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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All!

I am came across 4" LED roof light in stock housing post recently and decided to try something similar
(How-to: Rough Country 4" LED Roof Lights in Stock Housing).

I decided I want something in the stock locations that would have a tighter beam pattern, more reach and less hood glare.

Figured I would share my progress so far. I decided to go with the Diode Dynamics SS3 Pro SAE Driving pods (Stage Series 3" SAE/DOT White Pro Round LED Pod (pair)). The SS3 Pro is quite bright, I am super happy with the output. Below are a couple images where I wired up one of the pods to compare the output compared to the stock high beams, the cheap 30" Chinese LED light bar on my brush guard and the stock off road halogens.


Top very bright spot is the SS3 the amber light below is the stock high beams. There is also one of the stock off road halogen still wired up and that is the amber light band above the high beams on the right side of the image. Please note the SS3 is not aligned in these images and is literally resting on the air dam.

20200502_215129 cropped.jpg


This image also has the spot/flood combo 30" Chinese light bar that is on the brush guard. I reduced the exposure to help make it easier to see the difference between the light bar and the new pod. Really no comparison. So I imagine after I finish installing the SS3's in the stock off road location the Chinese bar is getting pulled and replaced with some other Diode Dynamics pods or bars not sure which ones yet.

20200502_215315 cropped.jpg


After I got all the parts off the Xterra, I decided the best course of action was to design a bracket to allow the reuse of the stock halogen lighting housing (black part). So I sketched up something on the Alibre CAD software and am having a friend 3D print a prototype this weekend.
127207

If that fits then I am probably going to have the real part made from ABS or something similar. One thing I am still trying to decide on is how I where I want the front face of the new pods to be. Flush mounted (covers would no longer be usable) or recess like the stock halogens. I like the look of the flush mounted pods but also like the idea of being able to cover them when not in use. The current prototype will be the recessed version.

Any case, I'll post more images etc. once I get the first one mounted and then after I get the final parts from the 3D printers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I got the first prototype from the 3D printer yesterday. Made a couple errors measuring the stock halogen, but it was close enough to be able to do some test fitting. The beam seems pretty level, however, the pod itself is physically, lower, and more offset towards the center of the car than I'd like. I have an updated bracket getting printed again with higher infill to make it a little stronger, adjust for my errors, etc.
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20200511_172707.jpg


One thing I hadn't realized ahead of time is the front surface of the off road light housings aren't perfectly parallel to the front of the Xterra, so the pod will likely not be able to be positioned flush to the front surface of the housing if I want the beam pointing perfectly forward. I'm also a little concerned with heat generation in a flush mounted configuration.

The new design has a yaw in the pod mounting locations in order to help align the beam spread. Currently it seems it is pointing to much to the driver side. I haven't decided how much beam overlap I want to set up. These pods are a 8x18 pattern. This is what I am hoping to take a look at with the next bracket, in addition to attempting to center the pod better in the stock housing.

Once that is all sorted out I think I will make one additional bracket design that flush mounts the pods to the housing, however this will prevent the use of the covers if I wanted them for some reason, in addition to possibly making ventilation worse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Will do! Got the second prototype back from my friend this afternoon. Looks like the offset and the daft angles to get the pod closer to perfectly forward worked, at least from a design standpoint. It's raining here, so I won't be able install it on the Xterra until later this week. Here's a picture of the second design with the pod mounted into stock internal housing. Hopefully more pictures tomorrow!

20200517_143208.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Got delayed a bit here. I made a mistake on the previous version in the CAD file and the chamfers to align the beam better didn't make it into the printed part. I took that opportunity to make some other modifications and got the third version printed over the weekend and this time we mirrored the part and made brackets for both sides. We used a new spool of PLA and something appeared to be the matter with it. This resulted in some areas being very rough and poorly printed, however, it is good enough to test beam alignment and general robustness.
20200527_151538 C.jpg


20200527_160526 C.jpg


20200527_161907 C.jpg


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20200527_163018 C.jpg


Overall they looked much better positioned than before. I'll get some better close up later, after I check the beam pattern tonight. I will likely run these brackets for a little bit to see if there are any issues with the pods rotating in the assembly. Meanwhile, my friend with the 3D printer is picking up some PETG to make another set. The PETG brackets should be stronger, in addition to being water safe and UV stable. The down side is the part might be a little rougher compared to the PLA, but as long as it works I don't really care how it looks. The only other area I still need to tweak is the anti rotation support, located under the pod, was a little too long and had to be trimmed and generally didn't work as I had hoped.
 

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Nice. How did you wire the lights? To the stock lights?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Diode Dynamics sells adapter dongles. Find them here, there are several different options available: Deutsch DT Adapter Wires (pair).

Also, The brackets seem to be holding up good so far, we've had a few 90+F days (main concern was over high temperature deformation). I'll take some pictures this weekend of the lights on the same garage door to show everyone. Also, I have a 30" Diode Dynamics flood bar coming to replace the cheap Chinese one, so I'll add more photos of that to compare further once it arrives.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, I fell asleep last night before it got dark... More pictures to come soon!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Apologizes for the long delay. I've been working on finishing my attic. I went to take more images and the pods had loosened and were misaligned. Not sure if it was from vibration, the PLA softening from the heat or some other cause. I have the PETG parts being made currently. I also added tooth washers and new lock nuts to help keep things from loosening from vibration while I wait for the new parts. The pods are back on the Xterra, and I'm going to be taking it off road next week a little, so if it is vibration that is causing the issues we should know soon. Once the PETG versions are done I'll get them installed and run them for awhile to see if the loosening issue is resolved. Hopefully, I won't have to switch to a metal part and they would cost a lot more.

On a related note, I have a 30" flood light bar from DD that just shipped, so soon I will have even more light!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The PETG parts were finished a few weeks ago and I installed them on the Xterra. I just got back from a road trip from Minneapolis, MN to Phoenix, AZ and back. Total miles was about 4000 or so. We did Louis Lake road, Cottonwood Canyon road, House Rock road among others, so there was a fair amount of shaking, vibrations and generally rough roads. In addition, temperatures in Arizona was in the mid 90s. The pods didn't move at all, so it seems as if the PETG was the solution here. I would like to improve the design more, but it currently appears to be fully functional! I will look into how much it would cost to print several sets.

Also, I'd like to point out how bright and how far the SS3 Pro Driving pods throw light. With the current aim, it looks like they are able to illuminate highway markers out to about 3/4 of a mile or so. So much brighter than the headlights there isn't even a comparison. Next up for the Xterra is probably a set of the Pro fog lights, so I can adjust my flood bar up a little to eliminate the small dark zone between the flood bar and the pods.
 

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This is awesome news and they look so slick! Put me on the list for a set when you figure out pricing!

I see that you are using an adapter dongle - does that plug directly into OEM and the OEM wiring can handle the juice to power the SS3s?
 

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Awesome. Please add me to the list when you figure pricing. I'd love to put some SS3 pods in the stock offroad light location. Already have Diode Dynamics Pro in my fogs and sport for ditch lights. Adding some yellow pro SS3s will give the final touch for the offroad lights.

Also, how is the glare on the windshield and hood with the driving beam for the SS3? Does it reduce the glare for a tighter beam or is it about the same as the stock housing, and spot beams would be better?

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Okay, awesome! And just to confirm, the stock wiring + the adapter you shared pushes enough juice to power the SS3s?
Yeah, the stock off road lights are 60w 9005s. DD states the SS3 pro pods pull 35 watts. So stock wiring with the adapter is all I did.

Candiman: as to the glare on the hood and windshield. The SS3's I have in are the driving beam pattern (8x18 degrees IIRC). Here are a couple images from the passenger seat along the beginning of Cottonwood Canyon Road in Utah before sunrise.

IMG_20201015_064957.jpg



Here's in the city without and with the pods on:

PXL_20201027_001536814.jpg
PXL_20201027_001544674.jpg
PXL_20201027_001700087.jpg


It definitely is worse than just headlight obviously, but I think it is much less than with the stock off road lights, which I assume are 60 degree floods. Using the spot pattern (6 degrees) would make it better still and you could always adjust the lights up more than I have.

I drove probably 200+ miles with them on during the last trip and it didn't seem to bother me. I do recall not using the stock ones due to the horrible windshield glare. Hope that helps!
 

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So awesome, these look great and it's fantastic that you can reuse the stock wiring. Stoked for you to figure out pricing and to get my hands on a set of the brackets!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Apologizes this is taking longer than expected. I'm waiting on confirmation of a change to the shell thickness on the parts from the 3D printing company. I would imagine I will hear back tomorrow or Thursday at the latest.

Thanks for your patience.
 

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Like others, I have been following this since you started the thread. I appreciate all the work you have put into this and would also be very interested in a set.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Okay, so I think I have it all sorted out with the 3D Printers. They can't quite exactly replicate what my friend did for the earlier prototypes, but they are close and their printing parameters should result in the parts being at least as strong as the ones I have (most likely much stronger). The brackets require 10-32 bolts at somewhat odd lengths (1-5/8 and 1-3/4) I will order some of these from McMaster to include with the brackets, along with the lock washers and lock nuts that have worked for me. Once the batch arrives I'll check one set in my vehicle to make sure that they actually are the same for fit etc.

The brackets are working great on my Xterra so far, but I can't guarantee that they won't loosen or break in some other way over time. So, I propose that I have 5 sets made now and offer them at around my cost (3D printed brackets, hardware and a little money per unit to my friend who spent a few of his weekends babysitting the printing of the prototypes for 12 hours each time...). That would put the brackets at ~35 plus shipping for a pair. They fit in the small flat rate box from USPS so shipping should be pretty low. After the first 5 sets, I'll pause offering any more for a while (probably at least a few months) to see how those 5 perform and if you guys have any issues with them. If everything goes smoothly I will then offer more, but at a higher price so I could make it worth the effort. If there ends up being systemic issues with this design (they all somehow fail), I'll work on a new design to fix the issues and if successful, would be willing to send out the modified brackets those 5 people again at cost.

Finally, I need to note that it is somewhat tricky to get the bolt started on the loose nut which is located inside a pocket on the SS3 pods ( the pocket prevents the nut from spinning once threaded, clever design but not ideal). This is made more tedious due to this needing to be done after the bracket is placed in to the stock ABS housing. If you have large fingers it may be difficult to manipulate the nut such that it will start. In order to have the pods face correctly when installed, the part of the bracket where the bolts go through have a draft angle such that when assembled the front surface of the pod is not planar with the bracket ring. Due to the draft angle and other design limitations this means in order to start the nuts on the bolts, the nuts need to be at a slight angle to the wall of the pocket. That is what makes it more difficult then one might think. I have some practice at it, and last time it took probably about 45 minutes to get the set assembled and installed on the Xterra, with the majority of that time spent working on getting the nuts started. Best advice on this part is take your time and don't try to force the nut to start. The bolts are fine threaded and it is possible strip the starting threads enough to make starting the nut nearly impossible.

Let me know what your thoughts on the pricing and the general approach.

Thanks,

Tyler
 
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