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Old 04-12-2013, 03:06 PM   #1
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INT: Ambient Lighting

I wanted a little bit of glowing ambient light like in some of the nicer newer cars. Nothing super bright or distracting that lights up like a Christmas tree. Unfortunately the accord does not have any nice spots along the dash. I decided to try a few easy spots highlighted with leds, the door handle cups, armrest pulls and map pockets. I used a 5mm straw hat leds since have a wider output than standard leds. The led wires connect to the window switch power so no new wiring needs to be ran through the door.

  • Novice
  • Approximate time to complete: 2-3 days depending on experience

Tools Needed
  • Philips screw driver
  • Small flat blade
  • Wire strippers
  • Crimpers
  • Soldering iron
  • Heat gun
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Hand drill driver
  • Vise
  • File or sandpaper
  • Zap a Gap CA glue and Zip Kicker
  • 10mm nutdriver or ratchet with 10mm socket

Parts Used
  • 11-5mm straw hat leds with proper resistors
  • 4-10k ohm Resistors
  • 40 feet of 18-22g zip cord wire
  • Shrink tubing 1/8", 3/16", and 1/4"
  • 13-Deans connector
  • 2-1/4" ring terminals
  • Electrical tape

Led Preparation
Start off by prepping the leds. Use 18-22g wire and solder it to the leds leads. The side of the led with flat spot is the negative side. The the other side of the led wires to 12v. Since leds will not work with 12v, a resistor will need to added on the positive side otherwise the magic smoke will be released.

There will be a total of 11 leds.
4-one in each of the inside handles
4-two in each front map pockets
3-one in each passenger armrest

Make the 4 in the inside handles 6" long, the 3 in the armrest 6". The 2 leds in each map pocket will be wired together to one connector, one 7" long and one 24" long.

Find something to hold the led so it can be soldered. I used a vise. Since leds have thin leads that easily break do not wrap the wire around its leads. Just add a bit of solder to led leads and the wire first, then join them with the soldering iron.

Next solder in the resistor. They are very fragile and break very easily. Solder them inline with the wire, do not solder them onto the led lead.

Cover the led leads and resistor with shrink tubing. Then add two more pieces of shrink tube and solder on a male Deans connector. Use the same method as soldering the led. The Deans connector allows the led to unplug easily.

Repeat this process for al the leds and you should end up with a total of 9 finished pieces.

Take 12" 18-22g wire and solder to the female half of a Deans connector(make sure to match led polarity). There needs to 4 of these made, one for each door. Now because leds are very bright and we only want a soft glow, we need add a bit more resistance. Instead of doing a higher resistor at the led, I choose to do a second one on the car side of the led subharness. This is so at any time the leds can be unplugged and tested at full output without having to mess with a resistor. Add a 10kohm resistor inline with positive side wire. Cover with shrink tubing. When done it should look like this:

Now that the leds are prepped, the door panels can be removed

Door Panel Removal
Removing The Front Passenger Panel----Drivers door is similar

1)Use small flat screwdriver and pop out the clip in the upper front corner.

2)Use a small flat screwdriver and pop up the screw cover in lower rear of panel and remove the Philips screw.

3)Use a small flat screwdriver to remove screw cover from armrest pull and remove Philips screw.

4)Use a small flat screwdriver and pop up the screw cover behind the pull handle and remove Philips screw.

Slide handle forward to front of car to release the hooks and pull towards yourself. Remove door lock switch wire connector(A) and unclip rod(B). Remove door panel screw(C)

After all fasteners are removed, remove panel by pulling with your hands starting at the front and rear bottom of the panel.

After the clips are released, push upward from the rear to unhook the top of the panel.

Unclip the window switch and courtesy light connectors

Removing the rear panels. This is similar to the front front but easier.
Remove the interior handle as instructed for the front except there is not a door lock switch to disconnect.
Remove the screw behind the interior handle and remove handle
Remove armrest pull handle screw cover and screw
Remove panel and disconnect window switch and courtesy light.

Door Wiring
The leds will wire to the ignition since every door has switched ignition at the window switches. This eliminates the need for any new wiring to be ran into the doors(unless you have a dx).

For the front doors, the leds wires will run along side the door lock switch wires. Reach around inside the door frame and use your fingers to release the clip holding the door lock switch wiring. Once loose, untape wiring/clip and slide your new led wiring through the split loom. After the new wires are inserted, retape the loom and clip, then snap back into the door.

Use wire strippers and slide the wire jacket back on the black wire going to the door lock switch. Wrap the led wire around the newly exposed copper, then solder and cover with electrical tape. Now tape all the wires together over the spot you just taped to give a oem finished look.

Now find the switched 12v at the window switch wiring and do the same thing for the led positive wire.

Drivers door=yel/
pass front=blu/blk
pass rear=yel/blk
drivers rear=grn/blk

Rear door is slightly different since there is no door lock switch wiring. The ground wire will attach to the body instead of the harness. Crimp on an 1/4" ring terminal to the negative wire and attached under an existing 6MM bolt.

Now that the car side is wired switch the igniton on and plug in the leds go test. Once all leds are tested and working, they can be mounted.

Inside Handle
The led is going to mount in the interior pull facing forward. Start off by hand drilling a 3/32" pilot hole from the backside of the handle. Now drill a 3/16 hole. Push the led into the hole from the backside, spray some Zip Kicker over the back of the leds, and then apply Zap a Gap glue to bond in place. The wires need to be folded over 180 degrees towards and routed the front of car.

Two reinforcement ribs on the back of the handle need to notched out for the wires so the handle will sit properly when reinstalled.

The armrest gets a led illuminating the pull handle and pocket. It will shine down at an angle from below the window switch.

Remove the armrest by removing 4 Philips screws and 2 clips. The clips are sort of difficult, they have a tab on the backside of plastic that you don't see. If you do not depress this tab and just squeeze the clip together and pull, then you break the plastic part of the armrest. It is 20 years old and brittle so be careful with it.

With the armrest removed from the panel, remove the screw holding the window switch and remove the switch. Mark for the led directly under the switch and use a hand driver to drill a 3/32" pilot hole. Now enlarge the hole with a 1/8" drill bit and then finally with 3/16" it. The vinyl and foam is rather thick so the led won't come close to coming out far enough. The lip on the back of the led needs to be removed so the led can push all the way through from behind. I used a belt sander but a file will also work. Once the lip is removed pushed the led through the hole until it just slightly protrudes from the vinyl. Once it is in position, spray some Zip Kicker over the back of the hole and then apply Zap a Gap glue. Reattach the armrest.

Map Pocket
The leds are going to mount at the front and back of the pocket shining towards the rear and front of the car.

Remove 4 Philips screw holding the speaker grill
Remove 2 Philips screws holding courtesy light
Remove 5 Philips screws holding pocket

Drill 3/16" holes in the inner flange and install the leds from behind. Once they are in position, spray some Zip Kicker over the back of the leds and then apply Zap a Gap glue to lock in place. Route wiring and reinstall the pocket.

Door Panel Subharness
Front door
Once all the leds are mounted with the armrest and pocket reinstalled, they need to be wired together. Start with a piece of wire long enough to go from the map pocket leds to the inside handle opening. On one side of this wire solder on a female Deans connector. On the side at the inside handle, solder a male Deans connector with 2 more pieces of 10" wire. So that will be 3 wires solder to the male connector. Solder on female Deans connectors on each of the 6" pieces. The male Deans is input from the door and the 3 female Deans are for the leds. Confused yet? The picture will help.

Rear door
The rear door has the handle and armrest leds joined together. Solder 2 female Deans connectors with 10" of wire each. Attach the other ends together and solder to a male Deans connector.

Reinstall door panels.

Pictures make them look really bright still but they are probably 10x less than they look.




Last edited by lucifer1; 04-28-2013 at 07:17 PM.
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Old 04-12-2013, 03:13 PM   #2
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93accordexcoupe is cool... so far.
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Awesome write up, awesome idea.
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Old 04-12-2013, 04:23 PM   #3
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that looks awesome! great DIY dude.

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Old 04-12-2013, 04:43 PM   #4
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Cb_JoeyG is cool... so far.
EPIC DIY! I have a big bag of LED's ive been wanting to do this kinda thing for a while now.

8 Accords so far:
'81 SE Sedan(1st Gen), '83 SE Sedan(2nd Gen), '89 SE Sedan(3rd Gen)
'89 DX Sedan(3rd Gen), '92 LX Coupe(4th Gen), '92 EX Wagon(4th Gen)
(3rd gen parts car) I'm currently Driving a '14 Accord Sport 9th Gen
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Old 04-12-2013, 05:24 PM   #5
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illinois_erik is very helpful illinois_erik is very helpful illinois_erik is very helpful
Great idea and excellent execution. +1 rep.
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Old 04-12-2013, 11:34 PM   #6
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schierholz is cool... so far.
Interesting concept. Seems like your going for a pretty sweet lighting and electrical ideas reading through and seeing how neet it is. A idea is insted of using the dome light, use some leds and point them to the headligner mabe even the c pillars pointed up from the rear deck

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Last edited by schierholz; 04-12-2013 at 11:36 PM.
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Old 04-17-2013, 05:04 PM   #7
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Great DIY! I was thinking of this the other day for the driver side window control and the rest of the window switches. But this is way better!

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