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pmod

Guide: Integrating a digital gauge with the S15 cluster

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If you wake up dreaming of a steamy reach-around by a man in uniform, then you should consider mounting your gauges on the dashboard. Police love this.

For everyone else, it's much better to just hide that sh*t so you can crab-walk over speed bumps in peace.

 

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14psi of vacuum ftw.

 

Difficulty = 7

Where 0 is training your dog to dump on command, and 10 is stopping them from eating it.

 

Time Required = ~5 hours

A lot of people fail where delicate work and electronics is involved, so take your time and set aside a day.

 

Disclaimer

Never go full-retard. You break it, you pay for it, etc.

 

Tools Required

  • Razor knife
  • Steel ruler
  • Soldering iron
  • Side cutters
  • Wire strippers
  • Screw driver
  • Drill + various drill bits
  • Digital LED gauge. Got mine from Supercheap and blue was the only colour available. I am in fact straight.
  • Various coloured wire
  • Various small bolts and nuts
  • Transparent blue/grey tinted plastic. I used the lid of a disposable food container. Experiment with different filters.
  • Quality tape with a hard edge. I used 3M Scotch Brand 850
  • Superglue
  • Small zip ties
  • Thin heatshrink tubing
  • Flux-cored solder

Usage

  • Checking boost levels without Police attention
  • Blinding you at night
  • Just generally looking like a sik c*nt

Process

Step 1. Test the boost gauge and make sure it works. My quality product needed replacement. Abuse staff as required.

 

Step 2. Disassemble the boost gauge. If you can't figure it out, take a flat-head screwdriver and start bending things.

 

Step 3. Mark the orientation of the LED display block, then desolder it.

 

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Step 4. Solder different coloured wires to the pins of the LED block, covering each with heat-shrink tubing.

 

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Step 5. Remove the gauge cluster from your car (unbolt and drop the steering column). Remove the cover and silver trim by pushing the tabs on the back.

 

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Step 6. Unscrew the 4 bolts retaining the speedometer, and remove it. No need to remove the needle, just spin it out of the way.

 

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Step 7. Remove the plastic dividers in the unused pocket (bottom-left of the cluster), using a razor knife and soldering iron. Wear eye protection.

 

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Step 8. Cut some notches in the plastic to slot the LED bar in place.

 

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Step 9. Route the wires through the holes in the back, position the LED bar and ziptie the wires in place.

 

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Step 10. Position the LED bar slightly below flush with the surrounding lip, and superglue in position.

 

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Step 11. Bolt the speedometer in place and mark a hole for the LED bar, using tape. Remove the speedo and carefully cut the hole using a NEW razor blade and ruler.

 

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Step 12. Cut some tinted plastic to shape, and superglue to the underside of the speedo gauge, such that the hole is covered. I will redo mine with more tint.

 

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Step 13. Install the speedo, silver trim and cluster cover.

 

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Step 14. Flip the cluster over. Remove the plastic PCB cover, drill holes and bolt the gauge PCB in place. Cover the bolt heads with cardboard and plastic tape.

 

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Step 15. Test fit the cluster in the car, to ensure the PCB mounted to the back clears everything.

 

Step 16. Cut the LED wires to length, and solder in the correct positions using the details recorded in Step 3.

 

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Step 17. Connect the 12v line to a switch, then to power. Connect the earth and sensor, then test. My sensor was disconnected in the photos, and it really is f*cking bright.

 

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Edited by pmod

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Damm fine work there always wanted to do that on my cluster for the temp gauge :thumbsup:

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Good Stuff! It would look even better if you had EL dials but nonetheless - awesome idea :)

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Good write up mate! Any reason why you didn't use amber instead of blue to match the cluster at night??

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Good write up mate! Any reason why you didn't use amber instead of blue to match the cluster at night??

 

I had a boost leak and needed a gauge. Didn't want to waste cash, wanted digital, and blue was all there was available.

Amber would have been ideal, and I may look to replace just the LED module if I can find something suitable. Perhaps run some resistors inline to lower the brightness too.

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Neat!

can the same be done on the other side or is something there?

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Good write up mate! Any reason why you didn't use amber instead of blue to match the cluster at night??

 

I had a boost leak and needed a gauge. Didn't want to waste cash, wanted digital, and blue was all there was available.

Amber would have been ideal, and I may look to replace just the LED module if I can find something suitable. Perhaps run some resistors inline to lower the brightness too.

 

Fair enough bud, smart idea anyways.

Let us know how you go with the resistors coz the digital display on mine is bright as fark too with no dimming function.. but I read that using resistors can cause the gauge to malfunction and display an incorrect figure???

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Let us know how you go with the resistors coz the digital display on mine is bright as fark too with no dimming function.. but I read that using resistors can cause the gauge to malfunction and display an incorrect figure???

 

That would probably be true if you were running the resistor on 12v line powering the gauge.

To lower the LED brightness and create a dimmer function, you will have to open the gauge, void your warranty and alter the circuit. Essentially, there already exist resistors on the PCB lowering the voltage to the LED numeric display, you just have to take it one step further.

I'll post up an amendment to this guide once I get a chance to work on it.

 

Neat!

can the same be done on the other side or is something there?

 

Absolutely.

The icons on the right are fog and something else that's not entirely useful.

I have fogs, but certainly have been considering this.

Edited by pmod

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That would probably be true if you were running the resistor on 12v line powering the gauge.

To lower the LED brightness and create a dimmer function, you will have to open the gauge, void your warranty and alter the circuit. Essentially, there already exist resistors on the PCB lowering the voltage to the LED numeric display, you just have to take it one step further.

I'll post up an amendment to this guide once I get a chance to work on it.

 

Looking forward to it mate.. was thinking about taking the easy way out and tinting the gauge face hahaha!

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I'll post up an amendment to this guide once I get a chance to work on it.

Looking forward to it mate.. was thinking about taking the easy way out and tinting the gauge face hahaha!

 

I can confirm for you that the advice you were given is both correct and incorrect; it really depends on the type of LED display in use.

In my case, a 3-digit LED block was used, and it turns you can't change the voltage on these. Were it individual LED numbers, it would work fine.

 

There are 3 anodes (one for each number), and this determines whether a digit will light up. Cool.

Unfortunately there are only 7 cathodes, which is only enough to control the individual segments of one digit block. But there are three digits, right?

They get around this by linking each segment in series with the same segment in the other digits, and varying the current supplied. The LEDs have a minimum operating voltage, and the microcontroller uses this to ensure some segments display and others don't.

 

In brief, you can turn the numbers off individually, but you can't change their intensity unless the gauge uses individual 7-segment numbers or a VFD display.

So instead, I too tested various light filtration.

 

The best solution to cut brightness and improve clarity is to filter using a different colour. This allows enough intensity to be retained so as to make the numbers visible, whilst avoiding diffusion. For my blue LEDs I redesigned my filters and used 2 layers of orange plastic. Where the blue plastic dispersed the light across it, creating a glow, the orange doesn't. The end result is white text, although the boost gauge looks more aqua than white. Oh well.

I'll update the guide later, but here are some pics for the meantime.

 

First I added a water temp gauge and covered the whole area with a blue filter.

 

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I then concluded that 2 layers of orange tint was far better.

Driving at night I didn't find it distracting. Visible in the daylight, and roughly the same as the rest of the gauge at night.

 

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Neat! Can the same be done on the other side or is something there?

 

Icons.jpg

Edited by pmod

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Definately better with the orange tint mate - thanks for lookin into that resistor option too! Seems i'll be sticking with the tint idea after all haha.

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Above the digital display you could even mount a small shift light too

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Above the digital display you could even mount a small shift light too

 

Yeah, quite a few things you can do with the idea.

I plan to make a fog light decal above boost (given I had to chop the factory one), and a fan decal above water temp.

Occasionally I shut my fans down, and it's easy to forget about it. An easy solution is to have a warning light for when the fan is manually disabled or forced active.

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Do u have to end up taking the needles off the guages? Whenever I remove and place them back my guages are out of wack

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Do u have to end up taking the needles off the guages? Whenever I remove and place them back my guages are out of wack

 

No. Although the guide is brief, it covers all the steps. No needle removal is required to do this.

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