World Electronics' PBC-1 Pro Boost Controller is electronic. It also uses a solenoid, not a stepper motor. There are a few reasons why you should care about the PBC-1. First, it can control boost pressure up to 50 psi. Electronic boost controllers of past have had trouble consistently regulating even half that pressure. Second, the PBC-1 has a scramble mode that allows users up to six different boost levels. And last, the box can record up to 20 seconds of boost data for playback. While we don't have the luxury of having any vehicles here to take advantage of World's 50-psi capability, we were able to test the controller under a more mild-mannered scenario and get used to its programming and data-logging functions.
We took the opportunity to outfit our recently revived Project Laser with the PBC-1. We just installed the Big 16G turbo from Road Race Engineering and we needed a way to crank up the boost pressure, even if only a little bit. Installing World's controller consists of little more than hooking up a few wires and plumbing the solenoid into the internal wastegate's actuator signal line and the transducer to any boost source. Setup is relatively easy too. To work effectively, the PBC-1 needs to learn the vehicle's wastegate spring pressure. Doing this is easy and consists of nothing more than following a few prompts and blasting down the freeway at wide open throttle in third gear. When you're finished the controller's solenoid ends up with a duty cycle that'll ultimately work best for the indicated target boost level chosen.
Our DSM is still relatively stock, including most everything from the intake tubing and filter to the downpipe and muffler. With this in mind, especially the high exhaust gas temperatures we could expect due to the small diameter exhaust system, we opted to keep the boost at a conservative 12 psi. Instead of turning the boost way up right away, we wanted to compare 12 psi among the different scenarios the PBC-1 allows for. Same boost, but the goal here was to see what we could do about spool-up and response time by playing with the controller's features. The PBC-1 has a number of features that let you control this stuff, including ramp, duty and gain settings. Ramp controls the rate of boost without increasing the target level. For instance, we were able to increase our ramp setting to allow the 16G to have a slightly stronger initial impact as boost began to climb. In turn, this helped spool-up the turbo about 500 rpm sooner by adjusting the ramp setting by a factor of 18. This isn't the type of change you need a dyno for but is one that can actually be felt. The solenoid's duty cycle can also be adjusted. We experienced issues building full boost when on the internal wastegate's actuator alone. Even when we plumbed and wired up the PBC-1, we still weren't able to realize the full 12 psi initially. Adjusting the controller's duty cycle fixes this. The PBC-1 allows users to increase the effectiveness of the solenoid through altering its duty cycle - or how hard it works - which is exactly what we did to keep our 16G at a steady 12 psi. This is a common adjustment that can be made whenever the specified target boost level just isn't being reached. Gain can also be fine-tuned with the PBC-1. Gain is really just what happens to the boost curve after target boost pressure is " reached. By adjusting gain inside the PBC-1's unit, it's easy to alter the remaining boost curve before shifting. Play with these three settings before allowing the PBC-1 to learn your wastegate's spring pressure at your own peril. Set the target boost level first and leave everything else at zero. Adjust as necessary -in some cases you might not even need to.