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Thread: Difficult to start when Atomic controls ignition.

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2009


    Quote Originally Posted by stefan View Post
    But it still starts like a dream if the Atomic doesn't control the ignition.
    Yes, that's why post #19 only suggests ECU timing controlled troubleshooting.
    May God's grace bless you in the Lord Jesus Christ.
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  2. #22


    An new update. I think I've found the fault! I get a tip, that my starter wasn't fast enough, so I replaced it, and upgrade the cable, and after that I was just going to hear, how the engine sounded when I crank it, and it started!? I don't know why, I didn't change anything else, but now, it starts every time, even if the temperature is as low as 32°F. Now, the engine needs a couple of turns, before the Atomic trigger the MSD-6A box, but after maybe 2 turns,it sends the trigger signal, and it starts. So it looks like the Atomic needs to know, where the engine is, before it decide to start the engine, its more satisfying when the engine start at an 1/2 turn, but is it like this the system works, then it have to be like this! I don't know, but can it be like this, the slower the engine crank, the more the atomic retards the ignition? And in my case, the engine crank a little bit slowly, and the atomic retard the ignition, around 15°

  3. #23


    Stehan, I just want to clarify for you the recommended procedure to set-up the Atomic TBI to control timing.
    Here are the recommended steps:

    1. Rotate the engine balancer until the pointer is on 15°-BTDC of the compression stroke on the number one cylinder.
    2. Remove the distributor from the engine.
    3. Lock-out the centrifugal and vacuum advance of the distributor.
    4. Install the adjustable rotor and set it 15° opposite of normal rotation.
    5. With the advance locked and rotor adjusted, reinstall the distributor into the engine with the rotor lining up with the number one terminal on the distributor cap. Lightly tighten the distributor hold down to allow for adjustment if needed.
    6. Turn the ignition switch on (do NOT start yet).
    7. On the Atomic handheld unit, enter into the INITIAL SETUP menu. Scroll down to the TIMING CONTROL option and select ENABLE. Return to the MAIN MENU.
    8. From the MAIN MENU, enter the ADVANCED SETUP menu. Scroll to, and enter, the IGNITION TIMING menu.
    9. Scroll down to, and enter, the LOCK TIMING option. The message should display, “TIMING @ 15 DBTDC IGN. TIMING IS NOW LOCKED AT 15 DBTDC…”
    10. While the handheld is displaying the above message, start the engine. After the engine has started, verify that the above message is still displayed on the handheld.
    11. Verify the timing at the balancer is at 15° BTDC of number one. Adjust the distributor if necessary.
    12. Once the timing has been synchronized, shut off the engine. Secure the distributor.
    13. Restart the engine and go to the DASH display on the Atomic Handheld, scroll down to the timing line. Compare the value shown on the handheld with the balancer, they should be the same.
    MSD Tech Support

  4. #24


    Thanks, I really appreciate all help, tips and tricks. But this was exactly what I did, and if the engine started after step 10, it has retarded the ignition 15° to 20°. And if I then adjust the timing to 15°, then it newer started again. But after that I've replaced the starter, then it works! it starts every time. So what I have figure out, is that, the slower the starter turns, the more the Atomic retards the ignition. Even though the engine starts every time now, even if it's cold outside, the engine have to turn a couple of turns probably because the Atomic, needs a couple of turns to know where the engine is, if you know what I mean. It's a bit of a shame, I really like when the engine starts at a 1/2-turn, as it does when I run the Ignition and Atomic separate. I have my MSD timing light connected all the time, and there is no spark the first tuns of the engine, but as soon as spark #1 appear, the engine starts, and then the ignition is around 21° and that is also what the handheld is showing.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Brisbane, Australia


    I'd say your new starter produces higher torque and less current draw, which spins the engine faster, and less voltage drop across the battery while cranking. Many EFI engines won't start if the battery voltage drops below certain thresholds. Gary
    Regards, Gary

  6. #26


    Well, I did upgrade the cable as well, from 5 AWG to 2x5 AWG at the same time, but the voltage isn't any higher during crank, it's about 12.2V if if I'm not mistaken. So the only explanation I can think of, is that the Atomic needs a certain RPM. Little said it needs a couple of turns to start, but maybe that is how the "system" works.

  7. #27


    Glad you got it working! You mentioned you were only 11 Volts cranking in a earlier post. I think that was the main problem. Also, note that your battery should be at 12.6V "resting" (anything less is not fully charged).

    The instructions also say to tie the Atomic power wire directly to the battery (same as MSD 6A instructions say) so if you connected to some place else, you could be losing some voltage there too.

    On my truck I have a starter solenoid on the fender which is tied directly to battery with a short heavy cable. That's a perfect place for me to connect my power feeds to. If you don't have a nice connection point like that you may want to add a "post terminal stud" for these connections. Then run a heavy cable from battery to the post, and make all your connections at the post. Something like this

    Also, my truck, which has dual batteries, (460, 9.5:1, mild cam 216°/226° @ .050) starts on the fist revolution/crank every time. However, it's never below 70°F where I live.
    Last edited by countrybumkin; 12-17-2019 at 09:38 AM.

  8. #28


    I've connected the Atomic, and the 6A box, at an fuse box, and from that to an common connection point, where I also have connected the battery and the generator (from battery AWG 6 halfway, and AWG 5 the other half), so I've got an fuse between the MSD products and the battery, but that shouldn't make any different I think. Yesterday, I actually keep an extra eye at the voltage in the handheld, and actually, when the car was cold, and battery has been connected for a couple of days, probably not fully charged, the voltage dropped to 9.9 Volt just before it starts, when the engine is warm, and had been running for a while, the voltage dropped to 10.7 Volt for a split of a second, and maybe that's not enough, when the Atomic should control the timing, so I maybe should order a new battery as well.

  9. #29


    That doesn't look good. I'd try running a temporary (heavy gauge, 10 AWG or larger) from battery + post to power feed for Atomic and MSD box (disconnect it form whatever is feeding it now, while doing this test). Then see how it starts and if battery voltage stays over 12.5. My battery voltage does not drop below 12.6 while cranking and once running is showing 13.4 to 14V (charging).

  10. #30


    I will do another test. If I set an multimeter at the battery, and crank, if the voltage drop at the battery, it must be the battery, that can't deliver enough current. If the voltage isn't dropping at the battery, it must be a cable that are too thin. What do you think about that?

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