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1985, Chevrolet El Camino 4.3L
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good morning everyone,

I tried to search through the forum for similar issues already but I couldn't find what I'm looking for.

Let me start off by saying that I am no expert on cars in any way shape or form, and learn as I go. Ever since I was a kid my grandad had this 85 El Camino, he would drive me around all over. I have such fond memories of this truck it quickly became my favorite truck above all others. 1996 was the last year that he drove it before he parked it. It sat in the same place for 24 years, I would often tell him how much I loved this truck and thought it was so cool. To my surprise this time last year he gave it to me, I spent the past year getting it all fixed up and road worthy! Best Truck in the world.

A month ago I decided I wanted to change the gauges in the Camino from the stock gauges to a digital dakota gauge system. Did some research, found the electrical diagnosis manual. I decided that I could handle this project. I started to remove the dash and the gauges, got the display mounted into the bezel and found a nice spot for the digital dakota computer. Then I get to cutting the wires from the 18 pin connecter to extend to the computer and I realized. There are more warning lights than ports on the computer. How do I handle installing the included sensors when there are already sensors in the engine (Water temp, and oil pressure) and only one sending wire currently being sent to the dash. I instantly feel overwhelmed and stuck.

Please if there is anyone out there that can help me I would greatly appreciate it.

My questions are as followed.

What am I to do with the extra warning light wires that are not supported by the digital dakota computer?
such as the Alternator charge light, seat belt warning light, choke light. Can I just cap them off and push them back in the dash for now?

I have three wires that I have no idea what actually they are.
Two 12 volt ignition wires and a 12 volt fused battery wire. I think I can use one of the 12 volt ignition wires to the power of the digital dakota computer, but again do I just cap the other two unused wires and push them back into the dash?

As for the temp and oil pressure sensors go, I dont know what the best course of action for these are either. I dont want to just add two more of the same sensors to the engine, am I able to replace the old sensors and just splice the old and new wires together near the sensor so the ECM is still able to retrieve the data it needs to push a check engine light? Is there a way to re-use the current stock sensors since they already have a sending wire going to the dash? I really just do not know what I should do about these.

Thank you so much and I hope someone will understand what I am referring to.

I am also attaching pictures of the digital dakota computer and the original 18 pin connector to the dash.

138008


138007
 

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Hello Melvin,

I run a set of DD gauges and their Help Desk people were very supportive when I had questions. I'd not like to advise you wrong here because your vehicle is different than mine but please do call them.

Rick
 

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1969 SS396
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Sorry I can't help but I wanted to follow this thread as I was thinking of doing the same thing in my 69. Let us know how it comes out
 

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You replace the stock sending units with the DD ones. The original wires will no longer be used. Extend the brake warning, check engine, etc to the proper input on the DD control box. Your headlight switch dimmer will not work with the DD! Run the grey wire (terminal 8) to the night dimming input - 5th from bottom. . You can set the brightness during the setup. Either ignition (16) or (11) to +12v accesory input. Terminal 4 (pink) to the second terminal marked (fuel snd). Terminal 9 to ground input. HTH
 

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464elky where did you mount the dd computer ? Hope to start on my conversion in 2 weeks Even have the module for auto trans (got a 250c in a84 SS choo choo ) So I will have 2 units to mount .
 

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For me, the DD main computer module is on top of the radio. The gear shift indicator sub module is near the ash tray.

Rick
 

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Thanks , Still trying to figure out the mounting of the DD the dash is different on the 84 compared to your 70 , thought about mounting the DD units in the instrument cluster where the warning lights are located , but not sure that would work.
 

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1985, Chevrolet El Camino 4.3L
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you all so much for your reply's. sorry to not have gotten back to you all sooner been working on the dash in my spare time to get it all up and running. For the most part I have just finished installing. Thank you B52bombardier1! I am going to have to try and call them tomorrow, I'm trying to set up my GSS-3000 now but it wont accept my gear location inputs. sometimes I can get it to accept up to neutral, but nothing else after that. The sensor has full range of motion, and I can see the linkage moving when I shift Gears but the GSS computer wont recognize it.
 

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1985, Chevrolet El Camino 4.3L
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks , Still trying to figure out the mounting of the DD the dash is different on the 84 compared to your 70 , thought about mounting the DD units in the instrument cluster where the warning lights are located , but not sure that would work.
Elcamino/wheelhorse, if it helps at all I mounted the boards to the back of the glove box so its all hidden. and if I need to get to them its just one screw away from being accessible.

138141
 

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I like that location , my "I am in charge " younger brother will be helping me , going to show him the picture . Thanks for the picture . Did you have any problems getting the wires to that location ?
 

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When I did this to my ‘68 last year I mounted my controller twice before deciding that “mounting it” wasn’t really a good idea at all. I had a few problems with the stock wiring then I added and changed a few things. Accessing the terminals on the controller was really difficult with it mounted up and out of the way.

So finally I rerouted everything and wired the box so that it could be tucked up out of the way on the left side of the dash, but could be pulled down for easy access if necessary. I wrapped the box with foam so it won’t rattle and it sits nicely in a little cubby above and outboard of the parking brake release handle.

To the OP: yes, use the provided senders and their cables and just tape the OEM wires out of the way. I’ve had zero issues with my dash that wasn’t a result of faulty original wiring. Twice I’ve had to call DD for help and both times they helped me trace the problems.

<edit> My “mounting” advice was more for the guy above with the ‘69. The behind-the-glovebox solution is perfect for your year model. Unfortunately, my air conditioning system takes all that space up in my ‘68. Nice work.
 

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1985, Chevrolet El Camino 4.3L
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I like that location , my "I am in charge " younger brother will be helping me , going to show him the picture . Thanks for the picture . Did you have any problems getting the wires to that location ?
I just finished install and set up of the new dash. You mentioned you wanted to mount the units where the warning lights are. I also really wanted to mount them anywhere behind the dash just for ease of life, but I could not get everything to fit back there unless I just wanted to try and jam it all behind and seal it up. So I decided to get creative and look where there was dead space and open cavities. Thought of even just mounting it inside the glove box itself but I wasn't super thrilled with losing the glove box. which lead me to behind the glove box.

In the end. I am actually really happy with the computer location because its so easy to get to if I need to. When I started taking apart the 18 pin connector I extended all the wires by about two to three feet in order to give me the distance needed to get it to the glovebox. I did each pin individually extended one wire and labeled it, then moved one to the next pin. rinse and repeat for all 18 pins. The pins that I didnt need I didnt bother to extend, I labeled capped, and pushed to the side till they were all finished. I then zip tied all the unused wires to the steel plate the 18 pin connecter was mounted to, than ran the wires behind the dash, over the radio and right to the back of the glove box(along with the ribbon cable for the display). The sensor cables on the other hand I ran through the fire wall where the speedo cable use to come in at, Along the floor where the dash and the floor meet, unable to be seen. It is a little tight if you dont manage the wires behind the glove box. I took some time to manage and zip tie them properly now it fits perfectly!
 

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1985, Chevrolet El Camino 4.3L
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Did you get your problem with the GSS module recognizing the gear shift position solved ?
Yes I did, I took the drive indicator sensor off to check out what was going on and the set screw that hold the lever to the shifter came lose. Tightened that back down and all good to go!
 

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I know I am late to this, but several years ago someone posted about using an alternate connector between the Dakoar Digital computer and the wiring harness. He had a picture which i cant find now. All the car harness wires went to the connector and then all the computer wires went to the other end of the connector. This meant you could easily wires up the computer out of the car, install it, and then make one connection.

We ecided not to do this, but i wish we had. If I get a chance I will redo that at some point.
 
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