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E46 Bi-Xenon (budget) retrofit

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Old May 2nd, 2017, 09:10   #21
LizardOfBodom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poiuytre111 View Post
I am looking into fitting some H1 halogens into 2nd hand bmw fittings and will report back if I can fix H1 bulbs into the (d2s) sockets - the penetration depth of the bright bit in a H1 halogen looks to be within a mm or so of the same in the d2s spec so its "just" a matter of securing the bulbs in the d2s holder.
Im interested to hear how you managed and if the beam pattern is right. From technical perspective H7 is much closer to D2S as for the actual size of part that 'shines', comparing to H1 that is probably half the size so in theory H7 should be better use.
good luck modding anyway!
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Old May 26th, 2017, 17:30   #22
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So are you guys buying H7 E46 halogen projectors to swap out the old 30/40/50 series halogen projectors ? Then fitting your H7 HID kits into these as someone else said all of the E46 xenons projectors I am seeing are D2S fitment.
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Old May 29th, 2017, 10:41   #23
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Originally Posted by SIAMBLUE View Post
So are you guys buying H7 E46 halogen projectors to swap out the old 30/40/50 series halogen projectors ? Then fitting your H7 HID kits into these as someone else said all of the E46 xenons projectors I am seeing are D2S fitment.
Hi
Just to clarify the possible confusion:
- OEM projector type Bosch AL/E46 that is used in lots of cars (including E46 BMW etc) is a _DS2_only_ type projector and in that form is used only for Xenon installations. It is genuine German-made Bosch part and is made of quality materials. It is still OK to use it if you source original one in good condition, but it is unfortunately pretty hard (lots are a bit worn out or damaged).
- AFTERMARKET projector called "Bosch AL/E46" are mostly made in China Bosch-design ripoffs that are still decent quality and can be bought brand new and are pretty decent value. Those can be bought in various bulb-socket seats (H7, H11, DS2) so you can even use those with standard halogen H7's.
The reason I, for example, used H7 version is because I had H7 kit already with lots of spare bulbs etc, and also - when going to MOT, you only swap the bulbs.
I suspect D2S version would be better in terms of brightness/light spread, as you can use genuine and good D2S bulbs, but for the sake of convenience I went for compromise :]
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Old May 29th, 2017, 11:45   #24
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I agree with LofB and additionally, I would point out that while the original BMW E46 reflector part will screw directly into our cars but require d2s "bulbs", at least some aftermarket equivalent E46 Bi-Xenon assemblies will not fit as the torx screw holes are designed for the matching glass & plastic which can be different. LoB has sourced a specific part which, he has advised, does indeed fit and comes in a number of bulb socket types including those suited to halogen use.
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Old Nov 6th, 2017, 18:26   #25
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As my new project is taking longer than I thought, and my story-notes are getting longer and longer, I decided to start the writeup now and share what I have done so far. I am, hopefully 1 week away from finished project and swapping the lamps, but even now I am sure it wont be 100% as I want it, as wiring of this contraption is more complicated than I thought....
but anyway - here is my photostory of work in progress so far

So just a brief explanation of "Black Lamp project" origins. As seen on previous posts, I already have retrofitted HID system with H7 bulbs. It is working well and really happy with it, but being a bit of a light freak I always
wanted to go step ahead. Always regretted not going with D2S version so I thought to myself "ah, what the hell" and decided to go for it this time.

Step1

As per my original plan - I was not happy with swapping projectors over for every annual test, nor I thought it would be healthy for the plastic holders so I decided to get the spare set of headlamps. First attempt - pulled the plug on set of brand new aftermarket ones, TYC brand.
Big mistake.
Next day after recieving them, those were in return post heading back to seller. Quality was terrible, plastic felt like it was breaking by just touching it and the projector holders looked so fragile I would actually be afraid to
swap anything inside. Plus headlight regulator snapped by just looking at it, seriously! 20eur lost, back to square one.

Took me few weeks to source decent set of used ones. Partially because I decided to go only with black ones as I felt those would be nice "by the way" upgrade, and partially as its hard to find set that is not damaged and in decent condition. Finally got a pair from local (!) scrapyard for about 80e.



Nothing broken, inside very clean and dust free, just badly scratched. Tested them on the car to make sure everything worked, and took (badly burnt) projectors and all bulbs out. I also took all regulators out first (the plastic clips with white torx) as its much easier to operate on adjusters without them without the risk of snapping. As mentioned in previous posts - one of the screws holding the projector is a real a**, hiding directly under the light levelling motor, and the only way to tackle it is to move the projector horizontally on the adjuster max to one side. It reveals the screw's head and allow to force it out.



Packed lamps in the bags, left it on the shelf for the future. In the meantime I ordered set of LED rings, 100mm, as advised, to copy the idea of some people from the forum. 20eur all in. Also started to look around for a set of used AL projectors.


STEP2

Week later I got the rings, and had a go with first trial-fittings.





As said by others, It was a tight fit and 100mm rings are really snuggle in the plastic housing. Problem was, wouldnt stay alligned (very slippery that inside chrome coating) and were also really close to the OEM diffusor (plastic shroud outside the projector) that I decided to keep. I liked the effect best when distance from plastic was atleast 2-3cm as it made nice and diffused, but still powerful light. I decided I will not touch the inside of the lamps (dust particles from this type of plastic is a NIGHTMARE) so used small file to do few notches in the actual ring to wedge it better. Still didnt sit right and thought I may need to glue/attach them for better result. Decided to re-think this whole idea.
Test fitting also highlighted the big issue of how bad the acrylic shield was.



That would be a really bad for oncoming traffic when xenon burners are used so next logical step was to take care of this. Ordered some extra polishing attachments for drill, had some polishing compound from previous lamps left so thats all I needed.
Still no luck with AL projectors, but ordered a set of one of the best bulbs available in D2S - Osram Xenarc NB Unlimited. Found a great deal on Amazon for 55Eur so snapped them imemdiately.

STEP3

Polishing attachments arrived, prepared myself mentally for weekend and started the job on one evening.
Bad idea.
10 minutes later I ended up with almost burnt marks on part of the shield and no visible improvement after lenghty polishing process. Gave up and found local advert for professional headlamp restoration. 30eur and 1 day later I had perfectly cleaned and polished headlamps that I just needed to seal with UV sealant. Best decision I did was to stop trying to do it myself. Stunning result.




STEP4

My next step of project was delayed again because of simple fact - could not find ANY used AL projectors from RHD car. None. Maybe US market is better for retro projects (have seen plenty of ads for cheap projectors) but here its
either full headlamp or nothing. A bit disappointing result, but hey - cant give up. The fallback plan was to order set of new aftermarket projectors from the same crowd I used before (Retrofitlab). Also got the D2S->AMP lead as I will be using my current Kensun ballast kit. 160eur gone.
Finally got them week later and did some bench testing and inspection.



First impression - looks identical to H7 version from Retrofitlab. Just the bulb base is different. Didnt really expect anythyng else as I was told those wont differ much, but still. The positive thing is that bulbs sits much
better and with less possible wiggle, and that straight out-of-the box everything was perfect. No messing around with bulb base, cutoff adjustment etc. I guess proper D2S bulb does make a difference. Testing it out on the garden shed provided really impressive result



Just to compare, as I had it handy - original projector from this headlamp with H7 bulb....



Wow...

Anyway - having projectors checked and prepared, I was ready to fit them in. Unfortunately - failed miserably doing so with LED rings in. It was just a hour-long disaster of trial fitting rings to either plastic shroud or the projector itself. Those were just simply too big and ill fitted, was not able to allign them nicely for good effect.



Defeated, had a lightbulb (pun intended) moment and took some measurments of actual projector and contacted the seller.



Found out that 94mm rings have apx 78mm inner diameter so this will be a perfect fit! Plus, its possible to put them in a distance from the diffusor plastic, as I always wanted, and attaching them with cableties to projector will allow easy replacement in case of burning out or whatever.
Why didnt I think of that before?
With another week of waiting ahead of me, only thing I could do was to wire the bi-xenon shutter to hi-beam cable. This time I didnt bother with extension cable - just wired it straigt to bulb connector. Worked like a charm.






I also discovered another problem (ofcourse) that I havent thought of before. D2S->AMP cable wiring is different than H7 rebased bulbs and there are just 2 wires without rubber collar coming out of it. And you still need a + cable coming out of the headlamp, so how to get total of 3 cables from the headlamp to the ballasts without compromising the seal? The only thing I thought of was to re-use cables from cut H7 bulb (with rubber collar seal) and attach them to D2S->AMP adapter. Used butt joint connectors, crimped and isolated (2 layers, just in case) and will also leave the joint inside of the headlamp. The rubber collar will fit perfectly in my previously cut lamp covers from my current lamps so it should become plug&play after assembly. Voila the franken-cable :}



Did some tests with bulb powered on and there seem to be no heat on joints so I am hoping I did it well. Also, I hope to have no problems with water penetration as lamps will remain as sealed as possible.


STEP5

Week later rings arrived, and what do you know? Perfect fit!! Really happy with them.






Tip for everybody - although not marked, those rings are actually + and - orientated so make sure you mark which cable is + to avoid connection issues. Nothing will go wrong, just wont work if not connected properly.

Started to assemble the lamps back, putting projectors in their mounts as careful as possible. Another useful tip - dip the screws in a bit of lube - that should hopefully prevent the plastic powder coming out next time when disassembling projectors (and trust me - that powder is a real PITA to get rid afterwards, ask me how I know...).



After some usual wiggling with that one pesky screw, both projectors were in. Did a quick dry-test of LED ring - looks perfect. Light colour on picture is totally off as those leds are pure white (5000K) but you get the idea. Will shoot some better ones when finished.



Really happy with uniform and diffused light, plus - its not visible at all when off. Exacactly what I wanted.

I also found out convenient way to pre-aim projectors and check their allignment and proper seating in the comfort of the kitchen. I took the current lamps out of the car to my test table and marked the outline with pen on the piece of tape. Then I fired them up and marked the beam position on the door. Then I did exactly the same with new headlamps and adjusted projectors to match the markers as perfectly as possible. Happy to say the adjustment was not that much off and just confirmed that projectors are seated correctly. On previous lamps I had to use metal washers to achieve correct adjustment. My only concern is that beam seem to be going down a bit on both new ones.

Maybe its just from short-distance throw (2 meters from the door) or headlamp not alligned properly on table, but I am hoping its not gonna be visible when fitted. Rotational issue with projectors is always a problem and is not easy to correct. Time will tell.






So the only thing left now is connecting LED rings. And thats where I failed, again, and thats where I am now, waiting for next weekend to carry on with the project. Just because I want to do it MY way...

let me explain
So the whole concept behind the LED rings is not only to look nice, but to also work as proper DRL. As I drive with lights on 24/7 (because I feel its right way to do so) and in the same time not very happy with HIDs engaged during sizzling-summer months in here (22Celsius scorching hot :P), I've always found the idea of LED DRLs very convenient. So I want to connect them "the right way" so when engine is on and all lights are off, DRL LEDs are active. When turning the lights on - DRLs will shut down.
There are few ways to do it, but the only sensible one is to do it via dedicated DRL relay. Something like this one (mind blowing 2eur per piece . I am planning to use 2 of them, 1 per each headlight, and place them in each lamp itself, although those are designed to handle pair of LEDs each.



This one is fairly simple and cheap - will either activate or deactivate DRL depending on extra signal coming in. Some better ones will dim the LED ring to 50%, but really found no reason to spend 30eur on those, especially that with lights on, rings wont be visible anyway. And definetely I will not want to have those rings 100% on with headlamps active - generated heat and dazzling at night is not something I want to achieve. But because of that, I had a "pleasure" of spending half of Sunday figuring out the connection and testing the relays.
I have to admit - I am electrically challenged so even such simple thing takes me 5x more than anyone with good electrical skills, but Im getting there. Managed to create a nice cable octopus when connecting it to my test PSU but finally got it right and labelled all wires so I dont mess it up (*yes, I have instruction, no, I didnt fully understand it . Flicking the switch emulates turning the lights on and off so test bulb should light up in OFF position.
It does



For the moment - thats where I am stuck, though. Wiring up the cables inside the headlamp means cutting to some existing ones (parking light for example) so its taking me some time. Plus, I found out that there is NO ignition-related +12V inside of headlamp so that mean I need cable from somewhere else run to each headlamp. More hassle, cables and finding the good place to splice-in. Not in the mood for that now, plus weather currently doesnt help so I made an executive decision to leave it until later (next summer maybe) and wire the LEDs temporarily using parking dipped beam as commanding signal. So when I turn parking lights (POS1) - LED rings and parking lights will activate. When I turn dip beams (POS2), LED rings will deactivate. Need to compromise on this one as otherwise will never finish it this winter...

Thats all for now. Planning to finish wiring in current form during weekend and hopefully mount the lights to the car and do a proper allignment. Only after then I will be able to tell, was it worth it or not. So far, when adding up all current cost, I have serious doubts, but heck, will see.
Will provide update after next stage, so if you are interested, stay tuned
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E-focus torque mount, E46 bi-xenon retrofit v2 , (also available in PDF form), DTSC fully-off mod, Brembo discs+ATE ceramic pads

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Old Nov 6th, 2017, 19:38   #26
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The lights are the one thing I hate about my 2012 V50. When I commuted in it, during the dark months id take a far longer route home just to stay on well lit main roads.
Ive tried several makes of updated bulbs, with little discernible improvement, and am coming close to saying enough is enough. Im hating the idea of yet another winter of misery. Maybe youve shown me the solution.
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Old Nov 8th, 2017, 10:23   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thorn View Post
The lights are the one thing I hate about my 2012 V50. When I commuted in it, during the dark months id take a far longer route home just to stay on well lit main roads.
Ive tried several makes of updated bulbs, with little discernible improvement, and am coming close to saying enough is enough. Im hating the idea of yet another winter of misery. Maybe youve shown me the solution.
I know exactly what you mean, my first few weeks of commuting with OEM lights after buying this car was a real challenge and I hated ever km of the trip. Going HID route is the only sensible solution but please make sure you do your homework ref DRL, WMM issue and take care of all precautions beforehand to avoid nasty surprises. With 2012 model you are lucky enough to have clear lenses in your projectors so you can try without modifying the lamps first and see the results.
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Old Nov 13th, 2017, 15:10   #28
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Ok, so STEP6 now after another Saturday spent with wires, relays and connectors.... seriously I'm done for now, it became much complicated that I ever expected....

Relay testing finally became positive and all cables on both headlamps were ready to wire up.



The wire-octopus looks bad, but after few hours of careful wire joining, splicing, taping and sealing the ready-to-fit harness was good to go.



I probably went overboard with protection, as every single joint has 1 or 2 layers of electrical tape + some are also protected by heat-shrink sleeve, but last thing I would want is some of connections going loose in the cramped space. Most of joints were done using those screw-in blocks and connectors+crimper so really did my best there. And hence few hrs lost on precise (and annoying) work.

Fitted in headlamp with no room to spare, adjusted the bulb connector a bit and all in all - it closes perfectly without extra tension, although it is REALLY close to the rear cover. Like zero-gap close.







Final testing on the bench - works exactly as intended. Halos go on with parking lights and goes off when dip beam is on. In future - will be rewired as originally intended (POS2 ignition).





STEP7

lamps in the car, first test on the wall. Everything works fine, light and shutter beam works fine. Not happy with the light sloping to right, but its exactly the same as with previous lamps. Not sure whats going on but seems that its either projector or lamp mounts design that originally were intended for a bit different projectors....



Did some adjusting and allignment and best I can achieve is this. Not bad, with perfect hotspot and levelled cutoff. Just the right slope bothers me, but as I said - cant fix the rotational issue without messing with mounts. Will leave it as is and see how it works on the road.
Right projector has a bit of rainbow effect on the edge but will correct it later (shutter adjustment by screw).



Cant say much about D2S vs H7HID difference yet, as I am yet to drive it at night so really have no clue how it behaves. Main test will be tonight on evening comute.

What I can say, though, car looks great with black lamps. Difference is very subtle, but I see it and really enjoy the new look.



This on its own was worth the hassle, plus condition of those is much better after polishing so win-win.
And then you turn on Halos....



Have to say - love the looks. And I also like the combined look of side amber + halo + parking LED. All together makes a very unique look and have to say I really like it.

Night shot:



Im not kind of person that would use that just for the looks (i.e. will never drive on them at dusk/night just because "that looks cool") but during the daylight, when its either no lights or those on - Im happy to have them on like DRLs would.
As for the brightness - I have to admit that keeping them behind the difusor does make them dimmer. That was obvious, but I still prefer this to having them exposed. Plus the light output is enough for car to be visible during the day. Something brighter than non-Led DRLs on some cars, and less bright than LED DRLs on full brightness.

Thats all for now.
Will update this thread after some night driving, maybe I manage to take some pics but it will be mostly down to my personal observation and difference in light output noticeable only for my eye.
Also, my old H7 projectors will be taken out in next day or 2, wrapped up and packed in their original boxes and ready for their next owner (see for sale section if interested)
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Old Nov 13th, 2017, 16:21   #29
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Can honestly say after changing to HID bulbs with the standard projectors(2012 model) im still disappointed. Brightness has improved dramatically but the light is just focused on the road directly in front of you and not the distance that I would class as safe. I went with 5000k 35w for the HID. Might go to a garage and see can they adjust them up without blinding oncoming traffic.
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Old Nov 13th, 2017, 17:56   #30
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Quote:
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Can honestly say after changing to HID bulbs with the standard projectors(2012 model) im still disappointed. Brightness has improved dramatically but the light is just focused on the road directly in front of you and not the distance that I would class as safe. I went with 5000k 35w for the HID. Might go to a garage and see can they adjust them up without blinding oncoming traffic.
Sorry to hear that.
Not sure if your issue is due to projector type that simply wont output any better or misaligned/crappy bulb, but if its only height issue , but you can always try to adjust them yourself ( I did mine). Takes just few minutes to learn&understand the concept and after that if you follow instructions it will just be as good as garage. Or even better, as you wont snap your regulators.... (seriously)...

thats what I've been using as guidance for last few years. Checked once against machine in my indie shop - allignment was spot on.
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