Bi-Xenon (Bosch E46 replica) retrofitting - review and afterthoughts
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    1. #1
      Member LizardOfBodom's Avatar
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      Bi-Xenon (Bosch E46 replica) retrofitting - review and afterthoughts

      Hi all
      As promised, some feedback after installing those in my car.
      Included some installation pics and my opinion on them so far.
      (I already had working and "safe" HID kit in my stock projectors, so I am not focusing on any of the aspects of preparing and retrofitting HID itself, that has already been written up enough times)

      So... Ordered 2 new projectors off Internet (retrofitlab.com based in Holland) costing me 120eur/pair + splitter cables and shipment. I have gone for Bi-Xenon Bosch E46 type, as those are straight fit and are basically plug&play for P1 lamps. Projectors are brand new, but are advertised as "Bosch E46 replicas" so they are not in fact made by Bosch. Cant say if those are made in China or some higher quality EU manufacture, but looks fine and quality wise are pretty decent. I think its safe to say its a "generic" type with noname, that can be bought with different bulb fitment. I went for H7 (as had my H7 kit already) but D2S version is identical, bar the bulb fitment. OEM projectors are designed differently for every type of bulb so I wouldnt expect advanced optics on those.

      Comparison between new and old:






      New ones are a bit longer and definetely much more bulky, because of electromagnet. The notch for bulb fitment is "the correct way" so the burner's wire is orientated downwards towards the shutter. Shutter itself have ---___ type of the pattern so standard (for UK version ofcourse)



      See the comparison on the wall between old projector with milky (Fresnel type) lens and new one





      Taking old projector and putting new one is really few minute job. 3 screws and a bit of fiddling. There is no need to modify front beziels, or anything - from the outside they look exactly like stock ones, just clear. What I noticed after initial test, that because of thicker mount plate, new projector on driver side is alligned way too high - you can compensate by adjusting the level, but then your main beams became useless, shining just in front of the car. I had to use 2 washers and 5 different tries to finally get it right and get the similar aim as with old projector.
      It fits well within the lamp, no problems with closing the lid or anything, but because of its size I couldnt fit the ballasts and wiring inside of the lamp anymore. That was an extra hassle to get the wires out, but what can you do... :/




      (thats bag of silica to keep headlamp dry and a wire for the external mass connection)



      Another problem became when trying to mount the ballasts underneath the hood - with limited space on T5 and almost zero mounting points, its really hard to find decent spot for those


      Ended up using cableties and wire and kinda of suspending them inside the engine bay on both sides, until I figure out better solution. Also, wires are pretty short now so I can no longer remove headlamp without unpinning the connectors first. More hassle I didnt expect as I really liked my previous "all in one" solution.

      I did some initial beam alignment as per spec and tried to make it as perfect as possible, finally when done, you can see how the beam pattern look (5000k bulb).



      below, how it did look with original fresnel lenses and the same HID kit.



      Looking at the beam pattern on the new projectors, you can clearly see the difference - much sharper cutoffs and beam shape. Unfortunately - right side is not so good as whole projector seem to be rotated down - need to emphasise now that is NOT the case of the new projectors, but something wrong with my lamp/mounting points/whatever. It was like this before (see pic with fresnel lenses) but wasnt as obvious due to the more spreaded light output.
      I tried everything to rotate the beam - nothing worked. Not sure what is wrong, but without re-mounting projector or re-shaping the mounting points it seem impossible to fix. Alternative probably would be getting different headlamp.

      I dont have any decent pics from the road - will follow up with them when I do more testing, but so far I can give you some personal feedback as to compare to my previous stock lenses with the same HID kit:

      - light output is much improved - clarity of the lens and brand new reflectors makes a big difference in how bright the beam now is.

      - foreground lighting changed dramatically - from almost non-existent (see pics fresnel lens on the wall?) to nice and uniformed from the bonnet to the cutoff points. I feel like I am driving with fog lights now as road just in front of the car is now perfectly lit

      - the beam pattern of those projector is much more narrow than previous ones. That is a downside. I have read about it and apparently thats the nature of E46 projectors. Compared to Mini H1 for example or even my old ones - they are just very narrow. Its good to have foglamps set as I do (have alligned them so they shine just below dip beam pattern) as they have wide spread and nicely supplement the main ones, especially on bendy roads.

      - bi-xenon function is just OK, cant say I was blown away by it. Will try to make some photos of just xenon high beam, but without HB3 bulbs supplementing them, I dont think I would be happy. Those projectors definitely wouldnt work for me as only source of high beam. When shutter is fully opened, you are gaining more wide-spreaded light so atleast driving on bendy roads with high-beam on is better than previously as side of the roads are better lit trough high beam. One of my previous ideas to improve high beam was mounting set of spot lights and personally I think it would have made better job. Or maybe with better quality projector and D2S burner it would be better? But dont expect the same output from those as you would get from OEM bi-xenons of audi or BMW. Have seen them and its a completely different league.

      - the cutoff lines are sharp, so they allow you to better alligning projectors and I'm more confident now about not dazzling other drivers. You literally have projected edges on the cars in front of you so you know exactly how much glare you produce. It takes a while to getting used to it after previous lenses, I must admit - not sure how I feel about it yet...

      - there is a rainbow effect on the edges of the cutoff - It is similar to what I see on all new LED equipped cars etc where the edge of cutoff is a bit purple/green and observing the pattern on cars in front of me is a bit distracting. I think lots of xenons have this but probably the better projector, the less rainbow?

      - the shutter allignment is an issue and real PITA. There is a screw that allow you to adjust the "idle" position of the shutter by being more or less vertical. When not right, instead of nice cutoff in the middle there is a blurry "blob".

      Made one light perfect (very sharp cutoff on the road even far far away from the car) but another is a blurry line from 10meters onward. It all looks good on the wall and from close distance, but when you see the beam on the road as far as it reaches - its bad. Will have to try to adjust again, but atm its just trial and error :/

      General experience so far - OK.
      Was it worth it for 120e - I think so
      Would I do it again If I knew - probably not and keep using previous setup without so much hassle.

      Will update with more pics and more daily-road experience after a while.

      if anyone have advices as how to improve allignment or lens rotation - I'm all ears
      Last edited by LizardOfBodom; 03-28-2017 at 11:15 AM.
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    3. #2
      Member V50R's Avatar
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      Thanks for the great write up. I would recommend going OEM projectors as you can find them on ebay fairly easy and you can put 3" Clear lenses on them and tweak the output with the screw on them.

      Yours turned out great though!

      You can take off the projector and file down the hole opening on all 4 points to gain just a bit of slack then you can try mounting it again by applyying counter clock wise pressure before you tighten the screws.
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      Quote Originally Posted by V50R View Post
      Thanks for the great write up. I would recommend going OEM projectors as you can find them on ebay fairly easy and you can put 3" Clear lenses on them and tweak the output with the screw on them.
      .
      What search terms should one use to find the OEM projectors on ebay?

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    6. #4
      Member jschinito's Avatar
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      e46 projectors
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    7. #5
      Member LizardOfBodom's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by V50R View Post
      You can take off the projector and file down the hole opening on all 4 points to gain just a bit of slack then you can try mounting it again by applyying counter clock wise pressure before you tighten the screws.
      Thanks, thats a good tip! May try to do it when I have a moment it may actually need very little adjustment so its worth a shot.

      OEM projectors - Im sure those would work better, I think you get them with clear lenses anyway as factory bi-xenons are clear, (later models for sure). In theory you can also do the same with my stock projectors (drill the lens module out and put clear one in) but that definitely is not worth it.

      Also, small update. After a full day of my usual commute and a day of real-life testing, I have to admit I am more pleased with them than I originally thought. Yes, pattern is a bit off and yes there are still adjustments needed and yes they are narrower than expected, but thats all noticeable because my OCD and lab-like testing trying to achieve perfection. In real life, in daily traffic and when following the car on highway, you actually get to appreciate them much more - the foreground is lit up like nothing I have had before and light pattern allows for comfortable cruise in high speeds even if there is traffic in front of you and cant use high beams. Also, in middle of city in traffic jam, its noticeable straight away how powerful the light output is and how uniform the light pattern, especially when you stand beside lots of cars with various light types and see their light patterns on bumpers of other cars. Maybe I was too harsh saying I wouldnt have done it again, as the more I drive the more I think that was actually well worth it.

      See shots below, was finally able to take decent ones. Notice the road sign in right corner, its a good comparison to see how output changes from low to high beam, and also that with low beam its barely lit and reflects little light - thats good indication that my lights are much less dazzling than previous setup (where I have seen reflections in road signs that were much further and higher).

      Low beam


      High beam


      Low beam + foglamps (that indicates clearly how much side-light is missing on low beam result of narrow projector throw)


      Have to admit that yesterday, when coming back at night from work, driving on that road with full beams on was as great experience as never before, and its a good 20kms of journey.


      Also - managed to get a shot that indicates those "rainbow effects" that I was talking about. See the colour artifacts at the edge of cutoff, right over the bush line?
      Not sure how to deal wit tho


      all for now, will update more if I have something nice to show.
      Last edited by LizardOfBodom; 03-28-2017 at 11:17 AM.
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    8. #6
      Member jschinito's Avatar
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      glad you posted an update.

      i went from h9 halogens to e46 w/hid and clear lenses and it was an incredible jump - could not fathom ever wondering if it was worth it even with slightly imperfect cut off, etc. there's whole forums on how to tweak e46 projectors on trs. they are an oldie but goodie and the easiest safety upgrade for our cars imo
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    9. #7
      Member LizardOfBodom's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by jschinito View Post
      glad you posted an update.

      i went from h9 halogens to e46 w/hid and clear lenses and it was an incredible jump - could not fathom ever wondering if it was worth it even with slightly imperfect cut off, etc. there's whole forums on how to tweak e46 projectors on trs. they are an oldie but goodie and the easiest safety upgrade for our cars imo
      Out of curiosity, have you tried the HID kit on your stock projectors? With H9 bulb projectors (that as I know are much better than old H7 ones) you may have had a pretty decent output anyway, I wonder how those would compare?
      are your E46 original D2S ones or replicas with different fitment?

      EDIT - TRS forum you are referring to , is that hidplanet? TRS is not very well known in this part of the world so I am not familiar with them.
      Last edited by LizardOfBodom; 02-09-2017 at 10:38 AM.
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      As my new project is taking longer than I thought, and my story-notes are getting longer and longer, I decided to start the writeup now and share what I have done so far. I am, hopefully 1 week away from finished project and swapping the lamps, but even now I am sure it wont be 100% as I want it, as wiring of this contraption is more complicated than I thought....
      but anyway - here is my photostory of work in progress so far

      So just a brief explanation of "Black Lamp project" origins. As seen on previous posts, I already have retrofitted HID system with H7 bulbs. It is working well and really happy with it, but being a bit of a light freak I always wanted to go step ahead. Always regretted not going with D2S version so I thought to myself "ah, what the hell" and decided to go for it this time.

      Step1

      As per my original plan - I was not happy with swapping projectors over for every annual test, nor I thought it would be healthy for the plastic holders so I decided to get the spare set of headlamps. First attempt - pulled the plug on set of brand new aftermarket ones, TYC brand.
      Big mistake.
      Next day after recieving them, those were in return post heading back to seller. Quality was terrible, plastic felt like it was breaking by just touching it and the projector holders looked so fragile I would actually be afraid to swap anything inside. Plus headlight regulator snapped by just looking at it, seriously! 20eur lost, back to square one.

      Took me few weeks to source decent set of used ones. Partially because I decided to go only with black ones as I felt those would be nice "by the way" upgrade, and partially as its hard to find set that is not damaged and in decent condition. Finally got a pair from local (!) scrapyard for about 80e.



      Nothing broken, inside very clean and dust free, just badly scratched. Tested them on the car to make sure everything worked, and took (badly burnt) projectors and all bulbs out. I also took all regulators out first (the plastic clips with white torx) as its much easier to operate on adjusters without them without the risk of snapping. As mentioned in previous posts - one of the screws holding the projector is a real a**, hiding directly under the light levelling motor, and the only way to tackle it is to move the projector horizontally on the adjuster max to one side. It reveals the screw's head and allow to force it out.



      Packed lamps in the bags, left it on the shelf for the future. In the meantime I ordered set of LED rings, 100mm, as advised, to copy the idea of some people from the forum. 20eur all in. Also started to look around for a set of used AL projectors.


      STEP2

      Week later I got the rings, and had a go with first trial-fittings.





      As said by others, It was a tight fit and 100mm rings are really snuggle in the plastic housing. Problem was, wouldnt stay alligned (very slippery that inside chrome coating) and were also really close to the OEM diffusor (plastic shroud outside the projector) that I decided to keep. I liked the effect best when distance from plastic was atleast 2-3cm as it made nice and diffused, but still powerful light. I decided I will not touch the inside of the lamps (dust particles from this type of plastic is a NIGHTMARE) so used small file to do few notches in the actual ring to wedge it better. Still didnt sit right and thought I may need to glue/attach them for better result. Decided to re-think this whole idea.
      Test fitting also highlighted the big issue of how bad the acrylic shield was.



      That would be a really bad for oncoming traffic when xenon burners are used so next logical step was to take care of this. Ordered some extra polishing attachments for drill, had some polishing compound from previous lamps left so thats all I needed.
      Still no luck with AL projectors, but ordered a set of one of the best bulbs available in D2S - Osram Xenarc NB Unlimited. Found a great deal on Amazon for 55Eur so snapped them imemdiately.

      STEP3

      Polishing attachments arrived, prepared myself mentally for weekend and started the job on one evening.
      Bad idea.
      10 minutes later I ended up with almost burnt marks on part of the shield and no visible improvement after lenghty polishing process. Gave up and found local advert for professional headlamp restoration. 30eur and 1 day later I had perfectly cleaned and polished headlamps that I just needed to seal with UV sealant. Best decision I did was to stop trying to do it myself. Stunning result.




      STEP4

      My next step of project was delayed again because of simple fact - could not find ANY used AL projectors from RHD car. None. Maybe US market is better for retro projects (have seen plenty of ads for cheap projectors) but here its either full headlamp or nothing. A bit disappointing result, but hey - cant give up. The fallback plan was to order set of new aftermarket projectors from the same crowd I used before (Retrofitlab). Also got the D2S->AMP lead as I will be using my current Kensun ballast kit. 160eur gone.
      Finally got them week later and did some bench testing and inspection.



      First impression - looks identical to H7 version from Retrofitlab. Just the bulb base is different. Didnt really expect anythyng else as I was told those wont differ much, but still. The positive thing is that bulbs sits much better and with less possible wiggle, and that straight out-of-the box everything was perfect. No messing around with bulb base, cutoff adjustment etc. I guess proper D2S bulb does make a difference. Testing it out on the garden shed provided really impressive result




      Just to compare, as I had it handy - original projector from this headlamp with H7 bulb....



      Wow...

      Anyway - having projectors checked and prepared, I was ready to fit them in. Unfortunately - failed miserably doing so with LED rings in. It was just a hour-long disaster of trial fitting rings to either plastic shroud or the projector itself. Those were just simply too big and ill fitted, was not able to allign them nicely for good effect.



      Defeated, had a lightbulb (pun intended) moment and took some measurments of actual projector and contacted the seller.



      Found out that 94mm rings have apx 78mm inner diameter so this will be a perfect fit! Plus, its possible to put them in a distance from the diffusor plastic, as I always wanted, and attaching them with cableties to projector will allow easy replacement in case of burning out or whatever.
      Why didnt I think of that before?
      With another week of waiting ahead of me, only thing I could do was to wire the bi-xenon shutter to hi-beam cable. This time I didnt bother with extension cable - just wired it straigt to bulb connector. Worked like a charm.





      I also discovered another problem (ofcourse) that I havent thought of before. D2S->AMP cable wiring is different than H7 rebased bulbs and there are just 2 wires without rubber collar coming out of it. And you still need a + cable coming out of the headlamp, so how to get total of 3 cables from the headlamp to the ballasts without compromising the seal? The only thing I thought of was to re-use cables from cut H7 bulb (with rubber collar seal) and attach them to D2S->AMP adapter. Used butt joint connectors, crimped and isolated (2 layers, just in case) and will also leave the joint inside of the headlamp. The rubber collar will fit perfectly in my previously cut lamp covers from my current lamps so it should become plug&play after assembly. Voila the franken-cable :}



      Did some tests with bulb powered on and there seem to be no heat on joints so I am hoping I did it well. Also, I hope to have no problems with water penetration as lamps will remain as sealed as possible.


      STEP5

      Week later rings arrived, and what do you know? Perfect fit!! Really happy with them.





      Tip for everybody - although not marked, those rings are actually + and - orientated so make sure you mark which cable is + to avoid connection issues. Nothing will go wrong, just wont work if not connected properly.

      Started to assemble the lamps back, putting projectors in their mounts as careful as possible. Another useful tip - dip the screws in a bit of lube - that should hopefully prevent the plastic powder coming out next time when disassembling projectors (and trust me - that powder is a real PITA to get rid afterwards, ask me how I know...).



      After some usual wiggling with that one pesky screw, both projectors were in. Did a quick dry-test of LED ring - looks perfect. Light colour on picture is totally off as those leds are pure white (5000K) but you get the idea. Will shoot some better ones when finished.




      Really happy with uniform and diffused light, plus - its not visible at all when off. Exacactly what I wanted.

      I also found out convenient way to pre-aim projectors and check their allignment and proper seating in the comfort of the kitchen. I took the current lamps out of the car to my test table and marked the outline with pen on the piece of tape. Then I fired them up and marked the beam position on the door. Then I did exactly the same with new headlamps and adjusted projectors to match the markers as perfectly as possible. Happy to say the adjustment was not that much off and just confirmed that projectors are seated correctly. On previous lamps I had to use metal washers to achieve correct adjustment. My only concern is that beam seem to be going down a bit on both new ones. Maybe its just from short-distance throw (2 meters from the door) or headlamp not alligned properly on table, but I am hoping its not gonna be visible when fitted. Rotational issue with projectors is always a problem and is not easy to correct. Time will tell.






      So the only thing left now is connecting LED rings. And thats where I failed, again, and thats where I am now, waiting for next weekend to carry on with the project. Just because I want to do it MY way...

      let me explain
      So the whole concept behind the LED rings is not only to look nice, but to also work as proper DRL. As I drive with lights on 24/7 (because I feel its right way to do so) and in the same time not very happy with HIDs engaged during sizzling-summer months in here (22Celsius scorching hot :P), I've always found the idea of LED DRLs very convenient. So I want to connect them "the right way" so when engine is on and all lights are off, DRL LEDs are active. When turning the lights on - DRLs will shut down.
      There are few ways to do it, but the only sensible one is to do it via dedicated DRL relay. Something like this one (mind blowing 2eur per piece . I am planning to use 2 of them, 1 per each headlight, and place them in each lamp itself, although those are designed to handle pair of LEDs each.



      This one is fairly simple and cheap - will either activate or deactivate DRL depending on extra signal coming in. Some better ones will dim the LED ring to 50%, but really found no reason to spend 30eur on those, especially that with lights on, rings wont be visible anyway. And definetely I will not want to have those rings 100% on with headlamps active - generated heat and dazzling at night is not something I want to achieve. But because of that, I had a "pleasure" of spending half of Sunday figuring out the connection and testing the relays.
      I have to admit - I am electrically challenged so even such simple thing takes me 5x more than anyone with good electrical skills, but Im getting there. Managed to create a nice cable octopus when connecting it to my test PSU but finally got it right and labelled all wires so I dont mess it up (*yes, I have instruction, no, I didnt fully understand it . Flicking the switch emulates turning the lights on and off so test bulb should light up in OFF position.
      It does



      For the moment - thats where I am stuck, though. Wiring up the cables inside the headlamp means cutting to some existing ones (parking light for example) so its taking me some time. Plus, I found out that there is NO ignition-related +12V inside of headlamp so that mean I need cable from somewhere else run to each headlamp. More hassle, cables and finding the good place to splice-in. Not in the mood for that now, plus weather currently doesnt help so I made an executive decision to leave it until later (next summer maybe) and wire the LEDs temporarily using parking dipped beam as commanding signal. So when I turn parking lights (POS1) - LED rings and parking lights will activate. When I turn dip beams (POS2), LED rings will deactivate. Need to compromise on this one as otherwise will never finish it this winter...

      Thats all for now. Planning to finish wiring in current form during weekend and hopefully mount the lights to the car and do a proper allignment. Only after then I will be able to tell, was it worth it or not. So far, when adding up all current cost, I have serious doubts, but heck, will see.
      Will provide update after next stage, so if you are interested, stay tuned
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      Wow. Great work.

      I wish I found this prohect back when I had my 09 C70, as I was not happy with the light output. On my 12, I would like a better cutoff, but it already had the HID with adaptive lenses, so that will be another challenge. However, I do like the LED ring mod and may have to see if that will be adaptable.

    12. #10
      Member beachnut's Avatar
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      Just WOW ... your dedication to your project is relentless, best of luck! I have yet to complete my E46 setup w/ Jacob's skbowes into the secondary set of headlights that I bought. I have all the parts just not enough time due to working 6 days/wk, plus the S40 was just handed over to my 18 y.o. son this morning. Now I'm driving the S60 2.5T I just picked up with no decent upgrade path to hid's for thar car The S40 project will happen soon though as it's more of a safety issue now for my son versus a hobby upgrade for me. I want to take the original headlights from the S40 and refinish them. I'm amazed at the results you got from outsourcing your's, but do you still have spiderweb crazing when the lights are on?
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      Member LizardOfBodom's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by beachnut View Post
      Just WOW ... your dedication to your project is relentless, best of luck! I have yet to complete my E46 setup w/ Jacob's skbowes into the secondary set of headlights that I bought. I have all the parts just not enough time due to working 6 days/wk, plus the S40 was just handed over to my 18 y.o. son this morning. Now I'm driving the S60 2.5T I just picked up with no decent upgrade path to hid's for thar car The S40 project will happen soon though as it's more of a safety issue now for my son versus a hobby upgrade for me. I want to take the original headlights from the S40 and refinish them. I'm amazed at the results you got from outsourcing your's, but do you still have spiderweb crazing when the lights are on?
      Thanks Lack of time is also my issue, hence almost 2 months delay now but ah well... Im lucky enough to be driving on pretty good HID setup now anyway so its not as urgent as it may be for you.
      As for your question - no, no spiderweb but I know exactly what you are talking about. On my lamp hunt I have seen few of them with this "crackled ice" effect as I called it, have no clue how it happens as external surface on those were usually very good, looks like plastic shield was internally stressing or drying out, no idea. I walked away from those as I knew I wouldnt be able to fix them. I have chosen set that was badly scratched on the outside (including a 10cm long deep scratch) but the shield itself was in good shape.
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      Can I ask a dumb question: is any of this applicable to P1s with OEM Xenons? I was reading your post and thought: I bet I could get a clear lense for the low beams, but I had a hard time deciphering if that was the case, or not.
      2005 V50 T5 AWD M66

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      Member LizardOfBodom's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by mercdude View Post
      Can I ask a dumb question: is any of this applicable to P1s with OEM Xenons? I was reading your post and thought: I bet I could get a clear lense for the low beams, but I had a hard time deciphering if that was the case, or not.
      Not that dumb at all, actually interesting point. I am not sure how OEM xenons are built but if those are a typical Bosh AL type of projectors (and I would guess these are), there is a very easy ZKW Lens upgrade for them. Would actually apply to any AL type projector, same for BMWs etc and especially those guys like to change them.
      You are looking at something like this , but those are not really originals (same as AL projectors from this website are not Bosch). Original ZKW lenses are hard to get though so its your best bet. Have no clue how those perform vs OEM fresnel lense, but you should be able to find them in US retro shops aswell.
      Replacing them should be easy as once projector is out you clearly see the "holding points" of the lens and look very easy to swap.
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      Quote Originally Posted by LizardOfBodom View Post
      Not that dumb at all, actually interesting point. I am not sure how OEM xenons are built but if those are a typical Bosh AL type of projectors (and I would guess these are), there is a very easy ZKW Lens upgrade for them. Would actually apply to any AL type projector, same for BMWs etc and especially those guys like to change them.
      You are looking at something like this , but those are not really originals (same as AL projectors from this website are not Bosch). Original ZKW lenses are hard to get though so its your best bet. Have no clue how those perform vs OEM fresnel lense, but you should be able to find them in US retro shops aswell.
      Replacing them should be easy as once projector is out you clearly see the "holding points" of the lens and look very easy to swap.
      Great info, thank you. Is there a benefit from the ZKW lens? i.e. greater light output, better dispersion, etc.
      2005 V50 T5 AWD M66

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      Member LizardOfBodom's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by mercdude View Post
      Great info, thank you. Is there a benefit from the ZKW lens? i.e. greater light output, better dispersion, etc.
      You mean original ZKW vs ZKW-R(eplica)? Or ZKW versus fresnel lens (frosted one?)
      if the 1st one - I have no clue. Would suspect originals may give better focus or wider spread. Made in renowed laboratory with strict standards would provide better optic than generic aftermarket one, but how better? Honestly cant imagine.
      if the latter question - difference between clear/frost is mainly the clarity of the cutoff - that razor-sharp cutoff you see on my test pics, can be achieved only by clear lens. Frosted one does give the blurry lines and it does restrict more light than clear lens so I think you are loosing some lumens on them aswell. 10th and 11th picture of my original post (#1) show the difference perfectly.
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      Quote Originally Posted by LizardOfBodom View Post
      You mean original ZKW vs ZKW-R(eplica)? Or ZKW versus fresnel lens (frosted one?)
      if the 1st one - I have no clue. Would suspect originals may give better focus or wider spread. Made in renowed laboratory with strict standards would provide better optic than generic aftermarket one, but how better? Honestly cant imagine.
      if the latter question - difference between clear/frost is mainly the clarity of the cutoff - that razor-sharp cutoff you see on my test pics, can be achieved only by clear lens. Frosted one does give the blurry lines and it does restrict more light than clear lens so I think you are loosing some lumens on them aswell. 10th and 11th picture of my original post (#1) show the difference perfectly.
      From my research anyway, the "original ZKW" were only in 2.5" non-bi-xenon projectors in early 3-series vehicles, everything else is a "ZKW-R" for -Replica. The originals are almost impossible to find these days, and wouldn't fit our cars anyway.

      The replica ZKW-R are just clear lenses, keeping the name only because it had become associated with the crisp cutoff. By comparison, the replicas are more focused, uncoated, and can have some weird aberrations around the edges. The ZKW-R you buy from TRS are the same as what comes in generic replica projectors (see the projector selection guide) - I bought both to compare, they have identical dimensions and have the same molding patterns on the edges etc.

      You are right about the "frosted" halogen lenses - which only matters when retrofitting a H-base projector with a re-based bulb - about letting through less light. They frost them because otherwise it would project an image of the filament that looks strange from a distance.

      On OEM AL bi-xenon projectors, there are dozens of different lens styles, that include some interesting features:
      - a few are frosted, though not as aggressively as the halogens, to mask the hotspot at the center of the arc
      - some include a different lens profile for the upper half of the lens, probably to keep the high-beam tighter than the low beam
      - many have a ridge of various patterns (ribbed, plain, frosted) running through the center horizontally to reduce the sharpness of the cutoff - presumably to avoid suddenly dazzling other drivers
      - some include surface features like small dots or dimples, probably to catch some light to allow oncoming drivers above the cutoff to see the vehicle

      Nick probably could comment further on the variants. For mine I chose a set of late-model Audi projectors which have dimples but no cutoff ridge. The pattern is quite nice.
      '05 S40 T5 AWD M66 sport/winter/ew. Michelin PS A/S+. 6000k 50w HID low/HIR1 high/full LED conversions. RiCA SW. Evoelate intake. IPD rear sway, skidplate, TCV.
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      Quote Originally Posted by theshadow27 View Post

      You are right about the "frosted" halogen lenses - which only matters when retrofitting a H-base projector with a re-based bulb - about letting through less light. They frost them because otherwise it would project an image of the filament that looks strange from a distance.
      aah, see I was wondering even recently why those are frosted... thought its because of cost or technological barriers. Great knowledge theshadow, as always!
      The only problem with clear lenses is because of their razor-sharp cutoff some people find it more eye-straining. I agree, takes a while to get used to it from "everything is blurry but lit up with leaking light" to "I can only see super bright and super dark in front of me" but it has obvious benefits for people in oncoming cars and also allow you to allign your lights more precisely. Its a no brainer - clear lenses does give better light output, but just saying some people especially used to free-form light pattern, find it discomforting.
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      Ok, so STEP6 now after another Saturday spent with wires, relays and connectors.... seriously I'm done for now, it became much complicated that I ever expected....

      Relay testing finally became positive and all cables on both headlamps were ready to wire up.



      The wire-octopus looks bad, but after few hours of careful wire joining, splicing, taping and sealing the ready-to-fit harness was good to go.



      I probably went overboard with protection, as every single joint has 1 or 2 layers of electrical tape + some are also protected by heat-shrink sleeve, but last thing I would want is some of connections going loose in the cramped space. Most of joints were done using those screw-in blocks and connectors+crimper so really did my best there. And hence few hrs lost on precise (and annoying) work.

      Fitted in headlamp with no room to spare, adjusted the bulb connector a bit and all in all - it closes perfectly without extra tension, although it is REALLY close to the rear cover. Like zero-gap close.







      Final testing on the bench - works exactly as intended. Halos go on with parking lights and goes off when dip beam is on. In future - will be rewired as originally intended (POS2 ignition).





      STEP7

      lamps in the car, first test on the wall. Everything works fine, light and shutter beam works fine. Not happy with the light sloping to right, but its exactly the same as with previous lamps. Not sure whats going on but seems that its either projector or lamp mounts design that originally were intended for a bit different projectors....



      Did some adjusting and allignment and best I can achieve is this. Not bad, with perfect hotspot and levelled cutoff. Just the right slope bothers me, but as I said - cant fix the rotational issue without messing with mounts. Will leave it as is and see how it works on the road.
      Right projector has a bit of rainbow effect on the edge but will correct it later (shutter adjustment by screw).

      ]

      Cant say much about D2S vs H7HID difference yet, as I am yet to drive it at night so really have no clue how it behaves. Main test will be tonight on evening comute.

      What I can say, though, car looks great with black lamps. Difference is very subtle, but I see it and really enjoy the new look.



      This on its own was worth the hassle, plus condition of those is much better after polishing so win-win.
      And then you turn on Halos....



      Have to say - love the looks. And I also like the combined look of side amber + halo + parking LED. All together makes a very unique look and have to say I really like it.

      Night shot:



      Im not kind of person that would use that just for the looks (i.e. will never drive on them at dusk/night just because "that looks cool") but during the daylight, when its either no lights or those on - Im happy to have them on like DRLs would.
      As for the brightness - I have to admit that keeping them behind the difusor does make them dimmer. That was obvious, but I still prefer this to having them exposed. Plus the light output is enough for car to be visible during the day. Something brighter than non-Led DRLs on some cars, and less bright than LED DRLs on full brightness.

      Thats all for now.
      Will update this thread after some night driving, maybe I manage to take some pics but it will be mostly down to my personal observation and difference in light output noticeable only for my eye.
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      Member LizardOfBodom's Avatar
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      STEP 7
      Summary and afterthoughts

      So few days passed, did over 400kms in various conditions and day times , so I think its about time for some final words.

      There is no doubt, light output now is better than on previous H7 versions. This is, however, mostly due to better light source used and not the actual difference between projectors. On close inspection, there is no noticeable differences between H7 and D2S variants of those projectors, except for the bulb base. Im not sure if bowl shape does not matter as much for optics when lens is involved or its because its aftermarket product and its simply "good but not excellent" but seem to me that light source in those can be anything and the output will still be the same. Maybe someone corrects me on that, but it looks like whatever you place inside of this generic bow, should work as lens seem to take the whole work of "light shaping" on itself. Its just the intensity of provided light that may differs so whether its a candle, fireball Pokemon or Ironman's power source - light will be shaped the same, just with various brightness level. Thats probably why OEM D2S projectors are superior as are made specifically for one light source and optic is "cut to measure" allowing better light spread?

      I have no regrets with going D2S though. Ability to use good quality bulbs over rebased nonames is a good improvement, and light output from Osram Xenarc NBU's is just amazing (supposedly brightest of all D2S). Plus black lamp mod and angel eyes done at one go - definetely worth it.
      I guess the bottom line is: if you plan to get aftermarket projectors - H7 and D2S versions will equally good. Its just up to you what bulbs you wish to use and if you care about the backward compatibility with Halogen H7.

      Some pics taken at various times to finish my thoughts:


      Very wet night with bad quality ashphalt - driving this road usually creates the feeling that your light is consumed by black hole. Noticeable impreovement over H7 version as light intensity makes huge difference. Low beam and high beam shot.



      Low beam/high beam on dry road with a bit better reflective ashphalt.



      Beam pattern with visible right hand slope. Not noticeable during driving, but still present.



      Vanity shot just for the sake of it


      Hope you liked the story, that also concludes my light modding until laser lights become available for retrofitting
      Titanium Grey 2005 V50, T5AWD, M66, Stage 1 Hilton tune<-Click me
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