Monday, December 28, 2015

Sakura D4: New Dampers, Aluminum Parts, New Gyro, and New Screws

I've really been enjoying the D4 so far, and the more I work with it, the more I like it. 3 Racing made a nice step forward over the D3 and now that factory upgrades are starting to filter through the pipeline, essential upgrades can be completed.

The first order of business is taking care of my main gripe with the stock chassis... steering wipers.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Product Showcase: Usukani Tube Style Turnbuckles

One of the interesting products offered by Usukani are these neat tube style turnbuckles. They come in several standard lengths; 23mm, 27mm, 33mm, and 39mm. They also come in the following colors; Pink, Purple, Red, Gold, Tamiya Blue, Yokomo Blue, Silver, and Black. They have internal threads that work with plastic rod ends. Usukani recommends using them with Yokomo rod ends, but I was able to make them work just fine with my 3 Racing parts. I think they will work with other brands as well, but I have not been able to test them personally.

I chose the 39mm Silver version for my Sakura D4 rear upper turnbuckles. As you can see in the comparison with the stock turnbuckle assembly there is plenty of thread engagement, and adjustment range. They should be very strong, too. The turnbuckles can be adjusted with a 5.5mm tool, on the flats, or there are a couple of small holes through the middle that a small hex tool can be used in. There is also an identifying band machined in one end to designate left-handed threads, making it easy to know which way to adjust them.

The Usukani tube style turnbuckles add a nice extra bit of style and functionality to your drift chassis. They should look really good once I have some more aluminum upgrades on my own chassis.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Project Bad Bunny: Paint and Starting Assembly.

Work has been moving slow but steady on project Bad Bunny. All the parts are painted and assembly has started. I went with Tamiya PS-23 Gunmetal for the color, and backed it with PS-5 Black to make sure it had a dark hue to it.

The first part to go on was the rear wing. I did that in two stages to make it a little easier. First I attached it at the back with shoe goo. Once that was dry I used body screws for the part that attaches to the trunk.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Usukani D4 Carbon Option Set: Completed Chassis Gallery

As promised, here is a gallery of the completed Usukani Sakura D4 Carbon Option chassis set. I really love the look of the black version. It matches great with the de-anodized aluminum parts and I almost don't want to finish adding the electronics.

Before I assembled it though, I took steps to keep it looking good...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Usukani D4 Cabon Option Set: Overview and Detailed Pics

Usukani recently released their carbon option set for the 3 Racing Sakura D4. It's available in either black or silver carbon. Both look great, and I chose black for my build. The set includes the main chassis, upper deck, front and rear shock towers, front bumper support, rear battery mount, and a spur gear holder.

The main chassis looks really nice, with a good carbon pattern. It has nice styling with some relief cuts in various spots on the bottom of the chassis. It is 3mm thick vs. the 2.5mm thickness of the stock chassis. The machining is clean and consistent, and all the countersinks are nicely done.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Welcome Aboard Usukani!

I am excited to announce that Usukani has chosen to offer me sponsorship. Usukani is a new brand that is turning out new and innovative products. In partnership with them, I plan on bringing some in-depth product features to this blog. I also have a full option Sakura D4 build that I will be starting soon, featuring many of the products that Usukani has to offer. If you have seen some of the pictures they have been posting on Facebook, then you know that some exciting things are coming for D4 owners along with other manufacturers' chassis. Please be sure to click their logo on the main page of the blog and check out what they have to offer.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Project Bad Bunny: Intro and Body Prep

I am finally getting around to a project that I have been wanting to build for quite a while. The Demi Works Rocket Bunny conversion for the Tamiya FD RX-7 has been in my sights since it first came out. With some other projects out of the way, it is time to get started.

The Demi Works kit is pretty nice overall but, as mentioned by others, the lexan is a little different in how it cuts, so I changed my normal procedure for trimming it out.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Sakura D4: Smoothing Up the Drivetrain and D3 Rear Arm Swap

The D4 has been a solid runner so far, but that doesn't mean I should stop trying to improve on it a bit. Like everyone else, I have been waiting for 3 Racing to finally release their upgrade parts for the D4. I desperately want to replace the plastic steering arms with some aluminum parts. I'll probably try out some of the rear suspension mods that they have coming as well. In the mean time, I did a few mods with some parts that are already available.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Punisher Comes out at Night...

Took the Punisher S13 to the track for a little night drift session this past Sunday.  It sits on the new Sakura D4 chassis, which I am still enjoying and tuning.  It made it through the maiden voyage with only a couple of bumper scuffs from some wall taps.  It looks pretty menacing at night.

My buddy Patrick shot a little bit of video and put together a short clip of it in action.  The backfire unit looks awesome at night!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Project Punisher S13 Part 3: Finished

With all the finishing touches completed, I grabbed a few pics.  I'm pretty happy overall with how this body shell turned out.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Project Punisher S13 Part 2: A Few Details

Even though I plan to run this body regularly, I wanted to add a few details to enhance the overall look of the car.   The thing that probably has the biggest visual impact is a roll cage.  It is made from .134" styrene rod that is bent with heat where needed and glued together.  I painted it to match the blue in the Rockstar logo to offer some contrast.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Project Punisher S13 Part 1: The Beginning

I've wanted to build and paint a D-Like S13 shell since they first released them.  I finally developed a concept that I liked and went to work.  I think that D-Like has the best looking S-13 on the market right now, and the fact that it comes molded with the great looking BN Sports body kit on it already makes it a great value.  If I had one gripe, besides worthless window masks (ok, that is two gripes), it would be how thin these bodies are in the bumper and rocker areas.  I'm sure it is hard to mold these things, but other manufactures manage to do a pretty good job of it.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

PiPES Backfire Unit

I recently purchased a PiPES backfire unit, and really love this thing.

They can be purchased in a variety of configurations as single or dual exhaust, and include a pair of red LED functioning brake lights.  I chose a 12mm single exhaust for my soon to be completed S13 project.

The way it works is pretty awesome...

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sakura D4: Steering and Suspension Mods

As of right now, 3 Racing has not released any upgrade parts for the D4. But that doesn't mean some simple improvements can't be done in the mean time. I noticed that the center link in the steering has some flex as the angles get closer to full lock. It would have been nice if 3 Racing made a straight link for the RWD kits, but I am sure that keeping parts to a minimum is what helps keep cost down. Another problem with the center link is that it is a fixed length, so Ackermann cannot be adjusted. I made a center link out of two Sakura shock ends and incorporated an adjustable turnbuckle.

You have to make a little room for it first...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sakura D4: Got lock?

I really like the design of the D4 overall, but as I have mentioned earlier, I feel like the front lower arms are just a little too big in diameter.  The insides of the wheels hit at full lock, and can stop the wheel rotating, inducing a spin.  I was able to gain a little more by adding 7mm hexes and 1mm spacers to get some decent angle, but the wheel still hit pretty easily.

Here is what it looks like with the wide hexes.  Not bad, but the wheel is hitting the y-arm at this point.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sakura D4: Dialing in the Setup

I was able to spend a day running the D4 at the local track, and do some tuning.  I posted a video a few days ago, and some people were interested in the setup.  I didn't start with exactly the settings in the manual, based on my experience with tuning for our local track.  The Surface is epoxy, and is fairly smooth.  It compares favorably with polished concrete.  We have found that this surface requires a very balanced setup overall.  Here is what I started with:

First up, corner weights.  This chassis balances very well and comes out nearly perfect L/R balance with only 2 grams difference.  With a 5300 battery mounted in the middle of the chassis (standard) the rear weight is almost 57 percent.  This had me a little nervous at first because our track has favored 50 percent rear weight setups so far.  Keep in mind that these weights are with the body on.

Next up, Alignment:

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sakura D4: First day on track

Our local track was open yesterday and I was able to get the D4 out for it's first test.  Things did not go very smoothly at first, as I was fighting a car that seemed erratic and did not handle well.  Several changes made it better, but far from good.  Then, a breakthrough... the gyro started freaking out and the steering servo started moving on it's own.  The Yeah Racing gyro apparently was not working; possibly from the beginning.  I had a spare MST gyro in my box and switched over to that.  Suddenly the car was transformed.  It was pretty balanced and hooked up, only requiring a few more changes for good results.  I will be doing a few more tweaks to get it dialed all the way in, and plan on publishing my setup info in the blog soon.  But I left yesterday feeling pretty good with the progress.  This is a solid chassis out of the box.

Here is some video with the progress of yesterday's tuning:

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sakura D4: Chassis Detail Shots

Snapped a few detail pics of the competed 3 Racing Sakura D4 roller.  I really like the look of the natural aluminum over the pink.

More Pics...

Sakura D4: Build Tips

Having finished up the 3 Racing Sakura D4 build, I thought I would share a few tips that could help the build and setup process go a little smoother.

The single biggest tip I can give is to buy a 3mm (M3 x 0.5)tap and use it everywhere that a 3mm screw needs to screw into a plastic part.  The only exceptions would be where the droop screws go on the control arms and the screws that hold the battery retainer plate (the one that swings away for loading the battery).  For the rest, pre-threading the holes will help the assembly process go much smoother, and you will be able to more accurately tighten the screws.  This helps prevent stripping the plastic by accident and rounding out the hexes in the screw heads.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Project Sakura D4: Intro and Unboxing

After a longish wait (choose the free shipping option...) my 3 Racing Sakura D4 combo arrived from RCMart.  The combo included a nice RC OMG servo, Yeah Racing gyro, and NOS bottle balance weight.  Not bad for $159 shipped.

I really like the overall design of the D4, and from the pre-production pics that 3 Racing released, I think that it will have a lot of potential.  I plan to do a series of posts that detail my build and show some key areas of detail.  Initially I want to stick with stock components, and demonstrate that you can build a nice car out of the box using some craftsmanship and attention to detail.  Just because it is a "cheap" kit, doesn't mean that is will drift like one, or that it is necessary to spend a bunch of money on upgrades.

Let's see what's in the box!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Build Coming Up: 3 Racing Sakura D4 RWD

I just received an email from RCMart that the Sakura D4 pre-order combos have shipped, so mine will be here soon.  I plan to do a full build on the blog and document as much as the process as possible.  The plan is to stick with as many of the original kit parts at first and try to tune it using a low budget approach.  After that I will probably do some mods to see how they improve things or not.  Stay tuned,,,

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Tetsujin Super Rims: Great product!

The Tetsujin Super Rims have been out for a while, but I am just getting around to getting some to try.  I didn't care for the initial style they produced, but when they came out the the "jasmine" and 'southern cross" styles, I had to pull the trigger.  They are really well made, and go together easily.  The molding is very precise, and that makes them fit together perfectly with zero slop.  They run very straight and true as well.  Having the flexibility to change styles and offsets easily is really nice.

Here are the jasmine style centers in flat black along with chrome rims on my RX-8:

Tri Acres RC Drift Circuit: A new life for the Charlotte, NC drift scene

It has been a while since I have made a new blog post.  Between being busy with other things in life, and the fact that the local track at Hobbytown USA closed in April, there has not been much of a drift scene here locally.  But thanks to the efforts of Patrick Salazar, we now have a new, and very nice drift track in Concord, North Carolina.  The Tri Acres RC Drift Circuit is officially open and is proving to be a great spot dedicated to RC Drift.  The surface is smooth epoxy and runs very nice.  Setups have been tricky for most so far, because this surface requires more balance, and a precise setup compared to the carpet we were running on.  Everyone is getting up to speed, and the cars are starting to get a lot closer.  Time to start working on some trains!

The layout is fun and challenging.  Patrick has made it look nice with barriers and some Eagle Racing curbs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Respect the Drift!: Hobbytown Mooresville Drift Comp

Our local track, Hobbytown USA, in Mooresville, NC held a drift comp this past Sunday, February 22nd.  The name of the event was "Respect the Drift" since that is the mantra we have when sliding together, and what we try to instill into new drivers.  The turnout was good, and lots of nice rides came out to battle.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

TT02 FRD: Changing the Rear Gearing

After initially running my TT02 FRD with the recommended 10.5T motor, it seemed a little slow even with the timing bumped up.  Eagle hasn't released an alternate gear set specifically for the TT02 FRD, but they do have a countersteer gear set for the regular TT02.  By adding the TT02 FRD Joint Cup Shaft to the countersteer gear set, you are supposed to be able to use those gears.  The stock gears on the FRD are 39/15.  The CS gears are offered in 27/16 , 25/16, and 22/16.  I received all the parts that are required, and they can be made to work, but it is not a simple "drop in" operation.

The Joint Cup:

Monday, January 26, 2015

TT02 FRD: More Bling from Eagle Racing

Been doing a few more upgrades to the Eagle Racing TT02 FRD.  First up is a nice, heavy duty servo mount.

It is really nicely made, comes with all mounting hardware, and best of all...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

HPI RX-8: Finished and Sitting on the TT02 FRD

Seems like I have been working on the HPI RX-8 for a while, but I have had a few breaks along the way while working with the TT02 FRD.  This body is pretty simple overall, and I intended for it to be that way.  It will be the primary runner for the FRD, but I still wanted it to look nice.  I used many of the decals that came with the body for window trim and other body details.  They actually look pretty nice if you take the time to trim them cleanly.  The wing and struts are from Speedway Pal, the splitter is made from scratch, and the mufflers and tips were turned from aluminum on a lathe.  You can check out the rest of the pics after the jump.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Eagle Racing TT02 FRD Update: Brakes and Weights

Just a quick update on a couple of new additions to the Eagle Racing TT02 FRD.  First order of business is a brake upgrade.  Eagle Racing makes a really nice disk brake kit that comes in several colors.  Be sure and order the set that fits the R31 chassis, as it also fits the TT02 FRD.  I picked the light blue color that matches the rest of the chassis.  The kit comes with four nice aluminum calipers, rotors/hexes, and all the hardware needed to install them, including shims to take up any play in the axles, if needed.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Eagle Racing TT02 FRD: Current Chassis Settings and Corner Weights

With the holidays, and taking a trip to visit family, I have not had much opportunity to test the new TT02 FRD chassis at the local carpet track.  I have been able to spend some time testing on the polished concrete in my garage though.  I have been playing around with springs, weight, and alignment settings.  I am also trying to stick mainly with parts that come with the car, along with using some cheap fixes, to demonstrate that it can be pretty capable without throwing a lot of money and  parts at it.  I recently invested in a setup station from Yeah Racing to make the setup process more consistent and accurate.  Couple that with an Integy set up board and ride height gauge, and it is easy to do the setup right.  You can get by with some simple tools and a flat surface, but using the whole system makes the process go a bit smoother, for me.