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Gauge Cluster LED Conversion V2 (PICS)

Discussion in 'Performance Lighting' started by MustangP51, March 21, 2009.

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    1. MustangP51

      MustangP51 Well-Known Member

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      This is my second and hopefully much more helpful writeup on converting the 95-01 gauge cluster to LEDs. I have tried 3 different types of 12v wedge based 194 replacements and I have finally found the one that puts out enough light and lights up the cluster evenly.

      Here were my candidates.
      From Left to Right: Inverted Wedge LED, Refractor LED, SMD LEDs
      [​IMG]
      The Results

      Inverted Wedge LED: Even Light output, but not bright enough

      Refractor LED: Horribly Uneven light output, Short Lifespan (they started blowing on me)

      SMD (Surface Mount Diode): Even Light output and very bright (brighter the the 194LL Bulbs)

      [​IMG]

      Getting to the cluster:

      Step 1
      Remove the Radio
      [​IMG]

      Step 2
      Remove the 2 screws (circled in red)
      Disconnect the 5 wiring harness behind the bezel (circled in blue)
      [​IMG]
      [​IMG]

      Step 3
      Remove the 4 screws holding the plastic panel in place. (2 are hidden under the hood release) Then pull back on the top of the panel ( it is held in by clips)
      [​IMG]

      Step 4
      Remove the 3 bolts holding the metal shield in place
      [​IMG]

      Step 5
      Remove the 2 screws at the bottom of the gauge bezel (note the wiring harness locations circled in blue)
      [​IMG]

      Step 6
      Remove the 3 screws at the top of the gauge bezel
      [​IMG]

      Step 7
      Pull out the bezel enough to disconnect the 3 wiring harnesses. (Headlight Switch, Dimmer, and Rear Parking Assist) Then Remove the bezel. (Shifter must be in 1st gear)
      [​IMG]

      Step 8
      Remove the 4 screws holding in the Gauge Cluster
      [​IMG]
      [​IMG]

      Step 9
      Tilt the Cluster back and remove the Shift Indicator from the cluster, there are 2 plastic tabs that must be held on each side to remove the indicator.
      Disconnect the 3 wiring harness from behind the cluster, then remove the Cluster
      [​IMG]
      [​IMG]

      Now Hopefully You are holding your Instrument Cluster and can go on to the fun part.

      Remove the 6 back light bulbs from the cluster. (Circled in Red)
      ( I also highly recommend you also remove the THEFT light LED so you don't risk blowing it like I did when I was trying to figure out how to bench test the cluster)
      The PC board on the back of the cluster is flexible so you can carefully pull the contacts where the wiring harnesses attach out of the sockets so you can attach alligator clips to bench test.
      (The white wires are the - and the RED and GREEN are +)
      [​IMG]

      Here are the LEDs in the sockets. ( I used a bit of hot glue to make sure they didn't come out)
      [​IMG]

      I apologize for not having a night shot of the final product, but the camera I have with me is an absolute noise box and takes terrible low light pics. When I get back my Canon ill get some pics.

      Good Luck!
       
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    3. vroomzoomboom

      vroomzoomboom Elite Canuck STOCK SUCKS! Elite Explorer

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      once again ryan, i will bow down! :notworthy
       
    4. BrianDye

      BrianDye I'll have another... Elite Explorer

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      hey man, great write up, ive been wanting to order LED's to do that, and im replacing EVERY dash light, even the ac controls' lights, all the check so and so lights, blinker arrows, all that, and ive been wondering what LED's i should get (the 194's) where did you get those?

      eBay?
       
    5. millerman23

      millerman23 Active Member

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      As will I :notworthy:notworthy.
      Your post on replacing all the dome lights with leds helped me a lot. You sir I will say are a LED MASTER
       
    6. MustangP51

      MustangP51 Well-Known Member

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      Haha thank you tim and miller.

      Brian I would leave the indicator lights as bulbs. If you put LEDs in then the system will think the bulb has blown and if an indicator like the Airbag light comes on then the system will make the chime sound when the light comes on. They are also not the same 194 bulbs as the back lights.

      Yes I bought them off of ebay
      Search
      "194 SMD LED"
       
    7. techieman33

      techieman33 Explorer Addict

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      Another amazing write up
       
    8. BogFather

      BogFather Active Member

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    9. fixxxer

      fixxxer Well-Known Member

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      I found a good LED tool for you Ryan, it's an online calculator that allows you to convert millicandelas (or candelas) and lumens for an LED

      http://led.linear1.org/lumen.wiz

      It's a good way for anyone doing a conversion to compare output specs of different LED's
       
    10. MustangP51

      MustangP51 Well-Known Member

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      The only problem with those is that they wont light up the cluster evenly. You will have hot spots where the LEDs are but the light will fade out the farther it gets from the LED. The reason the 3rd ones I used worked so well was because they have 4 LEDs that are angled horizontally to spread out the light.

      Fixxxer that is a nice find, but look at the last sentence in the tools description
      "Beware especially of wide-angle LEDs, which will probably be distorted the most by this calculation".
      That tool would be perfect if you are working with standard 3mm 5mm or 10mm LEDs
       
    11. BogFather

      BogFather Active Member

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      gotcha ;) ;) :D
       
    12. BogFather

      BogFather Active Member

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    13. MustangP51

      MustangP51 Well-Known Member

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    14. BogFather

      BogFather Active Member

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      When i get them and get them installed i'll be sure to post some pics for ya ;) ;). Did you get pics of before and after with yours in ??
       
    15. MustangP51

      MustangP51 Well-Known Member

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      I had one from before, but It really doesn't show what it looks like in person. In the picture everything was lit up evenly (far from the way it really looked, there were dark patches everywhere)

      I'm hoping I can get a picture tonight of how it looks now.

      Please do post pics when your done.
       
    16. BogFather

      BogFather Active Member

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      yeah i will deffinately post some up bud ;) ;)
       
    17. BrianDye

      BrianDye I'll have another... Elite Explorer

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      thanks man, i found them on eBay, about 4.50$ a pair,
      but I already replaced my Check Engine light with an LED, and it seems fine, if anything ill do it, and let you guys know how it goes, thanks for the info
       
    18. ornithology

      ornithology Active Member

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      I just bought a bunch of blue 5mm 9,000MCD leds. Do you think if I jam several into each socket it will work? But then again...there is the issue with the green film right? I have an 03 sport and that would suck if the blue turns out to be a blueish green because of the film...
       
    19. MustangP51

      MustangP51 Well-Known Member

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      As much as I like making custom LED units, this is one application where the pre made 194 LED is better then anything someone could make. There is barely enough room for the SMD 194 LEDs in the cluster so no you wouldn't have enough room to put more then 3 5mm LEDs in each socket.
       
    20. ornithology

      ornithology Active Member

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      hm...
      fine.
      :)
      Order placed for the 5 SMD 194s.
       
    21. ornithology

      ornithology Active Member

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      Just wondering though, aren't your needles supposed to be red? When you changed your LED color it changed the needle too?? That's awkward cuz in my 03 sport it has flourescent red painted on it..
       
    22. MustangP51

      MustangP51 Well-Known Member

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      Sports have red needles and white backgrounds. 4 Doors have clear needles and black backgrounds.
       
    23. EMG7895

      EMG7895 Well-Known Member

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      be careful with the blue, I tried regular blue in my 96 cluster and it doesnt show through the red especially on the gas gauge.
       
    24. Rob (215)

      Rob (215) New Member

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      I'm not converting to led but is there a brighter replacement bulb for the backlight of the cluster or is it a standard 194 bulb. Also how many do I need to replace all of them (cuz I'm getting tired of banging the dash to get the dark side to light up!)
       
    25. MustangP51

      MustangP51 Well-Known Member

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      I don't know if they make any brighter bulbs, if they do I wouldn't recommend using them. Brighter bulbs draw more power, more power means more heat and you run the risk of melting the cluster.

      Why don't you want to switch to LEDs?
       
    26. Rob (215)

      Rob (215) New Member

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      From all that i hear about the "even coverage" thing i wouldn't know if it's a good idea or not. Me personally, i really don't care what bulb it is as long as i get a bright even coverage on cluster board (led or standard) also, which ever lasts the longest without dimming is probably what i'll go with (whichever that is?) cuz i only plan on tearing my dash apart once and once only. :hammer:
       

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