I have an oldish F-150..

I have been known to use it after dark...

I have a terrible memory..

I now have a dead battery.

Yep, everyone's done it.  Left their lights on when they turn off their car or truck.  Fortunately, most have an alarm that will go off to let them know what they've done.  Not so much for my Ford.  My F150 is less a fully formed vehicle than someone's attempt at a junkyard reconstruction.  Let's just say it's a great yard truck with a bit of mystery.

The wife and I were out kayaking the other weekend.  Out before dawn, it was easy to see that I had left my lights on when we were getting the kayaks unloaded.  On the way home there was a bit of fog but otherwise daylight.  Turned on the lights for safety.  Arriving home we unloaded, cleaned up and left the lights on to fully drain the battery - just for good measure. 

Sooooo, after a new battery and day of kicking my own posterior I went online to try and find a 3rd party headlight alarm.  Either they aren't making them as much as they used to or my Google skills have diminished.  Either way,  I was not finding what I was looking for and I knew if i relied on my own memory I might as well just put aside the money for a new battery now.

I really wanted a battery alarm so I sat myself down with a pen and paper and started sketching out some ideas.  How the alarm would be powered, what would control when it would and wouldn't go off, etc.  Once I had a working idea I stopped by my local Hack Shack and picked up just a few items.  Those, along with my standard stock of wires and do-dads, I was all set!


Step 1: A Sketchy Idea at Best

I must have about a thousand of these around my office.   All good ideas have to start somewhere.  My problem isn't coming up with the ideas, it's getting the ideas from paper to project.  Anyway, here's the original idea sketch that started the project.  I find it really useful to just start drawing out my ideas.  It's far easier to prototype on a few scraps of paper than scraping a few prototypes.

As I mentioned, I have about a thousand sketches in my office.  No, seriously.  I also find it helpful to sit down from time to time and go over them.  It's interesting how an idea from years ago can be key to a current project. 
I have a '97 Suburban that I've added Driving/Fog lamps under the bumper that have killed my battery at least three times...it's a real PAIN when you get up to goto work at 6:30 in the morning to find and dead truck (insert sad grumpy face here). <br> <br>Now, thanks to CBGjr, that will be a thing of the past! I can even adapt this to work with my onboard inverter! (insert BIG HAPPY Grin here) <br> <br>I love how stupitly SIMPLE this is! &quot;Why didn't *I* think of this?!?!?&quot; <br> <br>The pics are great and even your &quot;Whiteboard&quot; drawing....from start to finish, I give it a 10 out of 10! <br>ThankyouThankyouThankyouThankyouThankyou <br>
<p>or you can go to Napa and buy it already made for cheap</p>
<p>it's good to know how to use relays when you need to, but in my case, it wasn't necessary.</p><p>I only needed a buzzer and a diode, wired in series between the parking light switch output (parking lights will also drain the battery, albeit slower, and they're on whenever the headlights are) and a key on voltage source, which provided the drain to activate the buzzer whenever the key is off and the lights are on.</p><p>The diode because when the buzzer was reversed polarity, it had double the current than when it was buzzing (the case when the lights were off with the key on).</p>
<p>Done in 15 mins. Soldered one of the buzzer wires up to &quot;door&quot; light on dashboard, other end to ashtray light (also in dash, comes on only when lights are on). Polarity IS important, but as far as I know you can't blow it up if you wire it up backwards, it just won't buzz if you do.<br>Easiest mod I've done this year.</p>
No need for all these bits. <br>Just connect one side of the buzzer to the 'Light' circuit and the other side to the door switch for the interior light. <br>When you open the door with the light on the buzzer will sound.
<p>lol thankyou very much rpring! :) Blow the &quot;story of some blokes life&quot; tutorial (although it IS an entertaining read and very educational), I know exactly what I'm doing now thanks to your half paragraph. You should totally make a 1 sentence tutorial for this! :)</p>
Hi rpring, thanks for the suggestion. I had thought about using the door ground switch instead of the relay but I didn't want the buzzer going off when the truck was running and I was hoping to skip splicing into existing wiring. Probably more durable than a realy thought!
<p>Great way to jack in to the power from the fuse box!</p><p>I'll be using this technique on my next project!</p><p>&quot;It's interesting how an idea from years ago can be key to a current project.&quot; Too true!</p>
I needed this on my '91 S10. I would always forget my lights on
Hmm i've got an 86 F250 and it buzzes when the lights are left on after you turn off the Ignition And it Drinks gas like the wind blows....
I'm pretty sure my F150 is supposed to have a buzzer as well but I'll be damned if I can find any reference to it in my service manual nor can I find hide nor hair of it under my dash. Calling the Ford dealer seemed too much like signaling defeat! ;-) Oh yeah, mileage so good I kept looking for the leak in my gas tank.
Great idea! I need to do the same thing for my Suzuki Sidekick :) Thank you!
Thats a great idea and it made me think of my 92 subaru legacy that actually turns of the lights if the car isn't running or on accessories power. I was thinking that if you had a naturally open relay it may be possible to achieve the same result with accessories power closing the relay allowing power to run to the lights. Then you wouldn't need to listen to the buzzer :)
is it 80s somthyng f150
Registered as an 85 reconstruction but the info plate says it's an 86.
cool cars, i am just finishing on complete restoring 92 3 liter Ranger... i did use some parts from my 88 2 liter Ranger...
And i did take photos from almost the first day. and i am planning to put it on semi instructables site...
Cool idea but your ford had this option from the factory, all you need is the buzzer. Ford in the 80's had all these trucks pre wired. I know this because I own 3 of them, the wiring is there for power windows, power locks, cruse control' under dash couristy lights, and ac. All you have to do is go to the auto wrecker and find the buzzer. But on a side note good idea for vehicles that are not pre wired.
Nicely done. You could also consider putting a buzzer in the engine compartment wired straight across the side lights, which should make it easier to find the wires and not need any other circuitry. The idea is to mount it somewhere where it can only be heard outside the vehicle if you leave the vehicle with the lights on. It will of course be running all the time the lights are on, but if you get an appropriate volume one it won't be heard when the engine is running anyway.
really nice. i just might have to do something like this for my car too!
For someone who wants to get a third-party add-on, we have 'Headlight Left On Reminder' kits available at 'liteminder.com'.
Great, elegantly simple tutorial! I think I might adapt this as a key-on reminder for my forklift.
Great Job! <br>I know how frustrating it is to try and start a dead Ford .. <br>I've been thinking for a few years now about building a cct to cut off the accessery 12 volt plugs on my truck, if the voltage goes below 11.75 volts . <br>
Priority Start works well; you can find them used.
You don't need the relay if you wire it like I did. Connect the buzzer to the headlamp wire as the author shows. Instead of connecting the other side of the buzzer to ground, connect it to the load side of the ignition switch. When the lights are on and the ignition is on, there will be +12 volts on each side of the buzzer disabling it. When you turn the ignition key off and the lights are still on, the buzzer will sound because the +12 volts is removed from the ignition load providing a low resistance ground.
THANK YOU!!!! <br>I drive a Honda Civic 2003 (my parents, actually :D) <br>Have forgotten to turn off the lights.. well, a &quot;few&quot; times. And of course, the car offers no warning, whatsoever. <br> <br>3x in the school parking lot last year (getting to class on time was fun that day), and I've done it 5 times in the last 3 months. Needless to say my car battery hates me. And about a month ago I drained the battery twice in one week (and of course, it HAD to be raining those days.... ugh, bad times) <br> <br>I think I have all the parts on hand, even the fuses, so I will see if i can build one of these.
Really nice instructable. I especially like your drawing on Step 1. This is how most great inventions start.
Thanks everyone for your kind comments! If it helps just one other person from a drained battery than I'll consider it a success.
This is brilliant. I have a 1992 GMC Sierra that did buzz with the combo of lights on + ignition off + door open, but didn't do so if the dome light was left on, and that killed my battery a time or two. <br> <br>If I can make a simple suggestion - I don't know exactly how the interior fuse panel is layed out in all vehicles, but in my truck there are unused blocks in the fuse panel that are only powered with the ignition. If you could find one of those and use it with a spade connector, it would save the need to have wire shoved along side the Radio fuse for the ACC connection. As for finding a &quot;headlights on&quot; connection, what you did is about as good as you're going to get without splicing a wire in the mess under the steering column. I had to do a lot of that when I installed a keyless remote in my old truck! <br>Again, awesome job.
This is a FANTASTIC idea! I will defiantly be making this! Thank you kindly for the share.
Very thoughtful !

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