Motorsport EFI – Part 2 – Tuning and Functions

Part 2 – Tuning and extra functions

Continuing the mini blog I started last week, let’s talk about the advantages of aftermarket ECU systems.  Modernize your fuel injection system by adding sequential fuel injection, wideband o2 sensors, and direct fire ignition.  Motorsport ECUs offer advantages in more accurate fuel modeling as well.  Compensations for fuel pressure differential, fuel temperature, and ethanol content can be programmed into the ECU. This is a major selling point for the new systems that Pavlotech (emtron ECUs) offers.  While actual engine tuning may be overwhelming and scary to most people, there are still many other functions that are safe to manipulate.  For a quick list you can customize data logging sets (as mentioned in part 1), fan speed control, switch input functions, and speed limits.  

Live tuning

When actually tuning the engine (dyno), you can change important parameters in real time which saves a significant amount of time.  This means the tuner doesn’t have to wait to read and reflash changes to the ECU (most factory ECU tuning), while you pay for dyno time.   Having all your ECU inputs and outputs functioning properly can be done before hand which saves significant time.  Most Pavlotech package solutions are pre-configured this way.     


Programmable limp modes for almost anything you can think of.  Low oil pressure?  Engine overheating?  Engine too cold?  Customize these to protect your vehicle.  This is a major function that is often overlooked when considering ECU solutions.  

Map switching

Want to run different octanes?  Do you have a number of calibrations you want to run at the same time?  Valet mode, boost target, lambda target, and torque limiting can all be switched actively!

Speed limiting

Switch inputs can be configured to limit vehicle speed.  Similar to valet mode, but also is more commonly used for pit speed limits during races.  The video shows ratchethead racings #02 with an #Emtron KV8 ECU demonstrating the pit speed limiting function.  If you look close (sun glare) you can see the #AIM #MXG dashboard flashing to notify the driver what limit mode he is in.  Then he switches it off.  All of this is customizable, and can be configured to work together with logging and display products.  


Motorsport EFI – Part 1 – Logging/Display

It always surprises me how fascinated people are with some of the most simple features aftermarket ECUs offer.  For road going legal vehicles it is understandable to look into tuning the factory ECU if possible, but there are serious disadvantages when making a real comparisons to a good aftermarket ECU.  This is especially true regarding information that is useful, and arguably needed for #motorsport #competition.  There is so much to discuss, I will split this into 3 sections posted weekly.  Feel free to share, reply, and discuss.  

Part 1- Logging and display units

Data logging

Aftermarket ECUs can provide much more intensive and customizable information for your #dashboard or #logger.  In most cases you only need two wires connected to a reputable piece of hardware to pick up nearly all of your important data.  Otherwise, imagine how labor intensive it would be hooking everything up individually.  Depending on what hardware is used, the parameter list can be customized to your needs.  Analysis of the data is commonly used for multiple driver vehicles, driver coaching, verifying calibrations, and more.      

Dash/display configuration

A lot of #dashboards can be configured to pick up original equipment #CANBUS streams, but you are limited to what the system broadcasts as compared to an aftermarket ECU.  

Customize the display to show RPM, throttle, lambda, fuel map positions, and more.  Activate alarm functions for different parameters and modes.  

The video shows the new #AIM #MXG #Dashboard configured for the @turnermorotsport @bosch #MS4 Sport ECU package for #BMW #E46M3.  This system is utilized in @Ratchet Head racings #00, and is set up for the following displays and alarms.  Oil/Fuel pressure alarms, Oil/Water temperature alarms (hot and cold), Battery voltage alarms (two stages), Fuel cut alarm (RPM limit/speed limit), Fuel map position, Ground speed limit display, and more.  There are over 40 channels that are also continuously recorded as well, which are available for download and data analysis.  

ECU logging

This is separate from external data logging.  Depending on hardware options, a customized parameter set can be logged at different rates (to maximize logging memory) directly by the ECU itself.  This way, you can prioritize your dash/logger stream with more “driver” data, but still evaluate specific engine parameters later.  This is a great tool for diagnosing potential issues (think OBD2 freeze frame data X infinity), as well as safely viewing recordings to finalize a calibration.  Not all ECUs offer logging as standard, but the @emtron KV series variants that #pavlotech distributes comes with it standard!


Motorsport VANOS Camshaft Control

Most of the issues I see regarding standalone electronics are usually due to the fact that calibrations are “incomplete.” The tuner may have spent a couple of hours adjusting for WOT on a dyno, while having no regard for the initial setup itself. This can happen for several reasons, but usually due to customer budget constraints. We at Pavlotech spend countless hours ensuring each function is properly interpreted and controlled before even considering performance tuning.

The attached image is a preliminary log showing valuable data regarding BMW VANOS control (S54/S62/S50eu). The graph shows these advanced control strategies being developed as well as specialized firmware from Emtron for the specific application.


The middle window shows the cam solenoid duty cycle needed to change cam positions. Positive duty actuates advance solenoids while negative duty actuates retard solenoids (intake blue, exhaust red). The BMW Motorsport VANOS system operates unconventionally by not requiring solenoid actuation to maintain targets. Essentially, there is no “default” position like conventional systems. If no positioning change is needed then solenoid actuation is not necessary, as is shown in the early part of the log. Many aftermarket systems do not use this OE strategy, which creates reliability concerns with VANOS by over driving the solenoids. The bottom window shows actual cam position (intake blue, exhaust red), with the target error in the middle (light blue and green). As you can see, the error is never more than a couple of degrees even when making large positioning changes. You can expect this kind of pre-configured setup and support from all Pavlotech products. Emtron Australia