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      04-12-2021, 05:33 AM   #1
cozzzz
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Custom ambient light module with multiple colors

I wanted to upgrade the ambient lights on my f30 LCI, so I started looking for options to increase both brightness and color options if possible. I like everything to look as oem as possible, so I didnít want to use kits with rgb strips/flexible light pipes over the trim, or to replace the door trims with ones that have rgb strips beneath them. For a while I considered replacing the led modules only, with the ones from benzinfabrik, but I eventually gave up on this due to things like the total price for all modules, the unavailability of the dash trim modules and the fact that I would still only have 2 colors.

So I decided to build something custom, using a microcontroller board and some sort of rgb leds. I used a digispark for the controller and ws2812 leds from a strip for the light modules. Advantages of this setup:
- the digispark is tiny and cheap(around $4) while still having enough inputs/outputs for this project
- any colors can be programmed as options and they can be changed in the car
- ws2812 leds only need 3 wires to display any color, which means thereís no need to replace the original wires running to the lights(I have the ambient lights pack with 2 colors = 3 wires, orange+white+ground)
- the original optical conductors will be retained, only the led modules need to be replaced

How this works: the ambient light cables for the orange/white colors come from 2 pins on a plug in the front electronic module(from there it splits along the way for the dash, doors, footwell and b-pillar lights if you have them). This module comes between that connection - it uses the orange/white light cables as inputs; for the outputs, instead of passing that voltage further, it sends 5V and data signal for the ws2812 leds, on the 2 cables going to the lights.

How the colors are changed: when classic(orange) is selected in the idrive lights menu, the module simply displays the current color; when sport(white) is selected, the module cycles through the predefined colors, for a few seconds each one; selecting classic again memorises the color and displays it continuously. Indeed this control method is a bit rudimentary but I wanted to have the lights controlled through the idrive without any external switches, so this is what I've ended up with.

It is a bit of work but I think the end result is worth it. If anyone has the patience and time to do something like this, let me know and I can write a full diy, with all the parts and tools needed.

UPDATE: DIY guide - current sections:
- parts & tools
- power options with circuit diagrams
- programming the board
- test circuit
- controller board instructions
- radio trim led modules + in-car testing

Coming soon:
- installation
- door leds
- footwell leds

Here are some photos of the dash trim and door modules(footwell leds in progress), door light and dash trim light. I'll take more photos and attach them in the second post.
Attached Images
   

Last edited by cozzzz; 05-17-2021 at 01:02 PM.. Reason: updated completed diy sections
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      04-12-2021, 05:34 AM   #2
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I uploaded a quick video showing how the colors are changed and also showing the ambient lights turning on/off together with the car's lighting:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0z1nVmANB4

I made an album with more photos as well, so I don't flood this post with large images:
View post on imgur.com


Note that the photos with the footwell lights are made with a different phone so they look a bit different. Also I think these are a bit too bright and might need some dimming, as I can see my legs more than I want when driving at night

Really liking this light blue
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Last edited by cozzzz; 04-17-2021 at 08:19 AM..
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      04-12-2021, 09:50 AM   #3
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Definitely interested in seeing the DIY! Do you think these LEDs are as bright as the benzinfabrik ones? Or at least brighter than the OEM? Also, did you already have the OEM radio trim lighting?
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      04-12-2021, 11:22 AM   #4
cozzzz
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Yes it had the radio trim lighting from the factory. The new leds are definitely brighter that stock, the door lights were barely visible before(even if the car is an LCI). I don't know how they compare to the benzinfabrik ones though, as I don't have any module from them.
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      04-12-2021, 07:35 PM   #5
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This is super cool. I'd love to see a DIY as well. I have the Benzinfabrik modules installed currently but may just give this a shot sometime. Talk about some outside of the box thinking lol love it!
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      04-16-2021, 09:55 AM   #6
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This looks so great. I'd also love a write-up or something more detailed on integrated into the OEM stuff.

Thanks for the post!
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      04-16-2021, 02:29 PM   #7
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Beautifully done and executed! Hats off to you!
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Ď15 F31d M-Sport with the usual OEM+ mods:
B Pillar Ambient lighting, LCI AC control & ambient lighted panel + LCI anthracite trim & vent,
F80 paddles + extendable merino armrest + trim cover w/ merino knee bolster, EU headlight switch, 340/330 brake upgrade.
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      04-16-2021, 03:49 PM   #8
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Yes, please!
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      04-16-2021, 09:54 PM   #9
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You gotta specific link to purchase the controller?
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      04-17-2021, 08:16 AM   #10
cozzzz
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Thanks guys, appreciate it!

Added new links to a video and a photo album in the second post, will start working on the diy guide. Might take some time to finish though, will keep updating as I go.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ooshnoo View Post
You gotta specific link to purchase the controller?
The controller is a custom built part, same as the led modules, but the most important part of it is the digispark, you can buy it here for example.

For reference, below is what my board looks like, before going in a box in the car. Might look complicated, but it's really not:
- tiny usb board is the digispark
- the blue rectangular board is a step down dc-dc converter (optional - if choosing to power the board directly to 12V)
- the 4 resistors are there to make 2 small voltage dividers for the digispark inputs
Everything else is just the prototype board, few wires and connectors. The orange/white cables are the inputs(from the car), the blue/red wires are the outputs(going to the lights). The 2 pins left unconnected are for power.
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      04-22-2021, 05:43 AM   #11
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I would love to see a DIY for this. It looks brilliant! Would be very interested in doing it on mine as well!
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      04-23-2021, 12:13 PM   #12
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cozzzz,

Congratulations for the great job.
Can you share the details of this project? I'm really interested in doing the same.
Please share the details of the program tah you made for the digispark, detais to construct the board, and also the ligth modules. Can you provide a parts list and instructions?
Thanks in advance
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      04-24-2021, 01:37 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crisfeup@gmail.com View Post
cozzzz,

Congratulations for the great job.
Can you share the details of this project? I'm really interested in doing the same.
Please share the details of the program tah you made for the digispark, detais to construct the board, and also the ligth modules. Can you provide a parts list and instructions?
Thanks in advance
Thanks! I started the doc which will contain the building steps, only parts & tools list for now, you can find it here if you want to start getting the parts. Will continue with next steps as I get some free time. Trying to make it as detailed as I can, will also provide the full code for the digispark as well.
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      04-24-2021, 05:23 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cozzzz View Post
Thanks! I started the doc which will contain the building steps, only parts & tools list for now, you can find it here if you want to start getting the parts. Will continue with next steps as I get some free time. Trying to make it as detailed as I can, will also provide the full code for the digispark as well.
Dear cozzzz,

Thanks, I'm going to start buying the parts.
This retrofit that you made is really great.
As soon as you can please send me the next steps.

Thanks again
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      04-24-2021, 06:22 PM   #15
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This is great. Canít wait for the DIY!
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      04-28-2021, 10:03 AM   #16
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Hey guys, I've added some new parts to the diy guide, including the circuit diagrams and steps to program the digispark. I'm working on the building steps for the controller board next. Meanwhile if you have some experience with electronics and want to start before that, you could build the board using the circuit diagram and reference photo
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      04-28-2021, 11:47 AM   #17
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That looks clean, GJ
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      04-29-2021, 12:47 AM   #18
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there would be a lot of people who would find this above their skill level. Also a lot of people to lazy to take on such a project i.e. me and I did electronic engineering for my bachelors degree lol

Would you consider selling kits?
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      04-29-2021, 04:58 AM   #19
cozzzz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by x328x View Post
there would be a lot of people who would find this above their skill level. Also a lot of people to lazy to take on such a project i.e. me and I did electronic engineering for my bachelors degree lol

Would you consider selling kits?
That's true. I'm also aware it was a bit easier for me since I already had all the tools and some of the parts. But I hope the guide I'm working on will help at least one person accomplish this project, then I'll be happy

Regarding selling this as a kit, I've though about it and while it's possible, I need to do some research on regulations about selling electronic devices, to find a supplier for PCBs and a few others. Also the first thing would be to see if there's any demand for this, maybe I'll add a poll about this.
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      04-29-2021, 06:35 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cozzzz View Post
That's true. I'm also aware it was a bit easier for me since I already had all the tools and some of the parts. But I hope the guide I'm working on will help at least one person accomplish this project, then I'll be happy

Regarding selling this as a kit, I've though about it and while it's possible, I need to do some research on regulations about selling electronic devices, to find a supplier for PCBs and a few others. Also the first thing would be to see if there's any demand for this, maybe I'll add a poll about this.
Hi cozzzz,

I believe that I will be that person. I already bout the parts and waiting for the final retrofit guide to start this wonderful retrofit idea.
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      04-30-2021, 07:16 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cozzzz View Post
That's true. I'm also aware it was a bit easier for me since I already had all the tools and some of the parts. But I hope the guide I'm working on will help at least one person accomplish this project, then I'll be happy

Regarding selling this as a kit, I've though about it and while it's possible, I need to do some research on regulations about selling electronic devices, to find a supplier for PCBs and a few others. Also the first thing would be to see if there's any demand for this, maybe I'll add a poll about this.
I bet you could make a good amount of side cash making kits for people. Sure the F series is going to be the old generation now that the G series is out, but there are still plenty of people with F series cars that are looking for an upgrade from the boring white/amber OEM colors. Look at all the Chinese kits that are available to add extra colors but Chinese products are well known to be sketchy quality.

If the LED's are brighter than OEM and preferably as bright as Benzinfabrik's modules, I'd definitely buy a kit.
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      05-08-2021, 03:27 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eff32fl View Post
I bet you could make a good amount of side cash making kits for people. Sure the F series is going to be the old generation now that the G series is out, but there are still plenty of people with F series cars that are looking for an upgrade from the boring white/amber OEM colors. Look at all the Chinese kits that are available to add extra colors but Chinese products are well known to be sketchy quality.

If the LED's are brighter than OEM and preferably as bright as Benzinfabrik's modules, I'd definitely buy a kit.
I've added a poll to this thread, to get an idea of how many people would be interested. If there's some demand I'll plan the next steps, probably a schematic for the pcb, as this should be a properly built module, not components soldered by hand on a prototype board

Regarding brightness, these LEDs are definitely brighter than OEM (now I regret not taking before/after photos..). To my eyes the brightness level seems perfect as in bright enough without being distracting during night driving. I don't know how they compare to the benzinfabrik ones though. From what I've read and seen in photos, those might be brighter than ws2812 leds, but without actual lumens rating or comparing side by side, it's hard to tell.
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