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.

Trolls Go Round And Round

What appears to be the one absolute and unsurprising fact in this industry — someone is always out to try to take a bite out of you. Or try to get their friends to come after you so they are not seen as participating. What is surprising (or maybe amusing?) is how they like to come at you at times. It would be a much more entertaining read if they had some understanding about the things they were frantically smashing into their keyboards. Unfortunately — it’s quite clear they have little to no experience in anything but slinging mud. I cannot help but just shake my head and go back to helping my customers paying for my time.

Fortunately, I had the time and opportunity to bring up a few examples — had a 2014 Civic Si on the dyno to tune and it turned out to be a chance to touch base on the results of tuning a stock 9th gen Civic as I still get asked about it a lot.

Oh That VTC Mapping Is Such Shit!

This one really gets me. When someone doesn’t understand why something in a tune was done the way it was — it’s clearly shit. Their first reaction is to grab their pitchforks and torches when it should be to pause and analyse why something was done the way it was.  I see this attitude frequently and can only wonder if someone like this would ever take any advice or constructive criticism thatuned_vtct could help? If something is truly “shit”, lay out why in intelligent fashion — and no, not just a dyno sheet or 3hp. Or switching gears on the dyno and claiming you made power with your “tune” when all you’ve done is introduce another variable that just made any use of the baseline invalid. We’ve made 6hp on some 9th gens just by letting it sit and cool off . Not even the best troll attempt I’ve seen — but cute, I guess?

A truly good example is a tuned VTC map — particularly the low cam (non-VTEC). Low cam was tuned to determine the best cam advance, and then high cam was tuned to determine the best cam advance. Finally the transition was optimized to provide the best curve possible when going into VTEC during a full throttle pull. Optimal power at 5000 rpm out of VTEC was with 5* VTC — however it was 35* VTC in VTEC at 5000 rpm for optimal power. So what happens when VTEC engages and you have such a large VTC transition? The VTC system is still at 5* and the motor makes less than optimal power until the cam has a chance to move to 35* VTC. As a result the transition was optimized by a very short and quick snap from 8* at 4900 rpm to 32* at 5000 rpm while VTEC is still off — a very smooth transition when at WOT and no loss of power is seen or felt. If you don’t see this difference on tvtec_diphe dyno — time to replace your piece of shit roller (hah, I just went there).

What does this look like on the dyno? The graph at the left illustrates this. Solid lines are horsepower and torque with the VTEC “pre-phasing” trick done, dashed lines are without. Pretty obvious torque dip at VTEC, right?

Wait, if this is so good, why are you telling everyone about it? Because this is not a secret. When the K series first came out Hondata pioneered this trick and published it publicly for EVERYONE to use. The irony here is — very few use it, and even less understand why. It’s a better idea to just go on the Internet and make it obvious you’ve done like two Honda K series vehicles and now you’re an expert? More like wet behind the ears.

Hold on, it gets better… you know even *Honda* uses this trick now? Juhonda_vtcst look closely at the stock Honda 9th gen tune. For the two seconds it takes to see it — it’s not tough. They didn’t use this on the RSX’s or the 8th gens — and their use of it is very subtle on the 9th gen.

I’ll be Mr. Nice Guy — to the right is the stock 9th gen VTC map. Note the values at 5000 rpm at full throttle — they go back up slightly in anticipation of the VTEC crossover (which is 25 at 5000 rpm in VTEC on the stock Honda tune) — the only difference is they didn’t use a 4900 RPM break point as they really don’t care if the car loses 4hp across 500 rpm worth of power from running 7-9 degrees too much VTC (I guess they haven’t met the experts on the internet yet?). Yes, Honda intentionally mapped the motor this way — there is absolutley no reason to bring the VTC back up in an area it naturally wants to taper down to keep making power on the low cam.

Shocking, I know.

I Did Such And Such And Made More Power

LOL.

Let me repeat.

LOL.

Tuning is about so much more than making power. I have customers with 150k+ miles on their turbo vehicles. I also have a dyno at the shop readily at my disposal. I know what makes power — in fact I use the dyno not only for tuning customer’s vehicles and builds at the shop, but as an R&D tool and apply what I discover into our eTunes to help deliver reliable cars for customers around the world.

Part of tuning is making decisions and judgement calls that will ultimately determine a setup is reliable long term — or not. In varying conditions year round — that the tune has to take into consideration and adjust for. This is why people go to reputable and experienced tuners, instead of a random guy offering you tunes for $50? Right? Maybe I’m wrong, what do I know?

So About That Stock 9th Gen?

I’ve posted several comparisons of stock 9th gens. I always answer — yes there are benefits, it will make a bit more power, and the power will be more consistent.

Here is the simple and visual example of this. The engine coolant temps (ECT) where 185-188 degrees F and intake air temps were 59-60 degress F on the stock tune baselines. Yes, I made sure these were consistent to avoid any extra variables when doing the comparison — if you’re paying someone 60 bucks for 3 baseline pulls I can tell you with absolute certainty they are not paying attention and simply don’t care. Yes it does matter — I’ve had customers datalog their baselines and in some situations there’s not even a dyno fan on the car — I’ve seen 20-30 degree difference in ECT (180 and 210…) and even a 30-40 degree swing in air temps between pulls. If someone thinks it “doesn’t matter” — they should not claim to be any kind of EFI tuning specialist.

Astock_comparisonnyway… stock pulls. Three pulls with consistent conditions. Left graph is torque, right graph is horsepower. Quite the difference on the top end right? 10-12 HP swing in some spots. Yes, the stock Honda tune is very inconsistent in it’s power delivery — and no it is not the “knock control” as some would make you believe. The simple answer is just this: emissions.

Ncomparisonow four (yes four) pulls with consistent conditions — 185-188 degree ECT and 68-70 degree IAT. A negligible .5-1.2hp swing. Virtually nothing. This is on a dyno that is accurate to .1hp (no, a roller dyno does not nearly have this kind of accuracy — having a wheel/tire on the car can cause a 2-4hp swing).

finalAnd as every tuner in the world loves to do and not tell everyone… we overlay the highest “tuned” graph with the lowest “baseline” graph. This behavior should come as no surprise — as a ton of “tuners” make a living off nothing more than the way their dyno reads (big numbers sell tunes and that means you’re the best right? Hm… I’ve got some graphs I can post… no, I probably shouldn’t go there).

final_bestWhat’s it look like if you overlay the best “tuned” and the best “baseline”? Pretty good gains still.

And now I’ve run out of thinks to rant about…

Tested: Full Race Catless Downpipe for 2012+ Civic Si

A frequent question that gets asked is “What downpipe makes power on my 9th gen?” I have gotten in the habit of simply directing people to Full Race Motorsport’s website as we use their catless downpipe & exhaust on our supercharged vehicle, and I know the setup makes power.

Now here’s empirical evidence that it does.

Philippe was down at the shop and had us install the Full Race catless downpipe before I tuned his 2012 Civic Si. The vehicle came in with the following modifications on it already:

  • Invidia Q300 Exhaust
  • HPS Intake Hose
  • K&N Drop in Filter

Now from previous baselines of completely stock 2012 Si’s, I know they do about 160-164whp on our shop Dynapack. Before we installed the downpipe we baselined the car as it arrived. Sure enough, it did about 162whp with the power curve I’m used to seeing on a stock 2012 Si. This leads me to make the following conclusions:

  • The HPS intake hose and K&N drop in filter do absolutely nothing. Pretty pointless modifications and honestly a rip off (spend your money elsewhere).
  • The Invidia Q300 is a nice sounding exhaust, as always, but does not make any power, at least not without a tune. Maybe this will change with a tune?

We installed the catless downpipe, and put the car back on the Dynapack and randp_vs_nodp a couple more baseline pulls on the stock tune. The results are as follows — solid line is with the downpipe installed, dashed is before the downpipe.

We netted as much as +10whp and +10wtq from simply installing the downpipe. That’s a sizable gain for a simple modification.

tuned_dpNow let’s throw a good tune on the car… and the results are as follows. Solid line is fully tuned, dashed line is our baseline with the downpipe installed. The tune netted as much as +12wtq in spots and as much as +18whp on the top end.

dp_tuned_vs_nodpWhat’s this look like over the original baseline before the downpipe was installed? Here you go. Netting almost +30whp in spots with a downpipe and tune on the top end. Sizable gains, the part worked well and the tune brought it all together.

How does the exhaust factor into the power curve? Until I do a fair comparison of an exhaust swap on the car I can’t say with absolute certainty. However, we do know what other parts do make power already — A CAI nets 4-5whp, which would put this car around ~190whp, which is about 3-4hp shy of what the average 2012 Si maxes out with using bolt ons on this Dynapack dyno. So to make an educated deduction — an exhaust may net 3-4hp and maybe some mid range torque due to the ability to adjust the variable valve timing on the motor. It also seems that a 3″ exhaust would be the way to net any power at all, and anything smaller may not net any gains. With the integrated exhaust manifold design on the 9th gen cylinder head, the gains we’re used to seeing with a 3″ exhaust on previous K series engines don’t really hold true on the K24Z7.

Safe to say — if you want PROVEN performance, a good catless downpipe (Full Race works well as I’ve shown) and a good tune will get you 95% of what you’re going to get N/A with bolt ons. A cold air intake will net some power as well — and the exhaust is a wash at this point it seems.