GOLFMK8
GOLFMK7
GOLFMK6
GOLFMKV

RGB Ambient Lighting for Mk7 and Mk7.5

IWMTom

Drag Racing Champion
Introduction
This thread is sort of a continuation of a discussion I was having with a few other members on this thread where a French fella had retrofitted RGB ambient lighting, but refused to share any details on how he did it. Having done some in-depth research into this retrofit, I came up with very little information on the subject and had to piece together various bits of knowledge from the RossTech forum and GolfMk7.

The basic problem so far is as follows....
  • A Mk7 BCM does not support OEM 10 colour or 30 colour ambient lighting.
  • Only a small selection of Mk7.5 BCMs support 10 colour, and an even smaller selection support 30 colour.
  • It's incredibly difficult to retrofit a Mk7.5 BCM into a Mk7 car because the long coding has been moved entirely to adaptations.
After purchasing a supported Mk7.5 BCM and trying for several hours to sort out the adaptations, I gave up and decided to look for an alternative.

I purchased a kit on AliExpress from VAGBASE/VAGEXPRESS (they're got a few other names too). My biggest motivation for buying this kit was the marketing of "Do not need coding, wiring, high BCM or high head unit".

Whilst the listing isn't showing on AliExpress any longer, they seem to have it on their own website here. It's important to note that they seem to have a few different kits for our car at varying prices, but it's not clear what the difference is... for the record, I paid £301.03 (GBP) and the kit was delivered to me in the UK from China 16 days after ordering.

The kit contains 17 individual lights, made up of:
  • 4x Door Trim
  • 4x Door Pocket
  • 4x Door Handle
  • 1x Dash Trim
  • 4x Footwells
It also contains:
  • 1x Main LED Controller
  • 4x Slave LED Controller
  • 2x Rear Door Light Diffuser
  • 1x Dash Light Diffuser
  • 1x Hole Saw (for door pocket lights)
  • 1x Drill bit
  • Various wiring harnesses

Originally when I bought the kit I wasn't completely sure how you would be able to get this to work in a Mk7.
For a short while, I was under the impression that the Main LED Controller would act as a Man-In-The-Middle on the CANBUS and act as the ambient segment of the BCM without needing to upgrade it, thus the MIB would display the ambient colour selection... I was wrong.

In hindsight, I expected a bit too much.. but this kit does offer an alternative for pre-facelift cars, albeit not completely OEM.

The Main LED Controller has a few different configurations (controlled via 4 dip switches on the side of the controller), but it all comes down to your car as to which configuration you should use. They are:
  • Mk7.5 OEM - main controller can automatically flash and code the BCM/infotainment unit, with ability to listen and respond to changes via the infotainment screen.
  • Mk7/Mk7.5 non OEM (mirror switch) - in this configuration, the main controller is within the driver door, and the mirror switch is used to change the colours/brightness.
  • Mk7/Mk7.5 non OEM (steering wheel) - in this configuration, the main controller is around the glovebox, and the steering wheel buttons can be used to change colours/brightness.
At this point I'd like to make it clear that I have not fitted this kit yet. I'll be doing some preliminary test fitting in the coming days and will try my best to document it in as much detail as possible.

I've attached the Chinese instructions provided to me by the seller. I find that Google Translate does a good job of translating the entire document (although it does remove the images!).
 

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IWMTom

Drag Racing Champion
The Kit In Detail

This is a high level overview of the different components of the kit. I've uploaded close ups of each component to this Google Photos album.

Kit Overview.jpg


I've quickly whipped up what I believe to be the correct wiring diagram (at a super high level) for the OEM/non OEM (steering wheel) setup. This would be slightly different if you opted to use the mirror switch as your control instead.

The blue dotted lines between the LED controllers symbolises a wireless communication, because these modules can talk to each other without direct wiring!

AmbientLighting (3).png
 
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IWMTom

Drag Racing Champion
Installation
This guide is going to cover installation to a RHD vehicle via the steering wheel control method described previously. For other configurations, some details may differ, but on the whole it should be enough to follow.

There will be lots of references to the official VW workshop manual throughout this guide as it's not worth rewriting parts like "remove the glovebox" when the workshop manual is perfectly adequate and available to all (for a small fee) via
ErWin.

There are lots more photos than those included in this thread within the Google Photos album for this project.

Main LED Controller, Dash Trim Light, and Footwell Lights
First things first, let's replace the chopstick for the dash trim...
It starts off with lots of little plastic welds at various points along the silver strip keeping it tightly against the outer black trim:

1613849241200.png


These plastic welds need to be ground down with a Dremel and a grinding wheel then the silver strip gently separated from the black trim.
After this, grind down any remnants of the welds so they are completely flush:

1613849661239.png


Next, we need to fit the new silver strip (with associated diffuser) to the trim. In my particular case, I did need to cut some notches at certain points so the strip would fit flush with the trim I purchased. I suspect this is due to the vehicle being RHD rather than LHD, but it was easy enough to do with some careful use of cutters.

I was originally going to use plastic weld to bond together the two plastic parts but it didn't bond fast enough, so I opted for.... hot glue!
1613849841581.png


Yes, it looks a bit messy, but I tidied it up with a craft knife after. I tested that the light diffused nicely using a torch (no photo, sorry!) and all was well, so on to the installation to the car!

First, remove the old trim [General body repairs, interior - pg.240 - 3.3 Removing and installing dash panel trim] and the glove compartment [General body repairs, interior - pg.31 - 1.17 Removing and installing glove compartment]:

1613850626928.png


Now, we can't just fit the new trim straight on as we've got the diffuser to contend with:
1613851170330.png


I drilled a hole in the bottom right corner to pass the diffuser through, which allowed me to clip it all in and access the diffuser from behind:
1613851280873.png


Now that's installed, we need to wire up the Main LED Controller. As detailed in the wiring diagram from the previous post, the controller has four wires that need to be connected:
  • 12v Power [red] (plenty of options... fusebox, or splice into the Quadlock power)
  • Ground [black] (Quadlock, or a bolt on the chassis)
  • CAN HIGH [brown] (pin 6 of the grey connector on the Quadlock)
  • CAN LOW [green] (pin 12 of the grey connector on the Quadlock)
I prefer to use Scotchlock T splices like these as they're easily removable and fairly reliable:

1613851743147.png



I chose to mount the controller itself to the card holder insert inside the glovebox; it fits perfectly:

1613852169258.png


Note the dip switches - for steering wheel controls, 2 should be down, and 1,3,4 should be up.

Use a non shaven version of the barrel light emitter and insert the diffuser as such:

1613852522008.png


The fit isn't very tight, so you'll need to position it in such a way that it'll stay in when the glovebox is reinstalled.
Connect the extension wire to the plug of the emitter, and then connect the other end of the extension wire to one of the four pigtails of the main controller harness.

Next, connect the footwell harness to one of the remaining three pigtails of the main controller harness.
The footwell harness in my experience was perfectly measured, so it was easy enough to identify which connection went to which section of the car.

Run the harness down to underneath the glovebox, and then reinstall the glovebox.

You can now connect a footwell light to the harness under the glovebox and clip it in:
1613853444719.png


You can then run the footwell harness to the driver side and connect accordingly.
Then, run the harness to underneath the driver and passenger seats and connect accordingly.
 
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IWMTom

Drag Racing Champion
Front Doors
I'm going to preface this by saying this job really isn't for the faint of heart.
Owning a Dremel with some decent quality grinding/sanding attachments is an absolute must, as well as a drill with spade attachments (10mm ideally).

If the instructions aren't clear and you wish for additional photos, chances are there's one in the shared Google Photos album. The forum imposes limits on the number of photos per post, but there's many more within the album.

First, remove the door card [General body repairs, interior - pg.221 - 1.2 Removing and installing front door trim].
Remove the 20 pin connector (B) from the door control module. Separate the connector block for the small control wires from the main connector body and combine it into the identical connector block from the ambient wiring loom. Connect the original connector block to the female connector of the ambient loom as a piggy back... like so:

1614542379303.png


You can then connect the final plug back into the door controller. If it wasn't immediately obvious, this is just a clever way of siphoning power for the ambient control module. You can connect some light emitters to the loom to test that power is being received correctly at this point.

Next.. modifying the door card. This is where the fun part begins.......

The plastic welds circled in red need grinding out. Once all the welds have been ground down, you should be able to gently start levering the trim away from the door card itself. It can help to push through from the back at each weld point. If it's not budging, grind some more.

door-card-weldas.jpg


You should now have the trim separated from the door card. Release the small clips for the door handle section of the trim and remove it, resulting in the following:

door-diffuser-welds.jpg


As I had Golf R door cards (with existing solid blue light emitters) I needed to remove the old emitter PCB and use one of the shaven emitters provided with the ambient kit. To do this requires grinding away some more welds, circled in red on the photo above. Again, grind away and pry gently to separate the two sections.

With the backing removed, the emitter PCB is then exposed. This can be removed from it's holder with some persuasion:

1614544012512.png


The original hole left where the PCB once sat is unfortunately not large enough for the new emitter, so it must be ground away until the new emitter can fit in:

1614544075530.png


At this point, I tested to ensure the light from the emitter was travelling the full length without issue.. and it did!

1614544116973.png


Next, put the trims back together and use some hot glue where the welds once were. You may need to grind the remnants of the old welds away for everything to sit nice and flush.

With the trim light now functional, we move on to the light behind the large door handle. Again, as I have Golf R door cards, I already had white ambient illumination behind the door handle. Irritatingly the emitter provided with the ambient kit isn't the same shape as the OEM emitter, so some modifications must be made.

First, using a 10mm spade bit, drill a hole at an angle through the top door card bolt channel on an angle for us to pass the wiring through (photo as seen from the rear of the card):

1614544468924.png


Then, using the provided drill bit, drill a hole at an appropriate place for the nub on the emitter to poke through. You can then affix the emitter in place:

1614544537030.png


Finally, using the hole saw provided with the kit, drill a hole at an appropriate place to fit the door pocket light. Here's the position I chose:

1614544635354.png


You can now affix the ambient controller to the door (or door card) at an appropriate place, and connect all of the wiring up.
Reattach the door card to the door and do a test of all emitters.

Rear Doors

First, remove the door card [General body repairs, interior - pg.231 - 2.2 Removing and installing rear door trim].

As there are no door controllers at the rear (thanks VW...) the piggy back method for the front doors doesn't really work for us here. Instead, we can cut a connector off the ambient loom and use T splice connectors to splice into the window regulator motor as per the high level wiring diagram detailed a few posts ago:



Do a brief test to ensure your connections are good by connecting an ambient controller up to the loom.

With the door card off, I recommend sealing your rear speakers with some appropriate silicone sealant as the OEM seals are prone to breaking down and leaking water into the rear footwells.

In a similar fashion to the front door cards, grind the circled plastic welds and remove the trim from the door card.



With the trim removed, grind away the following circled welds:



Fit the new chopstick in place of the old one and glue it in place.

Drill a small hole with the provided drill bit to pass the rubber fibre optic style emitter to the rear of the door card:



Next, attach an emitter to the tube and glue it to the card:



You can now fit the door handle emitter and door pocket emitter in exactly the same way as the front doors detailed above.

Refit the door card and test operation.

If anything wasn't clear with these instructions, please do ask any questions you have in the thread and I will modify the instructions with the answers to any questions as they come in. Again, I must stress, there are SO MANY more photos in the shared Google Photos album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/gEgn2pJgdd5oFWLn9

All in all, I'm very happy with the outcome of this retrofit. It took around 14 hours, but this included a lot of trial and error. Please find some demos below:



Thanks for reading! Any questions, please ask them!
 

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gixxerfool

Go Kart Champion
Location
New Jersey
Car(s)
2016 Golf R
It’s not a bad price considering what you get. I guess there’s no way to have it respond to different inputs and mimic the Mk8 where different drive modes change the color?

Being that each mode has a different output to certain components, having a microcontroller respond to changing inputs isn’t hard.
 

Fraysa

Go Kart Newbie
Location
Israel
Car(s)
2016 MK7 1.4TSI
Thank you so much for this; looking forward for updates.

'Rear door and diffusers' - I assume you mean the dashboard inserts on the door cards, or am I confused? I know you have R door cards so I'm not sure how that's supposed to blend in.
 

IWMTom

Drag Racing Champion
It’s not a bad price considering what you get. I guess there’s no way to have it respond to different inputs and mimic the Mk8 where different drive modes change the color?

Being that each mode has a different output to certain components, having a microcontroller respond to changing inputs isn’t hard.
Not that I know of, no.
 

IWMTom

Drag Racing Champion
Thank you so much for this; looking forward for updates.

'Rear door and diffusers' - I assume you mean the dashboard inserts on the door cards, or am I confused? I know you have R door cards so I'm not sure how that's supposed to blend in.
Yes, you can see in the second post the silver sticks on the right hand side.

The rear door cards already have silver sticks as "decoration" but they don't have a transparent slit in them to let light through. This kit provides some replacements with a light diffuser in, quite the same as how the fronts currently work.

It's worth noting that I was given two options when purchasing.. either purchase the kit without a set of trims, or with a set of trims. The kit WITH the set of trims would be suitable for anyone who hasn't already got static ambient lighting in the front (i.e. Golf R door cards).
 

IWMTom

Drag Racing Champion
Short update.. and not a good one I'm afraid..

Had some free time this weekend in between replacing brake calipers to try plugging the main control module in to test that all the lights are working.

Unfortunately, with power and CAN lines connected (verified it had 12v), nothing happened, and no lights plugged in illuminated.

Awaiting a response from the seller, so this is on hold for now.
 
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