Innovate LM-2 Air-Fuel Ratio Meter ComparisonRacers, Revheads and Hoons take note, if you want that extra bit of horsepower, then one of these is for you. Don’t be fooled by the size of these little tackers.

They do a lot. So much so, that one has a 51 page user manual and a separate 151 pages of instructions on how to get the most out of your engine via tuning by programming and deep analysis.

I have tested both from a home mechanics perspective and called it as I’ve seen it. Good points, bad points and also judged the back up service by supplier.

How hard are they to hook up to different cars with and without OBD plugs, including my Ferrari and Supercharged 700hp AC Cobra?

Innovate LM2 Digital Air/Fuel Ratio meter
Well “the box” arrived today and upon opening it, I was a little surprised at ALL the things you get, check it out. The Innovate LM2 Digital Air/Fuel Ratio meter was sent to me to do an all out, no punches pulled comparison review courtesy of Rhys from

First item to me was pull it all out and then print off the Operation manual (51 pges) usually being a stubborn male I connect it all up then when problems develop read the instructions , but on this occasion I did it by numbers, as this machine does a lot.

Well first problem I had, was certainly my fault, you need to press the sensor connector in until it clicks,  I didn’t so even though the sensor heated up it would not calibrate, Once I ensured firm connection the unit said o2 was 20.9 % (spot on)  so I guess we are ready to go I installed the SD card then thought I better set the date time etc as it was running in USA time and the date was 2008.

Grinning with anticipation , took it out to plug it all into the Ferrari, undo the bung and first problem comes to fruition, the oxygen sensor won’t fit, are there adaptors? Next the instruction manual makes frequent use of press the “menu” button this in actual fact means press the button with “MODE” on it, as if things weren’t confusing enough. Anyway can’t make it fit so give up on this car and back to the manual.

The instruction manual is 51 pages and the Logworks 3 manual 145 pages. Start looking at cables: not happy with lack of reinforcing rubber near the connector on the genuine accessory RPM clamp cable and also a lack of  insulation at the connector end on the Sensor cable. Concern attacked me, so much so, that I considered that the cable may break the wires inside so I put transparent hot glue on the RPM cable and wound insulation tape on the sensor cable.

Connected the exhaust clamp on to a tail pipe and took the E Type for a drive, It immediately it became evident that the drivers side cyls were running very rich at idle but at 80 kms per hour gave 14.36-14.48 AFR. (Acceptable).

Recording the data was a mere button press I turned the car around, put the clamp in the other exhaust pipe  and retraced the course, getting a reading of between 12.82 -13.32 AFR for the passenger side Noticeable still were the huge fluctuations in RPM when clearly they should not be, rising edge was put to falling edge which did improve fluctuation  but not substantially so.

The clamp was put on No 1 spark lead and I looked for a better or alternative connection maybe to coil high tension which will give more active firings rather than extrapolation within the unit.

Odd thing is that my Vane Tutronic running in the back ground has absolutely minimum fluctuation in the RPM and it is set to sensitive, however I don’t know if the sampling rate on the Vane is as fast as the Innovate.

The charting within logworks 3 is very finite with huge amounts of detail if wanted, but the manual does not adequately explain, so it’s not for the faint hearted, although I did get it sorted in the end.

RPM revisited
Well I made up the analogue cable like they suggested in the manual and put the leads to negative on the coil and to ground but the rpm fluctuations are still there, Frustrated I changed back to the clamp and no matter what I do, the fluctuations are still there, time to give up I reckon and use the AFR to bolster my flagging depression and frustration. I did not try to get rpm via an OBD cable as the On  Board Diagnostic plugs vary from car to car with no apparent availability of adapters, so if you want to check various cars, forget this method of connection.

AFR and Lambda
Well that works well although it is very hard to achieve either 1.00 Lambda or 14.7 AFR at idle and at cruising speed. Not the fault of the unit though as I know I have an inherent problem in the Jaguar in this area After 7 hours of idling and testing each bank of three cylinders, I am ready to state that if you buy one of these go for the dual channel as it would be worth the extra, as you could then get instantaneous readings on both exhausts if they are separate for a better and faster comparison.

There’s little doubt that the AFR & Lambda readings certainly let you know exactly what the mixture is and whilst set on the highest sampling rate per sec, a small turn on the mixture screw shows up and that’s with  3 SU carbs for 6 cylinders!. It has shown that with a Lambda reading of .85 -.9 on each of the exhaust pipes at cruising and 1.24 at idle that I have an induction leak somewhere.

RPM revisited (Yet again)
I made up the 100K potentiometer for the analogue cable and set as instructed in the manual which resulted in the tacho having less fluctuations but still not reading correctly. Jag idled on it’s tacho @ 700 whilst the Innovate was floating from 560-920 then revved Jag tacho at 1500 rpm and Innovate showing 1240-1760 rpm.
Connect to different car, a Charger using inductive clamp, in car electronic tacho works perfect, shows 1500 rpm  Innovate 4370 rpm. (hopeless).

700 hp Supercharged gas AC Cobra
A run in the Cobra, had the air /fuel ratio of the Innovate and the car coming up trumps, it gave a reading of .81 – .84 Passenger side and .88-.90 Lambda on drivers side and as the car runs on LPG using Lambda instead of AFR it showed that the car is running   a little too rich on the Passenger bank. (Advantage in using Lambda as against using AFR because of differing ideal ratios in differing fuel types).

Once again the RPM was useless and nothing seems to make it read correctly yet my electronic VDO Tacho in this car is perfect. I tried all calibrate numbers and nothing worked, I am now convinced that even marginally accurate RPM display with the Innovate is a non event, and give up.

Zeitronix Zt-2 Air/Fuel Ratio meter
Well the Zt-2 arrived today and we connected it all up, and started to put it through a similar routine to that of the Innovate. A look at some of the wiring harness made me think that the 02 cable came from the same source as the Innovate as it also required wire support strengthening. The instructions only comprise of 5 A4 pages, and it does seem a little bit light on, as this little unit also has a lot of other possible functions be sides measuring AFR.

Zeitronix Zt-2When it’s connected up to power the blue LEDs make the dial a work of art, with a digital selection running in the centre. The LEDs aren’t just for show and they display vital information about the engine fuel mixtures. The unit was found to be very user friendly, yet did pretty much all you would require for engine analysis. The AFR readings do not fluctuate and remain very steady, but were found to be not quite as sensitive as the Innovate, as when tested side by side breathing on the O2 sensor the Innovate altered its reading from AFR 20.9 to 20.6 whereas the Zt-2 did not, but do we need it that sensitive, you ask?

Loading the system on to the laptop was flawless as was logging in and moving around changing gauges etc, which is probably just as well as there are minimal instructions available within the disc and paperwork.

The Zt-2 needs to be connected to a PC in order to store any readings and I found this to be mildly annoying after being able to capture everything on the Innovate then take out a SD card and plug it into the PC or recall the entire run via the Innovate unit.

I found the menu system to be better on the Innovate but that may have been because of the vast amount of instructional data that came on the CD disc that allowed me to explore more.

A pleasant surprise was the quality of backup service from Zeitronix they simply couldn’t help me enough, it’s good to feel as though you’re not left on your own when you need some help with a new product.

Once again this car defied them all with the Zt-2 NOT being able to obtain a nice clean relevant RPM log  it was close but HEY I don’t expect to have to do trial and error tests and changes, making up leads etc, the “in car” tacho works fine ,why can’t someone make something that works easily with no fuss. I did not try to put the ZT-2 on all the cars as it seemed as though it was only marginally better with RPM than the Innovate LM2, and because I had to hook up the PC each time I could see my stress levels spiraling.

Both of these units have strengths and weaknesses and I shall comment based on the pre statement of use:

• As an” in-dash, “in car” AFR meter with nice dial appeal and functionality – Zeitronix ZT-2
• As a “out of car”, very accurate easily transferred diagnostic AFR tool for in depth analysis – Innovate LM2

The Zeitronix was selected for in dash application as the constant driving with it on would over time allow the driver to determine engines tuning as most cars have an onboard tacho, which would end up giving the finite accuracy needed for perfect tuning, being cemented  by constant visual display v/s performance whilst driving.

The Innovate was selected as a diagnostic unit as the menu is so easily accessed and the unit is extremely sensitive to small mixture screw adjustments, with instant 02 recalibration available.  Because it caries its own recording card, recording is easily done without the need for a PC and that in itself helps transferability.

But for the purpose I’ve described the Innovate loses some of it’s value because the RPM function is not easy transferable from car to car,  and RPM status is needed to guage the relevence of the AFR.

I urge Innovate to develop this area, even using a peripheral plug in device which picks up for example, a magnetic tape put on the harmonic balancer pulley would suffice.

There must be some other methodology available rather than trying to accommodate the multitude of ignition systems that need to be addressed to make the current pick ups work.

Cost must have a bearing also so I have put the purchase prices shown on the relevant sites. Purchase price in the order of:

Innovate LM2     $479 US
Zeitronix Zt-2     $279 US Update Nov. 20th, 2009  This year at the 2009 SEMA Auto Show, Zeitronix was very honored to receive two awards for the Zeitronix Ethanol Content Analyzer.

I’ve called it as I saw it, now it’s your decision!