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Word of warning if you don't have time and a full coffee skip to the last paragraph.

I'm not so well known among the Lotus circles so you can take me for a grumpy old man who despite that does know a thing or two. I've worked as an engine tuner for a decade now, built a number of engines and parts too. Also spent the last 5 years subcontracting out working for OEMs and certain aftermarket companies on their ECUs. My background is in computer engineering and I specifically work with embedded firmware. Having worked on designs, testing and tuning for OEMs I know EFI, wiring and tuning very well.

I was subcontracted by a company in my region as they had purchased an upgrade kit from a company called ForceFed. This was a kit that consisted of an EFI ECU, a custom harness, a smaller supercharger pulley and 550cc injectors. The kit was supposed to be shipped with a decent base map and I was contracted to fine tune it.

Stock the car put down a respectable 219whp on 94 octane fuel.

I was called in a number of times during the install because the instructions with the kit were somewhere between cryptic and useless. There was not a lot of explaining besides something like cut the yellow wire and attach it here. There were a lot of interesting oversights with the wiring, for example, switched power was supposed to be wired up to the fuel pump but that always stays energized for 4 seconds after KO on this car. The instructions also placed the ECU in an impossible place. It doesn't exist on this car!

I put in a large number of phone calls to ForceFed looking for technical support. I wasted a few afternoons calling repeatedly and getting only an answering machine. I left messages but nobody would ever call back. Finally after many tries I got someone on the phone to help. He was able to help with some questions but many were clearly outside his expertise. Generally the answers came out like "oh yeah, that's wrong" or "oh that doesn't apply to your car" or "well I don't know, DRS designed it you could try them."

So I set out trying to contact DRS. Took 5-10 tries before I finally got in touch with someone who knew something - apparently the designer of this kit. In short the answer was along the lines of "well someone butchered the kit up to meet their price points". Apparently I need the DBW amp for this car. No worries, they'd email me an updated calibration file that would fix my issues.

So the ECU was to be installed under the wheel. With my experience in building, tuning and testing OEM systems and race cars I was like WHAT? We're going to put a non-weatherproof $5k unit THERE??? I'm not going to have my name associated with an install that konks out after driving through the first puddle! Out of frustration I directed the shop to get me a holesaw and we extended the MAP wire and installed the ECU in the trunk where it would stay dry!

With all that installed and the ForceFed provided basemap we tried to start the car. It immediately choked us out of the shop and fouled the plugs. The wideband was pegged at 10.2. Another call to DRS and oh sorry, we'll send you that updated calibration file. I verified all the wiring and sensor values to be sure. The sensor calibrations were completely wrong. 10 more phone calls, and 2 afternoons of "Sorry XXX is at the track/not in/tuning a car/picking his nose today. Ok, I made up the picking his nose part... the answer I got - yeah don't worry about that, it just doesn't show the right values but it should start fine. I asked again for the updated calibration file. Also sent follow up email and calling back left a few messages.

I've built and tuned a number of 1ZZ's and given the forced induction and compression ratio I was very leery about the base map's timing - it was very very aggressive. After much testing I started tweaking their settings to get somewhat reliable starts. Maybe it works OK if you live in CA and every day your engine will be cranking at 80F but up here in Canada where the car was more like 50C we just created a new hole in the ozone layer from all that unburned fuel!

Talk about frustrating!

Finally a friend of a friend gave me the name and number of TurboPhil here and I decided to give him a call out of desperation. If I billed every hour spent this poor client would have paid 3x the value of the kit. Unlike the company who made the kit and unlike that which designed the kit Phil was available, helpful and knowledgeable. He directed me to a firmware update, wiring change so VVTI was properly supported and sent me a map to start with. While it wasn't perfect it was a lot closer to working than the original one I was provided with by the manufacturer of the kit. The few things that did not work correctly were quickly found and pretty near all his suggestions were right on.

Turns out the factory ECU was trying to achieve an idle but was tripping the accel enrichments every time it moved the throttle plate. The kit designers had decided to hook up to the slave TPS rather than the primary and the EFI ECU (Race 1.2) was not designed to run a street car so the settings available were severely limited. I would have preferred to trigger off the requested throttle movement rather than the resulting one even though neither is ideal in this situation. One thing I always focus on is driveability. Nothing says "good tuning" in car that doesn't start easily or idle smoothly.

The car had to be delivered today but I've spent the last 3 days calling EFI trying to find out if their water temp compensation affects the cranking pulsewidth. Still no answer from them. Yes it starts OK but still not up to my standards.

Final result 251whp (mustang dyno).

So to sum it all up, lots of coin was spent on the kit. As a technical representative to the client I found the support was disgusting - availability, NIL, callbacks NIL. The kit was not very bolt-on, the instructions were wrong, incomplete and very very poor. Phil on the other hand, thumbs up to you and your company BOE - you did a better job of supporting someone who wasn't even your customer... yet. Next client who asks - we'll be looking at selling them one of your kits.

-Michael
 

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Glad you were able to get it to work. Its unfortunate that your experience was so frustrating. I do remember speaking with you, and I was able to send you all the updated firmware, maps, and control file info you needed in between traveling on support jobs. I dont recall hearing back from you though, this is probably when Phil stepped in. Phil is a huge hlep to the DIY tuning community.

Again, its too bad your experience was full of hurdles. All EFI / Lotus related product support gets funneled thru here at some point, and then eventually lands in the hands of our dealers so they can interface with thier customers.

In this case it was Phil at BOE (one of our dealers) who stepped up to the plate. And what makes it most admirable is that Phil didn't even sell the product originally.

Let us know if there is anythign else you might need in the future.

Kind Regards,
Kris
 

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Hackish,

What's the status of the cold start solution?
I'm interested in an EFI install on my turbo Elise
but frankly this scares the crap out of me.
I hate electronics to start with, have had previous
experience with FF'd minimal support methods and
don;t need more headaches. Do you have an alternate
in mind?
 

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Bottom line:
Phil ROCKS! EFI...

Another reason to get Charlie perform his magic on our cars. If a pro tuner has a hard time installing/tuning an EFI, how can an average Joe end up with a solid tune?

Could it be the reason why there are so many blown engines using EFI... :shrug:
 

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Bottom line:
Phil ROCKS! EFI...

Another reason to get Charlie perform his magic on our cars. If a pro tuner has a hard time installing/tuning an EFI, how can an average Joe end up with a solid tune?

Could it be the reason why there are so many blown engines using EFI... :shrug:
You're obviously not biased...

If you did your research you will find that almost all ECU editor programs work the same in thier basic form.

This is no insult to anyone, but if you are a "pro" tuner you can easily find your way thru the software and figure out how things work. I've used several software programs, MoTec, Autronic, Electromotive, MegaSquirt, Pectel, EFI Italy, EFI USA...

BTW - when an engine blows up running Charlie's software you dont see me blaming his tuning. And YES, we have had a few cars in here with blown engines runnign his software.

It's called being intelligent and professional.

Kris
 

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Hackish,

What's the status of the cold start solution?
I'm interested in an EFI install on my turbo Elise
but frankly this scares the crap out of me.
I hate electronics to start with, have had previous
experience with FF'd minimal support methods and
don;t need more headaches. Do you have an alternate
in mind?
The cold start strategy basically works like this (and has since day one):

Under Fuel Injection Constants:
Cranking RPM limit defines what the threshold is from start to run mode.
I.e. typical value is 300 to 500 rpm range, so above X the ECU defaults from the crank pulse width to the map.

Crank pulse is usually determined by injector size. Most 2ZZ's running 550cc injectors will use about 4.6 to 5.2 ms of crank pulse to fire the engine (when warm). Your ambient climate can affect this a little. And typically, the larger the injector the more fine the line is for getting this perfect.

Again, once the engine rpm exceeds the threshold it is no longer running in the pulse defined in the crank oulse value.

The injection is globably multiplied by all the correction tables:
I.e Water Temp, Air Temp, Battery Volts, etc...

Hope that help ease your concern about starting...its really not a difficult thing to use. A little bit of patience and the inclination to want to tune yoru own engine helps too.

I suggest contacting us here at DRS or Phil at BOE for more tech support.

kris
 

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Hey Michael,

Good to see you post. Glad things are coming together:up:

The starting should come around in short order. As I know you know, it's just a matter of fine tuning the fueling and temp correction tables.

It's funny because most people I visit with are concerned about tuning the car for power, timing, VVTli, etc... The maps I give to people will almost invariably deliver good, safe, and reliable power (for the TVS anyway)... But power tuning is kinda the easy part;)

Idle and starting is the hardest part to nail largely due to having so many fewer trigger events from the crank and cam in a given period of time to work with and seemingly small changes in engine load (cold oil, A/C compressor kicking in, etc) are proportionally large loads at idle to contend with. Most think that starting and idle is the easy part-- but not so... Fortunately, short of washing the cylinders with too much fuel , it's pretty hard to damage an engine while fine tuning starting and idle parameters. There in lies the desire to learn and fiddle a bit for the average joe. Once through the idle and starting fine tuning, the ease of fine tuning power is pretty cool. Being able to change the tune to work with different engine components or move cam changes around to suit a driving style or track is nice as well...

It's not for everyone, but I certainly enjoy it.

In any event, you're welcome for the help and I'm happy to pitch in whenever. You've got my number, sir:up:

Best,

Phil
 

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You're obviously not biased...

It's called being intelligent and professional.

Kris
Considering the Original posters problems with customer support from you the whole "Practice what you Preach" comes to mind! Everyone drops the ball at some point and a little humility and an apology go a long way in damage control.
 

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Considering the Original posters problems with customer support from you the whole "Practice what you Preach" comes to mind! Everyone drops the ball at some point and a little humility and an apology go a long way in damage control.
In all fairness Michael called me once (that I am honestly aware of). I spoke with him, I tried to help, and also explained that we were working on some recent (at that time very recent) improvements to software and firmware.

After I spoke with him once, I needed some time to gather up the things he needed to work with the right tools. At this time I was traveling from here to NY (gone for 4 days), and then back out to WI (3 days), and then finally back here. So as I am running my business and traveling at the same time, managing employees, dealing with other customers remotely and work here at the shop, there was a delay to get him everything he needed. I think it was maybe a couple weeks? And we were still working on new updates to the firmware during this process.

Also, I have never seen the car he was hired to work on. Im not aware of the quality of install, the previous map, the condition of anything... I think Forcedfed sold him the kit?

Our dealers are asked to help thier immediate customers. When the dealer cannot help, then we step in. Michael took all the right measures. He was probably confused when EFI couldn't help him, and they forwarded him to me (DRS). That's b/c EFI really only has the job of building the ECU, otherwise we did all the development work with thier hardware.

After I email him the software and firmware I never got a response. I even followed up again shortly after asking him if he got the email OK, and if there were any other questions. Conveniently he leaves that part out of his story...not sure why.

I'm glad Phil was able to help. Phil represents a character not typical in most people. He is giving and enthusiastic at the same time. I'm glad that the knowledge and things I've shared with Phil about the EFI software and hardware (and the things he's helped me with) have been so constructive.

But what bothers me is that I got drug thru the mud a little on this...and that's OK to a point. I know I'm not perfect, I know I took a little long to get everything sorted out for Michael, but it wasn't out of laziness or inability, it was just the timing and circumstance. And had Michael repsonded to me to at least to let me know whether he got the data I sent him would have been nice.

Yes, we all can "drop the ball" somtimes. I'm seriously not aware that I dropped that ball, maybe fumbled it a little :) ...if that's acceptable? But I didn't leave him hanging. I'm only one person and I deal with a lot of different things / customers on a daily basis and I could be unaware of other communication attempts on his behalf.

And yes, I know humility...it's actually refreshing to be wrong about something and learn from it. Apologies....made lots of those too.

Michael, if I didn't help you to your satisfaction I apologize.

Kris
 

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Idle and starting is the hardest part to nail largely due to having so many fewer trigger events from the crank and cam in a given period of time

Phil,

To elaborate further on this. It is the instability of the cam during cranking (at 1/2 the rotational speed as the crank) that requires a hysteresis built into the code for the ECU to sync. It typically takes one complete synchronization of both triggers to activate the ignition drivers. The system works similarly to the OEM ecu in the sense that it counts all the teeth on the triggers, but of course only "fires" upon the respective teeth for that given cylinder relative to the sequence.

However the OEM ecu is more forgiving in it's strategy for determining the sequence b/c I am 99% sure (not 100% sure) it uses the gap on the crank trigger as the TDC index, not the cam (we call it sync) to start the firing cycle.

Kris
 

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More on starting...

The bigger the injectors the more difficult it is to get this just right in all conditions.

Spark...The load on the system while in cranking is corrected by the Battery / dwell offset. However, the colder plugs desired to meet the demands of the mod's to the engine combined wih the larger injectors in cold ambient conditions is not ideal for OEM like starting every try, but they will start nonetheless.

Idle: It's easier to allow the engine to idle higher than typical, ~ 1,050 to 1,150 RPM if using 550cc or greater injectors. Idle can be adjusted as a function of water temp for non-DBW and DBW cars (it's just done a different way). More on this later...

In cases where we have to use 750cc injectors combined with high compression....Fred, does this sound familiar? it's even more difficult, but it will still start and idle after some time spent on it.

On other applications (non-Lotus) we actually use a strategy that fires the coils in wasted-spark and injectors in phased while in crank mode, then upon exceeding the rpm limit it goes into run mode, back into sequential mode for coils and injection. This method eliminates the completion of the sync process as mentioned in an earlier post.

We may start to implement the above mentioned in the new firmware for the Lotus (not for release yet).

Kris
 

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That's a little more than Gotham and you don't need any extra hardware, but if you're planning adding other things then I guess...
Have fun with your new power.
 

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Bottom line:
Phil ROCKS! EFI...

Another reason to get Charlie perform his magic on our cars. If a pro tuner has a hard time installing/tuning an EFI, how can an average Joe end up with a solid tune?

Could it be the reason why there are so many blown engines using EFI... :shrug:
Indeed EFI's are a bit confusing if you don't understand the mechanics of the engine you are using and how all the sensor play in to keeping it running. Just like everything else in life you have to do research and learn how it all works. That being said pretty much all engines run on the same basic principles and every now and then you may need to learn something new like DBW etc. I personally have tuned with Motec, Microtec and was one of the first 5 beta testers with the datalogit for the Apexi' Power FC. (A lot of the features in their software were ideas my friend and I sent in to them during it's development.)

In general If you don't have have a really good mechanical and electrical skill set and live in ten buck two then an EFI probably isn't for you. If you do have a good tuner near by like the BOE Fabrications or DSR or you yourself are very knowledgeable about how the engine works to include what the sensor inputs need to control and you want the ability to constantly upgrade your car or go for really big power then a EFI is absolutely necessary. This is especially true for our cars since software to tune the stock ECU is not available to the general public.

Anyone with the skills and knowledge to tune with one EFI should not have an issue with learning another EFI system, the menu's and values used may be a little different etc, but the basic functions are still the same.

As far as engines blowing the EFI is merely another part of the engine the same as all of the sensor and other mechanical components. On a typical engine there are a LARGE number of components that could fail and blow the engine even if the tune is balls on. Some engines do blow because of the tune, but a larger number blow due to mechanical parts or sensor failures. For some reason when an EFI is involved and something fails it is automatically assumed that it is the EFI or tuners fault when in most cases it is a mechanical parts failure due to the higher horsepower being generated.
 

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You're obviously not biased...
Besides the obvious fact that I own a car equipped with a Charlie tune I don't see what you're trying to say. Does having a car tuned by Charlie makes me biased? Definately! My car drives better than stock!

I am not biased, I am a believer.
 

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Indeed EFI's are a bit confusing if you don't understand the mechanics of the engine you are using and how all the sensor play in to keeping it running. Just like everything else in life you have to do research and learn how it all works. That being said pretty much all engines run on the same basic principles and every now and then you may need to learn something new like DBW etc. I personally have tuned with Motec, Microtec and was one of the first 5 beta testers with the datalogit for the Apexi' Power FC. (A lot of the features in their software were ideas my friend and I sent in to them during it's development.)

In general If you don't have have a really good mechanical and electrical skill set and live in ten buck two then an EFI probably isn't for you. If you do have a good tuner near by like the BOE Fabrications or DSR or you yourself are very knowledgeable about how the engine works to include what the sensor inputs need to control and you want the ability to constantly upgrade your car or go for really big power then a EFI is absolutely necessary. This is especially true for our cars since software to tune the stock ECU is not available to the general public.

Anyone with the skills and knowledge to tune with one EFI should not have an issue with learning another EFI system, the menu's and values used may be a little different etc, but the basic functions are still the same.

As far as engines blowing the EFI is merely another part of the engine the same as all of the sensor and other mechanical components. On a typical engine there are a LARGE number of components that could fail and blow the engine even if the tune is balls on. Some engines do blow because of the tune, but a larger number blow due to mechanical parts or sensor failures. For some reason when an EFI is involved and something fails it is automatically assumed that it is the EFI or tuners fault when in most cases it is a mechanical parts failure due to the higher horsepower being generated.
Thank you!
 

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Besides the obvious fact that I own a car equipped with a Charlie tune I don't see what you're trying to say. Does having a car tuned by Charlie makes me biased? Definately! My car drives better than stock!

I am not biased, I am a believer.
Believer,

Having a car w/ Charlie's tune does not make you biased, your comments make you out to be biased...and that's OK b/c everyone has thier own right be biased or have their own opinions. I have lots of customers w/ Charlie's tune...and I have suggested Charlie's services many times, just ask him. I know EFI is not for everyone...that's obvious.

This is a dead issue as far as I am concerned. If you want a simple reflash, Charlie is the man. If you want a stand-alone ECU that has flexibility to control some things the stock ECU doesn't then we have something for you.

This isn't a contest between Charlie and EFI. They are both two different products...This question is not directed to anyone specifically: Do any of you anti-standalone ECU people watch racing? Do you get upset that those pro racecars aren't running stock ECUs w/ relfashes?

Can a stand-alone be set up to work similar to a stock ECU? I think Phil's TVS kit is a key example of how this can be accomplished.

Kris
 

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My car is still running perfectly with the EFI, in fact, its never run better. Worked on a 100 octane race tune over the past couple weeks too and with that map I'm laying down 291 to the wheels :evil: (my limit with stock internals.) Kudos to Phil and Kris for helping me get to the point where I feel very comfortable with the software and basic 2ZZ tuning in general. There have been a few head scratchings along the way, but I've learned more about engine management over the past year than I have in the previous 10. Whether it be the EFI or any other standalone, you get out of it whatever you take the time to put in.
 

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Here's my synopse of EFI based on the above.
Let me know if I got this right:

1) Cold starts remain problematic
2) The tune itself is dependant on the tuner, not problematic
3) No one has defended ForcedFed; Their service was dismal, they have
stripped EFI of some of it's features to meet their price point, provided
product that was not properly configured for customer use.
4) TurboPhil....huge kudo's for being a value added member of Lotustalk
and EFI
5) DRS support is questionable; Kris your product is only as good as you and your distributors make it; FF failed, Phil passes; DRS ???

So do I install EFI now?
Not if I want a daily driver that is reliable without a great deal of fiddling.
One question I have, why have the maps not been made available to all?
Where are the startup maps? This tune cannot be unique. Way too many questions unanswered....or I'm just not brave enough.
 
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