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Need help choosing engine management

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HI guys. I need some help settling on a management system for my new track car.

Initially i want it tuned by an experienced tuner, but i would also like to fiddle with it myself after i get more experience.

The car has a Pectel T2 now. The other management systems i have looked at are Motec M1 series and Maxxecu (http://www.maxxtuning.eu/maxxecu/).

Thoughts so far are as follows: I don't know much about Pectel other than that it is a solid platform, but the T2 is a old model and may be lacking functionality compared to the other two? Also, very few here in Norway use Pectel so i don't have any input from other users.

The Motec M1 seems to be a very complex and solid platform. But it seems fairly complicated. My thoughts on the M1 is that it may not be the best choice for a beginner to start learning how to tune. I may be wrong, thoughts? Also the Motec would set me back the most economy wise.

The Maxxecu is the cheapest of the lot, but it is very widely used here in Norway both by customers and tuners so it has by no doubt the most support community wise over here compared to the other two. It is also fairly easy to understand and tune and comes with a tablet from factory which hooks up to the ECU wirelessly to display every value you may want on your screen, logs and error codes. Simple and easy to use.

The car is a Nissan S15 with a SR20 DET

Engine spec:

Fully forged bottom (2,2L)

Mazworx billet 91mm chrome-moly crank

HKS 86,5mm pisons

HKS H-beam rods

Darton sleeves

Top rebuilt to mechanical lift

HKS mechanical valve lift kit

HKS 264 cams

Garrett GTX3071r turbo, tial v-band .63 ar

Aiming for ~600 whp with superb power band

Some serious money was put into building this engine so i don't want to cheap out on the engine management system. I want to build in as much safety in the ECU as possible. Does any one of you have first hand experience with the Maxxecu? Should i stick with the Pectel?

Pointers and input are much appreciated.

Hi "Oluf" Fellow norwegian here...

Pectel... Seriously expensive ecus from a company that apparently got too comfortable on the "top". As i hear their customer support is just about zero unless you are one of the big ballers. Their software is also somewhat buggy and i have seen people actually paying them to fix problems with the software. I have not had hands on a Pectel but from what i see i would probably steer clear.

Maxxecu... The new big hype in scandinavia (next to EMU).

To be honest im not that impressed with this one either. Granted it got some cool features and all. Like the TAB connection, but so does some other ECU`s. One thing that made me steer clear of Maxx is the lack of true 3D individual cylinder trims for ignition and fuel. There are also ecus with better fuel calculation algorythms out there. Like fuelpressure compensation or chargetemp correction or fuel temp correction and so on. Things that make for a better more stable tune.

Link G4+`s is one such ECU. They got other pitfalls tho that one should know about. Very good ecu`s that i would choose over Maxx anyday. Can also connect to tabs via an obd2 adaptor if that is an important feature for you. Link is an easy ecu to learn on as it is very userfriendly. I have been running Link/Vipecs for many years...

Another ECU you should look into is Syvecs or Life racing. Esentialy the same ecu`s but Syvecs is more targeted on road going cars where Life targets motorsport customers. Software looks... well not that good, but it is once you get used to it. Very powerfull ecus with some extremly good features. Not really cheap tho. But well worth a look.

Personaly i have ran through Chip burning, Rom emulators, AEM, Haltech, Link and Vipec`s on my own car, but at the moment (and it looks like its going to stay that way for a long time) i am running an Emtron KV8. This is also a high end ecu that pricevice is inbetween the link/maxx/haltech ect. range and the Syvecs/Motec range. It is also a brand targeting motorsport cars and i would not be suprised if this one would suit you well. Software is pretty good and easy to grasp. I can help you out with dealers if interested. Check it out.

I agree with your idea of investing in a good ecu for your expensive engine.

Too often i see young fellas spend a zillion dollars on their engine and then want the cheapest ecu possible to run it. I simply do not get it...

Thank you for a very informative and thorough answer. I will have to check those out then. The reason i was looking at Maxx is because i wanted Jonus to map it, as he is the guy i trust the most. That said, i don't feel like any of the "big" tuners over here can be trusted 100% with a tune. Hence why i would like to learn myself. I may just be paranoid, but i hear so many horrible stories about most of the "big shot" tuners here that i feel it's hard to put my engines life in the hands of any of them.

Does any of the tuners here have experience with the Motec M1? I know Volden has on the old series, but not sure on the M1. Same goes for the others you mentioned, any of the tuners here have any experience with those?

+1 on the following -

"Pectel... Seriously expensive ecus from a company that apparently got too comfortable on the "top". As i hear their customer support is just about zero unless you are one of the big ballers. Their software is also somewhat buggy and i have seen people actually paying them to fix problems with the software. I have not had hands on a Pectel but from what i see i would probably steer clear."

I had several Pectel T6's. I switched to the Motec M1 rather than go Cosworth SQ6 mostly because of support from Motec. The fact it was cheaper and for more flexible was just an added bonus.

I hear you. I live much by the line "If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself". So thats what i tend to do. Also tuning vise.

You have come to a good place to start with your tuning. Read some books about it also. Not that hard really. Just need to get your head around what you are doing and how things work together...

In my opinion if you can tune one brand ECU you should have no real problemms tuning another one. You just need to figure out where in the menus you can find what you are looking for. Although some got other ways to do shit than others wich might throw some tuners of for a while. But that should not be a big problem.

Many tuners do Link ecus in Norway Håland Tuning is the main distributor and know theese pretty well. Motec tuners shouldnt be to hard to come by either, but as the hype is Maxx i dont think there is alot of Motecs crossing counters nowadays... Even tho they are superior the price jump from Maxx is something people arent able to justify i guess. I dont really know who might be your best bet when it comes to Motecs. That said, Motecs customer service is supposed to be beyond all else...

I dont imagine many here in Norway have even heard of Emtron. There are no dealers whitin theese borders. But if you can tune a Link (wich many do) you can find your way around a Emtron as well.

Edit: Something you also need to consider is what features you get when buying the ecu. Some ecus require you to pay extra to activate logging or other things you might want. Other ecus are "all inclusive". It could add up on you..

I've had no experience with the Maxx ECU so it's hard to comment there. I've seen the odd Pectel over the years and they are/were a capable ECU. The user interface initially feels pretty dated but once you're comfortable with it then it's pretty logical. If you're considering Pectel then I'd also be inclined to look at Life Racing and Syvecs as superior alternatives. Life was started by an ex Pectel staff member and has a very similar look and feel to Pectel but on a more stable, up to date and feature rich platform. Syvecs is essentially a Life racing ECU designed for the enthusiast market as opposed to high end race use - As kickerzx has said, Life is more targeted at professional motorsport (you'll find them in the likes of LMP1/LMP2) where as Syvecs is more targeted towards road/race/semi professional use.

Motec's M1 is a complex ECU but really it's no steeper learning curve than any other new product that you're not currently familiar with, and as a bonus we offer a software training course for the M1 :) As a bonus, if you're technically inclined, the M1 allows you to write/modify your own code to add or alter features and strategies by purchasing a development licence.

As I always tell anyone asking the question you have, the best ECU for your application is usually the one your tuner is most familiar with. They will know all the short cuts and tips and tricks to get the engine running the best it can in the least amount of time. So based on what you've said, I think you need to think long and hard about who is going to tune this engine. If you're going to trust a local tuner then you may be best to use the ECUs they know best (or at least consult them about your listed alternatives). If you're planning to do the tuning yourself from the outset then your options are unlimited as you'll be learning a new platform regardless.

No easy answers there I'm afraid but it's an important decision that you shouldn't take lightly. The 'best' or most expensive/feature rich ECU won't necessarily give you the best results if your tuner can't understand how to use it.

Thank you for your reply guys. I have all winter to decide, so i will do some research on the different alternatives you have come up with, and which one would suit my needs the most.

Another question: Lets say i choose to map it myself. Is that smart at all considering this is a very expensive engine? I have studied some theory, most of it here at HPA, but i have no practical experience what so ever. I do intend to read/watch more of course. Would it be a possibility to map it very safe from the beginning and not care about the HP numbers so much, or are there other pitfalls more likely to destroy my engine as a novice tuner?

Maybe meet up with another tuner to help me get started and keep an eye on me so i don't screw up the first time would be the way to go? I will definitely consider the online practice dyno course if i decide to tune it myself so i atleast have one practical experience under my belt before i try to blow up my own engine.

Here's how I got started (unfortunately for me there was no HPA back then and the internet wasn't what it is now so everything I learned was done the hard way):

I started out on low power naturally aspirated engines. This let me build some experience and confidence on an engine that realistically would have been hard to break. Following that I started applying what I had learned on relatively low power turbocharged rally cars. Around this point I had my own test vehicle which was a turbocharged Toyota 20V 4AGE hybrid - This let me experiment and test whenever I wanted. It also let me start pushing boundaries as I began running this engine with a larger turbo on C16 and ended up making 500 whp and running a 10.5 at the strip. From here things escalated and I built my EVO drag car and started seeing numbers north of 1000 whp and using methanol fuel so my experience accelerated. Our success also meant I was seeing more and more customer cars making high power.

The key here is that I started slow and built my confidence and experience on low powered engines that would be hard to break. An engine is an engine and within reason it doesn't matter if you're tuning a 50 hp N/A engine or a 3000+ hp pro mod turbo engine, they respond to fuel and timing the same way. The problem is that your window for safety in the high powered turbo engine is much smaller. This means things can go wrong much faster and the engine won't be very forgiving if the tune isn't on point.

Particularly when you're learning, you're going to make mistakes and on a highly strung engine these can be costly very quickly. While it's quite possible to apply the knowledge in our courses and jump in the deep end, this entails some obvious risks. If you're comfortable with those risks then we're here to support you but it's very important you have a full understanding of the possible downsides. A smarter option if you have access to a tuner with a good reputation would be to allow them to map the engine initially and then you can make smaller adjustments as necessary once the engine is running and safe.

Completely agree with this recommendation "As I always tell anyone asking the question you have, the best ECU for your application is usually the one your tuner is most familiar with."

I fell into the trap of buying the ecu I wanted and then took it to the best local tuner. But he is not familiar with this ecu and after lots of money, stress and effort, its still a pretty crappy tune. The closest tuner with experience in the ecu I have is a $300 10 hour ferry ride each way. With young kids this is not an option. So Im stuck trying to learn how to fix it myself. Dont make my mistake!

I actually tend to disagree with that advise. Not to long ago i heard about this guy that had bought a pretty decent ecu (cant remember specificaly which one). Then his tuner convinced him to get a Microtech so he sold his "old" ecu on ebay.. Dont want to offend anyone, but i dont consider Microtechs to be worth its weight in parts.

So now this dude is stuck with this "ecu" since that was what the tuner suggested. Its probably never going to run perfect and there is nothing he can do to change that.

Had he stuck with his other ecu, granted he may have gotten a just decent tune, but to remedy this he could just have found another tuner later to fix it. Or actually started to tinker with it himself. Point is, a crap tune can be fixed. A crap ECU, not so much.

I GET you points. And to some extent it is true. But that depends...

Besides. Learning how to fix it yourselfs is the fun part. And why you are here in the first place. ;)

Thank you very much for your input Andre, it is much appreciated.

Kickerz, if the tuner cant do a good tune on his suggested ecu than I dare say you havent selected a good tuner. You can have a fantastic ecu but if noone knows how to tune it in your area then its not much use.

Im not a microtech fan either but my friend had one as it was recommended by his tuner and his car ran beautifully (because thats what he knew).

Ok. So i have decided to go with the Motec M1 platform. I have watched a decent amount of webinars on the tuning topic, and now i am back on hardware and realize i don't know jack shit about the hardware in a ECU. I am sitting here trying to figure out if i need to buy the M150 or if a M130 would do. It all comes down to my needs for inputs/outputs i guess. Can someone break it down for me which types of inputs/outputs are used for what kind of sensors etc? I just bought the Wiring Fundamentals course so hopefully i will get some more answers there.

Hi Oluf,

The easiest way to decide between the M130 and M150 is to download M1 Tune, and the M130 GPR Package from MoTeCOnline. Install M1 Tune and the GPR Package (double click on the download file, it is a self extracting install) and then go through the setup process. M1 Tune will not let you allocate a resource to a function if it doesn't fulfil that operation, so you can allocate your resources to suit and know that they will work. If you can allocate resources to everything on the car that you want into the M1 using the GPR package, then the M130 will be OK. I personally would recommend the M150, just so that you have the extra I/O that it offers. The only difference between the two hardware platforms is that the M150 has the extra I/O available, a tune that is done on the M130 can be ported across to the M150 without any issues.

As a simple guide however,

Half Bridges (two linked make a Full Bridge) are your high load drivers, these are used for functions like DBW and Stepper motors.

Low side drives, switch low current (<2A) to ground, used for extra (saturated only) injectors, boost control valves.

Peak Hold Injectors, Can drive either High or Low impedance injectors.

Analogue Voltage inputs, used for variable voltage inputs, such as throttle position sensors, pressure sensors. Can be re purposed as AT inputs through wiring changes as well.

Analogue Temp inputs, fairly self explanatory.

Universal Digital Inputs, Read high speed pulsed inputs, such as Crank and Cam signals.

Digital Inputs, used for On/Off input switches

Let me know if you have any further questions regarding the M1.

Thank you for the info.

The problem is that i have not decided how many sensors/CAN etc i will use yet. Since i am a beginner in EFI tuning i will probably add sensors and equipment as my knowledge increases. So i am thinking about just buying the M150 since it would be stupid buying the M130 and finding out that i need more I/O to implement all the features i want. I feel the M150 is more future proof since it has 3 instead of 1 CAN bus and more I/O in general.

Then again, i would love the M130 to be sufficient since the price difference is quite big.

I think you will find that the M130 is sufficient for your 4-cylinder turbocharged car. There is sufficient I/O on that platform, to run the engine. Seriously, try configuring an M130 with GPA using M1 Tune.. That is the easiest way to understand the trade-offs, and what you might want to connect anyway -- all the choices are there. If you run out, or don't have as many available for "futures", then buy the M150.

There will also be some new lower-cost I/O options you can use to expand the M130 (Today you can use the E816 expander) or a Motec Dash for additional I/O -- you don't have to do it all in the ECU.

Thank you for your input David. I will definitely look into expansion options.

MoTeC is also releasing some low cost CAN I/O expanders for the M1 (will also work with displays) in the new year, so you can use these as well.

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I'm looking at the C125 display with I/O upgrade. Judging by the price i have to buy the C125 for other reasons than I/O expanding, then i could just buy the M150 from the start.

BlackRex: Have they announced any prices on the I/O expanders you are referring to?

Looking at around the $400~500AU mark, dependent on the model, with a mid 2017 release.

Ok. Thanks.

Fiddling with the M1 tune it looks like the M130 would be sufficient. I contacted a local dealer for prices today and the price difference between the M130 and the M150 was not as bad as i thought. "Only" ~$700 ~difference between the two if the prices he gave me are correct. That is almost worth it just for the piece of mind imo, then i would be covered even if i swap engine and add a bunch of sensors.

I was looking at the unterminated looms Motec offers, but i did not find any that is meant for the M1 series, is this correct?

That looks like the correct price break between the M130 and M150, just remember that you have another two connectors with the M150. The M130 cut to fit loom is available, the part number is 62207, this can also be used with the M150.

Ok. I can't seem to find part number 62207 under their unterminated looms range on their website. Does the M150 package include unterminated connectors? If i buy the M130 loom, i still need the remaining two connectors for the M150 right?

The website should have it in the next day or so, the looms only came in at the start of the week.

None of the M1's ship with the connectors by default, unless you have purchased a kit like the R35 or Toyota 86 that has the adaptor boards/looms as part of the package. This is done because the connectors are not always needed, as the end user may be upgrading from an Mx00 series ECU, or from a different brand that uses the same connectors.

If you get 62207, you will also need to order 65067 and 65068 which are the two extra M150 connectors, these have different part numbers as they have a different keying to the cut to fit loom so that you can connect them incorrectly and power pins that shouldn't be powered.

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