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Lighting Forum
Angel Eyes, DDEs, lighted rings, Clear Turn Signals, LEDs, Xenon, HID, or Bi-Xenon. If it lights up and you want to discuss it, post here!

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Old 09-14-2009, 12:31 PM   #1
MitchSF
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My HID project

When I bought the M3 last month I didn't think the fact that it had halogens was a big deal to me, but I was wrong. The difference between its lighting and the 330Ci with factory bi-xenon projectors was obvious. So I purchased a set of single xenon lights to replace the halogens, then decided before I installed them that that wasn't good enough either.

I was going to send them out for installation of FX35 bi-xenon projectors, but I was told that they would not fit in the single xenon housings. I measured myself and after speaking with someone from The Retrofit Source about this, I realized that there was no reason to believe they wouldn't fit, just that it would be more difficult to install them in these housings compared to the original halogen housings, which I wanted to keep intact. I was right about that. The bracket that held the single xenon projector was difficult to adapt to the FX35 projector. I was very careful to match the exact angle of the original xenon projector, but the adjustment range is so wide that I probably didn't have to be so precise.

I spent several hours with each headlight, trimming and adapting the mount to hold the projectors in the correct position, then trimming each projector. I removed the chrome from the xenon side and also from the trim piece between the xenon light and the halogen high beam by soaking them for a short time in Clorox. I sprayed the aftermarket xenon bezel with aluminum paint and the rest of the xenon side with black. I didn't want any chrome on the xenon side of each light, and I'm happy with the effect. I thought about painting the bezels with Mystic Blue Metallic spray paint, but I didn't want to attract attention to the modified lights. Maybe I'll change my mind at some point. The bezels can easily be replaced without removing the lights.

After the lights were finished I modified the Orion V2 wiring harness, adding an extra relay and wiring for the bi-xenon shutters. Hopefully next weekend I will install the harness. The LCM has already been flashed for xenons, so I just have to run a wire from the new relay to pin 2 of the LCM, to control the shutters. I'm not looking forward to crawling under the steering wheel to run the wire, I'm too old for that!

At some point in the future I may add leveling motors and wiring, but I'm not sure the results would be worth the effort, other than for the challenge. I would recommend this as a DIY for anyone who has experience with a Dremel, cutting, fabricating, etc. Otherwise, pay someone else to do it! Again, adding projectors to the halogen headlamp assembly would be much easier.

I used FX35 projectors, but The Retrofit Source has some new bi-xenon projectors that do not appear to need trimming and are slightly smaller. I also added TSX clear lenses, but these new projectors already come with clear lenses. If I were to start again, I would certainly buy the new projectors instead.

At this point I'm still using the original single xenon 35w OEM ballasts with 6000K bulbs, but if I have problems with them in the future, I will probably get a set of aftermarket ballasts such as those made by Digital HID, since the shutters are controlled independently of the ballasts.
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Last edited by MitchSF; 09-14-2009 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 09-14-2009, 01:38 PM   #2
snowcatxx87
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Looks like you did your reserach on every aspect of the project. Very good job. I cannot wait for cut off pictures and fully installed pictures.

Your lighting set up should blow away the stock E46's xenons! (Adaptive is a nice feature, however)

Your 05 M had halogens stock? Weird, I thought halogens were only available on the first two years...
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Old 09-14-2009, 02:03 PM   #3
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Thanks! Strange that xenon is an option on a $50K+ car.

I'll add some pictures when I finish the project.
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Old 09-14-2009, 02:08 PM   #4
jbfrancis3
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Please do, would love to see!

Any detailed shots of the internals would also be great. I did a halogen to bi-xenon retro-fit awhile back and I've wanted to boost the output even more as well as add the adaptive feature. It ended up taking awhile and I had stuck shutter, which required me to disassemble everything several times. Basically I don't want to get into it again but your pics may inspire me...
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Old 09-14-2009, 02:53 PM   #5
MitchSF
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That's the only picture I took before the lights were reinstalled into the housings.

Leveling is just up and down. Isn't adaptive also right and left? There is a DIY for leveling somewhere on the forum. I think the harnesses are not available so they have to be made.

Many companies including Lightwerkz and The Retrofit Source offer 55w ballasts and bulbs. I would be afraid of the extra heat damaging the housings over time, but I don't think this has been mentioned as a problem so maybe I'm being overly cautious.
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Old 09-14-2009, 02:56 PM   #6
Brendan@FCP
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I am glad you are doing this the correct way. Impressive dedication, my friend.
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Old 09-14-2009, 08:32 PM   #7
MitchSF
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brendan@FCP View Post
I am glad you are doing this the correct way. Impressive dedication, my friend.
Thank you. I did a lot of research. Other than mounting the projectors, it was not a difficult project at all. I forgot to mention that it was most important to make sure that bi-xenon operation was the same as oem bi-xenon.
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Old 09-15-2009, 12:54 PM   #8
snowcatxx87
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MitchSF View Post
That's the only picture I took before the lights were reinstalled into the housings.

Leveling is just up and down. Isn't adaptive also right and left? There is a DIY for leveling somewhere on the forum. I think the harnesses are not available so they have to be made.

Many companies including Lightwerkz and The Retrofit Source offer 55w ballasts and bulbs. I would be afraid of the extra heat damaging the housings over time, but I don't think this has been mentioned as a problem so maybe I'm being overly cautious.
I was saying the only plus for an 04+ coupe is the adpative feature. Other than that, your projector is of better qaulity and, cutoff, beam pattern than that of an E46.
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Old 09-15-2009, 06:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowcatxx87 View Post
I was saying the only plus for an 04+ coupe is the adpative feature. Other than that, your projector is of better qaulity and, cutoff, beam pattern than that of an E46.
Ya, but he doesn't have auto-leveling either which isn't really a problem except for cars on the receiving end of the lights.

Anyways, I'm thinking about doing a similar upgrade and would love to see more pictures of how the OP mounted the projectors.
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Old 09-15-2009, 06:55 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by MitchSF View Post
Many companies including Lightwerkz and The Retrofit Source offer 55w ballasts and bulbs. I would be afraid of the extra heat damaging the housings over time, but I don't think this has been mentioned as a problem so maybe I'm being overly cautious.
They've actually done some temperature measurements at hidplanet.com and @55 watts the lights only run about 20 degrees warmer. Most people assume more light is better but it really depends on what you do with that light. If you put it right in front of the driver your pupils constrict and your night vision suffers. This can actually be dangerous traveling down dark rural roads since your vision outside of the lit area is actually worse. If your projector spreads the light out over a broader area it's less of an issue but 55W is overkill for the street IMO. Here is what an E46 xenon looks like with a 55W ballast, way too much of a hot spot right in front of the driver IMO. BTW, there aren't any automotive 55W xenon bulbs, it's best to use a quality 35W bulb like the Phillips 85122+ and run it with a 50-55W ballast.


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Old 09-15-2009, 08:50 PM   #11
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I believe that 35w will be more than enough for me with the new projectors, especially since the oem bi-xenons in the 330Ci are adequate in our suburban area and on the highways.

Leveling in the 330Ci does not work fast enough to avoid the lights aiming too high when going over bumps. It's purpose is probably to adjust the aim based on varying loads in the car such as a heavy trunk, etc. That's just a guess based my observation that the lights point very high when going over speed bumps.

Thanks for the additional information and opinions.
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Old 02-10-2010, 03:55 PM   #12
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any updates on these?
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Old 02-12-2010, 08:47 PM   #13
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I finished the project, but I sold the M3 since I was driving the 330Ci most of the time and for me, it's a better car. I upgraded the 330Ci lights with FX-R projectors from theretrofitsource.com, and 55w ballasts. The car originally had factory bi-xenons, and the leveling function works with the new projectors. I did post pictures around here, somewhere.

Last edited by MitchSF; 02-12-2010 at 09:26 PM.
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Old 02-13-2010, 06:17 AM   #14
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Here's the other thread with two pictures:

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...631&highlight=
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:38 AM   #15
MitchSF
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Time for another upgrade. The FX-R projectors have been great over the last year, but I want to make some changes - first, I should have used high temperature paint on the shrouds. I noticed some bubbling on the matt silver finish close to the lenses. This time they will be painted gloss black to match the color of the car, black sapphire.

Next, I want quad xenon projectors. More light is certainly not necessary and I want to keep the flash to pass function, so I'll fit halogen lights into FX-R projectors with the shutters and solenoids removed. This is more for cosmetics and as a fun project. It is certainly not a performance upgrade.

Pictures will follow.

Last edited by MitchSF; 01-23-2011 at 08:35 AM.
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:33 AM   #16
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Why not go with a Mini H1 setup so you can use H1 halogen bulbs?
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Old 01-23-2011, 09:07 PM   #17
MitchSF
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Quote:
Originally Posted by infinite012 View Post
Why not go with a Mini H1 setup so you can use H1 halogen bulbs?
Good thought, but I want to use another projector with a 3" lens so I can use the same E46-R bezels for all four projectors.
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