Products we love – what we like about the Pectel ECUs. Part 1: Hardware.

This is the first in a series we’re starting about products we love.  We at Apex Speed Technology always stress that we seek to provide our customers the best products available for their project.  In keeping with this, I’m going to build some posts about WHY we think a certain product is the best in the market.

There’s been a lot of comparing Pectel SQ6 ECU’s to other ECUs on the market.  Among our customers, kits from a variety of ECU manufacturers have generated a lot of interest, so a common question is what makes the Pectel SQ6 different?

For high-performance engines with needs such as boost control, knock control, traction control and data logging, its really hard to beat the Pectel SQ6.  At $3985, it can control a wider range of engines more precisely than anything less than $10k!  Once you factor in how the SQ6’s power and flexibility saves money, people often find its no more expensive than ECUs with seemingly lower starting prices.

Comparing ECUs has never been easy.  Its easy to write the differences in features on a

Cosworth Electronics Pectel SQ6 ECU

The SQ6 ECU by Cosworth Electronics

spec sheet, but in reality the way they work is a lot harder to assess.  The only way one can do so is to USE multiple ECUs, learn how they work and really understand the differences.  One example I like to use is that on a spec sheet, a BMW 7-series and a Hyundai Accent can both have Air Conditioning.  Does that mean you can consider the climate control systems on both cars comparable?  Of course not.  In the same way, just because two ECUs have boost control listed as a feature doesn’t mean you can say they are equals.  Apex Speed Technology is a factory authorized dealer of more brands of ECUs than anyone in the world, and have more combined tuning experience than almost anyone.  When we say a particular product is the best, its based on experience!


To start our series on why we like the Pectel ECU so much, I’m going to describe some of the differences in how its built.

  • Billet Machined Case, sealed and rated to over 70C ambient temps.

Whereas most lower-cost ECUs use extruded-cases, the Pectel ECU has a bespoke billet case with heat sinks built in to allow running in very harsh environments, including temps over 160 degree F and in direct salt/water spray.  There are Pectel ECUs that have been running in professional motorsports, then in club racing and finally in vintage racing for 15 years, never even coming out to be programmed.  Week after week, Pectel ECUs perform in some of the toughest places in motorsports.  Pectel runs at Paris Dakkar, LeMans, Daytona, Key West, Pike’s Peak and many other of the top venues in motorsports, year in and year out.  No one else in this price range comes close in terms of track record for reliability.

  • 56mHz Motorola MPC565 processor with dedicated FPGA for crank/cam scheduling.

No other ECU in this price range offers this kind of processing power.  The Pectel’s unique processor structure mean that a separate co-processor is reading the crank/cam signals and determining, degree-by-degree, how to adjust the engine’s parameters.  This means that the Pectel can be programed to read just about any OEM trigger pattern, and take full advantage of every bit of resolution available.  Did you know that many ECUs only calculate fuel or timing a few times per revolution?  Top engine builders, including those in Formula 1, have commented how with the same timing & fuel numbers, engines featuring Pectel SQ6 have better response under startup and revving – some say they just sound crisper.

  • 5MB flash memory and 4MB non-volitile ram, up to 512MB data logging.

Pectel’s ability to log and record data is like nothing else on the market.  The ECU features an internal, battery-backed clock/calendar and a unique file system that timestamps each run.  You can chose from a list of over 256 unique parameters to log, and record them at up to 1000 times/second.  This makes tuning things like boost, traction and knock control much easier as you can see things happening in very fine detail.

  • Hardware flexibility – number of inputs and outputs.

The Pectel offers more inputs/outputs than any of its competitors.  Just look at this list of direct inputs:

  1. 10 dedicated analog inputs with 12 bit resolution.  Featuring software-selectable pullup resistors so you can use them with any 2-wire temp or pressure sensor.
  2. 2 wideband (NTK) lambda inputs.
  3. 2 k-type thermocouple inputs for EGTs or other measurements.
  4. 2 frequency based knock sensor inputs.
  5. 2 dedicated crank sensor inputs – can be hall effect OR inductive.  Featuring software-selectable pullup resistors.
  6. 1 dedicated cam sensor input – can be hall effect OR inductive.  Featuring software-selectable pullup resistors.
  7. 8 digital inputs, which can be used for wheelspeeds, cams or switches.  Featuring software-selectable pullup resistors.
  8. Digital inputs can also be used as analog inputs.
  9. Unused Fuel Injectors can be used as 10 bit resolution analog inputs.
  10. Unused Ignition channels can be used as 10 bit resolution analog inputs.

What does this mean?  You can use a Pectel SQ6 for your whole vehicle data logging.  Brake Pressures, wheelspeeds, accelerometers, suspension sensors – all can connect straight to your ECU.  No more expensive external data loggers or dashes.

Now look at this list of outputs:

  1. 12 x peak & hold 0-5A injector drivers.  That’s right, a Pectel SQ6 can handle fuel injection on a V12 engine FULLY SEQUENTIALLY.  Nothing else on the market does that.
  2. 8 x 20A 400V direct Ignition Drivers, 12 drivers optional.  No smart coils or external modules required, the Pectel can fire up to 12 coils sequentially!
  3. 8 x 5 or 12V TTL ignition drivers.  Have smart coils?  No problem, the SQ6 will drive those directly too!
  4. 6 x 10A aux outputs – all can be PWM drives as well.
  5. Unused injector & ignition outputs can also be used as AUX outputs, including TTL ignitions as relay drivers.
  6. 3 DC motor controllers – which means you can run TWIN drive-by-wire throttles out of 1 box!
  7. 1 internal stepper motor driver.

What does all this mean?  A complex V10 such as the BMW S85 with 4 variable camshafts, 10 coils, 10 injectors and 2 separate throttle motors can be driven out of a single box.  All stock actuators, no expanders required!  Nothing else in the business can do that.

What else is there?

  • Up to 3 CAN ports – The Pectel can get sensor and wheelspeed data from external sources as well.
  • RS232 communications.
  • GPS input – so the Pectel can log lap times and draw track maps.
  • A wide variety of external dash display options.
  • ABS CAN compatibility – the Pectel can actually get wheelspeed and pressure data from a variety of ABS systems over CAN.
  • Ethernet Communications – No cranky USB-serial setups, no noise-effected USB comms or expensive CAN connection.  Ethernet is robust, and you could even tune wirelessly over a network!

So in summary, the Pectel ECU is the best built, most powerful & most flexible ECU available for under $10k – yet it starts at $3985.  Next time, we’ll talk about some of the software features that make it so powerful.

About Neel

President of Apex Speed Technology
This entry was posted in Products We Love, Standalone Engine Management. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Products we love – what we like about the Pectel ECUs. Part 1: Hardware.

  1. George Konstantinopoulos says:

    It’s great to hear such positive devotion about a product. Clearly there is something special with the Pectel given all your experiences with a variety of aftermarket ECUs.

    I sincerely look forward to Part 2 about the software.

    • Neel says:

      I never want to sound like we have blind devotion to a product. We have favorites in every category – and in the case of standalone ECUs for advanced functions, the Pectel just stands head-and-shoulders above anything we’ve tested. But at lower price points for example, we’re big fans of the Vi-PEC ECUs, and in professional motorsports the Bosch MS-series are very powerful. We really like MoTeC ECUs in a variety of applications – their flexibility in taking CAN inputs for example is unparalleled. This is why I’ve often said that your ECU dealer is as important as what your hardware; we can help you choose the best fit for your application.

  2. Joe says:

    Would like to see the comparison against both the EFI Technology slr Euro-4 & Euro-8
    ecu’s. The Euro-4 has similar capabilities but it quite a bit cheaper than the SQ6.

  3. Neel says:

    I’d like to start by saying the Ole Buhl, who distributes these, is a world-class guy. We’ve worked with him in the past, using the OBR PCMs and we’ve tested the Euro-1 and Euro-4 ECUs, and they do the job.

    However, in all honesty we found the EFI Euro line to lack both the sophistication and value compared to what we sell. First off in terms of raw processing power & input/output flexibility, they fall short. The software is not, in my mind, easy to use; there are multiple modules that don’t all work as well as we’d like and software installation in our case was cumbersome. Perhaps these have been addressed, but I can’t see the ease of use issues being 100% resolved without a complete re-write.

    The price is misleading, in my opinion, because the EFI Euro line required a quite expensive (and in our experience, somewhat finicky) USB-CAN adapter to communicate. So if you actually want to tune your car, add $800+ to the cost of your system just so you can talk to it. And don’t lose that expensive adapter! The Pectel by contrast uses simple ethernet. Ole spoke about making a cheaper one, but I don’t know if this every happened.

    You’ll find that spec sheets don’t tell the whole story of an ECU. The devil is in the details, and to really compare them you have to speak with someone who’s used both. Apex is not aligned with any one manufacturer. If OBR improves their products to make them the best performing/best value in the market, we’d be using them. As I’ve said to Ole, their products doesn’t offer anything that our current lineup already has in terms of performance, reliability, service and value. But I have to say that I really like the company and people there so I hope at some point they do have products we can carry.


  4. duane morgan says:

    would like to see a comparison of the pectel sq6 vs motec-m400

  5. Neel says:

    There are a lot of potential comparisons, but its hard to do. The M400 has far fewer inputs/outputs, but better CAN capabilities and user-definable tables in the software. Its all about what you are going to use it in.


  6. duane morgan says:

    putting in my dragbike 600hp hayabusa for tuning..

    • Neel says:

      We’ve had lots of success with Hayabusas. US MiRock champ Rodney Wiliford uses an SQ6. We have several top competitors at Bonneville as well.


  7. Basil says:

    Great write-up Neel, always a pleasure reading your blog entries. It would be appreciated if you can clarify a couple of ambiguities for me with respect to the features list of the SQ6.

    First of all, the SQ6 has 2 dedicated crank sensor inputs and 1 dedicated cam sensor input. This is nice as it frees up digital inputs, but can I use these dedicated inputs for 1 crank sensor and 2 cam sensors instead of 2 crank and 1 cam? Or will I need to connect the second cam sensor to a digital input?

    Secondly, are the direct ignition drivers separate from the TTL ignition drivers? So if i use the 8 TTL drivers to run 8 smart coils, will that free up the 8 direct drivers as analog inputs?

    Following on the above, if I now have 8 unused direct ignition drivers, can I use them to read 4 wheel speed sensors instead of using up the 8 digital inputs which I’ve reserved for other switches and sensors?

    Finally, is it safe to assume that the 3 DC motor controllers listed as feature #6 means that I won’t need to occupy two analog outputs for “ethrottle +” and “ethrottle -” on a single throttle DBW installation?

    Thanks in advance.

  8. Gergo Varsanyi Extrem Ecu says:

    Dear Apexspeedtech,

    I have here 3 Mitsubishi Evo 9 with Pectel Plug-in Ecu . The customers would like to retune with me . What are the possibilites to clear the Pectel ? Is that working to send you the Ecu or any dealer for clear ?
    How can I have the software and cable to program the Pectel ?

    Thank you, Gergo Varsanyi

  9. admin says:

    If its locked, only Pectel can unlock it. You’ll have to get the software and cable from them if you didn’t purchase it from us.