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.