Superchips Custom Tuning's Raptor Datalogger
SCT's quick, affordable Raptor wants to make other dataloggers extinct
Not so long ago, automotive dataloggers were limited to the domain offactory race teams or particularly well-heeled privateers, with pricetags agonizingly out of reach of the average gearhead. And what a shame,because a good datalogger is the perfect tuning tool, querying an arrayof sensors to assemble a detailed report--for real-time or lateranalysis--of vehicle behavior under whatever operating conditions theuser chooses. With a datalogger, there's no longer any need to guess at,say, what level of spark advance is present at 6,150 rpm under wide-openthrottle, or what effect intake air temperature might be having on thatspark advance.
So we're happy to report that the price excuse has nowgone the way of the dinosaur, thanks in part to Superchips CustomTuning's new Raptor datalogger, affordable to maybe even magazinescribes at a mere $450, and remarkably capable to boot.
"Capable" indatalogger lingo means two things in particular: speed (that is to say,having a brief interval between sampling points), and the ability to loga wide variety of parameters. The Raptor scores high marks for both, andit is compact, easy to use, and--did we mention?--cheap. To be fair,part of the credit for this affordability must go to the OBD-II-capableprocessors mandated in our cars from 1996 onward, and the considerablearray of onboard sensors the factory installs for those processors tomonitor on a continual basis. In operation, the Raptor acts as ago-between interpreter, peering over the shoulder of our car'spowertrain control module (it'll work with EEC V and some early BlackOak), and duly reporting its findings to a handy laptop computer, towhich it attaches via a user-friendly USB cable.
In other words, theRaptor connects to the OBD-II port, sees all the parameters of data thatthe EEC sees, and translates whichever ones the user commands into aform the computer can display and record. Basically, if the EEC canmonitor it, the Raptor can log it, and it also has analog inputs toallow logging of up to four external sources, such as a wideband O2sensor. The Raptor's included software logs the data in comma-separatedvalues file format and displays it in graphic form. However, those same.csv files can also be opened under most spreadsheet software, such asMicrosoft Excel, for viewing in tabular form--meaning you can send yourdatalog out for review by folks who don't even have the Raptor software.This is a handy feature for remote-tuning assistance or suggestions.
Formany professional tuners, the Raptor will replace Ford's New GenerationSTAR tester, an expensive dealership-oriented diagnostic tool that untilnow seems to have been the datalogger of choice. According to SCTPresident Chris Johnson, the Raptor has a sampling rate that is 10 timesfaster than the NGS, and it has a much broader range of parameters thatcan simultaneously be logged. PHP's Paul Svinicki adds that, "In termsof technology, it's like going from the '60s to the new millennium."
Howlong a data stream will the Raptor record? Well, how big is yourlaptop's hard drive? The Raptor will happily spew its findings as longas your computer has room to store it, though, for practical tuning ordiagnostic purposes, only a few megabytes of space are typicallyrequired. And it samples at up to 62 times per second. If all that isn'tenough, the Raptor can also be used to view and clear diagnostic troublecodes from the processor.
When we first introduced you to SCT's lineupof tuning hardware and software ("Fine Tuning," Jan. '05, p. 120), wereported that the Raptor was going to be both datalogger and flashtuner. In the meantime, however, Chris Johnson decided to leave out theflash tuning capabilities in order to keep the Raptor as affordable aspossible. But before this decision was implemented, some Raptors wereassembled with flash capability, so if this interests you, we suggestyou contact SCT for pricing and details.
Our captions and screenshotswill give some more detail of how the Raptor can put sophisticatedhigh-speed datalogging capabilities--for no-guesswork tuning analysis wecould only dream about just a short while ago--in the hands of anyonewho can pony up 450 bucks. Our guess is, it won't take long to recoupthat modest expenditure in saved engine components.