I’ve had a fair bit of interest for the NeoStrip project I built for my Mazda MX-5 ND2, and decided to share the love by custom building a spin-off with new sequences and brake modes. It includes a trunk-mounted controller, inline connectors and the LED NeoStrip. Read on for details! I’m also entertaining making this kit for other vehicles – drop me a line if interested.

What is it? It’s a controllable rear-mounted LED strip with multiple sequence choices – a NeoStrip. This is a dynamic LED strip that hits the next level (scroll to the bottom to see video clips). It has a micro-controller with a number of user-selectable sequences. The LED strip has a diffused casing to ensure nice light spread exiting the unit. Current known fitment is for ND/ND2’s 19-22. Can’t guarantee it will fit others but as I understand it the wiring harness is the same on all ND/ND2’s until 2022. Also can’t yet confirm the harness will work on 2023+ models (someone interested in checking your pinouts against this ?).

NeoStrip Kit Contents

V3 Usage and Sequence Demo (Nov 2022) Some features / sequences have been updated since this video. Scroll to bottom for videos of each sequence and different brake modes.

How it works: When running lights come on, NeoStrip will play the (saved) sequence on start-up, then revert to running light mode (basically red). During braking (in most sequence settings), NeoStrip does a red sweep out from the middle to the sides (think Audi). NeoStrip V3 has numerous sequences, an OLED display plus new brake modes (sweep, fast flashing, fast flashing then slow flashing). The OLED display shows the current sequence & brake mode, and allows for fast sequence/brake mode changes / saving.

The NeoStrip LED strip is mounted under the trunk lid, with the controller inside to the left. Using the button on the controller, sequences can be selected and saved to non-volatile memory. The system is powered by the rear running lights, so it does not draw power when the car lights are off.

This is based on my Phase I project with tweaks and improvements (does not use the remote control front console controller). It’s easy to install and pretty much plug-and-play with a wiring harness that connects between the rear tail light connector. NeoStrips could also work with other vehicles with a few tweaks – drop me note if interested.

How to Get One:

V3 cost is $220 CAD + shipping + 4% PayPal fees.

These are custom made with love! I don’t have a storefront, so drop me a note if interested. Fits 19-22 NDs/ND2s. For other model years, you can check your pinouts against this. I understand ND/ND2 pinouts are the same (until 22 for now). Installation instructions (with video) also provided. By purchasing this kit you accept the Limitation of Liability

Details:

The following are a list of sequences and braking modes that can be selected. Sequences start once when the lights are turned on, then the unit falls to whatever the default running light mode is. Brake mode triggers once with braking then again after a delay period (so not to annoy).

Sequences (scroll to bottom to see videos for each sequence):

  • Default (red running light mode)
  • K.I.T.T. / Larson Scanner (nuff said!)
  • K.I.T.T. / Larson Scanner in Colour
  • Red Bounce
  • Colour Bounce
  • K.I.T.T & Red Bounce
  • K.I.T.T & Red Bounce both in Colour
  • Rainbow Dance (holy colour!)
  • Red Outward Sweep (slower)
  • Red Outward Sweep (faster)
  • Blue Outward Sweep (slower)
  • Blue Outward Sweep (faster)
  • Plot Outwards Red
  • Plot Outwards Blue
  • No Running Light with Brakes Only (off on start and only shows braking mode)
  • Demo Mode (all main sequences together – useful to show off at car shows. Not suggested while driving!)

Brake Modes:

  • Sweep (default)
  • Fast Flash **
  • Fast Flash then Slow Flash **
  • ** Note – The flashing brake modes trigger on first brake application, then a 20 second delay prevents it from repeating and instead shows the sweep mode. Once the delay elapses, it repeats again the next time you re-apply braking. See the demo video for more info.

FAQ:

  • What’s included? Microcontroller w/enclosure, wiring & mounting clips, NeoStrip, zip ties, and a inline harness connector for ND/ND2 rear lights (plug-and-play).
  • What installation is required? Installation is easy and an instruction page with video will be provided. Everything can be mounted via provided mounts and zip ties. You will need to pass the NeoStrip wire through two grommets (trunk lid and back) – this is likely the hardest part as you have to cut a hole in 2 of them.
  • How do I change modes? Modes are changed via the button mounted in the controller. How you mount the controller depends on how often you expect to change modes and how accessible you want to make the controller. You can see some of the creative installations below. One user cut a hole to access the controller/button. You may also be able to secure the controller on the top underside of the left area – possibly with velcro.
  • How fast does it start or “boot up”? It uses power from the running lights and starts in the last saved sequence mode. Start-up time to “play” the sequence is ~1 second. Of course once your lights are on, braking is instantaneous.
  • Is it a 3rd Brake Light Flasher? Not really. It’s a rear running light first, with braking being available once the set sequence is done playing. It requires to be powered first from the lights being on, then watches the brake light line and reacts to braking with the selected brake mode. It does have brake flasher modes you can set, so in that sense, it can do this action as well.
  • What about the red / brightness? I have a CRM ND2, and the red matches perfectly to the lights. It is also bright but not excessive. Your mileage may vary depending on your paint colour. One customer has a black RF and says it’s slightly washed out due to reflecting off the black before existing the trunk area. He put reflective tape to help with this.
  • Is it legal? First thing – I can’t advise on legality either way, so can only share an opinion. Given sequences only run when lights come on, risk is limited. As a running light, it’s no different than any other red running light on many modern cars, or those you can get aftermarket. Playing any of the colourful sequences could draw attention – but again, that’s only when it first starts. The flashing brake modes could also draw attention, but there’s always the sweep mode if there’s concern. Either way, check your local laws. You have been advised… 😉
  • Is it Open Source? For reasons that are hopefully obvious, no. However, the controller can be re-programmed to whatever you want, but you do so at your own risk. Happy to guide on pins used etc. This can be done with the Arduino IDE.
  • Can I control it from my phone? No. That said, I’ve done it before, but it would add significant cost to the unit likely putting off interest. Also consider how often one may tinker with making cool light sequences, then land on something to no longer change it. This project took the path of lower cost and removing possible failure points (think app versioning, phone hardware/software changes). Instead, my aim is to keep adding sequences.
  • Power Requirements: 12V power (from the running lights), 12V brake (as a signal) and GND. Controller components run at 5V and 3.3V. The unit only powers on when the running lights are on, so no need to worry about draining the battery. As long as your lights are off of course!
  • Current Draw: Maximum draw is ~580mA (0.5A) when the Rainbow Dance sequence is running as it’s the most demanding sequence (uses RGB LED elements in each pixel). Normal running light mode (red running light) draw is ~146mA and rises to ~410mA during braking (red pixels all at 100% duty cycle).
  • Import Duties? Possibly. I can’t tell you if, or how much, but you should assume you will have to pay import duties and local taxes.
  • Have another vehicle? With a few mods, these could easily adapt to other vehicles. Want to be a guinea pig and save a few $$ on a kit for your vehicle type? Currently looking for folks who have other vehicles that could be of interest. Also looking for a 2023 Miata owner who can share pinout info of the connector. Drop me a note if interested. Ideally, someone located in the GTA near Burlington ON. Need to figure fitment. Connections can be changed to t-taps or similar for other models.

Kit Sample (subject to change):

Customer Demo Videos and Installation Images

Customer Demo of Sweep Sequence
Rainbow Dance Sequence

Videos of Sequences and Brake Modes in V3 of NeoStrip

Running Light – (default for most)
K.I.T.T.
K.I.T.T. In Colour
Bounce (red)
Bounce (colour)
K.I.T.T. & Bounce
K.I.T.T. & Bounce (in colour)
Rainbow Dance
Sweep Out Red (slow)
Sweep Out Red (fast)
Sweep Out Blue (slow)
Sweep Out Blue (fast)
Red Plot
Blue Plot
No Running Lights (off)
Demo of Braking Modes