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Old 02-03-2021, 11:28 PM   #1
OldCarNewTricks
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Default MS As a Gateway for Learning Tuning?

Hello,

I've given it some thought, and I've decided to put in some research regarding Megasquirt. I've been reading around, but if anyone has any recommendations for videos or helpful sources, that would be awesome.

I currently have an 86 IROC Camaro that I am working on swapping a 6.0 LS into. Well, I'd like to eventually tune that myself with HPTuners.

Given the complexity of newer electronics (electric throttle body, electronic pedal and cruise, 4l60e, etc.) I think I'd like to see about building up a Megasquirt board and harness for my 83 242. I thought that it might be a great starting point for tuning, and would help me figure out how some of this stuff works. My 242 is just a B23F, and I'm still working on getting it running on LH 2.0. I plan to start with swapping the M cam for an A cam and an adjustable timing gear, as well. After that, I may do a +T, but we will see. While it's running on the old stuff, I'd like to build up the Megasquirt and try to swap that out in a weekend or two when I get it ready.

The ultimate goal is learning, but having a system ready for and capable enough for a turbo would be super cool. I'm hoping to get away from both the old Jetronic and Chrysler computers, and switch to a much more efficient system. My question is, what DIY MS kit would work best for my goals?

Last edited by OldCarNewTricks; 02-03-2021 at 11:35 PM..
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Old 02-04-2021, 12:25 AM   #2
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The easiest choice would be a MicroSquirt with a 8' harness, and an external GM MAP sensor. If you're good at soldering and building electronic kits, you could get a MegaSquirt-II PCB 3.0 kit and a 8' harness instead. The MegaSquirt has an internal MAP sensor. The MicroSquirt and the MegaSquirt-II have very similar capabilities, and are plenty for most non-race Volvos.

If you want to play around and learn on the desktop, you'll need to buy or borrow/rent a JimStim board. The JimStim plugs directly into the MegaSquirt box, but you'll need to wire up a harness to connect to the MicroSquirt. I guess you could temporarily use the 8' MicroSquirt harness with the JimStim before installing it in the car.
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Old 02-04-2021, 03:52 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobxyz View Post
The easiest choice would be a MicroSquirt with a 8' harness, and an external GM MAP sensor. If you're good at soldering and building electronic kits, you could get a MegaSquirt-II PCB 3.0 kit and a 8' harness instead. The MegaSquirt has an internal MAP sensor. The MicroSquirt and the MegaSquirt-II have very similar capabilities, and are plenty for most non-race Volvos.
I agree with this. My n/a 86 240 is running on microsquirt.

I have a half assembled MS2 board in a box because I said screw this and bought a microsquirt. I really should finish assembling it, or maybe just sell it.

The install was straight forward, though I had help from people who had done it before. Same with tuning.
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Old 02-04-2021, 08:43 AM   #4
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If you have a little money to invest in a good ecu, I'd suggest MaxxECU mini instead.
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Old 02-04-2021, 09:40 AM   #5
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Definitely a gateway for learning how to change head gaskets.
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Old 02-04-2021, 12:56 PM   #6
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Thanks for the input, guys. I do really like soldering, and I've done a good amount of it. Sounds like Megasquirt 2 and Microsquirt are the best options for me. MaxxECU looks super fancy, but a bit much for this old 242.

How do I go about learning more about the JimStim? I'll look around on the Googles a bit.

VB, there are far worse engines to have to replace head gaskets on LOL. Besides +T on a crapped out B23 is just an advanced compression test.

daijoubanai, if you are interested in getting rid of the Megasquirt 2, I'm interested I think. I'll send you a PM.
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Old 02-04-2021, 01:34 PM   #7
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So, if you can get an lh2.4 harness from an 89 and newer 240 Kenny - Linuxman51 - makes a plug and play microsquirt for that. Id shoot him a pm and get that sorted out.

You can always build you own harness, which lots of people do.
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Old 02-04-2021, 05:55 PM   #8
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So, if you can get an lh2.4 harness from an 89 and newer 240 Kenny - Linuxman51 - makes a plug and play microsquirt for that. Id shoot him a pm and get that sorted out.

You can always build you own harness, which lots of people do.
That's really cool. I don't mind making my own harness.

Would LH 2.4 even work on the earlier motors since they use a crank sensor instead of the hall sensor?
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Old 02-04-2021, 06:20 PM   #9
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That's really cool. I don't mind making my own harness.

Would LH 2.4 even work on the earlier motors since they use a crank sensor instead of the hall sensor?
Ah, you're right I forgot about the hall sensor bs on the older cars. I guess you could swap dizzy's and flywheels? Sounds like the beginnings of a rabbit hole.
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Old 02-04-2021, 07:23 PM   #10
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The JimStim board is a simple engine simulator. It has a bunch of knobs to control the RPM, temperatures, throttle position, AFR. On the desktop, you can open up Tuner Studio (the tuning software for MegaSquirt), load your tune in, and then play with the knobs to see live how MS responds. It's a great way to learn about the various configuration settings, how to adjust the tune based on the response, how to run testmodes, and how to generate/view logs, all from the comfort of your armchair and without any risk to your engine.

Once you're comfortable with the software on the desktop, it's much easier to set it up on the car. Since you can build electronic kits, you could get the JimStim kit, build it, use it for a while, and then sell it for close to cost in For Sale.

If you haven't seen it already, take a look at this thread - it covers some of the basics for sensors, etc.
From K-Jet to Megasquirt...a basic installation guide

It is possible to convert an early engine to LH2.4 - see the recent posts in:
LH2.4 Install/Conversion. Just 4 wires to make it run

I think you have a fixed distributor (no vacuum or centrifugal advance). If so, you can use this distributor with MS. If you want to run wasted spark, you'll need a more advanced setup, with either a LH2.4 60-2 (sixty minus two) tooth flywheel/flexplate and CPS, or a Yoshifab DSM CAS adapter ($$$).

Your 3-pin IAC valve can be used with MS if you add a power resistor to one side. You'll need a throttle body with the correct TPS - either a rare LH3.1 manual setup, or an 850 TPS and an adapter plate (e.g. Yoshifab).
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Old 02-04-2021, 07:41 PM   #11
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The Megasquirt/Microsquirt documentation is pretty good.

https://www.msextra.com/manuals/

Tunerstudio, which is a separate piece of software, is used to program the Megasquirt.

I am using a Microsquirt on my B230FT. Head mount hall sensor, 850 TPS, GM MAP, GM Air temp, stock coolant temp sensors.
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Old 02-04-2021, 10:02 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobxyz View Post
The JimStim board is a simple engine simulator. It has a bunch of knobs to control the RPM, temperatures, throttle position, AFR. On the desktop, you can open up Tuner Studio (the tuning software for MegaSquirt), load your tune in, and then play with the knobs to see live how MS responds. It's a great way to learn about the various configuration settings, how to adjust the tune based on the response, how to run testmodes, and how to generate/view logs, all from the comfort of your armchair and without any risk to your engine.

Once you're comfortable with the software on the desktop, it's much easier to set it up on the car. Since you can build electronic kits, you could get the JimStim kit, build it, use it for a while, and then sell it for close to cost in For Sale.

If you haven't seen it already, take a look at this thread - it covers some of the basics for sensors, etc.
From K-Jet to Megasquirt...a basic installation guide

It is possible to convert an early engine to LH2.4 - see the recent posts in:
LH2.4 Install/Conversion. Just 4 wires to make it run

I think you have a fixed distributor (no vacuum or centrifugal advance). If so, you can use this distributor with MS. If you want to run wasted spark, you'll need a more advanced setup, with either a LH2.4 60-2 (sixty minus two) tooth flywheel/flexplate and CPS, or a Yoshifab DSM CAS adapter ($$$).

Your 3-pin IAC valve can be used with MS if you add a power resistor to one side. You'll need a throttle body with the correct TPS - either a rare LH3.1 manual setup, or an 850 TPS and an adapter plate (e.g. Yoshifab).
I have no problem with the lh2.2 hall distributor and microsquirt up to at least 7250 rpm, I'm out of cam by that time anyway.
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Old 02-04-2021, 10:36 PM   #13
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I know you didn’t mention it but...I recently went with speeduino and love it. Its way cheaper than mega squirt, but still uses tuner studio. I’m using the stock lh2.2 distributor and coil (for “semi sequential” fuel injection), stock coolant temp sensor and IAC. A 90s bmw TPS on the stock throttle body with an adapter, gm MAP and IAT sensor. Speeduino capabilities are about the same as MS2 just no knock control.
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Old 02-04-2021, 11:40 PM   #14
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Sounds like my old hall sensor set up will be fine to stick with for now. I don't see much advantage for the wasted spark or coil on plug over the single coil setup. Well, except for high RPM applications. A lot of money with no gain for my car, I think.

JimStim seems like a good investment for a newbie like me.

Canadan, I started looking into Speeduino. Very interesting. Did you opt for v. 0.3 or v. 0.4? And did you assemble it yourself?
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Old 02-05-2021, 06:25 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by OldCarNewTricks View Post
Sounds like my old hall sensor set up will be fine to stick with for now. I don't see much advantage for the wasted spark or coil on plug over the single coil setup. Well, except for high RPM applications. A lot of money with no gain for my car, I think.

JimStim seems like a good investment for a newbie like me.

Canadan, I started looking into Speeduino. Very interesting. Did you opt for v. 0.3 or v. 0.4? And did you assemble it yourself?
I did switch my coil to one from a 94 passat with a built in ignitor, it takes the spark output directly from the microsquirt but I did have to have a custom coil wire made by kingsborne for vw one side and Volvo on the other.
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Old 02-05-2021, 10:46 AM   #16
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I did switch my coil to one from a 94 passat with a built in ignitor, it takes the spark output directly from the microsquirt but I did have to have a custom coil wire made by kingsborne for vw one side and Volvo on the other.
Anything to get rid of that Chrysler box sounds good to me. Is the Passat coil the cube looking one? Do you still get your tach reading off the negative on the coil?
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Old 02-05-2021, 10:52 AM   #17
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Anything to get rid of that Chrysler box sounds good to me. Is the Passat coil the cube looking one? Do you still get your tach reading off the negative on the coil?
Yes, it looks like a cube, no the microsquirt has a tach out lead, it used to work but I think my tach is bad.
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Old 02-05-2021, 01:42 PM   #18
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while you will learn about tuning with megasquirt, little more than the basic logic will translate over to the gm OEM platform, the sheer complexity of things on the stock ecu side of life is just about mind-blowing.

however, learning how to tune stuff and how those sorts of things interrelate is always good knowledge to have, so I'd say absolutely microsquirt the 242.
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Old 02-05-2021, 01:49 PM   #19
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VB242, thank you, I will probably get one with the MS.

linuxman51, I was reading on what the MS offers on the side of ignition, and looks like they also have electronic transmission control in the works. I may be able to control my LS motor with MS electronics. The only part that I need to look into more is the early style Escalade pedal and cruise module, as well as the electronic throttle body. MS would need to be able to also help me tune the throttle response, as GM has a delayed response with their systems for safety. So if it is capable enough for that, it would likely work really well for my Camaro.

For the knowledge and learning, I think I absolute will MS my 242. Exciting stuff!
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Old 02-05-2021, 01:55 PM   #20
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ms does not have anything for DBW vehicles, on that front you'd be money ahead with a terminator x-max or something else if you ditch the stock ecu (and for the cost of converting the oe harness, the license stuff with the hptuners dongle, etc, you're about even money getting the holley terminator)
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Old 02-05-2021, 02:28 PM   #21
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I can't read anything about the Holley Terminator X without thinking about Public Enemy.

Anyway, the best way I've found to learn about tuning is just to fix engine problems. Tuning is just super-troubleshooting.
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Old 02-05-2021, 06:46 PM   #22
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Holley Terminator seems to be a system that alot of people on LS1TECH like. I'll have to look into that.

Sounds like MS is a good way for me to learn basic terminology and meaning, with some entry level tuning concepts. So it's not so much of a stepping stone to HPTuners, etc., but more of a basic learning gig. Still seems very worth the expense of timing and money.

From what I've seen, Holley Terminator seems to be a lot simpler than HPTuners, but I could be wrong.
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Old 02-05-2021, 06:55 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by OldCarNewTricks View Post
Holley Terminator seems to be a system that alot of people on LS1TECH like. I'll have to look into that.

Sounds like MS is a good way for me to learn basic terminology and meaning, with some entry level tuning concepts. So it's not so much of a stepping stone to HPTuners, etc., but more of a basic learning gig. Still seems very worth the expense of timing and money.

From what I've seen, Holley Terminator seems to be a lot simpler than HPTuners, but I could be wrong.
terminator is going to be WAAAAY easier than the stock ecu, trust me.
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Old 02-05-2021, 09:22 PM   #24
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terminator is going to be WAAAAY easier than the stock ecu, trust me.
I'll take your word for it!
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Old 02-06-2021, 10:53 AM   #25
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It might not be a bad idea to switch to a cable drive throttle body on my Camaro, and just MS on that, too. Then I can learn all about MS with my Volvo and do one for the Camaro, too. MS can control my 4l60e, and even with MS 3, it's still less than half the price of Holley Terminator.
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