Dash: replacing old lamps with LEDs

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RC92234

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I got LED replacements from superbrightleds.com as follows:  8 warm white for dash lighting, 1 red for Brakes warning light and 1 blue for Brights warning light.  New circuit board and regulator.  Little blue domes are in good shape so I'll keep them.  Keeping turn signals incandescent.

Pulled the cluster no problem.  Unplugged lights; two sockets need replacing.  Removed IVR, removed and replaced circuit board, replaced IVR.  Swamped out old lamps for LEDs.  Returned cluster to car, plugged into the wiring harness, pulled the light switch and:  total darkness in the dashboard.  Okay, maybe they're *all* reversed polarity. 

Removed the cluster than hooked up a new 9-volt battery to the #1 (pos) and #2 (neg) connectors and still... nada.

Pulled lamp socket #1, cleaned the touch points and connected socket direct to 9v battery, it was dimmer than the lamp it replaced.  SO dim you had to squint to see it.  Switched polarity and nothing; switched it back:  dim.  Try another lamp.  Same thing.  Try the same with a different socket after cleaning the points.  Same result.

Tried the red bulb with the original socket.  Brilliant!  Bright red, saturated color.  Tried red bulb with second socket -- perfect.  Tried the blue.  Far too dim to be useful. Tried the remaining 6 white LEDs.  All far too dim.  Tried red again.  Bright again.

I checked my contacts, but I've been using the same socket for all these tests and I had steel brushed the contact points.

Is a 9v enough to test these bulbs? (My understanding is that the IVR maintains a constant 9v for the dash lights).  Do I have a bunch of bad bulbs?  I used the same socket for testing all the bulbs.

Other ideas?

 

midlife

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IVR puts out 5-6 Volts, so your white LED bulbs appear to be defective.  Try Bill at HiPo Parts for excellent parts and service.

 
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Hmmm. I’m not an expert, but I thought the IVR put out around 6 volts (12 volts in, ~6 out)

The stock ones ...opened and closed (on and off), so averaged around 6 volts,

I thought the new solid state IVR put out a solid stream of around 6 volts.

seems strange to me what you are experiencing...my uneducated guess is bad bulbs...or bad connections on the bulbs

 

Don C

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The instrument voltage regulator is for the gauges, only. The dimmable bulbs are wired directly to the headlight switch. The indicator lights are supplied with full battery voltage.

 

midlife

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The instrument voltage regulator is for the gauges, only. The dimmable bulbs are wired directly to the headlight switch. The indicator lights are supplied with full battery voltage.
Actually, the bulbs are controlled by a rheostat (variable resistor) at the headlight switch, but the turn signals and high beams get full 12V.  It could be the dash bulbs are not getting their desired brightness due to the headlight switch knob not rotated fully (which controls the voltage).

 

RC92234

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I'm not using the headlight switch.  When that didn't work I went to testing each bulb by direct connect to a 9V battery, so the headlight switch and IVR are out of the equation entirely.

From what I gather from the above, I should be testing the bulbs with 12v?  I still don't understand why the red shines real nice and bright at 9v but none of the others do but if the one blue and 7 whites shine right at 12v, then that's that.  And if they don't shine at 12v, then the bulbs just gotta be bad.

Update:  With a 12V source, all the bulbs are fine.  Somehow I got the mistaken idea the IVR maintained a constant 9V to ALL bulbs in the dash cluster so a 9V is what I was using.  The upside is FINALLY I got all the polarity issues worked out and now all I have to wait for is the replacement sockets.

 
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fmjcraig

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Amazing as it might seem for its simplicity, I researched all the choices for LED bulbs for the dash from the different sources and being bored one day went to Walmart and bought all the bulbs I needed for cluster as well as the 3 center gauges, ashtray, marker lights, back up lights, upper center console “dome light”, footwell lights. The instrument cluster illumination used to be so faint but still dimmable and surprised that they came from the factory new like that. There’s so little room between back of cluster and speedo cable that I had to remove the driver’s seat so I could lay on my back to reach up and push in the speedo snap connector. What a difference...so bright now at night...literally night and day difference.
 

RC92234

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[url=https://ibb.co/ZVjjKXW][img]https://i.ibb.co/zrMMbxG/s-l1600-2.jpg[/img][/url]
Amazing as it might seem for its simplicity, I researched all the choices for LED bulbs for the dash from the different sources and being bored one day went to Walmart and bought all the bulbs I needed for cluster as well as the 3 center gauges, ashtray, marker lights, back up lights, upper center console “dome light”, footwell lights. The instrument cluster illumination used to be so faint but still dimmable and surprised that they came from the factory new like that. There’s so little room between back of cluster and speedo cable that I had to remove the driver’s seat so I could lay on my back to reach up and push in the speedo snap connector. What a difference...so bright now at night...literally night and day difference.
Could not agree more about that speedo connector! I had the dash pad off so I could go at it from above but still, scarred from the experience.

But aren’t the new lights nice? 👍
 

Michael O’Harran

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I got LED replacements from superbrightleds.com as follows: 8 warm white for dash lighting, 1 red for Brakes warning light and 1 blue for Brights warning light. New circuit board and regulator. Little blue domes are in good shape so I'll keep them. Keeping turn signals incandescent.

Pulled the cluster no problem. Unplugged lights; two sockets need replacing. Removed IVR, removed and replaced circuit board, replaced IVR. Swamped out old lamps for LEDs. Returned cluster to car, plugged into the wiring harness, pulled the light switch and: total darkness in the dashboard. Okay, maybe they're *all* reversed polarity.

Removed the cluster than hooked up a new 9-volt battery to the #1 (pos) and #2 (neg) connectors and still... nada.

Pulled lamp socket #1, cleaned the touch points and connected socket direct to 9v battery, it was dimmer than the lamp it replaced. SO dim you had to squint to see it. Switched polarity and nothing; switched it back: dim. Try another lamp. Same thing. Try the same with a different socket after cleaning the points. Same result.

Tried the red bulb with the original socket. Brilliant! Bright red, saturated color. Tried red bulb with second socket -- perfect. Tried the blue. Far too dim to be useful. Tried the remaining 6 white LEDs. All far too dim. Tried red again. Bright again.

I checked my contacts, but I've been using the same socket for all these tests and I had steel brushed the contact points.

Is a 9v enough to test these bulbs? (My understanding is that the IVR maintains a constant 9v for the dash lights). Do I have a bunch of bad bulbs? I used the same socket for testing all the bulbs.

Other ideas?
Did you get any responses? I ordered a full car bulb swap for my 72 from the same company and am just starting that process of installing the new refurb wire harness and gauges all refurbed too. Very interested in what you found out.
 

Michael O’Harran

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Did you get any responses? I ordered a full car bulb swap for my 72 from the same company and am just starting that process of installing the new refurb wire harness and gauges all refurbed too. Very interested in what you found out.
I just saw all the responses. They did not show up at first for me. What’s you end thoughts? I’ve heard warned an LED dash or high beam something was too brights. I chose all blue for my gauges.
 

RC92234

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[url=https://ibb.co/ZVjjKXW][img]https://i.ibb.co/zrMMbxG/s-l1600-2.jpg[/img][/url]
I put LEDs in all the dash lights.

For the Brights and Brakes, I used a red bulb and they aren’t at all too bright (I originally got blue for the brights but the color diffuser was red and the combo showed as reddish purple).

I went with warm white (has a slightly yellow tint) as the color for all other bulbs since all the blue domes were in good shape, and the yellow light through a blue diffuser makes the perfect blu-green-aqua color of the original. Turn signals are just plain white because the diffuser is green.
 

RC92234

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[url=https://ibb.co/ZVjjKXW][img]https://i.ibb.co/zrMMbxG/s-l1600-2.jpg[/img][/url]
Hey Michael: I maybe should have looked closer at your post before responding. The LED lights have been in a lot of discussions and this one doesn’t reflect that I ended up using bulbs from HiPoParts.com.

I thought the bulbs from SuperBright were satisfactory until I got to replacing exterior bulbs and ran into major snags with the larger bulbs used in blinkers, reverse and stop lights so went instead with 100% HiPoParts, interior and exterior. Substantial upgrade in instrument panel brightness.

(Stang, if that’s not what you’re referring to, lemme know. Otherwise, good catch 😉 )
 
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I chose all blue for my gauges.
Colors are a matter of choice for sure. In some cases, the old blue domes are no good due to age or breakage, so the blue LED's are a good alternative. However I still like the look of the color with the original domes if they are still usable. On my center gauges I made up, I actually took blue domes and cut them to fit and glued them over the white LED bulbs. There was too much difference in color and they looked out of place. What I'm suggesting here is, there are ways to make what you want.
 

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fmjcraig

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I just saw all the responses. They did not show up at first for me. What’s you end thoughts? I’ve heard warned an LED dash or high beam something was too brights. I chose all blue for my gauges.
I left the blue domes also in the cluster housing and the end result with the white LEDs I felt was perfect...not white but almost white with soft blue tone, and totally dimmable...got lucky with the results.
 

blkulis

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Hey Michael: I maybe should have looked closer at your post before responding. The LED lights have been in a lot of discussions and this one doesn’t reflect that I ended up using bulbs from HiPoParts.com.

I thought the bulbs from SuperBright were satisfactory until I got to replacing exterior bulbs and ran into major snags with the larger bulbs used in blinkers, reverse and stop lights so went instead with 100% HiPoParts, interior and exterior. Substantial upgrade in instrument panel brightness.

(Stang, if that’s not what you’re referring to, lemme know. Otherwise, good catch 😉 )
The owner at HiPoParts is great. I had so many questions and he ended up talking to me for 45 minutes. Great customer service and quality products.
 
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The owner at HiPoParts is great. I had so many questions and he ended up talking to me for 45 minutes. Great customer service and quality products.
For sure. I had a similar conversation with Bill as well. He's my go-to guy when it come s to LED's and why I promote his business any chance I get.
When I did my LED headlights, I was unsure IF I needed to add relays, but after talking to Bill (and members on the forum), I realized why. Funny thing was he doesn't (yet) sell headlights, but the ones he has in his own Mustang are the same as what I bought. Made me feel a lot better about my choice of LED's and relays. By the way, headlight relays made a huge difference to the interior lights as well.
 

1973 Mach-1

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About 6 years ago, I replaced the dash lights in my 73 with an LED set I got from CJ Pony. I had the option for white or blue, because my diffusion domes were broken, I opted for blue. All the lights that are white or red are vibrant ( Hi beam =red, Turns =white with green diffuser). The blue hue is very blue, But a bit too dim because of that. A lighter blue would have been better.
 
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Amazing as it might seem for its simplicity, I researched all the choices for LED bulbs for the dash from the different sources and being bored one day went to Walmart and bought all the bulbs I needed for cluster as well as the 3 center gauges, ashtray, marker lights, back up lights, upper center console “dome light”, footwell lights. The instrument cluster illumination used to be so faint but still dimmable and surprised that they came from the factory new like that. There’s so little room between back of cluster and speedo cable that I had to remove the driver’s seat so I could lay on my back to reach up and push in the speedo snap connector. What a difference...so bright now at night...literally night and day difference.
The dash pad comes off pretty easy. Thats how I got my fat hands in there.
 
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