Ballenger Part 1

Ballenger Part 1

The Ballenger AFR500C Wideband comes as a complete, ready to use wideband system.  You may be tempted to just get started plugging wires together and such, but we recommend looking at your vehicle as a whole first.  Answer the following questions before you really get into the wires.

How do you plan to use the wideband on this vehicle? Is it permanent in the vehicle or are you tuning for a short period and then removing it?  You will need to know these answers because they dictate how you will install the actual wideband sensor components.  There are three possible options for installation.  

The first option is typically used if you are planning a permanent installation (or you want the most precise readings possible and don’t mind welding an O2 bung into place).  This requires welding the included O2 sensor bung into your exhaust.  For best results, do not install this into a primary tube on your headers, but rather about 4-6” back from the merge collector.  This will give a good sample of the cylinders on that bank.  If you get too close to a primary tube, the wideband will actually show you individual cylinder readings, making tuning much harder.       

Also, do not place the bung below the centerline of the exhaust pipe.  This will avoid the problem of water condensing on the bottom of the exhaust pipe and then ruining the sensor.  

The second option is typically used during a dyno tuning session or a drag strip run and is never a permanent solution.  This option includes temporarily removing a secondary O2 sensor and replacing it with the wideband during the tuning session.  This is the second best option to welding an O2 sensor bung into the vehicle, since it places the wideband close to the engine.  The only drawback to this method is that if the vehicle is equipped with catalytic converters, the sensor may read a bit leaner than the engine is actually running due to the actions of the catalytic converter.  This is not necessarily an issue, since the actual AFR of the engine will be slightly richer than you are reading.  Typically there is less than half a point difference between the actual AFR at the engine and what is being read after the catalytic converter.  While this is a popular method on most dyno tuning sessions, Dodge tuners have learned that unless compensating in the tune, removing a secondary O2 sensor for tuning can cause problems with incorrect fueling during the tuning session.  Thus, most Dodge tuners know what to adjust in the tune in order to use a secondary sensor location, or they use another method.   

The third option is also typically used during a dyno or drag strip tuning session.  This method includes using a tailpipe exhaust clamp.   

This option is the easiest of all to use, and is often used for a quick tune check or a dyno day pull.  The upside of this option is that you can quickly install it on any vehicle and be up and running quickly - tuning or diagnosing.  There are three drawbacks to this option that are apparent.  The primary issue is a short delay or “lag” from when the airflow makes its way out of the engine and all the way back to the sensor at the tailipipe.  Most tuners know this and compensate by simply adjusting their changes a little earlier.  The secondary issue is that this also suffers from the same issue as using a secondary O2 sensor location (the catalytic converter’s action makes the sensor read a little leaner than the engine really is).  The final issue related to using the wideband in the tailpipe is related to how it typically reads at idle and light throttle.  On many vehicles, the sensor can read poorly until wide open throttle is applied, since the tailpipe creates an effect of drawing fresh air into the exhaust clamp at idle and light throttle conditions.  Thus, we do not recommend any idle or part throttle tuning be done using a tailpipe clamp, only wide open throttle.

Lastly, after you have installed the system in your vehicle application, it’s time to move on to how you want to get the wideband’s data out from the wideband and into your favorite software.

When using the wideband on a carbureted vehicle, there isn’t really any data recording/logging typically done, unless you have a system just for that purpose.   But if you do, you can use the analog outputs to get your data out from the wideband and into your Datalogger.  Similarly, most aftermarket EFI systems and OEM level tuning software will accept analog Inputs and/or CANBUS from widebands.  So, how does all this work?  Stay tuned for our next article where we cover all of these questions in detail!


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