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Old 04-07-2017, 08:59 AM #1
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Controlling Additional Lights with Puddle Lamp Circuit - Done....Safely!

I’ve been wanting to add some LED “rock lights” under the truck that I could turn ON with a switch, but also turn ON when unlocking or approaching the vehicle. Which meant I wanted to have the new lights controlled by the puddle lights in the mirrors as the puddle lights illuminate with unlocking, and also when I simply walk up to the truck as I have the Smart Key system.

There are two main issues with using the puddle lights as the “control” for the new rock lights that have made me reluctant to pursue this:

1. First, the puddle lights have a “theater” effect where they ramp up and down in brightness. This means the voltage to the lights varies between 0 and 12V during ramp ON and OFF. This would cause a normal 12V relay to “buzz” and arc, resulting in short relay life and flickering of the LED’s. This could be addressed with a capacitor in the control/coil circuit of the relay, but then you have to protect the OEM puddle light circuit from the capacitor discharge with a diode. If the diode fails, then you would back feed current into the puddle light circuit…..see #2.

2. The puddle lights are controlled and driven directly by an output from the main body ECU, not through a normal relay type setup. As a result, there is a potential risk of damaging the ECU with additional load of a relay or if something goes wrong with diodes/capacitors as described in #1. This is what scared me the most and, thus protecting the ECU was the #1 priority.

I came up with a way to control the rock lights with the puddle light output from the ECU, while avoiding relay buzzing and providing some isolation to the ECU for peace of mind. See diagram below:



I used a solid state relay (SSR) to control a normal 12V mechanical relay. The purpose of the SSR is to isolate the puddle light circuit (4runner white wire) from the circuit for the rock lights, but allowing the circuit to control a 12V mechanical relay that turns the actual rock lights ON/OFF. The 12V mechanical relay is only needed as I also wanted to control the new LED lights with a separate switch on the dash for manual control anytime as stated above. If you want to control the rock lights with only the puddle lights, then this 12V mechanical relay could be eliminated and the rock lights can be powered directly by the output of the SSR, while still isolating the puddle light circuit.

You will notice I have a capacitor across the coil (terminals 85 and 86 of 12V relay). I originally did not have this, but the relay “buzzed” during turn ON and OFF of the rock lights. The capacitor resolved this, while the IN5404 diode prevents back feeding current when the capacitor is discharging.

The white power wire for the puddle lights that I used is located in the drive side kick panel.



The input impedance of the SSR on the control side is 1000 ohms, so the additional amperage load on the puddle light circuit is minimal, especially when combined with the lower current draw of the LED’s I used to replace the original incandescent bulbs in the puddle lights themselves. And yes the rock lights do not ramp up and down in brightness with the puddle lights, but this doesn’t bother me a bit.

As the SSR has exposed screw terminals I used a “project box” to contain/protect it, as well as the standard 12V mechanical relay, and extended wires out of the box for connections. I was able to fit the box up in the dash behind the OEM switch panel area to the left of the steering wheel.

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2nd battery = http://www.toyota-4runner.org/5th-ge...-complete.html
Rock lights = http://www.toyota-4runner.org/5th-ge...ne-safely.html

Last edited by matoolie; 08-20-2018 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 04-07-2017, 07:05 PM #2
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I have been thinking of doing this as well!! Do you have pictures of the outside?
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Old 04-07-2017, 07:26 PM #3
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I have been looking into doing this for a while now, I have an SR5 without puddle lights, do you know if this would change for me if I were to pursue it using your method?

Thank you!!
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Old 04-07-2017, 11:42 PM #4
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Well done, I totally forgot that the puddle lights ramped up and down ...
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Old 04-08-2017, 02:18 AM #5
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This is something I've been reading a little about as I consider what mods to start adding. Thanks for the write up. You hit on the one limitation I've come to as well, the rock lights not ramping up/down with puddles. It's definitely not critical but I'd personally like to see that ability as well.
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Old 04-10-2017, 09:48 AM #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ecarpenter2 View Post
I have been thinking of doing this as well!! Do you have pictures of the outside?
I will post some pics tonight.


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Originally Posted by 415T4R View Post
I have been looking into doing this for a while now, I have an SR5 without puddle lights, do you know if this would change for me if I were to pursue it using your method?

Thank you!!
Honestly....I am not sure....but I would not be surprised that you can. Easy to find out....pop off the driverside kick panel and see if white wire is present. If so, probably double check with multimeter that voltage changes with lock/unlock functions.

Also note that the dome light also lights same as puddle lamps, so you can use this circuit instead.


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This is something I've been reading a little about as I consider what mods to start adding. Thanks for the write up. You hit on the one limitation I've come to as well, the rock lights not ramping up/down with puddles. It's definitely not critical but I'd personally like to see that ability as well.
With my setup....the rock lights come ON right as the puddle lamps begin ramping up. And the rock lights shut OFF about the time the puddle lamps have ramped down to OFF.
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2nd battery = http://www.toyota-4runner.org/5th-ge...-complete.html
Rock lights = http://www.toyota-4runner.org/5th-ge...ne-safely.html
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Old 04-10-2017, 01:16 PM #7
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Originally Posted by ecarpenter2 View Post
I have been thinking of doing this as well!! Do you have pictures of the outside?
I mounted 4 lights, 2 per side. I mounted them using the top bolt on the brackets for the rocker panels. One light on front bracket and second one on rear bracket.
Honestly....I am not planning rock crawling so the lighting pattern is not important for that purpose and a better description would probably be "accent" lighting.

Front bracket


Rear bracket




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2nd battery = http://www.toyota-4runner.org/5th-ge...-complete.html
Rock lights = http://www.toyota-4runner.org/5th-ge...ne-safely.html

Last edited by matoolie; 08-20-2018 at 04:39 PM.
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Old 04-10-2017, 06:18 PM #8
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Sweet!!! I am definitely going to try this!
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Old 04-10-2017, 11:19 PM #9
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Nice job. You have a link to the lights you used?
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Old 04-10-2017, 11:19 PM #10
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Very cool!
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Old 04-11-2017, 12:10 AM #11
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Well done. It seems like you know your way around electrons. I am a ME not an EE so please bear with me. Your circuit is a good solution. Any reason you just didn't use the power coming from the puddle lamp circuit as a simple signal to initiate a self contained control circuit to turn on your other lights? A few lines of code and a few if-thens later and you have a sweet little box. Just curious if you considered going this route.
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Old 04-12-2017, 08:07 PM #12
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Nice job. You have a link to the lights you used?
https://www.amazon.com/Light-Offroad...k+lights&psc=1
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2nd battery = http://www.toyota-4runner.org/5th-ge...-complete.html
Rock lights = http://www.toyota-4runner.org/5th-ge...ne-safely.html
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Old 04-12-2017, 08:19 PM #13
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Well done. It seems like you know your way around electrons. I am a ME not an EE so please bear with me. Your circuit is a good solution. Any reason you just didn't use the power coming from the puddle lamp circuit as a simple signal to initiate a self contained control circuit to turn on your other lights? A few lines of code and a few if-thens later and you have a sweet little box. Just curious if you considered going this route.
Actually..... you give me too much credit. Lol. I am also a ME and got some input on this from a coworker who is EE. Couldn't come up with a solution on my own.

I do see what you are saying and I could see that being possible for someone with the knowledge. Some coworkers are planning on giving some training on raspberry pi ..... could lead to upgrade in the system in the future.
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2nd battery = http://www.toyota-4runner.org/5th-ge...-complete.html
Rock lights = http://www.toyota-4runner.org/5th-ge...ne-safely.html
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Old 04-12-2017, 08:46 PM #14
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Actually..... you give me too much credit. Lol. I am also a ME and got some input on this from a coworker who is EE. Couldn't come up with a solution on my own.

I do see what you are saying and I could see that being possible for someone with the knowledge. Some coworkers are planning on giving some training on raspberry pi ..... could lead to upgrade in the system in the future.
Yeah i hate EE's lol. They are always the clean ones... anyone who has been out on a new machine start up knows what I mean...
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Old 04-12-2017, 11:13 PM #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matoolie View Post
Actually..... you give me too much credit. Lol. I am also a ME and got some input on this from a coworker who is EE. Couldn't come up with a solution on my own.

I do see what you are saying and I could see that being possible for someone with the knowledge. Some coworkers are planning on giving some training on raspberry pi ..... could lead to upgrade in the system in the future.
Not sure why you would want to do the microcontroller approach.

1. The Pi is a computer, don't need that complexity.
2. Arduino would be the better choice, but still would need a relay module to control the load of the rock lights. So.. .just way more complicated.
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