Westech Performance Group...
Westech Performance Group was the location for our impromptu EFI University's XFI class.
In the last issue, our story "EFI For Every Guy" showcased pretty much every complete EFI conversion system on the market to tantalize you into embracing the tuning benefits of technology. While several of those kits were the latest generation of self-learning-no-tuning-necessary-style ECUs that are revolutionizing the EFI conversion process-quite a few of them still required a real live tuner with some know-how.
If your expectations or requirements step into the realm that requires a more advanced tuning system, it's easy to just hand the job over to a tuner. But if you'd like to at least have a grasp on how a few keystrokes on a laptop can make the difference between temperamental and dependable, EFI University is the place to get tuned in.
This is the enigma we were...
This is the enigma we were here to unravel: the FAST XFI controller and its corresponding C-Com software. FAST has worked to make the interface user friendly, but you still have to know what the values in the tables and charts mean, and how they relate. That's the hard part.
The EFI 101 and 102 courses are square one for getting your feet wet with the basic concepts and components of EFI, as well as being an introduction
to how a tuner approaches the various tables and charts common to EFI systems. Want to know how to tune any engine to its maximum potential without fear of scattering parts all over the dyno? Or why some engines want rich air/fuel ratios and others want lean ones, and how to tell what is the proper air/fuel ratio for any given rpm or load? That's all covered and much more. For those already dabbling in engine tuning, EFI University even has EFI Advanced, which offers one-on-one coaching while tuning an engine in real time.
For our day of EFI training we signed up for the FAST XFI-specific class. While the course still touched on some basics of fuel injection, it was mainly directed toward those who already had an XFI system and wanted to learn more about the system's capabilities, or those seriously considering a purchase and wanting an in-depth introduction. Throughout the day we covered everything from getting the car started and running properly, to considerations for dialing in the Intelligent Traction Control system.
Our instructor was Brian Macy,...
Our instructor was Brian Macy, owner of Horsepower Connection and Fast Track Performance. As a veteran drag racer and tuner specializing in turbo and supercharged cars, Macy brought a strong background in engineering, machining, welding, and ECU wiring, as well as tons of real-world tuning experience.
We have to say, we always knew XFI was an extremely advanced system that allowed users control over pretty much every aspect of tuning, we just never realized how deep the minutiae could get. This ain't the bolt-on-and-go, self-learning FAST EZ EFI; this is the in-depth stuff that true tuners get geeky over. It's absolutely fascinating, though a bit overwhelming for newbies like us.
Granted, no one-day course will make you an expert tuner on any system-that takes time and experience-but we did walk away with a much stronger grasp of EFI and XFI essentials, and a much greater respect for the work tuners do to get the perfect balance of power and driveability. Amid all of the tables and charts, we also unearthed a sincere desire to learn more and may make a trip back for EFI 101 to get a stronger fundamentals base. Either way, we've set tuning our own EFI on a future project as a personal gearhead goal.
EFI University Courses
EFI 101: Step 1, it's the 1.5-day intro to everything EFI
EFI 102: One-day course in advanced tuning, such as traction control
EFI Advanced: One-day course for tuners who want to tune better
ACP Program: The ultimate five-day intensive session for serious aspiring tuners
MoTeC Training: Two-day required training for MoTeC dealers and resellers.
AEM Series 2: One-day course for tuning AEM Series 2
EFI Live: One-day course for tuning stock ECU GM cars and trucks
FAST XFI: One-day course focusing on tuning FAST XFI
Diesel 101: Online course for tuning common-rail diesel EFI
• Attend EFI 101
• Successfully complete EFI Advanced course
• Accumulate a minimum of 20 hours of actual dyno time with EFI
• Pass an online written exam
• Attend a five-day Accelerated Certification Program (ACP)
Don't be shy with the note...
Don't be shy with the note taking and question asking; Macy encourages it and you can't possibly absorb all the info at once. We made lots of notes in the handbook and on a separate pad since we were a bit behind the curve, having never dealt one-on-one with XFI's C-Com software before.
At the beginning of class,...
At the beginning of class, every student gets a 100-page FAST XFI handbook, which follows along with the presentation.
After going through the basic...
After going through the basic setup and installation, Macy got into more tuning fundamentals, such as the air/fuel ratio landscape. The idea here is that there is an ideal-or stoichiometric-ratio where all the fuel molecules pair up with oxygen molecules at 14.7:1 (14.7 parts air, one part fuel). That's great for emissions and mileage, since hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides are at their lowest points at that ratio, but as the chart demonstrates it's not ideal for loads, high rpm, or boosted conditions.
To create that landscape,...
To create that landscape, we turn to one of the C-Com's numerous customizable tables: Fuel Ratio vs. RPM & MAP (manifold absolute pressure). In speed/density mode, the ECU first determines the volume of air being consumed by the engine. Then it looks to this table to determine what air/fuel ratio is the target and how much fuel is needed to hit it, and then makes any necessary corrections. The target air/fuel ratio table is a critical part of the calibration in speed/density mode, but the optional Alpha-N mode does not use it as part of the base fuel calculation; it simply references injector pulse width from the base fuel table. Got that? Don't worry; it's all in the book.
The XFI's C-Com software isn't...
The XFI's C-Com software isn't just full of tables of numbers that make your eyes glaze over, 3-D graphics are available to help tuners visualize the landscape they are creating. It's also very helpful for spotting any accidently overlooked or mistyped areas of the tables.
The table on the right shows...
The table on the right shows the line that the engine actually followed through the ratio cells during a dyno run; the green dot follows the line and shows where the engine is at each rpm. All of this is replayable, thanks to the XFI's data logger, as well as the chart on the left that shows a sampling of sensor readings for 8.5 seconds overlaid. The lines are viewable separately for clarity, or overlaid with your choice of readings.
It's not all about pure horsepower;...
It's not all about pure horsepower; we were particularly amazed by how many minor adjustments are available in the XFI for tuning manners and driveability. The Idle Speed vs. Coolant Temperature chart (shown) is one of a dozen or so options for dialing in an engine's cranking temperament.
Since we had the benefit of...
Since we had the benefit of attending class at Westech, we had dyno cells on hand to see the FAST systems in action. Westech's dyno and engine expert, Steve Brule, was the maestro at the SuperFlow controls.
First up was the FAST EZ EFI....
First up was the FAST EZ EFI. There's no tuning class available for these because they simply don't require it. This one was dropped on this basically stock small-block Chevy, and it was up and running to perfection within minutes.
Next, we had an LS equipped...
Next, we had an LS equipped with FAST XFI as well as FAST's LSX intake and 102mm throttle body. Getting everything dialed-in is a more time-intensive process, but the payoffs can be huge for those with radical combinations or power adders. XFI's Qwik Tune stores up to four different profiles, which are accessed with the flick of a switch. That means you can drive around town on a street tune and have multiple track tunes ready-a two-stage nitrous tune for example.
Toward the end of the day,...
Toward the end of the day, the classroom time became more informal with Macy opening up the floor to the students to discuss specific questions or problems,
or for going back over areas they are unclear on. This was particularly useful since Macy could reference his own experience racing XFI-equipped cars.
There's no final exam, but...
There's no final exam, but there is a certificate of completion handed out that's great for our garage, but would also be an ideal wall hanger in a professional tuning shop to promote customer confidence.