Lil' Bear The Black Jeep: A 2016 2 Door JK

This could probably be a thread in itself in the 12v section, but I'm going to pose the question here. With the finicky CANBUS in the Jeeps is there merit in running relays with integrated diodes or wiring a flyback diode into the circuit with a regular relay to prevent voltage spikes on auxiliary circuits? Most of my auxiliary circuits will contain resistive loads, although in powering an air compressor and some other items I have planned there will be a few inductive loads. Thoughts? @Mitch ?

Also looking to prolong the life of my switches as I'm looking at using some microswitches integrated into the oem switch panel to trigger relays. The diodes would help with this correct?

Or because this is low voltage DC it doesn't matter?
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While I was trying to decide where to cram electrical goodies the JCR rock sliders arrived.


Nice overall quality and very well packaged. Pretty sure my UPS guy hates me now. They arrived with no damage to the JCR provided powder coat which was nice as I didn't want to track down someone local to powder coat them.

Installation was easy enough. Pull the body mount bolts, position the sliders and reinstall the body mount bolts. Before tightening them down you install the provided bolts through the slider and the pinch seam followed by a nut on the backside. The hardware left a little to be desired. I would have preferred a bolt with a metric head (they provide a button head) and a nyloc nut as opposed the the ones provided with the little teeth cut into the surface. Would have also liked black hardware so I'll probably source my own stuff and replace these. They do however give you more than enough as I had 24 bolts and nuts instead of the required 12. For some reason some of the included hardware was stainless steel, but not enough to do the entire installation. Maybe somebody with sausage fingers bagged up the hardware.

Everything lined up well and I only had to drill out one of the factory holes in the pinch seam. 15 minutes later I was done.



In the back they line up great with the tub.


The front could stand to be another inch or so longer...

Work is keeping me on the road right now but I made a little progress while home on my fuse/relay setup. In the course of an afternoon I went from a cardboard mock up that I kept trimming down:


To a 16 gauge piece of metal:


And then a 16 gauge piece of metal with a bunch of holes and a poorly welded tab on it.


Right now this mounts directly above the ABS booster/controller using factory hardware. I have grommets for all of the holes which provide protection for the wiring that's passing through them. I'm mounting 6 relays, the 12 circuit blue sea fuse holder and several terminal blocks to make future electrical additions easy. There will be a common rail ground terminal mounted here inline between the ground panel on the fuse box and the battery as well. No random taps into factory sheet metal here.

Inside the jeep I'll be activating the relays using the unused factory switches on the center stack behind the gear shift. I have a bluetooth controlled relay board with 4 channels that will be activating 4 of the circuits in conjunction with the oem switches and the other two will just be controlled by the factory switches. Why bluetooth control? Because it's something neat to mess with...I can not think of a single time where I've been near a vehicle and though to myself "I'd sure like to turn my [name of electrical item] on wirelessly from 30 feet away". Maybe it'll happen though...

The remaining 6 circuits will be constantly hot and used for the Kenwood TM281, Cobra CB and 4 expansion circuits.
Taking advantage of a day with less conference calls I made some more progress today.

First up an inventory of what's being added:

Fishbone Offroad 52" Light Bar Bracket
Mictuning M1s 52" Light Bar
Mictuning 193 Light Pods

Why Mictuning? I've run Mictuning products of one sort or another on my last 4 vehicles and I've never had an issue out of any of them. Are they as bright or well manufactured as Baja Designs or Rigid? Probably not. I considered going with Rigid this time around as I've had a chance to examine some of their products and really like their build quality. At the end of the day I can't justify spending that much money on a product that, realistically, will only be utilized probably 10% of the time I'm in the vehicle. On top of that my vehicle sees lengthy stays in airport parking garages. If I return to find these lights missing I won't be nearly as upset as I would be if Rigids had been stolen. These lights put out enough light to do what I want to do and I guess that's good enough.

First up I mounted the Fishbone Offroad light bar bracket using the Jeep's stock hardware. I had read online of people having to purchase longer hardware to get these mounted but I had no problems. Once they were tightened down I put the Mictuning lightbar in place and routed the wire down under the cowel around the wipers. Next up I mounted the pods and ran the wires in similar fashion. The light pods came with amber running lights so they're a three wire setup vs the two wire of the light bar.



I spliced to the provided harness and used heat shrink and loom to close everything up before routing it through the engine bay. I followed the factory wire loom that runs across the back of the engine bay and then landed the wiring on my new power distribution panel. I pulled the ground wire out of the loom before the 2 positive wires so that it would line up with the ground connection on the Blue Sea fuse panel. Everything was terminated using ring connectors that were crimped and heat shrunk.


Up until this point I hadn't tied my panel into the Jeep's electrical system yet, I'd only physically mounted it in place. Amazon showed up with the 4 gauge wire I'd ordered so it was time to fix that. Is 4 gauge overkill? Oh yeah, but does it give me piece of mind when adding circuits later? Sure does.

I routed the power wire through the 100A breaker I mounted on top of the OEM fuse panel and ran it, along with the ground wire, across the back of the engine bay. I don't think this space can handle any more cabling. :D On the side of the Jeep where my panel is mounted I landed the power wire onto the positive side of the Blue Sea fuse panel and the ground to the Blue Sea common rail ground terminal. I then ran another short piece of 4 gauge wire from the other side of the ground terminal to the ground side of the Blue Sea fuse panel. I reset the 100A breaker and things were live!



As I was running wiring I tried to be cognizant of future upgrades or repairs. For example all of the wiring running to my panel has a small bit of slack in it and comes in on the right side of the panel. If you pull the three factory bolts that are holding it in place the entire panel could be set on the fender to provide access to the ABS module underneath. The only place I didn't accomplish this was on the battery side. The connection from the battery side of the 100A fuse to the positive terminal runs directly over the top of the battery. When it comes time to replace the battery years from now I'll need to pull the connection to do so. I don't really consider this a bad thing though since disconnecting all power to my panel when swapping the battery is probably a good safety procedure. Beyond that running the connection they way I did provided the least amount of strain on this cable and allowed me to secure it in the firmest way possible.

Years ago I had a truck with a fairly high wattage aftermarket stereo setup. I had a 0 gauge wire coming off the positive terminal to a 300 amp fuse. The connector on the fuse side failed one day allowing the cable to come loose. Because of how the cable was routed there was tension on the cable and it didn't just fall out of the connector, but instead pulled out swiftly and began striking the metal of the hood and fender. I was able to throw a t shirt over top of it to finally get it to stop bouncing around and arcing off anything it could ground to. Ever since I've been paranoid of connections to the battery that could cause that to happen again. The straight connection I've run here along with the heat shrink, wire loom and mechanical connection provided by the zip ties should prevent that from ever happening.

Overall very happen with the way things are turning out thus far. Full on #lightsbeforelockers!



This Mictuning light bar is supposed to be more aerodynamically shaped to prevent the whistling and acoustical resonance other bars create. So far with the soft top down I can drive at interstate speeds with just a little increased noise, but no whistling or resonance. With the top up there's a small whistle around 70 mph, but I haven't done anything to adjust the angle of the bar yet. Supposedly tilting it down a few degrees will route the air up over the vehicle in a more natural way and eliminate the whistle completely. I'll have to tackle that this weekend when I've got time to adjust / test.
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Now that all the sparkly lights are on there I need a way to turn them on. I decided to make this as complicated and convoluted as possible. :rolleyes:

Here we have the stock panel from the Jeep that houses the A/C controls and the factory electrical switches. My trim level came equipped with the downhill descent button, traction control and the park anywhere button. That leaves 4 buttons that aren't being used for anything. See where this is going?


Step one is pulling 4 screws out of the switch panel to free it from the rest of the console. Then a small flat head screw driver will pop the tabs holding the switch housing together.



Once inside the two halves of the panel pull apart to reveal the circuit board. It sits inside and is indexed into place with a full plastic studs, there's no mechanical fasteners of any sort holding it in place. Upon examining the board it appears that the pads for the 4 unused buttons are there, but the LED's that would provide the button backlight and their matching resistors on the backside of the board aren't in place for all of them. I'm wondering if I could add them and obtain backlighting for the switches I'm adding...that might become a future project.



Pulling the buttons off the panel reveals a sort of "hinged" design. The unused buttons have a ridge on the top and bottom of the button that keep it from moving. By using a dremel and a cut off wheel to remove the ridge on the bottom of the button it will rock back and forth just like the OEM buttons. I assume they're designed to rock both ways to use the dual pads the board has in one location. I only need them to push in at the bottom though.

Once the small ridge is taken off the switch face it's time to add an actual switch into the mix. I used assorted 6mm x 6mm micro switches. After finding the length that would work (one 5mm, two 7mm and a 9mm I think) I soldered wires to two of the connectors on each of the switches. I then routed this through the small circular cutouts in the switch housing and drilled holes to route the wiring out of the housing doing my best to keep everything below the level the circuit board sits.



A bit of hot glue inside the circular cutout of each switch housing keeps everything in place and provides a bit of insulation to the switch terminals.



With that portion done and the housing closed back up I soldered the other end of each pair of wires to my bluetooth relay board. The board has 4 micro switches on it to activate the relay. I turned the board over and soldered my wires to the terminals of those switches where they penetrated the board.


Pushing each of the previously unused switches on the OEM panel now activates a relay on the board (as shown by the red LED indicator).



The bluetooth relay board can take either 5V or 9-12V for power. I wired up a 2 pin delphi connector and ran it into the 12V connector on the board. I mounted the board to the back of the OEM panel using some sticky foam double sided tape and routed all of my wiring neatly around the panel. I left quite a bit of extra wire as I plan to go back and make a couple of changes to this layout. After getting everything secured I hooked it up one more time to my test power supply and tried out the bluetooth connection in conjunction with the physical buttons. Everything seems to be working fine.


All that's left to do is bring a 12V line into the relays common connection and then run 4 lines out, 1 from the NO side of each relay to the terminal on my panel where the triggering side of the 12v relays there are landed. That'll have to wait for another day...

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The best laid plans...

With the bluetooth relay board mounted on the back of the factory A/C controls the panel won't go back into place. Turns out there's a support bracket back there in the dash that's in the way. Back to the drawing board. I'm thinking since I'm using 8 wires here I'll wire the connections on the OEM switch side to an RJ45 connector and do the same on the relay board side. That way I can use a cat6 cable as a connection in between and keep everything modular. I'll be able to create an enclosure for the relay board then and mount it in a spot more that's more convenient.
Took the switch panel apart tonight and redid all the wiring using an RJ45 extension. Much neater with a single connection coming out of the panel.




These wires all tucked in nicely under the oem circuit board. Tomorrow I'll do the same with the Bluetooth relay board and then I'll be able to remotely mount it and connect the two with a patch cable.
Soldered a RJ45 connection to the relay board, connected a 6 foot patch cable and everything works! Just need to find an enclosure for the relay board now. I'm thinking I'm going to connect a 5 pin deutsch connector to the board, one line to carry 12v in to the common terminal on each relay and then the other 4 to carry the signal back out to the under hood relays. That'll keep everything modular and easy to service/replace.



Wow! Great work!

Anybody else ever have one of those days where you are patting yourself on the back about how much better your electrical work is because you just used heat shrink instead of electrical tape, and then you read something like this?
Wow! Great work!

Anybody else ever have one of those days where you are patting yourself on the back about how much better your electrical work is because you just used heat shrink instead of electrical tape, and then you read something like this?
Thanks! Trying hard to do this one right the first time. Honing some skills as well, it's been a long time since I've soldered anything this small. Could still be better, but it works and that's what's important!

Look for "abs project box" on Amazon. Used one for my relay/fuse box under the hood.
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Great minds and all that...just got back from Micro Center:

Just learned that the bluetooth relay board has no polarity protection built into it's power circuit. Wasn't paying attention and hooked up the power in reverse frying the regulator on the board. Hate that it happened, glad to know that protection isn't there. I can no longer read what the regulator was so rather than guess and replace it I've ordered another board, and I'm either going to build a power supply circuit for it or just pick up a buck converter.
Consistently amazed at the quality and detailed work you do on all the electrical bits. Your patience is not something I was blessed with. Great job.
Consistently amazed at the quality and detailed work you do on all the electrical bits. Your patience is not something I was blessed with. Great job.
Thanks, I like knowing it's done right(ish)....even when that doesn't happen until the third time I do it. :D

My Idaho trip got scrubbed down to an overnight in and out so I decided to use my extra time at home to try to finish this project up. New relay board showed up so now I know what fried on the last one was a 78M05 linear voltage regulator. This little 48 cent part takes in anywhere from 7V to 35V DC and outputs a steady 5V. Without a diode or mosfet in the circuit to protect from a reversed polarity situation I fried the one on the board before. I might replace it so I have a second working board. I've tested the original running it at 5V and bypassing it's onboard power supply setup and everything else still works fine.

Anyway, onto the new board. Step one was to prepare the enclosure. I used a 5 pin waterproof automotive style connector to take the 4 positive lines out from the relays and bring 12V in to the common terminal on each relay. A few minutes with the dremel and I had the connector mounted in the enclosure.



Next up I had to solder my Cat5 extension to the new board so I prepped all the wires.


Nylon stand offs were used to mount the new board in the enclosure.


I made all the connections to the board from the 5 pin connector and (prior to soldering them) drilled a hole in the enclosure to pass the Cat5 extension through. Next up I drilled two holes to pass the output wires from my buck converter into the board. I checked the polarity (several times) and tightened down the connectors. This buck converter will take anything up to 24V and drop it down to a steady 12V. It has built in reverse polarity protection, thermal shut down, over current shut down and short circuit protection.


I mounted the buck converter to the top of the enclosure using some brass stand offs.


Now I had a finished product that will mount nicely under the driver side seat for now. I have a storage setup planned for the rear of the Jeep (the backseat is already sitting in the basement) and when I build that I plan on having a compartment to hold some of the electrical setup. The next step was to take it to the Jeep and do a bit of testing. In the past I've used buck converters and up converters to do some voltage changes and had them generate quite a bit of heat. This is normal when you're making drastic changes in voltage, but this unit only needs to take the normal range the jeep's alternator generates (~12v - 14.8v) and output a steady 12v. This small range shouldn't really generate a lot of heat. Still, to be sure I hooked everything up temporarily using short jumper wires and activated several accessories. After about 20 minutes of use it was warm, but nothing horrible. I honestly think most of the heat was external because it was HOT today in Atlanta.


Once I was happy everything was working I created a wire harness and pulled it through the firewall using the unused penetration just below the master cylinder (FYI manual transmissions don't have this unused penetration since that's where the clutch pedal linkage lives). A thunderstorm was brewing so I stopped taking pictures at this point and just got to work. With everything run I ended up with the Cat5 cable from the OEM switches and my wire harness popping out from under the driver side seat.


I added a 5 pin connector to my harness and plugged everything up. I've decided that I'm going to activate the power to my relay board using an unused fuse position in the OEM fuse panel that comes on with the ignition. This will will prevent anything from being left on when the Jeep is turned off. I'll add that fuse tap and run the wiring for it tomorrow.
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Ever get tired of working on a project? This is way too much effort for a couple of switches that send the electrical pixies to the proper places. :rolleyes: Anyway, let's wrap this up.

After reviewing the owners manual to find an unused fuse position that was activated by the ignition I landed on fuse M9 which is for the factory rear seat heaters. Seeing as how I don't even have a rear seat, there's certainly no seat heater back there. I added a fuse tap and routed the wire out of the box using a small hole I drilled and then filled with a bit of silicon. (The photo below is missing the silicon and the fuse for the wire).


I loomed the wire and routed it, with all the others, across the back of the engine bay. It landed on the terminal housing the trigger wires for my relays so that it activates the bluetooth relay board when the ignition is on. This ensures that no accessory turned on by the OEM switch panel can be left on with the Jeep turned off, protecting my battery. The other nice thing about this is that the bluetooth relay board has no memory so with all the lights on if I turn off the ignition everything turns off and stays off the next time I start the vehicle.

I then went through and made sure that appropriate fuses were in place for each accessory. 30A for the light bar, 5A for the two light pods, 2A for the amber accent lights in the pods, 1A for the bluetooth relay board, 10A for the buck converter. Along with making notes of what each fuse position was for I made a list of what each terminal position was for and printed up a reference guide that I added to the owners manual with the factory fuse box layout. I need to find a good layout of the factory fuse box online because the owners manual only lists the fuse position, size and use but doesn't give a diagram. The diagram on the underside of the fuse box lid is impossible to read even in broad daylight.

I also swapped the Chinese supplied hardware on the light bar and pods to stainless steel or black with odd sized metric hex heads to deter theft. It'll help keep honest people honest...more importantly it now won't rust. I updated my on board tool kit with the appropriate sized allen wrenches and moved on to tidying up the wiring. After zip tying everything in place I realized the jeep was a bit dirty so it was time for a wash and the obligatory "look all my lights work" photo.



Now that the electrical bases are covered I can move on to getting the 2M radio and CB in the Jeep, and get my storage setup in the back. Headed up to Linville Gorge in a week so I'd like to have most things done by then so I can use the trip as a shakedown run.
Even though I've been without one for a bit now I've always been a truck guy at heart. There's something about the self sufficiency of a truck, being able to haul things in the bed, tow heavy loads and work off the tailgate. The Jeep will never be great at those first two items, but with a piano hinge and some scrap lumber I can give myself a tailgate work work off of.

I took some rough measurements, and after cutting down a 30" piano hinge to around 24" I loosely attached the hinge and my intended piece of lumber from the scrap pile. I don't intend to cook or eat off this table, it's for working on bits when I'm out in the driveway or at camp so it didn't need to be the best stuff. This is some 1/2" sanded plywood of some sort I had laying around.


I decided I was happy with the basic placement and took a measurement for the depth of the table. Back inside the shop I ripped it down to size and dug around for some airline cable I had laying around.


I also dug out the Molle Panel Solutions panel I had ordered several weeks back and began laying it out on the outside/underside of the table. When I ordered the panel I was originally going to order their fold down table with the molle panel built in. I realized rather quickly, however, that I didn't really like their layout because with the table folded down your work surface is the back of the molle straps of whatever you have attached:

mps table.jpg

I'm sure I could have fixed that by adding a wood panel or welding on a metal one, but honestly I was able to save $75 just ordering the non-folding version of the panel and do this myself.


I added two holes for the airline cable to run through along with using a forstner bit to create 4 flat bottom holes to hold the hardware that attaches the panel to the table. Digging around in my spare hardware bin all I could come up with were some carriage bolts that are a bit too long. I'll have to make a trip to the hardware store tomorrow to source something better. A quick couple of coats of bed liner yielded a surface with a nice grip. I cut the airline wire to length, attached it to the tailgate with sheet metal screws and, after pushing it through the holes in the table, crimped ferrels on to the loose end to hold the table level(ish).


Folded up the MPS panel is available for molle attachements. I plan on adding bags here with commonly used items or items you'd want in a hurry.


I threw all the tools I had used along with the tool roll on the table and gave it a couple of gentle pushes toward the ground. I think the small screws that came with the piano hinge that hold it to the table are probably the weak point of this setup, but it'll hold anything I'm interested in putting on it.


Trying to sort out what I'm going to do for a latch now. If anyone has a suggestion, let me know.
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