Creating Angel Eye Rings
Instead of a round glass rod used by BMW, I used a clear acrylic/plastic rod. I bought it for $1.97 at a home improvement store, such as Home Depot. Not all Home Depot's carry them, so you may have to shop around. The rod is actually made for your window blind to open/close the blind when you turn it left/right. It is about 2.5 feet long with a diameter of 8mm, and you can create 2 angel rings out of it. The rod has a hex-shape structure, not a round shape like the BMW, but it will do just fine because this reflects more light.
The first thing I did was to create a circular ring out of it. I measured the diameter of my high-beam projector housing, which comes out to be 4" (or 2" radius). Usingthe circular formula (C=2'pi'r, where pi=3.14), you'll have to cut your rod about 12.5 inches long. I suggest cutting it 15" long, and use the extra inches as handles to help in the molding process.
Next, I find an aluminum can or jar that has about the same diameter as the ring (I used a peanut jar). After heating the rod in a small toaster oven for about 5-7 minutes at 300°F, I held the two ends of the now flexible rod with a pair of pliers, and wrapped them around the peanut jar with one end crossing over the other end.
For better control, you can wear your winter gloves or use your socks. The flexible rod will harden within a minute. So, you may have to repeat this step 1 more time to mold it into a perfect circular ring.
Once done, you can use a Dremel tool to cut the extra handles that were used during the molding process. You will end up with one end above the other, as shown.
Don't worry; later when you wrap electrical tape around the rod to hide the LED bulbs, the two open ends will realign themselves. If you like to be perfect, you can simply put it back in the oven one last time and allow the ends to soften and flatten.
To test out how it lights up, I put a small halogen bulb between the open ends of the ring. "Wait a minute here, young man. It doesn't look like 'Angel Eye'. No halo ring effect. You suck!" Yes, I know. That is because light goes in a straight line, and it takes the shape of whatever object it goes through. In this case, it goes through one end of the rod and out the other end, like a fiber optic cable.
Making The Eagle Ring Light Up
In order to make it lights up like the true 'Angel Eye', I had to refract the light as it goes through the rod by making multiple cuts (scratches) along the rod, using a Dremel tool. Each cut/groove allows the light to 'escape' the ring. Each cut is about 2~3mm apart. Don't make the cuts too close to one another. This will make your ring look like a continuous band of light, like those glow-in-dark flexible toys. In my opinion, the ring look better and more sophisticated with the cuts evenly space out.
It will take about 2 minute to do the cuts using a Dremel tool. If you don't have a Dremel tool, you can use a small saw or a butter knife, but will take you longer. A Dremel tool set would cost about $30. It has many uses, such as cutting, sanding, carving, buffing, etc. Good tool to have for hobbies.
Hint: To get the cuts look perfect, you can do the cuts ahead of time before making a circular ring out of it. You only need to make the cuts along 1 of the 6-sided rod.
Doing 2 or more sides will make your ring look dimmer, because most of it has 'escaped' before it reaches the other end of the rod. Also, let the cut side be the backside. When you turn it over to the front, the hex shape, which acts like mirrors, will multiply the cuts and the cuts are brighter too. The light appears to be refracted inward (take a look at the pictures below on the right to see what I mean).
With a Dremal tool, you can
create the cuts in 2 minutes.
Full view of angel eye rod.
Cuts along the backside of the rod.
On the front side, the cuts are multiplied by the hex-shape.
Angel eye with some foreground light.
The halo ring effect is more noticeable at night.
LED Light For My Eagle Eyes
I suggest you use LED lights for your angel eyes. I was only using halogen bulbs to test out my ring. Halogen bulbs are very hot and may deform your acrylic rod. It is inefficient, and doesn't last very long. You don't want to take apart your headlight to replace the bulb every time it burns out. The purpose of Angel Eyes is not to light up the road, but for look. As such, I suggest using LED bulbs.
LED bulbs are very efficient, last very long (no filament to burn out), and produce very little heat. The LED bulb along with the resistor use less than 1W of power, compare to a 35W halogen bulb used in the real BMW angel eyes. LED bulbs are bright too even though they are only 1 mcd. If you ever pointed a key chain with LED light toward your eyes, you know what I mean.
LED bulbs are used in street signal lights, jumbo television, car alarm indicator etc., for their efficiency and reliability. They are bright in the day too. Hence, they are now being used in Mercedes S Class and Infiniti G35 taillight and stoplight.
LED light comes in many different color, red, blue, orange, yellow, green, and white. Red is really nice and will definitely make your car stand out, but I used white LED to be compliance with state laws. They even come in multi-blinking colors too; just in time for the holidays, but I think cops love them. They'll be happy to turn on their lights when they see them. (I am not responsible for any tickets)
Angel Eye with yellow LED.
Angel Eye with blue LED.
Angel Eye with red LED.
Angel Eye with white LED.
They cost from around $3 to $4 each at your local Radio Shack store. Note that LED bulbs are not like halogen bulbs where you can just connect positive and negative wires to them to light them up. You must use a resistor. The purpose of the resistor is to limit/resist high current going through the LED bulbs. LED bulbs require only a small amount of current to light up. Hence they are very efficient. Resistors should cost about $1 for a set of 5 at a local store like Radio Shack. Very cheap!
Resistance is measured in ohms. To get the correct resistor for your LED, use this modified version of Ohm's Law:
Ohms = ( V.bat - V.led ) / Amp.led. where V.bat = voltage of battery, V.led = voltage of LED, Amp.led = Amp of LED
When you buy the LED bulb, it will tell you the voltage and amp used. Just plug them into the equation to get the Ohms value. In my case, I have a 12V battery and a 3.6V LED with 20mA (or .02A). So, I used a resistor of 420 ohms [(12V - 3.6V)/.02A]
You can use a lower ohms resistor, eg 220 ohms, to light up your LED. In fact, it will make your LED brighter because low resistance allows more current to go through the bulb. I have been doing this for 3 months now and still haven't had any problems.
Also, you must attach the resistor to the positive terminal of LED bulb, which is the longer of the 2 terminal legs. I suggest that you attach a wire to the LED bulb first, and then attached a resistor at the end of the wire on the positive terminal. This will give you flexibility because the resistor will be outside your headlight unit and you can change it if you have a need to do so later, like changing to a lower resistor to make your Angel Eye brighter.
A white LED bulb.
Positive is the longer terminal.
A 1100 vs a 2000 mcd LED bulbs.
mcd (milli-Candela) measures brightness.
A 220 ohms resistor. Resistors
restrict current going through a bulb.
Resistor connected to positive lead,
which is the longer one.
Securing LED Bulbs Inside Eagle Eye Rings
To secure the LED bulbs into my Eagle Eye rings, I drilled a hole in both ends of the ring, about 6mm wide and 5mm deep. I used two white LED bulbs and parallel
paired them together. After soldering a foot-long wires to the positive and negative legs of the LED bulbs, I wrapped black electrical tape around the legs to keep them
apart. I will attach the resistor to the end of the wire later when I connect the wire to my parking light.
Next, I inserted the bulbs inside the holes of the ring, and wrapped black electric tape around it to hide to LED bulbs. This will also hold the bulbs and the two ends of
the rod in place. DO NOT paint the rod black. For some reason, the black paint will absorb the light and will make your angel ring look dim. If you plan to wrap the black
tape around the uncut/unused part of the ring, make sure you wrap some aluminum foil around them first before wrapping the black tape. The aluminum foil will reflect
the escaping light back into the ring, making the ring brighter.
Angel ring with a 5mm hole.
LED bulbs inside ring.
Use black electrical tape to secure and hid the bulbs