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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Essex, U.K.
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Cool dashboard lights upgrade

For all those people who think there dashboard illumination is a little boring read on:

I pulled out the three instruments from my dash and had to replace a duff bulb, I paused for a second and thought "I'm going to use LEDs instead of bulbs".

I used the old bulb holders (after removing the actaual bulb) then I soldered the LED carefully onto the contacts (not forgetting the series resistor and making sure the leads were spaced and didn't touch). I used a seperate red and a green LED for the tachometer, a green and blue for the speedo and two blue LEDs for the petrol and temp gauge.

After patiently waiting all day for darkness to fall, I rushed out to the car and switched on....WOW! No more dim dash lights... a beautiful coloured display . I am now going to do the same for the centre console.

NOTE: If you are going to do this, please seek specialist advice if you don't know what you are doing. I can offer some technical/electronic advice.

Good luck!

Last edited by misty; 07-27-2004 at 11:43 PM..
Old 07-27-2004, 06:48 AM
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I don't know about multi-colored bulbs in the same gauge cluster, would like to see a pic of how yours turned out.

LED replacements are becoming more common as the reflective coating wears off the light tunnels and people have to do something to see the gauges. Perry951 on Rennlist was selling a LED upgrade for awhile but stopped for now.

There is a guy in England that has posted on Rennlist and is just starting to sell an upgrade. It is a bit expensive, though.
Old 07-27-2004, 07:30 AM
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I bought direct replacement LEDs (type 194 I think) from superbrightleds.com. No sodering necessary, they go right in the standard connectors. Turned out great in my early dash with white faces. I'll post pics as soon as I can find my camera...

By the way, the early dash does NOT have the light tunnels and reflective coatings right? Man, the first time I cracked open my dash to do the tinfoil on the reflectors I was so confused.
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Old 07-27-2004, 08:41 AM
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I am going to be doing the gauge light replacement on my 85.5 944 soon. I am interested in the LEDs. Any idea which ones would I use?
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Old 07-27-2004, 08:59 AM
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Re: dashboard lights upgrade

Quote:
Originally posted by misty
I used a red and a green LED for the tachometer, a green and blue for the speedo and two blue LEDs for the petrol and temp gauge.

After a long wait for darkness to fall, I rushed out to the car and switched on....WOW! No more dim dash lights... a beautiful coloured display. I am now going to do the same for the centre console.

Sounds like Christmas...
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Old 07-27-2004, 04:34 PM
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to those of you that have done this, do the LEDs dim nicely with the rest of the dash lights? that question is the only thing keeping me from doing this conversion.

nate

PS - I now have TWO running cars! just dropped the Stude off for an alignment today. I can't remember the last time this happened. two driveable cars! OH STIMPY! I guess that means that now I can go beat on one of them and try to break something? Anyone ever drifted in a Studebaker?
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Old 07-27-2004, 05:24 PM
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Max29a- Use extreme brightness LEDs but you can always experiment, they cost pennies.
Toolboy62- They don't dim as much as the bulbs would, but as above, you can always experiment with different LEDs or raise the value of the series resistor. There is another possibility of playing around with the dimmer control.
I will see If I can take a picture of it.
Good luck
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Old 07-27-2004, 10:32 PM
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Dashboard Lights Upgrade Pictures

I have posted a pic for you to look at
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Old 07-30-2004, 01:39 AM
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That's actually kinda cool

Im not crazy about the uhm...fruity colors though..

If you could make the guages all the same color..like Yellow..or Red..or Orange..or White..not pink, lime green..and hot blue..
Old 07-30-2004, 03:27 AM
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The pink is actually red, and the green is darker. The photo image isn't great.

Cheers
Phil
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Old 07-30-2004, 03:35 AM
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I'm impressed, care to offer up some technical info?

What resisters do you need?
Approximate completion time?
Can you dim them?
Difficulty of soldering sockets?
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Old 07-30-2004, 03:49 AM
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The Red Tach. is truely an eyecatcher
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Old 07-31-2004, 07:25 AM
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LEDs need a resistor in line with one of the leads, this is required to limit the current to a safe level to stop the LED burning out. The actual value depends on the maximum current for the LED. Blue LEDs normally operate at about 4V yet other colours require 2.4V. It all depends on the colour. (check the specs on the LEDs when you buy them).
As a rough guide: Use a 470 Ohm resistor for Blue, and a higher value: 680 ohm for other colours?.
Completion time depends on how easy your instruments are to get out and your soldering skills. I estimate 1-2 hours?
You can't really dim them as much as the bulbs but if someone can tell me about the dimmer control then it might be possible.
The soldering of the LEDs in their respective bulb holders is a little fiddly. You need a fine tipped soldering iron. and some sleeving to stop the leads shorting. DON'T FORGET: LED's are polarised (+ and -).
If you are not sure how they work, get a 12V battery, a selection of different colour LEDs and some resistors and have a play.
Any problems, please contact me.
Good luck
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Old 08-02-2004, 12:15 AM
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hi misty, congrats on a new way of addressing the dim lights issue. not my cup of tea, but looks good anyway. btw, where abouts in essex? i used to live in stifford-clays, near to grays, in essex, when i worked for ford, at dagenham.
bob.
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Old 08-02-2004, 12:21 PM
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Again, feel the need to chime in. I got direct replacement LED bulbs in a variety of colors that don't need resistors (they run at 12v) from www.superbrightleds.com. No, I'm not affiliated, I just don't see the need to spend all that time sodering and rewiring. I've done my clock and oil pressure and they look great. No, they do not dim as much as the standard bulbs.

That being said, congrats on getting it all to work misty, and once you get those colors ironed out I'm sure it'll look even better. I'm a big fan of cool colors in the dash.
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Old 08-02-2004, 01:04 PM
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Fruity doesn't begin to explain it...

I think it looks pretty neat! Do they actually dim, or are they more on/off when you use the slider?
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Old 08-02-2004, 01:22 PM
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Bob, I live in Braintree, Essex, which is near Chelmsford. Very close to Dagenham.
Now that I look at it, I could have always bought the 12V LEDs, but as my job involves soldering, I thought I would give it a go? I would be interested in seeing some pics if any other people have done this?
Have fun.
Misty
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Old 08-03-2004, 01:26 AM
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ernestedward- can you confirm the direct plug in replacement part number I went to the web site and did not see 194? Also let me know if you want to meet somwhere and have a beer (would love to see the LED's in person) I siberian and couple of the Norhtern Virginia guys would come too
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Old 08-03-2004, 06:01 AM
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Yes, please provide the part number, I couldn't find it on the site either.

Thanks,

GHEN
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Old 08-03-2004, 10:30 AM
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if you guys decide to do another NoVA gtg let me know, I am not too far away and I haven't met too many 944 people

nate
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Old 08-03-2004, 11:20 AM
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