As most of you have probably seen from Page 5
, I recently added a strip of LED lights around the top of my roll cage to improve the interior lighting. But that solution wasn't without significant problems of its own. Namely, the strip was too damn bright
So at jwmbishop's suggestion, I picked up this LED dimmer
for a whopping $8.00. I took it on faith that the guts of the dimmer would be small enough to extract and hide behind my Rugged Ridge pillar switch pod. Sure enough, the gamble paid off!
Here is an illustrated step-by-step (my first one ever!). This process took me about 35 minutes start-to-finish, but that's largely because the wiring from the battery through the firewall was already in place. I could probably do it from scratch in about an hour.
1. Remove the four main screws from the front of the dimmer box.
2. Pull straight out on the dimmer control knob.
3. Simply pull straight out on this part (I'll call it the wire terminal). There are no screws or anything else holding it in.
4. Use a 10mm wrench to remove the skinny nut. Be careful not to lose the equally thin washer.
5. Use a small Phillips screwdriver to remove BOTH screws that are mounting the circuit board to the plastic housing.
6. Take note of the proper configuration of the wire terminal. You don't want to get this mixed up...
7. (NOTE: You may need to redo this step when you get to step #10, but it's not a bad time to get familiar with how the wire terminal works.) With a small amount of bare metal (approximately 1/8") at the end of each wire, insert the positive and negative ends into the appropriate slot on the terminal. Use a small flathead screwdriver to secure the wire inside of the terminal. It actually keeps a surprisingly firm grip on the wires, which made me feel good.
8. Use a small flathead screwdriver to pry out the side panel by the driver's side door.
9. Run a properly color coded RED positive wire through the firewall. Use one of the hex bolts shown in the photo to secure a ring terminal to the ground to complete the circuit.
10. Remove the driver's side sun visor, then remove the plastic trim in the upper left corner of the windshield. Also remove the A-column trim piece if you haven't already. Run the LED strip down through the metal as shown in this picture. It will come out nicely hidden within the A-column trim piece.
11. You'll probably need to reconnect the positive and negative ends of the LED strip to the appropriate spots in the wire terminal. Make ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that you have the wires set up correctly, and attach the positive and negative wires from the battery and chassis (respectively) to the wire terminal.
12. This photo shows the back of the Rugged Ridge switch pod, with the circuit board and knob visible. At this point, connect the wire terminal to the circuit board and turn the knob to ensure that the lights are working. If they aren't, check your polarity on the LEDs, since they won't work if the power is backwards.
13. Pull down firmly on the trim piece shown below and the snaps will come loose. Use a Dremel or similar tool to create a notch in the plastic for the lights to come out of the trim and thread above the rearview mirror. As you route the LED strip, peel away the paper backing to expose the adhesive.
(Note: Pay particular attention to how I've routed the LEDs around the roof latch, since you'll need to do the same to prevent the top from clamping down on the LED strip.)
14. LED strips are very flexible in one direction, but very inflexible when it comes to turning 90 degrees like you would want them to in the photo below. To solve that problem, I picked up another set of LED Strip-to-Strip Connectors
and installed them as seen below. I did have to carefully cut away the waterproofing material on the LED strip, but that was very easy.
15. Use a 1/4" drill to make a hole in the Switch Pod, then use the tiny washer and nut from earlier to secure the dimmer to the trim. Push the knob cover on, and you're good to go!
16. Enjoy your dimmable LED interior lighting!