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Building a new test model

Recently, we decided it was about time we had a new model for testing, training and demonstrations. Specifically, we wanted something that would allow us to test the full capability of the standard tacho channels available on the P8000 systems and the optional advanced tacho card. Ideally, we would have obtained a V8 engine or a small turbine, but neither of these are well suited to an office environment! So, we found the next best thing – a model engine. Specifically, a Haynes model of a four-cylinder petrol engine.

The Haynes 'Build Your Own Internal Combustion Engine' model
The Haynes ‘Build Your Own Internal Combustion Engine’ model

The model is a fairly detailed reproduction of  a real engine with working crank, pistons, valves and cam shaft. This meant that we would have plenty of interesting noise & vibration signals to capture and analyze. The model also offered plenty of scope for easy attachment of a rotary encoder. And, because it’s driven by a simple electric motor, we could explore the possibilities of ‘overclocking’ it to get higher and variable speeds.

But first, we had to build it…

And then we had to see if it would run…

Look out for more about that in our next post & video.


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Chris Mason

General Manager at Prosig
Chris fell in love with technology and innovation in the early days of personal computing (Sinclair ZX80's, Commodore PETs & Apple ]['s) This hobby became a career in software development, product development, team leadership, web development, and marketing. He is now General Manager at Prosig & DJB Instruments, both part of Condition Monitoring Technology Group. In 2019 Chris completed an Executive MBA at the University of Winchester where he focused on innovation and strategy.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Erman Ergun


    I wonder if overclocking worked to reach higher RPMs. Could you please tell more about it?

    1. Prosig

      Hi Erman. Yes, we did manage to run the model at higher speeds. I’m afraid we haven’t had time to write up our experiments yet, though. You should see an article or two in 2013.

      1. Erman Ergun

        Hello Chris, thank you for the answer. But could you please tell me how exactly did you speed it up? And what was your RPM limit?

        1. James Wren

          Hi Erman,

          All we did was increase the voltage supplied to the electric motor, it is designed to work with batteries, we replaced these batteries and the battery unit with a variable voltage power supply.

          Basically we could turn the voltage up or down from this supply, so we had control of the speed of the motor that drives the model.

          We were able to go from 0RPM up to about 50RPM maximum, we could have gone higher but we were concerned for the model as heat build up on the internal parts would start to become a problem, being made from plastic and the springs on the valves would start to bounce if we went much faster.

          We did coat all the parts in a light liquid oil as we built the model as we knew in advance we were going to be driving the model faster than it was designed for, hence we also made sure the components fitted together nicely and had smooth edges.

  2. Fergus

    Did you ever get around to posting the later videos and tests? I’d love to know how this went!

    Erman, I remember seeing someone on YouTube saying they had achieved higher RPMs by simply upping the voltage to the motor.

    I’ve just grabbed a kit as something to do for a couple of hours for some fun, and something to put on my desk.

    That said, from what I gather there haven’t been that many modifications done to these little kits – which is surprising because I think there’s probably a fair bit of potential. In already raking my brains trying to thing of something to do with it. I may hack up something Arduino based?

    1. Prosig

      Hi Fergus. We have video and data from an encoder plus microphone & accelerometer data. We simply haven’t found time to edit the videos and write it all up yet. Watch this space…

  3. Carleen

    Where can I get building instructions for the Smithsonian 4 cylinder engine?

    1. Prosig

      Hi Carleen. I’m afraid we can’t help. We only had instructions for the Haynes model that we built. We can only suggest seeing if there is contact information on the website or asking on their social media. They have Twitter & Facebook.

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