Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
August 27, 2010

Nitrous oxide injection remains to this day a very popular way of increasing the performance of a normally aspirated engine. It's much less inexpensive than a supercharger or turbocharger, and you only have to pay when you want to use it. The one problem with it-out of the box, at least-is it's either on or off. The solenoids are open or closed, unless you use a progressive nitrous controller like the one we sampled from Edelbrock.

Edelbrock's progressive nitrous controller (PN 71900) is an amazing little box that will transform your nitrous oxide injection system into a smooth and programmable power adder. By utilizing pulse-width modulation, the controller can regulate the amount of nitrous and fuel being delivered over a specific period of time. Rather than having the solenoids on or off, the controller rapidly pulses them open and closed, and several timers allow you to adjust how much nitrous flows at the start and end, and how long it takes to get from start to finish. This can provide a smoother delivery rather than one instant hard hit, which allows you to optimize the amount of available power to compensate for track conditions, chassis setups, or tire selection.

The Edelbrock controller uses full digital circuitry and features an easy-to-read scrolling LED and simple push-button switches to make the unit exceptionally user-friendly. Through these switches, you can select and individually program the nitrous parameters in order to ramp up your nitrous system safely.

Installation of the controller is fairly straightforward, with no more than a dozen connections total. The controller comes with its own wiring harness and a complete instruction manual. After the unit is wired up, the integrated battery voltage monitor periodically displays battery voltage, and even if you lose voltage, the built-in flash memory will retain your settings. The Edelbrock controller uses separate nitrous and fuel solenoid outputs for more current capability and better overall solenoid control, and the positive 12-volt timer output can activate an ignition retard controller or a second stage of nitrous.

We contacted nitrous-oxide guru Steve Johnson from Induction Solutions to put us in contact with some subject vehicles and their owners. Induction Solutions carries the Edelbrock controller in its inventory, and is very familiar with the device.

"With many of today's over-powered and under-tired cars, the progressive controller can really help a racer get down a hot slick track," notes Johnson. "I would say probably around 50 percent of our guys use controllers, whether they admit it or not! Most notable is the dual-ramp feature that guys really love, as well as the quick and easy programming."

With Johnson being well versed in the intricacies of the Edelbrock controller, we asked him for some tips for the beginning user.

"Read the instructions! Many people seem to just install the box and don't pay attention to the details in the instructions. There are quite a few settings that you can custom tailor for your application," says Johnson. "One of the most overlooked options is viewing the run data and clearing it for the next run. This can tell you how well the controller is working or even tell you the time and percentage of power at which time you have to lift off of the throttle."

Johnson also recommends starting with a simple program to get a baseline. Once you've got that down, he recommends using the dual-ramp option to bring more nitrous in sooner. Of course, keeping a log of your 60-foot times, as well as the controller settings, will provide you with plenty of information that should help you more easily find a base tune for different track conditions or chassis changes.

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