About the QuarterHorse

The QuarterHorse delivers in unparalleled fashion. It plugs into the J3 port like a chip, but can do much more. The QH hardware is compatible with all EEC-IV and EEC-V ECMs through 2004 equipped with a J3 port, allowing realtime tuning AND datalogging while the vehicle is operating.  In order to realize the capabilities of the QH hardware, each ECM must have specific software support – there is no such thing as “universal software” for the QH. Using the QH and appropriate software, you can change ANY parameter while the vehicle is running without disturbing operation. On fully-supported applications, you can log any parameter at sample rates well over 100 frames per second using only the QH hardware without any additional datalogger required.  (On a practical level, the speed of most software/PCs limits this to about 20 frames/second of data.) The combination of on-the-fly tuning and rapid, accurate data logging makes it possible to tune engine combinations that would have been impossible to do prior to its introduction.  This device continues the tradition and heritage of our highly-integrated, low-cost, high-quality tuning tools from GM and Honda into the Ford arena.

Software support is critical for the QH.  In order to realize its full potential, extensive software features need to be implemented.  The locations and format of parameters available to change need to be mapped out.  The locations and formulas used by the ECM for storing data need to be identified.  To make things even more complicated, some parameters are stored in memory that the QH cannot access in many factory ROMs – additional “patch code” needs to be written for each strategy to allow all parameters to be logged.  This patch code is integrated into the datalogging definitions in most software and is part of the reason why each strategy requires individual attention.  As of 7/31/14, it is supported by Paul Booth’s EEC Editor, Clint Garrity’s Binary Editor, and Mark Mansur’s TunerPro version 5 which each support different vehicles.   There is a basic list of which ECMs are supported that you can check, but it isn’t always up to date. Your best bet is to look at this page and contact us with information about your ECM.  Bottom line: Please check with us before buying any hardware to make sure your vehicle is supported!

The QuarterHorse does have limited support (4x) for remote switching via rotary knob for EEC-IV applications (available separately, search this site for ‘QH Switch’) as well as software-based program selection from PC (8x 1-bank, 4x 2-bank, 2x 4-bank).  Firmware revision 1.6 adds the ability to ‘harvest’ stock binaries from a computer that is externally powered.  (i.e. you cannot do reads on the bench without a 12V power supply)  Although QH provides unmatched features, it has limits.  It is “just” an emulator and datalogger.  You are still working with factory ECMs.  Any limitations of the factory ECM that would be present with a chip will be present with the QH.  An example of this is that an A9L Fox body MAF computer cannot convert over to use a MAP sensor or run Coil-On-Plug simply by adding a QH.  It’s cool, but not magic.

While the QH has a battery to retain your tune after the engine is turned off and your laptop is disconnected, we do NOT recommend that the QuarterHorse be left on vehicles permanently except in the case where tuning changes continue to be made on regular and ongoing basis. The QH has a battery with a finite life and it will eventually die. Its death will happen much faster if the QH sits idle than if it is being regularly used: the QH was always intended to be used as a tool for active interaction with the vehicle, not as a chip for delivering a static, unchanging tune. (Read more) If you do not have a laptop with the software necessary to make changes, you probably shouldn’t be using a QH: one of our chip products would be a much better choice for someone who isn’t tuning their car themselves.

The standard QH package comes with all the hardware and cables needed: the QH device itself, a USB 2.0 mini-to-regular USB bulkhead cable, cable mounting bracket and bolt, standard USB 2.0 cable, and 2x snap-on ferrite beads.  Software is sold separately (check our ‘Tuning Software’ section).

It is critical that the vehicle is fully off before installing or removing the QH on the J3 port.  Failure to power-off the ECM correctly can result in frying our hardware, your ECM or both!!!  If you have any doubts at all, remove the keys from the ignition 100% or disconnect the battery.  WARNING WARNING WARNING!

Articles on Using the QH

Here is a great how-to article done by Timothy Meyer, one of the early Quarterhorse users: www.moates.net/quarterhorse/qh_intro_meyer.doc


Firmware Updates

Most firmware updates (unfortunately) require you to send the device back in for us to upgrade the firmware.  There is no charge for the update, but we do ask that you pay for shipping.  (We’ll cover basic ground return shipping.)  If you would like to do this, use the RMA – Repair and Replace option on the main page and in the “Comments” field of your order please state that you would like a firmware upgrade.  Follow the directions and send it back and we will take care of it.  Firmware updates are not a requirement. If you are not having issues or upgrading software, you probably do not need to send your QH back.
The easiest way to tell what firmware your QH has is to fire up the software you use with it.  At startup, EEC Editor will say something like “Found QuarterHorse 1.2Q” or in Binary Editor the Moates Hardware page will show the firmware revision of the QH.
More about firmware upgrades:
  • The new version of Binary Editor 2010 requires QH firmware 1.6 or higher.Most firmware upgrades are bugfixes of one variety or another.  If you aren’t having trouble, chances are the bugs do not affect you.
  • Most bugs affected the QH when operating in modes 3 and 4 (EECV)
  • The latest firmware revision as of 2/11/10 (version 1.6) allows you to read the stock program from an ECM using the QuarterHorse.

Program Switching with QuarterHorse

Here are pictures which detail how the rotary switch is installed on the QuarterHorse. The kit comes with a length of no-clean solder, and it is very easy. Follow the pictures for guidance, and remember, this is ONLY for EEC-IV and not post-1995 EEC-V.
First, look at the connector part you received. It may or may not have had one of the 4 pins removed. If not, pull it out so that it is as shown.
Go ahead and use the no-clean solder that was supplied. Get one spot on the QH connector tinned up like it shows in the picture.
Now, hold the modified 4 (now 3) pin connector in place as shown, re-heating the solder so that the two pieces can be bonded together in the correct position.

Now, come in with the solder on the other 2 joints. Use a little extra for strength, but don’t go overboard. Re-heat and add solder to the first joint you started with here to ensure good connection.

Soldering work is now complete, so check fitment of the cable and look for straightness and orientation. Use the photo below for reference.

Here’s another angle showing solder joint details.

These are most of the parts (pin header shown unmodified) that come with the switch kit. Knob is also included (shown in 2nd picture below).

Here is what the completed switch / QH / knob assembly should look like:

This is a pretty simple installation. It basically overrides the BS0/BS3 lines (if you’re familiar with this terminology) at the EEC connector. Therefore, to repeat, this is NOT to be used on EEC-V applications.

NOTE: The QuarterHorse must be configured to use MODE 1 or the switch will NOT WORK.  As of the time of writing (Apr 2011) Binary Editor is the only software that supports Mode switching which means it is also the ONLY software that will currently work with the switcher module.

Switching Low Level Details

While in Mode1, there are 4 tunes available.  The following table explains the state of each pin while each tune in BE is active.  It matches the pin orientation of the header that is pictured above.


If you don’t want to use our switching kit but you do want to do switching, you need to understand how this state table works. The first thing to keep in mind is that all pins default to “1” or 5V unless you intervene – this is called “pulled up.” When you are figuring out what state the QH is going to be in, you must always assume any pins you haven’t specifically changed the state of will be “1.” A simple way of doing switching without our kit would be to solder a wire to the GND pin (by itself, above) and to the one next to it (BS0). If you were to put a toggle switch on this, you would be changing between Tune 0 (switch open) and Tune 3 (BS0 = GND)