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Brighter lights from 6 Volt systems


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I hear and understand complaints about cars with 6 volt systems having really dim lighting; I owned one in the early 1970s - a 1962 VW Typ 1 (bug).  I had decent headlights- a pair of Marchal Amplilux, with 6V lamps.  I could see where I was going... but the back end was critically lacking.
 

Recently I got a set of lights for restoration from a 1966 1600, also a 6 Volt car.  The fellow wanted to use high output lamps - what I use in 12V upgrades, but impossible to find in 6V versions.  So I put on my thinking cap, and came up with an idea of how to use a 12V High Output lamp in a 6V car.  At full voltage, it would make the rear lights far brighter than 6V lamps  - even new lamps.  I hear some folks use 6V equipment and lamps, etc. after 12V system conversion, but this can't be sustainable.

 

I recently completed a prototype device (gadget) that will double the voltage in a circuit - brakes, for example. This allows use of a 12V high output lamp.  The prototype was built to plug into the car's harness without cutting or splicing anything.  The end result is that merely by pushing the brake pedal, your brake lights are WAY brighter than stock.  Totally automatic, transparent, and innocuous.  The device connects to the car by plugging in connectors, nothing irreversible or even detectable if it's removed.  What it does is add 6V to the brake light circuit when you hit the brakes, giving 12V to the lamps, and a really nice bright warning to the drivers behind you.  Once installed, you will use the same high output nickel base Krypton gas filled lamps I use for my other upgrades - 33% brighter than NEW stock lamps, and WAY brighter than 6 volt lamps.

 

While searching the FAQ for anything '6 volt' I find lots of talk about dim lighting; this is one way to solve that - a quick way to boost brake light output without converting the entire system to 12 Volts, which is somewhat common.  I am at the same time trying to chase down a selection of high output 6V lamps, which will be simpler and may get the same result, but they are as rare as hen's teeth.

 

My first prototype was testing in a 1600, connected to the brake lights.  As soon as I get a moment, I am going to design a second prototype to allow multiple circuits to be boosted from 6 to 12 volts.  I already have ways to boost tail light output, so maybe use it for turns and reverse lights?

 

Comments from the E28 5 series forum:

"1500s, 1600s and 1800s all had 6 volt up until I think '68 or '69. [bmw2002faq - com] might have some interesting threads worth browsing on the topic."

 

What are your thoughts?  I imagine this is one way to make it safer to drive older Bimmers and lower the risk of rear end collisions.

Edited by MoBrighta
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Andy the tail light guy says "Be Seen, and Not Hurt!"  [mailto:mobrighta@comcast.net]

Lighting Upgrades for E3, E9, E10, E12, E21, E23, E24, E28, E30, E32, E36, E39 - front & back
Tail Light upgrades keep them off your tail, out of your trunk;
Headlight film keeps your 'eyes' from being scratched out or broken.

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In my experimentation experience with my 12v 3rd brake lights running them at 6v they are just a little dimmer and still brighter than 6v incandescents.

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Andrew Wilson
Vern- 1973 2002tii, https://www.bmw2002faq.com/blogs/blog/304-andrew-wilsons-vern-restoration/ 
Veronika- 1968 1600 Cabriolet, Athena- 1973 3.0 CSi,  Rodney- 1988 M5, The M3- 1997 M3,

The Unicorn- 2007 X3, Julia- 2007 Z4 Coupe, Ophelia- 2014 X3, Herman- 1914 KisselKar 4-40

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8 hours ago, Stevenc22 said:

They do make standard 6v to 12v step up converters.  10 amps aught to do it.

Yes, I am aware of these simple and inexpensive devices, but not at all familiar with their reliability... I prefer to build something that does the same thing but with KNOWN reliability.  My standards, not theirs.  If I had more experience with specific products, maybe I'd feel better about using one.

 

I assume the Chinese are good at assembling these- likely a PWM or chopper circuit, some kind of a transformer and rectifier, and loads of transistors and such.  I do not know anything about the quality of internal components, circuit design, soldering reliability, overload capability, or expected life.  The last thing I want to do is test something for a week, then have if fail on day 11 while installed in someone's car. I wouldn't want my brake lights to fail because a $20 device failed,  and I certainly don't want to hear that YOUR brake lights failed because I used a cheap Chinese gadget.

 

If you are aware of a more reliable and solidly built and guaranteed product to suggest, I'm all ears.  US Made has value as well.

 

Thanks for your input, everyone - and keep your thinking caps on!

Andy the tail light guy says "Be Seen, and Not Hurt!"  [mailto:mobrighta@comcast.net]

Lighting Upgrades for E3, E9, E10, E12, E21, E23, E24, E28, E30, E32, E36, E39 - front & back
Tail Light upgrades keep them off your tail, out of your trunk;
Headlight film keeps your 'eyes' from being scratched out or broken.

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From my VW experience, I believe the 6volt cars had thicker wiring than the 12v cars (changeover was in mid 1966).  Dim lights were mainly due to poor grounds, corroded light sockets and broken/damaged wires.  i haven't examined the early BMW wiring diagrams to compare the wire thickness to the 12v cars.  

Jim Gerock

 

Riviera 69 2002 built 5/30/69 "Oscar"

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5 hours ago, jgerock said:

6volt cars had thicker wiring than the 12v cars

6V systems carry more amps.  More amps need more wire, amps being like water flow thru a hose.   Too small a hose, no pressure at the outlet and lots of pressure loss along the way.

A radiator shop is a good place to take a leak.

 

I have no idea what I'm doing but I know I'm really good at it.

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On ‎5‎/‎26‎/‎2017 at 2:11 PM, MoBrighta said:

Yes, I am aware of these simple and inexpensive devices, but not at all familiar with their reliability... I prefer to build something that does the same thing but with KNOWN reliability.  My standards, not theirs.  If I had more experience with specific products, maybe I'd feel better about using one.

 

I assume the Chinese are good at assembling these- likely a PWM or chopper circuit, some kind of a transformer and rectifier, and loads of transistors and such.  I do not know anything about the quality of internal components, circuit design, soldering reliability, overload capability, or expected life.  The last thing I want to do is test something for a week, then have if fail on day 11 while installed in someone's car. I wouldn't want my brake lights to fail because a $20 device failed,  and I certainly don't want to hear that YOUR brake lights failed because I used a cheap Chinese gadget.

 

If you are aware of a more reliable and solidly built and guaranteed product to suggest, I'm all ears.  US Made has value as well.

 

Thanks for your input, everyone - and keep your thinking caps on!

While it still requires you to build something, Texas Instruments has a line of Simple Switchers that are very easy to use (I've worked with a few members of that family).  These boost converters are AEC qualified, some have internal inductors and some also have internal power switches.  For the wattage you will need for this application, you will probably have to use one with an external switch.

Edited by Healey3000
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UPDATE April 2020

 

Well, it seems the prototype fell into a big crack, lost in transit or misplaced by someone unclear on what it was...

I have tried to track it down, but without a chain of custody, wish me luck.  I pray that St Anthony helps me find it.

 

Meanwhile, with all this staying at home, I may have to pick this design task up again, see about a multi-circuit model. 

 

Again, the design will be plugged into the brake light or other circuit at the switch, +6V and ground connections, and outputs 12 power to lighting circuit(s).  Maybe the sad state of our economy will result in lower costs of components?  That cannot be bad.

 

Your job is to nominate a fearless owner who drives a 6 volt car, and is in need of brighter lights.  Or at least is willing to test it out for the greater good.  I will design it for painless installation and removal, with instructions, and no wire cutting!

 

OK, thanks in advance for your help in this project.  Go have a beer (or a coffee) and put your thinking caps on!

 

Andy

Edited by MoBrighta
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Andy the tail light guy says "Be Seen, and Not Hurt!"  [mailto:mobrighta@comcast.net]

Lighting Upgrades for E3, E9, E10, E12, E21, E23, E24, E28, E30, E32, E36, E39 - front & back
Tail Light upgrades keep them off your tail, out of your trunk;
Headlight film keeps your 'eyes' from being scratched out or broken.

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  • 1 year later...

BUMP-

I just got an ad from Batteries Plus Bulbs, pushing their new LiFePO4 batteries  - Lithium Iron Phosphorus Oxide or something like that.  Faster recharge, longer run time, all kinds of superlatives.  More Expensive, too...

 

I am thinking seriously about revisiting and recreating the prototype 6-12 Volt converter.  Not solid state, those are usually good for only a single bulb, and I want this to work for higher demand circuits, say 10-12 amps.  And it will be reliable.

 

And if I ship it anywhere, it will go with tracking and insurance!

 

OK, Six Volt Owners - this is a challenge, I need a Guinea Pig to install and test this one.  In return you will get much brighter brake lights, with all the additional safety and peace of mind that brings. 

Andy the tail light guy says "Be Seen, and Not Hurt!"  [mailto:mobrighta@comcast.net]

Lighting Upgrades for E3, E9, E10, E12, E21, E23, E24, E28, E30, E32, E36, E39 - front & back
Tail Light upgrades keep them off your tail, out of your trunk;
Headlight film keeps your 'eyes' from being scratched out or broken.

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