Fabricating Headlights For An F250

The amount of time that is going into these custom headlights is just staggering. [Mcole254] is working on his brother’s truck, replacing the stock headlights with High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps and rolling some nice LED features into the mix while he’s at it.

The build starts by removing and disassembling the stock headlight assembly. In order to get the enclosure apart he heated it in the oven until the glue was softened and the parts could be pried apart. The goal is to replace the reflectors with an assembly that suits the new lamps and LEDs. Above you can see the white pieces which were vacuum formed from a mold that [Mcole254] made from wood and PVC. He tried several iterations using his home-made vacuum former but couldn’t get the definition he really wanted. The most recent posts from him show some massive 3D printed parts that will be used instead.

While inside he added a line of amber LEDs for the turn signal. You can seem them mounted along the silver strip between the upper and lower reflectors. A demo of those super bright additions is embedded after the break.

[Thanks Marty]

29 thoughts on “Fabricating Headlights For An F250

  1. He could have bought a cheap par of china projector replacements from ebay and still had his stockers! It is a ford though so it’ll be off the road getting fixed more than it’ll be on it so it doesn’t matter either way I suppose. Let’s see what Joe DOT inspection man thinks of the non-DOT rated lamps.

  2. Regulatory approvals do not protect against improper installation or alignment. So the DOT argument is moot.

    Even factory installed headlamps can be out of alignment as soon as you put that 10″ lift on your truck, DOT approved or not.

    Don’t forget that blue light on your dash, if you drive around town with that blue indicator lamp on, I hate you.

  3. Looks great! I’ve been wanting to do something like this to my truck for a while.

    A neat addition would be to add a small circuit to animate the turn signal in some way.

  4. Are you guys reading your comments before posting?? Do you know what you’re talking about before commenting??

    Most people just order some whacko HID kit from China and toss it into their headlight enclosure designed for Halogen. That’s how you blind oncoming traffic. With Projectors, you dont have that problem . This is a ridiculously awesome project using all the skills a Maker would possess, and you condemn him?

    THIS post is what Hackaday should be about. Get off your butt and do something and post about it, stop trolling people who are doing something.

    1. Sorry, but you are the one who doesn’t know what you’re talking about. From the (literally) several hundreds of modifications I’ve seen on the road, maybe 2 were acceptable, including among those lots and lots of modifications where the stock headlights were replaced by “projectors”.

      I generally don’t comment when I don’t have anything constructive to say, but this (halogen to HID conversions) is something that annoys me almost everytime I drive at night. There is a reason why (at least in most of Europe) cars with HID headlights have to be equipped with automatic headlight leveling, headlight cleaner and respect the maximum light output. Even proper installations are prone to blind other drivers (the new Mercedes E-class is awfull) even tough there are very good ones (BMW 3 series).

      Yes, there are a lot of cars with halogen headlights set to an incorrect level, but those are not nearly as annoying as the HIDs. When you get blinded by an HID lamp your night vision suffers noticeably more and most aftermarket kits and cheap replacements use crappy bluish lamps (sometimes almost purple!).

  5. @Vinnie Vu:

    “With Projectors, you dont have that problem.”

    You do if the projectors are designed for halogens. Just because a car has projectors does not mean you can add a HID kit and be ok. At least he used projectors designed for HIDs.

    1. That’s what I meant.
      MOST of the people on the retrofit website use quality projectors from luxury cars and retrofitting it into their cars.
      I retrofitted my motorcycle with BMW E46 bixenon projectors, same bulb and ballast that BMW use.
      On my car, the projectors are from Cadillac XLRs.

      All the negativity that you guys are posting make it sound like it’s THIS project that’s bad. If someone only read the article and the comments, they would assume all HID projectors retrofitting are bad.

      If I did a nice project, I’d probably rather it not be posted on HAD because of crazy criticism like this.
      Sad that the hacking world has more trolls than hackers.

      Read the article, critique on THIS technique and THIS project. If you do that much, then you’ll see that his attention to details is ridiculous. Especially for first time etching PCBs.

      I agree with the LEDs though, he should’ve done it like the Mustangs and have a chase sequence.

  6. I always love how a place dedicated to hacking things to fit a different purpose/desire is also the first place that the hack and it’s owner get brutally cut down.

    it’s much of the reason i don’t even desire to submit anything anymore– whats the point if it’s no longer a exchange of ideas, but fodder for harassment?

    if you think that stinks, show me something that you made that’s better.

    mcole254, you’re doing great! while not exactly how i would do things with the led’s, the level of detail of the parts you created is very nice!

    1. Yes, there are some negative comments (my own above included), but I wouldn’t call it “brutally cut down”.

      I’ve seen all the pages in the forum and I completely agree the resulting work is looking awesome, probably a lot better than a lot of aftermarket crap sold everyday and I’m betting he’s learning a lot while doing it, making his next project even more awesome.

      The “negative” people are raising concerns about the usage of the “hack”, not the hack itself. It’s unfair to judge everyone based on the actions from a few (well, most of them, actually). The truth is that these modifications are mostly(not necessarily all) done by people that care more about aesthetics than safety. If this is read by lots of people that might try to do the same, don’t you think this is also the adequate place to raise ethical and safety concerns?

      We’re not writing those comments to “troll” (altough some of them were written with a “dickish tone”), these are concerns raised by many for a long time, there were several decent TV reports and, more importantly, it’s an issue discussed and published by very qualified people, want an example?

      “The S/P ratios of the halogen and HID lamps were nearly the same, yet these lamps resulted in the least and most discomfort glare, respectively (…)the illuminance from the halogen lamp needed to be about 25%-50% higher than from the HID lamp to elicit a De Boer rating of 4 (…) HID headlamps seem to produce greater discomfort glare than halogen headlamps, despite their similar scotopic content”
      John D. Bullough, Zengwei Fu and John Van Derlofske, Discomfort and Disability Glare from Halogen and HID Headlamp Systems, SAE 2002 World Congress. (you can read this one without paying, search for the title in google scholar, also take a look at the articles in the references).

      There are several articles (some of them peer reviewed) discussing this subject and pretty much everyone reaches the above conclusions (I don’t want to say all of them because I didn’t read them all).

      Yes, there are vehicles with properly installed aftermarket HID headlamps but, based on my personal experience, they are a lot less than 1% of them all.

      I don’t have anything against HID lamps, I love and use lots of metal halide lamps in lots of places, I also don’t have any problem with the people that use several hundred watts of halogens and aftermarket HIDs in their off-road vehicles. I (and the other drivers complaining) have a problem with aftermarket kits used improperly in the road.

      No, I never got blinded by the author and I don’t know if the end product will ever blind anyone, but if he will use that in the public road we (fellow hackers) have the obligation (not just the right) to raise concerns regarding public safety.

      I’m not saying “you suck”, I’m saying “cool project, awesome build, keep getting better but please be responsible because we are constantly being hurt by other people who made similar things”.

      To the author, I’m glad you thoroughly documented the process and I’m happy for you that it looks so cool but please take the required precautions not to hurt anyone.

      To soundman98 et al., sometimes I also get that “negative vibe” from some comments I read, but a discussion and the “exchange of ideas” only work if we also listen to the other side. If you really feel the negative comments are wrong say so and back up your claims so we can all learn.

      1. Hello, I’m the “author” of this project, soundman98 directed me to this.

        In response to the concerns of usage the hack, yes I do agree completely that improper installed HID are dangerous and extremely obnoxious. However I feel by doing this project/hack that I’m going about the best way to install HID onto this vehicle. The projector is out of a Lexus SUV so I feel the original design intent is similar to that of the vehicle I’m putting it on. You can notice that I’m using a 35w system, which is exactly what OEM uses.

        I am also aware of proper aiming practices here in the US and will be following them when they are installed.

        Someone mentioned required auto leveling systems used in the EU. These are not mandatory and often not offered on US OEM HID equiped cars (I personally feel it should). I have thought of adding this to many of my retros, however it would be a very complex system to implement.

        Thanks for all the comments and constructive criticism.

  7. Looks good. Reminds me I need to get a polishing kit or price new headlight assemblies for my pickup. That quit riding in newer vehicle so I don’t notice how old truck is lacking

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