Auto Service World
Feature   April 1, 2004   by Jim Anderton

The Ultimate in Do-It-Yourself?

SSGM attempts a 21st Century project: A homemade ECU

Ever notice how all 110-volt plugs fit into all household receptacles? That standardization makes a lot of sense … plug in your lamp or radio anywhere in the house. Under the hood, however, it’s a different story. Not only is almost everything model-specific, in some cases it depends on option levels or even on the vehicle’s VIN. And in engine control electronics, replacements sometimes involve flashing PROMS and lots of angst if the part numbers don’t match. It didn’t have to be that way. What if manufacturers used a universal platform on the hardware side then used software to tune the ECU to the particular application? The result would be the “universal” computer. Virginia-based Al Bowling and Bruce Grippo may have done just that with their “Megasquirt” ECU. Megasquirt is an open source, universal, build-it-yourself ECU supported by an Internet-connected community of builders who have built and installed systems in everything from Harley-Davidson motorcycles to Maserati Biturbos. Weird? You bet. SSGM decided to see if it really is possible to duplicate OEM hardware in your garage with little more than a soldering iron and good hands, by building a system and fitting it to a rare 1982 Triumph TR-8. Why a TR-8? Originally fitted with the unloved and little understood Lucas port injection, the project car has been retrofitted with a Weber carb, rendering the little sports car almost undrivable. It also uses a GM-based 3.5L V-8 engine that has successful OEM injection applications, so it is possible. Can a builder weaned on Rochester M4M ‘Quadrajet” technology build something this intricate? Check SSGM each month through the spring and summer, and I’ll let you know how I’m doing. Succeed or fail, you’ll see it here! In the meantime, details can be found at www.

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