The VitR Does Meth

The legal kind, I promise you.

I finished development of the Water/Methanol injection control subsystem for our Honda Civic Type R MoTeC M142 firmware. The control strategy we’ve implemented worked quite well and tuning went quite smooth.

We *only* used “boost juice” during testing — a 50/50 blend of water/methanol and the results were awesome. Yes you can use this subsystem to spray M1 methanol without mixing with water (I know someone’s going to ask). Maybe it’ll even make more power.

Tooning

This was probably the easy part — roll my face on the keyboard, some numbers get plugged into the calibration, and the motor made power resulting in the dyno numbers going up.

How much? We’re safely 25-30whp and 50wtq over our best E35 ethanol blend numbers. Compare to stock, the power curve is amazing. We’re up almost 140whp over stock and 150wtq over stock. A 50% increase in horsepower and almost 55% increase in torque.

Tuning

Ok, now for the “real” tuning. What was our goal? To provide a safe and repeatable system to reduce fuel demand on an already hammered D/I fuel system…. and improve power. We accomplished both, and the extra power might actually be secondary for some people. You can use this subsystem to ease up on the stressed D/I pump on this car and opt for a more conservative tune that provides you with a more reliable car for the type of racing you do — circuit, etc.

 

To the right you can see the graph which lists our D/I pressures and injection available times. We have a slight pressure drop to 19MPa at 3800 rpm — which is not terrible as we have 6ms of injection time left in that area (and factory D/I pressure here isn’t even 19MPa to begin with…). This is done with the methanol portion of the water/meth we were injecting — the methanol is extra fuel and you can even see where it “hits” after engagement in the “Fuel Volume” graph. We’re providing about 15-20% of the fuel volume the motor is using under boost with the methanol system now, which has reduced demand on the factory D/I fuel system.

Now bear in mind — we have this slight drop because we cranked the boost up and went for 430wtq. Remove about 20wtq and you have no pressure drop at all. Or add a second meth nozzle — as we’re currently only using one.

Decisions decisions. Tuning choices all left up to you!

Now the curious will want to know how much boost we were running. The plot to the left shows the boost curve.

Yes 30psi peak — and then it tapers. We can still squeeze a bit more boost out of from 3500 to 4500 rpm to make more torque (probably see 450-460wtq — but I think the stock clutch deserves a break as we already pounded it with 430wtq today). The stock turbo is effectively “maxed out” — we’re seeing a lot of back pressure after 6000 rpm and it’s very visible in the boost plot. Attempting to make more than 25-26psi at 7000 rpm actually drops power due to the high back pressure.

Charge Temps

Probably the worst part of the turbo system on this car is the factory intercooler — trying to push the boost levels we push on our tuned Type R basically destroys the stock intercooler in one dyno pull. On customer cars with our MoTeC solution we’re seeing charge temps skyrocket into the 140 degree Fahrenheit area in a very short pull (with ambient temps around 80 degrees). This is no good for power, reliability and consistency.

PRL’s intercooler helped us a lot, and adding water/meth injection on top of that is just an added bonus!

You can see the temps to the left — Airbox temperature being what’s in the intake (ambient was indeed about 75 at the shop today) and Inlet Air temperature being post intercooler. You can see how cool the intercooler stays. Yes we’re using the stock intake. It has not proven to be a restriction for us yet.

Safety First

There was another goal for this subsystem — I personally do not trust methanol injection systems to be absolutely error proof. I know someone’s going to come in and scream “I’ve never had a problem”. While that may be true, it could literally be just your luck. The unexpected can happen and our methanol subsystem is designed to “take control” and take monitoring the methanol system away from you. How many of us can REALLY watch a red warning LED and lift the moment it illuminates? You’re lying to yourself if you think your foot is faster than a computer.

With safety in mind — we worked on developing a control system that could drop the error margin and add fault detection and safeties into running methanol injection. As such the ECU takes full control — it runs the methanol injection pump, monitors the delivery of meth with a pressure sensor and monitors tank level with the level switch that is installed in the methanol tank. It also monitors for electrical faults — pressure sensor failure, level switch faults and since it’s monitoring for pressure sensor issues — pump faults (if the pump doesn’t come on, no pressure will get built — and the subsystem will failsafe and warn the driver).

We actually got to see this in action on the dyno — you can see in the following graph that the meth system hit a fail safe (dashed graph) and deactivated going to pure “pump gas” (or whatever your normal tune is) so you can continue running the engine without a hiccup (other than the obvious loss in power). I actually lifted when I saw this warning pop up on my laptop as I was tuning the car — and you can see how long it took me to react. Mind you — this was with me *actively* watching for faults as I was tuning the car. Imagine the delay if you have a problem and no failsafe? Sure, the failsafe may not save you from every problem — but it certainly goes a long way in helping avoid issues.

The Subsystem

What does it do? Other than what I’ve already discussed above. Well, here’s a quick overview. The system is totally configurable — you can chose to configure it for how it suits you.

The system has activation parameters — once those are met it “arms”. During “Arm” it will turn on pump injection and “wait” for a maximum amount of time for line pressure to build to verify the system is actively injecting water/meth. If the target line pressure is not met within a fixed amount of time — it will fault and not activate.

Assuming everything is OK with the system, it will then activate and allow you to add additional boost, ignition timing and trim the main system injection fuel volume (as already discussed) based on how much meth you are delivering. The system is fully progressive — you ramp it in as you chose fit.

If anything goes wrong — pressure drops below a set target, or above a set target (clogged nozzle?), it will failsafe. Pump dies? Pressure will drop — failsafe. Pressure sensor dies — failsafe. Low level switch indicates tank is low? Failsafe. Level switch fault? Failsafe.

Anytime there is a failsafe we run on our “normal” tune that doesn’t require the additional fuel. So you can keep on driving the car without skipping a beat.

On top of that you also have the driver notification — we’ve repurposed the “Check Engine Oil Level” prompt on the dash to come on when your tank is low if you so chose. Or you can also chose to have the check engine light illuminate when there is a subsystem fault.

What more could you want? Well if you do — we can probably develop it into this ECU.

 

 

VitR — Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel

No the title isn’t a shot at the car — I’m finding it to be a great car and the motor is turning out to be pretty solid. There’s just one thing that’s quite annoying — Honda gimped the potential of the motor with the fuel system. The D/I fuel pump is pegged out very easily once you turn the power up, which in fact leaves you literally scraping the bottom of the barrel to make a clean power curve as you’re riding a very fine line with the fuel system.

This turns out to be even more true once we put on the PRL Motorsports Intercooler on the car and found out it improves cooling efficiency to a point we were making the power we had before while running less boost. Of course we wanted to make more power and run more boost — which proved futile given the limitations we kept hitting in the fuel system.

The car is 100% OEM aside from the PRL Intercooler and we used E35 blend fuel for this test (as we wanted to see how much more we could push the motor).

Intercooler

So what did the results look like? We were able to make a clean power curve and pick up more power before the fuel system maxed out — and make roughly the same top end with less boost.

But that’s not good enough! Let’s make more… and we certainly tried. The motor wants to make power — but takes a slump after 6000 rpm. Why is this?

Well here’s why — in our MoTeC programming we’ve added code that estimates how much injection time you have left before your spark event. You need a certain amount of time left over for a clean mix in the combustion chamber before the fuel is ignited. Do not leave enough time for this to happen the engine doesn’t make power or even worse — misfires. It appears that on this motor we want at least 1.5ms of “Injection Time Remaining” to get a complete mix.

But as fuel demand on the D/I pump goes up it skips a beat and we see a large fuel pressure drop — from a target of 22.5MPa to 16.6MPa (a 6MPa or almost 900psi drop in fuel pressure). As a result of the pressure drop the injector pulse width has to increase and now we’re running out of injection time!

Really Push It

How bad does it get if you REALLY push the D/I fuel system? Well take a look at this. Wow it’s just a roller coaster ride after 5500 rpm — we were making over 390whp and would of made well over 400whp if we had the fuel…

 

You can see how tapped out the D/I fuel system was on this 29psi pull as we dropped 8MPa of fuel pressure.

Injection time remaining was super low… and the motor even misfired at 6600 rpm.

 

 

So Did the Intercooler Help?

Absolutely. Here’s some useful data from actual hard acceleration runs on the stock intercooler and with the PRL intercooler. You should note — we actually used a bit less boost on the stock intercooler runs and the stock intercooler had colder ambient temperatures versus when we ran the PRL intercooler test. However the stock intercooler still heat soaked rapidly. For comparison are runs at WOT from 1st to 3rd gear.

First on the left is the stock intercooler. Note the following — “Airbox Temperature” is the temperature sensor in the intake BEFORE the turbo and the “Inlet Air Temperature” is the temperature sensor in the intake manifold. The sensor in the intake manifold tends to heat soak at idle/low air volume conditions (not much fresh air flowing through the intake manifold).

 

On the right is the run w/ the PRL intercooler. You can note that with the stock intercooler the Inlet temperature never touches the airbox temperature and in fact starts to climb almost immediately after dropping. With the PRL intercooler the aircharge is rapidly cooled and comes down to match the temperature at the airbox — and stays steady all the way through 3rd gear and would *maybe* start to slowly climb in 4th gear.

Clearly the intercooler upgrade is worth it — especially for our road course folks.

Some Fun

After having the car for a while and getting more comfortable with the clutch — I wanted to see if it would hold a bit more torque. I brought in 23-24psi earlier in the powerband, held 24psi through the top end — and made ~390hp and just a hair shy of ~400tq.

Is there more potential there? I believe so — I think we can probably make 450wtq quite easily — if we had reliable fueling. We had a 6MPa pressure drop and the fuel pressure just did not look that great.

 

 

Some Thoughts

Yes — this is E35 fuel (we had made 360whp on 92 previously), but there will be comparable gains from this intercooler on pump gas as well. The E35 actually doesn’t bring up fuel demand *that* much over pump gas (which is E10 to begin with) — it’s about 10% more fuel. So what’s that tell us? Where the hard limit is for fuel volume with this D/I fuel system.

How much can we do on just pump gas? Maybe 400whp before we need to do secondary injection. Maybe less, maybe more. We’ll find out once we have a the PRL downpipe on the VitR!

The other option is to use a race gas that reduces fuel system demand over pump gas….

 

 

VitR — The 2018 Honda Civic Type R Experiment Begins

Oh yes, it’s on. The car is just a week old and we’ve already baselined it and tuned it. On Monday I snuck into the Honda dealership I’m on good terms with and sent myself all the Type R electrical schematics and proceeded to whip out a patch harness. I updated the code in my CivicX MoTeC M1 firmware to adapt it to the features and sensors in the Type R, but about 95% of the electronic wizardry in the Type R is based on what’s there in it’s sibling’s vehicles (1.5T vehicles).

The patch harness and all my programming was tested late Friday evening, then a scant 12 hours later we took the car to the shop to finish tuning and testing of the M1 programming. It all went very smooth. The results were fantastic even.

Keep in mind — this is a 100% stock vehicle. Everything is OEM other than our ECU.

Dynos

I know everyone is waiting for the “numbers”. So I won’t hold out, and will address some of the finer technical points further below. The car was dyno’d in 4th gear, with a baseline of about 285hp. When using 3rd gear the car dynos about 10-12hp higher. I stuck to using 4th gear however, as we’re tuning and testing the car. If you want heavily inflated numbers, multiply by 1.15 and push them at face value, I’m sure it works great to attract the uninitiated who are then in for a rude awakening at a later date.

What did she make? Just shy of 390whp and 350wtq (400 if you want to use 3rd..). This is on E30 blend fuel. 100whp over stock!

But Vit, what about on gas? Well, here’s the 92 octane plot. Just shy of 360whp and over 330wtq — an easy 70whp pick up on gas with just a tune. And I know someone is going to ask “but what about below 3200” — I sped the dyno up a HAIR since I was not sure how much torque the stock clutch would take, so it moved peak spool about 200-300 rpm. I wanted to make it through at least one tuning session on a new car without destroying a Honda clutch… as seems to have been my habit lately.

As you can also see — no more mid range torque curve twerk. This is 100% Honda’s fault. The factory tune is absolute shit. In this respect, Honda took your money and kicked you in your jewels as a reward.

And yes, I fully expect to see “450hp tuned” numbers being pushed at face value eventually by miracle dyno operators.

Can It Make More?

Absolutely, especially torque! On the corn blend, things were starting to get sketch so I stopped there for now, but I think there’s a little bit left in the tune to push it a bit further. Due to not knowing how much the stock clutch would take, instead of aiming for big torque numbers I made the decision to tune for a “flat” torque curve.

The resulting boost curve demonstrates this — 17psi climbing to 26psi to give us the torque curve we see in the E30 graph. Can you make more torque? Yes, I think 400wtq is possible as I don’t see the turbo having any problem making 28-30psi in the 3500-4000 rpm area. This is where you may run into a snag, however….

All Things D/I

The injectors on the car are about 10-12% larger than what comes in the 1.5 turbo motors. However, the D/I pump isn’t a whole lot better. When pushed, it’s starting to peg out on how much fuel volume it can deliver, and when this happens fuel pressure drops. You can see this behavior at 6100 rpm on the E30 pull.

Why does this happen? Well it’s really not a whole lot different than when an in-tank fuel pump starts to run out of flow — pressure starts to drop. The exception with D/I is the pressure drop can be quite catastrophic if you’re riding the ragged edge. As seen on gas, we were using about 155 microliters of fuel. But when we bumped up to E30, the fuel demand went up to 170 microliters of fuel and the D/I pump skipped a beat. I have some D/I control settings I can tweak in the M1, but I think even with those we’re kind of right there with the D/I pump anyway.

Fortunately the injectors still had some room to go and we were OK. What’s this tell us? Pushing 400whp+ will become interesting and tuning decisions need to be made.

Cool Things

The auto rev match feature? Yes we have it in the M1 too. How does Honda do it? There is an input shaft speed sensor that is used for decision making and rev matching.

This engine also comes with an oil pressure sensor, something new for a K series.

I have tons of data to comb through, but the initial results are quite pleasing. I think a downpipe and tuning on gas will be the next stop — should make comparable power to what we just saw on E30 (or maybe a bit more?).

VitTuned, CivicX and MoTeC

While this blog may lead you to believe things are quiet, that would be a false assumption! The gears have been turning and I’ve spent a lot of time and had a lot of fun reverse engineering all the various systems on the new 10th Gen Honda Civic platform (“CivicX”) to implement our MoTeC M1 solution. Both on the 1.5 turbo motors and the 2.0 Type R turbo engines.

While the process to reverse engineer not only the Honda CAN (which we have plenty of experience with from previous platforms) but now in turn a whole new engine and direct injection (D/I) fuel system was involved — it was also quite fun. This involved using some advanced tools and scoping the various systems — D/I pump, D/I injectors and their relation to the cam and crank triggers on the vehicle.

So while it was a TON of work, a lot was learned in the process and we gathered a literal treasure trove of data and insight into the platform that no one else has or can provide any kind of insight on.

The Basics

So what did we need to figure out to run this motor?

  • Engine Trigger pattern. Scoped and submitted to be added to the system.
  • D/I Fuel pump ECU control strategy.
  • D/I cam lobe delivery angle data.
  • D/I Injector ECU control strategy.
  • Bypass valve control strategy (the “BOV” on this car isn’t just a BOV — the ECU tells it when to vent and when not to vent).
  • Turbocharger wastegate control strategy.

Obviously there’s a bit more to it in the tuning, but these are the critical systems we had to look at to fire up and run and then tune the engine.

Injectors

The injectors were actually fairly straightforward — I grabbed some data using our Rigol oscilloscope and from the wave forms you can extrapolate the data needed to run the injectors precisely.

Minimal amount of snafus along the way.

 

 

D/I Fuel Pump

Now this was more involved — we started with scope data as well, but there is a lot involved in running the D/I pump correctly. You have to determine WHEN to actuate the solenoid in the pump relative to crank position as well as determine how long to pulse it, at what angle to pulse it and what angle to hold it open to.

Get something wrong — and you don’t make any fuel pressure, or you get sporadic fuel pressure.

 

Boost Servo & “BOV”

Traditional boost control is done using a boost solenoid — a simple valve. Honda implemented an internal wastegate in their turbochargers using a servo to open and close the wastegate. This is actually superior to using a solenoid as you can have PRECISE control of your wastegate, which allows for much more predictable boost control — with the correct software implementation. What Honda did in the stock ecu is actually pretty lame, and obviously it was done so with their own goals in mind.

But we don’t care about any of that — we implemented our own strategy for controlling the wastegate (“Boost Servo”) that literally allows you to snap to your boost target as fast as the turbo can do it and just SIT on that target without any fuss.

The BOV is also run by the ECU — this is so that on overboost situations the ECU can “vent” (recirculate) boost to get back to target. We implement an advanced strategy for running the bypass valve as well — with the ability to not only vent on overboost (if the situation arise) but during rapid throttle changes as well as complete lift off.

Honda CAN

There’s all kinds of useful goodies here!

 

 

 

Traction Control

Of course everyone’s biggest complaint is how intrusive and difficult to disable the factory VSA/TC is. This is no longer a problem — this system does not interfere with driver input and we have our own traction control strategy that is much more advanced and fully tune-able in place.  You don’t even have to push the VSA/TC button anymore. It just works.

You can chose to adjust ignition timing, boost, throttle position, cyclic ignition cut or cyclic fuel cut in any fashion you chose. And as you can see, it works quite well!

Knock System

Protecting the engine is key. The knock system we have in place is based on a strategy we use on other vehicles such as the 370Z — not only can the ECU do “live” corrections for detected knock, the ECU will also “learn” and adapt to make broad timing corrections as you chose in case you run into poor fuel or just an unexpected situation.

But how does the ECU detect knock? We’re using the OEM Honda knock sensor, and like any knock sensor — it is essentially a microphone. The DSP logic in the ECU is then programmed to listen for “noise” at a specific frequency during a specific time. The ECU is then “tuned” with an acceptable noise threshold and anything over this threshold is “knock” that the ECU must then make a decision on whether to react to it or not. Honda did this by implementing a moving target called “Knock Control”. Some so called “pros” have made comments about this system and how it functions — demonstrating their absolute ignorance. We’ve dug through the stock ECU in depth and seen how this “Knock Control” value moves — in several cases it will move without actually seeing any knock.

Why? Because protecting the engine is always key. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and reduce power than to ruin a motor. I don’t disagree with this kind of strategy from the OEM’s perspective — their goal is to produce a reliable car that will run for hundreds of thousands of miles.

But, let’s show you some examples of what “might” look like knock. Here’s a couple screen shots of datalogs recorded using knock detection on not just ONE frequency, but FOUR frequencies. You

can see the noise levels and the threshold I’ve tuned for each cylinder.

You can spy that in the screenshots there are HUGE spikes past the threshold. Man this thing’s about to eat itself alive.

Wrong.

In the first situation the “knock” actually happened during anti-lag when a spark cut was active. Just so happened the pops and bangs produced the right frequency at the right time through the engine/engine bay to trigger the knock sensor (“microphone”).

In the second situation… well see for yourself. The car was in first gear and very actively on the traction control — which caught a bit of wheel hop, and you guessed it, just so happened to make the right amount of noise at the right time.

I also have knock plots of REAL audible knock. They actually look nothing like these examples, I’ll be keeping them to myself for now.

But to summarize — the ECU has to make decisions… so, once again, it’s better to err on the side of caution. But just because someone stuck “pro” to their screen-name, doesn’t mean they know a damn thing or understand what the ECU is doing in the background in it’s glorious totality.

Data Data Data

In this case a picture is worth a thousand words, for sure. The treasure trove of data we’ve recorded is priceless. At any time the engine is running, we’re recording over 300 channels of data, with even more available if we need anything on those other systems.

This system also helps facilitate in rapid development and testing that is unparalleled. As we develop  and test parts — we can put them on and have them tuned with every data point imaginable filed away for future reference. Because we’re working on the same car/engine, the things we learn translate over to tuning we do for the platform using the stock ECU — and our recommendation is getting yourself a KTuner unit if you cannot afford our MoTeC programming. They’ve been awesome about listening to input and providing rapid development for features and products we’ve been developing and testing!

Type R

Is next. Stay tuned for another update.

The 10th Gen Civic Si Basemaps

It feels like I’ve been bombarded lately with questions on what X basemap on Y device maps for power (“numbers”). I admit I’ve been slacking on getting these results for you guys as my attention has been on taking care of customers and elsewhere (busy busy!).

Turns out I had a lazy Sunday this Labor Day weekend so I rolled the Si into the shop and spent  a few hours testing the various supplied basemaps provided by Hondata and KTuner. It’s a pleasure to be in a somewhat unique position where I can use and support both systems — as such I can fairly readily go between them.

Bias

This needs to be nipped in the bud. Some people seem to confuse “preference” with “bias”, and they simply are not the same. I’ve already seen some keyboard warriors claiming “bias”.

Prefer – like one thing better than another; tend to chose.

Bias – prejudice in favor of or against one thing or another.

The definitions are quite simple, and I can completely understand how one person that favors a product would think someone else is “bias” because they favor another.

Simple fact though: I’m in different. It’s like claiming I’m biased for Skunk2 since we sell and recommend their header on older platforms. Silly — as I tune cars with a plethora of parts. Not any different here — I tune either system for my customers since I support both which leaves the CivicX community with a choice of two systems (refreshing!).

Testing Procedure

The procedure used is fairly simple — flash the ECU with the basemap of choice, put the car in gear, let the dyno load it, and off it goes. The dyno was run the EXACT same way every pull. No trickery or “heat soaking” was employed — all runs were started around 170 ECT and steady state IAT for the current shop/weather conditions. All the basemaps were run as they come — no changes (with Hondata starting at ~.57-.58 knock control and KTuner starting at ~0.59 knock control — which is how my car started at ‘key on’ with both systems). Easy enough test for anyone else to replicate.

I ran the Hondata +9 calibration, then the +6 calibration, then completely stock (reverted to stock, settled knock control at 0.55). Lastly I ran the KTuner 21psi and then the KTuner 23psi calibrations. If anything, this would of favored the Hondata calibrations as they were run first before the car raised the dyno bay area temps a bit — for anyone claiming “bias”.

We are using 92 octane pump gas fuel (no blends — wouldn’t work anyway).

The car has a PRL downpipe on it — that’s the only mod besides the Clutchmasters clutch. Originally the car had dyno’d about 206hp completely stock, in a bit better weather conditions. This time around it made about 210hp stock — so even without a tune it’s safe to say the PRL downpipe made 5-6hp or so. This is really irrelevant to the test at hand as the results are comparable to the baseline (more of an FYI).

Hondata Results

First, the Hondata +9 calibration. This calibration makes about 23psi peak boost. About 257wtq and 210whp. Roughly 30whp and 40-45wtq over stock.

Then the Hondata +6 calibration. This calibration makes about 21psi peak boost. About 214whp and 245wtq. Looks like about 25wtq and 25whp over stock.

What I found peculiar is we actually lost some initial spool and the +6 calibration actually had a better power curve after about 5000 rpm (made 3-4hp more). Power curve above ~5800 rpm really wasn’t any better than stock.

I can hear it now — but but but Hondata says they made 232whp! And once again I have to repeat like a broken record: EVERY DYNO IS DIFFERENT. They are a tuning tool, nothing more. Some read low, some read high. In my test on this car I found their figures to be about 10-11% higher than how my dyno reads — I haven’t touched or altered their supplied tunes in any way. Historically the dyno they use reads 10-15% higher for the Hondas I’ve tuned in that area (I’ve used the dyno they use countless times on trips to SoCal). Remember — you’re not racing your dyno sheet, you’re racing your CAR.

KTuner Results

First, the 21psi calibration. Peak boost is 21psi as noted. Looks like about 214whp and 260wtq. Roughly 40-45wtq over stock and also about 30whp over stock.

Next the 23psi calibration. Peak boost is 23psi as noted. About 214-215whp with 275wtq and a wider power curve to boot. Looks like about 50wtq over stock and 30-35whp over stock.

The only thing that was peculiar is the same issue where the power curve above ~5800 really isn’t any better than stock.

Custom Tuning

It goes without saying that custom tuning is recommended for either system – not only can you dial in the extra settings in the calibration (“tune”) . You also get the assurance that the tune was looked at on YOUR car, YOUR fuel, as YOU drive it and get the support that comes with custom tuning.

Tuning services are available for both systems:

http://vittuned.com/ktuner-etune.html

http://vittuned.com/ultimate-tune.html

As well as combo packages for both:

http://vittuned.com/ktunerflash-etune-combo.html

http://vittuned.com/flashpro-ultimate-tune.html

And I know it’s going to be asked — we use KTuner on our car as it is my God given right to CHOSE what I use on MY car. As it is everyone’s right.

Making Power On The Civic X: Full Disclosure

One of the most fun parts of a new platform is experimentation — not with just the innards of the ECU but testing various fuels. We entered for the foray with the 2017 EX-T turbo 1.5L “base” Civic in December 2016 and started making great power with a completely stock car. What we didn’t disclose publicly are what fuels or fuel blends (more on that!) we were using to make power.

We have D/I experience dating back over 5-6 years and a lot of that carries over to the new Honda platforms. This isn’t something that can be said of the general Honda performance community as D/I for Honda is very fresh (and it’s an exciting change!).

To test the various fuels we needed proper ECU control to do so and to make sure the vehicle drivability maintained perfect — KTuner was able to provide us with rapid development and table access to get this done, and in that time we’ve helped countless customers make not just good power, but also clean, smooth pulling power curves.

So what’s the trick?

It’s really quite simple — ethanol. E85 is all the rage, however it is not needed in large quantities on D/I motors. A couple gallons actually suffice just fine. The optimal blend is actually around 25-30% ethanol content in the fuel to reach an MBT timing map (timing map for best power), after that the benefits of ethanol is actually outweighed by the stress on a limited fuel system on most cars — you get a tad more charge cooling (most of it is already realized in the 25-30% area). What’s that come out to? 2.5 gallons of “E85” mixed with 7 gallons of 91-93 octane works superbly (we actually went so far as doing 2.5 gallons and 7 gallons of 87 octane, which also worked just fine!)

The next step is to be able to bump direct injection pressures a bit — the stock CivicX D/I fuel system runs at about 18MPa of fuel pressure, and you can safely raise up to ~21.5MPa which gives you a significant amount of injector overhead (have to be careful — ~22MPa you start hitting the pressure relief, and it’s not something you want to hammer on).

On the ‘base’ EX-T we were able to make ~245-247whp & 300wtq safely on a COMPLETELY stock car and a stock clutch before it slipped — and we got on the horn with ClutchMasters very early on to have a clutch developed for this platform — which was ready for us as soon as we picked up our 2017 Si first week of June!

Si? Yes yes!

Once we got the Si and a clutch we repeated the same tests — making 255whp on a safe level, and ~275whp on a very aggressive level (33psi! — can’t do this long term because the map sensors max out at 29psi) using the same ethanol blend.

But that’s not all, there are better blends of ethanol. Ignite Red or what we really liked — VP’s C85. Using the same blend ratio of C85 we were able to SAFELY (without pegging the factory map sensors) make another 10-12whp.

The little 1.5T in these cars is very potent — torque levels as high as 350wtq can be attained easily, but caution is advised as who knows how long the rods will handle that kind of torque level in the low end/mid range, especially if you like lugging this motor in high gear.

And before you ask — yes, you can do this on the CVT, but KTuner is highly advised as they are the only ones to offer a fully “unlocked” solution for tuning the CVT as we see fit. We can bring down the torque levels and get the cars another ~20whp easily and safely.

Also — expect to see roughly ~10% higher figures in other locations as we have a fairly conservative reading dyno, historically (stock 8th does 172, 9th does 160-170, on and on).

Laying Into the 2017 Honda Civic Si

Well now that I’ve changed out the clutch on our test mule 10th Gen Civic Si I’m able to lay into it and see what this baby turbo with the 1.5L motor can really do. Thank you to ClutchMasters for providing us with a very strong clutch — it held up through all the abuse I just put this car through.

I am currently using KTuner on our test vehicle as this is the only software available to me that provides me with all the necessary control to really work on the innards of this ECU and dig deep into what this motor, turbo and ECU can do. Big thank you to them for providing the software we needed to get some serious testing under way.

Shut Up and Tell Me How She Did Already?

I have to say I am very pleased with the way this car not only drives, but makes power — it’s a VERY broad power curve and this is very noticeable when driving the car. She laid down over 255whp and 320wtq, and you can see the power curve is quite “fat”. This power was still made running quite an aggressive tune — but nowhere near any ECU or software limits.

However — for the sake of longevity I dialed the car back into the ~240-245whp and ~290-300wtq area for myself as I want the car not to just “make power” — which is something people tunnel vision on — but I also want it to be reliable. This car is our test mule and we have some more plans for it.

What About These Limits You Mentioned?

This was actually quite fun — in the ECU we’ve already raised all sorts of “limits” to allow us to make power (no throttle pullback, increasing boost targets, etc). However there’s always *something* lurking when you really push things. Which is exactly what I did — I went all out on the baby turbo to see what she could do, and sure enough, I clipped a very brutal boost “limp mode” type situation in the ECU that you can see killed power quite aggressively after 4500 rpm.

There’s two things we can discuss and analyze from this.

First — clearly the baby turbo can do LOTS of boost in the mid range — which continues to make a LOT of torque. As a result, our peak HP spot goes down in the powerband (and I drew in what a potential curve without the limits would look like given what I already know about the turbos capabilities after 5500 rpm). But as horsepower is just a function of torque — if you make enough torque you can make “more horsepower”. As you can see — we’re in the 270whp area! The side effect of this is you have to run the motor with a LOT more torque as your usable powerband for best acceleration actually goes down.

Which brings us to the second point — do you really want to be laying 340wtq into this motor? I think it’s very cool from a testing perspective to see what we can do — but may not be practical for day to day use or the longevity of the motor.

 

 

 

Introducing the 2017 Honda Civic Si

So this just happened. Yup, it’s been a hectic couple months and through it all I’ve been waiting for our 2017 Si to arrive. We traded our 17 EX-T sedan test mule in for this one. I picked up the car with just 12 miles on it, fresh off the truck. The fit, feel and drive of this Si is way different from the EX-T Sedan, and even different to that of the previous generation Si’s — but that’s for another post.

After rolling 142 miles on the car between driving it home from the dealer and to the shop, I put it on the dyno for some baseline testing and a mild tune. Right off the bat I was not happy with the clutch — it’s the same setup (other than the flywheel) as the base model 1.5T vehicles and on a couple of street tests in 3rd gear I already noticed clutch slip between 2500 and 3000 rpm at WOT. Wonderful. More on that later.

The Baseline

First — the car came with a tank of 87 octane, not ideal for a sports model Civic, and we know these things will make more power on premium grade fuel (92-93 octane in our tests). I baselined it on 87 octane anyway. Solid is the Si, dashed is the EX-T. The upgrades on the Si clearly make more power than the base 1.5T — and at “only” ~17.8psi (yup, our car never hit advertised boost levels by Honda). 191whp and 208wtq. Not bad.

I ditched the 87 octane and got premium fuel in the car. I also sped the dyno up slightly as I was concerned with clutch slip (Dynapack allows you to control the acceleration rate of the motor — the “ramp rate”).  The graph on the right shows what the Si makes on premium grade fuel (Si is solid again) vs our base EX-T. I noted no slip at this ramp rate, so I put the dyno back to the original speed and did another pull — and of course with the boost coming in sooner the car made more torque, and we hit some clutch slip (as you can see — chart on the left).  So looks like on 92-93 octane we will see anywhere from 200-206whp and 210-220wtq (depending on your luck with the clutch). So right around advertised power at the crank, but to the tire… with more torque than advertised (actually).

How Does This Compare Vs The Previous Si?

I’ve been around long enough to watch the Internet explode with drama every time Honda releases a new generation of Civic. The subjective arguments of it “looks like blah blah” or blasting for Honda not doing this or that (only 205hp what?). I think we all need to settle down and just accept that Honda builds the Civic Si as a sporty econobox. That’s what they’ve always done, that is their target audience — and the cars seem to sell, so they can’t possibly be getting it all wrong?

So, here’s what they’ve done this time around. To the right — solid is the 2017 Si, bone stock. Dashed is a bone stock 9th gen Si. Wow, the 2017 Si makes a good 50-60 wheel torque and a good 40whp more than the last generation Si it’s replacing.

How about a stock 8th gen Si? It’s not even a comparison, it makes 100wtq more through the usable power range than the 8th gen Si and 75whp more (sure, only “30” hp peak — the K20 has always been high strong and peak HP doesn’t win you any races).

Well, let’s throw some bolt ons at the 9th gen Si and see how it compares to the 2017 Si? Solid is the 2017 Si again.

 

How about the bolt on 8th gen? Solid is the 2017 Si once again.

Clearly Honda got it all wrong? I don’t think so. I’ve owned and driven all the generations of these cars in every fashion — stock, bolt on, supercharged and turbocharged. While we did get rid of our 2013 Si, I still have our 2008 Si (a 900whp+ built car is hard to part with — a lot of upkeep but oh so much fun).

Let’s Throw a Mild Tune At It

With the clutch not wanting to hold even stock power on premium fuel, I didn’t want to get too crazy with the tune on the 2017 Si — yet. Hopefully 142 miles just isn’t enough break in on the clutch and it’ll improve with some drive time (already have a better clutch waiting as well). So just to be clear — I intentionally limited potential power gains and stayed under 230wtq to avoid damaging the obviously fresh clutch on the car. I actually detuned and lowered boost from 3000 to 4000 rpm. My goal was to fatten up the powerband and tune out the “pullback” even this sports model suffers from (throttle closures which also cause boost to get pulled back).

Mission accomplished. While keeping the mid range/low end relatively stock we were still able to net 50wtq and 40-45whp over stock through the curve (with about 20hp peak). This is a nice improvement in the way the car accelerates.

Is there more in it? From what we’ve seen on the base 1.5T which make over 240whp and 300wtq, absolutely. Stay tuned to see us squeeze the Si for all she’s got once it’s got a few more miles on it — only 24 hours old and I’m already putting her through the grinder.

 

 

 

Tested: PRL Motorsports CivicX RACE Downpipe

Well, after not getting any results worth talking about using my high octane fuel PRL has dubbed as my “secret sauce”, it was time to go back to low octane fuel and see what this downpipe could do — if anything. As much fun as it is to just push the motor and turbo to it’s full potential using the best stuff you can throw at it — testing on the average every day fuel most people will use is more realistic. And well — nothing gets more real than running this car on 87 octane, probably the lowest octane you can get in the USA (I’ve seen a few remote locations with 85 or 86 octane, but that’s really rare).

The results were pleasing.

Prologue

I feel that I have to explain a little bit of the innards of the ECU here, so some of the results will make sense. For anyone installing the PRL downpipe and expecting some results with either the factory tune or one of the basemaps with their tuner of choice, you need to understand where some of the “gains” are coming from.

The CivicX ECU doesn’t use a standard turbo wastegate for boost control — it uses an electronic wastegate run by the ECU. This is more complex and actually very cool. Most “standard” boost control systems use a boost solenoid (mac valve or similar) and when you ask for, say, 20psi, it tries to target that immediately and let the turbo wind up as fast as it can.

This is not the case with the CivicX. Honda uses a “slope” or “ramp” style boost control. Essentially it knows “X” wastegate position means “Y” boost and will actually “ramp” or “spool” the turbo at a fixed rate to get there. This induces artificial turbo lag. I believe this is done in part to protect the CVT trans and possibly to protect the motor — as this little turbo has the potential to “wind up” (spool) VERY quickly if it’s unleashed.

So why is this distinction important? Advertising that anything will make “peak torque sooner” is actually not quite true. In repeatable and consistent tests peak torque is always the same spot as that is where the ECU finally lets the turbo reach it’s target boost. If we didn’t have this control in the ECU I can imagine peak torque being 2200-2500 rpm on this motor with this downpipe.

However, since the ECU is programmed for a STOCK downpipe, when you install an aftermarket downpipe (PRL’s in this case), the exhaust flows more freely and as a result the turbo will TRY to make more boost than the ECU wants and at potentially a little different “ramp” as the wastegate control in the ECU isn’t compensated for this new part.

So what did I find? When I tuned the car stock on 87 octane bone stock, I targetted 18.4psi and the boost level stayed very close to target boost. To try and give us 1:1 results at the same boost level, I actually had to target 17.5psi to get the same boost level I had before installing the downpipe. You can see this in the side by side comparison in the image to the left. I forgot to get this dyno comparison off the dyno computer before I left the shop, but keeping boost the same we saw 8-9whp on the top end and 10-20wtq gained. Keep in mind this is over our “stock tuned” 87 octane test — so we’d already worked on the timing map and fueling a bit as well. You’ll also note as we put load on the car before starting the pull — the turbo was already making almost 2psi more than before the downpipe — this will come into play later.

What does this mean to YOU? If you’re running the same tune with a freer flowing downpipe you will artificially increase the boost level a bit. This will have gains on lower octane fuel as you’re not at peak turbo performance on the stock downpipe on lower octane fuels. Just understand where those gains are coming from — it’s not all just the “tune” at this point. The ECU *will* try to normalize the boost control and bring it back down to the target as the pull goes on (as you can see it happening).

The Install

The PRL items, as always, are quality pieces. Very well done items and fitment on our car was like a glove. No rattles, no rubbing. If you don’t have a lift the install will be a bit more entertaining. On my lift it took about 2 hours to get the stock items off and this one installed. The studs in the turbo can be interesting — PRL broke theirs. I managed to get mine off without any breakage or stripping with the use of some magic lube.

Some pics, of course.

So What About The Toon?

Note: blue is HP, yellow is TORQUE, orange is BOOST.

So let’s try to give it a bit more boost and see what happens? Increased the boost level about 1psi (don’t want to go crazy with 87 octane) after adjusting the timing map and such — and the results were nice. 20whp and 30-32wtq gained.

Torque came in sooner too, right? Of course — if we didn’t have the “ramp” based boost control it would of come in even sooner, but we got maybe a 200-300 rpm improvement because the turbo just wants to GOOOO with the free flowing downpipe, even if the ecu doesn’t want to let it! Peak torque however — was still the same spot. This should never really change as long as the load & ramp rate of the pull is consistent (not all dynos can control this — and certainly load will vary on the street).

But hey, let’s try to give it a little bit more. In the dashed line we increased boost a bit more (with a few other changes), and as you can see the gains were marginal — a bit more torque, but top end HP actually suffered a bit. We’re now at the limits of the fuel and I was starting to see the knock limit approaching very rapidly — don’t want to run here long term at all for reliability’s sake. But hey, overall we still saw 5-8wtq more which amounted to 35-40wtq through the mid range and we still picked up 20wtq up top.

So if you want to run on readily available fuels and not go hunting for race gas or some sort of “secret sauce” (lol), then PRL has a great RACE downpipe. Expect to see diminishing returns in how much HP you can make with better fuel — on 93 expect maybe 8-10whp more with this downpipe. Of course more torque as well — if your clutch can take it.

Vs Bone Stone?

Don’t really need an explanation I think?

87 octane fuel.

 

 

 

 

Where can you get all these goodies? Right here, along with tunings and custom tuning!

http://vittuned.com/2016-civicx-1-5t-3-downpipe-front-pipe-combo-pre-order.html

Tuners vs Tooners

It has been a while since I’ve posted a good rant as I have been busy hitting the ground running in 2017. Kevin’s 9th gen Civic Si is alive and laying down some solid power with our MoTeC programming and we’ve done a lot of testing (lots in the background beyond the power/tuning figures I posted) on the new CivicX platform. We also have a project I’m really looking forward to coming into the shop soon — a certain yellow Chevelle we’re converting to fuel injection and building a MoTeC ECU for a twin turbo 76mm setup. More 9th and 8th gen Si’s coming in for MoTeC installs as well…

More on that stuff later as it progresses… on to the rant.

My Tuner Is Legit

You know we’ve all heard this one — but when they tag their tuner, no one’s ever heard of that one.

Not to say that automatically implies the said person isn’t a magician at their trade. But the reality and years in this business has made me a skeptic. I’ve been sent plenty of datalogs to review where the owner thought the car “drove fine” where in reality it was not even remotely close and was improved on significantly. It just exemplifies the ignorance when it comes to what a “properly tuned car” is. And really, the average enthusiast/car owner/racer shouldn’t really have to care or worry about it — it is in fact not their job to set the ECU up properly. They are paying for it to be done right.

Tuning

I feel like a broken record on this one point, as this argument comes up a lot. Tuning isn’t just about power. YOU CAN ALWAYS MAKE MORE POWER. Either with better parts, better fuel, or running the motor harder (the “tune”). In some of those scenarios you’re in a situation where you are going to trade off “more power” for reliability. And a dyno is a tool — it was not invented so we can go around racing the dyno sheets and arguing about “making power”. It’s a tool designed to let the operator run tests and make CONSCIOUS DECISIONS about how they are going to CHOSE to run a motor — and this will vary depending on the venue the car is used in.

The “basics” of tuning an engine, any engine, is mostly the same from platform to platform, car to car. Fuel injection is fuel injection, whether it’s port or direct — there are some differences, obviously, but the concepts of fueling & ignition timing (then throw in cam timing) do not really vary from engine to engine. If you can tune one engine on one platform, you can tune another engine on another platform.

Can’t Be That Hard Then?

So where does the complexity arise? The ECU’s themselves. This is where the platforms start to vary and the actual work, experience & knowledge start to come in to play. The way Honda does things in the ECU is different from how Ford does it which is different from how Subaru does it which is different from how Toyota does it which is different from how Chevy does it, on and on. I work on a large variety of platforms, the ECU’s can be wildly different.

This is where someone that is only familiar with one way of doing something because that is the only platform they work on (or mostly work on and see something else very rarely) will stumble and produce results which are not the best.

Tuners

You can literally spend weeks if not months figuring out how to setup a calibration (the “tune” file) properly to get the ECU to do what you want it to do not only repeatedly, but safely.

So what have we done to figure out what strategies to employee to run the motors with the factory ECU’s? Well — either I work closely with a friend/customer that has a certain platform or we have purchased and own (or have owned) our own cars to test on. This way I have a car readily available to not only test parts on — but to test different strategies on and figure out what the ECU is actually doing with the input in the exposed tables in the software and whether the results are good or bad and something underlying in the ECU needs to be changed.

This is a hefty investment in not just resources — but time. And largely this investment isn’t appreciated or is under appreciated as no one is really aware of what has gone in to get a certain platform to where it is today.

Tooners

I’m going to be very blunt here — there’s a million of these guys. Anyone with a $150 laptop, some free software and a base file or two can pass off as a “tuner”. This doesn’t just apply to the Honda market — I’ve watched it grow and repeat in the Subaru, Ford, Chevy and even some stand alone ECU markets. I’m sure it happens on anything that you can “tune”.

So what actually happens? It’s very simple — on most solutions it’s virtually impossible to protect your work. So after a car has been tuned and is out in the “wild”, either the owner takes it to a dyno day or the car is sold and the next owner takes it to someone… and something as basic as this happens: plug into the ECU/device and click “Download”.

Done, you’ve pulled the calibration (“tune”) off the device or the ECU, and from there on they can claim it is there’s.

You are now a legit tuner and I’m sure the car(s) the calibrations are being recycled on even drive alright.

Who’s going to know it wasn’t your work, right?

Guess what, I know. Anyone that’s developed a calibration from scratch on any platform will know when their work has been ripped off and recycled.

Some are doing it so flagrantly that literally the whole calibration is 99% identical to what was ripped off the device/ECU. Not even changing any notes or comments. They have absolutely no clue what they are looking at but making a buck off someone that is oblivious to what is actually happening is just easy money. Hey it drives fine and the owner of the car is happy, so screw it?

Then there is the other crowd — they are pulling/ripping the maps, and then analyze them to figure out what you did and they duplicate it in their own calibrations. This is known as “R&D” (read & duplicate). They understand the basics, but when it comes to the platform, really have no idea what they are looking for beyond just that — the basics (fuel/timing). As long as they can duplicate it to get the results, they are happy and their customers are oblivious.

In both situations I’ve watched the tooners and their “fans” defend them tooth and nail. In situations where I absolutely know this “map hijacking” is happening. They will, of course, deny it til they are blue in the face. Can’t admit to it, ruins their credibility right? Lol, what credibility?

Really, it is flattering, I guess?

But what stems from this is having to wade through oceans of bullshit.

So How’s This Happen?

Not only is the ease in which maps (“tunes”) can be pulled, but the tactics they use, are really disgusting. I’ve witnessed maps get pulled off cars on dyno days where the car was just there for a baseline and the laptop had no reason to be near the vehicle. A certain customer of mine had his VTEC Killer tune ripped off his laptop via a remote “support” session (lol?). One even had a map ripped from him under pretenses of “making the tune better”, which when comparing the “changed” calibration (99.9% identical to what he had to start with anyway…) was leaning the car out to something ridiculous like 13.88 A/F under WOT — so in reality he actually paid someone $50 to rip the map to use as their own. Yes this actually happened — I was dumbfounded when I was told about the situation (I was down in SoCal on a trip and he swung by to have his car retuned in person for the S/C he was having a friend’s shop install on his car while I was in town).

In fact, the most common ways the maps find their way into the hands of tooners is under pretenses of “making more power”. It’s disgusting and I can only hope people do their research and understand that very little in tuning is about just making power and getting a number.

It really is a vicious cycle — I’ve personally witnessed this happen over the 10 years in the Honda market. As the 8th gen Civics and 9th gen Civics got older more and more tooners were popping up out of the woods offering “tunes”. They were absolutely nowhere to be found when the platform was in it’s infancy and just starting out. And they are still nowhere to be found in any of the circles that are trying to advance the platform in one way or another.

Some of the names I even recognized from customers who had paid me to tune their own personal vehicles — are now proclaimed legit tuners. Gee I wonder where they got their maps?

I’m sure recycling cooking cutter bolt on and light F/I (basic s/c and such) maps is one hell of a market. I’m sure it is a hell of a lot easier and much less of an investment than having to devote countless hours/days/months of your time to actually developing the platform, arguing with the company developing the tuning software to get improvements added and figuring out what’s what.

Oh well, back to the grind I go, I guess.