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RE: User-programmable engine computers
- To: quattro <email@example.com>
- Subject: RE: User-programmable engine computers
- From: Dave Lawson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Thu, 10 Nov 94 16:08:00 mst
- Encoding: 90 TEXT
- Reply-To: quattro
- Sender: quattro-owner
>I'm curious: how much demand do you all think that there would be for an
>easy-to-program engine computer which was fully plug-compatabile with the
>original engine computer?
As mentioned befors, this might be a bit difficult with all the connector
combinations and variation in sensors.
>Current after-market engine management systems are rather hard to program
>they typically require detailed knowledge about maps and such, and it is
>typically rather difficult to make sweeping mods which are parameterized.
>It is also all but impossible to add new sensors, or change existing sensor
>strategies -- say, adding another knock sensor, or another air mass sensor,
>or even adding a second injector per cylinder. The engine management
>So, would you think there is a market, and if so, how big would it be, and
>what sort of price point would you envision? (I'm thinking Audi, VW,
>and perhaps BMW, at first.)
I started looking into these systems this past summer and started collecting
information about who is making them. The file is at home, but I will try to
summarize what I came across. I looked into the Haltech/Emtech,
Electromotive TEC series, J&S system, EFI, DFI, the Simple Digital System
and maybe a few others. One trait that rises to the surface is almost all
the systems were designed for 4/6/8/12 cylinder vehicles. When you mention a
5cyl, you get a big huh? The only one who supported it out of the box was J
& S, they included a DIP switch setting for the 5 cyl. The SDS system out of
Canada was the cheapest, around $700 for a 4 cyl setup. They said that they
could make a custom 5 cyl version and their software would have to be
recompiled to deal with it. The usual prices were in the $2000-$3000 range.
I believe not one system had an integrated knock sensor built into the
As for uses, a few years ago a friend installed a Haltech system onto a
Porsche 914. It was a pretty clean installation on that car, as he was
transitioning from carbs. The car was dialed in using a laptop running the
Haltech software and the Haltech Air/Fuel LED meter. I got to play with the
software, it wasn't anything outstanding, you changed the fuel and timing
curves by adjusting points on a curve which is displayed on a graph on the
screen. Nothing too fancy, but it got the job done. It took a while to get
the system dialed in, but at that point, the car ran great. He dialed in the
car without a dyno, spending much time driving the car around and tweeking
I know another mechanic who has used the Electromotive TEC-II or TEC-III (I
can't remember which) on I think a V6 Maseratti. He mentioned something
about trying to use it, but it wouldn't work because the V6 had some
different firing sequence? I've got brain fade real bad on this
conversation, sorry. I also have seen a Solo II CSP Mazda Miata setup with
the Electromotive system. It ran great, but the owner said it took a while
to get there. My TQC runs in CSP and he trounced me good.
Right now John Bekius, owner of Sportwheels in Glenwood Springs, CO and TQC
mechanic, is using the Emtech setup on Scott Davis's 85 TQC with a 20V
turbo engine installed in it. The first version of this setup was running
the 85 TQC CIS K-jetronic system with the 20V engine. Last year they
installed the Emtech system which controls timing and fuel. At Brainerd,
they were finally getting the system mapped out, and the car ran great. They
program this system with a laptop, and every now and then you would see them
take the car out and change some settings. I think this system didn't have
a knock sensor.
On thing I learned is that some of these systems don't even run closed loop
with the O2 sensor. They run strictly on a lookup table basis. Also at the
time, I don't think any of these systems had CARB certification, so none are
street legal. With the EPA stuff only getting worse, this would affect the
legality of the car. I wonder if any system with such programmability woudl
be certified by CARB? As some of the places mentioned, most of these systems
are designed for race/drag cars and boats etc.
As to building a system from scratch, it would take some time, but there are
some great parts out there. National Semi has some neat injector
controler/driver chips and they also make the frequency to voltage
converters for the crank sensors. There is also new knock sensing DSP
technology which sounds interesting. The parts seem to be out there and
others have done it.
You could also go the HKS route and build a seperate box which interfaces
with almost every input/output of the computer seperately and charge $600
per box.:-). The Crane interceptor idea is also interesting although this is
mostly being used on the Ford stuff.
Anyone else looked into these systems?
Dave Lawson email@example.com