Professional Mil-Spec Motorsport ECU Wiring Harness Construction
Getting electrical signals from point A to point B is pretty standard thing...Put a piece of copper wire between A and B and the job is done. A century of development has left us with increased specialization in wiring, connection devices, and everything in between point A and B. "Mil-Spec" or military specification, has become the buzz-word in motorsport electrical harness construction. Actually motorsport wiring has developed it's own specialized connectors but it's still largely constructed from aerospace components.
Perhaps "Race-Spec" will become the new
buzz-word....Probably not with the trillions of dollars spent on
drones, F22's and commercial aircraft.
This is not a definitive guide on building wiring harnesses as this could encompass two wheels, four wheels or no wheels. It does give you a perspective on motorsports ecu wiring and provides access to further literature for you to study and make your own decisions. We build ecu wiring harnesses for our production items and for our own racing activities.
Production OEM Automotive Wiring
one end of the scale there is OEM automotive wiring, like on your new
passenger vehicle or truck, wherein costs are paramount and warranties
are offered, in some cases, bumper to bumper for 100,000 miles.
above is a production passenger car harness in GXL and TXL wires.
vehicles and their myriad of up to sixty microprocessors, connectors,
sensors, relays, and switches are tested for years on end in extremes
of temperature, humidity, vibration, and electrical interference. There
are no mil-spec metal shell connectors, no airframe tie wrapping or
concentric twisting, and no epoxied or glue-shrunk connections...Only
plastic connectors and crosslinked polyethylene GXL and TXL
multi-strand copper wiring without any silver, tin or nickel plating.
Guess what, they work just fine...amid increasing complexity, for years
on end. A typical mid-sized car will have about 45-70 lbs of wiring.
One time we scrapped out a 20 year old Honda Civic and were amazed at how all the wiring was still in perfect shape...Connector seals were still sealed and clean inside and all the grime, water and heat had not caused any failures. Wiring was still flexible and not cracked. OEM specifications and engineering are pretty damn good.
In short, automotive grade wiring and connectors have a pretty good track record. Not glamorous, but in business, economics and bean counters seldom are.
This has evolved from aircraft and military specifications wherein light weight and reliability are paramount. As motorsports evolved into an increasingly more sophisticated and expensive professional endeavor, specific motorsport connectors have evolved which are even lighter and smaller than their aerospace counterparts. These products don't have to meet oem production testing requirements...They just have to be reliable in a racing environment which is not the same as freezing in Siberia or bouncing down rural roads in your F150 pickup for decades.Sort of serious in a Darth Vader, rubber-fetish way. Bondage and latex in the hell of an engine bay. Above are heat shrink boots sealing circular connectors and the DR-25 heat shrink wire protection.
Everything than can slow you down is the enemy....weight of the wires, weight of the connectors and any kind of outright failure, or worse, intermittent failure, which is harder to isolate. This is why F1 might be using tiny 30 gauge wire or why the new McLaren MP4-12C went to extremes in specifying hexagonal aluminum wire to save both space and weight.
Mil-spec circular connectors are the norm, full of all sorts of trickery like strain reducing service loops and concentric twisting for flexibility and more compact wiring harnesses. Reliability at 30,000 feet or going airborne at the Nurburgring...it's all the same thing...well, sort of the same thing.
The connector above features concentric (twist) wiring, service (strain relief) loops at the connector, lacing cord and Kynar clear shrink to hold the wires tightly together near the connector. Kapton tape will cover the wires at the connector to protect them from the special adhesive-lined shapes or RBK Adhesive Lined Shrink. With the wires covered by DR-25 and the Connector sealed by the Raychem Boot, the harness will be protected from the environment and from abrasion.
Here flat braided lacing tape is
counterwound to hold the concentic twisted wires in place. Something to
think about: Were the service loops put in first or last? Guideline for concentric twisting.
Here a Deutsch Autosport connector has its Spec 55 wires wrapped in Kapton tape to prevent the adhesive shrink from grabbing the wires. The tape allows repairs to be made at a later date. Once the adhesive melts it really grabs the connector, the DR-25 wire covering, and anything underneath it.
Kapton adhesive tape is commonly available in 1/4, 3/8" and 1/2" rolls.
The silicone adhesive does not leave any residue. It is amber in color.
connectors, glue shrunk boots, Raychem DR-25 shrunk over concentric
wound silver-plated Raychem Spec 55 XLTFE wiring and, of course, the
requisite yellow shrink tube labels covered in Raychem RT-375 clear
tubing. Cosworth Pectel SQ6M ECU.
Circuit Breakers not Fuses
Passenger cars use fuses
everywhere whereas, in motorsports, re-settable aviation-style circuit
breakers are preferred. Circuit breakers have the advantage of being
re-settable which allows you to perhaps just "push it in" and get going
until you diagnose the problem. You also don't need to replace a fuse.
Harley used to use truck style thermal breakers...your bike would sign
off due to some short and a few minutes later it would run again...but
you didn't melt your wires.
Tyco W23, ETA 483, and Klixon 2TC14 series push to set circuit breakers are a standard aviation item and are available in many amperages. They "pop up" when they trip and you push them down to reset them. If you are using the popular sealed WeatherPack silicone sealed fuse holders you can use Bussmann 227 series circuit breakers that are a drop in replacement, albeit pricey, for the cheaper one time fuses.
Breakers like the Tyco W23 are usually installed in panels that a race car driver can reach and reset. "Reach and reset" doesn't work on motorcycles. Space is also a premium on motorcycles.
Klixon 2TC14-X (green breaker) are available in varying amperages from 1A to 25A for about $20.00. Higher end ETA 483 series are about four times more expensive. These are available from Prowire.
Sealing backs of circuit breakers
Raychem SCL heat shrink can be used to seal circuit breakers and other types of switched from the environment. Much niftier than trying to heat shrink a couple of screw terminals. It is a dual-wall adhesive lined shrink tube with a 2.5:1 shrink ratio.
A greater shrink ratio
(4:1) can be accomplished by using Raychem ES2000,
or DSG-Canusa CDR adhesive-lined
semi-rigid shrink tubing. Raychem ES2000 is avaiable in small
quantities (4' sticks) from various electronic suppliers like Mouser.
In case you doubt the need for epoxy or adhesive-lined terminations, the above picture gives graphic evidence of corrosion traveling down the voids between the strands of copper wires. Since we go to the Bonneville Salt Flats two to three times a year for up to a month, and everything gets bathed in salt, properly sealing the electrical connections is a major concern. Year one OK...year two fix one or two things...year three redo everything. Using adhesive-lined or epoxy-based sealing schemes we can keep corrosion out of our wiring harnesses.
OEM harnesses employ silicone seals on thermoplastic connectors to address these issues. Any gap in the harness can provide a path to internal corrosion.
Sealing with Epoxy
Sealing boots and shapes that do not have adhesive melt can be done with specialized two part epoxies. Abrading the inner surface and applying the epoxy to the connector and cable before the heat shrinking operation. Epoxy is not applied to the inside of the heat shrink. Here the connector is sealed to the cable using V25 Deray thin wall shrink tube (2:1) and sealed with epoxy.
Resintech RT125 Harness
The preferred epoxy for
sealing wiring harnesses is Resintech
RT125. It is a two part semi-flexible epoxy that is mixed 50/50.
You can purchase RT125 and a 3M applicator mixing gun from Prowire.
These are standard 50ml cartridges. Note they have a shelf life. If you
are using this in concert with adhesive lined boots do not apply the
epoxy to the inside of the boot. Be prepared to do some clean up wiping
as the epoxy hardens much later than the adhesive lined boots.
Here we have sealed the multiple branches under the Raychem boot with Resintech RT125 and shrunk the boot over the epoxy. It's a good idea to use an additional tie wrap strain relief at the multiple branch point.
Resintech RT125 Epoxy
3M EX-PLUS-II-APPLICATOR for the Resintech RT125. This makes the application of the epoxy a lot less messy. About $50.00 from Prowire USA...
well spent. You throw away the mixing nozzles after each application as
the RT125 starts setting rather quickly. You should let the applied
boot and RT125 harden as it can get a bit messy before you go off to
sealing point. Hanging the harness up so the RT-125 doesn't flow "down" is a good idea.
PEEK Cable Ties
PEEK Cable ties are rated up to about 500 Deg F... way, way, beyond normal Nylon cable ties. There are priced in the $1.00 each and up price range. Normally you use Black Nylon cable ties...be sure they are UV Stabilized and only purchase Brand Names like Thomas & Betts Ty-Rap or Hellerman Tyton. Once at Bonneville we bought some cable ties from local auto parts store and they broke when you tightened them.
MIL-W-22759/32-35 and 41-46 or Raychem "Spec 55" Primary Wire
Raychem Spec 55 wire has become the defacto standard for motorsports wiring. "Spec 55" is a trademark of Tyco Electronics. The actual designation is MIL-W-22759/32-35 and 41-44. MIL-W-22759/44 is the normal wire of choice with silver plated copper stands. Silver plated copper (SPC) strands have a higher temperature rating than does Tinned copper (TC) strands.
Spec 55 Single Wall or "interconnect"
wire carries the designation 55A011-xx-xx. Spec 55 Dual Wall or
"airframe" wire carries the designation 55A081-xx-xx.
"XLETFE" insulation refers to Cross
Linked ETFE Polymer (Tefzel) which provides increases abrasion
resistance over Tefzel
insulation. Dual wall construction is commonly used in aircraft.
ETFE is described as a "modified radiation cross-linked polymer".
Dual wall (normal weight) "Spec 55" will
have an inner
layer of a contrasting color (blue) to indicate when the wire has been
nicked, abraded or cut.
TC refers to Tin Plated Copper. SPHSCA refers to Silver Plated High Strength Copper Alloy. NPC refers to Nickel Plated Copper. NPHSCA refers to Nickel Plated High Strength Copper Alloy. Note: 24-30 AWG should use SPHSCA conductor
Nickel has a higher melting point than does silver but this is of little consequence in motorsports ecu wiring.
Alternative to MIL-W-22759/44 "Spec 55" Primary Wire
A less expensive and more commonly available wiring is the single wall Tin Plated (TC) Copper strand wiring MIL-W-22759/16. It could be argued that silver has a better conductivity and higher temperature rating than tin plating...but both offer increased protection against corrosion over bare copper wires.
|Specification||Insulation||Conductor||AWG Range||Temp||Voltage||Wall||M27500 Symbol|
The main benefit of Spec 55, MIL-W-22759/44, over the alternative MIL-W-22759/16 is that it is "tougher" i.e. it has better abrasion properties due to its irradiated jacket. This is less of a concern if the harness is sheathed in DR-25 heat shrink, which is a common motorsports practice. In short it is an acceptable alternative to the more expensive "Spec 55" wire.
In 20 AWG it weighs 5.18 lbs/1000 feet as opposed to Spec 55 20 AWG which weighs 4.3 lbs/1000 feet. It is also larger in diameter in 20 AWG .060" versus .050" for the Spec 55 wire.
Better plating and tougher wire versus
cost savings for the /16 alternative.
Note: Tefzel is Ethylene-Tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE)
Prowire USA Motorsport Battery Cables
These are the best battery cables for your racing application. Don't go looking for welding cables, get the correct motorsport ones. Prowire USA also has the correct lugs. In order to crimp the lugs you can spend anywhere from $35.00 to $3,000.00 for specialized hexagonal crimp tools.
If you are only going to do
this occasionally a cheap Hydraulic Crimper (read China) with
insertable hex dies can be had for under $40.00. Pictured is an 8 ton
crimper with 4, 6, 10, 16, 25, 35, 50, and 70mm die sets. Definitely
not Aircraft Milspec but cheap.
Metric to AWG Conversions: 10mm (6AWG); 16mm (4AWG); 25mm (3AWG); 35mm (2AWG); 50mm (0AWG); 70mm (2/0AWG).
Crimp Guides from TEMco
Where to Buy Supplies
An excellent source for your wiring supplies for you go it alone types is Prowire as they stock about everything you need and sell in small quantities. It a good place to pick up your MIL-W-22759/16 wire and supplies. They have 140 Mil-Spec wire color combinations in stock. Quick service and excellent prices.
9260 Isaac St Suite B
Santee Ca 92071
Twisted Pairs: Protection From EMI
camshaft sensors, RS 232 and other communications should use twisted
pair, shielded, wiring. 20 or 22 AWG is typical for twisted pair sensor
communications. We use 22 gauge with White and White/Blue wires for our
two wire crank position sensors: 44A1121-22-9/96
Twisting the wires reduces magnetically induced interference. Forcing the wires together reduces the loop area and therefore the induced voltage. Since the currents are flowing in minimum loop areas, magnetic field generation is reduced. Good idea to avoid signal problems due to noisy ignitions, coils etc.
Grounding of the shielded cable is accomplished by using dedicated solder splices. Section 8-3 of Tyco Electronics (te.com) main Wire and Cable 27.9Mb Catalog lists these solder splices. They are available with or without leads. We ground our shielded wire jackets directly at the SQ6M ecu.
Procedures are defined for grounding the of the shielded wires.
Autosport Connectors Pectel SQ6M
Autosport: Specifically designed for motorsport. Lightweight.
Expensive. Requires Mil-Spec crimping and stripping tools. This is
Coswort Pectel SQ6M that we use on our ORCA motor turbocharged Harleys.
The color bands denote the connector shell keyway. The left and right
connectors are 26 Pin 20 gauge of different keyway locations so you
cannot mix them up. The center connector is a 55 pin 22 gauge
connector. Figure on spending about $400.00 for the associated
connectors, sockets, and insertion tools for the SQ6M.
Metal shells don't melt
like plastic ones do. Higher end motorsport applications all use
Autosport ECU connectors...Pectel, McLaren, Magnetti-Marelli, and Bosch.
Big Brother to SQ6M
Pectel MQ12 controller. Same as used by Aston Martin, Lotus, Nissan Nismo GTR and in World Superbike. Full Autosport Connectors. In case you are wondering how fast this controller can process things it has a MPC5200 processor that delivers 760 Million MIPS (Instructions per second) to keep track of all your inputs.
Deutsch DTM Series : Sealed thermoplastic connectors designed for harsh environments like engine compartments. Reasonably priced. Available from many sources, they offer watertight silicone seals that also act as a strain relief. Available in 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 12 pin contacts with size 20 contacts for AWG 16 to 24 gage wire. Either solid pins and sockets or crimped pins and sockets can be used. Solid pins are crimped and are easiest to work with. In no case should the pins and sockets be soldered.
Pictured above are 2, 3,and 4 pin DTM connectors with the optional shrink boot adaptor.
All of the pins and sockets
are made from 98% pure copper and then plated. Standard plating is
Nickel. For critical circuits, pins and sockets are plated with Nickel
and then Gold. For lighting, power and
control circuits choose Nickel. For critical and very low voltage and
amperage circuits such as oxygen sensors that operate at 0-1 volt or
0-5V (wideband) and
for data transmission circuits that operate at 5 volts, choose Gold.
Type K Thermocouple wire should use Gold-Plated solid pins in the DTM
two wire connectors.
Note: rear silicone seal
will seal on smooth insulation from .053" to .120" O.D. Of importance
is the fact they are rated at 100 cycles of engagement and
disengagement. These are your affordable step below the very expensive
Deutsch Autosport line. They will melt if they touch something like an
exhaust so be careful about securing things before you start an engine.
Sureseal: Interesting rubber push to connect seals. Like any specific connector they require specific tooling. These connectors are rated at 50 cycles of engagement and disengagement.
Weatherpack: Ubiquitous automotive silicone sealed thermoplastic connectors designed for harsh automotive environments. These connectors are validated to perform to specification for 10 cycles of engagement and disengagement, but up to 50 cycles probably will not see any signal degradation. In short they are excellent for oem use but a bit wanting in a motorsports environment where >10 engagement/disemgagement cycles are normal.
Sealed K4 Toggle Switches
K4 Triple Sealed Switches
are used in off road racing and other motorsports where moisture and
dust are your enemy. Complete K4 Catalog. Available from Prowire USA.
K4 Battery Disconnect Switch
K4 Battery Disconnect
Switch. If you run expensive Lithium Racing batteries like we do you
need to remove any parasitic draw to prevent the battery voltage from
dropping when the vehicle sits for awhile. If the voltage drops too low
due to long term milliamp draws it will permanently kill the battery.
The switch also serves as a safety kill switch where regulations
require and manual disconnect. Available from Prowire USA.
Rotary Map Selection Switches
Thermal wire strippers do not nick or cut or scrape the wiring. There are several manufacturers like Teledyne and Hakko. The Teledyne Strippal® Plus pictured to the left above is a self-contained hand-held stripper that either comes with a fixed or variable temperature control. The insulation melts and is stripped cleanly and quickly, readying the wire for crimping or soldering. To the right is the Hakko FT-801 thermal wire stripper.
to use a high
stripper and not cheap autoparts store ones. When using the Mil 22759
wire you should be using a wire stripped qualified for use with this
wire. On the higher end of the
hand-held tool scale is the Ideal Ergo Elite, pictured on the left, is
excellent wire stripper...Be sure you order the model 55-1987 for
MIL-W-22759 wire plus the LB-1904 Clear Plastic Wire Stop. About
The Ideal 45-177 Stripmaster Lite (16-26 AWG, Type E Teflon), on the right, is also an excellent choice. Keep the screws in the jaw tightened as they tend to loosen with use. You should also order the L5720 Wire Stop Assembly. About $150.00
We suggest you get the Ideal Ergo Elite for the most precise work.
Daniels crimping tools are the defacto standard for motorsports connector pins and sockets. We also use specialized tools to crimp Weatherpack connectors and Deutsch connectors.
This is a selection of the crimping tools that we use to make our motorcycle harnesses. Daniels, Delphi, AMP, Rennsteig, and Deutsch crimpers. We don't do custom wiring harnesses except for our own products and racing.
Ratcheting Crimper Rennsteig PEW-9
There are different types of crimps used for different
purposes i.e. insulated or non-insulated connectors. The Rennsteig PEW-9
shown here with a hexagonal crimp die
for non-insulated splice connectors. These
are moderately expensive, around $120.00. No interchageable dies
as it is calibrated at the factory. The heaxagonal crimp is a superior
crimping method for splice connectors. For single splices 18/16/14 ga
and for multiple of smaller wires.
Rennsteig MultiCrimp Ratcheting Crimper
also has a MultiCrimp tool with interchanegable dies. About $250.00.
Fives dies are available. It normally ships with with:
- 1x (P/N 629 050 3 0 1) Die Set for Non-Insulated Plug
Connectors (0.5 - 6.0 mm² | 20 - 10 AWG)
- 1x (P/N 629 060 3 0 1) Die Set for Insulated Terminals (0.5 - 6.0 mm² | 20 - 10 AWG)
- 1x (P/N 629 090 3 0 1) Die Set for End-Sleeves/Ferrules with and without Collar (0.25 - 6.0 | 24 - 10 AWG)
- 1x Tool magazine for up to 5 Die Sets
Less expensive ratcheting crimpers are available from Del City. Some aerospace items can be up in the thousands of dollars.
A good guide to crimping is in the Molex Industrial Crimp Handbook. Page 18 of the Molex PDF describes the types of crimp dies.
Wire to Wire Splices
Wire to wire spilces can be accomplished with Tyco Raychem D-406, or Sumitube W79 adhesive lined shrink tube. Do not solder the wires together. Proper crimping is the preferred method .Raychem part # D-406-0001, Red in color, marked "Duraseal 18-22" pictured.
Alternatively, un-insulated butt connectors can be used and sealed with adhesive-lined Raychem ES2000 heat shrink. Often wires will branch i.e. 1-2, 1-3 etc. and splices are necessary.
we have two multi-wire splices via step-down un-insulated butt
connectors: (below) five 22
gauge 22759/16 black wires going into one black 22 gauge wire; and
(above) four 18 gauge 22759/16 red wires going into one 16 gauge
22759/16 wire. The connections are glue shrunk. In the case of
multi-wire butt splice connections we use 1/8" adheisve line
shrink tube on the single wire and a larger size (3/16" or 1/4") over
the entire splice.We make sample splices, in this case stripping the
wires 3/8" and crimping them in the butt connector. Do not twist or
solder the multiple wires together. All connections must be adhesive sealed.
For a comprehensive guide to Un-Insulated butt connectors see the TE Connectivity/AMP Solistrand Un-Insulated Termainals and Splices PDF. These go down to 26AWG-20AWG (#321198) pictured above.
We don't have pull testing equipment so we simply take the test pieces and yank on the wires as hard as we can. Be careful to insure all wires are fully seated into the butt connector. Refine your crimper choice and crimp techniques until you can be assured your splices will not come apart. Not sophisticated but it works.
FYI: NASA-STD 8739.4: Minimum Tensile Strengths: 22ga
13 lb; 20ga 21 lb; 18 ga 32 lb; 16 ga 41 lb.
SAE AS7928: Minimum Tensile Strengths: 22ga 15 lb; 20 ga 19 lb; 18 ga 38 lb; 16ga 50 lb.
Wire to wire Solder Splices
wires without crimping in a sealed manner requires the use of
specialzed solder sleeves that both solder the wires together and
adhesive seal them at the same time. Pricey devils. Figure upwards of
$3.00+ each. Pictured is Raychem / Tyco D-1744 Series Soldersleeve Wire Splice.
Designed to provide an environment resistant in-line splice in wires
having tin (22759/16 or 22759/32) or silver-plated conductors (22759/44) and
insulation rated for at least 125C. Example pricing via DigiKey.
Pin and Socket Retention Testing
makes a relatively
inexpensive tool to
test retention of pins and sockets...Simply push until flush and the
socket/pin is tested to about 30% of it's yield i.e. if it is actually
If you are a big buck operation and you need to test your crimp connection strengths you buy one of these from Alphatron.
DR-25 Heat Shrink and Molded Parts
You cover the mil-spec wire with DR-25 heat shrink and transitions are joined with Raychem or Hellerman molded parts, To seal the ends of the transitions or boots there are two options: Use adhesive lined boots (expensive) or use syringe-applied Resintech RT125 black epoxy on the connector or the DR-25 wire cover. The shrink ratio is 2-1 or, in some versions 5-1. This environmentally seals the wires and connectors and provides a protective layer against abrasion.
determines the color of the printing on the tubing DR-25-1/8-0 is
Yellow; DR-25-1/8-UK is White lettering. We use DR-25 in the standard
thickness with the Yellow lettering. The special lightweight motorsport
version DR-25-TW saves weight.
To choose a size of DR-25 for your harness sections choose the largest size that will shrink firmly to your wiring cross-section diameter. In other words if your wiring bundle is 3/8" in diameter you don't use 3/8" DR-25 as it has a shrink ratio of 2:1 (.375 start to .1875 final). The above dimensions are for several diameters of 20 gauge Spec55 wires, .058" in diameter.
An alternative to DR-25 is Raceline 150 from Whitmor Wirenetics. Basically the same specifications you just don't get "DR-25" printed in yellow. We all know how important labels are these days.
A second source for a less expensive alternative to Raychem DR-25 is Deray V25 from DSG-Canusa.which also has the same 2:1 shrink ratio as Raychem DR-25.
Pull don't Push
to push some 22 gauge wires through 1/8"or 3/16" DR-25 is an exercise
in frustration. Crimp the wires to something like a length of welding
rod and pull them through.
Sealing DR-25 with Raychem ES2000
Semi-rigid 4-1 shrink ratio adhesive lined Raychem ES2000 seals DR-25 to wires as well as serving as a strain relief for wire splices, terminals and other components.
Keeping Shrink Tubes..ES-2000/RBK/ATUM etc.
tubing typically comes in four foot long sticks. We cut these to fit
McMaster Carr clear boxes 4629T. For the most part this is rigid or
semi-rigid adhesive-lined tubing, typically, for harnesses, cut in
lengths less than 2.5" for connectors and sealing DR-25. It easy to
keep track of the various types and wall thicknesses as well as 2-1,
3-1 and 4-1 shrink ratios. You're always cutting parts and have lengths
left over. It's easier to keep track of these in some form of
Heat Guns and Heat Blowers
Guns and Heat Blowers are different animals. The Steinel and the
Snap-On to the left are Heat Guns whereas the Master Appliance pedestal
mount is a Heat Blower. They all apply hot air but the Heat Guns are
easier to work with, especially when dealing with Raychem Shrink Shapes
and Boots as you must quickly rotate about the part to cause the
controlled shrinkage. The larger Heat Blower is too unwieldly for this
fine controlled shrinkage. Being able to regulate the temperature is
a 202K132 Raychem Boot on this Autosport Connector has to be done with
a Heat Gun, not a Heat Blower. A Heat Blower will cause too quick and
uncontrolled shrinkage and ruin the Boot.
Concentric Twist Layers
stiffness of the
harness will depend
largely on how the underlying wires are arranged. The correct method is
concentric twisting where successive layers are twisted in opposite
directions...One wire surrounded by six wires, with each successive
layer adding six additional wires i.e. 1-6-12-18. The twisting of the
wires gives the harness additional flexibility and reduces strain on
the wires. The above table provides some insight into the methodology. TE Connectivity offers a PDF Guideline for Concentric Twisting.
Zac Perkins..Concentric Harness Construction
twisting of a motorsports harness requires a lot of planning when you
have different gauge wires, multiple connectors, filler wires, splices,
service loops etc. Here Zac Perkins (email@example.com) of Motorsportselectronics shows
you how it should be done. Kevlar braided lacing cord secures the bundle. Zac is a
master fabricator and motorsports electronics specialist. Check here to
see his portfolio. Zac can be reached via his wesite (or email) to schedule your project. BMW and Porsche 911 projects.
Tying or Lacing Wire Harnesses
Braided Lacing Cord is commonly used, bound to the twisted cables in the opposite direction of the cable twist, secured at each end by tape.
MIL-T-43435B Lacing Cord (Left Above): Braided nylon lacing cord meeting specification MIL-T43435B, Type I, Size 3, Finish B: Micro-crystalline wax with melting point above 55/ C ° 130° F and nonflaking characteristics it is compounded to develop excellent knot retention, yet not giving a waxy feel to the user. Used to tie wiring bundles together. Less bulky than plastic tie wraps which can actually cut into wires and, when cut, leave a sharp edge that can cut your hands.
Lacing Cord (Right Above): Flat Braided Glass Yarn, Type IV, Size 1,
Finish D: TFE-flurocarbon coating, Black Color. Widest (size 1) .180"
to .220". Stable to 427C (800 Deg F). Gudebrod.
For a basic description of flat
braided Mil-T-43435 Spec Designations of lacing a tape sizes, finishes,
materials and temperature ratings visit Ryan Electronics. Nylon, Glass Yarn, Polyester, TFE-Flurocarbon, and Aramids (Nomex/Kevlar) flat braided lacing tapes.
Continuous loops should tied in the above manner with continual lock stitches. Normally you just put a wrap and a square knot every 6-12".
wire harness together with neat little square knots, how do you insert
extra wires? The answer is a Wire
Note that all the wires are white which is a normal practice in many
applications. Spec 55 wire is available in up to 10 color and or color
stripe combinations which
makes keeping track of things much easier. Without laser-marking of
each wire it can be a real chore to track down issues when all the
wires are white. You can also label each wire (we do) as we have so
many interruptions it's easy to lose track after numerous phone
typical late model Harley-Davidson Touring bike uses about 77 different
wire colors (color and stripes) in its wiring harness. 100 color and color/stripe combinations are delineated in this Glenair MIL-STD-681 PDF.
Portable Shrink Tube Thermal Printers
each wire with 1/8" 3:1 heat shrink labels near the terminations to
keep track of things and use one color mil-spec wire. Low end heat
shrink printers can be purchased way under $100.00 or you can spend
many thousands of dollars on commercial units. We label all our wires
anyway, even with different colors.
pictured above is
about as cheap as it gets. Lists for about $250.00 but sells for about
$150.00 or less. It prints on 1/8" (single MIL-SPEC wire), 3/16", 1/4",
and up to 3/4" wire shrink tubing. It also prints labels in widths of
1/6"(4mm), 1/4"(6mm), 3/8"(9mm) 1/2"(12mm) and 3/4"(18mm)
widths. The catch is the cartridges are expensive. There is always a
catch. Expendables. Oddly the 3/8" shrink tubing is only available in
The lower priced BEE3 unit will only print up to 3/16" shrink
tubing. Best get the BEE3+.
Use either KYNAR or Tyco Raychem RT-375 clear 2:1 heat shrink over your printed labels.
The Rhino 6000 will print wire shrink tubing up to 1" I.D. and flat labels up to 1" in width. These are in the mid to low $200.00 range. For labeling inidividual wires they do not go down to the 1/8" size shrink tubing that the BEE3+ does.
of the wiring diagram but this will only aid in planning purposes. The
actual harness has to be measured on the application with all the
in place. It is critical that there be no strain or interference issues
and that serviceability is planned for.
Wires in this harness are MIL-22759/16 in 16/18/20 and 22 gauge. Deutsch DTM Plugs and Receptacles use a mix or gold and nickel plated pins and sockets. Deutsch Autosport Connectors are used for the SQ6M ECU on this harness. Different wire colors prevent confusion and we also label each wire. This particular harness has 49 outboard connectors. The SQ6M itself has 107 pins. In the case we are using 76 of them.
We use 4' x 8' whiteboard to layout the wiring harness. We
adhesive tie wrap pads, plastic tie wraps, velcro, and white gaffers
tape to hold the main harness and connector leads in place. The
adhesive pads can be removed or relocated without damaging the boards
surface. No need to replace the surface.
planning purposes we determine which and how many wires exit the
harness at each break point and also the diameter of the runs between
the break points. Wire bundle diameter is important in choosing the
correct diameter of DR-25 shrink tubing. 88 wires exit towards the SQ6M
in this case with three separate leads going to each of the Deutsch
twist the wires CW and CCW the best we can by the above format, but we
always run into issues with 2-1 and 3-1 splices so we don't go the
extra mile to put in dummy filler wires to get the 1-6-12-18 etc
layers. We do the concentic twisting and secure the runs with Mil-T-43435B
Lacing Cord. We label each wire with 1/8" yellow shrink tube covered by
clear Raychem RT-375 clear shrink tubing.
leave the exit branches about 4" longer than necessary and then trim
the wires to length for the connector. You can slide the labels up and
down the wire with a bit of force. Labels are necessary for us as we
are constantly interrupted and brain fade sets in.
1", 3/4", 1/2", 3/8". 1/4" and 1/8" is being used in this harness.
Raychem 202A153, 202A142, 202A132 and 202A111 straight boots are being
used with Resintech RT125 epoxy sealing the branches exiting the boots.
Raychem ES2000-1, -2 and -3 tubing seals wires exiting the DR-25 on
branch legs to sensors, circuit breakers, relays etc. Raychem ATUM is
used to seal the back of connectors.
Labels on all connectors help keep track of things. Documentation is maintained on both the internal and external structure of the harness.
Wideband Sensor Wiring
The Bosch LSU-4.2 (left) or the NTK (right) wideband sensors are typically married with six position Deutsch DTM connectors. In that they are five wire sensors the sixth poisition uses a seal plug. LSU 4.9 is the newest version and is not compatible with 4.2 electronics. Wiring colors for the different sensors is as follows:
Bosch LSU-4.2 Typical DTM positions: DTM Terminal 1, Red Wire, WB_Pump; DTM Terminal 2, Black Wire, WB_Cell; DTM Terminal 3, Yellow Wire, WB_Com; DTM Terminal 4, White wire, WB_Htr-; DTM Terminal 5, Gray wire, WB Htr+; DTM Terminal 6, seal plug.
Bosch LSU-4.9 Typical DTM
Terminal 1, Red Wire, Pumping Current; DTM Terminal 2, Yellow Wire,
DTM Terminal 3, White, Heater Minus (H-); DTM Terminal 4, Grey wire,
Heater VBat (H+); DTM Terminal 5, Green wire, Trim Current; DTM
Terminal 6, Black Wire, Nernst Voltage. LSU-4.9 Data.
NTK L1H1 Wire Colors: Yellow Wire: Heater -; Blue: Heater Wire +; Black: Signal Ground; Grey: Nernst Cell Voltage; White: Ion Pump Current.
NTK L2H2 Wire Colors (8 pin Sumitomo H90 Connector): Pin1: Yellow Heater Wire -; Pin 2: Blue: Heater Wire +; Pin 3: Rc (cal resistor); Pin 4: Rc 0V; Pin 5: NC; Pin 6: Grey Wire Vs; Pin 7: White Wire Ion Pump; Pin 8: Black Wire Sensor 0V.
Cal Resistor shown above between pins 3-4 which is read by oem
application or devices like Motec PLM. These are individual to each
sensor. High end ecus like the Pectel SQ6M
do not use a Cal Resistor. NTK sensors are extremely accurate at
Lambda 1.0 (14.57 AFR) but should be custom calibrated between Lambda
0.75 (10.92 AFR) and Lambda 1.25 (18.21:1 AFR). Nitrogen gas can be
used to test for Lambda 1.0 (14.57:1). Calibration data can be entered
into your ecu. Free Air has 20.95% Oxygen with a Lambda 1.43 (20.80AFR).
In general NTK sensors are higher temperature rated. We use them pre-turbo with pressure compensation tables as under rich conditions they show richer under boost pressure and leaner in lean conditions under boost pressure. Pectel SQ6 / SQ6M controllers are designed for the NTK sensors. NTK sensors are tolerant of leaded fuels whereas Bosch LSU-4.9 are not. Connectors for the L2H2 LZA-09-E1 sensors are available from Ballenger Motorsports.
NTK L2H2 LZA-09-E1 Sensors
Cut and remove connector with calibration resistor. Leave
longer silicone heat sheath.
wires with 1/4" DR-25 overlapping the long NTK silicone heat
sheath. Heat shrink the DR-25 and seal both ends with 1" ES2000-1.
Heat shrink 11mm label and seal with RT375 clear. Slip over 1.5"ATUM 12-3. Strip wires, crimp pins or sockets and insert these in the connector. Filler wire with pin or socket for the unused pin 6. Heat shrink the ATUM 12-3. Slip 2" ATUM 24-6 over the sensor and heat shrink to the DTM six position connector.
When mounting the NGK/NTK wideband lambda sensor pre-turbo you need to create pressure compensation tables in your ECU. We made a Backpressure Lambda Calculator that shows how lambda reading are skewed under exhaust backpressure.
Viper Specialty Regulator
Viper Specialty Performance designed a nifty fuel regulator that incorporates differential pressure and temperature sensing which are then inputted to your engine controller...This simplifies things in terms of wiring, sensor placement and data acquisition.
NTK L2H2 Lambda Test Stand Calibration
NTK L2H2 Test Stand for sensor linearization: Propane with a variable air bleed and three 18mm x 1.5 ports. Used for calibrating two NTK L2H2 Lambda meters against a known calibrated meter. Flowing Nitrogen gives Lambda 1.0 (14.57:1 AFR). Free Air at one end of the scale and propane/air mixtures for richer points. Pectel SQ6M engine controllers have 33 points to linearize or calibrate for each of the two NTK sensors. The SQ6M has internal NTK amplifier and heater circuits, so no external devices are required. Alternatively you can purchase a $1,200.00 drum of test gasoline and a $1,200.00 bottle of Lambda calibration gas to do your testing.
Pectel offers specifically calibrated five wire NTK "Band 10" wideband sensors for their
engine contol systems that come with Deutsch Autosport Connectors.
Automotive 30A Relays
We use Hella or Bosch 30 Amp relays in our wiring harnesses. This is a pictorial reference as to how they work.
At the Bonneville Salt Flats the salt air and salt eats everything. Internal cavities in relays turn into green gardens. Starter relays and switches die sooner or later. Cadmium plated hardware corrodes quickly. Battery terminals and any metal exposed that isn't stainless or chrome plated begins its ugly descent to mother earth from whence it came. Boeshield T-9 is the best thing we've found to protect metal surfaces. WD-40 seems to disappear after a time. This stuff stays.
Raychem Spec 55 Wire (XLTFE Polymer) The standard for high end motorsports wiring.
Mil-STD-861 Color Codes For Mil-Spec Wiring. 100 possible combinations. 10 colors are normally available.
Catalog Raychem Heatshrink Products
Heatshrink Products Covers everything including tubing, all
molded shapes (with dimensions), tools, and materials
DR-25 Heat Shrink Used to cover ETFE wires in wiring harnesses. Has a 2-1 shrink ratio. Single Wall. Motorsports std.
DSG-Canusa Deray V25 a less expensive alternative to DR-25
Raychem RT-375 Clear
heat shrink tubing. Use to cover your yellow/black wire heat shrink
Kynar Clear Heat Shrink Tubing to cover wire and cable heat shrink labels.
Raychem ES2000 Adhesive heat shrink. Semi
Rigid 4-1 shrink ratio. Sealing wire transitions. Strain relief.
Tyco_RBK_Dual Wall Adhesive heat shrink. Used to seal wire transitions and connectors. Less flexible than ATUM. Strain relief.
Raychem SCL Heat Shrink Used to seal shapes like switches and relays in lieu of specific "boot". Adhesive lined. 2.5:1 shrink ratio.
Adhesive-lined heat shrink. Sealing Boots and
transitions and shapes. 3-1 and 4-1 shrink ratio available. Here a
Cherry Hall Sensor has 1/4" DR-25, Resintech RT125 epoxy sealing the
DR-25 ends, and 16mm ATUM semi-flexible adhesive shrunk to the
assembly. Available in small quantities from suppliers like Mouser.
Last digit is Color Code. Black is "0" (Zero).
Ratio: Diam in mm
||4-1 Shrink Ratio: Diam in mm|
DSG-Canusa CDR Adhesive lined shrink tube. 4:1 shrink ratio. Semi-rigid. More rigid than Tyco ATUM. Splice covering.
DSG-Canusa CPA Adhesive lined shrink tube. 3:1 shrink ratio. Connector sealing.
Raychem Heatshrink Products Covers everything including tubing, all molded shapes (with dimensions), tools, and materials
Raychem Molded Parts Heat Shrinkable, adhesive-lined, for wiring harness transitions and connectors.
Hellermann-Tyton Molded Shapes, Heat shrinkable up to 5-1 ratio shapes for transition and connector sealing.
Resintech RT125 Wiring Harness Epoxy.
Tyco Wire Stripping Guide
Teledyne Stripall Thermal Stripper
Ideal Wire Processing (Stripper) CatalogMotorsport Connectors
Deutsch Autosport (connectors) CatalogSureseal Rubber Connector
IP Protection Ratings Chart Explains "IP" or Ingress Protection ratings of connectors from water, dust, etc..Not a military specification.
WWII Wiring Harnesses
In WWII we were cranking out bombers and fighter aircraft fater than they could be shot down. Extremely high crew losses were backed up by a system of production and training not seen since. Women were a major part of the work force and kicked butt. After the war their jobs were taken away from them. There went 50% of the talent.
Women did much of the WWII aero wiring. These days you see men or "blokes" doing the motorsport wiring (See video below). We have no doubt women are better at it.
Renvale Ltd. (Formerly Tony James Wiring) in the United Kingdon is a specialist in high end motorsports wiring. This is a video of their work for the now defunct USA F1 Team. Let's hope they got paid.
Cosworth Pectel SQ6 connector with service loops twisted just before
the connector sockets. Follow the
a Cosworth Pectel SQ6 Wiring Harness
a lot of money,
time and supplies. In this case all the wires are all white in
makes servicing things down the road as well as construction much more
An excellent source for your wiring supplies for you go it alone types is Prowire as they stock about everything you need and sell in small quantities. It a good place to pick up your MIL-W-22759/16 wire and supplies. They have 140 Mil-Spec wire color combinations in stock. Quick service and excellent prices.
Costs: A Reality Check
simple fact is that a professional motorsports wiring harness costs a
lot of money. Unless it is some kind of production item, which it never
is, these are going to be expensive whether you like it or not and a
rule of thumb is that it is going to cost as much as your engine
controller of choice and almost certainly likely more. One of the
people we know
typically spends about 200 man hours designing and fabricating a custom
wiring harness. If you were a lawyer that would be about $70,000.00
billable hours...If you were only charging a minimum burger slinging
wage of $10.00 per hour, the labor costs alone would be $2000.00.
That's a wide spread.
Another person we know used to wire high end off the
road racing vehicles where the total wiring bill was often North of
$25,000.00 for parts and labor and he did not want to do it anymore as
it was tough getting paid for the work, not to mention all the travel
and fighting clients. He cut back on that work and just sells parts these days.
It's the old adage "Time is Money". Add up all the hours in planning, ordering and stocking parts, buying tooling, plus the actual fabrication and write yourself a fat check...Or let someone else do it. Letting someone else do it implies there is a solid design template or that person is going to have access to the project where it can be planned and executed in place. Sometimes it's best to pay and get on with your life.
do our own
harnesses and have for over 20 years as we have our projects in-house
and don't like running
has been making Mil-Spec Motorsports wiring harnesses on a contract
basis for a long time. There are many others but you can research these
out. Professional Motec Tuners like Shane
Tecklenburg , John Reed , Electron Speed ,
and Pectel Specialists like Dan Lesser have
solid reputations and are well versed in harness construction. UK/USA
builds the highest quality harnesses. The new firm of Zac Perkins (firstname.lastname@example.org) at Motorsportselectronics does excellent wiring, ecu calibration and fabrication work.