Motorcycle/Automotive Bulb LED Hack

Picture of Motorcycle/Automotive Bulb LED Hack
My motorcycle's licence-plate (type 1156) illumination bulb recently failed and rather than buy another incandescent bulb, I decided to hack/repair/convert it to LED.  This LED hack should last much longer that the incandescent bulb that it replaced.

Caveats: This hack worked great for my license plate illumination, but it will not work for brake light application since these are usually dual filament bulbs and it will not work for turn signal bulbs unless you also change your flasher to one that is compatible with LEDs.  There are many sites that sell LED retrofit bulbs and flashers for older vehicles for some examples, search Ebay for "LED 1156" or  "LED 1157" or "LED 3056" or "LED 3057" or "LED flasher".

Parts required:  4 white LEDs

Note: For my build, I used LEDs salvaged from another project, and most white LEDs should work or this license plate illumination hack, but before you purchase your LEDs you should check the brightness rating on the data sheet and verify that it is adequate for your application e.g. Digikey part # 160-1850-ND has a brightness rating of 17000mcd.

Tools required:  gloves, safety glasses, pliers, wire cutters, soldering iron, hot-glue gun, multimeter, power supply (for testing)

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Step 1: Deconstruct the Bulb

Picture of Deconstruct the Bulb
Do this step inside a trash bin so glass will be contained and wear gloves and wear safety glasses for protection.  Use a pair of pliers to remove the glass bulb.  You will also need to remove the inner glass structure to expose the 2 internal wires.  Use wire cutters to trim the 2 wires to a length that extend about 1/8" out of the base (see picture).  Use a multimeter to determine which of the 2 wires is ground and make a note of this for the next step (wiring the 4 diodes in series).