The Staff of Motorsport Marketing
The Staff of Motorsport Marketing Writer
12/14/18 2:17 p.m.

Story and Photos by Wayne Presley

Picture a dashboard: There are some gauges, a few warning lights, and a button or two to reset things, right? Now picture a dashboard from 50 years ago: There are, well, exactly the same elements.

Automotive technology has grown in leaps and bounds in the past few decades, but most dashes are still a simple collection of lights and dials. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a simple dash; they’ve stayed mostly the same because they work. But they aren’t right for every situation, particularly for a track car.

Why? Stock dashes are often difficult to adapt to a new engine swap, and a traditional dash will never be able to filter and prioritize what data is shown as things change–a necessity in a fast car that doesn’t allow much time for gauge-watching.

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Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
12/14/18 3:20 p.m.

That's a cool dash and all, but how about an article on the lower cost digital dashes?  The ones that sell for like three bills?  It's just that I'd like to spend less on the dash cluster than the rest of the car.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
12/14/18 3:37 p.m.

Hess, we're planning dash installs in our Miata, Fox, and 350Z, and each car will get a different dash. We're going to try to cover the entire spectrum here. 


What $300 dash are you referring to? Not sure I've ever seen one that cheap.


Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
12/14/18 4:58 p.m.

I've seen some on Amazon in that price range, but I haven't dug into it for a while. I'm looking for the basics, like speed (GPS), RPM, oil idiot lite, engine temp, high beams on, lights on, charging system not working.  That kind of thing. 

_ Reader
12/14/18 5:27 p.m.

 I’m in for the same cheap, OBD2, digidash options. 

 I did find one that used a raspberry pi and had all the code. I’m tempted to use that since the entire set up is only about $175. The only problem I saw on a YouTube video is that it didn’t seem to respond very quickly to what is actually happening at that moment so shifting off of the shift light wouldn’t be a good idea

Brotus7 HalfDork
12/14/18 5:46 p.m.

It never occurred to me to search Amazon for a cheap digital dashboard before.

Looks interesting, wonder how dubious the quality may be.

_ Reader
12/14/18 6:06 p.m.

since we are all so DIY here. 

Knurled. MegaDork
12/15/18 7:07 a.m.
Brotus7 said:

It never occurred to me to search Amazon for a cheap digital dashboard before.

Looks interesting, wonder how dubious the quality may be.

That doesn't look too spectactular, it relies on having its own sensors for everything.  Its main value is that it is an LCD display so that you can't see it in sunlight.  You could buy some analog gauges for far less that do the same thing.


The advantage of a digital dash, IMO, is that you'd be able to communicate with the engine controller by network and get most/all of the data that way.  Less wiring, no redundant sensors.

te72 Reader
12/15/18 5:19 p.m.

I have one of the previous generation AIM MXL (Strada? Pista? I'm not sure which, it was the cheapest of the lineup since my ecu handles datalogging), and my one major complaint is that the contrast, well, it sucks. The size of it isn't great for a powerful street car, you can't see the "swing" of the rpm because it washes out in daylight, even in a closed car.


The other downside is that the rpm scale isn't big enough in height to appreciably estimate without staring at it for a couple moments. So, yeah, hard to see without staring at it... not good.


My point (and caution here) is that I bought too soon. Don't buy something like this until you actually need it! The technology with these newer TFT displays is continually advancing, and they seem at a point now that they would actually be preferable to the analog gauges that they replaced in my car.


I do like being able to configure it myself though, that is something AIM did well, even on the MXL models. I'm sure the new ones are even more useful.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
12/16/18 9:48 a.m.

The eBay dash looks interesting, although I didn't see any mention of an odometer, which could be necessary for getting a build legal fro street use (state dependent).

I can't get to the Aim site for some reason (I get some sort of security error). Do they make a version of this that doesn't require OBD connectivity? 

te72 Reader
12/17/18 11:38 p.m.

In reply to Ian F :

Ian, if I read the article correctly, these newer models run on CAN-BUS as well, as does mine. Works fantastic with MS3-Pro, can't say on any other types of ECU's, but mine is all in an 87 Supra, so no OBD whatsoever. I guess it had a Toyota OBD type, but that's a far cry from OBDII.


EIther way, that's all gone now, and my AIM dash has a whole four wires to connect.

Jeff351 New Reader
12/18/18 8:07 a.m.

Great review!

Like pretty much all electronic items, the price will eventually come down. I'm going to wait a couple of years and see what happens before pulling the trigger on one of these.  I'd love to have one, but for a street car its hard to justify dropping 2k for something that amounts to just eye-candy at this point.


Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
12/18/18 12:45 p.m.

This has enough information displayed and costs less than 1 LEU (Locost Equivalent Unit):


te72 Reader
12/19/18 12:00 a.m.

In reply to Jeff351 :

Jeff, I would place digital dashes in the same category as ECU's and turbochargers, in that it would be wise to wait until you are really ready to drop it into the car before buying. Technology has come a long way in the last decade, and a lot of the cool parts I bought for the Supra literally sat in their boxes doing nothing for a few years until the car was finally being assembled.


You know what these parts were doing in those boxes? Being made obsolete by their successors. =P

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