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Agreed.

I have one of the very few PowerChip ECU's to see American shores. They advance the timing to take advantage of much higher octane fuels, as well as optimizing the fuel map to suit my mods -- or at least, that was the story.

Here's what I actually found:

Because the chip was built in Australia, it's tuned for THEIR high-octane fuels. In Australia, you can find 104 octane at the pump. Here in Albuquerque NM, you can find 94 octane only at two gas stations in the entire city. Luckily for me, altitude itself serves as an anti-detonant, but my car still pings during throttle transitions from regular driving to WOT.

Along with the timing issues, their "guesstimate" at how much fuel to change was way off. I run lean during normal driving, and I run WAY too rich at WOT. The car actually blows black fuel smoke out the tailpipe if I leave the ECU to make the fuel decisions.

The other problem with upgraded ECU's is with future upgrades. The ECU manufacturer can guess (and maybe get it mostly right) at how much fuel and ignition timing to change for your current setup, but it's right back out of whack if you install yet another part.

Rather than spend the $400+ for the PowerChip ECU upgrade, I would have rather done it a different way. I'm still running the ECU just because I haven't replaced it's usefulness just yet, but I'm working on it with the following two contraptions:

<b>1. </b> APEXi SuperAFC: This device allows you to modify the voltage being sent by the onboard MAF sensor. Changing the reported voltage fools the ECU into thinking that more or less air is coming into the motor, and thus you have the ability to change the fuel delivery at eight user-defined RPM points across low and high throttle positions. The S-AFC boasts the ability to raise or lower the voltage by 50%, which can (depending on the ECU) raise or lower fuel accordingly. With our current fuel system, the -50% works, but any more than about +25% will max out the injector pulsewidth and you have simply reached the limit of how much fuel the stock injectors can flow. The S-AFC is a great device for adding much larger injectors, and then trimming the fuel delivery down to what you actually need.

<b>2. </b> APEXi SuperITC: This device intercepts the cam angle sensor output, and allows you to change ignition timing at five user-defined RPM points by +/- 15 degrees across low and high throttle positions. It fools the ECU into thinking the cam angle sensor is registering earlier or later, resulting in advanced or retarded timing accordingly. This is perfect for getting your timing just right for cars with modest N/A modifications, or any forced induction system.

Nitrous doesn't really benefit from either of these, because nitrous isn't an "Always On" modification.

These two components I outlined soak up the bulk of what an aftermarket ECU tries to accomplish. The major exception is, both devices can be infinitely tuned independantly of eachother and on-the-fly for whatever you've done to the car. ECU's on the contrary cannot be modified without being sent back to the manufacturer and re-burned.

Both devices require a well qualified tuner to manage; if you adjust them incorrectly, you can cause physical damage to the motor. Unless you really know what you're doing, you should mess with either one of them once they're tuned by a qualified technician.

General costs are ~$330 for the S-AFC unit, and ~$270 for the S-ITC unit.

-Red-
 

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175 Posts
These devices must be specially ordered; I purchased mine from Under Pressure Racing Development -- unfortunately they aren't doing business any more.<img src=icon_smile_sad.gif border=0 align=middle>

You can sometimes get into a groupbuy or something on the web, it's usually less expensive that way as well.

Don't forget, you will have to have these installed by someone who's fluent with electrical wiring, and tuned by a knowledgable tuner on a dyno roller.

-Red-
 
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