Angel Eyes Mod

Angel Eye?  What is that?  'Angel Eye' is a cool headlight feature found on the new BMW 5 Series (2001+) and BMW 7 Series (2002+).  The ellipsoidal/projector headlamp unit on the BMW 5 series has a pair of circular shape rings that, when lit up, produce a pair of halos.  BMW calls these luminous rings 'Angel Eyes'.  They are also referred to as 'Demon Eyes' and they look very nice on the BMW.

They dont serve any purpose other than for the nice and aggressive look, and to distinguish the newer 5 and 7 Series from older models.  Great design for an already great looking car!  Would definitely look great if BMW also used them on the 3 Series. This page shows the general process of creating the 'Angel Eyes' and can be applied to most vehicles.

Creating Angel Eye Rings
Instead of a round glass rod used by BMW, we used a clear acrylic/plastic rod. You can buy them for $1.97 at Home Depot, or other home improvement stores. The rod is actually made for your window blind to open/close the blind when you turn it left/right. It is about 30 inches long with a diameter of 8mm, and you can create two Angel Rings out of it. The rod has a hex-shape structure, not a round shape like the BMW, but it will do just fine.

The first thing we did was to create a circular ring out of it. To determine the circumference of the ring, we measured the diameter of our high-beam projector housing, which somes out to be 4" (or 2" radius). You will have to cut your rod about 12" long. We suggest cutting it 15" long, and use the extra inches as handles to help in the modling process.

Next, we found an aluminum can or jar that has about the same diameter as the ring (we used a peanut jar). After heating the rod in a small toaster oven for about 5-7 minutes at 300 degrees, we held the two ends of the now flexible rod with a pair of pliers, and wrapped them around the peanut jar with one end crossing over the other end. For better control, you can wear your winter gloves or use your socks. The flexible rod will harden within 30 seconds. So, you may have to repeat this step 1 more time to mold it into a perfect ring.
As you wrap the rod around the jar, make sure that one of the flat sides is facing down. This is important in a later process. This can be done by putting the rod on a flat smooth surface. With one of the sides facing down, wrap the rod around the jar. As you wrap, make sure you dont twist the two ends.
Once done, you can use a Dremel Tool to cut the extra handles that were used during the molding process . You will end up with one end above the other, as shown. Don't worry, later when you wrap electrical tape around the rod to hide the LED bulbs, the two open ends will re-align themselves. If you like to be perfect, you can simply put it back in the oven one last time and allow the ends to soften and flatten
To test out how it lights up, we put a small halogen bulb between the open ends of the ring. "Wait a minute here, youg man, or woman" It doesnt look like an 'Angel Eye'. No halo ring effect!

Yes, we know. That is because light goes in a straight line, and it takes the shape of whatever object it goes through. In this case, it goes through one end of the rod and out the other end, like fiber optic cables.
Making the Angel Rings Light Up
In order to make it light up like the true 'Angel Eye', we had to retract the light as it goes through the rod by making multiple cuts (scratches) along the rod, using a Dremel or RotorMatic tool. Each cut/groove allows the light to 'escape' the ring. Each cut is about 2 ~ 3mm appart and 1mm deep. Don't make the cuts too close to one another. This will make your ring look like a continuous band of light. In our opinion, the rings look better and more sophisticated with the cuts evenly spaced out.

It will take about 2 minutes to make the cuts using a dremel tool. If you dont have a dremel tool, you can use a small saw or a butter knife, but it will take you longer. A Dremel tool set will cost about $30 USD. It has many uses, such as cutting, sanding, carving, buffing, etc. Good tool to have for hobbies. You can also buy the new RotorMatic tool set for only $19.99. It works the same way as the dremmel.

Hint: To get the cuts to look perfect, you can do the cuts ahead of time before making a circular ring out of it. You only need to make the cuts along 1 of the 6 sided rod. Doing 2 or more sides will make your ring look dimmer, because most of the light has escaped before it reaches the other end of the rod. Also, let the cutted side be the back side. When you turn it over to the front, the cuts will be multiplied by the hex shape which acts like mirrors, and they are brighter to compared to the back. The light appears to be refracted inward.
Light is being refracted as it hits surface
Create the cuts with a dremel tool
Cuts along the back-side of the rod
On the front side, cuts multiplied by hex shape.
Full view of angel eye rod
Angel eye with some foreground light
Closeup of light being refracted through cuts
Cuts 2 sides vs. 1 side.
LED Light For the Angel Eyes
We suggest you use LED light for your Angel Eyes. Unlike halogen bulbs, LED bulbs are very efficient, last very long (no filament to burn out), and produce very little heat. The LED bulb along with the resistor use less than 1watt of power, compare to a 35 watt halogen bulb used in the real BMW Angel Eyes. LED bulbs are bright too even though they are only 1 mcd. If you ever pointed a keychain with LED light toward your eyes, you would know what we mean. Besides, the purpose of Angel Eyes is for look and style, not to light up the road.

LED bulbs are used in street signal lights, jumbo television, car alarm indicator etc., for their efficiency and reliability. They are bright in the day too. Hence, they are now being use in tail-lights and stop-lights, as found on new Mercedes S Class, Infiniti G35 and other luxury cars. One distinctive feature of LED bulbs is that they come on/off instantly. Next time when you follow an S430 or a G35, you will notice that as the driver steps on or realeses the brake, the stop-light comes on and off instantly. It doesn't dim in and out light halogen lights.

LED light comes in many different colors, red, blue, orange, yellow, green, and white. Red is really nice and will definitely make your car stand out, but we used white LED in compliance with state laws. They even come in multi-blinking colors too, and we think cops probably love them. They'll be happy to turn on their version of multi-blinking light!
Angel Eye with Yellow LED
Angel eye with Blue LED
Angel Eye with Red LED
Angel Eye with White LED
They cost about $4 to $5 each at your local Radio Shack store. Note that LED bulbs are not like halogen bulbs where you can just connect positive and negative wires for them to light up. You must use a resistor. The purpose of the resistor is to limit/resist high current going through the LED bulbs. LED bulbs require only a small amount of current to light up. Hence the efficiency. Resistors should cost about $1 for a set of 5. Very Cheap!

Resistors have different resistance which is measured in OHM's. To get the correct resistance for your LED lights use the following format.

When you buy the LED bulb it will tell you the voltage and amp used. In our case we have a 12V car battery and a 3.6V LED with 20mA (or .02A). So, we used a resistor of 420 ohms [(12V - 3.6V)/.02A]
You can use a lower ohms resistor, eg 220 ohms, to light up your LED. In fact, it will make your LED brighter because a low resistance allows more current to go through the bulb. We have been doing this for over 5 months now and still have not had a problem.
A white LED bulb, positive is the longer terminal.
A 1100 vs. a 2000 mcd LED bulbs. mcd (milli-candela) measures brightness.
220ohms resistor. Restrict current going through a bulb.
Resistor connected to positive lead, which is the longer one.
Securing LED Bulbs Inside Angel Eye Rings
To secure the LED bulbs into the Angel Eye rings, we drilled a hole in both ends of the ring, about 6mm wide and 5mm deep. We used 2 white LED bulbs and parallely paired them together. After soldering foot-long wires to the positive and negative legs of the LED bulbs, we wrapped black electrical tape around the legs to keep them appart. We will attach the resistor to the end of the wire later when we connect the wire to our parking light.

Next, we inserted the bulbs inside the holes of the ring, and wrapped black electric tape around it to hide the LED bulbs. This will also hold the bulbs and the two ends of the rod in place. DO NOT paint the rod black. For some reason, the black paint will absorb the light and will make your angel ring look dim. If you plan to wrap the black tape around the uncut/unused part of the ring, make sure you wrap some aluminum foil around them first before wrapping the black tape. The aluminum foil will reflect the escaping light back into the ring, making the ring brighter.
Angel Ring with 5mm hole.
LED bulbs inside ring.
Use black electrical tape to secure and hide the bulbs.
Taking Apart Our Projector Headlight
Next, it was time for us to put them into our HID projector headlight unit. First, we had to open appart the headlight unit. This is done by heating it in a cooking oven (or with heat gun) for about 10-15 minutes at 275 degree fahrenheit or until the glue loosens. It may be a longer or shorter time to soften the glue with different headlamp units. Remove any attachments, like your bulb or wire harness, that may not be able to withstand the heat. Be very careful when separting the units because the glue will stick to anything it can get a hold of. Think of hot melted cheese on a slice of pizza when you pull it apart. Use a butter knife or a flat-head screwdriver to pry the headlight apart. Once you've pried it open, you can use your hands to do the rest of the job.

Here's our recommendation: As you pull apart the front cover from the headlight unit, separate/trim the cheesy web-like glue using your hand. Don't worry, the glue is not that hot, but the headlight unit is. Remember, pull a little and then trim a little, and repeat this step. Take your time and do it SLOWLY. You have about 20 ~ 30 minutes before the glue hardens. Plenty of time. As you trim, the glue will retract, and you can reuse the glue later when re-attaching the headlight back together. We have done this process about 4 or more times already with the same headlight, and the glue is still good and we have had no problems with rain fogging up the headlight.
Cheesy-like glue.
Components of our projector headlight with angel eyes glue to black frame.
Our aftermarketing headlight was divided into 3 components, a reflective housing, an internal black frame, and a clear front cover. We glued our angel rings to the black frame, using clear silocon adhesive or krazy/super glue. We applied only a very small amount of glue to the un-scratch/un-cut part of the ring. The inner black frame acts as a barrier and helps protect our angel eyes from the heat coming from the reflective housing.
Putting the Headlight Back Together
Next, it was time for us to re-attach the front cover back onto the headlight unit, using the same glue. Just reheat them in the oven until the glue softens again. Very Important, we only had to heat the reflective housing and the front cover. You dont need to re-heat the black internal frame. Doing so may deform your angel rings. Actually, the rings didnt get deformed when we first did it. The silocon glue helps maintain the ring in its shape.

Once the glue has softened again, we took out the reflective housing and the clear front cover. We put the black frame with the angel rings back onto the reflective housing. Then we ran the wire from the angel ring through the water drainage opening in the housing. Now, we put the clear front cover back onto the headlight housing. Remember to apply pressure to get an air-tight hold. We used clamps to make a tight seal. You can also use a wide-mouth plier for this procedure.
High beam housing with Angel Eye
High beam housing with Angel Eye
Angel Eye originally with halogen light
Use clamps or pliers for a tight seal
Finally, we put the headlight unit back into our car. With a 220ohm resistor attached to the positive terminal of the LED wire, we made a parallel connection to our parking lights. You can connect it to anything, an external light switch, low-beam, high-beam, running light, etc. This is really neat! Our alarm system was also connected to the parking lights. Everytime the car is armed, the rings blink once. Twice when we disarm, and continuous blinking when in panic mode.





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