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Old 03-03-2010, 01:20 PM
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SmartBeams with HID High Beams

Alright gents, I'm fixing to open up a can of worms that I buried like 9 months ago. I can already see myself turning this one into a personal vendetta that consumes me and eventually leads to my total utter destruction. Here we go...

Well, don't get me wrong, I LOVE my HID's, but one of the things I miss about my old headlights is the old automatic feature. Jeep calls this their "SmartBeam" feature. I know that lines have been drawn with this on whether or not people like it, but I am one of the people who does. They worked great for me and their performance was excellent. A few times I thought they were staying on for too long so I would start reaching for the lever to turn them off manually. As I was reaching, they would shut off. PERFECT!

Here's how the system works. To avtivate the system, the SmartBeam system must enabled in your EVIC, your headlight switch must be in the "Auto" position, and the stalk must be in the high beam position (away from the driver). When the abortion on the windshield (called the SmartBeam camera) senses oncoming drivers or taillights from drivers up ahead, it begins reducing output of the high beams until it reaches a threshold. Once it reaches this threshold, it shuts them off completely. Here's a more detailed description of the system from WKJeeps.com:

http://www.wkjeeps.com/wk_smartbeam.htm

Now, the problem is not the headlights shutting off, it's the "dimming" it does beforehand. More specifically, it's HOW the dimming is done. They use a method called "Pulse Width Modulation" or PWM. Basically, you are cycling the bulbs on and off many times per second (like 120 times/second). They categorize PWM by what is called "duty cycle", which is the percentage of time that the bulb is "on". For example, 60% duty cycle means the bulb is on 60% of the time and off for 40% of the time. On a 12-volt system, 60% duty cycle gives you an "effective voltage" of 7.2 volts (60% of 12 = 7.2) This effectively reduces the voltage to the bulb which reduces output. End result, your headlights begin to dim.

Now, the problem with this is HID kits don't like PWM. I mean, they REALLY don't like PWM. In most cases, they won't even light. They need a rock-solid 12V to function correctly. So, at this point, I ruled out direct connection to the high beam circuit. "No problem", I thought, "I'll just use a relay harness". Yeah, good luck with that.

I installed the relay harness and used the demonstration mode to test out the high beams. As soon as the PWM kicked in, my HID's started flickering real bad and a horrendous "buzzing" sound began emanating from the relay. Come to find out, relays also REALLY don't like PWM. The buzzing sound turned out to be the relay actually opening and closing many times per second, right along with the PWM. At this point, I'm losing it.

I start calling HID people and buying all sorts of shit. Guy A claims "cancellers" (a fancy word for capacitors) will fix the problem, Guy B claims resistors are what I need, and Guy C has "never heard of the problem before". I tried all possible combinations of wiring and cancellers and resistors and whatnot, with no luck. Hell, I even tried solid-state relays to no avail.

As an aside, did you know that "cancellers" is a fancy enough word that they charge $50 for a pair of them when I can get the same capacitors from Newark for $2 each? Just a little fun fact for you there...

At this point, I had given up and just disabled the SmartBeams. My Jeep has been running "DumbBeams" for about 9 months now. However, I think I may have stumbled upon the solution:



After doing a little more research, these may fix my problem. The reason I am confident is because they are made for daytime running lamps (DRL's). While automatic high beams are a fairly new concept, DRL's certainly are not. And most car manufacturers use PWM on the high beams as DRL's. So many people have encountered the exact same problem that I am, just for a different reason.

I'm going to give these a try and then I'll let you guys know. I'll be glad to have my SmartBeams back if it works.
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Old 03-03-2010, 01:27 PM
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Re: SmartBeams with HID High Beams

awesome bro! too bad i dont have the auto option. sounds like a cool feature. my dad had them on his hemi aspen
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Old 03-03-2010, 01:55 PM
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Re: SmartBeams with HID High Beams

can the spartbeam be added to a jeep that didnt come with it? wont the evic not reconize it?
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Old 03-03-2010, 01:57 PM
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Re: SmartBeams with HID High Beams

I do have the auto hi's. I really don't use it much but how will this give me DRL's? I would buy it just to have DRL's.
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Old 03-03-2010, 02:06 PM
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Re: SmartBeams with HID High Beams

Quote:
Originally Posted by SvenskaJeepGuy View Post
can the spartbeam be added to a jeep that didnt come with it? wont the evic not reconize it?
What year/model is the Jeep? At the very bottom of that WKJeeps.com link is a bit of a write-up for converting a vehicle not originally equipped. I think they do it on a WK Laredo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by White WK Swagga View Post
I do have the auto hi's. I really don't use it much but how will this give me DRL's? I would buy it just to have DRL's.
Sorry, must not have explained it very well. This will NOT give you DRL's. What I was trying to say is that V-LED's makes a module that I think will solve the SmartBeams problem. However, this module was originally designed for DRL's, not SmartBeams.

The reason I think it will work is because the problem is the same. When people install HID's on vehicles with DRL's, they experience the same problem that I am experiencing - flickering HID's. This is because most vehicles use the same method (PWM) for DRL's. Most vehicles DRL's are just the high beams turned on at lower brightness (accomplished through PWM).

I was actually reading about this over on a Trailblazer/Suburban/Envoy forum. Many people were converting to HID's and then getting flickering during the day when the DRL's were on. This seemed to fix the problem because it is supposed to "filter out" the pulsing signal and give you a clean and steady +12V signal. Also, you only apparently need 1 module for both lights. Don't ask me how that works. I'm going to buy 2 modules just in case (as soon as they're back in stock). If nothing else, I'll have the second one for symmetry. And equal weight distribution LOL.
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Old 03-03-2010, 02:08 PM
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Re: SmartBeams with HID High Beams

Great find, keep us posted. I used mine but then i got the HID's and havnt really needed it. But.. if these work, well i just might have to get HID high beams too hahaha
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Old 03-03-2010, 02:10 PM
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Re: SmartBeams with HID High Beams

So reading what you just posted, this will allow the feature to be ON or OFF, not using the PWM featuer to "dim" the light output?
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Old 03-03-2010, 02:13 PM
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Re: SmartBeams with HID High Beams

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBackRoads View Post
Great find, keep us posted. I used mine but then i got the HID's and havnt really needed it. But.. if these work, well i just might have to get HID high beams too hahaha
Agreed, HID low beams are more than adequate light and make your high beams borderline unnecessary. However, now extend how much light you gained from converting your lows to HID's to your high beams. I can honest-to-god see like a half-mile down the road when my HID high beams are on. They're that bright!

Besides, I'm one of those people that subscribe to the doctrine of "use it if it's available". One less thing to think about when driving. Besides, like I said, it worked really really well before I converted to HID's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBackRoads View Post
So reading what you just posted, this will allow the feature to be ON or OFF, not using the PWM featuer to "dim" the light output?
Yeah, basically, it will "dumb down" the SmartBeams by disabling the dimming portion of it. When it senses an oncoming car, it won't bother with the dimming part of it, it will just shut them off. Same with coming back on. Like I said, it basically takes the square DC waveform that the PWM generates and turn it into a steady output.
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Old 03-03-2010, 02:16 PM
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Re: SmartBeams with HID High Beams

Mine worked pretty well, a few times it wouldn't work on corners.. just something i noticed..
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Old 03-03-2010, 02:18 PM
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Re: SmartBeams with HID High Beams

Hmmm you think this will stop my problem when I turn on my HID's sometimes it doesn't fire up right or something and I have to turn them off and back on again. Maybe this will regulate the current or something to make them work properly?
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Old 03-03-2010, 02:22 PM
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Re: SmartBeams with HID High Beams

i'd assume your using relays?
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Old 03-03-2010, 02:23 PM
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Re: SmartBeams with HID High Beams

you def see a lot further with highs on! if this works i would def like to hear as well jason!
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