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Old 03-16-2015, 07:33 AM   #449
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Today in the scope creep category, we have the addition of fourth and fifth rear brake lights in alignment with the usual third (upper) middle brake light. This is what my beloved husband accomplished yesterday when he (ahem) arguably should have been completing the install of our rear and side view camera system.


I had noticed with Interstates in general that there's very little brake light impact spread over an unusually large vehicular ass end. Conventional-sized brake lights distributed across a nine-foot-tall, seven-foot-wide van don't make for optimal visibility - they were a bit puny. When I would tail my husband to or from our off-site storage locker, I would notice this. We'd be on a pitch-black Texas FM road, he'd hit the brakes, and the result wouldn't be much of a show-stopper. Or traffic stopper.

Hence this modification. No drivers are going to visually under-register the night-time presence of our Interstate now! It's not like anyone could easily overlook the likes of it!

Personally I would have pushed this modification further down on the priority list, but my husband enjoyed doing it, so here it is.
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Old 03-16-2015, 08:13 AM   #450
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Today in the scope creep category, we have the addition of fourth and fifth rear brake lights in alignment with the usual third (upper) middle brake light. This is what my beloved husband accomplished yesterday when he (ahem) arguably should have been completing the install of our rear and side view camera system.

Personally I would have pushed this modification further down on the priority list, but my husband enjoyed doing it, so here it is.
The main problem with the stock brake lights is that for someone riding your rear bumper, the stock third light is above their normal field of vision. Drivers tend to look every which way but up.

I'm not doing this sort of modification myself (my toad adds extra brake lights all on its own), but if I was doing it, I would probably have added the new brake lights farther down, like right under the rear windows and closer to the center line. The high brake lights help for traffic far behind you, but not so much for traffic close behind you.
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Old 03-16-2015, 08:54 AM   #451
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Adding to interblog's post. I had purchased a pair of brakelights so I might have the option of doing this:


Unfortunately the backup camera I purchased isn't really well suited to this sort of fabrication. Not to mention, I hate doing fiberglass work. I was going to install the camera above the rain gutter next to the brake light this weekend but there isn't a flat spot to be found. So with the camera install needing a plan B. I decided on a bit of a whim to install the spare brakelights and pre run the video cable instead.

I agree that a brake light under the windows would be ideal. I've spent a fair amount of time contemplating installing a camera there but without any wire runs into the doors, that would mean adding a couple contact plates in the door jams which might be beyond the prowess of my little Drimmel but I would be willing to give it a go had I had any confidence that the video quality would survive passing through a large contact plate.
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Old 03-16-2015, 10:19 AM   #452
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Adding to interblog's post. I had purchased a pair of brakelights so I might have the option of doing this:
I agree that a brake light under the windows would be ideal. I've spent a fair amount of time contemplating installing a camera there but without any wire runs into the doors, that would mean adding a couple contact plates in the door jams which might be beyond the prowess of my little Drimmel but I would be willing to give it a go had I had any confidence that the video quality would survive passing through a large contact plate.
There should be a wire run to the left-hand door already, because you have a license plate light there. So mounting a camera off-center by your license plate should be doable.
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Old 03-16-2015, 12:49 PM   #453
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.....

I agree that a brake light under the windows would be ideal. ....
So do I, BUT, there has to be some splitting of the difference from an aesthetic standpoint. Third+ brake light down lower might be more effective, but it wouldn't look nice - it wouldn't look like it was supposed to be that way. If you put a line of them at the top, OK, it looks like a grown-up truck now, having gone through puberty (at eight years of age, perhaps a bit precociously). And the drivers who would otherwise NOT notice the top brake light will have their eyes drawn to the trio of them because they are difficult to ignore.

LB3 and I went back and forth over the spacing - should they have been distributed widely as was done, or clustered together? My vote was spread out, because in the pitch dark I find it much easier to parse what is in front of me on the road if it is outlined. This is true of all forms of trucks.

The other reason I wanted them distributed is that I had a long-range aspiration of putting a similar line of spaced light trim on the front of the vehicle above the AIRSTREAM logo, and spaced lights on the front should be matched by spaced lights on the back. The headlights on the T1N are *beyond* pathetic - a tiny Smart Car has better headlights (*and* a better horn). So I reckon that visibility would be significantly improved by an eventual front-end light makeover as well ("See or be seen," my Driver Ed teacher used to preach).
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Old 03-16-2015, 02:01 PM   #454
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Will LED lights work with the Mercedes circuitry?
If so, they are a lot brighter and will get your attention quickly.
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Old 03-16-2015, 03:27 PM   #455
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There should be a wire run to the left-hand door already, because you have a license plate light there. So mounting a camera off-center by your license plate should be doable.
The newer Sprinters have a wire bundle going to each door but the T1Ns use small contact plates on each side of the door to power the license plate light and door locks. This isn't a great pic but the contact patches are visible in the door frames:


Passing power through a contact plate is one thing but I don't know if an unshielded analog signal could make it through intact. If so, it opens lots of options but won't help me justify building a 3D printer. :-P
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Old 03-17-2015, 07:36 AM   #456
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Will LED lights work with the Mercedes circuitry?
If so, they are a lot brighter and will get your attention quickly.
Hubster needs to address this one. There is also the issue of potentially adding too much load such that the Sprinter computer senses that there's a problem of some sort and starts reacting in an undesirable manner (or perhaps desirable if it turns out we really did something wrong). We mused about that briefly with respect to the two extra brake lights. Is it going to foul up the computer? Would adding a small row of lights to the front cab foul up the computer? LB3 looked into it.
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Old 03-22-2015, 07:07 PM   #457
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Couple things I did on the fly this week while camping at Tombstone Arizona.

I took my auto sunshades, the kind that are square with rounded corners, that fold into very small size and put them in two of my windows making it much darker at night. They are typically sold as a pair and I will buy one more set before heading out again. I know others use the roll up cut to size silver insulation type, but these collapse really small and don't have to be rolled up.

Second thing I did was mute the blinding LED lights over the sofa in the back. I have been meaning to take them apart and see the difficulty of changing bulbs but never have. I took one bandaid and tore off the adhesive ends and just stuck it on the lights. It did not get hot after reading for over an hour and dimmed the lights so they were way less bright and comfortable on the eyes. Not sure if this will heat the adhesive up over time and cause a mess but it sure worked well this week.
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Old 03-22-2015, 07:47 PM   #458
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Second thing I did was mute the blinding LED lights over the sofa in the back. I have been meaning to take them apart and see the difficulty of changing bulbs but never have. I took one bandaid and tore off the adhesive ends and just stuck it on the lights. It did not get hot after reading for over an hour and dimmed the lights so they were way less bright and comfortable on the eyes. Not sure if this will heat the adhesive up over time and cause a mess but it sure worked well this week.
What you need is a "warming gel" like photographers use on their flash units to soften the light. It's actually made of plastic these days but the name "gel" has stuck. Unscrew the lens, insert a disc of the plastic behind the lens, screw the lens back on, and you're done.

The color you want is called "Bastard Amber":
http://www.amazon.com/Bastard-Amber-...tard+amber+gel
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Old 03-23-2015, 05:28 AM   #459
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What you need is a "warming gel" like photographers use on their flash units to soften the light. It's actually made of plastic these days but the name "gel" has stuck. Unscrew the lens, insert a disc of the plastic behind the lens, screw the lens back on, and you're done.

The color you want is called "Bastard Amber":
Amazon.com: 162 Bastard Amber Gel Filter Sheet 10" x 10": Camera & Photo
Yes. There is a trailer thread that is largely devoted to this topic. They talk extensively about theater gels. I learned this after asking why don't they just replace the LEDs if they don't like them? The answer is because (unlike in the older trailer and Interstate models), the "bulbs" in the newer units cannot easily be replaced as they are integral to the fixtures and therefore an entire rig's worth of replacement fixtures would be prohibitively expensive. So people use gels instead.
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Old 03-23-2015, 11:16 AM   #460
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Now Airstreams in recent models (2013 and up, I think) have a dimmer for the main lighting.
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Old 03-23-2015, 01:24 PM   #461
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What you need is a "warming gel" like photographers use on their flash units to soften the light. It's actually made of plastic these days but the name "gel" has stuck. Unscrew the lens, insert a disc of the plastic behind the lens, screw the lens back on, and you're done.

The color you want is called "Bastard Amber":
http://www.amazon.com/Bastard-Amber-...tard+amber+gel
Thanks, I will have to check that out as a more permanent solution

BTW Interblog, the dimmer on the newer AI does not work on the 2 lights over the rear lounge
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Old 03-24-2015, 04:17 PM   #462
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After breaking 2 of the original rear reading lights, I had Colonial Airstream replace them with these.
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