Tech: Coyote Tuning with HP Tuners

HP Tuners VCM Suite Featured

Name That Tune

Tuning a VMP-boosted Coyote with HP Tuners’ powerful VCM Suite software

By Steve Turner

When it comes to performance, we live in glorious and wonderful times. Today’s Fords deliver great thrust right off the dealer lot, and they readily respond to modifications. However, whether those mods are minor or major, they won’t do much good unless you teach the car’s onboard computer to work with the new hardware.

Providing a test bed for our look at HP Tuners tuning software and hardware was the company’s Ford engineer Eric Brooks. He brought down his 2014 Mustang GT, which he recently upgraded with a VMP Tuning TVS supercharger system. Here it is strapped to the Dynojet at VMP Tuning.
Providing a test bed for our look at HP Tuners tuning software and hardware was the company’s Ford engineer Eric Brooks. He brought down his 2014 Mustang GT, which he recently upgraded with a VMP Tuning TVS supercharger system. Here it is strapped to the Dynojet at VMP Tuning.

Over the years, we have worked with numerous tuning solutions from piggyback computers and full standalone systems to plug-in chips and modern flash tuners. These days, it’s mostly about handheld flash tuners on the street all the way up to the most extreme race cars. However, there is a recent player on the Ford scene, and this outfit delivers its files right from a laptop.

That company is HP Tuners. While this outfit made its name in the Brand X world, the HP Tuners is making a major push into the Ford world.

“When the three founders of HP Tuners initially met, it was on an online forum and they just wanted to accomplish one thing: tune their own cars. However, the solutions for custom tuning were lacking in the early 2000s and Ken Cannata, Keith Prociuk, and Chris Piastri set out to develop the tools necessary to accomplish their goal. Through the process, they realized that they had developed more than just a solution to their issue, but they developed something that many shops and racers needed!” Jay Payson explained.

Unlike many tuning products, HP Tuners doesn’t offer a handheld flash tuner. Instead they offer a robust software suite and an MPVI OBD-II interface for a Windows laptop. This device allows the software to tune as many vehicles as you would like if you purchase the tuning credits to do so. You can either write up the tune yourself, or simply flash in a tune from pro.
Unlike many tuning products, HP Tuners doesn’t offer a handheld flash tuner. Instead they offer a robust software suite and an MPVI OBD-II interface for a Windows laptop. This device allows the software to tune as many vehicles as you would like if you purchase the tuning credits to do so. You can either write up the tune yourself, or simply flash in a tune from pro.

“Initially HP Tuners offered tuning software for vehicle platforms other companies had simply passed over, such as V-6 cars. But, they didn’t stop there. Through innovation and functionality HP Tuners has successfully established the VCM Suite as the leader in the GM custom tuning market because the product is easy enough for the racer and comprehensive enough for the professional shop,” he added. “HP Tuners is extremely excited to be bringing this product to the Ford and Dodge racers and shops in 2014!”

We recently had the opportunity to meet up with the company’s Ford engineer, Eric Brooks, to see how the software works on his own 2014 Mustang GT project car. Eric describes himself as a professional hacker. Essentially, he spends his days uncovering the buttons and switches inside the factory computer so he can unlock the door and allow the magic of modifications to take place.

To modify any modern engine, you must re-calibrate the PCM to make the hardware and software play nicely together. This is especially true if you add a major modification like a VMP TVS supercharger, as Eric did.
To modify any modern engine, you must re-calibrate the PCM to make the hardware and software play nicely together. This is especially true if you add a major modification like a VMP TVS supercharger, as Eric did.

“I am the only Ford guy in the engineering department at HPT,” he said. “I reverse-engineer Ford PCMs and create definitions so that our software can support all the various Ford vehicles.”

Currently, the HP Tuning software supports all V-6- and V-8-powered Mustangs from 2005 through the current models. It also will calibrate a wide range of other Fords, including Crown Victoria, Edge, Escape, Expedition, Explorer, Fusion, F-Series, Fusion, Ranger, Sport Trac, Taurus, and even the Thunderbird. Of course, they are working on adding applications all the time, and the 2015 Mustang is a clear target for any tuning company worth its code.

HP Tuners offers standard ($499) and professional ($649) versions of the MPIV interface. Obviously, Eric uses the pro version, and the main difference is that addition of analog datalogging inputs. These 0-5 volt inputs allow you to record additional info—like EGT, wideband air/fuel ratio, and fuel pressure—alongside the traditional OBD-II data. The pro interface also adds an hour and a half of black-box data datalogging for select vehicles. Two programmable outputs are also part of the pro upgrade.
HP Tuners offers standard ($499) and professional ($649) versions of the MPIV interface. Obviously, Eric uses the pro version, and the main difference is that addition of analog datalogging inputs. These 0-5 volt inputs allow you to record additional info—like EGT, wideband air/fuel ratio, and fuel pressure—alongside the traditional OBD-II data. The pro interface also adds an hour and a half of black-box data datalogging for select vehicles. Two programmable outputs are also part of the pro upgrade.

“With our VCM Suite, no handheld is necessary. You can tune multiple vehicles with one piece of hardware,” Jay said. “The software is designed to be familiar to those that know how to surf the Internet and use Windows Excel and Word making it easy to pick up and use free, daily updates for new database additions and revisions!”

What differentiates the HP Tuners setup from most of the others on the market is the company’s use of an OBD-II dongle connected directly to a computer to transmit files from its software into the car’s PCM. Moreover, rather than selling a unique device for each vehicle it tunes, the company instead sells credits, which allows the user to keep adding vehicles and tune them all with the same MPIV OBD-II interface. You can even tune vehicles from different manufacturers with the same device and software.

Here is the datalogging interface. For Eric’s demonstration, we stuck with the traditional OBD-II inputs. Eric already had the car up and running with a base tune, but he had yet to put it on the dyno. A trip to VMP Tuning allowed him to refine the combination with a little input from TVS expert Justin Starkey.
Here is the datalogging interface. For Eric’s demonstration, we stuck with the traditional OBD-II inputs. Eric already had the car up and running with a base tune, but he had yet to put it on the dyno. A trip to VMP Tuning allowed him to refine the combination with a little input from TVS expert Justin Starkey.

Moreover, in our brief visit with Eric and HP Tuners marketing rep Jay Payson, we heard how committed the company is to continually improving its offerings. That’s part of what Eric enjoys about his work behind the keyboard.

“As a tuner, I like HP Tuners ease of use. The software is intuitive and laid out in a way that makes sense. No matter what you are tuning (Ford, GM, or Dodge), the parameters each PCM has is laid out in a way that always feels familiar,” Eric explained. “The parameters are clearly defined, and have a helpful description. This eliminates the question of what a parameter actually does.”

To dig deeper into the VCM Suite’s capabilities, check out our overview video:

Now, for most of us, learning the vast capabilities of this software is beyond what we need. We just want to know that it will do the job for us. After witnessing it in action on Eric’s 2014 GT at VMP Tuning, we can definitely say the HP Tuners offering is fully capable and it seems the company plans to keep growing its capabilities.

“Our mission is to provide the most complete, cost effective tuning and data-acquisition solutions for enthusiasts and professional shops,” Jay enthused. And, part of that mission includes tackling the 2015 Mustang and eventually offering a tuning device for those who are so inclined.

Comments

comments

6 thoughts on “Tech: Coyote Tuning with HP Tuners”

  1. [email protected] says:

    Great article Steve. It’ll be interesting to see how the tuning market reacts to the introduction of the 2015 Mustang.

    We have the 2015 covered :-)

  2. [email protected] says:

    QUOTE

    my question is how do i know what to change and when to change it ?

    Just seeing this. Learning to tune is a ongoing thing. There is documentation in the software, and we have a helpful active forum where you can ask questions.

Leave a Reply

6,270 views