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Junior Charter Member
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Discussion Starter #1
Over in the coupe forum, we were discussing Accel DFI and other systems, and I offered my opinion on EFI for FFR cars, and why I decided to go with a Megasquirt system. For those that didn't see it over there, here is what I posted:

If you look at all of the popular systems out there, they all have one thing in common - they are COMPLICATED. IMO, many of them are overly complicated for these cars. They have to load so much into the systems to make them competitive in the marketplace, that most of them have four times more features than we will ever need. Take a look at the feature list on stuff like the Accel DFI, FAST, AEM, etc. We don't need most of the things on there.

Even with that, I would venture to guess that 99% of the problems with most systems are installation and tuning related. Most issues I have seen tend to be related to poor grounding, electrical noise, poor wiring, and improper software setup. There is a learning curve with all of them. Hell, there is a learning curve with understanding EFI and engine tuning in the first place, much less the particulars of the individual systems. Most of the major systems cost so much, that there's often not enough money left over to want to pay a pro to install and tune it. Even if you have the dough, knowledgeable and trustworthy pros are hard to find. I work with these people every day as part of my job and I know hundreds of tuners nation (and in some cases world) wide. I can count the people that I would let work on my car with one hand and still have fingers left over.

If you're going to deviate from factory EFI and make the plunge into an aftermarket ECU, wiring, tuning, etc. It is really to your benefit to learn the theory of operation thoroughly, and know what you need and why. IMO, it is really in your best interest to not have to be very dependent on others for help. Short of something like the Mass-flo or complete Edelbrock combos, these things are not plug-and-play at all. You will have questions and problems. Who is going to help you? Accel tech support (or lack of it) was mentioned above. I have no experience with that to know how true it is, but that is NOT uncommon in the industry. Homework is important here too. Is the tech support guy you were working with even going to be there next week? You never know these days.

So what is my answer? Well for me, I decided that Megasquirt was the best option. Why? Well, in no particular order:

It works as well as anything else for what I need
It is simple
It is expandable if I need more later
I built it myself, so I can fix it if necessary.
All parts are commonly available
It is "open-source", so all of the info is free and easily available
It has support forums that rival this one
There is nothing else out there that has as much online info available 24-7
It is inexpensive

It does have it's limitations, but there aren't many. For one of our cars, who is really running forced induction with three stages of nitrous with traction control and drive by wire? If isn't for the easily intimidated or the electrically challenged, but if you fall into those categories, then you have no business tackling any of these systems really.



For those that aren't familiar with a Megasquirt system, it is a do-it-yourself ECU for fuel injection, and depending on the system, can control spark and other functions as well. In most cases, these computers can run just about any engine I've ever seen installed in a FFR. It is an open-source project where users from all over the world have written code, made electronic mods, and people have built businesses around helping users and supplying parts and products. Sound familiar? Yes, I would say it is the "FFR" of Fuel injection computers. Just like you need to do some research, learn, and study the forums while building a FFR, Megasquirt is the same way. You can build it yourself if you want to save money, or you can buy them pre-built. There are even plug-and-play versions available to plug into your factory harness. You can have a computer built and running for $500-$600 in most cases, sometimes less. If you compare that to other systems out there that cost $2000 and up, this is an attractive alternative. If you are thinking about using an aftermarket ECU so you have some tuning ability on the vehicle, I think it is a good way to go.

Since I have had some people tell me that they were interested in what I was doing, I decided to make a build thread for it and share my progress along the way. I'll cover what I'm doing and why, and I'll be happy to answer any questions I can.

If you'd like to do some of your own research, do a Google search on Megasquirt, and the first few things that come up should get you pointed in the right direction. I'd link the sites myself, but I think that is against forum rules isn't it?
 

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Junior Charter Member
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Discussion Starter #2
For those that haven't seen one before, my Megasquirt computer as of now looks like this:


I added the Sharpie in there to give it some scale. Overall, the unit is pretty compact - and smaller than an EEC computer for sure.

I got the computer and all of my parts from DIY Autotune in Georgia. These guys live and breathe Megasquirt, and have built their entire business around selling and supporting it, and even making their own parts for it in some cases. Their website is also very informative with tech info. I know the owner Jerry Hoffman personally (he is one of my customers) and I know some of their tech guys as well. They are all really good people, and can help you with any question that you can think of.

I bought the MS2 DIY kit, which means I got a blank board and a box of parts and soldered it all up myself. If you prefer, they offer a pre-built board for a slightly higher price. I thought the building would be part of the fun, and the board is also easier to modify if you need to change something later on. I also thought it would be a better learning experience as well - which has proven to be true. The parts all come in clearly marked bags, and the instructions are all online and easy to follow. It took me about 2 nights to have it built to the point it is at now, which is about 90+% done.

I also bought a Stimulator kit, which is a test unit that you build that allows you to test the MS computer. It simulates sensor inputs, and displays some of the outputs - so it allows you to bench test the computer and know things are working (or not) before you install it in the car. The stim kit also is a good skills builder/warmup to building the actual ECU, so when you start soldering the serious stuff, you have some practice under your belt. The stim has a connector that plugs directly into the MS connector, which allows you to use it to power the MS on the bench as well. The potentiometers on the stim allow you to generate a variable RPM signal, and generate other variable sensor signals to the ECU for test purposes. This is very helpful to know if you have an ecu problem, or a problem elsewhere in the car. The stim looks like this:



My setup:

I'll be triggering 8 Ford Motorsport 42lb injectors (a little bigger than I need - I know) in batch-fire mode. Why batch fire and not sequential? Because MS1 and MS2 can't do sequential on a V-8, and I didn't want to wait for MS3. Also, the experts that I talked to said that there really isn't any noticeable performance difference with sequential anyway, and the main advantage is a slight gain in idle quality and idle/low speed emissions. Some of the Ford factory systems were batch fire and ran just fine, so I think I'll be OK here. If you really must have sequential, MS3 has it, but it is so new that it is hard to get right now. I decided I didn't really need it and went with MS2 since it is available and proven and has lots of experienced support available.

To get my crank signal (and cam signal) I'm using an AEM engine position module. The EPM mimics a distributor, but has no plug wire outputs. I could have used a crank trigger like a stock Explorer does, but I still need something to spin the oil pump anyways. The Explorer has a similar unit that plugs into the cam hole and generates a cam signal only, but I thought this would be a better way to go. This way, I get crank signal, cam signal, and oil pump drive all in one. The EPM looks like this:


If you want to use a normal distributor, you can use a stock TFI-type distributor to get your signal to the computer and use the MS to trigger the ignition the way the Ford computer does.

I wanted to do a coil-on-plug ignition setup, but I couldn't come up with a way to mount (and hide) them that I liked. I still like the idea of a distributorless ignition though, so I decided to use Ford EDIS 4-tower coils in waste-spark mode. Waste spark means that a single coil fires two cylinders simultaneously, so there are four coils total, in two housings. Staying with Ford parts (or an aftermarket version) instead of brand C parts also has some value to me as well. Some Mustang Cobras, and the 5.0 Explorers used this same type of coil setup. On an Explorer, they look like this:


The MS uses standard sensors for things like coolant, air temp, etc. - but you can use your factory sensors if you want to. So if you are unplugging an EEC and want to leave things alone under the hood, you can do that. All of the stock Ford sensor info is available out there. My TPS came as part of my TWM stack manifold, and the manifold also has a stepper type IAC valve for idle control. The MAP sensor for manifold pressure is mounted inside the ECU itself, so you have to run a vacuum hose inside to the computer. In my case, I added a second MAP sensor which allows the ECU to have one for the engine, and the other for atmospheric pressure. This allows the ECU to compensate for Atmospheric pressure changes in real time - such as starting at low altitude and driving up into the mountains. Otherwise, with a single MAP, the ECU samples the manifold's MAP when the key turns on and before the engine cranks - then uses this reading for your baro until the next time the engine is started.

Other than that, there aren't many other sensors that you need. When you compare it to a Ford system, it looks TOO simple, but when you consider that we don't need all of the emissions parts, AC control, cruise, etc, then the ECU really doesn't need to do all that much to control just the motor only.

I'll have less money into the ECU and sensors, than some people spend to pay a pro to do a few tuning sessions to burn a tune into a stock ECU, and I'll be able to alter the tune myself any time I want. Setting the ECU up in the software and doing the actual tuning is not that hard either if you have access to a good dyno, and good grasp of proper tuning methodology. Just like most things in a FFR build, you'll need to learn some things along the way, but I think that is a good thing.

That ought to be plenty to get things rolling, I'd be happy to answer any questions and I'll post updates as I get more things done.
 

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EFI Rules and Carbs Drool
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Thanks for posting this. I'm a Megasquirt convert as well and never looked back. I also like the speed density design as it opens up a whole world of intake possibilities since no mass air meter is required. It's so much easier to wire a MS from scratch than wire diet an old harness. Keep it comming, I'm sure you will have a lot of people interested in your progress.
 

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John - Great timing. I am in the process of trying to decide if Megesquirt is right for me.

I'm gonna be running a 306 with forced induction (72mm Turbo if I can get it to fit without major issue) in my FFR roadster. I know with my planned set-up I will have to invest in a custom tune. Also, since I am using a 94 donor I am looking at a LOT of wire dieting to get the engine wired up. I can get the MS 2 kit with wiring harness for about $400. Would use a wideband O2 for engine management and datalogging. It will cost me an extra $7.00 to add boost control (part of beauty of MS). Right now I am trying to decide if I want to go with a crank trigger or use the Ford EEC to fire an MSD box??

Looks like MS 2 will control everything I need. Give me options for an updated coil on cylinder ignition arangement, drive my cooling fans, give me progammable boost control, allow me to datalog my engine tune, allow me to tune my own engine. Can also integrate a touch screen in the system that can be used for programming AND for a programmable dash display to let me monitor any of my desired engine functions . . .

I'll be following your thread and hopefully have some updates from my own build in the future.

Jeff
 

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Junior Charter Member
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Thanks John for the thread. I agree with your analogy of MS vs FFR builders. Some people build an FFR by installing the suspension and then paying someone to do the engine, trans, electrical, paint, and interior. Others (true builders) tend to do it all down to the smallest detail. You sir, IMO, are a true builder and are a inspiration to many of us. Thank you!

I would like to eventually see a cost sheet on every last piece of the system. Some small changes like COP and stacks can add up quickly. I think the spark and induction system will be the largest outlay of the MS system.
 

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EFI Rules and Carbs Drool
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Some small changes like COP and stacks can add up quickly. I think the spark and induction system will be the largest outlay of the MS system.
I agree, but that's the beauty of it. You can go cheap and use all donor induction system and stock ignition (MS will run TFI also) or go crazy with custom intake and ignition, the MS doesn't care.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yes - As Arrowhead said, in many cases you can use what you already have. In my case, I was buying from scratch anyway, so the cost wasn't much different for things like coils, distributor, etc.

For example, a new MSD TFI type distributor is about $250 - the AEM piece I used is about $299. For coils, right now I have stock Ford coils that were used, so they were cheap, but if I replace them with something from MSD or Accel, then they're about $150 for the pair - versus $40-50 for a normal coil. So total cost new for a MSD TFI dist with coil is about $300, AEM Sensor + MSD coils = $450 - so only an extra $150 to go coil-on-plug. Not too bad. Sure you could use a stock distributor and coil for less, but you could also use stock donor Ford parts to go COP on the cheap as well. You could get all the parts for either setup from a salvage yard for less than $100. Personally, I like new parts.

All I have bought so far (and I don't need much else):

Prices are from DIY Autotune:

MS2 unassembled kit - $247
Stimulator kit (optional) $59
12' Harness kit - $65
MapDaddy dual MAP kit (optional) - $65
(8) EV1 injector connectors (could have used donor parts) - $46
(3) Extra coil driver transistors (to fire 3 more coils) - $24
Coolant sensor (could use donor part) $16.25
Intake air temp sensor (could use donor part) $20

I will be using the MS2 Extra firmware version, and the Tuner Studio tuning software (both free downloads)

That's it. Total is $542. If I didn't add the optional stuff, and was doing an install where I was using stock sensors, single coil, etc - I could have done it for $312.

Above, I showed the harness kit as needed, but if you have a good supply of wire or are going to splice into a stock harness, then it isn't needed. I needed the wire anyway, and this kit is nice because it comes with a nice metal connector, comes pre-soldered and it color coded to match the MS wiring diagram standards that are online. The wires themselves are also printed with the function every foot. For example, the yellow wire says coolant right on the wire - connect to the coolant sensor.

For those of you replacing an EEC computer and already have the car wired, they have an EEC adapter board kit that makes the job much easier - no cutting of the harness in the car, so if you're nervous about reliability, you can leave the stock computer in place or in the trunk and keep it as a spare.

Some needed things that I already had:
DB9 Serial cable to connect the PC to the ECU.
USB adapter to adapt serial to USB

Optional thing I already had: Wideband 02 unit. It isn't necessary, but it sure is nice to have - especially if you plan on making tuning changes somewhere other than on a dyno. The ECU is compatible with single or dual wideband O2 sensors, can can be set to make corrections based on the sensor output in closed-loop (either for part of the map or all of it), or not correct and simply be used for informational purposes. The ECU can also auto-tune (somewhat) from the sensor feedback. You could skip this and get your tune set at the dyno using their sensor and not run any O2 sensor at all. You can spend anywhere from $200 to thousands on a wideband setup depending on the quality and type you want.
 

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Great thread John.
Having just had my car dyno-tuned and chipped I can relate to the expenses involved.
If I was to do it all over it would be a stand alone system like this.
I may still pursue this as a project if nothing else.
Look forward to the updates.
Dean
 

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I have also taken the Megasquirt plunge! I started by building the stim and the relay board, I then took 'em to a electronics repair guy and had him check out my solder work. He pointed out 2 spots I missed and a couple cold joints. I fixed those and got a thumbs-up! Then I built my MS2. I did'nt rush it and a few weeks later I had an engine management system sitting on my work bench - very cool!
I'm going to run a dizzy fired by a MSD box. I still have a long way to go on my project but my MS will be ready when I am!!
 

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I have the relay board and stim built but keep waffling on the MS2 vs 3. To complicate matters I'm looking at some engine parts Wednesday and can pick up a Mod6 for very cheap. I might be able to use the MS2 with the Mod6 and be done with it.

I was somehow thinking the MS3 was "the answer" but it won't fire my ignition without building drivers or running through an EDIS8. I can keep the COPS and sequential operation with the Mod6. I've got a price on all of the parts and if the stuff looks good I will leave with at least a Sullivan intake (with TB adapter), a dozen or so stock COPS, and the Mod6 (with ECU adapter). I think the intake will pay for the rest when I resell it if this happens.

The DIY aspect bothered me until I built the stim. It's actually fun. Here is a great link to the feature comparison page.

http://www.msextra.com/feature-xref.html

It's great to see more people going the MS route, I knew about Arrowhead and we have talked about MS for months now. More experience to tap into is a good thing. I also used DIYAutoTune, excellent service from them.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Geoff, Building the coil drivers is actually very easy. I just did it yesterday. I needed four of them to fire the EDIS coils, so I will have no EDIS box. I didn't want it because it just adds more stuff that I would have to find a place for. The EDIS box's "failure mode" is kind of nice, but I figure if I get into that situation them my fuel probably won't work either, so what's the point?

You can also fire the stock COP's in waste spark mode from a MS2, you just have to build a driver for each coil, then fire two drivers from one MS spark output. Either that, or use EDIS coils like I did. If you're using a 4.6, I'd use the stock COPS since they package nicely - I wish I could have done that. Otherwise, you can do MS3, and it has more spark outputs, but you're still going to have to build 8 drivers anyway, or use different coils with built in ignitors. I'd stay with the stock coils for the cleaner look - in which case, MS2 does what you need.

Decisions, decisions.... :D
 

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Geoff, Building the coil drivers is actually very easy. I just did it yesterday. I needed four of them to fire the EDIS coils, so I will have no EDIS box. I didn't want it because it just adds more stuff that I would have to find a place for. The EDIS box's "failure mode" is kind of nice, but I figure if I get into that situation them my fuel probably won't work either, so what's the point?

You can also fire the stock COP's in waste spark mode from a MS2, you just have to build a driver for each coil, then fire two drivers from one MS spark output. Either that, or use EDIS coils like I did. If you're using a 4.6, I'd use the stock COPS since they package nicely - I wish I could have done that. Otherwise, you can do MS3, and it has more spark outputs, but you're still going to have to build 8 drivers anyway, or use different coils with built in ignitors. I'd stay with the stock coils for the cleaner look - in which case, MS2 does what you need.

Decisions, decisions.... :D
My schedule changed so I got to check out the parts I mentioned today. I bought everything except some extra oil pans, an Aviator intake, a Mach1 lower, and some harness parts that looked very used up.

I think the motor will be used as a backup. It's all forged, teksid block, 04 Mach1 heads, and crower stage 3 cams. I have most of the other parts sold to one of the guys that went with us. I'm keeping the Mod6 which has been through an install but was not used. It did have the piggy back ecu harness. We picked up the alternator as a spare and a box of hardware which will come in handy down the road. I pulled out 8 more COPS and sold the rest to the guy mentioned above. I wanted to keep the Sullivan intake and sell the TB adapter but my son knows someone interested in both.

I think we're going to build a MS2 for fuel only and let the Mod6 work the COPS. The Mod6 will fit on the firewall so I'll have plenty of room for the MS and relay board behind the dash. I'm putting a deadline on myself; Friday I call DIY or somebody else to order. :confused:

FYI, I asked around on the MSEFI forums and didn't hear of any conflicts with the setup above. :yes:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
It should work fine, except I think you'd be better off doing the ignition inside the MS. You'll have a lot more flexibility to get the spark timing just right under all conditions, and there are some other ignition related features that you could use too.
 

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Wow, Good timing. I have been looking into the MS systems. It seems to be my ticket. I just ordered my TCI AODE from Mike Forte. It will have paddle shift and be bolted to my 309 inline. I will be using all of the Ford stuff from a 93 F150 4.9l EFI donor. I will definately be tracking this thread and I'm sure I'll have questions. For EFI education here is a good link... http://fordfuelinjection.com/ I'm sure most here know of this site but for those who don't it's a good start IMO.

Thanks much
Jim
 

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It should work fine, except I think you'd be better off doing the ignition inside the MS. You'll have a lot more flexibility to get the spark timing just right under all conditions, and there are some other ignition related features that you could use too.
I have a range of options which all work. I'll sit down tonight and make the final call. I plan to keep the Mod6 because I have everything I need to go carb using it, perhaps on another project. Bottom line the Mod6 and a VERY inexpensive MS1 would do just fine. I've been saving up for months for gauges and ecu stuff so I have the budget to do almost anything. What I don't use becomes a rollover for wheels and tires.

Once I posted some info requests on other boards I'm hearing from a bunch of people that don't bother to post on the MS boards. There are just too many ways to skin a cat with this equipment. I do see wide usage of the LS coils from those who responded. There are a few guys using the Mod6 and MS that previously ran carbs. You are right about having some additional control with MS running the timing. The Mod6 has MAP, crank, and cam inputs only. It would be nice to keep the temps and knock sensors in the loop. I'm off tomorrow so I might call DIY and let the pros chime in.

At least I have my gauges figured out. :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The LS-1 coils are very popular and are supposed to work well. I just can't bring myself to put chevy parts on my motor, and even if I got past that, I couldn't see a way to mount 8 big coils in the engine compartment and have it look clean. I'm having a hard enough time deciding how I want to mount the two EDIS coils. At least with the stock COP's, the mounting is already taken care of.

Ask for Matt at DIY - he's a walking encyclopedia of Megasquirt.
 

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Going nowhere fast.
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The LS-1 coils are very popular and are supposed to work well. I just can't bring myself to put chevy parts on my motor, and even if I got past that, I couldn't see a way to mount 8 big coils in the engine compartment and have it look clean. I'm having a hard enough time deciding how I want to mount the two EDIS coils. At least with the stock COP's, the mounting is already taken care of.

Ask for Matt at DIY - he's a walking encyclopedia of Megasquirt.
LS-2 coils are significantly more powerful than LS-1 coils. EDIS is a nice system but is very RPM limited. Make sure you understant the RPM limitations on EDIS up front.

Mike
 

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The LS-1 coils are very popular and are supposed to work well. I just can't bring myself to put chevy parts on my motor, and even if I got past that, I couldn't see a way to mount 8 big coils in the engine compartment and have it look clean. I'm having a hard enough time deciding how I want to mount the two EDIS coils. At least with the stock COP's, the mounting is already taken care of.

Ask for Matt at DIY - he's a walking encyclopedia of Megasquirt.
It's a done deal!

Yesterday between getting ready for my club's cruise in tomorrow and buying food for 30+ Boy Scouts I managed to sell some parts I purchased recently.

I had a carb and nitrous setup from a swap several months ago that was sold with the MSD Mod6 and Sullivan intake I picked up this week. It was a good deal for the guy and I did pretty well on the deal too.

Right after I ordered my MS2 (with a MS3 case, upgrade ready) and some other items to complete my ecu for the stacks. It's nice to have these things paid for and on the way. I have a box of with at least 2 EDIS 8 modules with the pigtails attached. I hope the ECU goes together as easy as the relay board and Stim.


Next will be the wheels and tires. :yes:
 

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LS-2 coils are significantly more powerful than LS-1 coils. EDIS is a nice system but is very RPM limited. Make sure you understant the RPM limitations on EDIS up front.

Mike
Good point. Most claim the upper limit of the EDIS8 is 6600-7100 so I will be fine. There are guys moving away from the Ford COPS too, most are firing though a ton of nitrous or boost. I have two friends with 1000+rwhp Mach1's (obviously not the stock motor), both are using the BigStuff ECU and LS coils. Even if I build my spare (5L 4V) it won't spin more than 6600.

Somebody turning a race motor higher rpms should move away from my setup.
 
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