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Nissan Skyline R34 MFD Display Swap into R33 R32

This guide was created by Daniel Hipgrave and published here with his express permission with content from original post/discussion gtr.co.uk/forum - r34 mfd into r33.

For years i've loved the look of the LCD screen in the R34, and a couple of months back I saw a picture on the net of a purple R33 in Hong Kong where someone had retro-fitted the MFD. Since then, I knew I had to do the conversion myself..

Finding an MFD in itself is a hard job. These things cost over a grand from Nissan, and even second-hand command a price of around £700 when working which would be way more than I could spend on one.
Nissan R34 LCD Multi Function Display MFD
A few weeks back, there were a pair of non-working MFDs for sale on here, and even though it was a gamble, the price was so low I couldnt let it get away, so I was the owner of a non-working MFD for £125!

When I got the MFD it was worse than I had imagined (in my head I saw myself swapping a blown fuse, and the unit springing into life!). The fuse had indeed blown, but before it had done, the backlight inverter circuit had also been taken out. The main screen ribbon was missing and the screws that held in the buttons were missing so somebody had siliconed them in place, but jamming the buttons in the process

Over the past couple of weeks ive been working on fixing the problems one by one, and then this afternoon a miracle happened 

It was finally working I spent quite some time playing with all the functions, and I think this unit is from a V-Spec II (please correct me if I'm wrong), because it has the RS232 on the back, the boost reading is different from other MFDs ive seen and it has the lap timer function - 
Nissan R34 LCD Multi Function Display
Note all of my homemade wiring - PC motherboard pins fit the MFD connectors perfectly
I have a cover on order with Nissan (only £80), which will be here in less than 2 weeks. Im still unsure of how to mount it on the dash - ive seen 2 retro-fits on the internet, one looked like it was glued on top and one looked like they had cut a section from the top of the R33 dash and slotted the MFD in...

Oh and anybody out there who has a broken MFD, dont hesitate to contact me - ive been working non-stop on mine for weeks (during lunch hours only, honest) and know pretty much every aspect of them by now.

The MFD cover on order with Nissan arrived early and I picked it up. I then went to my garage where I just happen to have a spare R33 dash to see what sort of cutting will be required..
Nissan R33 Dash board

Fitment isnt bad at all. The contours are almost matching, so im thinking trim off the lugs, cut a hole in the top of the dash for the MFD to sit in and then glue the cover on top. There is just under an inch between the dash and the heater venting underneath which should be enough to fit the MFD in without having to lose the 2 top air vents.

To answer some of the questions -
I dont have the Nismo 2bar boost upgrade, but I read somewhere that if the vacuum side of the boost gauge reads in mmHG it means you have the MFD2 upgrade, which mine does.
For wiring into the ECU, I will just cut and splice my extra wires in. There are only 3 ECU wires that need tapping into from what I can see. The rest comes from the speedo cluster, the 3 centre gauges and then wherever you want to source your powers/grounds and illumination source from (radio harness in my case).

Ive already made my own plugs coming out the back of the MFD itself using motherboard pins (better than paying Nissan £170 for the 2 plugs).
Ive also looked up about the intake temp sensor and in the R34 its a sensor just after the intercooler..I dont think the sensor before the inlet manifold will work with the MFD, but I shall try and find some specs for it.
As has been said, the MFD runs using the cars various sensors and it doesnt matter if you have an aftermarket ECU it will still work. Yes it would be possible to put one into an R32, the wiring will be almost identical to the wiring for an R33, as they can share ECUs and im guessing gauge pinouts will be similar too. The only thing with the 32 is the dash shape, though on my various searches on the internet, I saw a picture where somebody had mounted the screen where the centre gauges/radio would go and had the MFD motherboards in the glovebox, so it can be done.

The picture below of the back of the MFD, each wire has just had a motherboard pin crimped on and then heat-shrinked to avoid shorting. White plug houses all the grounds and powers, brown is all the sensors.
Ive been doing some more research regarding what sensors will and wont work and I believe the R33 intake temp sensor will work with the MFD

Spent this afternoon looking at how the cover is going to fit on the dash. After cutting a hole in my mockup dash to see if the cover could simply sit in place, the contours didnt line up exactly, so Ive had to take the drastic measure of starting to fibreglass the edges of the MFD cover to suit the 33 dash. No pics im afraid as it looks rubbish at the moment, not been sanded to shape. Pics tommorrow hopefully when ive gotten it shaped on the mockup dash, or if you dont hear back from me, its because ive screwed up and am waiting another 3 weeks for a new cover

I wanted to crack on with the wiring inside the car, as its something that I can do easily and not struggle with unlike working out the mounting of the unit in the dash..

First job was to strip the dash off to gain access to the wiring looms.

Nissan R33 Dash Wiring Assembly

ECU cover removed also...
Nissan R33 ECU Wiring
I then set about following the wiring notes I had been making over the past couple of weeks.

Started with the 3 centre gauges and found it was going to be easier than I thought because Nissan handily supply screws for tapping into each line. No cutting into the loom needed!

Nissan R33 Tripple Gauge Wiring

Moved on to the speedo cluster
Nissan R33 Cluster Wiring

And then sorted the ground line and various powers needed.

That is all lines tapped into now except for the 3 ECU wires I have to tap into. Those will be done later.

I also had another look at the dash. Deciding that my fibreglassing skills weren't up to the job and it would never look right, I peeled it all off the cover and got it back to its standard shape.

I had cut a hole roughly the size of the cover to see if it could simply sit in place but the contours were out.

I focussed on getting the MFD in place in the dash and decided to worry about the cover another time.

I cut a further hole in the dash top for the MFD to sit in. At first the lugs on the back were causing it to sit way to high, so bent them out the way and it sat quite nicely. I placed the cover on top to get an idea of fitment.

After a bit more fettling, I got it sitting better.

The MFD itself was now at the perfect angle/position so I drilled some holes and bolted it down. 

I can now work on getting that cover to fit nicely. Its not too far off at the sides, the back is perfect. The front looks dodgy because I trimmed away too much of the vinyl (but thats the reason why I have 2 dashes). Im thinking some rubber edging strip could do the trick in filling the gaps..

I'll finish off the wiring and then the plan is to connect the MFD up and start the car with it sitting in the foot well just to see what is and isnt working.

When I have confirmed what can and cant work i'll sort out a decent wiring diagram.

Finished off the last of the wiring inside the car. All sensors are now wired except for the exhaust temp (no sensor in R33) and the injector duty (for some reason I have no wire going to the ECU on the pin that should be injector duty?). I'll work on the injector duty another time as its one gauge I really wanted to get working.

I then started on the MFD cover again. With the MFD itself bolted into the ideal position, I really wasnt going to get away without changing the shape of the cover. When I put gaffa tape on the dash, it really highlighted the problem -

So, I decided to give fibreglassing another go. I made up the gaps in the cover with cardboard for support and then added the fiberglass.

When this was dried completely, the cover was removed from the dash so that the excess could be cut and sanded away.

After hours of sanding I had a shape that I was happy with, which also sat on the dash very nicely. It had a few low spots in the fibreglass so I gave it a light skim all over.

Another round of sanding down and thats where i've left it for now...

Next will involve giving it a final skim and then hopefully some paint, then - I've still got my proper dash to remove and cut-out. It's not been too hard so far. Hardest challenge was getting the MFD working in the first place, but then I'm tight and bought a broken one!

The wiring is dead easy if you only want the minimum of gauges - getting things like the g-force graph and steering/yaw rate to work would be hard, but all the rest is ok. Fibreglassing also worked out easier than expected in the end, and its going to look good all painted up.

First job now was to finish off the cover. After working down through finer grades of abrasive paper, I gave it a guide coat and a final sand to get it nice and smooth, before finishing it in black paint made for plastics. This particular paint gives a rough sort of finish and is perfect for what I wanted.

I then set about removing the dash from the car and copying the hole on the mockup dash across to the proper one. When this was done I couldnt help but take a pic of how it will look in the car

Even with it sitting that high on the dash, functionality of the 2 front air vents has been lost - there is no longer room for the ducting to fit under the MFD Good thing I never use the aircon I suppose..

After this I put the dash back in the car and connected everything up. I started the car up and the screen came into life.

Straight away I could see that boost, throttle position and intake temperature were working perfectly. I didnt bother to do the sensor check, just decided to go for a drive and see if any other gauges registered when things started getting hot.

Here's where the story takes a bad turn..I was about 1 mile from home, the car was just warmed up when the MFD display cut off. Seconds later smoke started coming from the dash. Instantly I pulled over, switched off and literally ripped the MFD off the dash and pulled all wires out. It was probably the most scared ive been in my life - driving my pride and joy and then smoke starts coming from the dash. Thankfully, its not damaged the MFD or car in any way, and its nothing to do with my wiring, just an oversight when fixing the broken MFD.

The cause of the problem was easily identified as the extra circuit board I had added to fix the problem with the MFD in the first place! Basically, when I got the MFD the power inverter circuit that powers the backlights had blown. I replaced it with a different circuit and it worked fine on a desktop power supply. However, the voltage in a car is not a stable 12v, it can go as high as 14v, 

which I hadnt accounted for and the circuit overheated majorly

What I can say is that some changes to the wiring need to be done -

Gauges that definitely worked:

  • Boost
  • Throttle Position
  • Intake Temp
  • Voltage
Gauges that definitely didn't work:
  • Water temp
  • Oil temp
Still unknown due to not being on the display during test:
  • Front torque
  • Oil pressure
  • Revs (I didn't redline it to see if the shift light worked!)
Gauges that couldn't be wired:
  • Injector duty (apparently the R33 ECU does output duty on pin 17, but there is no wire there, got to make a line into the ECU pin itself)
  • Exhaust Temp (need r34 sensor)
  • G-force (need R34 sensor)
So, fixed my extra circuit board and then onwards. I don't have a clue why water and oil temp weren't working, despite the 2 other R33 conversions I've found both using those lines...

A little later... I'd taken the water temp signal from the dash cluster at the moment, but the problem is the r33 sensor is a 12v range and the MFD requires a 5v range. Aftermarket sensor required, or leave it not working.

Ive spent the week modifying the backlight inverter circuit so that I dont get another overheating incident. I spent 3 hours with this thing hooked up to a 14v power supply and only got warm. Ready to put the whole unit back in the car now.

I put the MFD back into my R33 today, and it seems to be working fine. Ive now got Injector Duty and G-Force working, I also think I know the wiring needed to get steering angle working, but haven't tried it as its not one im interested in.

Oil temp is definately not working, R34 sensor needed, along with water temp and exhaust temp. Everything else is there.

Programming Instructions...

Updated (2015-07-07): To include R34 Nissan Skyline GTR ECU Pinout
R34 Nissan Skyline GTR ECU Pinout Pin Order Chart Map
R34 Nissan Skyline GTR ECU Pinout - Pin Order Chart


Anonymous said…
Do you still have the pdfs for the conversions? They aren't available anymore
J L said…
Yep! you can find the PDF's in the downloads section, inside the silver box titled "General" just use the scroll bar inside the box to scroll down to the one called "R34 MFD into R33/32..."
Anonymous said…
Hi, can you tell me where the backlight inverter is located? Mine has also packed up and want to replace it.
This was very informative. I have been reading your blog a lot over the past few days and it has earned a place in my bookmarks.
Anonymous said…
hey was just wondering if the pdf was still available i went to the silver box titled general and it wasn't in there.
J L said…
Hey Anon, thanks for pointing out the dead link, we fixed it. Unfortunately the actual PDF to download isn't available, but you can right-click the images in this post and "save as"... Hope this helps you.
Anonymous said…
Is there any possibility that the A/C can still be used?
Foxie said…
The gap where the heater control and stereo is. I have a doubledin and gauges to go in by moving the controls to the glove box. How big is the empty space in cm's please.
Mr.Carnage said…
Do you have the MFD pin out, which pin on the MFD attaches to the ECU or, oem gauges?
J L said…
@ Mr.Carnage: Yes, usually in these Box links - http://www.skylife4ever.com/p/downloads.html
Mr.Carnage said…
Hey Josh,

I keep on getting "Box.net server is not responding now" when I go to the link you provided.
J L said…
@ Mr.Carnage - Currently looking into alternate file hosting, but in the mean time I have updated this article to now include the R34 ECU Pinout at the bottom of the post. Please let me know if any other files might be helpful and I can post more until the file hosting is back up and running. Thanks for taking your time to notify me of the issue.
Unknown said…
I can host the files for you if needed. It's me Mr.Carnage email me at: carnagegtrs@gmail.com I've had my server for many years now.
Mr.Carnage said…
Hey Josh,

I was able to get all the sensors to work except the coolant and exhaust sensors. What sensors did you end up using?

The coolant did you tap into a different location or which sensor did you end up using?

J L said…
Hi Mr. Carnage Jonathan, I believe you will need the R34 water temp sensor and the R34 exhaust temp sensor if you wish to make those parts work. That should do it.
Unknown said…
Hi Josh,

The water temp sensor, is it the ECU sensor or the cluster sensor that the MFD reads off? Im assuming the ECU sensor, just need to confirm before ordering the part.

J L said…
Hi Tommy, well it says: "...the water temp signal from the dash cluster at the moment, but the problem is the r33 sensor is a 12v range and the MFD requires a 5v range. Aftermarket sensor required, or leave it not working." and that he needed the R34 Temp sensor for Oil and Water. Hope that helps!
Unknown said…
HI Tommy would an aftermarket (say Defi EGT sensor wired up) work with the MFD ?

please email me kevinkonguwu@gmail.com