Replacing the incandescent lights with LED units.

Jeb - Sat Sep 22 20:23:03 2001

I rode downtown today to a truck shop, and looked at their LED tail light selection. I already have some units attached to the back of the luggage box, but now I'm modifying the stock lighting as well. The Virago has a pretty weak stator, and doesn't like carrying the load of the incandescant DRL's I installed up front, so I'm changing everything over to LED's to significantly cut power use.
 
The easiest way would be to use 1157-to-LED array retrofit bulbs, but the only ones that are worth using cost a lot (ex: brake, turn). So, instead, today I bought a pretty decent, 60-LED array board mounted in a 4" round truck unit ($20). I plan to disassemble it, cut the board to the size I need, and resolder the connections as necessary. It should look pretty good, and fill the entire tail lamp.
 
Here's a comparison of my Virago's rear tail lamp lense, and the 4" round LED truck stop/turn/tail unit I bought:
01_lense_compare.jpg

The red lense is carefully broken off, revealing the components inside:
02_lense_off.jpg

Here the LED circuit board is removed from the base, to examine it:
03_base_apart_f.jpg
04_base_apart_b.jpg

Using a dremel, the board is cut into the smallest possible shape, without dividing the necessary circuitry (luckily there is some redundant circuitry, so a severed circuit doesn't necessarily mean that it needs to be resoldered). The base of the old 4" unit is cut down to create a small pod to screw the board back into, for support. Here's the new unit (note the screw notches on the sides):
05_new_assy.jpg

The new part is fitted to the bike's wiring...
06_unit_fit.jpg

...and tried out - works great!
07_installed.jpg