Prescott 1st Fri, 2nd Sat CRS2, 4th Overall, NASA Champions 2WD! #usrally #crsrally

Outstanding results from the 2013 Prescott Rally! Lots of stories and video soon!
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Prescott Rally 2013 – Follow us!

Want to keep up with the team this weekend? (Oct 4-5) We’ll be posting lots of pictures and updates to our Tumblelog! We’re also over on Twitter @rallynotes and of course the rallynotesteam on faceyspace. APRS tracking is GREAT at this event and maybe you can spot us doing triple digits on these fantastic dirt roads. will have scores up as usual. The scoring link has live text as well, so be sure to check that out.

This is our 9th year at Prescott and our 6th time competing. Always an amazing event! 2005 – 2008 (P-Car), 2009 – Zero Car (P-Car), 2010 – Scoring, 2011 – Zero Car (2GN), 2012 – 2013 (2GN). See you on the stages!

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Idaho Rally 2013 Media Roundup


Last weekend as you may have already noticed, our videos stepped into the 21st century. 😀 We’ve now got a GoPro3 Silver for inside the car connected to the Peltor intercom, and an older GoPro Hero for those more expendable exterior shots. Here’s the link to our YouTube Channel. As usual, I’m not going to post every video here, so feel free to explore and subscribe to our channel at your leisure.

Our Idaho Rally pictures are up on a Flickr set. I haven’t discovered any other Idaho Rally public galleries, so if you know of one or come across one – I’d love to see pictures and I’ll post the link here.

A full write-up is in the works. We’re going to cover:

  • How Rally Car Tracking broke… and stayed broke.
  • Tire testing: Got to drive on two types of rally tires on the same stages.
  • Plus the complete Idaho Rally story – 4th in class and 12th overall!
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2013 Idaho Rally International In-Car from SS11


Now with GoPro co-driver audio! So nice to get to hear Christine do what she does best while I concentrate 100% on driving. You’ll notice I had to say very little on this stage – just a corner confirmation here and there. This is how you know when a driver and co-driver are on it! – Kris

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Rally Idaho – Plans and Preparation

Idaho RallyWe’re excited to get back into rally competition and kick off our 2013 season with Rally Idaho. We ran it in 2008, and I helped crew for another team in 2010. It was on the USRC calendar back in the day, and now we’re really excited to see it as part of the NASA National Rally Championship (NNRC). It’s a 2 day event that takes place Northeast of Boise.

Besides this little sidetrack, the 2GN is in great shape, and a lot of my time has been spent prepping and packing the Blazer. Following the mantra: “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” Everything is considered for weight and use. Nested labeled containers inside bins make sure no air space is wasted. I even plastic wrapped spare parts and placed them throughout the truck instead of taking a huge mostly empty container of odd shaped parts. I managed to fit 5 tires into the rally car and I made sure that the gas tank was pretty much empty.

A new set of brake pads and a new air filter was desperately needed on the 15 year old truck. I managed to track down a pesky wiring problem to a fuse I didn’t know existed. For the (possibly hundreds) of people that mentioned it over the years: “Yes! My left trailer light blinker now works!” I just assumed that it would be on the same circuit – who knew Chevy had separate trailer fuses from the factory?! *after 6 years… 😀

In order to instantly qualify for the NNRC we’re going to need to be on the podium in 2WD. Our competition looks pretty strong right now, and I’m not really sure what will happen. We’ve got a fresh new set of tires, experience on the roads, and a strong desire to contest the championship at Prescott this year.

We’re on our way to Idaho!

We will have pics and updates as we go.
APRS Rally car tracking will be up and running.
@rallynotes will be tweeting to #usrally
Scores will be here on

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This is not a Press Release

Preface: I spend a lot of time thinking about marketing and the image of Rally in the US. If this interests you – keep reading!

frank-pressNot too long ago – Everything you read, watched, and listened to was output by a handful of media companies. Your only way to “make the news” was to put out a release that was crafted and polished with your message. You needed to catch the editors attention, draw them in for a short story, sprinkle in sponsors, and tell them where they could get more. Writing press was a good way for a low budget team to be just like a high budget team. On paper they look the same: Cute story, couple of photographs, shout out to a brand, see you next time.

Who reads these anymore? They certainly aren’t actually printed, and my carefully honed list of websites who publish press – publish everything. Once you start publishing everything you get a fire hose of information that no one really wants to read. Plus your message gets diluted down to practically nothing: “Sport you’ve never heard of has guy racing for points by Ovaltine.” How do I craft a message about Rally to everyone? Be boring and as vague as possible. 😉

Now what do we do? Well, some of the bigger teams, events, and companies have just moved their prepackaged press message over to Social Media. They post 60 times a day, every post has no real depth, and they are fire-hosing Twitter and Facebook along with every RSS feed tagged #rally #usrally. They ignore the “Social” in social media. Just shouting from mountain tops to no one in particular. After a few rallies they stop paying their PR person, get burned out, and the updates just stop or the fans tune out.

Continue reading

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Rally Idaho Prep – We need crew! June 8-9th

The last time the team was up in Idaho was 2008. We coordinated the trip with the North Nevada Rally by heading North after the June event to leave the truck and rally car at Dick Rockrohr’s compound in Boise. Shortly after that event, Dick assumed a role as the organizer of the Idaho Rally International and enjoyed success as a rally where the Southwestern, Northwestern, and Colorado rally competitors come together to battle it out. I crewed for a team (Erik & Amy) in 2010 so I’m still pretty familiar with the awesome roads and this fantastic event.

Photo by Kenneth J. Gill
Rallynotes @ the 2008 Idaho Rally – Photo by Kenneth J. Gill

Rally HQ this year is the Best Western in Boise City, Idaho. The event is about 6 hours from Portland, 5 from Salt Lake City, and we’d never expect anyone to come up from Northern California. If you’re really interested in helping us out and seeing a rally up close, we’ll pay for food and lodging for the weekend. The racing is on Saturday June 8th and Sunday June 9th, so you could arrive late Friday night. The rally ends around 4PM on Sunday and you could conceivably make this event without taking time off from work. Plan: Figure out which of your friends cars gets the best mileage, pile in, and have a crazy rally weekend! Sign up to Volunteer for Rallynotes here!

As far as our preparation goes, we need some new 15″ rally tires, the Blazer needs some TLC, and a very careful packing job needs to be accomplished for our 14 hour trip North. The HotBits were back on the car for HDT 00 duty and had a good shakedown with no issues thanks to the Feal Suspension rebuild.

Rally Idaho officially kicks of our 2013 rally season!

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A little too ambitious: Switch Panel Redo

This project started out simple enough: Change out the unlabeled panel switches and finish all the little wiring for the 2GN. I ordered new toggles and dual color (red and green) LED’s. After mapping it out I had 3 more switches on there, less room for labels, and less room for fuses. A day of carefully planning out the layout – oh it’s midnight, guess I should go to bed. Two more days go by and I haven’t even touched the dashboard.

I remember the clutch disable, the fan override, and the radio connections. I remember that I left the rear speakers in the car for the ham radio. I print out harness diagram for the high beam enable. I manually pin out the harness for the windshield washer motor. I drill the new panel and figure out how to label everything and put it to rest for another day.


Today, just as I’m about to close up the dash I discover that the green LED’s need switched power. As constant power will eventually drain the battery. I can grab switched power from the radio harness, that leads me to the another hour of wiring needed for the speakers I forgot about. I’m about to close up again and I discover that the circuit that controls the washer motor also runs the wipers and I lay waste to an LED as way too much power feeds back into the circuit. A relay and some emergency in-car soldering gets it working again. I triple check everything and button it up at 9PM. Rally car switch panel redo – completely underestimated. 😉

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Peltor FMT120 to Kenwood Ham Radio

The information for this adapter was floating around the internet, but it was vague and didn’t have any radio specifics. Plus I was unsure about PTT operation. The pin configuration was listed two different ways, so I created and confirmed the pin-out diagram below with my TM-V71A. If you have a different radio or want to connect other audio or cellular devices to your Peltor intercom (FMT120 or FMT200), it should be easy to re-configure. I covered connecting a GoPro Hero3 up to the Peltor in a previous post. Added note: PTT operation on 90% of radios involves grounding the PTT pin.

peltor_cableCheap as can be: Order the $7 TA5FL female 5-pin connector. Lop off the end of a CAT5 or 6 patch cable. Cut up a 3.5mm stereo cable. Solder! Heat-shrink! Enjoy.

Going super fancy? You can add a separate illuminated PTT switch closer to the radio like I did, but don’t worry, the expensive PTT switch for the Peltor will still work as well (or in conjunction). Or just source an MP-101 and a normally open momentary switch for $5.

Buy it instead of building it: Something on this page from might work for you. I’m moderately sure that the wiring for the TA5FL is the same. No ham radio license yet? You could always just connect to your cell phone.

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GoPro Hero3 + Mic-In = Easy Co-Driver Audio!

gopro_faceFinally GoPro! No tiny pin iPod connector, no 5v pre-amp, no crippled downgraded firmware, just the mic-in cable and an easy off the shelf adapter from the Peltor. The adapter was super easy to make, but I have these kind of parts laying around. 🙂 Look for a 3.5mm Stereo Plug to Mono RCA Jack along with an everyday RCA cable, and you’ll be up and running in minutes.

We’ll add the GoPro Frame mount for easy connection to the Hero3. The mic-in utilizes the USB connector and after an in-car test sounds great! Now our original Hero can go in his waterproof box + suction cup + tether for outside action shots!

EDIT: After posting this I tested 720P with both the Hero and Hero3 @ 60 frames per second. Checkout the handy chart I made for GoPro 720P. Notice the Hero3 grabs at twice the bandwidth, thus twice the recording space for the same time.

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