If you’re contemplating the HP Tuners platform for reflashing late model factory ECUs, there can be a lot of questions that are tricky to answer. In this webinar we’ll discuss how the HP Tuners platform works, how their credit system works, what it costs to tune a car, and what other hardware you’re going to need to get the best results.
00:00 - Hey guys it's Andre from High Performance Academy.
00:02 Welcome along to another webinar.
00:03 This time we're going to be talking about the HP Tuners software, which is useful for reflashing a wide range of vehicles.
00:11 It's commonly used for GM and Ford, but we'll talk about the entire range that the HP Tuners software supports shortly.
00:18 So we're gonna find out what it is, we're also going to have a little bit of a discussion about what exactly reflashing is, how this differs from tuning an aftermarket standalone ECU.
00:28 Got a couple of demonstrations here that we're gonna be performing on our Holden SS Commodore, Pontiac GTO for those of you joining us from the US market.
00:37 Now during this webinar, or after this webinar I should say, we are going to be having a question and answer session, so if there's anything that I talk about today that you'd like me to go into a bit more detail on, or anything generally related to the topic, please feel free to ask your questions in the comments and we'll deal with those at the end of the webinar.
00:55 Now also we're going to be dealing with what you're actually going to need if you wanna get started tuning your own supported vehicle using the HP Tuners platform.
01:06 And this is all gonna sound like a massive sales tactic for HP Tuners.
01:11 I wanna be really clear right here at the start of this webinar, we are not affiliated in any way shape or form with HP Tuners.
01:17 We do not make a single cent if you guys go out there and buy an HP Tuners interface or credits from HP Tuners.
01:25 We personally just think it is one of the best commercial software packages available, particularly for the GM platform where we primarily use it.
01:34 And we know that it is also an immensely popular software package all around the world so we know there's a little bit of misunderstanding, and a little bit of confusion around the product, exactly how it works, et cetera, with novice tuners just getting started.
01:48 So that's what this webinar is designed to do.
01:50 I'll also mention that this is an introductory webinar.
01:54 We're not going to be delving deep into the actual tuning process.
01:57 We've got other webinars in our archive that go a little bit deeper today so this is just really talking about what it is, how it works, what you're going to need if you wanna get started.
02:08 So let's begin with exactly that, what is HP Tuners? So HP Tuners is a reflashing, a commercial reflashing package that is available for a wide range of vehicles.
02:19 Initially it was available for the GM, Ford and Dodge vehicles.
02:24 Probably came to popularity mainly through its support of the GM range of vehicles and particularly in the LS V8 market.
02:33 And that's primarily where we've been using it for as well.
02:36 Now just recently HP Tuners have gone through a fairly major redevelopment with their brand new interface, the MPVI2, we're gonna be talking about that in a little bit more detail further into the webinar.
02:49 And they've also in conjunction with that, added support for quite a massive range of vehicles now including Nissan, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes, and Toyota.
02:58 So there is a really large supported range of vehicles.
03:02 Now if you are interested in finding out a little bit more about that, let's just head over to my laptop screen for a moment.
03:11 And we are on the HP Tuners website.
03:14 So if you wanna find out if your vehicle is supported, all you need to do is head to the vehicles tab on their website and there is, I'll just cycle through it pretty quickly, we're not gonna go into it in too much detail, a fairly extensive list of all of the vehicles that are currently supported, the engines, the model years, and importantly as well, on the right hand side here, we'll see how many credits you're going to need in order to tune a particular vehicle, so that's a one off, if you just wanna tune one vehicle.
03:43 Or if you want to unlock so you can tune an unlimited year or model for that particular car, how many credits you're going to use.
03:51 Don't worry about the credits too much, we're gonna deal with what that is, how that works really shortly.
03:55 So that's the first place to start, is obviously, is your vehicle supported by the HP Tuners platform? If it isn't, this webinar's probably not gonna be a huge amount of benefit for you, and HP Tuners isn't gonna be able to help you.
04:08 Alright let me just head back across to my notes here for a second.
04:13 OK so with that out of the way, we now know what the HP Tuners platform is, it's a commercial reflashing package.
04:20 It involves software and hardware.
04:22 We're going to have a look through it so you'll actually see how it works shortly.
04:27 But before we do that, we probably need to touch on what exactly is reflashing? So reflashing is one of the options that we've got when it comes to retuning our engine.
04:39 So broadly we can break down our tuning options into two.
04:42 We've got either reflashing where we are altering the factory tuning data held inside the factory fitted ECU that came equipped with our car.
04:51 So that's what we're talking about today.
04:53 The alternative which a lot of tuners may be more familiar with, is where we rip out that factory ECU completely and we replace it with an aftermarket standalone ECU.
05:02 So these aftermarket standalone ECUs come from manufacturers such as Haltech, Motec, Adaptronic, AEM et cetera, et cetera, the list goes on, and these are a universal ECU that's essentially designed to be able to run any engine at all.
05:19 And it gives us complete control over the fuel and the ignition parameters.
05:23 The problem is that as our cars have become more advanced, and we've seen this advance quite dramatically, once we got past around about the model year, sort of 2000, maybe a little bit beyond that, we've seen a lot more integration with the electronics in the cars.
05:40 So there's more modules, we've got more computers controlling the transmission control, the gauge cluster, ABS, traction control, climate control, et cetera, the list goes on and on.
05:53 The problem from our perspective in the aftermarket is that all of these modules talk to each other.
05:58 So they rely on communications from the engine control module through to the transmission control module in the gauge cluster.
06:05 What this means is that we may be able to rip out the factory fitted ECU and wire in an aftermarket standalone ECU like a Haltech Elite.
06:13 We can make our engine run, but all of a sudden our automatic transmission doesn't shift gears, our climate control air conditioning won't work, the power steering often won't work and our gauge cluster isn't gonna show us what's going on.
06:26 So yes there are solutions to all of those problems.
06:29 But essentially it becomes more and more complex to go to an aftermarket standalone ECU with a late model car.
06:35 And this is why it's becoming more and more common to instead, just work with the factory fitted ECU, and this is where these hardware and software interfaces come in that allow us to read out the original tune data, view it, modify it, and then write it back into the ECU.
06:54 And it's that writing back into the ECU is referred to as reflashing.
06:58 Now there are some significant advantages that I think a lot of people often overlook when it comes to retaining that factory ECU and reflashing it, rather than jumping to a standalone.
07:08 This is particularly an issue for existing tuners out there in the market who are very very confident, very comfortable with aftermarket standalone ECUs.
07:17 Often it's quite a big culture shock when you come into this reflashing world and a lot of tuners get scared off, they don't like it, and they tend to resist moving across to it.
07:28 There's nothing to fear, as we're gonna find out, and there are some big advantages.
07:32 So one of them is when we're dealing with an aftermarket standalone ECU, we have one universal ECU that may be designed and capable of running literally thousands of different engines.
07:43 Understandably when you've got one ECU that's possible to run anything from perhaps a V12 down to a single cylinder engine, there is a lot of generic tables and generic control that is applied that's suitable for all of those different engines and everything in between.
08:02 On the other hand if we're dealing with a factory developed ECU, we've got an ECU that has been developed from the ground up solely to control one particular engine.
08:12 Often all of the code, all of the firmware developed for that ECU and the strategies for fuel, for ignition, for idle speed control, everything associated with running that engine is developed specifically around that engine and understandably, with the weight of a big manufacturer behind it and all of the testing and development they can do, we generally end up with a product that does a much better job than most standalones can of running that particular engine.
08:41 So we can get much better results often than aftermarket standalone ECUs.
08:45 And certainly if we are only making light modifications to the engine, maybe some bolt ons, maybe an intake system, a set of headers, maybe an exhaust, our tuning is also incredibly quick and easy.
08:57 Often we only need to focus on some quite narrow areas of the engine's operating range and this cuts down the tune time dramatically.
09:07 So from the tuner's perspective, it's actually another big advantage.
09:10 Now one of the issues of course comes where we've got a factory naturally aspirated engine but we wanna go pretty wild with this engine with modifications.
09:20 Maybe we wanna fit a supercharger, maybe a pair of turbos, maybe we want to fit a stroker kit and increase the capacity of the engine, fit larger injectors, all of those good things that we obviously know and love in the aftermarket in terms of getting massive power from a factory engine.
09:36 So this is where a lot of tuners think we've got some limitations in the factory ECU and these days that's really not the case.
09:44 Often there's not a lot we can't do.
09:47 And the reason for this is that commercial manufacturers or commercial reflash manufacturers such as HP Tuners, have the ability often to rewrite code in the factory ECU, essentially change the way the factory ECU operates to allow us to support options that weren't there from factory.
10:08 So these are often referred to as software patches and this allows us for example to remove a mass air flow sensor and revert to speed density tuning.
10:17 Allows us to move out into positive boost on a naturally aspirated engine and still control our fuel delivery and our ignition timing correctly.
10:26 So really the sky just about is the limit as to what we can achieve using commercial reflashing packages.
10:35 Obviously the more popular your particular car is, the more likelihood the manufacturers have put a lot of time into developing these sort of patches.
10:43 So if you're dealing with something relatively obscure, relatively new, you may be a little bit more limited in what you can do.
10:51 I will just point out here that the line from where we would want to go from reflashing the factory ECU through to fitting an aftermarket standalone ECU these days is getting quite blurred.
11:02 And I can't sit here and say if you're building a race car then you must go to a standalone ECU.
11:09 There's plenty of race cars out there that are still working on the factory ECU that's been reflashed.
11:15 But generally if we were building a ground up race car, that is probably about the point where I'd be considering a standalone ECU where we're building a ground up build race car, often we're going to be stripping out all of the factory electronics so we don't have that problem with communications, and we're probably going to be fitting an aftermarket dashlogger unit, so we don't have problems with communications and getting a dash to work.
11:39 Also we're most likely going to be fitting a proper motorsport rated gear box, so the automatic transmission is less of an issue.
11:46 So that gets us around all of those difficulties that we're already discussed.
11:50 And once we're at that point as well, for serious motorsport, datalogging is obviously critical to improving both the driver and the car and this is really one of the areas where commercial reflashing packages can often be a limiting factor.
12:07 So standalones often do a much better job with the datalogging.
12:12 Alright so we've talked about reflashing and what it is but I think what we want to do is have a look at how this is laid out.
12:19 What we need to understand is the way the reflash package works.
12:25 So first of all what we need to do is read all of the data out of the factory ECU, so this is a hexadecimal file.
12:33 And for us unless we're pretty good at writing code or looking for maps using a product such a Winols, then the raw hex file is on its own actually not a lot of use to us.
12:46 So this is where we need a software interface that actually allows us to view the maps inside the ECU in a way that makes sense to us as tuners.
12:55 Then we can modify those maps and once we've modified those maps, made the changes to fuel, ignition, or any of the other maps that we need to, we can then write those maps back into the ECU and test again to see what the results were.
13:08 So let's have a quick look at this software.
13:11 So we'll head across to my laptop screen at the moment.
13:14 And I'm sort of going to do this a little bit out of order.
13:17 One of our first steps would be to read out of the ECU.
13:20 But I've already got a file loaded here so we're going to have a look at what we've got available.
13:26 So we've got a few icons here on our toolbar.
13:29 And what I'm going to do is have a look at the engine icon here.
13:32 This brings up all of the tune data related to the engine or a variety of tune data related to the engine.
13:39 And again one of the areas that I know a lot of tuners who are coming into reflashing for the first time get scared off by is the sheer number of maps that we've got available.
13:48 And also the fact that often these maps don't look the same as what we're used to with an aftermarket standalone ECU.
13:56 That's OK though, often we're aren't going to actually need to make too many changes, and this is the beauty of reflashing.
14:03 Where particularly when we're only making light modifications to the vehicle, the majority of the factory tune is still going to be sound, we don't need to do too much to modify it.
14:12 So what we're going to do here is we're on our air flow tab.
14:15 Im not gonna go through all of this but we'll just have a look at a couple of the key areas.
14:19 So we're on our air flow tab, we are currently on our general tab here.
14:23 And what we're going to do is have a look at one of the key inputs for a factory ECU which uses a mass air flow sensor.
14:31 And that's our mass air flow sensor calibration.
14:34 Now this is really critical.
14:35 Let's click on that.
14:37 Now this is a two dimensional table.
14:38 On the horizontal axis we simply have the output from our mass air flow sensor in terms of frequency and then below this we have an air flow value, and this is being expressed in grams per second.
14:50 Now looking at it numerically doesn't really help too much but what we'll do is we'll click across and we'll have a look at it in a graphical form, so we can see here we've got our vertical axis in grams per second.
15:01 We've got our horizontal axis in mass air flow frequency, and we've got a nice smooth shape to this curve, which is really important with a mass air flow sensor.
15:10 So why this is so important is that the majority of factory ECUs, particularly in the GM world, they work on a mass air flow sensor base.
15:19 So everything that they are doing is based on the output from the mass air flow sensor telling the ECU what the air flow into the engine is in grams per second.
15:29 And the reason that this is so important is because if the ECU knows accurately what mass of air is entering the engine, and it knows what size injectors are fitted, it can really easily calculate what pulse width to deliver out to the injectors in order to achieve a target air fuel ratio.
15:48 So this, from an OE manufacturer's perspective is great because it allows very accurate control over our fuel delivery.
15:56 And that's important for emissions and it's important for the operation of the engine to be consistent and accurate.
16:03 From our perspective, I just wanna touch on this without delving too deeply into the actual tuning.
16:08 From our perspective a well tuned mass air flow sensor calibration table that we've just looked at, makes our life an absolute breeze.
16:17 Typically if we're dealing with an aftermarket standalone ECU, we're going to have a full three dimensional table for our fuel delivery, we'll have load on the vertical axis which is typically going to be manifold absolute pressure, and we're gonna have RPM on the horizontal axis.
16:31 We may have hundreds of cells, and we're going to need to go through each of those cells and tune it to get our desired air fuel ratio.
16:39 That is incredibly time consuming.
16:41 But it's typical of a speed density style ECU.
16:44 Once we've got a mass air flow sensor system that is set up and calibrated correctly, everything becomes incredibly easy.
16:51 Essentially in this GM PCM or ECU that we're looking at here, we've got two modes of operation, we've got either closed loop, where the ECU is just constantly targeting stoichiometric, which is 14.7:1, remembering it knows how much air is entering the engine, it knows what size injectors are fitted, so it can automatically calculate what pulse width to deliver to achieve that air fuel ratio.
17:13 Under these conditions it is also operating in a closed loop, so if there is any discrepancy, if it's not quite where it needs to be, the short term and long term fuel trims will take care of that.
17:22 So again, provided our mass air flow calibration is correct, we've got no work to do, the ECU does all the heavy lifting for us.
17:29 Under wide open throttle though, or once we go past a certain throttle setting, the ECU will switch into open loop mode which is referred to here in GM lingo as power enrichment.
17:40 Let's have a look at how that's dealt with.
17:42 So this is where we would tune our wide open throttle duel delivery.
17:45 So we're going to our fuel tab here.
17:47 And you'll see there's a huge amount of information here.
17:50 I just mentioned our injector size, or the fact that the ECU knows what injectors are fitted, and our injector control tables here are where we set that up.
17:59 I'm not gonna delve into those right now, we don't need to worry too much about them.
18:03 What we're going to do is come across to our power enrich tab.
18:05 I'm gonna click on that, there's a range of information here, basically dictates when the ECU will switch from closed loop mode where it's targeting stoichiometric air fuel ratios, through to power enrichment, if I put in for example here we've got a table that basically dictates throttle position where it's going to switch, versus RPM and then in terms of the actual tuning, where we are going to define what air fuel ratio we wanna run, that's all done here with our power enrichment equivalence ratio tables.
18:34 Click on that and what we can see, which will be quite unusual for most aftermarket standalone ECU tuners is this is only a single two dimensional table.
18:44 So there's nothing here about load, there's just a two dimensional table versus RPM and all we are doing in this table is defining the equivalence ratio that we want the engine to run.
18:55 And again, if we've done everything right, if the mass air flow sensor calibration is correct and our injector data's correct the ECU will command and control the air fuel ratio and achieve what we want.
19:07 Now again I don't wanna delve too deeply into the actual tuning side of things within this webinar, but for those of you who are wondering what the hell equivalence ratio is, this is something that most aftermarket ECU tuners probably haven't heard of.
19:21 Equivalence ratio is just the inverse of lambda.
19:24 So it's one divided by lambda.
19:26 Just to see how that works let's bring up our calculator.
19:29 And if we go, take the number that we've got in that table, you can see at the moment I've got it set all to the same value.
19:35 One divided by 1.225 equals a lambda target of 0.816 Let's call it 0.82 and we can then multiply that by our stoichiometric air fuel ratio, 14.7:1 and we can see that that actually gives a commanded air fuel ratio of 12:1 So very very easy.
19:57 Not as daunting and scary as it may seem.
19:59 Let's just jump across here as well, while we're looking at some of these tables and we'll see how the ignition control is dealt with.
20:06 So we'll go across to our spark tab here, and again there's a huge number of tables here, don't get put off though, really our work is quite simple in most instances here and a lot of our efforts are going to be spent making changes in our main spark advance tables.
20:22 These are separated into high octane and low octane.
20:25 Which is part of the GM knock control strategy.
20:29 Let's open our high octane table here so we can just have a quick look at that.
20:34 So we've got a table that probably on face value is going to look fairly familiar to a lot of existing tuners out there.
20:43 We've got spark RPM so that's just engine speed on our horizontal axis, and we've got load which is a little unusual here.
20:50 We've got spark air mass, so this is a little bit hard to get our head around and again it works basically on the fact that our ECU is looking at the mass air flow into the engine at any particular point, and it's looking at grams of air flow per cylinder.
21:05 So basically we're going to be able to tell where abouts we're operating inside this table and we can then make adjustments to that table as we see fit.
21:15 Alright so that's the tables there, obviously I've only touched on a couple of them.
21:20 We're not gonna delve too much deeper into it but really the point here is that the tuning software, the HP Tuners interface there which in this case the software we're looking at is called the VCM Editor.
21:32 This is a user interface, a graphical user interface that allows us to display all of that raw data that has been read out of the ECU.
21:42 And this is really the key part of the commercial software.
21:45 It turns a raw hexadecimal file that would make no real sense to us, into something that all of a sudden we can actually visualise the maps and we can make adjustments that are sensible.
21:56 Now we'll just go back a little bit here and we'll have a look at how we can read out that file as well.
22:02 So we'll just close that file down and we'll just start it, we'll get our car powered up and what we can do here, in the tool bar again we can see now that we're connected, we've got a little green icon here that says read vehicle, we'll click on that, and this will come up with our vehicle reader.
22:20 So we can click on read and we've got options that will come up here.
22:23 So in this case with our GM vehicle we've got both an engine control module which is our E38 ECM and we've also got a transmission control module for our six speed automatic transmission.
22:35 So at the moment we are doing a read.
22:38 I'm just going to abort this shortly but before we do this we can see that we've got a little status bar down the bottom that's showing that right now we've got two minutes and 16 seconds left reading the engine control module.
22:48 After it's read the engine control module, it's gonna go and repeat that process and read from the transmission control module.
22:54 So this is a little time consuming, depending on the particular vehicle that you're reading from, this can take anywhere from a few minutes up to 20 plus minutes or much much longer.
23:06 So it really does vary quite dramatically.
23:08 Once you've got that information basically read out of the ECU, we can save that file and that's where we can then view it graphically which is what we were just looking at before.
23:19 Let's just load up that calibration again.
23:22 So this is where the software really comes into its own.
23:25 As I've already said here, the raw file that comes out of the ECU on its own is not much use so being able to view it graphically relies on what's referred to often as a definition file.
23:37 So what this definition file does is it basically defines where abouts in that hexadecimal file the particular maps are, what size they are, and where abouts the different axis are for those files.
23:51 So this is the key point that allows us to actually do our job and tune the ECU.
23:57 So a lot of this, and what we can achieve, what we can't achieve, comes down to how complete these definitions are.
24:05 And what we'll find as well is that as time goes by and tuners push cars harder and harder, often we'll find that we come up against a hard coded limit, or there's something not quite right, someone's finding something goes wrong and potentially this is as a result of a table that currently hasn't been defined in the software, so we can't see it, and we can't adjust it.
24:29 So we're finding that the engineers at HP Tuners, coupled with the enthusiasts out there in the aftermarket that are pushing the boundaries with these cars are constantly updating the definitions and allowing us access to other tables and making further changes.
24:44 OK so we've looked at the software now and we've gone through and seen how those tables look.
24:51 And once we've made our adjustments, there is one more aspect that we need to look at here, and this is where we're going to then write the changes back into the ECU.
25:01 So again if we're looking at our tool bar here, we've got a little red icon here, which if we hover over it says write vehicle.
25:09 And we can click on that and this is just going to flash our changed information back into the ECU.
25:16 Now in this case we do also have the option of selecting which of the controllers we're going to write to.
25:22 So again at the top here we have our engine control module.
25:25 This is our E38 ECM, and we've also got our transmission control module below this.
25:32 So to speed up the process because each of these writes does take some time.
25:35 If we are just making some basic tuning changes to the ECU, we can click on our transmission control module and we can click on do not write.
25:45 So that's just gonna mean that it's not going to flash the changes, any changes into the transmission control module, and it will speed up the process.
25:54 So in this case if we do that, a write on this particular ECM is going to take somewhere in the vicinity of about 30 or 40 seconds.
26:02 So doesn't actually take very long to make a change.
26:04 Now what I'll do as well is we'll just load up another file here which I haven't licensed.
26:10 So when we first download the file from our ECU we won't have licensed that file.
26:17 Wo we'll have a box that pops up straight away asking us if we wanna license that file.
26:23 Now we don't need to do that, we can still view the data in the file without having licensed it, but if we wanna actually make changes, save those changes and then write to the ECM, PCM again, then we will have to license that.
26:35 So let's just see how that looks.
26:37 We'll click on our little write icon, not gonna be able to send this file through to our car here anyway, and we've got a little box that pops up telling us we have an unlicensed file.
26:47 Tells us basically everything we need to know right there but let's just click on show license options.
26:53 And admittedly here I am dealing with the older MPVI interface.
26:59 So this is the older interface that HP Tuners were selling up until just recently, they've now switched to the MPVI2.
27:05 So at the moment on the older interface we had credits for GM, Ford, or Dodge.
27:11 So straight away here we can see the credits available.
27:14 So right now my interface has two GM credits available, zero Ford, and zero Dodge.
27:21 On the newer interface that is now available if you were to buy the MPVI2 which we'll look at shortly, they now use universal credits which you can apply to any platform that you're wanting to tune.
27:31 So down here we've got the important information which is that if we want to tune this specific vehicle, we're going to use two GM credits.
27:41 And if we wanna do that we'll click here on the little specific radio button and then we would click OK.
27:47 Now that's going to apply those credits.
27:49 Once we have tuned or unlocked this ECU, we've licensed this ECU, we can then tune it as many times as we like.
27:58 So we're not limited, this isn't something that you're going to need to do every time you wanna tune that particular vehicle.
28:05 So once it's done, that's it for life, you can reflash the vehicle as many times as you like.
28:11 OK so we've looked at the software for reading for modifying, and writing.
28:17 But one of the aspects when it comes to reflashing with GM vehicles, is that in most instances we aren't able to make our tuning changes live.
28:28 Yes, for those of you out there who are up in arms right now, yes there are some peculiar situations where we can do real time tuning, but by far and away the most common scenario is that we will not be able to make tuning changes live.
28:42 So again for those coming from a background of tuning aftermarket standalone ECUs, this seems like a very very foreign concept.
28:51 With a standalone ECU we'll run the car on the dyno in steady state, automatically while we're running the car, we can make tuning changes to our fuel and ignition and we can see the results of those tuning changes take place in real time.
29:05 With reflashing software, normally we can't do that and what we'll do is run the car on the dyno, we'll datalog or scan what is going on inside the factory ECU, and then we'll stop the car, look at our data, then we will make some decisions based on that data as to what changes we need to do.
29:22 We'll then make these changes while the engine is switched off, flash them back into the ECU, then we'll start the car again and basically perform another test to see the effect of those changes.
29:33 The reason that this actually isn't as big a deal as it sounds is that often a lot of the work we'll be focusing on is solely under wide open throttle operation.
29:45 So again just using my common example there where we've got some light modifications performed to an engine, intake, exhaust, headers, which is exactly what we've got on this particular car, the majority of the tune data is still going to be very very close to accurate.
30:01 And provided we've got our mass air flow sensor calibration correct, then the ECU will be able to do its job properly and the majority of our changes will only need to be applied under wide open throttle ramp run conditions.
30:13 And under those conditions regardless whether we're reflashing or we're tuning a standalone ECU, we're not making the changes physically while the car is performing a run on the dyno.
30:22 While the car's performing the run, we're looking at the dyno data, we're watching our air fuel ratio, we're potentially looking for knock, and then after the run we're going to have a look at that data in detail and make our changes.
30:33 So the process here really isn't much different between reflashing and standalone aftermarket engine management tuning.
30:39 The key though is that we need that data in order to see what's actually going on.
30:46 So this is where the VCM scanner software comes in, this is part of the VCM suite software, so it's the VCM editor for reading, modifying and writing.
30:55 It's the VCM scanner software for actually scanning the ECU and seeing what's going on.
31:00 So we'll just get ourselves up and running here and we'll just go online and scan some data.
31:07 And we'll just see exactly what we're looking at here.
31:09 On the left hand side here we've got a channel list, so we can see a huge amount of data that is being displayed here.
31:16 We can choose the particular pids that we're interested in scanning based on what we're actually trying to do for a particular tuning job.
31:24 Looking at this data here though numerically isn't typically a lot of use to us, it's obviously gonna be moving around and changing quite rapidly, so we're more likely to be using the chart logger that we've got on the right hand side here.
31:39 So here we've got a few charts set up, on the top here for example we've got our engine RPM and our vehicle speed.
31:45 Below this we've got our mass air flow sensor output in grams per second, we've got our manifold absolute pressure, and then if we come down here we've got our knock retard, our spark, and our throttle position.
31:56 Lastly we've got, well we won't say lastly we've also got some feedback here from our closed loop control system.
32:04 So we can basically get a bit of an idea on how good our calibration is, how well calibrated our mass air flow sensor is, based on the combined short term and long term fuel trims.
32:16 OK so that's our chart recorder there, what I'm just gonna do is open up a log file here that I previously created, just so we can have a look at some data from a run.
32:28 And this is gonna be a little bit more relevant.
32:30 So now on this particular log file, I've also got measured air fuel ratio.
32:34 So this is one of the inputs that you're really going to need to be able to do a good job of tuning your particular vehicle.
32:40 So down the bottom of the chart logger here, we've got two pieces of data.
32:46 In orange we've got our commanded air fuel ratio.
32:49 So this is the air fuel ratio that the PCM is commanding, or actually asking for.
32:55 And then below that we've got in yellow, our measured air fuel ratio.
33:03 So this is the air fuel ratio that is being achieved.
33:06 So this is coming into the software via a Innovate LM2 wideband, I'm gonna talk a little bit more about that shortly.
33:14 So particularly here, I just wanna show you some of the data and how this relates.
33:17 So at the top here we've got our engine RPM and we've got our vehicle speed.
33:22 So we can see, for this particular piece of data it was a wide open throttle ramp run on our dyno, we've got the start of our run here, and we've got the end of our run here.
33:31 And we can click basically anywhere through this data and we can see, at that particular point that I've just clicked on, what the engine RPM was.
33:39 Looking at our air fuel ratio, we can see in yellow our air fuel ratio before the start of the run, we're moving around a little bit, but it's sitting pretty close to our stoichiometric target, 14.68, let's call it 14.7:1 And here is the position where we've gone to wide open throttle, or we've gone past that power enrichment throttle setting and it's dropped into power enrichment mode, and again you can see that our commanded air fuel ratio has dropped in this case to 12.5:1 And while our measured air fuel ratio is moving around a little bit, we can see that it's always pretty damn close to our commanded air fuel ratio.
34:15 So it makes it really easy to see how well our calibration is set up, how accurate our mass air flow sensor is set up.
34:23 And then the other aspect here is we're just gonna see how we can use the scanner to help us with our ignition tuning.
34:29 So if we look at this particular set of graphs here, in white we've got our spark, our actual ignition advance being delivered, and in red we've got our knock retard, so this is feedback from the knock control strategy.
34:43 And in particular here, I've actually purposefully created a little bit of knock at the start of the run, so we can see what happens there.
34:50 We've got our, I'll just zoom in a little bit so we can see that in a little bit more detail.
34:56 We've got our ignition timing just before that knock event or the major knock event is sitting at around about 10 degrees.
35:02 And the engine knocks and we see as a result of that our knock retard jumps up here, we've got 9.5 degrees of knock retard.
35:10 And that pulls our ignition timing all the way back to 2.4 degrees.
35:14 Once the knock is removed we can see the knock retard actually gets reduced down so basically all of the timing is put back into the engine.
35:23 Then we can see for the rest of our run here what our ignition timing is doing, and again at each of the points here, we can click on that point in the table and we can see what our ignition timing was at that particular point and we can also see what our mass air flow was.
35:38 So the point here as well is obviously with our ignition table it'd be nice to know exactly where we were operating in that table and that's where another aspect of our scanner software comes in, we'll just move our chart down a little bit so we can have a look at our histogram.
35:56 So got a range of histograms here that we can choose from or we can also create our own based on the job that we're doing at the time.
36:04 So for the moment we're looking at the spark advance histogram.
36:08 So on our horizontal axis we've got engine RPM and then on our vertical axis we've got cylinder air mass.
36:15 So these axes match the ignition, or the spark advance table that we looked at earlier.
36:21 Let's actually just go back and we'll bring that up again.
36:23 I'll just have to close down that particular file.
36:26 We'll open up our calibration that we're working from.
36:29 We'll go through to our spark advance, and we'll click on our high octane spark advance table.
36:34 So those axes that we just looked at in our histogram, these match the axes on this particular table here.
36:40 So what we can do is basically see, if we go back over to our histogram, we can see at the start of the run we're sitting at around about 1200RPM and 0.68 grams per cylinder.
36:50 We can see that as we progress through the run our mass air flow increases, and we move up to somewhere around about 0.84 grams per cylinder.
36:59 So we can go back and we can correlate that with basically where we are moving through this table.
37:04 So we're sort of moving somewhere around about through here, and we can see exactly what part of that table we've been working on.
37:12 Importantly as well, if we just click over to our spark retard histogram, this will also show us where abouts in this table we're seeing knock events occur and where the PCM is retarding the timing.
37:25 So it actually makes it really quick and easy for us to dial in our tune, particularly if we're only making small adjustments as we've already talked about.
37:33 So using the scanning software is really one of the keys to reflashing.
37:42 We need to understand how the scanning software works and the ways we can manipulate the data in order to get the sort of data we need to be able to really quickly and easily modify our calibration.
37:54 And one of the key points here as well is if we do have a wide band sensor wired into our laptop directly or into the HP Tuners interface, then we can calculate the error or the difference between our measured air fuel ratio and our commanded air fuel ratio.
38:14 And basically any time there's an error there, any time our measured air fuel ratio doesn't match our commanded air fuel ratio, all things being equal, this means that we've got some discrepancy or error in our mass air flow sensor calibration.
38:28 So this makes it really easy for us to adjust our mass air flow sensor calibration.
38:34 Let's have a quick look at how that works, we'll jump back into the scanner software.
38:37 So we're looking now at another histogram here which is our AFR error.
38:43 So this is exactly what I was talking about.
38:45 It's looking at the measured air fuel ratio in our commanded, and looking at the error.
38:51 The axis for this particular histogram here is our mass air flow sensor frequency.
38:55 And if we just cycle through this, it's showing us what the error is.
38:59 So this was during a wide open throttle ramp run.
39:02 So we're looking at the data during that ramp run and we can see that for the most part we're pretty close, although down here around about 5800 to 6000 hertz, we've got a little bit of an error there.
39:13 So what we can do is use that to help us fine tune or dial in our mass air flow sensor calibration data.
39:20 Alright we are going to be having some questions really shortly, so this is the perfect time, if you do have anything that I've talked about so far that you'd like me to go into more detail on, please ask those now and the guys will transfer those through to me.
39:34 What we're going to do now is finish off with a bit of a discussion here about what exactly you need if you want to get started.
39:41 So first thing you're going to need is your HP Tuners interface.
39:45 So as I've said I've got the old version, I'll just unplug this so we can bring this over into view.
39:53 Just give me a second here, if I can actually unplug it.
39:57 So this is the old interface here.
40:00 Once side of it has a USB cable that goes to your laptop, the other side has a serial cable that goes to the OBD2 or diagnostics port in your vehicle.
40:10 This particular interface also has the ability for you to wire inputs directly into it that then can be displayed in the scanner software.
40:17 So this would be for example for a wide band air fuel ratio sensor.
40:22 You could also wire in pressure sensors, whatever you basically want.
40:26 Once you've got that, you're also going to need some credits to go with this.
40:33 So we're going to need some credits based on the vehicles that you want to tune.
40:37 So let's just head back across if we can here to our HP Tuners website.
40:44 And we're just going to have a look at this again.
40:47 So if we click on products here, we'll be able to see what we've got available.
40:51 Again just to reiterate we don't sell this product, we don't make anything from it, it is simply a case of this is the software that we believe is the best for this product.
41:02 Looks like we've had just a little bit of a technical glitch there, and the guys have just had to restart the stream.
41:08 So I'm just gonna go back a little bit, I'm not quite sure where this dropped out.
41:12 So we are gonna move into questions really shortly so if you do have anything that I've discussed so far that you'd like me to go into more detail on, or anything related to the topic in general, please ask those in the comments and the guys will transfer those through to me.
41:26 In the meantime we're just gonna go through exactly what you're going to need if you wanna get started reflashing your own GM vehicle.
41:33 So obviously we've been basing this all on HP Tuners.
41:36 So we're going to need the HP Tuners software package and the hardware interface.
41:41 Now I've got, if I can find it, I've got our own interface here, which is as I've said the older interface, this is the MPVI Pro interface.
41:51 They're now running the MPVI2 interface which we'll have a look at in a second.
41:55 Essentially on one side of this we've got a USB cable that goes to our laptop and on the other side we've got a serial to OBD2 cable that goes to our car.
42:03 This particular MPVI interface also allows us to wire sensors directly into the interface, this could be for example for a wideband air fuel ratio sensor or we may want to run pressure sensors into it, and these can be then viewed and scanned live in the VCM scanner software.
42:21 Let's just head across to my laptop screen for a moment and I just wanted to show you where this product comes from.
42:29 So this is again on the HP Tuners website, and I've clicked here on the products page, let's actually just go back one step.
42:38 And then we want to click on MPVI2, so this is their replacement for the product that I've just shown you.
42:45 And you can go through there and obviously get all of the information.
42:48 You can also interestingly enough here, if you come down, you can download the VCM suite software.
42:55 So this allows you to got through and get a bit of a feel for the software.
42:59 There's some demonstration calibrations in there that you can load up and have a look through as well.
43:05 So you get a good feel for the software without needing to actually purchase anything, that's completely free to do exactly that.
43:11 So we'll come down and you've got the VCM MPVI2 itself, is USD$299 and then in order to actually be able to tune something with it, you're also going to need to purchase some credit.
43:34 So this is where part two, the universal credits come it.
43:37 Each of the credits is USD$49.99 So in order to know how many credits you're going to need, that's going to depend on the vehicle that you're tuning.
43:49 So again if we go back across to the vehicles tab, let's scroll down, won't go too far, but for example with our Buick options here we can see that the majority of these, I would say the majority but I just circled one that isn't, majority of these require two credits.
44:04 And you'll find that's quite common for a lot of the GM vehicles as well.
44:08 So this means that in order to get started in a lot of applications, you're going to need to be spending around about USD$400 So that's your $299 for the actual MPVI2 interface, and then a couple of universal credits.
44:23 So that's obviously gonna ship out to you and then you can actually get started reading, scanning, making modifications, and writing.
44:31 That's not all you're going to need though.
44:33 If you want to be able to do the job properly, you're also going to need a wideband air fuel ratio meter so that you can actually see what the air fuel ratio is.
44:43 So in this case for our particular example I'm using the Innovate LM2.
44:48 I'll just grab this off the windscreen so we can see how that works.
44:53 So this is our Innovate LM2.
44:56 So this goes to a wideband sensor that is fitted to the exhaust.
44:59 Now there's a couple of ways we can get this data into the scanner.
45:03 With our older MPVI interface as I've said we can wire this directly into the interface.
45:10 And personally I actually found that to be really problematic.
45:13 They're very very sensitive then to voltage or ground offsets which can have a really big effect on the accuracy of the data, you only probably need to spend a little bit of time on the HP Tuners forum to see that lots of people are constantly having problems getting their wideband air fuel ratio meter calibrated and reading correctly in the scanner software.
45:32 So if you're using one of a reasonably wide range of common wideband air fuel ratio meters, the other option you've got is to run a serial cable out of that and directly into the laptop.
45:43 So this brings the air fuel ratio data straight into the scanner software, via serial rather than relying on an analog voltage output to the MPVI interface.
45:55 So this makes sure that the integrity of the data is maintained.
46:00 So it's a much more accurate way and definitely the way that I would recommend doing so.
46:05 So once you've got the wideband air fuel ratio sensor in, this allows you to obviously see what the air fuel ratio is doing during wide open throttle operation when we are in power enrichment mode.
46:16 In most instances the factory sensors are narrow band, so they're only good at cruise or idle.
46:22 But it also allows you to then set up the histogram that I talked about where we're looking at the air fuel ratio error, so the error between our measured air fuel ratio and commanded, which is so helpful for very quickly dialling in the mass air flow sensor.
46:37 Or if you are looking at the virtual volumetric efficiency or speed density sub system you can also use that data to calibrate that side of things very very quickly.
46:46 So that's an important aspect.
46:48 One thing I'll point out here is that a lot of tuners rely on the close loop control, so the short term and short term fuel trims, to help with tuning the mass air flow sensor.
47:00 That does work to a point but it is never as accurate as using a properly calibrated wideband air fuel ratio sensor.
47:09 The last aspect there is obviously some knock data as well so we know if the engine is knocking.
47:18 And for those who have followed us for a while you will know that I am a very very strong advocate of audio knock detection.
47:24 And in the GM world, this is actually one of the areas where I have found that the knock control and knock detection, at least in standard through to fairly moderately modified engines, is actually incredibly effective.
47:38 So in most instances we can actually trust this.
47:42 If I was dealing with something that was very seriously modified, maybe running a lot of boost pressure, then I would still recommend that you move to audio knock detection, just to validate and prove that the onboard knock control strategy is working.
47:56 But basically all of that data is coming straight in via the scanner, and it really can be very powerful.
48:01 Now the other aspect that is important to touch on here as well is that obviously when it comes to tuning, the best place to perform our tuning is on the dyno so you've got that instant feedback between making your changes and seeing what the effect of that is on power and torque.
48:17 When it comes to reflashing these GM vehicles, particularly if you are running on a pump based gasoline, then the engine in stock form, even if it's naturally aspirated, is most likely going to be knock limited.
48:32 And in this instance you can actually do a very very good job of making your calibration out on the road or a racetrack without the use of a dyno.
48:41 Ultimately it's going to be that knock threshold that is the limiting factor for how much ignition advance we can add.
48:47 We've got that data, from our scanner we can tell when the engine is knocking and we know where we need to retard the timing and provide that safety margin.
48:55 So in this instance we can actually, in most cases, do just as good a job of our tuning out in the real world, out on the road or the racetrack, as we can on the dyno.
49:05 It's only really when we get into seriously modified vehicles, or where we're running on really good quality fuel such as maybe E85 or race gas where I would strongly recommend that the dyno is the best way.
49:17 But for a lot of home enthusiasts, then yes you can do an exceptionally good job out on the road or the racetrack where you don't have that massive cost of dyno time if you don't own a dyno.
49:28 We are going to move into some questions and answers.
49:31 If you do want to learn more about using HP Tuners on your GM vehicle, I'll just mention that our practical reflash tuning course has a range of worked examples at the end of that course specifically to GM vehicles, and specific to the HP Tuners platform.
49:47 So it expands obviously greatly on what I've talked about here.
49:50 You'll see the exact strategies to use, how to correctly calibrate the mass air flow sensor, how to correctly calibrate the virtual volumetric efficiency system, how to use a speed density patch, and all of the common modifications that we will be making.
50:07 Alright we'll head into our questions and answers now.
50:11 And if you do have any more questions, please ask those in the comments.
50:16 Viggo has asked, it appears HP Tuners does not have the capability to modify any emissions pages of diesel motors, in my case the Ford 6.7 litre, what do you recommend to do for DPF and EGR delete on such motors? OK in this instance I'm not gonna be able to give you a lot of help.
50:34 We haven't had anything to do right now with HP Tuners on the diesel market.
50:40 Although it is something that we will be moving into really really shortly.
50:44 Particularly with our diesel tuning courses.
50:47 What I would suggest here, is this really comes down to what I was talking about during the body of the webinar.
50:52 All of those pages or options or tables I should say really, do exist obviously inside of the calibration and this is where that definition becomes so important.
51:03 All it means if you don't have access to those particular options in your tuning software, in the HP Tuners software, it means that the definition currently isn't complete.
51:14 Now obviously this is always a work in progress as I mentioned as well.
51:17 So what I would strongly recommend is that you post on the HP Tuners forum and just mention that these parameters aren't currently supported, and ask if there's any intention to add support for them.
51:30 Quite often you'll find that if there is sufficient users out there requesting a particular function, then the HP Tuners engineering team will get on board and add that in.
51:40 So I wouldn't give up hope there, but to be perfectly honest, right now, because I haven't tuned one of those engines, I can't recommend anything that's better either so it's probably not a lot of help for your sorry.
51:53 Dida has asked, hey does this software have real time tuning? OK so it does in very limited instances.
52:01 So this really comes down to the limitations of the factory PCM that we are dealing with.
52:09 So for example on the older LS1, that we don't see too much now these days, the world's sort of moved on a little bit.
52:16 Real time tuning was an option that was available.
52:19 The way this works is certain tables can be copied into RAM which allows you to make tuning changes and have those effects take place in real time once you've basically dialled in the particular table that you're working on, and you'd still need to actually copy that into the table and flash it into read only memory.
52:37 But real time tuning was available.
52:40 It's not available or not used in most of the current calibrations.
52:44 And as I've said it does seem like a real limitation but the reality is, with the scanner if you understand how to use the scanner, it is incredibly powerful and it's really not a big limitation at all.
52:57 Amos has asked, if I license an ECU and reflash it and someone else tries to reflash it later, will they have to license it again? No once the ECU is licensed, basically then it doesn't need to be relicensed at all.
53:11 There is an aspect, this is something I just personally don't do, but it is possible to lock your calibration, I know some tuners do that, which adds a layer of complexity in there in terms of another tuner then getting in and retuning that particular ECU, but no you don't need to relicense it.
53:30 Craig has asked, how much power in a percent can you get out of the stock ECU with HP Tuners generally? It's impossible for me to give you a specific answer there Craig, because it's so variable.
53:42 And it also depends on what modifications have been made to the engine.
53:45 On the older Gen 3 LS1 we actually saw quite big changes in power.
53:51 One of the reasons for this was the mass air flow sensor on those particular engines was quite restrictive.
53:57 So getting rid of the mass air flow sensor, performing a speed density patch or a MAFless tune freed up the intake and we could see gains of perhaps 20, 25 wheel horsepower with no actual other hardware changes to the car.
54:13 A really good example I'll give you of this as well, is in some instances the gains can be massive.
54:19 One of the Australian domestic market models that we personally tuned a lot was the Holden HSV Club Sport range.
54:27 And HSV there distinguish between an entry level and a top of the line model by giving the top of the line model more power.
54:36 So this was running a GM 6.2 litre LS3 engine.
54:39 And essentially the mechanical package of the car was identical, and the way they distinguish between the power, one was 317 kilowatts, the other was 325.
54:48 And the way they got that difference, doesn't sound like much but I'll talk more about that in a second, was that they basically shut the throttle on the lower powered 317 kilowatt model through the mid range.
54:59 And this is just through drive by wire throttle calibration using a torque limiting tables.
55:05 So for us in the aftermarket if we had one of these lower powered 317 kilowatt models we could basically maximise those torque limit tables.
55:13 That would keep the throttle wide open, and while the difference on paper was only eight kilowatts, the difference in the mid range was actually somewhere in the region of about 60 or 50 kilowatts.
55:26 It was absolutely massive.
55:28 So really great way to make huge improvements in power.
55:31 The real key though Craig is that more often than not we will be using the HP Tuner's software in conjunction with some hardware modification.
55:39 So for example this particular vehicle I'm sitting in now, factory rated at 217 kilowatts, runs the L98 engine.
55:46 Very similar to the GM LS2, with some basic modifications including headers, a full exhaust system, an over the radiator intake, and a cam.
55:57 We've proven we can take this to 70 kilowatts up to about 400 to 420.
56:04 That's all still naturally aspirated.
56:06 And of course we need the tuning software in order to be able to have let that happen.
56:12 19 Turbo 95 has asked, any plans for newer Mopar tuning programs? Look I don't know what exactly we're going to be able to offer at the moment.
56:23 It isn't something that is currently on our radar.
56:27 We've got a huge amount of worked examples that we've already scheduled for release which will take us well into next year.
56:34 But basically what we're looking for is anything where there's a lot of demand, any popular models where there is a lot of people that want to learn how to reflash them, and if we see enough demand, certainly we're open to creating more worked examples.
56:49 For us the other challenge being in a relatively remote part of New Zealand, is actually getting access to newer vehicles without us personally having to buy a vehicle.
56:59 So that's been something that we have been working through, and it's proven to be a little bit tricky.
57:03 Colin has asked, can you briefly go through how you'd set up a histogram for the VE table for a speed density specific tune? I won't go through it as an example here because I simply don't have the time Colin but the process really is exactly the same as what we looked at there with the mass air flow sensor air fuel ratio error table.
57:25 So when we make one of these histograms, we basically choose the parameters that are going to be used for the histogram table.
57:33 So for that particular example, we were simply looking at mass air flow sensor frequency, that's obviously a two dimensional table, we're only looking at one parameter there as an axis, which is mass air flow sensor frequency.
57:45 So if we were wanting to tune our speed density table then we would be choosing the two parameters from that speed density table, which would be manifold absolute pressure on our vertical axis, our y axis, and engine RPM on our horizontal axis.
57:58 From there though to make the data useful what we also want to do is make sure that the break points on our histogram match the break points on our speed density table.
58:08 And that's really easy, what we can actually do is copy the header data out of our speed density table from the VCM editor software, and then we can paste that into our histogram setup to create a table that's got exactly the same break points.
58:23 And then once we've got that set up, we're going to use the parameter of our air fuel ratio error as the logged data that will go into that table.
58:30 That's about as briefly as I can go into it here.
58:33 There is a lot more data, we go through exactly how to se that up, and then how to log the data, how to use that data for our calibration in the worked example in our practical reflash tuning course.
58:46 So more data in there, more information for you in there Colin if you want to jump in deeper.
58:51 Drag Racer X has asked, upgrading from the MPVI1 to MPVI2, do unused credits transfer to universal credits? That is a great question and that is something that we are probably going to need to answer fairly shortly because we are in the process of upgrading between the MPVI1 and MPVI2.
59:10 I can't give you a firm answer for this.
59:13 My gut feel on this, as far as I understand it though is that the MPVI1 credits stay with the MPVI1 interface.
59:21 So this is where we had GM, Ford, and Dodge credits, whereas the new ones are universal.
59:26 I certainly know, because we had to get credits for our earlier MPVI interface just recently and those credits are different to the universal credits.
59:34 So I think they are still going to remain separate.
59:36 Alright guys that has taken us to the end of our webinar.
59:39 And as usual for our members, if you do have any further questions that crop up, please ask those in our forum and I'll be happy to answer them there.
59:48 Thanks a lot for joining us and I look forward to seeing you all next time.