John Deere Gator LED Light Install
The department off-road rescue vehicle had some lettering put it on it a while back but never truly got the right treatment to make it a true response vehicle. Though, this was a shorter project, there’s plenty to learn about.
Let’s get started! 😎
Measuring Panel Cutouts
Even though i’m an electrical engineer by trade, I did mange to figure out how to use a pair of calipers. They come in handing for making weird measurements or measurements that require a bit more precision than eyeballing it with a ruler.
In order to purchase the correct switches, I used a pair of calipers to make measurements of the panel cutouts. There’s no one universal panel size so thats where calipers come in handy.
- Remove the cover. Note: Sometimes you can pry it out but sometimes you need to go to the backside and un-clip them.
- Use the “inside” measurement of the calipers to measure both width and height
Find the switch!
- I used Digikey in my case. I went to the “Rocker Switch” section.
Updated the criteria under Ingress Protection to include anything above IP65. This is especially important for anything that is going to be used in an outdoor environment. The switch I chose was IP67.
Then, under Panel Cutout Dimensions only selected the sizes that would fit within the dimensions I took above. The switch that I chose was 37.00mm x 21.10mm
(By the way, here’s a link to the switch I used.)
Drilling and Tapping
Sometimes the right tool makes all the difference. I ended up using a drill/tap combination bit to drill and tap all the holes to retain the emergency lights along the roll protector.
The metal on the roll protector was particularly hard snapping not one but two combination bits before finishing the job. That being said, they’re fairly cheap and 100% worth the use if you have tons of holes to process.
Depending on the final installed screw size, select a drill bit that is smaller in diameter. This bit will be used to drill the pilot holes to make drilling/tapping easier with the combination bits.
Drill that pilot hole using the bit selected from Step 1.
Select the final drill/tap combination bit. In our case we were using #10-24 screws so the #10-24 drill/tap bit was the one we chose! (Easy, right?)
Place the bit into your impact driver or drill of your choice. We chose to use an battery powered impact.
Start the drilling process. As I described in the video when your driver starts hitting resistance, back it out to clear away the shavings, and continue forward again. Eventually, the bit should break through leaving a clean thread.
Weatherproof Box Design 101
- M12-1.5mm tap
- 7⁄16” drill bit
- Drill press vise
- Shop ruler
One of the more important areas in any wiring job is the junction points where all the connections meet. Due to the fact that the Gator just doesn’t have lots of space for wire connections, I decided to keep the box outside and exposed to the elements. That means it needs to be a pretty hearty box with some serious resistance to the elements and dust.
I ended up using an IP65 + NEMA rated enclosure with dimensions of 4.528” L x 2.559” W. It had just the right amount of space and the exterior size was just perfect for where I wanted to put it. (behind the drivers seat)
I did have to prepare the enclosure a bit beforehand before it was installed. See the details below:
Drilling some holes
The enclosure required 8 separate holes for the cable glands and vent connected to the box. Cable glands are these extra handy retaining nut combinations that hold the wire in place and also keep out the bad stuff.
Side note: Appreciate the wiring job on the drill press? This drill press is older than both me and my dad. That electrical tape is probably about the same age. I really have to give it some TLC at some point..
The vent is mostly used to keep the pressure inside the box equalized with the outside. Otherwise, over time, the seal could get damaged and it’s useless as a weatherproof box.
Here is the breakdown of the holes and the purpose for said holes. 👇👇
- 1x 2 conductor wires going to the fuse panel for power and ground
- 1x 4 conductor wire supplying the switches and returning to the box to supply the lights
- 2x 2 conductor wire for supplying the spot lights
- 3x 3 conductor wire for supplying the emergency lights
- 1x for the vent
Note: the vent hole is a different size compared to the cable gland hole. Remember this when drilling your holes!
1. Measure the hole position
On this box, the hole should be placed about 3⁄8” from where the winged flanges stop. You can also measure from the top down about 3⁄8” to get the same result. Make sure you measure your box several times before making cuts. I ruined a few of these boxes by not being careful. Next time i’ll just make a jig and do it all with CNC. 😉
2. Punch Hole Location Start
Once I have the hole position, I can use a punch to make a divot where the hole should start. I bought a transfer punch from Harbor Freight a long time ago which is perfect for this.
3. Drill Hole for Tap
These cable glands are the equivalent of a M12 screw with 1.5mm pitch thread. So we need to drill the holes with a 7⁄16” and finish with a M12-1.5mm tap.
4. Tap hole
Using the aforementioned tap on plastic is simple. In the video above I went through both using a drill press and also spinning the tap by hand. Holding it perpendicular, spin to the right until all the way through backing out to clear any plastic bits as necessary.
5. Check for fit.
Finally, screw the cable gland in. If the connection is less than sufficient you can also use teflon tape to ensure a tight fit.
Created: 2018-07-26 | Last Modified: 2018-08-13