Boy Scouts, nightmares do come true.

A couple weeks ago I helped my youngest boy build a Pinewood Derby car and that was his first experience with cub scouts. He had a lot of fun and seems excited to go again. The following week, I took the older boy to his first boy scout meeting. Both of these happened at the nearest Mormon church. Which was totally expected. Around here the scouts are sponsored by the church so entry fees are paid for by the church. And meetings take place there. The cub scout event started out with the pledge of allegiance and moved on to the national anthem followed by races. I was expecting something similar for Boy scouts, minus the racing of course, as that is about how I remember scouts. Although, not every meeting was at the church for me, just the majority of them.

Wow, was this boy scout meeting different than the cub scout equivalent. It was downright creepy. I even felt uncomfortable there and I grew up in a Mormon household. I can’t imagine how weird it seemed to a poor kid that has never seen the inside of a church. Lucky for him he has never seen Children of the Corn either or he wouldn’t have slept for days.

They met in the relief society room with the youth girls. For me, this was a once a month thing for the combined activity, and even then we met in neutral territory like the gym. Not the girl’s home turf. A hymn was sung by all to piano music. Prayers were said (I expected this one). Then the girls stood up and chanted some long drawn out thing about being a daughter of God and having loyalty to Jesus or something. I have never heard this chant before and dozens of horror movies were streaming through my head. I nervously paced outside the room with my hand on my knife waiting to run in and bail him out once they all turned to vampires or zombies and started eating the innocent new-comers. Creep level was rising and was about 9 out of 10. Then the boys started to chant. I couldn’t hear the topic of this incantation as my blood pressure had risen to the point of blocking off my hearing. What the literal fuck is happening in these meetings? This never happened when I was in scouts and our troop was as Mormon as one could be. I don’t think we had a single kid that was not in the church.

A prayer, sure, I’ll give you that. The meetings are happening at the church. That’s fine, we can ignore that and let you do your thing while we do ours. But the ritualistic chanting was full-on witchcraft. I was surprised when there was no sacrifices at the altar or vomiting heads spinning. No turkey blood or anything.

So this brought up some questions:

  1. WTF is that chant?
  2. When did that begin? It was not around 30 years ago…
  3. How can you do this and watch those television ads about Mormons being normal with a straight face?
  4. Are all boy scout groups like this or is my super mo neighborhood just some Mecca of crazy town or something?
  5. Do these chants ever end or do you do these your whole life? Like can you quit once you get married, or go on a mission, or expel spawn from your witch cave or something?

For me, scouting was a great experience which I remember with much fondness. A way to learn, experience nature, practice survival techniques, and be away from parents with friends at a young age. I think it can play a critical role in maturation of a boy. And I was hoping for my boys to be able to experience it like I did. I never made Eagle scout as some paperwork had been lost/misplaced/never filed by my scout leader and I got boned out of a whole bunch of merit badges, which made me pretty pissy, so I pretty much quit. But the parts I remember most when thinking back on my scouting days, the campouts, the pinewood derby races, the Jamborees, they all produce a euphoric nostalgia. When I try to focus on bad parts, there is few things that come to mind. One being that I kind of regret my dad was unable to play a larger role in that time of my life. Another being the smell of the church. It was a very old building. Very cool design by today’s standards of Mormon churches as IIRC, the one we met at was built in the 1800’s, so it was vastly different than the cookie cutter unimaginative buildings they congregate in these days. But it did smell funky.

So what happened to scouting in Utah? I sincerely hope this is just something unique about my neighborhood. However, the creepiest parts were not something that existed when I attended church or scouts as a kid. So I assume this is maybe unique to Utah, but not just my neighborhood. It makes me sad that my boys will miss out on all that being a scout has to offer, just because a group of abnormally creepy people have taken it over here. And yes, I know I could truck them 10 miles away to non-denominational troop. But we all have lives and besides that, I just shouldn’t have to. I should be able to expect people to just not be creepy. That being said, the leader of the troop and the boys I have met have all been very nice, and appeared to be normal. I don’t know their roles in the eerie part of the proceedings. But the simple fact is, neither of my boys are interested in continuing, regardless of the fact that they enjoyed it and are interested. They just can’t get past that gut feel that something is amiss. And I sure am not going to force it on them as their gut feel is probably even more accurate than mine as it hasn’t been tempered by years of pessimism and reality.

Eve Progress Check

It has been just a few days over a year since my last progress check in Eve Online. I almost made this post last week, but wanted to wait for one more skill to reach level 5. In the last year, CCP has introduced T3 destroyers, which is a whole new skill set. They have also removed clones which I believe may be the reason for my Science skill count having dropped. Either that or when I put .59 last year, it should have read .06 which would have matched the previous year. During this year I used my first neural remap. Yes, I should have done it long ago. But I didn’t so too bad… Also this year I have been doing a bit more PvP and using cheap jump clones which severely hinders skill training while in them. This year, I have also come to love a new (to me) ship. The Ishtar. It has been whacked with the Nerf bat twice this year and it is still a great ship. Hopefully CCP leaves it alone for a bit and takes their stupid bat home for a while. But I am not counting on it, because it is still a great ship. This year I have trained into Interdictors, Interceptors, Electronic Warfare ships, HACs, HICs, Strategic cruisers, and probably something else. It’s been a great year full of shiny new ships.

I am still with Diamond Command. We played around in faction warfare for a bit. And we kind of quit playing PvP in Null and started spending more time in wormholes. We set up a POS in a wormhole that I think is only regularly used by one person. We got a bunch of new guys and lost a bunch of those new guys. We really have about 7 or 8 core members. The rest come and go. I think we are just too small for them. I still like the smallness of it, but I admit, it hampers some activities unless you want to go play with other groups. There is rarely enough people online when not a scheduled fleet night to run a C5 wormhole for instance. As for my progress in the Diamond Command doctrines, I finished them all long ago. I have still not completed the old Brave Newbies DPS doctrine so I am still using that as a supplemental benchmark. I say supplemental, as I am not trying to complete it, it just happens to be getting completed as I do whatever tickles my fancy.

So since July 24th of 2014 to July 27th of this year, here is the breakdown of my skills:

Skillset 7/27/15 SP (millions) 7/24/14 SP (millions)
Gunnery 8.56 5.30
Engineering 4.87 3.08
Drones 5.71 3.74
Spaceship command 8.12 4.05
Armor 2.19 2.19
Shields 2.68 1.61
Navigation 3.29 1.61
Electronic systems 1.41 0.78
Missiles 4.24 2.11
Production 0.37 0.30
Trade 0.21 0.21
Rigging 0.68 0.53
Targeting 1.37 0.58
Resource processing 0.9 0.89
Neural enhancement 0.16 0.16
Science 0.47 0.59
Social 0.04 0.04
Scanning 1.68 0.45
Leadership 0.37 0.05
Subsystems 0.04 0.007
Planet management 0.07 0
Corporate management 0 0

I still have no skill points in corporate management as I have no interest in running a corp.

And here is how the skills are distributed by level:

Total skills 228 188
Skills at L5 63 36
Skills at L4 63 68
Skills at L3 81 60
Skills at L2 12 17
Skills at L1 9 7

Goals for the upcoming year:

Get better at solo PvP. Get to where I can clear a C3 site solo. FC a small fleet. Kill a real character with a Proteus, not just NPCs.

Upgraded the glass on the .300 Win Mag

So Vortex quit making the 35mm Razor HD riflescopes in favor of their new Razor HD Gen II 34mm scopes. These are silly expensive scopes that I have always considered out of my comfort zone on what I want to pay for glass. Without a doubt they are both amazing scopes. But I always figured I am not good enough to justify such an expense. And even if I was good enough, the thought of spending the $2500 – $3200 that these cost, just made me nauseous. It is a weakness I have. I have a lot of experience in machining and manufacturing on an OEM scale and therefore I know what things cost to make and what they should cost to buy. Or at least I have a very good idea. And when things fall outside of what I think they should, the thought of spending that much money on them makes me nervous.

That gives you some background so you can see where I am coming from. As I am sure you have already figured out, I broke down and bought one of these amazing examples of precision glass and fine craftsmanship.

A couple months ago, I went to the range with a friend of mine in from out-of-town. I was testing out the wife’s gun for reasons unrelated to this story, but my friend brought his gorgeous AR-10 with a Vortex Viper PST FFP. I don’t remember if it was the 4-16×50 or the 6-24×50 variant. But regardless, the glass was impressive. I have the regular Vortex Viper 6.5-20×50 on one of my rifles and I have always liked it. However, his PST FFP was in a whole other range of quality. I figured that would have to be my next purchase once I had a need for a $900 scope. Well, all my guns had scopes. Their price/quality levels range from $80 – $900. BTW, the $900 one is a Leupold that I used to think was great until I looked through my friend’s PST FFP of the same price level. Anyway, once that range trip was done, I kept an eye on those PST’s waiting for the price to drop.

Vortex Razor HD 5-20x50

Vortex Razor HD 5-20×50

As luck would have it, Vortex decided to quit making the Razor HD and their prices plummeted accordingly. Of course, you had to find one in stock somewhere as more could not be ordered. And I happened to find one for less than ½ the MSRP. I couldn’t say no. This opportunity would not come around again anytime soon. So I pulled the trigger (pun intended) and bought the Razor HD 5-20×50 MRAD with the EBR-2B reticle. As a side note, Vortex only lists a 10 MRAD per rotation turret for this model. But my packaging shows 5 MRAD. According to a video on Vortex’s site, the difference between the scopes is just that each rotation makes a larger adjustment with the 10 MRAD, but the overall amount of travel is the same. So mine will allow for finer adjustment, but will take longer to make large adjustments. I’m cool with that since paper targets wait as long as I want them to.

5 MRAD turrets

5 MRAD turrets

Even the packaging is fancy. I wonder if this stems from the Japanese origin of it.

Even the packaging is fancy. I wonder if this stems from the Japanese origin of it.

Even comes with a bubble level, sun shield, and honeycomb filter thing

Even comes with a bubble level, sun shield, and honeycomb filter thing

The Razor HD is FFP, or first focal plane. My understanding of this is that it scales the reticle accordingly as you increase magnification therefore allowing you to range targets the same regardless of magnification. One thing I found really cool with FFP, especially with this EBR-2B reticle, is that as you zoom out (decrease magnification) the reticle is so fine that it almost looks like a fine duplex reticle, but as you zoom in all of the other busyness becomes apparent. The Nightforce reticles are a bit finer, but honestly, I think they are a bit too fine at times. Depending on the background it can be hard to see them. And the Vortex reticle is still very fine.

Love this color

Love this color

The Razor HD compared to the PST has the premium HD extra-low dispersion glass where the PST has their XD extra-low dispersion glass. I was reading about HD glass versus other glass on a benchrest shooting news site and it has something to do with the wavelengths of light it lines up covering all wavelengths rather than just most of them or something along those lines. I would look into it further for you, but what is important, is that it is the best you can get in riflescopes. Yes, there are other things that set some apart from others, but what HD is designed for, it is the best at. Most other differences between the two are aesthetics and ergonomics, save for a couple more things. The tube is 35mm diameter, which has a much smaller selection of available rings to choose from. Also, The Razor HD is made in Japan rather than the Philippines.

Side parallax adjustment. Nothing special, but there it is.

Side parallax adjustment. Nothing special, but there it is.

Now onto my use for this baby:

The obvious choice for gun to install it on is my .300 Win Mag Remington 700. This gun has the Bell & Carlson Medalist Style 2 stock, a Rifle Basix trigger, a Shooter’s Ridge bipod, and EGW 20 MOA Picatinny rail. And now, the Razor HD scope and Vortex high mount rings.

The B&C Style 2 stock is black with grey webbing. It has a nice pronounced palm swell and an aluminum bedding block in it. It also has a Pachmayr Decelerator pad, a nice wide forend, a vertical grip, and a high comb for easier cheek weld. The Rifle Basix trigger is a drop-in trigger assembly for the Remington 700 that has a nice crisp break with no over-travel, and it is set to about a pound of trigger pull weight. Smoove like butta. The EGW Picatinny rail is the 20 MOA variant which means it mounts the scope heading up-hill a bit for long range use. I pulled it off and applied some Loctite and torqued the screws to 20 in-lbs prior to installing the Vortex, per EGW’s specifications. The Bipod is a Shooter’s Ridge 6-9” pivoting model. It has been great. I have not liked the Harris bipods I have used in the past, and even though this has a similar design, it seems to work better and for 1/3 the price. The scope rings are Vortex 1.26” high 35mm precision matched rings. I hear they are made by Seekins Precision, which makes a few components I chose for my latest AR-15 build. And looking at the rings Seekins offers, they do look identical other than the logo cut into the top of them. These rings are expensive, but then again, so is the scope. They are matched to +/-.0005 tolerance. They don’t specify which dimension this applies to, but I have an idea ;) BTW, the rings are torqued to 18 in-lbs in a cross pattern as specified by Vortex. Now this gun just needs a barrel. The stock one has performed well. But it looks so dinky. But that is not in the budget just yet.

Remington 700 by me :)

Remington 700 by me :)

Remington 700 by me :)

Remington 700 by me :)

Remington 700 by me :)

Remington 700 by me :)

I have been loading 200gr Sierra Matchking bullets for this. My magic load that gives me the best accuracy is 66gr of Hodgdon 4350 powder with Magnum large rifle primers with an OAL of 4.513. This is not the fastest I tried loading, but was by far the most accurate for me. Like ½ the group size of any other load. I will be developing a new load however using Hodgdon 4831 as it seems this powder is more suited for the heavier bullets I am using and also, the 4350 has been very difficult to find around here, but I have been able to obtain plenty of 4831. I may try the 210gr bullet as it ups the B.C. from .565 to .645. Or, I may just go the Berger VLD 200 as it has a B.C. of .624 which is significantly better than the Sierra 200, and almost as good as the 210, but may be able to fit in my detachable magazine better.

66gr Hodgdon 4350, LRM primers, Sierra Matchking 200 gr

66gr Hodgdon 4350, LRM primers, Sierra Matchking 200 gr

As always, click the pics for bigger versions. And as usual, sorry for the slow progress on this blog.

Benchmarking the new computer

What good is upgrading without real numbers to compare the systems? Well, actually, it’s just as good. After all, it is still the same upgrade with or without benchmarks. But I did some anyway. I even overclocked the CPU and GPU and did some benchmarking with those updates as well. This resulted in a surprisingly small increase in performance.

OLD PC NEW PC Δ%: New PC OC Δ% over non-OC:
i7-2600 i7-4790K
GTX 550ti GTX 960
PC Mark 8 Home 3392 4450 31%
PC Mark 8 Work 2998 3817 27%
PC Mark 8 Creative 2633 4585 74%
3D Mark Ice Storm 71504 170795 139% 176984 4%
3D Mark Cloud Gate 11786 24219 105% 24943 3%
3D Mark Sky Diver 6359 21602 240% 21872 1%
3D Mark Firestrike 1834 6899 276% 6991 1%
3D Mark Firstrike Extreme 514 3511 583% 3544 1%

So, as you can see, the old computer was not terrible, but the new computer smokes it. Something interesting came out of the PC Mark tests. PC Mark tests things like audio compression, video scaling, spreadsheets, gaming, web browsing, etc… The new computer did slightly worse times on the web browsing (I blame no windows 8 drivers for my wireless network adapter) and, here is the big surprise, it was a ton slower on the gaming tests. Even though, as you can see by the graphics benchmarks, that gaming performance should be its staple measure. The gaming tests on PC Mark use Direct X 9. The tests for 3D Mark use Direct X 11 (IIRC). So is the new card really that bad at outdated tech or is something else messing with its chi?

BTW, every other test in the PC Mark tests was crazy fast. To the point that total test time dropped from 64 minutes to 44 minutes on the longest one. By crazy, I am talking things like the “video to go part 2” test dropped from 68 seconds to just 14. That’s an 80% drop.

So I think the overall numbers, even though they increased by a good margin, I think are severely being skewed by the poor gaming test performance.

After doing all the benchmarks, I decided to play with overclocking. The Gigabyte motherboard comes with some software that will automatically overclock you CPU and run it through some stability tests until it breaks it then it turns you back a few notches for your final setting. It tested my 4.0GHz system all the way up to 5.1 GHz before it failed. And the software settled on 4.6GHz for my final setting.

The Asus STRIX GTX 960 OC2 is made for overclocking and came pre-overclocked a little. I kicked it all the way up to 1420MHz and it ran fine. So I retested GPU benchmarks. And as you can see, the improvements were essentially statistical anomalies. In other words, the numbers vary that much each time you test anyway.

At this point, I did some load testing on the CPU and found that at 4.6GHz, it was getting up to 91°C which is a little higher than I wanted to see. With the CPU running at 4.0GHz, it never got over 75°C. So I turned it down to 4.4GHz and load tested again. At 4.4GHz, it never got over 75°C, just like the stock setting. So I left it at 4.4GHz. Looks like I found the limitation of that CPU cooler. And due to the insignificant performance gains the GPU overclocking showed, I turned it back down to the factory overclock setting.

Now, the website I used to help decide on CPU and video card choice is maintained by Passmark. They have their own benchmarking software for the full PC. And after running those tests, Iam thinking they may be more reliable than the PCMark tests.

Here are my Passmark scores:

Overall 2372.6 5251.2 121%
CPU Mark 8681 11735 35%
G3D Mark (video card) 2072 6681 222%
Memory Mark 2200 2716 23%
Disk Mark 633 4675 639%

According to the Passmark site, my CPU should score 11245. I am overclocked a bit, so I beat it. And their site says a standard GTX 960 video card is rated at 5987 where mine got 6681. I attribute that to the Asus card being overclocked. As for the hard drive score, have I said lately how much I love SSD’s? And mine score better than a bunch of Crucial and Kingston that seem to be gamer favorites.

Also one of the baseline reference systems Passmark compares my results to is a i7-5820K with a gigabyte X99 MB, 8GB RAM, same size Crucial SSD, and the vastly superior GTX 980 video card. And that system is rated at 4995 compared to my 5251. So yeah, I feel pretty good about this new build.

My new computer build

So my old computer was pretty decent. It lasted me nearly 4 years before I felt it needed any kind of upgrade. So I bought a video card for it. I picked the new Asus Strix Nvidia GTX 960 OC2. The reason I went with this card was because the case didn’t have a lot of room for a long card, and the new GTX 900 series from Nvidia seems to be super efficient, using very small amounts of energy for how fast it is. Well, this old computer was an i7-2600 HP desktop. It had a GTX 550ti video card, 8GB RAM, and 460 watt power supply. It turns out HP only supports the BIOS on their computers for about a year. The newest BIOS update I could get from them was from 2012.

So now, what do I do with this fancy pretty new video card? I could return it, maybe pay a restocking fee, or try to sell it at a small loss. Or I could build a whole new computer. Been a REALLY long time since I had last built a computer. And I just sold my Kart, so I have a little cash laying around begging me to spend it. Let’s do it!

Yes, for a whole new build I normally would have gone the GTX 970 or an AMD. But I already had this one and it is still a great upgrade. And low power is good. So now I get to pick components. I found this great website in my searches called This site takes the price from a bunch of sources, gives you the best options meeting your criteria and lets you store the build and even has a section to show off your build and see what other people did with similar components.

OK, so let’s get to the components I chose and why I chose them:

All the toys

All the toys

Video card: Covered this already…

CPU: i7-4790K

Why I chose it: Rock solid (like pretty much all Intel chips), Overclockable, Ranked in the top 50 fastest CPU’s at and only a couple others come close to the performance to price index. Also, it seems to be a favorite (along with the i7-5820K) amongst overclocking gamers. While I don’t plan to overclock, typically chips good for overclocking seem to be more stable and have more support from users. And I was trying to keep the build (minus the video card I already had) to under $900.

My thoughts on it so far: Yup, seems to be solid and reliable and not get hot.

CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS10X Optima

Why I chose it: Looks cool (I love heat pipes). Reviewers seemed impressed with its cooling capacity. The Cooler Master that looks similar that I originally wanted was  unavailable from either of the 2 places I was purchasing from and I didn’t want to throw a third vendor in the mix. I would have tried liquid cooling as it looks the coolest and works the best, however, it was over my proposed budget.

My thoughts so far: Holy piss, this thing is huge! It is 6” tall… In one orientation it interferes with my RAM boards. In the other, the fan barely touches the RAM. The install was a bit of a bitch as you have to do it before you put the motherboard in the case. And then it makes access to one or two of the MB mounts difficult for my fat hands. Given that, when I was running a benchmark test for hours on this thing, the top of this cooler was colder than room temperature. WOW, so much cooling.

Look at the size of that cooler.

Look at the size of that cooler.

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-G1 Sniper Z97

Why I chose it: Gigabyte reputation. Overclocking utilities and abilities. Color and heat sinks looked cool. High quality sound built in, not the usual AC97 or whatever they usually have. And it says Sniper in the name, I love guns, I love snipers, it was made for me.

My thoughts so far: Everything booted up and worked first time, that says a lot based on my past experiences. Looks good, fits well. Seems to be living up to the small amount of hype I gave it. I have not tried overclocking yet. And I like that the board itself it black.

MB with RAM

MB with RAM

MB Packaging.

MB Packaging.

RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws X series (4x4GB)

Why I chose it: I went with 4x4GB rather than 2x8GB because Newegg was out of the 2×8 in red. I wanted to stick with the red and black theme I had going. I went with PC1600 because of the price and it was all I needed. Maybe not the best for when I want to overclock, but I really don’t intend to do it until I get desperate for more speed.

My thoughts so far: The cooling fins stick up a little high for use with the cooler I chose. Other than that, it is RAM, it has had no issues.



SSD: Mushkin ECO2 240GB

Why I chose it: It was a good price, and it was the fastest (87,000 IOPS) I could find in the price range.

My thoughts so far: Amazing speed, so small, living the dream.

HDD: Seagate Barracuda 1 TB, 7200 RPM

Why I chose it: It was under $50 for a 7200 RPM HDD. It has the SATA 6.0 GB/s interface. And I have heard Seagate Barracudas are good.

My thoughts so far: Yup, it’s a hard disk. Seems to be fine.

Case: Cooler Master HAF 912

Why I chose it: Everywhere I looked it was one of the highest rated cases by users/customers. It seemed to be designed for a ton of airflow. It was relatively cheap. I like the way it looked. Not too old, not too new. Also, it was a “mid tower” that held a full ATX board and came with a couple fans.

My thoughts so far: Mid tower my ass. This thing is huge. And fortunately for me, I needed huge due to that CPU cooler. It only has USB 2.0 on the case. That sucks. Makes it feel old. Also, the interior is all “90’s grey” as a friend of mine put it. Again, that sucks. I like that the power supply is mounted low. I like all the internal drive bays. But really, this case is dated. If I ever upgrade, this may be the first thing to change.

Power Supply: EVGA Supernova NEX750B

Why I chose it: It was on sale and had a rebate on top of that. After rebate it was under $50 for an EVGA (a brand I like) 750 watt  power supply. Also, it is modular meaning you plug in the wires you need as you need them.

My thoughts so far: I really like it. Seems funny to give a shit about a power supply, but this one surprised me with how nice it is. All the wires are in a nice looking black mesh loom. They all have nice velcro straps. The finish on it is a quality looking flat black hammered powder coating. It even came in nice packaging.

Power supply chords

Power supply chords

40 in 1 card reader, DVD burner: Who gives a shit? Got them, they work. Rosewill card reader kind of sucks. Had to stick a micro SD adapter in like 12 times before it actually detected I put something in there, but a real SD card worked first time. Asus DVD burner has been fine so far.

All together. You may now mock my wiring skills.

All together. You may now mock my wiring skills.

Now, not part of the build, however worth mentioning due to its sheer awesomeness, and the fact it came within a couple weeks of the build, is the mouse.

EVGA Torq X10 Carbon and Corbonic mouse pad

EVGA Torq X10 Carbon and Carbonic mouse pad

It is the EVGA Torq X10 Carbon. My wife actually got this for me for my birthday because she knows I am a total nut swinger for carbon and titanium. So almost anything with real carbon or titanium in it is a sure bet for a gift for me. It has the Avago 9800 laser, which appears to be the best laser Avago makes for mice. It has an aluminum chassis with a carbon fiber shell.

Aluminum chassis, carbon shell.

Aluminum chassis, carbon shell.

It has 9 programmable buttons, LED’s that can be 1 of 7 different colors, adjustable shape, adjustable weight, silver coated wire, 20 million click life switches, and super smooth Teflon feet. It even came in a great package. The scroll wheel is nice and wide. The buttons take a little more effort than most I have used. And it is a wired mouse. I hate wires, but I have had issues in the past even with expensive wireless ones. So for this and the keyboard I have had to put my hatred of wires behind me. Overall, this mouse is amazing. I love it. Also, the XTrac Carbonic oversized mouse pad is great.

I will follow this up with a performance comparison. Mostly for my own records and satisfaction.

MazdaSpeed3 A/C not working

So one day the air conditioner stops working on the autocross car. I start the car and have the wife turn on the A/C to see if I can see the clutch kick in. I can’t really see anything. The pulley is close to the side of the chassis, so maybe the lighting is just bad. Then the wife thinks she sees something.

This does not belong there...

This does not belong there…

This was sitting on the front undertray of the car. Hey, I think she discovered our problem :)

Autocross MazdaSpeed3 Project #9

Results are in from another autocross. I ended up 6th overall. I was 3rd in class. But to show you how close our class is, 4 of the 5 cars in our class were in the top 7 overall. That is from a total driver count of 76. This is overall PAX results.

After my fourth run of the morning session I was second overall and first in class. Then that fast little Cobalt beat me on the fifth run, and I was unable to improve on my fifth run. That pushed me down to second in class and third overall.

Then came the afternoon runs. I dropped about a half second off my time. Unfortunately, a few others dropped significantly more and pushed me down the list. We only got three runs in the afternoon and I decided to let the wife take all three of her runs prior to me taking all three of mine. My first afternoon run, where I dropped a half second, felt pretty good as far as grip goes. Both runs after that felt very greasy. I tried cooling off the tires between runs, but that didn’t help. So I am assuming it is all that stupid topseal or whatever they call it that is on that racing surface at this site. I think I just missed out on prime time for good times.

Overall, I had fun and while not stoked on the results, I can’t complain too much about being 6th out of 76 in the wife’s school bus. And after my 1st run in the 49’s I knew there was a 47 in it. And I got there. So that is somewhat gratifying. Especially when others in my class seemed to think I was being optimistic when I said we could get there. Unfortunately, 2 of them got there more forcefully than me.

Now. How could I have done better?

  • I should have stiffened up the rear anti-roll bar. It is still set to soft and I was fighting understeer all day.
  • I could maybe have played with rear shock settings but I honestly don’t think they would have made enough difference.
  • I am still trying to figure out tire pressures. Right now I am happiest with 39 front, 37 rear. However, that combination was terrible at the last race site. So I think I have yet to figure out ideal. Time to pull out the shoe polish I guess…
  • I am still trying to get used to the way the differential works on this car. Sometimes it helps pull me in under throttle, sometimes it pushes me out. I think this will just require more seat time to nail down.
  • Mental. I was not focused at all at this event. I had a bad headache all day, and I let that occupy my thoughts far more than I should have.
  • Traction control. I forgot to turn it off for the first few runs. And at least 1 run was a complete waste because of it.