Matthew’s Tamiya Dual Ridge

For Christmas 2014, Matthew wished to get into RC cars and I bought him the Tamiya Dual Ridge vehicle based on the TT-02B chassis.

He was allowed to open one gift on the 24th and he chose the right gift. I was able to put it together mostly for him, but he did help me. His attention span was a lot more than I expected, but in the end I finished it off. He does enjoy driving it.

I finally got a chance to take some action and still shots of the car. It has a unique color scheme well different than the silver color the car should have if one were to copy the box picture of the car. I don’t think I would paint anything yellow again, because it turned out to be more yellow-green than true yellow. I put on the set of tires my Neo Scorcher had because he was already wearing out the off road tires it came with. They are the Duratrax Bandito ST tires. The extra set I bought didn’t have enough offset and the front part of the body would catch the tires as the car would make a full turn. I therefore had to order myself a new set. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the extra set of narrow tires. My favorite one is as follows:

Thanks for looking!


San Francisco Exploratorium

We had some free time and it has been awhile since we’ve been to the SF Exploratorium. It turned out the day was nice and clear, but the winds were strong. Therefore, it was freezing outside!

We were one of the first members to enter the Exploratorium. We rushed straight over to the pen tracing area where one can jiggle a platform. You can choose 4 color and a pen will trace out the platforms movements. There were some cool patterns the kids created. I plan to maybe facemount it to acrylic in the near future. The kids had a great time despite the cold weather. Afterwards, we made our way home with the heater turned on high in the car!


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Tamiya’s 2009 BMW M3 GT2 Kit

After building the Neo Scorcher and how cool that one turned out, I wanted to buy an on-road car vs. the off road buggies we’ve purchased in the past. Being a BMW fan, I came across a kit that Tamiya used to make, but no longer.

The BMW M3 race kit was the one I wanted. The original or recent most released kit was based on the TT-01 chassis. My Neo Scorcher was based on the TT-02 kit and wanted to try to keep all the cars the same, including Matthew’s. I did my research and also hoped that the TT-02 kit would work meaning that I can just buy the body of the BMW M3 and fit it over the TT-02 mounting pegs. The BMW shell came without the holes pre-drilled. This meant that I could drill the holes myself where I needed them. Turns out they were in almost if not exactly in the same position as the TT-01 chassis! The wheelbase was another factor and it seems Tamiya makes them all the same: 257mm wheel base. They do make a shorter wheel base for smaller cars like the Golf or the Mini. I then ordered my kit from RC Mart in Hong Kong. Shipping is a bit steep, but it got to my door in 7 days. It arrived on the 24th of December just in time for me to build it and drive it on Christmas Day.

We let the kids open one gift on the 24th and luckily Matthew chose his RC car that we gave him for Christmas. This allowed me to build it for him so he could race his car on Christmas day with the rest of us. We started on his car around 8am and I finished it around 1pm. Meanwhile the USPS guy rang the door bell at 12 noon and my car came. It took me about 4-5 hours to build my car. The instructions for my on road car were slightly different than Matthew’s Dual Ridge off road buggy. The chassis were almost identical, TT-02, but the shocks were a bit different due to off vs on road driving clearance or height. I had to mask out the bumper area of the BMW shell prior to painting it white. Once I did, I painted it white inside. After about an hour I laid down another coat of white. Someone on a message board suggested to follow the white with a layer of silver paint and I did so the black wouldn’t show through. It removed the masking and then proceeded to paint the whole interior black. It turned out awesome! I then put the stickers on Christmas morning and I got the car all done. I also installed the headlight and tail light kit it came with. Very cool.

I found out that because the body covers the wheels unlike the off road kits, the interior of the car gets very dirty as well as the outside. It is a fun car to drive, but needs some improvements such as real oil filled shocks and maybe more grippier tires. In the end it is a lot of fun to drive!

Thanksgiving and the Black Friday Frenzy!

Thanksgiving has come and gone. It was a good holiday and break.

We had a great lunch with great food at my Uncle’s place in SF. It was quite a warm to hot day! Lots of sunshine! Because all my brothers were going to be there and because we were getting into RC Cars again or at least motivating my older brother to get back into it, I brought up my Neo Scorcher and the good old Hornet. There were some parts that I needed to give to Alan to get his car into running shape.

After lunch we took our cars into the street. Alan put my old motor from my old Hornet and his ran so much better. In the beginning it seemed like the motor would shut down due to overheating or something, but with my old motor, it kept running. The Neo Scorcher took some bumps and did a flip unintentionally, but kept on running until I lost a wheel lock nut and the tire rolled off the axel. It seems lately I am plagued by wheels falling off issues! Needless to say, I’ve been to OSH and bought some better lock nuts that will stay tight.

Leaving my Uncle’s house in the early afternoon, I had the plan to head down to Walmart to see if I could get a new Xbox 360 4GB console. I saw the ad earlier in the week and didn’t think much of it until our only obligation on Thanksgiving was lunch. The sale began at 6pm. I mentioned that I had no expectations of getting anything. The only thing I would be wasting is just 2-3 hours of time. I dragged the family with me to the Mountain View Walmart. Upon arriving around 3:30pm, I found parking fairly easily. There were no lines outside the Walmart. People were going in and out as if it was just a regular day. I went inside to discover a few lines here and there. Most of the lines were for the TV’s that were on sale. After wandering through the store looking for the Xbox 360 line, I found out the Xbox line was for both the 360 and for the One. I lined up around 4:00pm and I was about 8-9th person in line. It seems as if I would be guaranteed an Xbox 360!

About 5pm, people in line were getting tired waiting and asked the sales associates helping to manage the lines to pass out the wrist bands so people can shop or leave and come back. These wrist bands guarantee the people in line to whatever they were waiting for. The sales associate started going down the line asking who wanted an Xbox One. A few people before me wanted the Xbox 360, but the sales associate didn’t have a wrist band for those units, only the One. This meant all of us that wanted a 360 had to wait in line. Oh well. I sat comfortably on the floor and surfed the internet on my phone.

Finally about 5:50pm, they started to roll out the stack of xbox 360’s and they were heading down to the electronics department. For a moment, all of us that remained in line almost saw our efforts go down the drain, and/or there was another line in the electronics department we didn’t know about or couldn’t see! I yelled out, in excitement of course, that this was the Xbox 360 Line. The sales associate that was helping manage the line confirmed what I was saying. Phew. I think I might have saved the day! 6pm chimmed and I got my 360. I then made a dash for the line. Thinking ahead, I told Julie to head to the front of the store and wait in line so by the time I get there, we wouldn’t have to wait too long. It worked.

This Xbox 360 doesn’t have a hard drive to store games. I remember reading online that a specific Western Digital notebook HD will work. There are instructions online that show one how to flash the HD with xbox 360 firmware. I did this with Tej’s computer because I don’t have a pc laying around anymore. Unfortunately, his virus detector detected some suspicious files. I did manage to flash the drive and install it into my new Xbox 360. The Xbox costed me $99 and the drive and case costed me $50. Not too bad when my new Xbox retails for $179 (Microsoft had it on sale for $130) and the HD versions are much more expensive. I didn’t want to get the One because I would have to buy several new games, several controllers, where in the end it probably would have costed me $600-700! No thanks.


Neo’s Full Run with New Shoes

Today, the women Mah Jong game was going on at the house and I had to take the kids and entertain them for a couple of hours. Noah was over as well so I took all 3 kids out.

We headed to Abbott Middle School to run the cars, the Neo Scorcher and the Hornet. I gave the kids a try at the Neo Scorcher. The Hornet unfortunately is falling apart. The other front shock snapped at the plastic base. The thing had negative 20 camber and has no front end support. Furthermore, it lost the bottom screws to the steering knuckles which made the front end worse. We had to turn her off.

I did bring the kids’ bikes and they took turns riding. Hayley actually balanced on the Strider bike! She is almost ready to loose the training wheels on her little red bike.

Because Matthew was driving the Neo Scorcher, I managed to snap some action photos of the car. It gave me a chance to practice my panning shots and try to be creative.

Later, we went over to Foster City and tried to drive it where there is a dirt track for bikes, but people do drive their RC cars out there too. While I was tending to Hayley, Matthew drove the Neo Scorcher into a mud puddle and tried to get out. Needless to say, it took me over 30 minutes to clean it up, and even so, it was still dirty. Oh well. My clean car is no longer.

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The Tamiya Neo Scorcher RC Car

Not being satisfied with the old Hornet’s condition, I decided to buy a new one for myself. I knew I wanted to stick with the Tamiya brand, so I looked at their website and looked through their catalog of cars to determine which one to buy.

neoscorcherI’ve always loved the RC cars that resembled real cars to day or race cars of today, however because they were low to the ground, any rocks would possibly make it flip. I decided to stick with the 1/10th scale off road buggies. Looking at the various chassis and body designs, I settled on the Neo Scorcher. I did some research on the various chassis and found this TT-02B was a good one. I read through all the forum posts here to get some idea about how good the car was. This guy did a lot of research and modified his car right out of the box. Some things worked other things didn’t. I took his advice and bought some key hop up parts that were a good bang for the buck.

Once I received word that the kit had been delivered, I just couldn’t wait to get home from work and start building it. It took me several hours, but I managed to get it made. There was only one problem when I tried to do a test run. The car wouldn’t move. Turns out I reversed one of the gear boxes. This resulted in the front wheels turning backwards and the rear wheels turning forward at the same time–the car is 4WD. Being late in the night, I decided to go to bed. The next morning, I woke a little early so I could reverse the gear box and do a little test run. It worked just fine. Phew!

Some initial modifications that I’ve made so far: I bought the ball bearing kit. A must. I bought an upgraded ESC and a new motor with a 19T sprocket. I want metal gears and gear shaft, but I don’t think they make metal gears for these cars. I think it would be more robust in the end with better power transfer. As for the battery, it is a Tenergy 5000mAh capacity. The car can run for over an hour. I have yet to test it out that long.

I couldn’t decide on what color to paint the body. After searching a bunch of images on Google, I decided on a rich and vibrant Ferrari Red Metallic Paint. For the big spoiler, I painted it a medium Blue Metallic. Without the stickers, it looked like a Captain America theme or Julie put it: Optimus Prime! After putting on the stickers I felt would make it look nice and clean, the look came together. I do like it a lot. Maybe I need an autobot sticker!

I’ve run the car and it is nice and fast. It could be faster, but I”m happy with the results. The car ran smooth and sounded good. Because it is 4WD, because it has 4 independent suspension, and because it was not too high off the ground, the car never flipped or rolled when taking turns at full speed. This is good because I now know that the plastic body parts including the vulnerable spoiler will not get damaged like my old Hornet used to do.

I am looking forward to driving it and having fun with Matthew. Hop up parts as needed. I am going to resist the temptation to keep modifying it.

Here she is:

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Halloween 2014

One of the kids’ favorite times is Halloween. They love getting dressed up and of course collecting a lot of candy! They got to do both. Matthew was a Storm Trooper from Star Wars, and Hayley was Elsa from the animation movie, Frozen. They got to decorate their own pumpkins they got when they visited the pumpkin farms for school field trips. Julie carved a Picachoo Pokemon in the 3rd pumpkin.

We went over to my parents’ house and took some photos. Unfortunately, Alan didn’t arrive to just after 6pm and Ken and his family had to leave.

As usual, we went over to the Baywood community were Craig and Susan Live. We set out and caught up to Leah, but then she stayed with some of her neighborhood friends. Ethan being older, he was with his school friends. It was just the wife and the kids. Craig did catch up to us later on. After we did the immediate neighborhood, Julie and Matthew went down to Avilla St where they block off the road to vehicle traffic. It is quite packed down there. I stayed with Hayley. Craig showed me a video of the old Volvo 122s modified and smoking them rear wheels.

Before all the festivities, I managed to shoot some photos of the kids in front of the house before heading out to my parents’ house. I put together a collage of their photos. It has been awhile since I have put one of these together. I had to rattle my memory on the sizing.

Happy Halloween!!!

Tamiya RC Cars

Back in the day some 30 years ago, all my brothers and I got into RC cars made by Tamiya. I believe I was about 9 or 10 years old.

My very first RC car that I had to build was a Tamiya Pajaro. It was a small 1/10th scale RC car that did wheelies. I hated that it did wheelies because I wanted to race around like my other brothers’ cars. Learning from my mistake, I did a lot of research and figuring out which next one to buy that will allow me to not make wheelies as well as I can race around with my brothers’ cars. I decided on the Hornet. My older brother settled on the Grasshopper which was a slower version of the Hornet. They both had the same chassis, but the motor in the Grasshopper was slower and the body of course was different than the Hornet. My younger brother settled on the cool Fast Attack Vehicle (FAV). For some reason, my younger brother’s cars never worked very well. There was something always wrong with his gear boxes that made the cars sound like they were grinding more gears than they should be doing. In the end, with a few upgrades here and there, my car was the fastest. I really loved my Hornet. Turns out Tamiya is no longer the #1 RC car maker, but they did re-released the Hornet a few times and is still available for purchase to this day. Here is what it looked like:


My younger brother was helping clean out the RV sitting in front my of parents’ house all these years. He found some old RC cars and parts. He was super excited about trying to get back into the RC car world. I found my old Hornet in my garage unfortunately in pieces. With his excitement rubbing onto me, I decided to bring my beloved Hornet back to life.

The Hornet needed a lot of TLC. The old controller still worked the servos in the car. The car needed an overhaul of the shocks, gearbox, and front steering knuckles. Finding the parts in the box and having to order parts online from various sources including ebay. I managed to get the poor thing running again. I bought a new battery who’s capacity is 3x’s the amount of the old ones. It ran pretty well. Rough, but well. My goal is to let Matthew learn to drive this one and maybe later get him a new car that hopefully he can build himself, or we build it together. As a youth, I learned a lot about fixing and repairing the vehicles when we damaged them. I learned how to solder wires as well. There were skills obtained through this hobby that I wish Matthew to learn and acquire for himself.

Other things bought: I bought a ton of Amazon branded rechargeable AA batteries and an 8 battery charger. I bought a new Tenergy battery charger to charge the battery for the car. Most of the battery items were bought off Amazon. Parts for the car are hard to come by these days since it is so old and the industry has moved on.

More to come!

Portland, Oregon Family Photography Trip

October 25-27th we took a trip up to Portland, Oregon. The goal for me was to photograph the Japanese Maple Tree in the Portland Japanese Garden. The forecast was rain all weekend. Luckily, the weather was off and on rain, with it heavy at times.

The family came along to check out the sites. Jon, Abi, and Todd came down from the Seattle area. Unfortunately, Jon and Abi had to drive back after lunch on Sunday, but Todd hung out with us for the rest of the day. He even booked one more night in the hotel.

It was a good flight up and back. We gate checked our bags, and we were allowed on earlier than expected. The plane to Portland had electrical outlets, but the plane on the way to SF was a slightly older one and it did not have an electrical outlet. Each seat had its own USB AND regular electrical plug outlets for the laptop cable. Alaska Air does get your bags to you very quickly. They have a 20 minute policy or you get a discount or some other benefit.

The Fairfield Marriott Hotel was very good. The breakfast as good as well where one can make their own waffles. I prefer waffles over pancakes. Parking was also free. In the local area, there were 2 other Marriott brand hotels: Courtyard and Residence Inn. We upgraded to a “suite” room, but the room was a little bigger with a seating area slightly separate from the sleeping area. I would stay at this location again, but it was a little difficult to get to. You had to drive down a narrow road with cars parked on either side as well as more dense condo/apartment building like density. The location was a bit north near the Washington boarder, but it was still easy to get to places we needed to go to.

For the next trip up to Portland, I want to wade through the Columbia Gorge and head to Oneonta Gorge as well as the Punchbowl Falls for the next trip up there.

Until next time, Portland!

United Airlines’ Family Day October 2014

United had their Family day again to coincide with the Navy’s Fleet Week and the Blue Angels. Ricky W got me just 4 tickets for the family to attend. I had forgotten we had a birthday party to go to in the middle of the day so we decided to do as much as possible right after swim class. The event began at 11am and finishes around 4pm. We parked and went right in.

They had a 767 in the back to enter. There was also a 757 Fed Ex plane converted from passenger type craft to a cargo plane. I didn’t get a chance to enter that one, but I imagine it was quite empty inside to maximize cargo. Plus, it reminded me of the movie with Tom Hanks, Castaway. They had a 737 that was painted in vintage United logo, but it was not open to tour for some reason. The kids had a little bit of time in the jumpy jumps.

It was a bit rushed, but we got to go and see the planes up close. The kids sat in first class, which are a neat little pod. I’d love to sit in one of those one day.

Here are the pics of the family. Here is a link to the plane photography I took.

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