Brighter bulbs for G-car Smiths Speedo/Tach - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-18-2016, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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Brighter bulbs for G-car Smiths Speedo/Tach

I can't seem to find bright LED's with a screw base to fit the notoriously dim Smith's Speedo/Tach/Boost gauges, so I set out to modify available stock. You can get 5 x 5050 SMD LED E10 screw base bulbs, and they are brighter than the OEM filament bulbs, but there's only one in each gauge.The Smiths on my '85 have green plastic domes inside the gauge that limit the amount the bulbs can extend inside, so try to keep the bulb as short and round as you can. Color change is not an option here!
I wanted to move up to the newer, brighter 5730 chips in a screw base to work with a dimmer. I started with some 8 x 5730 SMD LED wedge bulbs.

2pcs T10 194 W5W 5630 5730 8 LED SMD White Car Side Wedge Light Lamp Bulb | eBay

You'll need some sacrificial bulbs to get some spare bases to work with. Avoid the aluminum ones as they are hard to solder. Crush or twist out the old bulb from the base shell after sucking the little blob of solder off the tip. Add a little solder to one side of the inside of the cleaned out base to ease soldering the negative side later.

Check the wedge style bulb with 12V and mark the positive side. Grind the sides just a bit so it will fit within the base, then solder a stiff wire to the positive contacts and bend it so it will exit on the centerline. Add a generous blob of solder to the top of the negative side for later attachment to the shell.
You can slip a little shrink tube on to keep the positive wire from contacting the shell, then just slip the unit into the shell with the positive wire exiting the bottom of the shell and the solder inside the shell lining up with the blob you put on the negative contact. A little heat on the outside of the shell should solder the negative side to your shell. Add a blob to the bottom wire and you're done! If you want you can drip a little clear epoxy in the base to add strength.

As with any LED's your original dimmer will have limited effect- but that's another topic.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-18-2016, 10:52 PM
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It's been awhile since I followed this topic, but I think the website SuperBrightLEDs may have ready-to-go LEDs for your needs:
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-18-2016, 11:38 PM Thread Starter
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SuperbrightLEDs only has a 9v flashlight bulb in the 10mm screwbase. Besides the Smiths clocks the other application seems to be Lionel train sets!

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-20-2016, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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And for the balance of the smaller oil / volts / temp / fuel gauges you need a long bulb to clear the bulb socket slip tube. I used the 10 X 5730 one pictured on the left with the front firing LED's. It just slips into the gauge tube.

The 6 x 5730 on the right may work as well, having 4 LED's right up near the tip which will end up inside the gauge body under the green dome. You may wish to lift or clip the CANBUS (620) resistor off the PCB if you want the lowest possible current draw on these.

The Smith's gauges will never have the visibility of a modern back lit instrument, but at least these will brighten them up at night.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-02-2016, 08:58 AM Thread Starter
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Forgot to add the lousy results photo. I need to use a dimmer bulb in the boost gauge, as it ended up too bright at full power.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by snowrx View Post
Forgot to add the lousy results photo. I need to use a dimmer bulb in the boost gauge, as it ended up too bright at full power.
Very nice when are you sending me mine???
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 10:49 AM Thread Starter
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Well, they'd be pretty much on/off with the factory dimmer, so you'd be off on another trip into the binnacle to rewire the dash lights and add a PWM dimmer if I made you a set and you wanted full function.

https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f164...-led-s-356713/

I'd make some up if you wanted to trade for federal parts/service manual pdfs, but it's down the rabbit hole to more non-driving Lotus activity
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-13-2019, 12:21 PM Thread Starter
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Here's some E10 LEDs that might work in the Smiths speedometer sockets. I don't know how bright the chips are though..

https://www.dx.com/p/sencart-e10-2-5...0#.XIllJSJKjIV
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