SLC Day 5 Report

I’m on day 5 of having the SLC in house and have had a great time putting a bunch of stuff together. I sort of have a number of projects going at the same time since I a) like variety but more importantly b) am close or already stuck on a bunch of them due to missing parts.

After getting all the bodywork off on Sunday, we were able to get the front and rear clip stored below the decks in our yard, out of sight to us and basically out of sight to our neighbors as well. The various other small panels all made their way into the basement as well. The only section which we could not get out there is the center section, which you can see standing upright in the back right in the picture. There’s just no way it would even come close to fitting through the door frames like the one on the left in the picture. Calisthenics are now required to do laundry, but hey, not my problem, right? (kidding, it definitely is!)

So anyway, here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve done so far.

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The SLC Arrives!

Alright, the day has finally come and the SuperLite Coupe has safely made it into the garage. Very exciting of course and it wasn’t as tough to get it in there as it could have been. I did get pretty lucky though and I have some really great friends who I can’t thank enough.

The truck came around 8 am and after quickly looking up at the hill towards the general direction of my house, they called me and say “no way we’re gonna make it up there”. I was prepared for that to happen and due to a stroke of luck, my friend Ryan had the keys to our other friend’s Matt’s Ford F-150 Raptor who in turn had borrowed a flatbed trailer from Chris who we race Lemons with. How lucky. Unbeknownst to Matt’s slumbering self, Ryan commandeered the truck and trailer and met me at the shipper’s truck. Fortuitously, the trailer was about as flat as can be and had a very low Porsche on it the prior day, so we knew we could get a car that was sitting at best 2″ off the ground onto the trailer.

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A working IVI system prototype

I’ve written about the IVI system for the SLC before here, but since then I’ve made a few changes, added a few things and put together a live demo of it. Before you check out the demo below, here is a quick overview of the progress I’ve made:

  1. I bought an embedded computer with the right Intel Crown Bay chipset, but had to return it of a variety of reasons to with hardware support and functionality. Instead I will be using the Nexcom VTC 1000 system, which is the Tizen IVI reference platform. Couple of questions around the display which I need to work out before I order, but that will be the one.
  2. I rewrote the front end from scratch to use jQuery mobile and a different gauge library. This allows various gestures and much more customizable gauges.
  3. I bought a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) hub that connects via USB to provide both pressure and temperature of the tires.

Check out the video below – a live demo of what I’ve put together so far. I would really appreciate any feedback you might have on current functionality, features to build, data to visualize (and how), logical organization/flow, etc. Note that things like nav and audio are part of a base system and this app is just meant for the car data. Either comment below or send me an email at tim@timtt.com. Thanks!

Fuel Surge Tank Assembly

A fuel surge tank (a.k.a. swirl pot, reservoir) is an integral part of a modern electronic fuel injected race car. Many modern high performance cars have them as well, especially once with turbocharged engines. Its purpose is to ensure the engine has a constant and uninterrupted supply of fuel even while the car is in a corner which is pushing all the gas in your main tank to one side. When that happens, the main tank pump can’t pick any fuel up and starts pumping air, which is not good and in a worst-case scenario can blow your engine. Continue reading

The beginnings of an In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) System

In-Vehicle Infotainment is a slightly silly (IMO…) word for the center dash display of a modern car. It’s the system that runs the audio, GPS, settings, etc. on the car via a touchscreen LCD. I want to put the same in my car, but since this isn’t your run-of-the-mill production vehicle, I want to do some specialized functionality like diagnosing the data coming from the car. More or less the only choice I therefore have is to develop my own home-grown system, which I’m actually very excited about. Combing cars and computers into one sounds like lots of fun to me.

Typically, most folks build these “carputers” (the names just get better…) to plug into an existing car and mostly for the “tainment” rather than the “info” reasons. In my case, it’s a little bit different as I am much more focused on having access to all of the data floating around the car than anything else. Entertainment is icing on the cake, so for now I plan to display the data coming off a Controller Area Network (CAN) bus onto the center dash and I’ll be happy once I achieve that reliably. So what is can then? CAN is an automotive industry standard developed by Robert Bosch GmbH in the 1980’s for having various electronics communicate within a car.

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Putting a salvage Porsche transmission in an SLC

Here’s a cool video that not only outlines a program from GM where you can build your own LS7 or LS9 engine, but also is a sort of follow-up to my previous post on finding a transmission. In the video you can see what a G97/50 from a 997 Porsche looks like, which is very similar to my G96/50 from a 996 GT3. I had the work done by the same folks that are mentioned, Stan from GBox.

Luckily for me, I’m mating a Porsche transaxle to the engine it was taken off from and I can reuse the starter and clutch. Both aren’t the cheapest parts when you compare to your run-of-the-mill starters and clutch packs. The one thing that does need to happen on my car is an adapter plate like is done in the video. You’d think you don’t when it’s an engine and transaxle from the same car, but it turns out that when you invert the transaxle, the bolts slightly conflict and so the transaxle needs to be mounted at a 3 degree offset. This is no biggie, even though you now need to move the clutch by the thickness of the spacer. All things that have been done successfully before.

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A few videos of the SLC

Stacey David’s “Gearz” TV show on SPEED is doing a build of the SLC this season. The first episode with the build will air on Monday 3/19 at 9 pm, but a few videos have been released about the build.

The first one gives you a pretty good primer on the kit car business and the basics of the SLC:

The second one which I can’t seem to embed in WordPress has a lot more detail about the chassis and the beginning of the construction: http://www.streetfire.net/video/gearz-superlite-coupe-slc-super-car_2379571.htm

This is going to be fun, obviously. 🙂

The engine has landed

After much deliberation, looking at a ton of engines, talking to lots of motor and electronics folks and almost making a deal that I then had to back out of, I’ve finally purchased an engine. As it happens with these kinds of things, the engine I bought basically was under my nose ready to purchased from the time I first started looking for engines and transmissions, but I had to take my own long path to get there. Thankfully, I again learned a lot though and I think I got a pretty decent deal on it.

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My first documented pass

I’ll likely have a few more racing videos soon, but here’s the first pass that’s on tape vs. a car that’s a legitimate contender. I’ve passed plenty of cars which were clearly slower, but this is a car I chased for a while, got close, struggled to get by due to the huge power disadvantage and then finally passed on what may have been the only possible spot – a long 180 degree sweeper.

 

To give some context, I’m driving a 1988 Honda CRX with a 4-cylinder early 90’s STI engine that maybe does 100 HP on a good day. Light car, good handling in corners, but lowish power and no chance on the straights. The Crown Vic has an 8-cylinder and an upgraded 5-speed Tremec transmission. Mediocre cornering, seemingly ok brakes, huge power in the straights.

So it came down to driver skill and I’ve been going from bad/slow to sluggish/hey-I-can-finally-pass-someone. Woohoo!