State of the Union

So, brief update:

I’m now a “Developer Technology Engineer” at AMD. It’s pretty awesome, but doing things like solving perf problems in a VR title without source access is difficult.

Honestly, graphics debugging and profiling is a black art, even when it’s your own code.

But, yeah: no pressure. 8-(

The kids are getting older, and I’m getting older, too. I’ve been ‘fraid of changing, ’cause I built my life around… Uhhh, no Stairway.

We’re having a boy! Only four more to go before I have to stop making fun of my brother.

My new office/workshop is not even remotely done, but I still spend 8-12 hours a day here. I’m loving the 172 foot commute from the house. My lovely wife bought a beer fridge for the shop last year, and I’m now building her a dining room table. Mastering a bunch of different joinery techniques was not easy. I still wouldn’t say I’ve mastered them but, hey, it’s close enough for a carpenter.

The universe does not want me to have a left index finger. I have a 2″ longitudinal scar from a flap disk (removing paint and welding high points from the Solstice door and quarter panel), then took most of my fingernail off on my router table. Despite initial fears of accidental auto-exsanguination, my finger tip actually looks fine – but the nail resembles Florida.

VR: The Vive is dusty, the Rift software is most frequent cause for a reboot, and the Touch controllers are very cool.

I’ll be presenting at GDC this year:

David Lively, Developer Technology Engineer, AMD

… which should be fun. If you’re in the area, swing by and say “Hi1”

(If you say “hi one”, I’ll know you read my blog. and may find a reason to excuse myself as to avoid uncomfortable conversation.)

Cheers

Housekeeping

There are 879 unread comments waiting for my attention.

I’d estimate that exactly(yes, I give exact estimates) two are not spam.

So, if you need to contact me, find another way. Get creative – it’s not difficult. A few years ago, a reader sent me a text about a blog post and apologized since he couldn’t find my email address. (I was impressed and did what I could to help him out.)

Cheers!

**Update**

Comments are now completely disabled, everywhere. Text or email me.

North Texas Camaro Club – Autocross Fun in the Solstice in Burleson

I got to rip up some tires with my family yesterday!

My Solstice. Yes, the dashboard is from a Sky.
My Solstice. Yes, the dashboard is from a Sky.

So much fun! Dad’s Camaro SS wound up getting disqualified due to noise restrictions at this venue (100 dB at 50ft). So, he, my brother and law and our co-track junky Tony wound up sharing the Solstice.

My times weren’t quite as good as theirs (all three of them have much more track experience than do I), but I managed to pull off a respectable 36.985s, which was the fastest novice time for the day.

The car did very well, especially considering that it was shared among four drivers and spent the entire day running the course. The only down side was a little extra wear  on my street tires (I left the R1s at home) and burning a lot of gas.

I’m most proud of how the car performed because I built it. It was also entertaining that  my hail-damaged, very dirty Solstice beat so many more expensive, polished-with-a-diaper, faster-in-theory cars.

I can’t wait for the next event. Thanks for the NTCC for hosting the event and my lovely wife, Audrey, for putting up with my hobby.

Here’s some video of Dad’s Camaro before it got kicked out, then Matt,  Tony and myself in the  Solstice. I’m the guy in the red hoody.

 

G35 Fun

So, having the Solstice in pieces wasn’t enough fun. The engine in my 06 G35 coupe blew a couple of weeks ago. Over the holiday weekend, I finally got a chance to get it in the air and see what the problem really was. Before this, I was hoping I was just looking at a rebuild instead of an entirely new engine.

No suck luck.

Hood and grill off, ready to get to work!

G35, No Grill

Uh, oh:

Well, thar's yer prob'em.

I’m not really an expert mechanic, but I’m pretty sure the rod is NOT supposed to stick out of the side of the engine.

 

More roddy goodness

It’s alive (again)!

A little while back, I blew the engine in my 06 Solstice (toy track car). A vacuum / boost reference line running to the wastegate worked it’s way loose (I really need to buy stock in LocTite), and, in an episode of spirited driving, the turbo went full-boost.

That means about +30PSI, as opposed to the +7PSI that I’m targeting.

And, the result:

Good times.

In the process of replacing the engine, I installed a full set of DDM braces (strut tower, rear cross member, backbone/driveshaft closeout panel), a Spec aluminum flywheel, and Wilwood 6-piston, 14″ front brakes. (The rear 4-piston FLS set will wait until I figure out a parking brake solution.)

It’s still blowing white smoke out the exhaust. Since I’m not losing any coolant or any other fluid, no leaks, etc., I think it’s just burning off what’s left from when the original engine blew.

Word to the wise: check your harness grounds! We spent the better part of a week chasing what turned out to be a loose ground in the engine bay fuse block.

 

It’s alive! Alive, I say!

We finished up the Werks Stage 1 turbo install over the holiday break.

Holy crap, this thing is fast.  HP Tuners is showing 23 PSI max manifold pressure, or around 8-9 PSI of boost (given ambient atmospheric pressure of 1 bar or 14.5 PSI). I had a CEL for a day and a half, but it’s since disappeared.

The (otherwise stock) car now spins the tires under WOT in second gear, at just about any RPM. HP Tuners shows a 0-60 time in the 5 second range, which is a huge improvement.

Fun part: when we started the car for the first time, it revved to redline for about 30 seconds, then almost died, then revved back up, then down, and eventually settled on a rough idle around 2k RPM. My best guess is this was the ECU trying to figure out how to deal with the larger fuel injectors. Of course, after reflashing the ECU with the tune I received from Performance Autowerks, it calmed down quite a bit.

There’s still some pretty bad hesitation when going from cruise to WOT, and I’m in the process of iterating the tune with Dave @ Performance Autowerks.

(BTW, Werks is a great company – very helpful, responsive and professional. I recommend getting your next toy from them.)

I’m planning on taking it up to the dyno in McKinney once the tune is a little more dialed in.

Engine-driverBack to work!

D

Solstice 2.4 Werks Turbo Install

I picked up a 2006 Solstice 2.4 NA a few weeks ago for use as a track and autocross car. It’s a great car – light(ish) weight, awesome suspension, 5 speed (6 would’ve been nice), and, of course, it’s a convertible which is always good.

My only complaint is that it is a little underpowered. The stock configuration only makes about 177hp (or about 140whp), which is just unacceptable. Having to shift from 5th to 3rd to pass on the highway is annoying. My daily driver – an 06 G35 coupe – makes a little over 300hp at the crank, and it’s my kid hauler.

So, what to do?

TURBO TURBO TURBO MUAHAHAHAH

(I’d rather to an LS1 swap, but that’s going to have to wait until my toy budget is replenished.)

So, I picked up a second-hand, but never installed,  Performance Autowerks (aka, Werks) Stage 1 300HP kit  from eBay for much less than retail. Between the price of the car and the turbo, I’m still many thousands of dollars ahead of where I’d been if I bought a stock GXP.

My Dad and I spent last weekend tearing the car apart and getting about 90% of the way through the installation. Unfortunately, I left the instructions at home in Dallas, and his shop is in Oklahoma, so we just winged it.

Here’s the car, sans some components:

Solstice in pieces

Dad making some sparks (cutting off a small chunk of a bracket to get everything to fit:)

Dad making sparks SOME of the kit components. (There are a LOT.)

Solstice Turbo Installation 314More to come at some point in the future.