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Discussion Starter #1
Here's the full disclosure build log of my current iteration of the car. This is the build as it sits coming back from 2011 MECA Finals. I'll ask those that are interested in following the thread please refrain from posting until I get the MANY pictures up. I will do my best to include explanatory writeups in the thread as I go, but it will take me a few days to get it all together and posted. If you'd like to follow the thread, please use the Subscribe To This Thread menu item under the Thread Tools drop-down at the top right of the menu bar. I'd just like to try to keep this organized up front so it's easier to follow later. Once the photos are all posted you can feel free to jump in and tell me how crappy the build is and how I must have been on crack to even consider such a stupid build.

There are just shy of 200 photos total that will be posted to this build log, and they are (nearly) all 800x600 resolution. If you are too impatient to wait the few days it will take me to complete this posting, the PhotoBucket folder is located HERE. The build itself relies on the foundation that was started last season. That build log is located HERE.







 

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Discussion Starter #2
Let’s begin with the dash.
I wanted to stretch my legs a bit this season. Last year I built a door/kickpanel/A-pillar build and though I was pleased with the result from the work I put into it, there were areas that didn’t really do it for me. I put a ton of time and work into the doors to quiet them down and they STILL made noise. I was certain that I wanted to go with large midbasses and to put them in the floor. Every floor build I had heard had great midbass and NO NOISES. The downside, of course, was that it meant I had to move the midranges.

So if the kickpanels are used by the midbass, where should the midgange go? I knew that the midrange sets stage width in the car, so I wanted to go as wide with them as I could. I could go deep into the door, but that meant bringing them closer to me, and I knew the stage would come closer as well. I could put them in the A-pillars, but I wanted to refrain from the large wartlike pods that tends to result in. I needed to find a space deep in the vehicle that would allow me plenty of airspace, allow me to place the drivers wide on the stage, and at least as far away from me as the midbasses.
At that point I started eyeing the dashboard with evil looks. I had done some looking around and found that the space above the engine bay contains a cowl. In that cowl lives the ECU and the windshield wiper mechanism, as well as the relay box that opens into the cabin. It extended from the lower edge of the windshield about 8” down, and actually cut back into the cabin in a large “C” shape. The only way to get a feel for things was to dismantle the front end and pull the dashboard.
Here is the dash unit removed from the car:


Right away you notice the underside of the dash includes the aircon ductwork built into the frame. If I decide to go this route I will have to manufacture all the ductwork from the manifold out. This job just got serious.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Here’s what’s left when the dash is removed:

This gives a nice visual of the cowl and where it extends into the vehicle. This picture has the crash beam removed as well to best show off the area of intrest. This next photo shows the crash beam in place. This beam must remain as it supports the dash, all the electronics down the center, the passenger airbag (which stays) and the steering assembly.

This also shows the manifold. (center). In order to get air to the outside vents, I will have to remanufacture this manifold. The current routing sends air from here through the dash ducts and out to the outer vents. I have to find another way to get air out there without going over the top of the crash beam since that would put the ductwork where the speakers need to be.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
So here is the manifold removed from the car. I’ve created a cardboard template, and from that an ABS plate flange.

I then glued green floral foam to the flange and shaped it to the intended form. This is an early mockup in place as I decide how best to route airflow. Once the form is completed to my satisfaction, I will fiberglass it in two separate but conjoined plenums.

Here is the plenum from the windshield side. Note the rams’ horns that extend deep under the crash bar. These will allow air to pass to the outside vents. Now look in the center and you will note a diagonal line from the lower left to the upper right. One half (to the left) sends air to the side vents, the other half wraps around to the front for the center vents. Sorting this out for the best possible airflow took quite some time, and building it after I had decided the shape took awhile longer. The neat part about using the floral foam is that you can fiberglass it directly. Once glassed I cleaned the foam out by spoon and removed the residual with the sandblaster. Voila!, a hollow custom duct. Much time was spent getting things to line up exactly with the factory dash opening for a uniform seal. The finished part is smaller, shallower, and flows more air than the factory part.
 

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Discussion Starter #5


Here you can see the rubberized aircraft ducting I used. This is insulated and has a smooth center bore so the air doesn’t eddy as it moves through the ducts. This keeps the system quiet and prevents the roaring you had on older vehicles using flexible duct. That stuff was ex-pen-sive, though!



Here you see the duct lined up with the factory vent hole

And in operation. The tape is just stuck to the dash to show flow. Airflow is keeping it aloft.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Now that the first problem was solved; I had rerouted all the ductwork… it was time for some surgery to the dash. Everything unnecessary was removed:

 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
This car is my daily driver, by the way. All of the work that you have seen so far was accomplished in the evenings and on the weekends. I spent about two months driving the car with no dashboard at all as I worked through these stages. The gauge cluster was taped onto the steering column and the dash went in and came out about four dozen times as I adjusted fitment of one thing or checked clearance for another. Getting it all to come together was far from simple, and these pictures make the process look easy. I can't tell you how many hours were spent staring at parts trying to figure out how to make it work in the space I had. This was a challenge.

Along the way you will notice some speakers in the photos. At this time I still had the MS-8 from last year's build in place and I was using it to get a feel for how a center channel system performed with the MS-8, and to start aiming speakers. It didn't take long before the MS-8 was getting in the way, and a 701 went back in. Time to really learn to tune! Gah!

Once the 701 went in the center channel was ignored. I still haven't hooked one up, but that is for next season when I push my way into 2-seat.

Initial front stage setup was L8/L4se with no tweeter. At this point the L4se are in internally vented mini enclosures to get the aiming down. Aiming was by ear and by TrueRTA. As I tuned and manipulated the drivers I was looking to minimize comb filtering in the passband as my number one goal. Of all the problems that we have in the car, I feel combing and reflection control are the primary issues you need to be aware of during installation. Minimizing the effects of both now will greatly increase the chances for success when it comes time to tune the system!

Masking of the images is not meant to hide the driver locations, but to focus on the area under discussion. None of the speaker placement that you see here is accurate anyway, so don't fret. We'll get there!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
From this point forward the dash is built up using conventional build methods. Focus is on lowering the top edge of the dash as much as possible and trying to stick to shapes that infer the lines the factory used. I’d like the finished part to look like the factory could have built it that way. The end result is convincing enough that most people glanced at it and walked away, never thinking that the entire dash had been rebuilt. Special effort went into keeping the controls in the factory locations and the gauge cluster in place. This is a requirement of the ModEx class and the car is built to compete there. It was by choice that I decided to run it in Extreme.


Here you can see the shape pretty well roughed in and the beginnings of the grille in place. The grille frame is overbuilt of welded ¼” mild steel rod with triangulating trusses.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Once the frame was welded up and ready to go, it was welded to 12 gauge expanded flattened steel mesh. Every single tine of the mesh was welded to the frame wherever they touched. This may seem a little over the top, but it needed to be absolutely quiet. No buzzing no matter what.
Once the welding was done this thing looked like a pretzel. If you have ever tried to weld something like this before, you know that the Mig shrinks the metal as it cools. With every weld it got tighter and tighter. In order to flatten things back out, I had to selectively weld portions of the unsupported mesh to flatten things back out. The result is flat and square in spite of the abuse.


With that done, the dash was upholstered with 1/8” Volara foam to give it that soft touch.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
That in turn was finished in one piece of Whisper vinyl. THAT was fun, but I managed to nail it on the first try.

And here is a detail photo of where the door and dash meet. A lot of time was spent to mold and shape things into the factory beauty lines. The color match is much better in person than my crappy camera suggests here.

And here is an intermediate pic of the dash in place with the grille covered.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Next up was the hood. This part was shaped from floral foam and fiberglassed, The unusual shape couldn’t be covered in one piece, so a pattern was made and sewn together, then covered.


Next up is the gauge cluster. The cluster was moved forward slightly and so it needed to be thinned out to give the steering column room to move through its full range. As you can see here the final location has the cluster sunken as far as possible down and into the dash to allow for the cluster to fit under the grille line.


Here you see the cut, channeled, and smoothed new cluster next to a factory cluster. You can see that it lost a significant amount of depth but retains the factory lines and visual feel.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Modified cluster

Factory part

Now comes the good bit. Where did the speakers end up?
Once again here is the mounting space

Left side midrange goes here:

And the right side mid goes here:

Since they are installed IB, a little hole had to be made to allow the speaker to breathe. Since the plan changed along the way, the L6se was put to duty as a large format midrange. A bigger hole was made to accommodate its ability to move air.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
From that point mounting rings were fashioned, and the midranges mounted through the trim rings directly to the chassis. Here is a shot from inside the cowl through the mounting ring into the cabin. The camera is outside the car.


Here is a photo in the engine bay of the backside of the speaker in the cowl. First the passenger side speaker:


Then the driver’s side.

Here is a side shot showing how little space is available for the center channel. That is the factory ECU in the cowl space.

And finally a shot of the midrange in place. The speakers fire roughly parallel to the front glass. More specific photos of the speaker location is unnecessary as unless you are going for this exact same build in this exact same car what worked for me probably won’t work for you. What DOES matter is what I found while setting the final angles. Keeping the centerline of the speaker parallel to the glass dramatically reduced reflections and minimized comb filtering significantly. Finishing all surfaces around the speaker with soft foam 1” thick and padding and finishing the A-pillar finished off the acoustic treatment.


And an overhead shot of the dash. Note the front glass never came out of the car. Still a daily driver after all!
 

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Discussion Starter #15


Here it is all buttoned up. What goes by in 40 images here is 4.5 months worth of work. Not shown are the many minor modifications along the way, including the harness relocations and structural reinforcements to shore up the areas that were opened up with the Saws-All. I don't know what the end effects are to the structure of the vehicle, and I hope I never find out... but I went out of my way to attempt to maintain as much structural integrity as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
That is all for tonight. Tomorrow night I will post the midbass build in the kick panels. Thanks for your patience with the posts, and I will keep them moving as fast as I can!
 

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Dayum Dude! That's commitment right there. The effort really shows.

How does it sound??
 

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Best car I've heard yet (and I heard this one the same day I heard Eldridge's).
Todd's car does so many things I've never heard other car systems do.
 
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