MegaSquirt is simply amazing! It can run practically any engine on the planet – from a lawnmower to a alcohol dragster! Hundreds of thousands of installs all over the world showcases MegaSquirt’s flexibility and adaptability. But – have you ever wondered how MegaSquirt came to be? It was a lot of work by a bunch of talented people. Here is the Story of MegaSquirt …
Way back in 1996, the world of electronic engine management control was a different place than it is today. There was little to no information available anywhere on the subject of computer engine controls, and the little bit that was available seemed to make engine controls a mystical and magical thing to anyone outside of the corporate vehicle OEM manufacturer world. So, a lone graduate student at Ohio-State university (John Gwynne) started a internet forum called EFI-332 with the hopes to make EFI a less intimidating subject. The EFI332 USENET forum was a group of engineers, hobbyist, and enthusiast with a common goal of creating a engine management system from scratch. The number 332 in the name represented the computer chip chosen for the project, the MC68332 from Motorola. Two of the founding participants on this forum, Bruce Bowling and Al Grippo, volunteered to undertake the task. These two individuals had worked together for many years at different companies, from underwater torpedo development to control system work at a particle beam accelerator facility, B&G believed that they could develop the EFI332 controller and get it working on a real vehicle. Al had a 1973 Camaro that he wanted to run under EFI and coil-on-plug, so this became the test vehicle. B&G developed the EFI332 hardware and firmware,, it was full-featured sequential fuel, COP ignition, with individual control of each cylinder, idle control, and other features that were advanced for the time. The EFI332 system was a total success – Al drove the system for 20,00 miles. EFI332 also led to axillary support products like the Stimulator and external boards for driving ignition, injection, idle control, and the like. The controller was advanced even by today’s standards.
The EFI332 project, however, had one major shortcoming – was way too complicated for anyone to use other than its creators, it was not something that the average person would get running on his ride in a weekend, it was more like months of work and hardwiring of parameters and controls code! So B&G took things in another direction… to deliver engine controls for the masses by developing a simple platform that was extensively documented and easy to use, with all of the design elements available for anyone to review and understand its inner workings. This new product, called MegaSquirt, was launched on September 15th 2001, to the Internet and the world. At this point in time there was a real appetite growing for computer engine controls, and the flexibility and transparency of MegaSquirt made it an instant hit!
The early days of MegaSquirt were very fast-paced and exciting – remember before this point there had not been anything like this available anywhere for engine control. And there was a lot of learning and figuring out how things worked during those early days. As time went on, MegaSquirt was tested on a lot of different engines and platforms, from single-cylinder lawnmowers to Bonneville land speed record competitions, and everything in-between! There was a lot of assistance with MegaSquirt from people like Lance Gardiner, who spearheaded the effort to maintain the educational and experimental aspects of the project, with the end-game goal of helping people understand and grasp the aspects of fuel injection and engine control. If you want to learn about the basics of MegaSquirt venture over to the megamanual.com site.
At first, MegaSquirt was available to users only as a true scrounging effort, where people had to purchase the electronic components separate from the PCB, and the enclosure was hand-cut. Lots of legwork just to get the required pieces to put together. But this user effort brought opportunity… Jerry Hoffman saw the need to bring MegaSquirt to the world and make the experience better by providing all of the necessary parts for a build. At first he operated out of his basement boxing up MegaSquirt kits and all of the little pieces needed for a smooth install. This grew into the business you all know today – DIYAutoTune.com! The folks at DIYAutoTune have certainly taken the MegaSquirt product and ran with the ball, creating enhanced procts such as DIY-PNP and the MS3-based MegaSquirt-PRO. Chances are great that you have purchased your MegaSquirt products from DIYAutoTune – its a one-stop shop with everything you need!
As time went on, B&G began offering pre-made versions of the DIY hardware, these were of the form of the V357 mainboard which was a pre-assembled version of the user-built V3 board. Also the pre-assembled products MicroSquirt and MicroSquirt Module became available. These products are manufactured at Advanced Electronics Assembly in Pennsylvanian USA.
In the early days of MegaSquirt, a side effort began to emerge that would have tremendous impact on the project. James Murray, Ken Culver, and Phil Ringwood started to enhance and extend the original firmware, adding features and extending the range of applications far and wide. This firmware because known as the Extra version, because it added and extended the base B&G code. Is it a true example of a combined effort taking an idea and building on it, making it better and better. The really nice thing is that the Extra code upgrade has always been free – just flash in the extra code into your controller and you are ready to go. If you are using a MegaSquirt 1, 2, or 3 then you will want to be running the Extra code for sure! In fact, for MegaSquirt 3 the extra code is the only one available for this controller, and it is the most capable of controllers to date!
Along with the changes over the years in MegaSquirt hardware and firmware, there has also been significant changes in the way you interact with your controller – the user-interface! The early days of MegaSquirt there was a PC application called PC-Configurator. This application, developed by B&G, was a simple PC program that provided access to the MegaSquirt and allowed real-time tuning and the beginnings of a user-interface. Crude is the best words to describe this program, but it was the beginning of a legacy of constant tuning software products. Eric Fahlgren saw the potential of the PC Configurator and took it to the next notch with his tuning application MegaTune. This program served the community well for several years, and is still used for legacy applications. But, as in any good product there is constant improvement, and Phil Tobin took tuning software to the next rung with Tuner Studio. This all-encompassing application gives the user total control over all aspects of engine tuning and management, and goes way beyond any calibration software in terms of capability. Tuner Studio, along with other EFI Analytics applications such as MegaLogViewer and ShadowDash, allow you to have total control with the best tools available! These applications are your eyes and ears into MegaSquirt, and they are the best!
So you can see that the MegaSquirt products have had a interesting and exciting history, and is one of the best examples of a bunch of talented individuals working together towards a common goal. There are a lot more people who have helped with MegaSquirt’s success: Andy Whittle, Wes Kiser, Jean Belanger, Mike Tomaszewski, Matt Cramer, Ben Berusch, Shannon Gustafson and a lot more individuals not mentioned here but respected for their contributions! And the growth in MegaSquirt continues hard and fast! We have expanded our reseller base extensively, most notably with EFI Source and their offering of the MS3 Gold Box and MicroSquirt-enhanced products, and Stinger Performance (our fastest growing reseller) line of PIMP ECU application products. And – B&G have quietly been working in the background on the next-generation of patented physics-based model engine control systems to bring us to the 21st Century– you will hear more about this in the future! So the innovation continues, and you will reap the rewards with a better ride, more power and total control!