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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Update 10/29/06 - Per ISZach - Ok I talked to Chris and they have a new bulb out that supposedly immune to heat failure, it is called the supernova, don't know if it actually works or not, but since my license plate lights were superstars and also crapped out, I have supernovas on the way. However I am not going to be the guinnea pig for the gauge cluster test haha.

Update 10/3/06 - Several members have reported their superstar bulbs becoming dimmer over time, blinking, and or completely failing, most likely due to overheating. If this happens my best advise is to either return them to autolumination for replacements and run them at 75% brightness (so as to avoid overheating), or just get a refund. Autolumination advertises these bulbs as "Designed especially for gauges" for automobiles. A far as I'm concerned, they should work in our application without concern. Apparently, they need to do some more real world testing on these bulbs before they release them for sale to the public.

Update 9/14/06 - There is a member who recently ordered the superstar bulbs from autolumination.com and found them to provide less output intensity then the bulbs that were ordered when this tutorial was written. You can read about it in this thread: http://my.is/forums/showthread.php?t=305694
Since then other member have ordered the bulbs and not had the issue. It seems autolumination.com needs to improve thier quality control.


Update 9/6/06 - #24 Superstar bulbs are now available at autolumination.com. This is great news since now you do not need to completely disassemble the gauge cluster and solder in #194 bulbs into location PL4 and PL5. I will update the tutorial soon.

Disclaimer:
This documentation is produced for the sole purpose of informing IS300 enthusiasts of the methods the author used to convert the multi-gauge cluster illumination on a 2004 IS300 Manual transmission automobile from the original, orange sleeved, incandescent bulb illumination to white LED illumination. Using this document as a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) procedure to convert illumination in any vehicle is done at your own risk. There are no guarantees that you will experience the same results using these methods. This conversion utilizes white LED bulbs; therefore using other colors may not produce equal results. The author and publisher of this documentation assumes NO liability for any capital loss, damages, or injury as a result of using the information contained in this documentation. The author has no affiliation with any of the websites mentioned.

Foreword:
The following documentation is the result of the methods explored in this thread: http://my.is/forums/showthread.php?t=281311&page=1&pp=30
After trying different many different bulb positions, I have not been able to resolve the issue of the “20” on the speedo being a bit dimmer than the rest of the cluster. I believe it is due to a fastener located directly behind the “20” which blocks the light from shining through. If you find a resolution for this issue, please inform me by PM or posting it up. Also let me know if you feel parts of the DIY can be made clearer by rewording or additional pix.
I recommend reading through each step completely so you understand it fully before starting that step. Make sure your workspace is not cluttered with tools and stuff, which could damage the gauge. Though I did not use them myself, using ESD safe methods are recommended to help prevent damage to the PCB. Also, if you have access to a 12VDC power supply, bench testing is possible using the following pins in the connector. Take care not to short to adjacent pins!


Materials:
1) 5 x Superstar #194 LED bulbs
Note: These bulbs are currently only offered by www.autolumination.com. When ordering white bulbs, it is important to note on your order requesting the bulb colors be matched with each other as white LEDs can produce different hues. It may also be beneficial to order an extra or two just incase of a mishap and to have replacements available.
2) 2 x 270Ω, ¼ Watt Resistors (Red, Grey, Brown, Gold Color Bands)

Tools:
1) Soldering Iron (Temperature adjustable preferred)
2) Rosin Core Solder
3) Vacuum Desoldering Tool or Solder Wick (Optional for screw-ups)
4) Heatsink Forceps
5) Tweezers
6) Small Needle Nose Pliers
7) Diagonal Cutters
8) Test leads with alligator clips
9) +12VDC power supply (optional – can use car battery very carefully)
10) Dremel type tool with small grinding bit
11) #1 and #2 Phillips Screwdrivers
12) Hot Glue Gun

Step 1: Remove Gauge Cluster From Vehicle
Remove multi-gauge cluster from dash. Redline814 did a great write up here and deserves some +Rep: http://my.is/forums/showthread.php?t=233511&highlight=cluster

Step 2: Disassemble Cluster
It’s very important to handle the gauge faces as little as possible. The oil from you fingers will leave smudge marks. If you do notice some smudges, do not use any cleaners, just breath on it to create some moister and buff lightly with a clean microfiber cloth. Rubber gloves can be used but they too can leave behind residues. Josh300 did a great write up here and deserves some +Rep: http://my.is/forums/showthread.php?t=279498 <<<< Read my post in this thread for some additional info.

Step 3: Remove Bulbs
Remove the five twist-lock sockets and bulbs from rear by simply twisting counter-clockwise and pulling out. Pull the bulbs out of the black twist-lock sockets and set the sockets aside. The blue twist lock sockets and bulbs are no longer required. The PL# designators (Pilot Light) in this picture are used thru-out this document to identify bulb locations. These designators are screen printed on the PCB itself by the manufacturer.


Step 4: Determine Superstar Bulb Polarity
Be very careful in this step not to cause a direct short. If you have a +12VDC power supply available, I strongly recommend using it instead of the cars battery.
A) Insert a Superstar 194 LED bulb into one of the black twist-lock sockets.
B) Connect one lead to negative (black) terminal on battery.
C) Connect the other end of negative lead to the contact on one side of the twist-lock socket.
D) Connect other lead to the other side contact on the twist-lock socket.
E) Touch the other end of this lead to the positive battery post briefly to see if the bulb lights.
F) Did the bulb light?
Yes = correct polarity, mark + on side of bulb the positive lead was connected using a marker.
No = reversed polarity, flip bulb and retest to verify correct polarity.
G) Repeat for remaining bulbs.



Step 5: Insert Bulbs into PCB (Smaller Holes - PL4 and PL5)
Bend the contact leads up on two of the bulbs and insert them, from the front side of PCB (side without connector), into the two outside smaller holes PL4 & PL5 as shown.



Step 6: Align for Polarity and Solder (PL4 and PL5)
Rotate the bulbs so the positive (+) contact lead is aligned with the positive PCB trace. Bend the contact lead down to make contact with the board trace and solder into place as shown. The contact leads can be trimmed if desired.



Step 7: Solder Resistors (PL4 and PL5)
Trim the negative contact leads leaving approximately ¼” protruding from the bulb. Solder 270Ω resistors to negative leads of bulbs and then to negative PCB contacts as shown. Take care to keep the resistor very close to the body of the bulb which is necessary to make sure they clear the rear cover when re-assembled.



Step 8: Hot Glue (PL4 and PL5)
Apply a small dab of hot glue between bulbs and PCB on two sides to help hold them in place.

Step 9: Reassemble Cluster
Please take your time doing this step! Take care not to handle the needles, as they are very fragile. Use a soft cloth such as microfiber when handling the gauge faces
Mount the white plastic chassis to the PCB and place it flat on the work surface. Position the tach gauge so it’s contact pins are sitting in the appropriate cradles on the PCB. Place a soft cloth over the tach and push down taking care to apply pressure evenly. The pins should protrude out the back of the PCB by about 0.5-1mm when the tach is completely seated.
Do the same for the fuel gauge side. Verify the LCD contact strip is lined up correctly with the header on the PCB before applying pressure. Again, apply pressure evenly, using a soft cloth, until the pins protrude out the back out the back by about 0.5-1mm. You will have to apply direct even pressure to the LCD screen so that it’s contact strip seats completely onto the PCB header.

Mount the Speedo last. Again, line up the pins to the appropriate cradles, apply even pressure until the pins protrude out the back by 0.5-1mm. The speedo should sit flush onto the faces of the tach and fuel gauge pieces; there should be no gap.


Step 10: PL1, PL2, and PL3 Twist Lock Socket Modification
Using a Dremel tool, remove the material in between the contacts inside the black twist lock sockets. Remove enough material so to allow the bulbs to sit as low as possible to provide wider illumination coverage. Then using needle nose pliers, pinch both sets of contacts closer together. This will provide a snug fit for the bulb so it has less play to move around. Insert the bulbs into the twist lock sockets noting the polarity for the next step.




Step 11: Install PL1, PL2, and PL3 Bulbs
Install the twist-lock sockets into the PCB noting polarity shown.


Step 12: Reassemble cluster housing
While still apart, polish up the lense inside and out with some plastic polish or Plexus. Reassemble gauge housing and install in into vehicle. Before reinstalling trim piece, turn on the lights and verify all the bulbs are lit. If not, re-check the polarity on the bulbs that are out and retest until they are all lit.


Enjoy!! :)
 

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Nice write up for a DIY project!

I have a quick question, how is the gauge cluster kit off ebay which utilizes the WEDGE bulbs different from this one? Obviously brightness is one I notice, and the ebay kit doesnt require soldering of any kind. I know this is a noob question so please forgive my ignorance, but I'm sure theres many others who are wondering the same but don't ask. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
xpressive said:
Nice write up for a DIY project!

I have a quick question, how is the gauge cluster kit off ebay which utilizes the WEDGE bulbs different from this one? Obviously brightness is one I notice, and the ebay kit doesnt require soldering of any kind. I know this is a noob question so please forgive my ignorance, but I'm sure theres many others who are wondering the same but don't ask. Thanks!
Yes brightness, and the ones on ebay result in bright and dim spots all over... not something you want in a Lexus. Here is a pic of the cluster with the same type of LED bulbs some of the ebay kits use plus one Superstar bulb in the lower left of the tach. See the difference!
 

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Here we go with a ton of mis-matches on the dashlight illumination. The next step is people realizing it looks wierd having a different color main guage cluster with the rest of the car, then the next step is a bunch of people attempting the a/c area. Sad to see this day. I sincerely think this DIY should only be done if the entire illumination scheme is changed. Oh wel..
 

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JAEohEN said:
^^ i agree...im not even gonna attempt this til theres a write up for the A/C cluster too...the mismatching would drive me crazy...
JAEohEN, I did have that for a little while and it just doesn't look right at all. I hated it and would rather have the stock illumination then the mismatch, hence the 1+ year ordeal to get the A/C done. It would drive you nuts and it really not worth it.
 
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