Cluster LED swap - Guide - non mycolor clusters -

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Old 12-31-2010, 08:38 PM   #1  
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Default Cluster LED swap - Guide - non mycolor clusters

Do this at your own risk of course...

Non-Mycolor 4 gauge cluster = 30 PLCC-4 SMD LEDs :

30 PLCC-4 SMD LEDs to replace the greens only.
45 total (if you want to change the whites as well as there are 15).
Here are the ones I used (@ 196 mcd, these are roughly 2 to 3 times the stock brightness with this voltage)
So if you want to get the brightness close to stock they should be less than half this value with that voltage.

The specs needed for an exact match are (they can be out of this to a degree and still make it on the pads):
3.4mm x 3mm
Any in the 2.8 to 3.9 volt range should work fine. I used 3.9v. Keep in mind the mcd brightness rating is at optimum voltage, since this operates at a lower voltage, the actual brightness is lowered.

Tools required:
Soldering iron, 15watt (controlled station would be better)
Silver bearing solder, .015 diameter
Long tweezers

Here is the link for a mycolor LED swap if your looking for a guide to replacing the rest. The same basics apply(PLCC-2 LEDs instead). READ this. It will lay out everything necessary.

Yanking everything apart:

Yank the cluster cover, itīs just held in with tabs, so gently pry using just your hands. It should look like this after-wards.

Then remove the four 7mm screws holding it in place.

Then, youīll need to disconnect it by pushing in the locking tab just above the grey plastic locking piece here. Then moving the grey locking plastic insert up, it should come out easily.

The plastic housings are fairly straight-forward. Just unclip from the side with the least tabs first, 1 at a time, carefully. The clear display first.

Then the tricky part: Using a set of angled tweezers or something else that can give a near uniform fulcrum point, as this will take a medium level of force, carefully pry them up to remove the needles. They are thin plastic that attaches to the small metal post of the meters. Remember their exact position.

This is what I used for the pulling of the needles.

Then do the black backing, then the white inner.

Now, here it is, apart, running lights off:

Running lights on:

Second shot with running light on:

Doing the actual work:

1. Use the iron to heat both pads on a side at once while holding the one end with the tweezers.
2. Pull slightly to raise it to a 20 degree angle from the 2 pads on that side.**

3. Then hold your iron on the opposite side to heat both of those pads until it frees itself.
4. Place the new one with tweezers with the correct orientation of the LED(cathode/anode).
5. Use a very slight amount of the silver solder to adhere one pad to get the proper line up of the LED.
6. Then use a very small bead on the other 3 pads.
7. Rinse and repeat 1-6 29 more times.

**Yes, this risks pulling the pads on the opposite side. With the pads used in this case this risk is far less than usual, and speed things along waaaay faster than using a solder-sucker or braid. In some cases you may still need to use a sucker to remove excess solder on the raised side so you can free it easily.

When you put the needles back on, be extremely precise, go super slow-mo putting them on in the exact position you took them off. You can move them around these around without damaging anything, but you canīt just move it forward or back like a clock when you put them back on and theyīre off. It has to be placed on the metal post exactly as it came off. If your move the post as your re-placing them, they will be off. If the post moved while pulling the needles, it will be off. If you twitched while removing/re-placing they will be off.

I would drag it back out to the car and start it up without the needles, to get the posts into the proper position again before re-attaching. Test before you put the clear plastic front piece cover back on.

I have the benefit of using my ODB-II interface software read-outs to make sure everything is/was matching up when I was done, you will not have this luxury.

I took volt-meter readings to verify, 2.2v for the greens at max intensity, 3.4-3.5v for the white daytime lights, same type used, just higher rated brightness and voltage. The whites are easy to pick out if yourīs has the same manufacturer, as they were slightly yellow for the case and cover for the smd leds.

Good luck.

Last edited by wayne613; 02-12-2011 at 03:14 AM.
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Old 01-24-2011, 12:34 AM   #2  
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So...Finally got the mouser replacements I was happy with and did this myself.

So now you mycolor 6guage cluster guys can bite me. =P

Verifying orientation and desired brightness level from rating:

Verification once all have been replaced:

And back on with clear case kept off as I plan to verify the gauge positions against my ODB-II readings later, if theyīre off itīll bug the crap outta me:
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Old 01-24-2011, 02:34 AM   #3  
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Lookin good!
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Old 01-24-2011, 03:33 AM   #4  
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Thanks. Updating original post to give a proper walk-thru. And all specs of needed LEDs and tools.

Let me know if anybody needs further clarification or information I may have missed that needs to be provided.

Color gel to correct the green mileage display I'll get to later.

Last edited by wayne613; 01-24-2011 at 02:03 PM.
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Old 01-29-2011, 08:50 PM   #5  
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:27 PM   #6  
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Originally Posted by JCON View Post
Used the same pull one end to about a 20% angle method for the HVAC, and the other PLCC-2 2-contact pad LEDīs as well. No problems. So you should be good when you get to this later.
The pads used for everything are re-enforced. So long as you only give slight pressure on the pull while melting the opposite pad you should be fine. And this will make things go waaaay faster.

Afraid I guessed the incorrect brightness level for the PLCC-2īs that I got though, probably have to go over the covers on the LEDīs with a black marker down the road. Frigginī blinding at full level on the dimmer switch. Did the same for the first order for the PLCC-4īs from mouser, but replaced them. Just canīt justify spending another $40, so went with the Ļow, my eyesĻ ones for now for the -2īs.

Last edited by wayne613; 01-31-2011 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 02-18-2011, 01:40 AM   #7  
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Just updating with the rest of the pics from the complete conversion:

Probably the bigger of the PITA things, the rear-view mirror, this requires a specialized tool, but I just dremeled out a $2 windshield scraper once I saw a shot of the ĻtoolĻ for this. Worked great:

Likely a specialized $100 tool from FORD for this as well just to pull the actual tabs for this away:

Back view showing the PLCC-2 LED to replace:

And the extremely blurry pic of the change out:

Now, the light-switch housing, easy turn and pull out. Why this and the 2 overhead lights use bulbs and EVERYTHING else uses LEDīs Iīll never understand..
You canīt see it, but this factory bulb melted the crap out of the front of the plastic where that bulb rests against.

Important, same as the cluster mileage display, this is tinted, so you have to sand it, or use nail-polish remover (Acetone). You wonīt need to buff this back to clear though. However, if you have fogs, this push/pull **** is a bitch to remove without breaking the thin plastic tab cover that holds it in place in the center column. I broke my own, fixed easily with some gorilla glue and left alone for a day, since after sanding it there should be no need to get back in again, but still:

Hereīs the scorched POS out, about to be cut down after unraveling the 2 wires holding it in place and giving it itīs contact points. And before I replaced the fog light LED with an SMD one:

Chopped down, I actually chopped it even further to accommodate an in-line 370ohm resistor(bringing it down to 3v) as I couldnīt find a 12v LED in blue readily:

Fog-light LED replaced now. Itīs 3v, if you look, you can see the factory in-line resistor to pull it down, so you can easily replace this one with an SMD PLCC-2 and just bend the leads so it faces/fits properly:

Side-view of replacement 3v LED with resistor in place/line:

Finished LED replacement for the factory bulb (wires through, then wrapped for the contact points, fairly easy). Just need to clip the LED near the top for the positive contact, solder the LED in place, then feed them through the holes, and wrap them for the stock contact points, which also holds it in place. Fairly easy, and donīt worry about the holes for polarity, the housing will twist back into place both ways, so if itīs wrong the first time, pull this back out, and put it back with the sides switched, then twist back into the housing:

I have everything done, and snaps taken, bunch more from re-doing all of this, so Iīll continue with more from this later. Including using nail-polish remover, then scratch-x(buff back to clear), and then a color gel insert for the cluster to change the color to blue. Why the F*** they colored/tinted the screen green it is beyond me, as the LCD used for these is green to start with.

Then of course fixing the factory illumination packageīs button itself from green to blue. Didnīt take any of the door lock LEDīs when I changed īem, as theyīve been covered before.

Last edited by wayne613; 02-19-2011 at 01:59 AM.
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Old 02-18-2011, 03:12 PM   #8  
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Here is the finished fog and main light done, ready to be put back into the housing:

Hereīs the dismantled illumination for the cup-holder, which was actually broken from the factory. The ring diffuses the LED light through it, 1 on each side, but the mounting wasnīt glued properly on the one side, so it was dangling. I always suspected something, as it never seemed bright enough towards the front on the passenger side, so I got that fixed here:

The nasty green button LED:

2 tabs on either side, so with a bit of pulling while using a small screwdriver inside the base against the ends this should come out easily, just use a bright desk-light to see inside of it to see what Iīm referring to:

And another pic of it:

And finally, after using nail-polish remover to get rid of the green tinting, then buffing with scratch-x to make it clear again, then cutting out a piece of color gel (for studio lighting, usually sold pretty cheap online), then just glueing it in place:

Iīll need to take a couple at night with everything going, I have a couple now, but not encompassing everything. But thatīs all for now. Hope it helps someone.

Last edited by wayne613; 02-18-2011 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 05-25-2018, 08:08 AM   #9  
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So, in total, how many leds do we need in order to do the gauge cluster and the hvac, window watches, cruise control, etc? Can they all use the same PLCC-2 less? I know this is old and I'm sorry if I missed anything and thusly asked a stupid question but I work really long hours and just washed wa get this clarified. I'm no stranger to soldering, just want to verify so I can get all I need.
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1996, 2010, 2011, cluster, color, dash, florida, install, led, mustang, mycolor, plcc2, plcc4, replacing, s197, south, specialzed, swap

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