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How To: Change the LED color on your Head Unit

  #1  
Old 02-04-2012, 03:18 PM
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Default How To: Change the LED color on your Head Unit

I've been slowly changing all the lights in my car's interior to LEDs. I've sort of picked up a blue theme with all of my dash and HVAC lights. However, my headunit clashed being all red with everything else being blue LEDs. I didn't really want to spend the money to buy a new HU when mine works just fine and I actually like it. Thus, I decided to change the LEDs from red to blue and show you how I did it


Things you will need:

Screwdriver to take the face plate apart
Pliers to remove buttons and LCD screen
Soldering Iron/Solder
Flux
Tweezers
De-soldering Braid (helpful)
0603 SMD LEDs
A lot of patients and steady hands :p

First, here is what my head unit looks like.. (Yes, I already changed the eject button on the upper left to see if it would work before I changed out all of them)



Here are the LEDs. These things are EXTREMELY SMALL!! I bought 50 of them on ebay for about $12. It was nice to have extras because I lost a few. They come in a strip so you can keep track of them. Here is one compared to my tweezers.







First thing is to open up your faceplate. Mine had four screws on the back and some tabs to pop off.





Then remove any extra buttons and the LCD screen which will get in the way. Mine were held on with tape and metal tabs.





I'm going to start in the corner here with the two LEDs you see here.





In case you are unfamiliar with SMD LEDs here I am pointing to one.





Now comes the hard part. Soldering and De-Soldering. YMMV, but the best way I found to desolder the old LEDs is to break the plastic top off the LED with needle nose pliers which left the bottom plastic part of the LED with the contacts exposed still left on the PCB. Then I could heat both tabs at once with the soldering iron to remove the rest of the LED.

Here you can see circled a NEW BLUE LED lying next to two contacts where the OLD RED LED was removed.





Then to solder the new LED in make sure you have a clean tip on your iron and it is properly tinned. You should not need any solder other than what is on your iron to solder these LEDs in because the tabs are so small and take very little solder and heat. Position and hold the LED in place with tweezers and tack one side in place, then the other. This can be frustrating and definitely takes some practice. But after a while I was getting the hang of it.

Don't forget that LEDs are Diodes, so they only work in one direction. I found a small green dot on one end of the LEDs which matched up to the green square at each LED location on the PCB. Just remember to face the LEDs in the correct orientation when soldering them in.

You might have to remove components that are in your way. Here I removed a switch so I could get to four LEDs around the d-pad.







Once you've finished swapping all of the LEDs reassemble your faceplate and try it out!

I intentionally left the red LEDS around the volume **** in because I thought it might look cool. It would be pretty easy to mix and match colors to get any sort of effect on your faceplate that you wanted

End result:






I'm pretty happy with the results It actually wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be.

Next up-- 1/2 din equalizer below the CD player!

Thanks for looking
 
  #2  
Old 02-04-2012, 05:06 PM
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That's AWESOME!!!

Well done! One of many things on my to-do list is replace the lights in my stock radio with LEDs and change the ones around the CD insert to red.

BTW - I see some companies for a higher cost radio offer ones that let you program what color you want (nice they are starting to come around).
 
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Old 02-04-2012, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by The_Maniac View Post
That's AWESOME!!!

Well done! One of many things on my to-do list is replace the lights in my stock radio with LEDs and change the ones around the CD insert to red.

BTW - I see some companies for a higher cost radio offer ones that let you program what color you want (nice they are starting to come around).
Thank you! I recommend it It really adds a nice touch to the car's interior.

I have seen those newer radios. One of those would have been really helpful in this project :p
 
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Old 02-04-2012, 05:32 PM
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Very nice work! might just have to bookmark this so i can change mine from aqua to blue. i still don't get why all the pontiac's got red lights and chevy's got aqua O well...
 
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Old 02-05-2012, 12:09 AM
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mines like that too but it came like that

 
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Old 02-05-2012, 03:16 AM
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Those blue lights look great. I'm debating on tinkering around with mine.
 
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Old 02-05-2012, 07:57 AM
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Freaking perfect. I love it. That takes some real skill for sure.
 
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:42 AM
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Pretty kool aand lots of pationce!
 
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Old 02-05-2012, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Jester_20 View Post
i still don't get why all the pontiac's got red lights and chevy's got aqua O well...
Notice Pontiac is the ONLY GM brand to have a unique lighting option like that.... They have done that for YEARS with red lighting. It's just there thing I suppose....
 
  #10  
Old 02-05-2012, 10:31 AM
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Thanks for all the nice comments everyone Today I'm working on changing the LEDs in the lock buttons and window buttons to blue also.
 

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