Head unit display too bright

whtbronco

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2021
Posts
69
Reaction score
25
Location
Winchester, VA
So I installed a Kenwood DPX794BH head unit(non-touchscreen) in my 2004 EB and I really like the sound quality. I sure thought that with a display brightness range of 00-31 it would dim a decent amount. Nope that range is really more like 15-31. I'm using the 00 setting for day and at night it's just too much. For perspective I keep the dash lights turned down all the way. The Cruise Control indicator doesn't dim with the rest of the dash lights and is too bright so I covered it with electrical tape.

Anyway, I'm pondering a few ideas to help dim this thing and figured I'd see if you guys have any ideas or suggestions.
Applying some black vinyl to the display with just pin holes in it where the button illumination is.
Tinting the display with 20% window tint, maybe even 5%. Kinda worried about the water though.
Painting over the lit areas, I doubt I'd do this very well.

I'd likely return it to Crutchfield if there was another radio that met my requirements, but this is the only one I found.
 

Aspen03

Full Access Members
Joined
Apr 24, 2019
Posts
698
Reaction score
337
Location
Indianapolis
What color do you have it set on? Different colors will appear brighter to the eye than others, notably blue and green which are used in most vehicles of the Era. I have an 03 EB and my pioneer 4500NEX is set to a nearly identical green (has a color mix slider to fine tune) and the brightness is only just a hair more than all interior lights in lowest setting. I have my odometer and such just bright enough to see but no more, I like it all fairly dark.

What features does this Kenwood have that made it unique to your use? Alexa, dual USB? Aside from those and maybe the 5v pre out it seems on par with most anything else in that category if you truly don't want a touch screen. Fwiw most touch screens can go very dim as well as having a night mode to go even further with inverted colors so mapping and whatnot is black vs white and what have you. I've had mine in for roughly 2.5 years and roughly 60% of my driving is usually in the evening/night hours and I haven't found it too distracting and I like low light environments.
 
OP
OP
whtbronco

whtbronco

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2021
Posts
69
Reaction score
25
Location
Winchester, VA
I tried various colors. The dimmest turned out to be custom R-1, G-1, B-1 which ends up kind of off white. This was noticeably dimmer than any of the preset colors.

I keep the dash lighting turned down as low as possible in the Expedition which is not much more than enough to make the needles on the gauges glow.

I listen almost exclusively to the radio and wanted one with HD Radio and a dbf rating of less than 8 due to the terrain in my area. Other features are CD, BT for my wife to stream, large buttons, line characters not dot matrix, 24hr clock displayed at all times, manual EQ with 10+ points, 3 pairs of 5v preamp outputs, no key beep, manually changed one button display dim(not tied to headlights). I can't use touchscreens, I have to use a stylus to use my wifes cell phone, so that and the lack of tactile usage are my issues with touchscreens.

Today I taped on 35% tint to the display area as a test, but it's not near enough nor was 3 layers of it. I used cloth style electrical tape to cover about half the buttons and the small holes in it made it perfect for the buttons since I don't need to read them, I can see the light if I look. Looks like crap, but I am 100% form follows function. A couple areas I used a few coats from a black Sharpie which worked well to block all the light, but wipes off kinda easy.
 
Last edited:

Aspen03

Full Access Members
Joined
Apr 24, 2019
Posts
698
Reaction score
337
Location
Indianapolis
Makes sense, you have very specific reasons which honestly aren't that common. Finding all of that in another is likely to be difficult if not impossible.

If you want a more custom approach, darkness wise maybe get a sheet of lamination film and a can of VHT Nightshade in black and make your own overlay for it. Adhering is another matter but if it works you could probably find some clear vinyl w adhesive backer and do the same. It layers nicely so dialing in a darkness shouldn't be too difficult. I've used it for all sorts of things over the years and it has held up well. I have taillights that were coated 10 years ago that have barely faded. It takes to polishing well too so if your desired look is glossy it can be done in a few minutes on a table top.
 

tommyddsr

Full Access Members
Joined
Jan 4, 2014
Posts
395
Reaction score
236
Location
Portsmouth, Va
Find the illumination wire on the radio and put a resistor inline to dim it. You will probably need to experiment with a few. Basically, what your dimmer switch does, just adding to it.
 
OP
OP
whtbronco

whtbronco

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2021
Posts
69
Reaction score
25
Location
Winchester, VA
Now a resistor is an idea I wouldn't likely have considered so thanks. IN thi scase it won't help as this radio doesn't have an illumination wire. It simply has a button for day/night setting which I prefer over connecting it to the headlight switch. The day/night brightness levels are also independently adjustable.

I've continued messing with it and have gotten it much better. Interestingly the tint sticks fine without having used any water/solution which is great for testing as it can be easily peeled off. I had taped the 35% tint on and it wasn't enough, peeling the backing off and sticking it on actually worked quite a bit better. Having found out that the custom setting for RGB is by far the dimmest color option also helped. I used a black Sharpie to completely cover multiple areas that are simply decorative and buttons I won't use like Alexa. I have cloth electrical tape over the volume knob as it has small holes in it to allow a bit of light through, but it's also easier to use the knob since it offers a bit of grip. Between the tint, tape, Sharpie and custom color setting it's dim enough for night use now, woohoo.

Here's the really funny part, today I took my wife out today for a bit and found that with the current setup the brightest setting for day is not bright enough to see without really focusing. I was litterally LOL. So anyway, I got it dimmer which was the goal. I'll keep messing with it to try and find a happy medium. I don't drive during daylight hours very much though.
 
OP
OP
whtbronco

whtbronco

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2021
Posts
69
Reaction score
25
Location
Winchester, VA
Makes sense, you have very specific reasons which honestly aren't that common. Finding all of that in another is likely to be difficult if not impossible.

If you want a more custom approach, darkness wise maybe get a sheet of lamination film and a can of VHT Nightshade in black and make your own overlay for it. Adhering is another matter but if it works you could probably find some clear vinyl w adhesive backer and do the same. It layers nicely so dialing in a darkness shouldn't be too difficult. I've used it for all sorts of things over the years and it has held up well. I have taillights that were coated 10 years ago that have barely faded. It takes to polishing well too so if your desired look is glossy it can be done in a few minutes on a table top.
Hmm, I am gonna look into VHT Nightshade(never heard of this), but I have like 400' of lamination film left over from using it to cover model aircraft. A light coat of spray adhesive would hold it while keeping it removable as well. Maybe this will provide the happy medium I'm looking for. Thank you very much for the idea.

You are absolutely correct. My requirements often aren't very common and I tend not to be amenable to change, I'd prefer to make it work the way I want it to, :) .
 

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
48,623
Posts
461,399
Members
39,723
Latest member
Mordedura
Top