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  #1  
Old 17th August 2007
jdmckay jdmckay is offline
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Default Pulstar spark plugs...

Anyone tried them?

http://www.pulstarplug.com/

Apparently they do R&D here (Albuquerque). I was in fastener shop late yesterday getting a few nuts & bolts... guy in front of me was getting hardware as part of some plug testing machinery he was building for them. Sounds kind'a interesting.

I'm in early stages of getting my head around MS (eg: improved ignition systems), and this conversation caught my attention as possible incremental ignition upgrade just by replacing plugs.

From their web page:

Quote:
Pulse plugs incorporate a pulse circuit, which stores incoming electrical energy from the ignition system and releases the stored energy in a powerful pulse of power. Instead of 50 watts of peak power typical of all spark plugs, pulse plugs deliver up to 1 million watts of peak power. So where does the pulse plug get its incredible power?

When the ignition signal is sent to a traditional spark plug, it begins to ionize the spark gap. This means that the voltage builds in the gap until a spark can be formed. During this ionization phase, which lasts about 5 millionths of a second, the incoming voltage (which has nowhere to go) heats up ignition components including the spark plug. This is wasted energy. When the ignition voltage overcomes the resistance in the spark gap, the spark is created with an initial discharge of approximately 50 watts. Once created, the spark resides between the electrodes at very low power for over a period of 30 millionths of a second.

What is different about a pulse plug is that instead of heating ignition parts during the ionization phase, this energy is stored in the integral circuit inside the pulse plug. When the ignition power overcomes the resistance in the spark gap, the pulse circuit discharges all of its accumulated power - 1 million watts - in 2 billionths of a second!
+/- $100 US for a set. I think these are the same guys who make Directhits. I'm curious what the ignition gurus here have to say, if anything.

Thanks.
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Old 17th August 2007
jetman jetman is offline
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That sounds great and all. But for our cars, nothing seems to work like the bog standard NGK plugs the cars were designed to run on. Which is great, because they are about $15 a set!
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Old 17th August 2007
jdmckay jdmckay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetman
That sounds great and all. But for our cars, nothing seems to work like the bog standard NGK plugs the cars were designed to run on.
I've read a lot here & elsewhere saying that's the case... never run anything else in mine.

I've also read a lot about improved mileage/performace from faster/more precise timing/higher intensity spark ignition. Seems to me these Pulstars are different than standard plug alternatives (Champion/Bosch etc.)... eg. they provide some of what these ignition systems add but I assume they don't improve Spark timing as much, however.

Quote:
Which is great, because they are about $15 a set!
NAPA's usually premium-price-central, but I get mine there for +/- $8.
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  #4  
Old 17th August 2007
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In the olden days of points&condenser some of their claims may hold water. In those days there were kits that provided a capacitor discharge that was in fact a pulse. It was used on the primary side of the ignition system and provided the benefits claimed for these plugs. The Pulstar plugs seem to put the capacitor inside the plug's insulator operating on the secondary voltage instead of the primary.
It's possible that they would improve performance slightly if you had an old-fashioned ignition system although I would prefer the older, primary side, capacitive discharge. Their unstated assumption is that there is some sort of inefficiency with stock systems. Their claim of "unburnt" fuel is easily refuted with an exhaust gas analyser.
I doubt their system could provide any advantage over any modern electronic ignition system that is, necessarily, capacitor discharge with electronic trigger.
But it's not my $100 and they offer a no-questions-asked, money back guaranty; why not experiment? I would,however, be willing to bet on the results.
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  #5  
Old 17th August 2007
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I get mine for about $4-$5 a set.
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Old 17th August 2007
jdmckay jdmckay is offline
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Thanks for comments Jim... always appreciate your imput.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Mesthene
In the olden days of points&condenser some of their claims may hold water. In those days there were kits that provided a capacitor discharge that was in fact a pulse. It was used on the primary side of the ignition system and provided the benefits claimed for these plugs. The Pulstar plugs seem to put the capacitor inside the plug's insulator operating on the secondary voltage instead of the primary.
It's possible that they would improve performance slightly if you had an old-fashioned ignition system although I would prefer the older, primary side, capacitive discharge. Their unstated assumption is that there is some sort of inefficiency with stock systems. Their claim of "unburnt" fuel is easily refuted with an exhaust gas analyser.
But they're claiming more than "unburnt" fuel improvement... eg. improved quality/intensity/timing of spark. By my current (and fully admit rudimentary) understanding, some of the gains from MS & such seem to be provided from these Pulstars... at least seems theoretically reasonable.

Are you saying stock LH (xxx) ignition already provides what these things claim to do?

Quote:
I doubt their system could provide any advantage over any modern electronic ignition system that is, necessarily, capacitor discharge with electronic trigger.
But it's not my $100 and they offer a no-questions-asked, money back guaranty; why not experiment?
I'm thinking about it... plus they're local so I can hound 'em real time if these things are c**p!!!
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  #7  
Old 17th August 2007
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Offer them your car as a chance to really prove their plugs - as we're a hard bunch to convince that anything but the original plugs work best.

At no cost to you, of course, including proper dyno runs etc.
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  #8  
Old 17th August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdmckay
Are you saying stock LH (xxx) ignition already provides what these things claim to do?
Any modern electronic ignition system has so much potential that there's little or no room for improvement.
As they say in their ad copy, voltage builds up, first appearing as ionization, until there is enough to jump the air gap in the plug. Jumping that gap gets harder as temperature and pressure increase. In the Direct Ignition system used in 9000s, the ionization is used to measure potential for detonation in place of the APC knock sensing system. Also, as they say, this takes place in a thousandth, if not millionth, of a second time period. After that their story starts to break down.
Under compression, it usually takes about 5000-7000 volts to jump the gap on a good clean plug. If the conditions are less than ideal, such as a large gap on a dirty plug, it can take 15,000-17,000 volts to jump the gap (that's when your old wires start to leak voltage). In old ignition systems it took a long time (by electronic standards) to build up that much voltage to overcome difficulties. An old points&condenser system was usually limited to around 25,000 volts and struggled to reach that.
Capacitors overcome the problem of slow buildup of voltage by holding back electrons (literally) and releasing them in a burst. This sounds like the claim they make. Using capacitors in such a system will produce the effects they claim.
A modern system is already using capacitor discharge, either in the primary or, as in the case of DI systems, sometimes secondary systems. The discharge is timed by an electronic trigger. In the case of Hall Effect transmitters, it is a digital (square wave) signal that is instantaneous (for our purposes) and perfectly timed if you use a crank sensor (very well timed with a distributor mounted Hall Effect generator). This signal can be easily manipulated through the EZK box if called for.
So your modern SAAB system is timed nearly perfectly; the timing can't be improved with spark plugs. It can also build up 50,000 volts instantly if that's what the plug needs to fire (good clean plugs will still fire at around 5000 volts). Resistor plugs artificially hold back the voltage until their resistance is overcome, that's why they require, and fire at, higher voltages. I just don't see what Pulstar is bringing to the game when you're starting with such a wonderful system....but I don't know everything, the proof is in the pudding, I'm willing to be proved wrong. I'd just like to bet on the outcome of real-life testing.
Sorry for the long-winded response.
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Last edited by Jim Mesthene; 17th August 2007 at 11:30 AM.
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  #9  
Old 17th August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt88S
I get mine for about $4-$5 a set.
And I wondered why ze Americans always suggest replacement of the plugs,wires, caps and rotor without a care in the world. Fair enough, its worth eliminating those things.
But for me, a set of NGK plugs costs $34 PLUS SHIPPING!
Just to add, cap and rotor are about $10 each, wires a good bit more.
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Old 17th August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philb
And I wondered why ze Americans always suggest replacement of the plugs,wires, caps and rotor without a care in the world. Fair enough, its worth eliminating those things.
But for me, a set of NGK plugs costs $34 PLUS SHIPPING!
Just to add, cap and rotor are about $10 each, wires a good bit more.
To be fair I am getting the at cost price on the spark plugs. As for cap and rotor, those are about $5 apice. Wires are still costly though, I only use Bougicord, the cheapest I can get those is about $40.00 a set.
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Old 17th August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philb
And I wondered why ze Americans always suggest replacement of the plugs,wires, caps and rotor without a care in the world. Fair enough, its worth eliminating those things.
It's not a case of "eliminating those things".
Once you have a high voltage leak it leaves a carbon path. The spark that leaked out of your wires because it couldn't jump the spark plug gap, burnt a path through the wires' insulation. Now you have 7mm worth of insulation on your wires with a little path of carbon burnt in. The next time voltage builds up, it finds that carbon path, follows it, and makes it wider. There's no way to eliminate the carbon path embedded in the wire's insulation.
If you replace your plugs regularly, you eliminate the buildup of voltage that burns the first carbon path, so your secondary ignition parts (cap, rotor, wires) don't fail.
Cap and rotor could last a lifetime if it were not for the minor erosion from normal sparking, and wear on the distributor contact (the springy thing). Wires (Bougicord) suffer a little ozone and heat deterioration, but should last 7-10 years. If you let the plugs deteriorate until the insulation on the other components is compromised, you need to replace the lot even if they're relatively new.
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  #12  
Old 17th August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetman
But for our cars, nothing seems to work like the bog standard NGK plugs the cars were designed to run on. Which is great, because they are about $15 a set!
Not over here, they're not...

PfS want damn near 5/plug for NGKs for a 16v turbo, whereas German & Swedish want just over a quid each for Bosch.

Are the NGKs *really* that much better? If they are, then I'll get the NGKs. If not...
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Old 17th August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Mesthene
It's not a case of "eliminating those things".
I was referring to the process of replacing plugs and ignition components as part of a troubleshooting process, regardless of their condition.
So, if this hasn't solved your problem, you've eliminated some possible causes, but its a much cheaper mistake to have replaced perfectly good plugs if they only cost $5-10.
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Old 17th August 2007
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RE $15 plugs, I was just sort of pulling a medium ballbark figure out me butt. I think I pay less too.

The only real bottle neck to performance for our engines is getting enough air through them and out the other side. Plenty of fuel, plenty of spark.
Oh yeah, and once you ramp up the power to the nth degree the tranny implodes anyway. Most of us would be much better off taking what we have, mildly massaging it and the driving the hell out of it. I always assume that people looking for massive HP improvements have driving skill deficiencies nah nah.
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Old 17th August 2007
jdmckay jdmckay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Mesthene
Sorry for the long-winded response.
I always appreciate responses from someone who knows what they're talking about.

Here's what their rep, Lou Camilli, said in response to my questions:

Quote:
Jim,
Almost all ignition products offer their benefits on the primary (low
voltage) side of the ignition. None offer any real difference in power
transfer on the secondary (high voltage) side. All the current sparkplug
offerings are designed to entend life not improve the combustion process.

Pulstar is the only product I am aware of that replaces the sparkplug with
an ignitor based on pulsepower technology. This is why we call it a pulse
plug, and it is very different that anything on the market. In order to
improve the combustion process using either OEM or aftermarket ignition you
must change how the fuel is ignited because all spark plugs ignite in the
same fashion - they just start the process and let what happens happen.

Pulstar ignites a much larger flame kernel, more precisely relative to crank
angle, cycle-to-cycle and results in more consistent and complete
combustion. The difference is 50 watts of ignition power coupled to the fuel
charge with any ignition and 1megawatt of power coupled to the fuel charge
with Pulstar.

I hope this has been of some help
I'm going to do so more reading before deciding this, but I must admit I'm intrigued.
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Old 17th August 2007
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It seems that the Puslestar person says "ignite". How is this different than a "regular" plug. Flame from a single point is still a single point of flame . To change combustion characteristics, then multiple points of flame. Seems you could get a similar effect or result by changing coils.

Wonder how they work when they are -40F.

pierre
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Old 17th August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idiot_saabvant
It seems that the Puslestar person says "ignite". How is this different than a "regular" plug. Flame from a single point is still a single point of flame .
maybe like the difference between a BIC vs. a molotov ****tail.

Quote:
To change combustion characteristics, then multiple points of flame. Seems you could get a similar effect or result by changing coils.
I understand what you're saying, just not sure whether their claims are valid.

I'm particularly intrigued because of research I read a couple years ago having to do w/ignition for gas discharge lasers. A very fast, hi-wattage ignition was the difference in success w/some of the military applications they were developing at labs here. I had friends working on that... very interesting stuff.

It at least seems plausible to me.
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Old 17th August 2007
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Yep I understand what you say. Sometimes a bigger hammer can make a bigger boom when striking something.

pierre
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Old 17th August 2007
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There isn't really any way to increase the "amount burned" via sparkplug design. Most of the unburned gas in the engine is gasoline that has been absorbed by the minute thin oil film on the cylinder walls. You can't burn it, all you can do is make the oil film thinner (more or less) which requires a total engine redesign
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Old 17th August 2007
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Quote:
Pulstar is the only product I am aware of that replaces the sparkplug with
an ignitor based on pulsepower technology. This is why we call it a pulse
plug, and it is very different that anything on the market. In order to
improve the combustion process using either OEM or aftermarket ignition you
must change how the fuel is ignited because all spark plugs ignite in the
same fashion - they just start the process and let what happens happen.

Pulstar ignites a much larger flame kernel, more precisely relative to crank
angle, cycle-to-cycle and results in more consistent and complete
combustion. The difference is 50 watts of ignition power coupled to the fuel
charge with any ignition and 1megawatt of power coupled to the fuel charge
with Pulstar.
Pulsepower technology?
One megawatt of power coupled to the fuel charge?
More precisely relative to crank angle cycle-to-cycle?
Like I said, I'd like a chance to bet on the outcome of a test.
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Last edited by Jim Mesthene; 17th August 2007 at 10:22 PM.
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