Controlling new vehicle gauges with old technology

Discussion in 'Automotive Electronics' started by Peanut78, Apr 20, 2016.

  1. Peanut78

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 19, 2016

    This is my first post. To say that I am a beginner with electronics would be a compliment. I am not well versed in all of the electronics jargon, so please bear with me.

    I have a 1971 Nova that I have restored. I want to install a console, complete with gauges, from a 2010 Camaro into it. I do not want to change the gauges because I really like the look of the “new” ones. The issue is that the 2010 gauges are controlled by the car’s computer. I do not have the computer to install in the 1971. I have done some research and I believe that the gauges are actually stepper motors. Can I use a microcontroller (Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc.) to convert the signal from the sending unit (ohms) to tell the motor where to go? Since I have never done anything like this, I just need to know if it can be done with a little bit of effort. I am willing to try and figure it out on my own if it is, in fact, possible.

    Thank you in advance,
  2. crutschow


    Mar 14, 2008
    It's likely possible but it will take way more than a "little bit of effort". :rolleyes:
    First you need to know all the signal levels that are being sent to the old gauges.
    Then you need to determine exactly what signals the new gauges need.
    Then you need to read all the old signals with an A/D converter and program a μC (possibly one for each gauge) to convert the old signal to the new.
    Sound like something you can handle?
  3. Peanut78

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 19, 2016
    The fact that it is "likely possible" is all the motivation I need to at least try and make it work. Will I be able to handle it? Probably not, but I am going to try anyway. Thanks for the input!

  4. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
    Realistically this is something Where Angels Fear to Tread.
  5. jpanhalt


    Jan 18, 2008
    I second that it is doable. Recently, I wanted to display the degree of tilt from a sensor using a needle on a stepper motor from an automotive speedometer. The signal was already digital and available via a serial (SPI) interface. It required a microcontroller. The code is not tricky and virtually any microcontroller should be able to do it.

    The older sensors output either a voltage, current , frequency, or pulse width that is proportional to whatever is being measured. You would need to convert whatever those signals are to a digital value, then use that value to drive the stepper gauge.

    So while it is doable, I think you would need to be prepared to do programming of one or more microcontrollers. The electronics per se would probably not be terribly challenging. Here is a link to a Microchip application note on driving steppers:

    In the alternative, I believe there are digital gauge clusters built for retrofitting older vehicles. If you found one that used the same input signals as your Nova produces and produced the same output as you modern cluster requires, you might be able to re-purpose the electronics in the aftermarket gauge cluster. As I recall, those clusters were a few hundred dollars.

  6. Picbuster

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 2, 2013
    I found 2010 Camaro gauges are controlled by can bus protocol.( please correct me when wrong)
    Each brand/model of car has their own subset of the can bus ( Camaro 2010>2012 is in the list below)
    see ·
    This makes it simple to address the gauges but will add can bus interface protocol and it's problems.
    A mpu @ 30MHz can easy handle 10 or more sensors as the changes/ interrupts are few in relation to processor time.
  7. musicalavtech

    Active Member

    Mar 23, 2012
    Consider using an automotive electronic control module, being that you would have to have micro controllers anyway.