Standalones That You Would Never Use
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Author:  Fred [ Sun May 26, 2013 12:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Standalones That You Would Never Use

Let's keep this here as a running tally of which systems to avoid. Feel free to add new options not listed in the poll and I'll add them to this post. You can change your mind with a new post, and you can vote on for all of the options if you agree with the entire list. Please justify your hatred of a particular system with some information on it. Also note, this thread is purely subjective and personal opinion. It's OK to disagree, but justify that too! :-)


This is not about whether you would or wouldn't tune one if handed a laptop. It's about whether you'd buy and install one on your own car, or a car of a friend, given total control of the choice. If a customer comes to you, as an installer/tuner, and says "Use BigStuff3, please" you're obviously not going to say no. Likewise if a car already has an old DOS based HalTech on it, and you're asked to improve the tune, you also wouldn't say no. But would you put those on your own vehicle given the choice? Likely not?


Please do not judge by this list alone. Instead you're encouraged to read through the whole thread and see what justifications were made for each vote.

Worst at the top

* = Developed in multiple countries, primary country's flag shown.

Unknown OR not too bad at the bottom

Note on inequality, until stats get up, there is insufficient data to actually mean much, thus there are some problems with the above:

  • Link should likely be closer to a zero, than a one, it's far better than the other ones.
  • MS2/MS3 should likely be closer to a one than a two, they're far better than the other twos, and possibly even better than most ones, but not better than the Link.

More votes on really bad ECUs welcome to make the chart make more sense. It won't be artificially tweaked, though.

Unless otherwise specified, a particular brand/name/model includes all variants of that brand/name/model. If you think one of the above options needs splitting into more than one variant because there's significant difference between them, justify your reasoning.

Note, this is about the word "never" not about the term "right now" if you'd not use FreeEMS right now, fair enough, but it doesn't warrant a vote. If you'll never use it, I'd like to hear why! :-)

Piggy-backs are a joke, consider them ranked above the worst of these (even if not quite that bad).

Some people might think this is negative and counter-productive, however if you asked "which is the best standalone" you'd get a zillion answers. So to me it seems most effective to simply rule out which ones you SHOULDN'T get/buy/install on your engine. Then from the remaining list of reasonably well implemented systems, you can take your pick for any reasons (even bad reasons) and you'll likely be fairly safe.

I'll update it periodically and keep the order from most to least hated.


Author:  Fred [ Sun May 26, 2013 12:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Engine Control Systems That You Would Never Use

My votes on this topic, with a brief justification for each:

  • MicroTech, primitive, low tunability, crappy datalogging, horrible UI experience, proprietary garbage required to talk to it.
  • VEMS, closed source with many random implementation failures and issues on a fairly low-spec core. No thanks!
  • MS1, MS1E is not too bad, to be fair, but it's very primitive in comms, logging rates are low, table resolution is low, hard to get a good high power tune in on this.
  • MS3, All of the famous quality of MS2, but no source code/schematics so that you can't diagnose or fix issues that you will stumble across.
  • ECOTRONS, no offense, but China designed/made, fraudster support/sales, I'd be very scared of the quality of both hw, sw and fw.
  • BigStuff, I forget why I developed a distinct dislike for this, but right now all I can find on their site is "our cpu is better than motec's" which isn't inspiring.
  • Link/Vipec, I know a guy who was nearly killed twice by these things going cold turkey on him. I can't/won't say more about this, however it's a shame to vote the only other Kiwi EMS up.
  • GoTech, ultra primitive, only supports missing tooth and distributor styles, suggest modifying toyota distributors which are simple to support.

If I was desperate and had to drive something, and only had a MS2, I'd use one, and hate every second of it. But I wouldn't not use it.

I have no experience with or knowledge about any of the rest, but in general, knowing what I know about electronics and software, I'd be unhappy about running closed source stuff of any kind. FreeEMS... enough said :-)


Author:  Dan [ Sun May 26, 2013 1:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Engine Control Systems That You Would Never Use

+1 from me for hatred of MicroLeb....ahem...MicroTech

shit tuning resolution, crap software, absolutely horrible lack of protection on pretty much all of the ecu pins, prone to sync issues, lack of proper (VE,etc) tuning ability, inability to save tunes to a file on a pc, stupid dongle required to talk to the damn things, the list could go on all night.... :-P

Author:  Fred [ Sun May 26, 2013 1:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Engine Control Systems That You Would Never Use

...and should! You and John owe us a full thread on that, I'll link to it from the first post entry once done.

Author:  Dan [ Sun May 26, 2013 1:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Engine Control Systems That You Would Never Use

ok, will start compiling my notes... :-)

Author:  baldur [ Mon May 27, 2013 12:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Standalones That You Would Never Use

Not going to say wouldn't use, but probably wouldn't recommend, and here's why:

Big Stuff 3: Data logging is terrible, records 30 seconds at a time to a proprietary format. Writing to flash memory appears to be managed by the ECU and happens when the engine isn't running, so if ECU does not have permanent battery power wired in, it won't actually save the calibration that you just spent hours creating.

Accel gen3: Dumb shit proprietary comms cable with broken USB chipset, luckily has a legacy 232 port so it can be used with a separate USB converter that actually works.

VEMS: Most of the features are completely undocumented and their configuration options are in most cases pretty obscure. Most of the documentation that does exist is out of date. Hardware is poorly designed, leaving lots of scenarios that require soldering for everyday modifications, such as changing between VR/hall that calls for adding/removing LM1815 chips and resistor jumpers (the process being badly documented) on a board that has no silkscreen to label the component locations.

Author:  Fred [ Mon May 27, 2013 1:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Standalones That You Would Never Use

The statement of intent wasn't entirely clear, once updated, Baldur agreed that MS1 and MS3 are off the cards as a choice on a new setup. Those votes have now been added. As has a clarification in bold at the top.

Author:  tpsretard [ Mon May 27, 2013 1:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Standalones That You Would Never Use

have used VIPEC on many cars, never had a problem with them.

Author:  tpsretard [ Mon May 27, 2013 1:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Standalones That You Would Never Use

SDS is the most antiqated system i have ever seen, i keeped the AL case i dumped the electronics.

Author:  Fred [ Mon May 27, 2013 2:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Standalones That You Would Never Use

Is that one vote for SDS only? No love for microtech or ms1 or anything else? :-)

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