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Newest project: C6 headlights style on a C5 (56k take a nap)

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Radioflyer

Joined: Sep 25 2007
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Post Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:19 pm

For those of you who don't know, I now run a side-business developing unique automotive lighting products specializing in the C5 corvette. One of the most saught after products is a set of fixed headlights that preform like the C6. There are existing twin-projector lights available, but the optics are questionable and they have a distinctive "bulge" in the lens that looks like a frog eye. My objective was to build a sleek set of twin projector fixed headlights for the 97-04 corvette that could be easily installed, bolt on plug and play.

I started by basing the design off the Breathless Performance fixed headlight kit. Their headlights have the best asthetics, but the reflector low beam has a horrible pattern and output and the high beam appears to be a random foglight:

This is the breathless kit on a c5. It looks good, but performance is questionable.


I borrowed a friend's Breathless kit to get the specs for the lens. Other than the lens, I'm designing everything else from scratch.

I decided on Hella's new 60mm modular projectors for optics. They're inexpensive, HID friendly and small yet preform very well. They're also completely sealed for a nice look and moisture won't be a problem with them. They use 3-point adjuster mounts for easy aiming.

This is the low beam output with a 5000K 35w HID PNP kit:


and the high beam with a 65w 9005 halogen:


I began the design by building a mock-up of the mounting braket for the projectors. This braket is made of coroplast (a plastic version of cardboard used in bandit signs) The final version will be made from 1/8 Aluminum.


After i finalized the clearance issues, i designed a more stable design. This is the paper-model of it I took to the machine shop:


Here are some test shots of the Headlight running




Once I get the prototype frame from the machine shop I will begin designing a shroud mold for the lights. This mold will be used to make an ABS thermoformed shroud that will bolt onto the body panels under the hood and also serve as a mounting surface for the main lens. ALL hardware will be hidden under the hood.

I've been waiting a LONG time to do this project so i'm taking great joy in finally being able to see it come to life. icon_biggrin.gif
TRogers

Joined: Feb 09 2005
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Post Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:32 pm

Wow, amazing man! As always, love your work.
banned from SG

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Post Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:51 pm

Awesome! I don't have a vette, but I'm pretty excited to see a final product of this.
corvettecrazy

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Post Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:57 pm

I wanted to do this same concept about 4 years ago and swing it into a small scale production, but college and not personally having a corvette prevented it from happening.

Also the fans in one of the breathless performance models look like crap.

Looks like it is coming along nicely.
Tat2Dragons

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Post Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:49 pm

Great job so far. icon_cool.gif
Radioflyer

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Post Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:15 pm

corvettecrazy wrote:

Also the fans in one of the breathless performance models look like crap.



yea...i think they're kina pointless especially since i think the reflectors in the breathless lights were sealed anyway
robbie

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Post Thu Oct 01, 2009 7:37 am

amazing sir
Radioflyer

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Post Sat Oct 17, 2009 9:41 pm

I had some extra time today so I went to the shop to work on the shroud design. I was originally going to do a simple circular cutout, but i decided to take the opprotunity to try something a little more unique.

The PVC is part of the substructure for the fiberglass that will be the mold.










The "tubing" does not affect the width of the output:







Prepped for fiberglass:

Tat2Dragons

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Post Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:45 pm

Looks good. icon_smile.gif If I may make a suggestion,it might look a tad better if you were to extend,then cut those pvc tubes at more of an angle to more closely match the lense. icon_cool.gif
Radioflyer

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Post Sun Oct 18, 2009 6:04 am

Tat2Dragons wrote:
Looks good. icon_smile.gif If I may make a suggestion,it might look a tad better if you were to extend,then cut those pvc tubes at more of an angle to more closely match the lense. icon_cool.gif


I was thinking that, however if i extend the PVC any further, i risk affecting the beam width.
pgiordano

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Post Sun Oct 18, 2009 7:35 am

I dont think you will have a problem but, i hope the peices of pvc dont melt or warp from the heat of the hid's... awsome work so far
Radioflyer

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Post Sun Oct 18, 2009 9:22 am

pgiordano wrote:
I dont think you will have a problem but, i hope the peices of pvc dont melt or warp from the heat of the hid's... awsome work so far


The PVC and fiberglass are going to be a mold. The actual shroud will be a thermoformed sheet of ABS. I'm not worried about heat with these projectors. Eveen after 5 minutes of operation they're warm to the touch but that's it....compared to the E55 projectors in my black car which get significantly hotter due to their all metal construction.
Tat2Dragons

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Post Sun Oct 18, 2009 12:20 pm

Radioflyer wrote:
Tat2Dragons wrote:
Looks good. icon_smile.gif If I may make a suggestion,it might look a tad better if you were to extend,then cut those pvc tubes at more of an angle to more closely match the lense. icon_cool.gif


I was thinking that, however if i extend the PVC any further, i risk affecting the beam width.


True,but I guess you wouldn't know for certain without actually trying. icon_smile.gif
Radioflyer

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Post Sun Oct 18, 2009 4:37 pm

Today I was able to do stage 1 of the fiberglass shroud mold. This comprised of a simple single layer 2-coat of fiberglass resin over a fleece cover.

Here’s the first coat


Once it hardened I cut out the holes for the projectors. This is pretty close to what the final design will look like.



The mold itself will not fit mounted long with the projectors since the inner structure doesn’t have enough clearance for the projectors, however the Thermoformed shroud will have PLENTY of clearance.



These pics show just how low profile the lights are. They hug the contours of the car very nicely.





For stage 2, I will use bondo as a filler material to smooth out the lines of the mold then lots of sanding. This shouldn’t take more than a few hours.

For the final stage, I will mount the existing mold on a slab of MDF with strategically drilled holes for thermoforming. I then plan to apply a layer of fiberglass mat over the entire piece and down to the MDF base. I will probably use about 3-4 coats of resin followed by a little light sanding to smooth out the top will make it ready to use as a mold.

If everything goes according to plan, I will have the molds finished and ready for use by Tuesday. (fingers crossed)
Radioflyer

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Post Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:05 pm

After much consideration, (and not being able to sleep), I decided the molds I made Sunday were not up to par both in quality and appearance. Since this mold will be used for repeated use, I felt it was best to remake it to be perfect even if it meant an extra day�s labor to do so.

I tore apart the molds I made yesterday and started over. The new design uses longer PVC shroud tubes cut at a sharper angle that more closely matches the contours of the car�s fender. I also got to use my new sander to make the �cut� perfectly flat instead of the guesswork I did with the earlier version. I measured them out so the longer tubes do not affect the beam width.

Checking lens clearance:

Checking beam width:

Shroud tubes mounted:


Fiberglassing (used a BUNCH more this time):


Test fit on projectors w/ frame and lens:




My poor dremel�lol:


Left and right:




Shroud and lens mounted test pics:






Note how low profile the lenses are:




Tomorrow starts stage II. Should be rather quick since the form came out so smooth.


Last edited by Radioflyer on Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:10 pm, edited 1 time in total
corvettecrazy

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Post Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:09 pm

Please tell me those body panels are loose in the last few pictures you posted.... their fitment is horrid. icon_eek.gif

Nice progress on the lights!
Radioflyer

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Post Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:12 pm

corvettecrazy wrote:
Please tell me those body panels are loose in the last few pictures you posted.... their fitment is horrid. icon_eek.gif

Nice progress on the lights!


Sadly the panels are not loose. The fitment is the result of a poor repair job after a collision (previous owner) There are washers, random-head screws and such everywhere in the bumper and headlight area.
lawson4450

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Post Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:31 pm

nice job keep up the great work you got going on there.
kornholio788

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Post Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:57 pm

The new ones look 10xs better. Looks awesome dude.
Tat2Dragons

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Post Mon Oct 19, 2009 11:40 pm

Now that looks so much better. Great job! icon_cool.gif
aznboiquyen

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Post Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:35 am

Can you update us on how your light output is affected when driving at night? I figure when you're driving you would want a wide spread of light not a direct circular beam. Let me know if there are changes in the spread of light.
Radioflyer

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Post Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:41 pm

Projectors pattern test:

Low beam pattern: DOT cutoff with long step (5000K 35w HID kit)


High beam pattern: (Wide spread spot pattern) 55w halogen



I have the first thermoformed components. The trimming of these is a FAR cry from the ease of the original light cannons shroud. I'm glad to say that i'm getting plenty of use out of my new belt sander and band saw which DRASTICALLY speed up the proceess and cut down on the smell. icon_lol.gif

I only had a few hours at the shop this evening so i only got one side trimmed. Here are the pics:





With projectors: (they're just sitting there, not mounted)









The PETG lens material is very strong. While it's not as strong as lexan, it is extremely resistant to cracking. My thermoformer demonstrated by throwing a brick at a 1x1' sheet and i watched the brick bounce off without ANY cracking. The good news is that PETG is also less prone to scratching than polycarb. Any question i had about this as a lens material is completely gone. nevertheless, I will still be performing my favorite impact ballistics test on polycarb, PETG scrap and the original BPP lens material. This will be followed by a scratch resistance test.

The irony of it all.... my shop currently has 10 of the 12 flourecent lights out making evening work well...in need of enlightening (I know i'm horrible) icon_lol.gif icon_surprised.gif

The next update will feature the first mounted and output pics with the new lenses.
campbellsco

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Post Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:58 pm

wow that looks amazing
Chris

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Post Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:02 pm

Those would sell great for RX7s!
Radioflyer

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Post Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:02 pm

test mouting pics

SLC on the drivers side, modified Specter werkes light on the passenger:





Note how close the lens matches body lines compared to the specter werkes lens. The Depo lens sticks out even further. Aerodynamically, the headlight bulge creates a low preessure area directly on top of the light causing lift on the nose at high speeds....something you REALLY don't want. The SLC lens maintains smooth airflow over the headlight area.



Just the SLC lens




Suggested painting line for "eyebrow"

KrzysD

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Post Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:35 pm

that damn sexy! Great work as always!
Grinder

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Post Wed Nov 18, 2009 7:37 pm

someone needs their **** buffed out. lol


i love it. nice work.
corvettecrazy

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Post Wed Nov 18, 2009 7:41 pm

Grinder wrote:
someone needs their **** buffed out. lol


i love it. nice work.


Yeah it does but the clear coat on these cars is a PITA to buff out but micro mars really easily.
Grinder

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Post Wed Nov 18, 2009 7:44 pm

if for some crazy reason i decided to do what you are. retrofit some hids to my car.


what would it cost me? i have access to mills, welders, materials all for free.
ChevyCaprice9C1

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Post Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:06 pm

yeah looks awesome (as always) where to you find your projectors at?
corvettecrazy

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Post Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:20 pm

Grinder wrote:
if for some crazy reason i decided to do what you are. retrofit some hids to my car.


what would it cost me? i have access to mills, welders, materials all for free.


Depends on the type of car, the projectors you chose to use, how handy you are, and many other factors.
Grinder

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Post Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:35 pm

rough estimate? so i can decide if it even worth it.
corvettecrazy

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Post Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:50 pm

At least say what kind of car you have.

If you have a 86 **** with halogens then yeah it would be worth it. If you have a newer nissan with reflector HID's, no it is probably not worth the effort. icon_rolleyes.gif
Grinder

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Post Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:56 pm

why you hit so hard.

1997 bonneville.
corvettecrazy

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Post Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:50 am

Grinder wrote:
why you hit so hard.

1997 bonneville.


Check out

http://s44.photobucket.com/albums/f16/corvettecrazyjnk/HL%20project/

The headlight should look familiar...

Because of the HL design making projectors fit is a LOT of work, but would be very worth it IMO.

If you are not on bonnevillepro.com you should join.
Radioflyer

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Post Fri Nov 20, 2009 7:42 pm

Finally all the components are in!! I decided to test the fitment on my daily driver to ensure the fitment will be good. The demo car had some body work done on it by the previous owner and I wanted to make sure there wasn�t any discrepancies in panel alignment.

This is roughly what it will look like as you assemble it:

Mounted projector/frame assembly. The joints are tab-welded for additional strength (this is the welding equivalent of a dovetail joint)




Shroud mounted:
Note: the shroud is a prototype shroud specifically formed and cut for fitment testing. The final shroud will be perfectly smooth like the lens.









Lens installed (not bolted on in these test shots)







Santa likes the clean lines:


Low beam testing on: 55w 6000K bulb




Beam pattern with lens. Note minimal distortion of cutoff with thee high quality main lens optics. Low beam width is about 110 degrees. Significantly wider than expected with the shroud installed.




Halo option:
Off:








On (shop lights on):




shop lights off






Halos with Low beams: shop lights off:







I was not able to get output pics outdoors today because of rain (I�m not getting my nice shiny camera wet)

I recently received the first projectors for the GP spot saver program along with a set of HIR bulbs that I will be testing tomorrow. I will be mounting a complete set of these lights for the first time on my car for a road test on Monday evening.
kramer13
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Post Fri Nov 20, 2009 8:19 pm

dude...slick **** rick dude. awesome!
knatebetz

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Post Sat Nov 21, 2009 10:23 am

looks really nice
robbie

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Post Sun Nov 22, 2009 12:10 am

looks great, sure kicks the hell out of those huge pop ups.
Radioflyer

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Post Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:23 pm

I decided to do some more data gathering. First up: projector pattern width with and without the shroud. First, I measured width by placing the projector 1 foot away from a flat wall measuring half the useable width in the pattern then with some simple trig calculated the beam width.



The projector itself has a useable width of about 120 degrees... something I consider more than adequate for a sports car. Installing the shroud decreases the width to about 110 degrees, thought a lot of this is due to the lens distortion on the outer edge.


Another subject: the high beam bulb upgrade. This is a test of the 55w halogen base and the HIR bulb. HIR bulb is on the left, base is on the right. This shot is of them on the floor because I didn’t have a good wall to shoot them as comparison shot at the same time. Exposure was set to -1 to show the pattern rather than brightness.



And onto the grand finale: the first ever SLC prototype mounted.

Notes: The original design called for tight tolerances; however I’ve learned that it may be better to increase these tolerances to allow more adjustment. The prototype is a little “rough on the edges” however it’s purpose is to test performance, durability ease of installation and various adjustments.

The SLC frames and projector mounted;


The following outdoor pics were taken at -2 exposure to better show the outline of the lights and the pattern. For some reason this drastically affected how the camera picked up color. The HID kit used is a 6000K 55w HID and the highs beams are the base model halogen.

Low beams only:






Pattern at ~15’


High beams:



High beam pattern at ~15’


Lows and Highs:


high/low pattern at ~15’ exposure and ISO setting reduced to show pattern comparison. This is VERY bright.


First road test notes:
The beam pattern is significantly wider than my E55 projectors. It is by far the most stable setup I’ve yet installed. The pattern has a rather large step and a sharper cutoff than the LC 2.0s.
Tat2Dragons

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Post Tue Nov 24, 2009 6:09 am

It's definitely looking good. icon_cool.gif I'm not trying to be a ****,but for some reason it looks like the light is reflecting off the lower part of the housings a bit too much and appears to be bleeding over to the opposite side.I think that's why the front view with the lights on doesn't look as clean. icon_neutral.gif
Radioflyer

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Post Tue Nov 24, 2009 6:21 am

Tat2Dragons wrote:
It's definitely looking good. icon_cool.gif I'm not trying to be a ****,but for some reason it looks like the light is reflecting off the lower part of the housings a bit too much and appears to be bleeding over to the opposite side.I think that's why the front view with the lights on doesn't look as clean. icon_neutral.gif


that and i had fingerprints all over the lenses and didn't use a tripod.... rofl.gif
Tdawgthegreatest

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Post Tue Nov 24, 2009 6:22 am

Looks good man, as usual.

When I first saw them with their clear covers, instantly reminded me of the Supra headlights, and how they kinda "flow" with the hood

User posted image
robbie

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Post Tue Nov 24, 2009 9:29 am

^^^^^^mmmmmm
Radioflyer

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Post Tue Nov 24, 2009 7:31 pm

After the initial test drive, I got a better idea of what tweaking needed to be done (mostly due to the side of the frame rails not being perfectly perpendicular to the ground) I enlarged the mounting holes for both the frame and projector to allow for additional adjustments and more washers will be used as a result of the larger holes.

Evening test shots: exposure set to -1.

Off:






On:
User posted image









Pattern:


First road test!
[yt]oBb2xJZD03w[/yt]
Tdawgthegreatest

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Post Tue Nov 24, 2009 10:11 pm

Radioflyer

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Post Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:58 am

final version:
Final Version pics!!!







User posted image

Tripod at 150ft:
User posted image



Parking lot test vid (black asphalt)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOBYrXaRnB8
A-Ray

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Post Thu Jan 07, 2010 9:02 am

Looks really good.
zup89_4

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Post Thu Jan 07, 2010 11:35 am

very cool
Tat2Dragons

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Post Thu Jan 07, 2010 2:47 pm

Looks nice. icon_cool.gif
Jmoore12

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Post Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:50 pm

Those are what I am looking for how much did it cost you do to that? Wanna make me some?
olverafam

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Post Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:45 pm

That is sick as ****, I used to think corvettes were cheap POS but then my buddy let me drive his and it totally changed my perspective on the car. You should keep the template it took to create this mod and sell it to others with the same car you could possibly make some good money, Because most people that own these cars make good money as it is but you also have the car, meaning that you probably make good money and have no need to make these for the extra cash. peace bro
Radioflyer

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Post Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:16 am

olverafam wrote:
That is sick as ****, I used to think corvettes were cheap POS but then my buddy let me drive his and it totally changed my perspective on the car. You should keep the template it took to create this mod and sell it to others with the same car you could possibly make some good money, Because most people that own these cars make good money as it is but you also have the car, meaning that you probably make good money and have no need to make these for the extra cash. peace bro


Already done icon_smile.gif I"m a vendor on the corvette forum and have sold 14 sets to date. It's paid for my kit, this semesters tuition and pending another group purchase maybe even a supercharger biglaugh.gif
main-e-ax

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Post Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:34 pm

Radioflyer wrote:

Already done icon_smile.gif I"m a vendor on the corvette forum and have sold 14 sets to date. It's paid for my kit, this semesters tuition and pending another group purchase maybe even a supercharger biglaugh.gif


Thats awesome.
Radioflyer

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Post Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:54 am

first customer's cars:

First customer's pics:

Here's a few pics from yesterday's install with white shrouds on Turbo-Geist's bad-assed FRC: (done at my shop)

User posted image

User posted image

User posted image

Here's an interesting article from May 09's edition of Corvette Fever about the aerodymanics of pop up headlights at highway speeds:

User posted image


This is the first customer to install it themselves:

User posted image

User posted image
Tat2Dragons

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Post Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:34 am

Very Nice! icon_cool.gif
02BlueStang

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Post Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:43 am

If I had a vette you would have my order icon_cool.gif
Radioflyer

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Post Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:34 am

02BlueStang wrote:
If I had a vette you would have my order icon_cool.gif


97-04 corvettes are at an all-time low for prices and their reliability is extremely competitive compared to other cars of that performance level. I do listings for a vette-specialist mechanic in my area and 5th-gen corvettes in good condition can be had for a little over $10K. If you want one, the time to buy is now.
OpieinaBug

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Post Tue May 18, 2010 2:31 pm

I have a C5 and need to replace my headlights. How do I order a pair of these from you? Cost?

Thanks,
Jason
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