How are Dynamometers Used in Auto Tuning?
Engine tuning is big business, and how accurate and useful the process is comes down to having the right equipment. Arguably the most important piece of equipment in the tuning process is the dynamometer, also known as simply a “dyno.” In this article, we’ll be exploring what a dyno is, its role within the tuning process and what benefits they bring.
What is a dyno?
Put simply, a dyno is a device using to measure the force, torque and horsepower of a vehicle’s engine. For many drivers, if there’s only one set of numbers they know about their vehicle, it’s the power and torque, whether they measure in HP or kW for power, or in lb-ft or Nm for torque. You see them prominently stated on nearly all car specifications.
Broadly speaking, dynos can be divided into two categories:
- Engine Dyno – measures torque output from the engine crankshaft
- Chassis Dyno – measures torque and rotational speed from the tires
The chassis dyno is very common because it simulates real driving and is logistically easier to set up. The engine dyno requires the engine to be removed, which obviously isn’t practical for most cars.
How does it work?
Let’s take the chassis dyno as an example, sometimes called “rolling roads” by those in the know. If you’ve visited a garage before, you may have noticed one of these systems built into the shop floor. It may have looked like a set of rollers, and it could have been on a movable stand rather than in the floor itself. They’re actually heavy-duty drums as opposed to simply “rollers,” and once the car is placed on them and the drum brakes active, the car can be engaged and start turning its wheels.
As the drums spin, electronic measuring equipment calculates torque and power using the data it collects. Once you have the torque at any given speed, the machines can extrapolate HP using the formula: horsepower = torque x RPM/5252.
How do tuners use this technology?
It’s all very clever and sophisticated, and it’s great that we can get hold of this information use dynos. The next question, however, is how does this connect to tuning?
“Dyno tuning,” as it’s normally called, is where auto tuners use the data gathered from their dyno to help them tune cars to their owners’ needs. That need might be to boost performance, speed, power, torque or something else — it really depends on what you’re driving the vehicle for. The dyno itself doesn’t do any tuning, but it lays down the essential baseline of information that tuners then use to make adjustments.
Think of it this way. If you want to increase the torque of your engine, you would first need to know what level of torque you are achieving now, right? If you had no point of reference, you wouldn’t know how much to dial it up. That’s where dynos come in.
You use the dyno to get your baseline, then you do the tuning and make the adjustments that you want. After the tuning is done, you can test again to get your updated numbers. If it’s not quite right, you go through the process again.
What benefits do dynos bring when used for tuning?
The first thing one should mention when looking to the benefits of dynos is the usefulness of the data they bring. The truth is that chassis dynos area not as absolutely or technically accurate as engine dynos, but are obviously much more convenient. They can also show us a more realistic picture of torque and power under real driving conditions.
How does this benefit the tuning process, exactly?
- You can fine-tune your vehicle to meet your exact driving style and needs
Because testing can be done by measuring power output at different specific levels of acceleration, you can create a tuning program that tailors the car to perform exactly as you need it each day. This is real personalization; a level that factory-specs just can’t achieve.
- You can significantly boost your car’s speed and performance
Once you have the base data, you can tune up to greatly augment your horsepower and torque. If you’re a keen racer, then this is that winning edge that you need to succeed in your noble hobby.
- You can even achieve greater fuel economy
Have you noticed your car running out of gas faster than it did before? It’s not necessarily a sign of any significant damage, but more likely a symptom of common wear and tear and the need for tuning. A proper tuning with data garnered from a dyno can boost your fuel economy by several percent. Couple that with other maintenance and filter changes, and you can keep that gas consumption at its proper rate.
At Kraken Racing we have access to a specialised purpose built facility that allow us to be at the forefront of development within the industry. Having worked closely with Dynocom, ensured we have the very latest technology allowing us to offer power runs and ECU mapping on some of the best 4 wheel drive dyno systems on the market.
Because of our commitment to development we access to not only one but two 4WD cells, each utilising either a belt or hydraulic linkage system for the most advanced vehicle control systems. This means that our development of ECU files doesn’t stop and we can ensure we offer the highest quality of ECU software.
DYNO CELL 1 DYNOCOM 5000FX
The AWD-5000-FX series dyno is a mechanically linked AWD chassis dynamometer system capable of supporting speeds up to 175+ MPH and 2000+ HP. It is equipped with a Frenelsa eddy brake and enables us to perform acceleration, step, sweep and steady-state tests., view in real-time torque/horsepower output, at steady and changing speeds, to instantly evaluate changes made to the engine’s fuel or timing maps and allows for troubleshooting drivability issues.
The AWD-5000-FX Series dyno incorporates linkage which insures that the front and rear rollers are always spinning at precisely the same road speed. This process eliminates the possibility of activating a vehicle’s traction control system and also insures that a vehicle’s torque management system is operating under the assumption that the vehicle is not skidding, turning or slipping.
DYNO CELL 2 DYNOCOM 6500 AWD
The AWD 6500 chassis dynamometer system incorporates the latest in linear guided technology for precise wheelbase adjustments. Utilizing a pair of precision linear rod assemblies, advanced ball bearing units, a heavy duty pneumatic cylinder and electronic controls the wheelbase adjustment provides for trouble free and precise positioning over our competitors. Combined with Dynocom’s ultra-fast, micro-electronic designed PAU controller, the system provides precision speed synchronization and load optimization between the front and rear wheel driven dynamometer rollers eliminating any potential speed differential which may cause damage to the drivetrain of some AWD vehicles under test.
Dynocom’s eddy brake controllers are digitally controlled having an update rate of up to 10mS. Modern transfer cases have electromechanically controlled systems that can update at rates of up to 25 mS thus, to prevent damage to the transfer case, you must have a speed synchronization greater than 25 mS. Furthermore, the speed synchronization is an electronic hardware based solution. Thus a PC does not control the update rate and there are no software delays – the speed sync is always running and requires no user intervention. Dynocom’s eddy brake controller uses a digital phase angle modulation process to control our eddy brakes. This is by far superior than competitors zero cross process. Phase angle modulation is faster and more precise allowing for greater control of the eddy brake and voltage waveforms allowing for more responsive and positive speed synchronization.
Our 6500 AWD Series dyno incorporates a hydraulic linkage which insures that the front and rear rollers are always spinning at precisely the same road speed. This process eliminates the possibility of activating a vehicle’s traction control system and also insures that a vehicle’s torque management system is operating under the assumption that the vehicle is not skidding, turning or slipping.
The dyno is the auto tuners best weapon against inefficiency and lack of performance in all kinds of vehicles. Next time you want a tune up, doff your cap to the noble dyno and the key role it plays in making that happen.