Shopping: Real Estate |  Costumes  |  Guitars
This Issue Archived Articles Blog About Us Contact Us

Project Honda Insight, Part 12 - The MoTeC CRIP

Measuring and setting the MoTeC Crankshaft Index Position

by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

At a glance...

  • Defining the CRIP
  • Measuring it
  • Fine tuning it
Email a friend     Print article
Click for larger image

This series is based around a 2001 model hybrid Honda Insight.

The Insight remains one of the most aerodynamic and lightest cars ever made, with a Cd of 0.25 and a total mass of about 850kg from its 2-seater aluminium body.

The intent of the project is to turbocharge the engine, add water/air intercooling and programmable engine management, and then provide new high voltage batteries and a new electric motor control system.

The aim is to build a car with the best performance/economy compromise of any in the world.

The series so far:

Project Honda Insight, Part 1 – Introduction

Project Honda Insight, Part 2 – Fitting an Alternator

Project Honda Insight, Part 3 – Building an Airbox

Project Honda Insight, Part 4 – Intercooling Requirements

Project Honda Insight, Part 5 – Intercooling System #1

Project Honda Insight, Part 6 – Intercooling System #2

Project Honda Insight, Part 7 - Turbocharging

Project Honda Insight, Part 8 - Building the Exhaust

Project Honda Insight, Part 9 - First Electricals

Project Honda Insight, Part 10 - Alternator (again!) and beginning the MoTeC wiring

Project Honda Insight, Part 11 - New ignition system and cam sensing

This issue: measuring and setting the MoTeC Crankshaft Index Position.

Crank and cam sensors

Last issue in Project Honda Insight, Part 11 - New ignition system and cam sensing I covered the crank and camshaft position sensors.

Click for larger image

The Insight’s crank position sensing system – 12 evenly-spaced teeth read by a magnetic sensor – was immediately compatible with the MoTeC M400 programmable ECU.

Click for larger image

However, the camshaft position sensing system – two teeth on the cam read by two sensors - was not.

To allow the ECU to make sense of the standard camshaft signals, eLabtronics developed a custom electronics module. This module (that we dubbed the ‘Miro Module’) takes the signals from the two cam sensors, and then outputs a signal only when both cam teeth are simultaneously adjacent to both sensors. The output is a single square wave per camshaft rotation.

Click for larger image

This MoTeC software screen grab shows the signals as the ECU sees them. The crank signal (yellow line) shows the waveform of the magnetic sensor – 12 teeth (and so 12 pulses) per crank rotation. The blue line shows the square wave output of the Miro Module. There are 24 pulses between the square waves, confirming that the module outputs one pulse per two crank revs.

The dreaded CRIP

So with these changes, the ECU could now sense both crank and cam signals. But there was still an issue that needed to be resolved. The Miro Module outputs a signal once each two rotations of the crank – fine. But where in the crank’s rotation is this signal outputted?

Is the leading edge of the square wave exactly at Top Dead Centre of cylinder #1 on the firing stroke? Or is it somewhere else in the crank’s rotation?

In other words, what is the rotational relationship between the leading edge of the camshaft position square wave and the TDC of cylinder #1 on the firing stroke?

In the MoTeC software, this critical number is specified in degrees of crank rotation. It is called the Crankshaft Index Position – abbreviated to CRIP.

Without an accurate CRIP, the ignition spark will be incorrectly timed and the sequential injection will also not be correct. In fact, if the CRIP is greatly in error, the engine won’t even start.

So how do you ascertain what the CRIP is for a particular engine – in this case, the Honda Insight’s three cylinder? With programmable management never before having been fitted to an Insight, the only way was to directly measure it.

Measuring the CRIP

To calculate the CRIP, three factors needed to be ascertained:

(1) The crank rotational position at which the camshaft signal is outputted (ie in the case of the Insight, when the signal from the Miro Module occurs)

(2) The crank rotational position at Top Dead Centre on the firing stroke of Cylinder #1

(3) The number of crankshaft degrees between Steps 1 and 2 above.

Measuring crank rotation

Click for larger image

To allow the number of degrees of crank rotation to be easily and accurately measured, I made a simple tool – a degree wheel.

The first step was to go online until I found a downloadable, printable protractor. I specified its diameter to be just a little smaller than the crank pulley diameter, printed it out and then cut it to shape.

The paper was then laminated, giving a reasonably durable and accurate tool at basically no cost.

The paper degree wheel was then stuck to the crank pulley – I used gasket cement that was durable enough to allow the degree wheel to stay in place at up to 6000 rpm, but then pulled off easily when I no longer needed it.

We now know what needs to be found out in order that the CRIP can be ascertained - let’s take each step one at a time.

1. Crank position at camshaft signal output

Unfortunately, on the Honda, the crank rotational position at which the camshaft signal is outputted could not be found electronically. Why not? Because until the engine is spinning fast enough, no signal is outputted! Instead, this position needed to be directly observed.

It would be good if both camshaft position sensors could have been removed - then a visual check could have been made of when the two cam teeth were each opposite their respective sensors. Trouble is, on this engine that would have involved a great deal of work to gain access, especially to the rear sensor.

Instead, the just front camshaft position sensor was removed, and the cam teeth spinning past it observed down the hole. With my wife, Georgina, watching carefully, I turned over the crank. (Ensure the crank is turned in the correct direction!)

Click for larger image

By observation, Georgina could then ascertain where in their rotation were the adjoining teeth on the cam. By getting the pattern mentally worked out in this way, Georgina could then state when each tooth must be near its respective sensor – despite being able to see only one tooth at the position of one sensor.

(On the Honda cam, imagine three teeth evenly spaced at 120 degrees. Then remove one tooth, leaving a gap. Being able to observe only one tooth at a time means the observer needs to mentally work out where this gap is – and from the gap, decide which is the leading tooth of the pair after that gap.)

2. Crank rotational position at Top Dead Centre on the firing stroke of Cylinder #1

The crank rotates twice per firing stroke on Cyl #1, so how to find out when the cylinder was as TDC on its firing stroke, not exhaust stroke? I could have lifted the rocker cover and observed the valves directly, but a local mechanic (thanks Wayne of Dalton Garage) suggested an easier way.

Click for larger image

The spark plug of Cyl #1 was removed and a tight-fitting rubber hose pushed into the spark plug recess. By placed a finger over the end of the hose, the pressure rise could be easily felt as the piston rose on the firing stroke. (On the exhaust stroke, there was no pressure increase - the exhaust valves were open.)

3. Number of crankshaft degrees

So the process was this.

(1) Crank rotated until Georgina could surmise that the two cam teeth were each opposite their respective sensors (indicative of Miro Module camshaft sensor square wave output).

(2) Degree wheel on crank marked at this point

(3) Crank rotated until pressure felt rising in rubber hose coming from Cyl #1 (indicative of piston rising on firing stroke)

(4) Crank then stopped at Top Dead Centre mark on crank pulley

(5) Number of crank degrees that the crankshaft had rotated from Step 1 to 4 read off degree wheel

In the case of the Honda, the CRIP was 694 degrees. In other words, Top Dead Centre of Cyl #1 occurs 694 crankshaft degrees after the cam position sensor output first occurs.

(Or if you want to look at it another way, the camshaft sensor output occurs 26 degrees before TDC on Cyl 1’s firing stroke.)

Checking and fine tuning the CRIP

However, I’d be misleading you if I said that the CRIP can be ascertained to 1 degree accuracy in the way described above. It can’t – where, for example, do the camshaft teeth need to be, relative to the sensors, for the leading edge of the square wave to be outputted? One millimetre either way and the CRIP will then be wrong.

However, the above process means that you can be confident that you have the CRIP well in the ballpark.

Click for larger image

The next step is to set the MoTeC ECU to give a constant, fixed ignition timing output. This number can be specified in the software as ‘Test Advance’. In the Honda’s case, I set it at 12 degrees Before Top Dead Centre. (This is the same timing as the standard idle timing, so there is already a mark on the crank pulley in red for this setting – ‘B’ in this diagram.)

With a timing light working with Cyl #1, the engine is then cranked. If the timing light doesn’t show 12 degrees of ignition timing (or whatever number you have set – 0 degrees would be another easy one to use), then the CRIP needs to be changed in the software.

After the CRIP has been changed, the timing observed with the timing light will also change. The aim is to use a CRIP that gives a measured timing that corresponds to the ECU-dictated timing (in this case 12 degrees). In other words, an ECU-set timing of (say) 12 degrees actually is 12 degrees when measured with the timing light on the crank pulley.

Fine-tuning the CRIP during cranking in this way will normally give accurate enough timing for the engine to run. When the engine is running, and so the timing light is firing more frequently, the CRIP can then be fine-tuned in 0.5 degree increments – this way, it can be set dead-on.


Making the MoTeC M400 work with the standard Honda sensors (especially the dual camshaft sensors) and then measuring and setting an accurate CRIP were demanding and exacting tasks.

The process also showed me that fitting programmable management to an engine that has not previously been thus equipped is a much bigger ask than fitting management to a well-known engine. In the latter cases, set-up modes for reading the standard crank and cam sensors are already available, and the CRIP number is a known value that can just be plugged in.

But all that is now in the past: the task now is to start the engine, sort out idle control and then start tuning.

Next issue: idle speed control

Did you enjoy this article?

Please consider supporting AutoSpeed with a small contribution. More Info...

Share this Article: 

More of our most popular articles.
Step by step of keeping drill bits sharp

DIY Tech Features - 20 August, 2008

Sharpening Drill Bits

A groundbreaking car...

Special Features - 27 October, 2009

Fifty Years of the Mini

Why if you're interested in economy or power, you must know about water injection

Technical Features - 15 April, 2008

The H2O Way, Part 1

What are the risks and benefits?

Special Features - 6 August, 2013

Children and home workshops

Testing vortex generators on slippery cars

Special Features - 18 October, 2006

Blowing the Vortex, Part 4

Techniques to revolutionise your car modification

DIY Tech Features - 31 March, 2009

Ultimate DIY Automotive Modification Tool-Kit, Part 1

All the detail on how direct petrol injection systems work

Technical Features - 3 January, 2007

Direct Petrol Injection

The world's brightest flashing bike tail-lights?

DIY Tech Features - 18 February, 2008

Building a High Performance LED Lighting System, Part 2

Sounds ridiculous - but is it?

Technical Features - 4 October, 2007

Alternative Cars, Part 4 - Human Powered

Developing an aero undertray for a Toyota Prius!

DIY Tech Features - 19 March, 2005

Modifying Under-Car Airflow, Part 2

Copyright © 1996-2020 Web Publications Pty Limited. All Rights ReservedRSS|Privacy policy|Advertise
Consulting Services: Magento Experts|Technologies : Magento Extensions|ReadytoShip