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I’m not terribly happy with the state of my website on w i x. was a pretty bad domain name choice, but it made sense, when I thought I was going to be Becker Patents, IP, and NC law. Now that I’m Daniel Becker, Attorney at Law, PLLC, I really wish that I’d gone with something else. I’ve been thinking about dblaw, which is “Not found”. Diblaw is an australian site.. a¬†

I’ve heard really good stuff about wordpress and kinda regret using wix. Well, there isn’t anything stopping me from having two websites! So why not? especially if I can get a good deal here. After I do some stuff for a client today, maybe I’ll do that. It’s a non-critical thing, to figure out a better name for my practice, since I’d like to use my logo as part of the navigation for my site. I am interested in using an “intersection” of a D and a B. It’s fun to draw. DIB would have been more fun, but since it’s taken, I won’t bother. Time to go to work.

Retrospective on two seat v12 ferraris

Flipping through c&d before bed. Supercars are irrelevant but it’s interesting to note how much prettier is the new ferrari f12 berlinetta than the outgoing 599gtb. But doing an image search of the preceding 575m and 550 maranello shows a shape that seems delicate and modest.

Amusing, because when the 550 came out, I remember it being a criticized for being a busy, unspecial shape with arbitratry details. That’s especially funny to consider now, since the car it replaced was the F512m, the last and fussiest version of the even-then desperately-out-of-date Testarossa. I think the 550’s standout lasting styling was down to being the only recent ferrari in this line which was largely free from aerodynamic features.

The testarossa-(512TR)- f512m were dominated by the large side intakes with feet-long strakes, purportedly to mitigate turbulence. The 599 (“599 gtb Fiorano”) carried Ferrari’s gigantic intake, pointed front bumper, an obvious front-mid-engine layout now-awkward-appearing wedged main body profile ( like the production version of the Mercedes McLaren SLR), prominent rear diffuser, tapered, high tail, teardrop greenhouse, and most eyecatching, the buttresses positioned to resemble c-pillars that act as air-turning fins to drive passing air over the rear deck and spoiler, to decrease lift and thereby attain the effect of an even more aggressive diffuser. I do not think history will be kind to the 599. (*ironically, while the 599 was legitimately headlining model during its run, the 612 Scaglietti, the gigantic four-passenger coupe, I believe will age well, despite it repeatedly being called ugly in the press. As “unferrari” as a four-passengered GT is considered by many, especially following the gorgeous 456GT, the Scaglietti has subtle details, with symmetry and stylistically tension-suggested creases. Aerodynamics were clearly a secondary concern.)

The latest two seat v12 car, the new F12 berlinetta, manages a more conventional shape by giving in to fitting a gigantic rear diffuser, allowing a lower rear deckfacilitating a less wedgy profile, allowing a large grill to at least incorporate something resembling a smile. The car also has a single-shape cabin, re-including the c-pillars, and instead allowing the aero gimmicks, the “aero bridges” to be visible only when the car is viewed tangentially from odd angles. Like standing on the hood or laying under the car. They apparently siphon the hood approaching the car and stagnating at the cowl to be pulled downward around the side of the car by the rush of the air along the side of the car. Maybe it works. If it does, it probably only allows for decreased drag. Because it pulls air downward, I can only assume the feature generates some lift. Maybe that is adequately countered by the hood vent that pulls air out from the back of the radiator over the middle of the hood by a similar application of the Bernoulli effect. Allowing that air to avoid collecting at the firewall or under the hood likely decreases lift at that point. Since the front vent is located ahead of the front wheels, while the aero bridges are behind the front wheels, the longer distance to the hood vent from the vehicle’s center of gravity (or rear wheels, however you prefer to calculate the moments), may allow mitigation of the lift potentially caused by the aero bridges, even if it has the effect of pulling a somewhat larger volume of air.

But, none of these cars seems to have lasting beauty, merely clear designation as being the king of the hill model. That seems confirmed by the year on year specification inflation. The testarossa had 380 hp, 512tr 412, f512m (440?) the 550 had 485, the 575m 508hp, the 599gtb…. 612 horsepower… And now, the F12… 730 hp. Careful, Ferrari. The market for frivolous baubles for the rich is booming, as is the competition. But
the brand only survives deep fiscal surprises by heartstrings, not specification.

Rotary in a mid-engined car. Why? How?

I’ve been slow to write anything on this blog, maybe because it isn’t as limited-audience as facebook, so I thought I’d try to generate some content out of my daily ruminations. I decided to post an email that I sent to a friend yesterday. It is informal and a bit carguy-technical, so I’ll offer some preface:

I was considering how someone might build a very light sports car that is easy-to-drive-smoothly. I am critical of the weight of vehicles for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it has holistic benefits. Whatever attitude you have toward cars, it would probably be either resolved or improved by simply decreasing weight in a non-superficial way. Almost any issue, performance, economy, safety, political, social, etc. Many cars have not gotten lighter because a lack of reconsideration of what is necessary to overcome practical design challenges of the overall vehicle once the decrease in weight has been applied in many parts of the vehicle but probably not enough in others, such as in putting in smaller, simpler drivetrains. For example, a number of mid-engined sports cars suffer from a handling trait called “lift-oversteer.” I will detail this more, later, but it is largely caused among commendably light sports cars, like a Lotus Elise, that are at least partly dependent upon drivetrains derived from other, larger, volume-sales vehicles. Like a toyota matrix. It could be a very long conversation if I were to lay out in detail so that the non-enthusiast would appreciate, but it’ll have to be later. I’ve got a bunch of other stuff to do right now. I passed the MPRE last night, and now I have to sort out what steps are next on the way to actually practicing as an attorney, like getting sworn in, signing up for CLE classes. So, here’s the email. It’s long, but it’d be longer to go through all this stuff so as to explain each little detail, like what a “variator” is:

From: Dan Becker
Date: September 10, 2012 12:45:35 PM EDT
To: —-omitted—–
Subject: randomness.

Oh, I just wanted to ask you about something related to a thought I had about cars… nothing important.The question was how to find out what the safe-operation upper input rev limit was on an Audi-LuK 01J “multitronic” CVT transmission.

edit: well, I just couldn’t help myself, and I rambled out what I’ve been kicking around in detail below. Only bother reading if you need something to laugh at and have the time to do so. Otw, ttyl!


So… the whole enchilada:

I came to this issue when considering the possibilty of a renesis mated up to an audi 01J Cvt for a mid-engined installation that was optimized for:
-short wheelbase
-minimum moment-of-intertia,
-fairly high proportion of weight on front end compared to similarly sized existing sports cars (so, minimum large component overhang…no porsche transaxles)
-from used parts.
-smooth and flat and long-rev-span torque band
-rapid, zero-drama (manual) shifts, even if a manual
-ALso: minimum quantity of internally moving parts from the donor components.

[The point there would be to design around existing mechanical “fuses” that make breakdown modes predictable and limited in quantity/ complexity of diagnosis.For example, the Renesis chews its rotor tip seals, while the )01J wears out its clutch plates.]

Feel free to remind me of the early durability issues of that audi cvt. One durability advantage I saw in using the rotary is its significant torque deficit compared to the Audi 3.0L v6 that was used with the CVTs in production.So even with an early model, maybe the clutch pack would survive longer between any rebuilds that were originally caused by the underbuilt clutches.But it makes its peak power at ~8400 rpm, and I don’t know whether the audi cvt can spin its input side that quickly, even at fairly low torque compared to its original engines.

The other hard-to-lookup thing about this idea would be finding out the centerline differences between a renesis crank and a CVT’s input (automated multiplate metallic “shim-style” clutch pack.) One thought I had about CVTs was why they weren’t ever offered with a clutch or a dampened-resistance manual adjustment lever mechanism for moving the variator* between speeds without having to rely on computer shift algorithm or preset ratios. Essentially giving manual control over continuous ratio selection, not just the ability to force rapid ratio changes between discrete preset ratios. This would of course be only a secondary project. I’d want to make sure the mechanically-unaltered components could work together first!

[*I’d probably have to repurpose a steering-assist pump from another car to generate the requisite engagement forces in sync with lever movement. Well… wait, if the point of most of these sorts of kit cars would be to use as few donors as possible and try to maximize weight reduction, I might try an RX8 donor, with the intent to get down to ~1800 lbs, and with a rearward weight distribution at that weight, maybe I could disconnect the assist mechanism from the steering and use it for this separate mechanism… although I’m not sure how well a steering rack designed for assist can be used without assist, by closing the loop on the hyrdaulics or running without hydraulics, if that’s even possible without damaging such a rack. hmmm.. using an Rx8 donor would get me all-round wishbone suspension, as opposed to struts, so that’s better for a lower car intended to have much curvier fenders and a more inset cabin, but then the wheelbase would have to be more than 100 inches to really be able to take advantage of the stock suspension geometry. 106 inches stock is much longer than I was hoping to use.This rotary-to-01J thought experiment was independent of the typical “one donor only” limitation I usually force on these ideas, since it was starting off with engine and transmission from entirely different sources.]

I had a thought that maybe some sort of reduction gearset, which also allows correction for a crank/transmission offset, like on a Lexus LFA, but the other way around, to allow the transmission to sit lower than the engine, could be a solution. It could mate up the renesis with the 01J at their natural heights, and fit between two in the gap between them within the span where some sort of adapter plate would be necessary in the first place. So that way both the engine input speed could be lowered for the transmission (if that’s necessary) and the transmission could sit lower to account for the potentially-too-high crank of the rotary. But who wants to hear a crank-speed straight-cut-gearset whining all the time? I bet a fairly quiet synchromesh setup would either have to be a custom setup costing as much as a used renesis or 01J or I’d have to take parts from some random transmission to repurpose…

Of course, the easier solution may just to try to get at much power out of a renesis at lower revs with different intake and exhaust, and then set a rev limit fuel cutout at a speed likely near the audi’s input rev limit. The problem with that could be simply the fact that if it can’t get anywhere near the rotary’s peak power, it may defeat a lot of the rationale** for using a rotary in the first place. Holy cow, this thought experiment is wayyyy more complex in text than it feels mentally.

[**the reasons why I was considering using a rotary in the first place is because of the surprising and surprisingly typical handling trait of lift-oversteer in minimum-wheelbase mid-engined cars (I had a “moment” in an elise without an LSD a few years ago). Most of those are far less stable than something like a boxster because of the dimensions desired only being practical with a transverse motor. The transverse packaging then usually limits engine choice to an inline-four or a v6. Those don’t fire evenly, so in a lightweight car with the engine right up against the cabin, manufacturers seem to have allowed relatively soft engine mounts to keep NVH from being unbearable. So that allows for both a significant angular displacement with braking or even with lifting throttle, as well as having poor control over the ensuing seconds’ (pitch axis) angular oscillation of the entire drivetrain. In a type of car with a weight distribution typically around 40/60 (elise s an example)! Using a rotary would get a lot of the same lengthwise/wheelbase advantages of a transverse engine, as well as lowering center of gravity,fires evenly and mounts transversely in the same space, so tighter engine mounts, longer moment arm facilitated by locating the mounts further apart along the length of the car, and far lower vibration would significantly cut handling detriment with throttle-lift and braking. The mass is also pretty close or lower than most four-cylinders. Around 250 lbs. So the weight distribution might able to be closer to 45/55 than 40/60 in a tiny sports car at roughly the same weight.]

…and to think that I still haven’t managed to explain to shannon just how much time and energy savings could be had by simply using a boxster for a donor for a mid-engined kit car design with identical footprint. Yeesh…

I think there have been some rotary-to-transaxle setups in the past, but they weren’t very graceful. There’s a VW-based rear-engined kit car called the Sterling that’s been in production for like 30-40 years and uses VW transmissions, and I think I’ve seen a rotary fitted to one, but that certainly could have only been possible to potentially more convenient dimensions (compared to a renesis) of an earlier rotary. I’ve also seen a lotus europa with one, but the transaxle in that car has a relatively long section of its transaxle ahead of the axles, probably facilitating some upward tilt or something. Again, maybe more convenient dimensions of an earlier rotary. I also think I saw a delorean with a 13B from an RX7. Or maybe it was that rare JDM 3-rotor that was never sold here.

I’d love to talk about any of this with you, as soon as any or all important stuff lets up for a minute, whenever.


Dan Becker


Moxie’s physical and communicative abilities continue to improve in leaps and bounds. Today, she did something I’d never seen her do before. She was standing in the kitchen, looking up at me as I walked past her. Instead of turning her whole body and/or pivoting both feet, she maintained eye contact and pivoted her head first, both upward as I approached, to match the increasing angle of my face above hers, and then she arced her head over her shoulder and pivoted her torso and then her hips and then feet, progressively, just enough as would be necessary to keep eye contact. As smooth as a universal joint maintaining a continuous angle between two angularly-synced shafts. It seems so self-explanatory and naturally expected of an adult, as one could imagine an adult human being tracking the flight of a bird as it passes almost directly overhead, but I haven’t seen Moxie do it so naturally, if I’ve taken note of it at all before. I stopped and commended her and tried to do get her to do it again. She smiled, as always, but wasn’t sure what I was asking of her. Later, when I came in from the garage, in her purple footed pajamas, she said “come! come!” and I gestured me to come into the living room, where Shannon was sitting. She then looked at me and slowly rotated in a circle while mostly trying to keep eye contact. Not expertly performed and not quite the same thing, but what stunned me about this second feat is that it showed that she noticed that she did something I liked, but didn’t know what, and then attempted to recreate it before both me and shannon, I think, to see if she could spot it if both of us were there to react to it. Or, less ambitiously, just to please both me and shannon or to receive praise from both of us. I am utterly astounded by my little girl’s progress.

RX8 is gone

Too bad that the rx8 is gone. It burned its oil, had relatively poor fuel economy for the power output, and was generally lacking in torque (twisting force) relative to the high-rev peak power. So the renesis was flawed, but it was so simple. The worst aspect of owning an rx8 was that the three (!) moving parts generally stop their miraculous dance every 60-80k miles when a rotor tip seal finally wears away enough that the engine can no longer maintain compression. The fix for this reliably-predicted failure mode is to remove the tiny engine, disassemble it, and rufurbish the rotors with new tip seals. Without other parts that might fail unpredictably and without certainty as to which has gone wrong, the rotary is therefore only a single flaw-acceptance by the public from being able to be thought of as a “forever” engine. I imagine that once such a widespread acceptance of the expectation of a regular rebuild was achieved, the cost of rebuilds could have been built into the purchase price and even reduced in cost by a factory-run exchange program. The expired engines could have been rapidly exchanged, for a marginal-cost-of-rebuild fee, for a dealer-inventoried ready-to-go entirely fresh engine. The rx8 could have even been designed/redesigned to facilitate the time to complete a swap. I have to admit the appeal, in the context of planning a boxster-based kit car, (particularly around a low-output ’97-’98), to plan to replace the weighty and wide boxer with a rotary when the german engine fails. The similarly powerful rotary weighs 200 lbs less, has a similar center of gravity height, is shorter (lengthwise), easier to service, facilitates a smaller moment of inertia, and would particularly aid decreasing suspension forces in response to roll-movements.

I thought the rotary would really work well as part of a hybrid-electric drivetrain. The design’s tiny weight per unit power (and per unit torque, actually) would allow a very small rotary-engine-generator, and the saved weight¬†would significantly offset the weight of a battery pack and power electronics. Also, the small rotating mass of a rotary and its high rev limit (can’t valve-float a motor without valves) would better run parallel with the speed and mass characteristics of an AC induction motor. However, each force-generating component somewhat covers the other’s failings. An electric motor has maximum torque at a dead stop and a rotary’s builds and then plateaus at a speed that electric motor’s would decline. Also, the handoff-overlapping operation circumstances of each motor would allow a rotary to fend off its rebuild-hastening weaknesses: excess heat and running hard cold and being shut off rapidly. With an electric motor and its likely electrically-operated coolant and lubrication systems, the rotary could be eased awake and back to sleep without having to provide the resources to manage those burdens. Also, iirc, a rotary could run much higher compression ratios and generate less lubrication-gobbling heat if it were designed for a narrower range of operating speeds (mostly higher at the lower range) and for more intermittent periods of whole-vehicle load. toyota should license it from mazda for a sport version of the next prius or something.