Established 23 years

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Not long to go

Did someone say 8 days to go?

I found some Yokohama decals in my extensive box of motorsport stickers that I've collected over the years, so it felt appropriate to attach the Y logo to both rear wing end plates, just to add a bit more branding to the car. The stickers were supplied by Yokohama when they provided a set of tyres for the Fiesta, so given their age I was sceptical about how well they'd peel off the backing paper. I needn't have worried though.

Still no news on Team SBD for Blyton, but the Anglesey entry list is looking a lot fuller; however, there is still no sign of a restart of motorsport in Wales, so I'm not sure if we'll get to drive at Anglesey and Pembrey on the back to back weekends at the end of May / start of June. I do hope we can. But, its not looking good at the moment. Pete Goulding says he cant get his Mygale booked in for another RR session before Blyton, so he wont be running the 350+bhp that he ran in 2020, and he says the giant Pumaspeed EVO2 turbo will produce a lot of lag. The answer to that is to turn ALS on, can you imagine the sound of antilag on a single seater? Yes please.

It looks like Team TeGra (Terry and Graham in the Lola) are also running the new Avon compounds, following John Graham's testing at Anglesey and Aintree. Team TeGra were testing at Goodwood yesterday, and Graham Porrett said the car turned in far better. The question is how well they work on the first corner, as we know the Pirelli Ultrasoft's are fantastic off the line, so we could still gain a few tenths on the big single seaters braking in to the first corner. We still dont know what Stewart Robb is running on the 5000cc Pilbeam, though I suspect he'll also have changed to the latest Avon compound, if the new compounds are available in all the larger tyre sizes.


Rear suspension damper pots calibrated

I had to make a new pair of brackets to support the rear of the Bosch linear sensors on the rear dampers, to extend the usable range of the sensors by 30mm. Now the damper can move 40mm without damaging the sensor. I then calibrated both damper pots, and with my 82.5kg stood on the gearbox, I can see around 8.5mm displacement on the dial gauge, which is a nice linear figure to have. So for 10mm displacement, thats around 100Kg of downforce, and given the DJ rear wing can produce up to 350kg at 140mph on max wing angle, I should be able to see how much downforce is being produced for the wing angles chosen. Not that I ever run it that steep, but we'll see at Blyton the approx downforce front and rear now that I've got all the pots working.

Dash4pro showing both the rear ride heights at 50mm

Revised brackets for the bosch sensors

Aside from checking that the dive tank has air in it, and the engine and gearbox fluid levels, there's not a great deal left to do. 10 days to go until Blyton and I'm more than ready. I'm sure I'll find something to do. I will be collecting the trailer over the weekend, to check the brakes etc. Probably throw a bucket of water over it too.


Rear suspension damper pots fitted

After a bit of head scratching I realised the best place to locate the mounting for the rear damper pots was to attach it to my custom spring spacers. So I unscrewed the spring platforms by 10 turns, slid the spacers off the ends of the dampers, and drilled a pair of 4mm holes, tapped to M5. A couple of M5 studs later, and the pots are now sat on both dampers, awaiting calibration. Once I've done that I'll screw the platforms back, and lock them back in place to restore the ride height.

Sadly Steve Brown wont be at Blyton, such was the extent of the damage to his car at Aintree. So its not as big a turnout as I'd hoped for, but there'll still be a good collection of cars to compete for overall honours. SBD has a new front wing, and some elements ahead of their rear wheels, to try to improve the air flow of their floor. Looks like a lot of effort and expense for small gains. Which is the nature of this sport. Pete Goulding hopes he's now fixed his fuel delivery issue, and is out at Debden on Sunday to test it, albeit running low boost with the engine only partially mapped, on the standard engine. He's trying to get the Mygale back to the rollers for a fourth time, before Blyton, but is up against it with only 10 days left.

Blyton BSC drivers registered for the LDMC sprint weekend
Grahame Harden Radical PR6 (1340cc) 4A
Stephen Mallett Radical PR6 (1340cc) BSC-B
Richard Mallett Radical PR6 (1340cc) BSC-B
Chris Fulke-Greville Turner Modsport (1824cc) BSC-B
Simon Bainbridge Cronos (4200cc) 4B

Tony Beesley Jedi (999cc) 5A
Simon Wallis OMS 3000M (1070cc) 5A
John Loudon Force HC (1070cc) BSC-C
Mark Anson Jedi Mk6 (1070cc) BSC-C

Rob Tonge Force TA (1440cc) BSC-D
Nicholas Scott Force TA (1596cc) 5B

Steve Miles Van Diemen (2000cc) 5D

Graham Blackwell Mygale EcoBoost G21 (1598cc) BSC-F
Pete Goulding Mygale FF200 (1598cc) BSC-F

Stewart Robb Pilbeam MP88 (5000cc) BSC-A
Graham Porrett Lola (3500cc) (5E) BSC-G
Terry Holmes Lola (3500cc) (5E) BSC-G
John Graham Gould GR55B (3500cc) (5E) BSC-G

There are some obvious omissions from the list above? Notably, the Team SBD are missing, as is Chris Jones, Zoe Kingham in the EcoBoost Westfield, and several other new drivers for 2021.


Front suspension damper pots calibrated

I finally got round to setting up the ECU to return the ride height in mm for the front dampers. It's a bit crude, there isnt a great deal of movement for the potentiometers given the high motion ratio of the Mygale's front rockers, but it's done. So now when I sit in the car it reads 40mm ride height at the front, and as the height drops from the increasing downforce as speed increases, I should get some data. I'll calibrate the rears tomorrow, and thats another job ticked off. If the potentiometers fail to give me the resolution that I want, I might move to using rotary sensors fitted on the tops of the rockers instead.

50 litres of race fuel are on order. I'm still using Sunoco 102RON R TF-R5, which comes in 25 or 50 litre drums, and to be honest, a 50 litre drum isnt easy to handle or move, which is why I prefer the smaller 25's. Last year the BSC organisers tried to ban the fuel, but I pointed out it was an FIA approved and legal Pump Fuel, meeting FIA 252.9 appendix J regulations, so their decision had to be reversed. No cheating here thankyou.


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 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.


Numbers on

The number 8's are stuck on, I think they look really good. And I've stuck the Advan logos on the rear wing and both of the side pods. I've another pair of logos to order for the front wing, I got my measurements wrong and they're too long to go either side of the nose cone. I also fitted a pair of 175A Anderson connectors to the battery to allow it to be quick disconnected from the chassis. I used size #4 crimps which were difficult to source, but are needed for the 16mm2 cables used on the car.

Numbers on

The entries for Snetterton in June opened over the weekend, and its a whopping £350 for the weekend. This is due in part to MSV raising its circuit hire costs by 5% following the pandemic. I also saw that the sold-out Abingdon Long Course sprint in April has been cancelled. This is due to a film company currently occupying the air-field, apparently filming a Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg film about the US Air Force based in the UK during the 2nd world war. Its a shame that the sprint couldnt run, there's a lot of disappointed sprinters now looking to enter other events.


Numbers ordered

With 51 days to go, I've got a set of number 8's ordered to replace the union jack style ones I ran last year. I've also got some Tow stickers coming, since MUK now insists that all cars require an indication as to the positions of the tow points. Given its a single seater, and the only tow point is the roll hoop, this seems a bit pointless, but rules are rules. I need to order more 102RON fuel, since I'm down to just a Jerry can's worth. I'm planning on running the Gemzoe tank at half capacity this year, since I ran it down to 2 litres at Combe and there was still no fuel surge. So if I make sure its 5L at the start of the day, and maintain that level, I shouldnt be in any danger of running out.


Airfilter selected

I've selected an ITG Maxogen STAB99XL cold air intake setup, to replace the small K&N. It has a 100mm inlet, and a 70mm ID outlet, and I've got a 100mm ram pipe on order, so the inlet has a better chance of drawing air in under load. This should change the noise levels too, which might make driving the car a little less uncomfortable. The K&N filter made an almighty racket at full speed, and with it positioned behind my head, it was VERY VERY LOUD. To connect the ITG filter to the flexible hose that feeds the turbo, I've bought a 70mm OD 90° aluminium pipe, which I'll wrap with gold heat reflective tape. The challenge is going to be finding a way to anchor the filter housing securely inside the roll hoop.


More mods...

I've wired in the 2ch Reveltronics K-Type thermocouple amplifier, to AN03, so the ECU now has the post-turbo EGT temperature using an analogue input rather than over CAN. The Ecumaster EGT2CAN box presents the actual temperature of each thermocouple, rather than a voltage between 0 and 5V, so the ECU is unable to do anything with the data other than log it. This modification allows me to set the ECU to have a strategy for the EGT temp, to add more fuel etc if the temperature suddenly rises.

I've fitted a Funk turbo blanket to reduce the under bonnet temperatures, and it was surprisingly easy to fit. Its held together with a couple of springs, so it just wraps around the underside of the S280, and provides around 90% coverage. It could just do with a small cutout for the wastegate actuator arm, but I've fitted the blanket out of the way so it shouldnt interfere with the wastegate operation. I've also added insulation to the manifold itself, which is sitting underneath the OEM manifold cover, again to reduce temperatures. I'll see when I next drive the car what difference it makes to the EGT temperatures.

I then removed the K&N air filter and hose, and realised I still had a 63-70mm adaptor fitted to the hose, so it adapts the smaller 63mm filter to the 70mm turbo inlet. I've now removed the two pieces of flexible hose and the adaptor, and replaced them with a single piece of 70mm id hose, which has saved a bit more weight. I'm looking at options for a cold air intake, and speaking to ITG to see what they have.

The Reveltronics 2 channel K-Type thermocouple amplifier, connected to the EGT sensor that's fitted to the exhaust pipe.

The Funk turbo blanket fitted, and the chassis member replaced, ready for testing.


Further weight saved

There's clearly a theme this week, with more weight saved yesterday. I've removed an earth lead, and the pair of 8mm power distribution posts, which I fitted when the lithium battery was relocated to the side pod. The earth lead simply connected the battery 0V lead to the isolator, via the 8mm post, so I've now connected the battery lead directly to the top of the isolator, removing the short lead and post in the process.

I also took the new +12 battery lead from the rear of the car, and bolted the five ring terminals together (12V, ECU Power, Radium Fuel Pump, X10, Fuel Pump Fan), covered the joint in adhesive heatshrink, and then placed it alongside the main bundle of wires that sits in the cockpit. By doing this I was also able to shorten the new 70A cable I ran in to the car the previous day, and in total I've saved a further 150g this week. Generally the wiring looks far tidier, and I'm now thinking about moving the cartek isolator from the floor, just to remove the final piece of clutter.

To test the rewiring, I then connected the bench power supply to the chassis, and switched the cartek isolator on, just to see how much current was drawn with the ignition off, and it starts at around 4A, falling quickly to 1.27A. This is without the ignition on, which would run both the fuel pumps for 10 seconds to prime the fuel system. So 1.27A is the total current draw from the Life ECU, the X10 module, the GPS board, the ECUMaster EGT2CAN and CAN-Switch boards, plus all the various sensors on the car. I'm a bit surprised about the initial 4A draw, which might be down to the ECU performing self tests at first power-on.

150g saving

Tidier cockpit space

Total current draw


Further weight saved

When I relocated the 12V battery from the cockpit, to the side pod, I left the heavy duty cable in the car which connected the battery to the starter motor. The cable was also providing power to the ECU, the X10, the fuel pump, and the radiator fan. So I still needed to have a cable to run to the front of the car, where the ring terminals were joined together, but the cable didnt need to be a heavy duty one. So I've replaced it with a red 70A cable, and this has saved over 400grammes of weight. I'm doing quite well this week with shaving weight off the car.

Battery cable replaced


Pneumatic pipes replaced

A little bit of preventative maintenance, I've replaced the blue hard plastic pipework on the Geartronics actuator and solenoids with some fresh SMC 6mm black plastic pipes. Since the blue pipes were several years old and had a few marks on them where they'd touched suspension arms etc. I've also used the 6mm pipe to run the header tank overflow to the rear of the car, replacing the much heavier rubber hose that I last replaced a few years ago. This has saved another 200grammes of weight.

Replaced the pneumatic lines


SSR swaps

I've replaced the pair of electromechanical relays for the fuel pump and radiator fan, with the solid state relays. I've saved about 100grammes in the process since I'm no longer using the relay holders, as the SSR's are stuck to the chassis rails using 3M Dual Lock SJ355X tape. Both relays work as expected, so thats another job ticked off the list.
Solid state relays


Ambient air temp sensor

I've added an ambient air temperature sensor using an NTC thermocouple, which is now reported as 'aat1' by the ECU. Although there is no strategy for ambient air temperature, the fact that I can see how hot the air is entering the turbo, will help me work on keeping the intake temperatures cool. Something I'm going to be focusing on this year is reducing air charge temperatures, and we've a few ideas up sleeve's on how to tackle that.


Blyton Park entries

There are 71 people registered for the LDMC Blyton Park sprint, with a maximum of 110 drivers, thats since entries opened on Monday evening. No news on the Pembrey entry levels yet.


Blyton Park entry accepted

This is proving an expensive month so far, I've now entered the LDMC Blyton Park sprint in May, and I expect they'll open on the online bookings for Anglesey also in May, in the next couple of weeks. Before we can travel to Wales however, we have to remember that we really are dependent on the Welsh government lifting lockdown and allowing travel in the first place. Fingers crossed. For the Longton events, they haven't declared the number of timed runs in the supplemental regulations. That will be declared on the day of the event. So we're still not sure if we get two timed runs, and two BSC run off runs afterwards, or more than two timed runs, and the run off runs are blended in with the timed runs. Confused!?! The answer is to 'be prepared'. And drive flat out all of the time.


The Exhaust VVT is now working

Finally, after some more headscratching, I managed to get the exhaust VVT working on Saturday. Basically, the connector for the VVT solenoid, that I'd wired in, was wired the wrong way round. I thought I'd got the +12V supply to the same pin as the inlet VVT solenoid, but I hadn't. So I swapped the wires over, and pushed the starter, and after the usual startup delay, the exhaust cam started moving under ECU control. There was me thinking solenoids didnt have a polarity as its using PWM to adjust the angle. Well on the Ford EcoBoost 1600, the VVT solenoids certainly do have a polarity. Maybe they have a diode inbuilt?

With that sorted, one of the steps I also had to take was to reset the exhaust angle offsets for the Piper BP285 exhaust cam. This is done by running the engine with the exhaust VVT solenoid disconnected, and displaying VVT1 Exhaust Raw. The two values displayed were 226.50° and 503.75°, which I then entered in to the cam angle offset table. They werent significantly different to the original values, only several degrees out, but the cam is different to the standard ford item, and it was worth getting it right.

As part of the testing on Saturday, I could also see that the solid state relay controlling the +12V to the alternator was working nicely, turning the alternator on and off under ECU control, so that passed the test. The Cosworth air charge temperature sensor I fitted was also returning accurate air temperatures, so another test passed.

So thats the X10 wiring finished. Everything checks out, and I can now get the car booked in at the rolling road, with full VVT, so see if we can get a bit more power. That will have to be in April, since there are still movement restrictions until March 29th.

The next bit of rewiring to tackle is to relocate the +ve battery terminal and heavy duty cables from the cockpit. Where the original battery sat, between the drivers legs, there are a few cables which need shortening, and moving, saving a little bit more weight in the process. I'll start on that job this week.

I've entered the BARC Wales sprint at Pembrey on June the 5th. The entry fee was a whopping £295, and if thats a sign of whats to come, its going to be an expensive season. There are only three timed runs mentioned in the regs. No mention of the additional 4th timed run for the British Sprinters. I'll explain. As its three timed runs, the first timed run (T1) is the qualifier for the first run off run, which takes place on the second timed run (T2). And the third timed run (T3) is the qualifier for the fourth timed run, which must follow after everyone else has finished their third timed run. Sounds complicated? These are the new rules which were introduced in 2020. So we no longer have two top 12 run off runs following the close of competition. Not at events where there are three timed runs anyway. Asprin anyone?

We still havent tried the new format, wether its condusive to an enjoyables days racing remains to be seen. There are certainly different psychological angles to the format change. No more second chances to qualify. You get a practice run, and then you have to drive flat out on the first timed run to qualify. And there are only 12 places in the run offs. There are still points available to anyone finishing 13th or lower. But the winner of each run off gets 25 points, so there's 50 points a day up for grabs. The biggest issue with the run offs was the time taken by the dual driven cars to swap drivers over. This will have to be dealt with, as its the single biggest head f*ck, when you're strapped in the car for 10 minutes waiting for someone to get ready. The run off run's, will be run in class order though, so the Top 12 qualifiers arent put in a batch and run together. Well at least for the first run off run (T2). If we get a seperate T4 run, and do run seperately, will that be run in Top 12 qualifier order, or again in class order? The weather could be play a big factor in that decision.


ARDS test postponed again

My ARDS test has moved again, this time to April the 12th. Hopefully it wont get postponed or moved again. MUK has issued a note saying Travel outside of a person’s local area is not allowed except where permitted and then for essential reasons, and, Essentially dual occupancy of vehicles by persons not from the same household in the context of a driving test is not permitted until 12 April at the earliest, subject to local devolved government legislation. Hence the delay

We've now compared the VVT settings between mine and Pete's cars, and one setting is different, which is the Exhaust Integral Gain. Pete's is the blue graph. Mine is the black. If I look at an unlocked 2017 EcoBoost map, the setting is the same as mine, so at some point Pete's had his tweaked, which could explain why his engine runs with the Exh solenoid plugged in and in closed loop mode, whereas my ECU trips to open loop after a VVT Failure error. I will alter my gain settings to be the same as Pete's and we'll see if that solves the problem.
Exhaust Integral Gain on Petes car Exhaust Integral Gain on my car


Calendar change

The Great Western Sprint has been moved, from March to October 23rd, so it will be the last round of the championship, if the championship runs. So the first round should be at Blyton in May, and Longton has said that they will be opening the entries system up in the next 7 to 10 days, so that'll be a mad scramble for places. I'll keep an eye on their events page to make sure I'm in with a chance of bagging an entry. There is likely to be some testing at Blyton before hand, but I've nothing to test this year. The car hasnt changed mechanically from the EcoBat sprint at Castle Combe last year, so for Blyton I can just turn up and drive.


Alternator tested

I thought that the alternator would work under ECU control; it would, just not in the way that I'd wired it. I'd used the 12V signal from the Cartek Isolator as a pull-up, using a 3k3Ω resistor, with the X10 used to pull the line low when the alternator was to be turned off. But it just wouldn't work. It looked like the alternator needed a higher current on the IG pin than the 4mA that the 3k3Ω resistor was supplying.

So on Sunday I removed the resistor, and wired in a solid state relay, which connects the IG pin directly to the 12V wire from the Cartek isolator, and it started working properly. With the engine started the alternator is turned off until the engine has been running for 10 seconds (I can change that interval), and if the engine rpm drops below 750rpm, the alternator is again turned off, which acts as a helper to prevent the engine from stalling. If the battery voltage then drops below a set value, the ECU uses Recovery Mode, which forces the alternator back on until the voltage has risen above another threshold. Sounds complicated, but its going to be worth the effort of connecting it all up if I can free up a few horsepower.


Alternator now under ECU Control

I wired the IG input on the alternator to one of the X10 outputs on Saturday, and rewired the knock warning LED on to a different output, though I didnt manage to test it to see if it still glowed. There's no rush. The alternator control section in the ECU is quite comprehensive. Lots of options to play with.

Life F88 Alternator control options

I also picked up a new crimp tool, this time for the battery crimp terminals. I'd bought one of those hydraulic ones previously, but they tend to muller the crimps, they put so much hydraulic force through them. This tool seems to work well with the test crimps I made on Sunday; I've a few long heavy duty cables to remove and replace with shorter ones, to remove more weight from the car.

Crimp tool

Speaking of removing weight, I've dropped 3kg in the past three weeks, through exercise and diets. I've been on the exercise bike daily, racking up 25+ miles a day, and its paying dividends at the moment. My target for the first event, is to be at 80Kg. Only 7kg to go :D

Cycling activities


Knock warning LED

I tested the 12V knock warning LED by assigning it as an output when the up paddle is pulled, and the LED illuminates when the up paddle is pulled, as you'd expect. But when the X10 turns off the output to the LED, the LED still glows. I've wired it across the 12V supply, so the X10 turns the LED on by switching the output low. But when the X10 output goes high, or in other words, open circuit, there is current flowing between the 12V rail through the LED, which is why it is glowing. I've rewired the knock LED to use a different output, and I'll test it again tomorrow, just in case the output I chose (which I'd not used previously) is faulty.


X10 loom fitted

Over the weekend, I removed my original X10 loom, and connected the new one up. The first task was to swap the CAN bus cable that runs from the ECU, and then connect the power leads to the chassis supply. With those connections made, I plugged the loom in to the X10, turned the power on, and checked that the laptop could see the X10, and it could. Then it was a case of connecting the pneumatic solenoids, and checking the paddles still operated them with the clutch switch closed, and they did. The front wheel speed sensors were then connected, and the IO assignment changed to use the SLAVE inputs. This flagged up an error, since I had filtering enabled on the front speed sensors, and the X10 didnt support filtering, so I turned that off. I then connected the front and rear damper potentiometers up, and noticed that when I fully extended the potentiometers, a Voltage Limit and Voltage Failure error occured. I had the input type set to 5V, and changing it to Thermistor and changing the Default Voltage High to 5.0V (it was 4.995V), sorted the errors out.

Damper Inputs error messages
Damper warning error

With the error resolved, these are the damper inputs all working
Damper inputs all working

So I can now linearise the Damper inputs, setting the mm per mV, and I'll do that soon. I've wired in the 3 way Deutsch plugs to the rear speed sensors, and they're connected. The gear change warning buzzer is plugged in, as is the knock warning lamp. So I'm pretty much done. All thats left is to connect the alternator to the X10, via a 3k3Ω pull up resistor, and I can then run the engine and test that everything is OK.

Damper pots fitted and working

I've also changed the gearbox oil breather outlet, from a banjo fitting and braided hose, to a 6mm plastic pipe, which looks much tidier. It needed an M10x1.25 to 1/8 NPT adaptor, which then allows the G1/8 fitting to screw in to the top.

Gearbox oil breather pipe changed


Date changes

Its looking more and more unlikely that the Great Western sprint is going to run in March, and due to the Pandemic, Longton has wisely moved the Anglesey date in April to the end of May. So it now looks like the first two rounds will be the Blyton double header in May, which would be a great way to start the season, straight in to a weekend event. And one of my favourite circuits too.