A Day at the Races – Charlie the Charger on a Performance Run

My favorite thing to do on a beautiful sunny day is drive with the windows down and the music up. But in Northern Virginia, Charlie has all these horses and no room to gallop.  Finally, while we were bored after lunch this weekend, Girl and I decided to take Charlie out for a proper ride. 

Empty parking lots are surprisingly hard to find, even on a Sunday south of the Mason-Dixon.  Even the high school driver training course was in use (which would have been PERFECT!)


Luckily, we found a huge, completely empty parking lot for some electronics company (which totally didn’t have any ‘No Trespassing’ signs…)

And the rest, as they say, is history.




I love the smell of burning rubber in the morning.

Examining my Commute with DashCommand

Now that I have an iPhone 4S (thanks Mom!), I finally have a device that can handle the processing and data transfer needs of DashCommand.


DashCommand is a vehicle diagnostic and data visualization app from Palmer Performance Engineering.  Basically, you can plug your phone into the OBD-II port under your steering wheel (with a cable or wireless transmitter, sold separately), and see every piece of information about your car’s performance.


Some of the parameters that can be viewed are:

  • Speed
  • RPM
  • Power
  • Torque
  • Remaining Fuel
  • Fuel Economy
  • Coolant temperature
  • Pitch and roll
  • G forces
  • Check Engine codes


It also takes averages over trips, each day, and between fillups.  I decided to use a trip average to record the data for my commute from work to home.  Here’s the data for my one way, door-to-door  trip:



Average Fuel Consumption

23.5 mpg



36.5 mi


Fuel consumed

1.2 gal


Average CO2 Emission Rate

13.2 oz/mi


Total CO2 Emissions

23.8 lbs


Elapsed Time

56 min


Drive Time

41 min

Meaning I was stopped at red lights/in traffic for 15 minutes

Average fuel flow

1.3 gal/hr


Max fuel flow

4.7 gal/hr


Average Speed (excluding idle)

42 mph


Average Speed (including idle)

35 mph


Max Speed

72 mph


Average Engine Speed

1535 rpm


Max Engine Speed

3155 rpm


Max Acceleration

0.4 g


Max Braking

0.5 g


Max Engine Power

199 HP


Max Torque

278 ft/lbs


Distance in Neutral


I think this means the amount of time I’m stopped or coasting

Time in Neutral



Distance in 1st Gear



Time in 1st Gear



Distance in 2nd Gear



Time in 2nd Gear



Distance in 3rd Gear



Time in 3rd Gear



Distance in 4th Gear



Time in 4th Gear

37.5 %


Distance in 5th Gear



Time in 5th Gear



Distance in Wrong Gear


I don’t know how this cold be possible, since my car is an automatic. Does anyone know?

Time in Wrong Gear





My dashboards:


My Route:


(Note the color changes based on my speed)


At some point I’ll post some data from a performance run or a quarter-mile, if I can find a safe place to do it.


Pimp my Ride with SolidSwag

At the first FredSWUG meeting, we had more SolidSwag than we knew what to do with.  Everyone jumped for the gas cards, polo shirts and flash drives, but no one seemed to go for the best prize of all: the SolidWorks-emblazoned stem valve caps. The fools.  I snatched these up as soon as I could, and finally, on this gorgeous Sunday morning, anointed Charlie the Charger with his first SolidSwag…


The valve caps in their packaging



Charlie is very happy with his new SolidSwag



I also put these stickers on the engine mount, because why have a MOPAR engine when you can have a turbojet?



Dodge Charger SolidWorks Project

For the past few months – after being inspired by Matt Perez’s Camaro Tutorial – I’ve been working on modeling my Dodge Charger in SolidWorks.  I started with nothing more than a set of four orthographic blueprint drawings (top, front, right, rear):


Then I arranged the blueprints in three dimensions in a SolidWorks part document:


Then, using mostly surfacing tools (projected curves, boundary surfaces, etc) the shape of the charger quickly took shape:


Before I got the wheels and tires modeled, this is what I had to do to work on the rest of the car 🙂



The model is almost done, but it still needs a few features…

  • Door handles
  • Side mirrors
  • Taillight details
  • Rear and side emblems (Make/model, Hemi, Dodge logo)
  • Disc brakes
  • Wipers?

And this is what the model looks like right now, including custom lighting and environment:


(Special thanks to Paul McCrorey for the red Render)

Update: Door Handles and door seams are done.


If anyone has any comments or suggestions, feel free to let me know!