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AEM’s CD-7 digital dash packs tons of info in a tiny package
Information Overload No More!
Having engine or performance data in your face while you’re on the street or track is extremely important and can be very beneficial. Chances are you have a lot of time and money invested in your Mustang, and the last thing you want to do is hurt an engine because you didn’t notice the water temp rising or oil pressure going away. Even worse, a failure due to a faulty gauge.
AEM Performance is one of the biggest players in the high-performance EFI market. Over the last 31 years, AEM has built an incredibly strong reputation of supplying fuel and spark to some of the quickest and fastest cars on the street and track. Along the way, they have also made huge strides in data logging and digital data displays.
Fox-body Mustangs are rapidly approaching antique status. Some of the early Foxes have already crested the hill. While this is great for insurance rates and the collector car market, the downside is the technology used in the ’80s and ‘90s is nowhere near what is available now. Sure the Foxes were advanced for their time, but when it comes to engine parameters being relayed to the driver, there is nothing advanced or sophisticated about them. While it is becoming extremely popular to blend new technology with classic muscle, it is not always a simple integration—until now.
We are going to show you just how easy the installation of AEM’s CD-7 digital dash can be in a Fox Mustang, but we also want to dive into the capabilities and features that AEM packed into this display.
AEM’s CD-7 digital dash display allows you to seamlessly blend the latest data display technology into nearly any Mustang. Whether you have an aftermarket EFI system, like AEM, or a factory ECM, you can now eliminate your dated factory gauge cluster and replace it with AEM’s CD-7. AEM offers four versions of the CD-7 with basic display, data logging, and vehicle dynamic versions (PN 30-5500; CD-7 Non-Logging Display, PN 30-5501; CD-7L Logging Display, PN 30-5502; CD-7 with Vehicle Dynamics Module, and PN 30-5503; CD-7L with Vehicle Dynamics Module).
The CD-7/CD-7L full-color digital displays feature a super bright, high contrast display; AEM designed the screen to be readable in the brightest sunlight. This is accomplished using an integrated glare diffuser and shade hood, combined with a 1000cd/m2 brightness screen, making them readable even in the brightest daylight conditions.
Two programmable CAN bus inputs are included so that the CD-7 can receive and collect data from AEMnet enabled devices and third party devices, including PDM’s, CAN sensor modules, and programmable engine management systems regardless of who makes them. The CD-7 is ECU CAN-ready and does not require external modules for CAN to CAN communication. It’s as simple as loading your configuration and AEM has been hard at work validating third party devices to make the setup as easy as possible. Have a non-CAN based PCM or a carburetor? No problem. AEM just released its very affordable 22 Channel CAN Sensor Module (PN 30-2212) that takes in 22 channels of data and shoots them out over AEMnet CAN bus using a single plug that mates to the CD-7 harness. Layouts are included, but users can create any layout they want, assign channels anywhere they want on the dash and name channels whatever they want, including the alerts and alarms, which are limitless and can be prioritized in the software.
AEM has in-house validated over 150 validated third-party applications for the CD-7. A special CD-7 power cable is included to simplify the installation of third party devices. In addition to this, Plug and Play Adapter Cables for popular third party applications are available directly from AEM to simplify installation.
The CD-7 features seven integrated ultra-bright LED lights, which span the top of the display housing. These are used to easily relay RPM and shift light information to the driver. Users can program them to ascend in specific increments based on RPM range and flash when it is time to shift. Brightness is user programmable on the fixed color LEDs.
Two large buttons are included on the face of the display, allowing easy page changing and memory resetting even with driving gloves on. These button functions are also duplicated on the rear connector allowing the user to mount remote buttons on the steering wheel. Two additional programmable LEDs are located above the toggle buttons on the sides of the housing.
Data Logging and Track Mapping
The CD-7 dash display is available with or without data logging capabilities. The CD-7L features a 200MB onboard logger, which gives you about 24 hours of logging time, up to 1,000 Hz/channel logging. It will accept as many channels as available from either of the CAN bus inputs and is tested up to 800 channels, and individual channel log speeds are adjustable.
Users can also purchase the CD-7 or CD-7L with AEM’s Vehicle Dynamics Module (VDM). This module adds GPS capabilities to the dash, allowing you to display and log vehicle speed, track mapping and recording lap times, split times, and displaying predictive times with a live gain/loss value. In addition to the GPS, the VDM includes a 3-axis gyroscope for recoding roll, pitch and yaw, and a 3-axis accelerometer for collecting longitudinal, lateral and vertical acceleration. This makes it an incredible tool for drag racers and corner carvers alike.
Alarms and Warnings
The CD-7 features a powerful alarm editor to create warnings based on any channel. It also features a powerful scrollable, prioritized “text warning” feature that allows the user to describe the issue in detail, putting an end to obscure warning lights.
Three Event Triggered Pages
AEM’s CD-7 features three event-based pages ensure that users don’t miss any critical changes in the vehicle operation.
The first is an alarm page. The CD-7 will display the alarm page whenever any user-definable condition is met. This page is meant to alert the user that a critical problem exists and can include the status of the channel that triggered the alarm (for example, low oil pressure, low fuel pressure, high coolant temp, etc.). This page is designed to get your attention quickly, and requires you to clear the page using the button on the display face. If multiple alarms happen simultaneously, the CD-7 will scroll between them on the bottom of the screen so you are aware of every critical alarm.
The second event-based page is a unique On-Change page. The On-Change page is perfect for knowing what map you are on if you have map switching for different boost levels or traction control in the cockpit, and for viewing lap time, split times for when you pass the start/stop beacon on the racetrack. The On-Change page enables monitoring for these types of channels only when there is something to see and does not waste valuable screen real estate when the values go unchanged.
The third event page is triggered every time the dash powers up and allows the user to program whatever graphics they desire. This allows the user to brand the CD-7 startup sequence with their own custom team/company or sponsor logos.
Dash Design Software
AEM’s new DashDesign screen editing software is free and allows users to create or customize all of the different pages in the CD-7. Users can set the channels for the supplied templates or create their own custom screens. AEM provides multiple templates and themes to accommodate nearly any style or theme including, high contrast, vivid color, digital and analog style displays and more. There are premade templates geared towards drag racing, closed circuit, off-road and marine elements as well. Future templates will be added for download at no charge and users can even share their designs.
With the advancements in in EFI, data logging, and data display technology, AEM’s CD-7 digital display is an incredibly way to easily add an unbelievable amount of technology to your Mustang in a very small package. It allows you to track engine parameters, track times, vehicle dynamic data, and much more. What more could you ask for from a digital dash?
1. The stock cluster was removed, and the dash enclosure is softly mounted in preparation of the CD-7. The DTM connector will power the dash and provide the CAN bus data for the channels from the Infinity ECU. The only additional wiring is optional; a headlight in for automatically dimming the dash when the headlights are turned on and two switch inputs for user-selectable triggered events.
2. The Infinity 508 ECU in this Fox is mounted behind the glove box and used AEM’s snap-together Universal Core & Accessory Wiring Harness to wire in the SBF. This harness allows you to design a custom harness for your car by snapping accessory harnesses for cam/crank, injectors, ignition and more to a core engine harness, and it includes a plug for CANbus so installation was literally a two plug connection from the harness to the dash.
3. To mount, we used a piece of carbon fiber for the CD-7 dash that bolts to existing mounting holes and resides behind the stock enclosure where the factory dash used to be.
4. The CD-7 mounted in place of the stock dash.
5. AEM’s Henry Schelley configured the pages using the company’s free DashDesign software. It includes base templates to get you setup quickly, but is powerful enough to let you create a completely custom design for each of the 7 programmable pages. Put gauges, graphs, warnings and more wherever you want, and you can create your own custom backgrounds.
6. Here’s a screenshot of the screens used on this CD-7 setup; the dedicated alarm page is not pictured.
7. The CD-7 has two large buttons on either side of the screen. The left one changes pages and the right one clears memory if you set alarms (or if you road race and are recording lap/sector times). The 7 LEDs on the top are configurable by RPM and you can program them to flash (shift light). The two side LEDs are custom configurable. An area for alarms is on the bottom of the screen and the dash includes a dedicated alarm page, along with an On-Change page that you can program to display info whenever you change maps or traction settings on the fly.
8. The CD-7 includes 7 programmable pages that you can fully customize. It accepts channels from two separate CAN bus inputs, so you can pull channel data from ECUs, loggers or any CAN-based devices. AEM has validated over 150 third-party applications to work with the CD-7, so if you have a CAN-based Holley, BigStuff3 Gen4, FAST, Racepak, MSD Grid or Atomic TBI EFI, Motec or other ECU chances are that they already confirmed it will work. The CD-7 is offered in non-logging and logging versions (CD-7L).