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Old 05-04-2018, 11:24 PM   #1  
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Default MS Setup and Driveability

I'm in the process of making some decisions with where I want to go with my car. When I had my last Miata, Bipes and Voodoo was the "it." Now it's MS. I have done some reading in regards to the general functionality and usage of the MSPNP; however, I would like some additional insight.

One guy said it's taken him 100's of hours to fine tune his ride. Another said it took him all summer. Most people say it's fairly easy to get it running but the idle, AC, and fine tuning is a real endeavor.

My Miata is my commuter and fun car. How much truth is there to the length of time it takes to get things situated and reliable for your average user?
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Old 05-04-2018, 11:30 PM   #2  
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In my non professional experience.

to get the car running good enough, fairly easy. And can be done in a weekend, plus some post of asking for help with stuff, especially if never had megasquirt.

to get car running like OEM. Likely never. Unless you are real good with tuning or have a real good pro tuner. It's the little idle, enrichment, Temp compensation etc... settings that are hardest to nail perfect.
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Old 05-04-2018, 11:48 PM   #3  
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An experienced guy can do it in a day but it will need fiddling with as the weather changes it and it won't be just like OEM yet.

Generally an amateur will get it good in a week and want to spend another 2-3 months of occasional fiddling to get it perfect.

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Old 05-05-2018, 03:38 AM   #4  
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I tend to agree with Borka:
The latest PNP units are really easy to "get running" for just about anyone. In fact, hundreds of people do that + a bare minimum of other adjustments and "call it good". To them, the car drives good enough. That said, for an amateur to properly dial a car in to run like factory, that takes HUNDREDS of hours researching, learning, understanding, applying, testing, observing, re-testing, and re-applying.

A competent tuner speeds up this process drastically. But I have yet to meet or see any tuner dial in every aspect of a tune in one go/session. At least not to my level of expectation for a "factory like" tune anyway. I don't even think that's possible.

For example: cold starts. You get 1 try per day. 1 attempt to try your settings, and observe the results. Anything more frequent and it's not truly a cold start, because even if the car cools off the fuel doesn't stick to the walls again like it does on that 1st true cold start. A smart tuner will of course have experience to fall back on and really educated guesses/baselines to use for those figures, and then a way to calculate for variances, etc.

Having tuned a very large number of miata's both in person and over the net, I have seen MANY "professional dyno" tunes. Then when the car gets PROPERLY retuned the owner is shocked at the difference. Nothing good is fast or easy. It takes an OE hundreds of hours to dial in a factory ecu. And even then they are not perfect, and some downright terrible (MSM).
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Old 05-05-2018, 07:44 AM   #5  
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Good enough can be pretty darn good if you know what you are doing. And it doesn't take too long.
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Old 05-05-2018, 08:10 AM   #6  
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It takes like two weeks to get the car to 90%, and two years to get it the rest of the way. But even at 90%, I found the car was running really well.

Part of the problem is that when you start tuning, you become much more critical. You notice things in your own tune that you would have never noticed in the factory tune. I view that as a good thing.
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Old 05-05-2018, 08:16 AM   #7  
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Pretty hard to get perfect, especially cold engines. On the other hand, your engine is cold for like 3 minutes so it doesn't affect the driving experience that much. Also stock isn't perfect in all aspects, especially as it's limited by MAF / lambda sensor.

I had zero experience, and it took me about 20 hours to get it at a level that feels like stock (to me and others who have driven my car), albeit with a warm engine. Still have to work a bit on cold starts. I did spend a lot of time reading up as well - so perhaps you should double my time investment. On the other hand, I feel that's an investment you have to make anyhow if you want to have a heavily customized car, as you'll need the knowledge/experience to troubleshoot.
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Old 05-05-2018, 11:45 AM   #8  
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This is all good information. It does sound like there's definitely some truth to the amount of time it takes to get it good. I wish there was a local MS-equipped Miata I could take a ride in.

Does it have some flat spots where it just feels funny? Or is it more like it won't start and you're stuck in a parking lot making friends with the starter? Or it dies at idle coming to a stop sign/light?

Say I get this plugged in and running, spend my two weeks, etc. After that and I'm around 90% is it set it and forget it if I'm OK with its quirks or will it require frequent tinkering?

I appreciate the feedback. I'm trying to do my research but it is a lot to take in and it's a lot of money to invest. I live in way South Texas (4 hr south of San Antonio)....the likelyhood of finding someone local to help isn't very high so aside from the interwebz and this site I'd be on my own. Not a unique situation I'm sure.
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Old 05-05-2018, 12:16 PM   #9  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gdbyrd View Post
Does it have some flat spots where it just feels funny? Or is it more like it won't start and you're stuck in a parking lot making friends with the starter? Or it dies at idle coming to a stop sign/light?

Say I get this plugged in and running, spend my two weeks, etc. After that and I'm around 90% is it set it and forget it if I'm OK with its quirks or will it require frequent tinkering?
All of that can be true. But generally it seemed that the base tune pretty much gets you running and moving around right off the bat. I never really had my car stuck anywhere or reliability issues learning to tune megasquirt. This was my first ever time installing a standalone and trying to tune myself as well. Though you learn really quick once you are stuck somewhere or have to leave soon. I found that it required tinkering only because I wanted it to be better just like everyone else has said. Sure you could leave it where it runs and drives fine with occasional quirks but that's annoying and ironing out the quirks is so satisfying. Just have to figure out with many quirks you are willing to accept. With the knowledge on this site, it's very easy to learn how to tune the car to drive very smooth
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Old 05-05-2018, 05:08 PM   #10  
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I also have to agree with most of the input here.
2 years later after my first MS install and learning tuning fundamentals, I barely touch my tune anymore. but I became, like, hyper aware of how my engine was feeling and how it reacted to specific changes during those times.. It really teaches you a lot.
My car hasn’t ever seen a dyno or professional tuner. But I have re-tuned it a few times after reading an eye-opening thread/post/book.

Last edited by pakmx5; 05-14-2018 at 03:40 AM.
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Old 05-05-2018, 05:50 PM   #11  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gdbyrd View Post
This is all good information. It does sound like there's definitely some truth to the amount of time it takes to get it good. I wish there was a local MS-equipped Miata I could take a ride in.

Does it have some flat spots where it just feels funny? Or is it more like it won't start and you're stuck in a parking lot making friends with the starter? Or it dies at idle coming to a stop sign/light?

Say I get this plugged in and running, spend my two weeks, etc. After that and I'm around 90% is it set it and forget it if I'm OK with its quirks or will it require frequent tinkering?

I appreciate the feedback. I'm trying to do my research but it is a lot to take in and it's a lot of money to invest. I live in way South Texas (4 hr south of San Antonio)....the likelyhood of finding someone local to help isn't very high so aside from the interwebz and this site I'd be on my own. Not a unique situation I'm sure.
Once you're at 90%, yes I'd say it's set it and forget it. You'll want to grab the laptop when temps get warmer to adjust your idle, same for when it gets cooler (if it ever does that in south texas), but otherwise the base map provided by MSLabs (where I'd suggest you buy your MS) gets it started, auto tune takes care of the fuel table fine tuning, a little dyno time perfects the ignition table and gets the max power out of your setup, then you put the laptop away and enable closed loop fuel correction (EGO) to monitor changes the rest of the time.

Your throttle body bypass should be set so when warm, you can unplug your IAC and it'll idle ~200rpm under your target, so if anything weird happens with the tune it won't stall coming to a stop.

The above is again 90% of an OEM tune, and when 18psi says it will take 100s of hours to get the last 10%, he's not lying. A huge team of Mazda engineers took years to develop any and all ECU functions starting with the first fuel injected engine in the early 80's, and then developed their "tune" for nearly a decade before the Miata came out. 11 years later the NB2 behaves even better, and the 2016 ND makes the NB2 look like a pet rock. To think you could rip out everything but a few sensors and injectors and achieve OEM drivability in a few weekends is crazy talk. But as stated, 90% is fairly easy.
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Old 05-05-2018, 06:19 PM   #12  
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MSLabs (where I'd suggest you buy your MS)
Thanks for the encouragement. I haven't looked into all the different MS offerings...there are a lot of them...but this one from MSLabs seems to be the highest by far I've seen (~$1100). What is the benefit in this over other, less expensive, options?
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Old 05-05-2018, 09:04 PM   #13  
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Nothing in particular. The "big three" I usually recommend: Braineak, DIYautotune, and MSlabs. Each has up sides and down sides.
MS3 has about 10 years of development on MS2, and the MS1 is so old that it's basically obsolete at this point.

so the logical advice is MS3+
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Old 05-05-2018, 10:01 PM   #14  
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If you’ve got a stock or even boosted 1.6, the mspnp1 is so simple it actually runs better than the ms2 imo. Just can’t do ebc, CL idle, etc.
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Old 05-05-2018, 10:02 PM   #15  
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Oh and the little blip you get when you make a change is half as bad on the ms1 as ms2.
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Old 05-06-2018, 09:17 AM   #16  
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Having just gotten my MS3 installed and running I know where you're coming from. I came at the project cold with just reading a lot, etc. I want to do a turbo (maybe next Summer) so I'd need an ECU and everything I've read says learn to tune on a naturally asperated engine so that's where I'm starting. It's been fully installed in the car for a week and it's running well but I spent all week just getting to this point. I know there is a lot left on the table to crank out of the ECU but if a total noob like me can get the car running reliably then I think you'll be ok. Just remember it's a long road and the learning curve is steep. The first day I ran the car I was getting overwhelmed. I was thinking "why did I do this?" but I stuck with it and it's running way better than it was initially.
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Old 05-07-2018, 03:05 PM   #17  
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It took me 2-3 weeks to get my MS3x driving better than stock. The stock 1.6 has a lot of tip in lag and other things you don't notice until you change thingd out...

Cold start and idle though... I am still fiddling with both. If I actually sat down and tried to dial them in, I am sure I could get them better, but I just have not gotten around to it. My car still dies after the first start below 30f (it is fine on the second one). And idle is still high, but I am running open loop idle. Other than those, the car drives better than it ever did before.
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Old 05-07-2018, 08:47 PM   #18  
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I hate that I am so resistant to change....Of the MS available, MSLabs was suggested...as were some other MS3 based boards. If I wanted to spend <400 what would be the board for me (I have soldering skills)? I would like a 150-175hp car. I'm honestly pretty content with the car as is but I want a little more power...I think if I could find a well conditioned MP45 or MP62 I'd be content but they're hard to find. Pricing stuff out, it's hard to justify the expense for the gain. I'm sure all of you boosted guys had this same moment in time in your builds. I had assumed I'd build a manifold, pick up a T25/8, ebay FMIC, weld up my own DP/exhaust, Begi FMU, etc. and call it a day....The thought of spending so much on a standalone when I don't plan on going that extreme is hard to see past.
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Old 05-07-2018, 09:02 PM   #19  
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Let me be ridiculously clear.

Dont ******* do it.

Buy a plug in. Dont make me type an 8 paragraph list of reasons.

Source: tuned hundreds on all different models. Every variety from home made to privately made and sold to plug ins from mslabs and diy. It goes from a steep learning curve to suicide 9/10 times.

Dont. *******. Do. It.
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Old 05-07-2018, 09:09 PM   #20  
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Let me be ridiculously clear.

Dont ******* do it.

Buy a plug in. Dont make me type an 8 paragraph list of reasons.

Source: tuned hundreds on all different models. Every variety from home made to privately made and sold to plug ins from mslabs and diy. It goes from a steep learning curve to suicide 9/10 times.

Dont. *******. Do. It.
Damn man, lol. So is there a budget PNP? What am I looking at? $1100? Or does that include the DIYPNP at $430?
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