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Thread: LED gauge cluster conversion.

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    SLi Resident HeresMyMind's Avatar
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    LED gauge cluster conversion.

    After a few different set ups I have finally found a bright, even output set up that made me happy. everyone knows you can buy led bulbs to replace your current halogen bulbs for your gauges, but you end up with hot spots and dim spots on your gauges. So I decided to do the next best thing. install LED strips.

    First I ordered a roll of SMD white led's in a 29' roll. they can be cut every 3 led's and can be re soldered to make different lengths.




    for 95-99 legacys and 02-05 imprezas it is the same concept. first remove the whole gauge cluster from the car. there are plenty of other write-ups on how to do that. using the few screws from the back of the gauges and the gauge faces will come out. lightly sand the back of the faces to get rid of the green film that gives the green light.

    next cut the led strips to the right sizing to wrap around the inside of the gauges. like I did. I did 1 strip per gauge. You have to solder a red/black wire to the leds and run them out an existing bulb hole. I hot glued the led's to ensure they dont move even thought hey had double stick tape. next you need to solder the red/black leads to the copper stripping near the bulb sockets. take your time.







    over all it took me 2-3 hours of testing and making sure it all worked out right. the output is amazing, and needs to be dimmed during night driving, during the day they are nice and bright.

    -B
    "This thing looks great in person, makes me think getting a wagon isn't so bad lol"
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Wow those are bright! I'm going to have to look into this one!

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    Th3 EviL OvErLORd Reason's Avatar
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Great job son!
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Well done! That's as bright as the new gen cars!

    Great mod, have to add that to the list... unless you want to do it for me, if I send you my cluster and some cash?
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Sure. I can do it for ya. I got extra white LEDs

    -B
    "This thing looks great in person, makes me think getting a wagon isn't so bad lol"
    -Reason

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    Administrator Huffer's Avatar
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Sending you a PM - my car is on stands right now so this is a good opportunity.
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Wow thats great! Now someone just need to figure out light up dials.

    What happened to your dash?

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    SLi Lurker csweston's Avatar
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Where'd you get your LEDs from?

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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    I think I know my next mod now! Although I may use led strips that the local parts store carry due to the fact that I can easily access multiple sets if needed. Credit still goes to you for making this and the concept will be exactly the same, just a different color.
    Danny

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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    I have a spare gauge cluster I can fiddle with on my BH, before I do it on the one thats in the car. Yeah I hate those hot spots. >.< If I had another working cluster I'd send you mine and cash to do them. But Idk how long I'd be without a cluster :/
    Yes officer, I did hit a pedestrian, but instead of dwelling on that why not focus on how many I've missed?

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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Here's my attempt at changing over my dash. It was really simple. Pretty much I followed the same steps for removal. Sand down the backside of the faces to remove the green layer and place the LEDs into place. Solder the joints into place and voila you have a nicely lit gauge cluster. I used autozone branded LED light strip(28"[2@14"] @ 24.99). It was pretty simple and makes everything come out a little more.

    '98 Legacy GT (Back to Stock Project - her donor broke a bolt 4-13-14)
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Please post a dig on that one. Not sure how you used the led strips.
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    looks good man! How did you pull the gauge faces off? I thought people use to have a really hard time with sanding the green stuff off the faces, but you found some way to easily remove them? Looks great.. think I might have to do this since my bulbs are always wearing out and dying and crap!

    btw, where did you get the led's from? online? how much they cost you? What 'color' are they considered? I see a couple different 'white' colors on ebay.

    Any more info about soldering the wires to the copper, and what connections go where? Does it solder easy, or do you have to be careful not to burn through and such? Did you use flux?

    Thanks.
    --99 Legacy GT Limited Edt. (Silver ! )

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    t3h ub3r m3mber MRLancaster's Avatar
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    How do you remove it....without messing up the needles? I failed the first time, and the needles stopped working
    Yes officer, I did hit a pedestrian, but instead of dwelling on that why not focus on how many I've missed?

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    SLi Supporter Chausx's Avatar
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    I'll put up some more info on how I did it to help supplement and answer more questions.
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Quote Originally Posted by MRLancaster
    I have a spare gauge cluster I can fiddle with on my BH, before I do it on the one thats in the car. Yeah I hate those hot spots. >.< If I had another working cluster I'd send you mine and cash to do them. But Idk how long I'd be without a cluster :/
    its hard for me to do a be/bh cause i dont know the wire leads on what is positive and what is negative. I only know bg bd bk s

    -B
    "This thing looks great in person, makes me think getting a wagon isn't so bad lol"
    -Reason

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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Pull the cluster, remove the bulbs you want replaced, use a mulimeter to figure out what side is positive and negative.
    You can tip the cluster up enough without removing the wires.

    I just swapped the bulbs and i don't have any hot spots, only a nice even red glow.

    A nice way to go tough.
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    SLi Resident HeresMyMind's Avatar
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Yes but bh clusters won't fit in my car. So if he ships me his i can't test it.

    -B
    "This thing looks great in person, makes me think getting a wagon isn't so bad lol"
    -Reason

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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    yeah, post up some more info about how you did the wiring. I'm sure that its easy enough to find out with a multimeter, but if you post the info it will make things go quicker for the rest of us. I really like this writeup and will definitely be doing it to mine next.

    Any more info about how you get the gauges off without ruining the needles and such would be GREATLY appreciated by all no doubt. Usually thats the hardest part about this whole ordeal!
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    t3h ub3r m3mber MRLancaster's Avatar
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Legacy89
    Pull the cluster, remove the bulbs you want replaced, use a mulimeter to figure out what side is positive and negative.
    You can tip the cluster up enough without removing the wires.

    I just swapped the bulbs and i don't have any hot spots, only a nice even red glow.

    A nice way to go tough.

    You swapped without hotspots? What bulbs did you use? Pics? And did you remove the green off the cluster?
    Yes officer, I did hit a pedestrian, but instead of dwelling on that why not focus on how many I've missed?

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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Quote Originally Posted by d1giPhux
    looks good man! How did you pull the gauge faces off? I thought people use to have a really hard time with sanding the green stuff off the faces, but you found some way to easily remove them? Looks great.. think I might have to do this since my bulbs are always wearing out and dying and crap!

    btw, where did you get the led's from? online? how much they cost you? What 'color' are they considered? I see a couple different 'white' colors on ebay.

    Any more info about soldering the wires to the copper, and what connections go where? Does it solder easy, or do you have to be careful not to burn through and such? Did you use flux?

    Thanks.
    I can't tell you how he did his but I can tell you how I did mine. I just replaced the bulbs with matching LEDs after removing the green stuff and I have hot spots and two different color whites to address so I guess I need some strip lights.

    The gauge package comes out easily, and some connectors on the back. You will find I believe 14 screws that hold the various gauges in the package. This mod involves removing all of them. Watch the screws, some are different sizes. I used a dremel to sand off the green stuff. Do not remove the needles!! When you get to the parts on the speedometer and tach that you cannot get clear like the rpm x1000 in the center, gentle unscrew the two small #1 phillips screws on the gauge face and rotate the face counterclockwise 180 deg to not disturb the needles and secure it with the screws. Then you have access to the rest of the things to sand. Reverse the process to reinstall.

    I don't have the FSM handy (I'm at work), but there is a page or two in the wiring diagram section that deals with illumination. From that you should be able to find the pins on the connector that is positive and negative. The soldering should be fairly easy, no additional flux should be needed, just regular electronic solder, tin the wires and the trace on the plastic thing and bring them together with a tinned iron.

    When I did my gauges, HVAC and switches, I had a 9 volt battery with some paper clips taped to the top to provide voltage at my bench (dining room table ) to test my work without a trip to the car.
    Regardie
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    HeresMyMind - a quick question.

    I see that superbrightleds has side throwing strips, do you think they would work better, without your foil mod?

    Do your LEDs dim correctly? I ask because the illumination circuit is kinda screwy and it works on a strange subtractive voltage system.
    Regardie
    1997 Legacy L sedan 2.2 auto - crushed by a tree during Sandy
    All upgrades stripped and returned to stock, started up when they hauled it away

    New to me 2000 Legacy GT Limited sedan 5 speed 180K miles
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    subscribed.
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Quote Originally Posted by MRLancaster
    Quote Originally Posted by Legacy89
    Pull the cluster, remove the bulbs you want replaced, use a mulimeter to figure out what side is positive and negative.
    You can tip the cluster up enough without removing the wires.

    I just swapped the bulbs and i don't have any hot spots, only a nice even red glow.

    A nice way to go tough.

    You swapped without hotspots? What bulbs did you use? Pics? And did you remove the green off the cluster?
    I did not touch the green in the cluster wich might dampen the glow a little bit.
    I used 4 of these: T10 5x5050LED.

    Tough i don't have individual bulbs for the ODO/Clock like you guys have.


    The phone does give it a look that its dimm and with hotspots all over, with the dimmer turned to full the lights are just as bright as i want them with a nice even spread.
    Will do the rest of the Climate Controller during the week.

    Btw, does the lower part of the foglight/cruise/wiper defrost buttons light up without having any of them on or are all my bulbs broken there too?
    Mechanic @ PonCat/Caterpillar
    2001 Subaru Legacy 2.5GX
    1993 Subaru Legacy 2.2GX (Soon to be 2.0GT)
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Just a heads up to any other first gen. owners thinking about doing this, there is no green film that can be sanded off, its in the plastic. I was prepping my gauges for this and discovered, after sanding the back of the gauges that they are still green and a little brighter with standard bulbs. Although, the few times I've had leds in my gauges, the green tint hasn't been noticable. Once when I has two 4 led amber 194s in the top sockets therewasn't any green hint at all and the tops of the gauges were a nice bright amber.
    Danny

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    1994 Turbo Wagon: bone stock other than a snorkus delete and aftermarket stero. (Mine)
    1997 Outback: 5mt, winter package, tinted windows, tow bar with wiring, and slowly becoming a limited. (Moms)
    Quote Originally Posted by 1996Battlewagon
    Even still, just go to the guy's place, kick his face in, take your "WRX" and raid his fridge so he can't have breakfast.

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    "FNG" TexasLegacy2.5GT's Avatar
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    This is a great thread for us second gen guys! Very cool write up!

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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    I have to try this sometime next week only concern is it's going to be too bright at night?
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    <--- 252,xxx miles!

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    SLi Resident HeresMyMind's Avatar
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    you can dim them :-D

    -B
    "This thing looks great in person, makes me think getting a wagon isn't so bad lol"
    -Reason

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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    yeah I know but at least when I last had LED's in the bulb holders if you dim it down all the way it was pretty good but then the rest of the dash is dim :P

    I would of did it this way looong time ago had I known those SMD LED strips could be cut every 3 LED or so.. I thought they were un-cutable lol

    So I ordered some on ebay last night should be here before the end of the week.

    I ended up buying a 16 Ft strand because I want to use it for something else in the house as well.
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    "FNG" TexasLegacy2.5GT's Avatar
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    Re: LED gauge cluster conversion.

    Hereismymind,

    Man, that looks great. I have a Lex SC300 with
    The CCL lighting in the dash and yours looks just as good as that! Good job, bud!

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