FADEC is an acronym that stands for ”Full Authority Digital Engine Control”. The term is used in the real and model turbine engine world to describe the engine control unit or ECU as many people might call it.
The F-A-D-E-C is a small computer that monitors and controls various functions on the model jet engine to start it, keep it running safely and efficiently, and shut it down.
As was already discussed in the how a model turbine works section, we know a turbine engine’s speed is regulated by the amount of fuel it receives. Therefore, the FADEC’s main responsibility is controlling and regulating the fuel pump giving us safe and controllable turbine power.
If you want an auto start model turbine engine, your FADEC computer will have to control the startup and shut down sequences as well. There is fun example of how this works further down this page.
In order to perform these responsibilities, the ECU monitors various engine functions to ensure the engine is always running within the user programmed parameters. It will also detect any problems with the engine or corrupted radio signals from the transmitter to perform a failsafe shut down procedure. This failsafe function is explained in greater detail in the model turbine safety section.
There are five basic functions the FADEC monitors:
These measurements can be viewed in real time by plugging a laptop or a hand held data terminal into the FADEC output serial port. The hand held data terminal is small enough to fit in your RC field box and allows a field friendly way to readout engine data and program various ECU parameters to customize the ECU for different model turbine engines. You can also program the unit with the laptop.
These parameters include:
To get a better understanding of how a FADEC works and make this a little more fun, let’s pretend we are a model jet engine ECU, and go through a cold auto start sequence.
Not the most exciting life is it, but it demonstrates what the FADEC does and just how important it is.
This is a very simple explanation but it's sort of a fun way to look at model jet engine operation from the prospective of the ECU. It should also give you a much better understanding of how a RC turbine engine works and whet your RC turbine helicopter appetite.
Here is a pretty good video I found of an auto start sequence.
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