A Camera For The Car

A Picture from the camera mounted in the car

A Picture from the camera mounted in the car

I received a Countour HD Camera as a Christmas gift, which is just about the perfect thing to receive, aside from cool car parts ;-) It’s basically like other semi-ruggedized cameras in that it has an aluminum case and meant to stand up to some abuse. This sort of thing would be perfect for, say, a drag car. Because of their size, they’re not created to produce the best images in the world because of the lack of optics on the thing.

Even still, It should give me a great reference to check out my driving, consistency, track conditions and even a rough idea of engine RPM and boost levels. This will be a really good tool for me to be able to use for my own purposes. And, of course, it gives me a way to let other people ride in the car, even if they can’t actually experience every sense of what it’s like. If you really want to know what it’s like, you’ll have to build your own ;-)

The ContourHD Mounted to my roll cage

The ContourHD Mounted to my roll cage

I think I spent about 20 minutes on the mount for the camera. the camera itself comes with a flat-surface mount, is essentially foam-rubber and apparently designed to dampen vibration. I have no flat surfaces in the center of the car with which to mount it, so I whipped up something quickly. After all, it really didn’t make sense to make it all that complicated. I had some stock .125″ 6061 aluminum laying around and ordered up a vibration-dampening pipe clamp from McMaster-Carr (one of my favorite places to shop, since they carry almost everything) that was the appropriate ID of my roll cage tubing. Then, I drilled a few holes in the 6061 plate, put a few rivet-nuts in the vibration-dampening clamp and bolted the whole setup to my roll cage. Now, until I get the car running and tuned and on the track I will have no idea how well this will actually work, but time will tell. I’ll let you see the results. I’m hoping it will be okay.

It runs – again! :-o

Over the weekend I worked on getting the new Haltech Platinum Sport 1000 installed in the Talon. Previously, as I said earlier, I was running an E6S-8, which was just too limiting for me and what I want to do with the car.

So, Saturday afternoon I spent a couple of hours pulling the old ECU out of the car, and putting the new ECU into the car. It was pretty straight forward in that I was able to pull the pins out of my existing Haltech connector and install them into the new Sport 1000’s connector without too many problems. Throughout the whole exercise, I ended up having to crimp and splice about 10 wires into the system, and five of those were ground wires! The new Haltech has a concept of a set of pins exclusively for sensor ground which the old ECU didn’t have along with multiple grounds to be used for the Haltech itself, whereas the E6S only has one ECU ground pin. I also ended up re-wiring the shielded cables that the Haltech uses, since the old setup bundled all the grounds for a bunch of items into one big ball of solder (Haltech did that from the factory!)

So, after the new cables, I turned it on and hoped that it would start. And it did. Pretty easily. No drama, no issues, no problems. The battery compensation map needs to be adjusted, and it runs rich in general, but it’s not bad. I will have to do some tuning though, no doubt.

Randomly, Q16 is weird fuel. You know your brain cells are dying, and you know it’s not good for you, but you don’t mind the smell anyway. It’s weird.

Haltech Platinum Sport 1000 for the Talon

I’ve been using an old Haltech E6S-8 to tune the Talon for the past two seasons, but have been pretty limited on what I am able to do with it. I was mainly having issues with the fact that the MAP sensor algorithm on it is pretty messed up.

Early last year, I made a MAP sensor scaler to scale the voltages coming out of a 5 bar sensor down to something that the E6S would be able to handle. This helped me keep resolution on the MAP while still being able to run the amount of boost that I wanted to run. The scaler works correctly, and the MAP sensor works correctly, but the Haltech has a fit with both of them. The issue with this old E6S is that the ECU samples the MAP sensor when it’s first switched on, and uses that as the 0 position of all of it’s maps. And, the way the Haltech is setup, it’s limited to a 3 bar sensor. This should just be a software setting (The software needs to know what MAP sensor you’re using to show you where any particular load level is – IE 30psi of boost is at bar 32) – but otherwise, the E6S should just linearly scale all other values. It’s a complicated explanation and unfortunately I am having a rough time coming up with a simpler way of explaining it. What it boils down to, though, is that a 4 bar MAP sensor should make my 0 position roughly position 6 on my fuel map, but the way the E6S is setup, it’s still at bar 11. This effectively limits me rescaling my existing maps in a linear fashion, and defeats the purpose of trying to scale the signal in the first place. Other ECUs don’t work this way, not even something as old as the E6K. In addition to these limitations, it was harder to deal with having to run DOSBOX on a laptop and try to conserve power and the thing only logged about 4 or 5 samples a second on a good day, downhill. It allowed me some data, but not nearly the amount of information I really need to be able to pick up anything funky that may happen. Aside from these issues, in order to really be able to read data effectively, Mark spent a fair amount of time reverse engineering the Haltech datalogging binary information and putting together a log reader to use to read .HDL files so that we’d be able to more quickly read through logfiles, since the log screen lets you see about 12 lines at any given time in the old DOS software, and you can’t display all the data points that are logged at any given time. Welcome to 1991 :-p The plus side of these issues, though, were that I learned more about the Haltech than I ever wanted to know.

To fix this stuff, I contacted Jay at – he’s been around a long time and makes some other good products – I’m also running his Alternator Relo kit on the Talon. He gave me a good price on a Haltech Platinum Sport 1000. I don’t know anyone else running one, but hey I’m a glutton for punishment so I ponied up the cash for it. I decided to go with this over an AEM for a bunch of reasons. First off, the E6S, E6K, E6X and other ECU’s all use the same AMP connector. While the connector is physically different from the Sport series, the pins inside the connector are the same. If I’m good, I can remove the pins from my E6S’s connector and put them into my new Sport connector with some minor shuffling of wires. If I don’t luck out, I may need to run a couple wires, but it’s a lot better than making an entirely new harness to upgrade to a new ECU. The other main reason I chose this was because of the software. I spent a bunch of time re-familiarizing myself with the AEM software. Back in the day, I tuned an AEM for a friend of mine, and absolutely hated all of the modifier tables for everything on the AEM. I also hated the complete lack of documentation and the table values containing completely arbitrary numbers – was I modifying an absolute value, a percentage or what?! I guess when you’re running a street car and have all the street time to tune an ECU it’s one thing, but I don’t have that kind of runtime on this car so I want a simpler setup.

The new ECU Manager software from Haltech is actually not terrible, which is a compliment to them in a way. It’s much more familiar coming from their old DOS software, and is no more complex than it needs to be in order to fulfill the available tuning options. I like that I can size many maps to my liking – If I don’t want a 16×16 fuel map, I can take columns or rows out – and I can specify the values of the columns and rows if I chose to do so. I can also specify calibrations for differing sensors, with many popular sensors calibrations already programmed in the software. They also have a powerful number of setup options, and one of my two favorite things about the new hardware are the fact that I can finally setup a closed loop boost controller, and that I can setup launch anti-lag. Awesome. I’ll let you know how the install goes :-)

My 2010 TODO list for the Talon

So, what’s going on lately with the Talon? There’s a small list of things that I need to do that are general maintenance items, along with some other enhancements that I’m working on. They follow in no particular order:

I ordered and received a new Trans Brake solenoid for the Powerglide. The existing solenoid works okay, but seems to weep fluid from it, and I’m not quite sure why it did that. So, I’ve decided that the best thing to do is replace the whole thing. That should fix that problem ;-)

I also ordered a new brake discs for one of the front brakes. The car had a slight shimmy on the top end slowing down, and throwing a dial indicator on my discs showed that my left front was about .015 from being completely straight. The new one is .005″, which is about the same as all the other discs on the car. Now, I just have to remember to drive it around a little bit before making a run to season that one up a bit.

I have also been working on a somewhat ridiculous project – data acquisition. Oh sure, I could have gone out and purchased a complete system, but I feel that existing systems have ridiculous price to performance ratios. Most systems cost somewhere in the 600-800 range and end up having severely limited inputs. (under 5 analog inputs, and only one or two digital inputs) and I just couldn’t have that. Or, you end up spending in the $2000+ range to have some actually adequate inputs. So, I’ve created my own hardware, and am in the middle of writing software for it. The system will sport four thermocouple inputs, Driveshaft and Tachometer RPM, four digital inputs and 12 analog inputs with a full 0-5V range on them. I will be able to log lots of stuff with them. And, I have multiple inputs – four of them to be exact. The total cost for all four units will be less than the cost of the lowest end data acquisition systems I could find. Of course, this just reinforces what kind of geek I am. a cheap one!

Time to get back to working on the datalogger…

2009 Recap

I haven’t particularly kept the site up through the 2009 season, and for that I apologize. I have been wanting to revamp large portions of the site but have not spent the time to do so. I have also had a lot of stuff happening in life that has prevented me from doing work to the car that I’ve wanted to do, so I haven’t made very many updates to the car itself.

Yes, it’s November and has been a long time since I last updated the site. I did do an update earlier this year to the layout and some of the content, and released it to the public, but it ended up making the site even more confusing. Over the past weekend though, I went through all of that, and ended up revamping the whole thing. The original site is now gone, replaced with a site that should be much more clear and concise while still providing detailed information about the build for those of you who are looking for it. With any luck, it will also help me out with Search Engines, as Google seems to think is all about chromoly rollcage construction and not about my Eagle Talon at all. Traffic has dropped on the site substantially, so hopefully that will pick back up here, too.

Anyway, getting away from the site news and onto other news, in March of this year I found out that I was losing my job at the end of June. That generally puts a damper on your race season, which is why there haven’t been many updates to the site. Michigan’s economy is exceptionally out-of-shape, so it’s been a challenge to find a new position that’s right for me. But at this point, it’s been just over three months since I started work as a Software Architect for a small company in Brighton, MI – one town over from where I live. It’s a great fit for me and I enjoy working with the people I work with, so I’m back on track as far as the job front goes.

Going into race season knowing you have no job in 2 months makes for some interesting decisions to be made. Right away I purchased 10 gallons of Q16 to last the season, and pretty much sat on them it came time to attend the events that I had already planned on attending.

Event #1 was my Birthday. My favorite thing to do on my birthday is go to the track. this year? Rick, Christyn and I drove up to Mid Michigan Motorplex where I only got one run in before rain came. Clicked off a 9.70@138mph without so much as a hiccup. It was a nice pass, and I knew it would be fast within the first 60 feet. When I first heard/felt the front end land back onto the pavement I thought “That’s weird, I haven’t felt that before?” and then the car started getting a little squirrely at the top of first, right before half track. I drove through it, and then ran into some more track at around the 1/4 mile mark that wouldn’t hold my power, either. I let up around the 1000′ mark, and then slowed the car down after tripping the lights. When I came around to the timing shack, I was very surprised to get a 9.70 slip, but very happy about it at the same time. I had all intention of making another pass, but 20 minutes later the sky opened up and we had to call it a day.
Event #2 was PINKS All Out in Martin, Michigan in the beginning of July. This was a followup to last year – I was extremely dissatisfied with the issues that we had at the event in Norwalk in 2007, so I wanted to make a good showing this time around. We showed up to the track early, got a great pit stop, lucked out with great pit-neighbors and within 10 minutes of unloading the car, we had a producer from PAO come up to our pit and made my car a feature car. What’s that? Well, it means that I get to be in the lanes with all the other feature cars, they do an interview and take some footage of the car. All in all, they interviewed me for about 15 minutes, asking all sorts of questions about the car. They also spent about 1/2 an hour taking footage of the car – underneath, inside, outside, all around. It was footage for PAO:Outtakes, but none of it so far has been used for anything. I made the cutting room floor :-o It was because the car performed horribly. I struggled all weekend with issues, and no amount of changing things up helped me out at all. I had spark plug wires pop off (valve cover gasket apparently leaked – RTV fixed it.) I wasn’t able to get up on the converter; I had ignition issues; tuning issues; all sorts of other stuff. We were also trying to slow the car down, because I do not have my IHRA license and the car has run a handful of sub 10.0 passes. when going through tech, the tech guy wrote “NO FASTER THAN 10.0!” all over my tech card. This was a little bit frustrating, but rules are rules, and I should have had the ability to break them. Anyway, poor showing for such a great beginning to an event. Had the car run well, we would have had a chance to make the show. They were calling out 10.20-10.40ET cars, so what I had planned on running would have been favorable for that group of cars. Unfortunately, all of my passes were aborted in some way.
The last event was the 2009 DSM Shootout: We had a great time – Mark came out from California and we went down to Norwalk, as usual. Met with friends and talked a lot on Saturday and then got our asses handed to us on Sunday. I competently qualified for the quick16, but was on the top end of the class barely making 9 second passes. It was hot outside, so I was down on mile-an-hour and on ET, too. The track was sticky though. Worked on a lot of small things on the car because the PINKS event brought so many questions. Before the shootout, I completely rewired the ignition setup with shielded triggers and then shielded all the high voltage lines for the coils themselves. This totally fixed all of the electrical issues that I had at PINKS.
Overall, it’s been a slow year. I am gearing up for 2010, though, because I have a lot of plans for the car. Stay tuned.

Pinks All Out at Summit Motorsports Park

Here’s my first pass at Pinks All Out, which also happens to be the first real pass in the car. The enormous burnout smoke is all mine – if you listen to the announcers, you’ll hear them talking about me not being able to see anything. I will post more about it later, but for now, here’s the video:

Current Updates

It’s been a long long time since I updated this page. I apologize :-) As is the case, life takes precedence every once in a while and those issues end up being more important than updating a website about a car, no matter how cool the car is. So, until I’m independently wealthy, I have to fit in updating the site when I’m not doing normal things required for life, or working the the car that this site is all about.

Speaking of the site, I have a lot of things swirling around in my head about what I want to do with it – I want to redesign it soon, but I don’t quite have it set in my head, and I don’t have the time to redesign it yet, so it will probably be like this for a bit longer. It hasn’t hurt yet…


You probably want to know what’s happening on the *car*, don’t you? Okay, I’ll get to that. Over the past four or five months, I’ve been doing a lot of random work on the car. There are hundreds of tiny projects, from making brackets to getting the rear tinwork finished up. And this is all I’ve been spending time on.

This series of events is in no particular order:

GT4202 covered in oil.

A lot of oil on the GT4202’s turbine wheel.

I took the turbo off the car to find out that the turbo’s sleeve bearings were leaking oil into the turbine housing (and the compressor housing – more on that later…) and that caused the car to burn quite a bit of oil. There are three things playing into this happening:

  • Oil Pressure
  • Oil Weight
  • Oil Drain

The oil pressure on the car is extremely high when the motor is cold. And by “high”, I mean around 85 psi. When I rev it, it shoots up to 90psi and higher. Why is it so high? (“Why wouldn’t he just port the oil filter housing?”)

My oil filter housing [i]is[/i] ported. It’s hogged out. The thing can’t get much larger than it is and still allow the relief valve to stay where it’s supposed to be without falling out.

I’m running 20w50 racing oil in the car. Racing is in the name, so it has to be good, right? No. That’s not why I’m running it. I’m running it because people have issues with 4g63’s and bearings getting beat up at high RPM with normal weight oil. Thicker oil seems to help with these issues. This doesn’t even begin to explain some other issues people have with oil pumps and stuff like that, but that’s for another post…

In addition to that, this engine has a natural tendency to want to run higher pressure. While that sounds naive, it’s not. The balance shafts have been removed, and the rod bearings are on the tight side of their specs. So, this means the oil pumping to the balance shaft passages isn’t being used, leading to higher oil pressure. It also means the oil coming out of the rod bearings has more restriction, even though it’s marginal (we’re talking a couple hundred thousandths) – and general engine freshness all lead to having naturally higher oil pressure. Even with a ported relief valve.

So, there are reasons that my oil pressure is high. Why would that affect my turbo? Well, I am running my oil feed right off the oil filter housing. This means that the turbo gets full oil pressure, instead of the restricted pressure that it would get if I fed the turbo through the head.

[b]So, really what I’m trying to say is[/b]: the turbo was normally getting between 85 and 90 psi of oil pressure, since the engine is normally on the cold side of things when it’s running, right now, when I’m playing with tuning and stuff like that in my garage. This leads to a lot of oil in my exhaust, all over my turbine and downpipe, and even a little bit in my intake manifold. Used burnt oil is gross.

Okay, back on track. Because of all this, I decided to find an oil pressure restrictor to put on the turbo oil feed line. After talking to Robert at Forced Performance, I decided to use an AN fitting I had laying around, and thought I would test some theoretical orifice sizing requirements. In order to do that, I’d have to have a way to independently measure the oil pressure to the turbo separate from the rest of the oiling system. This was accomplished by putting a gauge after the restrictor, inline with the turbo feed line. The result is another new gauge in the passenger wheel well, where I can see the turbo’s oil pressure at all times. Handy. So, onto testing. Here’s part of an email I sent to a friend:

I basically took an 1/8″ npt to 4an fitting, soldered it shut, and then drilled holes of various sizes in it. rinse and repeat. I started out with a ~.093 (3/32″ drill bit) orifice – and that resulted in about 5psi pressure drop around 80psi, but very little noticeable drop once the car was up to operating temp – full pressure was like 28psi. Then I went down to ~.078″ (5/64″ drill bit) but that was just around a 10psi pressure drop at 80psi, and about a 2psi pressure drop @28psi. Then, I dropped down to ~.0625″ (1/16″ bit) and now the oil pressure is 60psi at the turbo when the oil pressure is 80 psi. At idle, the oil pressure is 25psi when full pressure is 28psi. Anyway, I’m sticking with this for now. I don’t have a smaller drill bit ;-p And, the only step that I can go down to is the FP filter’s .030″ hole. I’m not ready to drop that low.

turbo oil pressure gauge

My turbo has it’s own oil pressure gauge

So, there you go – This is with, as the email states, around 80psi of oil pressure. The car was around 150 degrees operating temperature at the time of testing.

In addition to the new turbo oil restrictor, I also replaced the -8AN oil drain fitting with a -10AN fitting, along with a new -10AN turbo drain line, and -10AN bung on the oilpan. That was an enormous pain in the ass, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, right? If I had to do it all over, I would have started out with -10AN, and probably fed the turbo from the port on the head for the factory turbo oil feed line. It’s still a possibility for the future, but right now, It’s going to run how it’s set up. As my email suggests, I also purchased a turbo oil filter from Forced Performance, which has a nifty built in restrictor for ball bearing turbos. Since I’m not running a ball bearing turbo, I will have to drill it out to the restriction size I feel like I need to use. At this point, my turbo on my engine will probably use a .0625″ hole. It’s hard to find actual pressure information from anyone online, so I’m hoping this will help someone Googling for it :-)

Turbine Housing

Oh, yes, I forgot about the Turbine housing. After taking the car down to the shootout, the turbine housing started to get a little orange. [b]I am not a metallurgist[/b], but the GT42 housing appears to be a cast steel housing (it could be cast iron, but I don’t think it is – I think it’s steel) and the evening of the shootout, it rained. A lot. The car was outside on the trailer, so that led to a whole lot of exposure to generally humid conditions. All in all, the turbine housing has held up great. I’ve seen housings on race cars used for three months that are completely rusty, so the fact that this housing went three+ years sitting in a modestly controlled environment without much oranging at all is really quite nice. Even still, aside from me having personal issues with rust, it was time to get the housing coated so that it was protected and would also help with the underhood temps.

Ceramic coated GT4202 turbine housing

The GT4202’s turbine housing, coated with ceramic

So, after doing a bit of searching, I changed my mind and decided I wanted to go with someplace local – well, relatively local anyway. Kiggly suggested a place in Romulus Michigan called Exotic Coatings. And while I’m not so hot about their website, I’m very satisfied with their coating. They properly cleaned and media blasted my turbine housing, doing all the right prep work (they even understood what v-band flanges were ;-p) and then coated my turbine housing with a cast iron gray 2000 degree high temp coating. I’m very pleased with how the housing turned out, and they were even ahead of the schedule they gave me. they told me a week at least, but called me three days after I dropped it off and told me it was all set. Not only that, but their price was awesome – it cost me $75 to get the housing coated. Jet Hot’s gaudy iced-out blinging silver coating would be $180 on a T4 housing, and this T6 housing is larger than most cute T4 housings.

The turbine housing is now nice and pretty. I can also hold my hand about an inch away from it after running the car for a short period of time, and before the coating the housing would just radiate heat for a long time. This is a very unscientific method of testing it, but if I can feel that it’s cooler, then I know more heat is going through the header and *out* the turbine, not through it.

Switch Panel

Custom switch panel

A switch panel I fabbed up.

Back when I put together the wiring harness, I spent a lot of time thinking about where I was going to mount the switch panel. It was clear to me early on that I didn’t want to use an off-the-shelf switch panel, because they’re generally setup for circle track cars, or cars with a dash of some sort. Plus, I’ve never been happy with rollbar mounted switch panels from Painless or Moroso or any other place – they seemed too large and inelegant. So, because of that, I made my own switch panel from aluminum. I also decided then that I wanted to mount the panel out of the way, but easy to get to if I needed to. So, I mounted the panel next to the shifter mount, located on the driveshaft tunnel. This was really kind of a pain because of the shape of the driveshaft tunnel, but I’m very happy with how it turned out. these brackets are going to end up with a brushed finish, because I had to weld on them to do what I wanted to do with them – they mount directly to the driveshaft tunnel. The good news, though, is that the switch panel itself comes right out with the removal of four DZUS fasteners. Neat.

Fire Suppression

Safecraft fire suppression

Safecraft fire suppression bottle, installed and lines ran.

How can I forget about the fire suppression? I have a lot more pictures that I took, but I haven’t yet uploaded them to my server. Until then, you’ll have to check out the panorama that I digitally stitched together above.

The fire suppression system was a long time in the making. The system itself is a Safecraft RS system – it has three nozzles, and three discharge outlets on the bottle itself. I’m using two of them – one of the outlets runs to a line routed up through the interior of the car to my feet, as mandated by NHRA rules. The other outlet runs to a T fitting on the firewall, which splits that into two lines running running around the firewall. They go through a bulkhead on each side of the car, into the front fenders, and then into the engine bay. The bottle is mounted where a passenger seat would be, and is out of the way, for the most part. I could probably actually mount a seat there if I wanted to, but I wouldn’t be able to have passengers anyway ;-)

All in all, I’m pleased with how it all turned out. I will have to get those other pictures I’ve taken of the inner fenders uploaded soon.

2007 DSM Shootout Coverage of My Car

A picture of the Talon's engine bay, courtesy of

A pic of the Talon from magazine page featuring my car!

The layout showing a few shots of the RWD!

This past Friday, I get a random email from a really old Michigan club DSMer, Jason Brendel. He proceeds to tell me about seeing my car in Turbo Magazine! Hey, that’s cool – I had no idea! We also caugh up for a bit, so that was cool :-)

After that, I started poking around to see if anyone else had pictures of my car. I checked out the usual suspects – had posted two pictures of the Talon in their DSM shootout 2007 coverage, both pictures of the car that I really like. Oh, and this is random, but a few months ago I found some pictures from Erica Marshall of Muddyboots Photography, and I really like the engine bay shot that she took, and think I should get an 11×17 of that to post in my office.

Oh, yeah, these aren’t from Turbo mag like I was originally thinking about posting :-o Click on the image to the right to see the fullsize version of it. Turbo mag said some very nice things about the car while they were around. Once the Talon is making passes, who know, maybe they’ll feature it :-)