Modulation – Left Foot Braking

Warning: I haven’t had much personal experience with this. This article is based on my time in FD.

Introduction

Left foot braking seems to be a new thing in recent years (in pro drifting). I personally haven’t seen it until about 3 years ago and didn’t think much of it. The idea is simple, with the right foot on the gas, press the brake with the left foot. The answer to “why” is simply that the car is going too fast. As far as I can tell, with proper modulation of the brake and gas, your line isn’t affected.
left_foot_braking_illustration image from http://www.formula1-dictionary.net
(Image from http://www.formula1-dictionary.net)
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Rear Mount Radiator

Warning: I don’t do rear mount setups. This is simply a brain dump of my current understanding.

Drifting at the professional level, rear mount radiators are becoming very common. There are many good reasons and a few reasons not to do this.
Forest wangs' rear setup

Pros:

  • Theoretically better weight distribution
  • More space to run ducting in and out of the radiator
  • More fluid to dissipate heat
  • Leaves more room in the front for other coolers
  • Allows for more front crush area so that hits don’t cause fluid spills – Rear location can also still allow for rear hits without puncturing the radiator

Cons:

  • Potentially horrible air flow through radiator
  • Added weight of extra liquid
  • More parts means more things to break/puncture

Rumors (that I can’t fully confirm or deny):

  • Harder on water pump
  • More difficult to bleed (Shouldn’t be an issue if it’s the highest point of the system)

Aasbo rear radiator

Realistically, unless the car is designed for pro/am or higher levels, I don’t think the effort is truly worth it. The main reason to do this seems to be to allow for better crush zones. The early days of D1/FD had lots of contact that caused cars to be done for the weekend. Now, with the advent of multiple level crash systems (aluminum into steel into factory frame), cars can get bashed up significantly on the outside but still drive fine. At an amateur level and even at a lower cost pro/am level, this seems more expense than benefit.

Regardless of that, the key to doing a proper rear mount setup seems to be ensuring that the radiator fill point is the highest point in the cooling system. Flat mounted to the floor of the trunk seems to be a bad idea for this reason and for basic air flow. Even with it floor mounted, I would be worried about debris and tire bits blocking off flow. The factory water pump seems to do the job in most setups I’ve seen. A secondary electric pump could be used for security. A basic rear mount radiator seems simple and straight forward otherwise.

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Yoshi’s Drift Box: Day 1

The package from Freematics in Austrailia came in yesterday. I’ve never messed with an Arduino before but the process was simple. Windows 10 automatically had the drivers set to COM3. Step by step instructions here if you need them. Then I installed the Base IDE/firmware. After that, I plugged in the arduino, opened the blink example and clicked “upload”. Within 10 minutes of opening the box, I had the thing up and running.

IMG_20151013_160850

After staring around for a while and wondering if I had to code all this from scratch, I found the example library for the OBD2 adapter for most of their setups. Once uploaded, I plugged it into my 2007 Subaru 2.5i and got this:

20151015_060616

It’s technically erroring for some reason and I still haven’t figured out why. The datalog was empty in the SD card but it did register that it worked. I decided to just give it a go on the LS2 E30.

IMG_20151014_162405

Hey it looks like something! The SD card logs, I get a GPS/gyro signal and it’s powered by the OBD2 port. Since my OBD2 port is on a toggle switch, I can turn it on and off at any point during my drive and start to log. Latency seems really good too but I haven’t had too much time to test it out yet.

The next goals for the project is to get it to log what I want, change the data display to something that I actually care about, and a special secret for next time. The long term goals will be to hook in a secondary IO shield (arduino talk for a stacked board) so that I can feed in external sensors to be logged. I’m not sure how that works since I don’t know what pins the screen uses and whether or not I can even use more boards with this. I’d also like to use the last open serial port on the screen shield for a secondary GPS or 6 axis accelerometer to gather slip angle data.

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Yoshi’s Drift Box: Day 0

I love drifting but I hate how subjective it is. I do enjoy some of the subjectivity but things like “did he straighten out” or “was he off clip” should be easily and definitively answerable. I also love data. I have a G27 steering wheel and play GT6 drift modes trying to best my scores over and over again. And I want that in my car. Hopefully I can do it for less than $200.

As a result, I’ve ordered this obd2 arduino logger. It comes with an OBD2 interface that will log to an external SD card along with gps/accelerometer data. Eventually, I hope to put in an expansion IO board to capture external sensors like the hydraulic hand brake, regular brake (percentage), and clutch. Newer obd2 cars have steering wheel sensors but I might have to retrofit one on my car. I’d also like to get a second accelerometer to derive slip angle during runs.data logger sample screen

The hope is to create a screen that will display basic diagnostic data in real time (temperatures/pressures/CEL codes) and also sense drifts to score them like most video games. Finish a run, get a score, gloat to your friends.

Goals:

  • Score/log drifts and drift telemetry
  • Map out courses on tracks via google maps and the gps
  • General data logging to SD card
  • Data logger analyzer
  • CEL read outs and ability to clear codes
  • Gauge readouts in real time
  • Flashing yellow and red “Danger to manifold” screen
  • No frills always on capability (start up the car and it logs)

Once I get the board, the first steps will be showing basic gauges and logging OBD2 data to the SD card. From there, I’ll move onto other inputs and extras.

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Why Yoshi doesn’t like solid rear axles

To start, any suspension engineer will prefer IRS (Independent Rear Suspension) to Solid Rear Axles and you should too. The key word is “prefer”. In some cases, other preferences or constraints will require a solid rear axle as a compromise. There are only a few up sides to a solid rear axle. This article will cover the general bases of the pros and many cons of the SRA (Solid Rear Axle).

The good sides of a SRA
There is a reason you see a solid rear axle in many vehicles. The predominant reasoning is that they are simple and cheap. There are (usually) fewer parts to maintain and the cost to manufacture a SRA is much lower than an IRS setup.

Due to the type of construction, SRAs are also stronger. They will stand up to more abuse; especially lateral hits (that sometimes happen in drifting). Although, once the rear is broken, the entire rear will have to be replaced. At least it’s cheap.

SRAs have 0 camber gain (camber added during suspension travel). This means that on a flat surface, if the suspension functions properly, the vehicle will have 100% of the contact patch on the ground throughout total suspension travel. This is only good under these ideal circumstances. Most track surfaces are smooth and hopefully the suspension is setup well. This is the largest pro of the SRA and why it’s commonly used in drag racing.

The bad sides of SRA
I’ll start with the biggest deal killer of the SRA – The weight. Not just that the axle itself is heavy but that it’s unsprung weight. As a result, the rear end tends to receive stiffer springs/shocks. But this can cause wheel hop issues. As a result of the weight, factory chassis tent to allow for as much as 7 inches of suspension travel on the up or down stroke. While this has nothing to do with drifting, this added space takes away from trunk/seat space in the rear of a solid rear vehicle.

Another fairly large down side is that the rear alignment isn’t truly adjustable. I’ve seen people get something like -0.1 degrees of negative camber but that doesn’t really help much. Toe is similarly not adjustable.

Most SRAs I’ve seen are panhard style. There’s also Watt’s link but I haven’t seen a drift car with one. Panhard bars will make a vehicle move differently left or right since the bar is asymmetrically mounted to the chassis from the rear axle. The Watt’s link is a bit more symmetrical but also adds more unsprung weight.

Coil spring SRAs can have axle locating issues from the factory. Stiff bushings and sometimes additional links are required to keep movement to a minimum. Similarly, leaf springs will bend into an “S” shape under load which can cause traction issues. There also are lateral force issues with leaf springs when drifting. Again, there are some extra provisions that can mitigate these undesired effects.

Summation
In the end, the solid rear axle comes down to excessive weight and lack of geometry. Geometry is more how the solid rear is located in the vehicle through suspension movement than camber/toe adjustment. This is mainly an issue since the weight of the rear unit lends itself to large amounts of travel. All of this can be mitigated but not eliminated. It will work, but it isn’t preferential.

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Drift Nirvana 9/13/15 lessons learned

I made a few key changes to the car before this outing. The first is an upgrade to 245/40/17 tires in the rear instead of the old 235/45/17s that I actually ran for 2 years. All sets were Federal 595s which I’ve found to be the best tire for longevity, smoke, and traction through large heat ranges. EG I noticed the Falken Azenis tires I ran years ago would “mud” up and become quite slick once heated up. The second change I made was the final test drive of my hydraulic hand brake. I’ve literally NEVER had a working hand brake in my drift car. And as a result, I only have my theories as knowledge to draw upon for its use.

Here’s a clip of my best run of the day on the most difficult course at Drift Nirvana. Ironically, it was my first run of the day on that course and probably my third time using the hand brake to purposefully drift.

Here’s where I’ll put my money where my mouth is. Here is a break down based on my theory intro article series:

If this was a lower power car, all the places where it says “gobs of power” and “throttle” would be replaced with “floor and clutch kick as necessary”.

General other things I learned in no particular order:
Thanks to the LS power, I can run non heat cycled/brand new 245+ sticky ass tires. This makes my drifting the fastest I’ve ever done in my life. Corners get shorter and harsh throttle inputs lead to stiff switch backs. The stickier tire also caused me to shallow out on a course where I used to be able to link the whole thing. As a result, I was near redline, was going faster, but couldn’t stretch the corner. 4th gear will be necessary and all my attempts at it were timid and caused bogging.

Despite the fact I have never had a working hand brake, I think I acclimated pretty well and very quickly. I’ve always known when I needed it and when it couldn’t be overcome with other techniques but finally using it is a huge relief.

I had fun driving for the first time at a drift event in years. To most people, that’s a given but my fire for driving has been dwindling. This helps immensely.

Things to work on:
4th gear. Shift before switch backs, not during. Too much is going on. So says Rapper Dan.
Hand brake extension needs work. For some reason, the hydraulic system goes limp mid run and requires a pump before it starts working.
Smooth throttle inputs. There is no need to be jabbing the gas all the timeSmooth steering inputs. This likely is a function of the abrupt throttle inputs
Left foot braking will likely help me not slam into the outer edges of every corner (thanks to my newfound speed)
Fix car!

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Drift Car Master List

Here is the list of car specs I've found for what I consider drift worthy cars. Most of this is through wikipedia entries, so things like horsepower are very much a stab in the dark. Clicking column headers will sort them in either direction. If you'd like to correct an entry, want a new column, or see a car not listed, please comment below or email me at protomor at gmail!
Styling of the grid is a work in progress
Make Model Year Range Med Curb Wt Wt Dist Front Susp Rear Susp Wheelbase width Peak HP
{{row.make}} {{row.model}} {{row.year}} {{row.weight}} {{row.distribution}} {{row.frontsuspension}} {{row.rearsuspension}} {{row.wheelbase}} {{row.width}} {{row.hp}}
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How I lost fat

I’ve had a bunch of people ask so I figured I’d write out my opinion on things. My story isn’t novel and my ideas aren’t original but I think most things I’ve experience are typical and worth noting. I’ll try to categorize this so you can just zoom to the part you want to read about.

1) Motivation
You have to genuinely want it. “Well yea I want to lose a few pounds” isn’t good enough. My final breaking point was when I looked in the mirror and I wholeheartedly hated what I saw. I wasn’t just unhappy. I HATED myself.  Until you get to the point where you want the change, I don’t think anything less will stick.

2) Drastic changes are bad. Small changes are good
Sudden 180 degree pivots in lifestyles like diet and exercise are a setup for failure. What worked for me was making smaller changes that added up to larger changes with my habits. I had a strong will so my first step was simply working out 30 minutes before work on a recumbent bike every weekday.

I did this for 3 months and lost about 20lbs without majorly changing my diet. It was a habit for me to get up at the same time and my morning felt off if I didn’t do it. The most important part was that in the beginning, if I didn’t feel like doing it, I still went and told myself I’d do 10 minutes then stop. Sometimes I did the full 30 and sometimes I stopped at 10 minutes. The important factor is that I simply got up and went to where I worked out. More often than not, because I was there, I’d do something. And that something added up.

Eventually I added in lifting and running instead of the recumbent bike. 6 months in, I started lifting. 3 months after that, I started running. 10 minutes at first, now I do 30 minutes 3-4 times a week. It took me months to progress into larger things. But only after 3 months of my 30 minutes of half ass pedaling, I had already lost significant amounts of weight.

My diet was the same way. I started eating generally less. Eventually I went through a month where I didn’t change how I ate but instead just tracked what I ate using the MyFitnessPal app. Then I slowly lowered my amount of calories. Now I count macro nutrients within a variance of 5 grams.

3) Nutrition
I want to keep this short. Do what works for you. I don’t like any diet that isn’t life long sustainable. Cleanses, ketogenic, and other diets aren’t sustainable. I was a fan of “intermittent fasting” as it allowed me to eat larger meals. But really, I just call that “Skipping breakfast”.

From a weight loss point of view, I do think “a calorie is a calorie”. I mean that strictly to mean that if you eat less, you will lose weight. That doesn’t mean you’ll be healthy or feel good. You can nit pick about processed and non processed foods all you want. If you truly eat less and don’t lose weight, let me know (as long as you have proof).

From a feeling good and being healthy perspective, I 100% do not think a calorie is a calorie. I managed to lose weight simply by calorie counting and exercising. But I was pretty constantly hungry. I found that I could eat what I want and lose weight if I just ate less of it. The problem was, I would be hungry pretty soon after or I would be lethargic the rest of the day. When I started counting macro nutrients, I started to generally feel more energetic all around and was rarely hungry. (I would like to point out that I felt tons more energetic when I ate like crap and starved while working out than before I started doing any of this. I simply felt that much more energetic after eating better and counting macros.)

The closest I get to a legitimate diet is something called IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros). Macros are the three things that make up all calories – Fat/Protein/Carbohydrates. For a few weeks when I got the myfitnesspal app, I simply tracked what I ate and was pretty shocked at how much fat and how many carbs I actually consumed. It was something like 10-15% protein, 50-60% carbs, and up to 50% fat. Protein/carbs are 4 calories per gram while fat is 8 calories per gram (roughly). I think the reason I was hungry was because to hit my calorie goal with that much fat, I couldn’t eat that much volume. But also, with so many carbohydrates (and simple carbs), I would burn through my energy too quickly.

There doesn’t seem to be super specific guidelines for macro ratios. The protein macro for lifters is around 1g for every pound of lean mass. Of course you don’t necessarily know your lean mass so I went close to body weight to be safe. Carbs I see around 40%. I’m not sure about fat.

That’s really it. I can eat ice cream if I want. I can eat pizza if I want. But I have to get within my goal gram ratios for the day. As a result, I naturally eat more veggies and tons of chicken.

4) Exercise
Do what works for you. There’s a pattern somewhere in all this. Anyway, exercise and diet are necessary to lose weight. You can do one or the other but you won’t make the same progress. Plus, I want to be healthy, not just thin. My suggestion is to find some kind of physical activity that gets your heart rate up and stick with it. Try everything. None of them will be fun in the beginning and maybe none will ever be fun. But you need to find what works for you.

For low impact, swimming or a recumbent bike works. Running outside or on a treadmill are good for those who can zone out and are ok for long periods. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a new craze where you do vigorous exercise for a short period of time in sets while resting in between. I’ve been told it burns more calories than regular running but I’ve found no proof. For cardio, I believe getting your body into an athletic zone allows for your body to burn more calories when you’re bumming around. IE it’ll raise your basal metabolic rate.

Lifting is my main choice for exercise (I do do HIIT and running though). Allegedly 1lb of muscle burns 50 calories a day. So if I gain 20lbs of muscle, I can eat 1000 more calories a day! I really don’t think that but it makes sense that more muscle burns more calories. I also find lifting to be much more fun than running and the aesthetic pluses are very worth it. Regardless, try everything for 1-3 months (3 months preferred) and see if it works for you.

5) Helpful tips on what helped me

  • MyFitnessPal. I can eat out anywhere and know what’s in it. I can count macros from my phone easily. It even has a bar code scanner
  • Combat eating out by meal prepping your lunches for the week. I’m much less likely to eat out or be bad if I brought food with me.
  • I have mental catch phrases for moments I’m weak. Like “How bad do you want it?” or “Don’t you want those abs?”
  • Use a food scale whenever possible. Calories expended isn’t reliably able to be calculated, but the food you put in most certainly is.

 

6) Things I noticed through my journey

  • Until I started to lose weight, I never noticed how tired and lethargic I always felt. Getting up to take the trash out took so much effort. I wouldn’t say I’m full of energy now a days, but I always have enough energy for a regular day.
  • I couldn’t pick where I lost fat. I still have love handles and tons of fat on my stomach that I don’t want. BUT my face is starting to get sunken in and there’s a big vein that pops out on my forehead.
  • I size up other guys and judge people based on what they eat. I’m not proud of this. It’s just something I noticed.
  • One of the reasons I did this was for more self confidence. I still don’t have much self confidence.
  • I almost never get sick (knocks on wood). I’ve had maybe 3 colds in the last 3 years. Each were over quicker and less severe than they used to be.
  • I don’t crave most of the bad food anymore. And when I have them, they don’t taste as good as I thought they did. This did take 2 years to get to. Your mileage may vary.
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What drift car should I get?

I see this question all the time so I figure I’d post about it! Warning, as usual, this is an opinion and also based in the USA. Where things like skylines are hard to come by. Here’s the basic diagram.

How to select a drift car

Explanation:
The diagram is a fairly loose decision tree. First criteria being budget and second criteria being the cost and ease of modding. If a car is cheap to buy as a chassis but is difficult to mod, it falls more on the right of the diagram. For instance, SC300/SC400s are rare to find manual (400s don’t even come manual). So the cost of an SC400 might be low, but the added cost of adding the third pedal can be pricey. The iconic AE86 falls more on the right side as parts are getting harder to find an so are shells. The same can be said for the S13/S14 but the parts are still relatively cheap so it falls more left.

Cars that will not drift:
Automatics
FWD/AWD cars
Civics
Integras
Ford Focus
Subaru WRX
Mini Vans
SRT4
Scions (TCs/Xa/Xb/etc)

Cars that will drift but you probably shouldn’t:
Trucks (S10s, I’m looking at you)
Dodge viper (well, if you got the cash)
Lotus Elise
MR2/MRS
Mid engine Porches

FAQ
My friend with a (FWD/AWD/automatic/truck/etc) can drift! Why can’t I get one of those?
Most race tracks won’t allow trucks/AWD. Automatics don’t let you clutch kick or pick your rpm band. FWD cars can “ass drag” and sometimes make good drifts but those are exceptions.

What about X car? It’s RWD!
If it’s manual and RWD, it’ll drift. It’s just about money at that point. The diagram above is the most common drift cars.

I’m a poor college student, what should I pick?
My personal suggestion is any of the BMWs you can afford as most are cheap to mod and sometimes come with LSDs from the factory. Second choice is S chassis (S13/S14) but their base prices are going up. Miatas are a good choice if you think you’re a great driver and can handle a short wheel base.

I’ve got $10Gs to spend on drifting. I want a 350z! What do Yoshi?
That amount of money in an S13 would make a great all around drift car. That much in a stock 350z will not allow you any money to mod it. Spend your budget on the whole car, not just entry into it. You should not be drifting a car you are making payments on.

Ok, I picked a car! What mods do I do?
In this order: Suspension > Wheels and tires > Locking diff > Bucket seat. Of course you want to refresh the engine and cooling system first. Things like strut bars and short shifters are a waste of money until the mods listed are done. That includes power mods!

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Modulation – Braking Drift

Introduction

The second to last topic in the series is braking during a drift. This is specifically using the right foot as the driver is off throttle. The only useful time to use this technique is when speed needs to be scrubbed and/or the car needs to pivot quickly. This isn’t a very often used technique and will most likely be used with other techniques like hand braking or weight transfers.

 -Note – I don’t have much video of this technique as it seems very rarely used at higher levels.

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