Lightning - Gauges

Innovate LC-1 Air/Fuel Gauge

I'm finally getting my feet wet, with another gauge. I'm not big on the flashy pods, that announce to everyone what you're about, so I've been slow to get this, but an A/F Gauge is so useful; particularly for boosted applications. I finally decided on the black dial / black bezel Innovate LC-1 kit. I didn't want a dial type gauge, and really liked the shallow mounting depth of this kit. From what I've read, this is also pretty easy to connect to my XCAL2, if I ever wanted to do a little datalogging.

The Innovate kit arrives!

I ordered the Innovate kit at the same time as the high flow mid pipes, from dynojoe.com, who is a supporting vendor for the National Harley Truck Owners Club (at this link). Joseph was quick to keep me updated, and never left me in the dark, and helped me save some money, too! About a week after placing my order, it was delivered, and in my hot little hands.

What's in the box?

I quickly ripped into it, anxious to check out the contents of the box (picture a 5-year old on Christmas day!). The kit comes with absolutely everything you need: the sensor, a bung to put the sensor into the exhaust piping, a sending unit (brain) and the gauge. There's even the ability to customize the gauge, to have different colors displayed, depending on the air/fuel ratio. It really is a great kit, at a more than reasonable price. The gauge looks really nice, and this picture doesn't really do it justice, and it looks WAY better in the truck (you'll see that, soon enough).

The first thing I had to do was get the supplied bung welded to my exhaust so I could attach the sensor. Luckily, I was also in the process of installing the Bassani midpipes, so I had the pipes out anyway. I chose to install on the top of the drivers side midpipe, since it's closest to the gauge location. Well, I didn't do it, I took it to a local exhaust shop and they drilled the pipe and welded the bung for me, prior to installing the pipes.

Next, I looked for a good spot to mount the LC-1 (the brains that decode the sensor data into information for the gauge). The wire to the sensor is pretty short, so I decided to mount it on the frame, across from where the sensor was mounted (basically just under the driver’s side door). Using a couple of zip-ties, I mounted it right behind the driver's side wheel well. This location should keep it safe from exhaust heat and any road debris.

The brains of the unit mounted behind the wheel well

Next, I had to find a place to run the wires of the LC-1 into the cab. This couldn't be easier – it’s like Ford expected me to do this, and put a grommet in the perfect location for me. I put some split-loom on the wires and ran them through the hole and up into the cab...

What's in the box?

From there, I removed the kick-panel, ran the wires under the carpet and behind where the kick-panel was, before working my way backwards from the gauge, to the wires.

All that was left to do was to wire it all up (I disconnected the battery as a precautionary measure). I purchased a couple of Add-a-Fuse units, so that I could do just that – for a few bucks, you can use an existing fuse to supply power to new accessories. I found two fuses that were switched on with the ignition, ready to be used to provide power to the sensor and gauge. The Add-a-Fuse is really easy to use - I put the original fuse that was in slot A and a new 10 AMP fuse in slot B for the power to the XD-16. I connected the power wire (RED) from the XD-16 into the Add-a-Fuse and plugged it into the original fuse holder. The exact same process was followed for the power supply for the LC-1, in a separate fuse. In this picture, the top fuse was used for the gauge and bottom used for the sensor.

I then connected the supplied terminator plug to the serial IN port of the LC-1 and then connected the supplied 2.5mm cable to the serial OUT of the LC-1 and the serial IN of the XD-16. The YELLOW wire and the BROWN wire are analog output wires, which I am not using in my application, so I taped them up and moved them out of the way. The BLUE, WHITE, and GREEN wires are ground wires. To avoid ground noise (false readings from interference) the BLUE wire should be ground in a separate location from WHITE and GREEN wires. I grounded them to the screws right below the fuse panel (circled in red above), and the bolt that is hidden behind the kick panel (circled in red below).

Connecting for power

At this point everything was hooked up so it was time to test everything before final clean up. As per the included instructions the final setup is performed as follows:

  • Do not connect the sensor to the LC-1
  • Switch on the 12V supply (without cranking the engine) and wait 20 seconds. The XD-16 displays "E2"
  • Switch off the 12V supply after 20 seconds
  • Connect the sensor to the sensor interface connector of the LC-1. The sensor must be exposed to free air for the first time calibration (just hanging loosely, not actually in the bung)
  • Switch on the 12V supply - The XD-16 will display the sensor warm-up sequence
  • The LC-1 then moves on to with the Heater Calibration countdown
  • Press the XD-16's button 3 times (quickly) and "CAL" flashes on the display
  • Press the button one more time to confirm the Free Air Calibration command
  • The display begun reading 20.9 and o2 to let me know calibration was complete
  • Shut off the ignition
  • Attach the sensor to the exhaust and you're good to go

 

I did a quick connect of all the wires to the XD-16, to make sure it was working, and powered everything up.

Testing, testing, 1..2..3...

After that (OK and a smoke break), I went ahead and started her up. The sensor takes about 3-4 seconds to warm up, and the air fuel ratio pops up. At idle, it reads about 14.7 (+/-0.5). I went for a drive to test it out, and everything seemed to be working properly. At wide open, I purposely want my A/F to be in the very high 10's or low 11's. Some may think I am running a little rich, but with the great temperature variance here (from summer to winter) I'd rather leave some power on the table and play it safe.

Powering up

I'm using a dual gauge pillar pod, and tried to dry fit the XD-16 (the actual gauge). It took a while to get it looking just right and opening the holes large enough for the gauges to go in. I needed to sand a little of the and roughed the wiring, to get a feel for how to run the wires, first. It was pretty easy to snake the three wires (power, ground and wire to LC-1 sensor) through the dash, and up to the pillar. I also changed to scale and color coding used to visually display the A/F (the ring around the numbers), so that I could easily tell where I am at, without having to even glance down. I set anything below 12.0 to display as green (this is where I should be at wide open throttle), 12.0-14.0 to display as red (I never want to be in this range) and 14.0-16.0 displayed as blue (this is where it's at when I'm idling or just cruising down the street).

A/F measured

AutoMeter Cobalt Boost/Vacuum Gauge

To fill in the pillar pod, I decided that a boost gauge would be perfect - particularly since I make more boost than the stocker can show. In fact, it just buries itself in the black of the dash;) AutoMeter's Cobalt gauges look fantastic, and I thought it would fit in really nicely with the rest of my interior. I picked up the gauge from the local speed shop, for a couple of bucks.

Again I used an Add-a-Fuse to supply power to the gauge with a switched power source (lights go off when the truck does). The AutoMeter gauge comes with everything else required for the install, and was dead easy. Along with the power / ground wires, I snaked the hard plastic tube down the pillar and under the dash. From there, the plastic tube connects to the supplied T-fitting, which connects to the stock line that runs to the stock boost gauge.

PICTURE OF T-FITTING GOES HERE

Then it was just a matter of putting everything back together, and testing the gauge out. It works perfectly, showing a little vacuum when idling and about 15-16 lbs of boost when I drop the hammer.

Boost gauge

 

OBD II Multifunction Gauge

A supporting vendor on NLOC has worked with AeroForce to develop a custom gauge for the Lightning. This digital gauge basically will display any variable that the on-board computer can see (such as transmission temperature, timing, rpm, etc.). While the weather was less than ideal, I also popped the gauge into my Marauder, and it works like a charm there, too. Here's a picture of the custom startup screen, on the gauge:

Testing, testing, 1..2..3...

To mount the gauge, I used an AutoMeter 15004 Pod, which mounts over the steering column. I was able to pick it up from the local speed shop, for a couple of bucks.

Steering column pod for the Lightning

The gauge pod popped onto the steering column and fit like a glove. Some people use double sided tape or drill a hole for one of the pegs to keep the pod in place. My pod was locked down as-is, so I didn’t bother. (note: the pod has never moved in the months since).

Test fit steering column pod for the Lightning

The install of the gauge itself is ridiculously simple. I popped the gauge into the pod, and removed the black panel that surrounds the steering column (u-shaped piece). From there I ran the wire from the gauge under the rubber flap on the panel and down behind the dash to the OBD port (it’s pretty easy to snake it down through). Then I snapped the loaded pod steering onto the steering column and pressed the panel back in place.

The install of the gauge itself is ridiculously simple. I popped the gauge into the pod, and removed the black panel that surrounds the steering column (u-shaped piece). From there I ran the wire from the gauge under the rubber flap on the panel and down behind the dash to the OBD port (it’s pretty easy to snake it down through). Then I snapped the loaded pod steering onto the steering column and pressed the panel back in place. Told you it was easy!

So the gauge works great, but the gauge face - it just didn't do the gauge justice... With a few minutes in PhotoShop, I managed to create a new face for the gauge, which was printed on transparency paper (like used in high school overhead projectors). I then cut the pattern out, popped the gauge trim bezel off and... well... here's how it looks:

Get your gauge face on!