LED dash lights

Paint, body preparation and modification, interior work and electrical
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SteveEdmonton
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LED dash lights

Postby SteveEdmonton » 21 Jan 2017 18:02

Been thinking about this for a while. A few others have posted things about it but I thought I'd share what I bought and how it's worked out so far. Maybe others will find it useful.

We all know that the standard dash bulbs are really, really dim. When I had my dash out a couple of years ago I cleaned & polished everything and put in brand-new bulbs-- still dim. But LEDs change that pretty decisively.

I rigged up an old gauge panel as a test piece and took some pics with the same camera settings (1/10 second exposure) to capture the difference between old (stock) and new (LED) lighting.

Test panel:
IMG_8618 comp.jpg
IMG_8618 comp.jpg (311.46 KiB) Viewed 439 times

Old (stock) lighting:
IMG_8616 comp.jpg
IMG_8616 comp.jpg (29.42 KiB) Viewed 439 times

LED lighting:
IMG_8608 comp.jpg
IMG_8608 comp.jpg (38.64 KiB) Viewed 439 times

The bulbs in question (old & new):
IMG_8605 comp.jpg
IMG_8605 comp.jpg (107.8 KiB) Viewed 439 times


Four bulbs are needed for the standard cluster (speedo = 3; fuel & temp gauge = 1). Naturally, if you want to replace the idiot lights too you would need another 3 or 4 bulbs, but I didn't bother.

There are lots of LED options out there of course. I got these ones: WLED-WWHP5 (warm white) from http://www.superbrightleds.com. You can find them here: https://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinf ... t-car/206/ I chose this type because they have 5 little LEDs and therefore project their light in all directions, unlike some others that only throw their light in a limited arc. They were $5.95 USD apiece plus S&H.

Even though I wanted BRIGHT, I chose the "warm white" variant of this bulb (3000K) both because it's not as blue as the "cool white" variety (6500K) and because it produces 65 lumens rather than the cool white's 90 lumens. This same part number is also available in blue, green, amber, red, and blacklight/UV (ooh!) if anybody wants to be puttin' on a real fancy light show. :|

A note of caution though. I forgot until I pulled out my gauge cluster that the lights for the FACTORY TACH are different than the other instrument lights. Because they're not wired through the circuit board but rather on a separate harness, they have a different base: the so-called "bayonet" type.

Two of this alternate type are needed for the factory tach. At superbrightleds they're called BA9S-WWHP5 and they cost $4.95 apiece. You can find their specs here: https://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinf ... ifications

Even though these bayonet-type bulbs are also called "warm white" their output is higher than the wedge-base type (90 lumens).

So, with S & H I'm into this little upgrade for about $32 USD plus S&H (for 4 of the one type, 2 of the other). In Canadian bucks it's about a bazillion percent higher of course.... but I figure it'll be worth it to be able to see what's going on!
'71 4-door
'74 MGB-GT
'04 Miata

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funwithmonkeys
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Re: LED dash lights

Postby funwithmonkeys » 21 Jan 2017 18:30

Nice, I was thinking about doing something with mine this winter. I can't even see where my speedo needle is when it's dark.
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TheHeretic
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Re: LED dash lights

Postby TheHeretic » 21 Jan 2017 19:48

This was extremely helpful! Thank you for sharing. I like you had pulled my dash, cleaned all the connection and put new bulbs (higher wattage) in. Was very disappointed in the light output. Ordered all the LEDs you suggested while my dash is out for interior sound deadening plus install of stock tach. Looking forward to the much better vision.
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Byron510
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Re: LED dash lights

Postby Byron510 » 21 Jan 2017 19:51

funwithmonkeys wrote:Nice, I was thinking about doing something with mine this winter. I can't even see where my speedo needle is when it's dark.


Yes, the '68 dashes were really bad. But the worst was the black backed '69 dashes.

When I used to TSD rally a '68, and before getting my Halda, I actually had to put a little light in the dash in front of the odo so that both the co-driver and I could read it in the dark. Wish I had a photo, these were the days long before digital cameras and way before smart phones - so little got documented compared to today.

Lighting technology today is so much smaller and more efficient, it's amazing what we can do with lights today.

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funwithmonkeys
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Re: LED dash lights

Postby funwithmonkeys » 21 Jan 2017 20:27

Mine is a 69, if it wasn't for my tach I would have no idea how fast I was going in the dark.
If no one from the future comes back to stop you from doing it then how bad of a decision can it really be?

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Re: LED dash lights

Postby datzenmike » 21 Jan 2017 21:11

I use the dash lights as an indicator that my tail lights are still working.
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Byron510
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Re: LED dash lights

Postby Byron510 » 21 Jan 2017 22:29

That's so funny Mike, and it's absolutely true as anyone who has had an electrical issue in an old Datsun can attest. Obviously speaking from experience.

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Re: LED dash lights

Postby qwik510 » 22 Jan 2017 03:51

Very nice. Thanks for sharing.

My car needs this upgrade too.
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SteveEdmonton
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Re: LED dash lights

Postby SteveEdmonton » 22 Jan 2017 09:30

Glad the info is useful! I'm happy to help others in return for all the help received....

I suppose it's obvious, but I should have mentioned that everything I described is based on the 70-73 dash layout. I have no idea how what kind or number of bulbs are needed for the 68 or 69 layouts.
'71 4-door
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datzenmike
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Re: LED dash lights

Postby datzenmike » 22 Jan 2017 13:17

Are the LED lamps dim-able with the switch?
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SteveEdmonton
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Re: LED dash lights

Postby SteveEdmonton » 22 Jan 2017 15:23

datzenmike wrote:Are the LED lamps dim-able with the switch?


Interesting question-- to be honest, I'm not remembering that we have a switch that dims our dash lights (70-73 dashes). Was there one on the earlier-year cars?

In any case, sorry I'm not sure how dimmable these bulbs are. The website doesn't comment on this either way, yay or nay, which maybe implies that they're not? Anyway, it wasn't on my radar when I bought them.
'71 4-door
'74 MGB-GT
'04 Miata

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Re: LED dash lights

Postby greenthumb » 23 Jan 2017 20:09

Nice write up Steve
I'm thinking my 521 has the bayonet style for bulbs. The bulbs look like miniature light bulbs in their bayonet base. Is that what the tach bulbs resemble?

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SteveEdmonton
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Re: LED dash lights

Postby SteveEdmonton » 28 Jan 2017 15:22

SteveEdmonton wrote:A note of caution though. I forgot until I pulled out my gauge cluster that the lights for the FACTORY TACH are different than the other instrument lights. Because they're not wired through the circuit board but rather on a separate harness, they have a different base: the so-called "bayonet" type.

Two of this alternate type are needed for the factory tach. At superbrightleds they're called BA9S-WWHP5 and they cost $4.95 apiece. You can find their specs here: https://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinf ... ifications

NUTS! This was all going so well... until I tried to fit these bulbs (in their sockets) into the tach itself. No go. They're too long by about 8 mm.

As it turns out, the green plastic "domes" into which all of these bulbs fit are actually shorter on the tach than on the rest of the instrument cluster. Who knew? When I eyeballed them, I didn't notice the difference in height.

My first thought was to replace the short domes on the tach with longer ones from an old / spare cluster. But that won't work. There isn't enough room for the longer ones-- which, I suppose, is why Datsun used the shorter ones there in the first place.

So my idea now is to make up some little "spacers" between the tach and the bulb sockets, to absorb the unneeded height. I'll keep you posted.

Sorry for the trouble, for anyone who's tried to copy what I'm doing! :(
'71 4-door
'74 MGB-GT
'04 Miata

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bertvorgon
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Re: LED dash lights

Postby bertvorgon » 28 Jan 2017 15:38

I find in times like this that this link will help.....

http://www.estwing.com/deadblow_hammers.php
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Colbino
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Re: LED dash lights

Postby Colbino » 28 Jan 2017 16:53

I remember reading somewhere that the green 'domes' needed to be removed entirely and green LEDS used instead. But...there's more than one way to skin a cat. Hopefully you'll be able to rig up a spacer and get your tach. bulbs to work. GL!


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