1. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Premium Member Forum Donor

    Hey guys. I'm probably jumping the gun on this but wanted to post some of my photos of my electronic ignition system I "built".

    Ever since I accidentally shorted out the electronic ignition on my Trabant, I've been looking into building a better mousetrap. I ordered a replacement MOSFET and soldered it onto the board but #2 cylinder is still dead. However I think I may have not soldered it onto the board good enough and it's just not making contact with the other circuits. I'll investigate this further.

    In the meantime I've been working on a wasted spark ignition system using a conversion kit for a VW Type I. Like my Citroen 2CV. From what I've read wasted spark ignitions have been used on other 2 cylinder 2 stroke engines like snowmobiles with no problems so it should work on a Trabant.

    Here are some photos so far. You'll have to goto my Google Drive.


    I think I am going to ditch making my own plates out of fiberglass (way too time consuming) and mount the module on an old breaker plate instead.

    The system fired but I needed a helping hand at getting the timing in the ballpark just enough to keep the engine running. So I had to get Dad to crank the engine over while I checked the timing. Anybody who has ever tried to set the timing on these cars knows it's a pain in the rear. Or at least I think it is. Seems like it's always a two man job. One person to crank the engine over and one to adjust the plate while holding a timing light. I need to rig up a remote starter.

    For some odd reason, the timing was way off on my first attempt. I rotated the plate 180 degrees and manged to get the engine to idle somewhere between TDC and 33 degrees BTDC but at the furtherest most adjustment point on my board. So I cannot advance the timing further. But the engine idles, doesn't backfire or missfire so as of right now this seems to be a success.


    You would think since this system fires every 90 degrees (instead of every 180 degrees), the adjustment would be more sensitive but it's just as sensitive as the other system as well as points.

    The plan is to do some more notching on the plate (instead of rotating the module) then compare this to an old breaker plate and find the correct location for the module to it.

    Also the idea is to get rid of the starter retard mechanism and run a fixed timing like the EBZA systems.

    I still need to verify if my marks are accurate. 33 degrees BTDC is the correct timing on points systems?


    Is this something you guys would be interested in?

    Most likely the system would cost a little more than shipping a similar until from Germany. I jumped the gun and ordered a new aftermarket system and it cost me 30 Euros. I have not settled on a price yet.

    This system would cut the electronics in half. No exposed circuitry to short out.

    There would be a core charge on breaker plates.

    I'll also need a couple of test mules to test the system out before putting it out there. Robert Dunn has volunteered to be one of them. In other words, be prepared to throw the breaker plate back on in case something happens.

    Apparently these systems are as sensitive as the aftermarket system is. Such as with low resistance coils (MSD ACCELL) and voltages greater than 13.7 volts.

    Still some other issues to sort out. Like how to power the system on 6 volt cars since most cars that runs points are 6 volt models.

    For me I already have a 6 to 12 volt converter for my radio and other circuits. These step up converters seem to have more circuitry than the actual ignition system! The problem is the converter I would like to use costs around $30 so that would add $30 to the system. I do have some smaller 2 amp units but they are made in China and I'm not sure how reliable they are. I'm also not sure how many amps these modules pulls. If it's more than 2 amps, I'll have to come up with something.
  2. A Spooky Ghost

    A Spooky Ghost Loyal Comrade

    I like what your doing here! :D

    Yes I will be happy to try out your ignition setup on my car.... I have a ebza, so it would be a good comparison.
    I'm not quite ready for the road yet, but it is getting closer!

    I've used these type of electronic ignitions over the past few years. I think they were branded-accuspark, and or hot spark. Between a 58 Hillman Minx, and a 77 Peugeot 504- they do quite well.



    Yes they are really sensitive to over charging. Seems they will heat up electrically, and just die(never had this happen though). I ended up using a Beru blue coil( can be found on ebay for under $25.00). It has a good bit of resistance.

    The hardest part for me, was to get the right type of ballast resistor, to knock the voltage spike down to a safe level. These units need very little power to run. Also the wires are super thin....

    As for the breaker plates.- since I'm convinced most trabi owners like to play with there own cars. Why not sell a templet( maybe printed to exact scale) to show what needs to be drilled out.

    Or you can make the plates, and or sell the template too! How about an adapter to the original plate(without drilling anything). These are just my thoughts....
  3. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Premium Member Forum Donor

    I thought you sold your car?

    Yes the system I'm using uses a Hot Spark conversion kit for the VW Type 1. The Petronix ignitor which I have on my Ford Fairlane is about double. That's why I went with this one. There is yet another system our there for $25 that comes from Hong Kong. I'm considering buying it and testing it out.

    I don't know if the Petronix is any better. I've read some bad reviews on the Hot Spark "over heating" but I think it's because people are not following the instructions. Using the wrong coil or the input voltage is too high.

    I kind of suspect the Petronix has a built in voltage regulator. I measured the voltage coming off my converter at 11.99 volts which sounds like of low. I haven't tested the coil impedance yet.

    So today I redrilled the adjustment slots and painted reference marks above where the magnets are placed so I could get the orientation of the module correct. Using a timing light, it appears the magnets in the ring line up with the leading edge of the module. I figured it would be in the middle. If I had known that, this project would have been easier to adjust. I had to guess and use a timing light to see where I was at.

    You might be able to see these reference marks light up in the video below.

    I tried using an old breaker plate to mount the module onto but it looks like it's too much trouble. The center hole is not large enough for the ring of magnets to pass through it.

    Tomorrow, I'm going to use my fiberglass plate as a guide and use a piece of cardboard and pre-drill the holes (easier to do with cardboard) then apply fiberglass resin to it. Then apply both sides with aluminum tape. Sounds dodgy but cardboard treated with fiberglass resin is rock hard. I'm made lots of stuff out of cardboard like my speaker boxes. The aluminium tape will allow the module to be grounded, rather than using a third wire.

    I have not driven the car yet because I just have the wires kind of dangling and my garage is a mess around the car from tools.

    Once I get the wiring routed correctly, I'll give it a test drive. So far it seems to idle well. I've revved the engine up and so far no misfires or backfires.

    In order to make this system replace the EBZA system, I'm going to have to come up with some kind of "one system fits all" instead of using the advance mechanism (which the EBZA system doesn't have), it would just be a piece of pipe notched out to fit the end of the crankshaft.

    Well here is the video. Let me know what you think.

  4. A Spooky Ghost

    A Spooky Ghost Loyal Comrade

    No, I bought Justins yellow 601...

    Yours has a nice idle with that ignition. If you can get a notched pipe to fit snuggly, it would work just fine. I wonder if it would be better to use your setup, with the advance from the points- versus a fixed timing setup?
  5. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Premium Member Forum Donor

    Well the idea is to do away with the centrifugal advance and run a fixed timing. Like the EBZA system does. My theory is based on other vehicles, engines don't like idling at TDC. From what I read the reason the timing retards to TDC using points is to help the car start easier. The EBZA system creates a hotter spark so retarding the timing is not needed. Only problem is the advance mechanism doesn't start to engage until around 1000 rpms and is fully engaged around 1500 rpms. This may not be 100% correct. This is just from my observation using a timing light. So the engine also idles at TDC. By advancing the timing at idle should create a more efficient burn. So far it seems idling at 33 degrees versus TDC, the engine does not stall like it was doing until it reaches normal operating temperature and doesn't require the choke to be pulled out a bit to keep the engine running until it warms up. That was my first observation. 33 degrees seems like an awful allot of advance at idle since most cars (well Fiats anyway) idle at 10 degrees BTDC. But if the engine doesn't struggle to start when cold, then I guess it's OK. I have ran as high as 17 degrees BTDC on my Fiats with no issues but that was before the turbo.

    On the flip side, if you recall from one of my other posts, I'm using a 5 pin GM HEI control module on my Yugo and my Fiat Spider as a boost retard mechanism when the 5th pin is grounded using a pressure switch. These 5 pin modules were used on some high compression GM V8 engines around 1980. Apparently these engines had issues starting due to the high compression ratio. Which is the totally opposite with the Trabant which I believe is 8:1 but I've read some engines were as low as 7.7:1. I don't know if this was way back in the day or when the infamous "fuel saver" carburetor was introduced.

    I doubt this system would run any better than a good functioning EBZA system. However I wondered about something. Does anybody know if the EBZA system uses a magnetic triggering mechanism or a hall effect sensor? And can each cylinder be adjusted if the engine is out of phase? Reason I ask is I saw a photo of the inside of one of these boxes and it seems to have twice the components. Two large transistors, capacitors, resistors. So one set of components fires one cylinder and the other set fires the other.

    My guess is if the box craps out a person could gut the box and install two GM 4 pin HEI control modules which sells for about $10 a piece. Just connect the wires going to the "wheel" to each module and power and ground to the opposite pins.

    I think you said you had an 82 Dodge truck that someone had gutted the ignition control box and replaced it with one of these 4 pin modules?
  6. A Spooky Ghost

    A Spooky Ghost Loyal Comrade

    Yeah I converted a 82 dodge ram (slant six) from the factory "lean-burn" computer on the air cleaner, to a gm 4 pin module, and a ford ignition coil. Also a late 80's toyota truck with electronic ignition(the factory computer was $300!)

    Now I could have simply gotten an electronic ignition box from any older mopar. The newly made old style of old ignition boxes are known to fail a lot...

    So the gm module it was. It has been a year now, with no issues.

    I would think no matter what type of magnetic, or hall effect- a newer style ignition unit would work just fine.

    I'm sure you have seen this video, but...

    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
  7. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Premium Member Forum Donor

    I haven't seen those. Here's something I thought was pretty cool.


    The throttle body would probably bolt to the engine with not allot of fuss. Only issue is the system takes some of the simplicity away from the Trabant. I'm all about electronic ignition (the simple kind) but always thought carburetors were easier to troubleshoot.
  8. A Spooky Ghost

    A Spooky Ghost Loyal Comrade

    Thats neat! I'm simply too cheap to give this setup a try. Still awesome no matter what.

    Your right about adding a lot of one off, complicated things to a already screwy type of car. In fact it was the horrors of owning a Citroen Cx25 (Fuel Injection that constantly F-ed up), that made me want a Trabant.

    I like screwy cars. :cool:

    I couldn't afford a 2cv, or know somebody in Europe to send me one, and every time I find a Citroen GS stateside, they always are rotten, or never have paper work. Passed up a daf 600 too(kinda like a trabbi, but belt drive).
  9. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Premium Member Forum Donor

    So the Trabant is back to running on points/condensers. I can't get the aftermarket system to fire so I'm continuing my homemade electronic ignition system.

    Damn Photobucket! Here are the links from my Google Drive instead.

    I made the disk today out of Lexan:


    I clamped it down using 2 C-clamps and "cut" the disc out using a soldering iron. It was quite time consuming. I'm going to check with my neighbor up the street you has a C&C machine to see if he can made me some of these discs out out of a aluminum. I can't seem to get the arches cut to where they look nice. I ended up using a de-burring piece on my Dremel tool to clean up the edges. But I still don't like it!
    I used a step down bit to cut the center out to 1" or 25 mm.

    Here is the piece that replaces the advance mechanism. The white marks are the reference marks for the magnets.

    The black electrical tape is to make sure I get a 1 mm air gap between the ring and module. I wrapped it around and measured the radius (well edge of the inside of the pipe to the tape) and added 1 mm to it.

    Once the disc is mounted on the car I will make my marks for the holes for the control module. Then remove the black electrical tape.

    This piece could easliy be machined down if I could find the correct side of aluminium pipe (14 mm OD, 8 mm ID).



    Here is what the disc should look like when mounted:


    The backside of the disc will have a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil (to ground the module). The front side will have a carbon fiber detail stuff (just to make it look cool)!

    If you are wondering why I chose Lexan, it's easy to "burn" with a soldering iron and doesn't shatter like Plexiglass (acrylic) if you drill through it and is supposed to be good for up to 300 F.

    A better choice would be using a piece of aluminum cut on a C&C machine. If there was a demand for any of these systems.

    I took some measurements on my Harley Davidson coil I have on my Citroen 2CV.


    It pulls just .44 amps so I could run it off my 6 to 12 volt converter. And use it instead of two 6 volt Trabant ignition coils.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
  10. Andrewwoey

    Andrewwoey Loyal Comrade

    This is a very interesting project.
  11. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Premium Member Forum Donor

    Thanks. I've been obsessed with this project for a couple of months now. I guess mainly to see if I could actually build it and get it to work.

    I have no idea if anyone would be interested in this system but the plan is have a few plates on hand if anybody likes it and want's an easier to tune and cheaper alternative version than what is on the market. And it would be tested on my car for about 50 miles before I'd turn it loose. No dead on arrival systems.

    This system could also replace a failed EBZA system so it would fit both engines. And there wouldn't be any difference in price between the 6 and 12 volt versions. I just got to figure out an easy way to make these plates! I'm thinking my friend may be able to cut multiple plates at one time. I could cut them in 4X4 pieces and stack them.

    The engine seems to idle OK but when I hooked a lawnmower tachometer to one of the spark plugs I got a weird reading. Like 5200 rpms! But today running on points I got a normal reading. This is actually my 2 cylinder Citroen 2CV which IS a wasted spark ignition system. I just wanted to compare RPM readings between the two cars.


    I emailed Hot Spark to ask them a simple question but I am not sure if I'll get a reply.

    This plastic ring has four magnets. I'm not sure if one magnet turns the transistor on and the next magnet turns it off (and fires the coil) or just one magnet is required to fire the coil.

    The aftermarket system uses two magnets but I think the Petronix Ignitor uses just one magnet.

    What I'm curious is if the engine is firing every 90 degrees (bottom dead center, halfway and top dead center). Actually it's supposed to be firing close to BDC and 4 mm BTDC. The only reason I wonder is because of the weird RPM readings I was getting. But the wire that wraps around the spark plug wire that takes the signal may have been touching the other plug wire. That may have gave me a false reading. Also I think this tachometer can be used on either 1 or 2 cylinder engines so I may have had it set to 1 cylinder instead of 2 to begin with!

    I'd imagine if the spark plug was firing every 90 degrees, the engine wouldn't even run. It would stall out as the piston is halfway through it's stroke. Or perhaps there is not enough compression to ignite the fuel/air halfway through the piston stroke.

    If that were the case an easy fix would be to remove two of the magnets. One at the 12 o'clock position and the one at the 6 o'clock position. They do make a system for the 2 cylinder Fiat 500. That may have been a better choice than using one from a VW Type 1. That would have elevated all doubt.

    Well the weekend is over and it's time to work day shift starting tomorrow so this project will be on the back burner until next week.
  12. A Spooky Ghost

    A Spooky Ghost Loyal Comrade

    I still think you could use a end mill, in your drill press. Then carefully feed / arch the disc into it by hand. Have it spinning on a center pin of some sort. In theory it would work. In other words, use it like a round spinning band saw.

    On the hot spark systems I've used, the magnets were placed on the tips pf the lobes. Always bothered me, that you can here them kinda wiggle in the plastic!

    Ran well though, with no rpm drift-at any rpm. Wouldn't it act like a regular system, and use the lobes to fire the module?
  13. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Premium Member Forum Donor

    I've decided to get one of those Dremel routing attachments, Walmart sells them for $7.00.


    I'm sure I'll end up finding another use for it eventually.

    I'll need to grind some of the tabs off the breaker plate to get it flat then drill some holes through the plate and the Lexan and secure both together with some machine screws and nuts to keep both locked in place. The trick will be to space the breaker plate and the Lexan apart so the bit cuts through the Lexan and the non machine portion of the bit touches the breaker plate. You get the idea...

    I did get a reply from Hot Spark. Apparently their 2 cylinder kits on Fiat 500 only use 2 magnets. 4 cylinders use 4 magnets and so on. So the system only uses 1 magnet to fire the coil. The reason I thought it used 2 magnets was the aftermarket system I had been using uses 2 magnets to turn the transistor on and off.

    So the system has been firing every 90 degrees instead of every 180 degrees! This explains the funky RPMs I my tachometer was picking up. Like I mentioned, I suppose when the cylinder was halfway on the compression stroke, there was not enough compression to fire the fuel/air mixture.

    So I need to remove 2 of the magnet from the ring, 180 degrees apart.

    Here is a system I may end up testing. It's only $25. The module looks like the Hot Spark system only it's green.

  14. A Spooky Ghost

    A Spooky Ghost Loyal Comrade

    I like the dremel attachment! Been needing one of those for years..

    The ignition for my Hillman Minx(bought from U.K.) Looked exactly like the one in your link. The connectors fell off out of the box, but the unit is still working well.

    Water, vibration, loose wires, electrical spikes, and lastly heat- can kill these units. Not grounding the base plate- with thermal past(like found on a CPU- Artic Silver #5) is a big one!

    The wires are really thin too.
  15. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Premium Member Forum Donor

    I should probably use aluminum on both sides instead of that carbon fiber decal stuff as I had planned.

    I know this paste is used on heat sinks and the white stuff is used on those GM HEI control modules but always wondered how this stuff is supposed to work.

    The Hot Spark system seems a bit fickle compared to the Petronix which sells for twice as much. Coils have to be 3.0 ohms or higher and the input voltage cannot be more than 13.8 volts. My guess is the Petronix has a built in voltage regulator. that's why it sells for twice as much!

    This project is somewhat on the back burner for the meantime. This week I gave my van a complete detailing (that's a full days job!) and replaced a power steering hose and changed the coolant in my Subaru.

    Next priority is getting my 68 Ford Fairlane back on the road. I took the dash out of it 2.5 years ago to replace the groaty looking fusebox and install a radio and fix some other electrical issues which is much easier with the dashboard out.

    Why is it most of the problems I have to fix on my "old" cars seems to be electrical related?
  16. A Spooky Ghost

    A Spooky Ghost Loyal Comrade

    Me thinks all electronic ignitions have specific coil requirements. The only difference is the hot spark people let you know up front. I still like the hot spark systems, no regrets.

    I've been pushing the yellow 601 refresh to full speed ahead. Trying to make it to the import show in Carlisle PA in Mid May.

    Need to break in the rings, and get everything straightened out- before heading up that a-way.

    Haven't moved the car under power yet.

    Always like a good month to sort all of the bugs out- up and down the road. Simply no time for it...
  17. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Premium Member Forum Donor

    I've been trying to figure out if it's a voltage issue or something else that effects burns up these Hot Spark systems. It says the primary resistance needs to be 3 ohms or higher. It says this acts as a resistor and drops the overall voltage. That's the way I interpret it. I read somewhere that the Hot Spark will function as low as 9 volts.

    On the other hand, Petronix says to bypass the ballast resistor (if there is one). On later Fords, the ballast resistor has been replaced with an inline resistor of some sort. This is a pink or purple wire coming off the ignition switch. With it, it says if the voltage is not 12 volts to bypass this wire and use power from some other source. I can't remember if I tested this or not on my 68 Fairlane. All I know is I installed a Petronix on it 20 years ago and hooked the red wire to the + side of the coil and it has ran fine ever since.

    I tested the primary resistance on my 6 volt coils and the primary resistance is 1.2 ohms and the secondary is 7 K ohms. The input voltage from my converter is 11.9 volts. So based on that, the coils may be OK to use. But Advance sells ballast resistors for about $5.00 so it might be safe to add one just in case.

    Here is the coil I am using on my Citroen 2 CV, I thought about using on my Trabant:





    However according to the details, it's not "exactly" the same. I tested the primary resistance on the coil I installed on my Citroen and it's 2.8 ohms. Apparently these coils come with different primary ratings. The higher ohm coils are rated for points systems.

    The weird thing is when I tested the secondary resistance, it's showing an open circuit! I don't know why. The current draw is only .4 amps.
  18. A Spooky Ghost

    A Spooky Ghost Loyal Comrade

    The way it was explained to me is: These units need very little voltage to function. The extra volts make the units run hotter, and cause more problems. Ive used ballast resistors before in these systems.

    Thankfully trabis have decent charging systems(that are fairly stable).

    So in other words when the car is at high rpm, make sure the voltage to the unit is under the max allowed... How you make that happen is up to you! ;)

    The bosch/ beru coil hot spark lists, can be found on ebay for around $25.00.... They work well.
  19. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Premium Member Forum Donor

    I've got two options:

    One is to connect one of these to the ignition coil and supply the module:


    I bought some of these and some were good and some were duds so I don't know how reliable they would be. But they are cheap enough.

    Or use my 6 to 12 volt radio converter.

    In either case both supply the same amount of output voltage.

    Some guy disputed me on the Citroen 2CV forum but I swear that if the car has a weak battery (~12 volts) , the alternator (Bosch example) will produce 14.3 volts in an attempt to recharge the battery back up to 12.6 volts, but if the battery is full charged the alternator will put out only 13.2 volts. Agree or disagree?
  20. A Spooky Ghost

    A Spooky Ghost Loyal Comrade

    Usually most vehicles charge at around 12.5-14 ish volts. Normally on the higher side to 14v. My trabi(12v) runs just under 14v at idle. I would expect slightly lower with all of the lights & stuff on.

    You described the way a old style generator would charge. The external regulator would click in, and out at a set voltage. So it would freak out, and super charge a almost dead batt. Then barley do anything at idle. Some of the terrible ones would just barley put out batt voltage, until it hit the right rpm.....

    To make it simple: If you have anything from 12.5-14 ish with every power accessory on. It will be just fine.

    I can't say about 6 volt stuff( Have never yet had a car with it...) :rolleyes:

    Without a volt meter, a really simple way to test the system is to have the car running, then turn on the headlights. Now with the lights on, turn the car off.... If the lights get dimmer when off- it is charging enough to work right".

    Dosen't help with over charging though!

    For lower amp systems(like 6volt), I have a diy tester off ebay. goes to 30amp max. Came with no case, so it is pop riveted into a loyds bbq container. (Mine is exact to what is in the link(but WAY cheaper!).


    Now if your 2cv has a Paris Rhone Alt, it could charge anywhere from 0-15. After playing with many French cars, a recurring theme has popped up. " If paris rhone made it, just replace it!"

    There is a Renault R4 f6 in the shed, with a dead alt, guess who made it? ;)

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