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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm on a bit of an instrumentation kick, and thus have ordered myself an Hour Meter for my car.

I could just tie the unit in with a circuit that is powered when the ignition is on, but it would be cooler to have the meter only count hours when the engine is actually running. Fuel injectors? Ignition coils? There's gotta be something at 0V when the engine isn't running and +12V when it is.

Some of you may ask.. An hour meter? Why?

Pretty much every piece of industrial machinery on the planet has an hour meter to help gauge wear and tear. I've always found it annoying that cars do not. Instead, we use miles - which is certainly better than nothing, but not indicative of true overall wear and tear. Think about a mail man. Idling all day, rarely going above 15MPH - low mileage, yet probably one of the most abusive environments.

Another good example is Insight #1 vs. Insight #2.

According to my GPS my average moving speed has been 41MPH over the last 96,000 miles(since I got the GPS). If we extrapolate that to all 158,000 miles, my engine would have around 3800 hours on it.

We know that Insight #2 lived on the highway most of it's life, and thus would likely have a significantly higher average speed than I do. If we assume an average speed of 55MPH, Insight #2's engine should have around 8,000 hours on it.

So three times as many miles, but only twice as many hours. Thus, I would like to start tracking hours of engine run time between oil changes in addition to mileage. :)

Next on the list - Oil Pressure, Oil Temperature, Exhaust Gas Temperature...
 
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Oil pressure switch is your best bet for an easy engine running/not running circuit.

There are a variety of aircraft avionics instruments which will track everything you need. I myself have an engine monitor from MGL avionics installed in my classic Volkswagen which tells me *everything* all in one instrument. It even includes an hour meter.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Ooh.. That's a good idea.. Though I'm not sure how the oil pressure switch controls the light. If it controls the light directly, it's a normally closed switch, which wouldn't work?

I'm aware that those exist, but didn't think about them for some reason. Got a model number handy? :)

I was going to pick up some of these:

Automobile Multimeter Gauge for EGT, Boost, Water/oil | eBay

Three should get me the main things I want. I already have coolant temp and intake air temp with the Scangauge, and cabin temp, outdoor temp and 12V battery voltage with another unit.

Edit: Looking at MGL Avionics website.. Some neat stuff for sure. But $220 for an oil temp/oil pressure gauge. It would be cool to have both in one instrument though.. Hmm.
 

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The model I use in my VW is an EMS-1 Engine Monitor. It gives me volts, hours, maintenance timer, RPM's, Oil Temp, Oil Pressure, and 4 CHT's (or 4 EGT's)

The hour meter I have configured via the menu's to run anytime RPM's are not zero. You can also configure it to run off the oil pressure input.

I think it's overkill for the Insight.
 

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Ooh.. That's a good idea.. Though I'm not sure how the oil pressure switch controls the light. If it controls the light directly, it's a normally closed switch, which wouldn't work?
The oil pressure switch is a perfect solution :) I already confirmed this about a year ago when I was messing around with the Low Speed Auto Stop (LSAS) controller finding alternate ways to determine when an AS took place. The oil pressure sending unit has 0V in Auto Stop (or engine not running) and 12v when it is (probably being pulled high with a resistor). I already confirmed that it does not directly control the oil pressure light on the dash (if it did, the oil pressure light would come on during Auto Stop and it does not).

For the LSAS controller, I am using ENGRDY wire from the ECM but if I wanted to expand LSAS to Insight gen II, I had to find another method to determine AS...The oil pressure sending unit was the perfect solution without any modifications to the LSAS circuit.

JoeCVT = Just your average CVT owner
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
That would be pretty neat, Peter.

My only concern would be that the hours don't get reset - I'd like to keep a running total for the rest of the life of my vehicle.

Thanks for the leads guys, seems like the oil pressure sender will be the ticket. :)
 

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@ Eli

You need 2 meters, one for engine run time and one for chassis time. Would be interesting to see the difference between the two meters as the car is used.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Whole hours is fine, but if you could do tenths of an hour that would be cool. :) The meter I'm getting does XXXX.X hours.

@ Eli

You need 2 meters, one for engine run time and one for chassis time. Would be interesting to see the difference between the two meters as the car is used.
I agree, that would be interesting. If Peter can add hour logging to the BCM Gauge firmware then I should be able to do just that.
 

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That would be pretty neat, Peter.

My only concern would be that the hours don't get reset - I'd like to keep a running total for the rest of the life of my vehicle.

Thanks for the leads guys, seems like the oil pressure sender will be the ticket. :)
Even though it would save the hours to the EEPROM, any future update of the BCM gauge code would overwrite it so there would probably have to be a way to allow the user to set the total hours already counted from previous code after an update of the code.

Along the lines of how the temp monitor and volt montior works in rev 5h with user adjustment of the threshold.

JoeCVT = Just your average CVT owner
 

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An option might be to use the fuel pump feed.
That could be an alternate method but the fuel pump cuts off when going downhill with foot off the gas so it would not be as accurate of counting while the engine is rotating.

From what I remember, the oil pressure sending wire is not too bad to access near the instrument cluster (from underneath the dash).

JoeCVT = Just your average CVT owner
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Yeah, it sounds like the dedicated hour meter will be the best bet overall, but still - adding time counting to the BCM Gauge could be quite useful. It'd be neat to be able to reset the time, or maybe even enter a 'trip time' mode.. so you could say, charge your battery up.. then find a nice steep grade to climb, and note how much is outputted.
 

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Eli - what did you decide about attaching an hours meter to your car? what kind and where did you splice-in? I've always thought this is the best method of determining engine 'wear'. Problem is if you're the only one using it there is no way to compare different vehicles.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Wow, throwback thread. :)

Unfortunately, I never installed the hour meter! I (still) really like the idea of having one installed though. But yeah, to your point, I'm not sure what I would have done with the information, other than gawk at it and share it with Terry at Dyson Analysis. It was part of my plan for regular oil analysis, but I only ended up doing a few.

I don't remember which hour meter I got. It wasn't anything fancy though, just one of the readily available LCD ones.
 

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You might want to look into this company: ENM Counting Instruments | Hour Meters, LCD Meters, Mechanical Counters and Timers

They make a bunch of different meters. I used to have one of their small, battery powered tachometer/hour meters on my scooter. I actually have an extra that I never used, but it's been sitting on the shelf for, like, ~8 years. Not sure how long the batteries last, they're not replaceable, supposed to last the lifetime of the unit... I'd dig it out if you're interested, I can't remember if it's adjustable for a 3 cylinder engine (the RPM aspect), can't remember how the hour-meter works...

Here's a more direct link, the third one down the list I think is what I have, says it can be a tach or an hour-meter if I'm reading it right, and it can't be set for 3 cyl for tach function...
 

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Thanks for the info. I was more interested in a unit that was <$20 and connected to, say, the oil sending unit or something electronic that worked when the engine was running and was easy to install.
 
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