28 March

I haven’t driven Midlana because I can’t get the Race Technology (RT) Dash2 dash unit to read the CAN data from the ECU. Without dash data, I think it’s too risky to run the car blind (especially after something as major as an ECU change). The RT dash worked great with the Honda ECU via an ordinary serial link, but for some reason the CAN interface doesn’t work at all. RT has a newer dash unit, one virtually the same in appearance, but with built-in logger, GPS, and CAN interface. However after thinking it over I’ve decided to go with a different brand.

The digital dash market has evolved since I bought the RT unit. Now there are apps that can be combined with a cheap tablet computer to become a digital dash. They’re tempting but I wanted a “real” dash, one that can stand up to heat, dust, moisture, electrical interference, and signal conditioning. Also, I wanted one that wasn’t a fixed format, using screen real estate for variables I had no use for. While there are quiet a few manufacturers has a lot of positive press. Plus, a coworker crews on a race team that’s used the same AIM dash for 7 years with no complaints, so that’s promising. Also, they have numerous U.S. dealers (AIM is based in Italy, RT is in Britain, and somewhat suprisingly, no cool dash units are made here). It turns out that AIM just released two new units, the MXG and MXS. Both offer data logging, GPS, CAN, and built-in WIFI for downloading data. The MXG (I suspect the “G” means gigantic) is very nice but is simply too large for my dash, but the MXS (small?) is virtually the same and will fit fine. Best of all, the displays are full color and highly configurable, not just in what can be displayed, but also the type of data, physical configuration, and color of the layout. And so it came to pass, it should be here next week 🙂

In case you’re wondering why I didn’t go with mechanical gauges, it was considered. However, it reminded me again why I went with a digital dash in the first place. Automobiles have moved on, with ECUs becoming incredibly powerful and are a treasure trove of data. which is good to tap into. Consider the following situation. Let’s say that a mechanical MAP/boost gauge is added to the dash. Meanwhile, the ECU has its own MAP sensor. You’re driving down the road and the ECU’s MAP sensor starts to fail. Meanwhile, the gauge on the dash says that nothing’s wrong. I think it makes sense to see the same data that the ECU is using so that if there’s any problem, you’ll see it, not a copy which may show nothing.

Lastly, consider a variable such as oil pressure. With pointer gauges, the driver may or may not see a problem. Yes, a pressure switch can be added to activate a light, but there’s better way. If oil pressure is read by the ECU, it can take care of the situation right now, not after pressure has dropped to a critical level. The ECU can impose an immediate cut in power, and can have combinational error detection (i.e. if oil pressure is <20 psi AND engine speed is >2000 rpm, flag a warning message and immediately reduce power. We’ll see how it goes!