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Restoration of Patrol Climate Control Unit

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iandvl
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Restoration of Patrol Climate Control Unit

#1

Post by iandvl »

I posted this on patrol4x4.co.za, but thought I'd post this here too as it may be pertinent to other folk as well. Especially since Calsonic climate control units were the shizness a few years ago and variations of them are used in a gazillion other vehicles...

In short, a fellow Patroller gave me his climate control unit for a little TLC a few days ago. It's a generic Calsonic climate control unit, as per the blow picture. The schematic from PartSouq also shows how all the various bits and pieces fit together.
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schematic.png
There were a few issues with the unit:

1: LCD display back light was no longer functional.
2: Button back lights were no longer functional.
3: Two of the buttons got stuck when you pressed them.

And just a teaser to show that this all works... The wires are just for test purposes...
teaser.jpeg
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The back lights for the display and buttons are called T4 / T4-Tall mounted incandescent bulb.

The LCD display back light use the "tall" ones, for which the Nissan part number is 275458E100 (substitute part 275458E500). The button back lights are just generic T4's, part number 275450N002.

They're exorbitantly expensive - even at PartSouq - coming in at about USD5 per light. The system uses 6 of these, so replacing all the lights with factory standard will rock up to about USD30 for everything. If one gets stock... Multiply that cost significantly if ordering via the agents here in ZA...

One gets after market T4 / T4-Tall LED lights, which I might look into at some point. But I've been cunning and I've had another plan... :)

To strip the unit, one first has to remove the bulbs. There are two grey bulb holders at the top of the unit for the LCD bulbs, and four white bulb holders at the bottom rear of the unit for the button bulbs. Simply turn anti-clockwise with a flat screw driver and they pop out. Relevant locations highlighted. Note: I had already removed some of the bulb holders - hence the empty holes.
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Once remove, we remove the four screws on the back side of the unit, and then unclip the face plate clips - all highlighted below. At this point, the face plate comes away from the back of the unit a little. But we've first got to remove the circuit board - so hang ten for a bit...
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Once done, remove the two screws at the back of the unit which hold the main circuit board in place. And then we need to gently pry the main circuit board out of the back cover. Firmly, but not so firmly you break it. These things are a bit iffy at times. Note that the circuit board is also held in place by two clips towards the front of the back cover.
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Once the back cover is removed, we can unclip the wires connecting the main board to the face plate. Note the orientation - yellow is to the side of the unit. That done, we remove the three screws holding the face plate circuit board to the face plate and loosen the 5 clips holding the circuit board to the face plate... The circuit board can now be removed.
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At this point, one has the back of the buttons exposed. Inspection will normally show that the white grease they used to grease the plastic bits is probably congealed and full of gunk - which causes the buttons to stick. But I'll get to that later.

Next installment on this thread. Removing the buttons. Fixing sticky buttons. Cleaning the stuff properly. After that I'll get to my absolute genius related to replacing the lights... :)
Patrol 4.5 GRX

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#2

Post by Ricof4e »

And they call me "4e" :D
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#3

Post by iandvl »

It isn't a wheelbarrow....
Patrol 4.5 GRX

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#4

Post by iandvl »

Next installment ready. This is about stripping the final bit of the unit and cleaning everything up properly.

If you've followed the previous steps, you will now sit with the climate control unit separated into the following bits and pices.

1: The removed backlights.
2: Back cover.
3: Main circuit board.
4: Face plate circuit board.
5: Face plate - complete with buttons.

The back of the face plate has two clear plastic light diffusers and the back end of the buttons and looks as below. The light diffusers can be removed simply by pulling them straight backwards. Once this is done, note the orientation of the button guides / inners inside face plate.
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Two of these buttons are important as they are the ones that tend to stick. I'll get back to them shortly.

Each button consists of two parts - the outer button (which we see from the front of the unit) and the guide / inner - which is the white plastic thing we see from the back. To remove the buttons is finicky. But before doing so, make a note of which button goes where so that one puts them back in the correct space again at assembly time.

To remove the buttons, press the button from the rear side of the unit forward as far as it will go. Insert a small flat screwdriver underneath the bottom of button (ie: bottom being the bottom of the unit) at the front and gently pry it up. Gently - you do not want to break it. This will release the clip of the button face. The face of the button comes out from the front. Press the white plastic guide bit out towards the back.

The result of this is that the unit will not be completely disassembled.
04.jpg
At this point, we clean everything up. I used normal washing detergent and an old tooth brush to scrub everything clean. Especially the congealed "plastic" lubricant on the button guides.

Stuck Buttons

There are two buttons that seem to get stuck on these units - namely the recirculate and non-recirculate buttons on the top left of the unit. There are several reasons for this - the lubricant congealing with age being one of them. However, inspection of the buttons and the guides show another reason as well.

Unlike every other button on the board, these two buttons are the only buttons where the switch it presses on the circuit board is not towards the middle of the unit. As such, pressing the buttons will always result in the button inner pulling a little skew in it's guides. The points where the buttons connect with the actual switches on the circuit board are highlighted below.
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What happens over time is that the inner button guide ribs wear a spot into the cover's guide slots. This means that, when the button is pressed, the guide rib catches in the guide slot and it gets stuck. Using a dremel or a craft knife, carefull cut the guide ribs highlighted below so that they taper towards the back, making sure that the new, cut surface is nice and smooth.
03b.jpg
After cleaning everything, use a very slghtly damp piece of kitchen towel to clear the inside the the LCD display on the front cover. At this point, we can start reassembling the face plate. Using a bit of proper plastic lubricant (I used the lubricant they use for plastic runners on garage doors), lubricate the button inners. Not too much - just a smidgen. From there, we reinstall the button guides from the back of the face plate in the same orientation as we noted when disassembling the unit. Place the front of the button over the button guide from the front (in the correct place, naturally) and apply a bit of pressure. The button face will click onto the button guide. At this point, we must remember to put the light diffusers back. They have guides they fit onto, so one can only put them back on in the correct orientation. This done, we can now put the face plate circuit board back on - gently pressing it into the tabs which hold it in place at the top and the bottom edges of the face plate. And we can put the three screws back. Our face plate should now be clean and have working buttons.

The next instalment will be up when I have time. This will deal with removing and cleaning the LCD backlight assembly. After that, I'll get around to getting the lights to work.
Patrol 4.5 GRX

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#5

Post by Ricof4e »

Very cool Ian.
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#6

Post by AndreasR »

You have the patience of a saint. I would have had a large hammer out a long time ago.

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#7

Post by iandvl »

I was originally thinking of skipping this step. But considering the age of these specific units, as well as the fact that (in my case at least), I've done a very large section of the sub-continent on dirt road only, and looking at the amount of dust which had accumulated in the unit itself, I reckoned it probably was not a bad idea to get rid of the dust inside the LCD backlight assembly. This is the big-white block thing covering the LCD display.
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Very easy to do - remove the screw (highlighted red) and press the two clips (blue) to the side - after which the backlight assembly will come off the board. Note that this screw is larger than the other screws used on the control unit, so keep it seperate.
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The LCD backlight section consists of the cover, and a plastic card insert that fits on guides inside the cover directly behind the LCD display. Note that the sides of the card are specific - one side is clear, and faces the LCD. The other side has shading on it to allow even light distribution behind the LCD.
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Clean well with washing detergent and water, and rinse. When dry, clean the "card" section of the assembly with a very slightly damp kitchen towel. Also clean the LCD screen perpendicular to the main circuit board with the kitchen towel. Ensuring that the backlight card and LCD screen are properly inserted into their guide slots, clip the cover assembly back into place and replace the screw.

At this point, we can reassemble everything. Align the main circuit board's pin connectors with the corresponding sockets and press them in. Reconnect the control cable (remember - yellow is to the side). Align the slot in the back cover with the main circuit board and press it all together. Replace the four screws holding the cover to the front plate, and the two screws holding the circuit board to the back cover.

We now have a complete, clean control unit with working buttons.

Next instalment up: the replacement backlights.
Patrol 4.5 GRX

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#8

Post by iandvl »

AndreasR wrote:
Fri Jun 17, 2022 9:36 am
You have the patience of a saint. I would have had a large hammer out a long time ago.
I don't think it's really patience, but necessity. The vehicles these fit are about 21 years old now. New aircon control units are not available. Anywhere. The second hand ones one can get will not have working lights, and they will probably also have sticky buttons... Replacement component parts for them are expensive and that is if one actually even get them here.

Considering nothing is actually wrong with the units themselves - apart from non-functional lights and bad buttons - one can probably spend a bit of time seeing whether one can get them working... :)
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#9

Post by iandvl »

Right. Back to the lights. As per the first post on this subject, the factory standard lights are 12V incandescent bulbs. They are covered in blue film - presumably to counter the "yellow" light produced by the bulbs. ie: So that the console back light has a nice "blue" glow.

I opted to replace the incandescent bulbs with LED's, making use of 3mm white LED's with a 510 ohm ballast resistor on the annode. I used the existing bases, removing the original bulbs by twisting the wires out of the connection slots, and then pulling the bulb out from the front. I drilled out the one side of the base with a 2.5mm drill bit to accommodate the resistor before sticking the bulbs in place using epoxy.
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One caveat here is the following - if you recall in the first post, I mentioned that two different types of bulbs are used. T4 and T4-Tall. The T4-Tall fittings are long eough to accommodate the resistor inside the base of the light. The photos shown here are the standard T4 bulbs. This means that the resistor sticks out behind the base. However, I've just nicely shrink-wrapped the exposed resistor. I've had another cunning plan I'll get to shortly.
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LED's differ from conventional bulbs in several ways - including the fact that polarity is important. At this point, I had measured polarity on the actual control unit, so to test that everything was working, I temporarily connected the lights to a 12V source in-situ. The results are good. :)
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In the meantime, I've come up with a cunning plan to make the bulb bases more LED friendly, so I designed a few bases of my own and printed them out on my 3D printer. This specific example if a T4-Tall base. With the T4 bases, I have a lot more room to play with as the bases connect to the control unit from behind the unit. As such, I will be making them such that the bottom of the base is much thicker and can comfortably accommodate the resistor.
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#10

Post by iandvl »

It was eventually time to test the unit in the really-real world. I stripped the dash of my vehicle and, with my climate control unit still installed, I measured the polarity of the sockets with a multimeter.

For the button back lights at the rear of the unit, the polarity is as follows (note: this is looking from the rear of the unit):
01.jpg
For the LCD backlights at the top of the unit, the polarity is as follows:
02.jpg
I refitted the LED's according to the polarity, removed my climate control unit from the truck and plugged in the replacement one. Voila.
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All in all, I'm very happy with how it all turned out. I think things will be easier with the new bulb bases I am printing currently. And hopefully this solves somebody else's issue one day. Thanks for reading. :)
Patrol 4.5 GRX

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#11

Post by HenriSteyn »

Thanks I enjoyed this post very much!
Technically entertaining, boer maak 'n plan!

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#12

Post by grips »

Well done Ian.
You will never find me without Stroh or a 4x4 :D

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#13

Post by Ricof4e »

Ian, I just took the time to properly read this thread.

Again, well done. Many of the things we take for granted in our vehicles are deemed obsolete and simply replaced. Good to see someone taking a different route for once.
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