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Old 06-22-2008, 12:20 AM   #1
lennyTR
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Default How to make your gauge cluster blue

EDIT 10/12/08
By now, I have spent at least 40 hours learning/adjusting/fixing/re-doing this mod to get it how I like it. Also, the LED's kept burning out on me, and it was very frustrating because I would have to rip out my gauge cluster and take it apart to fix it each time. This got very old by the 3rd time. So, I found a new and easier way to accomplish this mod, by using pre-assembled LED strips. They are much easier to install, more reliable, give more even lighting, and are brighter (8000 mcd). For some, this may be too bright, but I like it bright. IMPORTANT: the gauge cluster can see upwards of 14 volts; the oznium led strips are designed to run on 12. Therefore, you MUST install resistors for each strip, so that the strip won't burn out on you. Use a LED calculator to figure out the right resistor. If you don't do this, everything will work great in the beginning, but it will just be a matter of time before they start to gradually burn out on you. Very frustrating.

You can purchase the LED strips at www.oznium.com. They have good customer service, and fast shipping. Been very happy with them and their product thus far.

I had to modify the strips to get them to fit in the gauge cluster, but it wasn't that hard, and they work great now.

I edited the section of this thread where I talk about how to assemble LED circuits, and replaced the photos and directions of how I did it with the new way.


This is a new photo with the LED strips:


Old photo using LED circuits:





Well, I finally finished. Took me like 10-12 hours. For me, scraping the backs of the gauges was by far the hardest part of this mod. A complete pain in the butt if you ask me. It's a little scary too because the needles are so sensitive.

But I wanted to go ahead and make another tutorial thread to help everybody out in case they were considering doing this mod.

Honor goes to Mecchie3 for coming up with the first excellent tutorial. Here is his thread:

http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show....php?t=1124644

Skingfreak was also very helpful...he sent me my resistors for the LED circuits, and he answered a bunch of my PM's. Thanks!

I would recommend that you read his ENTIRE thread before starting...there are helpful posts later on in the middle pages and end of the thread. For the record, I wired up my LED's and cut out my stage gels before I ever attempted to scrape my gauges. It just made me feel better to do it in that order.

EDIT 7/12/07: If you have a Pioneer DEH head unit, the closest match in color that I could find is Rosco stage gel #77 Green Blue.

My opinion is that this is kind of an intermediate mod...if you have never played with your car before, this is probably not a good one to start with. If you are not comfortable removing your gauge cluster from your car, and then completely disassembling it right down to the bare circuit board, then don't do it.

1. With that said, first things first. Remove the gauge cluster from the car:

http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=690378

After the gauge cluster is out, go find a small table and a chair. Go grab a pencil, a piece of tracing paper, and then a piece of regular printer paper.

2. Remove the outer clear protective cover, the black spacer, and the gauge ring bezel. It is handy to use a small pocket screwdriver to undo the tabs, but you can do it with just your fingers.

3. Trace the inner outline of the bezel onto the tracing paper and the printer paper. The printer paper will serve as your template for wiring up the LED's.


4. Cut a piece out of the bottom of the tracing paper so that you can fit it onto the gauges. You need to cut it out of the bottom so that you can fit it around the needles, and also a little slit to go around the needle stops.





5. Once you get the tracing paper situated onto the gauges properly, make some final pencil marks onto the tracing paper where you will need to cut again. Look at the pics above...you can see I made some marks.


6. Once you are happy with how the tracing stencils ended up, place them onto a sheet of Rosco stage lighting gel (blue #79). Trace the outline of the tracing paper onto the stage lighting gel...do it slowly so it comes out nice. Use a razorblade or scissors to cut the gel stencils out.


Bam. Your gels are now done. Go get some food. Now it's time to wire up your LED's.
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Last edited by lennyTR; 08-28-2009 at 11:22 AM.
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Old 06-22-2008, 12:22 AM   #2
lennyTR
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EDIT 10/12/08
Like I said in my description at the very top, this is the new way using the LED strips I bought from www.oznium.com.


Here is what the LED strip looks like when you receive it from Oznium:


I ordered the 19" strip in white, and then I cut sections out of it according to the different lengths that I needed. The other smaller flat strip is a 'ribbon' LED strip that is better to use when space is very tight (like around the needle light guides). The LED strips can be cut every 3 LED's. However, to re-use the cut sections, it takes some work, because they are not designed to be re-used (the oznium website recommends simply 'throwing away the cut sections...ya right! not if I paid for it!). It's cheaper to buy a longer strip, and then break it down into smaller sections for use, rather than buying a bunch of short LED strips from them.

7. Prep the LED strips for use in the gauge cluster.

Take LED strip, and remove ALL of the external outside soft plastic/rubber coating. What I did, was I used a razor knife kit, and made cuts all the way down the side of each strip, and all the way across the top, and cuts between each LED. Eventually all the external coating will peel off. You'll see what I mean.

This is what you'll be left with:



Now, there will still be a thin plastic/rubber coating over the strip and LED leads. You don't want to get rid of this, except on the outside edges where you will be soldering the power and ground wires.




Use some type of thing gauge strand wire. I used the excess wire that came with the strip in the first place.

8. Test the LED strips to make sure they work.
If you have a power supply, then lucky you. If not, then go find a 12 power adapter of some kind. I used an old wireless telephone power supply. If you look around your house for a power supply, read the specs on the back of it, and make sure it says '12V' for the output:


Cut the end of it off, and then separate the wires. Be careful, because once you plug this into the wall, you are now dealing with live electricity. I don't want to be responsible for your electrocuting yourself.
Touch the positive wire to the silver (positive) wire of the LED strip, and then touch the negative wire to the gold (negative) wire of the LED strip.


LED's are done (for now).

Now for the HARD part. Scraping your gauge faces.

Last edited by lennyTR; 10-12-2008 at 11:10 PM.
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Old 06-22-2008, 12:24 AM   #3
lennyTR
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10. Remove the actual gauge faces from cluster.
Remove the white cover on the back of the circuit board. There are some tabs keeping it on.
Once you have that off, lift up the two metal tabs that are on the back of each stepper motor. Just try to be careful...remember that you are dealing with an open circuit board. Once all the tabs are lifted, press on the back of each stepper motor, slowly and steadily with a screwdriver or something. There is a small hole in the circuit board, directly behind each motor. Stick something small into that hole, and slowly/steadily push each motor out.


11. Scraping.
The back of the gauge faces is covered in a teal green film, along with a black-dotted diffusion pattern to absorb the light evenly. The black-dotted parts are much harder to scrape off. I used Cutex regular nail polish remover from walmart, q-tips, and then a craftsman pick to do the scraping. You can use more than one thing to scrape...I just decided that a pick would work best cuz it's small and skinny.



Ok, the basic formula for removing the film is:
-bend gauge face away from clear plastic backing piece
-dip q-tip in nail polish remover, and then press it against the area you want to scrape
-hold it there for about 30 seconds or so
-the film will be very soft, so you can scrape it right off. Sometimes you can even just scrape it off with the q-tip.

Be careful in how you bend the gauge faces...when you are scraping an area directly underneath the needle (0 mph, 0 rpm, etc.) carefully move the needle around its axis so that it rests at 10K rpm/160 mph. This will allow you to bend the gauge face up without touching the needle.
Scraping the guage faces took me a good 6 hours. The inner portion of the speedometer (km/h)was difficult and tricky.
I will never scrape gauges again.
Also, you will need to cut your tachometer from your speedometer. I used a razorblade, and took my time when I cut it. Make sure that the gauge bezel will cover the cut. You can see where I cut it in the picture below.

To check your work, hold the gauges up to the light and make sure it shines through without any blockage.


Clean up any film debris left over between the gauge faces and the clear backing piece. Make sure everything looks good.


12. Install gels behind gauge faces.
Slide the gels between the gauge faces and the clear plastic backing piece. Take your time, and position them correctly so that all the numbers look good. Once you are happy with the position, take small pieces of clear tape, and tape the gels to the back of the gauge face (not behind the numbers).


13. Install LED strips into cluster
Go grab your hot glue gun, or some kind of epoxy/glue that you think will hold everything in place. I used hot glue because it's easy to apply and remove. Not permanent either if I don't want it to be.
Place the LED strips strategically where you think the numbers will be. You want the light dispersion to be as even as possible to prevent hot-spotting. Also, keep in mind where you place the LED strips so that they won't get in the way of the light guides that direct light into the needle. You'll see what I mean.




I used the 'ribbon' style LED strip where I didn't have room for the regular strip. The light guides for the needles are located underneath 2500 rpm and 7000 rpm, and underneath 40 mph and 130 mph.

Last edited by lennyTR; 10-12-2008 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 06-22-2008, 12:25 AM   #4
lennyTR
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Route the wires through the ventilation holes. Once everything is in place, glue it all down. Be strategic in how you route the wires...I wanted mine to be as clean as I could get it.

14. Join all of the positive (silver) wires coming from the cluster to a single 8 inch red wire with a female quick disconnect on the end. Take all the negative (gold) wires coming from the cluster, join them together, and solder them to a single 8 inch black wire with a male quick disconnect on the end.
Blah blah blah...I'm too lazy to write the rest...go read the end of Mecchie3's tutorial...he outlines what to do step-by-step.
Basically you'll tap power from the 12V wire that powers the cluster, and ground it on the dimmer wire for the cluster.

Test all of the lighting in the cluster using your 12V power supply:




15. Completely re-assemble your gauge cluster. Make sure that the gauge faces go in without a problem.

16. Enjoy your new gauge cluster

Hope that helps guys. I'm still a newbie, but if you have any question feel free to ask.

Nate

Last edited by lennyTR; 10-12-2008 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 06-22-2008, 12:27 AM   #5
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Looks like a good write up. Definately get some finished pics up!
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Old 06-22-2008, 12:28 AM   #6
lennyTR
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Edited. New pic of gauge cluster is at top of thread.

Last edited by lennyTR; 07-12-2008 at 02:31 AM.
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Old 06-22-2008, 01:51 AM   #7
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Looks good! Scraping gauges for the first time is definitely a little nerve racking. After doing it a few times it's much easier/faster.
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Old 06-22-2008, 03:06 AM   #8
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change those lcd colors!
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Old 06-22-2008, 06:01 AM   #9
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nice job!!

now go get some gas lol
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Old 06-25-2008, 02:18 PM   #10
lennyTR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptirmal View Post
change those lcd colors!
I know I know....working on it. Just got my blue LED's in the mail yesterday.

I removed the green plastic piece from behind the outside temp gauge, and installed a blue gel piece instead. I left the one behind the odometer alone. I'm gonna install a blue LED behind each, and see which result is better.

Last edited by lennyTR; 06-25-2008 at 04:12 PM.
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Old 06-25-2008, 03:18 PM   #11
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That looks amazing! Good Job! i knew you would get it haha

For anyone thinking of doing this, Set aside a WHOLE DAY this will not be an after work/mid week job.

And take it from me, DONT PRESS DOWN ON THE CENTER OF THE NEEDLE that mistake cost me $75 as i had to order a new cluster...and redo this whole proccess lol.
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Old 06-25-2008, 05:24 PM   #12
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How did you seperate the front of the cluster from the back without breaking anything and having your gauges work properly?
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Old 06-25-2008, 08:11 PM   #13
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looks a lot harder when you dont take the needles off
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Old 06-26-2008, 01:14 AM   #14
lennyTR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gr3en View Post
How did you seperate the front of the cluster from the back without breaking anything and having your gauges work properly?
Are you referring to the gauge faces? Read the very beginning of my 3rd post, there is a picture there specifically showing how to remove them.
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Old 06-27-2008, 03:01 AM   #15
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1. So this dims also, yes?
2. Where did you get the gel?
3. What was the value of the resistor you used?
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Old 06-27-2008, 09:54 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XanRules View Post
1. So this dims also, yes?
2. Where did you get the gel?
3. What was the value of the resistor you used?

1. Yes it dims with the stock dimmer.
2. Google Stage gels and you will come up with many companies (reason i say search vs a link is price comparison )
3. This is dependant on the LED that you use, so telling you will net you nothing.
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Old 06-27-2008, 09:55 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bandit_2017 View Post
looks a lot harder when you dont take the needles off
But elevnty billion times safer.
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Old 06-27-2008, 10:11 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skingfreak View Post
That looks amazing! Good Job! i knew you would get it haha

For anyone thinking of doing this, Set aside a WHOLE DAY this will not be an after work/mid week job.

And take it from me, DONT PRESS DOWN ON THE CENTER OF THE NEEDLE that mistake cost me $75 as i had to order a new cluster...and redo this whole proccess lol.

I'm pretty sure when clearing my green I pressed on the needle directly for most of the process. There's a tiny lip (I don't even know what you call it) or spacer in between the needle base and the gauge face. Problem is when you push down they sort of snap together and don't move fluidly anymore. Take a small flat-head screwdriver and pop that little spacer back down towards the gauge face and see if that works out. I had to do it many times!
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Old 06-27-2008, 11:16 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FFKnuckles View Post
I'm pretty sure when clearing my green I pressed on the needle directly for most of the process. There's a tiny lip (I don't even know what you call it) or spacer in between the needle base and the gauge face. Problem is when you push down they sort of snap together and don't move fluidly anymore. Take a small flat-head screwdriver and pop that little spacer back down towards the gauge face and see if that works out. I had to do it many times!
Not at all what i meant, but i know what your speaking of, but i meant pressing down HARD it'll fudc things upp
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Old 06-27-2008, 12:36 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skingfreak View Post
Not at all what i meant, but i know what your speaking of, but i meant pressing down HARD it'll fudc things upp

haha, OH! ...no doubt.
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Old 06-27-2008, 12:55 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XanRules View Post
1. So this dims also, yes?
2. Where did you get the gel?
3. What was the value of the resistor you used?
1. Yes it dims just like stock because you're grounding the circuit on the dimmer wire.
2. I bought my gels from www.stagespot.com. I used Rosco brand, blue #79 (red #26 for the redline)
3. The resistor I used for MY led's was a 1/8W 56 ohm resistor. It could be different for you depending on the values of the led's you choose.
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Old 06-29-2008, 04:29 AM   #22
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by cuting the cluster it makes it safer and easyer?
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Old 06-29-2008, 10:03 AM   #23
lennyTR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy650 View Post
by cuting the cluster it makes it safer and easyer?
You need to cut speedometer apart from the tachometer if you want to scrape them properly.
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Old 06-29-2008, 12:06 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy650 View Post
by cuting the cluster it makes it safer and easyer?
You can do it without cutting them apart, but it is WAY easier and safer to cut them apart.
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Old 06-29-2008, 12:58 PM   #25
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ok thanx alot guys i well deff cut it apart then im going to be doing this when the gel come's in the mail i got 4 different gels a dark red a light pink lighter red and orange going to do what lennytr did with different color gels i think that came out the best then. down the road do the led's after (=
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