Golden Oldies

Not a fan of the color gold so…


I replaced my hood crest with a silver plated version. Install was pretty straight forward. I don’t understand the wax speednut technology but it certainly seems to work. Ah, that’s better.


I picked up new wheels caps and painted them to match the hood crest. For the life of me I could not get them to fit correctly and one of them fell off within 10 minutes or so. “A” for effort. “F” for implementation.

Hughes Family: April 21st, 2013 – April 28, 2013

This past week was the Pinewood Derby for our local Scouts! Win or lose making a car to race is a ton of fun and a good opportunity to spend some time together.


Mike decided he wanted the car to look like a Lamborghini Aventador. We cut out the shape with a band saw and then sanded it down.


Mike hand sanded the car body, we sealed it and then added weights in the rear of the car.


Mike painted the car orange and then we added details by hand with acrylic paints.


We polished the axles and wheels and added graphite everywhere we could think of. Here’s the finished car- it turned out to be more like a graphite-covered monsterghini (sort of reptilian) but it was still pretty slick.


We checked out the competition and it was pretty fierce. The Derby officiator was awesome. He had made his own track and had electronic timers accurate to 1/100 of a second. No arguments about who finished where! Each car ran three times (down the three derby tracks) and the time was averaged. Winner was the fastest overall time. We came in thirteen out of sixteen.

I have to admit that my heart dropped a bit as Mike’s car fell behind the two it was racing. Every Dad wants to see their boy win, but it wasn’t in the cards for us. We did the best we could. We were careful to follow all the rules, Mike did a lot of the work himself and we learned a lot about areodynamics, friction and physics. As we were inspecting the car after the race we discovered that one of the axle grooves in the pine had broken and the wheel was’t aligned correctly causing it to rub on the track. We’ll have to be more vigilant next time!

Second Run for Mike:

For his effort Mike won “Sportiest Car”:


Here are the final standings and the times to beat at the next Derby.


The other day the kids decided to mix some blue chalk with pain and become smurfs. I think I’d like to be a Smurf – they seemed to be having a great time.  I gave Chloe her first piano lesson (mostly she hit my hand and said “No!”).
And then my computer decided to break. As soon as I hit the power button the fan would come on full blast and the laptop would shut off. I surmised the computer thought it was overheating and decided to take it apart. I gave it a good cleaning and it seems to work fine now. I love taking things apart, just for the record. But, for the same record, I don’t like it when things break.


We had a marathon game of UNO the other night. This is the first time I can recall Gabe playing with his own hand of cards. He needed a little help but did pretty well!  We’re just waiting on one more now- although she certainly tries to play.

911 Stereo – Tuning It Up

One of the reasons the 911 I bought appealed to me was the upgraded audio system (I knew I would be unhappy with the stock Bose system). A critically important element of a car – for me – is the way the stereo sounds. I took a bit of a calculated risk since I didn’t know exactly what I was getting, but I’m pleased to report it paid off.

The only thing actually advertised was the upgraded head unit. There was also a picture of two JL amps (but no mention of them in the sale text). The stock Bose system is fiber optic and I surmised that if someone went to the trouble of replacing the head unit they probably replaced the speakers as well.

When I first turned the car on the sound was pretty muddy and there was a distinct lack of clarity and detail. The sub was much too loud in relation to the mids and it was suffering from some pretty bad distortion. The staging was all wrong too. The worst part though was a ground loop buzz in both rear speakers. Not too impressed. The first step was to figure out what I was working with.

The head unit was a Kenwood DNX8120. Back in the day (say 2008) this was top of the line stereo. Lots of features (DVD, Navigation, Bluetooth, etc) and plenty of audio adjustments. I did think about replacing the head unit, but decided this one would be fine for the time being.

The amplifiers were, as I suspected from the picture, a JL Audio HD 600/4 and an HD 750/1 (both top of the JL Audio products and the same amps that I just put into my Corvette).

Poking around further (actually pulling a few things apart) I was able to determine that Focal 165 VR3 3-Way Component Speakers had been installed into the front of the car. The back speakers were also Focals,  but I wasn’t able to determine exactly what kind. The sub seemed to be stock.

The install and wiring seemed to be excellent. It was clear that someone had dropped a good chunk of change this setup.There was lots of potential- I just had to coax it out.


I played with the adjustments on the head unit first. Aside from knocking down the volume of the sub, nothing I did seemed to make much difference. I removed the amps and had a look at their settings. That was the problem. The gain on the sub was way too high and much too low on the mids. And the filters were set backwards (cutting off highs from the mids and tweeters). I changed the settings on the amps (and the crossovers too) and it was like night and day.


I turned the gain down on the rear channel to eliminate the ground loop noise (I’m not sure if it’s ground loop issue, but the rear channel picks up noise from something). Then  I boosted the decibel level of the rear speakers on the Kenwood head unit to compensate for the lost volume. Problem solved!  With the amps adjusted the audio effectively responded to changes and I tweaked staging and EQ levels with some help from Jim, my audiophile pal.

Sometimes the vocals can be a little ear piercing (it’s not sibilance), but overall I’m extremely impressed by the stereo. The sound is now clear and full; I really like the 3 way component set in the front. The “stock sub” (powered by the overqualified HD 750/1) sounds good to me, but is definitely the setup’s weak link (I may replace it at some point in the future). Overall  the whole system seems to blend really well. I’d venture to say the stereo is nearly on par with the Camaro and Vette now. Driving around in the 911 just got way more fun!


Hughes Family: April 1st, 2013 – April 20th, 2013

Quite a gap there! Not too much going on right now- not that I have to make excuses or anything. Sometimes it’s nice when things click along slowly. Ahhhh! I feel like we aren’t doing enough stuff. I need blog fodder!


Fran and the kids went on a hike up to Donut Falls (well, to the trail head anyway). The scenery was gorgeous and the kids had fun but they weren’t dressed for the conditions and sustained numerous snow scrapes from falling info holes (and probably from being kids).


We took the kids to Hogle Zoo. I hadn’t been there in a few years so I was excited to go back. Unfortunately they have about a third of the park ripped out for a new exhibit coming next year (I wish my ticket had cost a third less). No train, no playground and some of the animals were in weird spots. They did add a few new things though like a sleeping polar bear and lots of detours. We also made the mistake of going during spring break – crowded!


There was a lot to do and plenty to see. Despite a lot of whining (not all of it was from me) we had a [mostly] good time. Here are a few of the animals we encountered (the brown bears were playing in the water and were quite cute).


The same day we went to the Zoo we decided to see a movie. We rounded up the kids and went to see GI Joe: Retaliation in 3D. I thought it was a fun action flick, but half our crew fell asleep.


The weather is finally warming up a bit! Mike pruned some of our Aspen trees (for money, of course- although he was really excited about the clippers). And now the kids can finally use the new swing set without getting muddy (I finally took a look at it- pretty cool). Best of all five kids can cram around an iPhone to watch Netflix.


We filled our days with puzzles (Fran and I started a 1000 piece puzzle. We got the edges put together, and that might be good enough for me- I am deathly afraid of 1000 piece puzzles), games, movies and meals. I like to think we have wild crazy fun, but puzzles and Jenga don’t seem to give off that vibe.

Next week: The Pine Wood Derby! I hear expectations are high for my car (I mean Mike’s car) since I like real cars. I’m not entirely sure what the correlation is, but we’ll do our best. I just hope the cheating is kept to a minimum.

Camaro Door Sore

I was at a business lunch the other day and we briefly talked about door dings. I felt lucky, since I couldn’t specifically remember ever getting one.

Fast forward a few days. I went up to SLC with Fran on a quick errand. As we were about to head home I noticed my Camaro door had a nasty mark on it. Looking closer a small dent was also visible and it became obvious the truck next to me had opened their door right into mine. What’s worse is that the dirt had been wiped away around the mark showing that the offender knew of his misdeed, had inspected the damage and then chosen to ignore it.


Here’s a video of the damage.

I’m not mad, so much as miffed that the driver of this blue Silverado decided that taking responsibility wasn’t necessary. Fran and I tried to find him, but no one stepped forward and we had a deadline which forced us to call off our manhunt.

What is proper etiquette for door dings (if it’s bad and you know it was you)? This seems like it’s more of a door smashing (the scrapes go up about four inches past the paint mark / dent). In any event, I will live and now I have empathy for door ding victims.

Blade HQ’s New Retail Store & Other Progress

The Store

Growth at the BHQ has been pretty phenomenal. As I mentioned in a previous post we acquired the building next door and divided it into an upstairs and downstairs. Below is the transformation of the downstairs space into our new retail store:




Carpet & Lightning


Display Cases


We hired two new store front employees (three total) to help handle the massive local crowds.


Ready to go!


We had our grand opening on March 29th, 2013. We hosted a ton of fun events, gave away mountains of prizes, fed massive throngs of attendees and had an incredible time. blade-hq-grand-opening-3

Spliced HDMI Cable

When we were installing the television in the storefront the HDMI cable got broken (the end was ripped off). Guess what? You can buy a new identical cable and splice the end on! It’s not easy (or pretty), but it does work.


Counters and Cabinets

More people means we need more storage. We added a counter and cabinets in our conference room (upstairs) and more of them in our break room (downstairs). I don’t even know why I’m including this…


Video Studio & Expanded Break Room

Working on a video studio (upstairs) and expanded downstairs break room.

The (mostly) finished results. Lots more room for our YouTube magic and relaxation (work hard, play hard).


Customer Service Migration

With the old storefront now empty we migrated the customer service department. It’s a much better location (quieter) for talking on the phone.


Order Fulfillment & Machine Shop

We have really streamlined our order fulfillment process. The new layout is super functional and looks great.

We have also expanded into some light manufacturing and have acquired a few tables worth of tools. What are we doing with them? Wait and see…


There’s always something going on at the HQ. Next up we are going to migrate the product department to the old customer service location.We also have to start finishing the upstairs over the store front (space for the  IT, HR and accounting departments) and prepping our new overflow warehouse and fabrication plant. The work never ends. Seriously, it’s just one project after another. We grow, shift, expand, renovate, reorganize and are in a constant state of controlled chaos. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Did Someone Call 911?

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (Virginia) I got a Christmas gift that forshadowed my destiny. It wasn’t anything cosmically significant, just a “If you only knew” sort of thing. The gift was a Gobot (the poor man’s Transformer) named Baron Von Joy. This “friendly robot sports car” just happened to be a Porsche 911 Turbo (930) and the Gobot quickly became one of my favorite toys. In fact, I still have him sitting in my office at work.


A few years later my Dad introduced to me to Condorman (Disney, 1981). I must have watched the movie dozens of  times and my favorite part was (and still is) when the Prognoviach start chasing Woody and Natalia through Yugolavia. Five black synchronized Porsches (four of them 911s) zipping through canyons in hot pursuit of Condorman left quite an impression on me. You can watch the Condorman Porsche scene on YouTube (it’s in German, but you won’t really miss much).


When I started my company in 2002 I actually taped a picture of a Porsche 911 Turbo up on my wall to motivate me. This was America and I knew if I worked hard one day I would own a 911 (ironic that I was fixated with a German car? Possibly… if only the definition of irony was clearer). For the last decade I have browsed eBay on a quest for, among other things, the perfect Porsche 911.

Last year I came across this black 911 and I must have been in my “anything black and red is awesome” stage because I briefly considered buying it.  Luckily I was distracted by a Camaro (the one that got away) and ended up going that route instead. I put the Porsche out of my mind. They were too expensive, underpowered and snobby. Yeah.


But my current cars helped me realize a few things. For starters I was getting tired of the color black. If you car is dirty, scratched or chipped nothing shows it like black. My silver Acura RSX always looked good. My next car should be silver. And all rear wheel drive cars made me long for something with better traction (remember, I like driving in the canyons). My next car was going to have to be AWD. And the Camaro is so slow…  I needed something with some real power, something that could run a ten second quarter mile.  My next car was going to have to be fast. And then I found it: A fast silver AWD Porsche 911 Turbo.


It met all my criteria and then some. It was listed with power output of 780 horsepower and 830 ft/lbs of torque. Black wheels and carbon fiber exterior and interior accents really set it apart visually. And it had a Kenwood stereo with two custom mounted JL Audio amplifiers (my favorite)! Initially I wrote it off as an impulsive pipe dream. Even thought it was an extremely good deal it wasn’t exactly cheap. Plus the car had a lot of aftermarket modifications that I didn’t really know anything about.

I tried to ignore it for a few days but the car haunted me…. I started doing a bit more research. The car was modified by Evolution Motorsports (EVOMS) in Arizona with their EVT 775 system. The 775 is the approximate horsepower the car puts out. An AWD 775 HP car? Tempting, to say the least! EVOMS is a well respected company, the work was done in October of 2012 and the car only had 11,500 miles on it (3,500 since the modifications).

As I was imagining myself cruising through the canyons with the sun roof open it hit me: Would I even fit in the car? A sun roof can chop off precious interior headroom. In fact that was the very reason I had to buy a Camaro with no sunroof. Maybe I would never own a 911 afterall. I found a local company selling a 2008 911 Turbo and they graciously allowed me to sit in the car and check clearances (not a bad car itself!).


In some ways it would have been simpler if I hadn’t fit. Alas, there was plenty of headroom and cabin felt spacious to me despite my 6′ 4″ frame. And then I noticed a 5th gen Camaro with a sunroof sitting in the corner of the same showroom. I was able to verify that the Camaro has definitively less headroom. I was going to be fine in my new 911 Turbo.

Yes, I did what any rational person in my situation would have done. I bought the car (uh… um… okay). I didn’t want to have another experience like the supercharged Camaro that got away (I seriously missed it by minutes).

The company that I purchased it from (Expo Motorsports in Texas) was attentive and treated me well. The car had a few issues that were not disclosed- that was very annoying. There were also few typos on some of the paperwork (slightly annoying) but they got everything processed quickly. They also arranged to have the car shipped directly to EVOMS (for free) where it arrived safely after only two days.

My initial contact with EVOMS was excellent. I wanted to have them look the car over and make sure it was in good mechanical shape. They scheduled an inspection, answered all my questions, helped me select a few additional parts (tires, new Brembo slotted rotors and a replacement front splitter) and aligned and adjusted the car’s suspension to my preferences.The service level was beyond reproach.


Most of the car checked out fine, but there were a couple of issue. The car needed a new sport chrono gauge, new TPMS sensors and there was a parasitic power drain when the car was off. Unfortunately the drain was nearly an amp and that’s simply too big to ignore (turns out it was a bad comfort control module). After ordering in a new part, a little more testing and tweaking the car was ready to go. I am extremely glad I had it sent to EVOMS – it would have been aggravating to have the car arrive with the issues I mentioned.


Originally I had wanted to fly out to Tempe and drive the car home (I love a nice long drive), but my schedule ended up pretty full and so I decided to have the car shipped to me instead. It took awhile to find a shipper but eventually the car arrived here in Utah safe and sound.


My initial impressions of the 911 are excellent. The handling and driveability is superb.The car is also very fast (from a stop up to about 60 mph definitely faster than the Vette). Once I’ve gotten the kinks worked out and have driven the car for a few weeks I’ll do a more formal review.

Here are a few pictures from the dealership:

2007-porsche-911-turbo-sides-3 2007-porsche-911-turbo-sides 2007-porsche-911-turbo-interior 2007-porsche-911-turbo-interior-2 2007-porsche-911-turbo-engine 2007-porsche-911-turbo-detail And just remember – Chuck Norris drove a Porsche (Good Guys Wear Black).