How-To: Door Panel Ambient Lighting

1997ThunderbirdLXV6

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Let's start with the end product. Sorry, this is the best my phone camera can do:

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Step 1

Obtain LED elements. I went for 2011 Mini Cooper coupe/hardtop RGB elements ($1.99 a piece from my local junkyard); however, I am only using the green feed. If you feel creative, you could wire up the red and blue feeds for more color options.

Step 2

Remove the door switch panels. They pop out towards the front, then unhook aft of the door release. Disconnect from wiring harnesses (remove screws).

Step 3

Make hole for LED element (I used a Dremel to make a rectangular hole) at aft bottom of the door release cavity. Install LED element. Apply reflective tape along the top of the cavity (I used a combination of aluminum foil and double-sided carpet tape).

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Just for perspective, here is the clearance between the LED element and the door panel as seen from behind. It is snug:
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Step 4

Connect the wiring. Ground to the door. Connect the power feed to the door switch illumination (white/purple):
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Attention: This feed is not part of the dimmed circuit; it stays at full bright regardless of dimmer position. If you want a dimmed light, you will have to feed wires from the dash (which is a PITA, see my door courtesy light retrofit write-up).

Step 5

Reconnect all connectors and reinstall door switch panels. Here is the LED element as seen from the front; however, from any "normal" perspective, it is completely hidden:
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Have fun!
 

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