Installing Dakota Digital RTX Instrument Cluster in a 1967 C10

Installing a Dakota Digital RTX Instrument Cluster in a 1967 C10

what’s better than driving an all-original classic? Driving a classic that looks all-original but has some serious upgrades. For years companies in the classic vehicle industry have been creating products that appear to be a factory option but modernized in appearance, technology, materials, or a combination thereof. Dakota Digital is one of those companies that has created an instrument cluster that looks like it could have been a factory option but have all the modern features you’d expect from them.

At first glance, these appear stock down to the rolling odometer, but Dakota Digital did an incredible job blending the classic GM typeface and design with modern features. With this set of gauges, you can not only keep tabs on all your typical engine vitals, but you can also monitor fuel pressure, AM/FM ratio, intake/manifold temperature, MAP/boost, and more. You can also test out your 0-60 time and 1/8- or 1/4-mile time and speed.

The truck receiving this instrument cluster is an original-paint 1967 C10 known as Project Last Chance. Last year we built this truck for the 2022 Hot Rod Power Tour and packed it full of goodies, including a modern drivetrain controlled by a Holley Terminator X Max. The Holley handheld display already shows all the necessary engine vitals along with vehicle speed. Dakota Digital has once again outdone itself by creating an interface module (BIM) that connects directly to and reads data from the Holley system to display on the instrument cluster.

To get started on this install, I dropped the steering column to remove the original gauge cluster.
Once the original cluster was out of the way, we could find a location for the Holley BIM and Dakota Digital control box. I chose to mount the control box on top of the brake pedal support bracket and the BIM on the custom-made fuse block bracket.
Now that I had an idea on how everything was going to sit, I could start wiring the control box. I started by running the supplied harness from the CAN bus plug of the Holley system to the BIM then to the Dakota Digital control box.

Next, I connected the ignition power, 12V constant, ground, fuel, dimmer, high beam, left turn signal, and right turn signal wires to the control box—and that was it for wiring! I also installed the buzzer on top of the control box.
Then I was thrown a curve ball. I thought initially this BIM was plug-and-play, but you must do a few things for it work. I had to get a laptop (PC) to download the Holley EFI software to change the CAN bus type to “Racepack.” You cannot do this from the Holley handheld screen and must do it through its PC software (not supported for Mac that I have found).
Now that I had the software for the Holley EFI system, I had to update the handheld screen and Holley ECM for it to accept my modified tune file. Holley has a great video on how to do this process. Check it out buy scanning the QR code above.
I then found a location for the Dakota Digital switch right next to the line lock button on the lower section of the dash. You could mount the switch with the provided bracket, but I decided to mount it through the dash. The opening needs to be 13/16-inch but I did not have the right size step bit on hand. I drilled a ¾-inch hole and slightly widened it with a bur bit in my die grinder and installed the switch.
The switch will not be visible when looking into the truck but will be easily accessible from the captain’s seat. This switch allows you to change the display selection, reset readings, and set up the various system parameters.
Next, I hooked up the main data, turn signals, clock, and buzzer cables to the back of the gauges and powered them on for the first time.
I fired the truck up an noticed the gauges were pulling the data I wired to the control box but not pulling data from the BIM. Once I did some more reading in the instructions, I discovered I also need to program the BIM to read the data from the Terminator X Max.
I then needed to program the gauges for each data point I wanted the gauges to read from the BIM. Going down the setup menu, I programmed speed, RPM, engine temperature, and oil pressure to read from the BIM.
I also went ahead and programmed the backlight colors for day and night mode. Night mode is activated when the headlights are turned on via the DIM wire on the control box.
I fired the truck up again, and the gauges immediately pulled all the info I needed. After making sure all of the data was reporting correctly, I could install the gauges and reassemble the dash.
I was able to source an original seven-hole bezel (the original one was only three) and patina it to match the interior.
Next, I secured the cluster to the bezel and got the first glimpse of what these will look like in the truck.
You can hardly tell a difference in the new one versus original one at first glance, especially with this patina bezel.
Once the gauges were installed for the final time, it was time for a test drive.
I noticed right away the speed was accurate and the odometer started to roll. I reference the engine vitals on the Holley handheld readout and it was reporting accurately on the instrument cluster.
Now that this installation is complete, I can fine-tune these gauges to my liking. What I like the most about this install is that it does not take away from the look of the interior. You probably wouldn’t even know this is a brand-new setup of gauges behind that patina bezel. I love having the factory look with modern features.

Key Features Not Covered

Some other key features about these gauges that I didn’t cover include:

■  GPS technology

■  30+ colors choose separate colors for backlight, needle, and screen

■  Bluetooth connectivity for real-time readouts, setup, calibration, and customization

■  User-configurable data screens

■  CNC-machined housings are filled with electronics designed and built in-house


Contact

Dakota Digital has an astounding selection of gauges for the automotive, motorcycle and off-road industry. Check out DakotaDigital.com to see what the company has for your build.

 

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