Welcome all 928 forum refugees!
User avatar
By Shifted
#18058
Does anyone have experience with aftermarket ECU's? Specifically for a 1987 S4.

I like the VEMS ECU just from the standpoint of wiring simplicity. There is a wiring harness adapter available, stock programming for the S4 available, and coil over plugs available. It also has a bluetooth adapter available so you can display all of the capture data on a cell phone, or record it with a laptop without having to plug in cables.

The Megasquirt has a large following and I know that some people have successfully converted their 928's to it. But, I don't know what is involved with that. It seems like getting it running would be a lot more work than the VEMS unit.

Any experience with either? Or other options?
User avatar
By hessank
#18154
I think Stirling was documenting his use of the Link system on RL and he figured out the various wires to match up with the 928. However, a while back he deleted his files. I'm pi$$ed that I didn't keep a paper copy. He did all the homework.
User avatar
By Shifted
#18165
I remember that thread now that you mention it. I didn't pay it much attention at the time but now I wish that I had. What do you know about the Link system? Is it worth pursuing?
User avatar
By Crumpler
#18188
Dave K9 was using the “vampire” ECU system, but I believe just as an independent knock monitor and not as a true ECU.
User avatar
By hessank
#18297
Maybe Stirling can jump in here (928Bigfoot).
User avatar
By Shifted
#18323
Link looks interesting. Definitely a "build your own" situation.
User avatar
By maddog2020
#18956
I'm wiring up my link thunder right now. ton of options, and features. I built a spreadsheet and a bunch of other docs on it. You can go simple or you can go full tilt. I'm doing coil on plug, sequential injection, also tying into the ABS for traction control, also using alcohol content sensor so I can run e85 or a blend, as well as datalogging oil temp & pressure, fuel temp and pressure, as well as trans temp. Since I'm using a T56 trans I'm running the speedometer sensor feed through the ecu as well and letting it do the math conversion for the factory 928 dash. The ecu can also activate the reverse lockout solenoid below a certain RPM (mine will be 3mph) The link is also capable of a simulated injector pulse output for the later digital dashes so you can calculate fuel economy and miles to empty. looping the starter signal through the ecu also gives you the MB start (where you just bump the key and the starter cranks until the engine starts) you also get some cool features like gauge sweep on startup so you can see gauge problems as they develop. (Water temp, speedo & tach)

Link thunder can also run and monitor dual knock and dual oxygen sensor as well. Some of the cheaper ecu's have most of the features, but the thunder has the most inputs and can drive 8 coils and 8 injectors sequentually. when you add that to dual knock, dual oxygen sensor as well as the digital inputs that you can tie into abs I wouldn't really recommend any other model. The thunder can also support e throttles, as well as has a built in pwm controller for cooling fans. (I will get to that later)

Also the link uses AMP super seal connectors and those are awesome for pining and depinning.

Also link has fantastic support forums and they are really helpful.

There are 2 of us that are wiring up our links now, and one was installed in a stroker from Kansas for a while.

PM me your email address and I can send you what I have. I removed it from RL because I don't support IB's business model.
hessank liked this
User avatar
By Shifted
#19134
Sounds awesome, especially since you've done the hard work of figuring out so much. I'll send you a private message shortly.
User avatar
By hessank
#19140
Thank you.

PM sent
User avatar
By Shifted
#20834
maddog2020 wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 3:56 pm I'm wiring up my link thunder right now. ton of options, and features. I built a spreadsheet and a bunch of other docs on it. You can go simple or you can go full tilt. I'm doing coil on plug, sequential injection, also tying into the ABS for traction control, also using alcohol content sensor so I can run e85 or a blend, as well as datalogging oil temp & pressure, fuel temp and pressure, as well as trans temp. Since I'm using a T56 trans I'm running the speedometer sensor feed through the ecu as well and letting it do the math conversion for the factory 928 dash. The ecu can also activate the reverse lockout solenoid below a certain RPM (mine will be 3mph) The link is also capable of a simulated injector pulse output for the later digital dashes so you can calculate fuel economy and miles to empty. looping the starter signal through the ecu also gives you the MB start (where you just bump the key and the starter cranks until the engine starts) you also get some cool features like gauge sweep on startup so you can see gauge problems as they develop. (Water temp, speedo & tach)

Link thunder can also run and monitor dual knock and dual oxygen sensor as well. Some of the cheaper ecu's have most of the features, but the thunder has the most inputs and can drive 8 coils and 8 injectors sequentually. when you add that to dual knock, dual oxygen sensor as well as the digital inputs that you can tie into abs I wouldn't really recommend any other model. The thunder can also support e throttles, as well as has a built in pwm controller for cooling fans. (I will get to that later)

Also the link uses AMP super seal connectors and those are awesome for pining and depinning.

Also link has fantastic support forums and they are really helpful.

There are 2 of us that are wiring up our links now, and one was installed in a stroker from Kansas for a while.

PM me your email address and I can send you what I have. I removed it from RL because I don't support IB's business model.
Did you receive my PM?
User avatar
By Shifted
#20846
Ok. I tried again. Maybe I'm not working the PM system properly because the messages show up in my outbox folder and not sent.
User avatar
By Shifted
#27163
So...anyone looked into the MaxxECU? Specifically, the "Race" model? It looks like a really good value. And the online documentation is really well done. SO much easier to use than Link or VEMS. It's very thorough and easy to find specific details. It has a built in MAP sensor and WB02 controller. CAN support, traction control, boost control, etc. Everything that you would expect from a modern ECU.

It's actively being developed, unlike VEMS, and they are very open about the software changes in their changelog.

Any experience or thoughts?
User avatar
By maddog2020
#27189
The Link Thunder has all the stuff you mention and more. I think Hans is using the MAX ECU. I just really liked the Link support forums. Support after the sale is just as important as the features you want. I couldn't find any comparisons between MAXXECU and LInk. I did find a ton of Link comparisons to MoTeC which is the gold standard.

It is your choice, so make sure you are 100% sure before you pull the trigger. The MAXX is a little cheaper than the Link, Also look at the wiring options. The LInk uses AMP superseal connectors so if you munch up a connector housing they are cheap and easy to find. they are also very easy to pin and de-pin. When you are doing an ECU it is almost impossible (especially on your 1st one to plan for everything, so you will be depinning and re-pinning the connectors.
User avatar
By maddog2020
#27191
they other thing to keep in mind. do you know a tuner locally that knows or likes a specific ECU? It's best to couple what you want, with who is going to tune it. If you don't have any tuners that know or endorse or sell the MAXXECU that that will be a tough project.
User avatar
By Shifted
#27250
It's probably fair to say that any modern aftermarket ECU that is under current development is going to have comparable feature sets. There will be a few differentiators, but in general they'll be similar.

Link has been around longer (since 1991), has more units sold overall, and more resellers. MaxxECU started in 2009 and has a smaller distribution network. It's a pretty stark difference when you look at it from that angle.

Anecdotally, I've read several reports that Link is difficult to get direct support from. The forums are great, but even perusing them doesn't give me a sense of high quality support. Conversely, there is very little to be found on MaxxECU. Several reports of it being used with no problems, but not a lot of information. They're more of an unknown when looking at it from the outside.

Personally, I find the documentation and development transparency of MaxxECU to suit my personal preference better than Link. An actual changelog encompassing the entire development history of the software is something that I really appreciate. I'm not all in on MaxxECU, but it does feel like a better fit for me personally. Overall, it will cost substantially less than Link, so there's that as well.

MaxxECU uses Molex connectors. Easy to work with and they can be de-pinned. When it comes to wiring mistakes or changes...connectors are cheap if it really comes to that. Planning alleviates much of that eventuality. Besides, ECU wiring is not complicated.

With respect to tuning...I am my tuner.

All things being equal, I think that just about any ECU can get the job done for the 928 motor. It's going to come down to the likelihood of hardware failure, what the most likely failure mode is, warranty support, and documentation. With respect to technical support after the purchase, the need for that is a product of the quality of documentation and the technical knowledge of the installer/tuner.

Are you going with LSU 4.2 or 4.9 for your build? Single or dual?
User avatar
By maddog2020
#27588
I went with dual LSU 4.9 for mine, dual knock as well. I think the link support in the forums is fantastic. I had tons of questions as a guest user, before I even purchased an ECU and they were patient and helpful along the way. I even posted questions about wiring and they helped as well. They are super helpful with people that have tuning issues. Someone posts a description of the problem and uploads their log file, and they get an answer, & I see people go away happy. I have no benefit from anyone else buying a Link ECU. I just think it's a better solution. For me access to local tuners and support were the biggest deciding factors. I've dealt with motec support which sucks and they are the most expensive solution and they push everyone to pay the dealers and they only support the dealers. I've also talked to other link customers that had problems and like support does not tell you, that is a 5 year old ecu we won't help you. People show up in the forums all the time with really old stuff and they support it. I sold my motec because while it was supposed to be "supported by the dealers" no one would touch it.

While wiring up an ecu isn't rocket science, but it does get pretty complex. I have 48 wires just for COP and injectors, start adding dual knock sensors (8 wires), Cam and crank sensors (another 5 wires) dual Oxygen (another 12 wires) Combo oil Temp and pressure (another 5 wires) Alcohol content combo fuel temp sensor (3 wires) Fuel pressure (2 wires) Speedometer input (1 wire), AC request (1 wire), and add a few more (trans temp, 2 more wires) then adding the relays and you get pretty complex really fast. Oh, I forgot reverse lockout and fuel pump outputs. 2 more wires and 2 more relays.

This is my second ecu and harness in a 928, and while I'm not a pro or a shop most DIY folks mess it up and end up at a shop or end up with a rats nest of crappy crimps and just a general mess. I've also seen ECU's installed by shops that looked like crap as well.
User avatar
By hans14914
#29242
I am using the MaxxECU Race for my supercharger builds. Its a very good choice when considering cost. It far and away the value champion.

The runner up would be the EMU Black, and if you are doing a plug-and-play system, likely what I would recommend.

Of course, I am looking at cost from a dealer/jobber perspective, so the pricing is different than standard retail.

When considering an ECU for an 87+ car, you have several considerations/requirements if reusing the stock harness: dual distributor control (not supported by all ECUs), dual knock sensors, batch injection on single or and ganged output for current capacity. Bonus would be integrated WBO2 controller to avoid extra wiring.

This cuts the list down considerably.

The only units out there designed for an end-user programming (there are truly programmable computers that don't even have fuel models or USB/Ethernet interfaces and require CAN or LIN style converters) that fit the bill for the S4 with integrated WBO2 and under $2k retail in order of cost (lowest to highet):

VEMS
EMU Black
MaxxECU Race
AEM 508
Link Thunder

Hope that helps,
Hans
User avatar
By Shifted
#29302
Hans, thank you for commenting on the thread. I hadn't heard of the Ecumaster products before, but they look pretty interesting. Why do you prefer the MaxxECU Race over the Ecumaster EMU Black?
User avatar
By hans14914
#29374
The EMU Black really doesn't have a downside in a plug-and-play application, apart from the somewhat clunky software interface. It probably makes the most amount of sense for plugin, as the documentation and support is very good (VEMS is almost impossible to just jump in with, as there is no user manual and limited support).

When looking at a complete wire-in solution, the EMU was natively designed as a 6-cylinder control system, and while it works in an 8cyl application, you have to run wasted spark and there are other small caveats. Again, none of these are an issue for plugin, as you only use two ignition outputs, and one injection output in that application.

Hans
User avatar
By Shifted
#29411
Got it. Thank you for the further explanation, that's very helpful.

It looks like MaxxECU can deliver live data over CAN. It would be nice to have ongoing high capacity logging for review. Have you played with a CAN data logger connected to the MaxxECU?

I have another question for you, if you're willing to share your thoughts. What is your opinion on LSU 4.2 versus 4.9?
User avatar
By hans14914
#29423
The Maxx has internal logging, so you dont need an external device. The EMU does if you add the EDL-1 unit. However, once you start adding all the external modules, the cost advantage really starts to go away.

I think it really depends on wire-in vs plug-in. If you are doing plug-in, then you are kind of using a bit of blunt tool (batch injection, limited sensor inputs and data collection) so it kind of makes CAN logging a bit silly. If you are going wire-in, and dedicating all that time and effort to replacing everything and going full sequential, monitoring pressures and temperatures at every point, then its silly not to collect and analyze that data.

Regarding the LSU sensors, almost everyone I have talked to says there is not much of a difference from a usage standpoint (when looking at the standard sensors), but the older 4.2 may be a bit more robust a sensor from a lifecycle standpoint. The 4.9 is not leaps and bounds a better sensor or anything. It is more important that the sensor is implemented properly in the hardware than which it uses. The EMU does not use the Bosch driver IC inside the Black, it instead uses a proprietary discrete input (unlike their Lambda-to-CAN module which is considerably more expensive as it adheres to Bosch design). In any case, I would take any ECU with internal WBO2 controller over an external CAN any day, as all the latency, coms problems... etc are avoided.
User avatar
By Shifted
#29440
I suppose "silly" is subjective. 8mb of internal RAM on the MaxxECU gets you somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 hours of logging at only 10Hz. Which is plenty for dyno tuning or runs around the neighborhood. For long term continuous logging, it really doesn't come even close to what I would want. You're going to be hard pressed to go back and review anomalies, or capture long drives for fine tuning, without having a laptop in the car. And it's definitely not enough to capture even a single DE day. As ambient temperatures and altitudes change, combined with variable loads, it would be impossible to capture enough data to really fine tune things without significant logging capability. Sure, you can extrapolate, and smooth the 3d graphs, and rely on lambda targets. But, personally, I want to be precise and have data to validate my tune. Especially at 11.6psi of boost. What can I say, I'm all about precision and accuracy, making decisions based on hard data. Sometimes I just like to look at the data :)

My objective is to start with a plug in arrangement, but have an ECU that supports coil on plug and sequential injection. I may decide to break out the extra wiring during the initial installation, or do it later. Either way, it gives me an upgrade path without buying a new ECU. My car runs really well right now, so it's hard to justify jumping right to COP and sequential injection just to gain a little more power or better response. I'm not drag racing or dyno racing. But, maybe one day I'll be looking for another project, or OEM components won't be available, and switching to a modern ignition and fuel system will make sense.

An on board WBO2 controller can save money, but I want dual sensors, one for each bank. So, either I have to use a 0-5v input, or CAN. I think that CAN will yield more accurate measurements than the 5v input.

It's interesting hearing what people think of the two WBO2 sensors. I've got a 4.9 on the car right now, and I'll probably stick with that going forward.
User avatar
By Shifted
#29548
hans14914 wrote: Thu Oct 29, 2020 12:01 am The only units out there designed for an end-user programming (there are truly programmable computers that don't even have fuel models or USB/Ethernet interfaces and require CAN or LIN style converters) that fit the bill for the S4 with integrated WBO2 and under $2k retail in order of cost (lowest to highet):

VEMS
EMU Black
MaxxECU Race
AEM 508
Link Thunder

BTW - Link is no longer developing the G4+ product line, which includes the Thunder. G4X is their current product line: https://www.linkecu.com/tech-articles/g4x-explained/

Here is their comparison chart of their current (G4X) and previous (G4+) lines:

https://www.linkecu.com/products/ecu-comparison-chart/
image.png
User avatar
By hans14914
#29597
I thought the exact same thing about that 8mb of storage.

I even asked them about it.

They have some crazy data writing algorithm that does de-duplication somehow, and they can get a pretty sizable log in there. I think they said something like logging all channels for a 24hour endurance race.

If you are going for dual sensors, then you are looking at either external controllers, or big boy ECUs, which are well beyond the plug and play scope. There are some Motec units, the new Haltech Nexus, the old Link Thunder, the AEM 708, or the Emtron KV8. Outside of those, you step up into the more flexible, but essentially clean-sheet design ECU where you need to create your own fuel model and timing patterns, like the OBR or Engine Lab... or something in between like the Life Racing/Syvecs.

If you are going to spend that kind of cash, the Emtron is probably the best all around package, but you are looking at $2500 for the ECU, plugs and pins.
User avatar
By Shifted
#29605
Plug and play implies fuel and ignition maps preconfigured for the car. Is that what you're offering? Otherwise, it's all the same to me in terms of clean sheet configurations.

Price wise...sure, an extra $1k is significant, but by no means a show stopper. It looks like the MaxxECU has two built in WBO2 controllers. I wonder what their MTBF is for those. It would stink to have one or both fail. Even if it's covered under warranty, that's a longer process to troubleshoot and replace than external controllers.

Interesting about their claim of data logging. It appears to contradict their own documentation:

https://maxxecu.com/webhelp/mtune-log_viewer.html
image.png
Note the log file size vis-a-vis the time frame and frequency and channel count. That works out to 109 minutes for just over 5mb. If you do some simple math, that works out to about 166 minutes for 8mb. Unless the "Size" column is after reversing the dedupe/compression? Based on their documentation, it would require about 70mb of log files for 24 hours. Or a dedupe ratio of roughly 10:1. Certainly doable, but if that's the case it's not called out anywhere in their documentation that I could find.

I think that what is MUCH more likely is that they just reduce the frequency to 1Hz (once per second), or maybe even less, to hit the 24 hour mark.

I do like that AEM seems to be a US based company. Everything else on your original list is from Europe.
User avatar
By hans14914
#29626
I am in NO way offering any ECU product. Just sharing what I have found in case its of help.

I am only ever going to offer control systems for my supercharger builds. I have zero desire to support or educate people on control systems, fuel modeling, ignition timing.... etc. I personally an not offering anything, and using the term "plug and play" in reference to reusing the stock harness, and ignition output system.

There is no true way of offering a plug-and-play system for the 928 unless you want to maintain a MAF based system. Any other configuration will require removing the MAF and making an adapter harness to reuse those pins to send back AIT and MAP. The factory TPS wiring can be reused, but the sensor also needs to replaced with a variable instead of trinary switch.

I did make adapter boards several years ago when I was looking at doing that, but ultimately I decided to make complete replacement harnesses, as it is very difficult to troubleshoot harness shorts remotely over the phone. and most of these original harnesses are deteriorating.

It will be interesting to see what you come up with. AEM does make a good computer. I was looking at using the 508, but ultimately decided on the Maxx as it has more flexibility for some advanced control strategy and I can use arbitrary math channels to do things like backfeed the digital dash correct fuel consumption data. The AEM is solid hardware, and the software and documentation is pretty decent too. The 708 is kind of in a strange pricing area though, and I would lean towards a KV8 over a 708. The 508 on the other hand is competitively priced and worth looking at if you don't need to program any unusual functions.
User avatar
By Shifted
#29636
Ok, I'm on the same page now :) I had misinterpreted your use of plug and play to mean both the hardware AND the software. It's probably more like "plug and WORK"...as in now you get to start working on tuning. :)

I'm very interested in being able to retain the stock wiring harness for now. I looked into old ECU's that I could cut the plugs out of and then solder up my own wiring to them. Maybe the Volvo LH/EZK ECU's have the same plugs as ours? I'm not sure, but I do know that 928 specific ECU's, even old known bad ones, are $300+. All I really want is the plug that goes into the stock wiring harness so I can wire up my own connection to an aftermarket ECU. That gives me the most flexibility.

There is no doubt that eventually the stock wiring harness will degrade beyond the point of usability. Mine is in great shape right now, but it's only a matter of time before it fails. At that point, I'll make up my own harness, end to end.

I will keep mulling the options over. I like buying American when possible, even if it costs more, but I need to really quantify my specific requirements. You're right about the math channels in the MaxxECU. That provides some pretty interesting options in the tuning.
User avatar
By hans14914
#29641
Here is what I did to interface the factory harness. If your plan is to reuse the stock wiring, you honestly dont need two wideband controllers, as you only have one usable injector output, so it has to average all cylinders anyway. Keep us posted on your progress, but I would suggest you not go crazy on the computer if you cant use the functions yet pin-wise. There will be a whole new wave of controllers out in mid-late 2021. People are holding back the releases on everything because SEMA and PRI were cancelled this year.

Get something that makes sense for the limited capability of the stock harness, and buy an expanded unit when you decide to replace your harness.

Image
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User avatar
By worf
#29642
Nice piece Hans!
User avatar
By Shifted
#29647
Hans, you know that I'll buy that whenever you are able to send me a set :) And MAF plugs :)

Right, the stock harness and ECU have batch firing. However, I still want to see what the AFR's are on either bank. I have three ports on my exhaust (left, right, combined). Having the data helps a lot. It can go a long ways toward isolating a problem with an injector or plug. And if one side is running differently than the other, I want to make my own decision about how to address that, rather than relying on an average or just operating off of one bank and not even knowing that there is an issue. And, eventually, I'll switch to sequential injection anyway.

My plan is NOT to use the factory wiring harness for the O2 sensors. I will wire those in separately. And I'll repurpose the wiring in the stock harness for whatever functions I need under the hood (IAT, TPS, etc). If the stock harness continues to hold up, I'll add the extra wires in parallel for injection and ignition.

Good to know about the 2021 products. I can wait for those :)
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