Sunday, December 13, 2009

Making sense of Spaghetti

After receiving the engine, gearbox, loom etc a couple of weeks ago I decided that it was about time that I got stuck in to doing some work on the project. Having received my ODBLink on friday and also some wiring schematics for an RX8 earlier in the week I decided that the first place to start was the big mess of wiring that I have which looked like this...

After a few hours of looking over the wiring schematics and sifting through the big mess of wires I was able to untangle them somewhat and it started looking a little more reasonable. I identified about 40% of the plugs in the loom, still a bit to go though... Without the schematics though things would be near impossible, I guess thats one the issues of not taking the loom out of the car yourself.

This is what 20 odd pages of laminated (they should last the build laminated) schematics looks like. And this isn't all of them!

I also wanted to see how the new OBD tool I bought wworks but because I dont have a key for my loom I can't really talk to the RX8 ECU just yet. So I took the opportunity to borrow my fiance's freinds car while they were out looking for dresses and see what sort of data I could get from the CAN bus in her Mazda 2. I was a bit worried the tool I bought might not be able to give me the underlying CAN data from the car but after a bit of searching I found a great pdf for the ELM327 chipset used in the ODBLink. After a few 'AT' commands sent to the device I was able to receive the raw CAN data which I am going to write some basic software to interpreret. For the time being I am just using hyperterminal in windows.

Once I've written some .Net code to interperet the CAN frames I will post the source up here...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

S15 Sold, Engine Delivered

Well after about five weeks and very few actual shoppers and plenty of time wasters I've finally sold my S15. And not a moment too soon, next week I need to make final payment on my clubman so everything is running smooth at the moment.

I also had the RX8 engine and parts delivered yesterday. This on the other hand was not the smoothest of deliveries. Firstly they tried to deliver it on Tuesday without calling me first so that I could arrange to be home to unpackage the 320kg box off the truck. So I arranged for redelivery the following day between 9-12am. It didn't arrive... So after about 5 phone calls to TNT the package arrived at 5:05pm. A wonderful day of daytime TV it was...

I've also been looking into how I am going to tackle the task of wiring everything up. I have the majority of the electrical components from the donor RX8 and I learned recently thanks to a blog named Madox.NET the some Mazda's (RX8 included) run a CAN network that allows all of the electronics in the car to talk to each other much like computers do on a normal network.

With some specialist devices such as OBDLink a normal computer can also talk on this network through the cars diagnostic port. This port will allow me to do two things, firstly I will be able to check error codes from the engine ECU which will help me to pass emissions and trouble shoot setup issues. Secondly I will be able to intercept signals that would normally go to the dash for things like engine revs, speed, trip computer etc

What I am proposing to do is instead of using a dash from a car or motor bike is to instead use an Asus EEE PC T91 tablet PC with the CAN hardware and some software I will develop myself to create my own dash. Because I will be getting data directly from the Mazda sensors, some of which isn't normally displayed to the driver I will be able to show all ADR required gauges and more. What's great about this is it will be far cheaper and easier than buying seperate gauges and having to install new sensors for them. Plus, if I can have a whole range of dash designs and flick through them with a touch of the screen and adding warning lights/buzzers will be a matter of a few lines of code rather than a heap of wiring/cutting etc...

Here is a sample screen shot of a RX8 style dash design written in .Net using Dundas Gauges, I also added a basic three stage shift light that lights up yellow, then organge then completely red when it's time to shift.

Monday, November 23, 2009

RX8 Powerplant Sourced

After a bit of thought and discussion with those in the know (i.e. someone who has rebuilt a rotary engine before) it turns out that the engine that I declined initially could be fixed and relatively cheaply.

One of the benefits other than a cheaper price is that when the engine is rebuilt is will be better than an old second hand one and will also be tweaked a bit to make a bit more power, cant leave it stock when I rebuild it can I??? hehe

I secured a very very good price and made payment today. Another bonus is any of the damaged parts such as the charcoal canister and cold start air pump will be replaced for free once they get another RX8 in. Given that I want the clubman going in about twelve months that gives them ample time.

I also bought an electronic RX8 workshop manual today which should have electrical diagrams in it. The wiring is probably the trickiest part of the build, but it will be the second time I've rewired a car/engine. So while I am waiting for the chassis to arrive I can spend the next month or so going over the wiring harness and trimming it down to just the bare essentials (no air con, heater, power windows, door sensors etc etc etc).

Not long now until I start clogging up my friends garage with clubman parts, very exciting (for me that is!).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tools, Tools and more Tools... Oh and an Auction!

Well the sale of the S15 is going rather slow, even after several price drops :-( At the moment I've dropped it to my rock bottom price of $22,999 (last night). So *fingers crossed*.

The really annoying thing is the number of tools who are making ridiculous offers (e.g. $17k) or even others who say they have the money. Come and test drive (see test poliot) and then say 'oh, I've got to sell my car first and then I can buy yours'. Very frustrating.

On the clubman side of things after the engine sale fell through due to it being a dud I decided to take a look over the Australian auctions to see if any local RX8's we for sale. I managed to come across a June 2009 series 2 RX8 with some heavy suspension/frame damage that had not affected the running gear or engine. I am having Option 1 Garage bid for me today.

The offer I made is a little more than I would have liked to of spent but for brand new running gear including a revised motor, gearbox and diff ratios I really cant complain. All of the wearable parts would be in tip top condition.

I will find out if I am lucky enough to get these parts today after the auction.

Update: Well as I suspected the car went for a lot more than I am Option 1 Garage were willing to spend on the car. It was repairable so I guess some one bought it to repair. Back to the drawing board, something will come up soon and with Christmas looming I should probably wait until January to buy hardware. I wont have the clubman until then anyways :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

No luck on the RX8 engine for sale

Well after going through the deposit and engine check process it turns out the engine I was looking at purchasing is damaged. The mechanic who checked it says that it has 2mm of end shaft play, which is about 1.9mm more than the maximum allowances set by Mazda.

So back to the search for a motor! damn, twas such a good deal too. The wholesaler will keep an eye out for another RX8 import/wreck for me though.

On a positive note, I have been told that my clubman will built by December 16th and will ship not long after that. Woohoo!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A progressive day

Well today was a somewhat progressive day. I met my engineer for the first time and gained quite a lot of information.

It turns out using a jap spec engine is fine as long as I used the aussie ECU (at the time of testing) and in total the engineering costs wont be all that much (about $3-5k). Some may think that this is pretty expensive, but it means that the car will be much safer and stronger as a result. Cant argue with more safety can you? It also turns out that the standard fuel talk for the westfield is pretty dodge and I can get a much safer one made locally that can house the RX8 fuel pump assembly.

I've also spoken to option 1 garage again who quoted me $4.5k for the RX8 engine, loom, ecu and gearbox. I've gotten them to include the full driveshaft, fuel pump assembly, full wiring loom from the car including fuse boxes/relays/ignition components from the steering column as well as the clutch slave/master. In total for $5k delivered with an engine check, bargain!

On a sader note, I've had no calls yet for the silvia and it's only been clicked on 108 times in a week. So I've dropped the price a little in an attempt to get some bites. Go you good thing!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Price check on aisle RX8

I've just done some research on the RX8 motor for prices, weights etc...

Apparently a short motor (no bolt on's like A/C, Altenator and manifolds) weighs 107kg (as quoted by mazda), and the weight with bolt on's is about ~120kg according to the internet and the gearbox is 56kg (mazda). Add another 20kg just to be safe and this is still ~20kg less than a S2000 motor and gearbox.

I've been quoted $4,500 for an S2000 motor with ECU + loom, the gearbox would be roughly another $1,500 on top of that. Comparing these prices to the $4,400 I've been quoted for the RX8 motor incl gearbox, loom, ecu, drive shaft and engine test it looks like the RX8 motor is the clear winner here.

I still need to discuss this with my engineer but I am strongly leaning towards the RX8 motor at this stage.

Interesting, I might very soon be the owner of an RX8 power plant! Nice...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Deposit Made

Very late last night I got the full quote from Westfield UK and put a deposit down on the car. Still more to pay but in roughly 11-12 weeks I will have the chassis and a few essential parts for my new clubman.

Then comes the hard work, lots of it!!

On another note I am considering another engine options, the 13B from a Mazda RX8 which will also pass the ADR 37/01 emissions law (all new cars must, and mine will be considered a new car). This motor makes very similar power to the Honda S2000's motor but should be a little lighter and is much much smaller. And can be turbo'ed VERY easily. whuahahah

Friday, October 30, 2009

My first post...

Well it's been a busy two weeks since my thoughts of building a clubman one day changed why dont I do it now?

So whats a clubman you ask? Basically it's a Lotus 7 replica type car. It's a open wheeler topless minimalistic sports car that you can build yourself. Many companies sell kits and there are even books on how to build one from scratch.

Clubmans are not all created equal and there are many variations and flavours. After much research into specifications and options I have narrowed my choices down to the Westfield SEi kit. This kit will look something like the image above, which in my opinion is probably the best looking kit on the market.

They dont have a lot of color choices and yellow looks to be the pick of the lot, im not much of a fan of black, british racing green or royal blue so...

One of the other draw cards of the westfield kit was that I could use a Suzuki Hayabusa engine which would equate to about 330kw per ton. A 300kw HSV has a power to weight ratio of about 166kw per ton, not bad huh?

But after talking to a VicRoads engineer it seems that getting it registered with that motor is extreamly difficult because of the new emissions laws. So I need to pick an engine from a car (not a motorbike) that was sold after November 2005. So to keep a true sports car feel a non-turbo engine is probably the best, so a Honda S2000 engine is the next choice.

While it is going to add about 150kg to the total weight being around 600kg it also adds another 50kw and 50nm giving me a rough power to weight ratio of about 300kw per ton. Not too much difference really and because the engine is going into a lighter car instead of a heavier one (in regards to the hayabusa which weighs about 260kg) it should last a lot longer.

Currently I am waiting on a final quote + shipping from Westfield and will put the order in over the next few days. Then the 11 week wait for delivery starts and the good ol S15 Silvia goes up for sale.

I will miss the Silvia but I cant afford to have two expensive sports at once :-(