Continuing the UAV theme from the last two issues of Engineering Torque, our electronics department identified the potential to create a new classification of ECU following discussions with one of our UAV customers.
Existing Engine Control Units (ECU’s) for small single or twin cylinder UAV engines were large, heavy and due to their multi-cylinder automotive roots, featured many redundant features. Their design and technologies were based on generic ECU's controlling significantly larger capacity engines, and their relatively large footprint and volume makes the installation in a UAV not particularly airframe friendly.
Whilst an automotive ECU is bristling with features a large number of these are simply not needed for UAV's, resulting in a significant design overhead. The Ilmor µECU on the other hand is a clean sheet design and purpose built for UAV's. It incorporates Ilmor's extensive Formula 1 knowledge of extreme G loading, high temperature and vibration that is the norm for a formula 1 car.
The Ilmor µECU incorporates many unique features including the capability to control two or four stroke single or twin cylinder engines, ultra low weight and size, connector-less PCB allowing optimum component placement, hard wired flying leads meaning no internal connectors to work loose or fail, use of mature components for high confidence and low weight - circa 220 grams including sensors and twin ignition coils.
By incorporating a clean sheet design, with the features that are only absolutely necessary and using racing engine technology, Ilmor's µECU unit is tiny, lightweight, with the highest reliability that makes traditional ECU’s appear cumbersome by comparison.