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 Custom Dials

Custom Cluster Dial Faces

A lot of people have been asking how I did mine. Instead of answering them all individually, I'll post this how-to. Maybe a mod will want to put it in the doco section.

Make something unique for your car, and it's not rice, as I went from EL dials to EF ones so I gained dial readout performance (5KM/h vs. 10KM/h and 100rpm vs. 250rpm).

Materials Needed

  • EF/EL Cluster (others can be done, but I don't have templates for them, people willing to send me a 600dpi scan so I can turn them into a template go for it)
  • Template File for the cluster.
  • High resolution pictures/logos/etc. (I can't stress this enough, low res images will print out sh*thouse)
  • Computer with Photoshop (or some other good picture editing software, something with 'layers' is needed).
  • Quality paper (I'm talking the enviro-UN-friendly triple beached stuff, whiter than white).
  • Quality colour laser printer (you may have to go to work, or OfficeWorks/Kinkos/etc.).
  • Sharp knife.
  • Steady hand.
  • Time.
  • Creative mind.
(I can't help with the last three)

Templates

The cluster in EF/EL's is made up of two separate parts, the speedo half, and the tacho half.

Speedo/Battery/Temp .PSD 3.7MB
Tacho/Oil/Fuel .PSD 4.1MB

I took the original scans, and cleaned them up and created some masks and layers in Photoshop so pictures can be added without worrying about the 'tick' marks and other dial essentials.

These pics are what I started with:
 

 

Creative Process

This bit is up to you. I wanted something that was MY car, but unobtrusive, and hopefully something I wouldn't get sick of.

I was playing around (this is an early pic) with a photo from the Sydney Dyno Day #1 (Nov 2004) for the tacho, and was originally just going to have a nice Ford logo for the speedo.

I ended up with these:

Now you may have noticed an important bit, the black masks. This is key to the highlighting effect I was after when the dash lights are on.

Held up to my desk lamp they show how the 'ticks', warning areas, and the Ford logo were going to light up. Just like I had planned:

Bits are blurry, and the desk lamp is way to bright, but the idea was there. Camera in one hand two sheets of (not so) carefully aligned paper in the other.

 

5 P's - Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Using the templates above, print you're work out at 600dpi (if using you're own templates be sure to adjust as required), onto quality whiter than white paper. I am lucky enough that work has a top quality laser printer/copier and paper, and for four sheets I used they don't care. If you're anal retentive, or sadistic, make sure you run colour profiles from your camera through your working space, through to the printer, so you'll get a good result. If not, print it, see how it goes, adjust print again, etc.

I used a 'light box' to carefully align my top and mask layers, then cut them out with a hobby knife so they were aligned perfectly in order to prevent the fuzzy edges as seen in the test photo above. When aligned properly the highlights have crisp edges and look superb.

Installation

  • Remove your cluster. Remove dash surround, then cluster.
  • Crack it open, there's a screw, and a bunch of plastic 'tabs' holding the front 'shade' and window on, take these of carefully.
  • Remove the needles. This is easiest done with a fork. Before you do remove them, make careful 'mental' note of where they sit in the off position, cause you'll need to put them back right, or you'll screw with the readings.
  • Unclip the original dial faces, and clip in your new ones.
  • Start putting it back together.
 

Optional - Improved Lighting

While you have your cluster out, you may as well change any blown bulbs, or better yet replace them with white LEDs.


There are 6 bulbs to illuminate the cluster. Two top, left, right, to middle bottom . The seventh white based bulb is for the LCD display (odometer).

I bought a 10-pack of white LEDs from Narva (part# 47900)

Now these are great because you get a LED and holder that fits right in. They're bad because the light output is very uni-directional (a normal bulb is omni-directional), and they're too dim with they're default internal resistor.

Below you'll see a 'frosted' LED on the left and an original LED on the right.

In the second picture both LEDs are being run at the same current (10mA) so are producing the same light output, the frosted one just spreads it better making it look brighter.

I also reduced the internal resistor from the default to a 380Ohm, bring the current (@ 13.8v) from 16mA to a much brighter 30mA. 30mA is still a very safe level for LEDs to run.

Be warned that LEDs are directional. So must be installed in the cluster a certain way (found by trial and error). It helps to do this while the cluster is out of the dash, and only the right hand connector is required to supply power. So you'll have a 'little' room to play with it.

Results


Flash


No flash


Night time before I frosted and fixed the brightness of the LEDs. (Needless to say I was disappointed)


Night time AFTER I frosted and fixed the LEDs. (The camera doesn't do it justice, it doesn't have an aperture big enough) For fairness I took both pictures at the same camera settings.

 
 Document Summary
 
Document description: data_mine shows us how to make our very own custom dial faces for EF/EL Falcons!
Document written by: data_mine on 08 2005>, Copyright © 2005 data_mine, all rights reserved.
Document revised: 11 2005 - Revision 1.0
Document views: 18519 since 08 2005



 

 

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