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#3844753 - 01/12/18 04:32 PM Color Changing Gauge Cluster (06+)
BrianDye Offline
Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 280
Loc: Monroe, MI
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.
_________________________
2005 MGM
2006 CVPI

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#3844993 - 01/12/18 10:40 PM Re: Color Changing Gauge Cluster (06+) [Re: BrianDye]
SMVic__ Offline
Member

Registered: 06/05/17
Posts: 112
Loc: MA
Well done, man. I like it. Surely adds a bit of personal flair you don't see everyday.
_________________________
05 Crown Victoria
ADTR Coil overs, ADTR sway bars, Ford Racing 3.55s + Yukon Duragrip Posi.

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#3845417 - 01/13/18 12:45 PM Re: Color Changing Gauge Cluster (06+) [Re: BrianDye]
BrianDye Offline
Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 280
Loc: Monroe, MI
Thanks! I love it, its like eye candy. Im still stuck in the 90's/early 2000's when under glow and everything lighting up was cool LOL.

Once I get my dash back together, I can post pictures of the Grand Marquis message center cluster thats now in there with the RGB's. Im still waiting on the new dash trim with the message center buttons, and I have to go fill the car up (Which I don't feel like blowing $30~ on, because i'm still not driving it full time) so I can make sure the gas gauge needle is spot on. RPM, temp and speedo are good. Oh, I have to switch the shift indicator assembly, mine seems to be sticking, I have a newer/used one from the MGM cluster im gonna swap in that seems to function perfect.

Mine is like 1/2" off when its in Park. If I adjust it to be where it should be, it won't move when I shift (It shifts fine, just the needle stays on "P"), if I loosen it and let it be way off, it registers every gear fine, besides park. OCD is a killer.
_________________________
2005 MGM
2006 CVPI

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#3846337 - 01/14/18 04:36 PM Re: Color Changing Gauge Cluster (06+) [Re: BrianDye]
BrianDye Offline
Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 280
Loc: Monroe, MI
OK, so as cool as the cluster is by itself, I feel like it would look a little out of place when the other "main" lights in the dash are green. (The HVAC control panel)

My radio will be a Pioneer double din, which can be set to any color, and the only other green lights will just be the cruise buttons when I swap the wheel, and the window buttons. Oh, the rear defrost switch too, duh. I might grab a spare set of buttons and give my hand at "micro" soldering a shot, but im not holding my breath. Fat fingers, not alot of patience...

Anyways, I opened up the HVAC panel, pulled the green film out (that was so easy...) and threw a strip of RGB LEDs around the inside perimeter of the panel. Stupid easy, longest part was taking it apart, and then cleaning everything.



The knobs have little tabs in them that glow as well, just a chunk of clear plastic with a green tint on the end. I used a piece of sandpaper, sanded the tip for probably 5 seconds, which got rid of the green, and left a nice "frosted" type look which will show the color better, and popped them back in. They just pulled out of the knobs with a pair of pliers.



My camera doesn't do them justice, the lighting inside was weird, and makes the colors look kind of dull compared to the cluster, but its damn near just as vivid. Not perfect, but damn close.



(The heat/ac knob is tinted blue and red, so certain colors dont work well, like red)






This will be controlled by the same module as my cluster, so ill just order a little 4 pin splitter, so they'll always be the same brightness/color/setting.
_________________________
2005 MGM
2006 CVPI

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#3846609 - 01/14/18 08:37 PM Re: Color Changing Gauge Cluster (06+) [Re: BrianDye]
ford05 Offline
Poobah

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 5944
Loc: New Jersey
Thats very very nice work right there. Good job.
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#3846641 - 01/14/18 08:52 PM Re: Color Changing Gauge Cluster (06+) [Re: BrianDye]
Slentzer Offline
Over the Hill

Registered: 08/13/03
Posts: 1829
Loc: Reading, Penna
Very cool. Good work. Love to see that in person.
_________________________
Jeff
________
'09 M75 32,053 on 4/15/15. Perfect.
'94 P74 92,308 final on 4/13/15. State Farm owns her now. Miss you my friend.
'98 M74 Sold 8/09.
'91 M75 Deceased, thank God.
'89 M74 First love.

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#3847177 - 01/15/18 02:48 PM Re: Color Changing Gauge Cluster (06+) [Re: BrianDye]
CozmicPI Offline
n00b

Registered: 10/09/17
Posts: 29
Loc: FL
Really good writeup and pics!
I also have a bunch of the same LED strips, I think this is now on my "project list".

Good job! Really adds some personality.
_________________________
2007 CVPI

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#3848057 - 01/16/18 12:14 PM Re: Color Changing Gauge Cluster (06+) [Re: BrianDye]
Trekintosh Offline
Rookie

Registered: 12/18/13
Posts: 85
Loc: San Luis Obispo County
Well damn that looks great. Can you post pics of the MessageCenter dash? My 2011 has one, and I wanna know if it's possible to make the LCD white (I dunno if it's a green backlit/frontlit LCD or an actual green LED display). If so, then I'd like to do this to the whole dash, as my new Sony head unit will have white buttons, but it'd be nice to turn the entire car green or red for night driving.

Have you done an EATC module?
_________________________
2011 Civilian Crown Victoria LX "Black Betty," 148,xxx miles.
+2001 P-71 rear sway bar
+P71 aluminum driveshaft with Fabtech spacer
+Mo's Speed shop tune, economy 87 octane + performance E85 on SCT X4
+P71 airbox+MAF (stock zip tube, keeping the resonators)
+2002 Town Car rear seats
+Curt Class III trailer hitch
+Moog Heavy duty variable rate rear cargo springs
+Munroe Gas Magnum shocks all around
+3.73 Trac-Lok from an Explorer
+Forged P71 upper control arms.

It's a former rental!

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#3849001 - 01/16/18 10:26 PM Re: Color Changing Gauge Cluster (06+) [Re: BrianDye]
BigMerc96 Offline

I know nothing
Posting Addict

Registered: 06/05/10
Posts: 19871
Loc: I can see Detroit from here!
The display in the cluster is a green vacuum-fluorescent-display as far as I know, that makes changing its color rather difficult. Unless there's something I don't know about them. I know the EATC heads were actually a blueish white VFD with a green filter in the faceplate, same for a '98-'04 digidash.
_________________________
-Steve

2006 Audi A6 ~132k miles, stock.
1998 Mercury Grand Marquis LS HPP ~100k miles, slowly acquiring modifications.
1997 Town Car Cartier ~145k miles, Ported Plenum, Gutted Airbox, Contour E-fan Retrofit, Dual exhaust with Magnaflows, cats deleted, MSD Ignition, KYB Gas-A-Justs, P71 front bar, air ride reinstated, Projector retrofit, Caddy 4-note horn retrofit, Wood rim steering wheel retrofit, holistic weight reduction as the parts fall off..
1996 Mercury Grand Marquis GS 117,485mi. R.I.P. 7/14/12 frown

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#3849385 - 01/17/18 12:32 PM Re: Color Changing Gauge Cluster (06+) [Re: BigMerc96]
Trekintosh Offline
Rookie

Registered: 12/18/13
Posts: 85
Loc: San Luis Obispo County
Originally Posted By BigMerc96
The display in the cluster is a green vacuum-fluorescent-display as far as I know, that makes changing its color rather difficult. Unless there's something I don't know about them. I know the EATC heads were actually a blueish white VFD with a green filter in the faceplate, same for a '98-'04 digidash.


Good info, thanks! Didn't even consider a VFD. The EATC would be easy to change, but if the MC display is a green VFD, that kinda puts away any chance of changing it easily. One would have to desolder the entire display and replace it with an equivalent of another color.
_________________________
2011 Civilian Crown Victoria LX "Black Betty," 148,xxx miles.
+2001 P-71 rear sway bar
+P71 aluminum driveshaft with Fabtech spacer
+Mo's Speed shop tune, economy 87 octane + performance E85 on SCT X4
+P71 airbox+MAF (stock zip tube, keeping the resonators)
+2002 Town Car rear seats
+Curt Class III trailer hitch
+Moog Heavy duty variable rate rear cargo springs
+Munroe Gas Magnum shocks all around
+3.73 Trac-Lok from an Explorer
+Forged P71 upper control arms.

It's a former rental!

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#3850393 - 01/18/18 06:58 PM Re: Color Changing Gauge Cluster (06+) [Re: BrianDye]
BrianDye Offline
Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 280
Loc: Monroe, MI
Yeah, unfortunately the displays are green, and the overlay has a green film for it. If you've ever seen the "ApocaVic" on Facebook (Maybe hes on here?) after I posted on there, he messed with his cluster and was able to change the green odometer to red. I assume a film behind the gauge overlay, but color options would be super limited.

I haven't messed with an EATC, 1. I don't have it in either car unfortunately, 2. Im not comfortable with that tiny soldering yet, to desolder each bulb (I assume those probably have an LED for each button?) and solder a new one on.


Ill get pictures of the message center cluster here soon, I have to fill the car up (so I can make sure my fuel gauge needle is exactly where its supposed to be) but I don't daily drive it, I rarely drive it, so dropping $35 or so on a tank of gas isn't high on my to-do list. I recently took quite a bit of time off work due to injuring my back, so funds are tight right now.

-The whole point of that rant was to say the dash is still torn apart, and the cluster isn't actually installed yet, its just plopped in there, with the cover off.


Edited by BrianDye (01/18/18 07:01 PM)
_________________________
2005 MGM
2006 CVPI

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#3851617 - 01/20/18 09:51 AM Re: Color Changing Gauge Cluster (06+) [Re: BrianDye]
AACoPD05 Offline
Over the Hill

Registered: 10/02/08
Posts: 1493
Loc: Maryland
Excellent work, looks amazing.
_________________________
2004 Ford Crown Victoria LX Sport - 1 of 2656 - Midnight Gray w/Dark Charcoal
Mods: 21mm rear sway bar, Marauder head unit, Marauder sub/amp, Ford "premium" two-way door and deck speakers, Curless cure, Ford Focus fog lamps with Marauder head light switch, trunk organizer, short over head console with Homelink.

2001 F250 crew cab, 7.3L Diesel

2017 Explorer Police Interceptor

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#3851625 - 01/20/18 10:01 AM Re: Color Changing Gauge Cluster (06+) [Re: BrianDye]
BigNSlow Offline
Metroplectic

Registered: 01/31/03
Posts: 41278
Loc:
That's neat. I know Ford offered ambient light package on a few cars which would basically do what you did there. I have a Fusion console sitting around with that setup. The LEDs they use are single diodes. I always wanted to integrate that into a Panther.

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#3851745 - 01/20/18 02:29 PM Re: Color Changing Gauge Cluster (06+) [Re: BigNSlow]
BrianDye Offline
Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 280
Loc: Monroe, MI
Originally Posted By AACoPD05
Excellent work, looks amazing.


Thank you!

Originally Posted By BigNSlow
That's neat. I know Ford offered ambient light package on a few cars which would basically do what you did there. I have a Fusion console sitting around with that setup. The LEDs they use are single diodes. I always wanted to integrate that into a Panther.


Yeah, I actually had installed one of those kits in my 2004 LX Sport. They were cool, but very dim (for my liking). I had one LED in each of the cup holders, one on either side of the console for the front foot wells and then I think there was one or two more that I put into the back for the rear foot wells.

I finally ordered a set of message center buttons, and will be able to button up the dash Monday or Tuesday and get some final result pictures.
_________________________
2005 MGM
2006 CVPI

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#3851889 - 01/20/18 06:00 PM Re: Color Changing Gauge Cluster (06+) [Re: BrianDye]
a_d_a_m Offline

3 Orange Whips
Metroplectic

Registered: 10/25/05
Posts: 27907
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Nice work. Are you for hire? laugh
Also, mind if I add this to the BOK?
_________________________

'91 LTD Country Squire (POTM Mar. '19) | '03 Marauder (POTM Nov. '10, Jul. '20) | 2010 P7B (POTM Feb. '21)
formerly: '02 MGM, '04 MGM, '04 MGM v2.0, '04 MM, '07 P71 (POTM Feb. '18), '04 CVLX (POTM Jun. '19 and the best car ever), '03 SAP P71

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