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Headlights

In our last post, we hit the high-points of wiring the outputs on our Infinitybox POWERCELLs.  Over the next few posts, we are going to go into detail on wiring some of the specific loads in your car.  This post is going to talk about headlights.

Headlights are usually the easiest output to wire and we use them as an example when we’re helping guys wire their cars over the phone.  On the front POWERCELL, there is a dedicated output for the headlights.  Check your configuration sheet for the exact wire color.  This blog post will show you how to do this.  In the case of our 1967 Mustang project, the POWERCELL output wire for the headlights is the white wire.  This is output 5 on the B connector.

From the front POWERCELL, you are going to run the white output wire to your headlights.  It is usually easiest to run the wire to the closest headlight, then splice from there to go to the second headlight.  Essentially, you are wiring the two headlights in parallel.  You can use our Splice Saver Kit to make this connection easy and reliable.

In the previous post about wiring POWERCELL outputs, we talked about ways to connect wires together.  These options include butt-splicing, soldering and connectors.  You can built the splice between the two headlight bulbs in this splice.  This picture shows a simple schematic for wiring the two headlights off of a single POWERCELL output.

Picture of a simple schematic showing how to wire your headlights to the Infinitybox POWERCELL

Picture of a simple schematic showing how to wire your headlights to the Infinitybox POWERCELL

There are going to be two wires on each of your headlights.  One is the 12-volt power coming from the POWERCELL output.  The other is ground, which needs to be connected to the chassis.  If your high-beams are integrated into the same headlight housing, there may be multiple connections.  You need to consult the paperwork or instructions that came with your headlights.

If your headlights are incandescent bulbs, the orientation of the power input and ground wires do not matter.  The current will flow through the filament in the bulb in either direction.  If you headlights are HID or LED, the polarity will matter.  You need to consult the manual for the HID or LED headlight kit.

The standard headlight output on the front POWERCELL is designed for an incandescent bulb.  We can do things with a POWERCELL output that you can’t do with a relay.  Because we are using solid-state relays, we can do something called Pulse-Width Modulation.  That means that we can gradually ramp up the power to an output.

Incandescent bulbs have a high in-rush current.  When the bulbs are cool, the resistance of the filament is relatively low.  When you first turn on the bulb, it will draw a lot of current.  As the bulb and filament heat up, the resistance of the filament increases significantly, which limits the current to its steady-state draw.  This inrush current can be 4 to 10 times the steady state current.  You need to size you wire and the fuse to work with this inrush current.  We have done that for you in our choice of output harness wire.

We soft-start the standard headlight and high-beam outputs on the front POWERCELL.  This essentially smooths out the inrush, which causes less stress on the fuse, the wiring and the light bulb.  You get this feature automatically if you use the standard MASTERCELL input.

You can use this same soft-starting output for LED (Light Emitting Diode) headlight kits.  If you are using HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlights, you need to use a different input to the MASTERCELL.  There is a dedicated input to the MASTERCELL for HID headlights.  If you use this input, the headlight input turns on instantaneously without the soft starting.  We’ll talk more about MASTERCELL inputs in later posts.

While we’re at it, you are going to wire your high-beams exactly the same way as the headlights.  In the case of the configuration that we are using for this 1967 Mustang, the dark-blue wire from the front POWERCELL is for the high-beams.  This is output 7 on the A connector.  You are going to run the high-beam output from the POWERCELL to the first high-beam bulb then splice over to the second high-beam bulb.  Check the documentation that came with your bulbs for proper wiring.  The ground wire on the bulb should connect to the chassis of the car.

Keep watching our blog for more posts on wiring the different outputs on your Infinitybox wiring system.  Click this link to contact our team with questions.

POWERCELL Output

Now it is time to connect the POWERCELL outputs to your loads in the car.  When we talk about loads, we refer to the things that you need to power to make the car work.  These include your headlights, turn signals, ignition systems, starter solenoids, fuel pumps, cooling fans, horns, lights, etc.  All of these loads are going to the connect to each POWERCELL output to get their switched battery power.

This post is going to cover the basics of wiring the POWERCELL outputs.  We will publish several specific posts that will go through the details of how to wire your turn signal outputs, wiring your ignition and starter, wiring cooling fans and other loads.

The automotive electrical system uses a grounded chassis.  This means that each load gets its switched power from some power distribution device.  In your case, it is your POWERCELL.  Current flows from the POWERCELL to the load.  To complete the circuit, the load needs to get connected to ground, which is typically your chassis.  The chassis is connected to the negative post of the battery.  This is how the circuit is completed in your system.

Another thing to remember about your Infinitybox system is that the switches connect to the MASTERCELL.  Your loads connect to the POWERCELLs.  There is no connection between the switch and the load.  That connection comes from a data command sent from the MASTERCELL to the POWERCELLs.  When you turn on a switch, the MASTERCELL tells the POWERCELL to turn on an output.

Your kit includes an A & B output harness for each POWERCELL.  If you have our 10-Circuit Kit with one POWERCELL, you have one each of the A & B harnesses.  If you have our 20-Circuit Kit with two POWERCELLs, you will have two of each.

This picture shows you the POWERCELL A output harness.  It has the wires for outputs 6 through 10.

POWERCELL A Output Harness

POWERCELL A Output Harness

This picture shows you the POWERCELL B output harness.  It has the wires for outputs 1 through 5.

POWERCELL B Output Harness

POWERCELL B Output Harness

Yes, we get that it seems that the A & B designations are reversed for these harnesses.  That designation came from the original layout of the POWERCELLs from our early beginnings.  These designations have stuck and changing over a decade of documentation would be tough.

Please note that the A & B connectors are interchangeable in the POWERCELL output sockets.  A lot of initial problem calls that we get from customers come from the fact that they have these harnesses reversed.  Make sure that you are plugging the correct harness into the correct socket.  The manual that came with your kit shows you the correct orientation.  This picture also shows which connector socket is A & B.

Illustration of Infinitybox POWERCELL labeling output connectors

Illustration of Infinitybox POWERCELL labeling output connectors

Once you get the connectors plugged into the correct sockets, you need to properly ground the POWERCELLs.  Each of of the output harnesses have a black wire.  Both of these black wires need to get grounded to the chassis.  This is to properly ground the electronics in the POWERCELL.  Make sure that you have a good metal-to-metal connection between these ground wires and the chassis.  You must make sure that you remove all dirt, rust, oil, grease, paint and powder coating from this connection.

Next, it is time to start connecting the POWERCELL output wires to the loads in the car.  Remember that your configuration sheet is your road map to do this.  You can review our previous blog post about the configuration sheet as a refresher by clicking this link.  The configuration sheet is going to identify the specific POWERCELL output wire by color for each load in the car.

You are going to run the POWERCELL output to the load.  From there you must connect the POWERCELL output wire to the wiring on your light, fan, horn, fuel pump, etc.  There are many different ways to do this.  People will argue advantages of one method over another.  If done correctly with the right tools, they are all good methods.

One of the easiest ways is to butt splice the POWERCELL output wire to the wire on your load.  For example, you cooling fan will probably have two wires coming from the motor housing.  You can use a butt splice connector to connect the POWERCELL output wire to the wire on the fan motor.  This picture shows an example of a butt-splice.

Picture showing example of splicing wires in our 1967 Mustang Install of the Infinitybox wiring system.

Picture showing example of splicing wires in our 1967 Mustang Install of the Infinitybox wiring system.

The team at Waytek Wire have a great post on their blog called “Splice Connectors 101”.  In this article, they walk you through the basics of splicing wires together.  Click here to read this article. 

What is important is that you use the correct crimp tool and you properly seal the joint.  This seal can be done with heat shrink tubing or you can use butt crimp connectors that already have a heat-shrink jacket over them.  Companies like Waytek and Del City are great sources for the right tools and materials.

Another option is to solder the wires together.  A lot of customers swear by this method or a combination of butt-splicing and soldering.  The advantage is that you get a metallurgical connection between the copper strands of both wires.  Some will argue that this is stronger and more reliable than a pure mechanical crimp of a butt-splice.  Just like the butt-splice mentioned above, this joint must be sealed preferably with heat shrink.  The only warning with soldering is that if too much solder is applied to the joint, it can wick up the strands of the wire flowing away from the joint.  This wicking can make the wire more rigid and susceptible to fatiguing if the joint is stressed mechanically.  Just watch the amount of solder that you are applying to the joint.

The last is to put connectors on both ends of the connection.  This is the most time consuming and costly, but it has advantages down the road if you need to remove the load for maintenance.  There are many different options for connection systems.  Deutsch connectors are very popular in racing.  They are rugged, durable and proven.  Delphi Weatherpack connectors are another option.  They have been proven in the field for decades and are a cost effective option.  You can purchase Weatherpack kits from many different sources that include the proper tools to crimp the terminals.  Here is an example of a Weatherpack kit that includes the tool.

If the POWERCELL output harnesses are not long enough, you can easily extend them using any of the connection methods mentioned above.  You must make sure that you use the right size of wire and the right insulation type.  We use 14-AWG wire for all of the POWERCELL outputs.  This will carry 32-amps continuously, which is very conservative for most aftermarket and racing applications.  We use wire with TXL insulation.  This is a cross-linked wire designed for the automotive environment.  It is oil, dirt, chemical and abrasion resistant.  You can source extra 14-AWG TXL wire at this link.  We can also create custom harness lengths.  Contact our sales team for details.

Just a few last comments about wiring the POWERCELL outputs.  Stay away from Home Depot.  We say this as a joke but it is important.  The same materials that you’d use to wire a house have no place in the car.  That means no wire nuts, extension cords or electrical tape to make connections.  Use only tools and materials that are designed to handle the automotive environment in your car.

Keep watching for the next posts that will detail wiring POWERCELL outputs to some of the specific systems in your car.  If you have any questions, please click on this link to contact our team.

Power Input Cables

Here’s the next step in wiring the 1967 Mustang with our Infinitybox system.  You need to run the power input cables from the Mega fuse holder and connect them to the POWERCELLs.  There are 4 power input cables included in your kit.  They look like this.

POWERCELL Battery Input Harness

POWERCELL Battery Input Harness

These cables have the mating connector that plugs into the circular 8-mm sockets on the POWERCELL.  These cables are 8-AWG and are jacketed in high-durability TXL insulation.  Each POWERCELL gets two of these cables.  This lets you supply a total of 120-Amps to the POWERCELL.

Remember how the POWERCELLs work.  They are mounted locally in the car.  Your functions like lights, fans, pumps, ignition and starter connect to the POWERCELL.  The MASTERCELL sends commands to this POWERCELL through the CAN cable to turn these function on and off.  In addition to the CAN cable that sends commands, the POWERCELL needs to get power from the battery for your switched functions.  These primary input cables supply the power to the POWERCELL.

For this process, make sure that you have disconnected the positive cable from the battery.  Plug the round connector on the end of each of the primary input cable into the POWERCELL and run the cable through the car.  All three of the round connector ports on the POWERCELL are the same.  You can pick any two of these to plug the cables into.

The other end of this cable needs to connect to the terminals on the Mega fuse holders installed earlier in this process.  Cut the cable to length, strip it and crimp on the 8-AWG 5/16″ ring terminals that are included with your 10 or 20-Circuit kit.  Make sure that you are using the right tool to make these crimps.  Poor crimps cause many problems down the road.  This link will take you to a simple tool sold by Del City that can be used for all of your primary power cables and battery cables.

We also strongly recommend covering the exposed area of the ring terminals with heat-shrink tubing.  This will minimize exposed metal areas that can lead to short circuits in the car.  Del City or Waytek are great sources for heat-shrink tubing.

If you need to, you can lengthen the primary power cables.  You can use an 8-AWG crimped butt connector to splice in another length of cable or you can solder the strands together.  Done correctly, either are a acceptable way to lengthen these cables.

This picture shows plugging the primary power cables into the rear POWERCELL in our Mustang project.

Plugging in POWERCELL battery input harness in Infinitybox system installed in 1967 Mustang

Plugging in POWERCELL battery input harness in Infinitybox system installed in 1967 Mustang

This picture shows the two primary power cables plugged into the front POWERCELL.

Front POWERCELL Mounted in 1967 Mustang

Front POWERCELL Mounted in 1967 Mustang

This picture shows the primary power cables connected to the Mega fuse holder block in near the battery in the rear of the car.

Assembled Mega Fuse block in 1967 Mustang wired with our Infinitybox system

Assembled Mega Fuse block in 1967 Mustang wired with our Infinitybox system

Each POWERCELL has three power input ports on it.  You are going to use two of these.  To keep the cell sealed, you must plug the power input dummy plug into the unused port.  This is included in your kit.

Sealing plug for POWERCELL battery input port.

Sealing plug for POWERCELL battery input port.

You can also use one of our POWERPLUGs in the open port.

Power Plug

Power Plug

The POWERPLUG is a very easy way to get fused constant battery power from the POWERCELL.  You can use this to power accessories like engine controllers, transmission controllers, audio and LED tail light controllers.

Now that you have the primary power cables properly connected to the primary fuses and the POWERCELLs, you can move on to the next step.  Stay tuned for the next post.  If you have questions in the meantime, you can contacts us by clicking this link.

Mounting Cells

So, here’s where we are in the wiring process for our customer’s 1967 Mustang.  They mounted the primary fuses and ran power from the battery.  Now it is time for mounting cells in the car.  They are using our 20-Circuit Harness kit, which includes one MASTERCELL and two POWERCELLs.  The MASTERCELL connects to the switches in the car (ignition, starter, turn signals, lights, cooling fan sensor, etc.).  The POWERCELLs are where the power comes from to turn on the powered things like the ignition, starter solenoid, turn signals, lights, cooling fan and other accessories.

The Infinitybox system works differently from other wiring harnesses.  With a traditional wiring harness, you have one box with fuses and relays in the center of the car with wire flowing everywhere from this center point.  With the Infinitybox system, you distribute the wiring through the car.  This lets you put the power distribution where you need it to keep the runs of wire short.

The MASTERCELL is going to connect to all of your switches.  Most of these are located around the steering wheel.  That is where you are going to want to mount it.  There are two POWERCELLs in this kit.  One for the front of the car and one for the rear.  You want to mount these POWERCELLs near the things that you are turning on and off.  This keeps the runs of wire short and makes installation easier in the car.

We always suggest that customers start by walking around the car and make a list of the switched electrical functions in the car.  Our configuration sheets are a great planning tool for this.  This link will take you to the standard Front-Engine configuration that is our most popular.  Outside of the normal things like lights, ignition, turn signals, fuel pumps, horns and fans, think about the other things that need switched power like amps, extra lights, transmission controllers and other custom features.

Each cell has 4 mounting points in the corners of the housings.  These are designed for a 1/4″ bolt.  Our preferred mounting method is to use a 1/4″ X 5/8″ shoulder screw.  The advantage with a shoulder screw is that you can’t over tighten the screw and crush the mounting point.  If you are using a traditional bolt, take care not to over-tighten it and crush plastic collar.

Here are few things to consider when mounting cells.  For the easiest install, you want your MASTERCELL to be as close to the switches as possible.  You can mount your MASTERCELL in the glove box, in the center console, behind, the dash or behind a kick panel.  In the case of this 1967 Mustang, the customer mounted the MASTERCELL above and to the left of the pedal box.  Here’s a good picture.

Infinitybox MASTERCELL mounted next to the pedal box in a 1967 Mustang Resto Mod

Infinitybox MASTERCELL mounted next to the pedal box in a 1967 Mustang Resto Mod

This location is out of the way but still gives them easy access to the MASTERCELL.  The screen on the MASTERCELL is a very important diagnostic tool in the system.  You won’t need to get to this often, but you want to make sure that you can get to it when you need it.  Also if you have our inLINK radio, the antenna is in the MASTERCELL.  You want to make sure that it isn’t buried in the car to get the most range on the key fobs.  There are really no other things to worry about when mounting the MASTERCELL outside of keeping the CAN cables and input wires away from the high-voltage wires on your ignition system.  This is true for any piece of electronics in the car, not just your Infinitybox hardware.

The input wires from the MASTERCELL will connect this cell to all of the switches in the car.  We’ll cover that part in later parts of this install series.

The POWERCELLs are next.  You want to put these close to the things that you are powering.  In the case of the front POWERCELL, this includes your dash power, ignition, starter solenoid, head lights, high-beams, turn signals, running lights, horn and cooling fan.  In the case of the rear POWERCELL, this includes the tail lights, brake lights, fuel pump, reverse lights, turn signals and audio in the trunk.  Remember that your POWERCELLs contain the fuses that protect the wires in your harnesses.  You want to have easy access to these cells in case one of these fuses opens.  There are also diagnostic indicators on the POWERCELLs that give you a wealth of information about how the system is operating.  You want to have good access to the cell to see these indicator lights.

The customer mounted the rear POWERCELL in the driver’s side corner of the trunk.  Here’s a good picture.

Rear POWERCELL in trunk of 1967 Mustang wired with the Infinitybox system.

Rear POWERCELL in trunk of 1967 Mustang wired with the Infinitybox system.

They fabricated a mounting plate to support it nicely.  Here’s a close up shot of the cell and the mounting plate.

Rear POWERCELL mounted in 1967 Mustang wired with the Infinitybox system.

Rear POWERCELL mounted in 1967 Mustang wired with the Infinitybox system.

This POWERCELL will be hidden behind a trim panel in the trunk.  From this location, the runs of output wire to the turn signals, brake lights, fuel pump and running lights is very short and easy to install.

This customer did something unique in their mounting of the front POWERCELL.  They wanted a completely clean engine compartment so they mounted the POWERCELL behind the driver’s fender.  See this picture.

Location of front POWERCELL in 1967 Mustang wired with the Infinitybox system.

Location of front POWERCELL in 1967 Mustang wired with the Infinitybox system.

They fabricated a sealed door inside the wheel well.  They can turn the wheels to the left, open the panel and get easy access to the POWERCELL if they need.  Here’s a closer shot of the mounting location.

Front POWERCELL Mounted in 1967 Mustang

Front POWERCELL Mounted in 1967 Mustang

This location gives them very short runs of wire from the POWERCELL to their ECU, starter solenoid, lights, turn signals, cooling fan, horn and dash power.

Depending on your car and your project, you can mount the POWERCELLs practically anywhere in the car.  The cells are rated to 125 degrees Celsius (260 F).  This means that you can mount them under the hood.  They were designed and tested to survive the temperature, shock and chemical exposure of the under-hood environment.  Like the MASTERCELL and any other piece of electronics in your car, you want to keep them clear of the ignition coils and high-voltage ignition wiring.  You also want to keep them out of the direct radiated heat of your exhaust headers.

Now that mounting cells in the car is complete, the next post will cover running primary power from the Mega fuses to the POWERCELLs.  Stay tuned for this next post.  If you have questions or comments, please click on this link to contact us.