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Old 07-30-2018, 06:34 PM   #1
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"Ecutek vs. OFT” - the ultimate answer

I have switched to Ecutek and used it for about 1/2 year now and want to share my opinion or make a mini review or whatever you want to call it... I actually wrote the whole post some months ago but didn't get around to posting it until now.

The Ecutek vs. “OFT” question comes up regularly both here and in various FB groups. Ok, "ultimate answer" may sound a bit arrogant, but I'll try to cover most aspects so in the future people can perhaps be guided to this thread if deemed so worthy...

As a Tactrix user, the question always annoyed me because the OFT is just a device for flashing and not a tuning device.

So let’s get that out of the way first:
Tunes are made with software, not hardware.

1) Software
Hence, the correct comparison is ProEcu/RaceRom (Ecutek’s tuning software) vs. RomRaider (open source tuning software).



Question 1: Can I tune myself using Ecutek, the same way I can do with RomRaider?
Answer: Yes, definitely. You could even start out with an OFT tune as a basis if you should so desire and you don't want to start out with a "blank" stock tune. You would need to copy all tables to a non-hacked tune using RomRaider first (more on "hacks" later).

2) Hardware
For Ecutek tunes, you need Ecutek hardware to copy the tune from your laptop to your ECU. For open source, there are a variety of options - most common is the OFT or Tactrix. The differences here lies in convenience, safety, utilities, and logging capabilities - but neither will make a difference to how the engine is running.

3) Tunes
Common for both ProEcu and RomRaider tunes is that the tunes are extracted from factory cars. Neither the open source community or Ecutek invented the tunes respectively. Subaru did! You can modify the tunes in either software.

4) “Extensions/hacks/patches” (what separates the wolves from the sheep)
It’s possible to change the original Subaru tunes to provide additional functionality. This is done by using free space in the original tune to program in additional features.

Open Source:

For some Subaru models, there is quite a lot of support (check out CarBerry ROM). For the BRZ the list is short, something like this and not applicable to all calibrations (calid) (i.e. may/might not be available for your year/model/region): Flat floor shift (FFS), launch control (LC), flex fuel (FF), speed density (SD), and boost control - and you won't get all in the same file. There is also no way to apply these patches in an easy way. So if you want to add code to a specific calid ROM that hasn’t been modified, be prepared to invest years of your life, unless you are already a savvy programmer with lots of knowledge about the ECU. What it means is that for most, only LC and FFS will be readily available (and to some extent FF). Also worth noticing, the implementations for most of these features are far from perfect!

Ecutek:
RaceRom! (Haaaalleluja, hallelujah). So RaceRom is exactly what is described above. Only preprogrammed and made available for every calid. You don’t get “87” different ROMs with RaceRom pre-patched. You open the stock ROM you need in ProEcu, select “apply RaceRom”, and it will apply the patch before your eyes. I will get into more details about RaceRom below, but this is where Ecutek really stands out!

————————

With this knowledge, back to the question Ecutek vs. “OFT”. You should now see why this question is invalid. If still not, let’s continue:

The company OFT, provides tunes free of charge to download and flash to your ECU. These are not “made” by OFT. They are stock ROMs patched by the open source community, TUNED by the company OFT and bundled with a Tablet (made by Alientech) to log and flash. Alientech is one of the largest tuning solution companies in the world and makes hardware to tune everything from tractors to boats. This is in no way to deduct from OFT. The bundle of premade tunes and hardware is a great idea. I'm sure there was a great deal of development required to make this work. Also, it would appear from old posts that OFT worked well together with some of the main open source contributors.

This is rather to illustrate that both companies build upon the stock ROMs that were made by Subaru, and use a similar method to alter the ROM and flash the ECU. And also that there are more options than just the two

————————

So now that we (hopefully) established that the right question to ask is “ProEcu vs. RomRaider” we can dive a bit deeper…


Interface

ProEcu on its own has a great interface. It does have some minor annoyances like an overly complex tree-structure. (Left) Do I really need "All map", "class", "function" and "user level"?? I always click on the wrong one - in my opinion, "open maps", "maps by function" and "RaceRom maps" would have been sufficient. And why doesn't it remember from session to session that I close “user level” and “origin” (Middle) (again who needs this?) so I can actually read the names of the tables (right)?

edit: there is actually an option to save a layout: https://www.ft86club.com/forums/show...6&postcount=18 (thanks Kodename47!)



Okay, this may seem nitty-gritty, but that's pretty much what there is to say about the main window. Besides these minor things, it does its job well.

Working with tables is pretty similar. But with ProEcu you have a useful plot view that will quickly help you identify any errors.



Also, you have great functions like scale by percentage, which make copying in and out of Excel redundant.



Speaking of copying, it’s a pita with ProEcu. If I wanted to copy 14.7 from load 0.7 to the next cells I get this. Not really helpful or useful and RomRaider is much more intuitive in the respect:



RomRaider is very simplistic and it has its benefits and disadvantages. I can’t really say that there is anything annoying about it, as it’s so simple. It’s very easy to find things and it’s very easy to work with the tables. Obviously, it lacks the ProEcu benefits mentioned above (e.g. plot view not very useful, and have a calculator or excel open in the background for any major editing).




As a retail user, there are 2 things missing in ProEcu:

1) You don’t get access to “beta tables”. These are tables that Ecutek deemed undetermined what they actually do. For most tables it’s not a problem, I only ran into a few useful tables that fell into this category. Most important for me the Timing Compensation per Cylinder tables. The workaround is editing the stock ROM in RomRaider to suit your needs before opening it and continuing to work on it in Ecutek. Fair enough, I can live with that though I don’t quite understand the logic: As a retail user I can mess up just as much using the “normal” tables as I can changing the “beta” tables, so why limit my access and make life difficult for me, when I'm going to find a way to edit them anyway.

2) There is no compare function in the retail version of ProEcu. Ecutek’s argument is that this is a feature that helps pro tuners copy over changes between ROMs. For me, it’s a SAFETY feature, where after I edited my tune can compare with my previous version to see that I didn’t make any blunder errors. Ecutek, if you are reading this… It’s a big deal that this feature is missing, even for (or maybe even especially for) an amateur tuner.


Interface conclusion:

You will probably now already have concluded that each software (on its own) is equally capable of tuning the basic ECU parameters. If that was your conclusion, you are 100% correct. Neither will provide a benefit over the other in terms of which will make the engine make more horsepower. The answer to that is in both cases about 70 cm behind the screen (27 inches for the metric impaired) for both software.

Because of the lacking compare feature, I would say that RomRaider is the easiest and safest interface to work with for a DIY tuner. With ProEcu, I always triple check everything, because I have no way to catch my errors.

ProEcu also has a very powerful log viewer but to be honest I still haven’t gotten used to it and can’t really say that much about it. But it’s for sure not justified with only a one-line mentioning, sorry about that.

A hands-down winning point for ProEcu is the support for all calids. No messing with definition files, incomplete definition files where the tune you want to edit doesn’t have essential tables defined (RomRaider issue). Full MY17 support for those that it concerns as well.

Flashing is equally easy and doesn’t require definition files (Tactrix) or have weird calid-hacks (OFT). Just simple straightforward process.


“Extensions/hacks/patches” aka RaceRom from Ecutek
(RaceRom needs to be purchased separately)

Ok, so first off: this is no contest. This is what set Ecutek apart from open source tuning! It’s a waste of time to compare so instead I’ll illustrate some of the things that are possible with Ecutek.



1) LEFT: The full list of options. With the most well-known features shown: proper FFS/LC, auto-blip and the ability to switch between “4 modes”.

For the latter it doesn’t mean you have 4 different tunes on the car - it means you have 4 different timing tables and 4 different primary open loop fuel tables. Timing shown expanded (and again an annoyance - why do I have to look for mode 1 in the normal tables)?
Also, you can choose in which mode you will have any other RaceRom feature active. Neither of these features is going to make your engine run “better”, these are extra options but, as such, not “tune” related.

2) RIGHT: A new Ecutek feature, Closed loop fueling, incl at full throttle. This feature doesn’t negate proper adjustment of the tune, as there is a limit to how much it can bring AFR “back in line”. My tune was already well adjusted and like that Ecutek CL works “out of the box”, without any adjustments - I just simply enabled it and it worked. This was also possible previously, but through custom tables and would have required a lot of work from the tuner. Ecutek just made that "as easy a ticking a box".

This is a real performance benefit as it will ensure you always run correct AFR. However, to be fair, a perfectly adjusted open source tune should do almost the same, though you will never get the consistency of closed loop. So +1 Ecutek, in the performance category.

Seen further below in the right screenshot is the “real secret” - custom maps. Here below is just shown a very basic map, I did to aid in the tuning process. Using a custom input (requires Ecutek Bluetooth Vehicle Interface) I can change my exhaust cam in steps of 4 deg. Which means I can easily make logs of the setting I desire to test out without the need to reflash the ECU. The custom input is controlled through an app on either a phone or a tablet.



Another basic example is per gear timing, which I implemented like this (rpm vs gear and the timing in the table is subtracted from the base timing. This is another performance benefit, as it allows me to run more timing in lower gears without getting knock corrections in higher gears. As you can see I’m actually adding a bit of timing in 3rd gear.



These are just basic examples. There are 16 tables available. Besides from the above I have made myself a similar live timing adjustment, drive by wire (DBW) based rev limiter, basic timing/DBW-based adjustable traction control, and for fun automatic pop tune that is active for just 2 seconds after lifting off the throttle:

[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwgDj4ZP7BU[/ame]

You can make infinitely complicated stuff with more tables interacting together depending on circumstances. Or simple stuff like rpm or throttle vs oil temp to light of your CEL if you drive too aggressive with a cold engine. Or DBW that closes the throttle and reduces performance if your oil temp gets too high.

I could go on here for a long while, but I think you get the point. For those using flex fuel (FF) or running boost Ecutek made it equally easy. I enabled logging for speed density and it outputs almost exactly the same Mass Airflow as measured by my MAF sensor, so I would assume it works out of the box the same as with the CL fueling. FF looks very easy to set up too and doesn’t require a FF sensor as you can assign presets to your different modes 1 to 4 if you desire.

Support!

The last thing I want to mention is the awesome Ecutek support. They are easy to reach per telephone and e-mail and the support is no short of astonishing! Hopefully, most people won’t need it but I managed to do a combination of things with the beta version RaceRom and custom tables which bricked my ECU. So just be aware that the custom tables are not something that should be taken lightly (with great power comes great responsibility).

I won’t go into great details as it’s irrelevant, but it’s sufficient to say that what I tried to do wasn’t a good idea. However, while it might have produced an undesired outcome, it shouldn’t have made the ECU unresponsive. Anyway, I thought “oh crap", and called Ecutek with the expectation of them asking me to send the ECU in. Instead, I got: “do you have time now, can you bring your laptop to your car and do you have wifi there?” To make a long story short they remotely unbricked my ECU. While figuring out what the cause was, it actually happened twice more. So Ecutek unbricked my ECU 3 times in 2 days. Thanks a lot for the great support again!!

In the process, I learned that bricking a BRZ ECU is not that big of a deal as the boot sector is never overwritten. So unbricking just requires to intercept the ECU during the boot before it completes the boot and becomes unresponsive, neither Tactrix’s EcuFlash or OFT can do this. The reason for needing Ecutek support to do this is that you would otherwise need a new license and it a bit different technique than the normal flashing procedure.

As a sidenote:
As far as I can tell, it’s possible to unbrick any ECU using Ecutek (flashed with any other solution and without the help of Ecutek support). It would require a license, but you would then also have an Ecutek license on the ECU you could use for further tuning, or you could remove it again once unbricked if desired. If knowing someone with an Ecutek cable this is at least a cheap way to unbrick as opposed to buying a new ECU. The secret is to start the flash with the ignition off, press OK and then immediately turn the ignition on. The ECU turns on, but goes directly into programming mode, instead of getting a chance to finish it’s boot and crashing. I tried it before calling them a 3rd time (was a bit embarrassed) and it worked as far as it would have flashed but stopped because it couldn’t find my license and I didn’t have a new one available.

Bluetooth ECU Vehicle interface (BT EVI)

I only mentioned it briefly, but coming from Tactrix this is a godsend. Live logging and the custom inputs as mentioned previously will make road tuning a lot easier. Doing steady state tuning will be a lot easier when being able to hold a load/rpm or MAP/rpm on the screen. Or e.g. adjusting cams without having to flash.
The BT EVI also supports flashing via USB, so makes the old Ecutek cable superfluous.



The final questions:

Is Ecutek better that “OFT”?
Given that you now understand that “OFT” implies open source: Yes, Ecutek is better in many respects. But mainly because of the RaceRom features. It’s a professional company that continuously develops its product. It should be better! If you are a tuner, it’s much easier because there is no messing with lacking definitions. If you have problems the Ecutek support is no short of fantastic.

I plan to go forced induction, should I go with Ecutek? (Just to get FI out of the way)
YES. No question about it if you want to get the most out of/and protect your investment. With that out of the way, the rest is referring to naturally aspirated engines.


Will my engine make more horse power with Ecutek?
Yes and no. It depends entirely on the person tuning your car. A well dialled in open source tune should make the same horsepower with either solution. But, it may not perform as consistently as is possible with Ecutek. Here I don’t mean CL fuelling, as I actually believe this advantage is marginal compared to a properly adjusted tune. But, e.g. through custom tables. E.g. I’m pretty sure I can take advantage of the custom tables to make the ECU retard less timing when things get hot on track.


My car is untuned, should I buy an OFT or get an Ecutek tune?
It depends… what is your goal? What are your future plans for the car?
A few examples:

1) You just want to get a header/run E85 and have the tune somewhat adjusted tune to suit (kind of like a new factory tune, adjusted for an aftermarket header). You don’t plan on keeping the car for more than a few years -> OFT is a great choice. It’s inexpensive, you can easily flash back to stock, and you can have you investment almost fully recouped when you sell the car.

2) I want a decently adjusted tune, but don’t mind giving up a few hp and I don’t mind spending a bit of time on it -> OFT or Tactrix and help from this forum.

3) I want a perfectly adjusted tune, I want to extract as much power as possible. Sub-conditions:
- I’m willing to spend 2 years learning how to tune: Tactrix as you will better be able to learn with the help of this an other forums
- I want someone to tune my car for me: Ecutek, as few will tune your car open source (though you might find a few ).

4) I want auto-blip, FFS and LC that works: Ecutek


I’m already an enthusiast tuner and tuning is my hobby
Go for Ecutek, you won’t regret it. This is next level.


Will my engine make more horsepower with a properly adjusted Ecutek tune, compared to an off-the-shelf tune from the OFT company (what people really ask when they ask: “Is Ecutek better that “OFT”):
Now that you read this far, I’m sure you see what’s wrong with that question…



Regarding the actual tuning, I wrote this post as an answer to another thread some months ago. After switching to Ecutek, I still stand by everything I wrote back then:
http://www.ft86club.com/forums/showp...46&postcount=5

Last edited by Tor; 08-05-2018 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 07-30-2018, 08:26 PM   #2
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Re bricking.


Their has been a few cases where even ecutek cannot unbrick anad you needed to send ecu to ecutek so they can bench unbrick. These cases are fairly rare though.
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Old 07-30-2018, 09:00 PM   #3
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Should I buy my own dongle and cable or am I okay with just a license? Tuner has the hardware and I only need the license. But do I need the rest of the stuff to keep an eye on certain parameters?
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Old 07-31-2018, 06:59 PM   #4
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Should I buy my own dongle and cable or am I okay with just a license? Tuner has the hardware and I only need the license. But do I need the rest of the stuff to keep an eye on certain parameters?
It's always a good idea to log a tuned car occasionally. I would get the Bluetooth Vehicle interface.
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Old 07-31-2018, 07:17 PM   #5
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Re bricking.


Their has been a few cases where even ecutek cannot unbrick anad you needed to send ecu to ecutek so they can bench unbrick. These cases are fairly rare though.
As far as I recall, Ecutek said it only happened once with the BRZ and there was some other issue than just flashing a corrupt tune. In any case these ECUs seems like they are fairly robust. As far as I understood from my ordeals, bricking just means it stops its boot process if a corrupt tune is flashed. So the key to get the ECU working again is just to get it in programming mode before it gets a chance to boot.
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Old 07-31-2018, 07:44 PM   #6
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+1 on your opinions of ProEcu vs RomRaider. Most importantly please implement a compare function for those of us who purchased RaceRom! I’ve been manually copy and pasting to excel to use compare functions. Logging with the Bluetooth interface is awesome. The “mark” button is nice to find the spot int the tune where you want to go back to when reviewing logs.
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Old 07-31-2018, 11:33 PM   #7
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It's always a good idea to log a tuned car occasionally. I would get the Bluetooth Vehicle interface.
Thanks. Is that through an app on the phone, or...?
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Old 07-31-2018, 11:39 PM   #8
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I've been considering this move for quite some time now, thanks for the post. Is it possible to get just the Bluetooth dongle and not need to buy the cable?
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Old 08-01-2018, 01:44 AM   #9
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I've been considering this move for quite some time now, thanks for the post. Is it possible to get just the Bluetooth dongle and not need to buy the cable?



The blutooth adapter is capable of logging and flashing and controlling inputs to ectuek tunes. but it can only flash a tune through its usb interface is you have an Ecutek dongle (des key) these dont come with blutooth adapters and must be obtained or purchased separatly if you want to flash.


a normal pro ecu cable kit comes with cable and des key dongle


see here


http://www.ft86club.com/forums/showthread.php?t=117520


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Old 08-01-2018, 02:50 AM   #10
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Nice post. Happy that you liked your move from OFT to Ecutek.
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Old 08-01-2018, 05:01 AM   #11
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Nice post. Happy that you liked your move from OFT to Ecutek.



Was Tactrix\ecuflash to Ecutek :-)
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Old 08-01-2018, 05:24 AM   #12
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@Tor great unbiased write up.


One thing it might be worth adding is that to access racerom maps and features like closed loop fieling flex fuel you need to have purchased the racrom extension pack at additional cost to the basic proecu retail kit.


The other thing we need to give credit to the oft guys for being basicly the only tuner in history AFAIK, to post their maps on internet for anyone to look at and download. This allowed a lot of people to get an insight into tuning these cars and tuning in general.


James Martin at hri does not lock his ecutek tunes like most ecutek tuners but he doesnt have them easily downladable on a web site.


Its probably also worth pointing out thart almost all ecutek tunes are locked all you can do is flash it you cannot see or edit tables in tune or modify tune in any way even if you buy tune and buy pro ecu and racerom, tune is still locked.
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Old 08-01-2018, 08:42 AM   #13
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@Tor great unbiased write up.


One thing it might be worth adding is that to access racerom maps and features like closed loop fieling flex fuel you need to have purchased the racrom extension pack at additional cost to the basic proecu retail kit.


The other thing we need to give credit to the oft guys for being basicly the only tuner in history AFAIK, to post their maps on internet for anyone to look at and download. This allowed a lot of people to get an insight into tuning these cars and tuning in general.


James Martin at hri does not lock his ecutek tunes like most ecutek tuners but he doesnt have them easily downladable on a web site.


Its probably also worth pointing out thart almost all ecutek tunes are locked all you can do is flash it you cannot see or edit tables in tune or modify tune in any way even if you buy tune and buy pro ecu and racerom, tune is still locked.

Yes, the post was aimed at DIY Ecutek tuning. I'm very much against the locking of ECU tunes.

Let's say the tuner goes out of business and the owner of the car makes some modification (maybe even forced to do so as some part breaks and the same replacement is no longer available). What could have been a minor adjustment to the tune, now forces the owner to get the ECU completely retuned from scratch.

So good point that RaceRom is required (I'll edit above).

And yes, lot's of credit to OFT to provide unlocked publicly available tunes for anyone to use. Directly useable with Tactrix. And even with Ecutek with minimum copying effort.


Quote:
Originally Posted by nikitopo View Post
Nice post. Happy that you liked your move from OFT to Ecutek.
I never owned an OFT like Steve said. I switched from open source RomRaider to ProEcu/RaceRom.

I personally never ran the tunes provided by OFT either. I started out using Wayno's tunes which in the beginning were adaptations of OFTs OTS tunes but over time and in their current version are quite a bit different.

Over time I adjusted my own tune, so it has about just as much in common with the stock tune as it does with OFTs OTS tunes. Changed tables compared to my last RomRaider tune:
Wayno v. 1.24: 48
Stock A01G: 80
OFT v.2.076: 72

The 8 tables I have in common with OTS compared to stock must be some launch control/FFS, some tip-in enrichments and CL/OL delays tables.

It's this very RomRaider tune, that I'm using with Ecutek.

"So why this adamant distiction between open source and "OFT"?"

Because the above goes to prove the point that you can just as well make all those adjustments with RomRaider and flash it with whatever device you might desire (be it OFT, Tactrix). You can even flash a RomRaider made tune directly with Ecutek without any modifications, provided the tune doesn't contain any open source hacks (e.g. FFS or LC).

As such Ecutek is not better in any way. RaceRom is better than the open source provided tune-hacks (by miles). Basic engine tuning is no different at all. Or said in another way, ProEcu without RaceRom is no better than RomRaider at all.

Tunes are made with software, not hardware.

Last edited by Tor; 08-01-2018 at 08:54 AM.
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Old 08-01-2018, 09:32 AM   #14
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Yeah whatever. I said OFT, because it was mentioned in the subject and the main body text with or without quotes.


It is also true about the locking of the ECU. Personally, I don't care that much on this and it is a way to protect the intellectual property of the tuner. The factory ECU is supposed to be locked too and the majority of owners never care about it or never have a need to unlock it. If someone modifies his car heavily and constantly for many years, then yes it is another story and it might not be optimal to rely on a single tuner. However, such people are kinda sick and in many cases they won't even care to start a tune from scratch with another programmer. Sometimes even intentionally.
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