Honda's VTEC technology is well-known for putting a little pep in the step of its engines. These days, it's a bit of a tuner meme, prompting one YouTuber to recreate the system on a smaller scale.
YouTuber Camden Bowen spends his time 3D printing a variety of mechanical things, primarily plastic recreations of various engines and transmissions. His latest effort involved building a single-piston air-powered engine that is outfitted with a VTEC-like variable valve timing system.
The key to the system is in the engine's head. On the intake side of things, a secondary rocker arm can be locked into place with a pin. This rocker arm rides on a more aggressive cam lobe designed to work most effectively at high RPM. When engaged, it better times the opening and closing of the intake valve to suit high RPM operation, theoretically producing more power.
VTEC is best known in enthusiast scenes for the exciting sound and power boost it provides in cars like the Honda Civic and Acura Integra of the 1990s. These days, though, it's used in a wide variety of Honda engines, more often than not with an eye to improving efficiency rather than performance.
The system in Bowen's engine is simple, but nonetheless works pretty much just like a real VTEC system in a Honda motor. For now, he just manually pushes the VTEC engagement pin into place by hand. Real engines typically use a solenoid valve to do the same. However, rather than adding electronics to do the job, Bowen wants to find a mechanical way to have VTEC kick in at high RPM on his air-powered engine.
Bowen's video serves as a useful explainer of a common piece of engine technology. It's also a great example of how building something yourself can be an excellent education in how something works. It pays to experiment, after all!
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