Instrument Panel LCDs

UWVD Gauge Cluster
Vehicle Instrument Panel – Source: Pexels

ATVs, UTVs (Side by Sides), marine crafts, aviation, and golf carts are examples of outdoor vehicles with an instrument panel. 

Dashboards are typically found in three formats:

  • Mechanical Gauges
    • Analog
  • Mechanical Gauges with LCDs
    • Analog and Digital
  • All LCDs
    • Either one large LCD or several displays
    • Known as a digital Instrument Cluster Display (ICD)

More and more digital dash boards make use of one LCD for all information. This has been called a reconfigurable instrument cluster and consist of a 7” or 10.4” TFT. 

TFTs (Thin Film Transistor) have built in controllers, touch panel (capacitive or resistive) and can generate up to 16,777,216 unique colors depending on the chosen interface.

Advantages of a using a single TFT for all data include:


    The user chooses what they want to be displayed. Options include:

  • Speed
    • Miles or Kilometres/per hour
  • Tachometer
  • Odometer
  • Fuel
  • Temperature
  • Oil/battery readings
  • Incoming caller
  • Navigation
  • Backup camera display
  • media

The firmware can be modified to allow an interrupt when key conditions are met. (key fob not in vehicle, ignition switched on/off, etc.)

If the display is tracking the music selection and a sudden loss in tire or oil pressure, low fuel or the driver is almost out of coffee (this one is really important) occurs, the display needs to quickly and automatically switch over to one showing the critical situation. Maybe even shutting off the music and turning the screen red. Something to alert the driver.


The displays brightness can vary as a function of ambient light.

Nighttime driving requires a dim display to avoid blinding or distracting the driver.

Sunlight readable brightness requires a display bright enough to compete with the sun. A display will need to produce a minimum of 1,200 nits of brightness in order to meet meet automotive sunlight readability standards.

Note: One nit is equivalent to one candela per square meter. It is common to see both nits and cd/m 2 used as the measure for the brightness of a display device.


Adjustable font size allows the user to set each measurement at different sizes. An example would be to set the odometer at 14 points, and the fuel and speed status to stand out at 30 points. 


Positive mode is dark pixels on a light-colored background.

Negative mode is light (pixels on a dark background.

Positive mode produces more light and can be distracting for nighttime operation. It is common to see an automotive display function in positive mode during daytime and switch to negative mode when in dark ambient conditions. (This trigger point is usually produced when the headlights are turned on and off.)


Touch panels can be included on automotive displays in place of buttons. This will provide versatility to the device since it can allow an area of the display to be used for buttons during one use (such as climate control), then used for displaying additional data (such as an enlarged map) during a different use.

If you have questions, please contact FocusLCDs today!