Stealth Dome Lights|
As you may or may not know, the 1990-1995 Miatas didn't have any type of overhead light from the factory. The only light was from either one or two knee level "dome" lights that did little more than light up your feet.
I wanted to just get another one of the knee lights and mount it on the windshield header, but was having a hard time finding them. Others have removed their sun visors and replaced the with lights. I however like the visors and plan on keeping them. Finally I said "forget it!" and came up with what turns out to be a much more elegant looking solution.
There is one for driver and one for passenger. Yes, believe it or not they put out enough light to read a map or CD case. The light has a soft blue hue to it, which has the side effect of looking damn cool at night.
The power is tapped from the knee light wires, so they both come on when the doors are opened. Additionally, they can both be turned on by the passenger or driver by the respective switch. The holes for the switches and lights were knocked out with a Dremel.
Total install time: 1 hour.
Side effects: The way I wired them (as simply as possible) all of the lights are activated by the new switches. This means both "dome" lights and also the knee light come on when you hit either switch. Additionally, when the car is running the buzzer goes off when you turn on the lights thinking that the door is open. All of these issues could be easily changed with a little more thought, however I've always hated the door buzzer anyway and ripped it out. :-)
- Two switches
- Two white LEDs
These particular LEDs are very small (2mm) and put out white light with an empasis on blue. There are higher output LEDs out there. They come in every possible color, however I recommend white as to make color map reading possible.
- Two 750 ohm resistors
- Three vampire taps (also called quick-splice connectors)
- Remove the sunvisor and top latch from the windshield header. You will need a large Torx wrench/screwdriver for the top latches.
- Pull the rubber weather stripping from the side of the A pillar. This will give you access to the plastic part of the pillar.
- You will need to carfully pry the plastic part of the A pillar away from the metal part to run the wires. There are two metal clips holding it to the metal frame. I stuck a thin screw driver between the two and snapped them apart. The clip stays on the plastic part, not the metal part. Techincally, you could just hide the wires under the rubber weatherstripping, but I prefer this way.
- The circuit diagram:
- IMPORTANT! The current must always flow through the resistor! It doesn't matter which side of the LED gets the resistor, but it must be there or the LED will burn out.
- Remember that the power going into the knee lights is a switched ground setup, unlike the more common switched positive you would find most other circuits. This is important because the LED only lights when put in the right way (backwards shouldn't hurt it as long as the resistor is in place).
- Drill the hole for the LED at an angle so that it is pointing towards your lap (where you want the light to shine).
- I had to bend the tabs of the switch down to make it fit in the space provided. Other switches with a more narrow mounting depth do exist.
- Tell all your friends how cool you are and show them your handywork.
Copyleft Mark Leinhos
Last modified 08/04/15
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