Rotational Banner

Friday, March 30, 2012

Daily Driving, Daily Life

Apex Performance has become a helpful sponsor to Machine Zealots for the last couple of months. In a couple of weeks, Machine Zealots will be airing the very first sponsored episode as PuYang and I install the Hawk HP Plus racing brake pads on the 2006 Subaru STI.

Last night, was a movie night, so I took the car out in the rain. As many people know, the Bridgestone Potenza RE070 ultra performance summer tires are very prone to hydroplaning. Alas, the tires did lose traction at one of the harder turns. The STI's LSD and AWD system was pretty good though, the car remained composed as it slid in the rain. The hard tires, suspension, mixed with the steering wheel, gave me a feeling of confidence and absolute control, I could feel how the car was reacting to the pavement. Even though the car did slide, I didn't feel fear. Although most of the time I remain a responsible driver, the STI's brute torque and power is just too tempting to pass up. If you drive or have driven an STI, you know what I'm talking about.

Here are some teaser shots from the upcoming episode:

A small update for those of you who actually care about the process of the video making, you may be happy to hear that I took the advice from you guys to record the voice over parts with a better microphone. It does sound a lot better! Some of you may have noticed Machine Zealots recently ran into some copyright claim issues with YouTube. We are still sorting out the issue, not sure how long this will take, but I will keep you guys in the loop.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

RevScene Spring Meet 2012

It's been a couple of days since Machine Zealots was at the car meet, but this video was by far the largest thing I've ever had to render. There was a total of 97 clips of video to edit, and the effects I used for this video was way too heavy. It took my computers a total of 50 hours to finish the render! I'm not sure if I'll ever do that again. Basically what I did for the entire film was liquid slow motion every shot, and also added a pseudo HDR effect with bloom. This made my computer render out an average of 15 seconds per frame.

Anyway, I am glad that the nightmare is over, and the video turned out pretty good.

There is also an annual summer meet as well. I've heard that the summer meets have even more cars! That will be fun.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The HVAC Cluster Light Conversion

The time has finally come to debut the marvelous HVAC cluster light conversion. From reading countless forum threads it occurred to me that this is one of those mods you just have to do if you own the 05-07 STI. As mentioned on some previous blog posts, the STIs made in these years were in this weird transitional period. From the year 2008+ the STIs have come stock with beautifully red light interiors. Hopefully these conversion episodes help my fellow Subaru brothers and sisters.

Obviously, if you don't like red, you can use any other color. I actually have a friend who changed all his interior lights to illuminate blue! It was different, but fit his car quite well. Of course, if you don't mind the green, you don't need to lift a finger.

This conversion is based on a couple of old forum discussions, so I can not take full credit. However, I will say I have made a couple of improvements to fix issues that were mentioned from the old forum posts. One of the major problems people had were the lights not being bright enough. Another major concern was the dial face buttons seemed to get stuck, or unable to push down all the way due to the wires and lights. I am proud to say, my mod worked out perfectly. You can see the red lights during the day, eventhough you wouldn't really need to, and it looks beautiful at night.

As always, these articles written after the video are always a way for me to give you guys some tips, tricks, and important afterthoughts on my modding process that I may not have been able to show on film.

To set you guys on the right track, I will tell you exactly what I used for this mod. The lights are Red 5mm straw hat LED 3.2v 5000 MCD with Wide Angle. These details are very important. The 5mm LED is a must if you want it to fit inside the dials. 5000 MCD (Millicandela) just means it illuminates very bright. The higher this number, the brighter it illuminates. I used 3 of these lights per dial, giving a total output of 15000 MCD. You won't need anything higher than 5000 MCD, unless you are running less LEDs per dial. Many people in the past have sanded down the LEDs so the light looks more diffused on the dial. I strongly advise you not to. The face of the dial already diffuses the light for you, so you don't need to sand down each light. Sanding it down will only lower your illumination output. Make sure you purchase wide angle ones as well, if it's not wide angle, you will get hot spots on your dials since it doesn't illuminate evenly enough. However, if you choose a different LED setup than mine, then you will need to calculate what sort of setup you'd like to do, and what kind of resistors you will need to purchase. For my setup, I needed three 150 OHM Resistors 1/4W 5% Carbon Film. I chose to wire my LEDs into three parallel series because it's just easier to fix when one dial malfunctions. For the wire, I just picked up some old telephone lines, and stripped them. The wires are extremely thin, so be extremely careful with them. Lastly, I would advise that you guys use heat shrink tubing instead of electrical tape, where possible. This will give you guys a much cleaner and secure connection as time passes by. I honestly just got lazy, lol. Now, mind you, whether you are a professional at soldering or not, this is not an easy mod. It will take plenty of time and patience on your part. There are many risks to this mod if you aren't careful and precise, so please DO NOT DO THIS MOD UNLESS YOU ARE CONFIDENT!

Otherwise, the results speak for themselves. As time goes by, I will continue to convert the rest of the interior to illuminate red. As of this moment, I'm not 100% sure if I'm going to bother with the Head Unit, since I still want to go with an aftermarket double din, but we'll see.

Monday, March 19, 2012

RevScene Spring Meet 2012 Teaser

Yesterday, Puyang and I got up bright and early to attend the annual RevScene Spring meet. I had all of my GoPro Cameras charged and ready to go. The weather was cloudy, which was good for me, because I prefer shooting video in diffused light. However, it was freezing cold as this meet was held at the beach. More than 150 cars were at this meet, as most people pulled in from their own individual car owners clubs. People came with their family members, loved ones, and friends. And eventhough the weather was grey and gloomy, the atmosphere was not.

It was clear to me that each and every one of these owners loved their cars very much. You can clearly see the time, money, and effort put into their rides. Myself being an STI owner, I was obviously more focused on the STIs. Seeing what others were doing, and finding out what I liked and didn't like about a particular mod.
Puyang was interested in a wide variety of cars. While I was filming, he was taking photos. You can view the entire album on the Machine Zealots' Facebook page.

In the meantime, I am converting over 100 video clips into a different format, so I can get on with the editing. Hopefully it will be done by the end of this week, so I can move on to other things as well. I'll post the video later, but for now, enjoy the pictures!

One final thought, after going to this meet, I came to realize that my car is very stock compared to some of the project cars there. Eventhough I know I'll eventually get there, one can't help but feel tempted to step up the timeline. LOL. ;)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Back to Gold

The Subaru Impreza WRX STI, a magnificent creation, a car that I've dreamt of owning for nearly a decade. The tales of this torque monster have been told many times over, all around the world. The beast tackles some of Mother Nature's harshest terrains and weather conditions. Whether it's on dirt, gravel, snow, or tarmac, you can be sure that there are stories to tell.

The STI has proved itself to me during the time I've owned it. It has not let me down once. It saved PuYang and I when we had our near car accident a few months back. During a midnight snow storm, I'd successfully drove my friend home, and got back home safely while some other cars began to slip and slide. On the dry days, it had an opportunity to make every single passenger I drove yell in excitement as the boost kicked in. When it's not moving, I smile as I leave the car, and smile again as I approach it. It's not a Ferrari, but that's why I love it so much more. It draws attention, and at the same time, it doesn't.

Well the time had come that I reverted the STI back to its heritage, unleashing the beast to its full potential with those 10 spoke Gold BBS Wheels with the extremely sticky Bridgestone Potenza RE070s.

I'm sure some of you can't wait to see some more driving videos huh? I know, I've been itching to spend time under some sunlight with this bad boy. More to come later.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Zai's 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX STI

Here are just a few pictures of my friend's 2010 Subaru STI, taken from a video experiment I was working on. He's taken this car to the track, and he's mostly done aesthetic, wheels, and suspension modifications on this torque monster. He hasn't quite gotten into the power aspect, but this ride is hard, and grips in the corners! I love that rear wing!

We are hoping to make time for a video, featuring this car. For now, enjoy the pictures! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"Jagan" Paddles, nice!

It's been over a year since I've installed the Hurst Paddle Shifter kit for the 2010 Chevy Camaro, and because I was working on my re-mastered episodes from the former Project SpadesV6, it made me think about the old days. I went onto the Camaro Forums this morning to read about what's new in the community, and I found a large number of threads about the Hurst Paddle Shifters. They are selling like hot cakes!

One of the forum members posted this:

I have one and love it, although I recently changed out the "Jagan" oversize aluminum ones for the black Derlin (smaller) ones.

I read it, and I was sort of suprised and curious. Although Hurst had originally told me they would use my name for one of their paddle designs, I had no idea they would keep their word because I had pretty much sold the Camaro around the time these paddles came into mass production.

A quick Google search for "Jagan Paddles" will quickly give you links to purchase them, and what not. I thought it was extremely cool for Hurst to keep their promise. Now the name Jagan is actually worth a bit more value I suppose, lol.

If you are a Camaro owner, or know someone who drives one, consider this product as a gift. It's not extremely cheap in price, but it's worth every penny, and it's very easy to install!

Thanks Hurst Shifters!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dark and Gloomy

I can't believe how fast time flies, it's already close to mid March, and I'm feeling excited about the upcoming months. However, the weather is still as rainy as ever so shooting videos isn't as convenient as I'd like.

Well, there was a one day window of sun and cloud yesterday, so Puyang and I took this opportunity to wash our cars.

The STI's gold wheels will be swapped on the next time I see a clear day. I can't wait to use those super sticky summer tires again! My friend also stopped by, showing me his new Varis high wing spoiler for his 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. It looks killer!

We are planning on making a video for his car in the near future. Hopefully we will get to it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Project Red Continues

After finishing the Ignition Ring, Ashtray, and the Lamco Boost Gauge lighting conversions, I thought it was about time I tackle something on a larger scale. I am happy to announce that I have finally finished the HVAC (Heater, Ventilator, and Air Condition) lighting conversion!

Ready to work.

Converting the stock LEDs to illuminate red with plastic overlays.

Adding additional LEDs to each dial for maximum effectiveness.

Another step closer!

Keeping it simple.

A neat and clean finish!

Looks decent in the day.

Matched! Uh, except the Head Unit... for now.

Close up of the finished product.

The photos make it look like the dials have hot spots. However, take my word for it, they look absolutely perfect with the naked eye. They are a perfect match with the STI's dash gauges as well. You can also dim these HVAC lights with the same dimming switch as the gauge cluster. I will admit that this mod took me longer than I thought, but I only paid two dollars for 50 LEDs and 50 resistors, so I'm not complaining.

I will be posting a full DIY video for you guys as soon as I get it edited and rendered. I'll write up more specifics later on. Stay tuned!

Friday, March 2, 2012

GoPro HD Hero 2 tests on the Audi R8

I had an opportunity to test out the capabilities of the new GoPro camera yesterday as Puyang and I headed down to the showrooms of Mercedes Benz, BMW and Audi. We were looking at some of the new 2012 models, and when we weren't test driving, or just sitting in the high end leather wrapped interiors, I took the opportunity to try out some of the new features and sought to see if GoPro's claim of the camera being two times better held any truth.

Now, these are actually screen captures I took from a test video I've edited. The original footage was shot at 1080p HD and rendered out as 720p HD. I've also adjusted the color and contrast so it looks extra sharp. However, the video quality was indeed better than the previous GoPro version. I'm not sure if it's really two times better, but there is a definite added crispness to the videos. The test video I shot was with one of the new functions included in the HD Hero 2: 90 Degree Narrow FOV (Field of View).

With the new FOV options, the new GoPro really is a lot more versatile than before. Now I don't have to be forced to make everything look so distorted with the fish eye lens. 90 Degree FOV works really well capturing things like cars, because it won't distort the lines too much. To be really honest, I was getting tired of the wide angle lens. This is sure to change the game!

I won't be posting this test video, sorry for the people who want to see it, but it has been a great experiment as I got to try out all sorts of new techniques for editing and shooting. Hopefully, you guys will see it in the future videos.