With everything going on in this world, the brakes were pumped pretty hard on all new aftermarket products coming out and being revealed. One thing is for sure, though, we’re glad they are finally popping up especially with the latest out of the EFILive camp on their release of the AutoCal V3 handheld device.
With that being said, the AutoCal V3 features a ton of attributes that are wins for every party. The updates the new device offers over the latter didn’t come overnight, though. EFILive worked alongside their most trusted allies in the industry in honing in on the perfect product and one of those allies is Zach Fuller of Starlite Diesel. Fuller is a firm believer in these products and we sat down with him to discuss what it was like in the developmental areas of it.
- Full access to the EFILive Scan Tool.
- Full access to EFILive tuning parameters, including Custom Operating Systems.
- Integrate your own tuning parameters.
- Command Line Interface (CLI) and gang-programming automates processes and programs up to five devices simultaneously.
- Only tune files created by you can be used with AutoCals linked to your FlashScan.
- Link/Unlink AutoCal remotely to/from your FlashScan without having to return the device.
- Prevent unauthorized reading, editing, and flashing of custom tune files.
- Multi-vehicle licensing.
- AutoCal VIN slots are configurable. Tuners manage capacity between 1 (default) and 600 VIN slots. (Each VIN slot requires one VIN license).
- Additional VIN licenses (up to 600) can be purchased.
- Configure and program all device settings, scan and tune settings, tune files, and security in a single process.
- Save Quick Setup configurations for easy reuse.
- Email BBX configurations to support remote customers.
- Import tune files.
- Search files using key vehicle data (VIN, OS, segment, comments).
- Customize software settings – Scan & Tune file save templates, displays, units, dashboards.
- Read/Flash AutoCal⇄Connected Vehicle between 30 seconds and 7 mins (vehicle dependent).
- Store tune & log files to micro SD Card.
- Read & clear DTC codes.
- High-speed data logging.
- Display data while logging.
- Read & program calibration and operating system data of engine controller.
- Automatic saving of trace files.
- PC⇄AutoCal⇄Connected Vehicle read/flash between 30 sec and 7 minutes (vehicle dependent).
- Store tune & log files onto PC.
- Read and clear DTC codes.
- High-speed data logging.
- Gauges & charts display in real-time.
- Read & program calibration and operating system data of the engine controller.
Discussing The Testing Involved
Now that we have some of the basic attributes of the device, let’s dive into our interview with Mr. Fuller at Starlite. We had plenty of questions for Fuller and that included just the feeling of testing for EFILive.
DA:- What is it like working with the manufacturer? EFILive is used by thousands of people across the world and you get to work first hand with them on new products.
ZF:-“Well, EFILive is who I started my adventure with when I began going down the road of tuning. Working remotely and in very different time zones sometimes created a struggle for communication and the time of day where I needed to be testing vs. balancing daily business needs (they are approximately +10 hours I believe vs. my current time zone) – but as it has always been with working with EFILive, I was able to get timely responses and assistance with testing problems provided both parties were actually outside of “normal” sleeping hours.”
“In terms of testing, I am used to being among the first group of testers for new products, new hardware, and software changes from EFILive. In the past 10 years, we have worked on many projects together. My background in software engineering of 20-plus years prior to tossing it away to ‘tune trucks’ has helped me I think to help them solve some problems much quicker, or at least come up with ways of troubleshooting and finding solutions on my own to report back.”
“I also feel that my background helps me think along the lines of their development process easier than most people that are testing because I’m used to collecting problem data and reporting back, or in my case – fixing the problems myself in previous years. I enjoy very much working directly with Paul and Ross as we are, at least in many ways, similar in our approaches to problem-solving without them having to go into too many details to get the information they need in return from me.”
“Finally, you just can’t rule out the ‘cool’ factor of being one of the first to have your hands on the hardware, figuring out both the goods and bad, and knowing when it is finally ready to be released, how to help your customers with their problems because you’ve already experienced them yourself and know what to do, or what is being missed and can quickly get resolution AND the attention of EFILive for those problems that are new when needed, so they can address their software and send out fixes ASAP to keep the product moving.”
These are all great points and it was really cool to hear from someone that is somewhat “factory” and yet, he still is a little end-user too, right? He understands the side of manufacturing and design that helps EFI create a monster of a product but he can also help truck owners and other shops in developing their hands-on skills.
Changes Were Made
Moving on, our interview continued.
DA:- With EFILive’s previous products, AutoCal 1 and 2, being so popular, how do you feel about the changes that were made on the third generation?
ZF:- “The first generations were great, and I feel we’ll continue to see them being used for quite a while as they get sold or passed around with vehicles that are already tuned,” Fuller stated. “They definitely served a very good purpose for tuners over the years, and the V3 is a step in the right direction in terms of advancing with the times.”
“To the best of my knowledge, the original AutoCal was around for basically a 10-year stretch. I feel the movement they started, which has been adopted now by most other major tuning hardware, has been great for both customers and tuners alike. The advances in ease of use of both the software and the hardware that the AutoCal V3 now brings to the table I feel are pretty tough to rival in both feature-rich and ease of use for the end customer. The price point is also hard to argue from the tuner or customer perspective. They make sense, they are affordable, they come loaded with more features and capability for the end-user and they are much easier to explain and navigate for the customer vs. the old AutoCal.”
DA:- So it sounds like even the older models of the AutoCal worked great and it sounds like they have paved the way for other tuners or devices alike since. It takes time to develop something so spot on but nothing is perfect, right? There must be something about the new V3 that it isn’t capable of yet. Are there any options it doesn’t offer that you wish it did?
ZF:- “So far, for my company’s needs, I haven’t ran into anything that the Autocal V3 is not equipped to do. There are still some kinks in the software and bugs that are being worked through, however, I’ve never known any product in this industry, from any manufacturer to “hit the ground running” and not have problems shortly after debut, you know? I am not saying this out of favoritism or anything else.”
“I guess if there was anything to register as a complaint it would simply be that I wish they had more memory built into them than they currently do for storing tune files, however, EFILive thought through that one also and has an expansion port where customers can simply slip in an SD card and format it and increase the capacity for tune files, data logs, etc. to whatever they need which for all intents and purposes, isn’t very much more than the AutoCal comes with.”
“In fact, the only time this is an issue is on the newest vehicles being supported where memory requirements of the actual ECMs have increased in size, causing larger file storage requirements needed on the AutoCal. Either way, there is a solution for the complaint, and I don’t really feel it fair to call it a complaint because of the solution already in place, tested, and working since before release – at least on the controllers and files, I tested with. It is more of a “if it could have been” wish list.”
DA:- So we’ve discussed features of the product, how the new products differ from the past units, and now we’re curious as to the why. For any shop owners or consumers out there that aren’t involved with EFILive, why do you recommend changing that and using the AutoCal V3?
ZF:- “I recommend the Autocals because, in a nutshell, 95-percent of the people we deal with are not ever going to write their own tunes for their vehicles or their customers’ vehicles. They simply need a delivery device/tool which is exactly what the AutoCal is. That combined with a way to report diagnostics and collect diagnostic data for the tuners. There are some customers where I absolutely send them down the path of a FlashScan v2 (soon to be FlashScan v3) because they do their own work on some trucks, and buy other tunes from us for platforms they don’t support.”
The AutoCal is designed around the concept of ‘single user/purpose”. Even though it is much more flexible than that, the device really was designed for an end user – and now, even simpler for end users to use, Fuller said
DA:- It sounds as if you’re not using their products, you’re missing out. For shop owners, it’s revenue. For end-users, it’s the customization of your build like you’ve never had before. For instance, at Fuller’s shop, it’s pretty critical for day-to-day operations to have EFILive in their bag of tools. When we asked him how often he uses their platform, he let us know quickly that it’s a must-have.
ZF:- “At StarLite Diesel, we use EFILive all day, every day. Our sales, when broken down show the majority of our delivered product is on EFILive’s platform. There are many reasons for this. However, the biggest ones for my particular company is it is the most flexible and easy to use platform for us to achieve the desired end-user results within most situations.”
“While it is not all we sell, it is the backbone, and in fact what this business was built from the ground up relying on. So I would have to answer that this platform is very important to our future success, hence the willingness and want to be involved with new products and development on the platform to try and get the chance to add as much of my ‘wish list’ in during the betas / new software enhancements.”
So to finish things off, we discussed why it is important for everyone including a truck enthusiast or shop owner, in his opinion, why you need it. “Simply put, the AutoCal v3 is needed because the older AutoCal version is no longer available. That part aside, the additional benefits for the slight price increase over a 10-year-old product mostly speak for themselves, particularly to an end-user. With customizable easy to read menus available on the V3, we can all but guide the user to exactly what they need without even having to provide additional instructions or remote assistance, which is already yielding nice rewards in terms of support for my staff,” Fuller explained.
“While it’s new, and people are nervous about switching, all the same, old things are still there, with a nicer face on them. Newer features and customizations as well as speed improvements and critical items needed for current and future applications – I don’t see why they wouldn’t need it as soon as they outgrow the capabilities of their current hardware. It is pretty much impossible to deliver ECU flash times, diagnostic data logging, and all the other goodies bundled up in the AutoCal V3 in any other device that I’m aware of on the market at this price point, or in an easier to use platform.”
Like Fuller, we can’t wait to see the future developments from EFLive on the AutoCal and FlashScan products. They will continue to offer their support for us and we are excited to be along for the ride as new things come up. For more information about EFILive and all of their products to come, head on over to their website here. Stay tuned to Diesel Army for the latest in reviews, event coverage, and truck features.