Gauge cluster bulbs - LED replacements?

For everything related to the inside of the car!!

Postby Simba » Sun Dec 03, 2006 2:33 am

Well, I'll throw my two cents in.

First, there are 19 total lights in the cluster. 6 of these are for backlighting the gauges. Five of them are #194 wedge bulbs, and the other is a #73 microbulb. There is also a 6th #194 for the fuel warning light.

The remaining 12 are #73 microbulbs for: Seatbelt, Door/hatch warning, oil pressure, battery, brake, signal lights, high beam, cruise, check engine, air bag, abs.

Now, so far as replacing them goes:

First, replacing the bulbs with higher wattage bulbs would be an especially bad idea in my opinion. The plastic/copper IC on the back of the cluster is only rated for so much current, and significantly increasing the load on it could lead to burnt traces, or even a fire.

For the six "backlight" bulbs-- these are very difficult to replace with LEDs as they require 180 degree output (like an ID bulb) to work properly. They do not shine directly through the cluster, but rather are there to illuminate a plastic backing behind the gauges. Replacing these with LEDs would probably result in worse lighting overall, unless you managed to find a very broad beam LED. The widest I know of are ~50 degrees or so, which is not enough for these locations without some kind of reflector. Even worse, most "superbright" LEDs are 15 degree.

For the caution and warning lights, these are "straight through" instrument lights, and replacing them with LEDs should work very well. For the record you'd need: 2 Green, 2 Blue, 6 Red and 3 Amber. Replacing these with LEDs is probably a good idea, regardless, as they would be quite a bit brighter, and use much less current, which would ultimately leave more current for the backlight bulbs.

Back to the backlight bulbs: It's possible you could fabricate a LED "bulb" for this purpose with three or four small white LEDs, and aim them in a 180 degree circle around the axis. This would provide sufficient light coverage. However, one should note that if you replace the backlight bulbs with LEDs, your dimmer will no longer work. LEDs do not dim well at all.

Now, if you were going to do it properly, one would have to change out all of the other LEDs as well, including those in the HVAC controls, glove box, et al.
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Lots of fast, loud things.
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Postby toayoztan » Sun Dec 03, 2006 6:48 am

See, I changed out all the ones in the HVAC, fog light button, door switch, ignition halo, and cig lighter.

The problems with HVAC, fog light button, ign halo, and cig lighter is they use microbulbs. What would you recommend for those? Finding 194 bulbs in any color is relatively easy for the gauge cluster, etc. I'm having a problem finding any bulb that would work with the micro bulbs. As you have explained, LEDs would be useless b/c there are only 5 bulbs or so to illuminate the HVAC (which isn't much, considering they have to spread). So, any kind of bulb you recommend? If not, i'm probably going to order fresh bulbs from 1sttoyotaparts and just convert back to Green. I currently have red.

I even replaced all the leds in the hvac and door switch to red LEDs.

Anyone know any Toyota that ran white microbulbs??

Bryan
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Postby Simba » Sun Dec 03, 2006 4:22 pm

The microbulbs should be white to begin with, just with a green wrapper over it to change the color. It's possible you could find other colors, or colored microbulbs, but I don't know of a LED solution.

Alternatively you could completely rip them apart and put a LED behind each switch, but that'd be quite a PITA.

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Postby bigacuralvr » Sun Dec 03, 2006 4:58 pm

Ah, funny that I finally have a GOOD solution.....

www.partsexpress.com has bulb "condoms" I think they are called bulb covers. They are literally a red/green/blue/yellow cover that rols over the bulb. I did this in my 4Runner to change everything to RED. It works great, and was fairly easy to do. I plan on doing it on the AllTrac as well. I did a double layer of the covers, to get that deep red color...and it looks really good. I have a crappy pic of my Runner. The speedo gauges are wierd b/c I used the wrong sized covers, so they tore and let some white through. BUT the HVAC is what it should look like....

Image

Oh, and my HID's on the Runner....

Image

Enjoy.
Brett
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Postby Denver_whiteST185 » Mon Dec 04, 2006 6:22 am

hey brett, not to be a downer, but i think they want brighter or white light, not the ability to change the color. however i really like how you modded up your 4runner. it looks really good in person.
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Postby bigacuralvr » Mon Dec 04, 2006 6:11 pm

Hmm...I guess I never thought of brighter cluster lights...it always seems mine are too bright in stock green form. But then again...bright lights inside the truck/car at night really bug me.
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Postby toayoztan » Mon Dec 04, 2006 8:45 pm

I just feel the HVAC is poorly designed in lighting.

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Postby Simba » Sat Dec 09, 2006 9:44 pm

Well, I did mine for giggles today, using white backlight leds (similar to older Lexus lighting, which I like) and the appropriate colored caution and warning lights.

A few things I learned:

First, the Airbag and Battery warning lights must use regular bulbs. In the case of the Airbag light, the circuit doesn't have enough resistance to illuminate with a LED in there. With the Batt/Voltage light, there's enough voltage on the circuit when the car is running to slightly illuminate a LED, but not enough for a bulb. So, unless you want the battery light glowing slightly all the time, you need to use a bulb.

Here's how mine turned out:

Image

Image

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Postby bigacuralvr » Sun Dec 10, 2006 12:59 am

Ok, Simba....

Where did you get the bulbs, and how many did you use, etc? It looks AMAZING!

Brett
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Postby Simba » Sun Dec 10, 2006 1:32 am

bigacuralvr wrote:Where did you get the bulbs, and how many did you use, etc? It looks AMAZING!


Super Bright LEDs -- they're pricey, but they stock everything and ship stuff quickly. All of the required bulbs are here-- I've only seen the 180 degree 194's come out very recently, which are what makes the project possible.

You need:

5x WLED 5-Led #194 bulbs (backlighting, available in red/amber/white/blue/green)

1x #74 Wedge Base bulbs (white, or whatever your backlighting color is)

1x WLED-A Amber #194 bulb (narrow focus) - Fuel warning

3x #74 Wedge Green (cruise, signals)

1x #74 Wedge Blue (high beam)

2x #74 Wedge Amber (ABS, Check engine)

4x #74 Wedge Red (Seatbelt, Door, Brake, Oil)

And you retain two of the normal #74 bulbs for the Airbag and Charge.

Cost is around $60 or so if you order extra bulbs of each type, which I did, as it's fairly easy to break them. Installing the #194s is easy, they pop right in. The #74's are harder as they're polarity sensitive and slightly bigger than a normal #74 bulb, which makes the base harder to pop back into the cluster, and if you put them in backwards you have to pull them back out, turn them around, and reinstall.

Still, they're MUCH brighter and get rid of the awful green. If you wanted to do the HVAC controls and other bits, you'll need 6-8 more of the #74 wedge bulbs in whatever backlight color you use, which will do the glove box, HVAC, fog light button, and window switches.

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Postby syko says » Sun Dec 10, 2006 1:37 am

simba that does look very great indeed. but how does it hold up at night? is it bright?
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Postby Simba » Sun Dec 10, 2006 1:48 am

Yes, they're very bright. Much more so than stock. One thing that surprised the hell out of me is that the 194 led bulbs have a very tiny resistor and diode built right into the bulb casing, so you can dim them, unlike just about any other LED.

The photos are on full bright, which if anything is a little too bright for night driving. Half dimmer seems to make my eyes happy.

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Postby toayoztan » Wed Dec 13, 2006 8:51 am

Simba, VERY great work and write up you did there. However, i have a few questions that i know people will probably are curious about too. I hope you can help us out a little more!

Image
Okay with the pic above, those are the different bulb types i ran into when changing and looking at the cluster bulbs and HVAC bulbs. Can you identify the bulbs there that are unknown? They look smaller than 74...or are they still 74? I believe the gray socket base is used for lighting such as fog light button. The smaller black one at the right is used for the HVAC.

Image
This picture shows (and i what i know heh) that there are only 4 microbulbs illuminating the entire HVAC. They are the small microbulbs you see in the 1st picture i posted, at the far right of the pic. Would we still order 74 bulbs for those??

Image
This picture shows the two bulbs used for the rear defroster button. The HVAC for this by the way is from a 93 alltrac, may be different for 90-91. You can see there is slightly two different sizes. Still 74 bulbs to order here too??

Image
This picture shows that there are 7 LEDs used for indicators for the HVAC. I soldered 6 in, 1 isn't shown (i was still working on that). Also, for the door switch, it consists of 2 LEDs that must be resoldered.

Image
This pic shows the back side of the gauge cluster. For anyone that is curious, here it is. If you add the number of bulbs Simba told you to order, and you add up the number on the back of this picture, they both equal 19 (just an FYI).

Also Simba, when you talked about ordering 74 wedge bulbs, which ones exactly did you mean? They showed 3 kinds.
1) T1.5 Instrument LED bulb - 74 bulb with socket base
2) B8.3D Instrument Cluster LED bulb - another kind of 74 bulb with socket base
3) 74 Wedge Base LED bulb - just the 74 bulb alone without socket base

The microbulbs can't use the 74 bulbs w/o a socket base, so which socket base 74 bulb should we order?

And which bulb should we order for the smaller mircro bulbs used in the HVAC?

Thanks for the all the help Simba!
Bryan
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2014 Juke NISMO RS
1994 Supra TT 6spd
1993 Alltrac - http://www.alltrac.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=44&t=37466
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1977 GL1000
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Postby Snyder » Wed Dec 13, 2006 12:16 pm

I converted all my interior lights to blue leds. Here is the store you need:
http://www.superbrightleds.com/1157.htm

The gauge clusters # 194

the key light, cigaritte light, glovebox light are # 74

These are 12V direct fit bulbs and they can only go in one way. If they don't lite, flip the bulb around.


The gauge cluster are direct plug in. Your aftermarkets gauges (Autometer) are also direct plug in. They all are 194 bulbs.

The key light, cigaritte light, glovebox light are # 74 direct plug in.

The HVAC is different. I have a ST165 and a ST162 swapped Gen2 3SGTE. I had to take apart the control unit. The little leds that light up the buttons are different. I went to the electronic store and bought 12v little leds. I took the board with the originals and matched them to the ones in the store. The ones that light up the unit are different also. I used a # 74 and modified it to fit in that socket.

My ST165 is red leds and the ST162 has blue leds. If I can remember I will take pictures of them.
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Postby bigacuralvr » Wed Dec 13, 2006 3:11 pm

I think I'm going to order this one...

B8.3D Instrument Cluster LED bulb - another kind of 74 bulb with socket base

It looks like they are the same, just one has a longer neck than the other.

Hope I'm right....here goes $35

Brett
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