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).

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

What About Dat Short Ram Intake Doe?

Back to Honda today…

If there is one question on the interwebs that bugs the crap out of me, it’s definitely “What intake should I buy?”. Really? Come on! In this day and age Google knows that answer. So I’m not going to talk about what intake you SHOULD buy, but what intake you SHOULD NOT buy.

Short Ram Intakes Suck

Now I do realize this is a bit of a generalization as there are some exceptions (namely SRI’s designed to point at fresh air and are directed completely away from any heat sources).

Generally the SRI style intakes commonly found on the 8th and 9th gen platforms all point the filter/inlet at the back of the engine bay. This is just plain dumb. Some people will argue that the intakes do “make power” and the manufacturers claim absurd (and unrealistic) “gains” from this style of intake.

The actual FACT is these style of intakes breath hot air from the back of the engine bay — fresh air rarely, if ever, makes it to the intake and it’s pulling very hot air from an area of the engine bay where the exhaust manifold is emanating a generous amount of heat. Hot air does not make power — in fact it creates a scenario that is unsafe for optimal engine operation and you have to “dial the tune back”, something I’ll address in a bit.

The Snorkel Mod

This is a fun mod — I’ve seen this a lot and some places claim to do this to try and create “conditions similar to the street when the car is moving”. So at the heart of it they know these intakes breath hot air. This is just a cop out to “make numbers” — gotta get a print out to race the dyno sheet online, right? I don’t care about “numbers”, if my dyno generated absolutely no numbers and just a power curve I could still do my job. We sell tunes, not numbers. Let that sink in.

So what do they do? They point the IMG_0953intake out of the engine bay to artificially reduce intake air temps (“IATs”). Sorry to break it for you — this doesn’t mimic actual road driving even remotely. I actually see IATs dramatically increase in “normal” driving conditions — as high as 40-60 degrees over ambient with these style intakes.

So let’s use the tool at our disposal — the dyno — to get empirical data on how the engine is affected by changing the position of this style SRI.

The Test

vs_stockThe car in question is a 2013 Civic Si w/ said SRI, catted Full Race DP, RBC swap and stock exhaust. The change over a completely stock car looks like so. Overall not a bad gain, and as always, the RBC sacrifices mid range over the stock intake manifold.

Now that we have done the “tuning” to extract power, let’s see how intake vs_in_engineplacement affects power. We turn the SRI back into the engine — but leave the hood open, and do a subsequent pull (making sure engine conditions are at steady state — meaning we don’t have a heat soaked car with a high ECT, we make sure we start at the same temps as a high ECT will cost power as well and render our test meaningless). The chart to the left demonstrates this change — all we did was lay the intake back in the engine bay — and we lost on average 10-12whp and 10-14wtq! Really?? What???? WHY IS THIS??

shut_hoodBut it gets better, what happens we if shut the hood? Whoops — looks like we lost another 5-8whp and 5-6wtq just full_vs_shuthoodshutting the hood over our previous pull. The left chart demonstrates how much we lost overall — as much as 20whp! No way, right? Yes way!

Why Does This Happen?

This is actually quite simple — when you tune a car, particularly on the dyno, you are tuning in as close to steady state conditions as possible. You do this so when you make changes in the ECU (“Tune”) you can verify your changes have some sort of impact on the way the motor runs. Whether this is good or bad. You also have to make conscious decisions on how you want to leave the motor running long term — these should be intelligent decisions as they will dictateiat not only long term reliability but how well the motor runs in dynamic conditions which the ECU does have to account for.

So why the power loss? Quite simply, Intake Air Temps went up and the motor got warmer air as conditions changed. The read outs to the right indicate what the intake air temp (IAT) was on each pull. As the IAT went up, we had a respective drop in power. Will this drop in power continue to get worse as IAT climbs further? Absolutely.

In fact, as IAT climbs, the motor will run hotter and less “stable” (to put it in simple terms), which will create situations in which the motor can “knock” or “detonate” — which is an unsafe condition where your combustion event is no longer in a safe and controlled burn and will destroy your motor if left running in this state. The ECU allows us to account for this timing_reductionbehavior — by reducing time and/or adding fuel. An example of this is in the table to the left. Does reducing timing hurt power? Absolutely. Is it necessary? When the motor could potentially see unsafe running conditions — absolutely. You want to protect the motor as much as you want to make power.

Tuning Tool

Now back to those dyno “numbers”. A dyno, any dyno, is a tool. You can take your car to 15 dynos and get 15 completely different “numbers”. You can always “make more power” when you stick a car on the dyno and make changes in steady state conditions — especially if you disable any of the dynamic compensations the ECU will apply to protect the motor. Factor in strap down variances (particularly on roller style dynos) and your numbers will potentially be all over the place from day to day, dyno to dyno, etc.

I use the dyno as the tool it was meant to be. Making power is awesome — fun even, but at the root of it, the correct PARTS will make power, and will potentially make better power in fluid day to day conditions as well. The tools at my disafr.pnposal will let me find where the motor runs best, runs safest, and how it responds to the changes I make.  Tests like finding out what AFR the motor runs best at — and what AFR it actually starts to lose power (from either running too hot, or “choking” on the fuel). Yes the plot to the right is an N/A 9th gen, the AFR it loves to run at might surprise you — it definitely isn’t 13.88.

In Conclusion

It’s easy to hit the plus key on your keyboard and keep on pumping timing into the motor to “make power”. It’s all fun and gains til it melts a piston or throws a rod and the oil pump “failing” gets blamed for the motor going out. We’ll be having none of that here — a lot more to tuning than “making power”, sorry.

 

I’m The Best Tooner In The World!

Because I made X amount of power or I made Y amount more power than Joe Bob Smith!

Now that I have your attention, it’s time to get serious.

This blog has been a bit quiet since I’ve been busying moving into the new shop, getting the new 4WD dyno setup operational and all that MoTeC development (more on that another day… you guys following our FB, YouTube & Instagram have probably seen some of it)!

What I wanted to discuss and address today is a small scope of what “tuning” is and what role “making power” plays into it — with some practical examples.

What is Tuning?

A lot of people bring their car in or buy a tune and want to make more power. I have to break it to you — this is the lowest form of tuning. A trained monkey can run a car on a dyno, smash on their laptop and make the dyno graph go up. None of this is any indication the actual calibration (“tune”) was done properly or any intelligent decisions were made.

That’s the biggest part of it — using the dyno (or datalogs, or street, however you’re doing the tune) as a TOOL to make intelligent decisions about how you are going to leave a motor running long term.

Today’s example is brought to you buy a 2013 Civic Si w/ just a Takeda intake. The vehicle runs quiet enough that you can very easily distinguish any scary situations (knock especially) and isn’t so radical that pushing the motor a bit too much will cause damage from a few test pulls (the Honda community has long been spoiled by very strong motors that take abuse for a long time before going BOOM).

Making Power

Something I’ve iterated to people over and over — parts make power. The tune wraps it all up and an intelligent tune will leave the car running SAFE and reliable for a long time. Can a tune make power? You bet. Will a tune make power? Sure. Will the tune make power SAFELY? Um…

I love having our Dynapack at my disposal — I can make minute changes in the tune and see the difference. So let’s take a look at a practical example of making power safely.

All the fueling and VTC were already tuned up to this point and we’re in the “sweet spot” here. On this initial graph we also found a power curve (for the sake of a concise discussion we’re just sticking to the top end of the power curve) t1_morehat’s what we can call “clean” — dyno says the curve is clean, ECU is reporting no knock, and your senses are telling you all is OK. This is the solid curve in the next two graphs and we’ll call it our “baseline“. So let’s try a minuscule change — 1 degree more ignition timing. Hm.. looks like we found 2-3 more hp (dashed curves). But wait… it also knocked on this pull, not only via the knock detection in the ECU — but your ears hear it too. But it’s making power — sure not a lot, but it’s making power!1_less

Well, let’s go the other direction — let’s try 1 degree less. Interesting — now we’re making 2-3 hp less (as much as 4hp less) than our “baseline”.  So if we factor in the “gains” we saw in the previous test, that means we’re now down about 5-6hp on “max power”. Hm… how about we go back to our “baseline” and 1_less_finalgive it a short cooldown (as the engine got a little heat soaked during tuning — this is normal and expected during a session). We’ll compare this pull to our “1 degree less than baseline” pull which arguably for most people is “safe” (more on that later…). and what do we see now? Well crap, we’re down like 6-8hp in some areas. This is a lot of power N/A, especially for a car with just an intake!!! Right? RIGHT?

Wrong.

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

This is were some intelligence and decision making comes in. Effectively what we’ve found with just those three pulls is the knock limit, actual audible knock and a spot just under the knock limit. We’ve also proven that you can absolutely make power  while knocking, or at the knock limit, and a small cooldown will make a few more HP.

Keep in mind this is all done in a controlled environment — our conditions have not changed during the session. We’re not seeing varying loads or acceleration rates (someone doing a hard pull getting onto the freeway or down the straight on a road course…). We’re definitely not seeing extreme weather swings (super cold to super hot). What makes “best power” and is “clean” on a dyno today, may be beating the motor up tomorrow… what about if it gets to triple digits outside and the intake is pulling charge temps into the 140*F? Does this change how the motor runs? Does this impact how the tune should “adjust” or “adapt” to these conditions? Absolutely — in fact I have yet to see a single ECU that doesn’t let you build in compensations to ensure the engine runs safe in all conditions. Does this affect the power the motor makes? Absolutely, you can see radical swings in power!

So ask yourself, where SHOULD you leave the motor running? Should you leave it right at the knock limit simply because it didn’t knock in the datalog and your ears didn’t hear any (not every car will be quiet enough for you to hear detonation…). Or is a safe point going to be somewhere that might be what we consider “leaving a lot on the table”?

Hell I only showed the difference two degrees makes… and this may not even be the “safe” spot to leave the car at long term. What if it’s 3-4 degrees of timing under absolutely max power? How much are we “leaving on the table”? Is this necessary to ensure the motor is safe for what the owner of the car is going to be doing?

My job as a reputable tuner is to leave the car running safe for years to come — in all the elements and any conditions. So I know what I would do, and I know exactly why I do what I do.

The Dyno Phenomena

This brings up an interesting point — people get blinded so much by peak power figures on a dyno sheet that they forget what tuning is for. A dyno is a tool and not there so you can race your dyno sheet — it’s a tool to get a job done. You can always “make more power” when loading a car on the dyno, any dyno. Only an incompetent tuner will leave a car running on the knock limit. But hey, if they do — a little while later it was just “bad fuel” that got you, right?

There’s a difference between a proper and correct tune — and “making power”. You’re not uncovering Egypt’s secrets by “making power”. So sad, right?

Bro You’re Running Rich!

I love this topic — it’s probably one of the most common online aside from people racing their dyno sheets online and arguing about “bro that’s low you should be making X power”. LOL.

Yes, LOL.

Although there IS a point where it’s too rich — all motors have a “sweet spot” they like to run in as far as fueling under full load (dependingfueling on fuel). Here’s an example that shows the motor run at 12.2 AFR, 12.8 AFR and 13.5 AFR (roughly). Note the torque curves on the left… almost identical. Fuel curves on the right graph. The timing map remained the same on all 3 pulls, as did VTC. Only variable changed was fueling used. On the orange plot (13.5 afr) we had some light ping — which again did not affect power output.

So what fueling would you run?

The Tooner Phenomena

Now I am sure this is going to ruffle some feathers and some might even dust off their pitchforks — so be it. It has to be said — living and breathing cars, modifications and tunes day in and day out you see some outrageous things come your way. I am going to break it down into two simple categories — food for thought and enthusiast beware.

The Expert Tooner

This is the guy that has a shop or works for a shop — they have a dyno and you would think they would know how to use it. In fact, some of them do know how to use it very well, and the break down begins with the fact they understand very little, if nothing at all, about EFI tuning and/or the engine management software they are using. Hell, they might even be working at a shop that has a stellar reputation!

They are able to post up amazing numbers on said dyno, but the vehicle will just run terrible either the moment it leaves, or a couple days later. When the car comes back to them — they cannot figure out the source of the problem and will at times chase mechanical gremlins that do not exist.

One prime example of this is a customer with a 2012-2015 Civic Si — said customer had some work done at his location and the vehicle posted up absurd power figures on pump gas (93 octane) — nearly 500hp. Anyone who has any experience with that platform will raise an eyebrow — maybe it’s possible? Highly unlikely with how knock prone those motors are. But hey, the customer was initially quite happy with the numbers — and then the bad news. After a couple of days the car would be completely gutless, and any attempts to have that behavior remedied kept failing.

He finally got a hold of me and we went over what was going on — turns out he was an existing customer of mine that had a tune for his car whnegative_timingen it just had bolt ons. After reviewing his turbo datalogs, it turns out it was running 17-18psi of boost and -2 to -6 degrees of timing (yes, NEGATIVE). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out this does NOT make power. In fact — it makes about a whopping 200 horsepower with all that boost, not anywhere NEAR the claimed dyno figures.

And yet it continues to get worse — part throttle closed loop feedback was disabled, the primary O2 sensor completely disabled, VTEC point untuned, VTC mapping completely untouched. No excuse for any of these items to be the way they were — so where was the break down? Upon inspection of the actual calibration — the tune file was basically nothing more than the calibration for his vehicle with simple bolt on parts. Quite literally the injector scalar (how big the fuel injector is) was adjusted and the fuel map was roughly skewed upwards in boost — nothing else in the calibration was setup anywhere close to how a turbo calibration should be done to get a reliably running vehicle. You read that right — he was running MY N/A tune on his car with a turbo. You can imagine how well that works.

So how did it make power on the dyno? Quite simply — with every flash of the ECU its “learned” parameters were reset and under boost the motor was seeing effectively naturally aspirated ignition timing. Wait, won’t this cause detonation? Absolutely — this platform does not have active knock feedback logic, only having a very slowly learned correction (which works poorly on modified vehicles to begin with) and the motor will definitely make power.

So the sum of his “expert” tune was nothing more than a couple of hits on the dyno with a calibration that was ripped (stolen) off the FlashPro when the vehicle came in for work to be done.

But a couple days later — the ECU goes limp mode to protect the engine. In this case — the owner of the vehicle was very lucky. We dialed the boost back to 11-12psi and tuned the car properly and it hasn’t had a problem ever since.

The Noob Tooner

You know who I am talking about here — they are all over social media and online forums. They will make you promises and whisper sweet nothings via private messaging systems to get your attention and make your wallet a little bit lighter. I have seen examples of them even claiming:

  • Tune just like “so-so” (enter tuner name here) for the same amount of $$$.
  • It’ll be just as good or better than “so-so”.
  • “So-so” is terrible and they’re better.

What skills, experience and accomplishments do they actually have? Well it’s quite simple:

  • They purchased a laptop.
  • Downloaded some free software.
  • And in many cases: stole a base file they are now using as their “source of truth”.

Yup — that’s right: all it takes to claim to be a tuner extraordinaire on the internet is a laptop and the ability to transform drivel that would normally flow through their lips into text via their fingers rapidly clacking away at their laptop keyboard.

Even better — in many cases they’ve even purchased a tune for their own vehicle from an established tuner. This has happened so many times I have lost count — I am more than happy to share examples with the reader privately.

But you bet they will be all over the internet trying to snag their next victim — sometimes advertising their services, sometimes trying to stay under the radar and snag their victims via the amazing stories they like to tell via private message.

And at the end of the day — they have little to no experience (you will see stuff like “I tuned my car”, “I tuned all my friends”) and no accomplishments of any kind. Of course they will claim that they “have to start somewhere”. Anyone sign their vehicle up as R&D when they paid for a tuning service?

Amazingly enough — they will always have someone “vouch” for them and their “skills”.

So What?

This is a vicious cycle — I’ve seen it so much that I just shrug and let our business and our work speak for itself.

But be warned — the tooners of the world will throw timeslips, dyno sheets and vouches at you all day long and in their minds it gives them completely credibility. Sure — going fast and big numbers are fun, but it paints a very poor picture of any experience or ability to tune a car properly to do anything beyond that. When you have a vehicle you need to drive day in and day out, there is a lot more that goes into setting up a tune than dyno numbers and time slips.

The goal is to hopefully share some insight with the reader and maybe prevent another case of Tooner Attacks. Ultimately it is up to every enthusiast to do their own research — and I encourage you all to do so.