Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

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Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby killer_siller » Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:29 am

I recently had the opportunity to play with a microsquirt after having played with an MS3 for a long time. The more I'm thinking about it, the more I'm thinking an MS2 would fill my needs.

But I'm really tired of the MS form factor. I'd like to put something together which would fit in a eurocard or half eurocard (like the IOX) case. I saw a rather old post about this:
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=206&p=1304&hilit=microsquirt+module#p1304

and would like to raise the question again. Can we get a simple eurocard or IOX sized motherboard for the microsquirt module?
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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby jbelanger » Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:01 pm

One issue is that the Microsquirt price has been lowered while the module price has increased. And people won't be interested in having a DB37 connector on this. So the cost of the module plus the connector is more than a fully assembled Microsquirt and that doesn't include a board, case, additional components or my work.

Also most people want a complete and assembled unit. That means I would need to stock modules, connectors, cases and components and have the cases machined for the connector. Finally, people don't want to pay more for a different product.

I have tried offering the rugged ECU that so many told me was needed. It is significantly more expensive than the Microsquirt but still less than other Microsquirt-based products and has features no other can offer since it integrates a Mini-IOx. But once that was available, the demand vanished. And another custom product would have to be close in price.

So for all those reasons, I have put aside the project mentioned in your link. I would still like to do this but that likely won't happen. Also, people are now looking at the MS3 features and they want those which is not possible with a Microsquirt module (or other MS2-based setups). And doing an MS3-based unit would require licensing which is not possible at low production numbers or using the very expensive MS3Pro module which is also not an option for me due to the extremely high initial cost.

I didn't start this reply intending to be this negative but I'm simply stating what I've seen in the past and what I see currently. If you have other views, opinions or ideas, I'm open to hear them.

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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby killer_siller » Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:48 pm

I see exactly where you are coming from and would have to agree; the market from that perspective is thin.

What about the other end? There are those of us who still assemble megasquirts. Everything I don't like about my MS3 has to do with the Megasquirt 1 it is based on.

I think there could be a market for some bare through hole PCBs, or minimal surface mount, and a BOM for something which would fit in a eurocard case, use a microsquirt module, and be able to optionally include one of your IOXs, the DIYutotune sequqntial module, etc. It'd be like an MS refresh, going back to the initial principles of it being inexpensive. It'd end up being much more elegant. Apparently some of your customers do something similar, with even modular boards which plug together.

I think people would be receptive to a run of PCBs and a BOM.
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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby jbelanger » Wed Jul 16, 2014 1:13 pm

Which type of connector would work on this?

A major problem is that people don't want to order from many places. And I can't keep an inventory of Microsquirt modules or expensive connectors because that's too much money frozen since I would need to buy enough to get some discount so that I'm able to offer them at competitive prices.

If you can find 10 people that will buy (no would potentially buy if...) this then I can make a board and not lose money. But that would require the buyer to get a Microsquirt module, connector and case from another source.

And you can start listing the features that would be essential, very good, desirable and nice to have.

What I would see is the module plus plug-in options for extra injector drivers (or stepper IAC?), 1 to 4 SLC-OEMs (with 2 that can be connected to the module), a TinyIOx (with the I2C bus connected to the SLC-OEMs), and some additional analog inputs and digital I/Os (for the TinyIOx). That list does contain non-essential things (and might even have some that are not desirable) but that's what came off the top of my head; I don't even know if that would all fit. One thing is certain, that would require multiple connectors so that needs to be taken into account. And there would also be a need for a 5V regulator since the Microsquirt (module and cased) is terrible on that front with a maximum recommended drain around 20mA on its 5V source if I remember correctly. I could also see adding high current ignition drivers and/or better logic-level drivers (TC4427-based as per my new 4-channel driver board).

So post your thoughts and bring other interested parties here and I'll see how that turns out. If there are others interested I may make this available for DIYers.

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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby killer_siller » Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:57 pm

It sounds like we're on the same page as far as capability goes. I'm also not sure if that'd fit in a eurocard case. It's also difficult to find good connectors which will fit in a eurocard case. DIYAutotune has knock circuitry in their DIYPNP products. Is this something which could be explored?

Molex's Stac64 may be a decent connector to start with. It looks like it's inexpensive on Mouser for both the PCB and the wire side.
JAEs MX31 connectors are similarly inexpensive and a bit more compact. They look familiar.
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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby jbelanger » Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:43 pm

I'm not sure that a knock circuit that doesn't reference a specific engine position window is going to be of much use. Also, the MS2/Extra code doesn't have a very sophisticated way of dealing with knock at this time so I'm not sure there is much to be gained by using it. But that's not something I've been looking into so there might be some good products and some good applications for it.

The Stac64 connectors do look interesting and you can pretty much build it up to the size you need. I'd have to see how many pins can be used on a eurocard width. It would also be possible to use both ends if needed. But that takes up space for other components.

As for the MX31, 135 pins is huge. It is also wider than a eurocard. And having a 4-row footprint might require using more than a 2-layer board but that's not automatic.

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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby killer_siller » Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:17 pm

jbelanger wrote:I'm not sure that a knock circuit that doesn't reference a specific engine position window is going to be of much use. Also, the MS2/Extra code doesn't have a very sophisticated way of dealing with knock at this time so I'm not sure there is much to be gained by using it. But that's not something I've been looking into so there might be some good products and some good applications for it.


I was looking at what hardway was available for other MS2 based systems. We'll move that to the bottom of the list of possibilities, then. Even so, I would like to see this put together with the specific intention of flexibility, especially in manners in which the regular MS form factor is difficult.

jbelanger wrote:The Stac64 connectors do look interesting and you can pretty much build it up to the size you need. I'd have to see how many pins can be used on a eurocard width. It would also be possible to use both ends if needed. But that takes up space for other components.


It looked like somewhere between 40 and 56 positions.

jbelanger wrote:As for the MX31, 135 pins is huge. It is also wider than a eurocard. And having a 4-row footprint might require using more than a 2-layer board but that's not automatic.


MX31070NFC is 60.5mm wide and has 70 positions
MX31104NFA is 86.6mm wide and has 104 positions

Depending on availability I'd say I like those over the Stac64 connectors because of density.
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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby jbelanger » Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:22 pm

I was looking at Mouser and the only one available there is the 135-position connector. The 70- and 104-position don't look to be available at any North American distributor.

From what I can see, 56 positions seem to be doable with the Stac64. That's not bad for an MS2/Extra-based setup and it would be possible to use both ends of the board if needed. And having a dual row connector makes routing a lot simpler especially for a 2-layer board.

It might be possible to use the MX34 from JAE. Using a couple of connectors it should be possible to have between 64 and 72 positions on one side. They seem to be available at Mouser and are pretty inexpensive. But the current rating is rather low.

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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby killer_siller » Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:49 pm

jbelanger wrote:I was looking at Mouser and the only one available there is the 135-position connector. The 70- and 104-position don't look to be available at any North American distributor.

From what I can see, 56 positions seem to be doable with the Stac64. That's not bad for an MS2/Extra-based setup and it would be possible to use both ends of the board if needed. And having a dual row connector makes routing a lot simpler especially for a 2-layer board.

It might be possible to use the MX34 from JAE. Using a couple of connectors it should be possible to have between 64 and 72 positions on one side. They seem to be available at Mouser and are pretty inexpensive. But the current rating is rather low.

Jean


We're on the same page here. I think it'd be best to avoid having the engine harness on both sides of the board. I've never been a fan of having to package that, but I may be a minority in that view (we'll see).
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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby killer_siller » Thu Jul 17, 2014 12:09 pm

Here's a 40 pin JAE MX34 connector which is less than 50mm wide:
http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/e ... ND/2415046

That could be paired with a second header, like an MX31 or Spec64, for high current needs.
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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby killer_siller » Thu Jul 17, 2014 12:56 pm

I really hate saying this, but:

There are a lot of D-sub connectors which can do 5A oto 7A per pin, and come in 2 or 3 row shells for quite a lot of positions. They're not very expensive, they're a standard, and they're made by many different companies.

I don't like it, but it may be worth considering.
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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby jbelanger » Thu Jul 17, 2014 1:21 pm

That's why they were used on the original MS board and why I've used them on my IOx board.

The real issue with these is one of perception: people think they look like a PC connector not an automotive one. But if you don't use a sealed automotive connector in a sealed enclosure, the D-sub connectors aren't really inferior if you use contacts appropriate for the wire gauge you're using.

Having said that, an alternative to the D-sub connectors would be nice.

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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby killer_siller » Thu Jul 17, 2014 7:07 pm

There are also proto boards available in Eurocard size, so having as much proto area as ECU area is just a card away. If things are thought through from the beginning, this can even be considered from the outset by providing a header which could interface with the proto card, bringing through 12V, 5V, ground, CAN Bus, etc. I think there's a standard eurocard connector which is usually intended for a backplane connection, but it may also be available in a vertical orientation rather than right angle, otherwise a simple 0.1" header near the back of the case could work well, Arduinos have shown that.

Being able to implement off-the-shelf realtime clocks from Sparkfun or Adafruit could reduce the necessity for development there. The same could be said for GPS if it was put on the table. JBPerf's current full size IOX is 100mmx120mm, so one of them could be fit above or below the main board as well, providing that much more I/O in the same enclosure.
The icing on the cake would be being able to add one of the aforementioned proto PCBs and have something like an Arduino micro providing EGT and other IO via CAN Bus: http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/ ... 593/page1/

This same Arduino could allow SD Card logging of anything on the CAN Bus, or GPS, or ANYTHING. It's an Arduino after all. Or it could be a Teensy, or whatever would fit on the proto board. That board and the ability to talk over CAN Bus could provide SOOOO much flexibility, all in the same enclosure.

EDIT: I fixed your link. J.B.
Last edited by killer_siller on Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby killer_siller » Thu Jul 17, 2014 7:32 pm

The standard Eurocard connector is called a DIN-41612 VME connector. It is a 96 pin header via 3x 32 pins at 0.1". The BusBoard proto board I have in front of me has the two outer rows brought out: http://busboard.com/POW3U
I believe the Eurocard spec includes those mounting holes as well.

This stripboard lines up with all the pins on that one, so a header in the same position would line up with it as well:
http://busboard.com/ST3U

I'm not really sure how much of that could be leveraged, but it's at least worth knowing that the Eurocard spec includes that header, so even if we just put a 0.1" header there which lines up with some of those it should be able to mate with proto PCBs following the Eurocard form factor. Arduinos have done well with the headers with extremely long male pins, maybe something like that would allow ample space between the cards?

I hope I'm not muddying the waters with this diatribe.

It looks like the inexpensive, standard sized D-sub connectors come in 40, 44, 50, and 68 pins. They can be anywhere from 2 to 4 rows. You'd said you weren't a fan of more than 2 rows, as it then becomes difficult on a 2 layer PCB. Would you say it NEEDS to be 2 rows? I think we can find a 2 row connector, but I think 3 would make things much neater wiring-wise and may ease some of the negative perception D-sub connectors currently have by being a much more aesthetic connector.
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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby jbelanger » Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:35 pm

Well, the Arduino for EGT or GPS is not needed since the IOx has been doing those for a long time. And I already have used long pin headers to stack a few boards:
Image

There's an IOx on the bottom, the second board has 8 EGT amplifiers, an RTC, a 3-axis accelerometer, a USB port, a GPS module and a 3.3V supply, and the third board has 8 SLC-OEMs that are connected to the IOx I2C port and their own 5V supply.

If the pin out for the standard Eurocard connector is not fixed then I don't see a problem with using a header that would align with it for the few lines you mention. What you have to be careful about is that the 5V supply will have a limit and if there are already many SLC-OEMs connected to it, that will not leave much margin. If the add-on board has a significant 5V current drain, it might need it's own supply. It might also need it's own connector if it has I/Os with external sensors/signals.

As for the connector, it doesn't have to be limited to 2 rows but that will depend on the pitch and the current needs of what is connected to the pins. I have used the Cinch ME 48-pin connector which has 3 rows and the AMPSeal 24-position connector which also has 3 rows. Low current signals don't require large traces so it's not an issue to route one or two between pads on those connectors but high current signals almost need a direct route and can't be routed to the middle row but you can route medium current signals to the middle row. On a 0.1" pitch connector, you can't route anything but a single low current signal between pads.

What would be very beneficial in knowing what are the requirements for the connector(s) would be to make a list of all the planned I/Os and specify if they are low (<500mA), medium (500mA-3A), high current (3A-7A), very high (>7A). This will then give a very good idea of how many pins are needed and where the constraints are in terms of routing and connector selection. The limits are rough estimates but should be reasonable ballpark numbers.

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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby killer_siller » Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:37 pm

That setup is absolutely drool worthy.

I was using the Arduino as an example of something the end user could implement and program themselves. It's a good example for me because it's something I've done.

I REALLY like that SLC OEM setup! I don't expect I'd need more than a single wideband on the mother board, but don't see why more could not be implemented on a daughter board. Again, others may have different opinions and needs on this. I may be in the minority.

Connectors. If I could get a drum roll, please ...

May I officially present the 50 position size 5 D-Sub connector:
http://www.mouser.com/Connectors/D-Sub- ... nuZ1z0xbyw

It is a common connector which meets several standards, including a MIL, so I'd expect it'd be prolific enough for our purposes.

This uses size 20 contacts, same as the D-Sub currently used on the regular Megasquirt. It's small enough that another D-Sub could be implemented alongside it if necessary.

Another option which is very much worth considering is just keeping with the 37 pin D-Sub already being used and then augmenting that with another connector.

I like the idea of the 50 pin D-Sub as it seems to be a good compromise.
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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby killer_siller » Fri Jul 18, 2014 7:53 pm

Here is a pin list based on what you have listed from the ruggedized ECU; updated for the SLC OEMs and some commentary on what I suspect their current category is
jbelanger wrote:
  • 4 pins for high Z injector drivers (2 on the module and 2 on the new board)
  • 4 pins for logic coil drivers med current
  • 4 pins for 2 differential VR inputs (VR+ and VR-) which can be configured as opto/Hall inputs with one pin per input used for pull up or shunt depending on how it is connected VRs can be up to 25V. Not sure about current.
  • 4 pins 2 RS-232 serial ports (Microsquirt module and mini IOx)
  • 2 pins for the CAN bus (for both Microsquirt module and mini IOx)
  • 2 pins for main power supply: 12V and ground (may need to double that to reduce noise) med current
  • 1 pin MAT
  • 1 pin CLT
  • 1 pin TPS
  • 12 pins for SLC OEM x2
  • 1 pin Vref
  • 2 pins for idle control: either 3-wire valve or 2-wire valve plus one spare output med current
  • 1 pin fuel pump med current
  • 1 pin MAP
  • 1 pin Tach output
  • 1 pin table switching
  • 1 pin launch control
  • 1 pin boost control
  • 3 pins NOS (1 input + 2 outputs)
  • 2 pins programmable outputs (may need to remove these if additional 12V and ground needed)
  • 2 pin analog inputs (may need to remove these instead of programmable outputs if additional 12V and ground needed)
  • 1 sensor ground
  • 2 high current grounds


Some commentary:
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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby dontz125 » Fri Jul 18, 2014 11:37 pm

The majority of the pins are low current. The WB heater pins hit 3A on startup, but quickly drop to 1A once the engine is running. The injector drivers only pull 1A, and - depending on the components Jean uses - the various programmable inputs are probably capped at 3A. The ignition pins are logic level, so that removes the biggest current sucks on most ECUs.
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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby killer_siller » Sat Jul 19, 2014 9:21 am

dontz125 wrote:The majority of the pins are low current. The WB heater pins hit 3A on startup, but quickly drop to 1A once the engine is running. The injector drivers only pull 1A, and - depending on the components Jean uses - the various programmable inputs are probably capped at 3A. The ignition pins are logic level, so that removes the biggest current sucks on most ECUs.


Thank you! I appreciate the input.

Another thought: The serial connection does not need to go out the main connector, which will free up 4 more positions on the main connector. That leaves us at 34 circuits without the SLC OEMs on the main connector, or 46 with. 34 without would allow us to use 37 pin D-sub. Would we want a USB connector on board, DB9s or the 2.5mm Innovative style jacks? My vote is the 2.5mm

What's your opinion on connectors? What would you like to see involved?
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Re: Eurocard microsquirt motherboard

Postby killer_siller » Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:26 pm

I am assembling a specification request for this and am looking at the IOx basic. It looks like the header for it was designed to be similar to the full board IOx. If the motherboard was designed to interface with the IOx basic, would the logger board and SLC OEM boards which currently interface with the IOx be usable in this application?
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