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Newbie Microtech tuning tips

Old 08-22-15, 09:36 PM
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Newbie Microtech tuning tips

Every time I get told that Microtech is a pure crap, I get discouraged and tend to blame all tuning issues to Microtech. After tuning it on the street for a few hours, I gotta say I'm so glad I didn't yank it out. It's really an excellent ECU. It's really easy to tune it if you just give it a shot, and I found that I, a complete newbie to tuning can address all hesitations, flat spots, and hot start issues very easily on the street, and most of it just by revving the engine in one stationary spot.

Again, these are meant to be NEWBIE tuning tips, like Microtech tuning for dummies style. This may sound like common sense to many of you, but we all have to start somewhere. I certainly would have found this helpful if I were reading it a month ago. As a side note, I only street tuned cruise and upto 3 psi due to lack of traction.

First off, you need to follow the microtech instructions. Set your TPS. Get a base timing map from the sticky. Make sure all your sensors work. Set your static timing with light. You also probably need a wideband.

Also keep in mind that you need to make sure that the engine is mechanically sound. Make sure you don't have large manifold leak. Make sure your fuel pressure is ~45psi at atm pressure. Make sure your oil pressure, etc is good.

As silly as it sounds, you don't want to start tuning until you have all the basics and mechanical stuff absolutely perfect. Tuning won't fix those.

Here are some pointers once you have the basics done. I will just list them.

1. Do not change the fuel map until the engine is fully warmed up. You can modify coolant temp - fuel correction map until the engine is warmed up. Idea is slowly turn down fuel correction factor until 84*C = 0%. You can also play with PUMP COLD function at a later time if necessary.

2. Once your coolant temp is at 84*C, you can start tuning in matrix mode. When tuning idle, don't chase after AFR, chase after how engine runs. Idea is to make the idle as lean as possible as long as the engine likes it.

3. HOT START issues or engine dying after coming to a stop from a spirited drive. You fix this by adding fuel and timing to RPM=500 boxes. You can hit RPM = 500 when you're slowly engaging clutch at idle. Add fuel / little timing at RPM=500 @ vacuum until engine will always bounce back to RPM=1200 or so once it dips to 500.

4. Don't subtract fuel with hotter air temp when tuning. Once the engine bay is heat soaked, the air temp can hit some f'ing high numbers despite normal ambient temp and screw up your tune. I set air temp correction value to 0% across the entire range when tuning. I suppose I can modify these later once everything runs perfectly.

5. Hesitation when pressing accelerator pedal at vacuum cruise. This is usually caused by lean spot which you can confirm with AFR. I also found that increasing PUMP function isn't enough to fix this hesitation. You need to add fuel to 0"Hg box at the RPM at which you experience hesitation. It's because when you press on accelerator pedal briskly while cruising, your MAP will quickly change to 0"Hg. If your 0"Hg box is lean, you'll experience hesitation.

6. This brings me to the next point. I find that MOST hesitation issues are due to lean spot or lack of timing. Hesitation can feel like clutch jerking you back and forth when you're moving. It can also be a split second hesitation right after you press the gas pedal to rev the engine.

7. When your RPM drops below idle point when you let go of gas, increase fuel at 30"Hg IDLE and 24"Hg IDLE. It's because when you let go of pedal, you're using idle map at high vacuum. Your RPM dips because your idle map at high vacuum is too lean.

8. When you're chasing after a specific AFR number, don't just change one box on the matrix. Change 1-2 boxes around your problem area toward the target AFR.

9. Once you make some adjustments while cruising. Pull aside periodically and smooth out the curves with graphs. This will help smooth things out tremendously.

There are many more pointers, but I just can't remember them all. Besides, I have a huge headache from what's certain to be a mild carbon monoxide poisoning, so I will report more as I regain some brain functions back.

Feel free to correct me, and I would love to hear any additional tips.
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Old 08-22-15, 09:52 PM
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I also have AEM wideband failsafe set up with changeover relay going into Microtech AUX input. When AFR reads too lean at certain boost level (all programmable), it'll send signal to Microtech which retards timing and add fuel.

To fight predetonation, I will eventually add water injection when boost hits above 12psi or so.
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Old 08-22-15, 11:43 PM
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one more thing, pressing the space bar when you're tuning in matrix mode will get you focused right on that box the computer is at that second to inject fuel. So if you're cruising around and notice a rich spot or a lean spot, find it again, and just press the space bar. You can then press the arrow key up or down accordingly and same thing for each box next to the targeted box.
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Old 08-23-15, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by stickmantijuana View Post
Every time I get told that Microtech is a pure crap, I get discouraged and tend to blame all tuning issues to Microtech. After tuning it on the street for a few hours, I gotta say I'm so glad I didn't yank it out. It's really an excellent ECU. It's really easy to tune it if you just give it a shot, and I found that I, a complete newbie to tuning can address all hesitations, flat spots, and hot start issues very easily on the street, and most of it just by revving the engine in one stationary spot.

Well, since I'm guilty of saying the above, I would like to weigh in. It's not pure crap. It's a solid, reliable ECU that has it's place. Mainly in applications that have simple requirements. Such as a track or drag car.

But use any other ECU, all the way from a Megasquirt 1 to a brand new Haltech, and you will instantly understand how backwards, convoluted, limited, scatterbrained, and frankly stupid the Microtech is. It's limitations become increasingly more apparent as tuning skills increase and the expectation of how the car should run, feel, and achieve in fuel economy grows. Then you see the datalogging and analysis tools available on other ECU platforms and begin to curse the ridiculous Microtech software that STILL, after all these years, just emulates the handset programmer with user hostile key assignments.

No closed loop AFR controls. No 3D ignition map. Terrible interpolation, no configurable I/O, no engine protection features at all, no saving maps to disk, no advanced data logging, must go back to Microtech for config changes, serial port interface, the need for a $100 hardware dongle, etc. etc., I've all said it before.

There's no question that a Microtech equipped car can be made to drive pretty well, and achieve reasonable fuel economy. Use another ECU though, and you'll wonder why you bothered.

You also probably need a wideband.
Not probably. You NEED. Get one with a simulated narrowband if you have an LT8 or LT10 without the wideband option. That way you can get at least SOME AFR data on the same screen as you are tuning with.

5. Hesitation when pressing accelerator pedal at vacuum cruise. This is usually caused by lean spot which you can confirm with AFR. I also found that increasing PUMP function isn't enough to fix this hesitation. You need to add fuel to 0"Hg box at the RPM at which you experience hesitation. It's because when you press on accelerator pedal briskly while cruising, your MAP will quickly change to 0"Hg. If your 0"Hg box is lean, you'll experience hesitation.
Another tip is to switch from the default MAP trigger for PUMP to TPS instead. Far better to detect quick throttle stabs. As you say, of course this relies on the map being set up. It is very common for people to create a lean spot in the low RPMs just above 0 PSI.
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Old 08-23-15, 01:32 PM
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Thanks for the tips, I have a brand new lt9c that I want to install on my 12a bp , but im new to tuning, so I want to learn before I install it
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Old 08-23-15, 01:47 PM
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I totally agree microtech isn't a feature-rich ECU and has rather poor map resolution. The point I want to get across is simply this: if any of you are having trouble running a microtech equipped rotary car, as in the car doesn't drive well, makes low power, or can't figure out how to solve the hesitation or other driveability issue, it isn't the fault of the microtech. The microtech will run the car flawlessly when you tune it correctly which is incredibly easy to do. I suppose the same can be said of other ECU's as well, but I just wanted to emphasize that microtech can run the car like a stock car.

Perhaps more importantly, I want to emphsize that TUNING isn't something that should only be left to the pros. There is a growing general consensus in the rotary community that tuning should be left to the pros, that you will most likely blow up your engine if you try to tune it yourself. While I agree that for anything over 400whp, the tuning should be done on a dyno, for normal off-boost tuning, you should take the lead and tune it yourself. I think it's easier than learning how to play any particular computer game. It will make your car run much better. I will go as far as to say it is the only way to make you 100% happy with how the car runs. I'm saying this after countless trips to tuning shops, multiple $500+ tuning sessions, most of which was done by pro-rotary tuners who were flown in from out of state. Fact of the matter is while they are much more experienced and knowledgeable about tuning your rotary engine, they only have a few hours with your car in a particular weather condition in one stationary spot. You will drive your car for hours every weekend, notice every little nuances, and global change in AFR as compensation maps kick in and out. You will experience how your engine runs when it's cold and heat soaked multiple times. Your tuner will experience that just once if at all. Combine all these factors and dynamic conditions we predispose a particular tuned map to, I would consider any "tuned map" from any tuner a nice base map for your particular setup. Only the driver can make it absolutely perfect.
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Old 08-29-15, 10:34 AM
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There are time when the Microtech cannot run the car flawlessly due to limitations in mapping. A good example is a turbo big Bridgeport car. Not enough resolution in the vacuum area of the map because the Bridgeport causes so much overlap between idle, cruise and decal points that the only solution is to tune for an average of what works. And running Alpha-N on a turbo car with a Microtech is not an option.

Yes though, I agree that any ECU is capable of running a vehicle pretty well and it is all in the tuner. On the same point, I find myself cursing the Microtech as, well, frankly I'm a far more advanced tuner than the Microtech can support and I want capabilities that the ECU doesn't have.

Oh, to add to your tips I think something people miss:

Put the ECU into matrix mode. Don't even waste time using "normal" mode beyond the initial startup. Normal mode basically makes the ECU emulate a carburetor (which I think is why a lot of people find the Microtech a good stepping stone from carbs). Matrix creates a 3D table of load points which all other ECUs use. It offers far more resolution than the normal mode.
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Old 08-30-15, 12:05 AM
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thanks. The car wouldn't be where it is today without people like you aaron, so thanks much.

I agree microtech lacks resolution. Now that I'm very happy with driveability of the car, I started paying more attention to AFR among other things.

I can easily see that microtech will not safely get me the last 20rwhp from the engine or get me that additional 10% improvement in fuel economy. but I'm already making enough power than I need, and I'm getting about 20mpg in city. I think it's really good enough for streets and occassional tracks. and even I find it's really easy to tune with microtech. I agree that the software is limited and the interface feels windows 95'ish. I just like the fact that it's not inundated with 3-4 options for each engine scenario. for each engine hiccups, there is just one thing you can do and that always fixes the problem. I kinda like that.

or maybe I'm just on cloud nine with the car finally running properly as it were in the past.
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Old 08-30-15, 09:46 AM
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Could nine is fine. Felt the exact same way I had my first standalone car running...and it was a Microtech.
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Old 08-30-15, 10:04 AM
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Thanks for the tips guys, please keep them coming. You are starting to build my confidence enough to install my lt9c
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Old 09-05-15, 09:44 AM
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Well, if you are just at the install stage, then the most important tip is:

DO NOT use anything from the old harness. Don't splice into it, don't try to save time by using it in any way. Take it out of the car, put in Microtech harness, and wire it completely independently of everything that is there. Trust me, it will save you headaches.
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Old 10-05-15, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Aaron Cake View Post
Well, if you are just at the install stage, then the most important tip is:

DO NOT use anything from the old harness. Don't splice into it, don't try to save time by using it in any way. Take it out of the car, put in Microtech harness, and wire it completely independently of everything that is there. Trust me, it will save you headaches.
Awesome, thank you
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Old 02-02-16, 12:29 PM
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I wish there was a way to edit the original post as more tips come in. I have a few more things to add. What's true is what Aaron has been saying. This is a simple ECU to master. I mean master. You learn a ton in the beginning and have moments of big steps as you realize what the ECU is doing during normal driving and cruise. I'm pretty bored with it now. I think the biggest downfall is that you tend to overcompensate the ECU's weakness with more fuel and its lack of safety features with less timing. For months, I wanted to get rid of the ridiculous fireball that already melted my heat shielded bumper three times, but I can't. It's all fun in the beginning but it really sucks *** if you see flames on your rear view mirror at a freeway exit stop next to a cop or a drugged out homeless person who wants to save me from my burning car.
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Old 02-07-16, 10:48 AM
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Hmm...you should be able to get rid of the fireball. What are your fuel cut settings?

Often too the fireball is caused by too much fuel in the high vacuum area, caused by a lazy decel setting.
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Old 02-09-16, 06:07 PM
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I put decel function off because I'm 100%premixing and didn't like thought of starving engine of oil during decel. I don't know it's such a big deal though. . I ran my last engine without premix at times (I forget to mix every now and then) and it was as reliable as it can be until I sold it..

BTW when I come off throttle during freeway cruise at say 5000 rpm and I'm on engine brake, does microtech use idle map? Or high vacuum box on the corresponding rpm?
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Old 02-09-16, 07:25 PM
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WA

[QUOTE=stickmantijuana;12025321]I put decel function off because I'm 100%premixing and didn't like thought of starving engine of oil during decel. I don't know it's such a big deal though. . I ran my last engine without premix at times (I forget to mix every now and then) and it was as reliable as it can be until I sold it..

BTW when I come off throttle during freeway cruise at say 5000 rpm and I'm on engine brake, does microtech use idle map? Or high vacuum box on the corresponding rpm?[/QU

If the tps is at 0% then it will revert to the idle map. The decel function won't damage and engine under vacuum. I've used it for years it works fine. But your map is probably pretty rich if it's throwing excessive flames out the exhaust.
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Old 02-15-16, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by stickmantijuana View Post
I put decel function off because I'm 100%premixing and didn't like thought of starving engine of oil during decel. I don't know it's such a big deal though. . I ran my last engine without premix at times (I forget to mix every now and then) and it was as reliable as it can be until I sold it..

BTW when I come off throttle during freeway cruise at say 5000 rpm and I'm on engine brake, does microtech use idle map? Or high vacuum box on the corresponding rpm?
There's your problem.

Turn the decel function back on. You'll never eliminate the fireballs with the engine being hammered with fuel under a no load condition. And it will be far worse for the engine than cutting all fuel because all the excess fuel will wash into the oil.

No issue cutting fuel with premix. The engine isn't under any load. And the porous chrome coating retains lubricant.
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Old 02-17-16, 01:14 AM
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Is it bad I'm still not using the decel feature ? I didn't wanna take any chances until it's tuned better
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Old 02-20-16, 10:02 AM
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There is no chance taken using the decel feature. I usually turn it on as early as I reasonably can during tuning because there isn't a reason it would ever be turned off, so it should factor into your tuning. Once you have the basic fuel table set up.

By not using it you are just wasting fuel, washing the lubrication film off of the housings/seals, pissing off everyone behind you and polluting unnecessarily.
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Old 04-14-16, 01:23 PM
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Hey guys,

Great info in here and I'm considering taking the plunge myself. I have a simple question to start things off: Are you guys using the Microtech serial adapter, or just a serial adapter from Best Buy/Amazon etc?

The adapter they sell (MT) is $90 and some change. That's ridiculously expensive for a simple adapter. I'd like to pick one up for cheaper.

Also, I have a tune in the car now from a local tuner which I'm extremely unhappy with. Does the Microtech have a lock feature? Will I be able to simply adjust this map, or will I have to start from scratch?

Thanks guys!

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Old 04-14-16, 07:38 PM
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You need their $90 adapter. Your computer won't see the microtech ECU if you just connect it with off-the-shelf serial cable.
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Old 04-14-16, 10:49 PM
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Originally Posted by stickmantijuana View Post
You need their $90 adapter. Your computer won't see the microtech ECU if you just connect it with off-the-shelf serial cable.
Well that sucks.

What about my other question? Do you know if you can "lock" the tune? I'm hoping I'll be able to tweak the tune and get it right instead of starting from scratch...

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Old 04-16-16, 12:28 PM
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If you have the $90 adapter "dongle" connected to the ECU, it will let you save map in the dongle. You can save upto 4 I think.

I personally wouldn't trust it. If you like the map, just take screen shots of everything and save on the computer. That's what I did. It takes about 30minutes..
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Old 04-17-16, 07:21 AM
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OK cool. Well, i may have found someone to tune it who's a pro. I may not have to bite the bullet after all. Let's see...

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Old 04-17-16, 12:18 PM
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If you're in Orlando, go to Jesus at KiloRacing. No questions or qualms about it. That guy is the best guy that touched my car while charging the least.
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