Seperate monitor vs seperate carputer vs Dakota Digital.
I own a 1993 Chevrolet G20 van and I intend to make my instrument cluster (gauges) 100% digital; meaning all the gauges (fuel level, mph, tach RPM, voltage, oil pressure, and engine temp) would be displayed through a carputer monitor. I have researched this and found that I have three main options:
I can use WinALDL, which reads information from the access port for car scanners and converts it to data you can read on your computer. This will display the information in real time while your driving (most important for MPH), so this is a viable option. Somehow, a plug-in for Road Runner could extract the information from WinALDL and display it as a skinned "gauge panel", fulfilling my desire to make it digital. There are two ways to do this.
One is to run all this information through the carputer and setup a second dedicated monitor just for displaying said data, effectively replacing the factory instrument cluster. This gets into second monitor issues, and I am uncertain as to whether or not it's possible to setup a second monitor (display) to just display the guage skin, or if I would need to manually set it up every time I turn on the carputer.
The second option is to have a second carputer just for the gauges, which would eliminate the second monitor issue. For the second carptuer, it would be a bare bones install, with just what is needed to display the gauge. If I do it this way, I probably wouldn't need a Road Runner plug-in or skin, since the program would be self contained. I would also be interested in having it boot directly to the program instead of through Windows. I do understand that if I rely on a dedicated carputer for the gauges, there is a potential for some major inconvenience because of the carputer's potential to crash somehow. If this occurs, I would need to be able to control the carputer (mouse and/or keyboard) to "restart" the carputer.
This would possibly be done by connecting to the primary carputer, either through remote management software or through Synergy (http://synergy2.sourceforge.net), a program that allows you to control one computer with another one. This is good for networked computers and allows you to only have one mouse and keyboard.
The third and easiest option is to use a dash from Dakota Digital, but isn't really my preference unless the former two options don't work out. The idea of customization appeals to me.