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Discussion Starter #1
A couple of years ago, I converted the headlight on my 2000 ST2 from the stock tea-candle to a HID Xenon system (https://www.ducati.ms/forums/40-sport-touring/527298-hid-conversion-since-i-can-t-afford-dd-s.html). After initial success, I had a few issues with the lights not coming on consistently which, after reflection and suggestions, I ended up re-wiring through relays (initial conversion was just straight through stock wiring). With the relays in place, the headlights were basically trouble free for good while.
Then last year I starting having an issue with the low beam not coming on when I turned on the key. Usually a few flicks of the key going on and off and I was all set. The problem kept happening more and more to the point now that I may have to cycle the key on and off a dozen times or more to get the low beam to fire - if it will fire at all.
- Suspect #1 - The Ballast. I'll admit, I did this conversion on the cheap and figured I was just getting my money's worth out of the ballast and a new one would fix the problem. WRONG. Two new ballasts later, the problem still exists.
- Suspect #2 - The Bulb. Again, based off of what I paid for it, and since the ballast was good, maybe it was the bulb. So in goes a new bulb, try it out, fires right up the first time. Turn off the key, try it again, and... nothing... Grrr.
- Suspect #3 - The Relay. I tear the front end apart, pull out everything, replace the relay, try it out and I have light! I try it dozens of times to make sure it keeps working and it does. I am happy. I button everything back, try it one more time and... you guessed it, no light. Cycle the key a half dozen times and the light comes on, just like before.

WHAT AM I MISSING???

The bulb, the ballast and the relay are all good. If it was a bad wire, it wouldn't work at all as there would be no power, period. But this light will come on sometimes. Jiggling the wires doesn't seem to do anything, so it's not like its a bad connector - and even if it was, cycling the key wouldn't effect the connection. The only other clue that I have is that when the light does not come on, I hear a short, little buzz or beep coming from either the relay or the ballast (can't tell which). On the times the light works, I do not hear this little buzz/beep. Does that mean anything to anyone?

Keep in mind that the highbeam has remained unaffected by this problem.

Anyone have any ideas?
 

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My experience with HID is that cheap ballasts are very voltage sensitive. I had a similar problem caused by voltage drop when starting. Better quality ballast fixed it but I also bought a euro headlight switch so that I could start bike and then turn the lights on just to be sure.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I was totally willing to accept the voltage-sensitive ballast as an option, but since the problem followed three different ballasts on the low beam side but didn't affect the high beam side, even when I just switched the ballasts, that kind of ruled that out.

Anyway, I THINK I have figured it out. I think the problem was the socket itself. The H-1 style HID Xenon bulb has an external wire that is covered by a ceramic insulator. The first bulb (which is now back in the bike and working perfectly) had a nice dark mark on the ceramic right where it had been coming in contact with an edge of the socket. The replacement bulb was starting to show the same dark mark. I think the bulbs had been grounding out through the ceramic into the socket. So I took a file, and carefully increased the clearance for that wire and the problem seems to have resolved itself.

... for now...
 
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