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Stepper Idle Valve Control Project

     UPDATED: January 3, 2022                       CONTACT       
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This page details the work I did on my idle air control functions for my 242 Turbo.  I'm detailing and sharing it here for the benefit of others who might be interested in trying something similar.

My car uses a programmable fuel injection system from SDS (Simple Digital Systems).  I began using SDS more than 20 years ago.  Megasquirt is now a popular engine management system, but it didn't exist when I started using SDS, so I have stayed with SDS. And it has been bulletproof and nearly flawless for over 20 years. 

SDS was originally designed for racing and it does not have nor can it control a modern computerized idle control function to control a precise stepper type idle valve, like Megasquirt or Microsquirt can.  What SDS offers is the ability to trigger a simple electric air valve to enhance the idle for cold warm up or AC idle increase.  A simple ON/OFF idle valve can work OK, but is crude and sometimes doesn't work as well as you like when temperature changes occur. 
So this project was successful in adding some refinement to my idle functions. A welcomed addition.

For those of you using a GM stepper IAC (with a factory EMS, aftermarket EMS, Megasquirt, etc.), this extra control may be a welcomed addition for you too.  Watch Jon Lamb's video.  The ability to switch between normal and custom idle settings from the dash sounds like is could a pretty cool thing to me.

Your feedback or comments are welcome: CONTACT

My Previous Idle Air Control Method in my 242

 This is an Ehcotech 12 volt electric air valve. I used two of these (for two-step idle increase) for over 10 years with great results. Both valves used manual fast idle switches on my dash for cold starts. The other was controlled by the AC compressor 'ON' circuit for AC idle increase. Both were controlled by micro-switches I added to the throttle spool to override and shut the valves when throttle is increased above idle.  So the these were set up, the idle valves are only active at idle.
These valves are found on eBay for under $10 each.
Ehcotech Valve Specs:
12 volt DC.
Normally closed. Applying power opens valve.
1/2 inch (0.500") hose barb inlet/outlet.
3/8 inch (0.375") inner orifice I.D.
Stainless steel internal parts.
Maximum operating temperature 175 F.
Made for pressurized water or air.

Crude but simpIe adjustment method to tune airflow through a hose. I'm using 1/2 inch I.D. silicone hose for the air lines from the intake tube (pre-throttle body) to the above valve and then to the intake manifold. 
  Tuning the airflow in the hoses can be done simply with a hose line pinch clamp like this one.  It squeezes the hose in very small, precise adjustments.

Stepper Motor Idle Air Valve Control

In 2018 I discovered the below Youtube video made by Jon Lamb (comeinhandynow) in the U.K.. It details his method of making a stepper motor idle speed circuit that can be adjusted from the dash.  Jon created the manual adjustment method for a 4-wire idle air control valve, such as one found in a GM car like he had. It sounded like a fun project, so I began planning.

So the above system allows a user to manually adjust the idle speed on the fly. This becomes useful if whatever system you're using for idle control isn't perfect.  Maybe you want a higher idle during warm-ups or when the AC is on (combined with warm-ups). Being able to do an easy quick adjustment in my 242 Turbo was going to be a nice benefit.

Volvos normally use Bosch idle air valves that have either 2 or 3 wires.  Bosch valves are PWM (pulse width modulation) controlled. These are NOT compatible with this method. 
A 4-wire GM stepper motor valve, such as shown in this page, is different from a PWM valve. These stepper motors have two internal coils with two wires going to each coil to control the small stepper motor movements. 

I don't know precisely how a PWM Bosch idle valve works or if are similar methods to make one adjustable like this. If you know, maybe you can enlighten me.

This page will specifically go over my project of
Creating a Stand Alone
MANUALLY ADJUSTABLE idle speed circuit

using a GM type IAC valve. It will be done in a similar fashion as Jon Lamb's method in the above video.
(except my method is WITHOUT the toggle switch and relay shown in the video).

This is a GM stepper idle motor from approximately 2003 and later GM cars or trucks.
This motor uses the 4-wire connector plug shown here.

<<< This is an EARLIER style GM idle motor that came in cars up until approximately 2003. It would also work, but you would need to mount it differently since it's made with threads to screw into a manifold, instead of the above motor, which simply bolts on.  And this earlier type uses a different style 4-pole plug, so I won't be addressing how to use this one.
As you will see, I have eliminated a few components from the design shown in Jon Lamb's video. My intent was to create a strictly stand-alone setup that could manually adjust the idle up or down from the dash.  I'm not re-inventing anything.  I'm just using and modifying the ideas offered by Jon Lamb in his video. 

Circuits like this are a fairly new thing for me. So please don't mistake me for some kind of electronics wizard.  I'm not, but I'm learning.

You may have noticed this GM idle motor is not really a complete valve. It's just a stepper motor with a plunger.
I searched and could not find an all-in-one 4-wire idle valve with integrated IN and OUT hose barbs. Maybe one exists out there, but I found nothing that I thought would work for me.  So I started searching for an adapter housing that I could make, buy or modify to make that stepper motor into a full stand-alone idle air valve.

There are a few housings like this out there and most are very expensive. I chose this adapter from Accufab Racing.  It was more money than I wanted to pay, but it works. It's designed to allow the use of the same GM idle motor I chose. This adapter was originally designed for adapting a GM stepper idle motor for use on a Ford engine.

Here's a view inside. 
This hole starts at about .875 inch diameter. That first step is about .250 inch deep and it reduces to about .750 inch diameter.  The .750 inch hole depth is about 1.1 inch and the final size beyond that is 7/16 inch (.4375 inch). 

If you're handy and have the machine tools or drills, making one of these would not be very difficult either out of aluminum or maybe even a sturdy, high-temp plastic block.

Coincidentally, those IN and OUT holes on the bottom were 7/16 inch diameter, which is the correct size for a 1/4 inch NPT thread tap.

After taping the threads,  I inserted 1/4 inch NPT nylon hose barbs (for using 1/2 inch I.D. hose).  These hose barbs have an I.D of .375 inch.
Now I have a stand-alone idle valve (except for the circuits to run it). 

I was concerned that the .375 inch I.D. of those hose barbs might be too small for the airflow needed.  If this became the case, then I could optionally drill the holes in the block to 37/64 inch for larger 3/8 NPT thread. That turned out not to be needed.

Assembling Circuit Parts

Jon Lamb's video has a hand drawn diagram showing all of the components he used to complete his project.  He will also email you a PDF document showing more detail if you like. Check his video description for that.

My version uses a few less parts, since I don't already have an existing GM ECU or an EMS that uses this type of motor for primary idle control. So I don't need the relay or the toggle switch Jon used to switch from Auto to Manual Idle Control.

I initially had a little trouble interpreting and following Jon's hand-drawn diagram, so as I figured out how these all these components went together, I decided to create a new, cleaner, easy to read diagram below showing each component that went into my project. This diagram below is a little different from Jon's diagram. It doesn't include the relay Jon used to switch between his factory EMS and manual idle control, since I'm not using that relay.  Creating this diagram helped me to better visualize the task, since so many of these components were new to me.  It should help you understand better too.

If you need any help with this diagram or with the one in Jon's video you may contact me.

A printable PDF version of this diagram is available: CLICK HERE (1.2 mb)
An inventory of PARTS is at the bottom of the page.

 Before actually building the circuits, I hooked up the raw circuits on a solderless breadboard (BELOW) to make sure I had it right. 
It worked as promised.
  If you check out the below video, you'll get to see my test in action.

If this is new stuff to you, more basic information on working with BREADBOARDS like this can be found here:

GM IAC Stepper Test
Here's a short video demonstration of the Idle Speed Control Circuit I assembled.

If your work or hobby involves testing stuff like this, a 12 Volt DC Power Supply can be a big help. These can be be found fairly inexpensively as used items on eBay or other places.  This one is an old-school analog type. Most that available now will have digital displays.

Here's the mini rocker switch I ultimately used in my car for the idle increase/decrease adjustment.  It's mounted in a dash switch blank panel for my 240.

The mini rocker switch has .187 inch tabs on the back. I had some un-insulated female .187 inch terminals, so I covered them with heat shrink tubing. 
Here's a view below from the left side. 
Pinouts on this side from top to bottom are: 12V OUTPUT (top), 12V INPUT (middle), and 12V OUTPUT (bottom).

Right side view.  Pinouts from top to bottom are: Output to DIR (Direction) on DRV8825 Driver Board (top). GROUND (middle).  Bottom tab is unused.

I decided not to solder everything together like Jon did in his video. This is a personal preference thing.  You might like soldering stuff.  I don't particularly care for it.  Solder joints are prone to cracking when used in a vibration environment, like a car. When that happens, you'll have a hard time finding the problem. 

I bought a JST mini pin connector kit (see parts list below).  It worked out nicely.  This connector will connect the project box (which I put in the dash) with four wires going through the firewall to the engine bay for the idle valve.

Here's the project box I stuffed everything into. When testing again at a final stage, things suddenly stopped working.  I discovered that the 5V regulator was no longer working.  Maybe I shorted it when moving stuff around. I replaced the regulator and it all worked perfectly again.  Good thing I bought two of them.
Next step was installing all this in the car.

I mounted the new idle valve under the intake manifold here.

More close up view.

Here's the adjustment rocker switch.
It's set up to adjust the fast idle #1 circuit. Idle #2 is an extra circuit that can be used during warm-ups.

After trying the new idle setup using the two small Ehcotech valves shown at the top of this page, I found that the small Ehchotech air valve (with a 3/8 inch I.D.) was not allowing quite enough airflow during high airflow demand (cold idle with the AC on).  I decided that the valve not big enough, so I bought this valve pictured below. It's a larger valve, also with a plastic body, with an inner diameter of 3/4 inch.  It solved the problem and now the engine gets plenty of airflow in any cold idle condition.  I found this valve on eBay for about $25.
Valve Specs:
12 volt DC.
Normally closed. Applying power opens valve.
3/4 NPT female thread inlet/outlet.
3/4 inch (0.750") inner orifice I.D.
Stainless steel internal parts.
Maximum operating temperature 175 F.
Made for pressurized water or air.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email.

All can be found on eBay or Amazon
IAC motor for GM (2007 Chevy Silverado and many others).  4-pole connection.  Cost will be $10 to $90, so shop around.
Connector plug with pigtail for above. Cost is about $10.00.

DRV8825 Stepper Motor Driver Board or Module. Size is typically less than an inch long. Typical input may be 5-45 volts. Cost is about $2.00 to $4.00.

NE555 Pulse Module Square Wave Signal Generator Board with LED Indicator. The LED is needed for this project. There are a lot of these boards without an LED. Get one with it.  Size is typically about an inch or so wide. Typical input will be 5-15 volts.  There are three required connections: VCC, GROUND and OUT.  Cost is around $5.00 to $15.00.
  LM2940 5.0 volt regulator to reduce voltage to the Generator Board. Cost is around $2.00.

DPDT (Double Pole, Double Throw) mini rocker switch, 6-poles on the back. Momentary (ON), OFF, (ON)  function. Front size is about 1/2 x 1 inch.  Cost is about $5.00.

10k Ohm Carbon Film Resistor. 0.25 Watt. TWO NEEDED.  Cost is small.

100 Ohm Carbon Film Resistor.  0.25 Watt.  Cost is small.

100nf (0.1uf) Ceramic Disc Capacitor. THREE NEEDED. Cost is small.

100uf 25 Volt Radial Electrolytic Capacitor. Cost is small.

3 amp fuse and fuse holder for 12V input to the rocker switch. 

Hammond 1591BSBK ABS Project Box Black.  4.4 x 2.4 x 1.1 inches (112mm x 62mm x 27mm).  $5.00.

QLOUNI 2.54mm Pitch JST Pin Housing Connector Kit.  About $9.00.
Not required. You can solder things also. 

IWISS Micro Open Barrel Crimping Tool for JST Terminals.  $17.00.
Not required. You can solder things also. 

Ehcotech 12 volt electric valve, normally closed, 1/2 inch hose barbs, 3/8 inch inner diameter. Under $10.00.

Ehcotech 12 volt electric valve, normally closed, 3/4 inch NPT female, 3/4 inch inner diameter. About $25.00.

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