Author Archive

How to Make a Disk Brake Rotor Wall Clock

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Here is a simple tutorial on how to create a functional clock using a disk brake rotor. The rotor was taken off a 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee (ZJ). When completed, this project can compliment your man cave very nicely.

Supplies needed:

-Disk brake rotor

-Functioning clock

-Silicone glue (or another flexible adhesive)

-Rubbing alcohol or another quick drying cleaning product

Tools needed:

-Cutting tool (like a Dremel or Jigsaw)


Step 1:

clock step 1

Set down your disk brake rotor.

Step 2:

clock step 2

Drill a hole in the back of the rotor which will enable you to hang it up.

Step 3:

Cut out the center of the clock (a Dremel with a cutting disk works best for this).

Step 4:

clock step 4

Clean the inside of the center of the rotor. Glue the clock into the center of the disk brake rotor using silicone or some other kind of flexible adhesive. Be sure the clock is centered, and let the glue dry with the clock placed with its face down (as in the picture).

Step 5:

clock step 5

Set the time and hang up the clock!

Posted in Auto & Motorcycle Tech, Tutorials | 1 Comment »

Are Aftermarket Car Air-Intakes Worth the Money?

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Videogames like Need for Speed and Gran Turismo, and movies like The Fast and the Furious and Tokyo Drift are introducing many people to the world of car customizing. One of the most drooled-over upgrades is a simple air-intake upgrade that consists of a new intake tube that is streamlined and replaces your old hose, and a cylindrical filter. An air-intake is designed to provide a less restrictive airflow, colder air, which contains more oxygen than warm air, thus increasing horsepower, improved fuel mileage, and a low-pitched noise. Is it really worth $100 to $350 for one of these?

Simple answer: the more upgrades on you car, the more power it adds. Say you have a completely stock (no factory installed parts have been changed) Honda Civic. You decide to put an air-intake on the engine. Some manufacturers say that an air intake on a Honda Civic can add up to 20 horsepower. A stock engine without any other upgrades like a turbo-charger or high-rise throttle-body does not need as much air as an engine with all those upgrades, so you will be lucky if you get an increase of 10 horsepower—and that’s 10 horsepower to the engine, which translates to about 5 extra horsepower at your wheels. It’s not easy for anyone besides a race-car driver to tell the difference 5 horsepower makes. On the other hand, if you’re running a V8 IROC Camaro with a supercharger, nitrous system, high-flow injectors, and a stock air-filter set-up, you’re pretty much making your car get air through a straw, thus losing horsepower. And fuel mileage: how does an intake improve it? Well, if your car has more horsepower, you don’t need to step on the gas pedal as much, thus saving gas. If you can’t even feel your horsepower gain, you won’t notice a difference at the fuel pump.

Say it’s the sound you’re after, but you’re unwilling to spend any money on a custom exhaust system. Take off your air filter silencer(s). Many cars that have to be smog checked have an air filter silencer, or silencers installed. Basically, just remove any boxes and/or tubes that come before the opening hole on your stock air-filter box, and you’ll get a low-pitched sound just like an air-intake would provide, and an extra horsepower.

Basically, if you’re building a racecar and you’re after every 1/10 of a horsepower, it’s worth getting a custom air-intake. However, unless money’s burning a hole in your pocket, a custom air-intake will not provide a noticeable power difference on everyday cars.

image from rygraves9 on flickr

Posted in Auto & Motorcycle Tech, Performance | No Comments »

2010 Toyota Prius

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Photo from Wikipedia

The world’s best-selling hybrid is back for 2010-completely revised and revitalized. The first thing potential buyers will notice is a new exterior. Aerodynamics and styling are improved. The coefficient of drag dropped down to 0.25. The roof’s “wedge” is moved back almost four inches to improve headroom. The front pillar is moved forward. The wheelbase is .06 inches longer, and LED’s are used for low beam headlights, taillights, and stop lights. Ecological plastics, which emit less CO2 than ordinary plastics, are used in the seat cushion foam, cowl side trim, scuff plates, and deck trim cover. A solar panel moon-roof combo will help power electrical features.

By changing the stabilizer layout, creating a higher caster angle, and tuning the bushings Toyota improved handling on the Prius.

Fuel efficiency is increased to an estimated 50mpg. A larger 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine powers the new Prius. Contrary to popular opinion, the larger engine actually increases fuel-efficiency by providing more torque so the engine can be run at lower RPM levels. An exhaust gas reticulation system also helps improve efficiency and cold-start performance. Not present under the hood is a belt; there is an electric water pump and remote-powered A/C system. The new Prius will have three driving modes: EV mode, which allows it to be fully electric for short distances, power mode to allow for most power, and eco mode to help get the best mileage. The 0-60 time is 9.8 seconds. Toyota should’ve upgraded to a lithium battery, but financial competition with the new Insight may be keeping the Nickel-metal hydride battery in use.

Starting at $22,000, the Prius is well priced and competitive with the Honda Insight. A stripped down model will be released later this year, which will cost $21,000. As much as I hate to give into corporate tycoons and greedy business people who could care less about whether or not the new Prius is eco-friendly or not, Toyota is “moving forward” with the new Prius.

Posted in Auto & Motorcycle Tech | No Comments »

How to Buy a New Car the Right Way

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Image from Wikimedia

When’s the last time you went to an automotive dealership? When’s the last time you bought a car? How much did you pay? Most likely, you paid too much.

When most people think car dealer, they think about “low-balling,” and haggling down car prices. But how much should you “low-ball?” The answer is much more than you probably think.

The Dealer’s Asking Price on a car is the dealer’s asking price plus all the options you chose like DVD players etc. and a destination fee, but when dealers order a large amount of cars at one time, they get discounts that can be passed down to you. Most people will low-ball only about a $1000 on a brand new car, or just down to the MSRP value, but you can low-ball much more. A great tool for knowing how much to lowball is a website called  Basically, you enter the car year, car make ( Toyota, Honda, Jeep etc.), car model( Civic, Corolla etc.),trim level (lx, ex, laredo etc.), and your personal information like name and address. The personal information is so that dealers can contact you. The only thing you have to add to the “secret target price” they give you is the options that you want like the sunroof, navigation system, premium wheels etc. Stay firm with your price through the whole sales process. Don’t be afraid to spend a few hours going back and forth with the dealer. He/She will try to tell you that the price you’re trying to acquire the car for doesn’t meet their goal. Don’t worry, just stay persistent.

Also, from September, until Christmas is the best time of year to buy a car because all the models for the new year are coming in. For example, you should buy a 2007 Ford Explorer from September until Christmas 2007 because all the 2008 Ford Explorers are coming into stock, and dealers are usually willing to sell brand new cars from an older year at a low price.

Next time you’re ready to buy a car, do it the right, cheap way.

Posted in Auto & Motorcycle Tech, Tips & Tricks | 2 Comments »

2008 Lotus Elise

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

“Increasing speed by keeping it lightweight”

Photo from Flickr

My first reaction to the 2008 Lotus Elise: it’s a street-legal go-kart. It’s got two seats, it’s small, and it’s fast.  The non-supercharged version features a 189 horsepower four cylinder engine, and the Lotus Elise SC (the supercharged version) features a 218 horsepower engine. Lotus continues their tradition of producing faster cars by losing weight, not by increasing power. The Lotus Elise weighs just 1984 lbs., and it has a 0-60 time of 4.9 seconds. The Elise SC weighs 2006 lbs., and it has a 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds. Both versions of the Elise do not have a “high torque” feel; in fact, peak horsepower is achieved right around the 8000 rpm mark for both models, and peak torque is achieved at 6800rpm for the Elise, and 5000rpm for the Elise SC.  Pricing for the 2008 models starts at 46,270 for the Elise, and 54,500 for the Elise SC. I think that’s pretty cheap for a car sold at the Lamborghini dealership.

Posted in Auto & Motorcycle Tech | No Comments »

Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite System Game Console

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Up against Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft has decided to release the Xbox 360 Elite. This new game console comes with a larger storage capacity and new looks, but that’s not all it’s about. It’s at the top of the latest game consoles.

The Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite is black with a matte finish. An HDMI interface is mounted to make full use of the 120GB HDD. This allows for the viewing of shaper pictures in high quality. The IBM PowerPC is at the heart of the 360 Elite.  Three cores process 3.2 GHz. The ATI processor, which supports graphics, puts out 500-million triangles per second. The system and the video card of the game console share 500MB of memory. The whole system is powered by an internal power supply.

There is a 16-bit surround sound mode. Video is 256-bit with a graphic acceleration of 2D and 3D. The maximum picture resolution is 1920 x 1080p. The main source of input that is used with the 360 Elite is the external game pad; it has potential for wireless connectivity. The user interface ports are: 1 AV port, 1 USB port, 1 Ethernet jack and one HDMI interface; also present are 2 expansion slots for memory cards. Accessories include: an HD AV cable, Ethernet cable, a wireless controller, and Headset.

This brouhaha of goodness from Microsoft costs $479.99 (retail). Check out this other Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite System Game Console Review.

Posted in Consoles | 1 Comment »

Nissan GT-R

Monday, May 12th, 2008

It’s a Porsche, it’s a Lamborghini, no, it’s a Nissan GT-R. Yes, Nissan’s new GT-R is faster than a Porsche and Lamborghini. It features a twin-turbocharged V6 engine that puts out 480 horsepower, and 430 lb. feet of torque. The 0-60 time is just 3.3 seconds. The transmission is a six speed, and the GT-R is all wheel drive to get maximum traction. At $70,835, a fraction of the price of a Lamborghini, the GT-R is a bargain for anyone looking for fast in a car that seats four people, and has a drag coefficient of 0.27.

image copyright “crufty” @ flickr

Posted in Auto & Motorcycle Tech | 1 Comment »

Chinese knock-off cars – maybe you should just walk instead

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Now, you can buy a Chinese made BMW for $5,000! Simple as that? No. As China continues to expand its market, selling things like appliances, shoes, and shirts, Chinese cars are also beginning to appear in the world market. Chinese cars aren’t much better than fake iPods and cell phones that are also made in China. Chinese brands like Chery Automobile, BYD, and Great Wall Motor Company (GWM) are copying major car manufacturers like Toyota, BMW, and General Motors (GM). Chinese engineers can now reverse-engineer established car manufacturers’ cars so well that an average consumer couldn’t really even tell the difference between a knock-off Chinese car, and its original counterpart.

Knock-off Chinese cars are built below the world standard. They fail crash tests miserably; many Chinese cars get a score of one star. Mechanically, they don’t last very long because they are “reverse-engineered;” they are not designed the same way that the engineers of the original non-knock-off cars designed their cars. It is also hard to find specific parts for Chinese automobiles since they are not widely used in the USA yet. For the price of a summer job’s pay, who wouldn’t want drive around in a brand new Chinese car with leather seats made to look like a BMW? I know I wouldn’t.

Posted in Auto & Motorcycle Tech, Reviews, Technology | 9 Comments »

Smart Car

Monday, May 5th, 2008

The “Smart Car” brand is appearing in the USA as the ultimate city car. Smart Car is owned by Daimler-Benz, and production takes place in France. There is mainly one model available in the USA at this moment – the “Fortwo,” which is available in its most basic form as “Pure,” and, in more user-friendly forms, as a “Passion Coupe” or “Passion Cabriolet”. It features a three cylinder, 1.0 liter engine, which produces 71 horsepower. Top speed on the Smart Car is 90mph, and its 0-60mph time is 12.8 seconds. The horsepower rating may not seem like much, but the car weighs just 1808lbs., and it gets 33mpg in the city, and 44mpg on the highway – and let’s not forget that it is not a hybrid. Safety features include front and side airbags, and a collapsible steering column. If there is an impact, the car is engineered to “crush” itself until the impact reaches the passenger compartment. The doors are reinforced for side impacts. Pricing for the Fortwo starts at $11,590 for the most basic “Pure” version, and it goes all the way up to $16,590 for the “Passion Cabriolet.” For that money, it’s hard to not want to buy a car that’s also exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and is the only car in the museum still in production and on sale today.

image from Elijah on Flickr – source

Posted in Auto & Motorcycle Tech, Reviews, Technology | 1 Comment »

Hummer H4 in 2010

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

In 2010, General Motors (GM) plans to introduce a new model to their lineup – the H4. Plans for the H4 include a SUV that is smaller than the H3 and more fuel efficient, but something that is still a hardcore off-road machine. Hummer plans to build the new H4 with this in mind: a separate body and chassis, best-in-class approach and departure angles, typical rugged Hummer styling, high ground clearance, and a four wheel drive drive-train. GM also plans to outfit the H4 with an engine that can run on E-85 ethanol, and an option for a bio-diesel powered engine. The H4 will compete against other SUV’s like the Jeep Wrangler, and it could be offered in the mid $20,000 range.

Picture from Motor Trend:

Posted in Auto & Motorcycle Tech | No Comments »