Personal computers are now common place in most engine building shops. They are used for CNC machining, Cad/Cam work, crank balancing, bookkeeping, etc. When your computer goes down or you are learning new software, nothing can be as frustrating. However, used for the proper application with the proper training, they are huge time savers, and let you do things previously thought impossible.
One application which has been around awhile is the engine simulation program. You’ve probably seen the smaller ones for under $100. These are useful to give you an idea of the performance potential of some simple inputs like bore, stroke, head flow and cam specs. At the other end of the spectrum are programs you can lease for $50,000 per year. These can be so complex that it may actually be easier to build and dyno the actual engine than figure out all the info they require.
Performance Trends’ Engine Analyzer Pro is a good compromise between these two extremes. It has relatively simple inputs, and lots of example engines and components preloaded, so you can build and modify an engine quickly. But the calculations going on behind the scenes are about the same as in the $50K program.