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Factory vs Standalone


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It's been awhile, but it's time to start moving forward with my build. This will be a 'warm' turbo build. Not looking to win the HP wars. Currently I have a bin of parts for a motor that I'm going to load on a pallet and ship off to the builder. I have no ECU or ignition yet.

 

I am looking up aftermarket ECU's and was wondering how far you guys with stand-alones (megasquirt, etc) have tuned the car's manners and how much work was it. I looked at the JWT 300zx upgraded ECU, but I am not sure if I will just end up with a completely remapped system anyway. While I would like power, I also want a OEM-like manners if possible as this car will be 90% street.

 

I'm only asking because of comments I've read from people like Mark Rolston who did VQ swaps but chose to keep their OEM ecu's for the reason I am stating above. I realize there is prob a chasm of tech between a z31 piggybacked ECU and a G37HR reflash but I figured it can't hurt to ask 🙂

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I would recommend a standalone ECU regardless of whether you want to tune it yourself or not.  There is much more flexibility built-in to modern ECUs and once you learn how to tune it yourself, you can fine tune it yourself as-needed or completely re-map it if you make a major change to the engine (like a different turbo). I have a well-mannered car using an old Wolf V500 (vintage 2006 ish).  I got help with the initial tune and setup from the vendor (Ron Tyler) then learned to fine tune it myself.  You just have to be patient and make a small change, drive/test, adjust, drive/test, adjust, drive/test...until you are happy. You will need a wideband A/F meter to help you understand what's happening and see the results as you make them. Sometime soon I will be upgrading my system to a shiny new Haltech Elite 750 that I have sitting on the shelf with a new harness.

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In 2001, I tried to run a swapped L28et harness on an L24 I was adding a turbo to. weeks later, I gave up after having no success and went with SDS ignition and fuel management. I was really glad I did! I took the tune map from a friend of mine with the same setup, and it worked just fine. I simply reduced the fuel/RPM proportionally to run the L24. I blew that motor, but it was entirely my fault for running 8psi on a near 9:1 CR (I was 16 and ambitious). Eventually I bought a stock L28et long block and just swapped the SDS part to that motor. I ran that way for two years before I ever got to a dyno. I never had any detonation problems, never blew a head gasket or any mechanical engine issues. When it was finally dynoed, it did ~325ft-lbs at 16psi, and just around 300hp. 

 

Installation of the SDS system was super easy too. I just followed the directions and had to fabricate some simple brackets using AL plate and a hand drill. The hardest part was drilling holes in the front crank pulley for the crank position magnets. This is the only part of the installation that took any precision. I used the existing distributor to get the spark to the right cylinder, but SDS managed the ignition timing. 

 

I don't have any experience with Megasquirt (it was a less viable option 20 years ago, as I don't believe they had an affordable muiti-port option). Id love to hear from others in the community on how easy it was to tune their megasquirt systems. 

 

Once you go AM ECU, there is nothing inherent to the electronics that would limit you. You can run stock boost or add all the necessary parts to go much higher. Even at stock boost, I would add an IC immediately. Your first limit will be the stock injectors, followed by the stock T3 turbo, and so on...

 

My recommendation would be to stick to around 300ft-lbs of torque. Once you get near 20psi, the occurrence of blown head gaskets start popping up (even without detonation). The mechanical torque limit (reliably) on a stock L28et is around 350-400lbs anyways, so why bother. Above that, you will need forged pistons etc. etc...

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10 minutes ago, rossman said:

I would recommend a standalone ECU regardless of whether you want to tune it yourself or not.  There is much more flexibility built-in to modern ECUs and once you learn how to tune it yourself, you can fine tune it yourself as-needed or completely re-map it if you make a major change to the engine (like a different turbo). I have a well-mannered car using an old Wolf V500 (vintage 2006 ish).  I got help with the initial tune and setup from the vendor (Ron Tyler) then learned to fine tune it myself.  You just have to be patient and make a small change, drive/test, adjust, drive/test, adjust, drive/test...until you are happy. You will need a wideband A/F meter to help you understand what's happening and see the results as you make them. Sometime soon I will be upgrading my system to a shiny new Haltech Elite 750 that I have sitting on the shelf with a new harness.

 

I also recommend the wideband A/F meter as well! would have made troubleshooting and tuning SOOO much easier, and from what I see they are only $200-$300 including the O2 meter and gauge. Off-boost, you will be looking for ~14, while 13-11.5 is typical while boosting (depending on pressure and your detonation risk). 

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On 12/12/2020 at 7:01 PM, mutantZ said:

Thanks for the feedback guys.

 

Hey AydinZ71, I see you're in LA too. Did you do the tune yourself or did you go to a shop? I'm looking for a reputable tuner that's local. Any recommends would be appreciated.


I used the original mapping from a friend who had a similar setup. I eventually went to a tuner dyno by John Wayne airport, but they have long since gone out of business. I will need to find a new one myself eventually. If you do go Independent EFI, You could try contacting the manufacturer for a local shop recommendation. SDS was able to provide some names way back when I was looking for a shop. You want to find a shop that has experience with your specific EFI cobtroller. 

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