981 Sport Chrono Retrofit on software side

Recently, I read a post about 981 Sport Chrono Retrofit on software side which post by Visual from rennlist forum. I feel it is very interesting. I will share it with you below.

https://rennlist.com/forums/981-forum/1239006-981-sport-chrono-retrofit-part-2-software-side.html

981 Sport Chrono Retrofit part 2: software side

After completing the physical clock portion of the Sport Chrono retrofit, I started looking into the software portion to see what exactly needed to be done.

Once again, there was conflicting information all over the place. I found old posts from three guys across the various Porsche related forums throughout the years claiming to have done it on their 981 or 991, but nothing in-depth about the coding process in PIWIS or whether the features worked without issue. Some said that it wasn’t possible, that even if the instrument cluster shows “Sport Plus” when you press the button, nothing actually changes physically with the software, throttle mapping, shift times, etc.

There were some that said function enable codes needed to be input into several control units in PIWIS, not just the PCM. There were some claims that when enabling codes didn’t match up between various control units, whatever you enabled would eventually be disabled after a few days. Further digging into the 981 service manual did indeed reveal one section regarding the installation of a new “Switch Console” that Sport Chrono needed to be reactivated via function enable in the Air Conditioning control unit in PIWIS.

Curiosity got the better of me and I ended up contacting one of the overseas companies that a lot of people have used to activate multi-function steering wheels which also require codes generated to specific VINs. The guy wanted me to confirm that I had a PCM unit and not the base radio. So this is where it gets even more unclear.

He wanted me to know that “code activates sportchrono only on PCM”. I wasn’t sure if he meant that this only works on cars with PCM units. I guess it has something to do with how they hacked the system to be able to generate activation codes that are specific to PCM features like navigation, Bluetooth, etc. I confirmed that I have a PCM 3.1 system in my Cayman and wanted to know if the code would enable Sport Plus with Launch Control.

His reply, “this code (16 characters) opens the pcm menu for sportchrono. To activate sportchrono on a car, you need a different code 32 characters”. I asked if he also sold the 32 character code that would enable the features.

His response to that was, “I can’t do it. And I don’t know who can, except an official dealer”.

So now it looks like what this PCM activation code does is activate whatever the Sport Chrono package does in the PCM, which I’m guessing is the Sport Display that works in conjunction with the dash clock’s lap recording, and not the full set of features including Sport Plus mode.

Regardless, I wanted to see what this code would actually do on my car, so I told him I’d purchase it. I am now waiting for the code to be generated and will test it out. I’ll update everyone when I have results.

Great news!

Despite what the guy generating the code said, all features are now fully activated and functional on my car. I’ve tested the Sport Display lap recording, and most importantly, Sport Plus mode. I have confirmed that when Sport Plus is active, the PDK does not shift to a higher gear until close to redline. Launch Control is also working as intended, revs hold at 6500 RPM and the display in the instrument cluster will appear.

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The Sport Display function also appears in the PCM screen, I had to change the setting to allow the feature of GPS recording the track in the display. Otherwise, all that’s enabled at first is the Chrono display on the PCM screen. As soon as you start the stopwatch in the instrument cluster, the PCM screen will automatically change to the Sport Display and start recording.

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Here’s the walkthrough of how I stumbled through the coding to get everything working. I’m happy to report that all of this is possible in the regular English language after-sales mode. Only one issue required switching to German developer mode to change the coding, more on that later.

First, I uninstalled both my ECU and PDK tunes from Cobb to make sure everything was returned to factory spec.

When selecting the PCM control unit in PIWIS, if you go to Maintenance Repairs, there will be a function enable selection that brings up the menu where I can enter codes for a bunch of features, including Sport Chrono. I know that’s where the generated code is supposed to go.

However, I was concerned with the 981 service manual’s directions of reactivating Sport Chrono, which never mentions the PCM control unit. It also doesn’t ask you to go to the Coding adaptations tab, and that the function enable section is in Drive Link Checks tab.

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I went to the Air Conditioning control unit, hit the Drive Links Checks tab, and did not find function enable. Stuck already!

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Turns out you just need to select General and continue with F12 and it’ll bring you to the next page where it allows you to enter a function enable code for Sport Chrono.

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Remember how the guy said activating Sport Chrono on the car rather than the PCM required a 32 character code? Well, the instruction directly in the menu here actually asks you to enter a “hexadecimal number sequence that is exactly 16 characters long”. So I went with my gut and hoped that the code would be the same for both the Air Conditioning and PCM units.

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After saving the code, it actually showed that Sport Chrono was active!

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Next, I put in the same code in the PCM unit’s function enable page. Select PCM / CDR unit in Overview, hit the Maintenance Repairs tab, select Function Enable.

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After entering the code and saving, it showed that “Enable was successful.” So far so good, looks like it does use the same activation code between the two different control units, otherwise the function enable would have failed.

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Next, you need to program the switch for Sport Plus. Select the Air Conditioning control unit, hit the Coding Adaptations tab, select Customer-specific settings, then select all the Keypad assignment functions you want to edit.

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From looking through the service manual, whenever stuff is retrofitted, like PSE, they instruct you to change the vehicle data and then follow through with an automatic coding of all units. I decided to go with this process too, because I thought it made sense to have all the control units “recognize” that a new option was installed on the car. Plus, I wasn’t sure if the changes would work without this step, as I was not in the German language developer mode and this wasn’t just activating some new displays in the instrument cluster.

On the main page in Overview, I went to Additional Menu (F7), and then selected Maintenance of Vehicle Data. Hit next until the options page, scrolled down and checked 640 – Sport Chrono Package Plus, and saved. I went back to Overview, went to the Maintenance of Vehicle Data again to see if the change went through and confirmed that it did now show that the 640 option already displayed a checkmark. Next, I selected all the units in Overview, hit the Coding adaptations tab, and selected Automatic Coding. This took a few minutes and at the end every control unit had a checkmark except Steering Wheel Electronics. I think this might have been because the Sport Design steering wheel I swapped in is not the Sport Chrono version where “Sport Plus” and “Launch Control” lights up in the steering wheel trim. Other than that, it seems that I did not end up bricking any control unit in the car. I turned off the car and disconnected the PIWIS.

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This automatic coding of all control units appeared to reset everything to factory spec according to the Vehicle Data that I edited in the Additional Menu. The extra Performance Display and Expert Menu I coded into the instrument cluster when I installed the dash clock were now gone. The TPMS appeared to have been reset as well, since the “No monitoring system is learning” error popped up along with the TPMS light.

Another thing that did not seem to work was the Sport and Sport Plus modes being displayed in the tachometer when I hit the associated switches. This confirmed my suspicion that the issue was the steering wheel itself. In cars with the correct steering wheel, the Sport and Sport Plus modes will appear on the trim rather than the tachometer, like below.

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To resolve this, I reconnected the PIWIS and went into developer mode to change the following setting: Kombiinstrument -> Codierung Anpassungen -> Manuelle Codierung ohne MCR-Regeln (Entwickling), scroll down to Kodiewert: Codierbyte 3 Anzeige Sportmodus, change “nein” to “ja”. Thankfully, that worked, and the TPMS light went away as well after I went on my test drive.

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So the mystery is solved, no more vagueness or conjecture. The activation code can indeed enable all features of the Sport Chrono package other than dynamic engine mounts which I don’t have. My procedure may not be the correct or best way of doing this, but it worked for me. You might be able to just enter the code only in the PCM unit, or only in the Air Conditioning unit, or both like I did, and you might not need to change the Maintenance of Vehicle Data and do the Automatic coding at all, who knows.

The only thing I wonder now is whether or not a code can be generated for those of you with CDR that want to program the Sport Chrono software. Clearly, the companies that sell the codes don’t really know, as they told me this would not activate Sport Plus. My theory is that the 32 character code they were talking about might be for other Porsche models. From what I found, activating Sport Chrono is definitely different on a 958 Cayenne that also uses PCM 3/3.1. If you wanted to risk it, you could just say that you have a PCM unit and just have them generate the code to your VIN anyway to see if it works. If the code doesn’t work, it may also be possible to swap in a PCM unit and then try the activation.

I’ll detail the process later in the day when I have time to write everything out as clearly as I can.

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