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PerformanceChipGuide

Your Guide To The Truth.

Dragonfire by Redline Technologies Performance Chip Review / Teardown

Dragonfire Performance Chip by Redline Technologies in Blister Pack

To begin, if you have not already seen the tests by quarkslab on reverse engineering the Nitro OBD2 performance chip scam, check it out here: https://blog.quarkslab.com/reverse-engineering-of-the-nitro-obd2.html

We point you in this direction because this NitroOBD scam has been flooding the internet for a few years now, and has given birth to numerous copies with varying colors and logos. We provide our analysis below of the Dragonfire performance chip by Redline Technologies and show what is inside. To accurately understand the big picture you should first read the above quarkslab article in its entirety. It is proven based on several different articles and tests that the Nitro OBD module is a verified scam. Don’t just take our word for it!

There are also several youtube videos proving the details of the Nitro-OBD light flasher scam and some of it’s variants:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgXwfBTKLGU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-l9ohTjvkw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdoIjt2mMEQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OIO1tJPEy8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1OmGDE1FLA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytwlDVaFbec

 

Reverse engineering the Redline Technologies Dragonfire Performance Chip
Tags: CAN OBD Performance Chip Vehicle Tuning Scams Analysis Reverse Engineering Dragonfire Redline Technologies Scam

 

This article involves reverse engineering and analyzing the OBD performance chip “Dragonfire Performance Chip by Redline Technologies” in order to identify if it functions as advertised or not.

The Dragonfire Performance Chip by Redline Technologies is a ‘discontinued’ product, and we have our suspicions as to why. A colleague donated one of these for testing as the company seems to have changed their name from Dragonfire Performance to Dragonworks Performance. Can it be to hide bad results of their old product the Dragonfire Performance chip? We will try to find out. This is a screen grab of the older Dragonfire Performance Chip:

 

Dragonfire Performance Chip Ad
Dragonfire Performance Chip Ad

 

The newer Dragonworks performance chips appear on ebay as well as their website run by, you guessed it, an advertising / media company, ‘successmapmedia’:

http://dragonfireperformance.successmapmedia.com/

 

While the website has a sleek and nice appearance, the actual content makes you scratch your head. Notice the capitalized emphasis on the words “American Made”, as well as the emphasis on “we have invested over 20 years into the knowledge we have…” It sounds a little odd, but let us take a deeper look:

 

Redline Technologies Website - Dragonworks Performance
Redline Technologies Website – Dragonworks Performance

 

Browsing into the website a little further we come across this, a familiar sight in many chiptuning scams: OUTRAGEOUS HORSEPOWER CLAIMS!!!

 

Dragonworks Website Performance Chip Gains
Dragonworks Website Performance Chip Gains

 

Do you like how it seems that horsepower just grows on trees? Who knew! Seriously? Are we truly expected to believe outrageous claims of 97HP gains on a STOCK CADILLAC ESCALADE from a simple OBD plugin device? Either the definition of horsepower is changing or something is rotten in Denmark (or MUCH closer than that)! In reality, these kinds of gains are hard to achieve, even with heavily modified vehicles with real upgrades, not just an OBD plug in device.

Another concerning statement from the website:

 

Dragonworks Performance Chips Custom Tuned
Dragonworks Performance Chips Custom Tuned

 

They now claim that they “program a tune specifically for your engine and any modifications done to your vehicle (if there are any)”. So now they program your vehicle modifications into the chip before it ships, but earlier they claimed it was a program that ADJUSTED to your vehicle and any modifications you installed later on. Which is it? All of this, including the drop-down vehicle selector, which enables you to select any engine size, including ones that do not exist for certain vehicles, are enough to make me suspicious already. Remember, a “one size fits all device” is usually not legit.

 

Their performance chip products are advertised like this on the website: “ABOUT OUR COMPANY
We started out as many of you; we were a group of car enthusiasts and we would buy performance chips for our cars (along with other performance parts) always looking to get just a little more performance gain. Over time we learned that each type of chip and tune on the market had its positives and negatives. Most chips on the market would boast performance gains but we could barely notice any changes at all, even on dyno we would see at best 10hp gain. And they were always locked to the basic stock vehicle unless you went with a custom tune. Custom tunes were great and would be adjusted as you modify your vehicle more but they cost several hundreds to thousands of dollars to get. So, we decided to create our own chip for our cars. We brought together the cost-effective design of a plug-in chip with the unique “self-learn” program that would give you further adjustments as you modify your vehicle even further just like you get with a custom tune without all the costs.”

Sounds like a nice summary, except for the part about “so, we decided to create our own chip for our cars”. It may just be us, but given the NUMEROUS scam devices which look identical to this one, we are just a TAD bit skeptical they created anything. My suspicion is leaning towards another rebranded scam from China. However, we could be wrong 😉

While the Dragonfire Performance chip is no longer available on the website or their ebay store, their newer variants are. The feedback does make one wonder what is going on:

 

Dragonworks Ebay Feedback
Dragonworks Ebay Feedback

 

A 100% positive feedback score? Either this is a magic product or something is going on behind the scenes. It reminds you of your old school days when you wish you could change your “F” grades to A’s and pass that tough course you couldn’t seem to master. However, imagine changing ALL your “F” grades to A’s. Not B’s, not C’s, all A’s. Wouldn’t that be more likely to arouse the principal’s suspicion? (At least throw a few C’s and B’s in there.) If this feedback score is accurate, with that many sales, there are bound to be some negatives or neutrals. That is unless ebay is being asked to remove negatives for one of their powersellers (which they have been known to do in the past).

https://www.reddit.com/r/Ebay/comments/h9q9bh/why_is_ebay_deleting_honest_neutral_and_negative/

A clue as to why this is was actually inside the package with the Dragonfire Performance chip:

 

Illuminationz-1 Feedback Bribe Redline Technologies Card Back
Illuminationz-1 Feedback Bribe Redline Technologies Card Back
Illuminationz-1 Feedback Bribe Redline Technologies Card Front

 

So, in exchange for a positive feedback, the buyer is bribed with a $5 paypal payment. Still, this does not account for buyers who may truly have issues with the module and cannot leave negative feedback (or make it stick).

Aside from the dishonesty of ebay, there is yet ANOTHER discrepancy. Yes, oh yes, the infamous ‘suspicious dyno’ routine. On their website they posted a link to what should be a dyno run proving gains for their performance module. When you view the video, all you see is an ad for the Dragonworks brand. They have another video which boasts the following horsepower gains:

Dragonworks Performance Chip Suspicious Dyno Results on Youtube
Dragonworks Performance Chip Suspicious Dyno Results on Youtube

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GyEn1Anlxc

Now it is 75HP and 63 torque gains – wow – on a STOCK  Chrysler 300! Why didn’t Chrysler just add this power into the stock vehicle to begin with and sell more powerful cars? Perhaps these guys know more than Chrysler and are just that good!

 

 

COST

The price for the Dragonfire Performance Chip was $69.97 and their newer variants, the Elite Performance Chip sells for $59.99 and the Elite Plus Performance Chip sells for $79.99 on their website.

 

 

CASE / PACKAGING

The products we last reviewed looked somewhat different, but the Dragonfire Performance Chip does have some STRIKING similarities to the infamous NitroOBD performance chip scam:

 

 

Nitro OBD2 Scam Chip vs Dragonfire Performance Chip
Nitro OBD2 Scam Chip vs Dragonfire Performance Chip

 

Both cases or blister packs are identical, most likely from the same supplier. Still, what if we told you there was something on the actual insert that the company wasn’t aware of that DIRECTLY links this to the well-known NitroOBD2 ‘nicolay’ scam? Are you ready for it? Check this out:

 

Dragonfire Performance Chip Linked by QR Code directly to NitroOBD Performance Chip Scam
Dragonfire Performance Chip Linked by QR Code directly to NitroOBD Performance Chip Scam

 

We suspected the product was made in China, based on the simple fact we have seen so many of these scams in the same shape and size, with varying colors and logos attached to them. However, in this case, the QR code is the smoking gun on the source of this product, and we have not even looked at the module itself yet! Thanks to the QR code decoding tool at inliteresearch.com, we were able to extract a website link from it:

 

QR Code on Dragonfire Performance Packaging Decoded
QR Code on Dragonfire Performance Packaging Decoded

 

Here is the link extracted from the QR code:

https://m.dhgate.com/product/2015-hot-sale-obd2-chip-tuning-box- nitroobd2/254878722.html#fromTDCode

This link brings us to dhgate.com, an ecommerce site specializing in products from Asia and countries outside of the USA. The link specifically brings us to the product page for an earlier version of, you guessed it, the NitroOBD2 performance chip scam, sold by ‘orientautoservices’. (I thought they said their performance products were “American made in house”? Whoops!):

 

NitroOBD2 Product Page on DhGate
NitroOBD2 Product Page on DhGate

 

Not enough? Here is yet another goof that Redline Technologies didn’t realize was on the insert, put there by the company that made them in China:

 

Dragonfire Performance Chip UPC Code Location
Dragonfire Performance Chip UPC Code Location

 

This UPC barcode, 6936070000012, returns the following product result on amazon:

 

Dragonfire UPC Code Same as Nitro OBD2 on Amazon
Dragonfire UPC Code Same as Nitro OBD2 on Amazon

 

Yet another link to the Nitro OBD scam! It is the same upc, meaning this must just be a variation of the NitroOBD performance chip scam.

This alone is enough to determine the source of this product, but we will press on to the actual Dragonfire Performance Chip by Redline Technologies. So far the packaging looks identical on the outside, but are they indeed the same inside?

 

 

 

INTERNAL ANALYSIS

We obtained a Dragonfire Performance Chip and disassembled the outer plastic shell. The inside looked unique and was a single circuit board, but as with previous scams, we just cannot seem to find the microprocessor! It’s like someone is trying to hide it – imagine that!

 

Dragonfire Performance Chip by Redline Technologies Disassembled View Top
Dragonfire Performance Chip by Redline Technologies Disassembled View Top

 

We can also see that several pins are not even soldered to the connector – pins 1,2,3,9,10,11,12,13. This makes the chip useless for several older vehicles that do not use the newer CAN standard. Big shock at this point. While playing the where’s Waldo game, we did eventually find the microprocessor chip – it was hiding underneath where no one can easily identify it:

 

Dragonfire Performance Chip Microprocessor Hidden on Underside of Circuit Board
Dragonfire Performance Chip Microprocessor Hidden on Underside of Circuit Board

 

 

After finding the microprocessor, we desoldered the board and removed it from the connector to reveal the bottom.

 

Dragonfire Performance Chip Bottom Circuit Board Removed Analysis
Dragonfire Performance Chip Bottom Circuit Board Removed Analysis

 

We can see the cut pins from the bottom side and also notice there is a place for the crystal / resonator, but it is not populated. This means it cannot be a PIC16F59 microprocessor, like in previous chip scams. A closer look at the chip further confirms our suspicions about this being a fraud:

 

Dragonfire Performance Chip Microprocessor MCU analysis
Dragonfire Performance Chip Microprocessor MCU analysis

 

The microprocessor is an STC8F2K08S2 chip. It gets worse. This chip is only made by one company, “STC”, which is headquartered in China, with known ties to the Chinese government:

 

STC Micro Company Information
STC Micro Company Information

 

 

STC8F2K08S2 MCU Made by STC in China
STC8F2K08S2 MCU Made by STC in China

 

Now that we know where the chip was made (China), and where the packaging was made (China), we know the company selling this has fibbed! However, can the product still deliver on their claims? We need to find out more about this chip. We located the datasheet and low and behold, it is in Chinese and had to be translated:

 

STC Datasheet
STC Datasheet

 

We found the page that refers to the STC8F2K08S2 MCU and located the specifications for it:

 

STC8F2K08S2 MCU Specs
STC8F2K08S2 MCU Specs

 

Notice this mcu only has a flash size of 8KB! The usual choice used by previous scam performance modules was the PIC16F59, which had only a 3KB memory size.

We know that most legitimate vehicle maps are 512KB or larger, depending on the vehicle model and configuration:
https://mechanics.stackexchange.com/questions/69265/ecu-tune-file-formats

While we know this sized memory cannot contain genuine vehicle map data, it could definitely fit a simple light flashing routine, which is exactly what previous scam modules have been proven to contain.

From these facts, we can clearly see that the Dragonfire Performance Chip by Redline Technologies is not what it claims to be. Our first suspicions were correct. No 97HP gains for you! Darn! The Dragonfire Performance Chip by Redline Technologies is simply another of the many light flasher scams with a colored case added!

To confirm this, we connected the Dragonfire chip to a vehicle and drove for two weeks, going through multiple fill-ups and noticed no difference in fuel economy, performance or any other vehicle behaviour. (We now know why). There was absolutely no 97HP gain, and we didn’t even need a dyno to notice! Most drivers can easily detect an increase of 10HP or more even without additional tools / gauges.

To confirm further that the programming inside the microprocessor is indeed the same as the numerous verified Nitro OBD scams we previously reviewed, we connected both modules to a 12V power supply on the bench and noted the blink intervals of the led lights (OUR BLINK TEST):

 

Blink Test - Nitro OBD Tuning Box Scam vs Dragonfire Performance Chip Review
Blink Test – Nitro OBD Tuning Box Scam vs Dragonfire Performance Chip Review

 

Blink Test Video: https://youtu.be/8LalJBrk4Hw

Both the Nitro OBD tuning scam (Left) and the Dragonfire Performance Chip (Right) blinked at EXACTLY the same interval! Same programming, same blinking interval, same scam (but pretty lights though!).

You may have noticed the previous scams blinked in a different pattern (like a standby interval). This is explained in the original NitroOBD videos at the top of this article. Basically the NitroOBD has been found to change patterns depending on the activity of the vehicle pins. It has one mode which simulates blinking lights to make the user think it is communicating with the vehicle. When the pin has no activity, it blinks slowly as if in a low power or standby mode (although it has no ability to truly enter a sleep mode, this is just a light pattern change). We showed with the previous scams that they all exhibit the ‘sleep’ light pattern and this latest scam also does this. As with the other scams, it can also enter what we call the fake ‘activity’ pattern, which is what we saw in this latest test. Needless to say, both modules exhibited the same blink pattern, although the Dragonfire chip (right) seemed to enter the pattern a second faster than the older NitroOBD scam (left). The reason for this is the microprocessor is the newer STC, but the program still operates the same, showing us it is the same source and same program, just ported from the older PIC16F59 to the newer STC mcu. Sad!

 

CONCLUSION

From our research as well as testing we find that the Dragonfire Performance Chip by Redline Technologies is just another duck, I mean Nitro OBD scam. Nice try! Don’t CHIP in your hard earned money for this one – you’re better off to buy a BAG OF POTATO CHIPS!

If after all this, you STILL are considering purchasing this product, here is our response:

 

Dragonfire Performance Chip Redline Technologies
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