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After debuting their first digital dash at SEMA back in 2013, Holley has continued to develop increasingly more sophisticated iterations of these digital dashes, adding standalone capability along with new features and cutting edge technologies that are just as useful on street as they are at the race track.
To get the low-down on all the particulars, we hit up Holley Performance’s Colin Kinser for some details on all the features that the Pro line of standalone dashes offer and how they differ from Holley’s other standalone dashes.
ML: So Holley has a number of different digital dashes available now. Can you tell us about how the standalone Pro dashes fit into the larger scheme of things?
CK: So we launched the standalone version of our original seven-inch digital dash back in 2017, and that was really well received by folks running carburetors, off-roaders, marine applications – basically anyone who wanted instrumentation but didn’t want a full suite of analog gauges hooked up to their engine in order to get it.
The Pro dashes are an evolution of the original idea, and it made sense to use to develop standalone versions of those as well. For someone who is running an off-road truck and they want to monitor the transmission temperatures, or something along those lines, you have the ability to do that with these Pro standalone dashes, and that’s something you couldn’t do with the older seven-inch standalone dash.
ML: What kinds of applications are these Pro standalone dashes aimed at? Street builds? Purpose-built race cars? A specific subset of enthusiasts or racers?
CK: Any of the above, honestly, but we generally see these being used by folks who’re running carburetors and those who want some baseline data logging capabilities. These folks don’t need a $7000 data acquisition system, but they do want to be able to keep tabs on various parts of the vehicle in real time. This is a perfect solution for that.
ML: How do the standalone Pro dashes differ from the standard Pro versions?
CK: These were designed with carbureted applications in mind, specifically – you don’t need to be running a Holley EFI system to use one of these standalone Pro dashes. Normally, with a fuel injected install, you’re going to have all the sensors terminated at the ECU – the ECU is going to collect all of that information. With the Pro standalone dash, all of the sensors terminate at the dash since there isn’t an ECU involved. The dash comes with bulkhead and a wiring harness; all of your sensors are installed on the engine and you run them back to the dash.
However, if someone does decide to make the move to fuel injection, the standalone Pro dash will support that as well. They can keep that dash installed in the vehicle and just make one small change in the software to adjust for the switch over to EFI.
ML: And how do the standalone Pro dashes differ from the non-Pro standalone dashes?
CK: The standard standalone seven-inch dash is based on the original dash design, so a lot has changed – everything from the display and touchscreen technology to the processor, form factor, and the features that are available. The original standalone dashes still work great and we still install a lot of these on cars today, but the Pro versions are using significantly newer technology. The Pro systems also support those data logging features whereas the non-Pro standalone dashes do not.
ML: What are some of the technical highlights of these Pro standalone dashes?
CK: Let’s look at PN 553-116. This one utilizes a 12.3-inch capacitive touchscreen, so it operates in much the same way that a modern smartphone does – you don’t need a stylus or anything like that, it’s tap and swipe. It’s a high resolution, full color display running at 1280x480 that’s designed for low glare and high contrast to make it easy to read even in direct sunlight, and it has a built-in ambient light sensor that allows it to automatically adjust brightness for the situation.
In terms of storage, you have 1GB of internal memory right out of the box, but you can also expand that up to 32GB with a micro-SD card. We also added a USB-A port that allows you to plug a traditional flash drive into the harness to expand the storage capabilities that way as well.
Another big highlight is the GPS-based speedometer. That’s useful for any application that doesn’t have a speedo already in the vehicle – just by installing this dash, you now have that information at all times.
And the customizability of the system allows you to display information in a lot of different ways. There’s seven pre-configured layouts available, and with a swipe of the screen you can go from a general default screen to a race-specific screen, or whatever you prefer to have in front of you.
So, for example, a default screen for everyday driving might have speedometer, tachometer, coolant temp, and oil pressure on it, but if you’re using it in a race car, your priorities might be different. There you might want to see engine oil temp instead of pressure, and you can have transmission temperature gauges or whatever parameters you want to monitor in order to verify all of your systems are running the way they should be.
Along with the layouts, the overall aesthetic can be user-defined as well. So if you’ve got, say, a ’69 Camaro and you want to add that look to the background of the digital dash and match the gauges on the screen to what the factory gauge layout is – you can do that. And on the other hand, if you’ve got a purpose-built race car with a sheet metal dash and you just want to see digital numbers for the various parameters it’s monitoring, you can do that too.
ML: You mentioned that the Pro standalone dashes also have data logging capabilities. What can you monitor?
CK: It’s capable of monitoring up to 238 values in real time through its 13 multi-configurable inputs and two additional dedicated speed channels, so it really comes down to what sensors you decide to install. It could be anything from the basics like fuel pressure and oil temperature to tire temperatures from infrared sensors – what the dash can see is only really limited by how you set the car up.
ML: What different versions of the standalone Pro dash are available?
CK: Along with the 12.3-inch version of the Pro standalone dash, there’s also a 6.86-inch version. Aside from the form factor, what’s especially interesting about 6.86-inch version is that it has a built-in programmable shift light, and it has four additional LEDs built into the dash that are also programmable, so you can set those to function as visual alerts if you want to. For instance if you want to know if oil pressure goes above 70 psi, you can program one of the LEDs to light up if the pressure goes beyond that threshold and also have a different light come on if oil pressure drops below 5 psi.
Beyond the two display sizes that are available, we also offer these with terminated or unterminated harnesses. The terminated harness is useful for the builder who just wants to plug sensors in without having to do all the wiring, but if you don’t know where all of your sensors are going to go, an unterminated harness can be really handy to have.