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Old 25th March 2014, 23:03   #1
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Default DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino

So as the title goes, I wanted to build one for the car. Since this is a forum which has members from all professions, I wouldnt want this thread to be a pure electronics thread with hifi words being used which will scare people not so familiar with electronics.

I also want to say that my approach towards this may not be the cheapest, efficient or the best one. There may be simpler designs, better logic used etc. But this is what I made. Non pessimistic suggestions for improvements is heartily welcome. I will be improvising the circuit as well as the code as time passes by. People familiar with Arduino can skip the next part.

This is an Arduino Uno:
Name:  ArduinoUno_R3_Front_450px.jpg
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Source

An Arduino can be considered as a huge kit of building blocks for an engineer, or rather anyone who can know how to code stuff. Hence, we have this small piece of hardware with which we can build things. By building things, I mean build circuits of the electronic kind, which can be programmed to do things. The board has a huge potential and a lot of additional hardware can be added to enhance its capabilities.

Hence, using that little board shown above, I could build a circuit around it to control the headlights of my car. This is one of the simplest Arduino projects that can be done. In the same way, a lot of other devices can be built out of an arduino. Using its various inputs and outputs, we could connect it to any other device, and program the microcontroller to do something to the connected device, maybe turn it on and off, vary the speed of a motor, brightness of an LED and so on. You could even communicate through bluetooth.

By now you would have realised how the whole thing will be set up. Very simple. The arduino will act as an intermediate, sitting between the headlight switch and the headlamp, and having its own light sensor in order to decide on the output it should give. Here is a basic representation:

DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino-block.gif

Hence, what does this circuit do?
  • When you switch on the parking lamps, the circuit becomes active and enters automatic mode.
  • If the light falls below a preset value, it triggers the low beam.
  • If you turn on the headlights yourself, the circuit enters standby and will not interfere with whatever the manual choice is. Hence this will be the manual mode where the driver gets to choose the beam.
  • In automatic mode, High beam is only turned on when the surroundings are pitch dark. In all other cases, it will be the low beam thats turned On and off.


What I have designed is totally plug and play. One of my main objectives was to not tamper the electricals of the car. I designed it in such a way that it will be connected from connector to connector without any wire cuts and the like since I didn't want a hobby project to fry my car electricals.

Coming to the Actual circuit, here is a prototype:

DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino-dsc00004.jpg

For the sensor, I used a small solar cell since the commonly used LDRs were not successful enough to detect details like the light of an oncoming vehicle, a streetlight etc whereas the Solar cell is more sensitive. Converting the output of the solar cell will give me a 1024 step resolution where the finer aspects can be differentiated. The LDR on the other hand was very non linear. Less change in dark conditions and a steep increase as things got brighter. Its only suitable for On and off operations and not good enough to switch beams.

The 12V inputs from Pilot lamps, Low beam and High beam are converted to 5V by regulators. Since the pilot lamp will power the arduino, I have added a capacitor to soak in the fluctuations from the alternator of the car, which may damage the Arduino. The input from High beam and low beam are provided to the analog inputs of the Arduino along with the sensor voltage.

If both high beam and low beam are off, ie only pilot lamps are on, the arduino gets to decide whether the light should be turned on, and which beam is required. It will return a 5V signal corresponding to the beam and also an enable signal. These signals are fed to a high current driver which powers the headlamp relays.

If either high beam or the low beam are manually powered, the board is bypassed and the respective beam is directly turned on. This is a fail safe method I adopted since even if the board were to become faulty, I would have a working manual mode. If the board werent bypassed in the manual mode, any fault with the board would cause trouble. Hence, as soon as any beam is manually turned On, the relay is directly triggered to switch on the lamps instead of depending upon the arduino for commands.

A few test runs of the setup worked like a charm. Since I am yet to build an enclosure to the setup, I can put it to continuous use.

Components used:
  • Arduino UNO
  • 3 X 7805 regulators
  • Various connectors
  • 1 X IC holder
  • 1 X L293 H-Bridge to drive the relays and also act as a 5V-12V converter
  • 2 X Capacitors, 12V
  • 2 X Capacitors, 5V 470muF
  • Bus headers to connect between circuits
  • Wiring harness used for upgrading headlamps

Since I had the wiring harness and headlamp relay, I just had to plug this circuit along with the harness and the wiring part was sorted out in a clean way.

I am getting an acrylic container made to hold this board so that I can mount it in the engine bay. The solar sensor will be mounted in the front grille of the car. So once that is done, I will post details about the install and also a demo video showing how it works in real life. Any queries or suggestions welcome!
Hope you liked the idea! Its very simple to try out and get it working. Not sure why manufacturers cannot provide such a simple setup which costs less than 2k to cars and call it as a luxury feature.

Last edited by audioholic : 25th March 2014 at 23:56.
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Old 26th March 2014, 15:51   #2
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Default Re: DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Tech Stuff. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 26th March 2014, 16:12   #3
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Default Re: DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino

Wow! The things that are possible these days huh. Really makes me want to learn more about this kind of stuff. Using a gyroscope, shouldn't auto-leveling headlight also be a more difficult but still achievable possibility? Just asking since I really have no knowledge in this area but you have made me keen

Cheers!
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Old 26th March 2014, 16:26   #4
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Default Re: DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino

Wow! cool stuff.

Regarding:

Quote:
Originally Posted by audioholic View Post
... The solar sensor will be mounted in the front grille of the car...
Won't it get damaged by water splash from vehicles ahead, car wash or rains? I think a better place could be a little corner near front windshield on the dash.

-BJ
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Old 26th March 2014, 16:57   #5
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Default Re: DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino

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Originally Posted by IshaanIan View Post
Wow! The things that are possible these days huh. Really makes me want to learn more about this kind of stuff. Using a gyroscope, shouldn't auto-leveling headlight also be a more difficult but still achievable possibility?
Cheers!
It can be done. As I told, this is one of the simplest things that the Arduino could do. You could very well build one of them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bj96 View Post
Wow! cool stuff.

Regarding:



Won't it get damaged by water splash from vehicles ahead, car wash or rains? I think a better place could be a little corner near front windshield on the dash.

-BJ
The sensor used is a solar cell. It is a solid part which is water resistant. Hence there is no problem even with a pressure wash.

Placing the sensor inside would have been a good idea as how its done by manufacturers. But in my case, it will require the wires to be routed through the firewall. Also the wiring has to be concealed all the way inside the cabin by stripping the trims. Hence I decided to mount it outside.

The housing for this circuit was made in acrylic using a CNC laser cutter. Will assemble the pieces and update on the final setup.
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Old 26th March 2014, 17:06   #6
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Default Re: DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino

Quote:
Originally Posted by audioholic View Post
So as the title goes, I wanted to build one for the car. Since this is a forum which has members from all professions, I wouldnt want this thread to be a pure electronics thread with hifi words being used which will scare people not so familiar with electronics.
Fantastic project. It is great to see a fellow electronic enthusiast, that too someone who works on embedded systems.

Your choice of solar cell vs. LDR for its linear output is a perfect one. Here are some inputs from my side.

1. You have mentioned that you are powering the Arduino board using the 7805 from the pilot lamp. The Arduino board has an onboard regulator that can take an input from 6 to 20V. The barrel connector just below the USB connector takes this power. You can directly connect the 12V output from the ignition switch to this so that when the ignition is turned on, the Arduino board is powered.

2. To make the setup compact and avoid the use of wires between the relay board and the arduino board, I would suggest using a relay shield that will plug into the Arduino base board. Below is an example relay shield.

http://www.dfrobot.com/index.php?rou...6#.UzK0ifmSxg0

Name:  Relay Shield.JPG
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This shield board also has an onboard voltage regulator and hence you can directly connect the output from the ignition switch. I am not sure if this is available in India. But you could check with the same dealer where you purchased the Arduino board.

3. You have used 7805 regulators to sense the input from the pilot lamp, high beam and low beam. If these are just inputs to sense the on/off state of these lights, then I would recommend using a simple transistor input circuit as shown below.

DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino-digital-input.jpg

The transistor is a general purpose NPN transistor. When the input at the resistor R1 is 12V, the transistor turns on and the signal at the collector is pulled low. When no input is present at the input of R1, the transistor is off and the output at the collector is 5V. Connect this signal to the Arduino and you got an active low input signal. Assemble this circuit on a proto board and plug this on the top of the relay shield. The relay shield has extension headers that extends all the Arduino signals to its top layer.

Now you will have a 3 board stackup, with the Arduino board, relay board and the input card, with only the power, input signals and the output signals. This will be more reliable and vibration proof when you fix it to the car.

Good luck with the field trials

Quote:
Originally Posted by IshaanIan View Post
Wow! The things that are possible these days huh. Really makes me want to learn more about this kind of stuff. Using a gyroscope, shouldn't auto-leveling headlight also be a more difficult but still achievable possibility? Just asking since I really have no knowledge in this area but you have made me keen
Cheers!
It is absolutely possible to do auto leveling using gyroscopes as well. Just a matter of adding some more stack up cards.

Last edited by aah78 : 27th March 2014 at 18:46. Reason: Post edited. Please limit smileys to 2/post. Thanks!
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Old 26th March 2014, 20:19   #7
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Default Re: DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino

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Originally Posted by graaja View Post
Fantastic project. It is great to see a fellow electronic enthusiast, that too someone who works on embedded systems.
Your suggestions are much appreciated. Thanks!

Quote:

1. You have mentioned that you are powering the Arduino board using the 7805 from the pilot lamp. The Arduino board has an onboard regulator that can take an input from 6 to 20V. The barrel connector just below the USB connector takes this power. You can directly connect the 12V output from the ignition switch to this so that when the ignition is turned on, the Arduino board is powered.
I was considering using the inbuilt regulator, but I read somewhere that the transient voltages developed in the alternator may kill the board in the longrun. Hence I used a separate regulator and a capacitor to provide +5V. Until the last stages of the circuit construction, I had planned to power up the board with 12V. However I had used three regulators out of which the pilot lamp regulator was just lying there So I decided to use it for power and elimnate the need of a separate barrel connector. Also, I dont want to power the arduino continuously for now since I am not sure how it is going to fair under prolonged usage periods.

However, both changes will be in my list and I will definitely consider making the change once the circuit passes the basic function tests.


Quote:

2. To make the setup compact and avoid the use of wires between the relay board and the arduino board, I would suggest using a relay shield that will plug into the Arduino base board. Below is an example relay shield.
Shields are pretty expensive here. Moreover, I am reconsidering the use of relays onboard since the headlamps will power up using the usual headlight relays and not this one. The current relays were more of a test piece. Hence, I will mostly elimnate the relay in the next version.

I always wanted to make it as compact as possible. But this was the first time I built a circuit on a general purpose PCB. Hence, in Version 2 of this project, the sub-circuit will definitely be as small as a shield.


Quote:

3. You have used 7805 regulators to sense the input from the pilot lamp, high beam and low beam. If these are just inputs to sense the on/off state of these lights, then I would recommend using a simple transistor input circuit as shown below.
Definitely a good idea to reduce the overall cost or bulkiness. Since I am familiar with using the BC547 and already have a couple of them, they will surely make it into version 2.


Really pleased to hear the above suggestions. I am already thinking of working on a smaller V2 of the project As of now, I will put it under test and based on the findings, I will finalise on V2 of my AHCU. But as of now, V2 will elimnate relays, regulators and be a lot compact than the current one. Thanks again!
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Old 27th March 2014, 00:40   #8
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Thumbs up Re: DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino

Quote:
Originally Posted by audioholic View Post
.
.
.
What I have designed is totally plug and play. One of my main objectives was to not tamper the electricals of the car. I designed it in such a way that it will be connected from connector to connector without any wire cuts and the like since I didn't want a hobby project to fry my car electricals.
Audioholic, this is a great project. Wish you all the best.
I wish to make small suggestions & pointers if your can study and if found logical, please do consider incorporating into the setup of the kit.

Ref. to your point #1 above:
Is there any other source you can use to activate the circuit other than Parking Lights?
Reason: I wish your kit itself can be used to automatically activate the Parking lights.
I always feel that after Fog Lights, Parking lights are also almost a very close alternative to functioning like DRL's offering near similar safety aspects.
To further practically put my point across, I always prefer driving with Parking Lights ON, on any gloomy day and say past 5 pm like sky conditions,
Fog Lights past 6 pm, Low Beam Headlights past 6:30 and use High Beam cautiously when necessary.
Since I do not have Fog Lights or DLR, I recently drove for approx 2,000 Kms with Parking Lights ON every day from early Morning till Evening while on a
Road Trip from Goa > BLR > Mysore > Ooty > Coorg > Goa.

Can you connect it to the Ignition perhaps? One concern though, if you connect the kit to anything other than Parking Lights, probably the driver many never have to be bothered about Switching Headlamps on/off as the kit itself will have the all capability to do so.


Ref. to your point #4 above:
Other than nightfall, how often or where do you think this scenario will occur (i.e High beam is only turned automatically on when the surroundings are pitch dark)?

In automatic mode, will you be able to quickly over-ride the High beam which was triggered due to pitch darkness? Say you want to lower the beam for an oncoming distant Cyclist or any distant vehicle with no or poor lights. Will I have to manually do it by 1st Switching on the Headlight Switch and then select the desired beam i.e low?

While in the same mode, will the system automatically switch from High to Low Beam (and vice versa) to oncoming traffic with sufficient lights?

May I also suggest to please try an avoid any smallest possible scenario wherein the 'High beam' is turned ON automatically and has the potential to put out an unintentional high beam & blinding glare to oncoming Traffic or Pedestrians.

Driving with dazzling High Beam without being considerate to oncoming traffic is according to me one of the worst or the top most road safety problems in India today. Probably we will have to live with it as people don't care no matter how hard you try.

Kinda off topic, but If I can recall it right, years back in late 90's and early 2000, several companies were offering Automatic Dipper kits, I wonder what happened next. Probably there were no buyers back than or probably there was no mass acceptance or no government backing or could be sheer lack of road safety awareness. Back then vehicles & especially motorbikes did not have powerful headlights as they are today. Probably, such a system could be the need of the hour today. You seem to have the knack for such geeky good things. Probably your next project?
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Old 27th March 2014, 10:15   #9
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Default Re: DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino

Quote:
Originally Posted by WYN View Post
the setup of the kit.

Ref. to your point #1 above:
Is there any other source you can use to activate the circuit other than Parking Lights?
Reason: I wish your kit itself can be used to automatically activate the Parking lights.

Can you connect it to the Ignition perhaps? One concern though, if you connect the kit to anything other than Parking Lights, probably the driver many never have to be bothered about Switching Headlamps on/off as the kit itself will have the all capability to do so.


Ref. to your point #4 above:
Other than nightfall, how often or where do you think this scenario will occur (i.e High beam is only turned automatically on when the surroundings are pitch dark)?


May I also suggest to please try an avoid any smallest possible scenario wherein the 'High beam' is turned ON automatically and has the potential to put out an unintentional high beam & blinding glare to oncoming Traffic or Pedestrians.

Driving with dazzling High Beam without being considerate to oncoming traffic is according to me one of the worst or the top most road safety problems in India today. Probably we will have to live with it as people don't care no matter how hard you try.

Kinda off topic, but If I can recall it right, years back in late 90's and early 2000, several companies were offering Automatic Dipper kits, I wonder what happened next. Probably there were no buyers back than or probably there was no mass acceptance or no government backing or could be sheer lack of road safety awareness. Back then vehicles & especially motorbikes did not have powerful headlights as they are today. Probably, such a system could be the need of the hour today. You seem to have the knack for such geeky good things. Probably your next project?
1. Speaking about how it is powered, it can be powered by the ignition switch. However, the drawback is that the parking lamps are integrated with the entire interior lighting and hence, in order to control this circuit, I must target a huge circuit and the chances of malfunctioning are greater. This will also remove the plug and play advantage. Since the headlight holders are available in the engine bay itself, installation is very simple. Not the same in case we want to power it up using the ACC socket.

As you told, even I use the pilot lamps as DRLs. Hence the system will be ready at all times.


2. After monitoring the sensor output, the threshold set for triggering high beam is 0v input from sensor. This is the rarest thing that can occur since tge sensor usually gives a minute voltage, usually from reflected light or even from street light. Hence, it rarely enters high beam state.
given your scenario, if I see a cyclist, all I have to do is turn the HL switch to the next position,ie low beam. That will return the Board to standby and follow the manual instruction, ie switch to high beam.

Another aspect I have taken care is constant fluctuations. Suppose there is a difference in the amount of light, like say a row of street lights, given the processing speed, the beam will alternate in a flashing manner. To avoid this, I have used delays between each condition. Hence, high beam is switched ON after five seconds of the surroundings going dark but it switches back to low beam instantly after a little light is sensed.

In the same way, low beam will be turned off only after two seconds of observing daylight since there could be some instances where there could be a bright light of an oncoming car.

Another implementation is when the car is too close to another car ie in a signal or so the lamps turn Off.

Hope your concerns are answered.

The auto dipper is an analog circuit that uses an LDR for sensing. From what I observed, it is not at all accurate. Perhaps for auto dipping the best idea will be to use image processing which will make the circuit expensive.
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Old 27th March 2014, 11:01   #10
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Default Re: DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino

Good project. Congratulations

Quote:
Originally Posted by audioholic View Post
Also, I dont want to power the arduino continuously for now since I am not sure how it is going to fair under prolonged usage periods.

Arduino draws less than 5 mA in quiescent state and hence can be powered on continuously for long life.

Definitely a good idea to reduce the overall cost or bulkiness. Since I am familiar with using the BC547 and already have a couple of them, they will surely make it into version 2.

It is possible that a simple transistor may fail and short out base to the collector resulting in failures elsewhere. Unless you use fail-safe methods, you may have catastrophic results. Automobile battery supplies literally thousands of amperes albeit for short duration - enough to fry the wires. Use a crowbar circuit with suitably sized quick blow fuse before you draw power to your circuits.
My 2 penny suggestions highlighted in bold. I have seen a commercially bought timer failing drastically in my earlier Amby - resulting in a fire - all because the electrician who fitted the timer hooked up the timer with a short strand of wire instead of a fuse.

Last edited by Prowler : 27th March 2014 at 11:04. Reason: Corrected typos
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Old 27th March 2014, 12:13   #11
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Default Re: DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino

I have actually built this system, some time back, without using an Arduino. It was just a single board that I made, because there's a local car modifier who wanted such a circuit, and I thought it would be fun to do it. My approach-
1. I went with LDR, not a solar cell. There are many variants available. The sensitivity in the range you're aiming for is more important than linearity. And it varies with size.
2. I went with TWO LDRs. One in the front, one in the back. This way it has a certain amount of immunity from flashing as you described-when driving under a row of streetlights. This is combined with a delay.
3. I went with the humble ATTiny2313, and did not use an ADC (it doesn't have one.) The PIN HIGH threshold is at around 0.6*Vcc at Vcc=5V. But I suppose I could've gone with the Mega8 for almost the same cost, and used the ADC.
4. It drives relays in parallel to the switches, and is powered separately. So it is always possible to manually turn the lights on or off.
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Old 27th March 2014, 16:25   #12
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Default Re: DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino

Wow! Amazing DIY. I have not seen such a technical one yet. I am beginner in the DIY territory and even the smallest and easiest would go off track in between. Looking forward to see the demo and pics. Hopefully I should be able to do it one day.

Thanks for sharing it!
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Old 27th March 2014, 17:37   #13
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Default Re: DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prowler View Post
My 2 penny suggestions highlighted in bold. I have seen a commercially bought timer failing drastically in my earlier Amby - resulting in a fire - all because the electrician who fitted the timer hooked up the timer with a short strand of wire instead of a fuse.
Thanks!
Appropriate safety measure will always be taken Since the regulators aren't on any load, they should be quite reliable. Regarding the transistors, if I am implementing it, I would definitely make sure that there wont be a chance of a burn out. Moreover the circuit is powered by fused ports and not a single unfused connection is used.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DriveToLive View Post
Wow! Amazing DIY. I have not seen such a technical one yet. I am beginner in the DIY territory and even the smallest and easiest would go off track in between. Looking forward to see the demo and pics. Hopefully I should be able to do it one day.

Thanks for sharing it!
Thanks for the appreciation. For a person who is from the same background, this circuit will never be too technical since they would have done lots of such things, except maybe it wouldnt have been towards auto applications. Apart from the wiring, there wont be much to go wrong in this regard.

Demo and pics will come ASAP. I am not hurrying this up since I want everything to be right, and I have no deadlines to meet Also now I am considering powering it up from the ACC socket. Hence there might be a delay in order to analyse that approach and make the required changes.

The setup is getting assembled. The casing has become bigger than what I expected but as of now I need such a huge one. It will surely get smaller in the next version:
The design for casing
DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino-ahcu_deisgn.jpg
Sincere thanks to a friend of mine, Shashank for designing and getting it fabricated.

Base board:
DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino-ahcu_1.jpg

Circuit on top:
DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino-ahcu_2.jpg

Top view:
DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino-ahcu_3.jpg

Last edited by audioholic : 27th March 2014 at 17:44.
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Old 28th March 2014, 10:06   #14
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Default Re: DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino

Great project audioholic! Although i am currently pursuing BBA, its great to see a fellow bhpian working on such an interesting project. Hoping to see the finished product soon.
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Old 28th March 2014, 14:56   #15
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Default Re: DIY Project: Automatic headlamp control using Arduino

Quote:
Originally Posted by audioholic View Post
So as the title goes, I wanted to build one for the car. Since this is a forum which has members from all professions, I wouldnt want this thread to be a pure electronics thread with hifi words being used which will scare people not so familiar with electronics.
.
.
.
Hope you liked the idea! Its very simple to try out and get it working. Not sure why manufacturers cannot provide such a simple setup which costs less than 2k to cars and call it as a luxury feature.

I am super amazed on your brilliant idea and your effort in trying to build auto headlights. can the sensor be mounted in such a place that it does not get soiled or damaged due to dirt and water??

Ii am sure you will be inspiring many more folks here to try many other combinations. eagerly waiting for you to fit it on a automobile and gives us all a demo.

Last edited by aah78 : 28th March 2014 at 18:16. Reason: Please avoid quoting large posts entirely. Quote only referenced portions. Thanks!
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