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Old 01-28-2013, 11:29 AM   #1
stoickiwi
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2008 Astra XR
Idea The Amber Tails Saga

Chapter 1
So over the past week or so I've been attempting some methods to restore the amber turn signals to the Astra. I had something that worked-ish. Sorry for not taking any pictures, but it was stinking cold outside this weekend and I didn't want to be out any more than possible. Anyway here goes:
I purchased a Curt 56196 trailer adapter (http://www.curtmfg.com/part/56196. This particular trailing wiring adapter is made for vehicles with combined wiring (like the astra) to vehicles with separated wiring (amber signals). I figured I would use the Astra's combined wiring to input to the adapter and output it to the lights. I wired it in using quick disconnects to retain the stock wiring harness and drilled out the taillights for the amber bulbs. Upon hooking the lights up and giving it a go, Voilà! Turn signals make use of the amber bulbs, brakes make use of the red, all is good in the world.
Then I turn on the headlights... I guess this system isn't for vehicles with combined brake/turn/running lights or something because when the lights are turned on (activating the running lights) the amber signals steadily illuminate. Applying the brakes causes the amber and brake lights to strobe and the box emits a buzzing noise. Turn signals cause the amber and red lights to alternate flashes.
It was so painful to be so close
I recently purchased a factory service manual for the Astra and was looking at the wiring diagram for the rear electrics. It looks like the signals are separated going into the rear panel along with the brakes, running lights, and pretty much everything else.
Question time:
Are these wires carrying a full 12v, or are they just low-voltage canbus signals?
Would severing the running light wire intended for the brake light throw any canbus errors since it would have 2 more signal wires to it?
If they do carry a full 12v signal, couldn't I just bypass the rear computer and go straight to the lights?

Sorry for the novel, I will try to post some pictures next time I have everything open to make it more of a picture book

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Old 01-28-2013, 12:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: The Amber Tails Saga

I got excited when I read you got the trailer harness to work, then I read the rest of it.
I was planning on trying this by carrying the signal from the side indicators (under the side mirrors) all the way to the back with long wires and having the amber bulb operate like that. Not sure if there's somewhere in the rear fusebox to splice into for the same signal.

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Old 01-28-2013, 03:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: The Amber Tails Saga

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Originally Posted by romanster View Post
I got excited when I read you got the trailer harness to work, then I read the rest of it.
I was planning on trying this by carrying the signal from the side indicators (under the side mirrors) all the way to the back with long wires and having the amber bulb operate like that. Not sure if there's somewhere in the rear fusebox to splice into for the same signal.
Oh believe me, I was really excited too.. at first

According to the wiring diagram (I'll post a picture when I get home from work) the signal is indeed separated before going into the rear electronics computer, which I'm assuming it merges electronically for the output.

I thought about running the wire from the side markers as well, the only problem with that being the turn signals in the red housing. But, I guess you could bring it back and cut the wires going into the fuse box for the turn signals. You may get the bulb out though.

I did email Curt about it (since I assume there are vehicles that have integrated Brake/Turn/Running lights that need towing). And I heard back that they need a little more info about my setup to help me with it. As far as they know, I'm hauling a trailer with separated amber turn signals (shhhh )
Figured that would avoid any "this isn't how it is intended to be used so we're not going to help you" rubbish.

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Old 01-29-2013, 03:08 AM   #4
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Default Re: The Amber Tails Saga

YES! I finally found this web page! I’ve been looking just for this article for so long!

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Old 01-29-2013, 01:10 PM   #5
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Default Re: The Amber Tails Saga

Got a response from Curt today regarding the tails. Our Astras use Pulse width modulation with Stop Turn Taillight or (PWM-STT). Which is a fancy way of saying it uses 1 bulb as the stop, turn, and taillight and it increases the voltage(?) to the bulb to utilize the different functions. I can remove the running light function of this using another adapter . Then connecting the previous converter between this one and the taillights.
My only concern with this is that this is a powered converter, meaning it doesn't draw from the vehicles taillight circuit. It has a direct feed to the battery. It says it uses 5mA of the bulbs, which I'm assuming isn't enough to not trigger the bulb out. Which means I need a lot of 6 ohm resistors if thats the case...
I'll have to order one of these new adapters and document the install/preparation this time. Hopefully it won't be 15F outside when I try this time...

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Old 08-01-2013, 12:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: The Amber Tails Saga

Okay, so I'm going to install the amber tail light converter this weekend. I would do it this week but I want to leave myself plenty of time to work out any kinks that may arise from the installation. I attached the wiring diagram that I MS Painted into existence (I didn't feel like making it pretty in Photoshop). All of these components I mounted inside of an old computer power supply (Pics after install) and I kept the fan inside and will hook it up to a switched 12v source to keep everything inside cooler. My goal is to modify the wiring harness as little as possible with the install; the only wire I will completely cut and re-route will be the STT wire. The other wires will remain intact. I will also be adding rear fog lights soon and will post another thread for the progress on those.
Attached Images
File Type: png WiringDiagram.PNG (36.1 KB, 12 views)

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Old 08-01-2013, 12:35 PM   #7
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Default Re: The Amber Tails Saga

This could be potentially very awesome! Please take lots of pics (you can never take too many pics), of both the electronics and the tail light assemblies themselves as you go.

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Old 08-01-2013, 12:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: The Amber Tails Saga

Quote:
Originally Posted by Astra La Vista! View Post
This could be potentially very awesome! Please take lots of pics (you can never take too many pics), of both the electronics and the tail light assemblies themselves as you go.
I most certainly will! I'm pretty excited about doing this and on paper everything looks like it will work properly. Let's just hope it will be as easy as proof in practice.

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Old 08-01-2013, 03:32 PM   #9
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Default Re: The Amber Tails Saga

Looking forward to success!

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Old 08-01-2013, 06:22 PM   #10
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Default Re: The Amber Tails Saga

Quote:
Originally Posted by stoickiwi View Post
Let's just hope it will be as easy as proof in practice.
So that you can duplicate it in kit form and sell 'em to the rest of us!

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Old 08-01-2013, 06:54 PM   #11
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Default Re: The Amber Tails Saga

Quote:
Originally Posted by Astra La Vista! View Post
So that you can duplicate it in kit form and sell 'em to the rest of us!
Hahah I do have a few old power supplies lying around the workshop...

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Old 08-02-2013, 12:34 AM   #12
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Default Re: The Amber Tails Saga

I did some preliminary testing this evening and results were promising-ish!
Using the box I had put together yesterday, I hooked it up to my left taillight. I was a little discouraged at first when the taillight did not function. Then I remembered from testing the first adapter that it does not function at all unless both sides are hooked up. At first I thought I had wasted time, but then I realized that I was not getting the bulb out signal, so at least I know the resistors work as expected.
I also found out that my measurements of the space for the power supply case I used to put the equipment in was slightly off. I measured from the deepest part behind the panel, not the shallowest. So the power supply case did not fit in. This did however give me a great opportunity to take pictures of the components I used and hooked together!
I ended up needing a long, narrow piece of metal to mount everything on. Upon rummaging through my basement, I found (no judgments) my old license plate for the Astra. Strangely enough it was perfect in size to mount the components on with enough space for the resistors to dissipate heat and it fit perfectly into the hole in the panel vertically.
These pictures are really just me wanting to show what I have done so far and I will go into details when I post an in-depth how-to guide after this is successfully installed (fingers crossed). But just to give you an idea...

The inputs are on the left with the resistors, the output is on the right. This first converter essentially separates the stop/turn from the tail light. The resistors go in-between the stop/turn/tail (STT) light on the Astra and the first converter. The green wire is for the right side, yellow is for the left, white is the ground, and the black wire is for the 12v connection. I believe there is at least 1 non-switched direct line to the battery in the back(That's the only thing I can imagine it could be used for as low as the gauge is for the wire). The wire nuts pictured are to merge the connection for the resistors in-line. I was going to use T-connectors but I wanted to make sure that the connection was solid.
In the middle, you can see the connections making their way to the 2nd converter and the tail light wire which is not needed since I'm leaving the tail light signal alone.
The second converter then takes the stop/turn that was separated by the first converter and separates it yet again. This results in the final output, right turn, left turn, and brake.
Everything looks promising and I will more than likely tackle this tomorrow or Saturday (weather permitting)
I'll keep everyone updated with the progress!
Enjoy!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMAG00032_zpsf15513c2.jpg (51.7 KB, 27 views)
File Type: jpg IMAG00034_zpse232b851.jpg (75.0 KB, 19 views)
File Type: jpg IMAG00035_zps1f1f7e1e.jpg (66.2 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg IMAG00036_zps0dfbbe94.jpg (96.4 KB, 13 views)
File Type: jpg IMAG00037_zps8ee4a07e.jpg (90.2 KB, 15 views)

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Old 08-02-2013, 11:56 PM   #13
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Default Re: The Amber Tails Saga

Amber Tails Saga has come to an end!
I got it working and how-to guide is up: http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=193585

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