EcuTek released more details to its tuner network at SEMA 2013 about some of the new features they are rolling out for Version 4 of their software. As usual we have been have been working closely with them on these new features and many of them are already on our customer cars.
What is Version 4?
At the beginning of the year we rolled our Version 3 software which was a massive leap forward for EcuTek. We now had improved map resolution for smoother control, additional maps and most importantly Custom Maps which allowed us to create our own unique settings for things like Boost Control, Traction Control etc. It allowed us to make our Litchfield tuned ECU's even more unique by giving us these extra inputs into Custom Maps.
Version 4 further refines this with the addition of a number of new parameters requested by us. These include correction values, steering input, oil temperature and oil pressure. We have also considerably greater detail control over the gearbox settings in normal driving, competition and during launch mode.
How will Version 4 affect Litchfield customers?
Our use of EcuTek's new Version 4 software allows us to provide two separate types of ECU setting; a normal stage upgrade road calibration and a more extreme Motorsport variant.
We are introducing our new Motorsport ROM for those customers who are looking to use their cars on track or in competition events. This ROM will include a number of new Version 4 features which will be uniquely set up 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.
As with Version 3, all our tunes will come with 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 set up. Version 4 retains the increase in resolution from Version 3 over the standard Nissan software.
When will it be available and how much will Litchfield Version 4 cost?
The new software is available now for all new bookings.
We have decided to offer the latest software update as a FREE upgrade for our entire Stage 1-4 customers when combined with a service or additional work. Because the software is so different we ideally need to custom tune each car here. Customers with ProECU cables will also be able to take advantage of this offer so please contact us to make arrangements to suit you.
Stage 5+ customers may need to pay a small fee depending on the time required to tune such a high power car for all the different boost levels and options available.
If the custom Motorsport ROM calibration is preferred on an existing Stage 1-4 car then there will be a cost of just £180 inc. vat (£150 + vat).
All new custom calibrations to standard cars will be the same £600 inc. vat (£500 + vat) as before. Please feel free to contact us at any time with any questions. Below are just some of the new features our Version 4 maps now have available.
Engine Control and Engine Safety Trips
This is something we have had working in Beta versions for customers for some time. We have, over time, observed a number of issues on cars and have designed a set of safety trips to protect the engine.
Some of the trips we have working
Fuel Pressure Protection
The Fuel Pressure Protection is interesting. It is genuinely 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 so pressure drops at the worst possible time - when the engine is demanding maximum flow. This can also happen if the fuel temperature rises too high (often on a very low tank) and the fuel cavitates causing the pressure to drop dangerously low.
Using the new Custom Map inputs we asked EcuTek to find, we are able to have the ECU monitor those inputs and measure them against set parameters. Should the input drift outside of those parameters the ECU can then apply a correction or significantly reduce performance to protect the engine. Currently in Beta testing, we also have more serious problems triggering 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 to allow 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.
Litchfield Traction Control (LTC)
The standard Nissan Traction Control just isn't quick enough to capture high powered GTRs. Standard Traction Control is quick to intervene, but many powerful cars will trigger this all too frequently when using the available performance in normal conditions. Most drivers then default to the Race Mode which lifts the intervention thresholds. Although the Stability Control is effective, the Traction Control element is too slow to react and when it finally does it is often harsh, unsettling the balance of the car.
The basic Nissan Traction Control relies on a reduction of engine torque, achieved by closing the throttles. This instruction to close is hampered by the physical speed of the throttles closing, when the engine finishes producing too much power and can be very slow to step in. The sudden drop in power can unsettle the car and is often very slow to bring the power back.
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.
Using EcuTek's Version 3 custom maps we had worked on providing an improved solution. Our Phase 4 Beta testing enabled us to improve this further. We are pleased to offer our own Litchfield Traction Control (LTC) which fully utilises the power of EcuTek's Custom Maps.
At this point we should point out clearly that the LTC is designed to support the driver but it is NOT a replacement for driver skill or correct car control. If you ask too much of the car the laws of physics will still cause an accident regardless of what Traction Control System is used! We want to help customers of all abilities to enjoy these incredible cars and we enjoy the challenge of finding new ways to do this but we will require customers of our Motorsport files to drive with care.
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 cuts throttle which the LTC doesn't need to.
How was our Traction System developed?
What started out as a simple attempt to reduce wheel spin for Launch Control has grown into a more complete Traction Control solution, designed to work with both the standard Nissan system and as a standalone support to the driver. This has taken a number of months to refine for a number of reasons, not least finding places safe enough to push the traction limits, allowing us to adjust the setup correctly. Initial testing was completed on tracks, including the Nurburgring, but the reality is that even with a lot of run off track days proved difficult for consistent datalogging needed to perfect the system.
In late summer we managed to secure access to a private airfield used by the Police and Special Forces for vehicle training. Whilst they were doing serious-looking work we found a few decent corners which allowed us to do our crucial development testing. In October we returned to the track by hiring Castle Combe to shake down a number of new parts and the traction system, using professional drivers of the highest calibre (and Litchfield GTR customers) in World Touring Car Champion driver Rob Huff and Touring car ace Tom Chilton. Now would be a good time to thank Michelin for their continued support and fresh rubber!
As well as our demonstrators, Rob's own LM700 GTR 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
Their input was superb and we have subsequently added further changes to the LTC. We have also asked EcuTek to supply the GTR's G-sensor and Steering Angle Sensor information into Custom Maps so we can apply additional control strategies. A newer Beta version is under review now. We will also be taking our GTR back to the Airfield at the first sign of snow to see how it performs in very low grip.
Rolling Launch is another feature including in our Motorsport ROM. This allows the driver to fix a vehicle speed whilst the engine builds boost. The car is then released with a pre-defined amount of boost exactly when the driver needs it. This can create a large reduction in acceleration time as you are not waiting for the car to build 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 can be slower to come onto boost due to their turbo size.
The (simplified) graph below shows the difference in boost build up between a larger turbo GTR with and without the feature enabled.
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 to allow the car to launch harder and more consistently. For example we have lifted the normal Launch Counter settings from 4 to 8 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 (Adjustable Target Boost coming soon). 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 4 revisions with many more under review. If you have any questions about the new software or any of our GTR upgrades please feel free to contact us.