Digital Delight

The Classical Resurrection Receives the Latest in Digital Visuals

Jason Walker Sep 25, 2002 0 Comment(s)

Over the past 13 or more years, Dakota Digital has developed a unique line of quality digital gauges for everything from oil pressure in your engine, to air pressure in your suspension. Along the way Dakota Digital decided it may be a great idea to not only build gauges to fit the industry standard aftermarket sizes, but also to incorporate a full line of meters to replace some of the most popular musclecar factory gauges. Today, this line of factory replacement gauges covers hundreds of import, domestic, motorcycle, truck, and even car audio applications. Dakota has also teamed up with Classic Instruments to offer replacement dash and console panels to complete your installation with all-new parts. This mix of state-of-the-art electronics and newly available dash panels is exactly what grabbed our attention when planning out the interior of the Classical Resurrection Camaro. Some of the other great features of Dakota Digital's Dakota Digital's Odyssey Series II gauges are the night dimming ability, the high-visibility VFD display for daylight readability, and the adjustable warning light for operation outside the preset limits, just to name a few.

Having yet to install a set of digital gauges, we were surprised and relieved when we got the instruction manual open. Okay, there is slightly more work involved in installing these digital gauges than a set of analog gauges. There are a few more wires to install, and once everything is in place, each gauge needs to be set up for reading the various fluid levels, heat ranges, and any other tolerances that need boundaries. We will get more into this in the captions. For now, realize if we can do this, you can do this. Each gauge comes with its own extensive instruction sheet explaining in detail how to set up each individual gauge. Most are set up exactly the same, so once you have one done, it's all down hill from there. Now check it out.

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Here is a typical setup for a '68 Camaro, with a couple additional gauges. Since the Camaro is running a supercharger, the addition of boost and fuel pressure gauges were a must. Other gauges include volt, fuel level, oil pressure, water temperature, and of course, the speedo and tach panel. Also in the picture are the sending units and Classic Industriesnew dash bezel.

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It probably won't get any easier than this. The speedo and tach panel come with two plug-in connectors, and that's it. Notice that these gauges are relatively thin, which relieves the already cramped area under the dash. No cutting or trimming is required.

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To attach the panel to the bezel, simply line up the dowel holes in the gauge panel with the appropriate dowels. Each mounting point will have an extra hole next to the dowel for the screws that hold both pieces together.

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The volt, fuel, water temp, and oil pressure gauges are going to be installed in the console, and will need to be test fit in the Auto Meter four-gauge panel. Before installation, we surveyed the instruction sheet and made a trip to the parts store for the necessary wiring and connectors to build a custom loom for all four gauges. By looking at the back of these gauges, we could see that it will take four different wires for each gauge--power, sender, dimmer, and ground (the ground is the tiny screw on the back).

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For a perfect fit we needed only to lightly sand away the inner edge of each hole. This literally took seconds to perform, as these panels are quality repops.

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The brackets used to mount the gauges also needed a slight customization by way of grinding the appropriate angles necessary for the bracket to tighten against the panel. Each hole in the panel is set to angle the face of the gauge towards the driver.

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Once we were satisfied with the gauge fitment to the panel, we started the wire looms with equal lengths of coordinating colors for each gauge: red for power, black for the ground, green for the sending unit, and blue for the dimmer.

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Each wire was then tightened into the gauges until all four had individual looms. Even though each loom is wire-tied together, each sending unit wire was marked for a trouble-free hookup.

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If you have a good factory wire loom diagram, you can tap into the existing sending unit wires and simply replace the sending units with the Dakota units. If not, each sending unit will need a lead routed from the coordinating gauge.

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Dakota Digital supplies a good length of wire for the speedo and tach plugs. It's a good idea to leave as much length as possible in the event you need to pull the gauge panel away from the dash but don't want to disconnect the plugs from the gauges. If it seems like there are a lot of wires for these gauges, it's for good reason. The speedo also houses a turn-indicator light, a million-mile odometer, resettable trip mileage, resettable service mileage, a 0-60 timer, and high-speed recall readouts. The tachometer houses similar readouts as well as the adjustable shift indicator and resettable hour meter.

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After a quick fitment check, we ran the looms in the same route as the factory wiring and separated all power, ground, and dimmer wires from the individual sending unit wires to keep everything separate and easy to see.

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Once the sending unit wires were run and out of the way, we collected all six ground wires and mounted them to the brake pedal housing. Next were the red power wires, which needed a switched power source, such as from the ignition or fuse panel as seen here. The green wire, above the power leads, sends the necessary juice to the voltmeter. This wire does not need switched power, so we hooked it into an accessory power prong in the fuse box. For the dimmer leads, we tapped into the headlight switch as this option needs power when the lights are turned on. This will dim the readouts for comfortable nighttime driving.

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This guy supplies the speedo output to the gauge. It needs to be mounted to the transmission, then wired to the speedo.

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With the addition of the U.S. Gear Splitter, the speedo cable hookup is now positioned farther to the rear of the car. This doesn't pose any real problem; however, it tightly nestles the speedo sending unit around the splitter's control cable and the floor of the car. Luckily, Dakota Digital built this unit to be flexible enough to clear the cable and rigid enough to hold its upright position without flopping around under your car.

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Here we are all lit up like Christmas and ready for the road--well, not quite as we still need to set up each gauge to the individual tolerances. Unfortunately, we will have to finish a few other loose ends before we can finally set the gauges. Like we said earlier in the story, setting the gauges is a relatively easy job amounting to simply following the instruction sheet for each gauge. When the time comes, we will show you in detail how easy it was for us.

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