I have been busy over the last few weeks with various things, but have now completed most of the practical work on my project and am now at the stage of writing up the report/dissertation. I have successfully managed to achieve closed loop ignition timing control by using the Stellaris Launchpad development board to directly interface with the optical encoder on the engine and the pressure sensor charge amplifier (this replaces the AVL IndiSet 620 in my system).
In order to run the engine inside, I had to set up an external exhaust to get the fumes outside. This had been done with a big exhaust manifold attached to a flexi rubber marine exhaust hose, and then poked through a hole in the wall. This was ok operating the engine at idle and under low loads, but the rubber hose would get extremely hot under high load high speed conditions. It then began to melt internally and was causing the whole building to smell of burning rubber.
So one of the aims of my project is to use in-cylinder pressure as a means of providing a measurement of what is going on with the engine, and hence use this to in some way control my ignition and fuelling.
I needed a high speed ADC for sampling in cylinder pressure for my ECU, and settled on trying a few from Texas Instruments. I am using an optical encoder on the engine which provides 720 pulses per revolution . If I took a sample every pulse, then at 6000 RPM (100 Hz) then I would be looking at about 720 * 100 Hz = 72,000 Samples per Second (SPS) or 72kHz ( although I realise now that I could take a sample on each edge, resulting in 1440 samples per revolution, or 144,000 SPS). That’s pretty high speed, considering most ADCs built into microcontrollers take a few microseconds to perform their conversion which results in a sampling rate of perhaps up to 50,000 SPS max for the Arduino for example. DSP chips or higher end micros probably have better performance, but for the sake of learning, I fancied trying to use an external ADC anyway.