by Mike Mavrigian
(Taken from Modern Engine Blueprinting Techniques by Mike Mavrigian)
Computer software doesn’t build an engine. Machining and assembly skills are still required for the build itself. However, software related to engine building can serve as a tremendous aid in your quest to design and, in some cases, test a virtual engine build combination. These programs allow you to experiment with various engine component and dimensional combinations. That gives you theoretical performance insight into horsepower and torque via different bore and stroke combinations, cam profiles, cylinder head and intake flow, rocker arm ratios, and more.
Most programs include handy calculations that allow you to plug in various data and obtain quick answers, so you don’t have to perform the math on your own. This type of computer program allows you to play “what-if” games by trying different combinations of components.
For pro engine shops that utilize CNC equipment, highly sophisticated programs are available for digitizing, designing, and machining individual components. This type of program (Mastercam, etc.) applies only to design and machining processes and are highly technical in nature. They are not discussed here.
The following manufacturer list includes programs suited to the needs of the enthusiast. It does not, however, include “games” designed to let you play drag racer, oval track racer, or road racer. I’ve limited the findings strictly to those that apply specifically to the process of engine component selection, engine math, modifications, and dyno simulation. They each have different capabilities. The information here should save you time and aid in your selection of various component and dimensional choices.
The Desktop Dyno 5 software program is reportedly designed to apply to any four-cycle engine, ranging from four-cylinder to twelve-cylinder applications. It has an interface capability that provides a series of DirectClick menus. This permits the selection of specific components and the ability to enter parts with custom specifications.
A series of built-in calculators includes a CamMath QuickCalculator, Induction-Flow calculator, and an Air Flow Pressure-Drop calculator. Test combinations are illustrated with detailed graphs that display projected horsepower, torque, volumetric efficiency, and engine pressures. The program’s automated testing tool provides additional support as you attempt to determine optimum component combinations. Another useful feature is a combustion chamber modeling program. Windows 7 compatible.
The DynoSim5 is a Windows-compatible program designed to try out your engine build in a virtual state. According to the manufacturer, this software package allows you to experiment with simulations of a variety of build platforms, including forced induction (turbocharging, supercharging, and nitrous injection).
Additional features include ignition curve modeling and rocker arm ratio calculation. The DynoSim5 is also designed for program updating online. A CamDisk8 supplement provides data applications for more than 6,000 camshafts. A specific cam profile can be selected and added to your virtual engine build for testing and simulated dyno results.
The Dynomation-5 Wave Action Engine Simulation is an advanced engine simulation software. It illustrates live pressure waves and airflow through the cylinders and engine passages. In addition to providing horsepower data for a given combination, the wave action program provides a 3D cutaway engine view that illustrates airflow, intake and exhaust port pressures, and velocity according to the cranskshaft angle.
This program provides an aid in analyzing intake runner length, volume, and shape in conjunction with cylinder head flow and variations in camshaft profile. Windows 7 compatible.
Challenger Engine Software
Challenger offers three programs suitable for engine design and analysis: Virtual Engine Dyno Professional, Dynamic Compression Ratio Calculator and Camshaft Selection Utility, and Engine Builder 3D. They are only available by purchasing website downloads. All are compatible with Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT, XP, or Vista.
Virtual Engine Dyno Professional provides component selection menus based on brand name and part number. This program provides relevant information for race engine builders and for blueprinting procedures. It also has a very useful engine math calculator. The input data includes horsepower curves, torque curves, and maximum engine speed (based on variables that include compression ratio, bore and stroke combination, piston design, rocker arm ratio, cylinder head combustion chamber volume, and more). Another feature is the ability to select and compare specific engine block types and engine block material.
The Dynamic Compression Ratio Calculator and Camshaft Selection Utility is a less elaborate software package offered as a stand-alone program designed strictly to aid in camshaft profile and compression ratio.
The Engine Builder 3D program is specifically applicable to the early (Gen-1) small-block Chevy engine platform, designed to experiment with a variety of component combinations. Test data compiled using this program can be saved and exported to the Virtual Engine Dyno program for simulated dyno testing of your build parameters.
Engine Analyzer Plus is a professional-grade software program, which is designed for engine builders to predict and analyze stock or racing engine dyno performance. This program includes the ability to test various alternate fuels (alcohol, E85, etc.) in addition to variables in engine component selection. It also assists with camshaft profile selection. Compatible with Windows 98, Me, XP, 2000, NT, Vista, and Windows 7. (Note that in order to purchase the Plus version, you must first buy Engine Analyzer v3.2.)
This company offers a variety of professional-level engine development software programs. Audie also offers additional testing and measuring hardware systems that are computer interfaced.
Cam Pro Plus is a high-end software and sensor package specifically designed for measuring and analyzing lifter- and valve-motion profiles. This program enables the camshaft engineer or advanced builder to measure camshaft profiles on a dedicated test stand or with the camshaft installed in an engine. This level of software is likely more suited to camshaft development applications.
Flow Pro is a complete line of flow bench software and electronics. It includes multiple options for a variety of flow benches. Every major flow-bench brand as well as most homemade benches are supported. The available system components (available separately or as a package) include software, pressure and temperature sensors, digital dial indicator, electronic depression controller, automatic valve opener, pitot tubes, and swirl meter. Of special interest to the cylinder head blueprinter are special modes for port mapping and carburetor testing.