An In-Depth Look at the Latest Tuner From Diablosport
By Chris Neprasch
Photography: Chris Neprasch
We’ve entered a level of technology in electronics where it seems like everything is capable of performing multiple tasks. You can order a pizza online from the same cell phone you use to make calls and check the weather. For fitness gurus, wristwatches cannot only tell the time, they can calculate heart rate, calories burned and distance traveled. And now, a downloader can do more than install a program into your truck’s computer.
The Trinity from Diablosport is one of these new generation diesel tuners. Along with re-flashing the ECM, it can read engine parameters, clear trouble codes and provide a virtual drag strip on any open stretch of road. The Trinity has a large touch-screen display to serve as the command center for all of the functions and can even tune gas and diesel vehicles with one application number. To get a better feel for how far tuners have come, we ordered a Trinity to see how well it performs a few of the advertised key features. Here’s the breakdown of our experiences with Diablosport’s Trinity.
Undoubtedly, the biggest draw for most people to the Diablosport Trinity is the increase in performance from its programming capabilities. Current diesel coverage includes the 2006-to-current Duramax, 2003-to-2007 5.9L Cummins and both the 6.0L and 6.4L Power Stroke, though Diablosport is constantly working to add more applications. Because each truck is different, power gains can vary as well as the performance levels. In the case of the 2008 LMM Duramax we tested, the levels included were Towing, 60, 80 and 100 hp.
Installation was as easy as plugging the port into the computer and following the prompts. Compared to other programmers, the Trinity is about average to slightly above average on the speed it takes to upload a program. The Chevy we tested already has an intake, filter-back exhaust, intake elbow and intercooler tube upgrade all from aFe. We got our baseline runs and then installed the 100-hp tune.
On the mildly modified Duramax, the Trinity picked up 111.5 hp to the rear wheels. That’s only half of the story. On the torque side, the programmer added 140.5 lb-ft of torque. Both numbers were achieved with the particulate filter in place and all emissions equipment intact. (For the 5.9L common rail, the Trinity comes loaded with a 160-hp extreme tune.) Turning it up all the way on the street would be a different story and we ended up keeping it on the 60-hp tune most of the time because anything higher and the tires would go up in smoke every time we gave anything more than half throttle.
We were admittedly a little skeptical as to the Trinity’s ability to tune multiple vehicles. It is one small unit, yet was advertised to tune more than more than 45 different applications ranging everywhere from a gas-powered Lincoln Town Car to a diesel-powered 1-ton Dodge. After downloading a few different tunes to get dyno numbers on an LMM, we thought we’d try it on something completely opposite from a Duramax pickup: an ’07 V-6 Dodge Charger.
You can’t run multiple cars at one time using the Trinity so you have to un-marry it to the car or truck it’s currently installed on before moving it to a different vehicle. The process is as easy as the “return to stock” measures you’d do if you were to take a truck into the dealer for service and didn’t want them knowing it had a programmer on it before. From there, the process is the same as uploading another tune.
With the Trinity hooked up to the Charger, we opted for the 89 octane tune. Along with changing parameters like tire size, the Trinity allowed us to tweak shift firmness in the Charger. Off the bat, it was easy to notice the increase in power, especially in the mid-range and top end. On the highest shift setting, gear changes were quicker and definitive. This all from the same box that woke up the monster in the 6.6L Duramax a day earlier.
Now, what does this have to do with your average user? Say your daily driver is a 2008 F-350, but you have a 2005-10 Corvette you like to toy around with on the weekend. If you buy one Trinity, you can use it during the week on your pickup, then when it’s fun time, uninstall it from the Super Duty and put it in the Vette. If your toy car is supported, but it’s highly modified, the Trinity is also capable of carrying up to five custom tunes, so you can have a CMR dealer write a specific file and still get the best of both worlds. It’s less work that in sounds like and you save the cash on the second programmer. Plus, if you decide down the road to sell the truck, the Trinity’s extensive list of vehicles covered makes it a lot more marketable in the used parts marketplace.
Virtual Drag Strip
Plugging into the OBDII Port gives the Trinity access to all sorts of information, including RPMs, vehicle speed and wheel speed. All of these are factors it uses to compute quarter-mile, eighth-mile, 0-60 and 0-100 speeds in the Virtual Drag Strip mode. You can either use a Christmas tree on the display to start or it will begin calculating on first movement. We tested the Trinity’s accuracy in two of the four setups. For 0-60, we pitted the Trinity against our G-Tech and the traditional stopwatch method. For the eight-mile testing, we marked out the distance and used the same three indicators to calculate time. After doing it several times, here are the average numbers for both tests:
Trinity – 6.45 seconds
G-Tech – 7.748 seconds
Stopwatch – 7.72 seconds
Trinity – 10.00 seconds
G-Tech – 10.325 seconds
Stopwatch – 10.28 seconds
While under our testing we found the Trinity to be optimistic with the times, there are variables that do affect the accuracy. Still, it was exceptionally consistent. Through all of the testing, there was a disparity between the three means of data acquisition, but the variance remained constant. If the G-Tech showed one of the runs a couple tenths of a second slower or quicker, the Trinity’s numbers also reflected the same increase or decrease in performance. In real-world speak, if you’ve done some changes to the engine and wanted to see how much they improved on it, using the Virtual Drag Strip will still be a good representation of if and how much the modifications have improved acceleration if you conduct before and after testing.
A lot of valuable information can be learned by data logging, but it’s most often practiced in motorsports like drag racing or sled pulling. What it does is records things simple things like boost, engine speed and wheel speed along with more complex things like rail pressure and injection timing. You can then go back later and replay the quarter-mile run or pull to see where there might be room for improvement. Say you’re draining the rail at the top end; a data-log graph that overlays rpms, boost and rail pressure would show the drop.
Even though it’s normally used on the track, it can also be helpful on the street. If you typically tow on a regular route and you wonder exactly what’s going on with the engine when you pull up a grade, it’s as easy as hitting a record button then reviewing it later. The Trinity has more than 100GB of onboard memory and an additional slot for an SD card to expand it even more. Without the expanded memory, the Trinity is still capable of recording hours of data. It can be either played back on the display, or you can use the included software to interpret the data on a computer. We installed the DataViewer from Diablosport and recorded a few full-throttle runs.
When you’re looking on the Trinity display, you’re only able to see a few select parameters at on time. Using the data-logging feature, we were able to record the runs and see what was going on with everything, not just the displayed readouts. Some might be overwhelmed at first by the idea of looking at all of the information on a laptop, but the DataViewer software was easy to use compared to what we’ve seen from other telemetry programs on the market. The PIDs are broken down into categories, which helps simplify things and all you have to do is check the box next to the PID you want displayed during playback.
The other thing we liked about the DataViewer software was that you could hook the laptop up to the Trinity while it was still in the truck and record directly to the laptop or view the data live. Data logging may be considered one of the more advanced features the Trinity is equipped with, yet the software is basic enough for the novice to use and understand while containing enough information to satisfy your more advanced tuner.
Virtual Gauge Monitor
Rather than load the dash with gauges, the Trinity is capable of displaying a lot of the same data using the factory computer. It can also support third party devices, which makes it even more expandable. And the 320×420 color touch screen allowed for easy viewing of the information when the Trinity was in the monitoring mode. You have the option of using preloaded layouts or customizing it to suit your own needs. The Trinity’s five color-changing LED lights can also be used as shift lights or visual indicators.
Our major gripe—if you want to call it that—with the Trinity’s gauge display is that there are almost too many options and possible readouts to narrow it down to four or five. You have your choice of type and size of each display and it does take a little time to get acquainted with each as well as what combinations you can fit on one screen. What we ended up having to do was set up different gauge layouts for different scenarios, then save them in the Trinity. We ended up with about six different gauge screens ranging from a tow setup with things like boost and coolant temperature to a fuel economy layout where throttle percentage and fuel rate were the main readouts.
The nice thing is the adjustability is there. While some may be partial to sweeping gauges, others may prefer sliders or a digital readout. One owner might like to focus on the air side, while another could prefer to monitor the fuel system. The Trinity is capable of satisfying both types once you take the time to go through the process of creating a display screen and saving it.