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      11-18-2020, 08:12 AM   #1
Beau2795
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DIY: Adding more Ambient lighting, the OEM way

I'm going to have a try at adding more ambient lighting to my BMW F20 LCI. I'm posting it here since the F20 forums are dead and a mess and because this will be compatible with practically any BMW.
I'm going to document my journey as best I can here.
My car is equipped from factory with the Extended Lighting Package. Basically it means I have the lights on the door handles on the exterior and dual colour (white and orange) ambient lighting on the interior. Now, I find that the number of lighting modules is insufficient to have a nice effect while driving at night. The only lighting modules I've got with ambient lighting are:
  • Lights in the footwell which are barely visible (even on full brightness)
  • Tiny "dots" on the headliner lighting units front and back
  • Front only door handle lighting units

I don't want to mess around with ambient lighting kits that may or may not work or look like a giant ricer with RGB lighting on my interior. That's why I'm going the OEM route. Everything is then accessible through the iDrive and it looks like it's always meant to be there. Also, I don't back away from a challenge and I want to try and figure out if everything I want is possible.

Lights to be retrofitted:
  • Door handle ambient lighting for rear passengers
  • Center console (cup holder) ambient lighting. The hole for this LED module is already present, but there is no module installed. Why, you ask? I have no clue.
  • Ground lights for rear passengers
  • I'll also try and have ambient lighting by means of optical wire on the door cards and dashboard trim. (More updates when I can see if worth it or not)

Parts needed: (will update as project comes along)
  • 51417274489 Door handle opener trim
  • 51417274490 Door handle opener trim
  • 2X 63319237712 Door handle opener LED Module F2X
  • 63319242162 LED Module center console
  • 2X 63317941911 LED Door module for ground lights (I already had 63319270505 which I replaced with BMW Door projectors, no longer produced)
  • 20X 61138369696 MQS 0,5mm^2 Socket Terminal OR
  • 20X 61130005197 MQS Socket Terminal with Cable *RECOMMENDED*
  • 2X 61132359994 4-pin Socket Housing
  • 4x61138377072 3-pin Socket Housing

Once I know all the correct pin numbers and part numbers for the door connector terminals, I'll update everything accordingly.

Research
I know almost all lighting is handled through the FEM (Front Electronics Module). I had a litte look around on the interior lighting wiring diagram on newTIS for my car and found the following:
  • The ambient lighting modules have 3 pins. A brown for ground and a white/red and white/blue cable to switch between the orange "classic" mode and the white "sport" mode. Those 2 last ones are connected to the FEM via plug A173*9B on pins 51 and 50 respectively. All ambient lighting modules branch from those 2 connections so to add other ones is as simple as creating more branches as needed. I don't worry about blowing a fuse since those modules are all LED and draw little current, also there are models like the F30 that have many more ambient lighting modules installed from factory connected to the same pins on the FEM.
  • For connecting the rear puddle or ground lights I've had a look at the wiring diagram of a F30. On the diagram you can see that the ground lights for the front are connected to pin 54 of the same A173*9B connector on the FEM as the ambient lights. That's also the case for the F20 FEM. Pin 53 is used for the rear ones, so that's what I'm going to do on the F20.
  • Connecting the front ambient lights (with optical cable) is simple. I'm going to make a Y splitter cable that branches off the existing door handle ambient light to add another.
  • Connecting the rear ground and ambient lights is a little more challenging. You have 1 major obstacle in the way, and that is the door connectors X8*1B and X9*1B. In the F30, the ambient lighting is connected through pins 17 for white/red and pin 18 for white/blue. Pin 13 is used for the ground lights.

On further investigation, it became clear the car is already pre-wired in the rear for all the retrofits I'm planning of doing. The red/blue wire for the ground lighting is present on pin 13 and the white/red and white/blue wires for the ambient lighting are present on pins 17 and 18. However, these wires are only present on the inside portion of the wiring harness. No cables are attached to those pins in the door wiring harness. So, that has to be fabricated by me.
It's funny to me how the car comes pre wired for all the lights to be installed. It's like they did 90% of the work and the owner has to do the other 10%?


DIY: The work
Installing the Rear ground door lights
In comparison to the front door panels which are made of a foam type hard plastic or rubber material, the rear door panels are hard plastic. Good stuff for making holes!
I measured the LED module and I needed to make a hole about 16mm wide and 62mm long. I drew the shape on a piece of paper, cut it out with scissors and used glue stick to stick in in place on the inside of the door panel. I placed it on the most flat part of the underside of the panel I could find. That is in between the 2 Torx screws, closest to the most inside, towards the body of the car, screw when you look at the doorpanel with the door open.
The panel also has these "supports" on the inside to make the plastic more rigid. One of them have to be trimmed as the space in between these supports is insufficient to fit the LED Module. It's an easy job with an exacto knife or box cutter.
Remember to make the hole a little undersize. You can always take more material away. Trust me. I learned it the hard way and cut 1 hole too big. One module is now held into place with superglue.
I'd recommend using a dremel tool with a cutting disc attachment to make the hole. Try not to hold the disc in the same place too long or forcing the disc in all the way in one go. This might melt the plastic making a not so nice looking hole.
When you're finished, the result should look something like this:



Installing Center Console Light
As mentioned in the introduction of this article, there's already an existing hole in the center console trim underneath the climate and radio controls for mounting this light, but there is none there. The purpose of this light is to illuminate the cup holders.
Installing the light is as simple as taking out the center console trim and sliding in the light until it clicks. Mine has as part no. 51459211304 but I can't seem to find any mention of this part on realOEM, instead they give you 51459236581 which appears to be the same part.
When the light is installed it should look like this:




Installing the Door Handle Lights
When you have the rear door cards removed, you can clearly see everything is already there to accommodate the same lighting modules as the fronts have. Why BMW didn't bother with putting them in is really above me. These modules seem to be the same as the center console one, only with a different face plate and double the price...
To install: just slide them in and watch out not to break the optical plastic light tube.


Wiring
You need to create 3 wiring harnesses. 2 inside the rear doors and one for the center console. This first part will focus on creating the harness inside the rear door.
As described in the research paragraph, 3 terminals need to be added to the door connector. More specifically pin 13 for the ground light and pins 17 and 18 for the ambient lighting.
I bought some automotive grade wire in different colours from a local hardware store. The gauge of this wire is too big so I recommend getting 0.5-1mm or 20-24 AWG wire in red, blue and brown to match.
I also bought already pre-made wires with the right connectors, so I soldered the coloured wires to these ones because I trust my soldering skills more than my crimping skills. Remember to always cut your wires too long, you never know when you're going to need that little bit more slack in the wires.

First of all, remove the door card, I'd assume you've done so by now. When looking at the door, you can see the vapour barrier made of a foam card, glued to the door by butyl tape. This is very sticky adhesive, the same kind used to glue headlights together. I took a sharp blade and carefully cut the tape in half, looking not to cut into the foam. You don't need to cut it all the way off, just about half way so you can reach the door connector and see the entire wiring harness.

Once you disconnect the door connector from the car by pulling up on the pull tab, you can remove the rubber boot from the plastic connector by pulling it off gently. If you look inside, you can see a tab to release the actual connector from it's housing.

Insert a screw driver and pry the tab up gently whilst pushing the connector down at the same time to release. If done correctly, the connector should snap loose.
Next, feed the pre-soldered or crimped wires through the door and through the rubber boot going to the door connector. I would recommend taping them together with automotive textile tape to keep them together. Once through the rubber boot (have patience with this) and through the plastic housing of the connector, you can go ahead and insert them. Before you insert them, though, you have to remove the plastic cover surrounding the actual pins.

Once you've double checked the correct pins are inserted all the way (audible click) in the correct holes, slide the plastic cover back on and insert the connector assembly back into its housing. This should snap in with a satisfying click.

Next, put the rubber boot back over the connector but don't attach it back to the door. If you're doing this without disconnecting your battery, you could damage the wiring harness by soldering to live wires.
I know best practise is to disconnect your battery every time you work on your car's electronics, but my engineering degree gives me excuse to do it otherwise. If you're not comfortable working with 12V DC, disconnect your battery now.
Use the textile tape to tape the newly created harness to the existing harness inside the door following its exact route. I put pieces of tape every 10cm to hold it into place.
When the routing is finished, you can reattach the foam vapour barrier. When looking at BMW service manuals, they recommend putting new butyl tape on the foam, cleaning the old stuff from the door and reattaching it. I found the tape stays very sticky and you can just press it together again. It'll look like nothing ever happened and the door stays sealed.

By this stage, you should have 3 extra wires hanging from the harness. If you've paid attention, you should realise I only connected supply wires for the lights, no ground.
So next, we'll be looking at a way to connect the ground wire. I've found the thickest ground wire and the one easily accessible, is the one of the window control. This is the only part in this tutorial I'll be using a wire splice connector. I removed a bit of the existing textile tape and spliced the ground wire in. A part will go up for the ambient lighting, the other part will go down to the ground light.
Again wrap everything in textile tape, basically creating branches like the original wiring harness. When done, it should look like this:

If you're also adding optical cable lighting, don't forget to Y-split the ambient lighting cables at the end.


End Results
Ground lights

Last edited by Beau2795; 11-30-2020 at 11:54 AM..
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      11-18-2020, 12:07 PM   #2
NewWorldOrder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beau2795 View Post
I'm going to have a try at adding more ambient lighting to my BMW F20 LCI. I'm posting it here since the F20 forums are dead and a mess and because this will be compatible with practically any BMW.
I'm going to document my journey as best I can here.
My car is equipped from factory with the Extended Lighting Package. Basically it means I have the lights on the door handles on the exterior and dual colour (white and orange) ambient lighting on the interior. Now, I find that the number of lighting modules is insufficient to have a nice effect while driving at night. The only lighting modules I've got with ambient lighting are:
  • Lights in the footwell which are barely visible (even on full brightness)
  • Tiny "dots" on the headliner lighting units front and back
  • Front only door handle lighting units

I don't want to mess around with ambient lighting kits that may or may not work or look like a giant ricer with RGB lighting on my interior. That's why I'm going the OEM route. Everything is then accessible through the iDrive and it looks like it's always meant to be there. Also, I don't back away from a challenge and I want to try and figure out if everything I want is possible.

Lights to be retrofitted:
  • Door handle ambient lighting for rear passengers
  • Center console (cup holder) ambient lighting. The hole for this LED module is already present, but there is no module installed. Why, you ask? I have no clue.
  • Ground lights for rear passengers
  • I'll also try and have ambient lighting by means of optical wire on the door cards and dashboard trim. (More updates when I can see if worth it or not)

Parts needed: (will update as project comes along)
  • 51417274489 Door handle opener trim
  • 51417274490 Door handle opener trim
  • 2X 63319237712 Door handle opener LED Module F2X
  • 63319242162 LED Module center console

Research
I know almost all lighting is handled through the FEM (Front Electronics Module). I had a litte look around on the interior lighting wiring diagram on newTIS for my car and found the following:
  • The ambient lighting modules have 3 pins. A brown for ground and a white/red and white/blue cable to switch between the orange "classic" mode and the white "sport" mode. Those 2 last ones are connected to the FEM via plug A173*9B on pins 51 and 50 respectively. All ambient lighting modules branch from those 2 connections so to add other ones is as simple as creating more branches as needed. I don't worry about blowing a fuse since those modules are all LED and draw little current, also there are models like the F30 that have many more ambient lighting modules installed from factory connected to the same pins on the FEM.
  • For connecting the rear puddle or ground lights I've had a look at the wiring diagram of a F30. On the diagram you can see that the ground lights for the front are connected to pin 54 of the same A173*9B connector on the FEM as the ambient lights. That's also the case for the F20 FEM. Pin 53 is used for the rear ones, so that's what I'm going to do on the F20.
  • Connecting the front ambient lights (with optical cable) is simple. I'm going to make a Y splitter cable that branches off the existing door handle ambient light to add another.
  • Connecting the rear ground and ambient lights is a little more challenging. You have 1 major obstacle in the way, and that is the door connectors X8*1B and X9*1B. In the F30, the ambient lighting is connected through pins 17 for white/red and pin 18 for white/blue. Pin 13 is used for the ground lights.
Once I know all the correct pin numbers and part numbers for the door connector terminals, I'll update everything accordingly.
This is something I'd seriously be interested in. Will be following the thread.
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      11-18-2020, 12:43 PM   #3
Beau2795
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EDIT 18/11/2020 19:40

I've started with the DIY job. First on the list: Rear ground lights. I've updated my first post.
Question to those interested: would you like me to add everything in my first post by editing and telling you I made an edit or make multiple messages in this thread with progress in them?
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      11-18-2020, 02:37 PM   #4
NewWorldOrder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beau2795 View Post
EDIT 18/11/2020 19:40

I've started with the DIY job. First on the list: Rear ground lights. I've updated my first post.
Question to those interested: would you like me to add everything in my first post by editing and telling you I made an edit or make multiple messages in this thread with progress in them?
Probably best to just edit the post. Just in case the thread gets long.
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      11-19-2020, 10:30 AM   #5
Beau2795
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EDIT: 19/11/2020 17:27

Today, I received my first of a series of shipments for this project. Unfortunately no wiring supplies, yet, but that's on order and coming soon.
I installed the center console lighting module as well as the rear door handle modules. In the process I was able to break one of my new door handle trims
The small plastic optical lighting tubes that illuminate the door handle got stuck between the door panel and the trim piece and broke off. I have to order a new one of those unfortunately. Everything else went really smoothly and I cannot wait to see the end result!
Hope I can be helpful with this writeup!
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      11-20-2020, 06:22 AM   #6
Beau2795
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EDIT: 20/11/2020 13:20

Did some more digging today and found out the car is already pre-wired on the inside to accommodate all the lighting modifications I'm planning to do. This is great news because I won't have to tap into pre existing wiring and the result will look even more OEM! Only wiring harnesses will need to be made for the rear doors because the pre existing wires don't have a receiving end in the door wiring harness.
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      11-20-2020, 10:49 PM   #7
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this is really cool, can't wait to see your progress!
__________________
Squad - E30 325i MT | E36/5 318ti MT | F22 M235i MT | F30 335i MT
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Bring back the purple M stripe
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      11-23-2020, 02:39 PM   #8
Beau2795
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UPDATE: 23/11/2020 21:35

Today I had a go at making a harness for the rear doors. Everything plugged in fine, ambient lighting is working, but unfortunately I can't get a voltage for the rear ground lights. I will need to access the FEM, look at the wiring and try to see if I can get a voltage to pin 13 in the door connector. If not, maybe some coding needs to be done? I will keep this updated when I find out new information.
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      11-23-2020, 06:38 PM   #9
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Well there isn't a hole for the center console light on the LCI f23. It also seems to be a part of the dash, so you'd have to take off the entire dash to get to it if there was one.

Maybe Pre LCI will be able to do this. They can take off that piece without having to take off the entire dash.
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      11-24-2020, 03:13 AM   #10
Beau2795
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NewWorldOrder View Post
Well there isn't a hole for the center console light on the LCI f23. It also seems to be a part of the dash, so you'd have to take off the entire dash to get to it if there was one.

Maybe Pre LCI will be able to do this. They can take off that piece without having to take off the entire dash.
Some F2X LCI models will have the dash I have. On my F20 LCI with build date 03/2016 I still have the "pre-lci" dash. On later build date models, they changed the dash to the one piece. Then the center console light retrofit will not work like you mentioned.
I never liked the shape of the one piece dashboards anyway so I'm glad. They look kinda cheap imho..
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      11-25-2020, 09:15 AM   #11
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UPDATE 25/11/2020 16:12

Great success! Got everything working in one door. I will add a full writeup with pictures when I do the other door. As mentioned in the previous update: ambient lighting works as is, the ground light does not. After some digging in the FEM using Esys and on the forums I found this:
FEM_01 > LciConfiguration 3071 > MAPPING_LCI_4_FUNCTION = off
It needs to be changed to:
FEM_01 > LciConfiguration 3071 > MAPPING_LCI_4_FUNCTION = footwell_rear
Then pin 53 on the FEM gives the voltage to the door connector for the ground lights!
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      11-30-2020, 11:20 AM   #12
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EDIT 30/11/2020 18:15

I just finished the second wiring harness and made a full writeup on the matter. I also updated the parts list with the correct terminals and sockets. Both ground lights are working now and looking amazing. Super happy with the result so far. Still waiting on delivery of the ambient lighting parts. Will update and edit once the work has been carried out.
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      03-21-2021, 02:31 AM   #13
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Hey - any further updates on this?
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      04-06-2021, 02:26 PM   #14
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Anybody successfully wired in a centre console light yet?

Bought the part and a connector but would like to grab info on which terminals on the led unit and where to wire it to.... I have ordered a new head unit and was hoping to tap this in when everything opened up.

Any info greatly appreciated.
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