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Topics - digitalsolo

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General Tech / Favorite Fabrication Tools
« on: December 31, 2019, 11:08:07 AM »
Hey all,

So here's something we've not covered much (or in a while at least).   Favorite fab tools!

Here's my list:


Eastwood Tubing Bender:

I have one of these with the SWAG Offroad hydraulic conversion ( and Harbor Freight air over hydraulic RAM.  It's fantastic, love the thing.   I mounted it on a hacked up Harbor Freight engine stand to make it easy to move around (just remember to level it before bending!)


Harbor Freight 20 Ton press.   I have one of these with the SWAG Offroad arbor plates  (BUY THESE if you have one, the stock ones it comes with are dangerous!) and a SWAG Offroad finger press brake.    Great stuff.   I have some cheapie dimple dies that work great in it also.   You need a press, for real.  Wheel bearings, axle work, etc. it's so much easier...


Harbor Freight vertical/horizontal 64" blade bandsaw;  it's...  decent.   Doesn't cut straight most of the time and throws blades, but I've built 5 turbo kits with the thing over the years.   For 230 bucks it's a solid piece.   This is on my upgrade to something better list.


Harbor Freight 4x36 belt sander.   Works fine, lacks HP.    Just got an old Craftsman from my F-I-L that I'm going to move to that has about 3x the HP.  Beyond that, this one works fine.


1945 Rockwell drill press.    Go find an old one like this.   Mine is literally from WW2.   It's the f&*king bomb and still runs dead true.   Fantastic.   Newer stuff sucks in comparison.


Harbor Freight/cheap angle grinder.    I get about 12 months out of an angle grinder, I got 2 years out of a Makita.   So I buy cheap ones.   Currently using a Porter Cable that's 18 months old and still kicking.   The HF ones for 20 dollars work well for a couple years.   Their cutting discs are good too, but I use Benchmark Abrasives for flap wheels as they last like 5x as long as the HF ones do.


HF die grinder.  They come apart.   Take it apart, clean it, loctite it all and it's a beast.   Buy good carbides online though, the HF stuff sucks.


HF step drills.   These are GREAT.   I buy the cheap 3 packs for like 12 bucks on sale.   I've cut 1/4" stainless with them.


AHP AlphaTIG.    This has been covered lots, but it's a great welder.   I think they come with the better torch and pedal now (black pedal, looks like a Miller part).   If not, get the good pedal and torch.   I run a "Cowboy Cover" on the torch lead to protect it.   Buy a good regulator (maybe a dual so that you can backpurge off your main bottle).    I can't say enough good about these.   FWIW, the new Argon regulators at HF are nice and still cheaper than average, buy the "Olsen" ones.   About 90 bucks for the regulator.   Way nicer than the old HF ones.


Millermatic 135 (now sold as a Hobart 135 I think).    Good MIG for up to 3/16 (1/4" if you preheat).    Put like 200 lbs of wire through this thing.  Just keeps ticking.   Solid piece.


"Yeswelder" helmets.   CHEAP on Amazon.  Work great.   I've used a Miller Digital Elite and this thing is about the same.   I have the ultra wide view and I think I paid 60 bucks with 5 extra front/inside plastic shields as spares.


That's my off the top of my head list.   I have some Husky toolboxes as well and they are "fine".   The HF stuff is nicer, but Husky is servicable for home gamers like me and I bought a MASSIVE box for 550 bucks on clearance.

Anybody else have any tips?

Have 3x Speedhut gauges for sale:

Oil Pressure
Oil Temperature
Fuel Pressure

Pressure gauges include sensors, temperature doesn't, but you can get one from Speedhut for about 20 dollars.   They also don't include an inverter for the backlight (I have a multi gauge inverter that still runs my other 4 gauges) but that's about 15 dollars.   So you need about 35 bucks worth of stuff to finish these out properly.

I'd like 75 dollars for all 3.   I think these were about 325 brand new for the set.

Parts for Sale / AEM Infinity "710" ECU with AEMnet Gauge
« on: October 22, 2019, 01:25:39 PM »
AEM Infinity 710
Serial: 7107-0013

Recently serviced/fully validated/updated by AEM.

AEMnet CAN Gauge (includes both black and white faces)
Part number: 30-0312

Absolutely nothing wrong with either device, just going another way on my setup. ECU has about 20 hours of run time on it, gauge has about 5 hours. ECU was mounted on vibration damping feet and used in a street car with a pretty easy life (mounted under dash).

ECU includes the locking USB cable extension, a Micro USB to connect/program/log and the original AEM thumb drive. I don't have any ECU plugs as mine are used, but harnesses or a plug/pin kit are pretty cheap.

I would like 1725 for the two devices, or 1675 for the ECU and 90 for the gauge.

So...   this is kind of a place holder for now, as I'm working on getting an intro video made and a bunch of pictures sorted, but I'll be documenting this build here.


A good friend of mine (Ben) has a 4th Gen Camaro (1995 I think..   I'll update that).   He's had it for a long time (~20 years).   In it's previous life it had a heavily built LT1 (forged bottom end, big heads, etc) with a DS1C blower on it, which made 700+ RWHP.   It then got a turbo setup on the same engine that made ~1050 RWHP, and included an LS1 ECU conversion and lots of other goodies.    That setup eventually flexed the block enough that it ate the bearings out of it and he took it apart.

The car has a tubular front subframe, aftermarket torque arm, Strange 12 bolt rear, aftermarket tranny mount, Baer brakes, etc.   the body is immaculate (I'll get pictures soon).

Anyway, after the LT1 pooped the bed, we started talking about doing a built iron block LS in it, and aiming for 1100 HP or so.    He wanted repeatability on that, so we were aiming for a 6 bolt block, possibly LS Next, etc.    He was mulling doing that or buying a Supra (MKIV).   I told him we could just put a 2JZ in his chassis....

Which leads to now...

Plan is:

Forged 2JZ-GTE
2JZ-GE VVTI cylinder head w/ bigger cams
Mid Frame T4 turbo
Suprastore tubular manifold
Custom front facing intake (I'm planning to fabricate this)
Custom engine mounts
T56 Magnum adapted to 2JZ with scattershield and twin disc
FMIC (reusing this from the old turbo setup)
4" exhaust all the way out (reusing most of the oval tubular Nick and I built for his old setup)
Haltech Elite 2500 ECU
Custom gauges
Power Steering

Engine is currently sitting in the car (literally, not on mounts yet) with lower intake manifold and the Supra Store exhaust manifold on it.   It clears the hood, cowl, rack, subframe and steering.   It's SNUG side to side, but it will fit.    Rear sump JDM pan on the motor.

We'll be making a video series along with pictures of the build.   I figure it's a nice inverse of my normal LS in an import builds...  :D

The Lounge / Martial Arts, fitness, etc...
« on: June 26, 2019, 11:24:03 AM »
So, off topic from my normal nerd-centric discussions...

2.5 years ago, I was 250+ lbs and pretty lethargic.  I decided to get in shape and started doing the elliptical/eating better.   Quit drinking juice and eating at restaurants 5 days a week at work.    At the end of the first year I lost about 35 lbs and decided to take up running.    Last October I started doing ATA Taekwando with my son.

As of this year, I've quit drinking any type of soda (I used to drink a lot of energy drinks) so I'm down to only drinking tea/water/Gatorade, and at this point I'm down about 70 lbs (I bounce around 182-188 lbs) and work out about 5-6 days a week.   I have run a couple 5ks (last year I ran a 30 minute in my first ever "run more than a mile", this year I've run a 24:56 and am trying to get under 23 minutes by next spring) and I'm starting to work on getting actual muscle tone.

Curious what everyone else does for fitness, etc.    I'm not aiming to get ripped, just trying to perpetually improve my current conditioning, particularly as I'm working toward my black belt, which has some fairly stout fitness requirements.

The Lounge / Crashed my daily... looking for a new daily
« on: April 29, 2019, 09:29:08 AM »
So, long story short, I crashed my DD Focus ST.    My fault.    Anywho, it appears to be totaled, so Iím looking for new cars, which is the only fun part of the whole deal.

Right now Iím looking very strongly at a 2016 BMW 428i xDrive Gran Coupe.    30k miles and 2 years of warranty (CPO).     I looked at a 2012 Panamera 4S and liked it a lot (68k miles) but I feel like one of those is dangerous for long term reliability.

Anyone have any thoughts on the stuff in that general class?   Iím looking to spend around 25-35k, for something that seats 4, is AWD or RWD and fairly nice inside.    So far nothing US made has really ticked the boxes and Ford can bite me since they are killing their cars anyway.

I have 2x Eaton/Bussmann 32145 Power Distribution Units.    They have 10x relays and 16x fuses in each, and use Metripack 280 terminals to connect.   I will include a few of the terminal housings, though you'll need some terminals and the gray housings (the other 3 colors are included).

These are industrial grade pieces (literally) and a great way to build a custom harness for a racecar project.   I had bought them to use in my car, but ended up going with similar units that integrated CANbus units.

They are similar to these here: but have a slightly different wiring diagram.   I can provide the diagrams for you in PDF form as well as some documentation I wrote as a cheat sheet.

These were in my 1965 Mustang as I built it, but are being pulled out and will be cleaned up and ready.    I will include a few fuses and relays, but it is not enough to fully populate them, they use micro fuses and ISO280 relays.

(it's the bigger box in the photo, with the red shields for the power input lugs)   Lids/fuse pullers/etc are included.


Electronics / Custom Digital Dashboards - ARM / Arduino - New Side Project
« on: November 06, 2018, 11:07:16 AM »
Hey all,

So, some of you may remember a while ago when I made a little Arduino based CANbus controller to drive some little OLED gauges to display data from my AEM Infinity.    Well, since then, I've been looking at all of the custom gauge clusters that Holley, AEM and others have made and while they're neat, they A) don't fit my sizing needs, B) are expensive and C) are limited in what they can do.

So.... screw it, I'll do it myself because that's what I do.

Anywho, I bought a "Manga Screen 2" which is a little 5.9" 1080P HD touchscreen and a Raspberry Pi to beta test with.   I'd originally planned to use software called RealDash and interface it to CANbus via SPI on the Pi.  Unfortunately, they won't give me or sell me a Linux build, only Android, and integrating it with Android on the Pi is tedious and limited at best.   They also have a nice way to do that, but they won't sell me that either.   So... screw 'em, I'll build my own software.

Plan now (theoretical):

Use Raspberry Pi + Arduino for prototyping; I might move to NanoPC-T4 or similar later, with more horsepower.
Run "Automotive Grade Linux" OS on the hardware
Tie CANbus direct to SPI on the single board computer
Design interface in QT for gauges (step 1)
Design interface in QT for HVAC control (step 2)
Have a snack

Right now I'm just looking to make a little standalone display, which I think won't be too bad in QT.   Feed it data from SPI (serial) and boom, gauges.   Fully customizable, fancy, color, touchscreen gauges.    But since I've got a touchscreen now...   the stock HVAC controls that came with my AC kit are ugly and dumb.  I don't like them.    They just run some servos and crap, so I figure I can replace them with solid state bits either controlled directly from my single board computer (Pi or other) or via an Arduino that is controlled by the Pi.   Then I can take up less real-estate with the ugly controls, and not have to spend 400 dollars (dafuq?) on the nominally less ugly controls.   In the meantime, I'll just dangle these controls off to the side so that I can run HVAC while I develop it.

Anywho, that's the plan.  I'm not really planning on selling this, but everything I make is always open source, so if you're so inclined from a nerd standpoint, you'll be able to replicate this with modifications for your particular implementation.

FWIW, the tech in use here is basically what the OEMs are using for digital gauges and infotainment, so if I can find the time to learn it, it should be pretty powerful.   The nice thing is there are already frameworks for most of it, and odds are, the people designing this stuff at the OEs aren't magicians, so I think I can sort it out.

We'll see what I think of this post a year from now, hahaha.

The Lounge / Jeff Jordan is famous...
« on: October 04, 2018, 11:08:09 PM »
I was watching Wheeler Dealers tonight, they were working on a Ford/Mercury Capri and had some parts 3D printed...  by Jeff Jordan.    @Jordan Innovations.

My wife was notably less impressed than I was when I woke her up going "Hey!  I know that guy!"


The Lounge / SSL Encryption + some behind the scenes things...
« on: September 11, 2018, 02:45:51 PM »
Hey all,

I've been working on a few behind the scenes things on the forum;  mostly fixing some errors/caching/behavior/housekeeping.   Hopefully things will run a little faster going forward.

I've also enabled/forced SSL access everywhere, for increased security.   A few things still aren't 100% forcing, so that will take a little bit to finalize, but we're 98% of the way there.

I'm also working on moving the last of the gallery images in threads from the old (Aeva Media) gallery to the new (SMF Gallery Pro).   This is a lot easier to use (once you get the hang of it) and is still supported and more secure.   I'll have a user guide for it put together shortly (hopefully in the next couple of days).

If anyone has any trouble, please let me know.



The Lounge / New Gallery!
« on: September 06, 2018, 10:21:57 AM »

Our old Gallery function was getting pretty long in the tooth as it was no longer supported by the creator.  It was also prime for a few security holes.

I purchased a new gallery (SMF Gallery Pro) and I've done an import of all of the photos from the old gallery into the new one.   That appears to have gone well with 98% or more of the images transferred over.   I have now disabled the old gallery from being modified, though it is still serving images in threads.

I'm going to be working on updating threads to use the new gallery (basically replacing the old image link with the new) shortly, after which I'll nuke the old gallery completely and we'll be fully on the new one.    The new one has drag/drop uploads, external linking capability, etc., so I think it'll be a better solution as well, and easier to use.

I'm also going to be moving the whole site to SSL again shortly.  I had done this previously, but we had some issues with the old gallery, so I re-enabled non-secure traffic.    This isn't great, so we'll be doing the SSL force again shortly (probably this weekend if I get cycles).

Just wanted to throw a quick update out there on status.  :)


General Tech / Custom Brackets - My How To Guide
« on: August 04, 2018, 10:12:54 AM »
Hey all,

So, when building cars that are full of crap that they were never intended to be filled with, you'll find that you often need to bolt that crap to other crap.   In the case of my 1965 Mustang build, I have a bunch of IP67 rated electronics boxes that house my CANbus based control system for lighting, horns and other accessories.   I made a bracket to hold a couple of them over the past few days, so I figured I'd make a quick overview of how I typically make a bracket, and figured I'd share the method.

Please note, there are a TON of different ways to skin this cat, this is just my method.

Materials I used:

.125" 3003 Aluminum
Construction Paper

Tools I used:

Vertical Bandsaw
Dremel Tool
4.5" Angle Grinder with flap disc
Press Brake
Dimple Dies
TIG Welder
Small square
Razor blade

Step 1:  Get stuff together!   This is the box I'm going to be making a mounting plate for.

Step 2:  Square up your paper.   I use the square to make sure my edges are true to each other.

Step 3:  Set the item you're mounting to the bracket on the paper and mark dimensions.   I don't want the template to take up the ENTIRE bottom, so I'm just aligning it with the screw holes.

Step 4:  Square up the marks you just made for the dimensions in step 3.

Step 5: Mark any holes and other parts of the shape that vary from the big rectangle (or whatever) that you just drew.   I simply set the box on the template and used a thin Sharpie through the mounting holes to mark center.   Be sure to keep this stationary and pay attention, as marking these accurately is key to the bracket fitting well.

Step 6:  In this case, I wanted to mark center to add some dimple die reinforced holes for adding lightness (and mostly adding fanciness):

Step 7:  Dimple die holes are marked for center (total of 5):

Step 8:  Trace outline on aluminum.  You can tape the template to the aluminum if that helps.   Double sided (thin) tape can help also if it's particularly difficult to trace.  This was easy, so I just set it in place and held it while I traced with a Sharpie.   Remember which side of the Sharpie mark you need to cut on!   I usually just mark it so that I'm cutting dead center on the line, but on dimensionally critical things, it can help to use a fine Sharpie here.

Step 9:  Rough outline cut, checking against template for accuracy.  Check often, so that you don't end up with a ton of effort put into a part that doesn't fit!

Step 10:  To cut the inside corners, I drill out the inner corners with a large drill bit to make a fillet, I then cut the remaining gaps with a bandsaw:

Step 11:  Another progress check against the template and against the original box:

Step 12: Mark the holes that need drilled.   I use a spring loaded punch and set the template on the aluminum and punch the hole centers.   I circle the holes on the aluminum to make sure I don't get confused.  :D

Step 13:  Drill holes.   Step up through drill sizes if need be.   These are cut to the size of my rivnuts, but not big enough for the dimple dies yet:

Step 14:  Open up holes to final sizes:

Step 15:  Dimple dies!   These are the dies I'll use:

Step 16:  Dimples... died?

Step 17: Rivnuts.   Read about rivnuts if you're not familiar them.  They are AMAZING!   I have a cheap tool that you use a socket and box end wrench to install them with.   KEEP IT LUBRICATED!

Step 18:  Rivnuts installed!

Step 19:  Test fit again (it fits!):

Breaking this up into two posts because it's LOOOOONG!

The Lounge / New (side) job next spring...
« on: July 16, 2018, 01:59:48 PM »
So, quite a few of you guys know that my family races Top Fuel bikes;  several years ago we had a second bike on our team, with a rider named Jimmy Brantley.   When he ran, I worked on his crew (this was way back in 2006).   He had to step away from racing for a while due to work, but he's coming back next season and needs a new team built.

So, I had offered to go work on the team again (they run a small schedule, about 6-7 races a season).   I was informed this last weekend that I'll be the new crew chief on this bike.   I have a LOT to learn, but I'm pretty excited to get into the minutiae of tuning a nitro engine and helping run a successful team.    I'm still waiting on the final details, but it should be pretty interesting.   

5.80 @ 252 MPH (first round of eliminations): 

General Tech / New Holley "Mid-Mount" drive kit + Turbo Manifold
« on: December 11, 2017, 09:10:38 AM »
Have you all seen this?

Saw it at PRI last weekend and it's a pretty slick setup, VERY tight to the engine and could probably work well with some turbo setups also.   Considering it's all new parts and complete, the pricing really isn't bad either.

They also had this:

Which was probably my favorite new LS thing there.    Built in high flow log style crossover manifold for turbo setups.    Pretty freaking slick and it should fit an FC/FD pretty easily.

The Lounge / New Top Fuel Motorcycle Records
« on: November 19, 2017, 09:31:23 PM »
So, my family races Top Fuel Motorcycles (    My uncle, Larry, is the rider and my other uncle, Steve is crew chief.

They've won quite a few championships (18 as of now), but for the past 7 years they've been chasing a 5.6xx pass.    The record was taken by Swedish rider Peter Svensson and they wanted to get it back.    Since 1994 Larry had been racing the same bike, but two years ago they had a bad fire caused by an engine failure.   This caused massive damage to the bike, taking it out of commission.   They had a new bike in progress and finished it for the following season.

Fast forward a while and they've been making progress on figuring out the new bike, which had a new fuel system, clutch, and a few other things.   The past few races they've been inching in on the record and ran a 255.26 MPH pass (record was previously 255.00) and a 5.743 (record was 5.746), but hadn't hit the elusive 5.6xx pass.

They ran a 5.72 off the trailer, resetting the US record.    The next pass was this:

That's a new world ET record.   Next pass...

That's a new world MPH record.

Setting up a first round eliminations field:

Finally, during the final:

That's pushing hard on 5.5xx passes now, and 260 MPH.   If you follow motorcycle drag racing, these numbers are basically unbelievable.   Figured I'd share with some people who appreciate performance, as this was one hell of a performance.

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