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Old 12-09-2010, 12:06 PM   #1
Bill Harris OP
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Old Airhead instrument lamps

Old-style /5 speedo/tach combo. For the dial illumination (not the warning lights) it uses small hard-to-find bulbs that, of late, are prone to burning out too quickly. Not a big deal to replace, but I have to pull the fairing and wiggle up through all the wiring spaghetti to get to them.

What I'm thinking of doing is "upgrading" these bulbs with white LED lamps. I could use the original bulb holders and incorporate the LEDs (and dropping resistors) into them on a permanent basis. I can look around and get "warm tone" white LEDs that would mimic the color tone of the incandescents.

One thing I never have liked about the stock /5 instrument illumination is that it is not bright enough. I would like to increase the instrument brightness in the process and wonder if anyone has done this LED conversion on a /5 speedo and how it worked out brightness-wise. There are different "brightness levels" available in the LED lamps and knowing what works will cut down on the trail-and-error R&D process.
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Old 12-10-2010, 12:00 PM   #2
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I went here http://www.superbrightleds.com and got some bulbs for my /5.
(on the top menu select car bulbs, BA9s bulbs)
IIRC, all the ones in the bucket are BA7s (on the same page) with the exception of the charge light and the turn signal indicator. I've heard you shouldn't use an LED for the charge light. The BA7s only come in one brightness, just match the color with the indicator's lens color. They're only .89
I swapped mine over- it looks nice in the garage, but I haven't given it a real night ride as it's snowing in Chicago. I don't expect it to be noticeably brighter. The multi-led BA9's have issues fitting in the original bulb holders. They also have a brake/tail light that is a drop-in.
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Old 12-10-2010, 09:31 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dotdash View Post
I've heard you shouldn't use an LED for the charge light.
I'm 99.9% that the OP knows this but yes, you're correct, you can't simply replace the alt/charge lamp with an LED. The lamp (or a resistor) is needed to enable the alternator.
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Old 12-10-2010, 10:46 PM   #4
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I checked the instrument lamps and they are BA7's (actually I found my stash of BA7 bulbs, a box of about 8).

SuperBright LEDs has drop-in replacements for the BA7 bulbs, and at $1.49 each I can't even think of modifying the sockets myself to accept LEDs. At 6200 mcd brightness they would be pretty darn bright, but as "cool white", they'll have that typical white LED bluish tint. For the price, I'll give them a try.

The spec page for the BA7 lamps is at:

http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-b...ecs%2Fba7s.htm

I wouldn't even bother replacing the warning lamps with LEDs-- I can't remember that last time I had one burn out.
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Old 12-11-2010, 08:55 AM   #5
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Is there a tutorial anywhere to do this?
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Old 12-11-2010, 01:13 PM   #6
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As an alternative to the BA-7 plug-and-play LED replacement, SuperbrightLEDs has an 8mm dia LED lamp that has a much wider (less directional) viewing angle and an output of some 9000 mcd (half again as much). The BMW lamp socket could be adapted to take the LED lamp.

http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-b...-360_specs.htm
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Old 05-05-2014, 10:18 PM   #7
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Bill, this is a very old thread, but came up in the search I was doing - did you ever make the swap? did the BA-7's improve the /5 speedo illumination?

Spencer
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Old 05-05-2014, 10:37 PM   #8
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I love thread resurrections like these--sorta like a progress report crossed with Stump the Chumps on Click and Clack. Bill, I'd like to know too. How'd it go?
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Old 05-05-2014, 10:59 PM   #9
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The straight BA7 replacements didn't work well for instrument internal lighting. LEDs are directional so you had a couple of intensely bright spots giving uneven illumination. Those 8mm 360 degree LEDs did the trick. They adapted nicely to the BMW bulb holder and provides uber-bright even illumination. It's a novel concept-- it consists of a central LED with UV output surrounded by a phosphor that emits light when excited by the UV. Think of it as a solid-state fluorescent lamp.

Let me pull together some photos of the project...

--Bill
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Old 05-06-2014, 06:45 AM   #10
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Not a /5 so slightly offtopic, but this is what happened after I stuck a LED ba9s in my GS. The difference is quite pronounced, I'd say:



Didn't do them both at once because the other (cheap, chinese) LED was a dud, even after changing the polarity.
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Old 05-06-2014, 07:21 AM   #11
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That is quite pronounced. OTOH, on my /5, it was a meh.

I guess "check yours and see" is the moral.

--Bill
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