Whenever I make/add something, I always try to make it look as professional and OEM as possible. Sticking the SmartCord control box for my radar detector somewhere on the dash definitely didn't look OEM and isn't my M.O. Just so you know what i'm talking about, this is the SmartCord
for the Passport Escort 8500 X50 radar detector. It allows you to hardwire the detector and gives you a remote mute button and LEDs.
My DubK has so many switch blanks, I had to use one. I had never seen this done before so R&D took a while (I spaced the project out and worked on it a little at a time).
To start, you have to remove the chrome trim ring around the shifter assembly, the trim beneath that, then the center stack trim. If you need help with that, check WK Jeeps
. With the center stack trim removed, you can now remove the switch bank. It's held on with 4 screws and 3 clips. To disassemble the switch bank you need to remove the back piece. You'll see that it's held in with many little clips around the edges. You'll need something like a small flat tip screw driver to free them.
Once you get that piece off you'll see a grey rubber piece over the circuit board. I had to remove some of the rubber to make room for my components but you'll see that later.
There is a way to "activate" a stock switch but the actual "switch" is part of the PCB--not a component soldered on, it's part of the traces. If any of you electrical engineers want to figure out how to program your own switch, go right ahead. I have my doubts about it even being possible as a DIY thing so instead, I added a separate new switch, a push button momentary switch.
The switch I used was made by GC Electronics, part#: 35-411 "Normally Open Off - (On) Miniature Pushbutton"
To fit the switch down in the space on the switch bank, you'll have to trim two opposing sides. I used a chisel to slice off the material, it worked great. Just be careful you don't trim off TOO much as you could damage the actual switch mechanism.
To remove the switch blank/cover, use a small flathead to gently pry on each side. You'll see where it catches. Once you remove it, there are four "posts" that need to be removed for the switch cover to move in and out like the OEM switches. I forgot to take a picture but once you get the switch cover off you'll know what I'm talking about. In the following pictures, if the "posts" were still attached, the switch cover on the right would be slightly elevated compared to the heated seat switch cover:
Unfortunately, these switch blanks/covers are a tighter fit than the actual switch covers. For it to move in and out freely you'll have to file down the interior of it. I couldn't pinpoint exactly what was causing it to stick so I filed everywhere. Remove enough material so that it doesn't stick but not so much that it gets sloppy.
The most time consuming part of this project was making the LED "windows." First, I went to a pick-n-pull to see if I could find a WK (or anything with what i needed) so I could use premade "windows." That was a bust so I had to make my own. I used lexan/plexiglass and sanded them to the proper shape/size with a small file. (My $3 12 piece needle file set from Harbor Freight
was indispensable for this project) The following picture was taken before I shaped them. Placement of the windows and how wide/fat they are is crucial. The opening on the switch bank is pretty small so just take measurements and test-fit frequently.
**While test fitting, I got lazy and just set the switch cover on the switch bank to test clearance. Don't do this! Push the cover all the way on so that it "clips" in. When the switch was pushed in all the way, my windows created too much friction so while they were glued in I had to sand, cut them narrower. For this, my $3 13 piece precision knife set from Harbor Freight
was a HUGE help. I love HF for stuff like this...**
The backs of the windows should be relatively smooth but the front (the part you see) should be slightly cloudy/textured so that you can see the light from the LEDs better. After I had them shaped with the file, I used some sand paper (up to 600 grit) to smooth the fronts out a little while still keeping some cloudyness. Once I was sure the switch cover with the windows installed would fit back into the switch bank without binding, I super-glued them in from the rear.
You can reuse the LEDs from the SmartCord unit but I wanted to use brighter ones. I replaced the red one with a much brighter red and replaced the green one with a bright blue (think blue & red...police lights...). If you use 3mm LEDs you wont have to do anything besides glue them in. I used 5mm LEDs so I had to do some shaving--to the switch bank opening and a little to the LEDs, just on two sides. Once all the openings are ready to accommodate the switch and two LEDs, drill the holes for the wiring. I used the smallest bit I had, which was pefect for the 24 AWG wire (stranded) I used. I glued in the switch before I wired it up but I wired the LEDs before I glued them in. I used JB Weld Kwik to secure the switch and super glue to secure the LEDs. Make sure you don't get any glue down into the switch mechanism, either from the top or from the sides where you had to shave them down. Make everything as flush as possible as there is little clearance back there. The way I set the depth of the switch was by inserting it but leaving it out more than normal, then putting the switch blank cover on and pushing it down completely. Where it stopped is where I glued the switch. Different switches have different tolerances as far as where the switch engages and whatnot so you'll have to do some testing. I lucked out with mine and it was perfect for what i needed.
With everything installed it should look something like this:
Here you can see the rubber overlay and how I removed some of the material that got in the way:
Wiring the components is simple. Basically, all you're doing is extending them from the SmartCord circuit box with wires. But before you solder them, make sure you feed the wires through the Passport "sticker" opening (where the original push button was).
Once everything is glued, soldered and reassembled, you can adhere the SmartCord box to the back of the switch bank. I used double sided foam tape (the grey kind used for emblems).
The whitish thing is just a telephone cord coupler. I added it as a quick-disconnect in case the center stack needs to be removed in the future (more DIY switches perhaps?). To do this you'll have to cut the SmartCord cord near the SmartCord control box and add a new telephone style connector on each fresh end that was just cut.
After that you can put the switch bank back in the center stack. I forgot about one of the clips and put a couple wires too close to it. Instead of pinching wires I decided to notch the clip. This doesn't matter as the switch bank is held in with screws:
For the power wire I tapped into the switched 12 volt outlet at the bottom of the center stack. For ground, I used a bolt directly behind the center stack toward the bottom. You can't miss it as it's the only bolt going into metal. Routing the cord that goes to the radar detector is pretty straightforward. There's a black cover piece below the dash on the passenger side that needs to be removed (2 screws). Rout the wire from the center stack area to the right, under the dash, up the right side going up to the A-pillar (I used a coat hanger), up the A-pillar, then tucked it under the headliner going along the roofline.
I'm very happy with how it turned out. I thought about designing some kind of graphic to put on the switch so that it looks like the OEM switches. If I think of one I'll probably do it (just using standard sticker vinyl). Any ideas?
And a video to prove it works:
Sorry if some of the explanations seem brief, I thought the pictures did a better job of showing what needs to be done.