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    Thread: Guide: How to install blue LEDs and white overlays into your cluster.

    1. Member Black_cabbie's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jul 16th, 2003
      Athens Greece
      Q7 4.2 V8 , Smart 451 Turbo
      06-15-2004 01:55 PM #1
      Black is back!
      This is a complete guide on how to install blue LEDs in your clocks.
      What we need:
      8 3mm Bright Blue LEDs.
      4 470Ohm Resistors 1/4Watt
      Soldering Iron
      Super Glue
      A few loops of wire.
      Soldering Boards
      3mm Drill
      I believe thats all.
      So here we go!
      Get the cluster out. I suppose you know how to do this......

      In my case I was swapping the ugly German looking gauge overlays with white ones I created at home. You can skip this part if you don't intent to do it.
      So, I took the cluster apart and remove the needles. Very easy. Make sure you note the direction the needle rests before you pull it out. To do that, lift the needle over the pin-stop and see where it stops. Normally it should be at 0kms/0miles. Our gauges start from 20kms and 10miles but if they had a 0 thats where it would rest.
      Now get two butter knives and gently slip them under the base of the needle, one on each side of the shaft, then twist the knives so they "pop" the needle straight up off of the shaft.
      Undo the 2 screws on each face and you should have this on your hand.

      Turn the cluster over and undo the 4 nuts in order to get the temp gauge and gas gauge out.

      Once they are out you can maybe change the mileage of the odometer. The gauge I bought had a different mileage (obviously), so I wanted to match it with the real mileage of the car.
      So what I did is not very professional but worked like a dream!
      Undo the 2 screws on the left of the photo and remove the white long gear. It is noted in the red circle.

      Now take a small philips screwdriver and insert it between the long shaft noted with the red and the black odometer cylinders. Create a small gap just enough to turn the cylinders by hand to the desired mileage. When done just make sure the cylinders are in line and the number can be read with the gauge face on.
      If you have a prinout already of the overlays thats fine. Just match them over the orignal face and cut carefully.... if you don't then you can either scan yours and edit them in photoshop or you can download a ready made one from the net and then edit it according to your needs.
      Thats the one I downloaded and the edited.


      Mine are VDO (89-92) style gauge, so its a little different than the Motometer (84-88).
      Print them on good photo paper and stick on the original faces. Cut them arround and also make the holes for the odometer. Take your time and use a BRAND NEW exacto knife.
      We now proceed to the BLUE LEDs installation.
      We start from the digital clock.
      Once you have this in front of you, Undo the two screws noted in the rec circles.

      There another 2 screws under it. To undo them lift the circuit just enough to get a small screwdriver in angle to get them out. You cannot get the board out unless you remove the flexible board completely. They are attached together.
      Once all 4 screws are out you can lift the white cover and have access to the LCD screen. The LCD screen in held in place by two rubber pieces. Under the LCD screen you will find this.

      This is the green film that gives that nice green light during the night (obviously). Remove that.
      Now under the film you should have a transparent white diffuser. There are many ways to make this shine blue but since LEDs are directional I decided to go this route.
      I drilled 2 3mm holes on its side of it. I inserted my LEDs there.

      Connect the two LEDs together in parallel. You might have to trim the white plastic on the base of the cluster. You will know what I am talking about when you go back to install it.
      Solder one 470Omh resistor in series.....
      Connect it to a 12V source and voila!

      You have your blue clock!
      Solder the two wires to the inside of the old bulb holder.

      Don't worry about polarity. If its the other way arround you just turn the screw in bulb holder one more turn to reverse the polarity.

      I know you must be very excited by now. I was!
      Now lets go on to the rest of the cluster.
      Suppose that you have the gauges and the needles and everything back together.....
      On top of the cluster you can see white cover.

      Carefully remove that and you should have a green film under it similar to the one you found under the digital clock earlier. Remove it completely and never think about it again!
      There are many ways to make the light from the LEDs diffuse to have an even light inside the cluster. I couldn't find a proper white diffuser so I just though of diffusing my existing blue LEDs by sanding down a bit their tip. I few trials with the LED connected to a power source created my desired result.
      I used these cheap soldering boards because they were very easy to shape.

      These are the candidates....
      The previous bulb covered with a blue cap!

      3mm and 5mm Blue LEDs

      Although 5mm were brighter, I chose to use the 3mm due to their smaller size.
      So I used 6 LEDs soldered on the boards and cut to fit the top of the cluster.

      Once you are satisfied with the angle and the light inside the cluster use some instant glue to hold the boards in place.
      Solder all the LEDs in parallel and leave two wires long enough to connect to the outside of the cluster.

      These two wires are going to be connected with a resistance in series to the original bulb holder shown here.

      Do a couple of trial runs to see if all LEDs glow before you put the white cover back on.
      If you are unsatisified with the glow of the LEDs you can put a couple more resitors in parallel to reduce the overall resistance. So far 4 470ohm resistances worked ok. The LEDs are still working after having them on one whole day.
      In case you are wondering why put the resistors in parallel I can tell you that the 1/470+1/470=2/470. Invert that and you have a new resistor of 235Ohms. Just for your information.
      If you did everyinth carefully and slowly you should have something similar to this....

      I am very pleased with myself.
      But since I am a perfectionist I found two problems on the completed project.
      1st, the Needles are red and you cannot see them in the dark.
      Problem solved with some Fluorescent Orange paint.

      2nd, The tacho overlay looks "funny". Thats because the overlay is originally designed for a motometer gauge which is a bit different. No problem since I wanted to redesign the overlays in the first place.
      I hope you were able to follow the guide. For any questions feel free to ask me.

      Modified by Black_cabbie at 5:40 AM 7-16-2005
      Chip Tuning for a living @ www.microchips-tuning.com

    2. Member vwgtipowr's Avatar
      Join Date
      Aug 26th, 2002
      2009 BMW 335i xDrive
      06-15-2004 03:17 PM #2
      Nice work!
      I am enjoying all your how to threads you are posting lately.
      Glad to see that the car is coming along so nicely! [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    3. Member Black_cabbie's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jul 16th, 2003
      Athens Greece
      Q7 4.2 V8 , Smart 451 Turbo
      06-15-2004 03:25 PM #3
      Well, The idea is to share my knowledge with the rest of the children here....
      Chip Tuning for a living @ www.microchips-tuning.com

    4. Member Black_cabbie's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jul 16th, 2003
      Athens Greece
      Q7 4.2 V8 , Smart 451 Turbo
      07-16-2005 12:40 AM #4
      Links updated!
      Chip Tuning for a living @ www.microchips-tuning.com

    5. 07-16-2005 01:52 AM #5
      gorgeous [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    6. 03-16-2006 08:55 AM #6
      Does any know where I can download a template for the gauge faces for a 93 Rabbit cabriolet.http://www.h2ovw.com/images/ga...e.gif

    7. 03-16-2006 01:20 PM #7
      Looks good but why is your tach crooked?

    8. 03-16-2006 07:25 PM #8
      looks great.. but i have a couple questions:
      Did you connect all the LEDs to the bulb holder because the holder gets 12v from the printed circuit board? If not, then why?
      Oh and (dumb question here what did you use for a 12v power source?
      I just got a cluster from a parts car, and ordered some leds so I might be asking you for some help

    9. 03-16-2006 11:19 PM #9
      NOTE: There are 12v LEDs available at PepBoys, eliminating the resistor step and wire them buggers right in!

    10. Member rocco858488's Avatar
      Join Date
      Sep 14th, 2005
      Anderson, SC -n- Jacksong, GA
      85 rocco, 92 SLC
      04-13-2007 01:13 PM #10
      great post

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