Tuning ZBox for Malibu with Mechanical Throttle

Lieutenant DanLieutenant Dan Posts: 191 Baller
edited June 2018 in Boat Talk
I just installed Stargazer (v9.12) and ZBox on my 2001 Sunsetter LXI with the 325hp Monsoon with Mechanical throttle linkage. I have the standard ACME 13 x 12 prop. I did the full Autocal and Course Mapping per the instructions and videos.

Full course times with skiers in tow are always within a few hundredths of nominal. The issue that I’m experiencing is that it in no way seems to behave like Zero Off through the course. I don’t here or see any significant rise in RPM as the skier adds load after a buoy. Also I have experienced the gassing into 2 Ball that others have noted especially with large skiers although that seems to be alleviated by going to a + setting (eg A2+).

Further, I’ve noted that a fellow ski club member with an early 2000’s SN 196 doesn’t seem to have these issues and in fact sounds a lot like ZO in the course. It also seems like others on BOS with similar Nautiques have expressed the most satisfaction with ZBox (eg @jhughes).

So finally, my question is for those of you out there who have successfully tuned ZBox for early 2000’s Malibu’s. What all did you need to do to get ZBOX to perform “like” ZO? Different lower pitch prop? Adjust KX, ZBX and/or ABC adj settings? Invert tach and/or get new throttle return spring?

Or am I just chasing a unicorn here?



  • GregHindGregHind Posts: 300 Solid Baller
    Are you sure the z box is connected properly?
    You can change the z number to make it respond more aggressively to the accelerometer

    Those two things above are all it should take to make it work

    Also your ball times can be adjusted to fix the hot first two buoys.

    Might be easiest to call PP and let them walk you thru it
  • Lieutenant DanLieutenant Dan Posts: 191 Baller
    @GregHind I assume that it is connected properly since the ABC settings etc are active on the display. So you’re suggesting to try increasing the ZBX setting?
  • GregHindGregHind Posts: 300 Solid Baller
    If you increase the zbx setting it should be more than noticeable you should be able to overdo it. Just because the abc is on the display doesn’t mean the z box is actually hooked up
  • hemlockhemlock Posts: 106 Baller
    I don't have zbox, but I do have PP with version 9 on my 2003 LXI.
    What has made a huge difference is the PP tweak that Ed posted awhile back and was also just posted recently here:

    The key point is #4 where you can adjust pre-gate times, also 1 and 3 ball settings.
    (If I recall correctly, you press the On/Off and UP key at the same time to get to the settings)
    This will make a difference on Malibu boats and fixes the surge at 2-3 ball.
    I forget the actual tweaks without hoping into the boat to check, but a search on the forum might give some adjustment options.

    Not sure if zbox or your current version has this option, but at least something to try if it's there. :smile:

  • skiboynyskiboyny Posts: 168 Baller
    Look at your ball to ball times they need to be within a few thousandths or it will feel like crap. I don't have z-box but from what I understand stargazer has to be running correctly for it to work right. @hemlock I do believe those background instructions are obsolete at this point. I think the pre-gate settings are gone. There are 1-3 ball settings still.
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 3,050 Mega Baller
    That's an easy one to try,
    the kx zbx and abc adj are all on one screen so you might just want to hit some open water and have someone cut back and forth and see if changing it gives you a response.

    But I would go back to basics first, turn off Z-Box and check those balls no skier and with heavy skier. Thats where to adjust the ball times and get them nice prior to going live with Z-Box - it is possible that adding a return spring could help as well just to see if maybe it is trying to back off and is sluggish.
  • Ski_DadSki_Dad Posts: 291 Baller
    following as I have a Sunsetter LXI as well. I have the LS1 though.

    have you watched this video ? - have you tried a run with SG on the screen instead of A,B,C ?

    i do agree about calling Perfect Pass - those guys are great !
  • Lieutenant DanLieutenant Dan Posts: 191 Baller
    edited June 2018
    @GregHind @skiboyny @hemlock @Mitzysman @BraceMaker Thanks for the suggestions. I was able to get out this morning to try some things. I first played around with getting the 1 ball, 3 Ball and Ball 4 to exit times good for the “Light” and “Xtra Large “ ski partners that were on board. I then increased the ZBX setting from 08 to 10 then from 10 to 12. That seemed to work great for the Xtra large guy skiing at A2+ but seemed a bit too aggressive for me (“Normal” at A2). However I believe it is definitely working much more like Zero Off!
  • Lieutenant DanLieutenant Dan Posts: 191 Baller
    Thanks to @Mitzysman @BraceMaker @hemlock @GregHind and @skiboyny I used the background settings to adjust the 1 Ball, 3 Ball and 4 Ball to exit times for Light and Xtra Large ski partners. I then increased the ZBX setting from 08 to 10 and then again to 12. That seemed to work especially well for the XL guy skiing at A2+. I tried it on Normal and A2 and although it seemed a bit too much for me I believe that it is very close to working like Zero Off now! Thanks again!
  • Steven HainesSteven Haines Posts: 959 Solid Baller
    I too have been struggling with Stargazer. In fact I’ve been quite disappointed. I recently purchased the new update and It still surged out of control at 2 ball. I’ve messed with internal settings also. Last night I added 5 points to the 1st segment and everything came together!
    It now settles in quickly, the times are on the money and the Z Bow seems to be working like it should.
    I’m very happy with this product!
  • skiboynyskiboyny Posts: 168 Baller
    You have to adjust the first segment to get the 2 ball time right. I had to go quite a bit higher than 5 points. Quite a bit of trial and error but once you get the ball times within a thousandth or to it quite good.
    Steven Haines
  • Steven HainesSteven Haines Posts: 959 Solid Baller
    @GregHind, I know that there’s a setting that can change the intensity of the Z Box hit and another one that is mentioned that can be manipulated to better emulate ZO. How does that work? Does it change where the boat picks you up? I’ve messed with the intensity and think that is set pretty well. Just curious about the other. The manual doesn’t really address this, as far as I can remember.
  • WBLskierWBLskier Posts: 431 Baller
    I have the same engine. Has anyone determined how to set the ABC values so that they match up wtih the ZO ABC settings on that particular engine? I understand that can be done but I don't know ZO well enough to have any idea how to determine it. I am really happy with how the system works, but I have not spent any time with a setting other than B2...and I have no idea if my B2 setting is even close to ZO. My only hint that it is similar is that I suck a lititle bit less behind ZO than before I trained with Zbox. Thanks.
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 3,050 Mega Baller
    @WBLskier - the setting is known as ABC adjust. But there isn't a good way to set them other than feel - it adjusts all the numbers up/down - so something that you would do is if you feel like the response is too little you'd turn up the ABC

    ON/OFF and UP together down to ABC Adj and turn it up a notch and retry. If you have an older boat like TBI or carbed 1:1 boat it will probably be up 2, if you have a powerslot should feel pretty good with out adjust.
  • GregHindGregHind Posts: 300 Solid Baller
    @Steven Haines the zbx setting just adjusts how hard the engine responds to accelerometer input. To little and it won’t rev up and down much. That would mean the boat would be pulling long. Too much and it would accelerate too much. The settings have to be adjusted by trial and error to make your boat match zero off.
    It would be nice if PP was able to set these values itself in autocalibration and between gps and accelerometer it should be possible but the master module ram is basically full and so no room for more code without a new design of master module.
    Steven Haines
  • Steven HainesSteven Haines Posts: 959 Solid Baller
    @GregHind, just to clarify about your comment “pull too long”. You mean that the boat is trying to get good times therefore the boat is always pulling on the skier and not releasing like ZO
  • GregHindGregHind Posts: 300 Solid Baller
    @Steven Haines yes. And Notice the zbx number is set seperately for each skier weight.
    Steven HainesLieutenant Dan
  • Lieutenant DanLieutenant Dan Posts: 191 Baller
    edited June 2018
    Has anyone tried a newer/ stronger throttle return spring? I’m wondering if increasing Kx and or Zbx coupled with a stronger return spring might give a better ZO emulation
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 3,050 Mega Baller
    @Lieutenant Dan there is a bit of a limit to how stiff it can be as the throttle handle will start to move. I've gone down that road troubling shooting ver 8 software with increasing the spring and fabricating a longer throttle arm. I think with v9 there could be the ability to shorten the arm to quicken responsiveness.

    I'm of the theory that you want to try changing KX up if you want kbx up as well
  • DWDW Posts: 1,894 Mega Baller
    @Lieutenant Dan : Yes, and it improved the response. It was independent of the Kx Zbx issue. PP seems to like good throttle return spring tension since that is what the servo is working against (I felt it is similar to rudder grind, firm but not overbearing).
  • KalebPKalebP Posts: 1 Baller
    @Lieutenant Dan would you be able to get the settings off your mates 196, I have a year 2001 196 I have just upgraded to stargazer zbox v9.12 aswell and trying to dial it in.
  • Lieutenant DanLieutenant Dan Posts: 191 Baller
    @KalebP Kaleb, I’d be happy to get that information for you. Unfortunately I won’t be able to get it for you until around May 1st.
  • bishop8950bishop8950 Posts: 1,058 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    I had a 2000 Malibu LX and never got Stargazer working properly, despite many conversations with Gary at PP and many experiments. Excellent customer support. After much effort, PP essentially said there are some bugs In some boats they can’t fix and offered my money back.

    The issue I had was the boat speed would change in the course. We messed with all the settings trying to help the boat settle and maintain speed but it was never right. It may come into the course at the right speed and then slow down or speed up in the course. It would usually get a good end time but the speed change could be felt from the drivers seat and at the end of the rope.

    It works very well in other boats and closes the gap somewhat in Classic vs ZO. But I just ran Classic until I upgraded to a ZO boat.
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 3,050 Mega Baller
    @bishop8950 just curious what version you were running then on the stargazer? Mine was "pogoing" before I swapped - coming in a bit hot then dumping speed at 2 ball. The update cured it.
  • bishop8950bishop8950 Posts: 1,058 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    @BraceMaker I dont recall. It was more the 5 yrs ago. It was the latest version available at the time and PP was still stumped
  • Steven HainesSteven Haines Posts: 959 Solid Baller
    Mine has been doing the surge mid course too. At the end of the season I finally tried it inverted. My first ride after changing was a Rodeo! After I reigned the settings back to normal, I think that I might finally have it. We’ll see this summer. Here’s to hoping! It’s enough to drive you Bat $heet crazy!
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