Portable Data Acquisition and Logging – AEM Electronics CD-5

The AEM Electronics CD-5  Digital Dash Display is more than just a pretty digital dash for a race car. At MotoIQ we have been using one for all sorts of tasks beyond just serving as a digital race dash. We’ve been using a CD-5LG, which has built in data logging and GPS antenna systems. With the addition of AEM’s OBD2 harness and 12V power adapter we have a powerful data acquisition tool that can moved around to different cars quickly and with zero need to do any wiring. After simply plugging in a few connectors we can collect and log tons of valuable data on almost any vehicle. So we’re going to take you through the parts that make up our portable data logging set-up while also going over some very useful options AEM Electronics provides.

The CD-5 sits in a lightweight, tough thermoplastic, water-resistant, carbon fiber reinforced case with a large 5″ full-color screen with 800×480 resolution.  A major thing is that the screen is bright enough to be easily readable in full sunlight with an anti-glare filter to keep the display sharp.  The CD-5 has 7 LED’s on the front face that can be programmed for RPM, shift light and warnings – even the brightness is programmable.  Two large easy to press, even with gloves on, buttons are used to scroll through display pages and resetting the memory.  The display itself is quite flexible with many different pre-programmed display options, but you have the ability to customize the display as well by using AEM’s free Dash Design software. Alarms and warnings can be set on any and all monitored channels for safety.

We use the CD-5LG  P/N 30-5603 which is the CD-5 with data logging and internal GPS.  The rear of the CD-5 display enclosure has the input and output plugs for the system.  You can see the 4 studs that are used if you want to permanently mount the CD-5 in a dash.  To make this easier, AEM also has universal flush mount panels that have the right cutouts in them so all you have to do is cut the outside shape to mount your CD-5 anywhere.

The round black plug is for the USB Comms port and the gold connector is for the GPS antenna. The comm port is used to connect the CD-5 to a laptop in order to upload your own custom dash layout or to download the stored data. Plugging in with your laptop is totally easy as you would expect.

When installing the CD-5 permanently into a vehicle the USB can communicate with your laptop.  A lot of people leave the USB jumper plugged to the dash full time so the plug can be kept in a handy easily accessible place.

The CD-5 can receive data from two independent CANBUS inputs and it does not need special modules to read any AEMnet device or other 3rd party devices. AEM has validated over 250 other devices including stand-alone ECU’s so far as well as 2008 and up OEM ECU’s through the OBDII port. The CD-5 can monitor and log up to 40 channels from the cars ECU holding up to 200MB of data.  Through the CANBUS the CD-5 can keep track of up to 800 channels and sample at a rate as high as 1000hz!

The CD-5 can be added to any vehicle CANBUS equipped or not with the addition of AEM’s 22 channel CAN sensor module PN 30-2212 which can convert analog frequency and digital channels to CANBUS signals which the CD-5 can receive.  The module can also serve as a CAN expansion module to add additional data channels, 4×0-5 volt, fuel level, six digital inputs, and a tach/pulse rpm input


Perhaps the most useful AEM accessory for our portable CD-5 unit has been the Ram Mounts Mounting System. The Ram Mount can attach to a suction cup or a roll cage/bar which gives you tremendous flexibility in securely mounting the CD-5 temporarily.  Since we use our CD-5 and move it from car to car all the time, this comes in very handy.


  1. Wish you guys would put the MSRP of items you write about in the article….though I suppose this is done by design to drive traffic to their website.

    Just wish it didn’t have to be this way.

      1. I’m not buying this feeble excuse. Again, I think this is merely to drive traffic to manufacturers websites rather than making it convenient for the people who matter most: your readers. Most print magazine who do any product testing (including aftermarket automotive accessories and parts) print MSRP. And some even put the caveat “MSRP at time of printing”. And the time it takes to get to print is significantly longer than uploaded web content. I see no reason why this type of disclaimer can’t be done here.

        1. Hi RA! Part of this may have to do with the multiple iterations of the dash. So, as of 6/13/2019:
          30-5600 CD-5 Display: 999.00
          30-5600F CD-5 Flat Panel Display: 940.00
          30-5601 CD-5L Logging Display: 1318.48
          30-5601F CD-5L Flat Panel Logging Display: 1239.99
          30-5602 CD-5G GPS-enabled Display: 1115.48
          30-5601F CD-5G Flat Panel GPS-enabled Display: 1040.00
          30-5603 CD-5LG Logging/GPS-enabled Display: 1419.98
          30-5601F CD-5G Flat Panel Logging/GPS-enabled Display: 1339.99
          The 7″ versions start at 1340.00 and top out at 1740.00. Hope this helps!

        2. The posts are not dated. And these articles stay up forever. So ten years down the road from now, someone will come onto the site and say, “hey, you listed this as the MSRP but that’s not the case.”

          Also, does anyone ever buy at MSRP or buys from the first distributor they find? I don’t know about you, but I shop around.

        3. Also, I spent 5 seconds to highlight “CD-5 Digital Dash Display”, did a copy/paste into google and instantly had prices at JEGS, Ostar Motorsports, and Ebay.

  2. I like that there’s more players in the logging dash stuff than just the old standbys like Motec and AIM. I just wish that AEM had some high speed analog inputs. While it can apparently log at 1khz, I haven’t seen any way to get, say, shock pot data into it at that rate. Definitely a nice setup for most uses though.

    1. Hi Dan, Appreciate your comment! The CD-5 delivers a fully customizable display with logging and GPS for under $1500, which we believe delivers a competitive advantage with respect to price and features, and we are pleased with how well it is being received. You are correct that while the dash can log individual channels at 1kHz, there are still limitations that come from the transmission speed of a sending device. For the vast majority of channels, most CAN Converters transfer at speeds well above what is required for attaining useful data for a large swath of track applications. We assume you are looking for shock pot logging at that speed for frequency analysis, which goes into the realm of burst logging and is typically used for very specialized analysis.

      1. That’s exactly right; shock pots. Please don’t misunderstand – I know as a test engineer in my day job, my desires for data are pretty far out in left field and I can’t fault the CD5 series for not doing some of the more esoteric stuff. Everyone wants their perfect solution for affordable money though, don’t they? 😉

        I honestly think I’m going to dig into documentation – I have a hypothesis that I could set up a CAN stream to feed a CD5 or CD5G from another logger.

        1. We looked into this as we use the AQ1 and both the CD7. The AQ1 can easily do that 1000 hz shock pot sampling, and that is what we use. If you want to use the CD7, use the CAN adapter by Texense into AEMNet canbus channel on the CD7, that will allow you to sample up to 800 hz for the shock pots. Unfortunately there are not alot of analog to CAN adapters on the market that can handle the high sampling rates needed for dampers.

  3. As a side note, the AEMdata software is pretty easy to use. Pretty intuitive, like the Motec software.

    1. Yeah, I downloaded over the weekend and poked around – I really like what’s possible with the dash layouts compared to, say, the AIM dashes. That said, I have some math functions I want to try to implement that so far I haven’t found a good way to do in either dash; in broad terms, rate of change of a channel. I’m half tempted to homebrew an “advanced math box” to sit on the CANBUS and spit out calculated values; I really don’t want to look at Motec, or worse…

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