Georges LEDs Inspired Map Light

Joined
Apr 10, 2003
Messages
560
Location
Chester, NH
After getting two of Georges map lights I started smiling every night when I got into the truck. There is something about that crisp LED light that got me. Like others I was disappointed that he no longer sold the map light.

I read a bunch of threads here about adding LEDs to the map light. In one thread someone asked if red LEDs could be used and George explained the myth of red light saving night vision. He expressed that dim white light was about as good as you are going to get. This got me thinking. I wanted a light I could use while driving and I also wanted a really bright light to find stuff if I was not driving.

I decided to go with Georges nFlex driver. This thing is about half the size of a matchbox in size and can drive multiple 1 Watt LEDs. I ran it by George and he said it would work fine - and to do myself a favor and get two 3 Watt LEDs as they were hardly more expensive.

So I ordered the nFlex driver from George and two 3 Watt Luxeon LEDs from autolumination - as well as LEDs for my doors.

With the nFlex driver you can set light levels - and on the dimmest setting it is a little weaker than the stock bulb. At the brightest - watch out!

The first thing I did was to find a strip of spring metal which I found on the inside of an old computer. The strip was about 3/4 inch long and about 3/16 wide. I drilled a hole in one end and brought it out to the truck. In the truck I unscrewed the screw in the switch closest to the windshield and stuck the spring metal in there so that it was constantly turning the switch back off when I turned it on. This satisfied the switch requirement for the nFlex board.

Next I fashioned a plate of metal quite like the one on Georges site. I did not have any thermal epoxy and, being the cheap bastard that I am, decided to screw the LEDs down to the backing plate with some screws I had on hand - and a dab of thermal compound to make sure that the heat dissipated.

I drilled some holes in it to route the wires up above where the driver would sit - roughly where the old incandescent bulb was. I then soldered the LEDs to the nFlex driver LED +/- pads. I also put pigtails on the four other connection points on the board - two for the switch and two for the power to the unit.

So the connections were as follows. From the switch in the dome light one lead was connected to ground and the other to the base of the bulb. I cut the wire right at the base of the bulb and the ground wire about two inches from the switch. Now the switch was connect to nothing on either side and was perfect for the nFlex switch. The other half of the ground wire I connected to the V- connection on the nFlex board. There was another wire going to the bulb which was the power +12V connection - I wired this to the V+ connection on the nFlex driver. All were shrink wrapped to keep the connections clean. Oh yeah it was nighttime at this point and upon connecting the power the LEDs started to flash and left spots in my eyes. It would have been better to do this during the day.

I put back together the map light and then got my son out and started to program it. This involved pressing the switch within 3 seconds of connecting the power to the circuit - I did this by pulling the fuse and reinserting it. Once in programming mode I quickly set it to "UIF" mode. I set it to come on at its lowest level, remain off should the power go off and on, and set it to the maximum current it could flow - 1000ma.

Now I press the map light button (was the switch) - and it comes on low. I can push and hold to get to brighter levels if I want. I can even put it on a timer for camping in the back.

This thing is awesome!!!

pictures to follow shortly after I put the kids to bed...
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2003
Messages
560
Location
Chester, NH
Some Pics...

The first picture is of the switch - I had pulled it out to see how I would modify it. Sorry I didn't grab a pic of the spring metal stuck in there - I will try to add it tomorrow when it is light out.

The second picture is of the base plate I used to mount the LEDs to and the nFlex driver over.

The third pic is of the LEDs mounted and wires soldered and routed to the back. I used heavy gauge wire here to avoid shorting over time as it passes through the metal plate.

I did not get a pic of the nFlex driver on top nor the connections - it was pretty obvious to me - but if anyone wants PM me and I will see if I cannot add a pic or two of the driver and connections.
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Joined
Apr 10, 2003
Messages
560
Location
Chester, NH
Light Output

It is always hard to show light levels - so I took the pics showing the two dome lights in addition to the map light. The first pic is with the map light on low and the second with it at its brightest setting.

The third pic exposes what a mess the truck is - also at the brightest setting.
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Joined
Jan 31, 2009
Messages
706
Location
SF Bay Area
What was the total cost if I may? And how long did it all take?

edit: also, let me get this right - so you push it once, and it goes on dim, you hold it down and it gets brighter? Yes?
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2003
Messages
560
Location
Chester, NH
Cost - $30 for the nFlex driver and about $10 for the two LEDs. The rest of the stuff I stripped off of old computers.

I put it together starting this afternoon and finished around 6:30 - with breaks. I would say 3-4 hrs - most of which was fabbing the base plate. BTW - the unfolded dimension was about 2.25"x2.5" with the corners angled to pass the stock wires. If I had the plate to start with and my soldering iron wasn't missing when I looked for it - about 1.5 hrs.

You click (click defined as a quick press) the button and the light always comes on at the lowest setting. The nFlex driver lets you configure it that way which is good as I don't want to get blinded while driving. You then press and hold and it iterates up through 8 different light settings - at any time let go and press again - it lowers the light. A click at any time shuts it off again. There is also a programming mode (three quick clicks and a press) that would allow for you to set it on a timer - which will be nice for camping. It will even flash if the battery is getting low - the nFlex driver is a nice product!

The manual is here: http://www.taskled.com/technflex.html
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2003
Messages
560
Location
Chester, NH
Missing Links

I just wanted to add the pics that were missing. The first pic shows the spring steel that mechanically pushes the switch to the off position, the second is the nFlex driver above the metal mounting plate.
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