Ever hear of the Ford Cylon?

OK, we haven’t heard of a Ford Cylon either. However, there is now a Mustang Cobra out there that has been given a famous Cylon characteristic. [Monta Elkins] picked himself up an aftermarket third brake light assembly, hacked it, and installed it on said Mustang.

The brake light assembly contains 12 LEDs, which unfortunately, are not individually addressable. Additionally, by the looks of it, the brake light housing was not meant to be opened up. That didn’t get [Monta] down though. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, but he chose to use a hot knife to open the assembly, which worked quite well. A rotary cutter tool was used to cut the traces between the LEDs allowing them to be individually controlled with an Arduino. A Bluetooth module allows him to control the new brake light from his smartphone. There are different modes (including a special mode that he shows off at the end of the video) that can be selected via a Bluetooth Terminal app.

There is no schematic or code link in the video itself or the description, but [Monta] did hit the high points. Therefore, it shouldn’t be too hard to replicate.

This isn’t the first brake light hack we’ve featured. This one goes way beyond just animated lights.  This one requires no programming. Rather wear your brake light? We’ve got your back(pack).

42 thoughts on “Ever hear of the Ford Cylon?

          1. I mean, if the identification was based on visual identification, couldn’t one hide a radar detector inside the engine compartment, and pipe reports out via bluetooth to a dash mounted phone?

          2. I’v played around with radar detectors and radar guns on a minor hobbyist level, and I have found they work quite like acoustic “((ping))” sensors we all are familiar with. But being quite young at the time, I didn’t understand them very well.

      1. They turn on. They don’t flash. And I don’t care about it looking like a cop car – I care that it behaves like a brake light should, which is turn on and stay on, so it doesn’t distract, confuse, or be less visible.

        1. There is an expensive sports car (I forget the name, it isn’t Lamborghini or Ferrari) that uses a circle of red LEDs that flash in a rotating pattern for its brake lights.

        2. flashing brake lights are actually being considered *safer*. everyone ignores even the mandatory third light. But especially for motorcycles, the “two flash then solid on” modulator kit is not only popular, but EVERY moto officer from City, County, and State agencies mount a modulated red LED frame around the rear plate.

    1. I’m guessing this modification is illegal everywhere in the US. The fixture may be DOT approved (or not since it seems to be aftermarket), but the behavior certainly isn’t up to DOT standards.

    2. cops gotta deal with the rules Our Leadership(tm) hands down. And whether to Err on the Side of Caution (or Revenue) or Let It Go. We all know which result we wish all officers would follow when there is a question or lack of specific knowledge but that’s not something you can bank on

      What’s legal for lights and whatever add ons for vehicles can come from as far as the Feds all the way down to State.

      the really weird bit comes from where factory stock features are legal while the same features on another vehicle that didn’t ship with them becomes illegal. So cars with moving taillights (which has been a Ford Thing off and on for decades) might be okay or not.

      you get a lot of leeway on Red stuff on the back of a car though. So probably won’t run into issues. Unless you’re being an arsehat and giving your local LEO’s some reason to WANT to hassle you.

      Blue flashing (or even blue light solid) almost always a no no everywhere. The one color you simply cannot get away with on your 12v Christmas light string on your holiday ride.

    1. Yup. Brake lights are critical safety features, and they need to do one thing: turn on when they’re supposed to. Not blink, not scan/wig/move/woob.

      Stop messing with your taillights, people.

      1. you mean like modulated rear brake light frames as mounted by both State Patrol and City moto officers around pretty much everywhere? and the Back-Off modulator sets?

  1. Exposing devices (in this case smartphone) that uses a totally broken technology and provenly insecure as bluetooth is asking to be hacked, and all this risk because of simple leds that do not improve in anything in the vehicle is not worth
    I am already tired of finding bluetooth signals so I open my laptop at airports because of wireless headphones, and just out of curiosity more than half I analyzed the traffic I discovered the pairing passwords easily in 10 minutes on average and in some cases I got access to the folder for “files transferred by bluetooth”, getting access to the rest of the system would be a matter of time.

  2. In additional to the safety concerns relating to non-traditional 3rd brake light behavior… I bet he screws around with his phone to control it while he’s driving.

  3. Concur with the people who say “don’t mess with the brake lights.” Besides, Cylon scanners ought to be up front; they’re for seeing where you’re going, not for seeing where you’ve been! Of course, then you run the risk of looking more like KITT than a badass chrome toaster. :)

  4. I agree with those that say do not mess with your brake lights. I can see some guy following him and saying: “Wow, what is that cool looking light?” as he plows into the rear of his car because he did not see the real brake lights. There are plenty of distractions while driving and we do not need to add more.

  5. i am not sure how legal that is you may want to check with your local laws.

    also could be a safety issue as flashing patterns could cause seizures in some people.

  6. A picture of the rear-end of a car, less than 250 words of text, and this: “…There is no schematic or code link in the video itself or the description, but…it shouldn’t be too hard to replicate.” Pretty meaty stuff, huh? I’m sure that this “article” [choke, choke] has resulted in thousands of duplications.

    Get real, Hackaday; and while you’re finding reality, try and come to grips with the fact that most people are insulted by being treated as dumbasses; that they KNOW when you have absolutely nothing to say but insist on saying it anyway.

    Careful–you’re starting to have more and more of nothing to say.

    “He can compress the most amount of words into the smallest possible idea better than anyone I know.”–Abraham Lincoln

  7. Aside from the Cylon setting or the POV, I see nothing wrong with his first three displayed settings. I’ve been meaning to put a brake light flasher on my motorcycle. Granted, apparently half the commenters here would attempt to murder me for it.

    I’ve already had several near misses of people almost hitting me when stopping because they didn’t notice the bike. And I’ve been rear ended twice while sitting at a light when I was driving cars. I don’t think “der Blinken” lights are going to dazzle and confuse people into running into the back of me while driving any more than they already do because they’re NOT PAYING ATTENTION. Which, maybe a little flash might help with.

    (No argument with any comments about the wing though. Or the Bluetooth/ Do you really need multiple settings to play with from your phone? Just pick one)

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