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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This one may not appeal to everyone, but if you're interested, keep reading.

[backstory]
On newer cars than our mk3s, most seem to have a green indication lamp on the cluster with either the word "CRUISE" or a symbol that looks like a speedometer. I've been thinking of ideas for a while for how to add one to my mk3. Before I knew how the icon strips worked, I figured I could just go to the junkyard and find a car that had the icon and green filter and cut/splice it in to the mk3's cluster, but then I decided I didn't want to hack and splice anything, so it was back to the drawing board.

Then came figuring out how to get some kind of indication to even light-up in the first place. I searched around trying to find a vacuum-operated switch that I could install with a T connector, so that if a vacuum is present, then it closes the contacts in the switch, but even then, I couldn't really find any suitable switches. Hm.. Back to the drawing board again.

Then one day here on the 'tex, someone was asking about their cruise system, and one thing led to another, and I had a complete epiphany: the solution to this problem is absurdly simple. It really is.

The main push in this project happened a few weeks ago, when after four years of my CEL being on, the factory-original filament bulb finally burnt-out. I ended up just taking the airbag bulb and putting it in the CEL's socket. I decided at this point that more bulbs were probably going to meet the end of their lives before too long, and that I wanted to get LED replacements, because as long as you don't over-volt LEDs, they won't burn out, so it's kind of a "set and forget" kind of situation.. replace them once, and they'll never stop working again.

I researched here on the forum and dug around and found this website and determined that B8.4D is the size bulb that is needed. Also note, you need the 2-lumen ones, NOT the 6-lumen ones. The 6-lumen bulbs are what you need for the two on the top of the cluster that light up the whole face, but after seeing how bright the 2-lumen bulbs are.. you don't need the 6's at all.

So I figured if I put a blue LED behind an amber filter, it would come out greenish. Since I wasn't totally sure if I wanted to go all-LED or not though, I only ordered a few bulbs instead of as many as were needed to do them all. I got 3x white, 1x blue, 1x green. As it turns out.. blue behind an amber filter does in fact make a greenish color, however, because of the wavelengths of the colors and such, the interaction between the LED and the filter ends up making it so dim that even in the dark, you can barely see it. So I swapped the blue bulb out for the green one. It was amazing.. the amber filter seemed to have zero effect on the final color.
[/backstory]


And now for the DIY proper:

Adding a "Cruise engaged" indicator to the cluster

First thing to note: this mod does not require any hacking/splicing/permanent changes to anything. It can be easily removed without any damage or needing any repairs. So if you don't like the result, you can easily revert like it never happened.

So finally, without further ado..

You will need:
- A pair of RCA/phono connectors (male and female)
- 5 feet of wire (I used 24awg stranded)
- a 2-lumen B8.4D green LED bulb

Pull your cluster, open it up, and put some kind of tape on the contacts of the unused "pad wear warning" indicator lamp socket.


Next, get yourself a pair of RCA/phono connectors and solder the wires to them.


Don't forget to mark the (-) lead, and then solder the wires directly to the contacts on the replacement LED bulb. I stuffed the wires UNDER the contact (between the contact and the plastic housing) so that the face that touches the tape would be relatively smooth and flat. (if you're not familiar with LEDs, the (-) is determined one of two ways: on round LEDs, there is a flat edge, or just look at the stuff inside, and (-) is the larger element).


Install the bulb into the socket. I used a 1/4" hex driver. And put the back cover back onto the cluster.

(note that I bent the wires after soldering so they would fit in this area without causing any problems)

Give it a quick bench-test using a computer power supply to make sure the soldering worked on both pigtails.


Go out to the car, unplug the harness connector from the cruise control module, and jam the stripped-back (+) wire into the back of pin 11 on the cruise harness. Jam it in there good, and then zip-tie it to the bundle tightly, to make sure it won't wiggle and come loose.

(sorry about blurry..best I could do at that angle and lighting situation)

Take your (-) wire and attach it to a ground. I chose the screw on the knee panel by the hood release. Also, since you have the cruise harness hanging, make a jumper wire and jump pins 9 and 11 together. This will allow you to test that everything works before starting to put it all back together.


Plug the two cluster connectors in, and join your two pigtails together, and set the cluster in-place. Insert key, turn ignition on and make sure everything still works.

(my clock light is really bright because that is a 2-lumen white LED compared to the original filament bulb behind the odometer. Also, there is a white LED in the BRAKE socket)

Then slide cruise to "on" and see that the bulb works.


Good! :thumbup:

Turn key off, remove jumper from cruise harness, plug harness back into cruise module, put dash back together. Go for a drive.


Wait for traffic to clear and to get to a stretch of highway and tap the set button on the cruise stalk..


Hooray! :thumbup: Success. Time to go home and enjoy some :beer:.

Final note: I feel that I should clarify before questions start flooding in.. Despite the first test lighting the bulb up just by sliding cruise to ON, that was just an in-car bench test. The bulb only lights up when cruise is ENGAGED, not just simply ON. It does not flicker or anything, either. It is only lit up if cruise is maintaining a speed. Tap the clutch or brakes, or slide the switch to OFF and the bulb turns off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey that's actually pretty cool! Glad you were able to get it figured out. :beer: :)

I wonder what the percentage is of Mk3's with cruise still working. 5%? :laugh:
5% is probably an overly-conservative estimate. :rolleyes:

But for those of us with functional factory (vacuum-operated) cruise, this one is simple and easy to add.
 

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Dude, no way! I had this same idea a few weeks ago, but hadn't had time to mess with it much. I wasn't going to do it with an LED but with a regular cluster bulb (I have some spares). I had already cut off plastic exposing the metal part where I was going to solder in the wires (see pic below). This is really funny cause I had also picked the ABS circular symbol on my Gauge Cluster as the "ON" indicator for when Cruise Control was engaged :laugh:

I guess this is one of those "Great minds think alike!" scenarios :thumbup::beer:

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That would be neat. I wanted to use a universal symbol from another cluster, but I discovered there is no way to put it in there without making it look like the icon strip was cut and spliced from the outside, unless you get a whole new strip made with different icons, so that's why I just stuck with using the "pad wear warning" icon, since it looks close enough to a wheel or a gauge.

After I decided to scrap the idea of cutting and splicing the icon strip, I decided I could just use an x-acto knife and scratch some of the "black" away to make the icon look more like a gauge, but again.. that's too much effort for a simple mod--especially a mod that I wanted to make non-destructive (meaning you can remove it without having to fix or replace anything).

But... if you want to get your own icon made, go for it! :thumbup: That's the beauty of customizing and modding: you do what you want /like to your car. I've got more ideas for mine, but they are destructive, and for that, I will go to the junkyard and get another cluster to mod the hell out of so that I don't ruin mine.
 

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Awesome Idea

Once I can actually get my CC working (I can pass all tests except the first one about getting power to the system) I might try this. I should pull my airbag light since that one will not go away for me.
 

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Interesting to see all this! I tried adding one to my Mk2 years ago but I couldn't figure out what pin was active during SET (not just switched on).

Gotta get some icon strips made too! :)
 
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