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Lighted Tesla T for nosecone

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by artsci, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    #1 artsci, Jun 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2013
    As I’m working on developing a lighted Tesla T I thought I’d start a new thread to report progress and information on how it’s done. The thread that inspired me to begin this project is here.

    To start, it’s important to know that the stock T is made of two plated plastic pieces, each about 3mm thick, one for the T itself and the second for the thin arch over the top of the T. Both pieces have 3M tape on the back and stick to indented spaces on the nose cone.

    First, I developed a prototype for testing various concepts for lighting the T. The pieces are laser cut out of Plexiglas. My goal for this prototype was to test EL wire. It works pretty well from a conceptual point of view, but it’s way too complicated to do given the way the T is attached to the nose cone. A thin groove for the wire has to be cut into the back corners of the T, which takes a lot of machine time and makes it cost prohibitive ($150 of machine time just for the first one). The light given by the EL also beings to dull and eventually dies over time. Also, it’s very tough to make the wire confirm precisely to the sharp bends required to make it fit the T precisely.

    Posted below are some photos of the results. The T is too big and is not precisely cut, so the prototype is a bit crude. But the lighting effect is what I was hoping for, except for the blue cast of the EL wire (I bought what was billed as pure white, but really does have a strong blue cast, another reason to rule it out). However, the effect looks much better in person than in the photos.

    DSC_3488.JPG

    DSC_3489.JPG

    As a much better effect can be achieved with LEDs, the next prototype will use them. I’ll have Plexiglas pieces that will match the stock T perfectly. To make the light emanate from the sides of the pieces, the edges have to be sandblasted or otherwise roughed up, a much simpler and less expensive process than laser cutting a channel for EL wire. The LEDS will be attached via small holes in the back of the Plexiglas pieces. To match the stock T the front surfaces of both pieces will be covered with .0295 polished stainless steel sheet, laser cut to perfectly match.

    I hope to have the LED prototype ready by next weekend or so. If it works I’ll install it on my own car and post photos (but only if the results are of the high quality I'm seeking).
     
  2. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    What you've got so far looks good.

    Good luck.
     
  3. aaron.s

    aaron.s Member

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    Amazing work so far!!!

    Aaron
     
  4. PhilBa

    PhilBa Active Member

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    You probably already know this but it's worth saying. One thing to consider with LEDs is they are directional. The game the manufacturers play is to put a lens on them that concentrates the light and gives a nice high lumen spec. Essentially you will be building a light pipe. So, it's a good idea to orient the LEDs so the maximum light will spill out the sides of the clear layer.
     
  5. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    #5 artsci, Jun 16, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2013
    I'm very aware of that and will this experiment with placement of the LEDs so get the best results.
     
  6. aviators99

    aviators99 Model S - R140

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    Put me on the signature list!
     
  7. Chas F

    Chas F Model S 60kWh #P6396

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    Teach a man to fish.....:smile:
     
  8. efusco

    efusco Moderator - Model S & X forums

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    I'm so in when this is ready for prime time!


    Evan, Via Tapatalk
     
  9. SCW-Greg

    SCW-Greg Active Member

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    Not true of all LED designs. Some of the very first LEDs were very omni-directional.
    These would work, but I do wonder about the lumen output.
    DIY How to Install and Wire LED Lights | Hack N Mod
     
  10. olanmills

    olanmills Member

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    Just tagging this thread so that I can find it later.
     
  11. Martini

    Martini Member

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    This is rather off topic, but a cool application of LED lights you might be interested in.

    Revolights
     
  12. Bobfitz1

    Bobfitz1 Member

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    I have some experience with what 5 years or more ago were called super bright LEDs. There are ones available now that are bluish white, which is ideal for lighted nose cone Tesla T. You can find them now for a buck or two apiece. They are bright, you don't want to be looking for long at one with it firing straight at you. They only consume 20 - 25 milli amps. You may want to experiment with various ways of directing the light into the plexiglass but I'd think ideal may be to alight the lens of the blue LED so it is firing into the plexiglass edge at the base of the T. Roughing the edges of the T around the outside perimeter should then give a reasonably uniform blue glow emerging from all around the T. Good luck! It will be another 8 or 9 months before I'm ready to order my MS, but I'll definitely want one of these. They are going to look awesomely cool at night.
     
  13. PhilBa

    PhilBa Active Member

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    Some have a wider field of view. A lot were created as indicators and have a narrow FOV. Many lighting products using LEDs use a number of things to widen the FOV - reflectors, diffusers, multiple angle placement and so on. You can get wider FOV but need to select carefully. You can get them without lenses with a fairly wide FOV but those are mostly surface mount. Not terribly hard to work with if you have a PCB for them but a bit of trouble for this design.
     
  14. Man_Utd

    Man_Utd Member

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    I don't have a bike, but I'd buy one one just to use this. Pretty cool!
     
  15. Soflason

    Soflason Member

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    @artsci - very cool, excited to see how it looks once complete w/ some photos of the car... was this look inspired by the prototype version of Model S that had the blue lights embedded into the lights surrounding the grille (see below)?

    prototype_blightlights2.png

    Prototype_bluelights.png
     
  16. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    The blue effect on my first experiment was really accidental. But now that you mention the prototype....
     
  17. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    I'd like those lights (from the proto) but in red.
     
  18. SuperCoug

    SuperCoug Model S Res #7734

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    This is a very interesting concept and I hope it works outs well. I'll be following your progress for sure.
     
  19. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    Hope to debut the final version at TESLIVE.
     
  20. Dborn

    Dborn Confirmed

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    Hope this helps. I have had two illuminated signs for my boat. 1 failed miserably in short order because of water penetration. The other perfect! The edges of the acrylic need to be frosted - sandblasted or simply fine sanded. Rout the forward facing face to accept your chosen led. I believe for this size object a single led would suffice for each part of the T. Place reasonably central. Bring the wires out the rear facing surface. Fill all voids with clear silicone. Mount polished stainless steel sheet over the routed surface with silicone. Do this as a separate step to ensure water tightness of the led. Use neutral cure silicone. Do use a DC TO DC converter to ensure constant current power supply or fluctuations in voltage or current will kill your LEDs. By the way, the routed trench should not breach the periphery anywhere. I repeat check for water tightness everywhere before placing the stainless lid.
    Good luck!
     

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