January 1st

Well, it's yet another (dispiriting that) New Year and in the wake of some really awful news over the holiday period it seems slightly wrong to be banging on about things I do for fun.

Still, hear we go. Since I last updated this page things have got a bit better with the car. I put the brakes back together and, after buying some expensive DOT 5.1 fluid, refilled and rebled the brakes. I will probably do this again in a while. There's an issue with the way the Ford rear drums fit on the Fury in that the bleed nipple doesn't end up at the top of the slave cylinder. The way to fix this seems to be to slacken the fitting to the hub and rotate the back plate by 90° while the brakes are bled. I didn't do this this time but I will next. For some curious reason it doesn't actually seem to make much difference but I'll do it all the same.

Baffled sump on new engineThen it was time to look into actually starting the engine, the first time for the new unit. This took absolutely ages. First of all I took out the plugs with the intention of making sure I got some oil pressure first. After spinning the engine around for ages on the starter and getting no pressure I convinced myself that something must be awry in the sump area. I fitted the baffled sump before putting the engine in the chassis, you see.

So, I took the sump off again. This is a real pain to do as a lot of oil ends up sitting on top of the baffled plate and gets all over the place, ruining my nice clean(ish) garage. I then put the original sump back on and tried again.

This time, although after a lot of cranking I got some oil pressure so I put the plugs back in and got the engine actually going. However, the oil pressure seemed to max out at about 50psi which was bad news. This might sound a lot but it's specified to be about 70psi at 6000rpm so I was concerned about it.

All the same, I changed the sump again. Just in case the low pressure was some problem with the PRV I changed it for the one that was in the old engine. This means that all the oil carefully primed in to the pump and the main oil gallery all fell out again so I was going to have to prime the oil pump again.

So, once again I took the plugs out and started cranking the engine around. Once again there was no oil pressure for ages. I actually flattened the battery a couple of times and was starting to think that there was some mysterious problem. However, eventually some oil started flowing and once again I got the engine going. The oil pressure, though, was still rather low. I worrying about this until I realised that as everything warmed up the maximum pressure started going up too. I guess the oil pump just doesn't work well with the oil cold. With the oil a bit warmer I got the pressure up to about the 90psi that I had been used to with the old engine.

Sidepod back onThat all seemed like a great success as at least the other things I want to do to the car can be done starting from the car actually working. To get the car closer to the "ready to go" situation I decided to put some of the bodywork back on. Even though I'll probably have to take some of it off again.

So, I put both sidepods back on. In fact I had a big clean-up of these bits of bodywork and the inside of the car too so it all looks nice and shiny now.

Waveform from engine speed sensorWith all that coming together I wanted to get the data logging closer to finished. My PDA based display is coming together. (That is, I'm writing the software..) and I wanted to get the DL1 properly connected into the car. I decided a while ago that I would make something to adapt to the DL1 connectors using some Veroboard so that I could stabilise the wiring as it went into the DL1 connectors themselves.

I also wanted to check what the signals actually looked like so I dragged out my ante-deluvian 'scope and had a look at the various signals. Most importantly the engine speed sensor which I never really got a decent signal out of.

So, taking some care with quality of wiring and earthing, this is the waveform from the engine speed sensor when using a 15k pullup resistor. (It seems to be some sort of open-collector output and needs the pull-up). That waveform looks reasonable, although reducing the time-constant of the signal rise with a smaller pull-up might be sensible. All the same it should work well with the DL1. The only problem is that having done a few calculations the frequency will max out n the region of 6kHz which is rather beyond the maximum frequency of 2kHz as accepted by the DL1.

Frequency divider for DL1 inputSo, I lugged out my old electronic design skills and knocked up a design for a frequency divider which I added to the aforesaid Veroboard as used for connecting to the DL1. I also need a wierd power supply to power a Palm PDA without flattening the battery and I added a regulator for this to the same circuitry. This all looks like this photo here. I will have to pot this circuitry, or perhaps just wrap up with a lot of tape, in order to protect it from the elements a little.

I still want to add some more inputs to the DL1. Most important amongst these are something to detect steering angle and yaw rate of the car. I also want to add a lap timer beacon so I can just use the DL1 rather than the standalone timer. I can, though, add these at a later date.

January 2nd

Today I spent a while finalising the dashboard layout so as to leave enough room for the PDA. I had to move the neutral light to do this so it's now close to the dazzling oil pressure light. I also added a separate power switch for the DL1. The manual warns that it should be disconnected with the engine is being started so I can now do that easily.

A clean and shiny car againWith a bit of an end of term feeling I put the rest of the bodywork back on the car, reattaching the front bonnet in the required place. I then set about cleaning the body using some petrol so as to get all the grime, oil and lumps of rubber off it. I got a few complaints from the rest of the family but surely the end product, after some polish too, is worthwhile?

There's still, though, a bunch of jobs to do. Chief amongst these are:

  1. Make some sort of air intake scoop, possibly even as part of an airbox, as the regs for this year insist that all holes must face forwards.
  2. Arrange to get a higher-performance exhaust system.
  3. Make the roll cage a bit smaller, although only as a weight reduction mechanism.
  4. Remake the seat. As I'm will now sit a bit lower and further forward in the car I'll need to redo the foam seat.

January 6th

Preferences screenI haven't really done anything much since the last update. The main activity has been finishing off the gear display application. This is the preferences dialog which has got rather busy of late but should allow the same application to work in a number of different circumstances. I was having some problems with one aspect of it all but luckily the nice people at Race Technology told me what was wrong with their serial data format document.

Now all I need to do is to try it!

I've started on the list of things just about too, by phoning Tony Law exhausts and booking the car in to go there and have a new exhaust system fabricated and fitted. It's booked into to go up there on January 29th. I still haven't worked out how to get somewhere on the scoop/airbox issue. Hopefully I'll be able to get a bit done this weekend.

I noticed today that my credit card had been debited by the MSA. Hopefully this means that my 2005 licence is on its way to me and everything didn't get lost in the Christmas post which I was was concerned about. I've realised that I don't seem to have any forms for registering for a new year in RGB though, I'll have to chase that up. I certainly did send off my registration for 750MC membership for 2005 but there's been no sign of that either.

January 9th

The real thingWell, I didn't get anything done on the air scoop, mainly because I had to work for most of the weekend. However, I did get a bit done today.

First things first though, my licence arrived yesterday so I'm now the proud possessor of a National "A" licence. (Last year's was a class B.) This has sort of galvanised things slightly, at least in my head, as it now seems that I'm really on a track to get the car back on the circuits.

I spent most of available fettling time, though, fiddling around with the gear indicator. I've essentially finished writing the software, although I'll probably take a few unnecessary things off the display once I'm sure it's all calibrated properly.

I had got hold of a rather knackered old Palm Vx from EBay and luckily it came with a Palm/PC serial cable which works fine for connecting the Palm to the DL1. After a while messing about with the calibration I got to the point where the gear indicator seemed to be displaying the gear properly, based on the speed signal coming from the gearbox speed sensor. I had to fiddle around rather a lot with the electronics to make this work properly but I got there eventually and my frequency divider worked fine. (Although, I made a mistake in calculating the frequencies and it doesn't seem to have been as necessary as I thought it was.)

This photo was not actually taken when it was running. The display doesn't really make and sense but you should get the idea. (That is, it's not really doing 1.37 mph/1000 rpm in fourth gear; that would be just slightly short gearing...)

Engine speed sensor (top), rpm (centre), throttle position (bottom)Also, I have, at last, got a nice clean signal from the speed sensor (the version before was just horrible) and this is a log of, from bottom to top, the throttle position, rpm and speed sensor frequency while I ran the car (off the ground on stands still) in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th gears. You can see the speed going up for the same sort of rpm (about 4000). What's more, I checked the actual values and it's pretty much exactly on what would be expected.

The only issue I've got with the gear indicator now is that I need to wire up the power supply to the Palm. Unfortunately, this is probably going to mean that I have to butcher one or more of the cables which I've got and I'm trying to work out which one...

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