On Properly Setting Your Cooling Fan Temperature Threshold

When I first installed an aftermarket ECU (Megasquirt I) in my 1984 300ZX, years ago (almost 10 as of this writing!), I used the recommended GM sensor for coolant temperature. It required a bit of machining to fit the sensor, nothing major.

With my latest engine (and the two cars it was in), I decided to use the OEM Cylinder Head Temperature Sensor, since hey, why not? It was already there, in an optimal spot. All I had to do was make software changes to calibrate MS-II to it’s temperature/resistance curve. I had the data in the Factory Service Manual, all was well. Continue reading

Harbor Freight Trailer Build

So I’ve got this autocross bug, despite being a terrible driver. After about 5 seconds of thought, I came to the conclusion that I must get an autocross trailer in order to improve my skills.

So, after a bit of research it looked like item #90153 was the thing to get. The key is it has 12″ wheels, whereas the cheaper one (#42708) has 8″ ones. The larger the wheel the less RPM the wheel bearings see, which is good. The increased payload capacity and trailer height were just bonuses. Since I plan on hauling some wheels and tires and some tools, I don’t see coming near the 1000+ lb. payload capacity. And if you wanted to carry more, all you’d really need is some better tires, since that’s the actual limiting factor. However, I don’t recommend carrying anything near the payload capacity.

Note that this is one of the few big-ticket items you can use the 20% coupon on, so if you want to save $46 or so off the price, use one! I got it and built it:

I also picked up a trailer jack, LED lighting kit, 1-7/8″ ball, and ratcheting straps from HF. From elsewhere I got a backup alarm, more LED lights, battery tray, some wire and a voltage gauge.

I then painted the frame and wheels to match my 280Z:

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msqur.com – MSQ file sharing site

Well, I’ve only been working on it a little so far, but I suppose it’s good enough to post about at this point.

The site is msqur.com, and it’s for Megasquirt ECU users to share their tunes (from the TunerStudio MS software). You can upload (multiple) .msq files, assign some engine information to them at upload, and share them with other people for troubleshooting or tuning help. The goal is to make something easier than attaching a file to a forum post that others have to download and fire up the full tuning software suite to just view it.

msqur screenshot

Currently, as of this posting, it just shows you the VE, Spark and AFR tables from MS2 or MS2-Extra only. It might with with other firmwares but I have no expanded it yet. You can also enable or disable the table coloring, and normalize the VE table, converting any VE table to 5-250 VE for ease of comparison. I hope to expand it to view all data available from the MSQ file in a familiar format.

I only get to work a bit each week on it, since I’ve got a few other projects going. But it shouldn’t take too long to get this site to 90%. It’s also a nice break from the C code for the DRD project. So, I’ll post every now and then about any updates to it, so check the msqur tag for the latest info.

Carduino 2.0

Over a year ago I got an Arduino Uno and a CAN-BUS Shield to try and make some kind of datalogger for my car. I was also interested in using the OpenXC library with it (which might need a port if there isn’t one already, since it uses the Digilent chipKIT Max32 development board). While OpenXC allows interfacing with Android stuff for phones, I’m more interested in a self-contained datalogging type deal. Connecting a phone to review/control things would be a plus, but not required. Mainly, it would record to an SD card for later manipulation on any platform.

The problem with the Uno was that it has limited flash storage space, 32KB total. Lots of strings (for LCD output) in my source combined with some poorly written C++ CAN-BUS/SD/GPS libraries that SK PANG provide with the CAN-BUS shield, and the compiled output is just too large. The libraries are a hodge-podge of various OSS projects. I intend to rewrite them in C. You can run the binaries off the SD Card, but that’s not what I wanted the SD Card for.

Carduino 2.0

So, I just got a Arduino Galileo, which is way overkill. It was either get a Arduino Mega, which has enough flash but is otherwise relatively the same (and likely going to be obsolete soon), or get the Galileo. Instead of Atmega powered, it has a real Intel x86 SoC and runs Linux! No more AVR cross-compiling. And since it is Arduino Uno “shield compatible”, I don’t have to worry about the shield not working (I think! I’m assuming the shield follows the Uno spec.).

8MB Flash, 400MHz clock speed and a whole other bunch of superior specs I don’t remember. Now, the embedded Linux kernel is on that 8MB, and takes most of it up. So at first it looked like I was in the same boat. However, it has a built-in SD card slot that you can load up another, larger, image onto. Now I have two SD Card slots, one on board and one on the CAN-BUS shield. One for the OS, one for logging data. Perfect.

First I have to get familiar with the Galileo and setup the environment. After that I can start developing. So this will be split up into at least two other parts.

First autocross with a VG33

Well, with less than a couple hundred miles on the rebuilt engine, it was time to really break-in the new VG33. I took it to an autocross. Things were going well until I shut it off after my second run. It didn’t want to restart after that. It appears that the culprit was low battery voltage, as the ECU was resetting and the fuel pump never even came on during cranking. Even with a jump cranking speed just wasn’t very fast.

I did get three runs in, albeit only one of was clean. The first one was red flagged due to someone else spinning out, and the last one I spun out. Here are videos of the clean run and the second run where I spin:

 

280Z LED Conversion Part 2

Continuing from part 1, this is the start of installation and results of the LED conversion. I ordered a small bunch of LEDs to get a feel for what brightness I’m looking at since the website I ordered from has somewhat confusing ‘relative intensity’, ‘brightness’, and ‘lumens’ listed for each bulb. Not to mention the prices seemed to fluctuate independently of any of those values so it wasn’t as simple as ‘find the most expensive ones’.

For the first part of the conversion I ordered just 6 bulbs. The Type 97 and Type 89 replacements for the front and rear side markers and the two license plate lamps, respectively. They all use a BA15S base (1156), but the bulb is much smaller. I went with 15 LED license plate bulbs since the bulbs don’t face outward. In retrospect the 15 LED bulbs would have been nice for the side markers as well, but the 9 LED ones I got are at least as bright as the incandescents, probably a tad brighter.

9 LED vs stock Type 97:

 

Incandescent (left) and 15 LED bulb (right)

 

Before:

After:

If I had to do it over again I’d get the 15 LED bulbs for all the clearance lights instead of the 9 LED as they are a bit brighter and have better coverage. But they are still brighter, in my unscientific opinion, than the stock filaments.

Satisfied, I ordered some more bulbs:

The contents being:

  • 2 67-R15 Red (rear tail lights)
  • 2 1157-A45-T 1157 Amber (front combination lamps)
  • 2 1157-R45-T 1157 Red (rear combination brake/tail lights)
  • 2 1156-R45-T 1156 Red (rear turn signals)
  • 2 CF13JL-02 (3 Pin Zero-Load “Japanese” Flasher)

The brake and tail lights are slightly brighter, but come on much faster. The 67-R15s could be replaced with something even more bright but it’s not a big deal. I took a few photos before and after but it’s really hard to tell. However, here is one side-by-side comparison shot:

The left side is the stock tail light bulbs and the right is the new LEDs (67 and 1157).

Once you replace the turn signals the stock flashers will give up due to lack of current. This is fixed by replacing the stock flashers with these “zero-load” flashers. The stock ones depend on enough current to heat up an element and warp it, at which point it triggers by bending and hitting the contacts. This is why if bulbs are out the flash rate is different, or it stops flashing all together. Anyway, these “digital” flashers just happen to fit perfectly with the stock harness. All that’s needed is an extra ground.

The stock turn signal flasher is attached to the steering column, near the pedal mounts:

The hazard flashers is above the ECU and ignition relay:

Wiring both of them up is easy as the B and L terminals match up fine with the stock female plugs.

The wires (on a 1977 CA 280Z) match up as follows:

  • Turn signal flasher
    • W -> ‘L’ (Load, not blue like in the FSM)
    • G/Y -> ‘B’
    • E is the new earth/ground you’ll have to run.
  • Hazard flasher
    • G -> ‘L’
    • R/W -> ‘B’
    • E is the new earth/ground you’ll have to run.

Unfortunately there weren’t mounting tabs on them, but a couple zip ties and it’s good.

And that’s it. I measured the actual amperage before and after (just for the parking and tails), and it went from 1.5 A to 0.5A (33%), with 0.5 A of the dropped attributed to the tail lights alone. Not as a big as I thought but anything to reduce the load on the stock combination switch is good. That’s 20W down to about 7W. My initial calculations relied on the listed wattage for the bulbs, which I’m guessing is based on the maximum current draw which would be when the bulbs are first turned on. That’s down over 90%, which translates into my alternator not pulling down the idle when I first switch the lights on.

280Z LED Conversion Part 1

My 280Z isn’t what you could call “modern” in the electrical department. Originally, it came with an externally regulated alternator, fusible links, incandescent bulbs, and very few relays. The design inhereted a few things from Lucas eletronics, which is not a good thing. Regardless, it was fairly normal for the time. I’m glad there are no vacuum operated things, like some makes. The most electrically obtuse part of the design is the lack of relays. So, all the current for the headlights, parking lights, turn signals, and brakes goes through the individual switches for each. So, not only is there a significant voltage drop by the time the bulbs actually see any current, the switches are very prone to corrosion and failure. Sourcing a replacement column switch is getting harder and harder.

Solutions to this problem? Add in new relays for the lights to significantly reduce the load on the switches, and/or add LED lights to reduce the current draw of the lighting system altogether.

I’m opting to do the latter for now. The power savings are calculated as:

1977 280Z

  • 2 50W/40W headlights
  • 4 Type 97 (1156) 8W bulb side markers (2 amber, 2 red)
  • 2 Type 89 7.5W license plate bulbs
  • 2 Type 1157 23W/8W Stop/Tail lights
  • 2 Type 1157 23W/8W Front Park/Turn signal lights
  • 2 Type 67 8W Rear tail lights
  • 2 Type 1156 23W Rear turn signal lights
  • 2 Type 1156 23W Reverse lights

Incandescent bulbs:

  • 1156 – 23W * 4 = 92W
  • 1157 – 31W * 4 = 124W
  • 67 – 8W * 2 = 16W
  • 89 – 7.5W * 2 = 15W
  • 97 – 8W * 4 = 32W

279W total (not including headlamps). Granted, that’s with the brake lights depressed, in reverse, with the lights and hazards on. A more typical wattage would be 95W.

LED Bulbs

Sidemarkers:

  • 97 (9 LED 67-x9 Amber) – 0.5W * 2 = 1W
  • 97 (9 LED 67-x9 Red) – 0.5W * 2 = 1W
  • 89 (15 LED 67-x15 Red) – 0.5W * 2 = 1W
  • 1156 (45 LED 1156-x45-T Red) 0.14W * 4 = 0.56W
  • 1156 (45 LED 1156-x45-T Amber) 0.16W * 2 = 0.32W
  • 1156 (45 LED 1156-x45-T White) 0.16W * 2 = 0.32W
  • 1157 (45 LED 1157-x45-T Red) 0.165W * 2 = 0.33W
  • 1157 (45 LED 1157-x45-T Amber) 0.195W * 2 = 0.39W

4.92 Watts, and that’s at full load. That’s two orders of magnitude less. Again, that’s with everything on at once. A realistic value is 4.16W. Not a big difference than all of them on, mostly due to the clearance and license plate LEDs taking most of the power in the first place. So, all the parking and operating lamps on the car illuminated for about half the power of a single incandescent clearance lamp. That’s a huge improvement:

4.92 W / 279W = 1.76% of the power with everything on, 4% with just the parking lights.

The catch? LEDs are expensive. Most of the cost is with the 1156 and 1157 replacements, at $20-30 per bulb. Also, digital flasher units are required rather than the heated element type in use (this also has a significant power drop, not calculated here). The total comes out to around $250. Ouch. Cheaper LEDs can be had, but they will not be as bright, and won’t last as long as quality units.

Continued here.

3.3L 280Z Runs

So, am I the first? The first to put a VG33 in an S30? I have doubts but I’ve never heard of it before. After a bit of late night work and an unplanned oil event and a small unplanned fuel dump after removing and replacing the engine to fix the oil leak, it’s back in, running, and more importantly: not leaking.

Here’s a late night in-progress shot:

 

All the work was worth it, I had to get it running for a scheduled photoshoot:

 

280Z SpeedHut gauge conversion

I acquired some Speedhut gauges a while back for a deal, and I just got a free 240Z wheel, so I decided to do all three. In this part I just remove and fit the Speedhut gauges in the old speedo and tachometer housings. In the next part I wire them up. A few people did this on HybridZ various different ways. I was too cheap to go out and get any other supplies, so I made it work with what I had.

The gauges I got are:

Speedometer: 4″ Revolution GPS Speedo with integrated fuel gauge, turn signal LEDs, and high-beam LED
Tachometer: 4″ Revolution 8,000RPM with programmable shift LEDs.

Both have red dials, and red illumination. The fuel gauge is there since I’ll be replacing the one in the 3 small dash gauges eventually, but don’t want to lose having a gas gauge.

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