MS3Pro ECU

F150’s New PCM

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Welcome, this is the first real post of the 99 Ford F150 project. So, the ECU (Engine Control Unit) is the brains engine and is part of the PCM (Powertrain Control Module) in the 99 Ford F150. The distinction is important here. Going forward the 99 Ford will no longer have a single PCM. Instead the F150’s new ECU will be a ECU and a TCU Transmission Control Unit. Thus, I am splitting the PCM into two separate components. See, originally Ford had the TCU and ECU within the PCM computer. Now, they are separate as a MegaSquirt from ECU and MicroSquirt for the TCU. Logistically, the ECU and TCU completely replace the PCM.

Components

As stated, the PCM was once one computer module and going forward it will be two. The logistics of this will be covered in this post. First, I will talk about the ECU or MegaSquirt. Then, the TCU or MicroSquirt. Finally, I will bring the full PCM discussion back together and talk once again about the PCM. Programmatically, the two will completely replace the PCM and perform the exact same functions as the original. Overall, I wish the ECU was really the PCM. However, that may happen in the future. For now, I am going with just getting normal functionality back to the truck.

ECU

Fundamentally, it is the brains of the modern engine. So, the ECU handles all spark, ignition and fuel control in the modern 5.4L Modular V8. Ford’s original PCM also did much more; however, I decided to just split apart for now and handle in the TCU all automatic transmission actions. So, more on that later.

For ECU, I have decided to go with the MegaSquirt for now. Especially, this one. The MS3 Pro Plug and Play. Wow, it costs a little bit. However, for this project and having never done this before I wanted to be able to hit the ground running and have support from DIYAutoTune as well.

MS3 Pro Plug and Play ECU for Ford Mustang

Yes, that is correct it is the 99 through 2004 Mustang version. Now, the Mustang actually is only a 4.6 Modular V8 and not a 5.4 V8 like the F150. However, this will not impact the end results at all. See, they are almost identical. Even the connector is the same between the F150 and Mustang. See, both are 104 pin connectors. However, just because they are 104 pin connectors does not guarantee they are pinned exactly the same.

Yes, there are some minor differences. That is covered in the transition section later. Fundamentally, they are the same and so in theory the MS3Pro should be able to start and idle the 5.4 on the base tune with correct parameters entered in TunerStudio. Ok, TunerStudio is awesome!

TunerStudio

Here is a link to the TunerStudio application. See, it allows for tuning the MS3Pro and many other ECU and TCU devices. Again, more on that later! For now, it is important to understand all of this has to happen in small increments to the end goal. See, that is why I have four other basic posts even before this post!

Example of TunerStudio
Example of TunerStudio Screen

Ok, so TunerStudio helps set the parameters unique to the car and also set all of the tables used by the ECU to control things like spark, timing, fuel and others. Very critical, if the ECU is not tuned then the engine will never run correctly. Especially true, once superchargers are added and other options are added to “stock” configuration. Overall, TunerStudio will get its own post later as there is just too much to discuss with it alone.

TCU

This project. uses the MicroSquirt to control a 4R100 automatic transmission. So, I digress here a little. Currently, the truck is setup with a 4R70W transmission. So, why the 4R100? Well, it will handle the power the 5.4 motor will produce once I put the ProCharger on it. Final power, around 800 HP to the wheels. So, the 4R100 will handle that power better than the 4R70W could handle.

Electronically Controlled

Critically, all modern automatic transmissions are electronically controlled. So, to drive the transmission in any other gear that 2nd gear I have to configure a TCU. See, it is what allows the transmission to shift at the correct shift points. See, back in the day the transmissions used vacuum and kickdowns to know when to shift. They also relied on hydraulic fluid properties and more complex valve bodies to control shift points. All gone, when transmissions went electronic all of that changed. So, swapping a modern transmission requires thinking about a TCU to control all of the magic. Luckily, Megasquirt has the MicroSquirt that can do the TCU work in combination with the MS3Pro to due the ECU work. Thus, recreating the full PCM functionality handled by the original Ford PCM module.

MicroSquirt as a  TCU
MicroSquirt as a TCU

So, the combination of TCU and ECU will add all the control mechanisms back into the 99 Ford PCM. Albeit, two to replace the original Ford PCM. Remember, the end goal is to bring back the concept of a single PCM. Eventually, I will get there. Thus, this is the first in the journey to the end goal!

PCM

Yes, it is remarkable what the Ford PCM accomplishes. It controls the engine, transmission, pollution control, and even the gauges to some level. So, this is makes the Journey to recreate this a long one. For example, it is impossible to eat an elephant in one bite. However; gross as it may be, it is possible in small bites! See, that is what these posts are going to be. Small bites, to the end goal of understanding and respect to what is done in all modern cars. The PCM, without it modern cars just would not function.

PCM Pinouts

Fundamentally, without understanding the pinouts there would be no way to even begin to understand this project. Attached below is the pinout comparison I did between the MS3Pro/MicroSquirt and the PCMs in the both the Mustang and F150

https://alshowto.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/MSPNPP-EECV-8CM.xls_0.ods

So, major differences? Well, mostly it has to do with control of the automatic transmission. See, the MS3Pro was designed for a manual transmission. So, that is where the megasquirt feeds back into the 104 pin harness. All normal ECU functions are the same between the Mustang and F150. The only difference is the fuel pressure. That is where this post comes in to play. See, simple pressure gauge for an explanation of adding that to the F150 harness. Furthermore, I am simply adding the needed pin to the existing harness. See, in the F150 version there is no wire or pin in the original. So I can simply repin it. Well, more on that later too!

Dash and Gauges

Ok, so the cluster gauges is a complexity that has to be handled as well! See original Ford PCM controlled many of the gauges via the CAN interface. Oh, that is also how the new ECU, TCU and gauges will work. It’s awesome, I have already bench tested the CAN between ECU and TCU. For example, TunerStudio is capable of controlling both via one serial connection to the ECU. See, it simply shows as another Tab in TunerStudio. I will add a picture of that here when I can. Suffice it to say, it work and works well.

Dakota Digital

Finally, that will be the icing on the cake! Digital readout cluster from Dakota Digital. They have a Mustang version already that works with Megasquirt. Again, via CAN interface. So, I will have a post on that as well. Wow, this was already a big post. So, I am done!!!

Why Am I Doing This?

Well; for one reason, I want to add a ProCharger Supercharger to the F150. A second, I want to really know what it takes to build a ECU and TCU. Then ultimately, a PCM and have it work with a dash that looks like the original Ford dash. Yes, even the gauges are impacted by this process.

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