Color-changing gauge cluster ('06+) - by BrianDye

Posted by: a_d_a_m

Color-changing gauge cluster ('06+) - by BrianDye - 01/20/18 10:53 PM

The following article outlines installation of color-changing LED bulbs in gauge clusters found in 2006+ Panthers. It was authored by BrianDye, and was originally posted in this thread.

I like messing with electronics on the side, building totally random/off-the-wall stuff.

I had a few friends pay me to install "RGB" LEDs on their vehicles/ATV's/etc this past Summer, and I had quite a bit of scrap laying around.

On the Crown Vic FB groups, I noticed a few people would de-solder each backlight LED, and solder on a different color, since the gauge faces had no tint, it could be whatever color they wanted. That got me thinking...why not make it color changing LEDs?

The RGB LEDs are a long strip of 5050 SMD LEDs, a controller box, and remote controller. The strip can be cut every 3 LEDs, and you have to solder new leads on each strip. Each strip needs 4 leads, a 12v source, then each color (red, green, blue) has a ground.

My 2006 cluster was dirty anyways, and I wanted to take it apart. Upon taking it apart, it was clear that the LED strips would fit "perfectly" into the channels behind the gauge faces.

I de-soldered each backlight LED behind all 4 gauges, and the shift indicator area - JUST the PRND21, not the LEDs that illuminate the shift indicator needle. I also leave the red LEDs that illuminate the needles, otherwise they would be impossible to see at night.

I am super happy with the results.

I have done two standard P71 clusters now, and the message center cluster I swapped into my 06. The cluster was from a Grand Marquis, so it has the white needles. I wish I had white LEDs on hand, because this cluster still lights up the needles red. Still looks good though.

*This is for show use only!*
The LEDs can flash different colors, or fade into each color. Of course, this is never to be used while driving. When you turn it off, it comes back on however it was turned off. Ex: if you had it on solid green, it would turn back on solid green. If you turned it off while fading through all colors, it would come back on fading through all colors.

Im trying a new image hosting service since Photobucket kicked the bucket, let me know if anyone has issues seeing the pictures.

The lights are powered by themselves, (depending on how you wire them), the cluster looks pretty cool with just the needles glowing.

I also removed the TPMS light, and Fire Suppression System Fault light

The biggest questions I kept getting on the FB groups were "Can you do this to 05 and older clusters?"

Yes and no. Yes, it would actually be easier to convert the whole cluster, as you can just mount the strips behind the gauge assemblies with plenty of room for wiring, and no dark spots. No, because you would have to sand off the green backing from the gauge faces, which I am not comfortable doing. Also, needles would be poorly lit when some colors are shining, so it would be fairly dangerous.

--------Courtesy BrianDye