A Personal Trainer for your Car

Full disclosure: this post has been sitting here for a couple months. Just now had the motivation to get it done.


So I went to get re-tuned by Andy @ Neetronics. Nothing but great things to say about him and the job he does. Seriously, if you need your car tuned (or any number of other things) get in touch w/ him.

But first… I had to install the upgrades!

(I feel like this is too inside...)

(I feel like this might be a little too inside…)

Well, just pics of the downpipe. An intercooler hose kit is just a collection of silicon hoses that replace the stock items and flow better. An EBCSs is an electromagnetic device that is controlled by the car’s computer to feed pressure to where on the turbo it’s needed. Add to that a PTP turbo blanket (covers the turbo to keep heat in), and a TiC Holy Shift kit (replaces soft rubber bushings in the manual shifter with harder polymer to improve shifting feel). What a difference!


This is a 3″ into 2.5″ catted downpipe. It connects the exhaust flange on the turbo to the muffler.

Big beeef

Big beeef

High flowin'

High flowin’

That above is the catalytic converter. It can be a big restriction, especially on a turbocharged car. This one in particular uses a rolled medium that is a lot less dense than normal and produces much less of a restriction, while still keeping up my green cred. Such as it is. Yes, I’m a tree-hugger that loves to burn gas. I don’t see a conflict in that.



Just a shot of the ‘bellmouth’, or the end that hooks up to the turbo. This is extra-wide and really allows for the exhaust flow to just head through without bunching up. You can fit your fist in there. Or possibly a baby’s head. It’s great.

Andy appreciated the extra AF bung for tuning. I love neat little weld-on logos like this.

Andy appreciated the extra AF bung for tuning. I love neat little welded-on logos like this.


I can see Russia from here!


This is the intercooler. The bright red hoses are the new ones. I also found out I actually have an uncapped head breather line that I should probably plug in somewhere or something.


New gaskets are handy. ALWAYS use new gaskets when you’re removing/reinstalling anything that uses gaskets! It’s a cheap way to ensure you have no leaks.


Then I took some time out for Toronto Wing Fest, where I met up w/ Justin of Eating Your Content fame. The Office Pub’s and Tara Inn’s wings were the stand outs of the day for me.

Justin says it better than I:


Back to the car.


I also got Andy to replace my spark plugs while we were at it (since I’d totally forgotten about them when I was doing all the work in the driveway)


Jump on the dyno…


The result? It feels like a totally new car.


Just kidding. Here's the dyno plot for power, Air-fuel, and boost.

Just kidding. Here’s the dyno plot for power, Air-fuel, and boost.

To explain: The red lines are the previous state of the car. You can see how it makes power sooner (the left side of the graph) and makes more of it.

In the AF graph, lower means richer (aka more fuel in the mix), and higher means leaner (less fuel). Generally leaner makes more power, but is runs hotter and is more dangerous. Previously the car was running super rich, I guess as a safety feature.

Lastly, the boost curve. This is related to the power graph. You can see that it peaks sooner, and is able to move about with more granularity. Vital for getting things tuned properly.


Okay, onto Subaru jargon – EJ207 V9 engine, w/ perrin inlet, turbo blanket, Lachute catted DP, Grimmspeed EBCS, Hayward & Scott catback. I think that’s it for power. I need to replace my air filter and change my oil. :P

+30hp, +40tq, -500-600rpm
~275 ft-lb, and 270 hp (ignoring the peak), spooling up something like 3300-3500rpm. Not running so rich as before.


Alright! What’s next in store, power-wise, for the car with no name? (I’m working on it.) I’m going to get a Cosworth 2.2L stroker kit at some point, and maybe combine that with getting the turbo rebuilt by Six Star Speed to upgrade it w/ a billet wheel and ball bearing cartridge. I’m really not looking for more power so much as more grunt down low and a wider powerband, so maybe I can even run a bit lower boost to increase longevity. I’m more than happy w/ having roughly a V8 Mustang under the hood of my little Scooby! :D

Till next time! (a post about the chicken I fried up a few months ago)

Stuff for sale!

This will all be posted in other places I frequent as well, but this listing should always be the most up to date. All prices are ‘or best offer’. I’m running this semi-auction style. So I’ll tag each item with an offer with the initials or email address prefix of the person with the offer. (like N.B. or joemama@). Or I might just take the first offer. It’s up to me, anyway.

All lego sets are complete with manuals unless otherwise stated, otherwise you generally get what you see here. Any questions about pieces, you can msg me @nbomb on twitter, or email my gmail account ‘nbombb’

I’m selling a bunch of old toys and games that I have little use for now. What I do have a use for is the money and the closet space. Without further ado:

RPGs & Such

A couple of old Marvel pen and paper RPGs. The basic and advanced set. Should be complete, might have a couple paper markers missing? (Asking price TBA)

The 40k box is empty. I believe all of its materials are in the Dark Millennium box. 40k box – $free, Dark Millennium/40k stuffs- $50

Titan Legions Epic base game and Armies of the Imperium expansion. – $30/$30 or $50 for both.

Some old D&D basic boxed set. Not sure how complete, but barely used. $10

Man o War + Plague Fleet + Sea of Blood expansion. No Man o War box, but all three games’ materials should be complete-ish and in here. – $140



Black Seas Barracuda – there are a few pieces missing and I’m not sure that the minifigs are correct. Missing pieces are minor and include some string, a couple yellow hinges, the figurehead, a red flag, a sail, a couple knobby pieces for the yardarms. See below image for a shot of it mostly-built. – $100

Space Police II Galactic Mediator – $40 – missing 2-4 pieces, no box.

Pic of Black Seas Barracuda and Galactic Mediator in mostly-built form.

From upper left: Explorien Starship – $80 , Crystal Explorer Sub – $20, Unitron Star Hawk II – $60, RoboForce Robo Raptor – $15

Ice Planet Deep Freeze Defender – $50 (missing two pieces, below), Star Wars Sith Infiltrator – $20

Deep Freeze Defender is missing one of each of these.


Toys (mostly Transformers)

Jetfire (broken) – $20, Gobots Power Suit – $20, weird toy – $10, Galvatron – $20, Die cast Macross/Robotech SDF-1 toy – $20, Insecticon Ransack – $15, Insecticon Venon (broken) – $10, Grotesque – $20

Various Transformers and other toys – $5-10

Various Gobots – $5. The orange truck’s head is broken.

Various transformers: Top row: $5, $10, $10, $20, $5, bottom row: $5, $10, $10, $5, $5

Transformers 2000 (car robots, RID) – All three cars for $50 or $20 each, All 4 construction combiners for $60, Gigatron – $30

Broken Metroplex – $15

Takara GaoGaiGar toys – HyoRyu and EnRyu – $200 for both, $150 each.


DVDs and software

Various old PC games. $5 each

Various DVDs. $5 each.

Various DVDs. $10 for the Family Guy boxes, $5 for others.

Various DVDs – $5. Lord of the Rings set – $40, Star Wars set – $30, Indiana Jones set – $30, Ghost in the Shell season 1 complete – $50, Ghost in the Shell season 2, disc 1 box – $15


Misc stuff

old SparQ drive and disc – $20, Motorola cable modem – $20, Digimon toy – $5

Original Game Boy w/ 3 games – SOLD

Pioneer DV-343 DVD player – $30


That’s it for now!

Project Monster is Complete!

So it’s taken a while, thanks to the engine supplier giving us a hacked-up engine harness, but it’s finally done!

Much thanks to Frank and Dan at Four Star for their patience with all my questions and visits to drop parts off and check things out. The process is fascinating!

From what I remember (don’t have the invoice in front of me), it’s a ‘Ver 10′ engine, 3.90 final drive, 6spd, brembos, 5×114 hubs, etc etc…

Dyno’s already been done – they didn’t print out the chart, but Frank said he’ll email it to me. I’ll post it then if anyone wants. According to my him, it’s putting down 230-240hp at the wheels, so close to 300hp at the crank likely, on 91 gas. This thing actually scares me. Stock, you had to really work to break the law, now you can do it without thinking (but not without noticing).


Crappy interior shot. Still needs work (by me) – gotta get a decent shift knob and install the boost gauge. I want to switch to crank windows. Never much liked power windows, and the regulator on the driver’s side is failing, so that’s as good an excuse as any.

Auto to 6spd swap. New clutch taking some getting used to, especially with light flywheel!

Old vs. new cluster. Main differences (don’t much care for the blue, but oh well) are tach/speedo placement/limits, colours, DCCD display.

Front wheels/brakes. Prodrive GC07-Cs, 17″

Rears. May have to get my fenders rolled, as the tires rub a little.

Engine bay! Stuff’s packed in pretty good! It’s mostly stock except for the Perrin turbo inlet. Room to grow, as they say

The rest of the exterior is really nothing to write home about at this point. Respray next year (red), maybe some other stuff. We’ll see. My wallet’s tapped out right now! May have to put off getting winter wheels/tires for a few months.

Immediately next on the list: put new wipers on, get the car appraised for insurance, and update my budget tracker – yes, I DID go overbudget! But not by a ton (although taxes really hurt).
Thanks for reading.

Just some Ouya Discussion

< N-Bomb_> did you buy one
<+Arara> if you spend 99 dollars
<Arara> on a thing that doesn’t even exists
<+Arara> that doesn’t have a big manufacturing name behind it
<+Arara> and whose main selling point is PLAY CANABALT ON YOUR TV
<+Arara> you don’t deserve to live in this world
< N-Bomb_> why
< XenoMac> that being said
< XenoMac> Arara bought 3
< N-Bomb_> say it~
<+Arara> I didn’t
<+Arara> I just can’t
<+Arara> I really want this thing to be good
<+Arara> But i’m not willing to bet on it
<+Arara> People buy consoles because it’s simpler to use than PCs for gaming
<+Arara> You don’t have to configure stuff
<+Arara> (or didn’t anyway)
<+Arara> Now they try to sell you a console which presumably can be HACKED
<+Arara> and accept all kinds of controllers
<+Arara> and there you lose the simplicity
<+Arara> You’ll have to UPDATE YOUR CONSOLE OS
< N-Bomb_> so it’s the linux of consoles
<+Arara> yeah
<+Arara> that’s a very good metaphor, bomb
<+Arara> and since it won’t have Mario, Halo or Uncharted
<+Arara> people who actually spend money won’t buy it
< N-Bomb_> it’ll be just for indie games
<+Arara> Yes, and most of them run in your PC anyway
<+Arara> So why bother
<+Arara> Ooooh but you can play with a controller and in your tv!!!
<+Arara> well
<+Arara> plug a controller and an HDMI cable on your PC
<+Arara> and that’s the same thing
< N-Bomb_> An unhackable one would be better
<+Arara> really?
<+Arara> there’s an android app already for it
< N-Bomb_> or rather one that’s not easily hackable by your 5 year old or whatever
<+Arara> Yeah
<+Arara> You know why people like to develop to consoles, right
<+Arara> You only have to test ONE configuration
< N-Bomb_> yup
<+Arara> at most two or three for different HW versions
< N-Bomb_> Well presumably that would be the same here
< N-Bomb_> the HW wouldn’t change, I assume
<+Arara> like, I dunno, nds and n3ds
<+Arara> the HW wouldn’t change
<+Arara> the OS will
<+Arara> and there’ll be people who’ll say
< N-Bomb_> !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
< N-Bomb_> They’d have to standardize on one OS
< N-Bomb_> And really the OS shouldn’t make a difference
< N-Bomb_> this thing isn’t doing GPS and other new shit all the time
<+Arara> the concept of standardization is completely contrary to the concept of fully-hackable
< N-Bomb_> That’s why is shouldn’t be hackable.
<+Arara> and the concept of standardization is key to a successful console
< N-Bomb_> yes.
< N-Bomb_> A console cannot be Linux.
< N-Bomb_> while it’s great for some things, it’s not great for consumers.
<+Arara> Yeah
<+Arara> anyway
<+Arara> good luck to them
<+Arara> and I hope they prove me wrong

You can find Arara on Twitter @arara_ and you know how to find me. Fool.

We Are Stupid Men

Me and my friends have the dumbest email conversations sometimes:

From: Owen
Subject: Some ideas

playing around in sketchup with theatre ideas.  This should be pretty accurate scale-wise, the room is tight, but I think I can fit this.  What do you think?

From: Nick
Subject: Re: Some ideas

Those things are speakers?

From: Owen
Subject: Some ideas

Those things that look like speakers? Yes.

From: Nick
Subject: Re: Some ideas

Are they also things?

From: Owen
Subject: Some ideas

They’re kind of like things.

My car; for sale

My ad on Craigslist: http://toronto.en.craigslist.ca/tor/cto/2860387544.html

Some info up front: It has been in two minor accidents:

-First one in 08 was front bumper replaced, hood replaced (thanks to spare tire cover on the Jeep), no other damage. Got them to replace the headlights too, as the originals were getting condensation
-2nd was a recent rear-ending. As far as I know the frame wasn’t damaged, but the spare tire well had to be repaired. Otherwise just the bumper, muffler and whatever paint blending they did.

-leather interior except the front seats which I traded for cloth (much nicer!)
-Tinted windows done by Audioheaven
-very little to no rust. You’ll have to see it I guess.
-Keyless, power everything
-Transmission was serviced this summer, new clutch installed.
-Brake discs and pads are only a couple years old, driver’s rear caliper is new.

I have winter tires I can include on the stock GTS 16″ alloys. The car currently has 16″ OZ Ultraleggeras for the summer – I can include those for $800.

The only non-cosmetic mod is a cold air intake, everything else is stock, and I believe I kept the parts to the stock intake if anyone wants to put it back. In terms of extras – it has a JVC MP3 radio in, JDM side markers, 2003+ tail lights (stock pictured), a Toyota Matrix shift knob, and a Honda S2000 antenna. These are not included in the price (I’ll put the stock items back on), but I’m willing to talk pricing/offers if you want them.

Bigger/more pics, VIN number (for history report) available upon request. Asking $7000 or best offer.

Nick’s Monster

So I got a new car, recently.

{a href="http://kristengoetz.blogspot.com/"}Kristen{/a} said I should name it. Any suggestions?

So I’ve gotten a lot of flack from people who are saying “You should’ve just gotten something newer!” and “Why would you buy something old to modify when you could get something fast and newer?” etc.

Well, there are a couple of points:

A) older cars are lighter and not full of so much electronic trickery. I don’t need stability control or keyless entry or any crap like that. I’d rather not have power windows, but that’s hard to find, even going back to 1999.

B) Newer cars are EXPENSIVE. A new 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STi will run you $44,000-50,000. Even if I could afford that, why would I want to blow all of my load on a car? A 2004 STi (the newest I’d really consider for various reasons) will cost $14,000-17,000 used depending on if you buy it privately or from a dealer. This baby ran me 1/10 as much as new – I got it for $4500 all in (taxes, etc etc), and with mods, I I think I can get it to be more fun than the 04 for under $14,000.

So then! With this all in mind, I’ve put a little ‘budget tracker’ at the bottom of my page. Every non-maintenance thing I do to the car, be it mods, upgrades, repainting, etc… I’ll list in that little table. My goal is to get this done for LESS than the cost of the newer used one (although even at the same price, this thing’ll be so much better/funner.) If you’re at all interested or give a hoot, you can check that out once in a while.

I don’t promise regular updates, only updates when there’s something to add.

Cheers, and wish me luck! :)

The Perils of Buying a Used Car (Or, Why Beggars Who Are Choosers Die Young)

So I got rear-ended by a 40+ year old learning driver with a bunch of previous accidents last month.

Not including pics of the damage, because honestly the exterior damage was superficial – it was all under the skin, so to say, so you’ll just wonder wtf I’m talking about.

Insurance is fixing it, yes, but:
A) I was actually thinking of selling it this summer anyway
B) While I do love it, I was never attached to it like my first car. I guess it’s not my true love.
C) I need something with more oomph.

So with that in mind I decided to buy a

Subaru Impreza


I’m currently looking at a few. One option is an older one that has had a newer, hotter engine swapped in. Test drove it yesterday and HOLY CRAP that thing pulls. The things that give me pause are a rust problem of indeterminate severity, no A/C, and a kind of ratty ugly tan interior.

Another couple options are stock Imprezas, which on their own are a bit Coroll-lame. I mean they have AWD, which is awesome, but 140 hp is rather meh in a 2800 lb car. So what happens if I get an unmodified Impreza?

The engine bay goes from this...

...to this.


And more than doubles the car’s power. Anyway, in looking for a used car, I’m having some issues, being a picky person and all. A choosy beggar if you will. The car must:

-be without a sunroof! (it lessens headroom, and I’m 6 feet tall)
-not have too much rust if at all (and only cosmetic at that)!
-have folding rear seats! (makes a trunk so much more useful)
-NOT have that ugly-tan-interior! (come on, it should be obvious. Pic below)
-have a manual transmission (automatic is for cattle. If you’re my girlfriend, you’re going to learn stick)!
-be coloured World Rally Blue (WRB is so hot right now. WRB.)

Finding all of these in a used car is not possible.

Rust is an issue on most of these cars. Finding one without is a superhuman task in Canada.

There is a model that had a black interior, was blue, with a manual transmission… but it had fixed rear seats and a sunroof.

I’ve seen many that had a 5-speed, no sunroof, had folding seats, and weren’t terribly rusty, but the interior and exterior colours were all wrong.

That said, I’m not opposed to getting the car re-painted, so throwing money at that problem is a solution. Minor cosmetic rust can be fixed while the car is at the body shop getting resprayed (again, money). Fixed rear seats can be swapped out for the folding ones, but that will take some money and some elbow grease… and the new seats may not match up exactly with the rest of the interior!

Yeah, lots of money can solve anything in car land. Even the sunroof… although screw welding the panel in place and all that bs.

When it comes down to it, the transmission only matters for as long as I keep the car stock. When you’re swapping out the engine, you can also change the transmission, so an Auto could easily become a 5- or 6-speed post-swap.

It's like drowning in non-tasty breadcream or something! Ughghgbnegrbknfd


I guess all I REALLY need then, is a car with minimal rust and no sunroof… and the non-tan interior. Yes, moneychuck again, but damn that’s just such a PITA. Seating, carpets, and trim I’m comfortable removing and reinstalling – I do NOT want to have to pull the dash – or pay someone else to do it.

So okay, 3/6 is maybe doable. ;)

Why Am I Writing?

The more I write, the more respect I have for those authors I’ve always loved. I could never tell you why, but I’m going to try.

I think my respect stems from the amount of brainwork it takes to invent not just an entire universe, but one that is full, realistic, and captivating. A place where people live, where events fit together in a historical narrative that explains why the story being told is being told.

I need to give credit to my mom. Although things like the Transformers and Star Wars fascinated me from a young age, she started me on this road with a few really interesting books, many of which I can’t actually remember.

The earliest book I remember from this is ‘Robot Commando’, one of a series of choose your own adventure-type books that were kind of RPG-oriented. It was a story about the only person unaffected by a drug dispersed in the air on a planet being attacked by an enemy looking to conquer it, and him having to free his people. I still have this book. :)

Robot Commando


This led me to various comics (Transformers, X-Men mostly), and from there to various fantasy books, including the Dragonlance books.

Now I’ve never really been a D&D guy. We tried a bit in middle school, but the vice principal banned it because he thought it taught kids to live in sewers and be rapists or something. Anyway, the books were my first view of a story that wasn’t self-contained – one that took place on another world with its own history, peopled, customs, languages, everything. This was bigger than Star Wars in a way, because the world extended PAST what you saw in front of you.

I gobbled up as many of these as I could and then went looking for more, which lead me to David Eddings books. These weren’t huge stories in and of themselves, but contained backstories that were much bigger than the books themselves, with histories stretching back thousands and thousands of years. This series contained so much backstory, in fact, that the author wrote a whole book just detailing the world’s entire history through the eyes of one of the series’ major characters!

Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series


Since then, I found the three Lord of the Rings books and the Silmarillion, which were pretty good (I can hear bricks flying through my windows), although I found the backstory rather dense and overly mystic and war-filled.

My friend Stefan introduced me to the Wheel of Time series back in 1995 or so when we were volunteering at Toronto Brigantines, and I was captivated right away. I still have to read the last two books, but what a ridiculous series! The backstory is actually a little bit thin from what I remember, with periods of great detail connected by periods of crazy vagueness.

“Then why do you like this series?” you might ask – if the defined parts are rich enough, it just makes the holes that much more more mysterious! I firmly believe that you can’t be a fan of fiction, science- or otherwise, and not like a good mystery. Finding out the ‘why’ of something can be so satisfying!

About that time, I was also introduced to Warhammer 40,000. All I can say is woah. I know the mythos has been built upon for decades now, and it’s not really a book series per se, but the sheer amount of lore available is STAGGERING. This, coupled with much of the iconic imagery is what keeps drawing me back to this universe. There are detailed histories of entire galactic sectors, down to descriptions of the operation and construction of a hand flame thrower.

One example of the awesome art for 40k. It draws your imagination out & dances with it!


One of the differences between this story universe and most of the others I’ve been interested in is, I guess owing to it being game-based. With the exception of the main narrative of the Horus Heresy, a galaxy-wide civil war, most of the 40k story seems to be made up of shorts and other self-contained stories of various sizes. These alone wouldn’t be enough to keep my attention, but with this vast universe already developed and supporting them, everything is given a depth which they wouldn’t have on their own, and which they in fact end up adding to.

Lastly, but not leastly, I’ve been reading a comic book series lately (and looking for more volumes!) called Five Star Stories. The basic deal is something like a five-thousand year long story? Or something. On the surface, this series kind of flies in the face of what normally interests me. It’s all kind of bite-sized stories. On the other hand, the setting jumps around in time and place enough so that I’m always trying to reconcile the timeline in my mind, and constantly want to see what’s coming next.

There seems to be a connected narrative in the form of one of the major characters, who often seems to be in the center of the action, and there’s alot of mythology built around heroes, heroines, and machines that in just the previous volume were there in front of you, performing their legendary deeds.

The Knight of Gold.


So with all that in mind, what was the point of this post? Well, I keep getting asked what my book is about. I’m hesitant to ever say much – not because I don’t like you! but because nothing is solid yet, and who knows if it’ll ever see the light of day – but maybe a look at this will give you some insight into why it’s taken me 3 years to not write a single chapter yet. :)


A few of my other influcences over the years!

I made a video of a car crash.

This is made from footage over a year old. Yes, it’s from Forza 3. I just had no software to edit it with, or motivation to do so until recently.

I was racing in that black, white, and wine-coloured RX-7 when I lost grip and went into the wall. It bounced me back into that Corvette (which righted me), and this started a nutso chain reaction that affected pretty much every car but the BLUE ONES (the Blue GT-40 and C6 Corvette).

You try to race clean, but sometimes NASCAR happens and you get some fun footage. :)

So I have a few problems with how this was done that I need to vent about.

By that, I mean the way Microsoft has been, and is continuing to handle media and certain things. They’re kind of in the position that Apple was in, back in the 90s. They have this proprietary technology that NO ONE ELSE wants to support or use, but they continue to push it on everyone that dips into their platform. WMV is the Quicktime codec of the 20-teens.

Microsoft: You’ve lost this battle. It’s time to give up and support .MP4/H.264/AAC/whatever instead of forcing us to use your tech in the most inconvenient fashion. You owned the 90s. Someone else will own the next decade, but for now, this is what we have to deal with, so GET WITH THE PROGRAM. Stop making stuff harder for us to use just so you can keep trying to push your rock up that mountain.

You enable us, the player, to output replays to video, which is FANTASTIC, but you hobble us by A) limiting the clips to 30 seconds max, which one has to B) upload from their console to your website, and then C) download BACK to their computer from your website, D) encoded with a kind of high amount of compression, E) within your proprietary mess of a codec, requiring that we F) need a Windows install to G) convert the video into a usable format, which we can finally use in a video editing application.

How to video?

Now, maybe I’m just bitching a little. I can have a tendency to complain about small details. But God is in the details, someone once said, and I think it’s true. It’s the details that you notice when they’re missing. I can deal with the crappy compression and even the 30 sec limit (which is more of an annoyance than a roadblock), but why the hell can’t we just save them to a USB stick to transfer to our computers, and why aren’t they in a proper video format so that they can be easily imported into a non-Microsoft app?

People will say “Well Apple is just as guilty of this!!” – and yes they are. All the companies are. The difference in this case is that they succeeded, and now it’s the standard. Well, that’s one difference. The other is that Apple’s ‘format’ was made free and open (more or less), which is one reason it succeeded.

Anyway! Kvetching aside, I had fun making this, and I’m enjoying learning how to use this software even more! I’ve got a whole bunch of awesome replays in Forza 4 I need to check out one of these days to get more fun footage off of, although I wish less of them had to do with crashing!