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View Full Version : How to: repair S14 hvac that doesn't light up


DaPCWiz
02-17-2008, 04:36 AM
So I finally got tired of my S14 hvac that doesn't light up properly / lights up whenever it feels like it. This seems to be a problem with many 90's nissans. Both my S14s have had this issue and so did my G20. This guide may apply to other cars, but it is specifically for the S14.

Some people will find replacement bulbs, throw them in there and hope for the best. I have read up on this and seen mixed results with this process. I believe there is some kind of failure within the circuit board itself in many cases and the bulb is not the culprit. For this reason, I decided to wire in my own LEDs and power them independently of the circuit board. This way I could be sure they would always get the power they need.

The results weren't as good as I would have liked and I will use this knowledge to try this process again when i get time. I will update the guide when I get better results.

http://www.dapcwiz.com/misc/hvac/1.jpg http://www.dapcwiz.com/misc/hvac/2.jpg

Materials Used:


Spare HVAC
3x Super Bright 5mm red LEDs from my local electronics shop
3x 500ma resistors
soldering iron
solder
glue gun
heat gun
head shrink / electrical tape
spare wire
patience


NOTE: not covered in this guide is disassembly and assembly of the hvac. I will take pictures next time I do it. Carefully analyze the HVAC and undo all visible screws / tabs (pawls?) that you can see. With some fiddling it should easily come apart. Remember or write down how you took it apart, I didn't do this and broke some stuff putting it back together - so be careful. I'm not responsible if you destroy your hvac in this process.


Step 1
http://www.dapcwiz.com/misc/hvac/3.jpg
Solder the resistors to the positive leads on the LEDs. The positive lead is the longer one.

Step 2
http://www.dapcwiz.com/misc/hvac/4.jpg
Solder a positive wire to the other end of the resistor. Solder a negative wire to the negative LED lead. Cover exposed metal with heatshrink. note I ran out of the correct size heatshrink when doing this project, so I used stuff that's a little too big in places. You shouldn't do that.

Step 3
http://www.dapcwiz.com/misc/hvac/5.jpghttp://www.dapcwiz.com/misc/hvac/6.jpghttp://www.dapcwiz.com/misc/hvac/7.jpg
Hot glue the LEDs to the where the 3 lights were previously. You will notice that 5mm LEDs fit perfectly in the holes. You can see the positions of the LEDs in the third picture. Please note that I ran the wiring in those pictures towards the top of the circuit board. That is WRONG as you will not have clearance if you run them like that. You should run them towards the bottom.

http://www.dapcwiz.com/misc/hvac/8.jpghttp://www.dapcwiz.com/misc/hvac/9.jpg
In the above pictures I have rerouted the wiring so that it will fit once I close everything back up.

Step 4
http://www.dapcwiz.com/misc/hvac/9a.jpg
Splice all the positive wires. Splice all the negative wires. Add some extra wire to these splices so you can route them to a power source in the car later. Cover splices with electrical tape or heatshrink.

http://www.dapcwiz.com/misc/hvac/10.jpg
Testing the LEDs

Step 5
Install hvac, and run wiring. You can run the positive wire to a red/blue wire behind you dash. This is the interior lighting circuit. Black should run to a ground point.

Here are some pictures of my install. As you can see LEDs don't deliver as even a light spread as normal bulbs. On version two I may replace the right bottom LED with a standard 5mm bulb and see how I can power it. The lighting in this section (slider / ac button) is very uneven. The blue/red for temperature doesn't look good either. I will also consider replacing the right top LED (all the air direction buttons) with a wide angle LED since it ALMOST lights up everything well but not quite. The left LED seems to work well (fan speed settings)

http://www.dapcwiz.com/misc/hvac/11.jpg
lighting at dusk

http://www.dapcwiz.com/misc/hvac/12.jpg
lighting at night

Its fairly close to the intended effect, but not quite what I was looking for. I will try again soon. If anyone has any suggestions I'm open to listen. Stay tuned for v2 when I find a day that I'm bored and decide to work on the hvac again! Excuse any grammatical errors / typos as its 5:30 am and I haven't gone to bed yet. I should really go to sleep soon :)

DaPCWiz
10-14-2008, 07:16 PM
Whoa, I forgot I made this thread... found it by accident while searching for something else.

Update from a post I made on another forum a long time ago:

1x 1500 mcd / 120* flat tipped white LED (a/c & temp)
1x 1200 mcd / 120* flat tipped red LED (directions)
1x 1000 mlm / 360* frosted red LED (fan speed)

http://www.dapcwiz.com/misc/hvac_lighting2.jpg

You can compare the brightness to the stock buttons under the hvac. There is still a tiny hot spot on the "fan" icon on the hvac, but its not super noticeable in person, and I actually think it looks kinda cool.

I am extremely satisfied with the results this time.

neilsan
10-14-2008, 09:12 PM
Much improved over the first attempt. Reminds me of being surprised that regular LED's didn't properly light up the light spreaders in my first S13's gauge cluster. I even tried bunching like 5 of them together in parallel, lulz

ah, youth

SlideWell
10-15-2008, 01:33 AM
that my friend, is fucking awesome! good work!

96Turbo
10-15-2008, 01:44 AM
that looks better than OEM!! It's 10x better with the white led instead of just a red blur

great work man!

afiser
02-20-2010, 09:30 PM
Whoa, I forgot I made this thread... found it by accident while searching for something else.

Update from a post I made on another forum a long time ago:

1x 1500 mcd / 120* flat tipped white LED (a/c & temp)
1x 1200 mcd / 120* flat tipped red LED (directions)
1x 1000 mlm / 360* frosted red LED (fan speed)


just making sure, but by flat tipped you mean LED's that look like this?

http://img715.imageshack.us/img715/3278/w15120.jpg

DaPCWiz
02-20-2010, 10:06 PM
just making sure, but by flat tipped you mean LED's that look like this?

http://img715.imageshack.us/img715/3278/w15120.jpg

yep... message length

afiser
02-23-2010, 08:06 PM
just bought 2 of the white flat tipped as seen HERE (http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-bin/store/index.cgi?action=DispPage&Page2Disp=%2Fspecs%2FW15120_specs.htm)

and 1 white 360 led for fan speed light seen HERE (http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-bin/store/index.cgi?action=DispPage&Page2Disp=%2Fspecs%2Fw45-360_specs.htm)

will post results

afiser
03-06-2010, 03:45 PM
the bottom led works great (hot/cold light) but the top one has a noticable hot spot on the face/feet and the feet buttons. but im really not complaining that much, it's better than before when they didnt work at all. thanks for the write up.

Smurf_240SX
03-06-2010, 04:38 PM
Nice write up, I need to try this too, mine aren't that bright anymore...:squintd:

R33E8
03-06-2010, 07:02 PM
If you sand down the dome of the LED so it's flat it should disperse the light a lot more.. Sanding the exterior in general will help do the same thing.. Just make sure you don't sand to far that you hit the bond wire and/or the die..

http://www.djtechtools.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/300px-LED_Labelled.svg.png

(picture to show what to avoid breaking)

afiser
03-07-2010, 05:52 PM
1 white 360 led for fan speed light seen HERE (http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-bin/store/index.cgi?action=DispPage&Page2Disp=%2Fspecs%2Fw45-360_specs.htm)



im using a 680 ohm 1/2 watt on this led quoted, and it gets hot as shit. i used that single led calculator to calculate the resistor needed but it seems it is probably wrong...

DaPCWiz
03-07-2010, 05:55 PM
im using a 680 ohm 1/2 watt on this led quoted, and it gets hot as shit. i used that single led calculator to calculate the resistor needed but it seems it is probably wrong...

honestly I don't know a whole lot about figuring that stuff out. I went to my local electronics shop, told him what I was doing and he gave me the right resistors.

afiser
03-07-2010, 06:15 PM
it's probably the $1, $4 shipped resistors that i ordered off ebay because none of my local electronic stores had the resistor i needed, now that i think of it.

dammit lol.

the 360 bulb looks damn good on the fan speed tho. thanks again for the specs.

ADiamond240sx
03-09-2010, 02:21 PM
Recently did this by just using the power from the circuit board. As stated earlier by OP the board sometimes does not power the lights and replacing the bulb does not always work. I discovered upon doing my LED install that this was actually because the contacts had worn down on the board. My solution was not to provide separate power though ... I just used longer leads on the t5 LEDs that I installed and made sure they were making good contact. I also made sure the LED's worked before the AC controller was put back together. On a side note, I also used t10 super brights in the cluster. Had to install them from the front as they will not fit through the back of the board. Looks pretty damn good. Also, using the boards power and GOOD 12 volt LED's allows the dimmer feature to still function.

I am going to have to try that white LED on the hot/cold bar though ... that looks pretty damn good.

Here's a pic of the cluster.

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y54/ADiamond75/240sx/gauges003.jpg

az_240
03-10-2010, 01:34 AM
You guys are still soldering those things in? Why not just get these>
http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-bin/store/index.cgi?action=DispPage&Page2Disp=%2Fspecs%2FNEO.htm (http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-bin/store/index.cgi?action=DispPage&Page2Disp=%2Fspecs%2FNEO.htm)
The NEO3 bulbs are a direct replacement and the HP ones will look waay better.

They also sell the HP cluster bulbs that actually look white.... not like that shitty blue pictured above.

ADiamond240sx
03-10-2010, 03:44 AM
You guys are still soldering those things in? Why not just get these>
NeoWedge series LED Lamp Specifications (http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-bin/store/index.cgi?action=DispPage&Page2Disp=%2Fspecs%2FNEO.htm)
The NEO3 bulbs are a direct replacement and the HP ones will look waay better.

They also sell the HP cluster bulbs that actually look white.... not like that shitty blue pictured above.

My my ... someone is a bit negative. Those are super brights BTW. Just not the crappy white ones that some people use. And BTW, super brights are not 'direct' replacement. They will not fit in through the back of the board.

az_240
03-10-2010, 06:21 AM
^didn't know you were going for the blue blotchy look.

I've read a few people have used the neo3 bulbs without any issues. I will be trying it out soon.

ADiamond240sx
03-10-2010, 12:10 PM
^didn't know you were going for the blue blotchy look.

I've read a few people have used the neo3 bulbs without any issues. I will be trying it out soon.

Camera does not do it justice. Its actually dark blue and very even color. And yeah ... if you get any version of a super bright (the one's with 9 leds in a cluster) you are gonna have to take the gauges out of the cluster to install them. But I'm sure someone with your quit wit wont have any problems at all figuring that out. :D

R33E8
03-10-2010, 12:43 PM
Those are super brights BTW. Just not the crappy white ones that some people use.

LOL, super brights are crap.. Same shit you find on ebay.. If you want to talk about quality, use LEDs that at least have a manufacturer with easily accessible data sheets..

ADiamond240sx
03-10-2010, 01:51 PM
LOL, super brights are crap.. Same shit you find on ebay.. If you want to talk about quality, use LEDs that at least have a manufacturer with easily accessible data sheets..

Umm ... superbright may be a brand but there are other manufacturers of super bright LED's. It is a style of LED. Crappy LED's won't dim, mine do. Ebay is not where I generally buy all my stuff. From the level of spite in your response I'll say I am sorry that you've had bad experiances with your choices in the past.

az_240
03-10-2010, 10:15 PM
LOL, super brights are crap.. Same shit you find on ebay.. If you want to talk about quality, use LEDs that at least have a manufacturer with easily accessible data sheets..

Good thing you don't know what you're talking about.

They do have data sheets for all their LEDs on their site.

These are hands down the best LEDs I have had... and I've been through a few sets.

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a229/livinglegendlll/ImportedPhotos00011.jpg
^here is my cluster using superbrightleds. I just need to change out that clock bulb with another white one I have.

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a229/livinglegendlll/ImportedPhotos00009.jpg
^ebay LEDs.

Sure don't look the same to me...

R33E8
03-11-2010, 10:41 PM
Good thing you don't know what you're talking about.

They do have data sheets for all their LEDs on their site.



REAL data sheet for a QUALITY LED:
http://cree.com/products/pdf/LEDlamps/C513A-WSN&WSS&MSN&MSS.pdf

Brief info on a no-name/ebay quality LED:
5mm LED RL5-W15120 Specifications (http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-bin/store/index.cgi?action=DispPage&Page2Disp=/specs/W15120_specs.htm)

Please tell me something I don't know about LEDs.. Because obviously I don't know what I'm talking about..

:fawk2:

az_240
03-11-2010, 11:01 PM
^You don't... I just proved the ebay/lower quality lights are not the same as superbrightleds lights as you stated.

beefcake6681
03-15-2010, 02:44 AM
Soooo..... which LED's should I get for the cluster?

az_240
03-15-2010, 04:44 AM
http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-bin/store/index.cgi?action=DispPage&Page2Disp=%2Fspecs%2FWLED-xHP5.htm (http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-bin/store/index.cgi?action=DispPage&Page2Disp=%2Fspecs%2FWLED-xHP5.htm)
^these are the ones I have pictured above in white. You need 3 of them.

smokei
11-16-2010, 06:12 PM
Not that I want to walk into a flame war on my first post here, as I really like both setups, but I was wondering if both setups were dimmable, and if so was really interested in an actual link to the different LED's used.

DaPCWiz
11-16-2010, 07:37 PM
My car has been sitting in a garage for the last ~year so I can't really check its dimmability right now. iirc - it didn't dim very well, it went down and did a couple steps - but it wasn't in "sync" with the rest of the lights in the car.

smokei
11-17-2010, 12:23 PM
Thanks for your quick response. The longer I stare at my cluster and different lights in my car, I consider if I want to go through the trouble. Great post and hope to see your car back on the road sometime.

enkei2k
02-28-2011, 07:51 PM
My my ... someone is a bit negative. Those are super brights BTW. Just not the crappy white ones that some people use. And BTW, super brights are not 'direct' replacement. They will not fit in through the back of the board.

Sorry to bring up and old thread, but just wanted to let everybody know, the superbright LEDs DO fit on the back of the HVAC of an S14. You can use the NEOx-xHP bulbs, 3mm size and they will fit.

I don't have any before pics, but take my word for it when I say all the bulbs were burnt out.

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y134/enkei2k/Silvia/2011-02-15214657.jpg

assembled. Cluster is using the WLED xHP5 bulbs. HVAC has NEOx-xHP 3mm

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y134/enkei2k/Silvia/2011-02-15221525.jpg

I would highly recommend paying the extra and getting the HP version of their bulbs. I bought their regular LEDs on my first attempt and it was VERY blotchy and not at bright...you can barely see the kilometers.

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y134/enkei2k/Silvia/DSC03057.jpg

Thanks to the OP DaPCWiz for this thread. Hope this helps anybody in the future.

DaPCWiz
02-28-2011, 09:27 PM
My car has been sitting in a garage for the last ~year so I can't really check its dimmability right now. iirc - it didn't dim very well, it went down and did a couple steps - but it wasn't in "sync" with the rest of the lights in the car.

Finally got my car out of the garage and going again. Checked the dimmability... it doesn't dim.


Thanks to the OP DaPCWiz for this thread. Hope this helps anybody in the future.

Glad I can help

afiser
12-08-2011, 09:55 PM
out of boredom and unsatisfaction of how my current led setup is, i will be doing this

http://i.imgur.com/JF3Uj.jpg

(found the pic searching around)

will be using 8 of the flat tipped white led's from superbrightleds and 1 360 white led for the fan again since the ebay resistor of mine burned my previous one out.

will try to post some pics, my fucking HVAC is going to look like a spotlight after im done lol

ItalianDogg
02-05-2012, 05:04 PM
Is it possible to mount leds on the oem blue support of the light? I think there is no resistor so it won't work. I've seen a guide on teh web which used leds but didn't mention any resistor.

je_decoy
02-26-2012, 02:57 PM
Im giving this thread some t-virus. Afiser did you actually go through with all the leds? If so do you have any pics for us?

KTMrida4life
02-26-2012, 07:53 PM
AZ_240 I am in love with your dash. That looks amazing.

fliprayzin240sx
02-26-2012, 07:56 PM
I followed what Enkei suggested...but I went with red everything since its easier on the eye
http://i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/fliprayzin240sx/photo-7.jpg
http://i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/fliprayzin240sx/photo-5.jpg
http://i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/fliprayzin240sx/photo-6.jpg

Only gripe I have is the bright spots on the middle of the HVAC and the bulb behind the dial is overpowering. I figured I can darken it out a bit by adding more shade on the back. Just gotta figure out what to use to even it out.

yogikon218
03-04-2013, 07:42 PM
Been wanting to re do my gauge cluster and HVAC. I Know what bulb size I need for both. What I'm having trouble with is getting the circuit board out of the HVAC. Does anybody have a write up for this or can provide some help?
Thank you in advance.

sunpialia
05-14-2013, 02:34 AM
I usually got my LED lights (http://www.ledlightshub.com) at the site http://www.ledlightshub.com.

Boosted92
06-30-2013, 06:17 AM
assembled. Cluster is using the WLED xHP5 bulbs. HVAC has NEOx-xHP 3mm

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y134/enkei2k/Silvia/2011-02-15221525.jpg


1) When using these bulbs is it a direct replacement for the OE bulbs, or is there still soldering required? I'm not afraid of soldering, just curious as to what is involved when taking this route versus standard LEDs.

2) Also while I am in this thread, I figure I should ask this. Does anybody know what type of bulb/LED I should order for the Cruise Control On/Off, Rear Defrost, and Hazard Light buttons? My CC Off, Rear Defrost, and Hazard Light buttons all don't light up as well as the common HVAC not lighting up. I figure I should just convert them all to cool white while doing the HVAC and cluster.

Edit: Okay, az 240 actually answered question 1 about them being a direct replacement earlier in the thread. So now I need have to find the information about the Defrost/Hazard/Cruise Control buttons.

brianglawson
10-12-2014, 09:39 AM
Ive been reading through a lot of these threads, Is there a definitive post on what fits where?

Gauge cluster - 194 WLEDxhp5 drop in
Gauge cluster clock - 74 styles drop in
HVAC, the NEOx-xHP 3mm apparently work as a drop in

What about
Hazard Button
Defrost Button
Mirror Adjustments
Cruise control
Dimmer

Do our power windows buttons light up? I now mine don't, but neither does my cruise, defrost, mirror, dimmer, etc...

az_240
10-12-2014, 08:28 PM
IIRC, 1 switch on the kouki power window lights up. Dimmer also lights up. They are so small though I don't think it's worth it to change them out. Also pretty sure you can't just drop a different bulb in there.

dfyjdy
10-13-2014, 10:30 AM
the bottom led works great (hot/cold light) but the top one has a noticable hot spot on the face/feet and the feet buttons. but im really not complaining that much, it's better than before when they didnt work at all. thanks for the write up. http://lifehealthus.com/image/images/123.gif

blkdawg
02-04-2016, 05:30 PM
Ive been reading through a lot of these threads, Is there a definitive post on what fits where?

Gauge cluster - 194 WLEDxhp5 drop in
Gauge cluster clock - 74 styles drop in
HVAC, the NEOx-xHP 3mm apparently work as a drop in

What about
Hazard Button
Defrost Button
Mirror Adjustments
Cruise control
Dimmer

Do our power windows buttons light up? I now mine don't, but neither does my cruise, defrost, mirror, dimmer, etc...

If anybody could provide how many do we need each type would be awesome.

Gauge cluster - 194 WLEDxhp5 drop in -> 3
Gauge cluster clock - 74 styles drop in -> 1
HVAC, the NEOx-xHP 3mm apparently work as a drop in -> ?

thanks

SoundEfx
02-04-2016, 05:45 PM
I believe that there is a how-to video on youtube on this topic and they mentioned which bulbs were used.

blkdawg
02-04-2016, 06:13 PM
nice i will look it up

found another thread about this.
seems like
Gauge cluster - 194 WLEDxhp5 drop in -> 3
Gauge cluster clock - 74 styles drop in -> 1
HVAC, the NEOx-xHP 3mm apparently work as a drop in -> 3

brianglawson
03-09-2016, 11:42 AM
bump for an old thread, but how is the work holding up?? i really need to do this on my S14