The Coyote’s electronic engine control, ignition, starting, and charging systems are advanced, state-of-the-art designs that are easy to maintain and tune. Electronic engine control (EEC), known as the Copperhead system, evolved from generations of systems originally born at the cusp of the 1980s. What makes the Copperhead system the most advanced to date is what it does. It has more responsibility and function than any other Ford EEC system in history. Copperhead manages fuel and spark curve, throttle function, transmission shift programming, and variable cam timing, just to scratch the surface of what it does.
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Copperhead is very complex in what it does; variable cam timing alone involves tremendous amounts of memory/function. For 2011–2014, Ti-VCT was more a simple on/off function. It was either on or off. For 2015–up Ti-VCT is evolved so that variable cam timing rolls in and out in linear fashion instead of straight on/off. Ford powertrain engineers found a way to make variable cam timing even more driver friendly. Ford’s Ti-VCT for 2015–2016 follows your foot on the gas and rolls valve timing in and out accordingly. Ford engineers weren’t sure that 15 tables would have enough cam timing input, but they do. Ford’s Copperhead system also manages to integrate the new ZF 6R80 6-speed transmission and engine into one highly efficient controller, which adds complexity to the mix.
The “One Touch Start” ignition key needs but a moment in the “start” position before handing function off to the PCM/ECU as aggressive deceleration fuel shutoff and torque-based deceleration when you come off the gas. These functions shut off the fuel during deceleration more often and sooner than previous systems while coasting, on long downhill deceleration, and during mid-shifts with the new Getrag MT-82 6-speed manual transmission.
The Ti-VCT Coyote V-8 also features a new digital mass-air meter and universal exhaust-gas oxygen sensors, which report a finite numerical air/ fuel ratio to something like the fourth decimal point, finer than a human hair so to speak. Previous systems weren’t much more than rich/lean. But Ford had to tighten it up even finer to meet tougher Federal emission and fuel economy standards.
Ford engineers spent nearly a year developing the Coyote’s electronic engine control function for the 2011 Mustang GT. It was a grueling, lengthy period of testing and programming that lasted the better part of 2008–2009 before they had a fully functioning Coyote in a Mustang test mule. Then they conducted more testing, in every environment imaginable from extreme Arizona desert heat to extreme cold and high altitude, to make sure it all shook out. The Coyote had to function properly under the very worst conditions. It is one thing to test an engine and its electronics in a laboratory and quite another to take it out there and shake it about the firmament on bumpy roads, open highway, stop-and-go traffic, mountain twisties, and more. By the end of 2009, Ford powertrain engineers had the Coyote in seamless smooth operation.
What made the Copperhead system challenging for Ford engineers was getting a drive-by-wire system to feel like a linear throttle cable. What does make drive-by-wire different is that ever-so-slight lag when you lean on the throttle. It isn’t as quick as the humble throttle cable. There’s a nanosecond lag and a certain amount of surging during throttle tip in. These dynamics vary from vehicle to vehicle. In time, drive-by-wire will be completely seamless.
The Coyote’s ignition system does not have coil packs or ignition wires, just eight ignition coils and platinum-tip spark plugs to fire the mixture. The Copperhead PCM/ECU takes all of the known elements (driver input, speed, environmental conditions, and engine timing events) and turns them into a firing order cadenced in perfect time with piston and valve timing events to fire spark plugs at just the right moment.
Coil-on-plug ignition is undoubtedly the best ignition system innovation in automotive history. Eight high-energy ignition coils and deep-reach Motorcraft platinum-tip spark plugs extend deep into the middle of Coyote’s four-valve chambers for more complete combustion. Ignition coil spark plug boots protect both plug and terminal from corrosion issues that can cause misfire. An umbrella boot completely covers the spark plug well to keep dust and moisture out. A weathertight Copperhead harness runs along the fuel rail, providing power to both ignition coils and injectors. Coils are fired in perfect time, as are injectors. Injector and ignition coil plugs are all positioned such that it is impossible to get them mixed up. The engine harness involves all of the sensors, senders, and evaporative emissions purge valve connections. It is impossible to get any of these connections mixed up because each component has a different multiplex plug.
It can be asked, how would you improve the Ti-VCT Coyote’s ignition system? By upgrading to a more powerful aftermarket ignition coil from Ford Performance, MSD, Accel, or Granatelli Motorsports. A naturally aspirated Coyote lives happily with a stock Ford ignition coil. The more potent the spark the better, which is especially true in boosted applications.
If you’re going to run boost or nitrous you’re going to need an ignition coil and spark plug that can stand up to extreme cylinder pressures. You may also want a cooler spark plug that dissipates heat better than the factory range. Ford Performance Racing Parts, as one example, markets a one-range-colder spark plug for boosted/nitrous applications. The same can be said for MSD and Accel. Both have heat ranges you can work with.
Although the Coyote’s electrics are the most advanced in Ford history, some elements have never changed. Sending units and sensors still tend to operate on the principle of resistance to ground. This statement isn’t true for all senders and sensors, but most of them. When you have high resistance to ground this means you have low current flow to ground. With high resistance, the instrument needle reads low. With low resistance to ground, the needle reads high. Using a cylinder head temperature or oil pressure gauge as an example, high temperature or high pressure creates low resistance to ground and a high reading.
The Ti-VCT Coyote has the same basic starting system as the Modular engine family from which it was born: a lightweight Motorcraft reduction gear starter with an integral solenoid. Power energizes the solenoid, which plays double duty; it energizes the starter and operates the starter drive engagement. This is a three-bolt starter just like you find on the 4.6L and 5.4L engines. If you’re doing a Coyote swap into a vintage Ford you can run the factory starter solenoid as a means to getting power to the Motorcraft starter solenoid. You are, in effect, activating two solenoids this way. You may also eliminate the classic remote starter solenoid and get power directly from your vintage Ford’s ignition switch via the “S” lead, which energizes the start solenoid down under at the starter.
The Coyote utilizes a high-amp, internally regulated Motorcraft “9G” 150-amp alternator, which is more than adequate for most applications. Ford Performance Racing Parts offers you the 2012–2013 BOSS 302 alternator, M-8600-M50B-ALT, which is an off-the-shelf piece designed specifically for high-RPM operation. Because the 9G is internally regulated, there’s nothing to sweat out service-wise except regulator replacement, which is easy.
Ford no longer manufactures its own alternators. The 9G is manufactured by an outside supplier. It is available from the Ford Parts website for stock replacement. It is also available new and remanufactured from the aftermarket. Ford Performance offers you the BOSS 302 alternator, M-8600-M50B-ALT, which is the better choice even if you’re just doing a routine replacement.
BOSS 302 Alternator Conversion
The BOSS 302 Alternator Kit (M-8600-M50B-ALT) includes special high-performance components as used on the production 2012–2013 BOSS 302 Mustang and is designed to operate at a higher-RPM range, according to Ford Performance Racing Parts.
Written by Jim Smart and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks