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Topic: 06-07 Duramax Gauge Cluster LED Mod (Read 5212 times) previous topic - next topic

06-07 Duramax Gauge Cluster LED Mod

My buddy has a diesel Chevy truck that has 'old ugly amber lights' in the dash that match no other part of the lighting on the car from the stereo to the push button indicators - the color also does not match the light on his a-pillar boost or egt gauge. We found a brief instruction (text only) on how to do the mod for previous year trucks. We set off and made a reasonable tutorial for this truck. Abstracting the steps we went through - it should work on nearly any car or truck as well.

Some of the pitfalls we ran into were the orientation of the original lamps/bulbs was not uniform. Each lamp/bulb had two of four leads soldered to the gauge cluster, and we found no pattern. We used a simple multimeter to figure out which side was hot and marked them accordingly.

We will be making some other (electronic) mods to this truck later as well. Hopefully things like this interest people on here. If not, I'll stick to the uC and logic projects =)

I've been thinking about re-doing the project with different LEDs to try to get rid of the 'hot spots' of light behind the gauges, but I'm not sure what would work out best. I was thinking even shaving/filing down the rounded tip of the LED to diffuse the light a bit more, but I'm not sure on effect as a whole.

As usual, I have documented this at my blog/site:
I also documented it with comments on the photos at Instructables:

Re: 06-07 Duramax Gauge Cluster LED Mod

Reply #1
AWESOME write up! I had absolutely no idea that I could find a white/black pcb inside a car, but it seems like the entire gauge section is one large pcb, doesn't that increase the cost significantly? Especially with its very irregular edges?

What year is the truck? But yeah, I am really digging the PCB colors the car manufacturer used, heh.

Re: 06-07 Duramax Gauge Cluster LED Mod

Reply #2
Thanks for the positive feedback =) The truck is a 2007. I wasn't expecting a monolithic board for the whole cluster either. Funny thing about these particular trucks is this gauge cluster actually contains the odometer for the car - if your gauge cluster goes bad it has to be replaced and your mileage is reset and must be factory reprogrammed with the correct mileage. Evidently the Lamps on the gauges go out pretty often and this is an expensive replacement as the local dealers wont replace individual bulbs, only the whole cluster. So replacement comes with cost of the board, labor for physical replacement and the cost most dealers charge ($100-$250) just to hook up to their programmers. To get a few bulbs replaced - this costs the uninitiated $500-$1000.

I'm not sure on the cost for the actual production - but an individual gauge cluster costs over $250USD not including labor to replace. But yes, the edges are irregular. They are rounded all the way across the top and then some notches and holes all throughout. The **edit** attached images should show this nicely

Also notice, the front is white and black, but the back is still green. I believe SEEED Studio actually has a selection of colors for PCBs as well though. I guess I never really thought about it being strange. I am an IT guy and not an EE, goes to show my naivete with electronics.

Re: 06-07 Duramax Gauge Cluster LED Mod

Reply #3
Oh, maybe they do this in just new vehicles, as I worked in a rather old car once (1990 ish) and the boards inside were fully black instead of the usual dark green colors. I know that it cost them extra for putting different colors on the PCB, but I do not see why they spent the money on it. Hopefully not for just aesthetic purposes, heh :P They even put it around all the via's, woh.

From what I see the bulbs are not removable unless you de solder them, the shops probably don't replace just the bulbs because barely any of them know how to solder/de solder properly, but I am not sure though.

As earlier, fantastic documenting! You took a huge amount of pictures which is awesome, and the first picture on your page has a pretty good angle of I presume you working on the board. Also, I see you took it with a D40. No wonder the pictures have so much better focus than mine, and no noise what so ever even though your ISO is 400!  Did you use macro or auto or P mode or what? :P

Re: 06-07 Duramax Gauge Cluster LED Mod

Reply #4
My first car was an old eclipse; man I did all sorts of mods like this on it. The coolest was taking an LED and placing it up inside the guages needle facing up; so it looked like there was a LED behind the needle but really it was just reflective... that was awesome; I wish i had some pics of it... its been years now I drive a stock dodge (besides rims; truck rims not gangsta rims ;)

Re: 06-07 Duramax Gauge Cluster LED Mod

Reply #5
hak8or, glad you liked the documentation, I was the photographic assistant in this effort :)

And indeed, the trusty D40; it's a nice camera. I just let it take over with auto settings for most of the pictures. A few later were with macro, and the final pics were taken by screwing with the shutter speed to get the true effect of the LEDs. Nothing too fancy, just hoping to get something that turned out. 

That first picture on his page was taken with the following:

1/60 shutter
Auto exposure
18mm fl (18-55mm Nikkor VR lens w/ polarizer)
iso 400
built in flash
one-handed reach to get the angle of the artist at work!

And I know what you mean about the PCB, it's pretty sweet. It was a heck of a lot easier to read I'd say, too! I'm thinking of convincing people to do a change-up in colors next time I need something made.


Re: 06-07 Duramax Gauge Cluster LED Mod

Reply #6
Hey, Grizwoldo! You made hackaday! ... e-cluster/ <-- major congratulations! :D

I have been wanting to get onto hackaday for quite a while now, but never did something worthy. :(
Some day. :P

Re: 06-07 Duramax Gauge Cluster LED Mod

Reply #7
Yay, thanks for the link I started receiving alerts (email) from my linode that my usage was higher than normal. I'm at work so I can't log in to see whats up, nice to know that the hackaday traffic is the cause.