Racer Tech

Drag Racer - - Contents - BY TODD VENEY

MSD’S AWARD-WIN­NING SOLID-STATE RE­LAY BLOCKS SIM­PLIFY ANY WIRING JOB, ELIM­I­NAT­ING TAN­GLED MESSES AND CLEAN­ING UP THE EN­GINE COMPARTMENT AND FIRE­WALL OF ANY HIGH-PER­FOR­MANCE VE­HI­CLE. “It’s the so­lu­tion for so many wiring prob­lems be­cause it’s com­pact, it’s safe, and it’s so con­ve­nient,” said MSD Prod­uct Man­ager Phil Cha­con. “It re­ally cleans up ev­ery­thing un­der the hood.”

The in­no­va­tive new solid-state re­lay blocks ac­tu­ally do the job of four sep­a­rate re­lays. Four in­de­pen­dent chan­nels can be ac­ti­vated us­ing ei­ther power or ground, and each is ca­pa­ble of han­dling up to 20 amps of con­tin­u­ous cur­rent for 80 amps of to­tal power con­trol. It's per­fect for elec­tric fans, wa­ter pumps, ni­trous so­le­noids, aux­il­iary light­ing and any elec­tri­cal ac­ces­sory that re­quires a re­lay. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are vir­tu­ally lim­it­less, and it doesn't re­quire an elec­tri­cal mas­ter­mind to in­stall and set up. The av­er­age car guy can be up and run­ning in no time.

“Race cars, hot rods, mus­cle cars, ev­ery­day street cars—this re­lay mod­ule can be used on just about any­thing,” Cha­con said. More and more drag racers are us­ing it to con­trol ni­trous so­le­noids and not just for sin­gle-stage sys­tems. “For dual-stage ni­trous cars where each stage of ni­trous pulls, let's say, 50 amps, you could com­bine two chan­nels, and it can eas­ily han­dle that for short bursts,” he said. “The unit can han­dle PWN [Pulse-Width Mo­du­la­tion] in­puts as well if you're run­ning a pro­gres­sive ni­trous con­troller. And if you're ac­ti­vat­ing a com­po­nent that draws 20 amps, but the in­rush cur­rent is higher when it's first turned on, it can han­dle that too.”

On the drag strip, tire-shake does more than blur a driver's vi­sion and shake the car apart. It can also cre­ate elec­tronic headaches be­cause elec­tri­cal me­chan­i­cal re­lays rely on an in­ter­nal switch. “Re­lay chat­ter—when some­thing es­sen­tially keeps turn­ing on and back off and then back on—can be a real prob­lem,” Cha­con said. “This thing com­pletely gets rid of that be­cause it has no mov­ing in­ter­nal parts. It's on all the time.”

Be­fore their re­cent re­lease, MSD solid-state re­lay blocks un­der­went de­vel­op­ment and test­ing for a full year to work out all of the bugs. Only there weren't any bugs. “One of our en­gi­neers put it on his ev­ery­day driver and drove for a year and never had a sin­gle prob­lem with it. Now, we're hav­ing a hard time keep­ing them on the shelf.” The red ver­sion came out first, but the black ver­sion that fol­lowed a cou­ple of months later has al­most caught up to it in sales and pop­u­lar­ity.

MSD solid-state re­lay blocks can be ac­ti­vated by ei­ther power or ground sup­plies and fea­ture builtin au­to­matic over-temp, short-cir­cuit and over­load pro­tec­tion. Two di­ag­nos­tic LEDs on each chan­nel im­me­di­ately let you know if there's a prob­lem and ex­actly where it is. In­stead of spend­ing hours track­ing down an is­sue, now you can just check the LEDs: If they're green, the chan­nel is pow­ered up and run­ning cor­rectly; if there's a fault and the chan­nel shuts it­self down, the LEDs turn red. “You're not deal­ing with mul­ti­ple wires like on a re­lay,” Cha­con said. “What you have is an in­put and an out­put, so if you have a prob­lem with some­thing, you just need to fol­low what­ever that chan­nel goes to. You're also get­ting cir­cuit pro­tec­tion—a cir­cuit breaker, re­ally—and if there's ever a prob­lem with any of the chan­nels, you just re­set it once the prob­lem is fixed.”

The ben­e­fits of this in­no­va­tive com­po­nent haven't es­caped the no­tice of to­day's in­dus­try lead­ers. At the SEMA Show last year, MSD's solid-state re­lay blocks won the Best New Pow­er­sports Prod­uct award. “For what you're get­ting and the price you're get­ting it for,” Cha­con said, “you re­ally can't beat it.”

Avail­able in red and now in black,

MSD’s award-win­ning solid-state re­lay blocks take the place of four stan­dard re­lays with four in­de­pen­dent chan­nels, each ca­pa­ble of han­dling up to 20 amps of con­tin­u­ous cur­rent.

The com­pact, ef­fi­cient mod­ule is per­fect for con­trol­ling any elec­tri­cal ac­ces­sory that nor­mally re­quires a re­lay: fans, wa­ter pumps, aux­il­iary light­ing and es­pe­cially ni­trous so­le­noids.

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