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  1. #1
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    Megasquirt experience

    Has anyone ever used this engine management before? I am looking into putting an n54 into something fun and have read too many horror stories with the immobilizer and swapping over other modules, so I'm looking into the possibility of standalone tuning an n54. I'm pretty sure there is a Megasquirt unit that can handle direct injection, however if need be it might just be easier to switch over to port injection
    (which could save me troubles when moving on to single turbos).

    Has anyone done this before?
    Am I insane?

    I appreciate your guys' help, I hope to one day be a big part of this community as well!

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    Hmmm very interesting, I'm personally not very well versed in standalone systems, and have only ever heard of one person using one and it still wasn't "standalone".

    I'll be honest, IMO there would be better options for engines to swap into a project car. Not saying the N54 isn't great or doesn't have potential, but until it's figured out and there are proven options out there with proven power capabilities I just don't see it as the best option. S54 would be seem like a better option to me.

    However, if you were to use the N54 right now I'd be looking at MOTEC.

    Oh, yeah you could also just use the OEM ECU lol. It is an extremely powerful unit and tuning seems to be going quite well with it thus far, and it's only getting better.
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    My goal is to use this as a learning experience to learn about engine tuning as well as being a fun, one of a kind project. I'm graduating with my degree in mechanical engineering this semester so I want a project to keep my brain busy while I'm out of school. This being said, I too see potential in the n54 and would love to get this swapped into another chassis and move forward with bigger turbos and maybe one day get into building the motor.

    Is the OEM ecu usable in another chassis? From my understanding it just hasn't been figured out quite yet, hence the need for a stand alone tune.

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    I can't remember screen name, but if you search around there is a guy who swapped in an N54, welll 335 interior as well though in an older BMW chassis, can't remember which to be honest. Like I said though, MOTEC is an option. Definitely not going to find an inexpensive option on this motor, so be ready to spend some coin. I really am not sure how a standalone would fair controlling VANOS, DI, anti-knock sensors, etc. I think you'd lose a lot of what enables the N54 to do what it does.

    Seeing someone do a PI swap on an N54 into another chassis though would be something. Especially a very lightweight chassis since the N54 is after all, on the light side. I think for what you're looking for that would make for a great project. I can tell you right now NO ONE has done any standalone on the N54. There is one person I can think of that was using a MOTEC system to control another set of injectors for supplemental fueling, this was someone Terry@BMS mentioned at a 1/2 mile event last year. Haven't heard anything since though.

    Good luck with the project!
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    I read the newest megasquirt board has control for up to 4 camshafts for timing, I'll have to look deeper into what kind of outputs it has, and if that could control vanos or not. Also on my list is the e-dipstick, which could easily be remedied by a fabbed traditional dipstick.
    The standalone route would save me huge hassle of swapping the interior to mate with the ecu. Any idea on Motec vs. Megasquirt? I can't find any hard info on the two being compared, other than the Motec being more expensive. A standalone would be able to control supplemental fueling as well as the DI, or just switch over to port injection entirely.
    Sadly the chassis I'm going for might end up a bit heavier than an e90, I want something comfortable and something that can put down the immense torque this build could produce. A 700whp e30 seems useless to me.

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    Megasquirt is an amazing creation. I don't have a lot of experience using it but I have been following them since back in 2002, they started with just a circuit board and some capacitors and sh1t and now they are a full blown standalone (they were back then too) with user interface and really advanced I/O.

    I know it takes a lot of time to learn though, be ready for that, at least since MS2.
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    Megasquirt is amazing as it's open sources and relies on the community to overcome obstacles keeping cost at a minimum just for hardware. You can even choose to assemble/solder the board together yourself. Alot of things on the board need to be modified based on injector drivers, sensor choices etc so I would be very surprised if somebody has come up with the solution to work with the BMW DI. It is possible that there might be a setup for another BMW engine and hopefully all the VANOS options have been figured out. Keep in mind I haven't done any Megasquirt research in over two years since I bought a MS3 and assembled it 85% of the way and still haven't picked up a project I can use it on. @V8Bait has some knowledge of Megasquirt I beleive.
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    I have signed up for their forum, unfortunately I'm far too uninformed to ask any useful question thus far. This project is still in its planing stages but the more I find out here and other forums I'm a part of the more I feel capable of tackling this.

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    You have some struggles ahead of you. I used to use the MS2 and helped work out a circuit for adding two injector drivers to make it sfi for 4 pots and semi sequential on 6 cylinders, but for something like a N54 you'll have a few things to sort, although I am almost completely inept to the MS3 so maybe it's better now.

    Not sure the current state of DI on the MS, but you'd need to control the fuel pressure targets too... a custom i/o for the fuel control valve would probably work. No idea about injection control for DI. Vanos control has been around a while so you should be fine there, it's just a PWM circuit you'll need to tune for PID. Knock detection I have no idea. For crank triggers, I don't know what BMW used in the N54, but you should be able to use it. The Megasquirt is pretty adaptable there, but may want to look into that.

    Apologies, my megasquirt experience is great... with the MS2 and domestics. I could help you hit 1000hp with one on a lsx connected to a lawn mower chassis, but those are vastly different animals to these motors. I think you'd stand the best chance converting it to PFI, in fact I don't see why that wouldn't work really as long as the sensors are supported or can be translated. It's gonna be a long road though to get everything working down to the odd wastegate system on the N54, which will consume some of your outputs for PID again.

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    From what research I've done MS can tackle direct injection, but oncemore that will just take more research on my part. I'm not against changing sensors to generic ones in order to appease the MS's demand while still getting the motor to run.

    You did raise an interesting point: boost control. My end game is a single turbo, might it be easier to start there and run my own system for boost control?

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    On that note, I was hoping to mimic tables found while learning the backend flash and digging around in factory set ups. I'd really rather use factory turbos at first to get a good base set up.

    Admitingly I have never tuned anything myself before neither have I ever swapped a motor into a chassis it didn't belong in. This whole project is meant to be a learning experience for me as I am graduating college and need something to make my life stressful. I do appreciate everyone's help!

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by mrbillytalent Click here to enlarge
    From what research I've done MS can tackle direct injection, but oncemore that will just take more research on my part. I'm not against changing sensors to generic ones in order to appease the MS's demand while still getting the motor to run.

    You did raise an interesting point: boost control. My end game is a single turbo, might it be easier to start there and run my own system for boost control?
    I was going to ask this. I'm surprised it can do direct injection.

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    As was I. From what I've been told (at lightly read) the new MS3 is a beast in itself. I may even be able to use it to run DI and PFI at the same time, which could come in quite handy.

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    That would be pretty beastly...

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by mrbillytalent Click here to enlarge
    From what research I've done MS can tackle direct injection, but oncemore that will just take more research on my part. I'm not against changing sensors to generic ones in order to appease the MS's demand while still getting the motor to run.

    You did raise an interesting point: boost control. My end game is a single turbo, might it be easier to start there and run my own system for boost control?
    Yeah I've heard that, but I'm just not familiar with how it controls it... or honestly much about how the DI functions on our car from an electrical/engineering standpoint... side effect of not really needing to touch it on our cars, just tell the computer the afr and gg. If it controls it and the hpfp (should be easy on that one) that's cool. But anyway, yes going single with a different form of boost control would be much easier. The vacuum actuated gates would take one or two outputs just for them, and then you might be limited with the others... You could sacrifice exhaust vanos probably but I'm unsure what else you might need, since the water pump is also electric and a few other things that will need output.

    Biggest hurdles will be- crank sensor, compatible? Cam sensors, compatible? DI, can you use it? The rest I don't see an issue with although you may have to use other sensors and do some custom work (like use a non bmw tb/pedal if it can't be controlled). The things you can't easily custom fab would be the crank/cam stuff. Knock sensors aren't necessary but are nice, you can always use a more premative knock sensor just select based on bore size etc. If NECESSARY, crank/cam sensors/rings can be custom fabricated (press or weld/modify the reluctor ring etc). But if you're not doing most of the work yourself it would be super $$$. Interesting project, I would have loved to try about 7 years ago.
    Last edited by V8Bait; 04-25-2014 at 12:08 AM.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    I was going to ask this. I'm surprised it can do direct injection.
    I am not surprised at all. MS is to standalones as what wikipedia is to the internet, $#@!ing amazing.
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    So, as a starting point, I know for a fact that all motor components controlled by the factory ecu will need to be controlled via the MS. Instead of randomly figuring things out as I find/think of them, I'm going to make an educated(?) approach. If I were to find a diagram of a factory engine wiring harness I could one by one sort out which wire does what, and tackle the MS integration that way.

    1) Is it a safe assumption that everything coming out of the factory harness will in some way need to be sent to the MS board? (those that can't directly plug in will need to be replaced)
    2) Does such a diagram exist? Like at least a wiring diagram I could make sense of would even work.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by mrbillytalent Click here to enlarge
    So, as a starting point, I know for a fact that all motor components controlled by the factory ecu will need to be controlled via the MS. Instead of randomly figuring things out as I find/think of them, I'm going to make an educated(?) approach. If I were to find a diagram of a factory engine wiring harness I could one by one sort out which wire does what, and tackle the MS integration that way.

    1) Is it a safe assumption that everything coming out of the factory harness will in some way need to be sent to the MS board? (those that can't directly plug in will need to be replaced)
    2) Does such a diagram exist? Like at least a wiring diagram I could make sense of would even work.
    Even though this seems logical, it also seems incredibly painful. If I were you, I'd run that motor on as little inputs and outputs as necessary. Megasquirt is a awesome platform that is now only better than ever with the MS3 Pro.

    If this is your first standalone installation, your first experience with tuning, and your first engine swap, then I recommend keeping things as simple as possible. Start with a $3-500 M52, boost it up to 500whp, and swap it into something small. Sounds like a recipe for smiles to me...

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    Where's the fun in that?

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by mrbillytalent Click here to enlarge
    Where's the fun in that?
    Ok. Have fun. I dont think you have any idea what you're getting into.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by mrbillytalent Click here to enlarge
    As was I. From what I've been told (at lightly read) the new MS3 is a beast in itself. I may even be able to use it to run DI and PFI at the same time, which could come in quite handy.
    Hey bud, you're on Ohio bimmers lol, we know each other. This forum is great and full of learning.
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by V8Bait Click here to enlarge
    Yeah I've heard that, but I'm just not familiar with how it controls it... or honestly much about how the DI functions on our car from an electrical/engineering standpoint... side effect of not really needing to touch it on our cars, just tell the computer the afr and gg. If it controls it and the hpfp (should be easy on that one) that's cool. But anyway, yes going single with a different form of boost control would be much easier. The vacuum actuated gates would take one or two outputs just for them, and then you might be limited with the others... You could sacrifice exhaust vanos probably but I'm unsure what else you might need, since the water pump is also electric and a few other things that will need output.

    Biggest hurdles will be- crank sensor, compatible? Cam sensors, compatible? DI, can you use it? The rest I don't see an issue with although you may have to use other sensors and do some custom work (like use a non bmw tb/pedal if it can't be controlled). The things you can't easily custom fab would be the crank/cam stuff. Knock sensors aren't necessary but are nice, you can always use a more premative knock sensor just select based on bore size etc. If NECESSARY, crank/cam sensors/rings can be custom fabricated (press or weld/modify the reluctor ring etc). But if you're not doing most of the work yourself it would be super $$$. Interesting project, I would have loved to try about 7 years ago.
    The challenge on the N54 has been the 3 tooth cam sensor.
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by boostedmaserati Click here to enlarge
    Hey bud, you're on Ohio bimmers lol, we know each other. This forum is great and full of learning.
    Well hello there! I remember reading about your project, it's certainly really cool! I'll be honored to have your assistance in this endeavor.

    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by lulz_m3 Click here to enlarge
    The challenge on the N54 has been the 3 tooth cam sensor.
    I would need to do more research into where the teeth are located on the cam and whether or not a plate with more teeth could be used with a generic CPS. Are there any threads on other people's findings on this matter?


    I printed up a (4 page) wiring diagram from work of the DME and I will begin dissecting that and beginning some sort of working document on what all needs to be tackled. Organization is key here, if I get any good traction with that I'll start a 'build' thread!

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by V8Bait Click here to enlarge
    Biggest hurdles will be- crank sensor, compatible? Cam sensors, compatible? DI, can you use it? The rest I don't see an issue with although you may have to use other sensors and do some custom work (like use a non bmw tb/pedal if it can't be controlled). The things you can't easily custom fab would be the crank/cam stuff. Knock sensors aren't necessary but are nice, you can always use a more premative knock sensor just select based on bore size etc. If NECESSARY, crank/cam sensors/rings can be custom fabricated (press or weld/modify the reluctor ring etc). But if you're not doing most of the work yourself it would be super $$$. Interesting project, I would have loved to try about 7 years ago.
    Just now feeling the weight of this paragraph. If I, say hypothetically, worked at a factory with a machine shop and had CAD abilities do you think getting the necessary crank and cam cogs figured out would seem a lot more reasonable? I assume there are generic sensors that can read a generic cog profile on each of the cams or crank, the issue would just be making it mesh with what MS wants and needs to see.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by mrbillytalent Click here to enlarge
    Just now feeling the weight of this paragraph. If I, say hypothetically, worked at a factory with a machine shop and had CAD abilities do you think getting the necessary crank and cam cogs figured out would seem a lot more reasonable? I assume there are generic sensors that can read a generic cog profile on each of the cams or crank, the issue would just be making it mesh with what MS wants and needs to see.
    There's usually a way to make things work but I really don't know how complex it would have to be for our motor specifically and what the MS wants. I do know the MS is capable of controlling the older VANOS, which I think is controlled the same as the current stuff. Reading their position, I don't know. My only direct experience here was modifying cams made for an older revision of an engine to accept a ring to be used in a newer style engine with a cam sensor, it wasn't very difficult but it was somewhat unique and unheard of and took some planning. I mostly did it to save around a grand having to buy a custom profile cam. Machine shops can usually modify crankshafts to accept different reluctors for LSX's and SBC's and such. It's different- but the same premise, I wouldn't want to get into that if you can avoid it. Finding a way to get the MS to "see" the cam signal would be best. I'd make a post about the sensor in their forums.

    Anyway, as for the wiring diagram, been there done that bad idea. I wouldn't try to meld the harness into the MS, just start from scratch. Worry less about the N54 and more about making the MS happy. If the MS is happy, the N54 will be happy. Who cares what that pink wire with yellow stripe does if you have full timing, fuel, vanos, etc control. Try to trace down wires the MS needs and check them off, delete the rest. I wish I could help you more, but I'm more well versed in the older MS stuff and GM world (way too much about GM's). This is my first BMW, in the shop I used to work at I'd see domestic and japanese stuff galore, but very few German cars. I think I did a waterpump in an old 740i was about it, so I'm still learning the intricacies myself and don't want to give you bad information.

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