Jeff Perrin

Jun 082008

Just to recap again.  The ECU Tuning device here is not a supported item and again this info is provided to show customers how we strive to be the first to tune these cars and get more experience than any other tuner.

Time to put that exhaust to the test!  Last time we left the EVO X progress we had a nice and shiny turboback exhaust all done and awaiting testing. To refresh your memory see our page located HERE. Here are a few pics to jog your memory!


mmmmmmmmm  V-bands….

So before we do anything, we are going to run the car a few times to make sure our power is right where we left it.  While our power was exactly the same as it was when we last left it, we experimented with the Unichips Closed Loop boost control.  In fact it worked very well!  For some reason, the Unichip guys don’t like using this but once setup it provide a slightly better response time, and after we pulled the car off the dyno it was much smoother and much better power delivery. Anyway, so we started with the same power, but better boost control that can not account for different load in differnet gears.


First up is the catback exhaust. The catback exhaust consists of 3″ 304SS tubing along with a unique center inlet muffler.  The OEM type of twin tip setup is used but with much better fitting 4″ tips. On previous test we have done on stock EVO 8 and 9 we saw about 15WHP by bolting them on. On this test it would be a little different as our car was still in Stage 1 tune. So running more boost, and running 50WHP more than stock.  My expectations are its going to make power, but not that much as we are getting close to maxing out the turbo.


Here is a graph to show you where we left the Unichip Tuned Stage 1.

I was very surprised to see the gains we saw!  We saw 20WHP in some parts of the RPM band, and a pretty good average of about 10WHP.  One really cool thing, as we expected, was the turbo spooling a little quicker.  This made for about 50ft-lbs of torque gained at 3000RPM.


Same tuning as we left the car in stage one form, only the catback installed

We left the Unichip and did no tuning, and as quick as we could we bolted on the 3″ downpipe and 3″ high flow cat pipe.  The most interesting thing is peak power didn’t change much nor did peak torque. But the power was much more smoothed out, and much broader power gains were had.  Meaning, we still got 20WHP, but as you can see below the area of 15-20WHP gained was much larger.


Same Stage 1 tune, but with our full turboback exhaust installed

Same goes for torque.  Similar peak torque gained, but much broader.  The downpipe and cat allowed the turbo to spool even quicker which made the TQ at 3000RPM go from about 240 to about 300!  That’s 60ft-lbs of torque!  So far so good, and now it was time to tune!


Now we tuned the ECU after installing the parts, and got a few more HP everywhere

The ECU tuning was worth about 20WHP in the midrange, and great TQ at lower RPM, but still the same power up top.  But again much smoother power delivery.  If we compare Stage 1 tuning vs Stage 2 with the turboback installed, the gains are still very good! Look at the TQ its huge!


Stage 1 vs Stage 2, not hard to see the difference

The Stage 2 setup vs Stage 1 setup are worth about 30 Peak WHP and about 30ft-lbs of torque.  And all this with no loss in power! Maybe this EVO can have some low end grunt?  Both the Stage 1 and Stage 2 setups are something we are going to be offering so keep an eye out for them.  So far the Piggyback ECU is actually working very well.  At this stage of our EVO tuning we have a couple cars running around with it, and so far so good.  Now its time for Stage 3 tuning with the FMIC. But first we have to prove the FMIC……..


 Posted by on June 8, 2008 Dyno Test & Tune Tagged with: , , , , ,
Jun 082008

We here at ALTA have done lots and lots of proving of parts over the years.  99% of the time parts do exactly what we want, or they do almost what we want and we modify them to make them work better.  Nearly every part we have we have dyno graph for it to back it up. The R56 crank pulley is no exception.  Just like our other parts, we have a very good back to back run to show how it works….. or doesn’t work……

Our concerns with a crank pulley are that removing the harmonic dampener might cause damage (very rare cases on new engines, but still something to prove) and the fact that some engines produce more engine noise causing the ECU to pull timing. The second concern is easily seen on the dyno with rapid changes to torque. With both of those things said, the ALTA prototype R56 pulley has shown neither to be a concern.

There are calculations for how much HP a lighter crank pulley or flywheel will make based off the diameter, and overall weight removed by the part.  With that said on every engine we have seen, we see about 5WHP gained from a lighter crank pulley. But this was the first time we had done a test on our own dyno.

Before we get to the results, its important to mention the difference in weight and construction. The OEM pulley is contrusted of 3 pieces. One is the inner steel par that contains the mounting flange for the crank. This piece is a not so precise stamped piece of steel.  The outer part is a machined piece of steel also. The third part of the OEM crank pulley is a rubber band that is molded between the 2 pieces.  This is the harmonic dampener part of the crank pulley. It even has the frequency at which its designed to dampen at, written on the band!  This is a long standing argument amungst enthusiests about the harmonic damper actually being necessary. Our opinion is time will tell.  The R56 crank pulley is ligher than the stock part by about 5 lbs or so.

Like other tests, we ran our 08 R56 at least 5 runs, to show consistency, then as quick as possible swapped the pulley and did 5 more runs.  All with the same times between runs and all that other stuff to keep it as consistent as possible.  In order to make this as quick as possible we pulled out the fender liner ahead of time and prepared with the tools we needed!


It’s a little hard to tell by the graphs, but we eliminated the first and last runs and picked the middle runs to show off the power changes. As you see (or maybe don’t see) the power changes are not really there.

Yup, that is right, it didn’t do anything!  Well if the calculations show it will make HP to the wheels why didn’t it on our dyno? This could have to do with the fixed amount of time the dyno runs. Meaning on a roller dyno with no load cell, the lighter pulley would allow the engine to accelerate the drums faster, and it would calculate more HP  to the wheels. This is just like when you change the wheels on your car (lighter ones of course), it gets faster and makes more HP to the wheels on roller types of dynos.

We know for a fact the crank pulley will increase throttle response which isn’t a measurable thing on the dyno, and definitely something that can be felt by the driver.  So while this part didn’t make power, we are going to do further testing to ensure the engine and ECU stay happy with the pulley installed.  In the next few months you will see our pulley either go up for sale, or an announcement that the part isn’t going to be built. But with the time we have on it right now, I can bet you will see it for sale, not in the crapper!


 Posted by on June 8, 2008 Dyno Test & Tune Tagged with: , , , ,
May 272008


The Great Subaru Intercooler Test

Its intercooler testing time.  After a semi cold winter, it was a great time to do some long awaited intercooler testing.  Because our 08 STI has become the mule for testing of other parts, its great for testing intercoolers.  We have great results from previous dyno runs to back up the consistency of the power (or lack thereof with stock intercooler).  Like other dyno sessions, we started with the same map and same dyno setup, and did a few base runs to see where we started.

Our last session we ended with our Stage 2 setup ( but with the Turbo inlet hose and intake system installed. Between then and now, we have added headers and no ECU tuning.  For this test we will continue without tuning the ECU. This keeps more things consistent and shows the real world results from just bolting on parts. After the intercooler test is over, an ECU retune will be done for our future Stage 3 setup.

The Hardware That Makes This Test Legit

We have been using Innovate Products for a while now and like a lot of our other testing, we continue to support and utilize their superior products.  The DL-32, TC4, and LC-1 are the 3 items we use to capture the data that you see below.


We use the TC-4 as our thermocoupler central hub. This unit takes up to 4 thermocouples and converts the signals into data so the DL-32 can read them.  The 4 channels are taken up with EGT, Pre IC temp, Post IC temp and Ambient temp. On the TMIC we drilled and tapped them into the endtanks of both the OEM intercooler and the PERRIN.  In an effort to keep them both reading the same temps, they were both installed in the same places on the tanks.  The Ambient temp probe was stuck to the face of the intercoolers. The TMIC had the probe mounted about 3/8″ off the core and the FMIC had it mounted on the bumper beam.


On the FMIC the pre and post temp sensors were mounted in the boost tubes right after the turbo and just before the throttle body.  While these are not exactly the same placement we had on the TMIC setups, it would still provide accurate data.


Here is a shot of all the probes mounted and hidden on the FMIC setup. The probes were permently installed with the FMIC in place so it was important to make it look nice and tidy.


The DL-32 is a Data Logging system that can read and log up to 32 channels of data.  IT has on board logging capabilities using an SD card which is very handy for road/track tuning. This unit itself logs boost, a temp sensor, RPM, and a few other 0-5 volt signals with lateral G and accel G sensor.  The TC-4 thermocoupler module plugs into the “IN” serial port  along with the Wideband 02 sensor.


Last but not least is the single most important tuning tool, the LC-1.  This is Innovates newest wideband 02 sensor which is an all inclusive cable/wideband module, and sensor.  As you see its in nice compact package that doesn’t require boxes, or special mounting. Just power and ground and you off!  All of these systems tie together with serial type system.  With all of them stringed together, the final part of the string connects to a PC or gauge, or both! This allows the use of the Innovate Logging software on the PC to be used and collect all this data at high speeds, or allow for a string of gauges to be connected to it.


Once setup the Innovate stuff is pretty cool and can provide a very clear picture of what is going on in your engine.  Below is an example of the data we gathered.  Besides in the graph form below, the data can be plotted against a custom built map. This is very useful when mapping an ECU.


Before we show our data, some important notes about the dyno and how we use it.  The fans we fans we were using is a constant velocity type. This doesn’t replicate real wind speed that you would see on the road, but it does provide a constant air flow.  All the intercoolers will function better on the road compared to the dyno.  The differences in how intercoolers work or cool the charge, will still be seen with these consistent parameters.  On that note, both Top mounted intercoolers were tested using the hood closed and using the OEM seal to direct the air through the IC.  This provides as close to a real world result as possible with our fans.  Some people put the fan directly on the intercooler, and while this does work, it makes for almost too much air flow at lower RPM’s.  Then out on the road (at lower RPM’s) the car may not run as well as it did on the dyno.

Ambient temp for the day was varying depending on if we look at the Ambient temp probe or the actual temp.  The outside temp of the car was 65F according to the outside temp gauge.  Also since there was no tuning done since the last Test and Tune, and there was now a header installed. The AFR’s were slightly richer.  With that said there was still very good gains from the header (roughly 10-15WHP). Then being able to lean out the AFR’s would net even more power.   But this wouldn’t be done until after the intercooler test was complete.

Leaks, yes sometimes we leak…..

We experienced a pretty large leak as the boost tube on the PERRIN TMIC slip off the turbo a few times (due to a second, and oily Y pipe) and it is amazing how much this makes a difference in power and temps. The obvious thought is power because of the loss of boost. But there wasn’t much in the loss of boost at all. Because the ECU is always adjusting for boost by keeping the wastegate closed, we didn’t really see much change at all until above 6000RPM.  Where we did see change was in temperatures.  We saw turbo outlet temps go up 25+ degrees and IC outlet temps almost as much.  This 25 degrees is where we lost power.  25 degrees hotter air mean less dense air, and less power.   So why is this? Its pretty simple if you look at a compressor map for a turbo.  If you plot air flow vs boost, you will see that more boost or more air flow pushes the turbo efficiency way off the map. This means a less efficient turbo and bye bye power.    Another effect on power is how rich the car runs with a leak.  Richer AFR’s occur because the ECU thinks there is air entering the engine and adds more fuel.  The ECU doesn’t know the air is escaping.  Of course the size of the leak will depend on how rich the AFR gets, but either way its bad.  The richer AFR and the turbo being less efficient can cause significant losses in power.

One item people don’t think about is the blow off valve. If this leaks, its not as noticeable. Because on a Subaru the BOV is vented back to the intake, so the car will at least not run richer. But the turbo efficiency thing comes into play and again a loss in power.   We are bringing this up because certain types of leaks may not be noticed on a boost gauge, and only seen on the dyno with a loss in power.  It is always a good idea to check for boost leaks, or vacuum leaks in your boost system. This could be as simple as checking all the vacuum hoses to something a little more complicated like building a plug for the intake system and pressurizing the entire intake/boost tube system with compressed air.  This will ensure your turbo is working properly, and you are not losing any power.

Onto The Test

Stock TMIC vs. PERRIN TMIC at ~17psi

First thing we noticed was the 15WHP changes were gone. Previously we would see pretty large HP swings when we would run the car quickly back to back.   Now it would take about 5 runs before the HP really started to drop. This is a great first sign of a better intercooler.  Couple other interesting notes is we saw roughly .5PSI more boost from 5000 to redline.  This is an important thing to note as the stock STI turbo pretty much can’t push more air than 14psi at redline. Adding more boost without changing the boost settings is also very good.  The air temps were much more stable from run to run.  If we compare the stock IC during the first few runs (while its cool) the PERRIN TMIC outlet temps are very similar.  Which means the efficiency of it is about the same.  The turbo outlet charge temps were very similar but slightly higher.  This could be because the turbo is flowing more air and the turbo is further out of its efficiency range.  This shows that the PERRIN TMIC makes power by being less restrictive, and more consistent.

Stock TMIC 17psi                                             PERRIN TMIC 17psi

3000RPM Inlet 171F/ Outlet 97F                                           Inlet 195F/ Outlet 107F

4500RPM Inlet 204F/ Outlet 102F                                         Inlet 228F/ Outlet 119F

6900RPM Inlet 261F/ Outlet 138F                                         Inlet 284F/ Outlet 158F

IC Efficiency    71%-63% at redline                                             69%-59% at redline.

The constant airflow from the fans you can see that its not quite enough to cool the thicker core. On the road, the PERRIN will start to perform even better.  Even with the lower efficiency it made more boost at redline, and it made more power from 5000 to the top.


Stock TMIC 20psi vs PERRIN TMIC at 20psi

With the Stock TMIC pushed to 20psi, we started to see where it really stopped working. Because the Turbo is running more boost, and is running out of its efficiency range, higher pre IC temps were expected.  This is also where the stock IC started to show its heat soaking issue.  Both IC’s were very similar the first run, but the stock IC run after run would heat up a bit.  Both IC’s from about 6000RPM on ran very similar in efficiency, but at lower RPM’s the PERRIN TMIC was more efficient.  The charge temps were a little cooler, the EGT’s were 50F cooler, and overall the power was a little higher.  The above graph shows the HP gained over stock, which is still very good.

The pressure drop difference from stock to the PERRIN TMIC got larger with the higher boost.  Especially in the areas where the turbo really starts to kick.  1-1.5psi more boost was seen at lower RPM with the PERRIN TMIC.  At lower RPM this results in a steeper sharper boost curve.   At 20psi the PERRIN TMIC was good for a few more HP and still that consistency, but not much cooler temps.

This is the intercooler that we had a leak issue with.  With the leaks present, we saw an averaged loss in roughly 30WHP, and air temps were about 20 degrees higher, and 1.0-1.5AFR richer. This turned into a 40WHP loss at redline, and that was running the same boost!

Stock TMIC vs PERRIN FMIC at 20psi

This is where we see what an intercooler is good for!  We did both 17 and 20psi of peak boost, but 20psi is what the IC was made for!  The stock TMIC and PERRIN TMIC work great for certain situations. But neither cool the charge air as good as an intercooler “could”. This is where a front mounted intercooler comes into play.  Having the intercooler on the front of the car is the most obvious place to put an intercooler. So why didn’t Subaru put it there?  Lots of reasons (not that I agree with all of them), packaging, installation, costs, responsiveness, insurance claims and not to mention the use of that signature scoop!


All the TMIC’s would see hotter and hotter temps as the runs continued. Meaning that if the IC outlet temp peaked at 140 the first run, by the 3rd or 4th run it would be 150F and so on. While our TMIC was still better than the stocker in this situation, it still had room for improvment. There is just not enough ambient air flow for TMIC’s to work properly under heavy load.  With the PERRIN FMIC installed, we would see intercooler outlet temps peak to 105F and by the 4th run it would peak to 110F.  Yes, the highest Intercooler outlet temp we saw was 111F, this is compared to 158F we saw with the PERRIN TMIC.  The below data is taken from the 3rd run of both the intercoolers with roughly the same time between runs.

Stock TMIC 17psi                                             PERRIN FMIC 17psi

3000RPM Inlet 171F/ Outlet 97F                                           Inlet 197F/ Outlet 92F

4500RPM Inlet 204F/ Outlet 102F                                         Inlet 248F/ Outlet 91F

6900RPM Inlet 261F/ Outlet 138F                                         Inlet 300F/ Outlet 99F

IC Efficiency    71%-63% at redline                                             80%-86% at redline.

AT these lower boost levels the turbo works perfect and has no issues keeping up with extra plumbing.

Stock TMIC  20psi                                                     PERRIN FMIC 20psi

3000RPM Inlet 218F/ Outlet 110F                                         Inlet 213F/ Outlet 103F

4500RPM Inlet 245F/ Outlet 113F                                         Inlet 274F/ Outlet 103F

6900RPM Inlet 289F/ Outlet 149F                                         Inlet 314F/ Outlet 107F

IC Efficiency        72%-63% at redline                                         75%-84% at redline

IC efficiency on the stock TMIC changes (compared to the 17psi runs) because the IC gets more and more restrictive as air flow goes up, and in turn needs more ambient air flow to cool it off.  With our constant velocity fans, this doesn’t happen.  But if you look at our FMIC, the efficiency goes up!  This is due to the IC being bigger and capturing more the ambient air flow in turn cooling the air better.  Remember this is with some simple fans, which do not represent the same type of air flow you see on the road!


So what is the downfall to the PERRIN FMIC.  A very slight loss in response.  The “fill time” is just barely noticeable compared to the TMIC.  Again the IC inlet temps were higher on the FMIC as it was flowing more air putting the turbo further out of its efficiency range.   While this might be the case, it still made more power.  Besides seeing the turbo outlet temps higher than other runs, the boost was also a little lower (but not more than .5psi) so after a retune, there will be much more than 17WHP and 13 ft-lbs of torque.


The Stock TMIC is ok, for a stock car running stock boost, but when pushed it started to show its faults. Not much else to say there!

The PERRIN TMIC is better than the stock IC.  It does make more HP than stock and makes more boost efficiently. But overall the TMIC still has cooling issues, because of where it is placed in the engine and because of the rather small opening for air to reach it.  Because the TMIC is not restrictive, and has some issues with cooling, this makes for a perfect intercooler when using Water injection.  Our PWI-1 can turn the PERRIN TMIC into a great IC for super responsive autocross guys that can use water injection.  But for those who can’t, the FMIC stomps the competition!


The PERRIN FMIC is so much better in all aspects.  Cools better, no loss in overall boost, looks sweet on the car, perfect ambient airflow, more consistent power, more torque……..  The only bad things are cost and install time. This can add an easy $1000 to the overall cost which is a huge factor when it comes to moding your car.  If you are in a hot climate especially one with 91 octane fuel, or want the most from your Subaru, this is a must!

While this test was done on our 08 STI the same results will be seen on other vehicles.  While road speed, and ambient temps will vary from car to car and climate to climate, the deltas from before and after we found should be expected.  Also the data we got from the Innovate Logging system is very clear and very fast and for anyone looking to gather accurate data at a reasonable price look to Innovate Motorsports for you needs.  All of our shop cars are outfitted with their logging systems and wideband 02 sensors which are a great and necessary item for doing test like this.

See we told you our FMIC is for more than just looks!  Look for future tests we do proving more PERRIN parts!  We have lots of parts and lots of parts to prove!  Next time, we will be putting that Water Injection nozzle to the test!





 Posted by on May 27, 2008 Dyno Test & Tune, Part Design & Tech Tagged with: , , , , ,
May 272008

Update EVO 8/9 AccessPORT, RIP  :(

In the world of EVO ECU tuning, there is one basic standard form of tuning.  OpenECU very quickly became the standard form of tuning because of its open-ness to anyone that wanted to help figure out maps and how the ECU actually worked, oh, and not to mention you could flash your car for $99.  Since we have been using the COBB AccessPORT on our Subaru’s for a while now, we thought lets tune our EVO with it and see how it goes.


It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why there are not many AP EVO users out there. The AP costs more than OpenECU, and it came out long after OpenECU.  But there are many things that OpenECU can’t do compared to the AP. For the end user, the biggest thing is, you do not have to have a laptop to change maps. Other user features for the AccessPORT are its ability to store many maps and be able to change them within seconds, not minutes.  The AccessPORT can also be a great diagnostic tool as you can view real-time data from the ECU.  It can clear codes, do 0-60 times, quarter mile times, and lots of other things.  These are all things that are important to the end user.  One great feature for the end user is its live tuning ability.  This may seem like a benefit only to the Tuner, but the end user is the one having to pay for tuning time.  The live tuning also means you can switch between maps loaded onto the AccessPORT itself.  Before we experienced the EVO AP, we had used the EVO Hydra, which does have live tuning, and lots of other great things about it (except cost) and of course we had also used the OpenECU.  The problem with OpenECU is how quickly a tuner can tune it.  Every change made requires an ECU reflash.  This can be very time consuming. With the AccessPORT, 99% of the maps we would actually tune, are live tunable which means, instant changes.  So instead of it taking 10 flashes to get the fueling dialed, it can take 10 minutes.   This also makes for a great development part.  We can test new things, make instant changes and see instant results with the engine still warmed up.  One thing that was great to play with was the MIVEC control.  More on this later.

Before we stared tuning our EVO 9 with the AccessPORT, we looked to the forums to see what other wonderful things tuners were saying about it.  We had come to find that some tuners were frustrated with the bugs and it not working.  So they went back to OPENECU to get their tuning done.  At first this was not our experience at all.  We tuned on our EVO for about a half a day with no issues.  It was fun learning how the ECU worked, and the software worked just like the Subaru Protuner software, except a bit slower.  After the day stage 1 was done, and it was time to flash the ECU for the second and final time this is when the bugs stared to appear.  In the end it came down to some very simple updates and we were back on track.


For this test and tune session we would be starting with John Lietls recently purchase, bone stock EVO 9.  We would do our normal base runs to determine what the starting HP is, then from there tune the ECU to build our Stage 1 mapping.  After that we would install our PERRIN 3″ Turboback Exhaust, with cat, and then tune for Stage 2.  For this test we would be using our Dynapack dyno and using the same parameters we always use. The launch time was 3 seconds, and weight of vehicle is 3200 lbs, 3 gear, with a run time of 14 seconds this is also with ZERO SAE correction.  Like we have mentioned in other dyno sessions, these numbers can be changed and can affect the overall numbers. Longer time less power, more hold time and the turbo makes more boost and therefore more torque!

Restrictors are for wusses

Before we go to flashing the EVO, we actually read the instructions!  If we follow Cobb’s instructions on how to setup the EVO for their maps they supply, we were supposed to pull out a restrictor pill in some of the boost tubes.  The pill is one that affects how much overall air the boost solenoid can bleed off.  We understood, why, but we don’t like to follow directions, and with 2 pulls on the dyno we found that the stock setup runs 100% wastegate Duty Cycle.  This means that, no matter what we do, we are not going to get more boost on the stock setup.  EBCS to the rescue!  We thought what another great application for our EBCS, and a great way to get some advantage over the competition offering the AP.  This is a powerful tuning tool we have used on many cars with great success, and because of the stock EVO boost control system is totally maxed out it only made sense.  Because of this solenoid needing to be installed, and because we didn’t want to spend forever tuning the car, we didn’t run the Cobb mapping back to back with stock.  227_large

We ended up with the power we expected to get. We got just over 240WHP and 255ft-lbs of torque.  Compared to other people’s dynos, and our previous results we had see on a couple local dynos.

Boost is up first

We know these cars run pretty safe in stock form and run very well with just turning up the boost.  So we played with the boost control system first. It’s a pretty simple system, not too many variables to play with.  Because of this our EBCS worked great and it didn’t take long before we were making the boost we wanted.   21-22psi peak tapering to 19psi at redline.  With boost dialed, it was time to move onto fueling and timing.  We spent some time getting the curve just right, then dialed in timing.   Like most people tuning EVO’s you quickly find that the timing is rather flat.  Overall the tuning is pretty simple, and very fast with using the Protuner software.

MIVEC tuning

This is our first experience with tuning the Mitsubishi version of Variable Cam timing.  Our past experiences are with the Subaru’s so how much different could the MIVEC be compared to AVCS????  Well its not.  I have seen the tuning articles on EVOM regarding how to tune the MIVEC, but I like figure things out for myself, so it was time to play.

The Cam timing map is just like the other maps where its base on Load and RPM.  In stock form the cam timing is not very smooth in that it goes up, then down, then up then off.  With our experience on the Subaru’s, this is not very normal.  Because the COBB Tuning Software is loaded with Live tuning maps (Maps that you can change and get instantly flashed to the ECU) we took advantage and played around the numbers for a while.  First we stared with a map that had ZERO’s in the maps, dynoed it, then a map with 10, 20, 30 and on up.  The zero map was horrible and caused a loss in power and spool at lower RPM, but gained power up top. This was expected.  On our maps where we experimented with 10, 20, 30 degrees on up, we saw the turbo spool quicker at lower RPM (expected) and power drop up top (also expected).  After found the point of no return on the Cam Advance, we over laid the dyno graphs and found where they crossed, modded the map, and bam, a perfect MIVEC map.


With the MIVEC setup and rockin’, we found even more gains in low end power, and midrange power.  In the end our results were great.  Zero loss in power anywhere, and huge gains everywhere.


After the MIVEC and timing were dialed, in, we started to lean it out. Like most people find, 11.5-11.7 is where the EVO is most happy.  Any leaner and in stage 1 form, higher knock counts would pop up.   Before we were done, we played with the timing a bit more and smoothed out the TQ.  Below are the results from base tuning to our Stage 1 tuning.  40WHP and 40ft-lbs of torque, and almost 500RPM quicker spool, can’t complain about that.


Stage 2 tuning

Stage 2 includes a turboback exhaust and an ECU tune.  The exhaust we would be using is ours of course.  The downpipe is our normal 3″ downpipe made to fit all years of the EVO’s, the cat pipe we used actually contains a cat (I know, not something normal in the EVO world) and the catback is again our PERRIN 3″ Stealth Exhaust.  Before we did tuning we did another back to back test compared to the stock system.  In previous tests we did years ago, we saw about 15WHP gained from the same system with no cats. This was on an untuned EVO.  So when we saw even better power on an ECU tune we were very happy, and with a cat!


As expected the turbo spooled up even quicker, this made us do one more MIVEC test to make sure we were not missing out on even better spool or top end power.  We did the same test and saw about the same results, the only real difference is the HP crossover points, of the different timing, was slightly lower.

Further Tuning

For Stage 2 tuning, we left the boost the same as we felt it was plenty high enough while keeping the stock intercooler and not to mention pump gas.  With further fuel and timing changes we got a few more HP and ft-lbs of torque. But from this we can also see we reached the limits of airflow with the current setup.  Besides cams being a proven item on the EVO, the other item I think holding it back is the intercooler.  Most EVO owners do not look to replace this item right away because it at least has it mounted in the front of the car. The small sized charge tubes are the hold back on the stock core.  These do add restriction to the system, and with the HP gains we have seen previously, with our FMIC, I think there is another 20HP sitting there before the cams are installed.

Below is the graph of gains we got over the Stage 1 tuning compared to Stage 2.   Again another 300RPM quicker spool, 20ft-lbs, and 20-30WHP can’t go wrong with that!  The way our dyno works, is that during the launch, it holds the engine at an RPM for a certain amount of time.  During this time, the engine builds boost, and in stock form we would see about 3-4psi. With stage 1 we were seeing 5-7psi.  What is amazing is during launch with the stage 2 setup, we were seeing 10psi of boost!   We understand you will not see this same kind of load on the road, but it is a very accurate test showing the turbo spooling quicker.


The graph below shows the base runs we did compared to the final Stage 2 results.  With almost 1000RPM quick spool, 60ft-lbs of torque and 60-WHP, you bet this is a noticeable mod!



Who wouldn’t want more power and more reliable power.   We are currently selling the AccessPORT for the EVO, and with the results we have, we will be offering it with our EBCS and our custom map.  The map will be FREE if you purchase the AP from us, and along with that, we will have a packaged Stage 2 deal for those who are interested.  This will only be available to those who have 92 octane fuel or better, and to those with the EVO 9.  EVO 8 and 91 octane guys will have to wait. We have lots more


 Posted by on May 27, 2008 Dyno Test & Tune Tagged with: , , , ,
May 252008

Mini created a great aftermarket intake system for the Mini a few years back, the John Cooper Works Intake.  The JCW intake system consists of a slightly larger air box, and a more traditional cone type air filter.  This intake system contains a flapper that opens up under high load conditions allowing cool fresh air to enter from the window cowel.  This unique flapper keeps the intake system quiet under normal operating conditions, but adds that sweet Supercharger wine when the ECU demands more air.  While this is a  good intake system, there are 2 shortcomings, the filter and the intake hose.


We have tested our ALTA intake against the JCW intake swapping out both the filter and the intake hose, and found about 4WHP from swapping out the intake hose and about 3WHP from swapping out just the filter.  Most JCW customers are ok with swapping out the intake hose as this doesn€™t change the sound very much, and also can be ordered in black to keep that OEM look. But most JCW customers are not going to throw away a great intake system just to get the ALTA Foam filter.


So besides the new ALTA JCW replacement filter being a great way to add power, it is also a great way to save some money.  The JCW OEM filter is not cleanable, it must be replaced when dirty.  The cost to replace the filter is very expensive! Buying an ALTA JCW replacement filter and one cleaning kit will cost you less than buying a new filter.


The ALTA JCW Replacement Filter is $79.99, add our Filter cleaning kit for $13.99 and you have a few extra HP and a filter you can keep for the life of your car.  Take it one step further and add the ALTA Silicone Intake Hose $104.99 and gain a few more HP!  Another great benefit is gas mileage. Both the filter and intake hose make power by freeing up the intake restrictions, so you will notice a very slight increase in fuel economy.

The New ALTA JCW replacement filter will be shipping in less than 3 weeks. Give us a ring if you are interested in pre ordering one!







 Posted by on May 25, 2008 Dyno Test & Tune, MINI Only Tagged with: , , , , ,
May 102008

For this session we had 4 good things to test.

1. New FMIC core design versus old prototype

2. Boost tube kit

3. Turbo inlet hose

4. Intake system before and after with exhaust system installed



All of these tests were done with our new in house Dynapack AWD dyno.  While the overall numbers may vary from previous ALTA runs published on the Internet, the difference before and after is what is most important when making comparisons.  This is important to note as our base WHP and TQ were lower than previously found by about 8WHP and 10ft-lbs of torque. This is somewhat expected, (we want to make this clear) sine the date, time, location and humidity are all different. This should in NO way be considered a means to doubt previous results.  Like all other ALTA dyno testing, many runs were done to back up gains, and to show consistency.  The runs published are the runs we choose that represented the best-averaged gain.

NOTE: Dyno testing is great for keeping things consistent, and is recognized in the industry as the best way to compare HP and TRQ gains.  The constant airflow and load values help produce both accurate and repeatable results.  While testing on a public road could be done, this testing method is neither safe nor legal.  Wheel Horsepower numbers we see on the dyno should be lower than what you would find on the road. So expect those who use G-tech type HP monitor systems to see a bit more that what we see. Again, comparison is the key!

One variable that is difficult to control on the R56 is boost.  Like previous runs we had done on the R56, the boost was not very consistent.  Sometimes runs would make more boost down low, but cut it down up top. Others would make less boost down low and keep it higher up top.  We have hypothesized that MINI programmed the ECU to deliver a certain €œVolume€ of boost over a given period of time. Say we do a run that when the dyno is launching it makes 6psi, then jumps 12psi at 3000RPM, then at redline it makes 10psi.  If we install a part that frees up some boost, the launch boost might go to 8psi, then jump to 14psi, but at a certain point, the boost drops to 8-9psi at redline.  This happens in varying amounts depending on the actual boost levels. While this all sounds confusing, the good thing is, the way the Dynapack sets up each run, makes it consistent between runs.  The dyno graph below shows one of the most extreme examples of this phenomenon.


TEST#1 Intake test with Turbo-back installed

During our first test we published online we never showed the difference the intake made with our 3€ Turbo-back exhaust installed. This setup is becoming more and more popular, and more and more people were asking about this graph.  So we did it while retesting some other parts.

When first testing our intake system on bone stock car, we found much more gains across the board. When testing it with our 3€ Turbo-back installed, we were seeing the bulk of the gain at higher RPM, but still close to 10WHP. Below is the graph showing our averaged gains.


You can see there is a large gain at lower RPM, but some of this was due to the car running 2psi more boost there. The boost from there on up was the same as the previous run.  This shows that the OEM intake is still a restriction at the upper RPM€™s.  While the graph shows a gain at low RPM, since the car ran a couple PSI more there, we didn€™t think it was fair to use it as a selling feature. Either way, over all the turboback and intake together will net about 30Ft-lbs and 30WHP over stock.


While we initially developed this product as a dress up part to compliment the rest of the ALTA items, we were pleasantly surprised when the dyno results revealed good news. The illustration below shows how this product removes intake restriction. The hose on the left is the OEM unit sliced in half, and the ALTA replacement inlet hose on the right. Note the dramatic differences in ID’s from one to the other. This allows a larger volume of air to be ingested with less restriction.


As you see, it actually gained HP!  This is a run with our intake, FMIC, and turboback already installed.  We were again pleased that the gains were very repeatable and that from run to run there was the same 7-8WHP from about 5400 RPM on up.   This is a great looking part,  and has been shown it performs just as well if not better than it looks. Combined with the ease of installation (less then 5 minutes) it will become part of our formula to make your MINI  that much faster!


TEST #3 Boost Tube Replacements

Like the gains shown above, this item also proved its merit as well as its good looks! While we were just about to pull the car of the dyno, we noticed we had enough time to throw this on and see what happens. Again, this part was initially designed as dress up part with a performance flair; we should have seen this as a performance part with a dressy look! We also removed a rather curious device that resembles a muffler of sorts, but MINI placed this on the intake side. While we knew our hoses were bigger than the OEM hoses, and much smoother all the way down to the intercooler, we never said it made HP.   Check out the side by side comparisons below and you can see now why the gains were seen.


This test shown below was done with the intake, turbo back, FMIC, turbo inlet hose and boost tubes installed.  While the aforementioned items might contribute to the boost tube making the gains we saw, it is proof positive that the boost tube makes power.
The most important thing we noticed was the increase in boost.  When the dyno was launching the car, the starting boost was about 1.5psi higher, which this carried across the entire RPM band.  Except above 5700.  This is where the ECU didn€™t like seeing this extra boost.  We don€™t think it was boost cut as the engine didn€™t stop it just lowered the boost.  With the smoother, and larger internals of our ALTA hose, it makes sense it makes more power.  Now keep in mind this is an entire replacement hose, not just a sleeve to get rid of the silencer.  I think a major reason why these make power is because they get rid of the tight restrictive bends, and the larger inside diameter.

TEST#4 Prototype ALTA FMIC vs. Final FMIC design

Our Prototype core showed huge improvements over the stock core, by dropping the intercooler outlet temps as much as 40 degrees F. The Prototype core we measured roughly 3.0 PSI of pressure drop across the core, where the stock one was around 2.0 PSI.  Normally this would cause a loss in HP, but the above proves that the air temp being cooler is a big part of why it gains power.

With some tweaking of the final design of the core and endtanks the retail units of the ALTA R56 core further improves upon both cooling and reduces pressure drop.  The intercooler outlet temps improved nearly 10 cooler degrees F, compared to our prototype.  (totaling more than 50 deg!) Cooler air means more power!  The pressure drop of our prototype was a little high, so we looked to improve this the most.  Again with some tweaking we got the pressure from about 2.8psi to a much more normal 1.0psi.  So we improved both pressure drop and the cooling of the intercooler with our final version.

This info was something we have had for a while, now we have the dyno graphs to back up the new design as not only being more effective, but also backing up those claims with solid HP gains.


This test is with the prototype intercooler and final design ran back to back, and with-in minutes of each other.  Just like we expected to see, more WHP at the upper RPMs.  Not only is the overall WHP it gains very noticeable, but the ALTA FMIC looks really awesome on the car!


While many conclusions can be drawn from these results, they certainly show that airflow and charge air temps are crucial to making the maximum amounts of HP regardless of the boost level. When more boost can be added, as well as maintained across the RPM band, even MORE power can be had, and these airflow mods will only make those results more significant. We have been working for a lengthy period of time on an ECU product to compliment these other ALTA Products, and we will be able to tell everyone about it before November 1st 2007. Stay tuned.

You can use these results to help determine the best path for you. Most clients are drawn to the visual, and aural benefits of an exhaust and intake. But these results show you can get similar gains with the intercooler, inlet hose and boost tubes. The latter is a far stealthier setup. So ultimately the choices are yours! The best gains are with all items combined, and then with the upcoming ECU added to it! Stay tuned for the next round of dyno testing from ALTA!

Questions? Feel free to e-mail or call us at anytime. We always welcome a conversation with a fellow enthusiast!










 Posted by on May 10, 2008 Dyno Test & Tune, First Look, MINI Only Tagged with: , , , ,
May 102008

Through out this article I will be referring to Water/methonal injection as WI. With this entire test and install, we are showcasing this as something anyone can do. There is not a single part of this test that a person should feel scared to do except for the tuning which should be left up to a professional tuner.

Water injection has been used in many industries for a very long time.  We are finally bringing it to the Mini world!  Many have seen our PWI-1 system, and if you read the features from our site, you will be sold on it compared to other systems.  This article is not about the PWI-1 system, but about using WI on the Mini cooper.

Why would you want to use WI on the Mini?  The Intercooler is small, and lacks in the cooling department, smaller SC pulleys increase the charge temps, all these things increase the engine tendency to detonate or knock.  So since running race fuel every day is not practical, the next best thing is water/methonal injection!  The WI is only on when you are above a certain load point. Meaning only when the engine is about a certain RPM and or boost level. So it only injects it when you need it. This makes the consumption rate very low for normal driving conditions.

WI is all about cooling, which in turn controls detonation which allows the engine to make more power, and more power safer.  Normally just injecting the mixture nets a loss in power.  But with some cars, because of limitations of fuel and how the ECU is tuned, they can gain power.  With the Mini some have seen gains with just injecting water/methanol, but with this test we will have to see!

Using the wonderful BimCOM software from RossTech, we collected some great convincing data!

We started with a customers 2005 Mini Cooper S (which BTW, Mr. Sterns Mini is one of the sweetest Minis around).  This car has an ALTA 15% SC pulley, ALTA header, ALTA intake, stock IC, and Invidia 60mm exhaust.

As with all Mini Cooper S€™s, or any boosted engine, more boost is the key to making power.  Since boost isn€™t going to change much unless we increase the SC speed, by a smaller pulley, or higher redline, the increases are not going to be huge, or are they??


There are a few good places to install the WI system in the Mini, but we chose a place that is both functional and shows off the system.  With the install we choose to use the window washer tank (passenger side tank). Because the tank is much lower than the pump assembly, we will have to use a primer pump.

We thought we would use the OEM pump assembly to be the primer but the problem is wiring it up, and using diodes to do this wasn’t going to be a job for everyone. So we used an off the shelf windshield washer pump from NAPA for about $14.  Next was to remove the fender liner to get to the tank.  The tank is a little tricky to remove, but once you figure out that there is a hidden connector (below) it comes out very easy.


After drilling an tapping a 1/8NPT fitting into the bottom of the tank we are ready to re-install it back into the car. Next up is the primer pump install.  This is a pretty simple job.  Drilling a couple of holes to mount it, and connect the tank hose up to it and we are done.  Wiring the pump is simple.  The PWi-1 has 2 wires ready to go, so all we have to do is extend the wires to the pump.


With the fender liner back in its time for the pump assembly and and wiring job. The pump assembly fits great in the window cowl area, and it is very easy to get a drill in there for the mounting holes.  Besides the normal positive and negative connections, the only tricking connection is the fuel injector ground signal. This connection is important as this is how the PWI-1 picks up fuel injector duty cycle and determines how much water to inject.


All done!


The last step in the installation is is the nozzle placement.  Normally putting the nozzle before the IC is better, when the IC is in a bad place, or is very small.  So the Mini should have the nozzle before the IC.  The only problem with putting it before the IC is that there is no good place that will distribute the water over the charged air in the tube equally.  Because of the wide opening, if we put the nozzle in the center, much of the water will not affect the outer channels of the air, or the outer channels of the IC. Yes the water will be ingested in the engine, but much of the charge cooling effect will go to waste.


After the IC was a better choice as it iwas better centered over the boost tube, and would deliver water better to the complete charge.  Since it was closer to the cylinders, it would also have better in-cylinder cooling.  The only thing it may not effect is the charge temps. But we will have to see!


This is the one part of the whole install that is not for everyone.  This requires cutting of ECU wires, and some soldering.  Along with the install comes tuning, which needs to be done by a professional. This physical installation isn’t very hard. Basically there are 5 wires to tap/cut into and then mounting of the head unit.  From there is where it gets tricky.  Tuning the ECU is not something for everyone. Besides having a dyno, and the tools to measure things like knock, AFR, and temps, the knowledge needed to adjust parameters is priceless. This is where you need to take your car to someone that knows what they are doing.


During the test we ran multiple runs for all changes. This ensures that the engine temps have stabilized, and proves the changes we were making.  First off we did 7 base runs to get a good base number.

BASE RUN-shows base power as we might expect from these parts.


RUN WITH WATER ON- shows that the ECU is happy with WI on, and no tuning.  Similar results might be had be race fuel.


RUN WITH SOME FUEL TUNING- got some smoothing to do, and there is definitely more power to be had.



RUN WITH FINAL FUEL TUNING, solid consistent, safe gains.



-Charge temps dropped significantly.  During the base, non-tuning runs with no water injection, we saw charge temps (post IC) reach on average 48C.  Couple of times we saw 52C. This is with the stock IC of course.  With the water on, the charge temps were much more consistent, and much lower.  34C is the highest we saw. Even with back to back, quick runs, we saw the first run peak at 32C, and the second run done 15-20seconds later, we saw, the same peak of 32C!!  The charge temps being lowered 20C is a huge gain.  20C cooler charge temps, means less detonation, more ignition timing can be added, and the engine will be running much safer overall.  Anyone in hot climates should really look into this as a safety device.

-Overall knock energy stayed the same.  Normally when you increase power, weather by boost or tuning, the engine will create more noise.  Given that there was an increase in power, the noise stayed about the same.  When the water turned on (before tuning) the engine noise actually dropped about 20%.  Again showing how much safer the car will run with WI.

-More power and torque everywhere!  That is pretty obvious from the graphs shown above.  The most important area where power was gained was at lower RPM. The ECU is tuned very lean here, and with the instant boost.

-the ECU liked more timing if the fuel would allow it.  The WI proves this, by the fact that turning it on with no tuning nets good power increases.  Because of the gains we saw before tuning, the PWI-1 by itself it a great option for more safer power.

-With the AFC pulling timing (because we added fuel) at lower RPM, there is still tons of power to be had.

-Once again, this combo of parts makes more power than the JCW kit, and it is still far less money.


213WHP and 190ft-lbs of torque is great power for a 15% pulley car. Maybe the best results out there.  I would venture to say this is the highest HP 15% mini with no ECU flash (higher redline).  Compared to an intake system, or exhaust or anything else, the gains are much better add to that durability, and we have a winner.  Normally when you get to this point in €œbolt-ons€, to get a gain like this is not possible.  But this is only a small showing of what WI can do.  Because we are using the Apex AFC to retune the fueling, we are not able to change timing independently.  Because the AFC changes the MAP sensor output, it also effects timing.  More fuel = less timing, less fuel = more timing.  If we, I should say when we are able to tune fueling and timing separately, we can do far more!

I am sure some are seeing this test thinking “Great, WI works, i am  just going to go buy one of those cheap systems.”  One thing to remember  with other systems is they do not all deliver the proper fuel/water mixture. Most of them just tune on at a given boost, and deliver the same amount of water through the entire RPM /load band.  This is bad as too much water will be delivered at low rpm/load, and not enough at high rpm/load.  The progressive nature of our system delivers that 10-20% water vs. fuel everywhere.  This is important to making the most out of the WI.

David€™s car can gain more power by a couple of things, one being a larger exhaust, like our 2.5€ system, a smaller 17% or19% pulley, larger Intercooler and one of the most important things is a properly tuned ECU. A simple redline change will net an easy extra 10-15WHP with the existing setup.

And yes, David is already bugging us about those next parts.

Apr 252008

I know, we have been sitting on this info for a couple weeks and its been burning a hole in my head holding onto it for so long!

So we know that the auto ECU has the same pin out for the Unichip to work. But we were a little unsure that the Unichip will work well with the auto tranny. Too much power, or a trouble light from signals being changed, or who knows.

On the dyno, we needed to establish a good base line, and establish the proper way to run it consistently. Obviously running it in manual mode was necessary, and 3rd gear worked the best. But because of how the Tranny Control Unit works, we couldn€™t floor it below 2000 RPM with out it down shifting. Also if we floored it to far, you could feel the pedal hit a switch, which would also cause it to downshift. So after a little learning curve with the auto, we got very consistent runs. (which are the Blue lines on the graphs) To me all these things are strange as I rarely drive automatic tranny cars.

As with any automatic tranny car, there is more drivetrain loss when compared to a manual tranny. So on the Mini, how does this effect the Wheel HP? Actually not much! Our R56 test mule made 175-ish Wheel HP and 210ft-lbs of peak torque. Below is a graph showing the results of a catback test we did, but also it shows the stock power level.

Graph showing R56 manual tranny stock HP and HP with ALTA catback

With some base runs done, we consistently saw 175-ish WHP and a much flatter 180ft-lbs of torque.  This car was not totally stock, it did have an intake system and turbo inlet hose installed.  These parts have been shown to add roughly 15WHP beyond stock which means the auto is at a pretty good disadvantage over the manual.  We could guess that a stock Auto would put down 160WHP, and 165ft-lbs.  But all we can do is guess until we get another auto on the dyno.  If you look a little closer at the HP difference at 4000-4500. At these RPM€™s the manual makes about 30 extra HP. In this area, you can see where the Auto starts to suck some of the power from the engine. This could be partially due to the torque converter not being locked up, who knows??  Now that we got the bad news out of the way, lets look at the good things!

A semi local customer Gary Simpson is the Mini enthusiast letting us use his car to do the testing and tuning on. While many Auto owners are not into the performance aspects of their car, Gary is not like the normal auto customer. Gary wanted the same setup like our shop car (previous to the GT2560 turbo kit) including a Unichip. So after we did some base line runs, it was time to put on all the parts. After about 5 hours of work, the ALTA boost tubes, FMIC, Turboback exhaust, and Unichip were all installed and ready for the dyno.

With the testing on the manual with our full list of parts installed, we would see about 200WHP and about 230Ft-lbs of peak torque, or a gain of 25 peak WHP, and 30ft-lbs. The same parts installed on the auto gained roughly the same HP and TQ. If you look at 4000-4500 RPM there is a 30ft-lbs, and 30WHP gain there. The only difference is the peak numbers are lower. What is important here is the difference from one to the other. Below the purple line shows the power before the Unichip was tuned.

Next up was the Unichip. Before we loaded on an existing map, I did a little playing to see how the auto reacted to more boost, and more power. After some playing I loaded on our base stage 3 mapping. Car ran the boost it was supposed to and it was pretty happy. This mapping is the slightly detuned Stage 3 mapping we ship with all our Unichips that are to be used In areas with 92/93 octane fuel. This showed about 20WHP gain, and about 30ft-lbs, just like we advertise. But we wanted to do some custom tuning to see how the car would react to a little extra ignition timing, and a little leaner fuel mixture. After we were done with the custom tune, we were left with an aggressive map and a good daily driver map. Both were tuned to about 20PSI falling to about 14psi at redline. All this netted about an extra 10-12WHP and about 20ft-lbs.

Dyno graph showing R56 auto w/intake and Inlet hose, Stage 3 form (no tuning), and Stage 3 form with ALTA tuning.

From all this testing, we learned that the Auto does have more drivetrain loss than the manual tranny cars, but the gains are about the same as the manual. The Unichip works perfectly fine on the Auto, and it also sees similar gains as the manual sees. So all you Auto guys should feel pretty comfortable buying any of the ALTA R56 products and not have concerns with the tranny. Then secondly, the Unichip is now a solid viable option for you! I know Unichip has had some issues with the plugs, creating temporary/intermittent connection with the ECU, and we just released all this great info to get the Auto guys and gals excited about the Unichip. But we are happy to announce new ones are a couple weeks away from showing up. So while there is a slight delay in everyone getting their Unichips, we feel, (as does Unichip) that these will be 1000% better, and all 100% tested before they leave.

Thanks again to Gary Simpson for letting us use his car a test mule! Hope he still loves the new found power!


 Posted by on April 25, 2008 Dyno Test & Tune, MINI Only Tagged with: , , , , ,
Apr 252008

The Story

Well as many of you have seen, not all of the ALTA crew and vehicles made it to the Dragon Event.  We had some issues with our new GM 4500 truck.

Cruising along down I84 at about 10pm it broke down.  We were about 100 miles from Salt Lake City, and got towed by an awesome tow truck driver (S&M Towing) to Tremonton.  You might wonder, what could tow a double stacker car trailer and a huge GM 4500??  Well a Semi!  If it weren€™t 1am, and dark out, we would have taken a picture!  It was a very small town, but there was a GM dealer, so we could get it fix!  Right???  After a night in the hotel, it was “fixed” and we started on our way. With Dennys in our stomach, we were ready and excited as we were finally driving some roads we hadn’t seen (been on lots of Vegas road trips lately).

100 miles outside of Salt Lake City, it broke down again!  This time it got towed to the small town of Coalsville, another great small town in Utah.  Moores Towing took care of this tow, and besides him being a totally cool guy, he owned a lot of the businesses in the town.  As you see, it doesn€™t really fit on the trailer so well!  It ended up being towed back to Salt Lake City to a HUGE (this an understatement) GM dealer.


Back in a hotel for the night.  The next day comes, and they still hadn€™t looked at the truck, and it was time to make the decision, that we either go home or go to the show.  We had to make an appearance so we drew straws for who gets to take the R56 to the Dragon.  Off went John and John!  Yup I drew the short straw, so I got to stay with the truck and trailer.

Late the next day the truck was fixed, and the dealer said it had a TSB out for a TCM to ECU communication error.  They flash the ECU and I felt great that it was going to make it home with no issues.  I loaded up the R53 (been using it to get around) and about 100 miles out of Salt Lake (going home) and it broke again.  Not real happy at this point, but hey, I had a DVD player, and Kill Bill 1&2 to keep me happy until the tow truck came.  Being that we were 100 miles from Salt Lake, we were close to Tremonton, and sure enough, here comes S&M towing!  Back to Murdock Chevy for what might be the final resting place of the 4500.

This time, with a little deeper digging into known problems and TSB€™s, they found a TSB for an intake pipe collapsing!  Upon inspection, sure enough, this turbo intake hose was joke!  There was evidence that it was collapsing and burn marks from the friction of the air trying to squeeze by it!  The closest pipe was in Tennessee, and it was too late to Next Day Air it.  So the dealer made a steel pipe to fit inside of the rubber pipe to get us home.  Once again, I was on the road again, and feeling good about the fix.

Well everything went fine for the next 2 days of driving. I made it home with basically no issues! Thank god (or whoever you want to replace that with) for small town hospitality and awesome tow truck drivers!

There was a lot of time spent building displays, making signage, getting the booth ready, and new R56 parts we made, that we didn€™t get to show off because of the truck issues.  So here you go!  This is a small showcase of the parts we built and had for sale that should have made it.  When reading about the parts below, envision that they are in a really cool booth with 3 ALTA Employees talking about them.


ALTA panel filter


This item was one we had ready to sell at the Dragon, but it didn€™t make it.  The ALTA panel filter I not just a normal panel filter replacement like many others.  The older Mini air box was made pretty well in that the portion above and below the filter is very open.  The New R56 filter is much different!



The lower portion of the R56 filter has very little room for air to travel across the entire filter.  We saw room for improvement in this filter by making it slightly offset and slightly thinner.  This simple change allows for more air to be drawn across the entire filter. Besides that, it is a high flow foam filter, which like all our other filters provides less restriction, and the ability to clean it for the life of the car.


From the above diagram you can see how much thicker the OEM filter is and how far it hangs down.  The Alta filter provides roughly 2 times the volume of air under the filter.  Dyno results will follow very soon!  Installation of this filter can be done in 5 minutes of work!

ALTA 3€ Catback Exhaust

This was seen on our R56 we had in Vegas, but production is all done, and here is the final part.  Same design as seen in Vegas.  The system consists of 100% 304SS, 100% 3€ tubing and straight through mufflers, high tech V-band flange connections and an adapter to fit to the stock exhaust.  As we have proven before, this makes great gains with 15 Minutes of work!  Here is a shot of the new system with the twin tips.  This provides an aggressive look for the back of the car, and a perfect mellow sound!



Another part that we had at AMIVI was our ALTA BOV (Blow of Valve) and BOV block off plate.  These parts are an essential part to increasing the boost levels of the R56. The OEM BOV is an electronic device that the ECU purposely blows off to control boost.  When upping the boost in the new car, it is important to not allow the weak BOV to open and also it is important to not let the ECU dump boost from the BOV.


If one would like to add sound only, our BOV along with the OEM BOV still installed is another great option.  This is simple, and allows the OEM BOV to blow off under light load and ours to blow off under heavier loads, and make some cool sounds!


The Block Off Plate requires the removal of your OEM BOV, which takes roughly 20 minutes. To install the Blow Off valve to the R56 adds roughly 1 hour as the intake system needs to be removed, and port needs to be tapped in the intake manifold.

ALTA Intercooler Diverter

This item was something we had proven on our shop vehicle when doing some dyno testing.  Like our other IC diverter, this too helps get more air into the intercooler.  If you are standing in front of the car, and get down to the level of the intercooler, you will see that some of intercooler is not seen. The diverter inserts above the intercooler, and directs more air down to the intercooler.  It€™s a simple modification that increases the density of the charge and in turn more Horsepower!  The installation of this part requires the removal of the bumper, which takes roughly an hour to do.



Add some flair to under you hood with the ALTA boost tubes.  The OEM rubber hose are somewhat restrictive in size, and they have a silencer installed on one side of the car. Who would want to silence that cool turbo sound!  Included with the ALTA boost tube kit, are high quality SS hose clamps.  These hoses are available in red and black to match your Mini, and take about 2 hours to install.


ALTA GT turbo kit

This was supposed to steal the show!  But didn€™t make it!  So here are some good pics of the kit, in its early stages.  The kit uses a Garrett GT2560R turbo, and has the ability to use 3 other larger turbos.  With this kit we wanted this kit to be able to produce 50WHP more than the stock turbo, which this turbo will easily do, and in fact, it can do about 100HP more!  And for those crazy guys we can make one that supports easily 300WHP!

The kit shown below illustrates the main pieces of the kit.  Besides the turbo, an intake system, downpipe with high flow cat, boost tube connection, Manual boost controller, oil lines and coolant lines, and of course instructions!  What makes this kit very unique is how simple it is.  We definitely expect to be leading the way in turbo replacements on the R56 Mini Cooper.  Expect the price of this kit to be under $2000, and take roughly 4 hours to install.


The kit is shown here on our stand we made for the show.  You can see its pretty simple, intake, turbo, downpipe and boost tube connection.


It not a super secret, but you can see here the part that makes this kit simple and durable.



Shows more of the Guts of the kit.

ALTA 3K turbo Upgrade

The last item that we planned on spilling the beans at the Dragon, was our other turbo upgrade.  In everyones quest for more power, or more fun, we came up with a less expensive way to get a little more from the OEM turbo.  We will have very shortly an upgrade for these that will produce 30-40 more HP beyond the limits of the stocker.  This upgrade is something that will work with all other OEM fittings like oil, coolant, intake and exhaust system. We need a turbo upgrade that is a little less intense than the GT turbo kit. This is the answer and anyone with a few wrenches will be able to install this.  The kit will use an OEM turbo modified to flow more air.  Expect this upgrade to be available in a couple of months, and cost in the $1000 range and take 2 hours to install. As time passes and we can finally start to tune these cars, this upgrade will become very popular and something hopefully as popular as a Supercharger pulley!!

Please feel free to ask us questions about any of these parts, or any other part we have for the R56 not shown here. Don€™t forget we have the complete turbo back exhaust, PSRS, Swaybars, intake, Front mounted intercooler, and many other parts!





Apr 222008

Where Does the SC pulley go???

Well as many of you know we have had our new 07 Mini Cooper S for a few weeks now.  In those few weeks many new items have been developed.  Many mimicking parts we offer for the Supercharged cars.  Even a €œSupercharger Pulley€ type of part for the R56 is in the works.  If there was a way to let only our customers read this and not our competitors, we would, but hey, this info will help educate our future R56 customers and hopefully get them to buy our parts!

Lets start with what kind of power the R56 makes. According to Mini USA, the new car is supposed to make 172 horsepower, with 177 pound-feet of torque, up 4hp, and 22ft-lbs.  Like other dyno runs we have done in the past, we started with a Dynopack Dyno.  On the scale of high and low reading dynos, its right in the middle, so results will not be skewed one way or the other.  We spent a lot of time setting up the dyno so results would be more accurate and consistent.  Start RPM had to be adjusted because the car built boost so quick, as well as other things. But once we were all set, it was time to do a run.  For the fans we used 2 big fans and the hood closed. Both positioned about 2ft from the bumper.  Lastly one of the parameters we messed with was the start RPM. Because this car build boost instantly, too high a number resulted in 14psi of boost just sitting there when the dyno launches.  We ended up with 1300 RPM, where the car would build about 4psi of boost before the dyno let it go.  This instant response is why small turbos can be a good thing.

Hmmmm, something doesn€™t seem right here.  We were making more power and more torque at the wheels than the engine was rated for.  We checked to make sure the setting were correct, and they were. So why is the power so high??  We have our theories, but that is all to be discussed some other time.  Sport mode did nothing but improve throttle response, the boost level, and boost consistency was the same.  But boost consistency played a big part in consistent power.  There seemed to be 2 different boost curves we would see.  The most common was a peak of 15psi, dropping to 13psi, then back to 16psi, then dropping off to 12psi.  A big roller coaster!  Then about every third run, we would see a very low boost curve.  Peaking at 11psi, dropping to about 9psi, then climbing to 14psi, then back down to 10psi.  Because we were logging everything going on in the car, there was nothing we really saw that caused this. Even on the road we noticed these strange occurrences.  So needless to say, during the testing, all the €œLow boost€ runs were removed and not accounted for.


Our initial test of the intake system was done with the OEM hood scoop left in place.  Our intake is designed to remove this, but we wanted to prove how this was a necessary mod.  So we did 3 quick runs with the scoop on and 4 quick runs with the scoop off.  Below are the runs, with the strange low boost runs removed.  The dyno€™s runs are redrawn over with a wide brush to show the average of the 2 runs.  With no scoop, the filter temps constantly climbed.  In 3 quick (10 second interval) runs, the temps were at 150 degrees.  With the scoop removed, an instant 30F drop occurred, and a constantly cooling temp change started.  The next 3 quick runs showed a nice change in both temp and Wheel HP.  The gain was somewhat expected, and the scoop needed to be removed to get the most from the intake system.


Above graph shows averaged runs with and with the scoop being blocked.

So where is the €œcomplete€ cold air intake??  The feasibility for a cold air intake is never out of the question, but the cost is the issue here.  We wanted to bring the best bang for the buck to the plate first, not scare people away.  Since our intake did so well in its form you see here we will continue with developing it this way.  Plus we have some things up our sleeves to make it even better.

On a side note, when dealing with MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensors, small changes to turbulence in the intake system, can make huge changes to how the car runs.  Because we are familiar with this problem on other cars, great care was taken to eliminate any turbulence issues that might throw a CEL, or make the car run too lean or rich. We can say for a fact that our intake replicates the stock MAF curve nearly perfectly!


Above graph shows averaged runs with and with the scoop opened up and intake installed!

Next up, the Cat-back exhaust€¦.

For all these tests we started with the car being bone stock. So the OEM intake went back on.  The catback exhaust is comprised of just that, an exhaust that starts after the cat(s). Yes there are 2 cats on these cars!  This part is what we feel is going to be the most popular part to install, because of the sound and HP gains, and legality of it.  The legality comes from the fact that it isn€™t a part the CARB cares about, and it doesn€™t mess with EPA issues.  The only thing that the catback will have issues with is noise, and we will be far under any states maximum decibel level.

The ALTA 3€ Catback is comprised of 3€OD,18g 304SS tubing, with V-band connections where needed. V- band connections provide a leak free, gasket less connection, that allows for rotation of the 2 joints.  The look of the muffler section we wanted to keep similar to stock, but more beefy.  With the larger round dual wall, twin tips, and polished can, I think we make it as perfect as we could.  The sound of the catback is very mellow and not much louder than the OEM system.  The OEM Exhaust is made from 2.166 or 55mm OD tubing, so needless to say, its small for a turbo car.  So how do we connect the catback to the small OEM system?  With a small adapter!  Behind the last cat, you simply cut the exhaust, and slip our system on!  Simple job anyone with a hack saw can do.  With all these features at a reasonable price, it will be hard to beat what we are offering.

On to the test.  Like our other parts, we did many runs to prove the gains were not a fluke.  After our 7 or so runs we saw a great average gain of 10WHP and 10ft-lbs of torque above 4500 RPM. The only thing we plan on changing is the sound. In catback form, it is almost too quiet.  So, a slight muffler change for a slightly louder sound and we are done.  Because of how quite this is, look for 2 different versions one louder than the other.


Above graph shows averaged runs with the 3″ ALTA catback installed.


Next up was the turbo back exhaust. The turbo back exhaust consists of the same basic parts as in the cat back, add a 3€ mid section with CARB legal cat, and a downpipe with another CARB legal cat. The complete turbo back system is 3€ everywhere, but the first 8€ are 2.5€ tubing to make the turbo connection and gain clearance around the header.  One of the most important features is that the OEM heat shields fit over the downpipe. This we feel is very important as the turbo sits so close to the hood.

Onto the dyno test.  Like the catback by itself adding the downpipe and midpipe netted very good gains.  We gained more than 20WHP and 20ft-lbs which is awesome considering the car still runs the same boost levels during these runs.  Besides the HP we gained during the runs, one thing we noticed was while the car was in its holding pattern on the dyno, it was getting 7psi of boost now, not the 4-5.  This is also seen on the graphs by the huge 40ft-lbs gained at 2000 rpm!  So another important thing to take note of!  This would definitely be noticeable on the road at low rpm.  Sure enough, on the freeway cruising around, we get nearly instant boost response.

We are setting the standard from which others will be judged from.  Yes another company has an R56 exhaust out, but its 2.5€ and they never did a before HP run. So they claim it makes 27HP because they made 202 at the engine, and since the stock car is supposed to make 175, it must make 27HP.  Not very good proof IMHO.


Above graph shows averaged runs with the 3″ ALTA Turboback installed.


Finally Mini put a front mounted intercooler on this car!  Compared to the R53 intercooler, the size of the R56 IC is bigger and much better place. But once again Mini could have done a little better.  First off half the IC sits under the bumper.  This is not good!  So one of the first non-obvious parts we made and tested was an IC diverter.

A simple but optimally sized plate that diverts the air down to the IC.  We did all of our tests above with out this to make the results more €œreal world€.  But our initial tests showed a pretty noticeable change in air temp, and IC temp recovery.  First off, the first 4 runs, the post IC temps would go to about 150-151 at the end of the run.  Between runs we had about a 40 seconds of recovery, which post IC temps would drop to 129-130. With the diverter installed, we saw a solid 6-7degrees of drop!  This is only with a single fan in the front of the car, definitely not a good representation of air flow you might see on the road.  So the potential for this to be a good inexpensive mod once on the road is proven with minimal air flow.

Now to our first FMIC prototype.  Using the €œno IC is too big€ theory, which works 90% of the time, we set out to build 2 different styles of IC€™s, but first some basic calculations of the OEM IC and our potential ALTA IC€™s. Using how the OEM IC is constructed, tube and fin, and comparing it to our potential bar and plate cores, we found we could make a core that fits in the OEM position and make it larger with more surface area, and a less restrictive core.  We found we could make the Surface area bigger, and the ambient charge side bigger.  Another simple calculation we made was the volume of the charge side entry. This would give us a way to compare how dense the OEM core is and compare it to ours which in turn gives us an idea on how restrictive the core might be.  The first potential ALTA IC would be freer flowing as the charge side density was less given the overall increase in size, and it would cool the air better. So this all sounds good, except it wasn€™t enough.  For a small increase in these benefits, we would still be battling with ambient air flow issues.  So IC design number 2 was calculating out to be better, and look far cooler. Like you would expect it to!

A few stats of the Intercoolers

ALTA proto vs. OEM

Cubic Inches                                                      215%  bigger

Charge Square Inches (charge tube only)          155% bigger

Fin density per square inch                                20% less

Charge side square inch minus fin density         158% more

What does all this mean?  Bigger core, more cooling potential, bigger freer flowing core, less pressure drop.  So we know what we need to build on paper, on to the test.  We have a plethora of different cores laying around the shop so creating the prototype was easy. Some sheet metal, and a couple of modded cores, and we have our proto.  First off the proto fits the car perfect and if you made it to AMVIV you saw how it filled the bumper!

First few pulls showed great gains down low.  The peak HP was about the same which has a lot to do with the boost the ECU runs at 5000RPM.  Like previous runs sometimes the ECU would just not run the higher boost.   But when it did the higher boost runs, we saw an increase in boost and power at low RPM.  But because we were getting a little more boost than the ECU liked, it would close the Throttle body close to redline.  Which I think that we could have seen more power from 6000 RPM up, had we been able to tune the ECU to run more boost.  But very good gains at low RPM were had which is great sign of things to come!


Driving impressions.  There is ZERO change in response. Even thought the volume changed, the turbo spools so quick there is not a single difference in feel, except more power!

An important thing to take note of is that the charge temps were far cooler. Before we were seeing about 150-155 at the end of the run, and 130 before each run.  With the IC installed we never saw more than 110 degrees at the end of the run and 105 before each run.  This is a huge improvement!  We calculated STOCK IC efficiency at 63%, and ALTA IC efficiency at 85%, which is great!  The core we used we have tested many times to show it is slightly restrictive, but cools very well.  With the increase in boost we saw, and a slight change to get the pressure drop back to 1psi range (stock is no where near 1psi) I think there is a huge potential for this part.  Especially when we start tuning the ECU to run more boost (higher charge temps), the ALTA FMIC will shine!

The final prototype core will be tested in the upcoming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for that!


Above graph shows averaged runs with the 3″ ALTA turboback, intake, and FMIC installed.


The first obvious part we thought of was some type of boost controller.  Our first boost controller worked very well at controlling boost.  But the ECU sure didn€™t like it.  The ECU does 3 things to control boost. The ECU has an air control solenoid that varies its duty cycle to allow more or less vacuum (yes vacuum) to close or open the wastegate actuator to control boost pressure.  If the engine is running more or less boost than programmed, the ECU first uses the solenoid to control the actuator, if that doesn€™t work, then it blows the BOV off.  Finally if that doesn€™t work, the ECU closes the TB.  When setting up and testing our 2 different boost controllers, we had a hell of time getting it just right.  So we had to come up with a solution to the BOV blowing off, and keep the ECU happy.   After some minor tweaks to the ALTA Blow Off Valve, we solved that problem.  Now onto adjusting boost.  Below is and example of some of the runs doing just that, and comparing it to a couple runs with the OEM boost controller. The really low power runs show the boost controller set below the stock boost setting and shows the ECU closing the TB and making the BOV blow off.


Above is our first runs with our boost controller installed. This shows that not enought boost and the ECU freaks out an dcloses the throttle body, and makes the BOV blow off.



Above is our best run with our boost controller installed. This shows that great power can be had, but a bit too much boost at upper RPMS made the ECU close the throttle body and loose power.

After the above runs we backed off boost a little to keep the ECU happy.  We lost some of the peak power, and low end power, but got rid of the huge loss in torque.  Over all the highest HP was had with the boost controller running on the ragged edge of what the ECU liked. If we can hold this, I think there is more than 30ft-lbs to be gained at lower RPM and easily 20WHP gained at low RPM.  Our 2 different boost controllers will be available soon, but until there is a flash to get rid of the boost limits, it is kind of a pain to setup.  This part will go hand and hand with an ECU flash when they are available.

A question that arises is, can this kind of boost control be flashed into the ECU? Who knows, because the wastegate actuator is vacuum controlled, I believe that some boost can be added, but not tons as the actuator may have a hard timing staying closed under boost, and when the turbo is first spooling up.  But the 2 different ALTA boost controllers with an ECU flash will definitely work and work very well.

Supercharger Pulley for the turbocharged R56?????

This may be a little confusing for some, but the quest for the R56 €œsupercharger pulley€ is upon us.  This simply refers to a part that is rather inexpensive, but makes lots of HP. Or best bang for you buck!  With the Supercharged Mini, we have all come to love the smaller SC pulleys. They are cheap, easy to install, and make big power.  So what is this part for the new car?  Well all of the parts we have designed, and tested all make pretty good gains with the stock ECU tuning.  But the ECU is really holding us back.

So is the ECU flash the SC pulley? I am sure most are thinking yes, but a flash is going to cost more than the normal R53 flashes.  So $800???  I think that takes it out of the running.

Is it the Intake system? Its not too expensive, easy to install and make 10 or more WHP. It€™s a good choice, and with the cool sounds it adds, it could be the winner.  But its still not tons of power.

The turbo back exhaust??
This makes tons of power and torque, makes cool sounds, and looks awesome on the car.  This could be the winner!  But cost is an issue.  It€™s a lot more than a SC and install.  In a cost no object world, this is the winner by far, but we are still looking for that around $300 item.

The ALTA boost controllers€¦€¦.hmmm. With the above graphs showing the gains, and the elimination of the big dip, this has good potential. For about the cost of a SC pulley and installation, this may be the ticket. The only issue is it needs to be adjusted, and that means some way of measuring the boost is needed.  So gauges, or an OBD reader would be necessary. In the end to get the full use of the ALTA boost controllers, you would need some type of ECU tuning, or flash.

ALTA FMIC?? It€™s not a good €œSupercharger Pulley€ type of part because its more than $300, not quick to install, but it definitely is the best looking part for your mini!  Its potential for big power is huge and we believe that this will be one of the most popular parts.

ALTA flash€¦€¦ This is something you will see in the next few months.  Much is in the works, and you will see both R56 and R53 ECU flashes very soon.

So what is the Supercharger Pulley for the R56???  At this point there are 5 good candidates. The ALTA boost controllers I think are the best candidate and in the up coming weeks we will debut the parts and further testing of them.  With that said, at this point, a combination of parts and the ECU flash will be an integral part of making the most from the R56.

Some interesting notes:
1. The car loves the individual parts being installed.
2. Combining the parts with other parts made more power, but not quite as exponential as we wanted.
3. With all the testing, the car is no where near the edge of performance, so lots of head room is left in the R56.
4. Breaking the 200 WHP will be easy!
5. Getting rid of the huge dip and loss in torque will be easy with a flash and or our ALTA boost controller.
6. The ALTA 3€ turbo back exhaust produced the most HP of all the parts, and with minimal noise.

ALTA in the past is not one to €œspill the beans€ on our testing, but as we have come to see over the years, Mini people are a technical bunch of people, and like to see this.  The downfall is our competition will also read this, and most likely learn things they never knew before they even get their hands on the new car. But we feel the public would like to see hard work that sometimes we hide when making parts.  So I hope everyone enjoys the info, and I hope this helps shed the light on the new car!   And for any of those out there thinking of trading up, go for it! The new car has many really cool things about it, and has tons of potential!

Feel free to ask us any questions!


 Posted by on April 22, 2008 Dyno Test & Tune, First Look, MINI Only Tagged with: , , , , ,