THE STINGRAY IS BACK!

The Stingray nameplate has been revived for 2014 after being laid to rest back in 1976.  However, the Vette, in general, almost went the way of the dinosaur due to GM almost dying in 2009.  The latest incarnation of the Vette fought a long hard battle, with multiple delays due to bankruptcy slowing development twice. Each delay brought about new safety and gas mileage restrictions, forcing more changes each time.  The Vette was almost regulated to death.

The 2014 C7 Corvette was was unveiled in Detroit, on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013 at the North American International Auto Show.  The C7 is so totally new, that it only shares 2 parts with its predecessor, the C6. The two parts in common are the valve keepers and starter bolts. That’s it. Nothing else. As a side note, the C6 was in production for the past 9 years, beginning in 2004.

The main objective of producing a supercar is usually based on a combination of speed, and looks. Not so with the C7. Thanks to ever tightening governmental rules and restrictions placed on the corvette, the main objective in design became ‘fuel economy’. “There won’t be a Corvette if we don’t care about fuel economy,” said Tadge Juechter, the car’s chief engineer. Designers had to bear in mind that if the new Vette burned too much gas, it would be taxed and fined to death, and it wouldn’t even make sense to build. In essence, the Corvette almost went bye bye because of more bureaucratic bullshit. However, with all the things going against it, the Vette has survived, and reportedly will turn 16+ mpg in the city, with high 20s, possibly even 30mpg on the highway.

The C7 achieved the fuel economy while ripping out 450 Horsepower with the use of “not-so-new” technology.  Much attention was paid to the weight of the Vette, which comes in at a svelte 3200 pounds, combined with an all new engine.  The Vette reached this low weight through extensive use of Carbon Fibers in place of fiberglass, the use of aluminum  instead of steel for the entire frame, and a new design, all aluminum V8 helps to keep this heavy hitter, light in the ass.

The all new LT1 is a 6.2 litre, 376 CID, all aluminum V8.  It features an astonishing 11.5:1 compression ratio due to the use of ‘Direct Injection’, where the fuel is injected directly into the cylinders, greatly decreasing the chances of  detonation.  This allows a compression ratio not seen in a production car since the late 60s muscle cars.  Higher compression relates directly to higher power and higher overall efficiency of the engine.  Direct Injection isn’t exactly new, it’s been in use on most diesel engines since their inception, which allows for insane compresion ratios like 20+:1.  All of this equals out to a 450 HP engine, which Chevy claims is the most powerful engine ever offered in a Base model Vette.

Another not so new technology in the Stingray is the ‘Cylinder Deactivation System’, which shuts 4 cylinders of the engine down while at cruising speeds, further increasing fuel economy.  Hopefully with the powerful on-board ECU, this half engine technology will work better than the horrible L62 V8-6-4 system that was used on Cadillacs back in the 80s.  Another addition is Cam Phasing Technology which allows the timing to be advanced or retarded as necessary to further promote fuel efficiency.  If all these systems work as designed,  this new engine system could be the direction all new cars take.  The direct injection system has been adopted by a lot of manufacturers, including Mazda, Audi, Pontiac, and Volkswagen, to name a few.

As far as styling, all vents and scoops are actually functional, used for cooling brakes, transmission and for intake air.  The back side of the Vette loosely resembles the ’63, with its sloping roof that tapers back towards the bottom.  The back is very angular, resembling the late model camaros more than any previous Vette.  The roof is removable, storable in the trunk.  A convertible version will be making an appearance in a few years.  The interior is described by GM as having a ‘jet cockpit look’ with liberal use of leather, carbon fibers, soft plastics and a host of electronic/tech gadgets.

GM claims to have upgraded the interior so it no longer has the cheap, chintzy look.  I think it still looks like cheap shit, but that’s my personal opinion.  The Viper far surpasses the Vette in interior upgrades without a doubt.

I’m not too impressed with anything about the new Stingray.  I think I would rather buy a used c6, or go with the upper level Camaro.  I hope I’m wrong, but I think the ‘cylinder deactivation system’ is an omen for worse things to come.  Still, this is the first of the new generation.  As each year passes, as is normal for the Vette, higher performance versions will start to come out after a few years. For right now, I am not liking the new Vette all that much, and coming from a die-hard Vette lover as myself, that is not a good thing.  I will, however, reserve final judgment for about 5-7 years when the new versions of the ZR1 and Z06  come out.

What’s your take on the new Stingray?  Yay or Nay?

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RASPBERRY PI, ANYONE?

Today’s kids are surrounded by hi-tech, computerized gadgets and doohickeys, from the smartphones in their pockets to the gaming consoles like Playstation and Xbox.  Although they interact with technology on a daily basis, a disturbing trend was emerging.  Nobody was interested in building or creating anything new.  Enrollment in schools for Electronic Engineering, Computer Technology and anything tech related was hitting all-time lows, and continuing to sink.  

Perhaps just a Band-Aid at this point, but a good start nonetheless, enter the Raspberry Pi.  Basically a fully functioning palm sized computer that costs $25- $35…  Designed specifically for kids to learn about using the computer for whatever they chose to do.  You power it up and can plug it into your TV, add a keyboard and mouse, and you have a working computer with a Linux based operating system.  It is designed with input/output pins so you can program it to control other things.  Home automation, use it as a media center, as a dedicated computer for an electronic project.

I have one on backorder, and I will be using it to control a Graphical dashboard for my 35 year old El Camino.  Newer cars with onboard computers can plug right into an Ipad for a digital dash.  My car has no computer, so I will have to add temperature and pressure sensors, convert all the analog signals to digital, and channel the output to an LCD screen.  The little Pi will also be the entertainment center, handling all my music as well as have a working GPS and a wireless internet connection.  True, I can buy a custom system like this, but it would cost me in the thousands.  I figure I can build the whole system for around a hundred bucks.  The Pi will cost $35, the controller for the GPS should cost about $20 to build, the screen should be around $30-$50 and all the sensors and wires should run around another $30.  

As soon as my Pi gets here, I will do a step by step and report on the progress.  The Pi has been selling out since before it was even available to the public.  Schools snatching up dozens at a time and putting them to good use almost immediately.  Hobbyists, and career people are buying up the Pi as well.  Youtube is flooded with vids all about the Pi and the things people are dreaming up and creating.  It really is pretty cool.

For those of you that get bored with the technical stuff, you will want to stop reading….. NOW.

“The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card-sized single-board computer developed in the UK by the Raspberry Pi Foundation with the intention of stimulating the teaching of basic computer science in schools.

The Raspberry Pi has a Broadcom BCM2835 system on a chip (SoC),[3] which includes an ARM1176JZF-S 700 MHz processor (The firmware includes a number of “Turbo” modes so that the user can attempt overclocking, up-to 1 GHz, without affecting the warranty),[4] VideoCore IV GPU,[12] and originally shipped with 256 megabytes of RAM, later upgraded to 512MB.[13] It does not include a built-in hard disk or solid-state drive, but uses an SD card for booting and long-term storage.[14]

The Foundation provides Debian and Arch Linux ARM distributions for download.[16] Also planned are tools for supporting Python as the main programming language,[17][18] with support for BBC BASIC,[19] (via the RISC OS image or the “Brandy Basic” clone for Linux),[20] C,[17] and Perl.[17]”  excerpted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raspberry_Pi