[Instrument Cluster Modification] A brief guide to upgrading your needles and LCD - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 181 (permalink) Old 09-30-2014, 03:05 PM Thread Starter
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[Instrument Cluster Modification] A brief guide to upgrading your needles and LCD

I've received lots of questions regarding how to do the needle/ LCD display mod. There's a thread a while back that was started by riceburner, aka Bob. He contributes a lot of time and effort to make this happen. I have to give him tons of credit for it.

In this thread, I will briefly go thru the modification for those who don't have time to go thru 20 pages worth of information. But again, credit to those people who participated there, they are the ones who came up with these precious information.

I'm not an engineering nor a handy guy, so if I can do this, i believe everyone can do it.

I will go by this order:
1) Instrument cluster Removal
2) LED needle mod
3) LCD display mod


before you start anything, make sure to wear a pair of gloves to prevent shorting anything in the circuit board.

1) Instrument cluster removal
a. pop all the screws indicated in red arrows
b. pull the cover straight into you shown in blue arrows
c. now you have an exposed instrument cluster, loose 4 screws around it and disconnect the 2 wires at the back. (the black plug seems to be hard to unplug, don't worry, just wiggle it left and right as you pull and be patient, it will come out)
d. taduhhh! done!



2) LED needle mod
a. break the adhesive that glues the cover on the cluster

b. pull the needles out "gently"

c. remove the plastic needle trims and the outer plastic trim "gently"
d. remove the cluster sheet

e. now turn around and remove all the screws shown in red arrows

f. pull the cover (you'll have to break the warranty seal, but hey it's over the 7 year warranty anyway so who cares )
g. at this moment you really have to have your gloves on so you don't short the board you are about to see.
h. pop two more screws shown in red and unplug the EL lighting sheet plug shown in blue

i. now you have the main board exposed

j. Here's the detailed info on LED ring soldering provided by riceburner (Bob) http://home.comcast.net/~riceburner9...stallation.pdf

3) LCD display mod
a. pop the 4 screws shown in red

b) remove the stock one and drop in the new one. It's as easy as that! (make sure all the pins sit in perfect buy plugging in the connector to see if all numbers are lit up and shown)

a couple notes:
1. try to plug the board back to the car and see if the LED and LCD work first before you put everything back. It'd be frustrating to find out something doesn't sit right and you'll have to remove all these bolts and screws all over again.

2. always wear gloves, if you short something, you are screwed.

3. soldering can be difficult for the first timers like me, find someone who can solder to solder the LED ring for you if you are not confident doing it.


now put everything back and enjoy the new look of your 10 year old clusters!

before and after differences!
day time


night time



Here are the choices for needles: (I haven't had chance to try anything other than these 4. so there are plenty of other choices I believe)

from top to bottom:
1. Dodge Intrepid needle
2. needles from forum member (I found 100 quantity for $50 on Alibaba, $1 a pair lol)
3. Harley needle
4. Harley needle painted in Fluorescent Red
Personally, I think #4 is the closest or most identical to what Lotus use in 2008+ Elise/Exige clusters.



Useful Resources:

LED needle mod (Approx. $35 +shipping):
You’ll need two things
1) Harley Needles (New Harley Davidson Speedometer Gauge Cluster Pointer Needle Only 16241661 | eBay)
2) Riceburner’s LED needle ring ([email protected]) and his installation guide (http://home.comcast.net/~riceburner9...stallation.pdf)

LCD display mod (Approx. $21 +shipping or $11 if you solder your own pins):
1) go to Newhaven 2x16 LCD page (2 x 16 Characters)
2) Pick a color you like and add “-D6” to the product number. (example: NHD-0216K1Z-NSR-FBW-L-D6)
3) Plug and play

How to paint your cluster needle:
http://revlimiter.net/blog/2013/03/h...gauge-needles/

Last edited by t955152; 10-07-2014 at 12:50 AM.
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post #2 of 181 (permalink) Old 09-30-2014, 03:09 PM
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Bookmarked.
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post #3 of 181 (permalink) Old 09-30-2014, 03:16 PM Thread Starter
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Bookmarked.
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post #4 of 181 (permalink) Old 09-30-2014, 03:33 PM
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Thanks for the info!
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post #5 of 181 (permalink) Old 09-30-2014, 03:34 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info!
fosho perry!
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post #6 of 181 (permalink) Old 09-30-2014, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info!
maybe we can do a SoCal DIY day and gather everyone to do this together, it'll be fun!
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post #7 of 181 (permalink) Old 09-30-2014, 03:56 PM
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Awesome thanks. Any chance u have the link to riceburner's post #theMoreUKnow
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post #8 of 181 (permalink) Old 09-30-2014, 04:13 PM Thread Starter
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Awesome thanks. Any chance u have the link to riceburner's post #theMoreUKnow
he made a pdf file regarding detail installation. perhaps try email him?
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post #9 of 181 (permalink) Old 09-30-2014, 04:49 PM
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Where did the other thread go? I need to see more photos before I can decide.
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post #10 of 181 (permalink) Old 09-30-2014, 05:25 PM
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Looks good. Wish I had done this a few months ago when I had my dashboard apart to replace the switch pak module.

Does the gas display bar type indicator appear different? In the picture with the 105.9 odometer reading it appears that their is a black line in part of the display.
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post #11 of 181 (permalink) Old 09-30-2014, 05:26 PM
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Hows the lcd at night i dont see it. Plus the original night time version is different than your day time version! The increments and dash lights are different

2005 Magnetic Blue Elise, Factory twin oil coolers, Sport pack with LSS wheels with 6.5 fronts, and touring pack with matching hardtop and insulated soft top. OEM stage II exhaust, carbon fiber intake, HID's, 5.25 and 6.5 Polks with JL Stealthbox and Alpine PDX-5 amp, Sony DSX-S310BTX head unit with Bluetooth, sector111 bootie and aluminum carpet buttons, OEM embellisher rings, shower cap and outdoor cover, factory painted console and AC shroud, battery cut off switch, factory starshield.
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post #12 of 181 (permalink) Old 09-30-2014, 05:41 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by gooberschnot View Post
Hows the lcd at night i dont see it. Plus the original night time version is different than your day time version! The increments and dash lights are different
oh i posted two versions just to show people the choice of colors they can get from New Haven, but of course they have way more choices than just 2. So yeah those are two different dashes in my photos.
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post #13 of 181 (permalink) Old 09-30-2014, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by xxxotic View Post
Looks good. Wish I had done this a few months ago when I had my dashboard apart to replace the switch pak module.

Does the gas display bar type indicator appear different? In the picture with the 105.9 odometer reading it appears that their is a black line in part of the display.
the display bar looks the same, the font and everything looks just like the stock. I think the black line is caused by the iPhone camera, sorry for the bad quality shot.
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post #14 of 181 (permalink) Old 10-02-2014, 10:10 AM
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Thanks Terry for a great write up!!! Very clear and concise.

It is on my to do list this winter.

2005 Lotus Elise Graphite Grey - Salvaged title started the SSM build!!!
Maverick ML8 - Other daily
2005 VW Passat Station Wagon TDI (harder to find than the lotus?)
2005 Lotus Elise Starlight Black - Sold
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post #15 of 181 (permalink) Old 10-02-2014, 11:46 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Terry for a great write up!!! Very clear and concise.

It is on my to do list this winter.
probably one of the best mods to do! don't forget to wear gloves
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post #16 of 181 (permalink) Old 10-02-2014, 01:49 PM
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what needles are in the after shot? They don't look like the harley ones
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post #17 of 181 (permalink) Old 10-02-2014, 02:25 PM Thread Starter
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what needles are in the after shot? They don't look like the harley ones
Im also curious what these are and im looking really hard into it. I got them from a member Kandstem (not sure how to spell) and i asked him where he got it but never hear back. i will try my best to find out.
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post #18 of 181 (permalink) Old 10-02-2014, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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I found some pretty cool and useful stuff for the mod, hopefully it'll benefit some people here.

Fluorescent red paint and orange paint
Flourescent Red 1oz Needle Paint for Instrument Cluster Gauges | eBay

Fluorescent Orange 1oz Needle Paint for Instrument Cluster Gauges | eBay


also, my buddy uses the needles from Doge Intrepid. He got the entire used dash for $30 or less and took the needle apart and it fits perfectly. For those who don't wanna use the Harley needles or don't want to paint them red/orange, this is another solution to it.
98 03 Dodge Intrepid Instrument Cluster Speedometer Panel P04760402AF | eBay

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post #19 of 181 (permalink) Old 10-02-2014, 02:56 PM
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If I recall correctly Kamsden used the needles from a Pontiac GTO (newer body style).

I plan on using the needles from a GMC Yukon/Chevy Tahoe, liked the looks better and on ebay you can get them for $15 shipped.

2005 Lotus Elise Graphite Grey - Salvaged title started the SSM build!!!
Maverick ML8 - Other daily
2005 VW Passat Station Wagon TDI (harder to find than the lotus?)
2005 Lotus Elise Starlight Black - Sold
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post #20 of 181 (permalink) Old 10-02-2014, 02:57 PM
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Im also curious what these are and im looking really hard into it. I got them from a member Kandstem (not sure how to spell) and i asked him where he got it but never hear back. i will try my best to find out.
Sugeray is now selling these.
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