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ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
11/25/14 3:34 p.m.

hey everyone - long-time forum enjoyer, not-very-often poster. inspired by the cool cars people daily around here, plus the recent crop of rallyx threads, kind of gave me a kick in the buns to do something with a thread of my own. so join me, won't you, for a story about the WRX's forgotten little brother that does the mundane stuff all week but gets to sling dirt on the weekends.

some background might be useful. its 2007 and my beloved '99 Audi A4 1.8T has just punted me right in the cash 'n prizes with a monstrous repair bill due to an engine issue that went from problematic to complete failure (long story). Wife was ready to stab me so I needed something different....a car that was big on fun, simple, affordable (under 15k), could take a beating but still be reliable and was small enough to be tossable, while still being big enough to be decently practical…all while getting good highway milage since at the time my daily commute was 40 miles through Atlanta's finest I-85 E36 M3show.

I have ALWAYS really wanted a WRX – bad, ever since their debut in 2002 and despite their flaws I had the hots for them. but I knew the gas milage would kill me and insurance wouldn’t be fun. on a whim, while looking at local WRX's to daydream about, i turned over a classified ad for a 2005 Impreza 2.5RS. i didn't even know they made them after 2001 (the classic style that everyone knows) but the price was fair and the mileage was nice and low. after doing a little more research i found that they shared a lot in common with the WRX but had a few attributes that really worked to my advantage, so i decided to call the guy up and see what this car was really like. it was really a peach - original owner, nice guy and enthusiast, who drove it to work and back to keep mileage off of his faster toys. after a thorough test drive and a little negotiating i drove home with my new-to-me RS, still just a young'in with 26k highway miles on the odometer. It currently sits at a little over 117k and to this day the previous owner and I are still friends.

and so that brings us to today...its used just like any other daily car. drive to the store, pick up my kid from preschool, home depot runs, covered in door dings and bird poop. its been on a couple great roadtrip adventures and has been through some equally grueling traffic and weather. pretty much never misses a beat, still on the original brake rotors and clutch. however, the real fun started in 2012 when i finally gave rallyx a shot with the good people of the Tarheel Sports Car Club...and never turned back. I've enjoyed autocross in the past with the RS but it was forever doomed to being critically underpowered and overweight in its class. But rallyx...it was meant for it, it begs for it. my driving style suits dirt better anyway, so once i figured out how to drive the car on the loose stuff it was just a complete riot. the RS truly is a dirty daily - farting around town all week only to eat up fistfuls of opposite lock on the weekends with rooster tails a-sprayin'. I guess the point of this thread will be to go over some past mods that made a big difference in fun and performance, some stories, and also a current log of shenanigans for anyone interested in these neat little cars.

Woody
Woody MegaDork
11/25/14 4:02 p.m.

Cool! I'll be following this one closely. I did 125k miles in WRX, but I've been actively looking for an RS.

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
11/25/14 4:10 p.m.

factory sport package: body color mirrors, rocker panels, fog light covers, MOMO steering wheel, sport seats, 140W 6-disc stereo, 4.11 final drive

ENGINE

  • WRX intake trumpet w/WRX hood seal and custom fender seal
  • Borla UEL headers
  • Borla 2-1/4" catback
  • Romraider opensource tune
  • Paranoid Fabrication grounding kit
  • Kartboy exhaust hangers (needed to clear the hitch at the back)

SUSPENSION

  • FEAL "Tarmac Spec" revalved STi struts and USDM STi springs
  • Group-N and TurnIn Concepts rear trailing arm bushings
  • Whiteline Com-C front tophats
  • 2002 WRX 20mm RSB
  • ebay strut tower bars F/R
  • Custom fender cowl braces
  • Torque Solutions steering rack bushings
  • agressive street alignment (0 toe, -1.8F / -1.5R camber)
  • StopTech Street Performance pads (F) Hawk HPS pads (R)
  • ATE superblue fluid
  • 205/55-16 Kuhmo Ecsta 4X tires

TRANNY

  • Kartboy short shifter and bushings
  • ebay 2" extender
  • ebay delrin 2" sphere knob
  • subaru Extra-S gearbox fluid

INTERIOR

  • Broadway 280mm convex rearview mirror
  • stretched support springs in seats (sit lower, bolsters better, less pogo)
  • ebay STi headrest supports
  • custom shift boot
  • OEM cargo net

EXTERIOR

  • Narva Rangepower +30 H.O. H1 bulbs
  • RallyArmor basic mudflaps
  • Hiddenhitch trailer hitch
  • old school 2.5RS trunk badge
The_Jed
The_Jed UltraDork
11/25/14 4:21 p.m.

Nice! Well modified too!

ssswitch
ssswitch Reader
11/26/14 3:12 p.m.

If it helps, I went from an '06 WRX to an '03 TS and haven't looked back. These cars can be just as enjoyable minus the straight-line thrust.

Which valving spec did you get from Feal?

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
11/26/14 3:14 p.m.

so i'm gonna back up a bit here and rehash some older things i've done that might be useful for you guys.

WRX INTAKE DUCT & FENDER SEAL (for GD chassis cars...this may or may not work for the GC (98-01))

for those of us who prefer to use the stock intake setup or a hybrid (to avoid A/F fluctuations that come with a non-resonated intake on a MAF system), we need a way to get fresh air to the airbox. it's been proven by logging that the WRX duct, when the car is at speed, will absolutely bring in cooler air thanks to the high pressure area at the leading edge of the hood. however, our "snorkus" (or resonator for everyone else) doesn't fit direct up with a WRX duct. so we need a way to force as much air into that resonator as possible and not let it leak away into the engine bay. its not a perfect solution as it still isn't a direct connection, but its much closer to the resonator inlet and most importantly, seals out most of the hot engine bay air from the fender. you can find WRX ducts from any wrecked or parting-out car, don't pay for a new one. you'll also need two bolts to hold it down to the rad support, try to get those from a wreck as well.

the seal came from here. you can buy this seal from wrecked cars or the dealer:

the groove accomdates the duct and supports it while being thick enough to bridge the gap between the duct and the stock intake

after experimenting over the years, use 2 zip ties to "stitch" the seal together. no more problems.

DON'T FORGET TO GET A WRX HOOD SEAL AS WELL for the leading edge of the hood. This will fully seal the duct and prevent air from "spilling" around it at the front of the car so that it gets the maximum amount of air forced into it.

enjoy your lower IAT's and increased power. for those of us with headers that heat up the engine bay quite a bit, you'll enjoy this mod.

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
11/26/14 3:20 p.m.
ssswitch wrote: If it helps, I went from an '06 WRX to an '03 TS and haven't looked back. These cars can be just as enjoyable minus the straight-line thrust. Which valving spec did you get from Feal?

that's neat to hear and I think you and I are on the same page with what makes the N/A cars worthwhile. if you can give up the b00sty goodness, its basically the same car only more reliable and fuel efficient. and for what its worth, the turbo cars don't always walk away from these on dirt...sometimes its quite the opposite.

I did the standard "Tarmac Spec" valving. I really considered the rally valving from the start but heard from a few sources that its not very enjoyable on the street. I'm pretty happy with the Tarmac performance.

Also, I opted for FEAL's Zerk Grease Fitting installation on both rear struts. it was a really good call...i've had to pump a little Mobil1 red grease into both struts twice now after some clunking came back. once they're greased they stay quiet for about 10 months or so. its just part of the game with this strut design.

ouchx100
ouchx100 Reader
11/26/14 4:24 p.m.

I'll have to keep watch on this one as well. I have an 06 wrx that I rallycross, 133k and she's not slowing down yet!

Nice mod list. I play in stock class so all I do is swap to a set of snow tires and disconnect the front seat bar ( white line 24mm ). Out here in so cal even our stock class is very competitive. And since it rains like twice a year the boost is nice if the course is dry, although useless after the water truck.

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
11/26/14 4:42 p.m.
ouchx100 wrote: I'll have to keep watch on this one as well. I have an 06 wrx that I rallycross, 133k and she's not slowing down yet! Nice mod list. I play in stock class so all I do is swap to a set of snow tires and disconnect the front seat bar ( white line 24mm ). Out here in so cal even our stock class is very competitive. And since it rains like twice a year the boost is nice if the course is dry, although useless after the water truck.

right on! i've focused a lot on deliberate bang-for-the-buck suspension work with this chassis so hopefully this thread will have some good info for the WRX'ers like yourself as well.

if i had gotten into rallyx earlier in this cars ownership i have a feeling i might have gone straight to stock class and stayed there. but, with my situation i built it around what i liked on the street first and foremost and just fell into whatever class allowed those mods. overall i'm still happy with the performance of the mods so I'll just keep trying to hang out in Prepared AWD (SCCA). how do you do with the winter tires...any de-bead problems? i'm running both f/r sways and wonder if disconnecting the front would be wise, or if it will just mean that i'll lift the inside rear all the time and just send all the power to spinning that tire in the air (no rear LSD like you guys have).

i actually rallyx'd at a super-dusty venue last weekend and in some of the deep silt i would have loved another 30 or 40hp. when this EJ25 dies i'm going to look really hard at EZ30R's.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin UltraDork
11/26/14 5:02 p.m.

Nice car. I used to have an '02 2.5RS. Looking back I would've done the suspension a little differently, but otherwise it was a great car. Believe it or not, it was tied for best interior of any car I've owned.

Biggest gripe I had: you get 1/2 the WHP of a WRX, but the same mileage + the risk of HG failure :(

Where does the tarheel club run? Do you have a local venue?

Woody
Woody MegaDork
11/26/14 6:06 p.m.

Will a WRX LSD bolt right in?

pav5069
pav5069 New Reader
11/26/14 7:30 p.m.

As long as it matches the trans gear ratio it will bolt right in. I forget the ratio numbers its been awhile. I know the old JDM trans and diff you can get a 4.44.

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
11/26/14 11:38 p.m.
ProDarwin wrote: Nice car. I used to have an '02 2.5RS. Looking back I would've done the suspension a little differently, but otherwise it was a great car. Believe it or not, it was tied for best interior of any car I've owned. Biggest gripe I had: you get 1/2 the WHP of a WRX, but the same mileage + the risk of HG failure :( Where does the tarheel club run? Do you have a local venue?

i honestly love the interior. simple, analog, wears well. i couldn't care less about heated dick warmers and power headrests. give me clear, basic gauges, fat bolstered seats, a good steering wheel and a nice view over the dash.

i do wish the city mileage was better but overall its treated me pretty well...i average around 25. best ever on the highway was 35 although i usually do between 30-32 at 70mph. i drive like a big pansy most of the time though. i guarantee if i didn't have these big barn-door mudflaps on i'd probably pick up another 1-2 mpg on the highway.

don't worry, i've already had to deal with the HG bullE36 M3. thought i was out of the water with a 2005 car but it caught up to me eventually. i just went ahead and did the t-belt while i was in there.

i'm in GA now but when i was in NC the Tarheel guys ran at a couple venues between Greensboro and east of Raleigh. our rallyx courses were in Wilson and Fayetteville. i'll put you in touch with one of the officers if you're interested. they run HPDE/TT, autox, and rallyx. good folks for sure.

Woody wrote: Will a WRX LSD bolt right in?

yes and no. i think the WRX's with a compatible R160 viscous-LSD diff use a 3.90 ratio and my car is geared 4.11 in the trans and diff, so like pav5069 said, i'd need to swap out the trans too in order to make it match up. however, the standard RS trans is a 3.90 as well so i guess it would be plug and play.

i think the Forester XT (turbo) and Baja XT use a 4.44 LSD in the rear which is tempting. i really want a rear LSD though, i'd like to get more rotation under power in rallyx.

Woody
Woody MegaDork
11/27/14 7:26 a.m.

I've never been inside one of these differentials before. Can you just swap your original ring and pinion onto a WRX limited slip center?

ouchx100
ouchx100 Reader
11/27/14 1:25 p.m.

In reply to ScottyB:

I love the snow tires! And like I said out here very competitive. The fastest stock all cars can be as fast or faster than the slowest mod all cars. I just upgraded from an old set of Yokohama snow tires to a brand called master craft. I've never heard of them but the tread pattern was mean looking so I jumped on the deal. Other than more chunky tread you'll want something that will "clear" itself of the mud. Other wise between the blocks will just get packed full and the tires turn into racing slicks

I noticed with the front sway connected the car will push more in a corner than with it disconnected. It was way more noticeable for me since I have a bigger than stock front bar. I've also heard some people like a bigger rear sway bar. This isn't allowed in stock but in prepared it should be. Rally tires should be allowed in prepared as well?

I do love the interior of the GD chassis alwell. My wrx is a limited with many bells and whistles except the P.O got rid of the leather for black and gray cloth seats from I think the TR or one of the Impreza models. Why this happened I have no idea. I'd like to track down the leather someday though. Seat warmers are probably one of my favorite options on a car lol

Edit: getting 30 or above is really good. At those speeds I usually get around 23. On a trip from San Diego to Canada I did manage to average 26-28.

ValuePack
ValuePack SuperDork
11/28/14 3:37 p.m.

What you want for ease of install is a '98-02 Forester S rear diff, it's a 4.11 R160 with LSD. Just double check spline count on the outputs vs. your rear axles before dropping any coin.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin UltraDork
11/28/14 4:21 p.m.

For more on throttle rotation and better traction without the LSD, I'd disconnect the rear bar.

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
11/29/14 1:00 a.m.
Woody wrote: I've never been inside one of these differentials before. Can you just swap your original ring and pinion onto a WRX limited slip center?

you know....i have no idea. i've always heard its cheaper to just buy the whole diff.

ouchx100 wrote: I love the snow tires! And like I said out here very competitive. The fastest stock all cars can be as fast or faster than the slowest mod all cars. I just upgraded from an old set of Yokohama snow tires to a brand called master craft.

cool, i'll remember to keep an eye out for those. our surfaces down here in GA are very loose dirt mixed with packed clay. anything with a good lug on the tire would probably hook up.

one of these days when i'm not lazy i'll try out the disconnected front sway as well.

ValuePack wrote: What you want for ease of install is a '98-02 Forester S rear diff, it's a 4.11 R160 with LSD. Just double check spline count on the outputs vs. your rear axles before dropping any coin.

boom! GRM braintrust delivers. thanks for the tip.

ProDarwin wrote: For more on throttle rotation and better traction without the LSD, I'd disconnect the rear bar.

that's a new angle on it that i haven't heard. i guess the ability to plant both rear tires and not spin the inside would give me better power transfer to the rear end, and not be offset by the increased weight transfer?

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
11/29/14 1:19 a.m.

there is not enough filth in this thread and for that i apologize. here are a few shots from events in 2013 to catch up the saga of my first season to where i am now.

FIRST EVENT. no turning back after feeling the car do what its doing here.

SECOND EVENT - managed my first 1st place in my class

THIRD EVENT, glorious slop, eeked out another 1st in class

FOURTH EVENT - season class win clinched! barely.

its our very own Brett Murphy! what's up Brett? watching his Fozz XT tear it up out there is like watching a mountain goat on PCP tackle a canine agility course. you know that what you're about to see is going to be the most entertaining thing all day, you just don't know if you should go in for a closer look or take cover. best sideways action by a mile.

so cool. apparently a real-deal Alltrac that was actually part of the Toyota press fleet (back when Toyota wasn't dead inside). something like only 80 were brought to to the US for that purpose, or so i'm told.

all of my runs were completed with a baby seat in the back. because dailycar.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin UltraDork
11/29/14 7:39 a.m.
ScottyB wrote:
ProDarwin wrote: For more on throttle rotation and better traction without the LSD, I'd disconnect the rear bar.

that's a new angle on it that i haven't heard. i guess the ability to plant both rear tires and not spin the inside would give me better power transfer to the rear end, and not be offset by the increased weight transfer?

Yeah. I've seen several rally-x Subaru owners do this.

I co-drove a nationally competitive STX WRX and it was way better once we disconnected the rear bar. Even with the LSD, it would still spin the inside rear in long sweepers with a medium to large rear bar.

I believe our final iteration was the 13mm old legacy rear bar. But yeah, for a rallx car, I'd just remove it.

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
12/1/14 12:33 p.m.

upsee-daisy! into the air she goes.

after 105k miles of use and my first few rallycrosses it was time for a refresh. the strut clunk from the rear was intolerable and the car was getting sloppy. strut bodies went to the fine town of Rancho Cucamonga on the left coast for a revalve/refresh courtesy of FEAL Suspension. paired that with some Whiteline Com-C tophats and Torque Solutions rack bushings from Boxer4Racing the other day to add some camber/caster and better steering feel to the front "while i'm in there".

front Tarmac-valved Feal struts in:

the lower perches on all corners were chewed up from rocks and road grit, and i also caught the paint with the threads on the spring compressor a few times so i hit it with a couple coats of clear. that should keep any corrosion from starting. remember to put the rubber spring cushions back in the right orientation when you reassemble, its easy to forget or get disoriented.

Whiteline tophats:

offset for an extra -1.5 degree camber and .75 degree caster, great for a plug-n-play street car application with a pretty hard, but mostly tolerable durometer on the rubber (think Group-N hardness). you can flip them for minimum camber if you want (applicable to wagon guys with sedan lower control arms for wider track). with the adjustable crash bolts on the strut ears i was able to get -1.8 degrees camber out of these with the advertised caster gain. DO NOT overtighten the top three bolts, they will snap off. its something stupid like 14 lb. ft. of torque to tighten, i just tightened a little past "twisting off a beer cap" with my smallest socket wrench.

there ends the fun/easy installations. let us now begin the tiring, why-do-my-fingers-feel-broken installations.

steerin' rack bushings are in the big gold brackets (OK, crusty gold brackets, closest one is already undone). stock durometer rating is somewhere around stale gummi bear. these got replaced with poly, front of car is right:

just 2 brackets hold the rack to the car, but of course you have to drop the jacking plate to get there, and then the bolts are overtightened from the factory like a bastard. you will also need to loosen the steering shaft U-joint from below (you can access it clearly that way) to allow the rack to drop so you can weasel the bushings out from around the rack. sounds easy. is not easy. what you can't immediately see is that its basically impossible to actually drop the brackets away to access anything...you can only push them out of the way (barely) since the PS lines block them in. my fingers feel like i've been doing Bruce Lee pushups. if you unbolt every PS line bracket its still barely any room to move the rack brackets out of the way. the passenger side comes out easy, please do not use this side to bolster your confidence.

basically the only advice I can give you is to not be afraid to bend the PS lines a bit, and lube the hell out of the new bushing so you can somehow fit it around the square bracket on the drivers side. be careful not to overtorque when reinstalling the brackets, just because the stock bolts were torqued by Gozirra from the factory, they don't need to be retorqued the same.

Trailing Arm rear bushing installation - these TurnIn Concepts bushes are pretty sweet...i think shore 95, self lubricating and the pins are beautiful. The front bushings were already pressed into the trailing arms and are the Subaru Group-N bushings for minimum deflection but still soft enough to be streetable.

another reason why ordering from TurnInConcepts is a good idea. free army guys :lol: they are currently guarding my monitor from commies and terrorists.

old rear trailing link bushing: bustified.

i found it was more time and money wasted to try to press bushings into my stock trailing links than to buy new ones with the bushings already in place. ultimately i still think it was the right move. the best way to take that link out is to actually drop the whole bracket that the front is mounted on, in addition to taking off the bolt on the hub. i will say this: don't be afraid to beat the crap out of the rear trailing link bolt. i put a 17mm box-end on there with a socket+pipe on the other side, braced both, and just went Hulk-SMASH with a deadblow on the box-end. it was actually easier on the bolt to do it that way...i almost rounded one off trying to be all nice to it with steady pressure.

once it's off the car, you can remove the front bolt by just putting the link+bracket on the ground and putting a breaker bar on each bolt, then standing on the combo to steady it. play "JUMP ON IT!" in the background.

i drilled the old rear bushing out with a regular old cordless drill, one full battery lasted just enough to do both. it takes a while, but once you lose enough material you can just rip the bushing right out with a set of vice grips. i pressed in the new 2-piece (WHY DOESN'T EVERYONE DO THIS) bushings with a c-clamp, like zeese:

the last trick is getting the new trailing link on...it will not want to fit over the rear bushing. the best thing you can do is HULK that thing up and onto it with a rubber mallet, and then pop the bolt in finger tight. THEN go ahead and bolt in the front bracket. otherwise you won't be able to get the leverage to fit the rear of the link onto the bushing.

front bushing - 85 lb. ft. rear bushing - 66 lb. ft. front bracket - 75 lb. ft.

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
12/2/14 4:03 p.m.

back to the pavement for a sec...

back in april i finally fulfilled a bucket list dream - drive an HPDE weekend.

i did it through Tarheel Sports Car Club when i was still in NC, and drove at Virginia International Raceway...we ran the North course. bottom line: couldn't have asked for a better weekend, and driving an HPDE is all the awesome you think it could be even for a total novice. mid 60's, almost cloudless with brand new fresh pavement and the car ran flawlessly both days. my run group was about 20 cars so i had plenty of open track time and nobody had any exciting "learning moments" aside from a miata that got a little agro at the top of the roller coaster. had a great instructor....very experienced and fun french-canadian (yoo want to bee tearning en 'ere so yoo ayre note too uuuurly to zuh aaaapex) guy with rather choice taste in automobiles ('73 911 RS and a 500 Abarth) and really helped me focus on being smooth.

i had some very bad habits ingrained from years of street driving and lately rallycrossing that were upsetting the car a lot and he helped me to find a lot of grip that i didn't realize was there. i also picked up a great tactic that he recommended which was to literally talk my way through an entire lap...everything from whats in my mirrors to the flag stations to the gear i'm in. by the end of the weekend i was much more confident and could "see" the line through a complex of corners instead of one corner at a time.

the RS did great. aside from a miata, i was pretty much the slowest car there (SURPRISE!) and the only AWD car. i wasn't really watching but i don't think i could get past about 103 down the front straight. that said, despite getting walked in a straight line by some of the muscle cars, it held its own and better everywhere else and the balance was perfect for my level right now. my Stoptech Street Performance pads were completely boss....NEVER ran out of brakes which was my biggest concern. the Kumho 4X tires were completely out of their element and happily played for me the song of their people but never completely gave up and didn't chunk the shoulders. nailing the gators through 10 and 11 and Hogpen with the car in a faint 4-wheel slide just never ever got old.

i'm a cheapass and slept in the back seat on Friday and Saturday night. i do not recommend this in a sedan. every morning felt like i just finished being strapped down through a transatlantic flight but hey, i saved like, a tank of gas so yay me i guess. i still had to pay a camping fee of $35, what a racket.

the biggest PITA all weekend, of all things, was my damn GOPRO. had wifi issues most of the time and a backpack battery that wouldn't turn off. by Sunday i had it mostly figured out and got some nice footage with the new external mic.

overall weekend highlights: - the "new VIR" is even more a world class track with the repave - always great hardware to oogle - lambos, 911s, old Z's, stangs and vettes - i thought the classroom time would be a total drag, turned out to be one of my favorite parts. time VERY well spent. - i had the pedal to the floor probably about 90% of the track, car never cared and only used about 3/4 qt. of oil all weekend - great "paddock mates", made some good friends and had some laughs - passed or kept up with a number of cars i didn't think i'd be able to - my instructor told me if we had one more session on Sunday afternoon he would have sent me out solo. i took that as a very high compliment and it will spur me on for next time!

GOPRO footage of my last session, after i got out of some traffic and into a clear track. had a fun time trying to keep up with the stg1 Golf R in front of me on Rivals. i think the remote mic was a success. couldn't get around some camera buffeting over 100mph, but just listen to that lovely subaru WHARRGARBLLL! https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZKNJbGxJQO4

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
12/2/14 4:11 p.m.

for anyone interested in running external audio with their gopro, here's my complete setup. i stick the mic out of the trunk and shut the lid on the wire so that it just sits on top of the bumper. it gets a great feed from the muffler and stays out of any wind buffeting.

i got everything off of Amazon and to be able to run the mic adapter out of the case, i just drilled out a hole on a spare sealed case and i attach/seal the adapter wire with a couple strips of duct tape. looks ghetto but works fine. i also tape down the adapter wire between the gopro and my closed door with a strip of tape on the roof weather stripping (so as not to mark up the paint) to keep it from flapping in the wind.

  • gopro HERO3 black (w/wifi)
  • gopro backpack battery
  • gopro suction mount
  • gopro 3.5mm mic adapter wire for external mic
  • DIY drilled case as a "skeleton" setup to allow for a 3.5mm audio cord to poke out the side of the case (the backpack battery provides a second case so you can do this for "free")
  • 3.5mm, 12ft. audio cord
  • Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone

i could have foregone the backpack battery, and depending on how you want to mount the mic you could lose the extension cord but that was only like $10 bucks so why not.

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
12/5/14 10:17 a.m.

cheap mods are the best mods. this will probably interest the 05-06 (maybe 07?) guys who want to Romraider-tune their cars, which for non-suby guys is a free opensource tuning program.

the interface cable for 02-05 cars (aka mine) is about $140 and if you're lucky and quick on the draw you can get a used one for about $100. its a cable with a usb connection on one end an an OBDII connector on the other.....as a warm-blooded, opposable-thumbed, soldering-iron equipped simian who is only semi-retarded in nature, i was sure i could do better than drop 100 bones on a stupid cable.

what brought this all on was that i went on a pretty serious roadtrip to Columbus OH (this was back in 2012) in the worst heat wave in recent memory, and the late model RS in factory drive-by-wire form, pings like crazy when its really hot out during extended cruises. i'm really not OK with the idea of climbing 5% interstate grades for miles through blacked-out WV (they were still recovering from the huge Derecho storm that hit 2 weeks before), in 105 degree heat with my wife and some nice luggage, in a car whose engine is detonating the hell out of itself. i need the thing to be rock solid especially at its age. after finding a really helpful thread on NASIOC, i realized i could plug in a much safer engine tune (that I would have to concoct myself) for about $20 through the use of an alternate cable source. turns out this should work for any non-CANBUS (i.e pre-06) subaru, although it looks like 02-03's are still having issues with this.

what we're going to do is use a VW VAG-COM cable and solder some wires to provide the adequete 12v power to the cable so it can do its job. then, we're going to install the right drivers to our laptop so it can see the cable and send it our nice shiny new data. finally, we'll be using an old version of flashing software on the laptop so that the software can't tell that the cable isn't Tactrix brand. sneaky!

first, buy your cable. i used ebay seller Alpha-Bid and got the cable in 3 days from WA. $22 shipped. not bad.

more info OBD2

then, find your soldering iron that can barely melt cheese and some wire than has metal on the inside and plastic on the outside. proceed to molest the nice factory solder joints with your junky radioshack iron. you're doing this to connect pins 11 and 16 to jump them and provide 12v power. ace!

finally, download and apply your drivers from FTDI (the producer of the chip in your cable), find an old copy of EcuFlash 1.29a (i have it in a ZIP file if anyone needs it), and go to town. I had to bump my COM port's baud rate down to 4800 so the cable could speak all proper-like with the RS's ECU.

so what was i up to in the first place with all this? i applied a new tune that cut a big chunk of ignition advance off of the low-load section of the ignition advance table so the engine would run smoothly and safely at highway engine speeds and loads. pulling timing is especially important in hot weather when the intake charge is already starting out at like 180 degrees by the time it gets into the combustion chamber. subaru, in its baffling wisdom, decided to just F all that nonsense and jack the timing to the stratosphere to probably eek 1 more mpg out of the car on the highway, presumably so they could compete better with their 2WD competition that was getting 30+ mpg. at cruising load the car was sitting at nearly 45 degrees advance. some cars can get away with that, but the EJ25 is an old engine and the head design just can't make use of that kind of timing. the constant pinging pounds the pistons and rod bearings and just isn't very friendly to the engine....at 100k+ miles i want it to last for another 100k at least, and cutting that abuse out is key.

the result was excellent. no audible knock at any engine speed or load, and power was barely affected on the low end. the ECU now has tons of headroom to pull timing as it pleases whenever it senses knock instead of in the past where it would pull timing all it could but would hit a wall at the factory base timing numbers which were still too high. the car never missed a beat through intense heat (to the point the A/C could barely keep up on high recirc to cool the car) and actually returned my all-time best mpg ever in Ohio at 35.7 mpg over a half tank.

i'll be tweaking the timing further after logging knock feedback over the next few weeks, but this has been a great success so far. Romraider (program to edit tunes) and EcuFlash (program to flash and log tunes) are both free, so i can truthfully say that you can tune your subaru now for less than $25 and an investment of your time in learning the tuning language.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin UltraDork
12/5/14 10:42 a.m.

Nice work!

I think my all time record for mpg in my 2.5RS was 28mpg. Average was around 23 :(

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