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Old 03-13-2005, 08:36 PM   #1
rlith
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Convert Your Cluster & Control lights to LED's How-to!

Yep, another how-to... For a while I had some general colored bulbs in my cluster, you know, the crappy APC ones. The problem with these incandecent bulbs is that over time they fade...(In the case of the blue one, they faded to green, and the reds faded to pink).... So I finally got off my arse and decided to upgrade my cluster to LED's. Yes, I know, some of you say..."Why don't you go with EL Glow gauges?" Well, unfortunatly, we with the 94-97 clusters have a hard time getting the right gauges for that. (Some of you know what I'm talking about). Besides, what I ended up doing was cheaper and looks pretty decent. This how-to also applies to 98+ clusters as well with the exception of the gear indicator. So let us begin...

(Forgive some of the pics, my camera sucks for close up detail)

Tools needed:
Needle nose pliers
Soldering pencil
solder
15mm socket
7mm socket
Phillips head screw driver

Start by removing the drivers side kick panel and knee panel. Once this is out of the way we need to drop the steering column. (The cluster won't come out with the steering wheel up) On either side of the steering wheel column you will see a 15mm nut. Remove both. This drops the column. Let it rest on the driver's seat.

Remove both screws above the cluster. Now carefully start pulling the dash bezel towards you until it releases from the dash. Disconnect all switch harness's and set bezel in the back seat of the car (or where ever you want to).

Now, you will see 5 7mm screws. 1 in each corner, and 1 on the bottom just left of center. Simply remove these. Now slowly pull the cluster towards you. Ok, that's it. Cluster removed.

Shown here is the back of the cluster. There are 5 194 twist style bulbs (For gauge illumination) , and 10 t1 twist bulbs. (Idiot lights).




Here we see the typical GM green socket. These suck. Why? Because they aren't slip on 194's. You actually have to disassemble the damn thing.

Here we see the original 194 socketed bulb and the new 4 LED LED bulb. (No resistors are needed as the resistors are built into the wedge)



Simply use a pair of needle nose pliers and pull firmly on the connection tab on the bulb.



The tab will slip out.


Do this for both sides of the bulb, pull the old bulb. Straighten the wires on the new bulb so they go through the top of the bulb socket. When you insert the tabs back in, simply fold the wire over the connecting tab.

Now simply put the bulb back in the back of the cluster and move to the next one.

Shown here is a t1 bulb with a base, and 1 without. The cluster itself as stated above uses 10 of these. The HVAC uses 3, the 4x4 switch uses 3. For my T1's I used hyperwhite LED's for all the idiot lights in the cluster except for the turn signals. The turnsignals are now blue.

Now realize. LED's are polarity sensitive for the ANODE/CATHODE. After installing all bulbs. Push cluster into place and turn on your lights. Note which ones are NOT coming on. Simply pull the cluster back out and re install that bulb 180 degrees.

The HVAC controls use 3 t1 bulbs without a base.. Simply pull the old bulb and slip in the new. (Remember, turn on the lights to make sure you have your polarity correct)

Shown here is the HVAC with 1 incandecent and 1 blue led.




Now of course, I abosultely hate the orange PRNOD321 lights. So of course I had to change that. On the bottom of the back of the cluster you will see a single t15 torx screw. Remove screw, lift up cover. Remove the circuit board and unplug connector.

Shown here is the light board for the gear indicator on the cluster.



Note your polarity on this board for the bulbs. Top in anode, bottom is cathode. Each bulb must be de-soldered and a new one put in its place. It takes about 5 mins per bulb to swap out. I used 5mm 2600mcd blue LED's for replacements. Again, no resistors are needed as existing resistors are in place from the original bulbs.

Here is a pic of the bulb lit up... Little fuzzy but you get the idea. It's currently in drive.



Arm rest controls and the rest of the controls on the dash were done with 3mm 200mcd bulbs to replace the built in incandecent bulbs. These were soldered in place of the old ones using a 310ohm resistor on the cathode. Don't try this unless you know how to take apart these switches! Practice on some old ones from a junker to learn how to take them apart and put them together!

So at this point all bulbs are replaced and the car is put back togeather....

HVAC----



Center shift gear indicator--



And the cluster. Yes, I put in RED for all the small gauges and blue for the Speedo and Tach... Personally I like the way it fades violet into the red. Also all the damn needles look like Light Sabers! Of course you want to light to your own tastes...




All LED's purchased from www.superbrightleds.com
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Last edited by rlith; 02-22-2009 at 05:17 AM.
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Old 03-14-2005, 02:03 AM   #2
BLAZ1N
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thats focking awesome
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Old 03-14-2005, 02:05 AM   #3
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is it just me or are there kind of "dead spots" on your guages?
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Old 03-14-2005, 06:14 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BLAZ1N
is it just me or are there kind of "dead spots" on your guages?
It's the camera, it sucks..LOL
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Old 03-14-2005, 02:00 PM   #5
Teeleton
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Autozone sells the 1/2" GM insutrment cluster sockets, but they're usually out of stock because people pocket them and the computer never orders more because it thinks they're still on the shelf. Get them to order some for you special, because they don't typically keep enough on hand to do an entire guage cluster.

Also, I used the 5-led bulbs where one bulb is straight ahead, and the other 4 are out the side to better fill the cluster. Also, paint the inside of the cluster white so the light reflects around inside the cluster better.

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Old 03-14-2005, 05:18 PM   #6
LayinSonomaFrame
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VERY very Shaaweeet! Sticky
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Old 03-14-2005, 05:28 PM   #7
r b g
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where did you pick the LEDs up from?
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Old 03-14-2005, 05:32 PM   #8
rlith
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Quote:
Originally Posted by r b g
where did you pick the LEDs up from?

www.superbrightleds.com
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"I live with a retard and 2 deaf people...It's not so bad..." - Grandma

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Old 03-14-2005, 05:43 PM   #9
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good job btw!
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Old 04-01-2005, 03:19 AM   #10
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Thats cool. I've been wanting to install some red LEDs but was told that LED's would create too many dead spots. So you mentioned its just the camera, are there really bright areas and some dim ones or is it pretty even across the gauges?
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