Batch 3 is on schedule for Feb 15 ship date! Building 40 sets this time, which leaves 10 sets worth of parts left in Batch 4 to experiment with different designs or for custom orders (harnesses, DRLs, etc).
Some fun stats about 40 sets of SKBOWE (80 units):
After stuffing the enclosures (heat wire, form wires, tape wires, then test-fit heatsink and insulator), it’s time to mix up some potting compound.
Then each one gets a thin layer of compound, board goes back in, another layer of compound, cover gets glued and goes on, then the whole thing gets wrapped with electrical tape to compress it. Once all of them are done, into the oven for 2 hours at 165F.
I ran out of ABS cement (more on order) so for now there are 11 (so the 9 pre-orders will go out on time).
It’s sad to see the bin empty, and thinking of the stories that I have heard I can’t let it stay that way – so I have decided to go ahead and order parts for another 50 SKBOWEv2. Again, some the capacitors are backordered so there will be a Batch 3 shipping in February and Batch 4 shipping some time after that. The pre-order is open now if you want to guarantee yourself a set.
The original SKBOWE business plan called for 100 units total, and at this time it looks like Batch 4 will be the last of SKBOWE v2. There are several ideas for features to SKBOWEv3, such as a removable harness and a DRL detector, but the design is still tentative. I guess for now, you’ll just have to wait and see!
I found the connectors that AL use on their bi-xenon projector solenoid control boards (Mouser #571-2-1718346-1 and #571-965906-1-CT) and ordered a few to make pigtails that connect the high beam solenoid into the factory wiring. The OEM connector locks securely into place, and the 12″ (30cm) automotive GXL wire is designed to hold up inside of the headlight housing. Wire is color-coded to match factory wires (yellow = +12, brown = ground) to ensure correct polarity and not look out of place inside of the housing.
AL (OEM) Salvaged Projectors
Most used (salvaged) projectors come with short (cut pigtails) of various colors or no harness at all. I have never seen a set in yellow and brown, the wire colors used in the Volvo headlight housing for the 9005 high-beam connector.
If you want to wire up a projector retrofit without using messy splitters, I am selling these for $20 shipped (Priority Mail) to the US, or $12 with your SKBOWE order (just contact me first!) anywhere. Each order comes with a pair (2x) of 12″ GXL pigtails and four (4x) 4″ black zip-ties to match the OEM internals. You will need to provide insulated butt-style (if you cut-and-splice) or 9005 female (join inside of the high-beam connector) crimps – see this post for details.
Replica Projector Pigtails
Replicas use the same connector but a different pinout: the yellow wire is on the center (pin 2) rather than on the end (pin 1). All new replica projectors come with pigtails, usually white (+12) and black (ground). These will work fine, but if you want to go for a 100% OEM look, you can order a set of these color matched pigtails and swap the pin across. It is pretty easy to swap the pin over using a jewelers screwdriver. Or let me know first and I’d be glad to do it for you.
This is a post about things you should NOT buy. Please DO NOT BUY things on this page.
I’ve noted that the SKBOWE will work with just about any HID kit, but when it comes to choosing a kit, there is a difference between “can” and “should”. The old adage “you get what you pay for” is very relevant, so avoid listings like this one:
Of course, I couldn’t help myself in seeing how they could possibly sell an HID kit for less than a single D2S bulb, so I put in an order and the kit arrived 7 days later:
Warning Signs to look for before installing HIDs
If you observe any of these warning signs, you should not install the kit. They are easy-to-recognize:
Warning sign #1 – It was cheap. Obviously, at under $20 for 2 ballasts and 2 bulbs, this was not going to be top quality. The Kensun (Amazon) brand kits are $60, and are significantly better than this.
Warning sign #2 – It feels cheap. The first thing I noticed was the weight of the ballast – it feels like an empty case. My postal scale says 3 Oz (85g), including the internal ignitor! Compare to the Morimoto XB35 at 10 Oz (295g). This is a DC ballast design, so even if it did work the bulbs would wear out very quickly.
Warning sign #3 – It looks cheap. Crummy sticker placed off center with no brand name, “input corrent [sic] : 10A” (this would be 135W, BTW). Back side has wood screws holding an aluminum plate onto the plastic case, didn’t bother to countersink so the heads are proud of the surface. No weather sealing whatsoever. No strain relief on the output cord (it looks like there is a nut, but it is cast and part of the case, the wire easily slides in and out).
Warning sign #4 – It’s built cheap. The internal construction of this ballast is actually scary, reminds me of the counterfeit usb chargers that routinely cause fires – but this is running at 5000 times more volts! No potting or through holes, which will shred this in an automotive environment. Integrated ignitor with no insulation. Random transformer rather than an actual boost converter. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
Please do NOT use this type of kit in your Volvo (even with the SKBOWE)! When there is talk about “EMI” issues, it is these sorts of ballasts that are to blame. Any decent company producing a reputable ballast will be 100x better than this garbage.
Honestly, I am not even sure I want to hook it up to the testbench. But if the SKBOWE can run this, it really can run anything! Stay posted for an update with electrical performance.
You may have seen references to various D-Series HID (xenon) bulbs in the context of projector swaps, D1S, D1R, D2S, D2R, D3S, D3R, D4S, D4R, sometimes even D2C and D2H. So what’s the difference?
All of these bulbs have the quartz envelope and arc positioned in the same place – so any D-series projector can use any D-series bulb by bending/cutting out the indexing tabs. For example, if you buy a AL Gen2 projector from an Audi but want to use aftermarket D2S bulbs + ballasts, just bend down the key tab! Please don’t use D*S bulbs in reflector headlights as it will effectively be a high beam and blind oncoming traffic!
D-Series Naming System
D-Series bulbs are named using 3 characters, like “D1S”.
D - "Discharge" N - 1,2,3,4 is the type T - S is for projector, R is for reflector
To illustrate this
1. Ignitor: integrated (D1*, D3*) vs. separate external (D2*, D4*)
Igniter built-in: D1, D3 No integrated ignitor: D2, D4
3. D*S is used in projector vs. D*R is used in reflector headlight with shield on envelope glass
What if you are given D1R and D3R or D2S and D4S without label? You can’t see if there is mercury inside (and thus the voltage). It is possible to differentiate using the notches on the bulb.
The closest to OEM we can get without paying dealership pricing are the Philips line of D1S, D1R, D2S, D4S etc… which run around $50-60/bulb. However, off brand aftermarket manufactures offer HID bulbs at a fraction of the price (e.g. HID warehouse , RCP , and HYB with comparable reviews – HYB also makes knockoff projectors BTW), though (in general) they won’t last as long or have as consistent of a color temperature.
Since all of these bulbs have the same base dimensions and hold the arc in the same location, aftermarket manufactures have cut costs by reducing the number of different models to produce. The result, sometimes called the D*C type (though this isn’t a real specification), universally fits multiple project key notches. For D1/D3, a removable ignitor adapter is available.
Aftermarket manufactures don’t want to make a lot of different models. D2C that can replace both D2R and D2S. D4C for D2S, D2R, D4S, D4R and D2C. D1S with 5 notches won’t be hard to understand.
All of this makes it simpler for production, but much more complicated for consumers… And most sellers even don’t know about the real reason or the difference. But there is still the voltage difference – even though they might fit, D1/2 bulbs must not be used with D3/4 ballasts or vise versa!
C-type bulbs with integrated ignitors can be differentiated by the keying on the ignitor connector
Finally, the last aftermarket type is sometimes called “D2H” which includes AMP connectors for aftermarket ballasts. It is always 85V / Mercury.
These are designed to allow aftermarket ballasts to be used after the OEM ballasts fail, or when projectors are retrofitted. These have the same downside as re-based HID bulbs: using them requires drilling into the headlight assembly to pass through the wires.
This How-To describes what I will call the “DRL Disarm” (because “DRL Disable” has been used extensively to mean the VIDA software part #30679690) – making it safe to retrofit HIDs in P1 Volvos using the SKBOWE error harness. The “Dimmed Low Beam” DRL issue with HID conversions in P1 only occurs with the LSM in Position 0, as shown below, so this mod prevents the CEM from sending low-duty-cycle PWM to the HID ballasts during the day, when the LSM is in Position 0 (“off”), essentially turning Pos 0 into Pos II.
OE USA SW
Pos 0 (Day)
Pos 0 (Night)
Pos I (1)
Pos II (2)
Many advantages to this solution:
It’s super easy!
It’s free! No cost to flash software, or need to explain to dealer, or record with Volvo.
It’s 100% reversible (also free) if you need to remove the HIDs later
Just as safe as DRL disable for SKBOWE operation
Function compared to stock remains unchanged (low beam still on in Pos0), in regions where DRLs are required, this keeps the functionality intact.
Only disadvantage compared to DRL disable is that you can’t be cool and turn off your lights (not that you could before!)
Remember, you don’t *have* to do this – the same thing is accomplished by leaving the LSM in PosII all of the time. But it prevents any potential issues if you (or other driver, or shop) forgets to do so.
How does it work?
Inside of the LSM, there are two small switches, one for Position 0, and one for Position 1. There is no switch for Position 2 (which is detected when neither 0 or 1 is closed). The CEM thinks that the LSM is in Pos0 when Pin 6 of the LSM (black/green wire, and B:2 of the CEM) is connected to ground, so by disconnecting this wire as shown in the diagram below, the CEM will never think the LSM is in Position 0, and the daytime dimmed DRL condition can not occur!
You could cut this wire and be done in 10 seconds, but this can be done reversibly in about 5 minutes. Either way, it’s simple, effective, and free!
How To: Reversible DRL Disarm
Step 1: Gather Tools / Materials. Easy!
Large paperclip, or other similar size stiff wire. You could probably use a small/normal size paper clip, but the large ones are exactly the right size to release the pins.
(Optional) Small flat screwdriver to disengage connector lock
(Optional) Nylon spudger to remove LSM
(Optional) Electrical Tape will to secure the removed pin.
Step 2: Remove the LSM. This is easiest using a non-marring spudger, but if you don’t have one: Grab the door-facing panel inside the jamb by the air grate and pull out, then push the LSM out from the backside. Once it’s free, disconnect the electrical connector.
Step 3: Identify Pin 6. It’s the black/green wire as shown below.
Step 4: Unlock Pin Retainer Clip. Careful as to not break it off, slowly pry up the pin retainer clip. It swings up and out. I find a small flat-head screwdriver works well for this.
Step 5: Remove Pin 6 from the connector. This is super easy once you get the hang of it, but if it’s your first time, it can be a little tricky. Unfold the paperclip and insert it into the upper hole above pin 6. It will slide in easy at first, then there will be some resistance – keep pushing until it gets firm. Then, keep slight inward pressure with one hand, while pulling the wire out with the other. If lined up right, the wire+pin should come right out.
If you can not easily pull the wire out, remove and re-insert the paperclip, maybe wiggle a little bit. The pin should come out with very little force at all. If you pull too hard, it will break the primary retainer plastic and you won’t be able to re-install the pin later.
Step 6: Remove and Secure Pin 6. Once the pin is out (left) replace the retainer clip by pressing it back down gently into the connector. Use some tape (right) to hold the loose pin out of the way.
Step 7: Installation is reverse of removal… It’s now safe to run HIDs with SKBOWE in any LSM position! The low-beams will turn on in Position 0 and Position II.
I had originally said October (based on the DigiKey backorder estimate) but the caps came early. Haven’t had too many Batch2 orders yet so I thought I’d get a head start on building them…
Got all of them soldered together, and 10 sets potted…
I’ll be traveling for the rest of the month, so I am pushing to finish these tomorrow so orders placed before 9/15 will get in the mail on Monday. If you haven’t ordered yet, yours will ship out before October 15th.
You want to look for “Gen 2” projectors, they have the best optics and the wiring is simple. Gen 1 requires a solenoid controller for bi-xenon functionality.
Remember that aftermarket ballasts only run D2S bulbs. To use D1/D3/D4 bulbs you need an OEM ballast. D2S bulbs will fit in any of these projectors. The ones with octagon-shaped bulb holders might need a simple modification to allow them to take D2S bulbs. All of them with black plastic rings are designed specifically for D2S.