Cisco 7960 Backlight Mod


Cisco makes some great VoIP products but yet they seem to leave out some of the most important features. Only one of their VoIP phones comes with a backlit screen: the 7970. Now as much as I would love to have that phone (it comes with a color touchscreen for web applications on the phone) I can’t justify the $500+ price tag.

So I decided to add a backlight to the Cisco 7960 I have. Using a EL foil ($12 eBay) I was able to modify the LCD screen by removing the standard foil and placing the EL foil in its place.


One task remains, I need to find a way to get 12v DC from the 48v DC that the phone takes. The inverter that is being used accepts 5v to 12v and I currently have it attached to a USB port on the desktop providing power.

Overall it wasn’t too bad of a mod, just took awhile to get things setup on the EL foil.


  1. chris April 30, 2009 at 4:41 am

    i’m looking to do this same mod – i’ve found el foil on ebay that takes 12v

    how did you resolve the power? did you keep using power from usb or did you come up with a way of powering it from the phone? wouldn’t the lcd screen itself be being fed some sort of power?

    can’t see the pictures in your post anymore 🙁

    1. blake April 30, 2009 at 8:23 am

      I’m sure there is 12v on the phone somewhere, but I bought a 7970 so I kind of put this on the back burner. The USB lead worked well, I was going to make a breakout box that took 48v PoE and dropped a 12v lead out of it to power the EL but just never got around to it.

  2. Rob August 23, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    How did you manage to use the larger EL foil on the phone’s screen? Can you cut it to fit without damaging the foil? I can’t find a foil that is the correct size.

    1. blake August 23, 2009 at 10:39 pm

      You can cut it as long as you leave the correct attachment points for the foil. The directions that come with the foil will explain what needs to be kept.

  3. Paul November 2, 2011 at 11:27 am


    I’m keen to do this – any further info on what to buy / how to do it would be most appreciated.

    Paul 🙂

    1. blake November 10, 2011 at 7:28 am

      I would just buy a 7945 or 7965 with color screens. It turns out that this mod doesn’t work very well in the long run.

  4. Mark Dm April 23, 2020 at 2:08 am

    I just want to hack a USB port on the top so I can plug in a cheap USB LED gooseneck lamp . Need to find some lower voltages in the phone.

    1. blake May 5, 2020 at 11:48 am

      Should be able to grab a low voltage trace inside the phone somewhere. Admittedly I have gotten rid of almost all of my old phones so can’t check!

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