Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
June 1, 2008

Whether you tune your late-model Ford Performance truck or pay someone to do it, it's extremely helpful-not to mention smart-to have some data collection or feedback other than your seat-of-the-pants meter. With Innovate Motorsports' modular tuning system, you can monitor and record up to 32 channels of data, allowing you or your tuner to make more accurate changes for better performance.

The standalone gauge kit comes with the LC-1 wide-band controller, XD-16 gauge, Bosch 5-wire wide-band 02 sensor, bung/plug kit, software CD, and a quick-start guide. According to Innovate, the LC-1 is more accurate than conventional designs, and its self-calibrating circuitry compensates for changes in temperature, altitude and sensor condition. The LC-1 is ideal for applications such as dynos, data acquisition, standalone ECUs, piggyback fuel controllers, OBD-II software or chip programmers, and gauges. The LC-1 Lambda cable is a complete wide-band controller built-in to a sealed cable, and offers a digital input, output, and two user programmable analog outputs.

Our Subject vehicle for the Innovate product installation belongs to Chad Lewis, of Middleburg, Florida. The '99 Lightning packs a potent punch thanks to a fully built engine. The bullet is a Johnny Lightning Performance 5.4L that has received a 0.020-inch overbore as well as forged pistons and connecting rods. Patriot Performance CNC-ported the Stage II cylinder heads, and a pair of Patriot Stage II cams actuate the valves. On top of that foundation is a stock Eaton blower turning a 6-pound lower and 2.76 upper pulley setup. Dynatech 15/8-inch long-tube headers expel the spent combustion products into a Dynatech midpipe with high-flow catalytic converters. SCT, BBK, and ASE transmissions round out the performance family of mods.

While the LC-1 reads the exhaust gases, the XD-16 tells you what's going on. The XD-16 ships as an air/fuel ratio gauge, but it can be configured to display any channel in the modular tuning system chain, or it can be connected to the LC-1. The unit features programmable LED colors and a remote control button to start and stop log sessions, initiate calibrations, or view min/max values.

The XD-16 can also be customized via a Web-based print tool. You can choose any unit of measurement, various fonts, upload a logo (or other graphic), and then print the high-resolution scaled image directly onto transparency paper. Use the included blank faces, overlay the clear cutout, and you have a custom gauge face. Using the XD-16's serial ports, you can daisy-chain other Innovate devices such as the LC-1, AuxBox (LMA-3), DL-32, TC-4, and SSI-4. Speaking of the DL-32, Innovate sent us one of those to try out as well.

The DL-32 datalogger and sensor controller is a complete vehicle-mounted data-logging system for advanced engine tuning, and is capable of reading input from all sorts of data, including rpm, MAP, temperature, duty cycle, and analog inputs. There are 32 channels of data recording and 17 minutes of recording per MB of the included SD flash memory card, along with a built-in one- to three-bar pressure sensor (MAP, vacuum, boost, and so on).

The majority of your time for installation will be dedicated to deciding where to mount and route the various pieces of the modular tuning system. We spent a few hours on the install, and were up and datalogging in no time. HP Performance in Orange Park, Florida, handled the installation for us as we followed along with our cameras clicking away. If you can handle an MSD ignition installation, then you can probably handle the Innovate Motorsports setup. Once you're finished, you'll be able to see what normally is only available on the dyno, on the street, or at the track. The precise information from the datalogs allows you to make smarter-and more accurate-tuning changes to get the most from your rig.