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      09-22-2019, 10:45 PM   #1
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DIY - Retrofitting an M3 (or 135i/1M) Instrument Cluster

Intro:
This is a DIY guide that explains how one can retrofit another instrument cluster into their car. In this case, I was upgrading to an M3 cluster in my 128i, but all coding processes apply to retrofitting other 1'er clusters (135i cluster in a 128i, for example).

Important Notes:
I am using Windows 10 Home 64-bit on a Lenovo Legion gaming laptop. Nothing specialized here, computer-wise. A laptop is preferable since you'll need to do some in-car coding.

The donor instrument cluster MUST have fewer miles than your car in order to use this process.

I bought a cluster from a manual M3, and installed it into a manual 128i. Please do not ask how to install in an automatic, because, I have no idea. I'd assume the process is much the same (it's probably exactly the same, since NCS Expert really does all the footwork for you).

All software below is what I used, and had success with. It's reasonable to assume that it'll work for you, too. If it doesn't, google is a wonderful tool that fixes issues for lots of people (myself included).

You should have a basic understanding of NCS Expert and how it works.

Materials for Coding the New-to-You Cluster:
-R270+ Programmer (like this one)
-SOIC8 Testing Clip (like this one)
-Used Instrument Cluster (This process requires that it has less miles than your car; easy for me, with 196k miles when shopping for M3 parts)
-T10 Torx screwdriver (only necessary for M3 clusters)
-Install R270 Programmer Software (this download is clean, I wouldn't recommend using the disc included with the programmer, RUN SETUP.EXE to install)
-Install HxD hex editor (here)
-Mike's Easy BMW Tools (this is what works for me)
-K-DCAN Cable (this one works for me)

Preparing for Coding:

Make sure all the necessary software has been installed, and that the programs launch correctly. Test the BMW tools by launching INPA and verifying that it's connected.

You'll first need to open-up your new instrument cluster. On the M3 clusters, there are four silver T10 screws on the back that you'll need to loosen before attempting to hulk the thing apart. After those screws are out, work your way around the cluster, popping each of the 6 retainers (2 top, 2 bottom, 1 each side) and slowly pull the two halves apart.

Now, you need to pop the gauge needles off. For this, I recommend cutting out a four-inch square piece of paper, and then cutting a ~2mm-wide slot, about 2 inches long, starting mid-way on one of the sides and going to the center of the square of paper. Now, fit this square of paper underneath the needles, and above the gauge dial. The slot is supposed to let you slide the piece of paper underneath both needles (speedo and fuel, or tach and oil temp) and around their pins so that it protects the dial (they scratch easily). To pop the needles off, I recommend a very thin fork that'll fit around the pins. Just work it under the needles, and gently pry upwards. Shoot for the most vertical motion possible, with as little twisting as possible. If you snap the pins that hold the needles, you pretty much have to scrap that cluster. In a pinch, a thin, flat-blade screwdriver works just fine. Set the needles aside in a safe place after you're done playing with them (we all do it).

This is a tricky one to explain, but here it goes: You now need to flip the cluster over to the black plastic side. You will see a rectangular 18-pin connector (it's the only connector, but I'm trying to be detailed). You need to push downwards on that connector (towards the bottom of the cluster assembly) push it out so that the white plastic part pops out a little, then press the opposite direction on the side that didn't pop out, and kinda wiggle the thing apart. The end result will be a large piece of black plastic, and then the white plastic part with the now exposed backside of the circuit board.

Now, separate the white plastic from the circuitry by releasing four little clips (2 on top, 2 on bottom). For 1-series clusters, you will need to also detach the ribbon cable attached to the LCD panel. Simply disconnect it from the long white connector at the bottom of the circuit board. Now, you can clearly see the brains that make your instrument cluster tick, there's far more going on than you'd think, a far cry from old cars (which makes our jobs super easy).

You are now ready to do the first part of coding.

Clearing Old VIN from EEPROM:

Pull out your R270+ and your SOIC8 test clip. Find your EEPROM. It is an 8-pin chip (four on a side). On the M3 cluster, it is just above the left corner of the LCD display (as shown in the huge picture below). The clip I used (link above), has a pink wire denoting Pin 8. If you look at the text on the EEPROM, correct side up, Pin 8 is on the bottom left of the chip.

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Ensure everything is plugged-in and connected. Launch the R270 programmer application, select which chip it is (printed on EEPROM). All three clusters I've seen had 080D0WQ chips, but verify yours because they can be different. Hit "Read" ignore the obnoxious beeps from the programmer box, and save the .BIN file to your desktop (you can save it anywhere, really). Now, close the R270 program, and open HxD. Open the .BIN file. Scroll down to the -2E0 line, and highlight all data in that line, and replace it with FF's. Line -2E0 should read "FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF" when done (you could copy that and paste it into HxD, too). Save the .BIN file, close HxD, and open the R270 app again. Load the .BIN file, then verify the selected chip, and hit write. This process will take about a minute, and there will be lots of beeping.

Once finished, you are done with this part of the install. Disconnect the programmer, and, minus the needles and front cover (part with clear plastic), reassemble the cluster. You should ONLY have the back black plastic part, circuit board, and white plastic part put together.

Coding Cluster to Car with NCS Expert:

After you're done being extremely happy that you did a computer thing, go out to your car with your half-cluster and your needles.

I would disconnect the negative battery lead for this part.

Remove your original cluster, there are two torx (T15??) screws at the top of the hood. Remove those, then use a thin flat-blade screwdriver to push the top of the cluster downwards, then pull the cluster out. Undo the connector on the back (there's a latch mechanism, so be aware of that).

Now, connect your new-to-you cluster, and THEN reconnect the battery, if you disconnected it.

Open your computer, turn the ignition on (door closed, engine not running, climate control unit should turn on). Connect your K-DCAN cable and verify communication with INPA. Open NCS Expert, load "Default profile" (Mike's Tools). Hit "VIN/ZCS/FA" then hit "ZCS/FZ f. ECU" and select "E89" for chassis, then "CAS" for module. Give it a second to fill VIN and VO fields. Hit "Back" then hit "Process ECU" select "KOMBI" and hit ok. "Change job" to "SG_CODIEREN" and the "execute job." It will take a couple seconds and there will be beeping and weird noises. Once done, your new cluster is coded to your car's VIN, and will not show any errors for things your car doesn't have.

**I need to double-check the next steps involving INPA and setting the needles properly, but will edit post ASAP with correct info**
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      09-25-2019, 08:16 PM   #2
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This is awesome, thank you for the write up. I just picked up a 135i cluster to swap into my car and get the oil temp gauge working. I had been reading your previous thread about it but it's great to have the procedure all together in a DIY.
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      09-25-2019, 08:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spidertri View Post
This is awesome, thank you for the write up. I just picked up a 135i cluster to swap into my car and get the oil temp gauge working. I had been reading your previous thread about it but it's great to have the procedure all together in a DIY.
Do it this way, not the other way. The other way worked initially, but it didn't hold up long-term. This will.
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      09-25-2019, 08:33 PM   #4
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Huh, good to know, what didn't work out with the way you originally did it?
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      09-25-2019, 08:39 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by spidertri View Post
Huh, good to know, what didn't work out with the way you originally did it?
The EEPROM was "unhappy" about being in the wrong cluster, would be the best way to put it. I had constant communication issues and could never read from KOMBI in Carly, NCS Expert or INPA.

This way (in this thread) was FAR easier than swapping the EEPROM once I had all the tools I needed together.
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      09-26-2019, 06:30 AM   #6
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Oh yeah, I forgot you swapped the eeprom over to the other cluster.

I'm definitely not that ambitious, I wanted to go with the least invasive method possible, so just accessing the eeprom, not desoldering it, to reset the VIN is good with me. Luckily I was able to find a cluster with less miles than my car so I won't have to worry about clearing the mileage out.

I've been reading about the Perfekt toolbox and it really seems like with that you'd be able to correctly reprogram the tach and oil temp gauge to just use the 135i cluster without needing to modify the actual gauge faces.

Do you think it's possible to do that with INPA instead?
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      09-26-2019, 11:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spidertri View Post
Oh yeah, I forgot you swapped the eeprom over to the other cluster.

I'm definitely not that ambitious, I wanted to go with the least invasive method possible, so just accessing the eeprom, not desoldering it, to reset the VIN is good with me. Luckily I was able to find a cluster with less miles than my car so I won't have to worry about clearing the mileage out.

I've been reading about the Perfekt toolbox and it really seems like with that you'd be able to correctly reprogram the tach and oil temp gauge to just use the 135i cluster without needing to modify the actual gauge faces.

Do you think it's possible to do that with INPA instead?
The beauty of this method (all above) is that you're simply writing your car's VIN and option list to the cluster. The 135i cluster already "knows" how to correctly display tach over the 8k RPM scale and to display oil temp correctly. You likely won't need Perfekt Toolbox at all using this method. I'll have the rest of this guide (setting needles with INPA and installing the cluster) finished by mid-day Saturday, at the latest.

I had to modify the faces because I swapped a 128i EEPROM into the 135i cluster. The EEPROM thought it had the 7500rpm scale and an instant MPG gauge, but it was simply in the wrong body. I did try using Perfekt Toolbox, but then the communication issues bit me in the ass and it didn't work, and killed my cruise control at the same time. Everything just went down hill with that gauge cluster after messing with Perfekt Toolbox (not knocking it, because I did have a jankily-modded cluster).
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      09-26-2019, 12:56 PM   #8
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OP can you walk us through how you mount the test clip on the r270 board? Looks like some sort of adapter in between the clip base and the red r270 board
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      09-26-2019, 01:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chalupa2000 View Post
OP can you walk us through how you mount the test clip on the r270 board? Looks like some sort of adapter in between the clip base and the red r270 board
The programmer comes with just the red board. The clip comes with two adapters, I used the black one with the keyed connector for the clip itself and simply inserted it into the pin holes next to the ZIF socket. (Pic attached)

*Edit with better pictures*
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      09-26-2019, 01:36 PM   #10
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Thanks for the update and taking the time to share pics! Greatly appreciated
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      09-26-2019, 02:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_flies View Post
The beauty of this method (all above) is that you're simply writing your car's VIN and option list to the cluster. The 135i cluster already "knows" how to correctly display tach over the 8k RPM scale and to display oil temp correctly. You likely won't need Perfekt Toolbox at all using this method. I'll have the rest of this guide (setting needles with INPA and installing the cluster) finished by mid-day Saturday, at the latest.

I had to modify the faces because I swapped a 128i EEPROM into the 135i cluster. The EEPROM thought it had the 7500rpm scale and an instant MPG gauge, but it was simply in the wrong body. I did try using Perfekt Toolbox, but then the communication issues bit me in the ass and it didn't work, and killed my cruise control at the same time. Everything just went down hill with that gauge cluster after messing with Perfekt Toolbox (not knocking it, because I did have a jankily-modded cluster).
I really hope that is the case because that makes it super easy. I was most worried about the gauge scaling being off. Less software to mess with is always a good thing.
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      09-26-2019, 03:16 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by spidertri View Post
I really hope that is the case because that makes it super easy. I was most worried about the gauge scaling being off. Less software to mess with is always a good thing.
My M3 retrofit would indicate that everything works perfectly as soon as it’s coded. Even the dynamic redline worked perfectly and went to 7k once the engine was warm, and not the M3’s 8300rpm redline.
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      09-30-2019, 09:50 AM   #13
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PICHAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSS!!! shew thats super cool, well done! would love to see it in the car. no mods needed to the cluster housing? straight fit?
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      11-11-2019, 11:16 AM   #14
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Finally got my R270 from the ebay seller. It took about a month to get but I should have everything needed now to install my 135i cluster. I'll take pictures of stuff if I see anything different from what you have above.
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      11-11-2019, 12:20 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by spidertri View Post
Finally got my R270 from the ebay seller. It took about a month to get but I should have everything needed now to install my 135i cluster. I'll take pictures of stuff if I see anything different from what you have above.
That reminds me...I should write up the final steps

Schoolwork finally caught up with me
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      11-24-2019, 06:26 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_flies View Post
The clip I used (link above), has a pink wire denoting Pin 8. If you look at the text on the EEPROM, correct side up, Pin 8 is on the bottom left of the chip.
You mean Pin 1. I don't say this often but, "always". SOIC and ribbon cable.

Otherwise, great info. It's been very helpful.

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      11-24-2019, 06:46 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suprgnat View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_flies View Post
The clip I used (link above), has a pink wire denoting Pin 8. If you look at the text on the EEPROM, correct side up, Pin 8 is on the bottom left of the chip.
You mean Pin 1. I don't say this often but, "always". SOIC and ribbon cable.

Otherwise, great info. It's been very helpful.

Pretty sure it's Pin 8, but either way, it worked.
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      11-24-2019, 08:38 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_flies View Post
Pretty sure it's Pin 8, but either way, it worked.
I'll let you hash that one out with JEDEC and whomever is in charge of ribbon cable standards. And can you imagine having to terminate a 15 pin connector?

Cool work. I ordered a second R270+ programmer. We'll see if this one will work. I also have some custom Venoxy faces on order, did the white LEDs, and, well, I did something interesting with the needles.

All at least partly inspired by this thread.
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Last edited by Suprgnat; 11-24-2019 at 08:40 PM.. Reason: It's "JEDEC", not 'JEDEK".
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      11-27-2019, 11:48 AM   #19
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135i Cluster Notes:

1. My 135i cluster (built in 2012) did not have any torx screws to remove. I just had to undo the plastic clips around the cluster to separate the halves.

2. To release the 18 pin connector from the back black plastic housing, there are 4 tangs at each corner of the connector on the PCB, use a thin screwdriver to depress the tangs while lifting on the black plastic and it will let go pretty easily.

Picture of tangs on the 18pin connector.



3. Release the ribbon cable at the bottom by pulling the corners of the black plastic locking strip away from the white plastic connector.

Picture of released ribbon cable.


4. Here's the orientation and location of the 8pin eeprom on the 135 PCB. My chip was a 160D0WQ.



5. So I got everything apart and was hooking up the R270+ only to find out that 6 of the 8 U2 holes on the red board are filled in with solder. I desoldered the red board to get the connector to seat, everything worked correctly after doing this.

Here's how I connected the R270+/Red board


After that the .BIN read/writes were easy and quick. I still need to take it out to the car and code it.
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      11-30-2019, 04:37 PM   #20
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Got my 135i cluster coded and installed. The coding part was very easy, followed the instructions above and had no issues there.

When installing the needles, you can use INPA to select the instrument cluster and run the gauge test and watch them sweep. It's possible to rotate the needles all the way to their internal stops and *very delicately* nudge them past the stop to tweak the position. I found it easiest to adjust them close to zero.

When I started up the car I used Protool (you could also use INPA) to watch the RPM, oil temp, and speed. As soon as my oil temp got over 160 it started reading on the gauge, fuel level looked correct, speed and RPM looked good.

Super awesome mod, thanks to chris_flies for the excellent DIY.
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