rusEFI – DIY Open Source Engine Management For Your Car?!

There is no doubt that Linux and open-source software has changed humanity for the better. What started out as various side projects have turned into a framework which runs much of the modern digital realm. Maintained by individuals in their spare time, programmers all over the world offer their insight and experience to build upon and support the works of others. Open-source software can be found everywhere, powering cell phones, databases, 3D printers, etc. Open Source software can even be found on the red planet running the Ingenuity helicopter!

The same kind of open-source concepts can be seen every day in the car world, although we don’t refer to them in the same way. The routine sharing of information and experiences on a myriad of forums, message boards, groups, and chat rooms is a parallel process in the automotive realm. Information is shared freely, in the form of write-ups, how-tos, tips and tricks, common part swaps, and upgrades.

11 years ago Andrey Belomutskiy, known to the rusEFI community as Russian, came to America from St. Petersburg, Russia to work as a software engineer. After 2 years of settling into his work and American life, he was invited to join Byte Mark Racing to run an 89 Mercury Tracer in the 24 hours of LeMons. This got Andrey introduced and addicted to racing. After the race Byte, Mark Racing wanted to step up their game so they started down the path of Turbocharging the 1.6L FWD variant of the Mazda B6 SOHC engine.

89 Mercury Tracer wearing a Martini themed livery

Rather than cobbling together a typical LeMons style turbo setup with imprecise rising rate fuel pressure regulators and ignition retarding systems, Andrey wanted to tune the car right with an inexpensive stand-alone ECM. (I assume some major bribes were planned for the LeMons judges to overlook such a cheaty part.) After an exhaustive search, he was not satisfied with any of the offerings available in 2012. His biggest complaint about what was available at that time was that some part of each system he reviewed was a black box. Software engineers HATE black boxes and being tethered to the software they don’t control.

In 2012, Andrey picked up a soldering iron and 1996 Ford Aspire hoping that the equipped Mazda B3 1.3L SOHC inline 4 would be similar enough to the B6 in the Lemons tracer that he would be able to use the Aspire for developing a novel ECU for a turbocharged Lemons car. Nine months later in 2013, his first Frankenstein creation came to life.

Original injector/ignition Driverboard (Microcontroller CPU not shown)

Sadly, the Mercury Tracer Lemons car never was turbocharged and the Aspire was sold one year later. The itch to continue the project did not go away. Once shown a proof of concept, others started joining in and Andrey realized he was on to something. Fast forward to today: rusEFI has grown into a community of users from all over the world. Dozens of engines have successfully started and the team has lost count of the overall number of projects using rusEFI. With a WebsiteMessage board, Wiki, Facebook users group rusEFI has gone from a fringe science project to a serious standalone with features that rival or surpass commercial products from well-known companies.

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