itself is being mounted under the passenger seat - photo later when I have the wiring finished - it is a mess at the moment.


Here is the head unit for the HAM radio living in it's new home - the cubby to the left hand side of the steering wheel.

Last thing for today - the button bank...


A couple decals were added to the blank buttons for a bit of fun, and the three blank buttons have been drilled out so that the LED behind the button will show through when the button is pushed. The left most blank button (Rocket Boost) was configured by the dealer for the Driving Lights. One of the others will be my garage door opener (courtesy of the Switchboard mod from John) and the last - well, we will see.

If anyone has any good ideas on what to put in the holes in the Button Bank to make them look better and keep the inside clean I am open to suggestions...

As always - comments, suggestions and constructive criticism is welcome. Night all!
 

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Wow moving right along! Maybe you can rent the car out as a display car 4 months out of the year starting in September. You can rent it to Wal-Mart since they start stocking the Christmas stuff then. :D

Looking good!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
More mods - few photos...

Most of today was spent on installing the under-car LED's. Unfortunately as I do not have a lift, the under-car photos are almost useless. Here is what I can show you...






Holes in the side valances for light to show through. However, I am questioning whether I need to put some clear plastic windows in the holes. I plan to use silicon adhesive to place the light bars, and have several ideas on how to keep water intrusion to a minimum, but I am worried that if I do not totally surround each hole with silicon water/dirt/mud will get wedged in the holes and block the light. Comments? Suggestions?

Also, I hooked up four LED's in the cargo area. They are wired to the dome light - so that any time the dome light is on they are also on. I started with this article on another web site. However, the author of this article did two things I did not want to do. 1) Solder to his dome light, and 2) the rear lights were only on when in 'auto' mode, not when you manually turned the light on. This was due to the inability to solder to the stainless steel used in the positive side of the lamp fixture.

I resolved both issues by putting connectors on the ends of the wires from my LED's and 'plugging' them into the light.


For the ground connection I used a standard female spade connector and plugged it in to one side of the U shaped connector for the bulb (see above). The positive side required a bit more fiddling, but I finally found a spot where a U shaped spade with one side cut off would fit very snugly between the stainless steel and the plastic mount it is attached to. Both wires are above the bulb so you will not see them from inside the car, and both are removable if you want to drop the dome light fixture.


The panel over the cargo area was drilled out to allow the LED's.


I am using LED's in small domes as shown here.

More photos when I get the car back together - I am getting worried - I have two days to finish everything and I don't think it is going to happen :( I am looking at the possibility that I will leave much of the interior LED work for a later time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Sorry - no photos - here is your update.


I did not finish nearly what I wanted to before I had to get the Sleigh drivable for work. Here are the things I did accomplish, and their associated caveats:
  • Mercedes Emblem on the front (no comments from the peanut gallery please, my local dealer is a Mercedes Dealer - therefore it is a Mercedes)
  • Mercedes Emblem on the rear Caveat: Not installed - still working on the location. I think I will follow another members idea and move the word 'smart' to the lower right hand corner and center the emblem where the word 'smart' currently is.
  • Button Bank Mods
    • Added fun stickers
    • Drilled holes for lights to show through blank buttons
    • Added Swarovsky Crystals to cover the holes
    • Caveat: Still need the Switchboard to allow the button bank to control the garage opener...
  • Santa, Mrs. Claus, and nine reindeer (including Rudolph) added to the rear window
  • Tax stickers added to European front plate - caveat:front plate needs to be re-installed with a better frame after it was torn off by a car wash
  • Compressor (100 Watt police siren style speaker) mounted. Caveat: Custom horn mount still has epoxy drying, photos when fully installed. Speaker tested but not permanently hooked up yet.
  • Musical Horn - I have selected the location, working on how to give the unit the ability to be pulled out of it's location and held and then replaced back in it's location. My problem is the four wires that are required by the unit. I am going to try using a four conductor microphone coiled wire to see if that works. Space is the biggest issue for me :)
  • Siren/PA is working, but the siren unit is not permanently mounted - again space is my issue - and I need access to the controls on the front of the unit as the Musical Horn and the HAM Radio also access the Compressor above through this unit. I am thinking of taking the front panel controls off the circuit board and moving them to the center of the knee guard, leaving the control unit under the passenger seat with the HAM radio.
  • HAM Radio - DONE! Installed! Does not work :( Late last night when I was installing the passenger seat I cut the antenna cable. I did not find this out until lunch today when I tried to hit a local repeater. New end on the cable and I will be good to go.
  • HAM Radio antenna - mounted on the roof - behind the driver. There was a lot of discussion on whether to center the antenna at the rear of the car, but as the mount is not using any metal for a ground plane I decided to make it easier on me when I need to put the antenna up and down. I have a model that folds on demand so I can get it into a garage, etc.
  • HAM Radio external speaker - as the HAM radio itself is mounted under the passenger seat, I have an external speaker. Caveat: It is working, but currently sitting in the cup holder. It will be mounted to the bottom of the 'hidden shelf' in the passenger footwell.
  • Undercar LED's - These could be a thread all on their own. They are actually mounted - front, rear, and both sides. The front and sides required drilling of panels to allow the light through, and the sides required splitting the tubes into separate pieces to fit inside the valances. Caveat: Although everything is MOUNTED nothing is WIRED yet. The electronics will be velcro'd to the 'hidden shelf' mentioned above. The controller will be placed behind the dash on one side of the A/C controls. I plan on a remote switch to control them, with the controller LED's coming through holes drilled in the dash and covered with crystals.
  • Custom Speedometer - DONE! Almost. I want to do one more printing of the Santa - the 100 miles per hour has white circles in the zeros - need to fix that, then will be good to go.
  • Vortex Generators - done. Amazing stability increase when following large trucks.
  • Axle Tube Covers - installed. Caveat: Need touch up paint where the rubber hammer removed a bit...
  • Tailgate LED's - INSTALLED! Awesome if maybe not as bright as I had hoped.
  • HID's in foglamps - done. Caveat: Worked when tested, however now that everything is buttoned up the right hand light is not coming on. AARRGGHH.
  • Highlight LED's on the door pockets - installed. Nice warm glow on the doors now whenever the lights are on.
  • Stebel Horn - amazingly frustrated. It requires wiring a relay as well as an additional switch to allow the selection of the tones. It worked ONCE - then a bad burning smell came from the horn. One of the wires in the top of the horn appears to have melted in half. I am contacting Stebel.
I did not accomplish nearly as much as I wanted to - but life got in the way several of the days I had set aside to work. My largest frustration was on Saturday night when I was putting everything back together. I was following the excellent video on Smart Madness that explains how to install their HID lights. It give instructions on removing the front of the car as a single piece and then putting it back together.

There is a single bolt that they warn you of in the video - this beast has a habit of cross threading. Well, it happened to me on the passenger side. No matter how many times I started it by hand it would lock up. I finally decided to just drive it in - bad decision. Broken bolt. No problem, I have easy-out's. Problem - easy-out broke inside the bolt during extraction. It took almost four full hours to get the bolt out of the frame of the car. Once it was out I had to re-tap the threads - no go, I had to go larger due to the damage to the hole. Very frustrating way to spend a sunday afternoon.

All of the above to say - not done yet - all the external stuff is mounted - all the wires are pulled, and the floor of the passenger seat looks like an italian restaurant with all the spaghetti piled there. I will spend the weekend cleaning up the wires and getting all the goodies attached. More photos as I get the wiring cleaned up showing how I have the power block installed.

There are more goodies waiting to go on as well - so I have a summer project!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Long overdue update

While posting in 'What Did You Do With Your Smart Today' I realized I had not updated here in some time. I don't have time for a full update - but here are some photos of work completed recently. If there is something you are particularly interested in please let me know and I will get more photos/explain better...

First is the under-car LED's - they came out AWESOME - here is a low-level shot of them all on.



They show up very well under the car with no visible light fixtures.

Next, Interior LED's. I installed four white LED's in the 'trunk' area. These are wired to go on with the dome light - whether it is turned on manually or with the door open.

Drivers side


Passenger side


I also installed 'highlight' LED's in red to the interior. They are installed inside the armrest/window controls on each door, facing down. They come on anytime the lights are on...


Here is a shot of the PA system mounted under the drivers seat where I can reach the controls, but where it is not visible.


And here is a shot of the PA speaker (compressor) - painted in red to match the Sleigh.


You can see a hose clamp at the front of the speaker - there is a short flexible tube that goes between the speaker and the horn to allow the 'horn' of the speaker to sit right behind the front grill.
 
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