8 Dec 2017

The little fire turned into a beast which is still completely uncontained; a couple coworkers are waiting to see if their homes are still standing. Last night our pond skimmer worked overtime collecting tree debris. Imagine that as burning embers driven by 30-80mph winds.

In car news, it’s fairly straightforward tuning a fuel and ignition map, what’s not is cold-start and idle. It takes a lot more time because it’s so subjective, plus cold-start can only be worked on for a few minutes before the car has to cool off.

AEM’s ECU versatility allows changing many parameters, some by a lot. For example, the idle PID control loop terms appear as “X.XXX”. Annoyingly, they don’t give a rough idea where to start, instead sticking with “every engine will be different.” Well, yes, and no. For example, is a good starting point 9.000, 1.000, 0.456, 0.045, or 0.005? If you start with 0.005 when the majority of engines need 1.000, it wastes time. It’s like being asked to guess a number between 1 and 10,000 without even a ballpark starting point, or even the state where the ballpark is located…

I bring this up because idle is currently running an “I” term of 0.010. Today I found a post where someone got AEM to reluctantly cough up a starting point. The response was “… cars with aggressive setups and big injectors may need a ‘P’ term of zero and an ‘I’ gain of 0.1-0.2 at idle to prevent oscillation.” So, maybe what I thought was okay could stand further improvement. Increasing “I” to 0.05 didn’t show a marked improvement, but it needs to be driven, but now it’s time to pick up the wife at LAX. Told the neighbors that if things get insane around here before we’re back, to rescue our dog.

7 Dec 2017

Did some more local test drives; idle is slowly being improved.

During a drive, saw some smoke and headed to a local mountain for a better view. The picture is looking straight north so you can see how Santa Ana winds blow west,  opposite the normal direction. This one was later named the “Lilac Fire” and unfortunately started in a canyon running east-west, a perfect recipe for disaster. People living in SoCal don’t lecture people regarding fire danger; we all know Santa Ana’s don’t play favorites and any year could be our turn. Pretty sure this fire was responsible for the second emergency warning we got on our phones in as many days.

On the way home, “Baja Dude” in an enormous off-road truck tried to show off his gentleman tackle (as Top Gear would call it). We were in heavy traffic moving about 26 mph, so I’m wondering, “huh, really?”, with no choice but to ignore him. The group of cars we were stuck in proceeded to the next light, where a guy in a BMW SUV completely moved over on me – first time that’s happened but it’s inevitable. Driving something so low makes Midlana a candidate for such things and as long as it’s planned for (think: motorcycle) it’s not a big deal; just touch the brakes and let him slide over – 12″ in front of my nose. What was surprising was Baja Dude suddenly accelerating up even with the SUV, honked his horn and yelling at him. At the next light, the SUV owner got out and walked back to me, very apologetic. I appreciated the gesture and said “it’s okay, I’m used to being invisible in this”, but couldn’t help but notice him checking his rear bumper for damage…

6 Dec 2017

Headed off to Borrego Springs, mostly because the timing was right. The first picture is part way down the twisty road into town. Just short of the horizon is the Salton Sea. My brother drove out there a couple weeks ago and said the road was in such terrible condition that he didn’t recommend it; another time perhaps.

Poking around on Google Earth lead to making this the destination for this trip, the “Sand Dragon” that lives near town. This thing’s got to be about 300-feet long and note how it continues in the background on the other side of the street. The metalwork and creativity were very impressive. There are a bunch of other sculptures as well but I was worried I’d get high-centered on the dirt access roads.

The last picture is Midlana in front of an odd little building off by itself at the base of the twisty road leading back. Anyone recognize it? It was in the 2000 “Within” and “Without” episodes of “X-files”. In the show it was a school but unsure what it is/was; seems to be closed up and deserted. When I was a kid I remember it being a real estate office.

I tried recording the drive up the hill, but alas, again foiled by slow cars. I didn’t feel strongly enough about driving back down the hill and waiting for a clear spot in traffic because the Highway Patrol regularly runs up and down the hill was another reason to just let it go.

Idle definitely needs more work; it’s still a little erratic, sometimes stalling, and sometimes gets into an up-and-down surging cycle. Other times it idles perfectly…