In calibrating engine controllers for production vehicles, electronic developers typically work with engine test stands and numerous "test drives" over different route scenarios. However, no such tools are available for special engine controllers used for drag racing. Using Vector's CANape measurement and calibration tool enables an engine controller to be calibrated for top performance without using a test stand—while under the continual risk of destroying the engine after just a few test runs!
Because top engine performance is required very quickly in such acceleration races, a large share of development effort goes into calibrating the engine controller. The art of the race team's efforts is to achieve optimal results with a minimal budget. It is necessary to approach the stress limits of the engine so closely that it delivers maximum power without being destroyed. Not only the driving but also the process of calibrating the engine can best be described as “a ride on the razor's edge.”
While rebuilding a production engine for racing represents one side of the coin, the other involves calibrating the engine controller. All sorts of challenges must be mastered here, since the parameters of the production engine controller hardly harmonize with the modified engine any longer.
For the complete article, including ECU calibration and automated parameter optimization, click here, courtesy of Automotive Designline Europe.
Andreas Patzer manages the interface between the customer, development, and sales as a business development manager for the Measurement & Calibration product line at Vector Informatik. He can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Tuning for maximum performance can be done with either a carburetor or an ECU. A couple of advantages the ECU has over the carburetor are data collection and prevention. Algorithm’s can be developed to give specific data like 0 to 60 MPH, time to get to 1320 feet, etc. Preventing heavy engine and vehicle damage my include fuel shut off for loss of oil pressure, miss shifts, driveline breakage, misfire detection, etc. You might not prevent a spun rod bearing but you might be able to prevent the connecting rod going through the engine block. The use of tools with specifically designed algorithms is the key to real performance advantage.
It sounds like a significant challenge! I wonder if (given the limited number of runs per engine) anyone can be sure that they are getting the most out of the engine? Could there be a way to test drive the engine/racer at slower speeds to calibrate the settings prior to high rpm operation? These motor controllers clearly seem to work but I wonder how much better they could be if a different approach was used say modifying a test stand for use with the dragsters (maybe not optimal but would it get better results sooner)? Just wondering what has been tried in the past.
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