Guide: Changing the color of the accent lights (2009+) - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-11-2010, 11:01 AM Thread Starter
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Guide: Changing the color of the accent lights (2009+)

I bought a 2010 Paprika Red Subaru Forester. I am also a electronics modder.

I love how the radio and A/C controls are all red, but the dang accent lights are blue. I find they clash, so I went about changing the Blue LEDs to Red.
The following is a guide on how you can do the same to whatever color you want.

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So the first mod involves ripping out the map light assembly and changing the PLCC LED in there to red.
I also changed the resistor to boost the LED brightness.

Edit: I have added some part numbers that should work for this mod. Please note I haven't tested these.
But at 13.5V the LED should run at 100mA using the resistor below.

LED: Digikey part number 475-2852-1-ND
Resistor: Digikey Part Number 541-120VCT-ND

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The next LED is a small LED that lights up the cubby hole in front of the shifter.





The build quality on this car is simply amazing. The accent LED sits in its own custom connector housing with a resistor and even a reverse protection diode. Not only that the LED isn't even soldered in place. It is welded!
I had to take a dremel with a carbide bit to remove the old LED.

-------------





I replaced the blue LED with a super-bright 3mm Red LED.
I did the same for the rear-cup holder accent LED which used an identical connector.

Edit:
Here is a super bright RED led and resistor that should work for this mod:
LED: Digikey Part Number, 754-1589-ND
Resistor: Digikey Part Number, CF12JT820RCT-ND

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My camera can't capture the effect properly. These are the best I could capture.
The effect in real life is perfect however, none of the lights are distracting, but they are all now useful in helping to see around the car at night without needing the map lights.

Last edited by ZapWizard; 01-25-2013 at 08:01 AM.
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-15-2010, 04:18 PM
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Amazing job! I can't wait to do this!

Where did u buy your leds?

Last edited by mattesonb; 05-16-2010 at 01:35 PM.
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-15-2010, 04:24 PM
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AWESOME JOB! I may take this up since my Fozzie is Camellia red... and the blue lights are odd.

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Next Mod: AVO DBW Controller
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-15-2010, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
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The LED I have had for years from some PC modding project.

DIY/How-To Guide: Red accent lights
DIY/How-To Guide: Rear-View Camera
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-15-2010, 06:03 PM
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See my Sources Thread for sources of LEDs: 12 volt LED assemblies ready to go, and bare LEDs that you can build a circuit around or substitute for others as shown above.

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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-04-2010, 02:33 PM
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How hard do you think it would be to change the A/C controls and ignition lights to blue? I'd rather all blue...I'm not a fan of the red lights.
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-04-2010, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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How hard do you think it would be to change the A/C controls and ignition lights to blue? I'd rather all blue...I'm not a fan of the red lights.
I am not sure as I haven't taken them apart to see what type of lighting they use.

If they used colored LEDs and white filters your in luck, just change the LEDs.
If they used all white LEDs and colored filters built into the labels then you have to re-make the labels in the color you want, which can be hard unless you know a label making company that will do a one-off label.

DIY/How-To Guide: Red accent lights
DIY/How-To Guide: Rear-View Camera
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-25-2010, 02:18 PM
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Quote:
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How hard do you think it would be to change the A/C controls and ignition lights to blue? I'd rather all blue...I'm not a fan of the red lights.
Ditto...I would prefer all blue.
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-27-2010, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by AzNFoLife924 View Post
AWESOME JOB! I may take this up since my Fozzie is Camellia red... and the blue lights are odd.
Yes, awesome and exactly what I'm looking for MY10. What spec red led do I need if I'm not changing resistor...I want same brightness as stock, but RED. :)

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I am not sure as I haven't taken them apart to see what type of lighting they use.

If they used colored LEDs and white filters your in luck, just change the LEDs.
If they used all white LEDs and colored filters built into the labels then you have to re-make the labels in the color you want, which can be hard unless you know a label making company that will do a one-off label.
Yes, I'd like to make my guages red too...that blue/white is annoying. Looks like it's the plastic that is colored but I'm not sure.
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-28-2010, 07:12 AM
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The purpose of the resistor is to eat up the voltage not consumed by the LED while at the same time limiting the current through the LED to its specified value, which is normally about 20 milliamps. Different color LEDs consume different amounts of voltage, so you might have to change the resistor to maintain a constant current if you change color. Though nothing in this sort of application is particularly critical, and a few milliamps one way or another probably won't amount to any significant difference. And after all is said and done with the math, and the limited number of standard resistor values is taken into consideration, only two values remain.
Red, yellow, orange, green: 620 Ohms

Blue, white: 510 Ohms
Wattage computes to about 1/4 Watt in all cases, though prudence would suggest using 1/2 Watt resistors.

If you wish to delve into a few more of the technical details, check out my LED Tutorial thread.

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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-28-2010, 08:57 AM
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The purpose of the resistor is to eat up the voltage not consumed by the LED while at the same time limiting the current through the LED to its specified value, which is normally about 20 milliamps. Different color LEDs consume different amounts of voltage, so you might have to change the resistor to maintain a constant current if you change color. Though nothing in this sort of application is particularly critical, and a few milliamps one way or another probably won't amount to any significant difference. And after all is said and done with the math, and the limited number of standard resistor values is taken into consideration, only two values remain.
Red, yellow, orange, green: 620 Ohms

Blue, white: 510 Ohms
Wattage computes to about 1/4 Watt in all cases, though prudence would suggest using 1/2 Watt resistors.

If you wish to delve into a few more of the technical details, check out my LED Tutorial thread.
Thanks I'll check out your tutorial. Sounds like the ohms you listed are the required for the specific color leds? If yes, then the blue and white leds require a bit more juice to maintain same brightness as the red, orange, yellow and green leds? As I remember it is always ok to use higher wattage resistor (assuming there is physical room for it) because that adds safety margin to keep resistor from burning out.
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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-28-2010, 09:20 AM
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This is for 2009+, 2008 were a different body style with no accent lights
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-28-2010, 09:24 AM
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The voltage drop across a LED (or any diode) is fixed by the physical properties of the material it's made of. Ohm's Law doesn't count, except in numbers so tiny as to be irrelevant. White and blue LEDs have a higher voltage drop than the others, so there's less voltage left over for the resistor to have to handle. So to maintain the same current, the resistor has to be of proportionately lower resistance, since I = V/R.

There's quite a bit of variability in the way that LEDs are constructed and behave, so there's no guarantee that putting the same current through two quite different ones will produce the same exact brightness. Good enough is normally good enough.

Yes, there's no drawback to using a higher wattage resistor than called for, except for size (and maybe cost or availability if things get really big). I tend to double what the math calls for, but even that is probably overkill.

I've got tutorials on other electrical subjects as well, all available through a sticky in the Lighting and Electrical Forum.

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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-29-2010, 10:46 AM
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@Bbottomley, thank you!
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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-29-2010, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
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Yes, I'd like to make my guages red too...that blue/white is annoying. Looks like it's the plastic that is colored but I'm not sure.
I have not been able to get at the gauges, but I do want to convert them to red. The problem is the gauge needles seem to be glued in place, and I haven't see a single thread on any subaru forum where people got them off successfully.

The only way to remove the PCB as far as I can see is to de-solder the gauge motors from the PCB, something I know how to do, but have not yet had the time.

As for the actual display material, typically these are made by applying colored ink to the back of a polycarbonate label material. This means changing the Blue parts of the gauges to Red is pretty difficult. However at least in my 2010, the blue is just an accent, and most of the gauge is lit up white, which is easy to light up red just by changing the LEDs.

DIY/How-To Guide: Red accent lights
DIY/How-To Guide: Rear-View Camera
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