Project Miata Update

Here is a screenshot of a video I took with the timing light to verify my ignition timing. Initially I set the base timing using the Trigger Wizard per the MS Labs instructions. This was just a sanity check to make sure that when the ECU is commanding 14* BTDC at idle the crank pulley timing marks agree that it is in fact at 14* advance. The red marks on the timing belt cover are T and 10 (ProTip: paint the lines white or red so they’re easier to see). You can use either the T mark on the timing belt cover or the TDC mark on the crank pulley. Both marks indicate 14* although there does appear to be some parallax, stroboscopic and/or rolling shutter effect here making it seem like the TDC mark is only at 12*. In person it reads correct.

ATI Super Damper Crank Pulley Timing Marks
ATI Super Damper Crank Pulley Timing Marks

I decided to update to the latest MS3 firmware. My ECU originally came equipped with 1.3.2. After installing it but before staring the car last August I updated to 1.4.1 but something seemed wrong since I didn’t see the option of Flyin’ Miata 36-2 trigger wheel in the Ignition Options/Wheel Decoder menu. I didn’t really know what I was doing at that time and was doing it all from the command line (which kept failing on OS X) and then a virtual machine running Windows 7 that I have setup just so I can hook a diagnostic tool to my Volvo. Anyhow, at that time I backdated to 1.4.0 and that got my up and running. So with this latest firmware update I was going from 1.4.0 to 1.5.0. Prior to updating the firmware I updated Tuner Studio to the latest version. This was my first time loading new firmware onto the MS3 not from a virtual machine but from my MacBook using the GUI in TunerStudio MS v3.0.17.

MS3 Firmware Updating OSX
MS3 Firmware Updating OSX

Yes, that is a picture of my computer screen.

MS3 Firmware Update Success
MS3 Firmware Update Success

Thankfully the firmware update was a success! In the world of Megasquirt we celebrate small victories but alas they are often short lived. Afterwards I checked my tune and looked at the errors and all seemed ok. Yet when I attempted to restart the car it would stall after ~ 5sec and the “fuel cut” message would turn green. Nothing obvious changed except the firmware. This condition was repeatable over and over. I ended up having to turn off the Over-run Fuel Cut. I don’t know why it kept triggering as the settings seemed good but that is something to explore later. So now I am back to where I was before more or less, which is nowhere really. Car still not running smooth under no load parked in my garage. Needs lots more tuning.

Daddy's Little Helper Tuning the Miata
Daddy’s Little Helper Tuning the Miata

Hopefully this firmware is a good one that sticks around for a while so I have some software stability while I work on getting my car to run right. This is definitely harder to dial in than I thought it would be. I feel like I’m leaning on all my years of experience with computers and cars, yet still standing at the bottom of Mt. Everest looking up. Base camp is still an accomplishment though!

I seriously need to get a QR steering wheel hub. It’s so annoying not being able to sit in the driver’s seat with the laptop computer laying flat on my lap. Also, I’m definitely going to need a friend to help me street tune, someone to drive while the other works the laptop.

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