What you need to know about the Racepak IQ3 Logger Dash: Our experience

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Tom
Update by Tom Suddard to the Mazda Miata project car
Mar 17, 2023 | Mazda, Miata, Holley, Endurance Race Miata, SmartWire, Racepak

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During our low-dollar interior refresh, we installed some high-dollar electronics: Racepak IQ3 Logger Dash, SmartWire Power Control Module and 8-switch SmartWire Keypad.

At north of $4000, this electronics package wasn’t inexpensive, but it did allow us to rewire the car from scratch, replacing the OEM fuse box with a completely solid-state, programmable replacement.

The next step? Use it.

Programming the Electronics

We’d installed the SmartWire, switches and dash, but they were useless: Without programming, the car didn’t know what to power or what information to show us.

Every electronics company seems to have its own bespoke software suite, and Racepak is no different. We fired up our laptop and installed its Datalink II software alongside the half-dozen programs we’ve used from competing companies.

Then we opened it and were catapulted right back to the ’90s. The only way to describe Racepak’s UI is “big Windows 98 energy.”

Once we'd read the help documentation and figured out the navigation, we realized there seemed to be a method here. Unlike some companies that allow and encourage infinite customization, Racepak’s software seems designed to efficiently change just a few things while leaving the rest alone.

Both the SmartWire and the IQ3 came with templates that were nearly ready to go, and within an hour we’d matched each channel to its function, found the appropriate CAN data from the Camaro PCM, set a few alarms, and had a fully functional dash in the car.

Using a power control module instead of a traditional fuse box let us add logic to the car without any extra wiring or relays. For example, we could shut off the ignition automatically when the battery cutoff switch was turned.

We did need an extra piece of hardware–Racepak’s $562 Universal EFI Interface Module–for the IQ3 to talk to our PCM, but installation was basically plug and play.

How does this compare to the competition? We’ll put it this way: If the AEM dash in our 350Z is a chemistry set, this Racepak hardware is a slinky.

[Replacing Our Steering Column and Dash With Something Racier]

Sure, the chemistry set has more stuff to do and more things to play with, but some kids will have way more fun throwing something simple down the stairs over and over again. They probably won’t even be too frustrated by a seemingly arbitrary alarm warning message character limit that doesn’t even come close to filling the space on the screen.

Adding Oil Pressure

The Racepak IQ3 wasn’t able to find one key signal on our PCM’s CAN bus: oil pressure.

Keeping with the plug-and-play simplicity we were growing fond of, we installed a Racepak V-Net Oil Pressure Sensor ($383), which includes a V-Net (Racepak’s proprietary CAN protocol) connector that plugs right into the same stackable connector used for all other accessories.

Programming it was almost as simple: Finding the sensor and adding it required just a few clicks, and no scaling or calibration was necessary.

Why didn’t we just use a generic $20 sensor? Unlike most dashes, the IQ3 doesn’t come with any input channels, so off-the-shelf sensors can’t be used without additional hardware, like Racepak’s $325 Universal Sensor Module. Since we only needed to add oil pressure, we opted for the plug-and-play single sensor.

Data Analysis

Sensors installed and programming complete, we took the car to our local test track–the Florida International Rally & Motorsport Park–for a test day. And after slogging through some more counterintuitive software, we managed to download session data from the car, analyze it on a laptop, and view logged sensor data along the way. Success.

The only hiccup? Occasionally the IQ3 dash lost its connection to the PCM on startup, meaning no gauges except oil pressure for the session.

Turning the ignition on and off seems to resolve the issue, so we think all that’s necessary to solve this is adding a slight delay in the car’s startup sequence so the dash and CAN interface gets power before the car’s PCM.

What’s the Verdict?

We’ll start with a verdict on the SmartWire: It has done everything it’s promised, has worked flawlessly, and is one of the coolest pieces of tech we’ve ever installed in this car.

But rendering a verdict on the Racepak IQ3 is more difficult. Sure, it does what it says it should, and we have no complaints staring at it on track. But this dash retails for $2352, and we added an additional $945 of adapters to get a CAN signal and oil pressure.

That puts the total price at $3297, and we can’t help but compare that to the competition. That price is nearly twice what you’ll spend on an equivalently sized full-color dash from a competitor, and that competing dash won’t be locked into a single layout or need a dongle for every new sensor added.

Holley owns three different digital dash companies, including Racepak, and we’re not sure what this option offers over its own in-house competition.

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Comments
te72
te72 HalfDork
12/20/22 10:24 a.m.

I bought an Aim digital dash similar to yours, shortly before the color dash revolution took place. Wish I'd waited. The non configurable (beyond scale) tach is basically useless, as it's maybe 1/2" tall. On a medium hp car that revs up quickly, the thing is difficult to use in your peripherial, where the stock ~5" needle style tach was very intuitive.

 

My next setup will be a color configurable dash, like your AEM.

fidelity101
fidelity101 UberDork
2/6/23 9:10 a.m.

this may be the bump I need to get GRM+ I have this same dash but I have no idea how to use the logger and I cannot for the life of me get the gear indicator to read correctly... its always showing 0!

also balancing the RPM filter for the tachometer to work in all gears better seems like just a compromise... 

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