Hot rods and muscle cars these days aren’t your daddy’s hot rods and muscle cars, as digital technology rules the industry with the ability to program virtually every function of a vehicle now the norm. A relatively simple yet highly important component of any vehicle that has benefited from this new technology is the shift light.
While digital shift lights have been around for some time, the folks at MSD Ignition have delivered a truly remarkable piece that is universal and compatible with any vehicle, as well as motorcycles and ATV applications for your extracurricular activities. And because of it’s small and unobtrusive size, it becomes even more of an all-around and unique product. “The Digital Shift Light works with a variety of things. It can be installed on anything with a distributor of course, just by going to the coil negative for your tachometer signal, or the tachometer output on an MSD box,” said MSD Advertising Director Todd Ryden.
Housed inside MSD’s Digital Shift Light is a tiny digital controller that provides the end user the ability to program the RPM activation point through an easy to view LED display on the side of the unit with two programming buttons. For the ultimate in tuneability, the shift light is programmable from 100 to 16,000 RPM in 10 RPM increments. The shift light itself is composed of six bright LED’s that are easily viewable even in strong sunlight conditions and can manually dimmed for night driving or racing. “The cool thing is that it’s all right there in one and you don’t need any modules to read the digital read-out there on the side of it. It’s a nice compact little unit that you can simply set your shift point with the LED panel that’s built into the side of it,” stated Ryden.
Todd continued by explaining the programming features of the Digital Shift Light in saying, “You can set it for 4, 6, or 8 cylinders, which has to be programmed. And then there is the RPM that’s adjustable in 10 RPM increments, and you can also control the strength of the LED light.”
GMR Pick Up – Designed for Simple hookups for Distributor-less Ignitions
The MSD Digital Shift Light kit kit comes complete with the shift light and a GMR pickup for easy installation. The GMR pickup attaches to a current carrying wire without any splicing or cutting and turns the information into a 12-volt RPM signal that can be read by the shift light. The GMR will wrap around the signal carrying wire much in the way a clamp would. Said Ryden, “With the clip-on GMR supplied with the shift light, you can actually connect it to a distributor-less ignition, as well. So you can really use it on a variety of different applications.”
The Installation Process
Included in the kit is all of the essential parts that you’ll need to complete the installation, including a mounting bracket, two washers, a brass screw, and a parts bag, in addition to the shift light itself and the GMR pickup. If you have a distributor-less ignition setup, you will want to first source a tach signal wire on your coil plug. The shift light installs easily with the GMR and will accept a crank trigger signal rated from 0-24 volt amplitude. The GMR pick up will then wire directly to the power and ground along with the shift light while the tach signal wire will be mated directly from the GMR to the shift light’s green wire.
We installed the MSD Digital Shift Light on our Project 666 Mustang, which we’ve already outfitted with an MSD Digital 6 ignition box and an HVC-II coil. The Shift Light is first connected to the ignition box using the green tach output wire, while the red wire connects to on the opposing side of the box along with the 12 volt switch battery connections. The light also needs to be grounded using the supplied black ground wire. From the ignition box, an orange and black wire will connect to the positive and negative connections on the coil, while a third, white wire, is used as the trigger input.
Once connected and powered on, you can begin programming the light to your needs by pressing the two buttons simultaneously to get into the different programming modes. the RPM is adjusted by pressing the two buttons until the RPM shows on the display. After adjusting the RPM, you can press the two buttons again to move on to the next mode. The Shift Light also has a Self mode that will walk through all of the settings programmed into the light, including the RPM shift value, cylinder count, and light intensity. You can start the test mode by pushing either button once Self is displayed. Each time the Digital Shift Light is powered on, the LED will display the program values that are set.
MSD has successfully taken something as simple as the shift light and further simplified it’s design, at the same making it so small and unobtrusive, you hardly even know its in the cockpit. It is one of the easiest add on shift lights on the market, thanks to its GMR pick up. And coupled with the ease of installation, fluid cohesiveness with your ignition system, and ability to adjust on the fly, this is one item you’ll want to put in your race car.