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OK here is the DIY for it.

Before I start just want to give some credit where its due.
CJPatel from E46F for being the first person I know to implement the DIY using the original idea from the E90 (his led pointed down from the keyhole).
CJPatel's original thread: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=433107&highlight=led+door+handle

Lemonsqr from E46F for coming up with the idea to point the led inside the handle instead.

I will skip some common steps that I assume you guys know how to do or will be able to do, so I didn't document it.

Materials needed:
2 Leds from http://www.superbrightleds.com/leds.htm
the ones i bought are the RL5-W15120

2 Resistors, i honestly don't know what ohm to use, i had a few resistors laying around that I used and it worked for me. If you know whats the best option please post it on the thread.

Solder gun/solder
Dremel and/or drill
24 gauge wire: i could not find this in any shop, so what i did was went to pepboys and into their lights section, there they had those tacky leds that you can buy to hook up inside. I bought one that had a decent length of wiring on it and just ripped it apart to use its wires (you will see later how thin the wires are in pics)

electrical tape, wire taps (not necessary but makes things easier)
crazy glue, slicon sealant

1: Start in the drivers side, roll down windows, take door panels off.
If you don't know how to do this refer to this DIY: http://www.e46fanatics.com/how-tos/interior/bmw3_e46_coupe_trim/bmw3_e46_coupe_trim.php
Towards the bottom it tells you how to remove your door panels.

2: Lift up the flap in pic, here you will see a allen screw exposed, unscrew it be careful you dont drop it inside the door (not difficult to get out if it falls but its a pain)

Once the screw is off, you can pull out the door lock.

3: Now look inside this hole, in it you will see another allen screw, this one is smaller then the other. All you need to do is loosen this screw, you dont need to take it out all the way. As you loosen it, pull on your door handle until it completely releases.

4: So basics is done. Now you need to prepare your LED. The LED has 2 diodes on it, positive and negative. They are about 1inch long, the positive being slighly longer than the negative. I clipped off most of the diodes, leaving about only 3/8s of an inch of diode left and i kept the positive slightly longer then the negative for my own convenience.

Take the led and solder your wires to it. About 8 inches down the led wire, add a resistor to the positive line (the positive line on LED is the piece that is longer, you will know when you have the led on hand).
YOU DO NOT WANT TO HOOK UP THE RESISTOR THIS CLOSE TO THE LED

Add about 8 inches of wire and then solder the resistor to it. Then connect about another 5 feet of wire to it. (measure the length that you would need to fish it through the door into your footwell lights)

5: Prepare your door handle hole, the led is 5mm, you will want to make a hole to fit this size. I couldn't find an exact bit size so I gradually worked my way by drilling and test fitting.
HINT: i took the sharp edge of a box cutter forced it into the handle and made a tiny crater first. this gives the drill bit a place to stay inside or else your drill bit will move all over the smooth surface of the handle


I also took a sanding rotary bit from my dremel and dremelled away some of the plastic on the door handle. Take a look at the pic in step 6; see where the wires are glued, i shaved off some of it so the wires sit recessed into the handle.

6: Now prepare to put the led into the door handle. Bend the led diodes at about a 90degree angle. Spread the diodes apart so that they dont touch.
Take the wires and glue them with crazy glue into the recessed part you sanded into the handle. I use electrical tape at the end of the handle to hold the wires into place while the crazy glue above it dried.
When this is done, the led will be in place, now take some silicon sealant and spread it inside the door handle around the led, this will prevent water from leaking in and touching the diodes. I let this dry for about 1 hour.

Your final outcome will look like the pics below


NOTE: remember to take off electrical tape when its all dried, underneath it is where the screw holds your door handle in place. Make sure that your wires dont cover it.

The hardest parts are done, now you know what you need to do, where the leds go and how they go into place.

Begin to put your door handle together, dont completely screw it in place but just let it rest in its place and hang out a little.

The rest is fishing the wires through the hole into your door panel. I told you to roll down the windows for a reason in step 1, i didnt do this, i had everything wired and when i rolled down the windows for a test, my wires got caught and ripped apart. Had to do it all over.
So make sure when you are routing the wires in the door, they are under and away from the window. Do a test of the window when you run the wires so that you know you are clear.

You will have to peel off the sound proofing on the door to help you route the wires. Don't worry, the sound proofing sticks back to the glue very well.

Once the wires are inside your door, take a piece of a metal clothes hanger, tape the ends of your led wires to one end of the hanger.

Take a look at this pic:

See the rubber ribbed grommet, the side going into the door is just suctioned in, pull it out, the one going into your car is screwed in, take a socket wrench (i believe it was 8mm) and unscrew it and take it out.
In the pic above, CJPatel didn't route his led wires through the ribbed grommet, he routed it outside it. I preferred the clean look and took the hanger and routed it through the ribbed rubber. All your wires for speakers, airbags and stuff are in there. Its a pain, but i was able to do it.

Now once its in quotted from CJPatel
The next step after the wires are in place is connecting the wire to the bottom footwell lighting via splicing/connector rods, crimping, etc. I used this clips where you slip the wire in on one end and slip the other wire on the other end, you have to close the claps on the wires to send power from the car to the extension wire. I found these clips in the electrical dept. at Pep Boys.

After the extension wires are plugged into the power source, you should test the light bulbs once again to make sure the extension wires work ok.
Now go back to your door handle and place it back into place. Be careful with the wires. Screw back the allen screw that holes the handle in place and test it. Make sure the wires is ok, not getting pulled. You should be ok if you have it the way i did in the pics.

Test the led, once its done screw back in the lock cylinder. Put door panel back on and now the same process for the passenger side.

Thats it, if you guys have any questions please post and I will try to answer them.

I will attempt at doing the led mod on the interior door handles in the coming weeks when i get some time. will DIY that as well if i get around to it.
 

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Great DIY!:thumbsup: The tip about rolling down the windows is good. You dont have to worry too much about it if you are doing the rear doors on a sedan, but the fronts and the coupes for sure. Good to see you ran the wires clean and went through the door boot. The front ones are pretty simple to get the wires through, but for the sedan rear boots, it was TOUGH :bawling: The interior LEDs should be cake for you after this!
 

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cool. any pictures of the LED in action?
 

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:thumbsup: One thing, replace every reference you made with the word "diode" or "diodes" with leg or legs.

Example: "The LED has 2 legs on it, positive and negative. They are about 1inch long, the positive being slighly longer than the negative. I clipped off most of the legs, leaving about only 3/8s of an inch of leg left and i kept the positive slightly longer then the negative for my own convenience."

Good tip on the resistor location too. It doesnt need to be right next to the led especially if its going to physically get in the way. It can be relocated anywhere along the current path.
 

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Great post! But BEWARE WHEN DOING THIS!!! Don't shut the door. If you need to shut the door, make sure that you tighten (turn clockwise) the smaller Allen bolt even if you don't have the door handle back on.

The rest of the story...

I took the passenger door handle off last night and took it inside to drill and glue in the LED. Everything went perfectly, until I came out today to remount the modified door handle and could not get the passenger door to open using the either the inside door handle or manually pulling on what was left of the outside door release mechanism.

I wasted lots of time trying to reach inside the door and get the door to release without any luck. Finally I gave up and decided to remount the passenger handle back on the stuck door. Once I got the handle remounted, the door opened right up. I think that the set bolt that holds the handle on was hitting something inside the door. Just a warning so no one else spends 3 hours worried about how they are going to ever get their door open again (like I did today).

UPDATE: Also, don't forget to leave the power OFF if the door wiring connector is disconnected. The doors have airbags and your airbag warning light is likely to get tripped if you power on while the connector is separated!
 

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yo would you be interested in doing this with me? i'd be really interested in doing that mod on my car...hit me up with a PM since we live down the block from eachother :thumbsup:
 

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Awesome.DIY
Mod bug bite you hard huh?:lmao:
.......On to the next
sk328ci said:
2 Resistors, i honestly don't know what ohm to use, i had a few resistors laying around that I used and it worked for me. If you know whats the best option please post it on the thread.
you need 390-Ohm or 370-Ohm is fine.
 

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yo would you be interested in doing this with me? i'd be really interested in doing that mod on my car...hit me up with a PM since we live down the block from eachother :thumbsup:
I can do it with you. I plan on LED-ing the external handles AND the interior handles AS WELL AS the interior-front door pockets.
 

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any ideas in where is the closest power suply in the rear doors in a sedan?
oh man...there is none really

Based on my cupholder DIY experience the best way I can visualize getting both cabin-ambient-lamp power AND door-open-light power to all four doors is running two long power/ground harnesses from under the driver's side footwell (where you will tap one power/ground set into the footwell lamp for the exterior door handle white LEDs and tap the other power/ground set into the trunk open switch for the interior door handle/door pockets amber LEDs).

Then you would run these two main power/ground harness branches along the driver side of the car underneath the side plastic panels that run along the side of the floor above the door sills.

At the back of the car run them up to the rearseat cushion on the drivers side-where the plastic comes up and meets the cushion and underneath the rear seat TOWARDS the passenger side of the car (see the pictures in Part 3 of my Cupholder LED DIY where I add a power source to the rear cup holders on my old E36 for an pictorial idea of this)

There you will run these two main power/ground harness (one power/ground set for inside amber LEDs and the other power/ground set for outside white LEDs) along the side plastic panels from the rear seat cushion on the passenger side of the car all the way to the front passenger footwell where it will terminate and you will tuck the ends away and out of sight. This is all fairly easy to do and what I did was simply tuck the wire harness under the side plastic panels where it overlaps the carpet without having to remove them.

Along the main harnesses you will tap into them at key points (mainly the area at the front footwells to snake a power/ground branch to the front doors hinges and eventually into the front doors AND the B pillars where you will snake a power/ground branch to the rear door hinges and eventually into the rear doors.

This method;

A. Looks clean and leaves as little as possible room for error since there is only TWO main power/ground harness lines one set for interior LEDs (interior door handles/door pockets amber LEDs to come on with interior ambience dash lamps) and the other for exterior LEDs (outer door handles white LEDs to come on with the unlocking of the door via remote key). And these TWO main power/ground harnesses will be tapped into for each door around each door area. Having few specific key splice in points allows you to trouble shoot any problems.

B. Allows you the least room for messing up your car's OEM wiring since you will ONLY splice into two points of sources on the car ONLY under the driver's side footwell (footwell lamp and trunk open switch).

C. Allows you to add an auxillary power off/on switch along the main harness lines under the driver's side footwell (where the driver can control it) if you get tired of any of your aftermarket LEDs down the road.

D. Allows you to always add or subtract anymore LEDs down the line since you have already laid an extensive foundation of wiring that will add LED power to pretty much any part of the cabin. Say if you wanted to add a rear armrest cup holder LED in a few years all you would have to do is splice into the appropriate main harness branch running under the rear seats. It also gives you the flexibility of having a source of power in the back of the car.

I think this method of laying ONE simple power/ground wire harness foundation that is tapping power/ground from ONE key area in the car (the driver's footwell area) then tapping into this simple power/ground main harness branch foundation for each specific area of the car where you need it is easier and quicker to DIY than trying to tap lots of different LED wires into various proximal power/ground sources through out the car.
 

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In for this mod! Great DIY :thumbsup:
 

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if its tapped into the footwells wouldnt it come wenever u hit the dome light open the door etc. is there a way so it only comes on via unlocking the car
 

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if its tapped into the footwells wouldnt it come wenever u hit the dome light open the door etc. is there a way so it only comes on via unlocking the car
yeah...I'm trying to wrap my head around this possible conundrum.
 

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I just got my wires thru the door tube OEM style. Took me all day to formulate the best method but I did it and I pretty much got a technique that will literally make anyone snake wiring thru the rubber tubes OEM style in about 10 minutes. My Pictorial DIY for this mod should be up by tomorrow night. It will show you step by step how to get this done properly OEM style for all 4 doors. I'm also adding amber LEDs to the inside handles that come on with the dash lighting. So my passengers can see the inner door handles at night.





I'm also laying prewiring for rear fogs and PDC (going from dash to trunk area at the same time.)
Here is my blueprint.
 

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This is the HARDEST DIY I've ever attempted.
I'm still on the first door and its Wednesday (started this DIY Monday night).
Every corner is an obstacle.

I'm not sure it's even worth doing a DIY for this because it will only fool anyone attempting it into thinking it is easier than it really is.

ISSUES: Wiring thru the door handles. Takes a really long time to figure out how to do it. Even following other DIYs, those guys failed to mention that the trail and error process is tedious. Even if it looks right, it can fail.

I'm praying that the driver's door was indeed the hardest one. I still have 3 more doors to complete.

Mind, I'm also doing all the interior door handles and front pockets with amber leds.But the outer handles alone is alot more difficult than the inner ones
 
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