Mini H1 bi-xenon Projectors

I completed the retrofit of the Mini H1 5.0 bi-xenon projectors to the Miata! Here is the result: an MX-5 with bi-xenons!

I got everything from RetroFitLab.com, a shop in the Netherlands that is working to establish a point of reference in the EU for this kind of mods. They are less common than in the States, however the owner of RFL is a really nice fella will give you thorough support throughout the process.

Here is the product (pictured with an early, and rough, version of my adaptor plates).

Focusing on the mod, I baked the headlights (after removing the front bumper cover) in the oven for 10 minutes at 100 degrees Celsius (well within the operational specs of the materials involved, namely PP and PC).
Enough to soften the tar-like gooe that seals the front lens in place, without doing any harm.

Once the light units were open, the first thing I did was cap the position light lenses… I have always disliked the yellowish balls of light on the inner side of the headlights, they make the car look toyish and smaller.
This is the difference between capped position lights (on the left), and stock:

To fit the Mini H1 projectors, and make them perform decently, I had to create an adapter shield, and install foreground limiters to prevent too much light from being projected right under the car’s nose.
In the picture you can notice the solenoid that pulls down the cutoff shield to activate the high-beam function.
Just to give things a better finish, I also added shrink wrap and Nylon net protection to the solenoid wiring. I think it’s pretty neat :)

The projector itself is minute… It’s difficult to believe such a small reflector can do such a great job! It’s performing a tad better than the 2012 BMW 1 Series, but it can’t compare to the Audi Q3, to give you an idea.

Installation was easy and didn’t require any permanent modifications to the housing… It’s all reversible :)

Talking about wiring, I designed and created my own wiring harness, to be sure I’d get a completely disguised result. No one will ever notice it didn’t come out like this from the factory.

A relay harness is a pretty easy concept, to power the HID’s you feed current directly from the battery. You use a relay (a tap, like the one over your kitchen sink) to start and stop the flow of current, controlling it with the original headlight power supply. The operation of the relay draws an insignificant amount of current to get a “signal” (or command), while the live current is drawn from an independent wiring.

I measured everything, cut wires and wraps and assembled the harness.

I also found that lesser fuses were fine with my ballasts (35W digital slims rated at 6A peak on startup), so I used a main 20A fuse and two discrete 10A on the individual supply lines to the ballasts (this way should one side go tits up, it *should* keep the other side working).

I though it’d be smart to put the main fuse in the center, for quick maintenance further down the line (when I will have totally forgotten how I wired this up!).

Once everything was in place, I just closed the babies up and put them back on the car. No issue with moisture in snowy weather up in the mountains! It looks like I did a good job :)

Here you see the chromatic aberration, which retrofitters call “color-shifting” that I gained (the cutoff has this beautiful blue accent, while the foreground limiter produces an orange blur in front of the car).

These babies are far from perfect. They have visible bowing, a faint laser beam, minor inconsistencies between projectors and an overall light output that is just above acceptable. BUT, given their hilariously low price tag and their ridiculously small form factor (hence the possibility to fit them without making any permanent modifications to the headlight units) I give them thumbs up!

They are still stronger than the latest 2012 BMW 1 Series OEM bi-xenon’s, and even if they don’t have the power of raised lights like those of the latest Audi Q3 (which benefit also from a higher standing point), they do have the beautiful color accents that modern OEM headlights don’t have anymore (due to improved quality control).

Ah… and the best thing: when I flash cars to pass them (here in Italy the left lane is permanently clogged with slow cars that sit there for no good reason), the sheer amount of light that comes out of the 4 high-beams (yes, the OEM halogen high beams are still operational) is enough to scare them out of the way instantly. I can’t help but smile, every time! And it happens more often, now that with the free flowing exhaust manifold the Miata has gained so much grunt at high speeds (it climbs to, and beyond 200Km/h with ease now!).

The beam’s width is not the top in class, and with the foreground limiter it is further reduced by a tad, but the light’s intensity spans strongly across, all the way to the outer edges. It’s like having very powerful fog light on all the time. This might annoy some people behind the wheel (and technically, ergonomists will tell you this will adversely affect your night vision, and the overall efficacy of the headlamps), but I really enjoy the character of the Mini H1′s. The tons of foreground light help me keep road conditions in check, and avoid pot holes (which are rather frequent where I live).



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