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Controlling Your Car's Lights When Observing at a Dark Location

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#26 aeajr

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Posted 18 February 2020 - 11:26 PM

Great discussion guys!

 

Thanks for that tip about the parking brake.  That is the topper!

My Nissan Rogue is now as dark as it can get.  As long as I don’t use the clicker, I can open doors and no lights come on.  I can start the engine and no lights come on.  And, if I put that 1 click on the parking brake, no lights come on as I pull out of my driveway, with the exception of the brake lights.   Just can’t suppress the brake lights. 

I imagine that my back-up lights may be coming on if I go into reverse.  I can’t tell from inside the car.  Will have to get someone to check for me.  But if I am parked facing away from the observing area, there is no reason for me to go into reverse.  Back-up lights might blip as I go to drive.

Right now I have a pretty dark car.

So, spread the word on these tips.  Help out the new guys for their own benefit and for everyone’s benefit.

Dark cars are beautiful cars at observing nights.   :)



#27 aeajr

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Posted 18 February 2020 - 11:35 PM

I’ve been searching off and on for red LED replacement interior bulbs for my 2018 Honda Fit. So far I haven’t come up with anything but I’ll keep looking. I’d love to be able to open up the rear hatch without setting my eyes back 20 minutes. 
 

Almost for sure there is a switch on that interior light.  If it isn't on the light itself then it is up front. 

 

You can cover the lights with red film.  Several layers may be needed.  I am sure there are people in the discussion who can make recommendations.  I use a red film that I use to cover the wings of my RC gliders.

 

You could try this red taillight repair tape but it might be too difficult to get it off. 

https://www.amazon.c...253268957&psc=1

 

Anyone tried this red tape?

https://www.amazon.c...656&s=hi&sr=1-1



#28 mistercrisp

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 12:01 AM

Amazon sells some red photographic gel material, which looks like the photographic gels I use.  Less than $10.  I use gaffer tape to attach the gels to my overhead dome light, and my backup lights.   https://www.amazon.c...82088136&sr=8-1


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#29 Redbetter

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 12:16 AM

My 2002 came with DRL's as part of an overall option package.  The only way to disable them was by having a specific pin removed on the wiring harness connection to the ECU. It was only a few weeks before that pin went bye-bye for good. 

 

It also had a bed lamp that turned on for various reasons rather than just when I used the switch.  So I took the bulb out at about the same time, and it hasn't been back in since.  There are times I would like to be able to use the bed lamp (to check my load while driving, etc.), but the fact that I couldn't keep it off the rest of the time meant that it had to go.  

 

The most annoying thing remaining is the ******* panic button.  I would like to lock the person who designed that abomination in a very small room and blare the lights and horn at him/her 24/7 for about 6 months.  Maybe let me whack them with nerf bat for a few hours as well.  That might be letting the person off a bit light, but at least it would make me feel better.  The stupid thing goes off somewhat randomly.  I carved out part of the button for it on the key FOB and that stopped most of it, but every 6 months or so something presses against it just right and it goes off.  Nothing kills serenity like that asinine feature.


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#30 desertstars

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 08:30 AM

That's a convenient workaround! Unfortunately my Civic has an electronic parking brake. Wish I could have tried that trick though!

 

 

Also, I agree with Tom up above... if I'm going to a big public event where I know there are going to be people ignorant of the rules (not their fault most of the time) then I just resolve myself to sticking mainly to planets and other bright objects. This is why I often only observe with one or two other people, and we all agree on a general start and end time beforehand. 

My '07 Subaru Forester also ignores that first click and turns on the lights. So I arrive on site in the daylight and join the last of those to leave, or leave at sunrise, depending on the event/location. My vehicle lights have not been a problem for others.

 

There was one regrettable night at an All Arizona Star Party, though, when I attended driving a rented mini van. Accidentally sat on the keyfob and flashed the headlight across half the observing field. Near midnight.  blush.gif

 

Bought the Forester the following summer...


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#31 kathyastro

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 08:42 AM

Before you get there, cover dome lights, trunk lights, etc. with red cellophane.

 

Learn which fuses control which lights.  Make a list and keep it with your what-to-pack checklist.  When you arrive at the entrance to the dark sky site and leave the public road, stop and pull the fuses for the lights: headlights for sure, daytime running lights, brake lights, backup lights.  Maybe leave the parking lights working so you can find the parking lot.  Replace the fuses after you have parked and are there for the night, in case an emergency requires a quick exit.

 

Park with the car facing away from the observing field.  That way, if you have to leave early for some reason, your headlights won't be facing the other observers.


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#32 thomasr

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 09:09 AM

My previous car was dead easy to keep the lighting under control. My current one is a nightmare - it actually does a bit of lighting theatre when powering up to let you know "I'm ready to go and I'm planning to look badass doing it."

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#33 sunnyday

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 09:48 AM

I thought of a friend who is a detective, and I think that their lights can be closed with a switch, even on new cars as it is my case. I will see.



#34 csrlice12

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 11:39 AM

My car is a source of artificial sunshine....got to put your foot on the brake to start it, dash lights come on upon inserting the key, door lights that come on when you open the door, trunk light comes on when trunk is open...I can shut off the dome lights, and use the parking brake to stop the headlights coming on....all the other lighting is not controllable, even the dash lights are not dimmable till the car is running



#35 airbleeder

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 12:39 PM

   My 2010 Canadian built Rav4 has fulltime DRL's as is law in Canada as I understand it. I've never attended a star party so that really isn't a problem for now, but I dislike driving around in daylight with lights, so I've been doing some googling lately.

    I found one hack which involves removing the glove box and remove a pin from the ecu connector, one removing DRL relays. I tried the relay removals as my car has two, one of which if removed not only does it disable the DRL's, it also disables both hi-beams. The other relay disables the DRL's but only the passenger hi-beam. Go figure.

   I would love to find an option to disable the DRL's but keep my hi-beams operable when I need them, but it is good to know that if I ever make it to a star party that I can turn my lights off.



#36 thomasr

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 01:37 PM



I dislike driving around in daylight with lights, so I've been doing some googling lately.
I found one hack which involves removing the glove box and remove a pin from the ecu connector, one removing DRL relays. I tried the relay removals as my car has two, one of which if removed not only does it disable the DRL's, it also disables both hi-beams. The other relay disables the DRL's but only the passenger hi-beam. Go figure.

You know DRLs are a safety feature right? It sounds like Toyota (wisely) made it difficult to arbitrarily disable the DRL function by fully integrating them with the rest of the lighting system - relays and all.


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#37 airbleeder

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 02:02 PM

   I do know DRL's are a "safety" feature, but I believe having them turned on or off should be optional. 


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#38 sg6

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 02:05 PM

Having read the first few posts it sort of reads that it is a case of just one person observing and their car lights. In which case I would simply drive to whereever with the lights on, park, turn off the lights, except sides and then set up. After that the side lights go off (or not). I have happily observed at the rear of my car with the side lights on, and with the boot open and whatever lights are in there on also.

 

I have my interior lights off anyway but the car has small ones under the doors - no idea about those, they get ignored.

 

If at a star party I would not really expect that you parked the car with the observers. Here it seems a followed rule that after 16:00 no cars are allowed on the observing area.

 

Although I have managed to blind a whole row of people with head lights once - I arrived, saw a row of people and a row of cars. So I added myself to the end. In swinging into place everyone got swept by the somewhat bright headlights.

 

The the person who should have been directing arrivees appeared, somewhat unhappy at me. Until I pointed out he was not at the entrance and had come from the cafe with a fresh coffee in hand.

 

So to me lights should again not be a major problem at a gathering, the cars should be at least a little organised.

 

The almost standard answer is that of "common sense". And certainly if you have a car amongst other peoples equipment then perhaps unfortunately lights to a sensible level are essential. The alternative could be running over peoples equipment. A 16" dobsonian makes a horrendous crunching sound as you run over one, and the screams from the owner tend to be long and loud. Collimation after is difficult also. Takes longer.


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#39 Redbetter

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 03:52 PM

You know DRLs are a safety feature right?
 

 

Not all "safety features" are a good idea, or at least not everywhere and not in every situation.  Panic buttons are probably the most extreme example of a Toyota safety feature gone wrong.


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#40 Slartibartfast

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 04:01 PM

I recommend doing some pre-planning before attending a star party.  That's what I did with my 2010 Honda Odyssey mini-van before I went to my first star party (Almost Heaven Star Party).  I read the manual.  I observed which lights came on for any actions I took (opening/closing doors, hitting the remote unlock button, etc.)  Then, I used black gaffer's tape and covered every light that could possibly come on with multiple layers.  My van was very dark.  At AHSP, you park on the observing field, so I made darn sure everything was dark.  I arrived well before sunset, and the van didn't move until the event was over.  I had an incredible time at that star party and I don't recall anyone breaking light discipline, at least anywhere near me.  I was at Black Forest Star Party and someone shined their headlights and man, oh, man the shouts and yelling that ensued!  I thought there was going to be a riot!  But, yeah, black gaffer's tape is good stuff.



#41 bouvier_1

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 04:11 PM

While I understand the issues of light interference, having a vehicle in motion without an appropriate amount of light is a really bad idea. With electronic illuminated dashes, people around my neck of the woods frequently forget to turn on their lights. I am surprised that lights that come on when a vehicle is started, day or night is not the standard.

 

I should have added that this is happening here where daytime headlights are mandatory. People don't realize their tail lights are not on.


Edited by bouvier_1, 19 February 2020 - 04:14 PM.

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#42 laedco58

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 04:23 PM

Any dealer, so inclined, can, with a dealer computer, put a vehicle into "police mode" or "police surveillance mode", whichever; they are same.  That allows for turning off all lighting for stealth.  I researched it and had it done to my Ford F150. 

My F-150 is old enough to have manual headlights. My Chevy tracker/Suzuki Grand Vitara requires cutting wires, removing sensors, and pulling fuses to eliminate the always on headlights, or a ball peen hammer. I only observe from home at this point in my amateur astronomer endeavors, so it hasn’t created any issues.



#43 Redbetter

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 04:36 PM

While I understand the issues of light interference, having a vehicle in motion without an appropriate amount of light is a really bad idea. With electronic illuminated dashes, people around my neck of the woods frequently forget to turn on their lights. I am surprised that lights that come on when a vehicle is started, day or night is not the standard.

 

I should have added that this is happening here where daytime headlights are mandatory. People don't realize their tail lights are not on.

 

This is one of the major flaws of DRL's.  People drive around with their DRL's on, but no other lights.   I've seen this frequently over the past two decades. 

 

But I really don't want the lights on all of the time when the vehicle is running for several reasons.   It would make some sites far less usable:  folks either run their vehicles for a time to warm up (sometimes to sleep), or they are parked and yacking on the phone, stopping at a rest room, etc.  As it is I can request they shut off their lights if they are just idling for an extended period. 

 

Another problem with always on lights is when people are parked beside the road with their engines running.  I see this a lot on the twisties and overlooks when driving to a site.  I really don't need more headlamps pointed at me from parked cars--and this can get a bit confusing when they are parked two abreast on the wrong side of the road because of the layout of the pullouts/overlooks.



#44 bouvier_1

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 04:43 PM

This is one of the major flaws of DRL's.  People drive around with their DRL's on, but no other lights.   I've seen this frequently over the past two decades. 

 

But I really don't want the lights on all of the time when the vehicle is running for several reasons.   It would make some sites far less usable:  folks either run their vehicles for a time to warm up (sometimes to sleep), or they are parked and yacking on the phone, stopping at a rest room, etc.  As it is I can request they shut off their lights if they are just idling for an extended period. 

 

Another problem with always on lights is when people are parked beside the road with their engines running.  I see this a lot on the twisties and overlooks when driving to a site.  I really don't need more headlamps pointed at me from parked cars--and this can get a bit confusing when they are parked two abreast on the wrong side of the road because of the layout of the pullouts/overlooks.

I agree. That said then I should clarify All lights on while in motion. Arriving at a site after dark is bad planning. Doing so and going dark while you get parked is dangerous to people and property. It's not as though the drivers eyes have been adjusted.



#45 aeajr

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 04:53 PM

While I understand the issues of light interference, having a vehicle in motion without an appropriate amount of light is a really bad idea. With electronic illuminated dashes, people around my neck of the woods frequently forget to turn on their lights. I am surprised that lights that come on when a vehicle is started, day or night is not the standard.

 

I should have added that this is happening here where daytime headlights are mandatory. People don't realize their tail lights are not on.

I have been driving for over 40 years and every car I ever owned had an illuminated dash.  What are you talking about? 

 

People forgetting to turn on their lights is unfortunate but really has nothing to do with this discussion.  We are talking about knowing how to control your lights. 

 

I would have no problem driving my car at extremely low speeds with no lights, when my eyes are well dark adapted.  We are talking about a grass/dirt field or an empty parking lot.  We are not talking about public roads or high speeds.   If you can walk, and see where you are going, you can creep along in the car until you are away from the group, then turn your lights on.   That is, if you care about how you effect other people.  


Edited by aeajr, 19 February 2020 - 05:07 PM.

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#46 bouvier_1

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 06:02 PM

I have been driving for over 40 years and every car I ever owned had an illuminated dash.  What are you talking about? 

 

People forgetting to turn on their lights is unfortunate but really has nothing to do with this discussion.  We are talking about knowing how to control your lights. 

 

I would have no problem driving my car at extremely low speeds with no lights, when my eyes are well dark adapted.  We are talking about a grass/dirt field or an empty parking lot.  We are not talking about public roads or high speeds.   If you can walk, and see where you are going, you can creep along in the car until you are away from the group, then turn your lights on.   That is, if you care about how you effect other people.  

I agree, but only after you turned on your lights. Today's cars come on when the vehicle is started. Yes, they can be dimmed when needed.

 

I was not attempting to hijack the thread. My inclusion was only adding a reason for my advocacy of All lights on while in motion. Unless I interpreted this thread incorrectly lights on/off was very much part of this discussion. 

 

Insurance companies likely won't agree with most of this, for fairly obvious reasons. 

At star parties with people, children, pets, vehicles and equipment, these not found on empty fields and parking lots.

 

There is never a substitute for respect, good planning, common sense and nice manners. Not only at star parties!


Edited by bouvier_1, 19 February 2020 - 06:18 PM.

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#47 ascii

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 06:45 PM

Many older cars had dashboard lights that were never lit when the head/parking lights were off.  The dash lights only came on with the head/parking lights.

 

The worst I had was a 2007 Honda that fully illuminated the dash whenever the car was running.  There were a small number of occasions where I drove on well lit streets or parking lots after dark without my headlights on because of this design defect.

 

Thankfully, whenever my head/parking lights are off and the engine is running, my 2016 VW leaves the speedometer and tachometer unlit while the remainder of the instruments and controls are lit.  It's an immediate indication that I need to turn the headlights on at dark.


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#48 sunnyday

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 08:29 PM

to continue post 33.
I check and it is possible to have a device to turn off the lights (all lights) any brand of car, like those of the police and detectives.
the cost for my vehicle is $ 39 for the device plus the installation $ 50
in Canadian.
so I don't need anyone to push my vehicle anymore. lol.gif


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#49 csrlice12

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 08:31 PM

Current car lighting was designed by the same idgits who designed eyepiece undercuts...a solution looking for a problem.  Face it, we're fighting a losing battle.  Within the next few years light controls will be automatic with no human control options...brighten up your dark site.


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#50 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 09:04 PM

to continue post 33.
I check and it is possible to have a device to turn off the lights (all lights) any brand of car, like those of the police and detectives.
the cost for my vehicle is $ 39 for the device plus the installation $ 50
in Canadian.
so I don't need anyone to push my vehicle anymore. lol.gif

See my post #11.  My F150 operates in "police mode" now.


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