The Hot Hatch

I have a confession to make. I stumbled onto The Humble Mechanic on Youtube when I clicked on a video where he tore down a Volkswagen W12 engine. I had heard about that, and I had owned a 2000 Jetta with the VR6 motor so I knew that VW had some mojo for exotic engine design.

And it was addicting. Watching him to disassemble it, show the cool bits, and the strengths/weaknesses was intoxicating. Since then I have watched a ton of his videos, especially as he rebuilds a well abused VW R32. Teardown, finding bad things, fixing them. All good gear head stuff.

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Electrification of Cars

No doubt that the future of personal automobiles will be electric. While we are still early in the transition, and regardless of how valuable Tesla is as a company (ridiculously overvalued) compared to how few cars they sell and deliver, their dominance of electric cars is tenuous. Already VW and GM have announced plans to migrate their fleets to full electric, and all the other makers are making plans for a post oil driven transportation world.

This is good. But it does have some thorny implications. Two of which are how to fund local road building and maintenance, and mechanics/technicians to repair the fleet of cars.

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RC Brands: Traxxas – the Titan

Traxxas cut their teeth in the 1980’s by building a ready to run system of hobby grade RC. At the time, if you wanted to get into Remote Control cars, you bought a kit, you built it, and you fiddled with getting your persnickety Nitro motor tuned and running well. Often you had to modify parts, source things not included in the kit, and then fiddle non stop to get it all working. A huge commitment, and it meant that you had a lag between buying your kit, and being able to drive.

Traxxas delivered a car, complete, ready to hit the pavement. All you added were batteries for the transmitter, the pre-mixed nitromethanol fuel (back then electrics and battery tech were pretty pathetic), and you were racing. Today, we might not find this revolutionary, but at the time it was unheard-of, and it opened the hobby to the masses. And the masses rejoiced.

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Unreported Income

Sorry for diving into a politically tinged topic, but alas, an editorial from The NY Times this morning causes me to reflect on a recent discovery.

The editorial is How to Collect $1.4T in Unpaid Taxes, and it begins by reflecting how the imposition of payroll withholding drove the spending required to be victorious in WWII, even leading to wealthy people being proud of what their money was accomplishing (albeit a rare sentiment).

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The Chase: Traxxas Slash

This weekend, I spent a few hours upgrading the electrics in the Slash. I had a $60 “reward” at Amain Hobbies, so I bought a Hobbywing Max10 combo with a 3300kV motor, a “drop in” replacement (almost), to go to a brushless propulsion system.

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In San Diego – observations of the drive

As my father is ailing (alzheimers, and now failing health) I am making the drive to visit more frequently. And that means I spend long tracts of time on the road to San Diego.

Long times behind the wheel and a naturally curious personality, coupled with the keen observation skills of my trade (product manager) and I have some thoughts…

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Project Slash – LiPO and spring preload changes

The next step in the Slash project was to add a LiPO battery into the mix. The XL5 ESC is compatible with 7 cell NiMH batteries, or up to 2S LiPO batteries. The switch over is trivial: turn it on, then press and hold the power button for about 12 seconds and it will switch from red to green. This enables the low voltage cutoff (or LVC). Without the LVC, the LiPO battery can discharge too much, and that can ruin it (as in, it will no longer hold a charge), or even catastrophic failure (as in a fire – if you google “lipo fire” you will find some scary videos).

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