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WARNING: This How To is very long winded with quite a bit of tongue in cheek humor. I wrote it this way to explain some of the logic behind what I did and why I did it, along with explaining the process of solving some of the negative consequences of the mod as originally written by FireTech. So some steps may be out of order for the easiest way to do this mod, but in the end all of the steps will be necessary. I also go into detail about some of the concepts behind the components used so it's geared towards those who don't know how things like diodes and relays work. For those that do please don't think I am insulting your intelligence. ;) Plus I had a weird sense of humor going when I wrote it. :D

So that being said, I did the side marker lights as turn signal mods as originally posted by FireTech which is what lead me down this slippery slope. Here's the link to that How To:

http://forum.mazda6club.com/electrical/135862-how-convert-side-markers-turn-signal.html

You may want to open that up in another window. If you plan to do my version of this mod you will need to reference some of the information in that post.

In that mod thread, a few posters did not like the way the turn signals flashed alternately. In other words, when the main turn signal was on, the marker light was off and vice versa. Meelo88 came up with a mod that eliminates that, but in my opinion it's way too complicated. :eek: Credit where credit is due though as he did a great job on the write up and the schematic was very well done. Here is the link to his How To:

http://forum.mazda6club.com/electrical/240851-how-install-side-markers-turn-signals-leds-ms6-mazda-6-a.html

My method works just like Meelo88's, but it's a helluva lot less complicated! :cool:

The original mod from FireTech has some disadvantages:

1: Backfeeds! The way this is wired the turn signal circuit WILL backfeed into the parking light circuit and vice versa. Backfeeds are BAD! Let me repeat that: Backfeeds are BAD! :nono: Especially in cars with lots of electronic control modules that control things as simple as a turn signal circuit. Like, oh.. let's say the Mazda 6. Electronic control modules do not like backfeeds! At worst, backfeeds can cause module failure. At best, you can get weird, unpredictable and undesirable effects.

2: You can not use LED marker bulbs. :( I will explain why below.

3: Alternating flash. Some people did not like the way the marker light and the turn signal flashing was out of sync when the parking lights were on. Personally, I liked this since it was like a throwback to the old 60's and 70's GM cars that did this from the factory. :thumbup: But, in order to eliminate the backfeeds, this "feature" goes away. Awwww Dang It! :( Remember, according to Microsoft, if it's not a bug then it MUST be a feature! :D

Tangent: A short primer on circuits and how circuits are completed - AKA "grounded." A load on a circuit, be it a bulb, a motor, whatever, always wants to find a ground. Light bulbs are especially good at this because they do not care about polarity. They simply want to complete the circuit. Remember that a light bulb is essentially a controlled short circuit! The only thing that keeps the fuse from blowing is resistance from the bulb's filament which reduces the current required. Also remember that a light bulb will illuminate whenever current passes through it! The bulb does NOT have to be directly connected to positive and negative. As long as current can pass through the bulb on it's way to ground, the bulb will light up. This is why test lights can sometimes lead you astray when trying to figure out if a wire you are testing is postive or negative. Oh and by the way, LED's will behave in the same manner except they DO care about polarity.


So, by following the original mod and removing the ground terminal from the marker light, the bulb will always try to find a ground somewhere. Which means backfeeds. Boo Hiss on backfeeds!

As originally written by FireTech, here's what happens:
Lights off, turn signals on: There is power to one side of the bulb. The bulb will find a ground through another bulb in the running light circuit. A backfeed. In other words, the current coming into the bulb from the turn signal circuit backfeeds into the parking lamp circuit through the marker bulb filament and finds it's way to ground through the filament of one or more of the bulbs in the running light circuit. Since there are so many bulbs for the current to find a ground through, the bulb that is grounding the circuit does not illuminate because there is not enough current to illuminate any of them.

Lights on, turn signals off: Basically the exact reverse of the above. The polarity of the terminals at the marker light bulb "swap" and now the parking light circuit is backfeeding into the turn signal circuit. The marker bulb is finding a ground through the filament of the turn signal bulb. So that turn signal HOT wire that got spliced into the marker bulb becomes a ground. This scenario and the one above explains why LED marker bulbs will NOT work with this mod as posted by FireTech. The "ground" side of the socket switches terminals depending on the state of the lights. Make sense so far? Wait a minute! Didn't you say that when current passes through a bulb filament the bulb will light up? Why yes, yes I did. Then how come when the marker light passes it's ground through the turn signal bulb the turn signal bulb does not come on or glow? Well, elementary my dear Watson. The reason why the turn signal bulb does not light up but the marker light does is because of the filament size. The marker bulb has a MUCH smaller filament than the turn signal bulb. Therefore, it has the highest resistance and will be the one to light up. MmmmmKaayyy?

Lights on, turn signals on: This is where things get interesting. The reason why the marker light starts to alternate with the turn signal bulb is because when the parking lights are on, and the turn signals are on, the bulb has NO ground! BOTH sides of the marker light have power, there is no current flowing so the bulb does not light. BUT the microsecond the turn signal bulb turns off in order to "flash" the turn signal, the marker light has a ground and it turns on. Each time the turn signal bulb comes ON during the flashing sequence, the above repeats.

So as you can see, backfeeds can be a problem. Example: After I finished FireTech's mod, I noticed that when I used the remote to lock and unlock the doors, my dash lights and LED tail lights started glowing dimly when the turn signal lights were turned on. The remote entry module communicates with the turn signal control module and tells it to turn on all 4 turn signal bulbs to confirm door locking or unlocking. I did not like this at all as it meant the turn signal circuit was backfeeding the parking light circuit. Since *both* of the front turn signal bulbs were on, the turn signal circuit had *2* marker lights to pass current through into the parking light circuits. That means the marker lights were able to pass enough current to not only light themselves, but also light the bulbs and LED's the current was finding a ground through. As discussed earlier, backfeeds are BAD JUJU! :nono: Especially when electronic control modules are involved.

Now that we understand what is happening, how do we fix it? Well read on intrepid reader and we'll figure it out. :)

So, let's think about how to make this mod behave nicely for a minute. The root cause of all the evils in FireTech's mod are the backfeeds. Where are they coming from? Through the marker light bulbs because the bulb has NO real ground. So first off, in order to make this mod behave nicely, we will have to work from the power side of the circuit and leave the grounds alone. So if you've performed FireTech's mod and want to do this mod, you'll need to pay attention to Step 3.

Tools/materials required:
Soldering iron
Solder
Heat shrink tubing

Heat gun or hair dryer. Don't let your wife or girlfriend catch you stealing their hair dryer! She will not be happy :chairshot:

18 gauge wire - approx 15 feet or so depending on how you route your wiring.
Qty 4 1N4001 or 1N4004 diodes available from Radio Shack
Qty 2 standard 30 amp SPDT relays (Your basic universal 5 pin automotive relay) See Pic #1
Qty 2 Five pin relay sockets with diodes. (You can skip these but you must get 2 additional 1N4001 or 1N4004 diodes and you will need at least 8 female .250" spade connectors) See pics #2 and #3
Qty 2 1/4" red ring terminals
A small pile of zip ties

Step 1: Remove front bumper. Yes, I know. People have done the marker light mod without doing this. But, in the end, it's WAY easier to just remove the bumper because you will need to access the wiring harness running to the marker lights.

Step 2: Read FireTech's mod. You will need to tap into the turn signal hot wires as he describes in his How To. Run this wire over to the marker bulb socket.

Step 3: IF you have already performed FireTech's mod, you will need to reconnect the original ground wire to your marker bulbs. If you haven't performed FireTech's mod, well then uhhh.. I guess you can skip this step. :p

Step 4: Ok, so now we have the marker bulb back to it's original factory configuration. What we're going to do now is cut the POSTIVE marker light wire. Yes, the positive wire. Do NOT just pull the wire out of the socket since we will need that. CUT the wire and strip about 1/4" of insulation off both wires. Tin the wires with your soldering iron. On my car the positive marker light wires are green with a black stripe on both sides and the negative wires are black with a red stripe on both sides. Don't cut these.

Step 5: In order to prevent backfeeds, we are going to utilize our friend, the diode. A diode works just like a one way check valve for electrical circuits. Kinda like those mouse traps with the trap door inside. Adorable little electrons can go through one way, but not the other way! Take 2 of your diodes and twist the BANDED side leads together. Tin the twisted end with your soldering iron and then cut to length. Solder the twisted end to the BULB side of the wires you cut in Step 4. See pic #4. Remember than when dealing with positive circuits, the BANDED end of the diode goes TOWARDS the bulb. Tangent: For those that want to get technical, the BANDED end of the diode is called the cathode. The non banded end is called the anode. Postive current can pass through the anode TO the cathode, but NOT from the cathode to the anode. Now, just to make things complicated, negative current works the other way! So negative current will pass from the cathode TO the anode, but not the other way. Who invented these damn things anyway? Why did they have to make them so complicated? :doh: Stupid electrons! One more tangent: Did you know that you can use a LED in the same way as a regular diode? After all, a LED is a Light Emitting Diode. So when current is passing through in one direction, the LED will light up yet it still won't allow current to flow the other way. The only problem with this "trick" is you have to be really careful how much current actually flows through the LED. They are way more fragile than standard diodes and the magic smoke comes out of them pretty easily. Moving on.... :D

Step 6: Use your heat shrink tubing and insulate the bulb side of the diodes. Make sure you leave the NON banded ends free of heat shrink! We are going to be soldering those next. See Pic #5


Step 7: Solder the marker light hot wire to one of the diodes and heat shrink. It doesn't matter which diode. Pick one. Eeeny meeny miny moe. Pick a diode by it's toe.

Step 8: Solder the turn signal hot wire that you ran in Step 2 to the other diode and heat shrink. You should only have one left so the choice should be pretty easy. If for some reason you have more than one, you're already in trouble! STOP and review the steps! When your done it should look something like Pics 6, 7 and 8.

Step 9: Test! Does the marker light flash with the turn signals? Yes? Check! Turn the turn signals off. Now does the marker light illuminate with the running lights? Yes? Check! If any of the above answers are not yes, then recheck your work. Now for the last test.. Wait for it.... wait for it.....

Step 10: Turn on the running lights, then turn on the turn signals at the same time. Does the marker light flash? No? Ruh Roh Shaggy! Something is wrong in Spookyville! :goon: The light doesn't flash does it? Why not? We were good boys and girls and have the circuits isolated with diodes which means no backfeeds and EVERYTHING! Yay for us! But the light still doesn't flash! Mom!!! Why? Well, simply put, the running lights are a constant power, and the turn signals are an interrupted source of power. If you were a light bulb, would you turn off if you had a constant source of power? No? I wouldn't either. So now we have to find a way to kill the running light power to the marker bulb but only when the turn signals are on and only at that one bulb.. Enter our friend........

Step 11: The RELAY! YAY for relays! See Pic #1. Relays are great little devices. With relays you can turn a great big huge current on and off with a tiny little switch and do many other cool little electrical tricks. Plus they usually have a wiring diagram telling you how they work printed right on them! See Pic #9. Pretty cool huh? But we aren't dealing with huge amperage loads. This is why we need the 5 pin SPDT relay and not the cheaper 4 pin SPST relays. I see a hand up. Yes? What does all this SPDY whatever stuff mean? Well, SPST means the relay is a Single Pole Single Throw. That means the relay only has one set of contacts through which to pass current. So, following the logic, that would mean a Single Pole Dual Throw relay has 2 sets of contacts through which to pass current. Tangent: There are also relays that are DPST, DPDT, etc. Just think of all the fun we could have with these babies! :D Ok, back on subject. We are going to use our relay to KILL the power to the marker light we are working with but only when the turn signals are ON.

Will our fearless wiring dude figure this mess out? Will he be able to make it work? Will the engineer aliens get the best of him? Find out in the next episode of Man Versus Turn Signal Circuits!

TO BE CONTINUED!
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Continued..

In our last episode, our fearless wiring dude was trying to figure out how to make this mess of a how to write up make sense! Will he do it? Will everyone get bored reading? Will the mod ACTUALLY work? Read on intrepid reader and find out!

Step 12: Wait a minute! The turn signals FLASH! How are we going to energize a relay with an interrupted source of power? Well, again Mr. Watson, we aren't cause we can't. Fear not because there is a constant source of power switched with the turn signals. Where?!?!?! Well, right there at the turn signal switch! So we need to splice into 2 wires at the turn signal switch and run them through the firewall out to the marker lights. See pics 10 and 11. The three wires we will be dealing with are in front of the pencil. Of course, being counter intuitive as alien engineers usually are, the wire in the center is power into the switch, the white wire with the black stripe on the RIGHT is constant power for the LEFT turn signals. The wire on the LEFT is white with a red stripe and is for the RIGHT turn signals. See what I mean about alien engineers? :huh: So, take your 18 gauge wire, splice into these 2 wires using solder and heat shrink and find a nice neat way to run them under the hood. There are plenty of places, just take your time and do it right. Don't let the wires rub on anything, especially metal. Keep them away from hot stuff like.. oh... exhaust manifolds... :eek: Zip tie them to existing factory harnesses, etc. Take the time and do a nice job, you'll be rewarded later with that magical thing called reliability. You will need to get one wire to each front marker light. I suggest using different colors so you don't mix them up, but how you do it is up to you.

Step 13: Now it's time to wire everything up. You'll need to determine a good place for the relay to live. I put mine higher up so I could secure it to the factory harness and help keep it away from water as much as possible. Consult the nifty diagram in pic 9 in the previous post. On the pre-made relay connector, cut off the wire going to pin 87 which is blue on the harness I got. Yours will probably be different. Make sure you cut off the right one! Unwrap the factory tape leading to the marker light and again cut the POSITIVE wire. You must cut the wire! The goal here is to break that circuit when we want it broken. Strip approx 1/4" insulation off the wire and tin the wires. Connect the wire coming FROM the marker light harness to pin 30 on the relay. Connect the wire going TO the bulb to pin 87a. This is important. The wire TO THE BULB MUST go to pin 87a! Connect pin 85 to the wire you ran coming FROM the turn signal switch and finally connect pin 86 to ground using one of your 1/4" ring terminals. You can crimp these if you have the right crimpers. I prefer to solder them. Of course. :D Also make sure you get a GOOD GROUND. Don't forget to solder all your connections and use heat shrink tubing. Do NOT use those cheesy Splice N Tap things. They are terrible and they will fail on you. Plus it's very difficult to keep water out of them. Plus you already have the soldering iron and heat shrink tubing out, right? :D Now, if you elected not to use the pre-made relay harness see step 13b.

Step 13b: Only perform this step if you did not use the pre-made relay harness with the diode. Wire everything up as above using your female spade connectors. Again, you can crimp these, but I prefer to solder and heat shrink them. You'll need to install a diode between pins 85 and 86 with the BANDED end of the diode on the wire coming FROM the turn signal switch. You can use pic #3 as a guide. Again, don't forget to solder and heat shrink the diode to insulate it.

Step 14: Test! Turn on the runnings lights and the turn signal at the same time. Does the marker light flash? It does? Woo hoo! Success! :cheers: Scooby and Shaggy will be so proud of you! :D

Step 15: Re-wrap the factory harness and your relay harness with electrical tape. I wrapped the hell out of my relays to keep water from getting into them. Secure the relay to the factory harness somewhere and you're done. With that side. :D See pics 12 and 13. Repeat steps 4-14 for the other side.

Hopefully I was able to shed some light on how all this stuff works and you guys didn't get too bored or annoyed.

If there are any questions ask away and I will do my best to answer them.

Disclaimers: If you destroy something in your car attempting this mod it's not my fault. Use this information at your own risk.

Oh, and since I took a video of my other turn signal/running light mod, well, I made one of this one too. :D

BTW, if you listen carefully, you can hear the relay "click" when I turn the turn signals on. :D


Good luck and happy modding. :)

Michael

 

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Discussion Starter #4
Nice update and simplification...

However, I'm curious do the hazards flash in your design? When the parking lights are off and/or on?
Good question..

Here's what happens:

When the hazards are turned on with the parking lights off the side markers flash with the front turn signals since they are getting a power feed from them.

When the hazards are turned on with the parking lights on they are on solid and do not flash. The reason for this is because the relays that turn off the power from the running lights do not get energized since the turn signal switch is not being used. The marker lights still get a pulsed power feed from the turn signals, but since the running light power is constant, the lights stay on solid.

Hope that answers your question.

Michael
 

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Good question..

Here's what happens:

When the hazards are turned on with the parking lights off the side markers flash with the front turn signals since they are getting a power feed from them.

When the hazards are turned on with the parking lights on they are on solid and do not flash. The reason for this is because the relays that turn off the power from the running lights do not get energized since the turn signal switch is not being used. The marker lights still get a pulsed power feed from the turn signals, but since the running light power is constant, the lights stay on solid.

Hope that answers your question.

Michael
That answers my questions as to why I did mine the way I did. There was a desire to have constant functionality of turn signals and hazards at any mode of light and that was my original goal.

I initially had it at a 2 relay design that did it mostly, but for some odd reason and i'll revisit my design again i added more 2 more relays to clean it up.

I won't say my design is more efficient or the cleanest but it was the most brute force method for me to get what I wanted without hacking up much of the car design.

:D
 

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Discussion Starter #6
That answers my questions as to why I did mine the way I did. There was a desire to have constant functionality of turn signals and hazards at any mode of light and that was my original goal.

I initially had it at a 2 relay design that did it mostly, but for some odd reason and i'll revisit my design again i added more 2 more relays to clean it up.

I won't say my design is more efficient or the cleanest but it was the most brute force method for me to get what I wanted without hacking up much of the car design.

:D

Gotcha.. As a general rule of thumb, I can't see myself leaving the running lights on with the hazards if my car is broken down or something. Besides, the auto-off/battery saver module would prevent that. But either way, that part was irrelevant to me. I simply wanted the side markers to flash properly with the turn signals without the unwanted backfeeds of the original mod.

I actually liked the alternating flash, but I couldn't keep that while getting rid of the backfeeds without getting extremely complicated. Which of course was the point of my how to.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't slamming your design. I thought you did a great job on it, and the schematic was excellent. IMHO, it was just too complicated for anyone who simply wanted the marker to flash with the turn signal without the backfeeds.

Judging by the lack of response to my how to, I was too long winded in explaining everything and people quit reading and/or the mod is too complicated. Shrug

Michael
 

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Radius,

I have a 2nd Gen 6 with LED tails and was worried about the same thing as you, the power going back into the LED tail array and damaging or maybe even lighting them since they would have an much lower watt rating.

In my search for a solution I read yours and it seems it would work with our 2nd Gen cars.

But, Let me throw this link to you. It seems like a very simple solution without all the additional searching for wiring. I understand how electrical circuits work and this seems like it would solve the problem of feeding power back into the rest of the parking light circuit. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

LED side marker flashing in sync with turn signal
 

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Radius,

I have a 2nd Gen 6 with LED tails and was worried about the same thing as you, the power going back into the LED tail array and damaging or maybe even lighting them since they would have an much lower watt rating.

In my search for a solution I read yours and it seems it would work with our 2nd Gen cars.

But, Let me throw this link to you. It seems like a very simple solution without all the additional searching for wiring. I understand how electrical circuits work and this seems like it would solve the problem of feeding power back into the rest of the parking light circuit. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

LED side marker flashing in sync with turn signal
I built a solution just like that before I did it the way I wrote the how to.

The wiring for that is exactly like my how to with the exception of not needing to tap into the wiring at the turn signal switch and running those wires out to the front of the car.

He is using capacitors to "store" current long enough to keep the relay energized until the turn signal flashes again and recharges the caps.

The problem I ran into is that it was fairly erratic. It worked great on the test bench, but didn't work out so well for me in the car. Environmental conditions, the particular relay you are using, quality of the caps, etc, all determined the amount of farads required to make it work. It's a bit fussy. For example, just because 2 2200uf caps worked for him doesn't mean it will work for you due to differences in cars, parts, etc. But other than that, there is nothing wrong with doing it this way.

I decided not to do it with caps because I wanted it to be 100% reliable all the time. I found this not to be the case when I experimented with the capacitor method.

Michael
 

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I built a solution just like that before I did it the way I wrote the how to.

The wiring for that is exactly like my how to with the exception of not needing to tap into the wiring at the turn signal switch and running those wires out to the front of the car.

He is using capacitors to "store" current long enough to keep the relay energized until the turn signal flashes again and recharges the caps.

The problem I ran into is that it was fairly erratic. It worked great on the test bench, but didn't work out so well for me in the car. Environmental conditions, the particular relay you are using, quality of the caps, etc, all determined the amount of farads required to make it work. It's a bit fussy. For example, just because 2 2200uf caps worked for him doesn't mean it will work for you due to differences in cars, parts, etc. But other than that, there is nothing wrong with doing it this way.

I decided not to do it with caps because I wanted it to be 100% reliable all the time. I found this not to be the case when I experimented with the capacitor method.

Michael
Michael,

Those are some of the same concerns I had with the circuit. I'm not an electrical engineer, but I do understand how electricity flows.

My biggest question was the size of the caps for a given relay.

I guess the good thing is the fail-safe would be the side-markers would operate as originally designed if the caps or relay fails.

I would do what your doing, but I was just looking for minimal amount of teardown of the car. I didn't want to go looking for the turn-signal switch feed.

I will take another look at the electrical shop manual and see if those wires are easily tapped.

Thanks again for your help,
 

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Michael,

Those are some of the same concerns I had with the circuit. I'm not an electrical engineer, but I do understand how electricity flows.

My biggest question was the size of the caps for a given relay.

I guess the good thing is the fail-safe would be the side-markers would operate as originally designed if the caps or relay fails.

I would do what your doing, but I was just looking for minimal amount of teardown of the car. I didn't want to go looking for the turn-signal switch feed.

I will take another look at the electrical shop manual and see if those wires are easily tapped.

Thanks again for your help,
You can tap those wires at either the turn signal switch or at the turn signal control module. The turn signal switch is a heck of a lot easier to get to.

Realistically it's not that hard to do. The cover around the steering column comes off with a few screws, you'll need to remove the battery to fish the wires through the column, etc.

As I stated in the how to it is technically possible to do this mod without pulling the front bumper cover. But it makes the mod much more difficult. The time spent trying to access everything with the bumper cover on is far outweighed by the hour it takes to just pull the bumper cover. Once that's off, everything is nice and easy to get to, so pulling the battery and a few interior trim pieces to access the turn signal switch and run the wires out to the marker lights it pretty trivial.

Good luck however you decide to do it.

Michael
 

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I found where I could tap the wires. I'm not sure how easy it would be to get a wire through the firewall. This is a 2nd Gen 6 with the 3.7, so there isn't much room between the firewall and the engine.
 
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