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AEM vs INNOVATE Widebands

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I see the innovate is a very popular option for wideband but on the flip side it seems to be very tricky to get set up with HP Tuners. I am between buying the INNOVATE LM2 or the AEM X-Series OBD2 Uego. The biggest pro vs con i can see between the 2 is that the AEM will only operate on a CAN bus vs the Innovate is wired in serial to the laptop therefore would work on any potential vehicle i may branch out into tuning in the future. Is this the only major difference? Or does any one have hands on direct experience or issues with the AEM x-series? Would anyone specifically recommend one vs the other? Or is there another reliably accurate wideband option out there within the same pricing area ($230-$300USD) as these 2 widebands are?

The X series can support both CAN and 0-5v if you buy the CAN option. They also have analogue only units. I've used both for years on rotary applications and as long as I can use an LSU 4.9 sensor they're comparable in my opinion if I'm only looking for a standalone wideband controller. If you've got a purely AEM or Innovate ecosystem then go with whatever you're already running.

I'm interested to know where you heard 'the AEM will only operate on a CAN bus', because the 30-0334 OBD wideband gauge has CAN (OBD for use with reflash ECUs) and RS232 Serial and 0-5V analog voltage outputs. It might be hard to find the instructions on our website, but here's a link:

https://www.aemelectronics.com/files/instructions/30-0334-X-Series-OBDII-Wideband-UEGO-Controller-Gauge.pdf

I'm a bit biased since AEM pays my paycheck and Innovate doesn't, but from what I've seen you will find good & bad opinions on both brands if you spend enough time looking around online. Be careful handling the sensors regardless of which brand you choose; the ceramic element inside can be fragile and might get damaged if you drop the sensor. They can also get hurt if they are mounted in a way that allows water vapor or raw unburnt fuel to reach the ceramic element inside the sensor; that ceramic element gets quite hot during normal operation and can be damaged by thermal shock. I don't have clear data to back up this opinion, but I think the newer LSU4.9 sensors seem a bit more fragile than the older LSU4.2's.

Hey Scott, that's a really cool product. I might need to hit up Lawson for one of these to test out :)

@Tyler we use the innovate with serial connection to the VCM Scanner and when it's working it works well. I do find it to be hit and miss and occasionally for no obvious reason it just won't get recognised by the scanner. I can't say others are any better though. I originally had my Innovate coming in as an analogue voltage input and I'd strongly suggest not doing that. There was a weird ground offset that seemed to be built into the MPVI interface that made it a nightmare to get accurate numbers into the scanner. To be clear though, this issue appears to be at the HP Tuners end and not Innovate's.

Thanks for the responses.

@Scott- I assumed the AEM was CAN only due to the nature of it being on CAN, I was looking at it on a website the other day and watched a product video on it via the same website, the listing for the gauge made no mention of its analog ability only that it worked over CAN, and in their product video it only showed them using it via OBD2

@Andre- If you have seen an issue with INNOVATE have analog ground offset issues with HP, wouldn't you stand to have a similar issue with the AEM as well via the analog connection, if the issue is with HP and not with INNOVATE? Im not an electrician, but if you have a ground offset issue with a module plugged into the OBD2 port, it seems to me like a possible solution would be to ensure a good ground wire/ connection to the back of your diagnostic plug, and (not sure what power/ground connections you have with the wideband, I assume a +/- on a 12v dc plug or with battery clamps.) If both the wideband and the diagnostics plug both have perfect grounds then in theory the ground offset should be remedied. If an issue still were to persist, i would think that an external jumper wire between your ground termination for the wideband, jumped/connected to the ground pin in the OBD2 should about 100% take care of a ground offset?

@Tyler, absolutely! As I said above, the issue is in the MPVI interface and I'd almost certainly expect exactly the same behaviour with any analogue voltage input. I actually put quite a lot of work into resolving this issue including an external earth and while it improved the situation, it never fixed it 100%. A good way of testing a voltage offset is to set up the wideband to output a fixed voltage of let's say 1.0 volts. Then you can look at the voltage being received at the scanner and offset accordingly if it isn't exactly 1.0 volts. I generally do this at 1.0 volts and 4.0 volts. Interestingly the offset in the MPVI was marginally different at 1.0 volts and 4.0 volts adding another spanner in the works. I queried HP Tuners about it and got nothing useful back sadly.

Thanks for the advice. I will keep all of this in mind.

@Scott the 4.9 is actually more robust than the 4.2. The original 4.2 that bosch developed referenced a factory 'clean air' cell encased in the unit itself for calibration against stoich. With high EGTs (high performance turbo, as well as NA and turbo rotaries in my case) the cell would be contaminated rendering the sensor useless. The 4.9 references current, and ditches the air cell completely. Cell contamination in real world applications was the direct cause of Bosch's redesign of the LSU sensor after the OEMs that were using them threw a fit.

With regards to how fragile the sensors are to dropping, all I can say is that I've never had one (4.2 or 4.9) go bad by a little jostling or being dropped. Obviously don't swing it around your head and hit things with it like a flail but other than that they've seemed no more or less fragile than any other sensor that I tend to use. I somewhat suspect that much of the early 4.2 failures that the OEMs caught on to early on were attributed wrongly to mishandling of the sensor rather than a contaminated air cell by the aftermarket gauge manufacturers as a CYA until they could re-release a cheap 4.9 heater circuit.

/book

I had an Innovate 3844 MTX-L in my car when I bought it used, it was abused horribly and thus the sensor was broken, but when it worked it was still reading accurate during WOT and medium load. I did notice however that it takes quite long to heat up the sensor specially after a restart, it would just do the full 30isch second heating procedure.

I then decided to buy the AEM Uego wideband, which works great!! It heats up faster, and specially after a hot restart it starts really quickly. But it doesn't seem to have the abbility to connect to a laptop to adjust setting like the Innovate does... So if you want to set a custom voltage curve for your lambda output then the innovate will be more suited I guess. The AEM seems to be faster responding aswell though.

On the astetics, I do like that you don't need an input to dim the lighting of the display, but it uses a light sensor instead. With the innovate you have to wire it to your dashboard lighting and it is quite bright at night if you don't dim it. Even with the dim it's more in your face than the AEM. The AEM guage looks more subtle in my opinion and they are both very easy to read. The AEM is easy to switch from AFR to lambda with the press of a button or 2 and it can display 3 decimal digits which my innovate couldn't. With the innovate you would need to connect a laptop to change it from AFR to lambda.

Just my 2 cents, I don't know if this is of any use to you though.

The AEM definitely has a faster heating strategy which is kind of a hack, in my opinion in a permanent install this is inconsequential, for a mobile tuning device its debatable either way.