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Necessary parts for installing cathode tubes?

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oldskoolhonda

Joined: Oct 16 2006
Posts: 1341
Location: Wichita, Kansas


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Post Mon Oct 16, 2006 4:30 pm

hey im new to the lighting world and the forum. i just ordered 4 of each 12" and 4" blue cathode tubes, and 6 rocker switches(exta in case i want to do sumthin else besides lights) what type of fuse and amperage would i need to have? and is there anything else necissary (sp) that i need to get to make the set up work?
josh9015

Joined: Sep 05 2003
Posts: 2256
Location: Melbourne, Florida


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Post Mon Oct 16, 2006 4:33 pm

you should search. things you will need
fuse holder
fuses
more wire
electrical tape
crimp connectors or solder or just use tape
ring terminals for the grounds. You don't really need them but it makes the ground secure.
I am sure this will get you installing them. Others will charm in with more stuff. Look around in the installation forum.
Phil
Owner, Oznium.com

Joined: Feb 11 2003
Posts: 7719


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Post Mon Oct 16, 2006 6:26 pm

Welcome to the lighting world. And welcome to the forum oldskoolhonda!

Click on any of the images to view them fullsize!

You start with the 2 cathodes and transformer. The cathodes plug into one side, and the red/black power wire plugs into the other side:

User posted image User posted image

There are a few methods for getting power to the transformer:
1) Tap into the fuse box
2) Tap into the back of the cig lighter
3) Run a new wire from the car battery, through a rubber grommet in the firewall, and under the dash.

you must fuse!

Every electrical component in your car should be fused. A fuse protects valuable components as well as the wiring running to them. If a component malfunctions and tries to pull more current than the wire can handle, an un-fused wire would melt and possibly start a fire.

Each cathode kit draws about 0.7 amps of current. It is recommend that you use a 2 to 3 amp fuse for 1 to a few kits. The fuse rating can be slightly higher than the combined amperage draw, but don't use a 10 or 20 amp fuse!

The fuse should be placed as close as possible to the power source. If you are running a new wire directly from the battery, try to put an inline fuse - in a waterproof fuse holder - within a few inches from the positive terminal.

There are likely 2 fuse boxes in your car: in the engine bay, and under the dash.

To install cathodes under the dash, it probably makes most sense to tap into the fuse box right there.

In the Scion tC, the fuse box is under the dash. You've gotta get on your back and stick your head under there to see it. This is what the cover panel looks like. It just pops right off:

User posted image

and there are 2 methods of doing this!

Ghetto-rig it by twisting a stripped wire onto a fuse lead before pushing it into the holder. Hopefully there are some empty slots in the fuse box. And hopefully they are already powered. Some are probably powered when the key is in the ON or ACC position, while other may be powered even when the key is not in the ignition.

There are 2 sides to the holder of a fuse box. There is the side that is powered, and then there is the side that is fused. You must put the power wire into the fused side, otherwise the fuse does no good, for it is completely bypassed - connected directly to the powered side. To figure out which is which, you could carefully touch the power wire to either side of an empty fuse holder slot. Of course, you will need to ground the black wire. And if the cathodes light up, you have found the powered side.

Put the power wire into the other side - the fused side, and push the fuse in. The lights should then light up... Because power is flowing from the powered side, through the fuse, and to the power wire of the cathodes.

Or you can buy something called "Add-a-Circuit" which makes for a cleaner install. It is about $10 at your local auto part store. You might have to try a few different stores until you can find it. It lets you tap into a slot which is already occupied by a fuse.

User posted image User posted image

For some installations, it might be easy to tap into the back wires of your cig plug. You can easily tap power and ground there. You could use a wire stripper to carefully strip part of the wire back, twist on your new wire, solder the connection, and then tape with electrical tape. Or you could try using some T-tap connectors, although they are not too reliable. The polarity (which is positive/which is ground) is not readily apparent when looking at the 2 wires coming out of the cig plug. If you can figure out which one goes to the inner "nipple" on the plug, you've found the positive. The ground wire goes to the outer metal "case" of the plug.

You need to ground the black wire coming out of the cathode transformer. Pretty much any metal part in the car which is connected to the chassis will work. You could use a factory grounding point, use another convenient bolt on BARE (non painted) metal, or you could drill your own hole somewhere and use a self-tapping screw.

You could just strip a fairly long portion of the black wire (maybe 2 inches) and wrap it around a metal bolt or part. But this isn't too reliable.

Instead you can use an O-ring terminal and a crimp tool to crimp the wire. Then secure this ring to a metal point.

Remove the driver side kick panel and there is a 10mm bolt revealed. Under the plastic is a nice metal grounding point.

User posted image User posted image User posted image

To re-cap, you've connected the black wire to ground, and connected the red wire to your FUSED power source. By now, the cathodes should be lit.

Next you probably want to add a switch so you can turn them on/off.

A switch cuts/connects the circuit. The most common switch has 2 metal prongs. Cut your red power wire, strip back a bit on each end you just cut, and connect the 2 ends to your switch. When you flip the switch the cathodes should turn on/off.

You can either solder the wires to the switch prongs, or you can use female spade crimp terminals and a crimp tool.

Some switches are lighted switches, meaning they have a light that turns on when the switch is in the on position. If you want this feature, you must run a black ground wire from the GROUND terminal on the switch to your grounding point on the car. The other 2 terminals will be: constant power, and accessory power. Constant power goes to your fuse, and accessory power to your cathodes.

some basic skills you should be familiar with

Stripping wire: Most of the wire you deal with in the car has strands of copper wound together, and a fairly durable plastic insulation. Some crazy people claim they can strip wire with their teeth! Otherwise you can use a sharp knife, a pair of wire cutters (takes some practice so you don't end up just cutting the wire), or a pair of wire strippers made specifically for stripping different gauges (thicknesses) of wire.

Wire stripping tool:
User posted image

Extending wires: Cut the wire. Strip about half an inch of the wire on each end that you just cut. Find some new wire, cut it to the length that you want you extension to be. Strip both ends of this new wire. You now have 4 stripped ends of wires. Twist the wires together to create your "splice". You can then solder the wires, and use heat shrink tubing or electrical tape to seal the connections. You could also use butt-connectors and a crimp tool.

Crimping wires: Strip the wire about a quarter to half of an inch. Insert into the terminal (ring, spade, butt, etc). Insert the terminal into the crimp tool, and crimp! You should be using a REAL crimping tool (rather than pliers) so that you get reliable crimps. After crimping, pull a bit on the wire to make sure it is snug. Connectors come in all different varieties and sizes. For safety, look for the insulated ones.

Crimping tool:
User posted image

By now you should have your fuse power wire running to a switch. The other end of the switch runs to your positive wire on your cathode transformer. The black wire of the cathode transformer is grounded.

User posted image User posted image

Mounting the transformer and cathode tubes is usually done with cable ties. There are plenty of things to "tie" them to under the dash. Play around with the placement and see which gives you the best lighting effect. Try to keep the tubes out of the way of feet and out of plain sight. Most of the time, it is better to see the diffused (while still BRIGHT) glow from the tubes, than the tubes themselves.

User posted image

all lit up & beautiful

User posted image
User posted image


I hope this answers many of your questions. I know when I first started car lighting, I was so lost as to how to install things.
Tim

Joined: Nov 16 2003
Posts: 10795
Location: Kalamazoo, MI


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Post Mon Oct 16, 2006 7:01 pm

Woa...
druidman227

Joined: Jun 11 2005
Posts: 1231
Location: River Edge, NJ


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Post Thu Oct 19, 2006 10:28 pm

wow. phil has gotten into longer posts recently. what is it? now that you have Aken trained and house-broken is there not as much for you to do or something?
Phil
Owner, Oznium.com

Joined: Feb 11 2003
Posts: 7719


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Post Thu Oct 19, 2006 11:38 pm

yes
Aken

Joined: Feb 12 2003
Posts: 10885


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Post Thu Oct 19, 2006 11:46 pm

haha
druidman227

Joined: Jun 11 2005
Posts: 1231
Location: River Edge, NJ


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Post Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:00 am

nice.
harnette74

Joined: Sep 18 2006
Posts: 9
Location: Vancouver


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Post Mon Oct 23, 2006 8:11 pm

That was a great write-up Phil! icon_smile.gif Just have a quick question: Is it safe to put as many cathodes on a single fuse?
Tim

Joined: Nov 16 2003
Posts: 10795
Location: Kalamazoo, MI


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Post Mon Oct 23, 2006 8:36 pm

If you don't use a fuse, you're car will get pregnant. Or catch fire. Remember this.

I'd say no more than 4 sets of cathodes. I could be wrong though,
audio_excessories

Joined: Aug 20 2005
Posts: 1662
Location: Michigan/ Florida


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Post Mon Oct 23, 2006 8:43 pm

**** put as many thodes on a single fuse as you want...as long as all the wires are routed safely and securely, and the fuse value is appropriate to the load.
Aken

Joined: Feb 12 2003
Posts: 10885


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Post Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:09 pm

audio_excessories wrote:
**** put as many thodes on a single fuse as you want...as long as all the wires are routed safely and securely, and the fuse value is appropriate to the load.

Ja. You also want to make sure your wires and switches can handle the load of however many cathodes you are using. But you'd have to use a LOT before worrying about those two, especially if you're using switches from Oznium.
Rags

Joined: Apr 21 2005
Posts: 3527
Location: dayton


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Post Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:26 pm

the trick i learned is you strip the positive wire in between the fuse and battery and expose it to bare ground metal. usually adds a little extra...glow....
Aken

Joined: Feb 12 2003
Posts: 10885


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Post Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:52 pm

Don't post stuff like that - some newb might do it icon_biggrin.gif
harnette74

Joined: Sep 18 2006
Posts: 9
Location: Vancouver


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Post Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:02 pm

Thanks a lot guys. So if I was putting 6-8 sets cathodes per say, what gauge of wires should I use and how much amperage fuse would I need?
I read somewhere that it takes about .7amp/cathode set, so should 5-8 amps be sufficient? Which switch would you guys suggest I use? Iím sure any oznium switch would do the job, right?

Anyway reading Philís write-up I tried testing the 2 sides on the fuse box, the side that is fused and the side that is powered. I did try it and found that to be correct. Hereís my fuse box. The red circle is where the powered side is. I grounded the black wire where the green arrow points out. Itís funny, however, that both the open slots that I have available here did NOT have the same side powered as you can see in this picture. Is that normal?
User posted image

Finally, if I was going to fuse my cathodes on either one of the empty slots, how would I make the connection? Do I just insert a bare wire and wedge it with the fuse?
josh9015

Joined: Sep 05 2003
Posts: 2256
Location: Melbourne, Florida


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Post Tue Oct 24, 2006 7:58 pm

I would wire them from thebattery. Don't wire anything off the stock wiring unless its something small but you seem to be putting alot on the factory wiring. I wouldn't do it. If you still want to they sell a thing thats called like add a circuit. Discount auto parts should have it. Its a fuse with a wire coming off the fuse. when you see it you will know what I am talking about.
oldskoolhonda

Joined: Oct 16 2006
Posts: 1341
Location: Wichita, Kansas


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Post Wed Oct 25, 2006 9:34 pm

Rags wrote:
the trick i learned is you strip the positive wire in between the fuse and battery and expose it to bare ground metal. usually adds a little extra...glow....


now what would that do..could it screw the ccs up?
stasis-

Joined: Jun 05 2004
Posts: 4517
Location: Texas!


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Post Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:38 pm

or start a fire..w/e
Aken

Joined: Feb 12 2003
Posts: 10885


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Post Thu Oct 26, 2006 10:30 am

oldskoolhonda wrote:
Rags wrote:
the trick i learned is you strip the positive wire in between the fuse and battery and expose it to bare ground metal. usually adds a little extra...glow....


now what would that do..could it screw the ccs up?

Don't listen to him. It would make your car look like a firework, and probably start it on fire icon_biggrin.gif
Rags

Joined: Apr 21 2005
Posts: 3527
Location: dayton


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Post Thu Oct 26, 2006 11:21 am

yea i was completely kidding about that.
it will spark really nice depending on your current and gauge wire and could start a fire.
and yea i have had my trunk on fire. but know what? you learn from your mistakes.
=D
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