I have curtains on the back window and you always had to manoeuvre the curtain around the 3rd brake light. Not that complicated but I was looking at swapping the curtains to the Van-X ones, which are stretch curtains. A quick measure up suggested that the 3rd brake light was going to be a real issue with the Van-X curtains.
I have been doing a bit of 3d printing recently, so after doing a bit of examining of the brake light unit, I realised that if I could put a LED board where the Hella reflector board clips in, I could make the curtains fit.
First off I found a 3rd bake light LED replacement that had an LED board the right size. Using an off the shelf module just seems so much easier as I know it meets all the right brightness requirements. I found a “GSRECY Red Lens Rear High Level Centre Stop Tail Third Brake Stop Llight Lamp For Transit MK7 2006-2013” on amazon.
I then designed a 3d printed backplate to mount as the Hella reflector board does and to accept the new board. It had a raised section to allow the board to mount without the cables getting in the way. I designed clips to hold the board in place (but the top ones hit the red perspex so I had to remove them and glue the board. There is a cable access hole with a cover on the back side (to make the cables exit flat against the panel) and some loops for zip ties.
Its all printed using MJF printing.
The board clips in nicely and makes the 3rd brake light just the right depth for the curtains. It is attached just with butt splices, would rather have incorporated some form of connector but couldnt think of a way to make that work.
We had a wonderfully unseasonal bit of weather at the weekend, so I took advantage and fitted the new solar panel.
Its a Panasonic HIT 250w panel, which happens to be a perfect size to go on the central section of the roof. It replaces the 4 x 50w Lensun semi flex panels I had on before. The Lensuns lasted about 2.5 years after which two of them delaminated and lost their top cover. Underneath they were a sticky rubber, causing dirt and water to stick to them. I lost one out of each series string (two series strings in parallel) so the performance took a real hit.
I chose the Panasonic panel for their width and after the experience with Semi-flex panels, I wanted to try a rigid panel. It hit my power and size requirements (same or more than the lensun in terms of power and baiscally the same size). It has a useful 44v output (similar to the lensun parallel/series arrangemnent) helping to keep feed cable sizes small.
I used the Photonic universe mounting brackets/wind deflectors to mount them. I wanted a wide mounting surface and to stop wind going under the panels, both from a cabin noise and from a flight risk point of view. Using the brackets was not a simple task at all. They are designed only for 600mm panels, so I had to use two pairs cut to length (which took quite a while with a hacksaw).
I used some of the spare off cuts to make central brackets (both to hold panels but also to give them some central support). I also added some front support brackets, as side brackets get a solid
The roof is curved, and more at the front. The two bracket halves are at angles and I had to enongate the bolt holes in them to allow for some angling.
The main contacting parts of the brackets and the side brakcets are all bonded on with Plexus MA310 structural adhesive, which is recomended for use with the ASA roof . Where I still had some space to fill due to the angle of the roof , I used Sikaflex 512 to fill the remaining gaps. All the bonding areas were sanded and degreased first.
I was concerned with the extra weight (15kg panel) and compared to the lensuns, I did put the panel much lower on the roof so more of the weight moves around the pivot point. The struts seem to handle it ok. They can’t hold it at the part open state (but they couldn’t before either). It goes all the way up and stays but think there is a reduction in tension now and I can pull the roof down a lot more easliy (it needed a bit of a tug before).