RGB LED Rings Teach Old Dash New Tricks

We’ve seen several so-called “digital dash” upgrades over the years that either augment, or completely replace, a vehicle’s original dashboard indicators with new displays. Whether its seven segment LEDs or a full-on graphical interface powered by the Raspberry Pi, the end result is the same: a dashboard that looks wildly different than it did when the car rolled off the assembly line.

But this LED dashboard project from [Flyin’ Miata] takes a slightly different approach. Rather than replace the analog gauges entirely, rings of RGB LEDs of the same diameter were placed behind their matte black faces. When the LEDs are off you’d never notice them, but once they kick on, the light is clearly visible through the material.

LEDs can easily shine through the gauge face.

So far, it looks like most of the work seems to have been put into the tachometer. The firmware running on the CAN equipped Adafruit Feather M4 can do things such as light up a dynamic redline based on current engine temperature. It will also light up the LEDs to follow the analog gauge as it moves around, which might not have much practical application, but certainly looks cool.

On the speedometer side, the LEDs seem to be used primarily as warning indicators. As demonstrated in the video below, the whole gauge can light up bright red to indicate a critical situation such as low oil pressure. If you wanted to, the system could also be configured with different colors corresponding to various possible fault conditions.

Compared to some of the more aggressive dashboard updates we’ve seen, this is an interesting compromise that helps retain the look of the original instrumentation. Of course, depending on the make and model of the car, you might be able to sneak in a small LCD screen without anyone noticing.

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Radio Shack Shortwave Goes Digital

If you spent the 1970s obsessively browsing through the Radio Shack catalog, you probably remember the DX-160 shortwave receiver. You might have even had one. The radio looked suspiciously like the less expensive Eico of the same era, but it had that amazing-looking bandspread dial, instead of the Eico’s uncalibrated single turn knob number 1 to 10. Finding an exact frequency was an artful process of using both knobs, but [Frank] decided to refit his with a digital frequency display.

Even if you don’t have a DX-160, the techniques [Frank]  uses are pretty applicable to old receivers like this. In this case, the radio is a single conversion superhet with a variable frequency oscillator (VFO), so you need only read that frequency and then add or subtract the IF before display. If you can find a place to tap the VFO without perturbing it too much, you should be able to pull the same stunt.

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Adding Digital Game Indicators To A Neo Geo Arcade Cabinet

neogeo

[George] is a Neo Geo aficionado, and among his collection of paraphernalia, he has a MVS-Mini game console. His mini “Multi Video System” is a 2-slot model, meaning that it can hold two game cartridges at a time, which are indicated by plastic cards inserted in the cabinet’s face plate. Instead of swapping those cards out each time he changed cartridges, he thought it would be far cooler to install digital displays instead.

He scoured just about every retail store he could before finding a handful of small 5” digital picture frames that looked to fit the bill. After some careful cabinet modifications he had them wired up and ready for display. The frames don’t hold a ton of pictures, but they do support the use of SD cards. [George] says that he’ll likely just buy a ton of small SD cards, swapping them out whenever he changes games, though over time that might become as tedious as swapping out the plastic cards.

We would love to see [George] take his new digital display up a level, so be sure to share your ideas in the comments. Perhaps we can persuade him to automate things a bit.