Playing with the ECU (Brains)

The Engine Control Unit (ECU) is a EEC-IV version or OBD-I. It has limited capabilities for on-the-fly tuning. There hasn't been too much support for it until lately.

Ford 2.3L ECU (computer)

Here's a list of software and hardware tools that you can use to tune your Ford EEC-IV ECU.

  • Moates.NET - They have hardware for reading, burning and tuning while driving for the EEC-IV which works with the 2.3L Ford. The best part is that it is relatively inexpensive - just a couple of hundred dollars! One of their modules called the QuarterHorse plugs into your ECU which allows you to monitor and tune while driving.

    Moates Real-Time Tuning Module QuarterHorse!

  • TunerPro RT - Almost free software for tuning your ECU. It works with the QuarterHorse hardware module also. I've linked to their screenshots so you can get a better idea of what the package can do.

    One of many exciting TunerPro screens

  • EEC Analyzer - They have two software packages, one is called Binary Editor which works with QuarterHorse and provides the PC's front end with all the tuning gauges and magic similar to TunerPro RT. The other is EEC Analyzer which doesn't work with Quarterhorse but does with Moates' other modules for reading, burning and tuning.

    One of Binary Editor's many exciting screens

Terminology - Ford programs the ECUs in binary (hexadecimal code) and each part of the code has an address (location) that points to a certain function like RPM. In ECU software there is a map that matches the function (like RPM) to the binary address in the ECU. In the Ford world, this mapping of function to address is called a "strategy" Sometimes a strategy will be called a "definition". These terms are interchangeable.

What's Your Strategy?

Unfortunately, there isn't a fixed mapping of ECU functions to addresses even if they are the same base engine like a 2.3L. A series of ECUs may share the same mapping (strategy), so one strategy can cover several ECUs.

What is your ECU's strategy? It is a 3 or 4 digit code located on the ECU, just above the bar code as in the following image. One startegy may work with several ECUs that have similar characteristics such as all automatics with air conditioners with California specs, etc..

Strategy Location Code

One of the problems is that not all strategies have been mapped out yet. While they are very similar, it does take a lot of effort to reverse engineer the code and map the addresses to the functions. It doesn't look like fun stuff to me!

Where are the Strategies?

Quite a few strategies are in the public domain which means that they are free. A lot of the turbo 2.3L strategies can be downloaded for free. Some strategies are available for a small fee - payment for the hours of work spent deciphering the code. At EEC Analyzer, they have a list of strategies available, some are free (listed as .bin) and some you must pay for (listed as READ Only.cry). Moates has a similar listing but you will need a username and password to view them. I believe that there is no fee for the username and password but you will have to contact Moates directly.

Unfortunately, TunerPro RT and Binary Editor don't share a standard format for their strategy files. TunerPro RT uses an excel spreadsheet which is really cool but Binary Editor uses a different format: .bin file. I don't know if one will import the other or not at this time.

Reading Material

There is a lot of fantastic information and documentation on the three websites that will keep you up at night reading about EFI and EEC-IV tuning. There is so much that it will make your head spin!

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Copyright February 2011 Eugene Blanchard