More cheap thrills: Rothenberg LCD Backlighting

Alex Kowalski akowalsk at
Fri May 27 18:44:34 EDT 2005

Hi all,

Last in my string of inexpensive fixes (after the rear door lock rods for about $3.98 and the alcantara trim cleaning for about $0.25 worth of detergent) I've finally worked my way down to the last trivial problem the car had when I bought it:  The LCD backlight on the stereo head unit.

It's the Rothenberg 10-speaker system.  Not great, but it works, and it'll be OK 
until I can really spring for a modern sound system.  But the head unit 
backlight on mine was dead, rendering the LCD almost invisible.

Pop the stereo from the dash and disconnect it.  Gently pry off the top of the 
unit.  The LCD is backlit by two tiny incandescent bulbs plugged into a little 
printed circuit board mounted behind the panel.  You may be able to find these 
original, I went to Radio Shack and got two 6v 25ma subminiature lights, cut the 
leads down, and soldered them into place (this was the most time consuming 
part).  Only one problem:  Radio shack only had clear bulbs, the originals are 
red to match the rest of the dash lighting.  No problem:  directly in front of 
the bulbs is a thin plastic piece that sits behind the LCD and serves as a light 
diffuser.  Take a Sharpie red magic marker and paint this piece of plastic red.

Reassemble the radio and put it back in the dash.  Flip the switch and enjoy 
your newly backlit LCD.  Total cost: $3.50 for the bulbs, an extra buck if you 
don't have the Sharpie, and about 45 minutes to an hour of work.  

Now if I can just get #($&@ 4th gear to work the damn car will be near factory 

Alex Kowalski
'87 5KCSTQ

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