Being able to read a wider range of air fuel ratios as the engine is operating is a vital diagnostic tool. Air/fuel logging is often used for dyno tuning, in order to build ideal fuel maps for engine performance, so having the same kind of capability on board your ride can be a useful addition.
Innovate Motorsports is a leader in the market when it comes to delivering this capability and making it fast, accurate and easy to use. These are easy words for anyone to say, but the fact is that how Innovate obtains its data from the sensor is different from what other companies do. Innovate’s DirectDigital technology results in easier calibration, internal drift compensation, fast response time, as well as sensor feedback that verifies the condition of the sensor itself.
Project 666 is our 1986 5.0 Fox-body Mustang which has recently undergone a number of upgrades, including a new 427ci engine, so it made a lot of sense to keep a close eye on things as we're looking to take this car to a few PSCA races this season.
The latest product from Innovate is their MTX-L all in one gauge, which only needs power, ground and a signal from the supplied wideband sensor. “We have taken our wideband technology that is in our LC-1 and integrated inside the gauge,” said Cort Charles of Innovate Motorsports. “That eliminates multiple components to set it up and it also makes the data faster, since the wideband controller is built into the gauge now.” In addition to providing an easy to read, dual analog/digital display, the waterproof gauge allows for connection to data loggers or an electronic engine control system that uses an air fuel ratio signal.
Innovate Motorsports’ MTX-L: Wideband Air/Fuel Ratio Gauge
• The only 100% digital wideband air/fuel ratio technology • Water Resistant 52mm (2 1/16”) round dash-mountable casing • Built-in Direct Digital™ Wideband Controller simplifies installation • Wideband O2 Sensor is compatible with all fuel types, including Leaded, Unleaded, Diesel, Methanol, E85 • Ability to calibrate O2 sensor for increased accuracy • Two 0-5v fully programmable linear analog outputs for use with engine management systems and external dataloggers • Interchangeable faceplates and bezels • Large digital readout and programmable needle style gauge • Datalog using LogWorks on your PC
Installing the Goods
There’s an old saying that goes, “The less you got, the less you got to go wrong,” and the inherent simplicity of the Innovate product goes a long way to making installation a breeze. Particularly when running a competition vehicle, the last thing you want to do is add something that could lead to more headaches.
A one-time calibration of the oxygen sensor is required, but it’s a simple process. It’s probably best to do this before installing the sensor in your exhaust system. Fully explained in the Startup Guide, the process is as simple as powering up the gauge without the sensor connected for 30 seconds, then turning it off. Now, connect the sensor and power up the gauge once more. After about a minute, it will start displaying air fuel ratio values and the calibration is complete.
“We still believe in free air calibration for our meters,” explained Charles. ” The Bosch sensor that is used in this kit (and most competitors kits) can vary up to .5 of an air/fuel ratio point after 1000 hours of use on a factory-type vehicle. Now, combine that with a high race application, that cuts down the time before that problem surfaces.” With free air calibration, you have the ability to recalibrate that sensor until it expires. Follow along with us now as Project 666 gets a whole new information source.
When you lay out the pieces, this is what comes with the MTX-L product. The primary components are the gauge itself and the oxygen sensor. Not shown here is the 'bung' that gets welded, if needed, into the exhaust system to accept the oxygen sensor. Interchangeable faceplates, the gauge bezel and cabling with OEM-grade connectors are also supplied.
If the exhaust system in your ride doesn't already have provision for an oxygen sensor, you'll have to drill and weld in the fitting that the sensor will screw into. First, it has to be ahead of any catalytic converters, if installed. Ideally, it should also be in a collector, so that the sensor will read a mix of the individual cylinder variations. "Most people think you need to place a wideband sensor as close to the engine as possible and that is just not true," explained Charles. "Think about how fast that exhaust gas is exiting the engine; we are talking milliseconds it takes for exhaust to travel through the piping. Putting it three feet back or in an X-pipe isn’t going to effect the reading anyway."
Finding a suitable location and mounting the gauge is the next task. The MTX-L uses a standard 2-1/16" mounting hole. The supplied sensor cable is eight feet long, which should be fine for most uses, but there is an optional eighteen foot cable available.
Here's the easy part. Connect the red wire to power and the black wire to ground. The white wire should be spliced into a headlight power wire to enable gauge dimming at night. Unless you're using datalogging or an ECU interface, you're done with the wiring now.
After routing and plugging the sensor cable into the sensor, we're ready to button up this installation.
Innovate Motorsports makes a big deal of their digital technology and it shows through in this application. Wiring is simple, installation is quick and easy, and the chore of calibrating the system is almost trivial. With its ability to provide output signals, even more sophisticated applications are possible, whether datalogging or interfacing to an engine management system. “We understand there are a lot of other performance vehicles out there besides automotive, so that is why we made the MTX-L waterproof so you can even put it on any sort of powersports vehicles,” said Charles.
With its ability to cover all kinds of fuels, including leaded, unleaded, diesel, methanol, E85 and propane, you’re covered for most future possibilities. Air/fuel management is one thing that can help improve both performance and reliability. Getting it all in one package from Innivate Motorsports, for about $200, make this a no-brainer addition to most any high performance vehicle.