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General Stand-alone ECU’s

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Ramsey91

Proven Member
59
6
Oct 15, 2022
Basalt, Colorado
I am looking into getting a stand-alone and I’ve seen a lot of people going with AEM. I would like to use a diy mega squirt, but wasn’t sure what option I should go with. My tuner uses mega squirt mostly so that is also why I would like to go with it. Does anyone have any suggestions on what to get for a mega squirt setup? Or if there’s a better suggestion that would be great!
 
I have a MS3X and I'm super tempted to throw it in the trash. I'm not going to spend money on another MegaSquirt product ever again.

I'm going with Link for the Eclipse because Link is one of the only options for my ZZW30, but I otherwise would have considered Haltech. I spoke at length with an ECU distributor who had lots of opinions on the various offerings. PowerFC was a bad option when it was new in the 90s, AEM is better but still isn't keeping up with the times, ECUMasters is pretty user unfriendly but the product is good, Link has an outstanding product and a mild learning curve, and Haltech takes the crown as the best and most expensive option on the market. When I mentioned MegaSquirt he just snorted and didn't elaborate, but I have spoken to tuners who have experience with the platform. Every single one has said the same thing: even when an application-specific base tune is available from MegaSquirt, the tune on the vehicle when it comes in for dyno tuning is ALWAYS in worse shape than the tunes on any other platform, so they require a fair amount of fixing before the tuning can start. It took me two years of daily logging to get my old Miata to a good place, and even then it still had heatsoak/hot start issues that weren't present before the MegaSquirt.

This is the issue that I'm STILL fighting on my MegaSquirted 4G63. I have made zero progress and as a result it is really challenging to drive the car once it is fully warmed up, so I just don't. But beyond that and the above, my biggest complaint with DIYAutoTune is that the behavior of the ECU changes significantly with each firmware update. 1.5.x introduced engine states which completely broke all kinds of behavior like overrun fuel cut and made worse behavior like closed loop idle. That whole series is hot garbage so you should stick with the latest 1.4 version, which I think is 1.4.1 from 2017. As another example, the closed loop boost control never worked on my Miata. It was that 100% output meant valve 100% open, meaning that boost was as low as possible. Duty cycle was inverse to observed boost. Weird, but okay. Well then they released a firmware update that inverted the output so that 100% was max boost which made more sense but it broke boost control and I had to fix it. Then they put it back and I gave up and just used an open loop table for boost control and dealt with the seasonal changes.

Relative to Link, MegaSquirt's tuning functionality makes tables too volatile. In Link, it will autotune your VE table but only if you're in the middle of a cell and you hold that position for a defined settling time of a few seconds. It makes corrections, and then once it stops being off it marks that cell as complete so it doesn't get updated again. In contrast, TunerStudio will update cells regardless of how close to an edge you are, and it will let you continuously update the same cells forever, leading to super lumpy and inaccurate VE tables. You can add filters to TunerStudio to cut down on the mess, but Link just works correctly out of the box.

Link does have the downside of being tuner-focused as opposed to end user-focused so there's some weirdness with saving tune files vs. flashing to the ECU and it has a big downside of not letting you change keyboard shortcuts, but those are the only complaints I've come across with Link, whereas I have a laundry list of things I can't stand about MegaSquirt.

And in case it wasn't obvious, I'm not referring to ECMLink. I don't include that in discussions of standalone ECUs. And I should also mention that I was running a black box H8 ECU and switched to an EVO 8 ECU and I would still be running that if it hadn't lost the ability to communicate with my laptop.
 
I have a MS3X and I'm super tempted to throw it in the trash. I'm not going to spend money on another MegaSquirt product ever again.

I'm going with Link for the Eclipse because Link is one of the only options for my ZZW30, but I otherwise would have considered Haltech. I spoke at length with an ECU distributor who had lots of opinions on the various offerings. PowerFC was a bad option when it was new in the 90s, AEM is better but still isn't keeping up with the times, ECUMasters is pretty user unfriendly but the product is good, Link has an outstanding product and a mild learning curve, and Haltech takes the crown as the best and most expensive option on the market. When I mentioned MegaSquirt he just snorted and didn't elaborate, but I have spoken to tuners who have experience with the platform. Every single one has said the same thing: even when an application-specific base tune is available from MegaSquirt, the tune on the vehicle when it comes in for dyno tuning is ALWAYS in worse shape than the tunes on any other platform, so they require a fair amount of fixing before the tuning can start. It took me two years of daily logging to get my old Miata to a good place, and even then it still had heatsoak/hot start issues that weren't present before the MegaSquirt.

This is the issue that I'm STILL fighting on my MegaSquirted 4G63. I have made zero progress and as a result it is really challenging to drive the car once it is fully warmed up, so I just don't. But beyond that and the above, my biggest complaint with DIYAutoTune is that the behavior of the ECU changes significantly with each firmware update. 1.5.x introduced engine states which completely broke all kinds of behavior like overrun fuel cut and made worse behavior like closed loop idle. That whole series is hot garbage so you should stick with the latest 1.4 version, which I think is 1.4.1 from 2017. As another example, the closed loop boost control never worked on my Miata. It was that 100% output meant valve 100% open, meaning that boost was as low as possible. Duty cycle was inverse to observed boost. Weird, but okay. Well then they released a firmware update that inverted the output so that 100% was max boost which made more sense but it broke boost control and I had to fix it. Then they put it back and I gave up and just used an open loop table for boost control and dealt with the seasonal changes.

Relative to Link, MegaSquirt's tuning functionality makes tables too volatile. In Link, it will autotune your VE table but only if you're in the middle of a cell and you hold that position for a defined settling time of a few seconds. It makes corrections, and then once it stops being off it marks that cell as complete so it doesn't get updated again. In contrast, TunerStudio will update cells regardless of how close to an edge you are, and it will let you continuously update the same cells forever, leading to super lumpy and inaccurate VE tables. You can add filters to TunerStudio to cut down on the mess, but Link just works correctly out of the box.

Link does have the downside of being tuner-focused as opposed to end user-focused so there's some weirdness with saving tune files vs. flashing to the ECU and it has a big downside of not letting you change keyboard shortcuts, but those are the only complaints I've come across with Link, whereas I have a laundry list of things I can't stand about MegaSquirt.

And in case it wasn't obvious, I'm not referring to ECMLink. I don't include that in discussions of standalone ECUs. And I should also mention that I was running a black box H8 ECU and switched to an EVO 8 ECU and I would still be running that if it hadn't lost the ability to communicate with my laptop.
Alright maybe I won’t go with mega then. I’ve also been hearing the same things you were stating a lot but haven’t been sure. And Haltech definitely was another option I completely forgot about. Just to make sure though, when you’re talking about Link, is the picture below what you’re talking about? I read about it and it looks awesome.

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Alright maybe I won’t go with mega then. I’ve also been hearing the same things you were stating a lot but haven’t been sure. And Haltech definitely was another option I completely forgot about. Just to make sure though, when you’re talking about Link, is the picture below what you’re talking about? I read about it and it looks awesome.

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What are you objective goals with the car? You list you're brand new. Any particular reason you want a standalone?
 
back in the early days of mega squirt it was amazing, but its now overgrown, and in many circles thought to be some endall be all to engine management. It's shit, the guys who created it went all crazy and locked down all the source code and started patenting things ect.

Aem infinity has the most advanced hardware, but they don't make the hardware, but buy it and load their software on it, and as usual, almost engine management.

Its 2022, if your standalone doesn't have internal high speed datalogging, (like 200+ channels at 100hz or better) internal wideband controller, and a decent ammount of inputs, it better be almost free.
 
What are you objective goals with the car? You list you're brand new. Any particular reason you want a standalone?

I want to make it into a street/drag 600+Hp car. I’ve already got a list for everything I’m going to get. I’ll basically be redoing almost everything on the car so going with a stand-alone seemed like the best option considering I don’t have an EPROM ECU for my talon so I can’t convert to ECMLink, otherwise I would go with that. Also down the road might do a complete swap to an AWD so it’ll come into use. And I’ll be learning along the way from someone as I will be working on the car with them.

I’ll also be daily driving it for the most part so want to be able to keep a better eye on everything in the car
 
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Plenty of good standalones out there, but easiest route for your goal would be ECMlink and vast majority here favor it. It’s not an actual standalone but has just as many capabilities as an earlier standalone. The linkecu g4x is a good plug and play option for the money with a few more capabilities than ECMlink, but keep in mind the Galant vr4 g4x lacks knock capabilities unless you pull the board apart and solder in a jumper wire (their reasoning is it’s not one of their popular ECU’s and a vast majority of tuners in Australia/NZ don’t even bother with a knock sensor so we were told by their support). I would never waste the time to get one of these cars running on Megasquirt, while it’s a great option for many platforms it’s never had a lot of support in this community (aside from the 2g non turbo crowd) as we’ve always had far easier options available since it came around.

Using what your tuner recommends is always the best choice and the guy probably is a great tuner but if he’s recommending Megasquirt for one of these cars he doesn’t have a lot of hands on with them and isn’t the correct tuner for you to take your car to. Stick with one of the several plug and play options and find a tuner familiar with this platform and see what they recommend. There’s remote tuners like Kevin Jewer and Ricky Nichols (avoid Kenny Kline like the plague) who are proven and can get the car running extremely well on ECMlink if you have no other tuners available in the area.
 
Alright maybe I won’t go with mega then. I’ve also been hearing the same things you were stating a lot but haven’t been sure. And Haltech definitely was another option I completely forgot about. Just to make sure though, when you’re talking about Link, is the picture below what you’re talking about? I read about it and it looks awesome.
So you're 1g or GVR4 then? I was referring to the EVO8 version for my 2g, but they have been out of production for almost a year now and people in the industry seem to think that the ECU connector is NLA and therefore it's the end of the road for PnPs for a ton of Japanese applications that use that connector. It looks like I'm forced to go the universal route and make an adapter harness which I'm okay with I guess, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you really know what you're doing because for as simple as they are conceptually, they suck a lot.

There are a lot of people at the Shootout who are rather proud to be doing 600+hp drag builds using ECMLink. It's plenty for nearly all 4G63 builds and would certainly be plenty for mine, but I like to do things for the sake of being different and I hate that the people at ECMLink have said that they will not add dwell adjustment to support non-OEM coils. It's the principle of the thing!
 
Rea
Plenty of good standalones out there, but easiest route for your goal would be ECMlink and vast majority here favor it. It’s not an actual standalone but has just as many capabilities as an earlier standalone. The linkecu g4x is a good plug and play option for the money with a few more capabilities than ECMlink, but keep in mind the Galant vr4 g4x lacks knock capabilities unless you pull the board apart and solder in a jumper wire (their reasoning is it’s not one of their popular ECU’s and a vast majority of tuners in Australia/NZ don’t even bother with a knock sensor so we were told by their support). I would never waste the time to get one of these cars running on Megasquirt, while it’s a great option for many platforms it’s never had a lot of support in this community (aside from the 2g non turbo crowd) as we’ve always had far easier options available since it came around.

Using what your tuner recommends is always the best choice and the guy probably is a great tuner but if he’s recommending Megasquirt for one of these cars he doesn’t have a lot of hands on with them and isn’t the correct tuner for you to take your car to. Stick with one of the several plug and play options and find a tuner familiar with this platform and see what they recommend. There’s remote tuners like Kevin Jewer and Ricky Nichols (avoid Kenny Kline like the plague) who are proven and can get the car running extremely well on ECMlink if you have no other tuners available in the area.
l really appreciate the advice and honesty. Think I’m just gonna go with link then since I’ll be spending about the same if I went with ECMLink. I don’t mind having to solder in a knock sensor, That wouldn’t be hard to do. Probably would be a good idea to get a tuner that knows DSMs though. I know he used to have a GST and tuned it himself but that was years ago and he was running megasquirt.

So you're 1g or GVR4 then? I was referring to the EVO8 version for my 2g, but they have been out of production for almost a year now and people in the industry seem to think that the ECU connector is NLA and therefore it's the end of the road for PnPs for a ton of Japanese applications that use that connector. It looks like I'm forced to go the universal route and make an adapter harness which I'm okay with I guess, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you really know what you're doing because for as simple as they are conceptually, they suck a lot.

There are a lot of people at the Shootout who are rather proud to be doing 600+hp drag builds using ECMLink. It's plenty for nearly all 4G63 builds and would certainly be plenty for mine, but I like to do things for the sake of being different and I hate that the people at ECMLink have said that they will not add dwell adjustment to support non-OEM coils. It's the principle of the thing!
Ohhhh I see. I’ve been reading completely wrong. 😂

I am 2g and just realized that was for 1g/GVR4… but I have no problem at all with ECMLink I just don’t have an EPROM and don’t know of anyone who can convert a 2g non-EPROM since ECMLink 2g conversion was out of stock

Actually yeah probably should go ECMLink. Just gonna have to find a board since mine is a non-EPROM and don’t know if anyone who can convert it.
 
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I also made the assumption we were talking a 1g based on your posting, on that note LinkECU is a bit more pricey. Currently, ECMtuning is not offering EPROM conversions for the 2g ECU, however 2g ECU’s with link already installed pop up for sale all the time, or if you found a 2g EPROM ECU without ECMtuning could socket it for you.

Another option as mentioned above is the Evo 8 ECU with ECUflash and Tephramods, don’t know a lot about it but I will say that route is just as capable as ECMlink if you’re tuner is fluent in ECUflash and in a 2g it’s as simple as switching a few pins around to make the Evo ECU plug and play. Another option if your tuner is fluent in AEM is a used AEM v2, those pop up for sale all the time for the 2g/evo8 however it is not a user friendly system so basically requires a tuner who is familiar with it, however a car can run extremely well on it.
 
I would put ecmlink #1 due to price and ease of use. Link Vr4+/X at #2 due to price (cheapest standalone) and ease of install as it's a direct plug-in unlike all other ecus. Any other ecu will be more expensive and more involved with custom wiring harness which can be intimating to new users.
 
I would put ecmlink #1 due to price and ease of use. Link Vr4+/X at #2 due to price (cheapest standalone) and ease of install as it's a direct plug-in unlike all other ecus. Any other ecu will be more expensive and more involved with custom wiring harness which can be intimating to new users.
Keep in mind the evo8/2g plug and play g4x is about $600 more than the gvr4 variant, not to say it’s not good, but when AEM v2 is plug and play and can be bought for much less than $1600 second hand it’d be a toss up for me. The price on link ecu for the 2g is getting up in Haltech territory and while the ECU’s Haltech offers aren’t plug and play they do offer the harness that pretty makes it a plug and play ordeal. When we’re talking 1g/gvr4 the g4x is damn hard to beat for the cost though.
 
Keep in mind the evo8/2g plug and play g4x is about $600 more than the gvr4 variant, not to say it’s not good, but when AEM v2 is plug and play and can be bought for much less than $1600 second hand it’d be a toss up for me. The price on link ecu for the 2g is getting up in Haltech territory and while the ECU’s Haltech offers aren’t plug and play they do offer the harness that pretty makes it a plug and play ordeal. When we’re talking 1g/gvr4 the g4x is damn hard to beat for the cost though.
Wow, I was not aware there was a price difference. You can get new vr4xs for less than $800 though.
 
Wow, I was not aware there was a price difference. You can get new vr4xs for less than $800 though.
Where do they have them that cheap? I remember about $750 the g4+ came around but prices had gone up when I bought g4x and I ended up paying about $850 without the expansion harness. I know prices were allegedly going up right after I bought that one and last I heard the gvr4 g4x was about $1000 now but haven’t looked at them lately.

Edit: looked it up real quick, going rate for the gvr4x without the expansion harness is $1095 now.
 
Where do they have them that cheap? I remember about $750 the g4+ came around but prices had gone up when I bought g4x and I ended up paying about $850 without the expansion harness. I know prices were allegedly going up right after I bought that one and last I heard the gvr4 g4x was about $1000 now but haven’t looked at them lately.

Edit: looked it up real quick, going rate for the gvr4x without the expansion harness is $1095 now.
I got a quote for like $750ish last year. You can find individual sellers who will give you cheaper prices than online stores. Not sure if I could get one for that price this very moment.
 
I also made the assumption we were talking a 1g based on your posting, on that note LinkECU is a bit more pricey. Currently, ECMtuning is not offering EPROM conversions for the 2g ECU, however 2g ECU’s with link already installed pop up for sale all the time, or if you found a 2g EPROM ECU without ECMtuning could socket it for you.

Another option as mentioned above is the Evo 8 ECU with ECUflash and Tephramods, don’t know a lot about it but I will say that route is just as capable as ECMlink if you’re tuner is fluent in ECUflash and in a 2g it’s as simple as switching a few pins around to make the Evo ECU plug and play. Another option if your tuner is fluent in AEM is a used AEM v2, those pop up for sale all the time for the 2g/evo8 however it is not a user friendly system so basically requires a tuner who is familiar with it, however a car can run extremely well on it.
Definitely got a lot to talk about with my tuner that’s for sure. If I go with buying an eprom does it matter if it came from an awd? All of the EPROMs I’m finding are from awd.
 
Definitely got a lot to talk about with my tuner that’s for sure. If I go with buying an eprom does it matter if it came from an awd? All of the EPROMs I’m finding are from awd.
Does not matter, a 2g EPROM is a 2g EPROM, no difference in ecu wiring between the drivetrain variations so you’d be good either way.
 
This should not even be a discussion.

Dsmlink hands down. Finding a 2g eprom ecu is not difficult at all. Plenty available out there.

As stated, mega squirt is absolute dog shit. And I have vast experience with it and still do not like it.

Stay away from any AEM products. They are not capable of anything that serious either. Maybe an Infinity if you had to.

I absolutely prefer FuelTech. I run that in my personal car and we run it in a 2G dsm. It is not a cheap buy in but, highly capable of more than your pocket will ever be.

And knock sensor tuning is retarded and unnecessary. No one serious uses a knock sensor and if you have any sort of common sense, you can absolutely tune without one. This isn’t 1985 anymore. So don’t let an ecu that doesn’t come or cannot be used with a knock sensor hold you back.

The answer is still Dsmlink.
Second answer if you have some money, FuelTech.
 
This should not even be a discussion.

Dsmlink hands down. Finding a 2g eprom ecu is not difficult at all. Plenty available out there.

As stated, mega squirt is absolute dog shit. And I have vast experience with it and still do not like it.

Stay away from any AEM products. They are not capable of anything that serious either. Maybe an Infinity if you had to.

I absolutely prefer FuelTech. I run that in my personal car and we run it in a 2G dsm. It is not a cheap buy in but, highly capable of more than your pocket will ever be.

And knock sensor tuning is retarded and unnecessary. No one serious uses a knock sensor and if you have any sort of common sense, you can absolutely tune without one. This isn’t 1985 anymore. So don’t let an ecu that doesn’t come or cannot be used with a knock sensor hold you back.

The answer is still Dsmlink.
Second answer if you have some money, FuelTech.

Not ALL of us are dead set on a knock sensor, using e85 I haven’t used one in a long while, however there’s still many in this community that personally prefer a knock sensor so I won’t knock (no pun intended) their preference on that but it is what it is so I do make it known that option to use one is a bit trickier if they’re looking at the gvr4 g4x plug in, however on models that have that capability or altering the gvr4x unit to have that capability use it or not, it’s damn nice having the option to use a Bosch knock sensor if you want it.

As far as what’s “good” and what isn’t there’ll always be different input from a vast majority of tuners. I know tuners who hate Haltech, I know tuners who hate LinkECU, I know tuners who hate AEM, hell uncle Buschur will be sure to tell anyone that brings it up how much he despises ECMlink and calls it trash despite how many of us use it and love it, to the point he just told one of his guys to tear ECMlink out of his car and he tuned it on prehistoric AEM v1, and in David’s defense the thing runs damn good and makes good power (not that I would ever tell anyone to ditch ECMlink for AEM v1, by no means does that mean I condone it). With that being said though, for every tuner who hates one engine management system there’s someone who loves it and can work extremely well with it so that is all a preference thing.

The point is I speak from a non tuner standpoint for those of us that take a car to a tuner. I speak in hands on in what I’ve used and what’s been used on cars I’ve had damn near as much hands on with as my own, and it mostly boils down to what the tuner works with as to how good a system is. Yes AEM is even a bit difficult for the “non tuner” crowd as something as simple as datalogging is complicated for some, but we’ve used it and it works. This isn’t to bash ECMtuning by any means but the AEM v2 was more capable hands down, had failsafes set up and working, car ran great and made good power with good street manners, and true flex fuel capability was important in that case as we’re talking a full interior street car that was making over 800 on a heartbreaker, and compensated boost levels for fuel type which ECMlink simply will not do. Same user has since switched to Link g4+, and while he admits it’s a waste now as the car runs just as well and makes the same kind of power as it did on AEM v2 at least he can navigate it significantly better on his end and has a much more updated system. So no matter how you look at it it’s apples to oranges and all depends on who’s doing the work.
 
When I speak, I speak from the tuner standpoint. I have been offering these services since 1999. And a lot of these older systems are lacking for what they can control. Sure you can control fuel and timing. For anything serious, which most dsm owners are not, the FuelTech, Haltech’s and things you spend real money on are what you really want.

The mega squirt is his worst option available. No one can deny that.
 
When I speak, I speak from the tuner standpoint. I have been offering these services since 1999. And a lot of these older systems are lacking for what they can control. Sure you can control fuel and timing. For anything serious, which most dsm owners are not, the FuelTech, Haltech’s and things you spend real money on are what you really want.

The mega squirt is his worst option available. No one can deny that.
Oh without a doubt! While we’ve disagreed in the past do know I respect the hell outta your work and wasn’t making my statement in disagreeance but more so from the typical consumer side of the rainbow. I will say Megasquirt is fantastic for platforms that don’t have a lot of support, my buddy is running it on his z32 with a vg33 and 35r and it’s fantastic for that application as the 80s Z cars have almost no engine management support, however on our platform with tons of options I wouldn’t touch Megasquirt with a 20ft pole.
 
With available trigger wheel technology and how easy it is to adapt or weld a wheel on a crank pulley, any quality system can handle that. As well as any quality system can handle just about any OE’s factory sensors.

I run a Buick 3800 in my race car and the FuelTech has no issue communicating with the factory camshaft and crankshaft sensors. Of course it took a little bit to set everything up but, with where technology is now, unless you have had megasquirt for a long time or are just that comfortable with it, it is a severely lacking system.

Some are looking and need more than just fuel and ignition adjustment capabilities.
 
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