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JamesMcD
JamesMcD New Reader
4/3/11 8:44 p.m.

I have never Megasquirted a car. I used to read the MS forums a couple years ago, and of course, you hear about it a lot on this forum. I know the basics of how it is set up, but have no experience.

Before I try it out, I want to gather info on what the downfalls are. Lately it seems increasing numbers of people are saying not so complimentary things about MS, but I also have not noticed them giving specifics. So what are the shortcomings? What killed your Megasquirt dream, critics? Lay it on me.

FlightService
FlightService HalfDork
4/3/11 8:50 p.m.

Let me start this by saying I have never megasquirted a car.

That being admitted to the jury for consideration.

Anytime you have that many variables that you can do what ever you want with and on top of that no standardized quality control methods for the physical hardware, you are just asking for a headache.

Although I have read on the boards that there are places you can purchase well made megasquirts.

MrJoshua
MrJoshua SuperDork
4/3/11 8:58 p.m.

The downsides are you have to learn quite a bit to build and tune one. I did read one argument that it is not quite as advanced a fuel injection computer as some of the modern factory models. The biggest downside is that they are cheap enough that they are a fantasy part-meaning you buy it because you have all these fantasy's of building some sort of supercar, and because you are a lazy ass you never finish.

SkinnyG
SkinnyG Reader
4/3/11 8:59 p.m.

I bought the kit, soldered it myself, and I've been running it on my Locost for two years.

For the most part, it seems fine. Location and wiring of sensors can be an issue - I currently have a heat-soaked IAT issue that I will be resolving once I pull the tarp off the car (car goes way lean when it's VERY hot under the hood).

The only criticism I have is every so often, for no apparent reason (not including the issue above) the whole system just goes lean and runs weird. Might be a wiring/sensor issue, but I see NOTHING going strange in the datalogs when it does this.

I would do Megasquirt again on my next car.

The tuning is time-consuming, but you get the hang of it, and if you're anally retentive or OCD it's a good source of entertainment.

Toyman01
Toyman01 SuperDork
4/3/11 9:55 p.m.

The biggest disadvantage I see is the time investment. Mine is built and tested...and sitting on a shelf in the shop along with most of the parts to install it. Of course my son blowing up the car it was going it may have something to do with it.

procainestart
procainestart Dork
4/3/11 11:11 p.m.

What kind of car do you have? There are numerous OEM fuel management systems that can be hacked and tweaked, which allows you to begin with the fuel maps that the manufacturer spent tons of effort perfecting, e.g., cold and warm start, cruise, etc.

Derick Freese
Derick Freese Dork
4/3/11 11:43 p.m.

Putting together an MS isn't hard. I taught someone how to solder on one the night before the Challenge last year

ditchdigger
ditchdigger HalfDork
4/4/11 12:00 a.m.

The problem with megasquirt is simple. It is the cheapest option. This has two effects.

  1. The placebo effect states that people will assume the most expensive option is always best.

  2. Because it is cheap people who want to put the least into their project will use it. The least refers to money and effort.

The guy at the shop that dyno tuned my fiat rolled his eyes and groaned when I told him I was using MS because he had only ever seen halfassed honda installs. Yet when he started working with my car he was delighted at how well it worked and how powerfull the software was. He was flat blown away at how good of a job the autotune feature of tunerstudio had done before I got there.

There are a lot of folks out there who read build threads and reviews of MS successes and say "It looks so easy!" and buy it. Then install it with just a downloaded msq or try and tune it without a wideband or dyno, get crappy results and say "Megasquirt sucks"

I have had 3 daily drivers running MS and about 4 years of driving on them. I have never had any ECU related issues with any of them. It flat works.

Raze
Raze Dork
4/4/11 6:40 a.m.
ditchdigger wrote: The problem with megasquirt is simple. It is the cheapest option. This has two effects. 1. The placebo effect states that people will assume the most expensive option is always best. 2. Because it is cheap people who want to put the least into their project will use it. The least refers to money and effort. The guy at the shop that dyno tuned my fiat rolled his eyes and groaned when I told him I was using MS because he had only ever seen halfassed honda installs. Yet when he started working with my car he was delighted at how well it worked and how powerfull the software was. He was flat blown away at how good of a job the autotune feature of tunerstudio had done before I got there. There are a lot of folks out there who read build threads and reviews of MS successes and say "It looks so easy!" and buy it. Then install it with just a downloaded msq or try and tune it without a wideband or dyno, get crappy results and say "Megasquirt sucks" I have had 3 daily drivers running MS and about 4 years of driving on them. I have never had any ECU related issues with any of them. It flat works.

^THIS.

I helped put together ours for our XR4Ti, as well as tear it half down when we accidentally bridged some components during testing and rebuilt it. It works quite well if you have the time and go about setting the car up patiently. If you want an answer in a weekend worth of work, MS isn't for you. If you want something you can grow into, change, and ultimately decide every little bit how your car behaves, have time, and patience, then MS is for you. You should check out MSEFI forums and talk to Matt Kramer (MadScientist on this board) about MS if you really want to jump in. Once you realize what you have with MS, you'll realize how much power you have in your hands for the money...

dean1484
dean1484 SuperDork
4/4/11 7:06 a.m.

The down side to many is they don't really understand what it takes to get one running on a car. You have to do all the work. You have to learn practically every little nuance of the system, every circuit that connects to the MS you have to make sure is correct. You have to make choices about every aspect of the install. MS puts everything on the builder / end user.

If you are looking to educate your self in EFI MS is great. If you just want to "tune" your car and drive it and not really learn what the EIF computer is all about MS is not for you. MS is cheep because there is no manufacturers maps built in, no prefabricated plug and play harnesses specific to your car. No re flashing of a chip from a manufacturer to plug in. All that is on you.

This is why it is so cheep. I bet that if you compare the hardware costs of MS to more expensive systems you would find that they are about the same where the cost is in the engineering that a manufacturer does to make a unit easier for the end user. P&P costs money and you are paying for that with the more expensive units.

I would like to think I am 95 percent done with my MS project but in reality I bet I am 75 percent. It has not only taught me allot about computer engine management but it forced me to understand how my car actually works. I think this may be one of the big traps people fall in to. They don't take the time Tu understand how there car works before they go get a MS. Lets face it how can you remove a cars engine control system and install a new one if you don't understand how the system you are removing works.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
4/4/11 8:41 a.m.

I have 3 MS'ed vehicles, my DD 20v Rolla, my other DD (or Weekly Driver) RN Truck and my wife's 883 Sportster. The downside is it ain't plug and play. As others have mentioned, you have a bunch of work to do, including tuning.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
4/4/11 8:54 a.m.

If you want to learn all there is to know about Megasquirt, come to this year's Mitty. They will be hosting their Megameet, and are expecting nearly 100 Megasquirt users to attend. Also the guys who started the business will be there to answer any questions you may have.

April 28- May 1st at Road Atlanta!

http://classicmotorsports.net/events/mitty11/

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 Dork
4/4/11 9:03 a.m.

No firsthand experience, but from someone who has installed and tuned a Haltech system, I would opt for the Megasquirt next time around.

Clearly, a Megasquirt install (and tune) is going to be as competent as the person doing the install (and tune).

92CelicaHalfTrac
92CelicaHalfTrac SuperDork
4/4/11 9:09 a.m.

My main issue with MS is that i've seen people far smarter than me have problems with it. Someone mentioned the randomly going lean issue, that was one.

Cold start problems is another. Boards wiping the tune completely clean for no apparently reason is another.

Now, i'm reasonably sure that it was user error, whether that be along the "build portion" or bad install, voltage issues, what have you. My worry is that if THESE guys can't do it correctly, i don't have a chance in hell of doing it myself.

Of course, i'll be trying it at some point. Probably with the Escort. People see huge gains on KLZEs with a real tuning solution.

FoundSoul
FoundSoul New Reader
4/4/11 9:21 a.m.

Jerry from DIYAutoTune.com here-- the general consensus I'm seeing here is spot on I must say. You get out of a kit-built MegaSquirt system what you put into the build, installation, and tuning. The hardware will do just about anything you want it to. Once a system is properly installed and tuned, you'll see no weirdness out of the system, it just works. At the same time, and largely because of the low cost of entry, this opens the door for ANYONE to run a standalone EMS on their motor. Some of those people will do the homework, and take the time to do it right. When they find they did something that's less than optimal, they'll fix it and know it's not the ECU's problem but was a part of their learning curve. Dr. Hess's example of the IAT sensor he plans to move to get rid of the heat soak lean issue is a prime example, that's somewhat common for a user to put their IAT sensor where it was convenient, and not so much where it will be in the best environment to perform properly, and thankfully it's an easy fix. He'll relocate that, and his lean issue when the engine bay is super-hot will subside. I'm betting that's related to the other 'weirdness' issue he mentioned too, as properly sorted there just won't be any of that.

On the other hand, you'll always have some people that, smart or not, don't put the effort into it to properly install and tune the system. And again, you get out of it what you put into it.

As for cold start/warmup issues... you've got to tune your fuel/ignition tables, and then tune the cranking pulsewidth and warmup enrichments. You do this across all temp ranges you'll run into, and you won't have cold start problems, ever. If you expect the system to just fire the car up at 20 degrees when you tuned it in 95 degree weather and never tested/tuned at lower temps-- chances are you'll have a problem, because you didn't tune the car fully. You get out of it what you put into it.

We do of course have fully assembled and tested units if people want to cut out the assembly portion of the process. We also have plug-n-play models for Miatas, and more in the works. These units simply plug in where the factory computer used to, the come pre-mapped to fire up first turn of the key and even to drive away for a near-stock configuration (though we recommend fine tuning to verify it's ready to rock), and are as easy as any system out there to fine tune for your car, boost or no boost.

Bottom-line -- If the same user that ran into some of these types of learning curve issues, were to have started out by installing a big-name-high$ system, they would have run into the same exact learning curve. Difference is, it would have cost them 2x-10x the cost for the ECU, and they'd still have the learning curve to deal with. It's not rocket surgery, but it does require you, as someone put it above, to really think through how an engine works, how a fuel/air induction system works, how the parts in your forced induction system work, etc. You have to understand your powerplant well to properly engineer an EFI system for it. For most of our customers I'd imagine including most of you here, that's a bonus! You get pushed to understand how things work a bit more, and you'll be able to get more out of your combo because you do.

If you just want it to work and don't want to think about it, it still doesn't matter which EMS you use. MegaSquirt, Haltech, Fast, whatever. So long as you pay a shop to install it and tune it to perfection you shouldn't have to think about it too much. MegaSquirt will save you money on the hardware and do just as much as anything else out there, but the install/tuning can get expensive regardless of what system you use, and MS takes just as much time to install/tune as anything else. There's not a lot of margin in MS for shops currently, so they often push you towards a high-$ system that they'll make more money off of with a bigger margin on the hardware, and install/tune it for you. They are likely more familiar with these systems, as that's what they push so they can make the extra cash. Can't blame them really, they've got to keep their lights on and we sacrificed our margins to make the system affordable for YOU.

We're DIY AutoTune for a reason... heavy emphasis on the DIYer here. We'll provide you the tools to learn this stuff and have more in depth knowledge about how your engine works than any of your buddies/competitors do. You'll know your engine and your induction system well, why it works the way it does, how to make it better, and what benefits you can expect when you do so. And that knowledge really does equal power. Not to mention, it's a lot of fun!

If you want to learn more about tackling ANY EFI/EMS setup -- Matt Cramer and I wrote a book on EFI you can check out if you're interested, it's a practical hands-on approach at helping anyone understand how to choose, install, and tune an EMS, and it's had nothing but good reviews so far so I guess we did an ok job at it. You can check it out on our site, or on Amazon-- http://www.amazon.com/dp/1557885575?tag=httwwwdiycom-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=1557885575&adid=1JNESZAXQT0DTJGRA5WA&

BigD
BigD New Reader
4/4/11 9:37 a.m.
Raze wrote: ^THIS. I helped put together ours for our XR4Ti, as well as tear it half down when we accidentally bridged some components during testing and rebuilt it. It works quite well if you have the time and go about setting the car up patiently. If you want an answer in a weekend worth of work, MS isn't for you. If you want something you can grow into, change, and ultimately decide every little bit how your car behaves, have time, and patience, then MS is for you. You should check out MSEFI forums and talk to Matt Kramer (MadScientist on this board) about MS if you really want to jump in. Once you realize what you have with MS, you'll realize how much power you have in your hands for the money...

That +1

I was in a similar boat trying to choose a standalone. I admit, I'm a brand-whore. I don't think it's an automatically wrong position - what's widely regarded as good is probably not a bad bet, even if overpriced. But the person helping me understand EFI as well as turbocharging, had an almost identical setup to what I hoped to end up with. He used VEMS. I've never heard of it before and if not for him, I would have never considered it.

VEMS branched off of MS development but the spirit remains fairly similar, although it is no longer open source. It only has enough power to do the job (regardless of what some EMS makers would like you to believe, engine management is really not a task which requires heaps of processing power and register size, unless it's used inefficiently), and is reasonably cheap.

When asking around, I was told to go AEM, Vipec etc, Motec if I had the funding, or even Bosch if I had a lot of it. To be perfectly honest, that's what I normally would have done. But I couldn't escape the fact that this guy's car was running so well and if I went with that box, I would have an almost pnp starting point for configuration. That's the real secret - if you're not an EFI wizard and expert in one particular management system, the box you choose doesn't matter nearly as much as having easy access to people who have done what you hope to do with that box.

So while I was pretty much sold on VEMS because I knew for a fact that it would work, I was still tempted by the bigger dollar, bigger name items, especially AEM since it's the darling of JDM. But for more than twice the money, I couldn't find an excuse to spend it. Not only did it offer nothing that VEMS was missing but on the contrary, it was missing things that VEMS had. For instance, not enough coil drivers to run a i6 fully sequential, no or limited onboard logging, some other things I don't remember now. But bottom line was there was no excuse. Other than not costing a lot, having a popular name or a lot of hardware horsepower to brag about, there was no reason VEMS couldn't do the job. And it has - before ripping the motor out for the turbo build, I wanted to configure and tune it NA to work out any EMS bugs and it worked perfectly.

The only system which I seriously considered for a while is 034. This was because there was also a guy who installed it on my type of car/engine and he was an expert on it. Plus it's made in the USA so I could get a developer on the phone easily. But it was still not offering anything practical over VEMS.

Another thing which blew me away about VEMS is that while the formal documentation is pretty bad, the user community is absolutely amazing. In fact, a client's user guide has become the defacto manual, I don't think anyone has even looked at the factory manual since. And while the project is no longer open source, the developers are extremely responsive. I can claim to have been the reason for three features that the box now has. It was as simple as sitting in the car messing with the configuration and thinking, hmm, this would be nice to have. Then I would fire off an email to the VEMS guys, and a few days later I would get a reply along the lines of "good idea, will do", and in the next firmware release, lo and behold...

I think most of this can also be said for MS. It's perfectly powerful enough to do the job and odds are damn good that you will find several people who have installed and configured it on the engine you plan to use. This is worth much more than any extra whizbang gadget or processor speed unit.

GregW
GregW New Reader
4/4/11 9:49 a.m.

I am not familiar with non stock EFI but if I were to install this system I would get the book first!

digdug18
digdug18 Dork
4/6/11 12:43 a.m.
FoundSoul wrote: Jerry from DIYAutoTune.com here-- the general consensus I'm seeing here is spot on I must say. You get out of a kit-built MegaSquirt system what you put into the build, installation, and tuning. The hardware will do just about anything you want it to. Once a system is properly installed and tuned, you'll see no weirdness out of the system, it just works. At the same time, and largely because of the low cost of entry, this opens the door for ANYONE to run a standalone EMS on their motor. Some of those people will do the homework, and take the time to do it right. When they find they did something that's less than optimal, they'll fix it and know it's not the ECU's problem but was a part of their learning curve. Dr. Hess's example of the IAT sensor he plans to move to get rid of the heat soak lean issue is a prime example, that's somewhat common for a user to put their IAT sensor where it was convenient, and not so much where it will be in the best environment to perform properly, and thankfully it's an easy fix. He'll relocate that, and his lean issue when the engine bay is super-hot will subside. I'm betting that's related to the other 'weirdness' issue he mentioned too, as properly sorted there just won't be any of that. On the other hand, you'll always have some people that, smart or not, don't put the effort into it to properly install and tune the system. And again, you get out of it what you put into it. As for cold start/warmup issues... you've got to tune your fuel/ignition tables, and then tune the cranking pulsewidth and warmup enrichments. You do this across all temp ranges you'll run into, and you won't have cold start problems, ever. If you expect the system to just fire the car up at 20 degrees when you tuned it in 95 degree weather and never tested/tuned at lower temps-- chances are you'll have a problem, because you didn't tune the car fully. You get out of it what you put into it. We do of course have fully assembled and tested units if people want to cut out the assembly portion of the process. We also have plug-n-play models for Miatas, and more in the works. These units simply plug in where the factory computer used to, the come pre-mapped to fire up first turn of the key and even to drive away for a near-stock configuration (though we recommend fine tuning to verify it's ready to rock), and are as easy as any system out there to fine tune for your car, boost or no boost. Bottom-line -- If the same user that ran into some of these types of learning curve issues, were to have started out by installing a big-name-high$ system, they would have run into the same exact learning curve. Difference is, it would have cost them 2x-10x the cost for the ECU, and they'd still have the learning curve to deal with. It's not rocket surgery, but it does require you, as someone put it above, to really think through how an engine works, how a fuel/air induction system works, how the parts in your forced induction system work, etc. You have to understand your powerplant well to properly engineer an EFI system for it. For most of our customers I'd imagine including most of you here, that's a bonus! You get pushed to understand how things work a bit more, and you'll be able to get more out of your combo because you do. If you just want it to work and don't want to think about it, it still doesn't matter which EMS you use. MegaSquirt, Haltech, Fast, whatever. So long as you pay a shop to install it and tune it to perfection you shouldn't have to think about it too much. MegaSquirt will save you money on the hardware and do just as much as anything else out there, but the install/tuning can get expensive regardless of what system you use, and MS takes just as much time to install/tune as anything else. There's not a lot of margin in MS for shops currently, so they often push you towards a high-$ system that they'll make more money off of with a bigger margin on the hardware, and install/tune it for you. They are likely more familiar with these systems, as that's what they push so they can make the extra cash. Can't blame them really, they've got to keep their lights on and we sacrificed our margins to make the system affordable for YOU. We're DIY AutoTune for a reason... heavy emphasis on the DIYer here. We'll provide you the tools to learn this stuff and have more in depth knowledge about how your engine works than any of your buddies/competitors do. You'll know your engine and your induction system well, why it works the way it does, how to make it better, and what benefits you can expect when you do so. And that knowledge really does equal power. Not to mention, it's a lot of fun! If you want to learn more about tackling ANY EFI/EMS setup -- Matt Cramer and I wrote a book on EFI you can check out if you're interested, it's a practical hands-on approach at helping anyone understand how to choose, install, and tune an EMS, and it's had nothing but good reviews so far so I guess we did an ok job at it. You can check it out on our site, or on Amazon-- http://www.amazon.com/dp/1557885575?tag=httwwwdiycom-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=1557885575&adid=1JNESZAXQT0DTJGRA5WA&

Though of course someone selling something that is there bread an butter will not tell your the issues they have with the product.

dean1484
dean1484 SuperDork
4/6/11 6:21 a.m.
dig dug 18 wrote:
FoundSoul wrote: Jerry from DIYAutoTune.com here-- Bla Bla .. .. . . . .. You can check it out on our site, or on Amazon-- http://www.amazon.com/dp/1557885575?tag=httwwwdiycom-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=1557885575&adid=1JNESZAXQT0DTJGRA5WA&

Though of course someone selling something that is there bread an butter will not tell your the issues they have with the product.

Daaaaa. These are the gurus of all things MS. Gurus don't have issues. They are immortal. Dare I say god like creatures that hover over circuit boards and motors.

DILYSI Dave
DILYSI Dave SuperDork
4/6/11 6:27 a.m.

Reading between the lines on Jerry's post, I think he's saying that the system is sound, but it's not for everyone. That seems like a reasonable position.

Personally, I'm looking forward to buying a bunch of stuff from Jerry in coming weeks. It will be my first dance with MS, but I'm looking forward to it.

njansenv
njansenv HalfDork
4/6/11 8:11 a.m.
digdug18 wrote: Though of course someone selling something that is there bread an butter will not tell your the issues they have with the product.

Tough crowd.

Almost all the complaints towards MS are not in fact "MS" complaints, but are "standalone ECU" complaints. Given a choice I'd prefer to use a vehicles OEM hacked ECU. (think WRX, older GM etc) But when that choice DOESN'T exist, that leaves:
1) Standalone 2) Sensor manipulators

If I'm going standalone, the MS does it fantastically, with the same challenges that any standalone would have. And it does it for less money, with one of the largest user-bases around - it's not hard to find a VERY good base map for most applications.
I generally won't play with the sensor manipulators - too much risk of unintended consequences.

I've used MS on: ~4 different neon engine configurations, from stock, cammed 2.4, cammed high compression 2.4, turbo 2.4 x2 etc. I've also used it on a Briggs and Stratton 3.5hp engine.
Getting the car running was "easy", getting it running very well was "fairly easy", but cold starts took a long time to get right (you only get a couple chances a day to tune things). Note that MS (and the associated documentation) has improved dramatically since I last used it some 4 years ago.

92CelicaHalfTrac
92CelicaHalfTrac SuperDork
4/6/11 9:18 a.m.
dean1484 wrote:
dig dug 18 wrote:
FoundSoul wrote: Jerry from DIYAutoTune.com here-- Bla Bla .. .. . . . .. You can check it out on our site, or on Amazon-- http://www.amazon.com/dp/1557885575?tag=httwwwdiycom-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=1557885575&adid=1JNESZAXQT0DTJGRA5WA&

Though of course someone selling something that is there bread an butter will not tell your the issues they have with the product.

Daaaaa. These are the gurus of all things MS. Gurus don't have issues. They are immortal. Dare I say god like creatures that hover over circuit boards and motors.

I didn't get that from Jerry at all... Pretty much what i got out of it was that it's a VERY powerful system for not much money, and you get out of it what you're capable of putting into it.

Not for everybody, but works great for those who understand it and do a good install.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
4/6/11 9:21 a.m.

Um.....yeah, Jerry was nice enough to post on our board to answer any legitimate questions that users may have had. I thought his answer was well thought out and forthright about problems people have had in tuning MS. A good company (Like DIY Autotune) will be upfront about issues, and possible pratfalls. His post was helpful to this discussion.

Let's try to keep this discussion productive, and not let it devolve into blind criticism. That won't help anyone.

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker SuperDork
4/6/11 10:07 a.m.

I would say that despite Jerry being the proprietor - he didn't smarm that post up with a lot of salesmanship. He pretty much told it like it is. As a customer of his - they were very knowledgeable, helpful and patient with my laundry list of questions. I like that Matt & he show up on the board and help answer questions. I don;t think I'd begrudge it if did the full court press on sales shtick as the support I've gotten here from them has more than earned them the license to hawk a few wares or books.

dean1484
dean1484 SuperDork
4/6/11 11:15 a.m.
Giant Purple Snorklewacker wrote: I would say that despite Jerry being the proprietor - he didn't smart that post up with a lot of salesmanship. He pretty much told it like it is. As a customer of his - they were very knowledgeable, helpful and patient with my laundry list of questions. I like that Matt & he show up on the board and help answer questions. I don;t think I'd begrudge it if did the full court press on sales shtick as the support I've gotten here from them has more than earned them the license to hawk a few wares or books.

My take exactly. I was being a tad fashious in my previous post. The guys at DIY have been very helpful to me and my MS was purchases 2nd hand not from DIY. (it was a DIY unit originally)

MS is not for everyone.

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