WHY I LIKE LINK!
In 2010 I had a project vehicle come in that was in need of an engine management system that required variable camshaft control. The ecus we were favored at the time did not have the required functionality. After getting a good review from another colleague a Vipec V88 was chosen. ViPec at the time was the fully featured elite brand of Link Engine Management. This was the first time I had the pleasure of using a product from Link Engine Management. They have since become my favorite brand of ECU. I was told recently that I should write a little article on WHY I prefer the Link range of ECU’s, so here goes.
I am the type of person that likes to keep up with technology. I make the most of the capabilities of the engines I work with. In 2012 I decided to swap a Ford Coyote 5.0 into my (wife’s) 1967 Meteor Rideau 500. I chose the same Vipec v88 that had worked so well the first time I used one. The Coyote had 4 main requirements for ecu. It had to first and foremost control 8 cylinders of spark and fuel sequentially. Camshaft control for 4 constantly variable camshafts was also necessary. It also needed electronic throttle control. Lastly it needed dual channel knock control. The V88 delivered all of this and did it well. I was the first customer to approach Link regarding using their products to control the then new Coyote 5.0. There were no trigger patterns available in the software to match the Coyote. Within one week of initially contacting Link I had a working trigger pattern which allowed me to start the engine for the first time. This process involved emailing oscilliscope images and testing beta firm wares. The fact that this all happened in one week is a true testament to the customer support at Link Engine Management. At this point the engine started and ran just fine but the cams were locked in their parked position. Getting the variable cam timing functional took a couple more months as it required considerably more time investment with testing and checking cam position patterns. At this point it was 3rd quarter of 2012 and I am fairly certain we had the first Coyote running on aftermarket management WITH FULL CAMSHAFT CONTROL. Sure, there were other ecus running the Coyote but they all required “phaser lockout kits”. Really? Whats the point? Tuning and driving this car on a daily basis only made me love the V88 even more. The individual cylinder knock control was very tuneable and electronic throttle was also a pleasure to work with. At this point I had found an ECU that did everything I needed and did it well.
Fast forward a few years an Link decided to make a good thing even better. The good people over at Link headquarters in New Zealand decided to revamp the entire G4 line. This upgrade also included the Vipec range. The new line named the G4+ range for Link and I88 range for ViPec once again put Link way up in the echelon of motorsports ecu’s. One of the biggest improvements in the new hardware was a rework of the entire fueling strategy. Rather than a simple tuning strategy that used an input based on injector pulse width they moved to a more consistent strategy that uses the engines volumetric efficiency as the tuning input. Being this equation derives injector pulsewidth based on a calculation that takes into account injector size, rpm, manifold pressure, and volumetric efficiency it is better able to compensate for changes in any of the above. For example, fuel injectors can be changed without the need to retune the engine. In addition to this change of fueling calculation they also added the ability to use more inputs into the fueling calculation for even more consistency. You can add a flex fuel sensor, fuel pressure sensor as well as a fuel temperature sensor. With the popularity of ethanol based fuels flex fuel sensors are very much advised. Ethanol content can vary depending on time of year. Without a way to measure this fueling consistency can suffer. While the fuel temperature sensor provides a minimal difference to fueling, the fuel pressure sensor has a huge affect. Where this comes into play is if you have a problem with your fuel system. For example if you blow the vacuum line off of your fuel pressure regulator under boost the ecu will automatically increase the pulse width on your fuel injectors to compensate, preventing a lean condition. A few other options offered are traction control based on slip, gear shift control, shift blipping, closed loop fuel pressure control, rolling antilag, user configurable can bus, OBD2, as well as tons of other features.
Now that you have read all of the common items its time for all of the little things that really put the icing on the cake for me. Many of these may be a bit technical for some. First comes the 4D and 5D mapping. These are full tables that alter the primary fuel and ignition tables and are able to be turned on and off via one of a multitude of different conditions. A example of where this may be helpful is in a car with changes in exhaust pressure such as a car with exhaust cutouts. If the car is tuned with the cutouts open the car will be rich with the cutouts closed due to the increase of back pressure which reduces the volumetric efficiency. If an exhaust pressure sensor is fitted it can be used as an axis on the 4d or 5d table. This can then be used to trim the primary fuel table to reduce fueling when a rise in exhaust pressure is sensed. Another thing I love is the fact that there are very few restrictions on what you can use different outputs for. This makes every ecu output capable of doing the majority of functions. The engineers at link have also designed in “Virtual Auxiliary Outputs”. These function just like standard outputs however they have no physical output attached to them. You may ask “what is the point in a configurable output with no output?”. Well, as I mentioned earlier some mapping and tables can be switched by a multitude of outputs. While the Virtual output has no associated hardware it can be programmed to activate under certain conditions. This activation can trigger another event such as a dual fuel or ignition table, turning on a 4d or 5d table, switching an electronic throttle table, or switching between target boost tables. This adds an incredible amount of versatility. Configurable timers are also available within the software. This gives the builder/tuner the ability to turn on/off functions after a preset trigger event. For example an air shift on a drag bike. You push the air shift button, this triggers an ignition cut event as well as the timer. Once the configured time duration passes, giving the drive line time to unload, the ecu engages the air shift solenoid completing the shift. Another great feature is that every digital input on the link ecus has a software configurable pull up resistor. This gets rid of the need to wire in the resistors externally. This reduces labour costs, frustration, failure points, and is better looking than having resistors wired externally. The Link ecu’s also offer the ability to change the axes on many table to what you as the tuner want. This definitely adds a lot of freedom for custom configurations.
There are likely things that I missed however when you are dealing with an ecu with so many great options its hard remember them all. Link offers a large range of ecus from the entry level G4+ Atom units with minimal inputs and outputs for simpler builds to the G4+ Force GDI for direct injected vehicles to the G4+ Thunder ecu which comes equipped with 8 channels of both ignition and injection, dual on-board e-throttle, dual onboard wideband, dual onboard EGT, an onboard 3 axis accelerometer and a plethora of additional generic inputs and outputs. There are also many plug and play units for a range of vehicles. These fit in the stock ECU case and plug into the stock connector which makes mounting a snap. There are also several other units in between, all with a limited lifetime warranty.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
I’m sure I can help you find the Link ecu that’s right for you.