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671 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is a write up on how to change the colour of your dash lights. Read on….

If in doubt of your abilities to do this don’t try, get a pro to do it (and charge you for it!) or ask me, i`m cheaper than anyone else by a long way!
Im a Panasonic engineer and work on plasma tv`s etc so the components here are actually huge to me, so much so I did the majority of this with a simple gas powered hobby soldering iron, but again this is second nature to me and I understand not everyone has the confidence to attempt this. But the fact is, its not hard or even a specialist thing to do. I did it with the gas iron to show it can be done without specialist gear.
Take photos as you go along, this will aide you on reassembly. And take a note of everything you remove.

To do this you need to swap out SMT`s . basically surface mount leds. they come in a variety of different colours. red, green, white, yellow, blue, amber (as the mini is standard), warm white, pink and purple.

these are the tools i used and what smt`s look like and a picture of the finished job.

First you will need to remove the modules you intend to change

Why? It’s the simplest.
Remove the clock and then open it up. It has three SMT`s

Note the polarity while they are still on the board, there is a cut-out in one of the corners, this is the cathode (marked K for kathode on some of the boards) make sure when you replace them you get them the same way round, unlike a bulb they wont light if placed in reverse.

see later in the thread for pics of the clock opened up etc

Hers a pic of the finished clock

Next I did the tacho and speedo, if you have a centre mounted speedo the principle is the same.
First removed the two torx screws behind the tacho, drop the steering wheel to do this

Now unplug the green connector, and remove

and remove the Philips screws from the back

Unclip the front

you will be faced with this

unclip the lens from the white plastic and put somewhere safe

Now you need to removed the needles, be careful but they just need prising off.

Now unclip the white plastic from the board, turn it over and you will see the smt`s, I have marked the ones I wanted to change in the picture

Now the display needs to be removed, four metal clips and its off, there are 4 smts under here.

How to remove smt`s from the board, remember for the sake of this diy, and using bog standard equipment, we are using the ghetto method here! if i was to do it again i work use my very expensive gear.

i didnt have a free hand to take a photo but, Quickly heat one side and then the other while putting a small amount of force on the smt and it will pop right off! On this board the polarity is marked, “K” is the end where the cutout on the smt goes and “A” is the other end.

So now just go around and replace the ones you want to change,

How to fit smts, observe polarity!! if its your first go get a friend to help, hold the smt with tweezers,place the smt over the solder connections on the board and while you hold down the smt, dab the iron on one end, it should just attach easily, then do the same for the other end. Here you can see I have removed the smt`s and replaced the one in the top right.

Once you have them all done you need to reassemble, don’t forget to put this bit back, the reset button, the black ring goes against the circuit board.

When all is back together it should look like this.

Its not only the tacho and speedo that can be done.

Next I did the switch bank

Remove the downtubes from the centre console
Remove the 2 torx screws holding in the switches and remove the module.
Now unclip the back of the module, be careful here as all the parts of the toggle switches can drop out.

Set the front carefully to one side
Removed the white rubber sheet to expose the smts, replace as previously written, reassemble and its done.

Today I started on the air con unit, once removed from the dash lay it face down and remove the 4 torx screw, don’t undo the clips.

Now you can wiggle the back off and take out the pcb, you can see here all the smts you need to change, there are also some under the display so if you want that changed it will need to be removed.

Pictured below are the connections you will need to desolder. When you start to remove the smt`s note the polarity as its not marked on the board!!

It helps if you have access to a workshop equipped with the tools needed. from this point on i used my workshop. With the vacuum gun its off in seconds with no mess at all. Reassemble when you have changed required smt`s.

Next I had a look at the sat nav unit. The dash trim needs to be removed to get at the screen, google dash trim removal, there are loads of guides for this. When you have it removed, take the ring off its face,and unclip the black plastic surround, unclip the fuel gauge and airbag light covers,

now we have a problem! The smt`s for the lights at the top (airbag etc) are as before,

the lower smt`s for the fuel gauge are much smaller!
if you have a r56 the fuel gauge in the centre speedo uses these smaller leds

if you have the chrono pack or the speedo in the centre of the dash, this can be done too, it will be similar in design to the tacho/speedo that i have but bigger!

671 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Next the radio, THINGS ARE GETTING MORE COMPLEX. remove it and then start to disassemble it. Remove 2 screws from the bottom at the front,

1 from the side at the front,

3 from the top, now take the lid off

Now unclip the ribbon cable that connects to the front panel,

prise the front panel away from the shell and lay it face down.

First remove the 3 screws you can see. This allows you to remove the volume control, unplug it and turn it then lever it up.

Now the whole silver part can be removed.

To remove the front panel pcb remove 2 small screws and gently remove the pcb,
turn over the pcb and you will be greeted with yet more of the smaller type smt`s,

there are also loads under the display so that will have to come out, there are 7 clips holding the display in, bend them straight to get the display free (2 clips are soldered in place).

Turn over to see just how many little gits there are to change

reassemble when you have swapped out the leds you want to change

i have done the radio display and volume control in red, its actually less orangy in real life and more a vivid red (i dont know how to do low light shots from a crappy camera phone)
all other lights are cool blue. very pleased.:bigsmile:

changed things........ again!

i changed the aircon display from blue to red,
the rev counter display back to red
the needles from blue to red
the redline from red to white
and the "on" lights in the aircon buttons from blue to white
i also changed out the downlights in the switch unit from the original amber to blue.

i was going to do the needles white, but to do that you need to remove the orange from the back of the needle and colour it white. i didnt have a suitable paint to do the job.

the white redline looks awesome in daylight.

to do the lights in the air ducts....
you need to remove a few dash trim to get to the air ducts

remove dash end panels

remove 2x torx screws from each end

once these screws are out, lift the dash top panel and pull it towards you and out of the way.

now remove this screw at the bottom left of the centre trim and pull the centre trim off,

there are more gold coloured screws ago the dash remove the ones you need to be able to pull the end pieces off.

pull the vents out of the ducts

your dash should now look like this

if you have 5mm led`s, drill a 5mm hole in each of the ducts as far back as you can

thread your chain of led`s through the dash so they are near the holes you drilled
place leds into holes, fix it place if needed, mine held in well enough
wire your chain to your 12v and to ground.
replace the bits you removed in the reverse order and youre done.

671 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
got hold of a manual A/C control. see my other diy for how to open it up (the bulb change one)
opened it up and.....
inside there are 2 white bulbs and 4 leds

the front panel is painted orange inside

orange paint wont allow blue through, removing this paint allows blue (or other colour) light through.

the switches for rear heated window etc and the knobs with the arrows on pose a problem. inside these is an orange plastic piece,

these pieces cant be removed (ok, ive taken them out for the pic but the switches wont work without these bits in) to get other colours to the switches, these plastic pieces need to be clear (they act as a fibre optic) i guess it would not be too difficult to fabricate some for the switches, but the round ones? tricky.

i have replaced the bulbs with blue leds, i`ll post some pics of the results tomorrow as i need to plug them in in my workshop (different plug to the electronic A/C on my car).

plugged in the manual air con control today, the blue isnt uniform, bulbs not leds would be better here, and the logo`s in the switches are barely visible due to blue light not being able to travel through orange plastic , as are the arrows on the dials.

so in summary, the manual air con controls cant be blue, purple or green for the same reasons, red will be ok as it is close to amber on the EM spectrum. they will light but the temp control wont be the correct colour, and modifying the orange bits is a pita!

sorry guys with the manual air con, it cant be done without chopping and glueing the switches and fitting clear plastic bits in the switches :mad: if its not 100% i wont endorse it, by all means diy it, but im not doing these control panels for people.

you cant even retro fit the electronic air con controls without a new wiring loom. if you really want to get rid of the orange, do this bit with red bulbs, and design a layout for the rest of the car that you like.

it can be done white with pretty good results bult the arrows are still amber

inside the clock


671 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
got a tyre pressure switch to light up blue today. to do this you need to source a used switch from a scrapper. that way if you fuck it up you still have your original part.
you could use your existing switch if you like but dont go blaming me if break it.
pull back the handbrake gaiter and push out the switch from behind.
use a small screwdriver to pop the 4 clips on the switch to get at the inners pic1.
now cut the pastic top off the amber led leave as much as possible of the legs stll attached to the switch.
now solder a smt led across the legs, use one of the small leds mentioned earlier in this thread so the white section can still move up and down.
dont put the switch back together just yet, plug it in the car and turn on the lights to check, if it doesnt light the polarity is wrong and you need to turn it through 180 degrees. once its lit. put it all back together.

for this you need a small vice so you can compress the white section of the switch leaving 2 hands free to solder on the tiny led, a fine nibbed soldering iron is pretty much required too.
shown without the switch casing on as it was still light at the time

bored with the sat nav display in my car, i decided to change it for a speedometer, heres a few pics showing how to change its colour.

first remove it from the car, doh!
now you need to strip it down.
remove the from lens, it unclips from the back

now unclip the black plastic casing, there are clips all around the outside.

now remove the three needles, gently twist anti-clockwise while pulling up does the trick

now you need to remove the white plastic casing, again it is just held in place by clips

now remove the dial and the lcd display in one piece, clips again!
inthe picture you can see to the left the rubber pieces for the reset button, dont lose these and remember to fit them on re-assembly

you should now be looking at this, the leds are numbered and the polarity is marked on the board for each one, they are marked K and A, K for kathode (german spelling) and A for anode, the corner of the led with the little cut-out is the K.

if you look at the differences between the next picture and the one above you can see which leds are to be removed for the backlighting, also removed in this picture are the 2 at the top (dimmer and hazard). there are 8 around the dial and one next to each of the smaller needles for the backlight. i forgot to number one of the backlights in this picture it is numbered led37 on the board and is next to my added number 11, so there are 12 for the backlight

this next picture shows which to change for the centre needle and for the backlight of the lcd display

and in this one the 2 leds for each needle are shown removed

its quite easy to work out which to change, but if you are struggling, hold the circuit board against the white plastic of the dial and see whicl led lights up which section.

back to gen 1.
ster50 came to me wanting to retrofit a rev-counter to his MINI one, one of the early cars that didnt come with one from the factory. we were unsure if this could be done (wiring loom difference? etc

things went pretty well,

i had a spare rev counter, so i modified the leds to green with red display and needles, then checked on my car

then it was fitted to the one, the green plug for the rear of the rev counter was hidden under the column but when we plugged in things worked well,

the temp gauge showed -40! its cold outside but not that bloody cold, i think the problem here is that the exterior temp sensor isnt fitted to the car, why would BMW fit a sensor if there is no way to monitor it?

everything else worked great, so if you have a one without rev counter and want to fit one it can be done easily.

you will also need a different trim cover and a couple of screws, these are about £15 from the dealers.

with the rev counter now green, i also did the leds in the speedo to match, looks pretty smart imo:clap:

have a go people!

671 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
just a little update on the stock radio/cd display
tj had asked my to look into getting the blue/white/green and purple colours to light properly in the radio. they appeared to dim.
after a little thought i decided to try something.
if you want to do the radio display the above colours you need to remove one in 3 leds and short the connections. there isnt enough voltage to light 3 leds but ample to light 2.
short the ones out with the red dot

when you put things back together....

previously it was like this when all the leds were changed to blue.

a few images of tj`s lights done in white. cant take credit for the whole lot, i did the aircon, radio, mfsw, heated seat switch and runflat switch.


671 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
tj sent me the bits he wanted doing in the post, 3 day turnaround. he didn't need the speedo doing so car was still driveable (remove the speedo the car still goes but no lights). I work 6 days a week so travelling down to you guys is not possible.

Watching Initial D
1,258 Posts
Outstanding write up. I did a smaller one for my old ST, and that took me ages, so god knows how long this took. Can this be stickied?

671 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
takes longer to write it than do the job sometimes, ive tried to cover all the bases, I will be looking into the manual aircon when I have the time, I bought one to look at but have been snowed under at work and im not 100% on the looks. yet...

671 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
a couple more pics of all white

heated seat switches and runflat switch

centre console

like this alot!


im considering changing mine from blue to white after seeing this complete.

671 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
did the wifes dash for mothers day

white with purple needles and purple lcd`s, looks better in person cos im shit at photo`s, so today im in the good books!

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