Who’s bright idea was this?

Range Rover P38 and a littel under bonnet fire!I bet you thought I’d run away with the circus it’s been so long since I posted anything!

Well in fact I’ve been rather preoccupied with other stuff of late ….. bad wrist, car barbecuing itself at the side of the A14 Adriatic (autostrada) motorway and getting a shiny new job (and car!). But more about all that another day. For now though it’s upwards and onwards with the fitting of a new toy for the Capo, or should I say toys … there are more posts to come about fatter/heated grips and reducing the torque on the twist grip for my wonky wrist!

A pair of X2 H4 (Hi/Lo) Sealight LED units in the headlights. These were recommended by Ravenranger over on the Aprilia AF1 forum and for a splash under £40 a pair (delivered) in the UK, I decided to take a punt. A neat and simple kit with bulb/box/plug connected by cables – just the right length for the Capo which is nice. Double sided Scotch 3M pads and some cable ties to mount the box’s out of the way complete the parts list. They’re rated at 12-24V and an output of 4,000lm (hmmm really?) and apparently fully waterproof, even the cooling fan.

I found fitting them really easy, hardly any worse than changing a standard bulb. All rubber seals and panels fit straight back into place as well. The little boxes were attached to the back of the headlamp shell with the double-sided sticky pads and it was all reassembled no problem.

NOTE: Look at the pics of the locking ring and bulb, two lugs 180º apart. The lamp can be fitted upside down if you’re not careful! Don’t ask me how I know this …. just be careful to check which way up the lamp is when clicking it into place.

Measured current draw on fuse A is:

Dip beam:     Halogen  8.35A   ( 53.4W * 2 )   LED  4.9A  ( 31.4W * 2 )

Main beam: Halogen  9.6A      ( 61.4W * 2 )   LED  4.9A   ( 31.4W * 2 )

So a saving of approx. 3.45A on dip and 4.7A on main. As you would expect, the light is a very bright white that made the existing halogen look dull and yellow in comparison add to that the very rapid turn-on and switch between dip/main and you certainly know it has LED’s installed!

But of course, this is all academic if the light pattern is junk! Night couldn’t arrive quick enough for me to get out to the barn and have a good look – low beam cut-off and high beam spread being paramount. Well I have to say that initial impressions are excellent. In the pitch-black of the Abruzzo evening the dip showed a nice crisp cut-off line and distinctive kick up to the left of a UK headlamp …… flick to main and the olive grove over the road practically burst into day light – OK, not quite! But bright enough to be surprised at just how decent these things appear to be. So far so good. I’m impressed enough to want to go get kitted up and hit the road rather than head for the tool kit and swap back, which is a damn fine start in my books. The weather looks nice for the next couple of evenings so I’ll dig out the INNOVV C5 and see if I can get a bit of night-time video!


On the right wavelength? (Part 2)

Waiting at the Post Office today were a couple of type-380 60 red LED tail/brake light bulbs to have a play with. I got these from Autobulbs.co.uk in preference to the 92 LED version that needs modifying to fit into the Caponord reflector/socket (thanks for the info Andy!).

To recap  on the conclusion of  ‘On the right wavelength? (Part 1)’ – In my opinion it would be unwise to fit WHITE LED tail/stop bulbs in the Capo UNLESS you first have definitive proof of the red light output and even then, there is the subject of the legality of fitting them in the first place!

What follows then is a laymans point-of-view of the alternative red LED bulbs after a fun-filled afternoon tinkering in the barn …….Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - 5/21w incandescent & Type-380 60 red LED bulbSo ……. off with the lens cap, pop out a bulb and in with the new …. Easy to fit with no modification, they are certainly brighter than the standard 5w tail lights, while the brake lights are definitely on a par, if not a tad brighter than the standard 21w filament, most importantly the change in output when the brake is activated/deactivated is crisp and very obvious. Of course the one thing you notice electrically, is the wayyyyy lower drain on the battery when braking! Here’s a table comparing the power usage:-

Difference in power consumption

One additional point I noted in favour of the LED’s is actually based on their construction …. the filament bulb relies heavily on the reflector/lens diffusion to spread the light because it only has one fairly focused source of illumination, whereas the LED has 60 independent sources that reflect and refract far better giving the appearance of a much brighter output from ALL of the lens, a more uniform glow if you will!Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - Both bulb types with lens in place

Oh and one thing I almost forgot to mention about the LED bulb is that all 60 LED’s are illuminated at all times, the activation of the brake light simply intensifies their output, rather than switching on/off additional LED’s as I’ve seen in some bulbs. I think this maintains a much more even and balanced spread of light.

Conclusion …. yes the RED bulbs work as well if not better than the incandescent and of course the power saving is incredible. How they perform when hot and after several hundred hours of use has to be seen. In the end though I do have to wonder about two things; the logic of selling white LED bulbs for use at the rear of a vehicle and the woefully outdated UK/EU legislation in use – for example, using a bulbs power consumption as a measure of its output is unbelievably outdated. Technological change is here and seemingly faster with each passing year, legislators need to move out of the 20th century if they have any hope of keeping pace.

Me? …… I’ll leave them in for a while, just for evaluation off-road you understand. 😉

Caveat: Using LED tail/stop bulbs on the Caponord in the UK is illegal and as such karlb/moto-abruzzo cannot condone their use. They don’t carry an approval marking nor do they meet the brake light power requirements (15-36w) as set down in the The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989′ ….round in a circle we go …. the very thing we’re trying to save (power) it turns out we can’t!!

On the right wavelength? (Part 1)

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid. Tail-lightsWhat colour is your tail/brake light? Red I’d hope…. or is it really? Take the Capo’s lens cover off and it’s just a pair of common old yellowish 5/21W incandescent bulbs, the red is of course provided by the light passing through the red lens. In fact since time immemorial the only way simple incandescent bulbs were coloured was either by a coloured cover or380 60 LED bulb being dipped in a coloured dye. Why? Simply that the humble incandescent bulb fires out light at all different wavelengths from infra-red to ultraviolet, so a simple filter is all that’s needed to allow the required wavelengths to pass through.

Now of course we have LED’s…. and these little puppies don’t work the same way. A red LED will generate light in the 610-760nm wavelength – red …… a blue LED in the 450-500nm wavelength, you’ve guessed it – blue! But what about white LED’s? Well they produce red, blue and green light BUT they are dominant in the blue wavelengths and actually very poor emitters in the red – the very colour we need for our taillight!

So here’s the next question….. Do you change out your ‘so yesterday’ incandescent tail/stop bulbs with ultra-trick, smack-up-to-date LED’s? And if so red or white? Well here are a couple of photographs that I hope will help with that dilemma.

Using my old but trusty Nikon D200 I took the first picture with the Capo tail light and an LED torch for comparison. The second picture is exactly the same except this time I added an infra-red filter to the camera. Now the camera is only picking up light in the red wavelengths ……… look at the torch, I think you’ll agree that in the 2nd picture the torch is most certainly dimmer than the two puny 5w tail bulbs, yet overpowering in the 1st photo – quite a dramatic difference me thinks!

Now OK, this is just a torch not a pukka LED tail/stop bulb, and yes I concede that not all white LED’s will output the same amount of red light – but how do you KNOW what the output of that bulb you’re eyeing up on Fleabay really is?

Bottom line?

Don’t fit white LED tail bulbs into the Capo, stick with ordinary bulbs. Bummer on the power-drain, but better on the safety side – nobody likes a rear-end shunt……..

…….but what about the red LED version? Stay tuned for next weeks thrilling roller-coaster episode – ‘On the right wavelength (part 2)’.  😉

Caveat: Using LED tail/stop bulbs on the Caponord in the UK is illegal and as such karlb/moto-abruzzo cannot condone their use. They don’t carry an approval marking nor do they meet the brake light power requirements (15-36w) as set down in the The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989′ ….round in a circle we go …. the very thing we’re trying to save (power) it turns out we can’t!!