Color Coordination: Auxbeam AR-800 Switch Panel

I’m not going to lie – I’m a sucker for tech and gadgets. After streamlining my Frontier’s accessory wiring with the aid of the Auxbeam 8-Gang Switch Panel (now known as the Auxbeam BA-80), the one detail that I had to compromise with was that it was only available with green or blue backlighting – neither matching the Frontier gauges and switch lighting. Yes, it’s a small superficial complaint since the switch panel functionally has been working great. However, it still bugged me; that is, until last year when Auxbeam introduced their upgraded AR-800 8-gang switch panel:

In terms of new features when compared to the BA-80, the AR-800 has been upgraded with Bluetooth app control, 3 remote-compatible light modes (momentary, toggle, and pulse), and the feature that caught my eye: infinitely customizable RGB backlighting! Eventually, I got around to ordering the AR-800 system from Amazon and it was on my doorstep in 2 days.

Opening the packaging, the contents were almost identical to the BA-80:

  • Combination fuse block/accessory terminal/relay box
  • AR-800 8-switch control panel (that looks exactly like the BA-80)
  • 60-amp circuit breaker w/test button
  • Power, ground, and ACC cables
  • Braided sleeve control panel cable
  • Adjustable metal mounting bracket
  • Fuse tap, zip ties, and mounting hardware (screws, nuts, etc.)
  • Instruction manual w/Auxbeam decal
  • Switch panel button decal sheet

So, the plan was fairly straightforward: first I was to pop the hood and replace the BA-80 relay box with the AR-800 relay box. Fortunately, I installed the BA-80 relay box on a removable plate and the accessory wiring all used DT plugs so pulling the relay box out of the engine bay was quick and easy. With the relay box out, I compared the newer AR-800 relay box (blue terminals) with the older BA-80 box:

Comparing the two, I was 99.9% sure they were the same, aside from the color of the terminal housings. (Further research and later testing determined that they were, in fact, 100% identical in function; so technically I could have just left the BA-80 relay box in place). Since I was replacing the control unit, I decided to replace the relay box as well. Thanks to removable mounting hardware and main harness plugs, the only time-consuming portion of the swap was the individual wires for each accessory:

Here’s the new relay box, mounted in the same location as the previous BA-80 relay box:

Before installing the relay box cover, I duplicated the small mod I did with the old BA-80 box: I added a foam strip around the inner lip. That way, even with the relay box mounted in front of the radiator, it would be exposed to dust and moisture from rain, car washes, etc:

With the engine bay stuff wrapped up, it was now time to get into the cabin. I wired up the AR-800 control panel for a function test; this also let me quickly try out the color change function:

With the function test getting a passing grade, I unplugged it again and installed it into a nice, 3D-printed mount:

I then used this mount to position the control panel in the forward bin, below the 4WD portion of the center console. I set the color to match the Frontier’s orange backlighting, and here’s the result:

Because I was able to reuse most of the BA-80’s main wiring, I didn’t have to run any new cables anywhere. The entire swap to the AR-80 system took about an hour, and the color situation that bugged me with the BA-80 has been resolved!