VERSION 5 ENGINE & GEARBOX SOFTWARE UPDATE
After much anticipation we can finally release the details of the latest Ecutek GTR RaceROM software that we use as the basis of our Stage upgrade kits.
More power, greater control, better economy and improved safety.
As with the previous software versions, we have been working closely with Ecutek on these new features and Beta testing the new maps for some time. This has been an amazing effort from the whole Ecutek team with months of work to get this latest software released.
This new update comes in two parts. The first is Ecutek’s improved software which allows us to improve all aspects of our custom calibrations.
The second element is applying all of the new data we have compiled and analysed from our state of the art Maha dyno, providing our customers with the very best calibrations available.
Combined our Version 5 software upgrade represents a significant improvement for all power levels.
New for Version 5
Ecutek have listened to our requests for additional Nissan OE maps to be unearthed and defined. This has allowed us to tune our varied mix of GTRs more completely. We now have greater access to Nissan’s idle control maps to improve the engine idle stability, especially when fitted with larger injectors or throttle bodies. Similarly we now have additional control over the fuel injectors during transient throttle states. However, the real power of Ecutek’s software comes from their unique custom map features, allowing us to develop our own unique setups.
This led us to further develop our enhanced boost control, our popular Litchfield Traction Control and engine safety trips to name but a few features.
We have worked to develop unique new features available on both our standard and Motorsport RaceROM files:
• Increased power in all Stage upgrade maps
• Improved Boost control resolution over Nissan OE and the new simplified Ecutek setup to allow finer control
• Improved fuel control for sharper throttle response and greater economy.
• Reduced soot on all tuned files with and without larger injectors
• WRC derived Litchfield Anti Lag with single cylinder shutdown for greater “Pops & Bangs” (Motorsport ROM)
• Selectable fuel cut on gearshifts for more dramatic visual effects during shifting (Motorsport ROM)
• 3D Individual Gear Boost targets to optimise the performance in each gear for every Stage of tune
• Updated Litchfield Traction Control with additional inputs and G-Sensor monitoring
• New Litchfield Launch Control settings to suit each Stage of tune (as proven at TOTB 2015)
• Revised Rolling Launch setup (Motorsport ROM)
• Enhanced Engine Safety Trips for engine oil pressure, fuel trim limits and boost errors
• Fuel Pressure Trip option (when used with Litchfield Fuel Pressure sensor)
• Engine warmup protection
• Flex Fuel option for running higher octane E85 fuel (when used with Flex Fuel sensor)
• 12 Injector control for big power builds that have overcome even large injectors
• Simplified Valet Mode for improved vehicle security
• Gearbox software updated with additional Nismo inspired improvements
• Gearbox Super Autoshift feature adjusted to suit each Stage upgrade.
• Faster gearbox down changes and double downshifts
• Updated Super R mode for faster upshift changes
How will Version 5 affect Litchfield customers?
The sheer number of changes and development work that has gone into our version 5 software means that it is a significant upgrade to all our levels of tune.
As with our version 4 software we provide two separate types of ECU settings; a normal Stage upgrade road calibration and a more extreme Motorsport variant.
Our new Motorsport ROM is for those customers that are looking to track or take part in competition events with their GTR. This ROM will include a number of new Version 5 features which will be uniquely setup for each customer’s car. As many of the new features have the potential to put more strain on the drivetrain we thought it sensible to offer a more dedicated calibration.
For the majority of customers we offer most of the new features including safety trims, increased resolution, improved Launch and traction control as standard.
The Litchfield Traction Control (LTC) worked superbly and was extremely popular in version 4, but with the added power of the latest Ecutek software we’re looking to move things on again. Beta versions have proved successful and we are working with our development driver, and World Touring Car Champion, Rob Huff to further improve the setup in version 5.
As with all our previous versions we provide 4 distinct switchable maps to account for fuel quality and the performance the driver requires. Target boost levels will be selectable in all maps to further customise the setup.
The new software is available now for all new bookings. All new custom calibrations to standard cars will be the same £500 + VAT (£600 including VAT) as before.
For existing customers we have decided to offer the latest engine software update for £200 + VAT for all our entire Stage 1-4 customers when combined with a service or additional work. Customers with ProECU cables already will also be able to take advantage of this offer remotely so please contact us to make arrangements to suit you.
With the software being so different we would recommend a custom tune on our Dyno which we will do at a reduced and fixed rate of £120 + VAT including before and after graphs.
Stage 5+ customers may need to pay for additional dyno usage depending on the time require to tune such a high power car for all the different boost levels and build specification options available. New gearbox tuning will be priced as before at £250 + VAT and updates to previous Litchfield tuned gearbox files will still be free of charge.
Below are just some of the new features our version 5 maps now have available.
Litchfield Boost Control
We developed our original boost control strategy way back on the Version 3 software and it has steadily evolved ever since. Our boost control setup worked extremely well (partly hard coded into the new Version 5 software) and allowed us to accurately control the pressure on a range turbos from standard to much larger hybrid units.
Since the installation of our dyno, we have been working hard to produce a new setup that allows greater precision trims of the turbo wastegate duty. This is achieved using our custom proportional and integral values to maintain our target boost pressure. With the ability to map each gear’s boost control individually we are able to have faster response to any boost errors.
Our new Version 5 boost control offers even higher resolution to both the Nissan OE system and Ecutek’s hardcoded options.
Engine Control and Engine Safety Trips
This is something we have already had working effectively in our version 4 maps. We had observed a number of issues on cars and developed these features to help protect the engine from damage.
The fuel pressure protection is interesting. It is quite scary to see how long the GTR will normally try to run flat out when there is a serious pressure drop. The most common cause is one of the fuel pumps failing causing a pressure drop at the worst possible time - when the engine is demanding maximum flow. This can also happen if the fuel temperature rises to high (often on a very low tank) and the fuel cavitates causing a dangerously low pressure drop.
Using the custom map inputs we are able to have the ECU monitor if any of the parameters start to drift away from the expected levels. The ECU can then apply a correction or significantly reduce performance to protect the engine. More serious problems will trigger the engine warning light to alert the driver.
Super R Mode Transmission Settings
With Ecutek defining more of the Transmission maps we are now able to make changes to the settings allowing quicker gear changes and acceleration when in R-Mode. We have also changed the Automatic shift points to aid a smoother town driving experience. Previously the GTR would be very quick to change up into higher gears (for emissions reasons) which could make the engine feel laboured at low revs.
Revised upshift points
With new understanding of the gearbox software we are able to modify when the Auto mode upshifts to the next gear. Previously this would have been around 6,800 rpm but on our higher power conversions it may require a different shift point to achieve the very best acceleration times when in Auto mode.
Ecutek Flex Fuel Control
The ability to run Ethanol as a higher octane fuel has become increasingly popular. Some of our European customers are able to get E85 at the pumps and some of our higher power customers use Ethanol blends for competition.
Ethanol offers fantastic power increases and significantly drops the cylinder temperatures to aid overall engine performance. However the engine also requires a lot more fuel (around 30% extra) and you can’t always trust the percentage of Ethanol mixed with normal fuel.
Ecutek’s hard coded control means that with the installation of a Flex Fuel sensor the ECU is able to measure the percentage of Ethanol available and applies a number of tuned maps to give the best possible performance. Previously we needed to use a large number of custom map slots to control the Ethanol mixture detection and add extra power. This meant all the custom maps slots were being used by the time we added some of our other key features. By hard coding and improving the Ethanol control Ecutek have freed up these slots once again. Now when Ethanol is detected we can easily change fuelling, ignition timing and boost to suit the percentage of Ethanol in the tank.
Below is an example of Ecutek’s Flex Fuel Control working on two different setups. The higher power car on the left produced 1,056bhp on Vpower and a massive 1,164bhp with 55% Ethanol detected. The car on the right was from Switzerland and was running Stage 4 which produced around 640bhp on Vpower and 700bhp when we added Ethanol.
Litchfield Traction Control (LTC)
The problem as we see it is the standard Nissan traction control just isn’t quick enough to control high powered GTRs. The standard traction control is quick to intervene but many powerful cars will trigger this too frequently when using the available performance even in normal dry conditions.
The basic Nissan model relies on a reduction of engine torque, achieved by closing the throttles. This instruction is both slow to issue the command but it is also hampered by the speed at which throttles can physically close and when the engine finishes consuming the available air it needs to make the power. When you do get the sudden drop in throttle angle it is very slow to reintroduce the power again.
Most drivers default to the Race mode which lifts the intervention thresholds however although the stability control is effective the traction control element is too slow to react and when it finally does it is often too harsh, unsettles the balance and is generally clumsy as well.
Race mode still incorporates stability control which is very effective however the driver that wants to push hard around the limit of grip will find the Nissan Stability System continually clamping brakes. This can be intrusive to drivers that are happy to push through a degree of understeer/oversteer as they try to balance the car through a bend and at the very least it is hard on the car’s brakes. Our Traction Control system can reduce some of the unexpected power deliveries that unsettle the balance, without completely shutting down the engine performance.
We are pleased to offer our own Litchfield Traction Control (LTC) which fully utilises the power of Ecutek’s custom maps. Using Ecutek’s version 4 custom maps we were able to provide a successful and popular solution. Our version 5 software enables us to improve this further with additional inputs to make the LTC more powerful in both Launch conditions and when driving hard on track.
Below is a simple example of a GTR with larger turbos accelerating with the standard Nissan traction control switched on versus our LTC. You can see how the standard setting cutting throttle which the LTC doesn’t need to.
What started out as a simple attempt to reduce wheel spin after the car is launched grew into a more complete traction control solution, designed to work both with the standard Nissan system and as a standalone support to the driver. This took a number of months to refine as finding places to safe push the traction limits is difficult. Initial testing was completed on tracking including the Nurburgring.
In late summer 2013 we managed to secure access to a local private airfield used by the Police and Special Forces for vehicle training. So while they were doing serious looking work we found a nice few corners which allowed us to do our “crucial” development testing.
It is also a good time to thank Michelin for their continual support in fresh rubber! In October 2013 we returned to the track and hired Castle Combe (officially the UK’s most accident prone circuit) to shake down a number of new parts and access the changes made to the traction system.
We also used some of the very best professional drivers (and fellow Litchfield GTR customers) in World Touring Car Champion driver Rob Huff and Touring car ace Tom Chilton to help us improve the setup. As well as our demonstrators, Rob’s own LM700 GTR at the time featured the latest evolution of the LTC.
“The new Traction control system is extremely impressive, despite provocation the car just calmly deployed all the power it could without the driver being aware of just how much work I’m sure the software was doing” – Rob Huff, 2012 FIA World Touring Car Champion
“Brilliant! On wet and changeable road conditions I’ll definitely be leaving it on” – Tom Chilton, World Touring Car Driver
Their input was superb and we have subsequently added further changes to the LTC. Version 5 software further utilise the GTR’s G-sensor and steering angle sensor information into custom maps so we can apply additional control strategies. Rob’s GTR has now evolved into a 1,000bhp monster and he will once again be helping us perfect the setup.
Rolling launch is another feature including in our Motorsport ROM, this allows the driver to fix a vehicle speed whilst the engine build boost. The car is then released with a pre-defined amount of boost exactly when the driver needs it rather than flooring the throttle and waiting for the car to accelerate and come onto boost. It is designed for off road (airfield) Roll Racing where two cars can be travelling next to each other before accelerating hard.
The feature is effective on the standard turbo cars but really designed for the big power GTR’s which would be slower to come onto boost due to their turbo size.
The Graph below shows the difference in time between a larger turbo GTR with and without the feature enabled.
As you can see there is a significant improvement in acceleration time (1.8sec) with the Rolling Launch switch on.
Each engine setup needs this feature tweaked to suit the turbos that are installed and the level of boost they are comfortable to run.
Enhanced Launch Control
The Motorsport version of Launch Control provides a number of changes to the base engine and transmission calibrations along with enabling some additional custom maps, allowing the car to launch harder and more consistently. For example we have lifted the normal launch counter settings from 4 to 20 before the car needs to be driven for 1 mile to cool the transmission fluid. We have changed the gearbox shift maps to allow for more accurate Auto Mode shifting on higher power engines.
Boost Off The Line (BOTL) now has better control when in launch mode to hit the pre-defined boost target that we have preset for each gear.
Once launched the LTC continues to monitor and adjust the wheel spin to aid smoother and faster acceleration.
These are just some of the many changes to our new version 5 revisions with many more still under development.
If you have any questions about the new software or any of our GTR upgrades please feel free to contact us.