Insturment Panel LED Bulb Retrofit

Intro: Insturment Panel LED Bulb Retrofit

So here's the back story. I have a a 1995 Triumph Speed Triple, and the gauge cluster bulbs had burned out. These are not fun to get to and I figured, if these are the original bulbs, and have lasted this long, great, but they were never very bright for one, and for two some of them are on nearly all the time. While I'm in there, why not replace them all out with LED bulbs? Well turns out that the pre-build bulbs you can order on online, are: 1. Expensive 2. are going to take about a week to be delivered. Ok, I have soldering skills (minimal), and like to hack stuff, so lets make this a project. The following is the result of this whim for a weekend project.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Step 2: Prepairing the Base

As previously stated, I will be using project board as my base for the "mini wedge" lights. so I took the original bulb and marked a strip of project board to width, and used the cutting wheel on the dremel, to make a nice strip suitable for my needs.

In this case, it was 2 holes wide for my sub-micro wedge bulbs (indicators), and roughly 4 wide for the wedge bulbs inside of the Speedo and Tach.

It is the 4 wide I will be showing the assembly of in this Instructable.

Now that you have your base, lets get to assembly!

Step 3: Assembly

From here its pretty simple. Using the Project board as a base, using one side as the Positive and the other as Negative, I created a Mini-wedge setup and in order to save space I put the resister facing upwards, next to the bulb. It seems to have worked alright. I may go back and refine my design for the larger bulb in order to increase light output, but for now, it works.

Step 4: Finished Product

As you can see the finished product is not all that great looking, but so far, works quite well.

I hope you enjoyed the instructable, and I welcome any suggestions or ideas for a better design.



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    6 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Why not just use 12v LEDs? (i.e. with a built-in resistor)

    You can still use your rather neat dodge with the perfboard, but not have that resistor and all the tiresome soldering. Just a thought.

    Check out:

    These are 5mm, but there are others. Also, might it not be a better idea to use red LEDs for the instruments, to reduce night blindness, U-Boat style?

    Sorry if this sounds negative, it isn't really - You've inspired me to do the same to my BMW, most of whose instrument lights have gone and, as usual, my local accredited BMW dealer hasn't got any. He doesn't even stock inner tubes... ARRRGH!

    5 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    As stated, this was a spur of the moment build, and I just ran down to my local Fry's Electronics, and they had little to no selection of 12v LED's, so i took this route instead. I am planning on redoing this build in the future, and making it more professional. I am thinking I will make etched boards this time, and go with a cluster of LED's on top, as this way, I can bend the leads a bit and spread the light out around the gauge a bit more. Also, the Blue is dim enough that I have not noticed any damage to my night vision (plus it looks wicked cool :-p) Thanks for the creative critisim however! I'm welcome to all suggestions on how to do this better next time.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I tried this with one LED, but on my bike the area above the LED was too bright, but the rest was too dark. Obviously (in retrospect :) this is the 60 degree angle of illumination as standard from these devices. The standard bulb looks identical to the ones on your Trumpet, and puts out most of its illumination from the sides, which is where the light pipes are on my Beemer.

    It occurs to me that drilling the LED lens end-on with an oversize drill bit carefully would make a hollow cone with the apex pointing towards the "wires" end of the LED, and then filling this cone with something as reflective as possible (like silver paint, maybe?) might divert enough light towards the light pipes, whilst blocking enough of the standard 60 degree forward beam to prevent the bright spot directly above the LED, making the whole deal a lot more pleasing to the eye.

    What do you think?

    P.S. I hope your instrument lights are easier to get at than mine. I had to take half the front of the bike off to get at the little buggers.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hey man, if I am understanding your description correctly, I think you might have a diff set up than mine, as my gauges are "old-school" from 1995, they used two bulbs (top and bottom) per gauge.

    What I ended up doing was bending the neck of the LED to about 90 degrees and shining it at the side of the houseing, where it is white and quite reflective already, and I had very good luck with evening out the lighting profile.

    If I had to do it all over agian, I would go without any resisters, and just use 3-4 LED's in series, and have them all bent at different angles in a 90 degree arc.

    Also since mine is a "naked" bike, All I had to remove was the cowl, the headlight houseing, and then seperate the gauge pod from the chassis, then remove the back covers of each gauge. Fairly simple.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Mine also has two bulbs per instrument, but the instrument cover has built-in light pipes which distribute the light around the cluster, so having the light come out sideways is important as the whole cluster ends up with dark patches and dim needles if light isn't going down the pipes. Also, I can't fit multiple LEDs in as there just isn't enough room.

    I'll think some more...

    This is a really good idea though. 12v LEDs are actually cheaper than those little instrument bulbs over here in UK, and will almost certainly last longer than the bike, although that is more a reflection of the "joys" of BMW ownership. My local dealer quoted me £75 plus VAT to replace the 4 instrument bulbs. 4 bulbs @ £0.70 = £2.80. Not exactly designed for easy maintenance :(


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    they now make LED versions of the "wedge" style bulbs which are quite cheap . But as shown above the light distribution with LED is all very focused . a couple of guy used fine sand paper to make the water clear bodies "frosted" and that seemed to help, other smaller LED's have diffuser ends on which as above appears to be a concave dimple in the top rather like your drill start hole.