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2003 CTS
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228 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Got a little brave last week and decided to try the mod to replace the amber LED's in the climate control unit Tom pioneered. I bought a unit off of ebay and the LED's from Digikey. It's a good thing I bought an extra one because I needed one to practice on. I think I fried the circuit board of the first one with the soldering iron because I could only get certain portions of that board to light up, and they were in correctly I realize LED's only work one way.

After that experience I purchased a chip-quik removal set to aid in removing the old led's with minimal soldering iron time on the board and it worked pretty good. Everything went perfect the second time around and it looks amazing. The screen gets a blue tint and the numbers are white. One of my favorite mods so far, especially because it is something I see all the time when in it.

It wasn't as difficult as I thought it was going to be, I have never soldered anything and had to buy a iron for it and I have never worked with circuit boards either and I managed to figure it out. Would have been a real cheap mod if I could have done it in one shot on the one in my car, the used one cost about $45 after shipping. $20 for LED's and $20 for chip-quik

Next up replacing the amber back lit gauge 03 cluster with an 05 one and then hopefully STS-v fogs and the amber will be gone.
 

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2003 CTS
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Discussion Starter #4
Doing another one isn't out of the question, however there are some issues.

First my success rate so far is only 50%, I did get much better the second time around but I'm not 100% sure that I could do another one without ruining the board. That would make me nervous working on someone elses unit.

Second removing the unit will cause the a/c to not work so taking it out and sending it to me to get done might not be an easy solution, especially if I'm not sure if I can do it perfectly again.

Tom indicated he was able to do it pretty quickly however I found that it took about 2 hours from start to finish to do mine as I'm not too comfortable around a soldering iron yet and I spent a lot of time going back and forth to the car to see which ones were lighting up.

The feasible solution would be for me to get one off of ebay do the conversion and send it to someone to put in. Cost would be my main concern. The cost for the parts would only be about $25, 2 hours of my time, shipping, and the new unit $45-$75 off of ebay. The major portion of the cost in the unit could be offset if the person receiving the unit sent me their old one back where I could do the procedure again and sell that one, or sell it on ebay themselves. So the price would be a lot lower if there was enough interest in it so that members sent me their old one back when they got the new one, that way we would only have to cover the initial cost of 1 unit and parts.

I would like to add that this isn't as difficult as it sounds, I never touched a soldering iron before and only consider myself semi-handy, so the alternative is for me to write up detailed instructions for the faq so others can do it.

Lets see what feedback I get on this before I start anything.
 
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that is awesome!
great job!

I would absolutely love this in mine... but I can't say I'm that brave...

A write up in the FAQ would be a terrific idea since I can see 99% of this board being interested in this mod
 

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Sound like an opportunity to make a little $$$$$ and help others!!!

If I still had my ride, I would have been all over this and paid you to do it!
 

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Sound like an opportunity to make a little $$$$$ and help others!!!

If I still had my ride, I would have been all over this and paid you to do it!


Yup..... I'd definately want to have this done on my cts
 

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2003 CTS
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228 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
I will do a write up for it when I get a chance, work has me in a class all week so my computer time is reduced. The write up won't be that long it's not very complicated to get into the unit, and the main part is that the LED's have to be placed so that the notched corner is in the top right and they have metal connectors on the top and bottom that need to be soldered/un-soldered to the board. I can give some tips on what worked best for me, but really a lot of it is just getting comfortable with the soldering iron. Holding it there too long will burn the board.

I'm also interested in doing it for people if there is enough interest for a fair price. I've laid out the costs of doing it, the only variable one is getting the unit.

So why don't first we determine how much interest there is in doing this, I'm willing to provide a write-up and help for anyone that wants to try it for themselves, and I would also like to hear how many people are interested in having it done for them.

I haven't looked into the DIC since I have a NAV but I do have my old unit I could open up and take a look at to see if changing those is possible. I wouldn't try that one until I got more confident doing the cheaper climate control units though as that would be a more expensive mistake.
 

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2006 CTS 2.8L
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2,471 Posts
50% makes me uneasy.
 

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The Mighty Kael, 2004 Black CTS, Every Option
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flip, if its out we can do a night and bring the unit over. I can crack out the micro soldering gear or buy some from radio shack and we can change out your LED's. not a big deal.
 

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2003 CTS
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Discussion Starter #16
50% makes me uneasy.
The first was more of a test and I know what worked now though so I think 50% success rate wouldn't be accurate from here out and would be much higher. Although I'm not positive that I wouldn't make a mistake.

That being said that is why I wouldn't work on ones members took out and sent me, I would buy one off of ebay do the conversion and sell it with a discount of what I paid for the ebay one if that person sends me their old one back to work on. That would minimize downtime and take the risk away for people doing it. I would just be risking a $75 investment on the first one if I messed it up. Only 1 small circuit board needs to be swapped out not the whole unit so sending that would be easy. But unless there is more then a few people interested it might not be worth it and I will just do the write up so let me know if I should do this.
 

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The Mighty Kael, 2004 Black CTS, Every Option
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ah alright, thats cool if you are in plainfield.
do we know the size of the LED's we will need?


and flip, I may have to become a customer of yours. I just got back from cancun (okay i was gone for a week, back on the 13th) and I was snorkelling the reefs and swimming with whale sharks and I think i want to do the whole dive certification thing.
 

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2005 CTS 3.6L, 2006 350Z, Ducati 996s
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I will do a write up for it when I get a chance,
Not raining on your parade, you did mention that Tom was the first to do this mod. And he did do a writeup for it as well. I used his thread to do this mod myself. And you are right, its really not that hard. Patience is most important, and not having 7 cups of Joe in your system.
If you can find Tomm's write-up, it would save you alot of trouble.

What color leds did you go with? You screen looks alot more blue then mine does.
 

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ah alright, thats cool if you are in plainfield.
do we know the size of the LED's we will need?


and flip, I may have to become a customer of yours. I just got back from cancun (okay i was gone for a week, back on the 13th) and I was snorkelling the reefs and swimming with whale sharks and I think i want to do the whole dive certification thing.

Of course you do.....I will hook you up for sure...its really fun....
 
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