My new LED license plate light - Kawasaki Vulcan 750 Forum : Kawasaki VN750 Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-04-2010, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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My new LED license plate light

A while back, my brother had me pick up a TV for him off eBay. Doing so got me $9 in eBay bucks. They were expiring this week, so I had to find something to buy for around that price. I had been looking at the DIY helmet cams and almost used it to buy one of those mini keychain cameras. However, I ended up buying another light.

The license plate light is a pretty small bulb (model 67, 8W 5CP) with not much room around it inside the housing. Also, the light only shines straight down, at a right angle to the bulb socket. Because of all these factors, I decided to get a little LED board rather than one of the LED "bulbs". Since it doesn't need to put out a whole ton of light and space is tight, I settled on a 2x4 board. http://store.sixity.com/Items/008000560 is the exact item I got, though I got it through eBay.



According to the product page, the board is 15mm x 30mm. That's approximately .6" x 1.2". As you can see, the board comes with a simple 2-pin connector and a few different base adapters with mating 2-pin plugs. Unfortunately, it doesn't include a BA15s base adapter, which is what the 67 bulb (as well as the 1156) uses. I did find another site selling the 1156 BA15s base adapter, and it even seems to be using the same 2-pin plug. The adapter is under $1, but the cheapest shipping is $4, so you may wish to look for one elsewhere or order some other stuff along with it.

For testing purposes, I used one of my old 1156 turn signal bulbs. I broke the glass bulb, snipped the filament off, and used the protruding wires to plug into the 2-pin connector on the LED. I used my multimeter to find which wire was connected to the outer housing for ground, and marked that one with black Sharpie (which you can just barely see on the side of the glass in the pics).

Here are shots of my modified bulb and how it plugs in.


Here's a shot of the whole assembly for size reference.


This is with the board/base contraption simply plugged in and hanging freely. As usual, the cameraphone doesn't do a great job taking pics of LEDs, but you can see that it's quite bright and gives off a very white light, with just a bit of HID-like blue.


When you take the cover off, there's a guard around the bulb. This should direct the light down somewhat as well as keeping the bulb's heat away from the plastic.


Since I'm not worried about heat or stray light with the LED board, but could use extra space, I removed that guard. It simply pulls straight off, as it's sandwiched in place when the outer housing is screwed on.

Here are a couple pics of how the board is installed with the guard removed.


And finally, here's what it looks like with the housing reinstalled. You can see that it does a good job lighting up the plate with nice bright white light. Note that the LED board is just sort of stuffed in there in the position seen above. I'll probably give it a more fixed mount once I get a permanent bulb base for it.


I'm sure the license plate bulb doesn't use that much power, but this is another slight reduction in power usage for a light that's on all the time. Additionally, it should be more reliable, cooler, and brighter/whiter. Since it was essentially free to me, I consider it a worthwhile upgrade.


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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-04-2010, 10:29 PM
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The results were worth it. Looks good!
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 12:18 AM
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Why in the heck would you want to light up your license plate brighter? If the cops want to read your plate, make them work for it. I'm not an out and out lawbreaker, but I do ride above the speed limit sometimes. I'd rather the plate not be so easily read. I'm just saying...

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 12:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksmnet View Post
Why in the heck would you want to light up your license plate brighter? If the cops want to read your plate, make them work for it. I'm not an out and out lawbreaker, but I do ride above the speed limit sometimes. I'd rather the plate not be so easily read. I'm just saying...
I'm with you on this one^




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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 01:04 AM
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I have one just like that on my Nomad, works great.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 02:32 AM
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In addition to the LEDs I've got in the turn signals making them brighter and also running and brake lights, I also have an LED license plate holder. All efforts on being seen better. But my plate light itself wasn't even hooked up from the factory. I rewired it so as to work and now it's just plain out for whatever other reasons, so my plate can't be seen at all.
I would very much do this conversion. This is, what, maybe a half hour of diddling for a novice? Since I'm not a novice, maybe an hour for me (LOL).
I just wouldn't want the brightness of the plate light to overpower the other lights.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Chris and Shim View Post
All efforts on being seen better.
I understand the desire to be seen better by other drivers, but still you don't have to make the license plate more visible by doing it. That's all I'm saying.

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Last edited by ksmnet; 11-07-2010 at 10:30 PM.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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Honestly, I don't think the LED makes a huge difference in the visibility of the plate. Maybe I'll throw the old bulb back in and get some pics for comparison. I really did it mainly because I got the LED for free, and just the general mentality of replacing old crappy bulbs with new LED hotness.

I get what you guys are saying about making your plate more noticeable, but it may not work exactly as you imagine it. I'm basing this on my own experience with Michigan police, based on my driving experiences and my time working for a two-way radio dealer who did radios for pretty much every emergency service in several counties.

Scenario 1 - I have my nice bright LED plate light and am speeding a little.
  1. The cop runs my plate, sees that I have a perfectly clean record except for one minor speeding ticket years ago, I'm a local, and maybe even recognizes my name from when I worked at the radio place. He ignores me and my day proceeds as usual.
  2. The cop runs my plate and sees that I have a speeding ticket on my record. He pulls me over and possibly gives me a ticket.
Best case scenario, he completely ignores me and I just keep driving. Worst case scenario, I get pulled over and get a ticket.

Scenario 2 - I have a poor/dead plate light and am speeding a little.
  1. The cop can't run my plate, so he pulls me over. He runs my info, sees that I have a perfectly clean record except for one minor speeding ticket years ago, I'm a local, and maybe even recognizes me from when I worked at the radio place. He lets me go and my day proceeds as usual after the stop.
  2. The cop can't run my plate, so he pulls me over. He runs my info, sees that I have a speeding ticket on my record. He gives me a ticket for speeding and/or faulty equipment.
Best case scenario, I still get pulled over, but I don't get a ticket. Worst case scenario, I get tickets for speeding and for having a bad plate light.

Unless you're trying to run from the cops without them getting a look at your plate, it seems to me that making it more visible can only make things easier (by letting them run the plate and choose to let it slide). In all my dealings with police, nothing has ever made me think that if they were trying to run a plate but couldn't see it, they'd choose to just let it go rather than pulling you over for it.

Perhaps if you were riding next to another bike, and the cop was behind you just randomly running plates, he might choose yours over the other guy's because it was easier to read. However, other than being the easiest target in a group that's already been selected, I don't think having a slightly better plate light is going to affect whether or not he runs your plate. If he really wants to run your plate, he's going to pull you over anyway (and that gives him some ammo for faulty equipment already).

Maybe it's different elsewhere and depending on your past traffic record, but in my eyes, having the plate be fully visible is just making it easier for him to run his check and decide to ignore me, without having to pull me over. I may still get pulled over and get a ticket, but if he can't read the plate, he's going to pull me over just to get the info even if he does end up letting me off.

I'm all for keeping power in check for the police and government in general. However, I'm also a "path of least resistance" kind of guy too. If they want to see your plate and you're at least generally a law-abiding citizen (i.e. you're going to pull over when they turn their lights on), they're going to see it one way or another. One way, I don't even have to slow down for them to do so. The other way, I'm getting pulled over whether or not I get a ticket. If I'm not going to get a ticket, I'd rather not even get pulled over.

If you have outstanding warrants or don't plan to pull over when you see the red and blue lights come on, this may not be the mod for you. =)


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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 03:48 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris and Shim View Post
I would very much do this conversion. This is, what, maybe a half hour of diddling for a novice? Since I'm not a novice, maybe an hour for me (LOL).
I just wouldn't want the brightness of the plate light to overpower the other lights.
Most of my time was spent trying to figure out which size LED board to get and how to adapt it to the socket. If you buy the LED and base I linked above, it should be a 10 minute plug 'n' play job for anyone who can change a lightbulb. Two screws to take the housing off, twist the bulb out, and pull the guard off. Plug the LED board into the base, twist the base in, aim the LEDs down, put the housing back on and screw it in.

You may be able to fit a 4x4 LED board in there with the guard removed. I didn't realize it just pulled off at first, so I specifically went for a small one. The screw posts are one of the biggest hindrances in there, and that's obviously not something that you can easily change. I don't think you could easily fit the 24- or 36-LED boards in there (and that might be a bit excessive for the plate light anyway).


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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 03:56 PM
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This is what I did:
http://cgi.ebay.com/2-White-1156-36-...ht_3319wt_1141
WAY less work for a very bright light...
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