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Getting Started

1. BEFORE YOU GET STARTED

Q What is RomRaider?

RomRaider is open source software (licensed under the GPL), developed by enthusiasts, which allows for tuning and data logging of Subaru ECUs without having to invest in expensive hardware and software. Best of all, RomRaider is free.

Q How does RomRaider allow me to tune?

You must first retrieve a copy of your ECU’s image from your vehicle by using an additional program called EcuFlash (discussed below). A special cable, manufactured by Tactrix, is used to connect your laptop to the OBD-II port in your car (which is located below your steering wheel). Once a copy of your image (also known as a ROM) is downloaded from the vehicle’s ECU to your computer, you can then use RomRaider to make tuning changes to this ROM. Once you’ve finished with your changes, you can then save a copy and transfer this edited image back to your vehicle’s ECU in a process known as flashing. As long as you keep a back-up copy of your original image, you can revert back to it at any time. In addition to tuning, RomRaider also allows you to data log your Subaru to monitor the results and safety of your tune.

Q Does RomRaider only work with Subarus?

Currently, RomRaider primary support is Subaru but it’s possible to support others.

Q Which Subaru models are supported by RomRaider?

A list of current supported Subaru ROM revisions can be found here: SUPPORTED ECUS. RomRaider supports hundreds of different Subaru ROM revisions from all over the world.

Q When will I be able to tune my Audi/Mazda/Mitsubishi/Other car with RomRaider?

There is currently no support for any other ECU except for specific Subaru ECUs (see previous question). To add RomRaider support for your ECU, the following would need to be done:

  • A method to read/write your ECU image from your car needs to be available or developed.
  • Once an ECU image is available in unencrypted form, the image needs to be reverse engineered and a RomRaider map definition created.

Try checking your specific car’s community forums first to see if anyone has made any progress on the above requirements.

Q What is everything I’ll need to start tuning my car?

You will need:

Note: Some of the links below require you to be a registered member of the site’s forums in order to view the download
  • The RomRaider software - always use the latest version available HERE.
  • The latest RomRaider ECU definitions file (this file describes the location and format of data for different ROM revisions) - available HERE. The RomRaider software does not ship with ECU definitions and these are required for the software to be functional.
  • The latest RomRaider Logger definitions file (similar to the ECU definitions except that these work with RomRaider’s logger to define ROM specific logging parameters) - available HERE. The RomRaider software does not ship with logger definitions and these are required for the logger to be functional.
  • RomRaider is written in Java, so you need to make sure your computer supports Java and that it is updated with the latest 32bit (x86) version software, even if your system is 64bit (x64).
  • EcuFlash software (to read and flash ROMs) - download the latest version, found HERE as well as the latest EcuFlash ECU definitions found HERE.
  • A Tactrix OpenPort cable for Subarus (connects between your laptop and OBD-II port) - purchase HERE.
  • A jumper block may be required for your Subaru to enable flashing. There are two versions, one for the 01/02 WRX and another for the 03–05 WRX. These can be purchased from Tactrix or they may be bundled as a package with the OpenPort cable for an additional $20. You can also buy these adapters in a complete set at your local Subaru dealer (~$30 part number 24036AA010). You can also use a jumper wire on the flash block as well. Drive-by-wire Subarus (32-bit ECU) do NOT need the jumper block at all.
  • A modern laptop with a USB port.
  • Proper gauges are recommended when tuning. These include, but are not limited to, a boost gauge and a wideband oxygen sensor.
  • Knowledge, patience, and practice. These take time to acquire. RomRaider’s forum is a great resource, but also consider getting some books and reading NSFW’s Incomplete Guide.

Q Which version of the Tactrix OpenPort cable do I need?

The OpenPort 2.0 is the latest version of the Tactrix cable. This new version of the cable supersedes all prior versions and is the only version currently being sold by Tactrix. Older versions of the cable, such as the OpenPort 1.3, may be used for reading/flashing select non-CANbus Subaru ECUs. The OpenPort 2.0 supports reading/flashing of all Subarus supported by the older cables and adds the ability to read/flash the newer CANbus ECUs (08+ Impreza and 07+ Legacy/Outback/Forester/Tribeca) as well as other new features. All versions of the OpenPort cable have the capability to log ANY modern Subaru. RomRaider logging with the OpenPort 2.0 requires RomRaider version 0.5.1b or later.

The following table outlines the known OpenPort cable compatibility for reading/flashing with EcuFlash. Note: this table only indicates the ability to read/flash, not necessarily the ability to tune. Tuning support is dependent on whether or not a user has submitted a specific ROM revision and it has been added to the RomRaider/Ecuflash definitions (check HERE).

Model Model Years Compatible OpenPort Versions Reflash Connector Needed?
Impreza WRX 2001–2002
2003–2005
2006–2007
2008-present
1.2 1.3S 1.3U 2.0
1.2 1.3S 1.3U 2.0
1.2 1.3S 1.3U 2.0
2.0
Yes, 2001–2002
Yes, 2003–2005
No
No
Impreza STi USDM 2004–2007
2008-present
1.2 1.3S 1.3M 1.3U 2.0
2.0
No
No
Impreza STi non-USDM 2001–2002
2003–2005
2006–2007
2008-present
1.2 1.3S 1.3U 2.0
1.2 1.3S 1.3U 2.0
1.2 1.3S 1.3M 1.3U 2.0
2.0
Yes, 2001–2002
Yes, 2003–2005?
No
No
Impreza 2.5RS 2005 1.2 1.3S 1.3M 1.3U 2.0 No
Impreza 2.5i 2006–2007
2008-present
1.2 1.3S 1.3M 1.3U 2.0
2.0
No
No
Forester XT 2004–2006
2007-present
1.2 1.3S 1.3M 1.3U 2.0
2.0
No
No
Forester 2.5 2005–2006
2007-present
1.2 1.3S 1.3M 1.3U 2.0
2.0
No
No
Legacy GT /
Outback XT
2005–2006
2007-present
1.2 1.3S 1.3M 1.3U 2.0
2.0
No
No
Legacy / Outback
2.5i / 3.0r
2005–2006
2007-present
1.2 1.3S 1.3M 1.3U 2.0
2.0
No
No
Tribeca 2006
2007-present
1.2 1.3S 1.3M 1.3U 2.0
2.0
No
No
Baja Turbo 2004–2006 1.2 1.3S 1.3M 1.3U 2.0 No
Baja Sport 2005–2006 1.2 1.3S 1.3M 1.3U 2.0 No

Q How is the OpenPort 2.0 different from prior versions of the cable?

The OP 2.0 supports all vehicles supported by the old versions plus offers a number of new features:

  • The ability to read/flash Subaru CANbus ECUs (generally 08+ Impreza 2.5i/WRX/STi and 07+ Legacy/Outback 2.5i/GT, Forester 2.5/XT, Tribeca)
  • The ability to read/flash Evo X (future feature with EcuFlash update)
  • J2534 PassThru support as well as additional protocol support which could allow for independent developers to create software to read/flash/log vehicles other than Subarus and Mitsubishis.
  • J2534 support will also allow users to potentially use other J2534 compliant software with the OP 2.0 such as OBD-II diagnostic software.
  • Ability to log supported Innovate devices from the Innovate Motorsports 2.5mm stereo data bus.
  • Standalone data logging to microSD card allows you to log without a laptop.
  • Field upgradeable firmware allows users to update OP 2.0 firmware for new features.
  • Detachable, widely available USB cable allows for cheap and easy replacement if damaged.
  • RGB status LEDs
  • J2534 is currently only supported on Windows platforms as there are no drivers for other platforms.

Q Does RomRaider’s logger support the OpenPort 2.0?

Yes, versions 0.5.1b and later of RomRaider support the OP 2.0. You will need to install Ecuflash version 1.40 or later to install the proper drivers and update the firmware for the OP 2.0.

Q How safe is reading, editing and flashing my ECU?

Remember, that RomRaider and the definitions file are always changing. This means that the software is being tested to fix any bugs and problems that may arise. As such, it is recommended for advanced users. There have been quite a few successful flashes and tunes, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a bug, error or misrepresentation of data that might cause serious problems down the road for a user. Remember, this software is not a commercial product, with money set aside for R&D. It was created by a group of enthusiasts who work in their spare time, for free, on the project.

Even if you experience no bugs or errors, there are no safe guards in place to prevent you from making improper tuning changes resulting in a blown motor and/or unexpected behavior when driving.

Q What is the worse case scenario if something goes wrong?

The problems that have the potential to occur include, but are not limited to:

  • An unreadable/unusable (bricked) ECU.
  • A blown motor and its subsequent damage.
  • Unexpected behavior on the road or track that may cause injury or death to the user as well as others.
  • Violation of local and/or federal laws due to the modification of the factory ECU.

DISCLAIMER: By using RomRaider and its ECU definitions file, either directly or indirectly, you agree to assume 100% of all risk and RomRaider’s creators and contributors shall not be held responsible for any damages or injuries you may receive or cause.

Q How can I limit the risk of something going wrong?

  • Make sure your computer is running well, does not have a tendency to lock up or shut down, and is virus and spyware free. When flashing, make sure the laptop is plugged in and not just running on the battery. Turn off any power saving functions, especially those that shut down the hard drive, enter standby/hibernation or “speed step” the processor speed to a lower level (if possible). Close out all other programs except for EcuFlash before starting. Make sure any firewall software does not interfere with EcuFlash.
  • Always use EcuFlash’s “test write to ECU” before trying the actual flash especially when something has changed in your setup from a prior successful flash (new drivers, new software, new computer, etc.).
  • Make sure your car’s battery, charging and electrical system is working properly.
  • Make sure the OpenPort cable is securely connected and not in a position that can be yanked out easily.
  • Always check for and use the latest version of RomRaider and EcuFlash, as well as the latest ECU definitions for both.
  • Do not edit a table if you are not 100% sure what it does (read the Table Properties).
  • Always keep a back-up copy of your original ROM in a safe place.
  • When tuning, small changes each flash is better. Use RomRaider’s logger to study the effects of the changes on your car. In addition, it is recommended that you have, at a minimum, a boost gauge and a wideband oxygen sensor.
  • Do not flash your ROM if RomRaider gives you an error message that the “real value and byte value conversion expressions are invalid” or any “out of bounds” error. This means there is an error/corruption in the ECU definitions file. If this is the case, it can save the wrong values in that particular table, which may occur whether you specifically edited the table in question or not.
  • After editing, save the ROM, close out RomRaider and then reopen RomRaider and your saved ROM. Make sure the changes were actually made. Also, triple check the values you edited to make sure they are exactly what you intended them to be.
  • Do not rely solely on the table help text in RomRaider to tune your car as they are simply an overview of the function of the table and not a detailed explanation. Make sure that you understand the impact of changing the data in a particular table and how all your changes will interact with one another. Use the RomRaider forums to search for answers or ask questions about ECU logic.
  • Tuning is not for beginners set out to experiment. Even seemingly small changes by a novice can result in a blown engine.



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Page last modified on January 06, 2015, at 09:06 AM
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