The dog days of another Texas Summer has inspired me to begin working on an upgraded oil cooler for the Boss. The new oil temp gauge shows just how quickly oil temps rise even on an ordinary work commute with steady highway driving in a lower than normal gear. Driven in anger on a hot Texas road course, the Boss will send oil temps high enough to destroy the best synthetic oil that science can develop.
It should be enough to install an oil cooler and make sure that the oil temp holds at an acceptable level. But, that’s not my way. Since I will be assembling the oil cooler myself, I am going to want some data to show how much improvement the oil cooler makes, as well as what kind of oil pressure loss there is across the oil cooler. Luckily, Innovate makes a data logger for its gauges.
The Innovate PL-1 Pocket Logger ($99) is a small data logger that records from any Innovate gauge, or multiple daisy-chained gauges, onto an SD card. The data can then be easily imported into Innovate’s LogWorks 3.0 software for playback and analysis.
This will probably disappoint some people, but the PL-1 is designed to be hardwired into the car. There is no battery or 12V power port option, which seems more suitable for a tuning tool such as this. Still, installation is straightforward. I used a Bussmann Add-A-Fuse in the passenger kick-panel fuse box to provide power in the same way I powered the gauges. I secured the ground wire to a good ground source and I connected the signal cable to the data OUT cable of the MTX-D oil temp and pressure gauge.
Then I went for a test drive and everything was great.
The Real Installation
Haha! Of course that’s not what happened! Is anything I do ever that easy? Two problems:
1. I could not daisy-chain the gauges. In the photo above, you can see that each gauge has a pair of wires coming from it (here labelled 1, 2, and 3). These are the Data IN and Data OUT wires. They are designed to be daisy-chained together, but they all use female connectors. That means they have to be daisy-chained with serial cables (same as the one that goes from the gauge to the PL-1), each of which is almost four feet long! That means packing almost eight feet of extra wire into the gauge pod, which is already at capacity. Impossible. So for now, I chose to only read data from the oil temp/pressure gauge.
Honestly, I don’t understand the thinking here. Aren’t most gauges arranged together in a cluster? In what application will gauges be four feet away from each other? Obviously, the smartest solution would be to make the Data IN be one gender and the Data OUT be another. Innovate could still sell jumper cables to those who need them.
2. The serial cable (4-pin to 4-pin) did not reach to where I wanted to mount the PL-1. This one had me stumped for awhile, because I wanted to mount the PL-1 in the center console bin and I did not see any other acceptable options. Then I realized that each of the three gauges came with its own serial program cable (4-pin to serial connector) to use when programming the gauges. If I set one aside to use for programming, that left me with two four-foot cables to use.
I found a serial adapter in my box-o-vintage-computer parts and mounted it next to the LINE IN connector in the center console bin. This location is not only logical, but it would be easy to revert the car back to stock, if needed. Then I slotted the other removable plastic piece from the bin and ran the power cable through. I buttoned everything up, connected the power and data, and then mounted the PL-1 using Velcro.
The finished installation.
Using the serial connector and the two redundant cables not only allowed me the length I needed to mount the PL-1 exactly where I wanted, but it also allows for an easy way to program the gauge by connecting the computer via the serial connector, instead of having to open-up the gauge pod.*
Recording data couldn’t be easier. There is one button with a status light. Push it to start recording, push it again to stop. The light will fast blink to let you know the PL-1 is recording. Multiple sessions can be recorded to the SD card and amended to a single file. If there is a problem with recording, the status light will blink a diagnostic code to help troubleshoot the problem.
Download the Log.d32 from the SD card onto a computer with Innovate’s LogWorks 3.0 and open the file for playback and analysis.
An example log file showing two minutes of a Boss Mustang warming-up on a 96 F degree afternoon. The car had already been idling for 10 minutes when this sample was taken, but in this four minute segment, the oil pressure still dropped from 51 psi to 36 psi and the oil temp rose from 176 F to 187 F.
The Innovate PL-1 is simple and inexpensive, but will be a valuable tool as I test ways to keep the Boss’s temps under control on the track.
* The Innovate gauges cannot be programmed while daisy-chained. They must each be connected directly to a computer for programming. With my current setup, I would only be able to program the last gauge in the chain by connecting to the serial connector in the center console bin.
Appendix A – Parts List
Innovate PL-1 (p/n: 3875) – link to manufacturer’s website here
Bussmann BP/HHH ATM Add-A-Fuse
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