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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am working on a project bike where the previous owner butchered the wiring that leads to the LED license plate light, by adding more lights to that wiring cable. using non-correctly-color-coded wiring!

I bought a new LED license plate to replace all the lights that were on the old circuit. I have 2 problems:

1. The new LED license plate light did not come with any wiring instructions at all. Just a black wire and a red wire. Is the red wire the "12 volt+" wire and the black wire the "ground" wire, as I would expect?

2. The previous owner spliced into the OEM connector cable right behind the OEM connector that attaches to the bike's wiring harness (Yes, I wondered why too), and then wrapped all the splices, for both the 2 OEM wires (red and black/yellow) and the SIX un-color-coded wires (all black) that fed 3 different lights, with so much electrical tape and TIGHT heat shrink tubing that I cannot disassemble the wires to see what was conencted to what else!!

So, I figure the easiest way to handle this is to leave the "bundled wires cable" intact and simply find 2 wire ends out of the 6 bundled wire ends, that actually produce light at the LED.

But, knowing nothing about LEDs, can this trial and error approach kill the LED if I make a wrong polarity connection?

Jim G
 

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A LED is Polarity sensative with the longest leg (Anode) connecting to the Positive feed.
Wire it backwards won't do any damage it just won't illuminate.
 

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A LED is Polarity sensative with the longest leg (Anode) connecting to the Positive feed.
Wire it backwards won't do any damage it just won't illuminate.
This is correct but since hisLED's are soldered to a circuit board with current limiting resistors, he will have no idea which is the anode and which is the cathode. The good news is that with a 12 volt system, reversing the polarity won't harm the LED's, they just won't illuminate. They will turn on when the correct polarity is applied.

Jim, do you have a meter?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
This is correct but since hisLED's are soldered to a circuit board with current limiting resistors, he will have no idea which is the anode and which is the cathode. The good news is that with a 12 volt system, reversing the polarity won't harm the LED's, they just won't illuminate. They will turn on when the correct polarity is applied.

Jim, do you have a meter?
Thank-you, both! Green, yes I have a meter. I am thinking that if I can figure out how to do it, I would like to simply buy some red wire and some black wire, extract the current mess of wires from the OEM connector, and replace the current messy wires. I just need to figure out how to release the current wires from the OEM connector.

Jim G
 

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The terminals in the OEM connector won't be reusable. You would need to have new terminals and likely a specialty crimper to completely replace the wires/terminals. Is there 3-4 inches of OEM wire coming out of the connector before you get to the mess? If so, you can cut them down and solder/heat shrink new wires to the stubs but I say 3-4 inches away so you have room to work.

With the meter, you can put your black lead on the frame (known good ground) and probe the wires to find anything hot (or flashing), then hold your red lead on a known hot wire and use the black lead to find ground wires. Forgive me if you already know this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The terminals in the OEM connector won't be reusable. You would need to have new terminals and likely a specialty crimper to completely replace the wires/terminals. Is there 3-4 inches of OEM wire coming out of the connector before you get to the mess? If so, you can cut them down and solder/heat shrink new wires to the stubs but I say 3-4 inches away so you have room to work.

With the meter, you can put your black lead on the frame (known good ground) and probe the wires to find anything hot (or flashing), then hold your red lead on a known hot wire and use the black lead to find ground wires. Forgive me if you already know this.
Thanks, Green. Unfortunately, my predecessor owner cut the OEM wires less than one inch from the OEM connector body! I am mystified why he would do such a thing. My plan B for this morning is to take the connector and its attached mess of wires to a computer repair store and ask the shop if they can extract the messed up wiring entirely and insert 4 feet of black wire and 4 feet of red wire into the connector. Then, I could take the new connector-cable home, route it properly from its connection point at the OEM harness to near the LED license plate light.

Then, I have multiple sizes of those "heat shrink splicing devices" that allow you to insert the ends of 2 wires into a tube that has a donut of meltable metal in the center, and then apply heat from a heat gun. The metal donut melts and joins the 2 wires, and the tube shrinks to secure both wires inside it. That will get me back to an OEM-like proper configuration.

I figure a computer service shop will know how, and have the right bits and pieces, to extract and replace the messed up wiring from the OEM connector.

The new slip-on muffler and lightened tail are going to produce a BIG reduction in weight. And, yesterday I was able to start up the bike and listen to the new Chinese-knockoff-of-Yoshimura exhaust sound at both idle and revving it a bit. To my pleasant surprise, the sound is not perceptibly louder than OEM, but the true overall weight reduction is even bigger than I had thought.

Jim G
 

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Ugh, I can't wrap my head around some of the dum stuff I see shade tree electricians do. There's plenty of wire there, keep the splice far enough from the connector so if the splice ever fails, you still have wire to work with. I feel your frustration. Never the less, what's done is done.

Try a computer shop, but I work in the automotive industry, doing electrical engineering, and automotive style connectors aren't the same as what you would find in a PC. There will be one of two extraction tools used for the connector. One would be a small pick to release a tine on the terminal (or housing), the other would be a round sleeve that slides over a round terminal and depresses usually two tines.

I've used the butt connectors you're describing. They work very well when used properly. Just make sure you get a good flow on your solder. A lot of people pull the heat away too soon and you end up with a cold solder joint (when the heat is hot enough to melt the lead/silver, but not enough to heat the parent material to the point where the solder flows. A cold solder joint will conduct electricity but they're susceptible to vibration and prone to failure.

Okay, with all of that being said, if you can't get anywhere with the computer store, another option would be to just pick up a new pigtail set on Amazon. They're inexpensive, automotive grade sealed connectors made to replace damaged parts. They can be found in almost any configuration...heck, you might even be able to find one that plugs into your OEM connector. Post a pic and I'll see if I can help you find one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank-you, Green! Here are 3 photos showing the pin configuration, the length, and the width of the connector. (Also the horrid wiring)

Wood Cable Audio equipment Eyewear Jewellery


Ruler Circuit component Office ruler Electronic component Measuring instrument


Ruler Office ruler Natural material Cable Jewellery


Two different computer repair stores told me that these are NOT used in computers, so they woudldnot have the correct inside terminals to replace the OEM ones, which apparently cannot be reused with new wire. :(

As you can see, there's not much length to work with once I cut off the homemade stuff he did. And yes, he shrink wrapped the entire length of the cables instead of using a proper cabling shell over the wires. :(

He was meticulous on getting maintenance done at the dealerships, but was apparently a DIY electrical novice, probably because he couldn't find anyone local to add the extra lights he wanted. He actually used 2 different lighted LED bolts to bolt the licesne plate to the plate holder (I guess he disliked normal license plate lights), and then also added a "silhouette" light behind the license plate to highlight a Kawasaki-shaped "K" that could only be seen by looking at the BACK of the license plate from the front of the bike! Hence the 3 separate wires.

His work also made it impossible to remove the license plate without first disconnecting the 2 lighted bolts, which required twisting the wiring going to each. Sigh . . . He probably had a "vision" of what he wanted, but the skills required to do it were severely lacking.

Jim G
 

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Okay, that's a Sumitomo MTW series two pin connector.



To release the terminal, just go in through the connector end and use a pick to depress the raised tang. Gently apply a little tug to the wire while depressing the tang and it should slide out. Good light (and eyes) will help but you should be able to look into the connector and see the tang.

Once those are out, you MAY be able to open up the crimps to get the wire out. The wire crimps often break when trying this and you WILL have to solder the connection. A reused crimp without solder will NOT be adequate. To reuse them you will have to gently use a small pliers to try and roll the tabs over the wire to make a light crimp...roll them back into place, then solder. If your soldering skills are good, this MAY work.

Even if you purchased new terminals, you would have to have the proper crimper. As above, soldering would be necessary without the proper crimpers. Standard wire crimpers will NOT work properly because the right crimpers actually roll the crimp tabs back in to the wire. Basically, you end up with some wire strands on one side, some on the other side, and the crimp tabs together down the middle. The two rearward tabs go around (and usually through) the insulation and functions as a strain relief (and additional contact). If you soldering skills are good, this WILL work.

So, with all of that being said, 1) this is not a sealed connector, so literally any other connector system with 16-18 gauge wire will work. 2) I know it's not OEM, but several other parts on the bike aren't either. 3) I agree that multiple splices in a wire are generally a bad thing, but this light draws so few amps, voltage drop across the splices is very little and actually higher at the connector than a good solder splice. 4) If it was mine, I'd jut get on Amazon (or go to my local parts store) and pick up a two way automotive connector, splice that in to the harness wires, and pitch the existing connector.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Okay, that's a Sumitomo MTW series two pin connector.



To release the terminal, just go in through the connector end and use a pick to depress the raised tang. Gently apply a little tug to the wire while depressing the tang and it should slide out. Good light (and eyes) will help but you should be able to look into the connector and see the tang.

Once those are out, you MAY be able to open up the crimps to get the wire out. The wire crimps often break when trying this and you WILL have to solder the connection. A reused crimp without solder will NOT be adequate. To reuse them you will have to gently use a small pliers to try and roll the tabs over the wire to make a light crimp...roll them back into place, then solder. If your soldering skills are good, this MAY work.

Even if you purchased new terminals, you would have to have the proper crimper. As above, soldering would be necessary without the proper crimpers. Standard wire crimpers will NOT work properly because the right crimpers actually roll the crimp tabs back in to the wire. Basically, you end up with some wire strands on one side, some on the other side, and the crimp tabs together down the middle. The two rearward tabs go around (and usually through) the insulation and functions as a strain relief (and additional contact). If you soldering skills are good, this WILL work.

So, with all of that being said, 1) this is not a sealed connector, so literally any other connector system with 16-18 gauge wire will work. 2) I know it's not OEM, but several other parts on the bike aren't either. 3) I agree that multiple splices in a wire are generally a bad thing, but this light draws so few amps, voltage drop across the splices is very little and actually higher at the connector than a good solder splice. 4) If it was mine, I'd jut get on Amazon (or go to my local parts store) and pick up a two way automotive connector, splice that in to the harness wires, and pitch the existing connector.
Thank-you for the excellent explanation, Green. I see why doing a repair would be very difficult, particularly since I have NO soldering or crimping experience. I have one more last resort to try:

I know someone who works with motorcycle electrical and electronic devices a lot. I will email him to see if he can make and sell me a new identical connector with 4 feet each of black and red wires pre-attached. I could then connect it and route the 2 wires through the tail of the bike to the new license plate LED light, and do ONE set of splices there. That could take a while even if he is able and willing to do it, but I never normally ride at night anyway, and all the other tail wiring (Taillight, brake, both signals) is in place and works, so I can ride in the meantime.

And that way I end up with a semi-professional solution versus a DIY.

p.s. This morning the local metal fab shop said they would have the new license plate mount ready, per my sketch, by tomorrow afternoon. (It's just a 15 minute cut and bend job for them, but they are too busy today). I have estimated that this new mount will weigh just 30% of what the previous owner had on the bike! It's all coming together slowly.

Jim G
 
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