1011 01 01 001 01 001 01 0111 01 01 01 001011 01 01 001 01

PROGRAMMABLE IGNITION SYSTEMS

ADD POWER AND KEEP COSTS IN CHECK
By Bob Chiras/AllKart International
We first began to use programmable or reprogrammable capacitor discharge ignitions about three or four years ago on our 125 shifter karts. The subject was and continues to be hotly discussed and poorly understood. I have always been a believer that innovation is good for the sport if it meets two criteria; (1) lower the cost of competing, (2) improve safety. The programmable or reprogrammable capacitor discharge ignitions in my mind meet both criteria. When we used standard, stock, OEM or any other name that you want to give the Capacitor Discharge Ignition that comes with most moto motors you have an item that is not designed or intended for use in karting. Any manufacturer will confirm that engineering teams ignore karting applications, as it is believed to be far too small for consideration. The stock ignition boxes come with a curve designed for moto cross motorcycles. They have passive REV Limiters to protect the motor and to limit warranty claims to the motorcycle manufacturer. The consequence is that when the stock boxes are applied in karting, and the motor is modified to provide the HP necessary to compete, the karter either suffers in performance or risks loosing (sticking) a motor. Karters need performance and need reliability to compete in shifters. Our experience is that programmable or reprogrammable capacitord ignitions save us money as our rebuild cost went down and we improved the longevity of our motors.

Concerning safety, shifter karts are definitely high performance, and a poor performing or a kart that sticks a motor can be an extreme hazard. The programmable or reprogrammable capacitor discharge ignitions helps on both accounts. Since going to a Vortex ignition box, we have virtually eliminated motor sticks as the result of bad ignition timing. By now you should be wondering what

sive. We did our research and we worked with one of the premiere motor builders for 125 shifter karts. Let me assure you that the complete process was not beyond the capability of anyone that is tuning and effectively competing with a 125-shifter kart. There are two pieces to the solution; (1) The ignition box itself that gets mounted on the kart and plugs into the wiring harness of the motor (rotor and stator) ignition. (2) The ignition programming tools set that plugs into your laptop and that has the interface to talk to the ignition box that is on the kart. There have been dramatic changes in both over the past four years since we started learning about ignition systems. The box itself is much smaller and lighter (when we have been spending up to $400 per pound to remove weight), a lighter box is welcomed. The new box is smaller in size. This is key, as we are always space constrained on shifter karts. Capacity of the box has increased. When we began, we had two choices: An ignition box with two curves or a larger ignition box with eight curves. Today our box has ten curves and is smaller than the former two curve box. The most important factors are beyond the physical characteristics. In the past, we programmed the curves and they were really quite basic. Today, we can program curves in a three dimensional manner. We can have curves recognize different needs for different gears (such as giving us a curve that is optimal for launching the kart from a dead stop). We can program a delay into the boxes that detect shift changes. This delay feature allows the racer to keep his or her foot fully applied while shifting gears. The ignition delay of a few milliseconds is sufficient to interrupt the motor and take the pressure off of the gear box. For the open classes, we can even program power jets in the carburetor, and have the power jet increase or decrease

The complete process was not beyond the capability of anyone that is tuning and effectively competing with a 125-shifter kart.
is this programmable or reprogrammable capacitor discharge ignition and how does it work. The answer is they let the karter or the motor builder apply a custom ignition curve to take advantage of changes such as revised porting, different cylinder heads, pipe or jetting changes, and even fuel octane level variances. The result is that there is improved power delivery. There is also the ability to control power jets with multiple on/off settings, an adjustable rev limiter to force the driver to shift so that the engine stays within the power band or to prevent over-revving the motor. There is even the ability to assign a different ignition timing curve to each gear selection. We have seen dramatic improvements in engine reliability as the issues which caused detonation and/or heat build up have been eliminated. The concept sounds great, but it also sounds complex, technical, hard and expen-

30

NATIONAL KART NEWS

1 001 01 0111 01 01 01 001011 01 01 001 01 001 01 0111 01
fuel as the ignition curve changes. The programming tool is completely visual as each curve is portrayed much as a graph is portrayed in an excel program. The tool kit is complete from Vortex and contains: a fully featured multiple curve 3D CDI, programmer box, carry case, dual or eight curve (optional) selector switch, PC software and cable. The ETK is a valuable addition to the tuners tools of the trade. The CDI plugs directly into the standard wiring harness replacing the stock item. When reprogramming is required, the PC connects directly to the CDI via the cable provided. The programmer box is used to program additional CDI’s which do not have the PC interface built in. In this case the programmer box connects in line between the PC and CDI being programmed. An attractive carry case keeps the whole package together and has additional space for storage of other items. Serial PC cable, plug pack, windows software (includes curves for all supported bikes—approx. 80 bikes), GSM—Gear Selected Maps, ASM—Auto Swap Map— Start to race, Speed Shifter—Full Throttle no clutch gear change. Instant plug in performance (no mods to wiring), Up to 10 selectable power settings (X10 switch), handlebar switch for Dynamic Map Selection, 50% Smaller for weight saving & easier mounting, Rubber mounting boot & brackets supplied (where required), V-Boost—voltage booster for maximum spark energy, hi resolution 3D Maps (8 Curves per 0-100% Throttle), programmable rev limit, power jet control multiple on/off points, race proven reliability We have heard concerns that racers like to travel to different venues, and did not want to deal with reprogramming the box for each venue. The early systems had two ways of addressing this issue there was a very low cost box that had the capacity to hold two ignition curves, a more robust box that had an eight curve capacity. The current Vortex box has a ten curve capacity. We like the WKA Road Racing Series with the shifter karts because it provides access to some of the finest race circuits in the United States. However, most of these race courses are really segmented into different characteristics. Long straights, some steep elevation changes, some very technical twisty and tight turns so there is a need to find performance in each of these segments. In order to find the optimum for each segment we load the Vortex box with all ten curves. We give the driver a switch from which the driver can select one of two curves and we use our Digatron on-board data acquisition system to determine which curve works best in which track segment. Once we have tried all ten curves and we know what performs best where we typically build several new curves that are a combination of the earlier curves as for race day the driver gets only one curve. During morning practice of race day, we select the ignition curve and the jet for the race. The switch is removed and repositioned at the rear of the seat so that the driver can not adjust ignition curves during the race. There is no answer of just setting a curve and throwing it at a motor. Drivers have different characteristics. We have some that are smooth and can manage all of the performance all of the time. There are others where we have to use ignition timing to compensate for the fact that the driver is a bull, and does not get the concept of smoothly applying the power. We can make both drivers competitive by compensating for their styles by programming the box to fit the individual style. This is an impossible task in race series where the organization thinks that one size fits all. The organization because it fails to understand technology, is choosing to limit its use and constraining karters whose driving style does not fit the chosen profile of the organization. The tool we use is a Vortex Performance Ignition tool with a list price of $950.00 US and a laptop computer. The laptop was purchased to download the data from the Digatron DT54K Max instrument and not for programming ignition curves. However, we quickly learned that the laptop could serve two purposes.

JANUARY 2005

31

SUBSCRIBE NOW!
National Kart News is the oldest Independent karting
magazine in the U.S. Some of the things you’ll find in each issue are;
• How-To Articles • Lots of action photography • Largest listing of upcoming events nationwide • Race Coverage • Product Tests • Columns by notable CART, IRL, and F1 drivers • and more.....

! • SUB

SC

$

12 ISSUES ONLY

RIBE T OD

AY

! • SUB

From 4 Cycles to Extreme Shifters, NKN covers it all!

America’s #1 Karting Magazine Since 1986
NATIONAL KART NEWS

32

NATIONAL KART NEWS

SC

RIBE T OD

Check out the latest News, Events, FREE Classifieds, How-To Articles, and Surveys on our NEW web site!!!

22

.50

AY

001011 01 0111 01 01 001 001011 01 01 001 001011 01 0111 0 01 001 01 01 001 01 01 01 0111 01 01 01 01 001 01 01 001
The whole learning process took minutes to complete with initial telephone assistance from Vortex Performance Ignitions. We have an expert user looking over our shoulder. The expert was Bill Price of Bill Price Racing, Gilmanton Iron Works, New Hampshire (603) 364-2455. Bill Price develops WKA and SKUSA shifter motors. We asked Bill to show us examples of the same motor with a stock ignition box, and then with a programmable box where he had designed an ignition curve for a reprogrammable capacitor discharge ignition system. The results were impressive. With the stock box, the motor made power up to about 12,300 rpm’s and began to fade, with the reprogrammable capacitor discharge ignition system, the same motor continued to make power through 13,000+ RPM’s. The torque and horsepower curves were moved relative to RPMs and we saw the EGT and CHT actually decline. The bottom line is the same motor under identical conditions delivered added horsepower with the reprogrammable capacitor discharge ignition system. We did a lot of work at the race track and then we went back to the shop in Gilmanton, New Hampshire, and we verify our assumptions on the chassis and the engine dyno. The chassis dyno allows you to run the complete kart and simulate on track conditions. The engine dyno allows us to make changes and rapidly determine the relationship between the mechanical work we do, such as port shape and height and ignition curve development. Before you rush out and buy a Vortex box and a programming system, ask your motor builder how the motor builder deals with ignition curves. Some motor builders will put the curve in your box, but not show you the curve on the laptop. Others will sell you a copy of the curve in a disk or CD for you to add to your list of curves in your laptop. As you would expect, it is more costly when the builder is selling you the curve and you will be doing your own modifications. The typical cost of a curve applied to your box by an engine builder is $50.00. When an engine builder sells you one or more curves that they have developed, the price will range from $300 to $500. Don’t think that these prices are excessive, as a good engine builder may often spend over a day developing a curve for a particular application. You must understand that Vortex ignitions are limited to motorcycle motors from Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, TM, etc. You cannot use these advanced tools on ICC or Rotax motors as these classes all have less dynamic ignition systems from the factory. Check with your race organization to be sure that they allow Vortex Programmable or Reprogrammable Capacitor Discharge Ignitions Many sanctioning bodies either ignore these Ignitions or they are firmly on one side or the other of the argument concerning them. Make sure you know your organization’s rules before investing.

JANUARY 2005

33