Purchased a BlackBox Programmable Ignition system from CB Performance the other day.
With this system you can program and custom tailor the entire timing curve on your ignition. I also comes with a vacuum connector to sense the engine’s load.
This kit seemed one of the most affordable programmable ignitions today with vacuum-sensing capabilities. I found this very important when deciding which system to choose.
To install the BlackBox ignition, some rewiring is needed. Also the distributor has to be installed with more inital advance, so the BlackBox has time to alter this ignition advance digitally.
While the ignition wiring in my ’73 Dart was old already I decided to leave the stock wiring and install new wires, with a switched relay to make sure full battery power would reach the new ignition system.
I also decided to convert the stock 9/12v Mopar ignition to a simpler 12v system, one with a single 4-pin GM HEI-module, and later on a MSD 8207 SS-Blaster coil.
After installation in the car and the software on a laptop things were hooked up and a baseline ignition was loaded into the program. After a few checks the distributor advance matched the software’s digital advance, the tweaking of the ignition advance table can begin.
The fun thing of this is that now you can alter the ignition curve with a few simple clicks, instead of having to completely disassemble the distributor, change the advance springs and/or slots. Trial and error time is greatly reduced this way.
After some playing with the timing map while focussing on the lower rpms first, I got the engine running nicely. Then with some ‘dry engine revving’ in the garage I was able to tweak the mid-rpm ranges, but without a sensible vacuum-input, these were only baseline numbers.
More programming would be needed on the road.
I doesn’t need mentioning that in order to get full benefit from this system, one would have to put your car onto a chassis-dyno and spend a few hours going through the rpm and vacuum-ranges to be able to get a good working timing map.
During my garage-tuning session, I was fighting laptop issues (battery-charger couldn’t keep the laptop running long enough) and later on some engine kickback issues popped up. Possibly related to the firmware on the box, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet.
Because the Dart is my daily driver, I couldn’t risc of getting stranded oneday, so I disconnected the BlackBox ignition for now and just rely on the HEI-module and MSD SS Blaster coil instead, which have been working flawlessly up till now.