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I may have a DIY needle fix...

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Old 06-04-12, 05:32 PM   #1
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Default I may have a DIY needle fix...

I found some LED's that fit in the groove of the needles perfectly. I have yet to begin soldering, but I'm optimistic about the results. It was only $10 for 100 LED's so if this works, I'll be sooooo happy!

I spent too much time in the 100+ heat today, so I'm not motivated to do any soldering.

Here's some teaser pics:

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Old 06-04-12, 05:38 PM   #2
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very interesting, very curious to see how it comes out
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Old 06-04-12, 05:54 PM   #3
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Hmmmmmm update now!!
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Old 06-04-12, 06:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kez View Post
Hmmmmmm update now!!
Possibly tomorrow!
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Old 06-04-12, 06:46 PM   #5
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anything yet??? my gas gauge needle took a dump on me a while ago. every once in a life time it flickers haha. and my gas light doesn't come on.. :/ could be a burnt led or something i haven/t checked it out yet..
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Old 06-04-12, 06:56 PM   #6
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Likes to see if this works
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Old 06-04-12, 08:28 PM   #7
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I'm in... i cant beleive you havent finished it yet..lol
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Old 06-04-12, 08:33 PM   #8
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Old 06-04-12, 09:17 PM   #9
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It's just an aluminum SMD needle sold from 2003 to early 2006 in the Lextech store. In fact you might not have seen them because they were discontinued before you joined Club Lexus. It doesn't work and was discontinued due to a plethora of issues, two of which there just was no getting around and the main reason why the stock needles fail.

You can see them in THIS album if you need some inspiration for your project, but you'll figure out quickly enough why they don't work. Also, everything you do to get around why they don't work.... will lead to to the other reason they don't work.
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Old 06-05-12, 06:27 AM   #10
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BUZZKILL!!!

So what does Lextech do to revive the needles?
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Old 06-05-12, 08:47 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ishootstuf View Post
BUZZKILL!!!

So what does Lextech do to revive the needles?
Yeah, I want t know too. Tired of looking at my cluster. Pos!
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Old 06-05-12, 10:11 AM   #12
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Anyone can stick something that lights up in the backlight, but the needles are a work of art. I'd never personally release any info that caused so many people to destroy their clusters. Primarily because once they are broken beyond the ability to bring them back, guess who they call to try and undo the mess. I'll give you 5 reasons however why the needles are not a DIY.

1- Position. The needles base is set specifically at a point that causes the needle to be able to move quickly enough, yet still be balanced enough to respond to the springs in the motor. You think you'll just put the base back in place, but you can't..... there's an LED in the way now. If you get it wrong, your spring looks like this, which by the way is a dead short since they carry the voltage to the pins on the needle. Guess what happens to the cluster under a dead short.

Click the image to open in full size.

2- Voltage. Nothing in the LED world will run at the voltage the pins have so you must modify the voltage. Anything you do to modify it causes an imbalance to the needle and compensating causes you to weigh the needle down, let's go back to the spring thing above for review of why the needle can't weigh any more than stock weight. Early LLS users remember the clusters voltage themselves were modded, not the needle. This meant only that needle fit that cluster and going back to stock was nearly impossible without damage. Too much to go into there. Would be typing forever.

3- Choices. Led's come in many shapes and sizes, but all of them will need to be designed to overcome the factors above, THEN you have to make them look good on top of that. It's not a drop and go thing, it's a designed system. When you don't know what you are up against, it's easy..... till you start figuring it all out. Then you spend the next ten years perfecting it.

4- Needle base wobble. The contacts are square and can be as much as 8mm off either direction when setting the needle back on. You'll have to compensate for that with weight, but more weight causes the needle to read incorrectly.... balance that with more weight on the back and the needle won't move quick enough and be sluggish which will make it read incorrectly more times than not.

5- Price. DIY's in most cases are always the most cost effective. There are some things in life however you just can't get ahead on doing it yourself.......like driving a package to Atlanta to save $50 when you live in Kentucky. Backlight is one of those things that doesn't involve much math, unlike needles. When you finally get done you still don't have a lifetime wty on the stuff like you would if you just put down $xx, had a pro do it, and called it a day. It still looks like a DIY, and when it screws up you buy more "cheap" parts to fix it again, which you have to do. The last point was relative to how much you like to tinker, but for my ninety nine bucks, I'll take the lifetime wty and the guarantee it'll work and look the part. That is obviously an opinion, but I know the factors involved in building, balancing, positioning, and making them look good and I'd prefer to be on the consumer side than the soldering side when it comes to needle work. It's just too much physics for the average DIY'er to not screw something up. A handful of people will be successful, but 80% of the people will break their stuff and that's on someone's conscience, not mine. Have you seen some of the questions asked in this forum? I'm not giving them a how to on killing their cluster. I encourage anyone capable of doing it to do it, but I don't tell those who I know will screw it up how to.
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Old 06-05-12, 10:19 AM   #13
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Good info, thanks. I knew about the weight and position issue, but not the other stuff. Thanks. Fortunately, I have a couple crapped clusters to experiment with, so we'll see if it goes anywhere.
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97 RSP SC400 - stockish
99 F-150 - V10 Swapped Workhorse

"Naturally aspirated cars suck."
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Old 06-06-12, 07:27 AM   #14
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Well... My "beta" needles look pretty crappy and as expected, it made the gauge inaccurate. Here's pics and tips for anyone who wants to improve on my shoddy work.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

To hold them in place while soldering, I taped a piece of tape to the bottom of an old rusty cookie sheet. I made two groups of 5 LED's then soldered the negative leads to the cathode side of the strings. In the center of the LED's, I soldered the anode's together with the positive feed.

Click the image to open in full size.

The short needles hold 5 LED's nicely and the long ones hold 10, but not as nice. I had to fold one up a little at the needle mount.

Here's a link to the LED's I bought:
ebay link

The soldering is REALLY tedious - especially if you are shaky and have arthritis. Don't bother asking me to do any for you, I won't do it and if I did, I'd charge WAY more than Lextech, wouldn't warranty it, and it looks DIY.

I think a better method would be two high powered LED's facing each other mounted at each end of the needle. You'd have to then encase them so there wasn't any glare on the gauge face. Maybe I'll tray that some day.

I don't suggest anyone bother with this method. I'm only posting so someone may build on what little info I have provided.
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93 SC400 - stock
97 RSP SC400 - stockish
99 F-150 - V10 Swapped Workhorse

"Naturally aspirated cars suck."
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Old 06-06-12, 08:25 AM   #15
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Keith, hats off to you. I can't even fathom working on electronics, let alone a gauge cluster.
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Old 06-06-12, 08:25 AM
 
 
 
 
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diy, fix, gauge, is300, lexus, life, nat, needle, needles, neo, repair, safc, sc, sc300, speedo, stock, turbo

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