It's interesting to note that while turbocharging an engine seems to be the latest and greatest method of forced induction, the concept is actually quite old, having been in practice for nearly 100 years. Interest in using turbochargers in high-performance street applications has led to the proliferation of aftermarket turbocharger and turbo system manufacturers, and this has led to lower prices, greater availability, and widespread use of the "hairdryer" to boost performance in your street machine.
Turbocharging, mechanically speaking, doesn't take much to accomplish. Though turbo systems may look imposing, they're made up of five or six main components, and a whole lot of tubing. Like a tiger at a circus, it looks cool and makes cool sounds, but it needs a trainer to control it.
Here is the Turbosmart e-Boost2 controller, along with the gauge pod we picked up to mount
When you buy a vehicle from a manufacturer that is already turbocharged, in most cases the vehicle's engine management system controls the turbocharger and it's boost pressure. When you bolt up a turbocharger to a vehicle that never had one to begin with, then you'll need some sort of boost controller to adjust manifold pressure and prevent overboosting and the resulting engine damage. The most common controller is a manual controller. It's mostly a simple valve with a knob that you turn to set boost pressure. These work great and are pretty reliable pieces. They're also inexpensive given their relatively small size and minimal amount of moving parts. This rudimentary design also usually only serves one purpose, and that is to set boost or manifold pressure. It's a lot like the tiger trainer only knowing one command.
Things get much more exciting when you can teach your animal multiple tricks, and in a turbocharged application, you need an electronic boost controller to do that. We recently turbocharged our budget project, the Recession Special, with an inexpensive turbo system from B&G Custom Turbo in Belmont, Ohio, and since we had never played with an electronic boost controller before, we thought this was the perfect time. Here at the magazine, we're always testing different things, so having the ultimate in control over our powerplant makes things much easier. B&G had recommended the Turbosmart e-Boost2 electronic boost controller.
Brother's Victor and Jonathan Cox handled the installation at HP Performance Inc.'s Orange
The e-Boost2 is an electronic boost management system that allows the driver total control of the boost level from inside the vehicle. There are two different models-one that's capable of handling 40psi of boost, and one that can control up to 60psi. The e-Boost2 is also available in 60mm and 66mm sizes, which make it perfect for A-pillar or steering column mounting.
Boost level management is the basic function of the e-Boost2, but it has advanced software that allows it to do much more than that. As a gauge, the e-Boost2 can display engine rpm or boost pressure, and it can do so in psi, kPa or bar measurements. It will also record peak boost and rpm readings. The e-Boost2 comes equipped with two outputs that can be used to control shift or warning lights, or you can use them to control water/methanol or nitrous oxide injection.
With regard to boost control, the e-Boost2 offers six different boost level set points (in addition to changing boost level on the fly), and there is a gate pressure setting, whereby you can control the pressure at which the wastegate opens. By optimizing this, you can achieve your desired boost pressure faster and at a lower rpm. You can also map out your boost level based on time or engine rpm.
You can adjust the boost pressure sensitivity of the unit, and there is an over-boost shutdown feature that cuts boost pressure in half should the unit see a pressure spike that is higher than your set safety point. Another safety feature is the audible alarm function that can be set to chime when a certain boost level or rpm is reached.