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Old 03-30-2015, 01:20 PM   #1
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Default Wideband O2 controller choices

hi everyone, after a lengthy hiatus I'm getting back into working on my 99 again.

I'm in the market for a wideband controller and there are quite a few options out now.

My 99 is daily driven in the summer and will be used for a few auto crosses and one or two track days a year. I intend to turbo the stock block(gt2560r @10-12 psi and hopefully 250 hp) and will be using an ms3 pnp tuned by myself.

Reliability and accuracy are my major concerns for a controller.

I see there are a few 4.9 LSU controllers. It will be nice to have a longer life sensor and no open-air calibrations. But to me, will it make a difference going from a 4.2 to 4.9 controller?

Also I've lost two lc-1 controllers on my other car (just randomly stopped working one day) and I've heard of others having issues with lc-1's. So innovate is not at the top of my list unless the lc-2 is really the bees' knees.

So far my options are aem uego, lc-2, glow shift (which I don't trust further than I can throw), zeitronix zt-3, plx dm-6, and prosport. Out of all of these I believe the lc-2 is the only 4-wire 4.2 sensor controller.

So any critical input on your controller would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-30-2015, 02:12 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by thegrapist View Post
hi everyone, after a lengthy hiatus I'm getting back into working on my 99 again.

I'm in the market for a wideband controller and there are quite a few options out now.

My 99 is daily driven in the summer and will be used for a few auto crosses and one or two track days a year. I intend to turbo the stock block(gt2560r @10-12 psi and hopefully 250 hp) and will be using an ms3 pnp tuned by myself.

Reliability and accuracy are my major concerns for a controller.

I see there are a few 4.9 LSU controllers. It will be nice to have a longer life sensor and no open-air calibrations. But to me, will it make a difference going from a 4.2 to 4.9 controller?

Also I've lost two lc-1 controllers on my other car (just randomly stopped working one day) and I've heard of others having issues with lc-1's. So innovate is not at the top of my list unless the lc-2 is really the bees' knees.

So far my options are aem uego, lc-2, glow shift (which I don't trust further than I can throw), zeitronix zt-3, plx dm-6, and prosport. Out of all of these I believe the lc-2 is the only 4-wire 4.2 sensor controller.

So any critical input on your controller would be greatly appreciated.
We have a discount running for what I believe to be the best wideband under $1,500:

The AFR500 is made by the benchmark company in high end calibration equipment (ECM) and offers the LSU 4.2 or several NTK sensors. No bells and whistles on this product, precision, accuracy and reliability are the only focus for this product.

For typical gas engine car use, the 4.9 isn't much different than the 4.2. However, as the aftermarket is maturing and Bosch is publishing better data, the control systems with the 4.9 sensor are better. Therefore the newest controllers with the 4.9 appear to be vastly better for response, accuracy, & reliability not due to sensor architecture but the aftermarket generally catching up.

The LC-1s were absolute trash. Innovate products have improved since then. The LSU 4.2 is 5 wire, not 4 wire.

The controllers that do not offer a free air calibration are basing their calibration on the factory resistor in the connector of the Bosch or NTK sensor. Sensors drift with age and it is possible to account for this drift. Unfortunately the aftermarket controls are still not fully capable and certainly don't offer a closed loop feedback with cal gas or a validation method. To make this simple, in a low cost aftermarket meter you want one with free air calibration capability.

Best of luck in your search!

Last edited by vtjballeng; 04-02-2015 at 11:43 AM. Reason: commercial sales.
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:23 AM   #3
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Thanks. What about install? Does your product have any other selling points over the competition?
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Old 03-31-2015, 03:38 PM   #4
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Thanks. What about install? Does your product have any other selling points over the competition?
What about install? You install it? Installation involves just power, ground, calibrating the sensor, and sticking it in a good exhaust location. If you want to use the analog output, it has that feature. If you use the analog output, you should check for ground offsets as you would with any analog input.

Here is the product & installation manual: google it

For the purpose of this forum, I will try to keep it brief. The AFR500 focuses ONLY on precise & accurate measurement with a long sensor life. The AFR500 & NGK Powerdex AFX before it have earned a stellar reputation among professional tuners. You can step up to a lab grade sensor with this unit and we recommend this controller to anyone under a $1500 budget or whose business doesn't justify the cost of an AFM1000 or Lambda Pro. This isn't a features focused product, it just does what it is designed to do with singular precision.

Quote:
Here is a relevant Q&A from the website:
Q. Why is the AFR500 special? Why do pro tuners recommend it so heavily? Why is it better than other products?

A. The AFR500 and the Powerdex AFX before it set a new benchmark in price / performance for the aftermarket. OEMs & Laboratories use extremely accurate and expensive hardware during calibration and detailed analysis for oxygen concentration values. Prior to the AFR500 & Powerdex AFX, this accuracy equipment was only available at high cost and typically only known by pro tuners and professional calibrators.

In the single instance of the AFR500, a major OEM supplier leveraged their relationship with the most respected laboratory & calibration equipment manufacturer to create an entirely new grade of product. While the AFR500 does not offer the bells and whistles of some systems, pro tuners quickly learned they were dealing with quality equipment that they previously paid thousands of dollars for at an incredible price point. With a wide range of sensor options available, the AFR500 allows tuners and consumers alike to use true calibration grade equipment at an incredible price point!

Most aftermarket companies represent groups of entrepreneurs hoping to capitalize on a market niche that was not being adequately served. While other aftermarket products offer many ancillary features, their reverse engineering has only taken their fundamental function to a point of nearly as good. The AFR500 offers unrivaled accuracy, reliability and sensor longevity at this price point.

Last edited by Braineack; 04-01-2015 at 07:54 AM.
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:11 PM   #5
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OP, I just was researching this and found out a couple things you might find as of use. 1) since last week all Innovate widebands are being shipped out with the 4.9 because the 4.2 is being phased out. 2) PLX said that if I am using a standalone ecu, the DM100 would be better but also, they offer the 4.9 w/controller minus the gauge I believe 3) for the innovate sidebands, the bosch 4.2 and 4.9 does has the same item number so the only way you can tell is by looking at the box. 4) Innovate & AEM said there are no gains significant enough to not buy a 4.2.

I don't really know the accuracy of any of this stuff so I'm just regurgitating what the companies said but I just went with the MTXL through 949 because they are supposed to have the updated ones because the restock every week so they don't have anything old. I went with the 4.9 because even if theres no difference, I want the updated sensor that I can buy replacements for.
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:22 PM   #6
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Right. I'm just leery of the reliability of the lc-2 given that I've gone through 2 lc-1's in a very short time. But I like that it is meant to be mounted in cabin and there are less wires. The search continues.
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:27 PM   #7
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The Innovate sales guy also talked a lot about how and why the LC2's hardware was not good. He insisted that the new LC2 and MTLX is miles ahead of the LC1 and the difference from going LC1 to LC2 or MTLX is not a matter of 4.2 to 4.9 sensor but the actual hardware.

Also I just noticed but man, what is with your log in name?.. It's gross man.
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Old 04-01-2015, 07:55 AM   #8
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he likes wine.
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Old 04-02-2015, 01:54 PM   #9
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I don't like wine.

I love it.

I just noticed your extremely high prop count. It's gro... nevermind.

Any other information besides what a sales guy told you? I've grown to not trust them after my second controller died and the only rational explanation I got was it broke because I was born or breathing or something.
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Old 04-02-2015, 02:38 PM   #10
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I don't like wine.

I love it.

I just noticed your extremely high prop count. It's gro... nevermind.

Any other information besides what a sales guy told you? I've grown to not trust them after my second controller died and the only rational explanation I got was it broke because I was born or breathing or something.
Trust the engineer, not the salesperson. An adage that has worked wonders in technical fields for generations.
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Old 04-02-2015, 05:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by vtjballeng View Post
Trust the engineer, not the salesperson. An adage that has worked wonders in technical fields for generations.
But what about the engineer who happens to be the salesperson? Or have they crossed over to the dark side?
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Old 04-02-2015, 05:48 PM   #12
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trust the guy saying his much more expensive wb is better because he said so. lol
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Old 04-02-2015, 06:13 PM   #13
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But what about the engineer who happens to be the salesperson? Or have they crossed over to the dark side?
There is a line to the dark side. Dedicated sales engineers. Sales engineers no longer do engineering development work. If the engineer still does honest development work, you are still good.

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trust the guy saying his much more expensive wb is better because he said so. lol
I meant that statement disregarding any specific product. I strive to get through to developers most of the time I am working on something. Talking with the sales people is usually like talking into void. They want to meet sales goals and don't really think a thorough understanding of the product is the best way to do so. Every now and then you get a technically minded person or a engineer who switched sides later in a career and it all is well.

I use $1500 to ~$25,000 meters for professional calibration work & lab testing... I would call those much more expensive.
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Old 04-02-2015, 11:16 PM   #14
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Not as much as the $300k+ machines my company makes
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Old 04-02-2015, 11:29 PM   #15
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Old 04-02-2015, 11:40 PM   #16
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Awesome read
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Old 04-03-2015, 11:18 AM   #17
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Haha, yeah. Engineers have torn that review to shreds forum after forum. It is a running joke among pros and you wouldn't catch any pro calibration engineer I've met near any Innovate equipment. Look at image 1 where they are holding a sensor in front of a cal gas tank... not how it's done, not even close. 9 sensors in one pipe in a similar but not the same area? No. No Control like proper lab grade test setup or proper gas control.

The winning unit is, by far, the worst of the group. Even other Innovate products are better than the LC-1 was, their early revisions were their worst meter. The older LM-1 before it was much better. Another note, for units that can control multiple sensors, some sensors are better than others.

That article does have some very good points about sensor aging, never have the sensor installed unheated, sensor temperature, & sensor pressure sensitivity.

This if from another thread:
The LC-1s were absolute trash. Innovate products have improved since then. When the LC-1 first came out, I sold a fair number with another company I worked for. Our failure rate was exceptionally high within the first few months. Noise problems, sensor failures, inaccuracy, software problems, communication problems, etc. Their LM-1 before the LC-1 was better and we were not expecting the LC-1 to perform so poorly. I suspect they revised their product but we stopped selling them quickly. Personally, I would just toss any LC-1 at this stage as nearly any controller is better.
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Old 04-03-2015, 11:45 AM   #18
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I used the AFX in one of my previous builds and it didn't explode.
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Old 04-03-2015, 12:21 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by vtjballeng View Post
Haha, yeah. Engineers have torn that review to shreds forum after forum. It is a running joke among pros and you wouldn't catch any pro calibration engineer I've met near any Innovate equipment. Look at image 1 where they are holding a sensor in front of a cal gas tank... not how it's done, not even close. 9 sensors in one pipe in a similar but not the same area? No. No Control like proper lab grade test setup or proper gas control.

The winning unit is, by far, the worst of the group. Even other Innovate products are better than the LC-1 was, their early revisions were their worst meter. The older LM-1 before it was much better. Another note, for units that can control multiple sensors, some sensors are better than others.

That article does have some very good points about sensor aging, never have the sensor installed unheated, sensor temperature, & sensor pressure sensitivity.

This if from another thread:
The LC-1s were absolute trash. Innovate products have improved since then. When the LC-1 first came out, I sold a fair number with another company I worked for. Our failure rate was exceptionally high within the first few months. Noise problems, sensor failures, inaccuracy, software problems, communication problems, etc. Their LM-1 before the LC-1 was better and we were not expecting the LC-1 to perform so poorly. I suspect they revised their product but we stopped selling them quickly. Personally, I would just toss any LC-1 at this stage as nearly any controller is better.
so post up proper documented testing?

I mean I want to believe you, but you'll need to be more convincing than "all the pros broz use it broz, so its da bes mayne" esp when its more expensive and I've re-read the description and advertising you keep posting up over and over and none of it sounds any better than fluffed up marketing/advertising/sales pitch

seriously. put up unbiased proof or.......
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Old 04-03-2015, 03:01 PM   #20
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so post up proper documented testing?

I mean I want to believe you, but you'll need to be more convincing than "all the pros broz use it broz, so its da bes mayne" esp when its more expensive and I've re-read the description and advertising you keep posting up over and over and none of it sounds any better than fluffed up marketing/advertising/sales pitch

seriously. put up unbiased proof or.......
Simply put, I don't have such documented testing and nobody else does to my knowledge. To do it properly would take hundreds of engineering hours and something on the order of $30k+. The people who are capable of doing this work already have excellent, trustworthy equipment in hand from companies like Horiba & ECM. Additionally, I suspect anyone willing to do such testing will have a bias.

Do you think any of the sub $300 meters is the best available? Is an LC-1 just as good as a $500,000 analysis stack? Why not? Why does some measurement equipment go up in price so significantly? Why do you find that expensive equipment in the hands of OEM & professional calibrators instead of equipment like Zeitronix or Innovate? We aren't talking about forum kiddies here, we are talking about seasoned engineers. People whose livelihood and careers depend on the this equipment, not hobbyists.

If I broke down every individual thing Innovate is doing wrong and what ECM is doing right (the AFR500 / Powerdex AFX is an ECM product), I would simply be giving away the IP. The bottom line is that their control circuit still leads to less than optimal sensor control, leading to shortened life and inconsistent readings. The NTK sensor remains the preferred option where the Bosch sensor wins heavily on cost.

David Darge deals with some of it here:
Tuning: Dyno A/F vs Wideband A/F - Page 6

I don't believe I have a fiscal bias here as I could sell literally any meter. I also sell AEM, AiM, some Innovate accessories and could choose any meter on the market to recommend. The other meters have improved dramatically but I choose to recommend the AFR500/Powerdex specifically as the go-to budget meter for accuracy & precision. I actually need to add some new product online from AEM & AiM because they have the bells & whistles that people want. But when it comes to which meter is the most accurate & precise in this market segment, I will strongly recommend the AFR500 / Powerdex AFX). If the customer can afford it, I recommend the NTK Calibration grade sensor as this is the NTK sensor that built the stellar NTK sensor reputation.

Gone are the days of the LC-1 insane failure rates, AEM heater circuit driver melting a gauge, and generally poor design understanding of the sensors. The LSU 4.9 has brought a new era of precision largely due to better understanding and engineering on the backend. For typical performance applications, the LSU 4.2 & 4.9 don't have major differences but the aftermarket wants to push the 4.9 because it is cheaper.

My recommendation list for accuracy/precision (not software/features/aesthetics/other random criteria):
  • $0 - read your plugs, listen for misfiring, using switching narrowbands to their maximum effect, monitor knock carefully. Use old school methods.
  • $299 - AFR500 / (old Powerdex AFX) with Bosch sensor for street applications. Avoid leaded & race fuels.
  • $349 - AFR500 / (old Powerdex AFX) with production grade NTK sensor for mixed applications
  • $449 - AFR500 / (old Powerdex AFX) with calibration grade NTK sensor for validation / dyno / higher end applications
  • $749 - AFR500 / (old Powerdex AFX) with lab grade NTK sensor for validation / dyno / higher end applications
  • $+200 - AFR500 / (old Powerdex AFX) a modification with extended afr range and lambda readout (AFM1600 board change by ECM)
  • $1700 - ECM AFM1000 with lab grade sensor - for sporadic high budget engines & validation
  • $3500 - ECM Lambda Pro - for frequent high budget engines & validation
  • $$$$ - ECM Lambda 5220 / Horiba equipment is equivalent - for professional level calibration when you plan to sell a product in volume or are at the top tier of motorsports or in lab/research environment
  • $$$$$ - Full gas analysis stack for laboratory specific evironment / Horiba equipment is equivalent - the authority.
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