April 2021


Knock sensors realigned

I recently spotted that the two knock sensors on the front of the block weren't fitted correctly. They have to sit at 2 O'Clock [front sensor], and 10 O'Clock [rear], so I loosened them off and rotated them around, and then added a few blobs of Dykem cross-check. The Ford documentation for the EcoBoost says there is a risk of engine damage if they're not positioned correctly, so I might as well do as Ford says. I'll reset the knock baseline when the engine is run next week.



Damage warning

I changed the TC and Alternator settings yesterday, and I'm almost out of jobs to do now. Which is a nice position to be in. Sadly Pete's fuelling issue returned whilst he was on his 3rd visit to the Rolling Road since March. He's found another burnt contact on the lift pump wiring, having already replaced the Deutsch connector once, he's now fitted some more robust wiring and connections, and fed the relay from a fresh wire off the battery. If that doesnt fix the fuelling, I'm not sure what he can try next, other than following the same path as me and fitting a Radium anti-surge tank with a Bosch 044 to feed the DI pump.


Traction Control improvements

I've got some changes to make to the traction control slip targets table. At Castle Combe last year, the ECU was reducing the engine torque when I was driving in essense in a straight line. So I've made a few changes to allow for a wider yaw angle than before, and it'll be good to see at Blyton that the car is producing full power again when I'm on the straights. Life Racing has given me more advice for reducing the time it takes to make gear changes, one of which is to reduce the recording of gearV to 5Hz, until a gear change is taking place, and then increase through burst logging, to 1000Hz. This change will give a better view as to what is happening during upshifts. I'll update the config to log the voltage at the frequency specified.


Near misses for Brown and Scott

Fellow BSC drivers Steve Brown and Nicholas Scott both had front wing issues at Aintree at the weekend. It was the first round of the Liverpool Motor Club championship, and in dusty conditions, John Graham took the FTD (38.96s) on the new compound Avons, with Paul Tinsley (Dallara F397) 2nd OA and 1st in Class 5D, Glynn Sketchley 3rd OA and 2nd in class 5D, and new Force TA owner Rob Tonge an impressive 4th and 1st in class 5C on its competition debut. Brown (JKS 1340 Supercharged) on his first practice run, lost his front wing at over 140mph and duly drove over it, resulting in a damaged floor and diffuser, and of course, a destroyed front wing. Fortunately for Steve it was on the finishing straight rather than around Beechers. Scott had another similar issue, with wing mounts, but his wing remained attached, though he was forced to retire with damaged end plates.

Steve Browns JKS

All that remains of the front wing

Having seen the pictures above, I admit I did go out in to the garage to check my wing mounts, since I took the front wing off to wrap it over the winter, I didnt want the same failure as Steve, especially at the price of a new SM153 wing and end plates, which isn't going to be cheap.

I have finished adding right angled aluminium strips to the top edges of both curved barge boards, to persuade the air to follow the boards and create vortices along the edge of the floor. If you remember the video from Blyton last year, the wool tufts showed that the air was simply flowing over the tops of the boards, so I'll repeat the test at Blyton in 20 days time, and see if the strips have helped improve the air flow. If they still dont produce the flow I need, I can easily add wider strips to the angled sections riveted to the boards.


Engine runs

I ran the engine today, to check all the wiring and mechanical modifications out. Pleased to report that there were no issues. The VVT system stayed in CLOSED LOOP mode, which means the both inlet and exhaust are now working properly under ECU control. The ITG cold air intake system has given the engine a nice throaty sound when I blip the throttle. The battery cable wiring I replaced all worked perfectly. The PS-20 lithium battery starts the engine first time every time. And the dashboard showed when the alternator was charging, when the radiator fan was on, etc. All the signs are good for three weeks time when we take a trip to Blyton for the first two rounds of the British Sprint Championship.

Reliabilty is more important this year than ever before, with the changes to the run off formats. A spin or a mechanical failure and you wont qualify for the run off. Get in the car, start it, drive the lap quickly, and get safely back to the paddock, and you're in with a good chance of scoring decent points. There are no bonus points this year, for breaking records, since the start line procedures have changed, so there is no incentive to go quicker than last year. Just bag a good time, and watch the points come in. Thats the theory anyway.


Dashboard files

I've copied the latest DBC and Layout files in a folder so if you want to download and learn how I've set the dash4pro up, grab the files and open them. I've now corrected a couple of issues, where the eop was being passed in mbar, but I needed it in bar. So the DBC file now multiplies the value produced by the ECU by 0.001 and the display also shows 1 leading digit to 2 decimal places (#.##), so it shows the right values.


I've made a bracket to locate the exit of the cold air intake canister to the top of the engine cover, which will stop it from moving too much. I've also made a plate that sits at the rear of the roll hoop, to try and persuade more cold air inside the CAI.

CAI support bracket at exit of the canister

Blanking plate on rear of the roll hoop


Dashboard enhancements

I've added another frame to the CAN stream, making 12 frames in total. I've added four new variables, so I can display the traction control settings which are selected. So rather than showing the switch positions, I'm showing the values that those switches apply to traction control. I'm also showing DRY or WET on the dash, to show which tyres the settings are effective for. The four variables added are tcSpinMltTcSw, tcSpinAddTuneSw, tyreTypeTcSw, and finally gpsTimeSec. The gpsTimeSec channel allows me to display the time in seconds, generated by the GPS board, so I can see if the GPS board has locked on to satellites. If there is no lock, then the time will be shown as 0s.

I also turned off the RS232 serial stream, since it is no longer being used, which further reduces the load on the ECU. I've put a video together which shows the display screens I've programmed.


ARDS test passed

I passed my ARDS test at Mallory Park. I only booked it in October, and the lockdown prevented the tests recommencing until Monday. I have to say it wasnt the most difficult of exams that I've taken. So long as you know the safety flags 100%, and apply common sense to the other multi-choice questions (the whole point of the school session is to help you pass), and I scored 100% on both elements, so I dont know why I had worried about it. The driven test, around the circuit, was in a Renault, and I missed a few apexes to start with, but soon got my race head on, and the examiner declared that I'd passed. So I've now got the paperwork stamped, and I can send off my RS National License back to Motorsport UK, and a joint RS National and Race license should be returned by post. I couldn't sprint the Mygale with my race license. I still need the RS National to drive it on National A events. Bonkers isnt it?


CAN Dash is working

I daisy chained the D type connector for the Dash4Pro to the end of the CAN bus last night, and plugged the dash in, turned the car power on, and it powered up as expected. I then selected the CAN Data display on the dash, and it could see the frames present on the CAN bus. So that was a good sign. I then plugged the dash back in to the laptop programming lead, and loaded the Life DBC file in to the Race Technology software, and this then allowed me to re-assign the variables displayed on the dash, to their CAN equivalents. Once that was done and the dash was reflashed, I reconnected it to the CAN bus connector, powered on the car again, and low and behold the display was showing real data received over CAN. Success. So the next job was to modify the Transmit Content within the Life Calibration, so it sends the data I want to be able to see for diagnostics and when driving. This is the easy bit to do. In LifeCAL you just select the variables you want transmitted, and assign them to the frame/slots in the Transmit Content table. The tricky bit is then modifying the DBC file. The DBC file is used to translate what is being sent by the ECU, in to something the dashboard is able to interpret. Essentially its a translation of every frame/slot, telling the dash what unit of data is being sent, wether its signed or unsigned, and the conversion factor needed to convert the data in to mbar, or DegC, or Volts etc. I would have expected LifeCAL to have an export facility, to generate a DBC file from the Calibration. Alas, that is not the case.

Fear not though. There is a free DBC editor avaiable, from KVASER.COM, so I downloaded and installed it, opened the standard vanilla DBC file supplied by Matt @ Life, and modified the file. This is quite a tedious process. You need to enter the value names, conversion factors, and units, in to the correct frame/slot, so that they are available to the dashboard.

The database editor

Anyway, once the DBC file is modified, and saved, its then reloaded in to the RT Can Manager software, and once thats done, the Dash4Pro editor can be loaded again, and the CAN variables can then be assigned to the numerical objects you've used on the display editor. Displaying CAN Data


Revolution magazine appearence

I was asked to contribute to the Motorsport UK monthly publication, Revolution, for the My Favourite Corner feature on page 28/29. It wasn't a difficult choice for me, Duffus Dip at Knockhill takes some beating.

Download the PDF


Air filter installed

The 1 metre length of 2-ply 70mm neoprene ducting hose turned up in the post on Saturday morning, so I was straight outside to get it installed. I fitted a short length of 70mm OD aluminium pipe to the outlet from the cannister, and wire wrapped it in place. The hose slips perfectly over the pipe, and is held in place with a jubilee clip. The other end of the hose, I carefully routed through the chassis to fit over the turbo inlet, and thats also held in place with another jubilee clip. So the air now passes through a single constant sized hose, from the filter to the turbo, with no restrictions in place. I then drilled a hole in the underside of the cannister lid, and fitted the new ambient air temperature sensor inside, so the Life ECU can report on the temperature of the filtered air being drawn in to the turbo. The last job was to fit the shortened 100mm ram pipe to the front of the cannister, and after I'd sprayed it matt black, I stuck it to the cannister using gorilla tape, which will easily hold it in place. Cable ties then locate the cannister to the roll hoop, and this still allows a small amount of movement. I'm going to make a blanking plate to fit above the air intake, to try and force as much air as possible into the cannister whilst the car is moving.


Dash4Pro upgrade

A CAN enabled version of the Dash4Pro display from Race Technology has been exchanged for the original RS232/Serial only version that the car has been running since 2013. This will allow me to access CAN data and display some more meaningful messages on the display, once I've wired it in. RT supply it with a female D type 9 pin connector, so I've had to order some male D types from Radio Spares, so I can attach the display to the loom without cutting the D type off the end. The other reason I need to leave intact on is that the programming lead for the Display also uses the same style of connector, so to keep things simple, its best I dont start modifying the provided connections.

A very big THANK YOU to Andy at RT for sorting me out with the replacement display.


CAI installation, part 2

The housing appears to fit really well inside the roll hoop. And I can still lower the engine cover on to the car with centimeters to spare around the housing. The blue ram pipe is going to need shortening, which I'll do today, and then that can sit on the front of the cannister, I'll probably tape it on. The neoprene hose is about 30cm too short to reach the filter, so I've had to order a 1 metre length, which will mean one continuous hose reaches from the filter to the turbo inlet, with no joins to restrict the air flow.

CAI housing


ITG Cold Air Intake installation

The ITG STAB99XL CAI arrived this morning, and it's a very nice bit of kit. The housing and filter weighs very little, just 676 grammes, and with it rated to 400hp there shouldnt be any issues with the engine getting the cold air that it needs now. The idea behind fitting a cold air intake, is that the engine can only draw air from inside the filter housing, so as long as the car is moving forwards, the air fed in to the airbox should be at ambient temperature. I will need to find a way of mounting it, inside the roll hoop, so it doesnt block the towing port in the sides of the hoop. And as its so light it makes the job of attaching it so much easier. Thankyou to Brands Hatch Performance, who promptly dispatched the filter after it arrived with them on Tuesday, supplied direct from the factory in Coventry.




Prep continues

Lots of little jobs completed since the last update. The championship decals are now on the car, for the Sprint Leaders, British Sprint, and the Triple M HSA Speed championships. Another number 8 is now on the nose cone, and I've got some red FORD logos to stick to the engine cover. I tried spinning the engine over using the PS-20 battery, and it must turn over at twice the speed it did with the PS-09, so that proves there is far more energy available from the larger battery. The PS-20 is installed securely on the diffuser floor, adjacent to the starter motor to keep the lengths of the leads as short as possible. When the ITG filter is fitted I can start the engine and test the battery is charging properly.

Pete Goulding has had to return his closed-deck Area 6 EcoBoost engine for inspection. Following a mysterious noise from a recent testing session at Blyton, Pete suspects that the engine may have suffered some damage on the dyno. Whilst he was chasing higher power the week before, with the latest X58EVO2 Pumaspeed turbo fitted, he had a fuel pressure issue, and was approximately 60hp down on previous figures. Pete is running the larger Pumaspeed Bosch injectors, which do flow fuel well, but they put more demands on the GDI injection pump which can result in fuel pressure issues. Sadly, these things do happen, so hopefully the engine can be stripped, repaired and returned before the first round of the Sprint Leaders championship at Goodwood later this month.

I've been trying to reprogram the ECU to send CAN data over RS232, so I can display additional CAN based parameters on the RS232 connected Dash4Pro dashboard, but alas the CAN ECHO feature in the ECU does just that, it sends everything over RS232 in CAN format, and the Dash4Pro doesnt work with that option enabled. It was worth a try. So instead, Race Technology have offered to part-ex my Dash for a CAN version, which I'm going to accept. This will allow me to simplify the wiring to the steering wheel, since the Dash4Pro will utilise the existing +12V, 0V and CAN HI & LO wiring that goes to the Ecumaster CAN-Switch board on the rear of the steering wheel. Though I will still need to retain a Binder connector so I can connect to the Dash using RS232 for programming purposes. I'll have a think about how best to optimise the wiring.

The ITG air filter and housing should be with me this week. The filter element was manufactured at the factory in Coventry last week, and shipped down to BHP, so with luck I should have it before the weekend ready for fitment.

The Borough 19 sprint at Lydden Hill in July, opened just before the weekend, so I've entered it, only £165 this time. Its a great venue though, I love the two lap format, and this year there'll be no fuel surge problems to worry about with the anti-surge tank working as well as it is.


Replacement Lithium ION battery

A very big THANK YOU to Powerlite Units for exchanging my 9 month old PS-09 battery for a higher capacity PS-20 under their excellent warranty scheme. I'd asked about the capacity of the PS-09 since I'd had numerous embarrasing starting issues last year, which often forced me to get out the car and attach a slave battery, or leave the engine running for 20 minutes whilst I queued, since the PS-09 rarely had the charge to start even a warm engine. The PS-20 is 900g heavier, at 2Kg, but I'll accept that for the peace of mind that the engine will start every time. A few EcoBoost owners I know have now swapped to the PS-20, which seems to be the battery of choice for the modern GDI engine.

Last night I quickly made a new frame to locate the larger battery to the floor, and with some cable ties to hold the battery to the frame, it certainly wont be falling out the car.