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Old TN Lurker
2016 Camry
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144 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm not sure how long this post will be when I'm done, as I'm planning to add to it. I also get really wordy with my explanations.

Cameras are stupid, so the picture looks like there are pretty bad hot spots in the lighting, but it's actually pretty even to the naked eye.


Here's an entire album with pretty much the same explanations of things. I'll be adding radio pictures soon, as I forgot to take them when I had everything apart the first time... Whoops!

This is a relatively simple DIY so long as you have PATIENCE. You'll need a lot of it if you don't want to mess up and risk permanent damage to your parts. Sure, on our cars replacement parts are cheaper due to age, but it's more headache than it's worth, plus you'd be right back at square one with OEM colors. Bleh.

Anyway: I drive a lot at night, and I don't like the aqua back lighting of the radio and climate controls. I've seen some information floating around here and there about the radio, but nothing in-depth about the climate controls. Only that you have to de-solder the entire knob from the PCB. Not the case, but we'll get to that. I also think it's rather stupid to make the lights inside a car brighter. The idea of back lighting is to be minimally intrusive, to not draw your attention from the road. Bright sucks at that. Red, the color I'm using, does a much better job at being minimally intrusive in your peripheral vision, and it doesn't kill the dilation of your pupils with a quick glance, which is important for night driving.

I digress.

The tools you'll need:

  • #1 and #2 Phillips screwdrivers.
  • Trim removal tool, a taped flat-blade screwdriver, fingernails, or some other device for pulling panels. You choose.
  • 10mm socket. Will be easier with an extension, too.
  • Soldering iron or gun.
  • Tweezers.
  • Helping hands (optional, makes everything much easier).
  • Multimeter (to verify polarity of existing and replacement LEDs. Different LEDs have the notched corner in different places for some stupid reason, though it should still be on the negative side).
  • 8x PLCC2 LEDs of your desired color for the radio. I got all my LEDs from lighthouseleds.com, since they have a wide array of colors, and you can order exact quantities of LEDs.
  • 3x PLCC2 LEDs of your desired color for the backlight of your climate control knobs.
  • 3x PLCC4 LEDs of your desired color for the indicator lights (Recirculation, AC, rear window defrost). You can use PLCC2 for this if you want, just make sure the positive lead for the LED only contacts the positive solder pad on the PCB.
  • 3x 4mm neo-wedge LEDs of your desired color for the position lights (Where the knob is at). I got mine from superbrightLEDs.com.
  • PATIENCE

The nitty gritty, part 1:
You'll need to remove your radio / climate control assembly to get at the lights, obviously. I'll provide a quick rundown, but I expect a more in-depth procedure with pictures is available elsewhere on the forums. Probably stickied in the DIY thread under radio replacement.
  1. Pull your center vents. Be very careful, this plastic is thin and brittle. You can pull from the inside of the vent, but I recommend pulling from the outside edge of the entire assembly. Once you pop it out, but before you pull it away, remember to unplug your hazard/clock switch.
  2. Next, you need to pull your lower storage box.
    • To do this, pull the two plastic "pillars" on either side of the storage box straight out. They're just held in with plastic clips, so they should pop out with no problem.
    • Then unscrew your shift knob, and pull up and toward yourself on the plastic shifter surround, the one that shows what gear you're in. The easiest place I've found for this is by pulling inside the slot for the shift knob. You'll need to be in gear to pull the panel backwards, so turn your car on but don't start it, engage your parking brake so you don't go for an unexpected joyride, then put the car in gear to get the knob out of the way.
    • Once you've done this, you can turn your car off so you don't kill your battery. You'll have to shift into park to do so. Your car can stay off for the rest of this project, even if we need to shift out of park again (we do), since the brake override button is now accessible.
    • The brake override button the small black button next to the shift knob when in park. Push that button to shift back out of park, so you can pull the entire top of your center console straight up. I find the easiest place to start is by the storage compartment under your elbow. You'll need to open that, too, to lift the panel out. Don't forget to unplug the 12v outlet in this panel.
    • Once that panel is out, you can remove the two #2 Phillips screws holding the storage box in place and pull it straight out. When the back clears the rest of the dash, you'll have access to unplug the 12v outlet and the AUX port.
  3. Once both the vents and the storage box are removed, you can remove the four 10mm bolts that secure the radio and climate controls into the dash. Now is also a good opportunity to unplug your climate controls, as it has the shortest harness. That will make pulling the entire unit much easier.
  4. Once the bolts are out, pull the entire unit straight out. It's also held in with four plastic clips, two on each side, so you might need a small tug. Don't pull too hard though, since the radio is still plugged in.
  5. When you've pulled the unit far enough out to get to them, unplug all harnesses and antennas from the back of the radio. You will have to reprogram your radio presets when we're done, so you might want to make a note of what they were if you won't remember them.
  6. Remove the five #2 Phillips screws and accompanying brackets from each side of the unit to separate them. The climate controls will then slide to one side to disengage from the radio. Don't pull the two apart until you've slid them to the side, or you'll break the plastic tabs off, which will likely prevent perfect fitment upon reassembly.

Radio LEDs - Post 2

Climate Control LEDs - Post 3
 

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Old TN Lurker
2016 Camry
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144 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
The nitty gritty, part RADIO
  1. To get the screen off the radio, you need to remove the four #1 Phillips screws from the sides of the screen bezel. The top one on each side of my radio was covered by a felt-like tape. Just puncture through that to get the screws out. It was likely a warranty measure at the time. At this point I'll assume all our cars are off warranty due to age...
  2. Once the screws are out, there are a few clips that need to be pushed back around the edges of the bezel to remove it. I don't remember how many, but just be careful not to break them.
  3. You can now pull the bezel off the radio unit, and the PCB will come out with it.
  4. Unscrew the bezel from the PCB, and you're ready to start destroying your back by leaning over your worktable for extended periods of time. Yay!

Once you have the radio PCB removed from the rest of the head unit, you can swap the eight PLCC2 LEDs, four per side. I removed the light green rubber filter from each LED before de-soldering, as I didn't want to risk molten silicone in my way. There are many ways you can de-solder LEDs. I just worked one contact at a time with my iron in one hand and a pair of tweezers in the other. You may need to go back and forth between contacts, as the solder can pull up from the PCB and continue to attach the LED to the PCB. This is where you need to use your patience. Do NOT just pull the LEDs from the board—you risk pulling traces out of the board if the solder joint decides it isn't the weak link. This is irreversible damage, at which point you'll have to start over from scratch with a replacement radio. Not fun if you mess this up on the last LED.

SMD LEDs have a notch on one corner. It should denote the negative lead. Pay attention to which side the notch is on on the original LED. The new LED may not have the notch in exactly the same corner, but it should be on the same side. It's a half-way standard for PLCC LEDs. The polarity is also printed on the PCB with a white half-square. I forget which pole it denotes, but it'll be really easy to figure out.


Recommendations:
  • I highly recommend removing one LED and replacing it before removing the next. These LEDs tend to all point in the same direction, so if you get distracted you can reference the ones you haven't yet removed.
  • I also recommend testing the existing LED with a multimeter to confirm polarity. Set your Meter to check for continuity and then test the LED. It will only light up in one direction, since it's a diode.
  • TEST your new LED BEFORE you solder it, using the same method. This will confirm their polarity, but it'll also confirm that they work. There's nothing worse than soldering in a new LED, plugging the board in, and having a dead LED.
  • TEST your new LED AFTER you solder it, using the same method once again. This will confirm your soldering is successful. Even better if you make contact with your multimeter further down each trace, so you know for sure the joint is good.
 

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Old TN Lurker
2016 Camry
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144 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
The nitty gritty, part CLIMATE
  1. Remove the eight #2 Phillips screws from the back of the climate control unit. The black part of the clam shell should come off now.
  2. Remove the entire PCB from the plastic housing.
  3. At this point, if you want to de-solder the knobs, remove the six #2 screws, two from the back of each knob.
  4. If you're going to de-solder the knobs, do so now. You do NOT have to, though it may make the rest of the project easier. I de-soldered two knobs and left the third (that's when I realized it's unnecessary to de-solder).

  5. Remove the outside shell from the knob by disengaging the four black plastic tabs around the base of the knob. Use a small flat-blade screwdriver to push the tabs toward the center of the knob. If you did NOT de-solder the knobs, you'll need to put a piece of paper or some similar object between the tab and the knob to prevent the tab from reengaging as you rotate the knob for access to the other tabs. It probably sounds complicated, but it's really not.
  6. Once the outside shell of the knob is off, remove the front of the knob by disengaging the four black plastic tabs around the knob face. Once again, use a small flat-blade screwdriver from the front of the knob, and pull these tabs away from the center. I only had to disengage two tabs before the face popped off.
  7. Once you have access to the inside of the knob, remove the screw holding the PCB in place, slide the PCB to the left to disengage the tab holding it in place, the pull the PCB out of the knob. Remember to unplug the knob PCB from the back of the main PCB before you pull it out of the knob housing, otherwise you'll break the wires.
  8. Now de-solder and re-solder the LEDs with your choice of color. I removed the green silicone light filter from the back light LED to make it easier to remove. You can use PLCC2 LEDs in place of the PLCC4 LED if you need to, just make sure the positive lead on it is only contacting the positive trace on the PCB.

Recommendations:
  • Once again, I highly recommend removing only one LED at a time. The polarity is marked on the PCBs, the arrow points in the direction the current flows (toward negative), and the corner notch on the LED should denote the negative side, too.
  • TEST your LEDs. You can never test too much or be too cautious.
  • Take your time!
  • Don't burn yourself. It's not fun... :wink:
 

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Old TN Lurker
2016 Camry
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144 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Anyone aware of a way to make the pictures smaller other than actually editing them and reuploading? Some of them overflow out of the window for me and I want y'all to actually be able to see them... Also, I finally finished the writeup, though slower than I wanted to. Gotta get those radio pictures, too.
 

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Registered
08 Toyota Camry 2AZ-FE R9K Tuned
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9,055 Posts
Cool stuff. I hate/can't solder so I wouldn't do this and I have become accustomed to the light blue of the OEM unit. I am more of a plug-n-play or "simple-install" so what I can replace is what I am willing to replace.
 

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Old TN Lurker
2016 Camry
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144 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I hate/can't solder
This was my first time soldering, and it definitely wasn't pretty, but I just decided about a month ago that this would be my jumping-off point. Can't get better if you don't start, right? :grin:

Patience really does help though. I have tremors in both hands, and they get the worst when I need to do precision work (of course!), but going slow makes it much easier. Don't be afraid to mess up, either! I completely melted two LEDs while I was trying to solder them in, but I was able to reflow the solder and flick it right off, then start over like it never happened.
 

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Registered
08 Toyota Camry 2AZ-FE R9K Tuned
Joined
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9,055 Posts
This was my first time soldering, and it definitely wasn't pretty, but I just decided about a month ago that this would be my jumping-off point. Can't get better if you don't start, right? :grin:

Patience really does help though. I have tremors in both hands, and they get the worst when I need to do precision work (of course!), but going slow makes it much easier. Don't be afraid to mess up, either! I completely melted two LEDs while I was trying to solder them in, but I was able to reflow the solder and flick it right off, then start over like it never happened.
That is really all it is, just patience... and skill. I've done some soldering but generally if I were to solder I would prefer just wire and wire rather than a board. 0:)
 

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Old TN Lurker
2016 Camry
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144 Posts
Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Late night three week update, I finally caved and bought donor controls from a 2011. I cannibalized parts from it to make a Frankenstein control. My original controls no longer consistently switched between front window/front window+feet, which I guess is what I get for not using solder wick and reflowing the existing solder to both remove and replace the knob instead. Lesson learned, on the donor circuit board I didn't remove the knobs at all to transfer my red light boards. I originally intended on doing this project to a set of gen 6.5 controls anyway because I prefer the protruding indicators on the knobs, so I guess I'm at my original goal now. Woo! And no wonky knob on the final installation, because I was able to screw up the original instead. I guess things have a way of working out? Anyway...

My donor came with only four screws. The inner holes show no signs of ever having screws. Weird.



I didn't take any of the knobs off of the circuit board this time. It takes some patience and some finessing, but it's possible to release 3/4 tabs that hold the knob covers on. The tabs are well hidden - they sit at the cardinal positions in this picture.



After removing the light boards, all that's left is the important stuff:



Since I'm making a Frankenstein control, rinse and repeat on the other victim:



Here's one stage of teardown on each knob. Proof that they don't need to be removed from the board?



Leftovers!



I'm happy to ship individual parts if any of you need replacements or whatever and don't feel like spending $40 on a complete replacement or donor.
Parts available:
  • 3x OEM indicator lights (4mm neowedge)
  • 3x knob outside (gen 6, flush indicator)
  • 3x knob front (1 of each)(gen 6.5, more white/less aqua colored)
  • 3x knob light board (2x green indicator, 1x amber)
  • 1x control housing (front and/or back)
  • 1x circuit board w/knob internals. No guarantee of full functionality, that's why I replaced it. Can be scavenged for working temperature and fan speed knob internals. The circuit board itself should be good, too. I'm pretty sure I fried one of the pins in the air flow knob which is what's causing intermittent connection. Probably not fixable, it's inside the molded plastic base.

Unless otherwise noted, I can guarantee functionality of parts when I ship them. Unfortunately, I cannot guarantee functionality upon delivery.
 
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