Reliable High Power Race Ignition – Part III

This is the third part of our look at Crane’s ignition systems.  In the past two segments, we examined Crane’s race distributors and spent some time looking at the differences between analog and digital control boxes.  All of Crane’s ignition boxes are digital except for the NASCAR mandated analog system.  For our purposes, digital is definitely a better deal though. Here’s a closer look at two of the most widely used Crane ignition boxes (both digital).

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HI-6RC:  This particular ignition system works for eight cylinder applications, and it’s a budget friendly piece. It works by way of a multi-spark configuration and it comes equipped with an adjustable single stage rev limiter.  The limiter can be set anywhere from 1000-9,000 RPM (100-RPM increments).  Crane notes that each of the limiter settings is accurate to within 30 RPM. In addition, the rev limiter is a sequential design. That means the limit is “soft” — no banging or popping at high RPM when it reaches the limit.

Most of Crane’s ignition boxes are setup so that you can use Weatherpack connectors.  That’s good news, since the Weatherpacks provide good protection against vibration and moisture. Equally important is the fact you can make up Weatherpack connections pretty easily at home (hand tools for the job are readily available).
Most of Crane’s ignition boxes are setup so that you can use Weatherpack connectors. That’s good news, since the Weatherpacks provide good protection against vibration and moisture. Equally important is the fact you can make up Weatherpack connections pretty easily at home (hand tools for the job are readily available).

When you wire the ignition box to the start button or switch, you’ll get a timing retard.  This setup provides for 20-degrees of timing retard when you hit the starter. Once the engine fires, then the ignition automatically reverts to full advance.  Pretty cool.

The HI-6RC ignition box includes two rotary dials that are used to set the maximum RPM rev limit. As noted above, the system is a sequential arrangement that makes for a soft stop limit when the engine hits maximum RPM.
The HI-6RC ignition box includes two rotary dials that are used to set the maximum RPM rev limit. As noted above, the system is a sequential arrangement that makes for a soft stop limit when the engine hits maximum RPM.

That’s not the end of it either.  The HI-6RC is capable of operating when the battery is low (not that uncommon in a drag car application, particularly in a total loss system).  In terms of output there is no loss of power as long as the power source doesn’t drop below 8 volts.  And yes, it will operate on today’s 16-volt batteries too. There’s a red light on the end cap of the HI-6RC that tells you have a good power supply, and during cranking, it also flashes which indicates a good trigger signal.  Current draw is 7 amps at 10,000 RPM (which, by the way is pretty small considering the output). Finally, when it comes to spark output, the multiple spark, CD box produces 1200 millijoules of spark energy. The CD voltage output to the coil is 450 volts.

HI-6DSR: Lets say your car has a high compression ratio engine and/or you’re spraying it (Nitrous) or perhaps you have blown application (turbo or supercharger).  The box you’ll likely need is Crane’s HI-6DSR. Like the rest of Crane’s digital ignition boxes, this is example is wrapped inside a black anodized, finned aluminum case and the internals are potted with urethane.  It also works for four, six or eight cylinder applications.

The HI-6DSR incorporates two sets of dials (four switches) to allow for a maximum RPM rev limit along with a stage rev limit. This allows you to engage the transmission brake or roll control and automatically set the rev limit low side.  The HI-6DSR reverts to the high side until the circuit is engaged again (for example, you engage the roll control button).  You can add an optional control box that allows you to adjust ignition-timing retard inside the car too.
The HI-6DSR incorporates two sets of dials (four switches) to allow for a maximum RPM rev limit along with a stage rev limit. This allows you to engage the transmission brake or roll control and automatically set the rev limit low side. The HI-6DSR reverts to the high side until the circuit is engaged again (for example, you engage the roll control button). You can add an optional control box that allows you to adjust ignition-timing retard inside the car too.

Internally, it too is a digital multiple spark configurations and it can fire compression ratios up to 14.5:1.  Externally, it features a precise rotary switches for RPM control, but here, the switches are designed so that maximum RPM along with stage RPM can be pre-set.  Similar to the HI-6RC, the rev limiter uses a soft approach with no popping or banging when it reaches the set RPM. In addition, the box includes a built-in timing retard input.  The HI-6DSR includes a special “Easy Check System” diagnostic system engineered to detect potential issues.  A built in series of flashing codes lay out what the problem is. In addition, the system self-checks coil, ground, power supply, loose or broken wires and the ignition unit itself.

Finally, the Crane HI-6RC system can be triggered by a mag input.  The HI-6DSR  can be triggered by points, a magnetic pickup, triggered by a computer module or triggered by an optical distributor setup (shown in part one of the series).  Next issue, we’ll take a look at the coil you should run with these ignition boxes. We’ll examine Crane’s line of ignition wires.  Stay tuned.

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