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LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

This is a discussion on LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to... within the Interior Tech forums, part of the General Discussion category; I don't post here, like, ever really, but have used the site as a resource for my wife's 2005 Silverado ...

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    LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...


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    I don't post here, like, ever really, but have used the site as a resource for my wife's 2005 Silverado Z-71. I recently went through replacing all the servo motors in the instrument cluster when the tach and oil pressure gauges went whacky, and in the process, learned about how the back lighting bulbs are soldered on to the circuit board instead of being replacable from the back like they use to be. What kind of crap was GM thinking with this design anyway?

    I wanted to replace the bulbs, but I wanted to do it with LED bulbs for longevity. Unfortunately, I could not seem to find a source, so this is what I DID find, and ended up using.....

    From www.superbrightleds.com, I found the NeoWedge series bulbs that are designed to replace the twist lock bulbs that are replaceable. They make these in three different sizes, and when I measured, the 3mm bulbs came really close, so I ordered 10 of the high output 3mm LED bulbs, found here:

    http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-b...nstrument.html

    These are the NEO3 series bulbs, and I thought might fit the bill for this project, and they did....

    Step one.... Remove the instrument cluster and separate the sections. I use Scotch tape and rotate the needles all the way counterclockwise, and mark where the needles stop so I can put them back to the same spot later.... Just twist the needles to break them loose and pull off.



    The instrument cluster circuit board. I have all the bulb areas circled, though it might be hard to see. My cluster had 11 bulbs, with a solder point for a 12th bulb to the lower left. I don't know what gauge goes there, but mine does not have one.



    Here is how the stock bulb looks. You can see the solder points. To remove, use a solder iron and put pressure on the opposite side when the solder melts to break it loose, then do the other side to finish removing...



    Installing the LED bulbs is simple, but you MUST orient them for proper polarity. Standard bulbs will work when mounted with the contacts on either solder pad, but LED are polarity sensitive. What I did was hook the circuit board up to the truck and turn the lights, including the flashers, on, then touch the bulbs to the solder pads and mark which way was the correct orientation. You can see some of the Sharpie marker on the board. Then I soldered the bulbs in place. The wires wrap around under the mount, just like the stock bulbs, so tin them a little with solder, and then solder in place keeping the polarity correct.

    This is how the new LED bulbs look when they are in place...







    How it looks at night.....



    Hope this helps some of you.....
    Last edited by meanstrk; 02-25-2011 at 09:01 PM. Reason: grammar corrections.
    Ron

    MSgt, USMC (Retired)

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    Lost before Dawn CustomChevyGuy's Avatar
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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    those are great photos! have any of the finished product? how is the light output, and do you have any hot spots?
    Quote Originally Posted by bhookxen
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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    That a nice design very clean. But I do wonder on your hotspots. I did see you used smd leds. Which are brighter than regular leds.I like your concept a lot makes me want to redo mine and put some 360 leds

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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    Nice work!! I may have to give this a shot!

    Quote Originally Posted by meanstrk View Post
    The instrument cluster circuit board. I have all the bulb areas circled, though it might be hard to see. My cluster had 11 bulbs, with a solder point for a 12th bulb to the lower left. I do know what gauge goes there, but mine does not have one.
    That's where the trans temp gauge goes on trucks that have it.
    2007 Silverado 2500HD CCSB 4x4
    Wife's ride: 2007 Tahoe LTZ...The Hellion Hauler
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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    Sorry about the belated reply. Been travelling for work....

    If I were to do this again, I would use the regular output LED's. They are about half the cost and the light output with these is almost TOO bright! It looks great though. My wife really likes how well she can see the guages now. No real hot spots at all.

    I'll have to take a couple pics when it gets dark so you can see how they look....

    BTW.... I used the few good bulbs that I pulled off to replace the burned out bulbs in the climate control cluster around the fan speed and function knobs. The bulbs for the temp sliders are smaller. You can get those at Radio shack.
    Last edited by meanstrk; 02-25-2011 at 09:30 AM.
    Ron

    MSgt, USMC (Retired)

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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    STICKY THIS!!!!!!!! Great directions awesome pics. Makes me want to try it in a different vehicle. again great post

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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    Original post updated with a pic of the gauges at night.....
    Ron

    MSgt, USMC (Retired)

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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    What color of LED did you use? Cool White or warm white?


    Quote Originally Posted by meanstrk View Post
    Original post updated with a pic of the gauges at night.....
    Last edited by JZ57_CN; 02-25-2011 at 10:57 PM.

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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    Looks like one LED on lower left corner (Tachmeter) being missed installing.


    Quote Originally Posted by baldd86 View Post
    That a nice design very clean. But I do wonder on your hotspots. I did see you used smd leds. Which are brighter than regular leds.I like your concept a lot makes me want to redo mine and put some 360 leds

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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    It's there, I just need to check to see if I have a bad solder connection. I will be doing that today.

    Cool white was the only color option for these.....
    Ron

    MSgt, USMC (Retired)

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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    I pulled the gauges out this morning to check that lower tach light and sure enough, I just had a cold solder joint. I resoldered it and everything is good to go now.
    Ron

    MSgt, USMC (Retired)

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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    The cruise control bulb did not come on so how do i could check proper polarity. Thats the bulb to the far left mid panel. Any suggestion? The soldered pad on the bottom is the power pad. But which way to rotate the led bulb is my issue

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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    I just used one of the good regular bulbs and it shines green. Thanks Chevy forum saved me a bundle!!!

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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    That's awesome man! Some of my buddies used to do this in their cars and I've been wanting to do it in my 08 for awhile!

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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    this looks sweet. i think it mite be in order for my truck once the weather gets nicer.

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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    Quote Originally Posted by meanstrk View Post
    Sorry about the belated reply. Been travelling for work....

    If I were to do this again, I would use the regular output LED's. They are about half the cost and the light output with these is almost TOO bright! It looks great though. My wife really likes how well she can see the guages now. No real hot spots at all.

    I'll have to take a couple pics when it gets dark so you can see how they look....

    BTW.... I used the few good bulbs that I pulled off to replace the burned out bulbs in the climate control cluster around the fan speed and function knobs. The bulbs for the temp sliders are smaller. You can get those at Radio shack.

    I was wondering, how the heck did u get the hvac apart?? I got the round knobs off, but couldnt get the temp slider knobs to come off. I have an 05 rst for my daily driver and its came stock with red gauges in the instrument cluster, was wanting to make the hvac red as well

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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    That is a great write up, props to you!! I wanted to do red in mine but never got around to it, wish I had though.

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    Lost before Dawn CustomChevyGuy's Avatar
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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    hey meanstrk - are you able to dim the lights down at all for night time driving? or are they fully lit the whole time? i've heard people that have done similar swaps and had different results..

    Quote Originally Posted by .GARY. View Post
    That is a great write up, props to you!! I wanted to do red in mine but never got around to it, wish I had though.
    you still have your truck?
    Last edited by CustomChevyGuy; 04-24-2011 at 09:35 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by bhookxen
    sometimes bad-assery takes time

    71 Chevelle 454
    03 rcsb, 06 clip/tails, HD hood, 22's, Esky handles, Alpine head unit, 5% tint, clear corners, 8K HID's, FM50, 2" rear drop, debadged, BlackBear Tuned!

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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    Seriously belated answer, but yes, you can dim them.
    Ron

    MSgt, USMC (Retired)

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    Re: LED bulbs to replace the soldered instrument cluster bulbs- How to...

    can you re-up the dead pictures?

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