How to: Replacing A/C Control Panel LEDs

ZapWizard

Electro-modder
If a moderator could please move this into the how-to forum, thanks.


Replacing the A/C Control lights

on a 2003 Mazda Protg LX​

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12-Complete.jpg
13-Nightshot.jpg

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1-Controls.jpg

This modification will get rid of the mix of green and orange that your current control status LEDs​
(The A/C, Fresh-Return, and Defrost LEDs)

I choose to use red, rather then blue, as red lights will not deminish your night vision while driving.

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Tools needed:​
  • Philips screwdriver
  • Small flathead screwdriver.
  • Needle nose, or similar pliers
  • Low power (15-watt) soldering iron
  • 4 Bright LEDs of the color you choose.
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glovebox.jpg


First remove the glove box.

Open it, push in the sides at the top, gently lower it, the pull towards the driver side, and down to release.

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Glovebox-Off.jpg


Look inside and towards the drivers seat.

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cable1.jpg


Locate the temperature control cable and disconnect it.

Gently push the tab in and pull the cable off the white control arm.

The push down on the black metal holder, and pull the cable surround out.

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Drivers-side.jpg


Next move the drivers side, and locate the vent control cable.

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cable2.jpg


Repeat the same steps to disconnect the vent control cable.

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Pulling-Panel.jpg


Next you need to pull the center panel out.

This is done by pushing the vents down, and pulling with both hands.

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Connectors.jpg


With the center panel hanging out, disconnect the hazard signal button,

and the two connectors at the rear of the A/C control assembly.

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assembly.jpg


You can now remove the entire center panel.

Be careful to note how the control cables come out, so that you can put back in the correct way.

Once removed unscrew the A/C control assembly from the front panel.

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Faceplate.jpg


With the panel removed, carefully pull the three control knobs off.

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Faceplate-Knobs.jpg


You should now have no knobs on the front.

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Faceplate-removed.jpg


Pull the front faceplate off by pulling up on the two holding tabs on each side.

You will see a circuit board behind the faceplate, don't pull on it.

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cable.jpg


We need to get under the other black plastic cover.

But first you need to remove the temperature control cable.

Do this by spreading the center tabs on the white holder, while pulling on the black cable surround.

Do not try to pry the cable out, or pull up in any way!

Cable-Pull.jpg


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cable-up.jpg


Once the black surround is out you can tilt the cable up, and out of the control arm.

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Circuit-Cover.jpg


You can then unscrew the circuit cover and remove it.

There are two push tabs towards the front holding it in place.

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1-screws.jpg


There are two screws on the bottom PCB (Printed Circuit Board), they don't need to be removed.

(They hold the connector onto the PCB)

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2-screws.jpg


There are two screws on the front PCB, you can removed these, and remove both PCBs together.

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3-pcb.jpg


Once the PCB is removed you can take it inside for soldering.

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4-leds.jpg


Note that the LEDs used are flattened.

If you are ordering new LEDs you can order bright, flat LEDs.

Or if you are like me, you can modify normal 5mm LEDs.

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5-leds.jpg


Only the top two of the four LEDs needs to be flattened.

(The A/C and Defrost LEDs)

You flatten them by sanding each side of the LED.

I flattened them until they fit freely into the button holes.

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6-led.jpg


You should now be ready to replace the old LEDs on the PCB

Note the Diode symbol near the LED, this shows which way to install the LED.

Most LEDs come with one short leg, this is the negative side, or the side that the symbol is pointing.

You can also often tell by looking into the LED, the larger metal piece inside the LED is usually the ground.

(The superbright red LEDs I used were the exception)

The only way to be sure is to try installing them, and if they don't work, removing and reversing their direction.

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7-Replaced.jpg


Use a low power (15-20 watt) soldering iron and remove and replace each LED.

You do this by gently pulling up on the LED while heating the solder on the PCB.

Soldering in a new LED requires careful heating and pushing in the LED into the existing solder.

-OR- you can remove the old solder with de-soldering wick, and apply fresh solder to the new LEDs.

I used a high power iron, and ended up damaging some of the traces on the PCB, and had to repair them with wire.

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8-Testing.jpg


Once all the LEDs have been changed over you can connect the PCB to the car and test it.

Make sure and connect the fan-speed control switch also, or the A/C won't function.

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9-Installed.jpg


You can then install the PCB back into the white control assembly.

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10-Testing.jpg


Note that I also replaced the green backlights with RED 10mm 12volt LEDs, and I also

added a blue frosted LED to the corner to light up the cold side of the control panel.

I have no guide on these though, as they are a little rigged.

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11-Testing.jpg


You can then install the front cover and knobs, and re-test the unit.

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12-Complete.jpg


Then put everything back together in reverse order.

By using super-bright LEDs the indicators are day-light visible, and very sharp looking.

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13-Nightshot.jpg


14-below.jpg


15-side.jpg


The night shot shows the great look of the Red control panel.

By adding a blue LED to the corner I was able to keep the blue side of the control panel even, and good looking.

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16-above.jpg


This is my first step towards a completely red control panel.

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17-radio.jpg


Next hopefully will be the radio backlights.
 
Last edited:

Dexter

Banned
Contributor
nice. i have a similar write up written on my website, but i stopped at replacing the lights.
 

redwagon02

spoon full of rice.
:
'08 F150 FX2 screw - '06 G35 coupe - '06 GSXR600
very in-depth. seems like a lot of trouble to change the color of the lights, but looks like it's almost worth doing it. Thank You.
 

kid prodigy

No Mechanic Skillz
:
03.5 Protege 5
Oh.. I have a '03 MP5 and its red so it matches everything else pretty well, but i want everything blue so thats why im asking.
 

mrpopnfresh

PS!
Potential Scammer!
The radio is easy, it's just a bunch of bright orange condoms on the leds. They are also designed so you just take them out and replace them. The gauge cluster is trickey though. They too have condoms on them, but the dial overlays have that bright orange color on them too. I took off the condoms on the head unit and they came out yellowish (the normal bulb color). I figured I'd go ahead and try the Gauge cluster too, since no one has done it yet. All it did was fade the red color to more of an orange color. The only way to actually change the colors of the Guage cluster and the Light dimmer/fog light switches to replace the faces. It sucks.
 

ZapWizard

Electro-modder
Where can I get new light condoms?

Cause google ain't coming up with helpful stuff.
(At least not for car modding)
 

mrpopnfresh

PS!
Potential Scammer!
ZapWizard said:
Where can I get new light condoms?

Cause google ain't coming up with helpful stuff.
(At least not for car modding)
I have no clue, maybe a specialty store like Fry's or Radio Shack.
 

ZapWizard

Electro-modder
I re-did this mod today.

Before I used two 10mm LEDs.
But I wanted it even brighter, so I added 12 more LEDs in different arrangements to get an even, and brighter look.

The third to last, and last image has been updated, the Red is much deeper, and brighter.
 

Pheonix

Kein Geld
:
'03 Emerald Mica Protege
i like how you added the blue on the cold side of the nob, i cannot see any color at night from the red leds, i may just snake an led in to light that side up
 

ZapWizard

Electro-modder
Pheonix said:
i like how you added the blue on the cold side of the nob, i cannot see any color at night from the red leds, i may just snake an led in to light that side up
Look at the left side of this image:

10-Testing.jpg


There is a blue defused LED that lights up the blue side.
It's just hot-glued in
 

SpicyMchaggis

Banned
Contributor
thanks for you write-up..i just swapped my a/c controls and radio..came in handy..still a pain the ass..ahaha. thanks again.
 

sandman

Huge Member
Zap - did you need to use resistors to tone down the current at all?

If anyone needs an insanely cheap hookup for LEDS - www.lsdiodes.com is great. I ordered from them when I was ricing out my Xbox - fast service - no problems and bar none the cheapest place I've seen for Blue LEDS.

Looks like I'll be ordering from them again!! :)
 

ZapWizard

Electro-modder
sandman said:
Zap - did you need to use resistors to tone down the current at all?

If anyone needs an insanely cheap hookup for LEDS - www.lsdiodes.com is great. I ordered from them when I was ricing out my Xbox - fast service - no problems and bar none the cheapest place I've seen for Blue LEDS.

Looks like I'll be ordering from them again!! :)
I didn't change the resistors, I figured that the original LEDs had to be at least less then 20mA.

I also get my LEDs from www.lsdiodes.com ,I have ordered over 200 from them so far with zero problems.
 

Minus

Zoom Zoom
:
MP3
damn man thats awesome. if you go to nopi let me know, i will pay you to change mine. i want mine white instead of orange
 
:
Mazdaspeed6 GT
i would love to be able to do this but as simple as it seems i'd prob **** my hole car up, i melted my headlight plub because I put an H7 bulb that was too big! but thanks for showin me how its done.