Saturday, May 15, 2021

Emerald K6 Configuration Woes

Ran into some issues trying to finally get the engine to turn over that turned out to be an ECU configuration problem that was partially user error and partially some questionable choices made by Emerald M3D on how they package and sell their ECUs.

The Issue

When attempting to crank the engine over it wouldn't catch or run.  Probing with a multimeter revealed that fuel rail and coils weren't getting power, ECU logs also suggested that the ECU wasn't getting power to its second 12V in, either.  

The Problem

While it was pretty clear that the issue was that the ECU wasn't triggering the Main Relay to supply the injectors, ignition, or the ECU with battery volts, figuring out why was a bigger pain in the butt than it should have been.  I traced the Main relay back to pin 14 on the ECU which all of the documentation I could find on the K6 ECU lists as supplying +8v for sensors, not switching ground.  Weird but workable...except that the GBS harness is wired for the ECU to switch pin 14 to ground, not to supply 8v. 

I thought I might have to rewire the chassis harness to so the Main Relay would be triggered by a positive source from the ECU or that I might need to move the ECU pin to a different port.  But I couldn't find any option at all in the configuration software to actually set where the main relay is triggered from.  The documentation seemed to suggest that it would be triggered from Pin 4 as long as Pin 4 wasn't configured as an ignition driver but offered no alternatives.  And pin 4 on my setup is an ignition driver.

To make what could be a very long story short, I got in touch with Emerald and quickly discovered two problems:
  • I had the wrong version of Emerald's ECU software installed.
    • I downloaded the config software from Emerald's web site, I don't own any computers with  DVD drives that could have read/loaded the software that was in the included DVD drive.
    • I made the incorrect assumption that would be be the most complete, up-to-date version. It was not.
    • Some K6 ECUs require bespoke software versions, my K6 VVT was not 100% compatible with the software version on their website.
  • Emerald's documentation is is kinda crap.
    • The K6 documentation lists pin 14 as a +8v sensor. Emerald's support rep told me that pin 14 on the K6 VVT ECU is actually a configurable spare output.
    • Every single bit of documentation for the K6 ECU on both their website and on the DVD included with the ECU fails to actually correctly capture and convey all of the actual inputs and outputs of the ECU that I was shipped.

The Solution

  • Installed the correct version of the software.
    • Emerald's support emailed me the correct version of the configuration software for my specific ECU.
    • Seriously, who creates bespoke versions of configuration software like that?!?!
  • Set Pin 14 to control the main relay.
    • Changed the Main Relay trigger from Pin 4 to Pin 14.
    • Verified that the VVT solenoid had was configured to trigger on Pin 3 instead of Pin 17. (Old issue I found while sorting out the wiring harness.)

The Take Away

I was bitten by the very reasonable assumption that the software available on Emerald's site would be the most current version and would be able to configure all versions of the K6 ECU that they ship to customers.  Shipping bespoke versions of software for specific versions of an ECU is kinda crap.  I have to be careful now not to lose the installer.  It's also very likely because of the bespoke nature of both the ECU and the configuration software that there will NEVER be firmware or software updates for my specific K6 ECU or the configuration software needed to make it work.

It also means that when I take the car in to be tuned I'm going to have to make sure that my tuner has the special, bespoke version of the tuning software on his laptop.

Those aren't show-stopping issues but they are annoying.

However, the car stared right up and just ran after finally getting the ECU outputs correctly matching the reality of the chassis and engine harness configuration so that's not annoying.

In the future I may change the car over to a different ECU, maybe Megasquirt or Haltech, but for now I'm gonna go with what I got 'cause it runs.

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