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Old 07-20-2008, 01:57 AM   #1
lennyTR
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Default How to make your HVAC blue

Hey everybody. I figured that after I wrote up my gauge cluster thread, I might as well write up an HVAC thread too since it was a very similar mod.

Getting it all right actually took me longer than I thought it would. I'd say all in all I spent about 8-9 hours on it. The first time I installed LED's, it didn't look good because it wasn't even. So I ripped everything out and started over.

I didn't take quite as many pics this time of each step, so it might be a little bit harder to follow. But really it shouldn't be that hard.

I. Removing HVAC from car.
1. Grab the shift boot bezel at its base, and pull up and back towards you.
2. Remove the plastic cover that goes over the HVAC, radio, empty pocket, etc. There are two screws at the bottom, and then there are clips at the top that hold it in. Just pull hard and it will come out.
3. Remove the 4 screws holding HVAC to center console.
4. Unplug the two plugs in the very back of the HVAC.

Here's the hard part.

5. There are 3 small cables that are hooked up the HVAC. One on the left, right, and bottom. They are hard to disconnect because there are small plastic 'teeth' in the HVAC housing that hold them in place:
Just ignore all the wires for right now...we'll get to those later.



Basically what you have to do is release the cable from these 'teeth' using small screwdrivers or something to wedge down in there, and at the same time, use some pliers to pull the cable tubing out. This will temporarily expose more of the metal cable, but you need the smaller diameter of the metal cable to slide it up and out. You'll see what I mean.

6. Once you have all the cables released, manipulate the HVAC so that you can unhook them all. Now you can pull the HVAC free of the car.

II. Wiring the LED's.

Before I ever attempted any of this, I had previously installed red stage gels on the inside of the HVAC face.


This worked ok with the stock bulbs (I removed the factory green bulb condoms), but ultimately I didn't want red.

Blue stage gels didn't work very well, so I chose to rather just have all blue light. If you do this mod, I would recommend that you just buy LED's that are already the color you want. Cutting out stage gels took me a long time...not worth it.

So, this is why I chose to wire up LED's on the inside. And of course, it's also a lot brighter.
1. Remove the HVAC face from the HVAC. First things first, remove all three knobs by pulling straight out on them. I would recommend using a towel to cover the knob, and needle-nose pliers to pull them out (towel will prevent scratches on the knob).
2. There are two snap tabs on top, and two on bottom. Just lift them up enough to slide the HVAC face right off.

3. Remove the factory bulbs. Twist the bulbs in a counter-clockwise direction. They'll come.

4. Solder your LED circuits together. I soldered everything first, knowing basically how I wanted them to fit into the HVAC. There isn't a whole lot of room, so everything needs to clean and exact. Make sure you solder a 6" lead to the positive and negative of the LED circuit.

5. Position them how you want them in the HVAC, and then glue them in. I used hot glue because it holds well when you use enough, but it isn't permanent in case you make a mistake or just change your mind.

6. Once everything is in place, attach the appropriate resistor for each LED circuit to the positive lead. Then twist all the positive leads together, and solder them to one positive lead. Twist all the negative leads together and solder them to one wire.

7. Tap power from a 12V power source. I used the same exact wire that I tapped power from for my gauge cluster. This also allow the HVAC to dim with everything else. I'm sure there are other wires you could tap from, but it was just easier for me since I already knew this wire would work.

Here is what my LED setup looked like:





I also changed the color of my A/C "on" light. Stock it is green, but I changed the LED and used a 3mm blue one instead:



8. Put everything back together and enjoy!

Here is what mine looked like done:





Oh yeah, a few things I forgot to mention:
1. Frost your LED's to help disperse the light.
2. In my pictures, you can see that I only used 3 LED's on the outside edges of the HVAC unit. This is because if you look at the back of the HVAC face, you can see that the outside edges absorb more light than the inside edges do. Look at the white coating...it's extra thick on the inner portion of the HVAC face. I think subaru did this because of the factory bulb location, and they were trying to prevent hot-spotting.


Hope that helps some of you.

Nate
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Last edited by lennyTR; 07-20-2008 at 02:02 AM.
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Old 07-21-2008, 11:33 AM   #2
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thanks nate, looks so so slick
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Old 07-24-2008, 07:35 PM   #3
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man that looks awesome! Congrats! Oh pm me Wednesday about the LEDs.
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Old 07-25-2008, 08:53 PM   #4
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damn that looks awesome! I wish I could pay someone to do that...
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Old 07-26-2008, 12:57 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by howfast? View Post
damn that looks awesome! I wish I could pay someone to do that...
I think I know somebody
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Old 07-26-2008, 04:26 AM   #6
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What do you mean by "frost the LEDs"?
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Old 07-26-2008, 04:57 PM   #7
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sanding the led bulb LIGHTLY so it has a frosted look to it. it helps disperse the light more.
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Old 07-26-2008, 07:12 PM   #8
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Oh to like blur/haze it a bit so it's not too intense that it hotspots may not look so obvious right?
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Old 07-26-2008, 11:44 PM   #9
lennyTR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdHilario View Post
Oh to like blur/haze it a bit so it's not too intense that it hotspots may not look so obvious right?
Yes. Frosting the LED will widen the light dispersion, which is more useful for these types of projects.
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Old 08-19-2008, 12:23 PM   #10
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I would love to do this, but it looks a little hard
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Old 08-19-2008, 01:30 PM   #11
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Nice work.

FYI, this doesn't work on the auto HVAC.
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Old 03-26-2009, 12:39 AM   #12
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dangg...all this soldering and stuff seems hard to do. lolz.
do you happen to know what LED # i could just replace the HVAC, Cluster, and Boost gauge with??
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Old 03-26-2009, 01:31 AM   #13
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Nice Job! that looks really good, i think i might get started on mine this weekend
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Old 03-26-2009, 01:55 AM   #14
lennyTR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d0ugch0i View Post
dangg...all this soldering and stuff seems hard to do. lolz.
do you happen to know what LED # i could just replace the HVAC, Cluster, and Boost gauge with??
I wouldn't waste your time with replacing just the bulb with an 'led' one. They don't work well at all. Believe me I've tried them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowmn1687 View Post
Nice Job! that looks really good, i think i might get started on mine this weekend
Save yourself some time, and instead of having to assemble the LED circuits by hand, use the LED strips from oznium.com

Check out my 'how to make your gauge cluster blue' thread, I have directions in there on how to use the oznium strips and make them work for this application.
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Old 03-26-2009, 02:05 AM   #15
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mmm i see...any way of making my lights red and make it seem legit??
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Old 03-26-2009, 02:35 AM   #16
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Alright will do, thanx
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Old 03-26-2009, 03:16 AM   #17
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How'd you get the stage gels back there, anyway?
On the red part, I mean.
I'm going to have a lot of color variation in mine, so I'm gonna be using white LEDs.
But I can't get the face off - there's a bunch of clear plastic over it. Seems like you have the same thing going on there. How'd you solve the problem?
Also...looks GREAT.
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Old 03-26-2009, 01:16 PM   #18
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ahhh i want to do this...seems so hard though..
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Old 03-26-2009, 10:36 PM   #19
lennyTR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XanRules View Post
How'd you get the stage gels back there, anyway?
On the red part, I mean.
I'm going to have a lot of color variation in mine, so I'm gonna be using white LEDs.
But I can't get the face off - there's a bunch of clear plastic over it. Seems like you have the same thing going on there. How'd you solve the problem?
Also...looks GREAT.
Getting the stage gels in there was a complete PITA. I literally had to take a razorblade, and cut little pieces of stage gel out of a stage gel sheet. I just eye-balled it, and cut them a little bit larger than the section where I was putting it, then I trimmed it to size after that. The little sections where the stage gel would go is actually a sticky surface, which allows you to just press the stage gel right in. It's very tedious, and not worth it in my opinion. Just buy LED's that are the color you want.

It's kind've hard to describe. I would just try to get your HVAC face off and go from there. HVAC face shouldn't be that hard to get off, it's just the three climate control knobs (which pull staight out), and then fragile little clips all around the edge.

I'm not sure what clear plastic you are talking about. I don't remember any clear plastic.
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Old 03-30-2009, 09:42 PM   #20
XanRules
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Ah. Our HVACs are very different, I thought the design was pretty much the same, though.
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