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VW MKIII-A3/B4 TDIs This is a discussion about MKIII-A3/MkIII Jetta/Golf (<99.5) and B4 Passats (96,97) TDI's. Non TDI related postings will be moved or removed.

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Old September 24th, 2012, 22:13   #1
Digital Corpus
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Default So I was tired of dingy license plate bulbs...

Another member of the club recently asked my about my license plate light(s) as they've shown up in a couple photos over here in the challenge thread. Or at least that is where I assume he's seen it. Now, what I did was something entirely custom. I've never considered posting about this because all except 1 or two people who I've shown the car have never noticed the light.

I didn't want to drop ~10 or so bucks on two LED replacements. Plus the seals on the lenses were deteriorating and the screws were barely staying in. For other side projects I had some left over acrylic so I decided to put it to use. Also, I had stumbled across some pre-made CCFL assemblies designed for the 12V power busses in computer systems.

First, here are two quick shots at about sunset with the light on an off.




Anyhow, here is what I did...
Since the plastic lenses were going to age more by as the years went by while owning the car, I traced their outline on some 1/4" acrylic, and went at it with a dremel. I drilled out the holes for the screws, and the with the dremel, did what I could to create a recessed grove for the clips that came with the CCFL (I'll give more details about it's specifics at the end). Oh! cannot forget about a groove for the wire to go inside the trunk for power. Add a little bit of silicone sealant and screw everythign together...

Mind you, I've had this installed for over a year now.

Here is a comparison shot if I flip the light towards install.


Even at sunset, I had to wait about 15 minutes before it was dark enough to actually photograph how fircken bright this light is.





And here is a comparison with the tail lights on:




Continued below...
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Last edited by Digital Corpus; December 10th, 2013 at 13:29. Reason: server re-organization changed links
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Old September 24th, 2012, 22:14   #2
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Default Continuation

As I said above, I've had this installed for over a year. I have not taken the light off at all since I installed it. One of the worries I had when I bought it since there were not sufficient photos was whether or not the assembly was sealed. Low and behold when I took it out of the box, it was!



Oh, and here is proof that I haven't touch it. This is the top side that is completely obstructed from view when it's installed.



Keen observes may notice that there is a clear thing-a-ma-jig that is in the photos that is on the light, but it's somewhat discrete. This is a clear plastic J-bar that I cut and sanded as a light shield for the CCFL.



The mounting position of the B4's lights actually has them angled away from the car by a few degrees. Only problem is that this opening of the light (which is side firing) then creates a bit of glare for drivers behind me. This is why I installed this little guy with some silicone after planting the light-facing-side with some silver paint for reflectivity and to block the light.
This next shot shows a comparison between stock tungsten filament bulbs on a family B4 with my installed CCFL. The shot after it is with the J-bar in place.





One of the reasons this light is so clean is that the covering for the light is frosted on the inside. This makes the light output verrrrry smooth and diffuse.



With all of that taken care of, before I dropped the money on the light, I was able to find it's dimensions and they are fairly compact and the light installs pretty cleanly. I'm sorry, but I didn't want to get inside the trunk all of the way, but I have it's power lines crimped to just one of the original power lines for the bulbs.

This brings me to my primary concern when I first installed the CCFL. It's made for a 12V system. When the car is running, the alternator produces a solid 14.4V give or take. This is a 20% difference in voltage. I wasn't sure if I was going to burn it out or not. Since I've installed it, I've driving 25-30K miles. A little more than those are at night and this has been running continuously without a problem. After a couple of minutes of being powered on, the ends get a little warm to the touch, but I've *never* had a problem with it.

The model number for this CCFL specifically is CXS12WT. If you want a front firing one (the light is reflected out the narrow end) the part number is CXF12WT, but that won't work for a license plate light.
The CCFL assembly is made my Logisys. It is one of many models in 12" or 20" lengths. It's rated to consume 7.2 watts. Even for the 20-inchers if memory serves. Here are the commonly quoted specs I see online for it:
  • Naked Lamp Diameter: 2.6+/-1.0mm
  • Tube Length: 12"(appr. 305mm) 20"(appr. 510mm)
  • External Tube and Base Dimension: 12mm x 22.5mm
  • Inverter Input Voltage: 12VDC
  • Lamp Voltage: 1000V +/-10%
  • Frequency: 60KHz +/-10%
  • Lamp Current: 6.5mA +/-1.0
  • Total Power: 7.2W
  • Brightness: 30000Cd/m2

You can also pics these up in red, blue, green, pink, and UV. The 12" lights are just under 20 bucks shipped from most online dealers and if you want a 20" one, just add 2-3 bucks to that. Oh, and I just light how inexpensive and solid this product is. I'm in no way associates with any vendor or the manufacturer
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Last edited by Digital Corpus; December 10th, 2013 at 13:31. Reason: add the double spacing and disclaimer back...
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Old September 24th, 2012, 22:28   #3
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you are the man! i like this a lot. when you give more info on the ccfl, it will be going into mine! that is a perfect size for the plate too.
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Old September 24th, 2012, 22:33   #4
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Don't forget to do a how to for the estate/wagon too
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Old September 24th, 2012, 22:41   #5
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I need to have a look at a fellow member's wagon to let you know if it'll fit.

Just run a google search for the part number and you'll find these CCFL's everywhere. The leat expensive I've found them is on a site called eio.com
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Old September 24th, 2012, 22:47   #6
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A note about this photo
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Originally Posted by Digital Corpus View Post
The light is currently laying on it's side so the illumination is on the trunk lid (in this pic specifically). If this were the front facing model, it would be shining out the side that is facing the camera.
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Old September 25th, 2012, 07:39   #7
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i found a few for sale, with and without ballast. did you need it?
http://www.goodluckbuy.com/decorativ...st-driver.html
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Old September 25th, 2012, 08:01   #8
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In case anyone was wondering, I was the curious forum member

Thanks for the write-up!
This will be added to my to do list as I am also dissappointed with the dim factory lights, and LED replacements were less than awesome.

Vince
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Old September 25th, 2012, 12:32   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deejaaa View Post
i found a few for sale, with and without ballast. did you need it?
http://www.goodluckbuy.com/decorativ...st-driver.html
Yes, that would work. The balast is what converts the DC current to the needed high voltage AC current. I don't know about how sealed that case and container are though.

With a setup like that it could work, but I'd be careful. You get what you payoff. Over-voltingthe hardware by 20% is nothing to laugh at. If it were 10% I wouldn't worry, but 20% is beyond most perceived electrical tolerances.
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In case anyone was wondering, I was the curious forum member

Thanks for the write-up!
This will be added to my to do list as I am also dissappointed with the dim factory lights, and LED replacements were less than awesome.

Vince
You're welcome Vince. Hope all is in order for what was done. It's really a straight forward install. With that license plate frame of mine, it's a little tight, but never had and issue.
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Old September 25th, 2012, 13:28   #10
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i like the one from https://www.eio.com/p-23156-logisys-...bar-white.aspx esp when its tried and true.
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Old October 3rd, 2012, 13:23   #11
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Two more pics since I'm installing 2-20", one white and one red, in my trunk at the moment.

This is the terminal that comes on the light. Minor modification is required if you want to keep stock terminals on the car.


This is the connection for the license plate light. I used some metal sheers to trim away excess parts of the flat blades and some "liquid rubber" to expand the heat shrink to prevent shorting and arching:


Up close shot of unmodified terminations as I test the new lights before install:
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Old October 3rd, 2012, 16:27   #12
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The license plate light is nice- I'm wondering if any cops would pull someone over for it,as it is so bright it partially obscures the plate #..... in NY they probably would.....
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Old October 3rd, 2012, 16:31   #13
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Okay, so I decided to do a couple photos while I wait for my brother to return the dremel for polishing his side arms in order to create the hole to mount the switch for the lights and clean everything up. However, here are some teaser shots of the mounted lights and how bright they are. Keep in mind, it's still broad daylight right now...

Off:


White:


Red:
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Old October 3rd, 2012, 16:33   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdidieselbobny View Post
The license plate light is nice- I'm wondering if any cops would pull someone over for it,as it is so bright it partially obscures the plate #..... in NY they probably would.....
The human eye responds differently and has a much much much greater dynamic range than a camera. Though it looks like it obscures the numbers in the photos, it doesn't.
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Old October 11th, 2012, 14:24   #15
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Quote:
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….…some teaser shots of the mounted lights and how bright they are. Keep in mind, it's still broad daylight right now...
can't wait to this also, esp at night.
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