Ford Focus RS Forum banner

1 - 20 of 85 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
180 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey fellow RS drivers; just sharing a project I'm tackling. My car has been out of commission since 2/3/19 due to oil loss post head gasket recall. Ford stepped up and is replacing the engine, but the main hold-up has been an injector gasket kit that's been on backorder. Record setting snowfall this past month and my RS has had to sit it all out...

So, to pass the time and keep myself sane this past month I decided to A) learn how to use/code an Arduino and B) do something RS related while mine is being repaired. Those reflectors on the back of our cars always looked to me like they should have been illuminated from the factory so I decided to try do something about that.

I'm using an Arduino to control strips of addressable LEDs embedded in the reflectors (well one reflector so far as proof to myself I could do it.) The Arduino takes signals via a 4 channel optocoupler from the brake light, L & R signals, and the park light to determine how to light up the strips. A 12V to 5V buck powers the lights and Arduino.

Below is a short video of what I've put together so far:

Next steps are to open up the other reflector and embed a strip in it. Then I've got to make sure the optocoupler and voltage buck work, but I'll have to wait for my car to come back from the dealership for that.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
401 Posts
Hey fellow RS drivers; just sharing a project I'm tackling. My car has been out of commission since 2/3/19 due to oil loss post head gasket recall. Ford stepped up and is replacing the engine, but the main hold-up has been an injector gasket kit that's been on backorder. Record setting snowfall this past month and my RS has had to sit it all out...

So, to pass the time and keep myself sane this past month I decided to A) learn how to use/code an Arduino and B) do something RS related while mine is being repaired. Those reflectors on the back of our cars always looked to me like they should have been illuminated from the factory so I decided to try do something about that.

I'm using an Arduino to control strips of addressable LEDs embedded in the reflectors (well one reflector so far as proof to myself I could do it.) The Arduino takes signals via a 4 channel optocoupler from the brake light, L & R signals, and the park light to determine how to light up the strips. A 12V to 5V buck powers the lights and Arduino.

Below is a short video of what I've put together so far:

Next steps are to open up the other reflector and embed a strip in it. Then I've got to make sure the optocoupler and voltage buck work, but I'll have to wait for my car to come back from the dealership for that.
What an interesting and original concept, kudos for thinking out of the box and developing this project. I look forward to seeing it completed and on your RS.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
180 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
What an interesting and original concept, kudos for thinking out of the box and developing this project. I look forward to seeing it completed and on your RS.
Subscribed to YouTube for updates! I've seen this before just a few months ago, but he didn't show how he put them together
I appreciate the kind words. I'll take some more pictures as I assemble the Right reflector now that I have confidence I can actually pull this off. I pulled apart a lightly damaged reflector off a wrecked RS to experiment with and learned that it would be best to cut the lens from the housing with a Dremel. The lens is PMMA and the housing is ABS and it appears they are ultrasonic-welded together. If you try to pop them apart the PMMA lens just breaks where they are joined. The ABS housing can be welded back together using a soldering iron. It's not pretty, but it's all done from the back where you'll never see it and it is waterproof. Like I say, I'll get some more pictures going.

I'm wondering if anyone has knowledge on if there is a plug in the rear of our cars that contains the the four lights signals needed (L turn, R turn, Brake, Park?) Preferably near the rear fuse panel in the hatch area as that's where I'll Add-a-fuse for power and ground. If not I figure I can tap in at the taillight connectors themselves. I would check, but I don't have a car :)
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,791 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
897 Posts
I appreciate the kind words. I'll take some more pictures as I assemble the Right reflector now that I have confidence I can actually pull this off. I pulled apart a lightly damaged reflector off a wrecked RS to experiment with and learned that it would be best to cut the lens from the housing with a Dremel. The lens is PMMA and the housing is ABS and it appears they are ultrasonic-welded together. If you try to pop them apart the PMMA lens just breaks where they are joined. The ABS housing can be welded back together using a soldering iron. It's not pretty, but it's all done from the back where you'll never see it and it is waterproof. Like I say, I'll get some more pictures going.

I'm wondering if anyone has knowledge on if there is a plug in the rear of our cars that contains the the four lights signals needed (L turn, R turn, Brake, Park?) Preferably near the rear fuse panel in the hatch area as that's where I'll Add-a-fuse for power and ground. If not I figure I can tap in at the taillight connectors themselves. I would check, but I don't have a car :)
Sorry, but no. The rear lamp assemblies plug directly into the Body Control Module (BCM) which is located behind the glovebox. Your best option is tapping directly into the rear lamps. I hope this diagram helps. Good luck.

20190307_130959.jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: Northish

·
Registered
Joined
·
180 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
It probably isn’t required and it may be an extreme answer to your question, but this part:

https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Wiring/Ford/Focus/2017/118674.html?vehicleid=201738034

Is a safe way to get those leads/signals while laying off the car’s (very touchy) electrical system. Although I’m not sure what the “Park” signal would be, running light you mean?

Just a thought
Hey MorningZ, thanks for the idea. In looking closer at that trailer wiring harness it looks like there are tail light couplers that would allow me to tap the needed lights for a 12V signal without touching my wires. Would make for a non-destructive approach which is preferred. Good thinking.

The rear lamp assemblies plug directly into the Body Control Module (BCM) which is located behind the glovebox. Your best option is tapping directly into the rear lamps. I hope this diagram helps. Good luck.
dkirby - Thank you for taking the time to look this up! This makes it pretty clear; you saved me some time pulling panels and fumbling around in the cold following wires; cheers :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
What LED strip you have used?
I‘m planning something similar for the rear fog light we have over here in Germany.
Want to put it in this strip and get the US diffusor:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
180 Posts
Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Hey All - I do have some updates to share on this side project. It's a mix of good news/mostly bad news, though.

To make a long story short, I got everything working when the car was off. The code, the wiring, added a fuse slot, made a factory looking wiring harness for it and had it all installed. The only problem was when the car was running the system was picking up interference from somewhere that would cause the sweeping turn signal to flicker. Cars have dirty electrical environments and I knew this going into this project which is why I went with an optocoupler and filtered buck converter right from the start.

Here's the issue when the car is running (obviously this is not acceptable):

I tried many things to resolve this over the past month as I had already invested so much time in it. New isolated buck converter, new wiring, isolated wiring, wrapped system in Al foil and grounded as a EMI/EMF shield, RC filters, ferrite cores, tested voltages. After looking at the voltage coming out of the optocoupler it appeared that I was getting a noisy 0V - 5V signal into the Arduino that effectively made the Arduino think the turn signal was turning on and off several time a second which then caused the flicker. It was basically the signal animation trying to start over and over really fast.

I decided to re-do everything with shielded cable and to build my own optocouplers to filter out whatever noise may have been coming in as one last effort. Then disaster struck. When I was uninstalling one of the LED/reflectors I damaged the LED strip and couldn't repair it. It took me a decent amount of time to embed those reflectors and I was going to need to buy another reflector/LED strip so this was the point where I decided I needed a break from this project. I spent so much time trying to figure out that interference issue that I got burnt out so this project currently shelved. Very frustrating as I am sooooo close. Even typing this up is getting my heart-rate up.

On top of all this tinkering with this project over the past two months my car has been through it's own extremely frustrating saga. I started this project because my RS needed a new engine. The highlights of that story:
- Car lost all but 0.5 qts of oil, frozen intake camshaft, bent intake valves, metal debris in intercooler & oil and turbo.
- Tow company took the car to the wrong dealership that I don't trust to work on the RS. Truck driver was a jerk. Made an absolute mess of the interior of the car; mud on every surface. I spent 5 hours waiting in a non-running car that was in a tow-away zone in the cold waiting for tow truck #2.
- Took 36 days to replace the engine, partly due to back-ordered parts.
- Once the engine was completed, took the car home and noticed the hatch was dented from pushing the car.
- Dealership agreed it was their fault, told me they would use paintless dent removal to correct.
- After four days they said the car was done but instead of using PDR, they used Bondo and repainted the hatch.
- Car was absolutely full of overspray for the repaint. When using the wipers it sounded like they were running over sandpaper from all the paint all over the car.
- Took half a day off work to try to clay bar the overspray off before it fully cured. Still couldn't get it all off... sigh.

Sorry I don't have better news on this - I don't take well to defeat on projects. I don't have any sort of electrical background so this has all been new to me. Maybe someone in the community here has some ideas. I've reached out on an electronics forum and tried several suggestions but no luck. I'll share the parts I used in the next post.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
180 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Wiring Diagram:
Wiring Diagram.JPG

Used soldering iron followed by Dremel to open reflectors:
20190307_181137.jpg

Embedded LEDs into reflector by adhering them with 3M VHB to the ABS opaque red reflector housing:
20190304_212330.jpg

Finished reflectors. Remelted ABS with soldering iron to seal reflectors back up with LEDs inside. Waterproofed wire exits with silicone and heat-shrink:
20190309_120918.jpg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
361 Posts
Hey All - I do have some updates to share on this side project. It's a mix of good news/bad news, though.

So the bad news first. To make a long story short, I got....
.
I’m so sorry about your car. Anyone can understand your frustration to put it to the side.

I’m starting to fear that these cars have very thin metal everywhere (which is part reason my cars sunroof exploded).

When I had to have my car roof repainted (not even a year old) the body repair guy put two dimples from resting his elbows on the area that runs from the A pillar to the D pillar (not sure of the official term) from buffing the roof. He doesn’t really remember putting really any pressure.

Anything you can do about calling Ford or the regional manager on this dilemma? PDR would have been the best solution and they should have told you they were going to change repair procedure.
I hope you were able to complain about the tow truck driver if you went through your insurance.

Again man - so sorry this has happened to you with such a bad experience.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,704 Posts
You're brave, I would have just used some vampire taps, diodes, and resistors to make it all work. The Arduino makes it super legit!

On a side note, if you soak the reflectors in 91% isopropyl alcohol for a few hours you can separate the clear reflector part from the opaque part with the mounting hardware. It separates with a credit card pretty easily after the fact.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
180 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
On a side note, if you soak the reflectors in 91% isopropyl alcohol for a few hours you can separate the clear reflector part from the opaque part with the mounting hardware. It separates with a credit card pretty easily after the fact.
So I tried exactly that (91% IPA for 18 hrs) on the junkyard RS reflector I bought to experiment with after reading that on this forum and it didn't go well. I did some reading to try to figure out why. The lens is PMMA which can be attacked by IPA so for me soaking it made the lens cloudy and fragile when trying to separate it from the housing. Reference here: (https://www.eplastics.com/blog/chemical-resistance-acrylic-plexiglass) I wish that it would have worked as that would have saved me a lot of time. The lens and housing are ultrasonically welded together, so it's tough to break that bond with out cracking the PMMA. Perhaps the vendor that made these reflectors has switched mfg. methods such the IPA soak worked for you and not me? I'm not sure but I didn't have luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
180 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
I’m so sorry about your car. Anyone can understand your frustration to put it to the side.

I’m starting to fear that these cars have very thin metal everywhere (which is part reason my cars sunroof exploded).

When I had to have my car roof repainted (not even a year old) the body repair guy put two dimples from resting his elbows on the area that runs from the A pillar to the D pillar (not sure of the official term) from buffing the roof. He doesn’t really remember putting really any pressure.

Anything you can do about calling Ford or the regional manager on this dilemma? PDR would have been the best solution and they should have told you they were going to change repair procedure.
I hope you were able to complain about the tow truck driver if you went through your insurance.

Again man - so sorry this has happened to you with such a bad experience.
Thanks for the kind words. You know what it's like. I remember reading about your experience with the sunroof! That was crazy; I'm sorry you had such a strange/bad experience with your RS that required painting, too. Such a bummer on a new car, isn't it?

Mine has been in the dealer's hands 9 times for a total of 67 days now since 11/20/17 when it went in for HG replacement. I am convinced that had I not needed a new HG I would not have needed my hatch repainted; every one of the next 8 warranty trips stemmed from that HG replacement.

Oh well, what can you do; such is life. It's all 1st world problems to me. I am thankful I have this car and still absolutely love it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,660 Posts
Wiring Diagram:
View attachment 326488

Used soldering iron followed by Dremel to open reflectors:
View attachment 326490

Embedded LEDs into reflector by adhering them with 3M VHB to the ABS opaque red reflector housing:
View attachment 326492

Finished reflectors. Remelted ABS with soldering iron to seal reflectors back up with LEDs inside. Waterproofed wire exits with silicone and heat-shrink:
View attachment 326494
So in theory. If I wanted to do this, but way way way more simple. I could get an LED red strip and put it in the reflector housing just like you did. I have a plug and play 4 pin trailer wiring kit for the focus that I can just plug in line to the rear lights. I could actually just make a simple harness will bullet connectors on the LED strips and connect it to the brake light wire of the trailer harness
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
180 Posts
Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
So in theory. If I wanted to do this, but way way way more simple. I could get an LED red strip and put it in the reflector housing just like you did. I have a plug and play 4 pin trailer wiring kit for the focus that I can just plug in line to the rear lights. I could actually just make a simple harness will bullet connectors on the LED strips and connect it to the brake light wire of the trailer harness
Yup, I think that's all you would need to do if you want them to act as add'l. brake lights. I used the Curt trailer plug-n-play harness to get my Park, L & R Turn, and Brake inputs. Worked slick as I didn't want to tap into the car's harness with vampires. Two things to make sure of - the LEDs will need to be 12V for your needs (mine were 5V) and you'll want to check the width of the LEDs as the interior room in the reflector isn't very wide (about 11 mm.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,704 Posts
So I tried exactly that (91% IPA for 18 hrs) on the junkyard RS reflector I bought to experiment with after reading that on this forum and it didn't go well. I did some reading to try to figure out why. The lens is PMMA which can be attacked by IPA so for me soaking it made the lens cloudy and fragile when trying to separate it from the housing. Reference here: (https://www.eplastics.com/blog/chemical-resistance-acrylic-plexiglass) I wish that it would have worked as that would have saved me a lot of time. The lens and housing are ultrasonically welded together, so it's tough to break that bond with out cracking the PMMA. Perhaps the vendor that made these reflectors has switched mfg. methods such the IPA soak worked for you and not me? I'm not sure but I didn't have luck.
I soaked them for 3 hours in 91%. They didn't pop apart, but there was a small enough separation that I used to run a credit card between the gap along where the plastics meet. There is some clouding, but I'll clean that up with some rubbing compound. I bought mine new from Tasca along with a clutch pedal spring to have in case if I messed up mine when I threw in the Steeda spring.

I have one apart and those ebay adhesive LED strips fit in there perfectly. Some ebay/amazon links are in the rear fog thread for what I have used. This project is on the back burner until the guys and I in that thread can figure out how to get the Euro switch to run the fogs, but if you want turn signals or extra brake lights is super easy to do.
 
1 - 20 of 85 Posts
Top