Honda K20C1 FK8 Auto-Engine Conversion

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I've been working on a Honda engine conversion for about a year. I chose the K20C1 FK8 engine, which was made available by Honda a couple years ago for off-road and racing use. It's an amazingly well engineered engine, currently used in Formula 3 racing and similar to what is sold commercially in the Honda Civic R-Type sedans. The baseline engine is rated at 306 HP at 6500 RPM with 195 ft-lbs of torque through most of that RPM range. Some key features include direct fuel injection, turbocharger, integrated (into the block) exhaust manifold, and variable valve timing (on the exhaust side only). Dry weight of the engine, including starter, alternator, turbocharger, fuel injection, and water pump is approximately 320 lbs. I had planned to de-rate the engine to 4500 RPM and 230 HP to enhance durability and avoid exceeding the maximum HP rating for the aircraft I'm building. The PSRU design is being handled by EPI Inc (EPI, Inc. Home Page), a company and designer who thoroughly understands the concept of torsional resonance and has extensive experience with PSRU design. The engine sold new with wiring harness and ECU for $9000 plus shipping. I couldn't be happier with the package I received and everything I've learned about the engine since purchasing one last January.

On the negative side, Honda provides absolutely no support for projects of this nature and I've really struggled to obtain the geometric dimensioning of key features such as the bell housing hole pattern and exact locations of engine mounts needed for PSRU design and installation in the aircraft. (I've been slowly building a 3D model in SolidWorks, similar to one I built for Honda's L15B7 engine -- Free CAD Designs, Files & 3D Models | The GrabCAD Community Library). After multiple trips to a CMM contractor and some help from others, that dimensioning is mostly complete.

Despite strong emotional ties to the idea of converting this engine to airplane use, I recently abandoned the project in favor of a Lycoming IO-360 engine installation. Friends convinced me that at my age (72), there was a good chance I'd never work through all the one-off issues a complex project like this involves. To name a few, layout and acquisition of radiator, intercooler, and oil cooler; new or modified intake manifold to allow space for the PSRU; sourcing parts, building and testing the PSRU once EPI Inc. finished the design; custom cowling; custom radiator cooling plenum; integration of the ECU into the overall aircraft electronics; aviation-grade wiring harness; etc. etc. There were also some concerns about overall weight and W&B issues for the particular airframe being built in parallel. That said, I still believe this engine has incredible potential and I have very high confidence in the suitability of the evolving EPI Inc. PSRU design. So, if anyone out there has an interest in pursuing the idea further, I'm happy to share what I've learned at no cost (and no warranty) -- engine modeling, sources for parts, planned PSRU design (detailed SolidWorks assembly drawing by EPI Inc.), etc. The engine, itself, is currently listed on eBay, along with a number of accessory parts. Anyone interested, please DM me and I'm happy to talk.
 

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KeithO

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Tough nut to crack. You chose a direct injection engine so it has a fast and powerful CPU, very little on the aftermarket for that and certainly not designed for aviation use. So a system with a lot of single point failures not addressed by the racing ECU. Its a turbo engine, so more highly stressed and thus needing the powerful ECU to manage parameters so it doesnt blow up..

If you had considered their V6 engine, it can natively do up to about 240hp naturally aspirated with port injectors. This would open up a lot more airplane type engine controllers that should have fewer failure modes. It would still need a PSRU, but those being developed for 195-200hp 4 cylinder turbo engines would handle a slightly higher NA 6 cylinder engine even at slightly more HP. The Honda 6 engines are plentiful, used in many different vehicles including the Pilot, Accord and other vehicles.

If you can afford a "proper" airplane engine, that is surely going to be the easiest solution. Or you could upgrade the Lycoming/Continental to Variable ignition timing and fuel injection and get the best of both...
 

dwalker

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Tough nut to crack. You chose a direct injection engine so it has a fast and powerful CPU, very little on the aftermarket for that and certainly not designed for aviation use. So a system with a lot of single point failures not addressed by the racing ECU. Its a turbo engine, so more highly stressed and thus needing the powerful ECU to manage parameters so it doesnt blow up..

If you had considered their V6 engine, it can natively do up to about 240hp naturally aspirated with port injectors. This would open up a lot more airplane type engine controllers that should have fewer failure modes. It would still need a PSRU, but those being developed for 195-200hp 4 cylinder turbo engines would handle a slightly higher NA 6 cylinder engine even at slightly more HP. The Honda 6 engines are plentiful, used in many different vehicles including the Pilot, Accord and other vehicles.

If you can afford a "proper" airplane engine, that is surely going to be the easiest solution. Or you could upgrade the Lycoming/Continental to Variable ignition timing and fuel injection and get the best of both...

Which "single point failures" are you speaking about?

My actual concerns with DI motors are not the ecu or control units, as they are actually quite simple, it is the hig-pressure CP3 type pumps that they use that tend to fail on Honda engines quite often.

Fairly certain the Honda race block even with its CAMA cast in exhaust manifold will be lighter all up than the V6, and produce all the needed power.
 

KeithO

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Ask yourself the following:
How will the ECU react if 1 ignition coil goes dead short ?
1 fuel injector goes dead short ?
Primary fuel pump goes dead short ?
Loss of the cam sensor ?
Loss of the Crankshaft sensor ?
Loss of the MAP sensor ?
Loss of any other engine sensors ?

There are very few ECUs that have individual drivers and fuses to each injector and coil. Usually with direct injected engines there is a single high voltage supply for opening the injector that is shared by all injectors. If that high voltage supply fails the fueling will be drastically impacted. Usually individual injector feeds, even if they have an individual mosfet feed, they are not individually fused, so if an injector shorts you blow a main fuse somewhere higher in the chain and take out all the injector power. The same with the coil drivers. The same with the fuel pump drive.

Then on the input side, you have to ask whether all inputs into the processor are just a single feed or whether they are mirrored so that a second CPU can read them even if everything on the first was to take a dump ? Can you switch between processor A and B which have independent inputs and outputs and are both set up with individually driven and fused circuits for each output so that the engine will still run even if 1 coil shorts or 1 injector shorts or 1 fuel pump shorts and the CPU decides to die as a result of one of the initial failures. And you can feed either processor A or B from 1 of 2 independent voltage busses in case one of your power sources goes down.

I think you will find that no racing ECU does all or even some of those things, which are very handy to have when flying an airplane...
 

dwalker

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Ask yourself the following:
How will the ECU react if 1 ignition coil goes dead short ?
If any of the 4 to 6 coils go dead short the ECU does'nt care. Even if the coil were to somehow kill the coil driver, it would only take one with it in most ECU's, as they are indeed individual drivers.
1 fuel injector goes dead short ?
Same as above. Injector drivers are individual. If they short to ground the injector stays open and you would have a flooding cylinder and potentially hydraulic the engine, but the ECU itself is not going to care.
Primary fuel pump goes dead short ?
Again, the ECU could care less, UNLESS you have a fuel pressure sensor that senses the loss of fuel pressure at X RPM and immediately activates the reserve fuel pump.
Loss of the cam sensor ?
Nothing until you shut it off. It MIGHT run rougher because it lacks synch, and it will not restart, but every ecu I am aware of will continue to run regardless of synch errors cause by lack of cam sensor because they simply default back to tooth counting and wasted spark. Whether you are bright enough to set it up that way when configured is another issue.
Loss of the Crankshaft sensor ?

Crankshaft sensor failure would stop the engine. However this is literally the last sensor I would expect to fail out of hand, and in most cases where it would fail you would already have far more serious issues.
Loss of the MAP sensor ?

Nothing beyond the engine running richer than you likely want it to as again, loss of MAP sensor simply defaults to a given value and the engine continues to run.
Loss of any other engine sensors ?

CHT or ECT- nothing beyond the engine running a bit richer or leaner
IAT- Nothing beyond maybe rougher running
TPS- Nothing beyond maybe slightly rougher running and even then if your Speed-Density configuration is worth anything at all you may not even notice the TPS is not working
Wideband 02- nothing, however if any of the other sensors fail the ecu will seek to tune the AFR to the desired AFR regardless any single or in many cases multiple sensor failures. ALL, and let me repeat ALL modern ecus constantly compare the sensor readings the ECU "sees" vs what it expects at each RPM and load level. If a sensor value is out of range and therefore doesn't "make sense" it will give less weight to those sensors and simply correct to the desired AFR and timing.
There are very few ECUs that have individual drivers and fuses to each injector and coil. Usually with direct injected engines there is a single high voltage supply for opening the injector that is shared by all injectors. If that high voltage supply fails the fueling will be drastically impacted. Usually individual injector feeds, even if they have an individual mosfet feed, they are not individually fused, so if an injector shorts you blow a main fuse somewhere higher in the chain and take out all the injector power. The same with the coil drivers. The same with the fuel pump drive.

Well, individual fuses per injector or coil would be the wiring guys issue, since the ECU does not supply 12V to the injectors in most cases. Regardless of what CARS use unless you are a complete idiot and attempt to modify a CAR harness for use in an airplane you will have properly redundant power supplies for injectors/coils/pumps/ etc. Although most modern car harnesses are much improved along with the ECU's they are still not something I would want to use in an aircraft. I especially would not use a DI motor from any manufacturer.
Your basic understanding of how EFI, coils, and injectors work and typical failures is troubling.
Then on the input side, you have to ask whether all inputs into the processor are just a single feed or whether they are mirrored so that a second CPU can read them even if everything on the first was to take a dump ? Can you switch between processor A and B which have independent inputs and outputs and are both set up with individually driven and fused circuits for each output so that the engine will still run even if 1 coil shorts or 1 injector shorts or 1 fuel pump shorts and the CPU decides to die as a result of one of the initial failures. And you can feed either processor A or B from 1 of 2 independent voltage busses in case one of your power sources goes down.

I personally do not see the benefit in a second ECU. I *can* see the benefit in a secondary crank/ref signal setup but not a "backup" ecu.
I think you will find that no racing ECU does all or even some of those things, which are very handy to have when flying an airplane...
I think you might want to do a lot more learning about the subject. Maybe speak with Ross and some others that have been where you have been.
 

KeithO

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If any of the 4 to 6 coils go dead short the ECU does'nt care. Even if the coil were to somehow kill the coil driver, it would only take one with it in most ECU's, as they are indeed individual drivers.
Really, where does the current come from to feed a dead short ? It doesnt, it blows whatever fuse you have which takes out the whole system. Note I said dead short, not open circuit ?
Same as above. Injector drivers are individual. If they short to ground the injector stays open and you would have a flooding cylinder and potentially hydraulic the engine, but the ECU itself is not going to care.
Same as previous comment, true for open circuit, dead short and you are dead.
Again, the ECU could care less, UNLESS you have a fuel pressure sensor that senses the loss of fuel pressure at X RPM and immediately activates the reserve fuel pump.

Nothing until you shut it off. It MIGHT run rougher because it lacks synch, and it will not restart, but every ecu I am aware of will continue to run regardless of synch errors cause by lack of cam sensor because they simply default back to tooth counting and wasted spark. Whether you are bright enough to set it up that way when configured is another issue.


Crankshaft sensor failure would stop the engine. However this is literally the last sensor I would expect to fail out of hand, and in most cases where it would fail you would already have far more serious issues.


Nothing beyond the engine running richer than you likely want it to as again, loss of MAP sensor simply defaults to a given value and the engine continues to run.


CHT or ECT- nothing beyond the engine running a bit richer or leaner
IAT- Nothing beyond maybe rougher running
TPS- Nothing beyond maybe slightly rougher running and even then if your Speed-Density configuration is worth anything at all you may not even notice the TPS is not working
Wideband 02- nothing, however if any of the other sensors fail the ecu will seek to tune the AFR to the desired AFR regardless any single or in many cases multiple sensor failures. ALL, and let me repeat ALL modern ecus constantly compare the sensor readings the ECU "sees" vs what it expects at each RPM and load level. If a sensor value is out of range and therefore doesn't "make sense" it will give less weight to those sensors and simply correct to the desired AFR and timing.


Well, individual fuses per injector or coil would be the wiring guys issue, since the ECU does not supply 12V to the injectors in most cases. Regardless of what CARS use unless you are a complete idiot and attempt to modify a CAR harness for use in an airplane you will have properly redundant power supplies for injectors/coils/pumps/ etc. Although most modern car harnesses are much improved along with the ECU's they are still not something I would want to use in an aircraft. I especially would not use a DI motor from any manufacturer.
Your basic understanding of how EFI, coils, and injectors work and typical failures is troubling.


I personally do not see the benefit in a second ECU. I *can* see the benefit in a secondary crank/ref signal setup but not a "backup" ecu.

I think you might want to do a lot more learning about the subject. Maybe speak with Ross and some others that have been where you have been.

Professional electrical engineers have looked at OEM engine controllers, aftermarket engine controllers, racing engine controllers and they all have the same vulnerabilities. Thats why the 708HU engine controller has the feature set that it has, but it was only built to help a group of Viking 110 engine owners who were not willing to fly the Viking controller. It was never a commercial offering that everyone could buy.
 

dwalker

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Really, where does the current come from to feed a dead short ? It doesnt, it blows whatever fuse you have which takes out the whole system. Note I said dead short, not open circuit ?

Are you being deliberately obtuse? 12V supply comes from the ignition switch, main relay, etc. Now IF the injector shorted to ground and managed to blow the main injector fuse (which would be rare) it would take as many injectors offline as were on that circuit. You DO understand that injectors and coils fail all the time as a dead short and nothing happens beyond a misfire until the coil or injector is replaced?
Same as previous comment, true for open circuit, dead short and you are dead.

Same as above. Happens all the time, never stops and engine from running. If it did ECUs would being replaced at a frightful pace.
Professional electrical engineers have looked at OEM engine controllers, aftermarket engine controllers, racing engine controllers and they all have the same vulnerabilities. Thats why the 708HU engine controller has the feature set that it has, but it was only built to help a group of Viking 110 engine owners who were not willing to fly the Viking controller. It was never a commercial offering that everyone could buy.


Your professional engineer is wrong, and should probably stick to thier day job, which is very likely NOT engineering automotive engine management systems. You have an exceptionally narrow field of scope, and its going to bite you one day. People use Megasquirt and other homebuilt systems I would never use, and no one professionally uses.
You should talk to actual engineers like Ross, that have planes flying for THOUSANDS of hours without issue.
 

KeithO

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I see plenty of new cars being towed/on a flatbed, so they are clearly not infallible. And I have several patents for urea injectors that have millions of hours of field service and they either fail open circuit or short circuit, no particular pattern. If they short, they take out the primary fuse from the controller and it stop communicating and that sets the mil light. But the car can drive to the dealership with the urea system deactivated, so long as it is done within a certain number of hours. Not the same luxury as one has when flying.

The person who developed the 708HU controller has a company that makes medical equipment. I seriously doubt you are going to teach him anything regarding electronics, embedded controller application or software development. You can keep having faith in your non redundant hardware until it decides to take a crap on you, then good luck...

Image below from the SDS EM5 install manual. Neither of the power management proposals illustrated is going to help you if 1 injector or coil shorts out. Now one could improve this yourself by individually fusing each injector and coil, but that is not proposed in the material provided. Ross is achieving superior reliability not by design but by choosing premium material in the first place but that does not mean that one cannot do better. And his system costs about 15x what people paid for the 708HU system. Of course the subjec engine (Viking 110) already had its own injectors and coil on plug setup so no custom stuff was needed in that regard, whereas if you are updating a Lycoming O-320 you will need all the custom parts including the injector mounts, hall sensor, trigger wheel etc. So its not an apples to apples comparison.

1669403256542.png
 
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dwalker

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I see plenty of new cars being towed/on a flatbed, so they are clearly not infallible. And I have several patents for urea injectors that have millions of hours of field service and they either fail open circuit or short circuit, no particular pattern. If they short, they take out the primary fuse from the controller and it stop communicating and that sets the mil light. But the car can drive to the dealership with the urea system deactivated, so long as it is done within a certain number of hours. Not the same luxury as one has when flying.

So here we are, your injector- I am assuming for a diesel engine- fails but the engine continues to run, and will continue to run. In fact the engines do not need the DEF system at all and will run fine without it once certain changes are made. BUT the important thing here is while your injector takes out the controller, proper automotive injectors do not. We can go round and round all day but the simple fact is that when injectors or coils dead short they do NO damage in your typical automotive application beyond a misfire in that cylinder. And apparently you know that but continue to "what if" it.
The person who developed the 708HU controller has a company that makes medical equipment. I seriously doubt you are going to teach him anything regarding electronics, embedded controller application or software development. You can keep having faith in your non redundent hardware until it decides to take a crap on you, then good luck...
Your guru needs to stick to medical equipment then. I get it that you want the cheapest system possible, and that is all well and good but touting something that is unproven as something that solves issues that rarely if ever happen is poor form, and again shows how little you actually understand about how the EFI works, and should be wired in.
I again implore you to talk to people who know about this stuff. @rv6ejguy Ross is a great resource.
I am 100% comfortable with how my system will work and its strong and weak points. But that is neither here nor there, accuracy matters and your self serving posts are not accurate, and again, it is worse because you seem to know you are posting drivel and do it anyway.
 

KeithO

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Drivel ? Do you think an automotive supplier is the one who decides how failure modes are to be addressed when it impacts the product price ?

Sorry but you reveal your ignorance and I dont get the impression you have worked a day in the automotive world. I have been at it for 27 years and have 15 US patents. People like you have no idea what you are up against with your pathetic arguments. I just posted evidence that Ross's system is not going to survive a coil or injector or fuel pump short based on how its designed. Its really simple to test, just bridge an injector terminal on your setup and see what happens. It looks like you are going to get a surprise... Do some homework and you will see that the real electrical engineers are absolutely right about their assessment of OEM, and aftermarket engine controllers.
 

dwalker

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Drivel ? Do you think an automotive supplier is the one who decides how failure modes are to be addressed when it impacts the product price ?

Sorry but you reveal your ignorance and I dont get the impression you have worked a day in the automotive world. I have been at it for 27 years and have 15 US patents. People like you have no idea what you are up against with your pathetic arguments. I just posted evidence that Ross's system is not going to survive a coil or injector or fuel pump short based on how its designed. Its really simple to test, just bridge an injector terminal on your setup and see what happens. It looks like you are going to get a surprise... Do some homework and you will see that the real electrical engineers are absolutely right about their assessment of OEM, and aftermarket engine controllers.
I think you have worked too long in the production world and never stepped a foot inside a proper automotive shop, or an aeromotive one for that matter. You are right I have never worked a day in the corporate automotive world, but I spent an entire career figuring out the stupid crap "engineers" did and how to make it actually work. Not that it matters, because you are literally the guy going for the cheapest solution every single time. I HAVE had bad injectors, bad coils, and many different failure modes of sensors, and I have only in a single case EVER had an ECU fail. Ever. And the way that happened was such an apparent wiring goof it should never have made it in the car. In fact, we had injectors in the RX8 go bad so often we carried 3 sets of them ready to go, and almost as many coils!
You would be well served by taking the time to speak to people who have actually done what it is you are trying to do and have aircraft currently flying with more than a few hours on them. You know what ECU they are using on the Yamaha sled motors for the STOL planes? Do you know what ECU they use on Reno air racers? Pretty sure they do not come from a guy that makes medical equipment..
But end of day you do you bro.
 

KeithO

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Here is the Viking wiring diagram for their ECU installations. Their 130 engine is direct injected. See if you can find the fuses between the ECU and battery and between the ECU and injectors and coils. Based on their recommendation its more acceptable to have an in flight electrical fire than address possible equipment failure modes. Also dont forget that to get power into the ECU it has to pass through a connector and there are very finite current limitations for each pin, based on ambient temperature. Certainly they will not support feeding dead shorts. Yet thousands of people have bought this product and use it without question.
1669406266537.png
 

dwalker

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Here is the Viking wiring diagram for their ECU installations. Their 130 engine is direct injected. See if you can find the fuses between the ECU and battery and between the ECU and injectors and coils. Based on their recommendation its more acceptable to have an in flight electrical fire than address possible equipment failure modes. Also dont forget that to get power into the ECU it has to pass through a connector and there are very finite current limitations for each pin, based on ambient temperature. Certainly they will not support feeding dead shorts. Yet thousands of people have bought this product and use it without question.
View attachment 132125


Just so we are clear- Viking is NOT an example of how to do things even close to right. They for instance KNOW that the DI mechanical fuel pump in the Honda motors they choose to use, which they only buy USED from junkyards, fail at a high percentage and they do not, as a matter of making it a flight engine, replace that pump.

So not the shining example of anything but how to do things as cheap as humanly possible.
 

KeithO

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Yet today Viking is arguably the most successful aviation engine business in the world except maybe Rotax ?? The point I am trying to make is that there are NO good solutions for engine control for aviation use, and doubly so for any direct injected engine. Honda never intended their racing engine controller to be used for aviation use and would likely sue to stop you using it if they found out about it.
 

dwalker

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Yet today Viking is arguably the most successful aviation engine business in the world except maybe Rotax ?? The point I am trying to make is that there are NO good solutions for engine control for aviation use, and doubly so for any direct injected engine. Honda never intended their racing engine controller to be used for aviation use and would likely sue to stop you using it if they found out about it.
They sell used engines to a single airframe type. They have sold less engines at this point that Tracy and other sold redrives and power FAR less airplanes than the good ole VW T1.
The point you were trying and failing to make is that that you would rather pay the cheapest amount possible and that is that. Your injector and coil short boondoggle is less likely that a fuel pump failure or for that matter a battery voltage failure, but because it helps you rationalize your choice you stick to it. IN DECADES of having the service shop, the race shop, the tuning shop, and even the body shop I have never seen an ecu destroyed by a shorted injector or coil. In fact, A quick google search shows few others have either. Oh sure we have caps that fail over time and leak, and we have cold solder joints because the machines were not set right, but burning up an injector driver is like.. something that doesnt happen. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I had a car some in with a blown ECI, FI, or IGN fuse, across any make where the client had not done something stupid like spliced in resistors.
No, your clinging to this because it makes you feel better because while you can probably afford to spend the money on an SDS or similar, you need to cling to the idea that they are inferior and your spending the "smart money". And the fact that you dropped all the nonsense about "what happens when X sensor fails" is simple proof.
Now personally, I do not care. If you want to use your holy grail ecu that is on you. If it works great. Still, I have spent long enough working with pretty much all of them from AEM to Vi-Pec and Zytek all across the board and there are a lot of things that are needed for an ECU to work properly, and most of them have to do with the installer and operator.

BTW I am SURE you know Eggenfelner has decided if you use that ECU then your "warranty" (I am actually laughing at that one) is voided. They are also blaming it and other things for the broken cranks in the earlier engines. What is super amazing is it seems like those engines fall out of the sky with some regularity and yet... it is never thier fault...


One last edit- Honda does not want ANYTHING to do with Eggenfelner or flight engines. MOF they will not sell him new engines, which is why he has to buy them from junkyards. I am about 90% sure they will also not sell him new blocks to build new engines from, most likely because they do not want a direct link to them if something happens. Pretty standard across the board for auto manufacturers.
 

KeithO

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The 708HU is an open source project. To be applied to more engines, the code will have to be updated. Some of the hardware may need to be updated based on number of engine cylinders (3 cylinder or 6 cylinder). But it has been designed with the redundancy needed for aviation applications. Mark Hubelbank is no longer putting more effort into the project because his Viking 110 engine to gearbox coupling just failed, the second such failure in the community in the last 6 months. No-one within the user group has experienced an actual engine problem since 2014 when the controller was developed, so it has done its job with very good reliability.

Its an unfortunate fact that the price of an object does not provide any guarantee of superior performance. Ross has a healthy demand for his system, mainly from people who want to upgrade their "proper" aircraft engines from a carb and magneto's and given that those engines may cost up to $50k and that carbs and magneto's are not cheap either, the price he asks for his system is regarded as being affordable. At the other end of the spectrum where a Viking 90 costs about $10k and comes with a pretty crap engine controller, people wanting that sort of engine (engine itself can be had for about $1300 with low miles / nearly new) plenty people would appreciate having a better engine controller option with better redundancy and it can cost a lot less than the $1600 being asked by Viking without giving up anything at all. All we need now is the gearbox, we just have to wait and see if Aeromomentum will come through by the end of the year with their gearbox. So far, no word on that.
 
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