I have previously installed both a vacuum-sensitive vdo boost gauge and an Hallman Manual Boost Controller in an attempt to increase the amount of boost and monitor it reliably. A manual gauge and controller will do the job, but there is a much better way to do this. Unfortuantely they aren't the best ways to do either things. The best and most controllable way is to rely on an electronic device and sensors to maintain proper boost levels and monitor pressure.
I talked to Christain at Modern Garage about the options and we settled on the Apex-i AVC-R as the best way to do what i needed to. Modern Garage has a lot of Subaru clients now that the RS has become so popular, and they are very willing to help us out.
Tyler had some problems getting the proper wiring diagram for my year, and even the service manuals we received weren't terribly accurate, but he persisted in getting the whole thing set up.
Like a dolt, i neglected to actually pace around and watch him do his work and take pictures, so i don't have pics of the installation. It's not something that should be attempted for the inexperienced, or those afraid of screwing up the car wiring. Tapping into the ECU is a tricky procedure and should only be done by those with the skill and experience to do so. I was not one of them.
After a few hours of careful testing, we finally got the car and all sensors working. Time to test! We took it out on the highway for some open-throttle testing and relied on some secret locations to tweak the settings. After almost an hour of setting up, i was sent on my way with a cool new controller taking care of me. Not only does it look really cool and get a lot of attention, but it works!
Boost was noticeably stronger and it had less overboost due to the extremely good boost solenoid Apex-i uses. We set the two boost settings to 9 and 11PSI but i've run mostly at the higher setting with the best fuel without any side effects. Once i acquire an intercooler, i'll be pushing it to 13, where the fuel-cut kicks in and tries to keep us from having too much fun and blowing up the engine.
This is an excellent unit, if not just for the great information and monitoring abilities it gives.
I decided to mount it right in front of the tachometer because of the fact that the unit itself had a tachometer gauge. I later moved it just slightly to the right, as it blocked the temperature gauge. Where it is at the moment is the best place i could find without making it too obvious.
The AVC-R showing four of it's six possible readings. Solenoid duty cycle and speed in km/hr are also available.
Two to four sensors can be displayed at a time in this mode. A line graph and pseudo-needle gauge are also available. One of its most usable features is the ability to set two levels of boost, easily changeable. Another nice treat is peak-hold, where the highest readings of all monitored readings are stored.
This is the pressure sensor, located in a nice comfortable place on the strut tower.
This is the actual solenoid, or actuator valve. It does make a slight clocking when in use.