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      06-13-2021, 01:42 PM   #1
Sarreguin85
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White LED gauge cluster conversion

I'm looking to change the LEDs on my cluster to white, and I've looked around the forums, but the only guides I can find are for E82s. They say they used 3528 SMD LED diodes, does anybody know if the same is true for the Z4 cluster?
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      07-05-2021, 04:16 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarreguin85 View Post
I'm looking to change the LEDs on my cluster to white, and I've looked around the forums, but the only guides I can find are for E82s. They say they used 3528 SMD LED diodes, does anybody know if the same is true for the Z4 cluster?
I was interested in doing this only found a few you tube videos but have no idea what's needed, I was tempted to get another instrument set and try it on that first, about £40 for e85/e86 cluster on eBay if they are the same and gathering mileage comes from ecu.
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      09-17-2021, 07:35 AM   #3
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Glad I saw this post. I have the leds coming in the mail to do the swap. Other than being very cautious when removing and reinstalling the gauge needles it is very straightforward. The leds behind the speedo,tachometer, and lcd display are simply swapped for white ones from the stock amber. Pay attention to polarity when installing and of course test before completely reassembling. As far as a guide with photos on specifically which ones to swap there are a couple on YouTube and the net. I will take some pictures when I do it and post them.
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      09-18-2021, 04:20 PM   #4
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Subbed. I can't stand the dark cluster lighting.
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      09-30-2021, 06:25 PM   #5
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Just wanted to post an update. I did the led swap and attempted to take pictures to put together a how to. For now just wanted to show a before and after. The colors aren’t completely accurate. It is not as blue as it appears. It is MUCH more legible and just plain more appealing in my opinion. I will try and put together an explanation with pictures as soon as I have time.

I also changed the leds behind the lcd displays to green.
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      09-30-2021, 06:42 PM   #6
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Before with the lcd on. Really don’t like the red.
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      10-02-2021, 01:49 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nipsey View Post
Glad I saw this post. I have the leds coming in the mail to do the swap. Other than being very cautious when removing and reinstalling the gauge needles it is very straightforward. The leds behind the speedo,tachometer, and lcd display are simply swapped for white ones from the stock amber. Pay attention to polarity when installing and of course test before completely reassembling. As far as a guide with photos on specifically which ones to swap there are a couple on YouTube and the net. I will take some pictures when I do it and post them.
What LED's did you end up using? Can you link them here?
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      10-02-2021, 10:34 AM   #8
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I purchased them from lighthouse leds. They are located in Washington state. They are
plcc-2 SMD clear white ultra bright 1210/3528 leds. At one time I was pretty familiar with the terminology but I believe 1210 and 3528 are different names for the same thing. Plcc is a plastic leadless chip carrier and 1210/3528 refers to the dimensions.

I hope to have a post with step by step instructions up soon. It is fairly straight forward but any mistakes would be hard to correct obviously
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      10-02-2021, 10:47 AM   #9
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So here is my attempt at instructions on the led swap.first step is remove the instrument cluster. There is just one screw on the top of the housing. After that is removed you just pull it out and disconnect the plug. The plug has a latch that will push it out when you pull it.

This is what it looks like taken apart which is just 4 screws on the back and a couple of clips.
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      10-02-2021, 10:48 AM   #10
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I will do this in separate posts seeing as I can’t seem to put the text and pictures in any order
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      10-02-2021, 10:59 AM   #11
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Removing the needles is where you really want to be careful. Take a few pictures so you know where they are pointing exactly so you don’t have to pull them off and reattach them a dozen times. Put construction paper or something equivalent on the gauge face before you attempt to remove the needles so you don’t mark them up.

The best method is to use 2 small spoons or something with a curve so you can lever the needles off. I made up a tool by bending the heads on 2 roofing nails so they were curved and that worked pretty well. They will require more pressure than you might be comfortable with to remove. Just pry evenly and do it right at the stem. Absolutely don’t pry out away from there or you will bend the needle.
Also the speedo and tach will not be all the way at the stop when you start. I pushed them back so I had a definite starting point for when I reinstalled them. Taking a lot of pictures helped me a lot. Being able to look back at where you started really helps. Sort of measure twice cut once I guess.
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      10-02-2021, 11:06 AM   #12
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This is what you have on the board as far as led arrangement. It looks like a mess and can be confusing. Again if you plug it back in after it is apart you can see the leds and which ones are lit up when the dash lights are on. One note, the bottom 4 leds which are the left and right lower corners of the speedo and tach are at right angles to the board. They sort of shine into a clear plastic ring that surrounds the dial. I ended up putting a 5mm led in these spots with the end sanded flat so the light shined out the sides. You will decide how you want to do it. Just putting one of the plcc-2 leds in there will work just fine I am sure as things are pretty bright already.
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      10-02-2021, 11:17 AM   #13
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So at this point you have swapped out 16 leds. 7 around the tach and speedo each. And 2 for the temp and gas gauge.
If you want to get rid of the amber color on the mileage/time led and transmission led if you have an automatic then the 8 leds you see in the picture that sit between the copper contact pads and the 3 in the center between the tach and speedo are the ones you want. I forgot to take a photo of them lit up before I reassembled but you see the results in the before and after pictures. I used greenish blue leds for this. Also here is a picture of the 5mm led shaved down.
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Last edited by Nipsey; 10-02-2021 at 11:35 AM.. Reason: Spelling
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      10-02-2021, 11:29 AM   #14
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I also painted the needles a reddish orange color which I prefer over the silver.
One of the most important things is check and recheck before you progress to the next step during this. You don’t want to get something reassembled and find out you forgot something and need to take it apart all over again. Mark the polarity of the led before you remove them. I put a black dot for negative on the pcb before I removed the original leds. The leds have a corner cut off the square to indicate negative. In a pinch you can check polarity when it is plugged in and lit up using a multimeter. Note where the notch is and the others will all be the same.
That and don’t apply any more heat than necessary when removing or reinstalling leds. Better a solder joint that has good continuity but is not pretty than a smooth shiny connection on an led you cooked and have to remove or something else on the board gets desoldered because there was so much heat applied. This is common practice anytime you repair or modify a printed circuit board but it bears repeating. Not to say be satisfied with an ugly solder joint that may have poor connection but just don’t get over zealous with the heat.
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Last edited by Nipsey; 10-02-2021 at 11:39 AM..
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      10-02-2021, 11:41 AM   #15
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Well I hope this is helpful. I know it is far from textbook perfect as far as how toos go but I will add if there is anything someone feels is left out. And will be happy to answer any questions if I can.
Also you can see the screw at the top of the housing that needs to come out in order to pull the instrument cluster in this picture. It is at the top between the dials.

Last edited by Nipsey; 10-02-2021 at 11:48 AM.. Reason: Add text
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      10-03-2021, 09:34 AM   #16
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Here's a video on gauge cluster disassembly and reassembly. Might be helpful to folks attempting this on their own. It's from a gauge face group buy thread:

https://www.zpost.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1730660

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      04-14-2022, 03:32 AM   #17
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Thanks for such an awesome write-up, when I saw the E85 dash in red I was thinking "I would love to change it to white, red is so harsh on the eyes, has anyone else done this?"

I haven't obtained an E85 of my own (yet?!) but saving this post for sure.

One question, are you aware if anyone makes a ring to go around the tach + speedometer instead of those light guard "cylinders"?

I did drive a friend's Z4-M and I thought those cylinders make it more difficult to read the gauge as opposed to a flat dash.
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      04-14-2022, 03:56 PM   #18
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Wow! I’ve been wanting to do this.
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      04-15-2022, 12:21 PM   #19
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There is a reason for the Red dash lights vs white, and it all has to do with your eye receptors.

If you do your research and there are articles etc on this, you will discover that the red light emitted does not interfere with your night vision. The white light however does…..

So in short the change to white dash lights was perceived as/is a safety issue at night as the white lights degrade your vision…. Yes I know cars head lights emit bright light at night… and they blind you. That is a driving issue when they are in your eyes…

Anyway… that is the science behind red vs white….

If you watch Das Boat or other movies of ships/submarines you will note the use of red lighting at night…… for exactly this reason.

As a former Naval bridge watch keeper/OOW I can attest to the accuracy of the science.
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      04-15-2022, 05:12 PM   #20
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All true, all valid. I still hate trying to read the gauges in my Z4MC. Day or night! I put white gauge faces on, that helped a bit.
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      04-15-2022, 07:20 PM   #21
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I have a GPS stuck in the left corner so I can "see" my speed. Looking down and "in" to see my speedometer leads to distracted driving as I subconsciously focus in way to long from seeing the road. Too easy for me to lose focus on the road if I do… whereas quick glance at GPS satisfy's my urge to see how much over the speed limit I'm going! Good thing Canadian cops aren't as anal as our southern neighbor's….
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      04-16-2022, 05:22 PM   #22
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You're absolutely right that red interferes less with night vision, but I have to stay every car I've driven at night that has a white dash (most newer vehicles) I didn't personally feel any discomfort.

Maybe like how some people like blue LEDs on their equipment? Personally I find it iriritates my eyes and if possible I change to a ~520 nm green color (which is quite pleasing).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clearancediver View Post
There is a reason for the Red dash lights vs white, and it all has to do with your eye receptors.

If you do your research and there are articles etc on this, you will discover that the red light emitted does not interfere with your night vision. The white light however does…..

So in short the change to white dash lights was perceived as/is a safety issue at night as the white lights degrade your vision…. Yes I know cars head lights emit bright light at night… and they blind you. That is a driving issue when they are in your eyes…

Anyway… that is the science behind red vs white….

If you watch Das Boat or other movies of ships/submarines you will note the use of red lighting at night…… for exactly this reason.

As a former Naval bridge watch keeper/OOW I can attest to the accuracy of the science.
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