Twenty Seventeen Going On Twenty Eighteen

Time for my annual look back on how the year has gone by, this time for 2017.

As always, every year has their ups and downs, and it is all for the better, for learning, and for growth. Certainly, 2017 is no different from the years past, but it is extra special due to the events I will highlight in this post.

As the year is ending, the way 2017 has been, I am certainly looking forward to 2018.

So before then, let us highlight what I consider are the best moments of 2017 for me.


Decisions. Decisions.

Since 2016, I have been toying with the idea of taking USMLE and possibly training in Neurology back in the States, now in 2017, I have cemented that idea and now I am nearing my exam date which is in March or June 2018.

This is a big leap of faith for me as I am already licensed here in the Philippines, but I also long to go back home in the States and outside my comfort zone of home and family to fully grow as an individual and to become the physician I have always dreamed of and that can inspire others to be a physician as well. More importantly, heal as many people as I can as a physician.

This decision came at a price as I didn’t renew my contract from my Alma mater as their university physician; I also resigned from my various teaching jobs; finally, I also lessened my clinic hours so I can have more time to rest and study. It means of course, I won’t be earning as much as I used to, but that is alright, as I need more time to study and relax, as by the time I do pass the USMLE and I start training, and eventually become a consultant, money won’t be so much of a factor. Plus, money isn’t everything. It is reaching the dreams that really count for me.

And I will relentlessly chase after my dreams…

“Do You Remember Love?”

Macross/Robotech still ranks as my number 1 anime series; I still follow the new Macross series to this day. It taught me the beauty of music, love, and the fact that anime need not always have action (which this series does have, by the way), but also story and characters play a big role. I was just 6 years old when I first watched Macross/Robotech and was making the mechs out of Lego or paper…

Years gone by and the original Macross series/Robotech series action figures of the F-14 inspired planes turning into robots were fast becoming rarer and more expensive.

Then I found that Toynami were making 1/100 scale models, and since I wasn’t a kid anymore per se, I didn’t care if they were not die cast metal, since I just display my figures by then.

Sadly, being in the Philippines, they were tough to come by, and I was still in high school by that time, so I didn’t have a credit card to order in Amazon or Ebay to be shipped here.

I did get one locally, the VF-1J of Max Jenius/Max Sterling… but after that model, the local shop never ordered the rest in the series.

I gave up on the hope of collecting them all… maybe someday, I said to myself, when I return to the States or something.

Then another local shop this year had the VF-1A of Max Jenius/Max Sterling, VF-1J of Miriya, VF-1J of Hikaru Ichijo/Rick Hunter, and the VF-1S of Roy Fokker, as a complete 4 set, and I didn’t care for the price they were asking, I bought them all.

Shortly after, I had this renewed hope of getting more of the figures from Toynami especially the special edition of Hikaru’s VF-1S from the movie “Macross: Do You Remember Love?”… that particular edition I recall seeing back in 2004 or 2005 in Manila, but I never bought it and regretted it since then as I never got to find it, until I saw it in Ebay and by this time, I have my own credit card, and had that model shipped here.

I also ordered super weapon sets and another special edition model, the VF-1D which was the trainer mech that Hikaru/Rick used in the early episodes of the original series.

Now I am 3 models away from completing the original series mechs, and will move to Macross Frontier and of course Macross Delta.

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Travel Bug Bit Me

I went to Singapore around March with my sister, and 2 of our friends/mentors. I was the first time I air traveled in more than 10 years. I didn’t travel a lot as I never really liked to travel; each time my sisters or any of my family member would travel out side the country for vacation or even go back to the States just to see how things are back home, I’d skip as much as possible and just stay at home.

But last March was different.

And with that, I suddenly had an urge to see the world more. It also helps that I am into photography, so seeing more things outside the country I am in gives me the opportunity to be more creative and see the beauty of the world.

This is also the point that me being a Formula One fan decided to watch my first ever race here.

My sister said while we were in Singapore “Why not watch the race? You deserve it…”

Thus, I decided to come back here, alone, later in September, to watch my first ever race.

And with that… I started to want to travel more. Anywhere.

Dreams Do Come True

I finally decided to watch my first ever Formula One race in person after being a fan for 21 years. And what’s more, I got to air travel on my own for the first time.

#F1NightRace

It was a an adventure! It was magical! Out of all the highlights this year, this has to be the best.

The 7 year old me always dreamt of watching a race in person, hoping it will be in Suzuka in Japan (Which I plan on watching on October 2018 instead), and to have that dream come true, was, honestly, I still can’t believe it. Sure, my favorite team, Ferrari, both crashed meters away from the start line, the first time ever that not a single Ferrari finished 1 lap in Formula One, would immediately spell disaster of a race weekend, but I still felt happy by the whole experience. I felt blessed. Meeting new friends who love the sport, in spite of race/ethnicity, political or spiritual differences, and the fact we support different teams/drivers, we all became friends. In fact one of the I befriended is a guy named Roberto, whom I got to catch with in Hong Kong where he was from later in November.

Here is a long post in Facebook I made when I arrived and just realized I am living out my dream:

This is going to be a long post… LOL

Twenty-one years in the making; the very first race I ever watched on television was the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix, where I saw a red car seemingly flying through Circuit de Catalunya on wet weather conditions. I then found out that that red car was the Ferrari F310 driven by the legendary Michael Schumacher. I became a fan of the team, the driver, and the sport ever since.

Other people would say my love for Formula One is an obsession, but I say it is PASSION. Unlike other sports, it was serendipity how I found out about Formula One; I didn’t have any external influences, thus I felt this was a sport that was mine. It was personal. Coupled the fact that I love cars prior and what kid never loved the red cars… the Ferrari.

Wanting to know more of the history of the sport, I delve deep into the lore dating back to the days of Juan Manuel Fangio; wanting to know the technology of the cars each year, that I can tell the era of the Formula One car and what makes them unique in that generation; trying my best not to miss a race each season since 1996, that I can always reference a race in my discussions with my other Formula One friends or forums.

So huge is my passion for the sport that I was that kid that would build Formula One cars out of Lego; I’d draw them on my notebooks; each time before going to bed, I’d imagine I was driving a Formula One car.

I was that kid that didn’t want to play arcade racing games like Need for Speed or Ridge Racer, rather I wanted to play racing games that deals more of the discipline and realism of the sport and cars. I was the one that learned how each component of the car needs to be tweaked in order to have the best balance just to shave of one thousandths of a second in Gran Turismo, F1 Career Challenge, rFactor, and other simulators (I am currently into Assetto Corsa and F1 2017).

And I was that kid that always dreamt of attending a race weekend in person.

Now that I am actually going to watch a Formula One race in person this weekend, I am looking forward to the actual spectacle of the sport, the rivalries in the race track, the finesse of each driver lap in and lap out for 61 laps, the camaraderie shared with strangers, throwing away political, racial, and spiritual differences, just to enjoy the sport we all love. And most of all, I am looking forward to fulfilling the dream of the 7-year-old me of watching a race in person.

The best part was all the messages, comments, and such, from all my friends, my relatives, and from my sisters’ close friends, saying how happy they are that I got to watch Formula One in person as they remember me always talking about it to them even if they are not interested in the sport.

Singapore Grand Prix: The Calm Before the Storm
The Sim Racer
#F1NightRace

Thank You, Singapore Grand Prix 2017

The other dream was for me to travel alone, without the stress of taking care of anyone else’s paper works and stuff (yes, I may be the youngest in the family, but I am in charge of everyone else’s travel documents and the like… stressful). Having to travel alone for my first time, and without sounding too boastful, I got every done right perfectly… and the sense of growing up, being mature, was definitely there.

What I found surprising is that a lot of my friends were sending me messages asking me how it was traveling alone and if it was difficult. To me, I thought most people coming to a certain age will be comfortable traveling alone out of the country, I guess I was wrong, and I felt great doing something that most other people didn’t do yet. This also shows I am not that kind of person that will just do things or go anywhere as long as I have my family or friends with; I can do things on my own, too. And I can do them well.

With that, my love for travel has been cemented.

I thought my next stop will be in Japan in October 2018 for the race and exploration, but I will be traveling for the 3rd time in less than a year later in November… I will talk about that somewhere below.

Of course, it wasn’t only the race I came to Singapore for…

Since this was the first time I will travel out of the country alone, I made plans to visit certain places in Singapore, like Gardens by the Bay, Merlion Park, and Sentosa.

Thankfully I got to visit all; wasn’t able to see everything in Gardens by the Bay since I went their late as I fell asleep after the trip in the hotel room and woke up past 5PM.

Merlion park was a long walk as I didn’t know that they had a entrance/exit to the track next to Merlion park and I left my Formula One tickets in the hotel room. I could have just gone inside the track and gone out to Merlion with out having to go all the way around. But it was serendipity as I got to see more of the city.

Finally, I got to see Sentosa thanks to my good friend and mentor, Dr. Noe, who now lives and works as a physician in Singapore.

The Gardens by the Bay OCBC Skyway
Marin at Dusk

Merlion

Formula One. Gardens by the Bay. Merlion Park. Sentosa. And I got hangout with Dr Noe.

Perfect trip. Perfect first trip out of the country alone. Just perfect.

Magical.

“Get your motor runnin'”

I have been a racing fan since 1996 when I was first discovered Formula One and since then I love playing sim racing games; of course, as a gamer, my number one genre is still Role Playing Games followed by shooters a close second, but racing/drivings games is also a close third.

I played Gran Turismo a lot when I was still a console gamer, but after going PC full time, I played many more simulators.

This year, I returned to full time sim racing when I bought a racing wheel and pedal set.

This isn’t the very first racing wheel and pedal set I ever owned; I got my first set way back in 2007, but it was like a Chinese off brand that I can’t even remember. No forcefeedback, just buttons for the paddle shifts, plastic pedals… it just wasn’t good at all.

Earlier this year, I bought the Logitech G920 set, and shortly after, I got the H-Shifter for it. I started playing Assetto Corsa and got back into Formula One racing with Codemasters’ F1 2017; last time I played a Formula One game was also from Codemasters: F1 2009; I didn’t enjoy that iteration to say the least, and that was the oldest memory I have when I started to deviate away from racing/driving games.

But racing is still in my blood.

And seeing a lot of the tech YouTubers that have their own racing simulators and the fact I still follow Inside Sim Racing, The Sim Pit, etc, kept on reminding me to return to sim racing.

And I did.

I then stumbled into 3DRap.it from Italy, that makes 3D printed parts for modding either a Thrustmaster or a Logitech wheel and pedal set. I purchased a couple of mods for my H-Shifter but also noticed they were selling parts for a Formula inspired racing rim that can be attached to either the Thrustmaster or Logitech wheelbase.

I know the basics of soldering and such, but I just didn’t have the time to build the rim while I am trying to study and still going to my clinic duties. But I know I sill eventually get around to buying the parts and building it myself… I just needed time.

Thankfully, I discovered that they started selling a built version of the Formula inspired rim, named the SMRF1 from Speed Max Racing, also from Italy, thus, I ordered from them and I won’t lie, it was very pricey, but once it arrived, it was well worth the price!

I also ordered an extra 4.3″ display, and they thought of everything, as the bottom part of the display is concave and it contours on the wheelbase (I just had to purchase some Velcro and mounted it easily)

I always said that when one is gaming, one has to do everything he or she can in order to be immersed as much as possible. This is why I add mods to some of my games to enhance the experience; it may take time to do so instead of immediately playing, but once I do, the immersion adds to the overall pleasure of playing. With that said, I wanted to be immersed in sim racing, particularly, open-wheel racing like Formula One. And with the total price of my sim racing rig, it was all worth it for the immersion.

SimRig 2017

Wednesday Drive

Get Your Motor Runnin'

Chasing the (Virtual) Chequered Flag

Chasing the (Virtual) Chequered Flag

Meeting Tracer Tong

That was a Deus Ex reference in case you missed it.

So for the third time this year, I traveled out of the country, for the first time to Hong Kong, and for the second time this year, with my sister.

I’ll be honest, traveling alone was so much more fun and less stressful. I love my sister, don’t get me wrong, but traveling with others that rely on you more often than not can really leave a bad taste in your mouth.

The best part of the trip was me seeing Roberto again, whom I mentioned above that I first met during the Singapore Grand Prix. He showed us around a bit and took us to a great dinner. This cements the fact that Formula One for us fans is more than just a sport… it also brings fans together and they can be great friends in spite of all the differences.

11-24-2017 Hong Kong Trip Day 1-2

My highlight of that trip, apart from seeing my sister present for the conference (oh yeah, that was the main reason we went to Hong Kong… there was a Cardiology conference where she was invited to present one of her cases), was getting to see my close friend Amanda again.

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11-25-2017 Hong Kong Day 3-7

I first met Amanda back when she was still in high school and I was already in college, because her brother Pio is also one of my close friends.

We got to hang out like old times, this time outside of the Philippines; it was like nothing ever changed… and yet there was still the sense we are not the same people we were when we were younger. It is that strange balance and it was just great.

She is also quite the model as she was showing me around the city and that made me fall in love with photography all over again.

Here are some of my favorite shots of the trip and of Amanda:

Those Hong Kong Lights

When You Shine Brighter

Take Me Somewhere I Belong

Return to the Gym

This year, I also decided to head back to gym. Thankfully the owners and the trainer still remembers me, and strangely, after my years of absence from the gym, again, like with Amanda, as if nothing has changed. In fact, we seem to be talking normally just like I never disappeared from gym.

Two and half months in gym, I am starting to see a difference in my body and an obvious difference in strength. And what’s more? My right knee is feeling better than it ever did before! I am getting more and more confident to start running or even jumping. Hopefully in 2018, I can do all that.

I am joined by my best friend, my brother from another mother, my confidant, and fellow B.S. Biology graduate and fellow physician, Lee.

We both are pursuing USMLE, so we thought of just gym together as well.

Mind and Body.

Recently, we are joined by our other close friend from college, Von, and now we are a trio at gym… 2018 in gym will be awesome! Will still bulk up a bit more before I start cutting. Overall, I never felt better in my life physically in years.

The Holy Trinity of Lenses

I first got into photography in 2010. The weight of my first year in medicine was getting to me and I wanted a new hobby. Photography was my choice of a new hobby, thus I got my first DSLR, the Nikon D5000.

The very next year, I got my first flash, the Yong Nuo YN465, and more importantly, my first lens that is not the kit lens that came with the DSLR. I got the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC. Together, I made lots of great shots and memories with that lens.

First shot using my new prime lens was that of my cat back then.

Kupo!

I dreamt of having the so called “Holy Trinity of Lenses”/”Hebrew Trinity of Lenses” which usually consists of a wide angle lens, a standard zoom lens, and a telephoto lens. They call this the Holy Trinity as these are the 3 lenses that can be versatile enough to tackle any situation. Of course there are other lenses that are well suited for other tasks like sports and for bird watching and such, but the Holy Trinity is what most photographers and enthusiasts find enough for most situations. Thus I wanted to complete a Holy Trinity of Sigma lenses.

In 2012 Sigma then released the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS and the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 APO EX DC OS lenses, which are of course a standard zoom lens and telephoto lens respectively. These were perfect to complete my Holy Trinity in spite of my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC being a prime lens and not a wide angle.

But being a medical student still and having my parents to rely on to give me money or get me the things I wanted, I didn’t really want to them bear the weight of spending for my hobbies again when they have done so too many times in the past and coupled the fact that medical school is very expensive, I just thought of getting the lenses, if they are still available, once I am a licensed physician.

Thus, one year after finally being licensed as a physician, I got to stumble upon the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 APO EX DC OS lens and with just little thought, I bought it in November.

First shot of the new telephoto lens is that of my mother; others have been posted above during my Hong Kong trip.

The

Around a month later, I found the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS lens, thus completing my Holy Trinity of Lenses and I can’t be more happier.

Holy Trinity of Sigma Lenses!

First shot using the new standard zoom is of my best friend, Lee.

Doc Lee

Nice to note that I then decided to order a Nikon D7200 (I know the D7500 just released, but I like the specs of the D7200 more) and hopefully it will arrive in the first week of the new year or so. I also bought the Nikon MB-D15 battery grip that will work perfectly with the Nikon D7200 as well as a Nikon SB-600 speedlite; both the Nikon MB-D15 and SB-600 were actually second hand products, but upon inspection by my obsessive compulsive-ness and my technical know-how, I was assured they are working well and are in fact original.

Can’t really fully test the battery grip without the new DSLR, but I was able to test the SB-600.

I am not a stranger to off shoe flash photography, so here is my first shot using the flash and showing my skills with off shoe flash photography.

Umbra

Looking forward in 2018 where I will explore more locally and of course, my trip to Japan and maybe in South Korea, where I can see the world with my DSLR and create more memories…

Summary

I actually spent so much in 2017 for my hobbies, trips, and whatnot; I always like saving more than spending, but I thought making this year an exception. I needed to reward myself for all those years I didn’t think of anything else but my studies. I needed to see some dreams come true for my dreams to be made and see then into fruition.

I look forward to 2018 with everything I learned and loved from 2017 and make even more dreams come true.

Thank you, 2017.


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Racer of Virtual Cars: Assetto Corsa 1988 FIA F1 World Championship Round 2 San Marino GP

Continuing my custom made 1988 F1 Championship using Senna’s McLaren MP4/4.

AI Difficulty 100%
Mechanical Damage 50%
Tyre Wear x2
Slip Stream Effect x2
Fuel Consumption On
Traction Control and Anti-Lock Braking System On
33% Race Distance

Round 2 San Marino GP 1988:

I qualified in pole position after what I considered is a god like lap. A bit slow off the start (I really need to work on that), but I was able to get the lead back easily and was managing the pace in front with no problems (a few cutting corners by accident here and there).

Sadly, this is where I noticed Assetto Corsa lacking in terms of the AI: AI backmarkers do not move out of your way or slow down as to not impeded the leaders. In fact, I got punted in lap 17 and lost my lead.

Thus, a 3 lap race for the lead and win began. It was thrilling, but I was really mad at the AI.

Also of note, this will be the last race for now that I run in 33% total race distance… I will be lowering it down for now at 25% total race distance.

Driver’s Championship After Round 2:

1. N. Mansell – 15
2. A. Prost – 9
3. ME! – 9
4. M. Alboreto -3
5. N. Piquet – 2
6. E. Cheever – 2
7. J. Bailey -1
8. R. Patrese -1

Constructor’s Championship After Round 2:

1. McLaren – 19
2. Williams – 16
3. Ferrari – 3
4. Lotus – 2
5. Arrows – 2
6. Tyrell – 1

Game info:

•Game: Assetto Corsa
•Car: McLaren MP4/4 (Mod by VRC)
•Event: Round 1 Brazilain GP 1988 (My custom made championship)
•Track: Jacarepagua (1988 config)
•AI Difficulty 100%
•Mechanical Damage 50%
•Tyre Wear x2
•Slip Stream Effect x2
•Fuel Consumption On
•Traction Control and ABS On
•33% Race Distance

PC info:

•CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
•Chassis: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX
•Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
•RAM: G Skill 4 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
•HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb; Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb; Samsung 850 EVO
•PSU: Corsair GS700
•GPU: VTX3D R9 390 8Gb GDDR5 1000Mhz Core Clock 1500Mhz Memory Clock
•Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm Corsair SP 120 fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans for top exhausts; 2 x Phanteks 140mm front intakes; 1 x Phanteks 140mm rear exhaust
•Peripherals: 3 x Dell S2340L 23″ IPS 1080p Monitors; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keybord; Logitech G13 Advanced Gamepad; Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse; Logitech F310 Gamepad; Logitech F710; iPega Bluetooth Controller; Logitech G920 Wheel; Logitech Driving Force Shifter; Logitech G430 Headphones; Logitech G933 Headphones; Logitech Z333 2.1 Speakers; Brother DCP-J100 Printer with Continuous Ink System; A4Tech HD1080p Webcam
•Misc: Tecware Haste XXL Desktmat; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Buffalo Bluetooth 4.0 Dongle; 2M RGB USB Powered LED strip
•NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

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Racer of Virtual Cars: Assetto Corsa 1988 FIA F1 World Championship Round 1 Brazilian GP

This is not going to be the bulk of my posts here in this site, but I’m starting a new series where I will play some racing sims and record them.

For this inaugural post in this brand new series of blogs, I will share the 1st round of my custom made 1988 F1 season… I might make a seperate post on how I made the custom mod and such, but for now, this post will have a video of the 1st round of the championship.

I am driving the McLaren MP4/4 opposite of Alain Prost for the 16 races in this season.

Round 1 Round 1 Brazilian GP 1988:

After a hard fought qualifying, I ended up in 4th place in the grid. Had a decent start and worked my up to 2nd and was fighting for the lead. It was a good race for me as I was able to manage my tyres and fuel (no refuelling and tyres are expected to have at least 50% life at the end of the race thus pitting is very rare in 1988), but I got too greedy fighitng for the lead and in the penultimate corner of the 9th lap… well… you can just watch it.

Driver’s Championship After Round 1:

1. N. Mansell – 9
2. A. Prost – 6
3. M. Alboreto -3
4. N. Piquet – 2
5. R. Patrese -1

Constructor’s Championship After Round 1:

1. Williams – 10
2. McLaren – 6
3. Ferrari – 3
4. Lotus – 2

Game info:

•Game: Assetto Corsa
•Car: McLaren MP4/4 (Mod by VRC)
•Event: Round 1 Brazilain GP 1988 (My custom made championship)
•Track: Jacarepagua (1988 config)
•AI Difficulty 100%
•Mechanical Damage 50%
•Tyre Wear x2
•Slip Stream Effect x2
•Fuel Consumption On
•Traction Control and ABS On
•33% Race Distance

PC info:

•CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
•Chassis: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX
•Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
•RAM: G Skill 4 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
•HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb; Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb; Samsung 850 EVO
•PSU: Corsair GS700
•GPU: VTX3D R9 390 8Gb GDDR5 1000Mhz Core Clock 1500Mhz Memory Clock
•Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm Corsair SP 120 fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans for top exhausts; 2 x Phanteks 140mm front intakes; 1 x Phanteks 140mm rear exhaust
•Peripherals: 3 x Dell S2340L 23″ IPS 1080p Monitors; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keybord; Logitech G13 Advanced Gamepad; Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse; Logitech F310 Gamepad; Logitech F710; iPega Bluetooth Controller; Logitech G920 Wheel; Logitech Driving Force Shifter; Logitech G430 Headphones; Logitech G933 Headphones; Logitech Z333 2.1 Speakers; Brother DCP-J100 Printer with Continuous Ink System; A4Tech HD1080p Webcam
•Misc: Tecware Haste XXL Desktmat; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Buffalo Bluetooth 4.0 Dongle; 2M RGB USB Powered LED strip
•NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

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Assetto Corsa Quickie…

Here are just my quick thoughts on Assetto Corsa since it is almost like 2am here, but I’m just too psyched up not to talk about, or in this case, write about it.

I have been a fan of motorsports, particularly Formula 1 (hereafter F1) for 21 years, and I have played my fair share of racing games, starting from the original Gran Turismo in the original PlayStation.

I am a Role Playing Game fan (hereafter RPG) even way before I got into racing games, or racing in general, and in the past few years, I have concentrated more on RPGs and a few shooters here and there; I have almost let go of the serious sim racing scene. I say almost, cos I still do play some F1 sims every now and then, but it was not the same passion I had when I played Gran Turismo and such in the consoles back in the day.

However, the past month or so, I was able to get a new sim racing wheel and pedals, along with a rig to hard mount the wheel/pedal without having to mount it on my desk each time I wanna play a racing title, and just a few weeks ago, I got a shifter for the rig so I can feel what it was like to race F1 cars, or any cars, but in the day without the sequential and paddle shifters.

As per usual among sim racers, we tend to turn towards Codemasters for sim titles, though I don’t mind playing their F1 or Dirt series of sim racers, I still was looking for a title that can remind me of the multi-disciplinary racing that Gran Turismo had. I tossed on the idea of Forza and such, maybe pay the subscription to iRacing, but then I kept on seeing Assetto Corsa…

I have noticed the title, because even if I have lost sight of the sim racing scene, I am still subscribed to a lot of sim racing channels in YouTube, so I keep on seeing them talk or test mods and gear with Assetto Corsa.

So, now that I have a racing sim rig, and the Steam sale helped a bunch, I am blown away from Assetto Corsa…

It is nowhere near perfect; I would change a lot of aspects of the game, but the thrill of modding the game with more cars and tracks (some of the mods are paid mods, and worth every penny, made by 3rd party modders, though I did also pick up the DLCs for the game), having to drive the F1 cars I respected thru the years, from the 60s to present (not all F1 cars are available to download of course, but at least the more famous cars thru the years are); it is interesting to see how each era had their own set of challenges to drive. My favorite car to drive thus far is the McLaren Honda MP4/4, a legendary F1 car known to many fans, even to us Ferrari fans. It is fun to drive using my 6 gear gated shifter, gives me the sense of all the work the drivers had to put into back in the day.

I ended up downloading 40 or so F1 cars, some paid, like I said, from 3rd party modders, but they are worth every penny. I will create another post with the links to each of my F1 mods and some pics of them.

Of course, this game is multi-discipline, so there is more to this than just F1 (but boy oh boy, being an F1 fan, I race with F1 cars 90% of the time), I also happen to have downloaded American muscle cars, and my real life dream car, the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette C2 Stingray. This is my absolute dream car, because I feel this is more obtainable than, let’s say, a Ferrari.

I also got my dad’s old 1966 Ford Mustang, which he sold when I was very young; ugh, I could have gotten a muscle car by now, but ah well… I still don’t know why he sold it to this day. Anyways, I also got the Mustang, showed it to my dad, got him to drive around with the sim racing rig, and it was just a fun gesture.

Again, with the 12 muscle cars I got, I will post them in a different blog entry and where to download them and some pics as well.

Truth be told, I have just been racing open-wheelers like F1 and have free roam driving with the Muscle cars… there are still the GT cars, the LMP cars, the rally cars, the drift cars, and the list goes on!

Been putting in so many hours in this game just trying to clock the best time, get the right setup, just constantly beating my best time and perfecting every lap in and out; then racing with AI (cos, hell no! I am not good enough yet, to race online…) at 100% strength and variable amounts of aggressiveness (cos lets face it, the AI can lack the “I” and just punt you off the track), racing in the classic era F1 cars with manual gated shifters, just give me the thrill and passion I once had when I was younger and totally into racing sims.

Again, this game is FAR from perfect, but I’m glad that it is actively being developed, always improving, and with an open community, their mods can make it way better.

I will share some of my favorite photos I got in game which were edited a bit with Photoshop here and there.

Interesting to note as to why I got so eager to give my quick thoughts on this (I won’t even proofread this) is because I managed to recreate the 1988 F1 season in game; sure I wasn’t able to use the Jacarepagua circuit that hosted that year’s Brazilian GP (the track mod lacked the desired number of pit boxes) having replaced it with Interlagos circuit and some of the team’s livery were based on the 1984 skin pack (I will link all these in the future), but I managed to edit some of the liveries to match “enough” of the cars of the 1988 season. I originally was able to download and edit up to 24 of the 28-30ish cars of that season, but thanks to Paul Ricard’s and Monza’s 1988 track mods having a 21 pit box limit, I removed the Leyton House March 881 cars and the AGS JH23 car (I was choosing the AGS JH23 or the Osella FA1L, of course, I would rather keep a car that has fail written all over it for laughs… which is quite fitting as the Osella FA1L only participated in 10 of the 16 races, having retired in 5 of those 10 races, also on the 6 races it didn’t participate in, it was disqualified in 1, did not qualify in 2, did not pre-qualify in another 2, and didn’t participate at all in 1… I digress).

Needless to say, it took me HOURS to get it done as I was looking valiantly for skin mods for cars to have the 1988 liveries, and having to edit some to make them fit the 1988 season, then downloading and re downloading different versions of the 1988 tracks, and finally… got it done, and I felt so much achievement by doing so. And thus why I am so psyched to talk or write about Assetto Corsa… how easy it is to mod and get the season one wants to replicate…

Anyways! I digress again! To the pics! And in the future, a full review of the game and the mods I got. (I race in 5760×1080, but when I take screenshots, I do my best to revert to 1920×1080)

•The 1967 Scuderia Ferrari 312 (pay respects):

Spa 312 3

Spa 312 1

Spa 312 2

•The championship winning 1975 Scuderia Ferrari 312T driven by Niki Lauda (PAY RESPECTS!):

Spa 312T 1

•The championship winning 1988 McLaren Honda MP4/4 driven by Ayrton Senna (should I remind you to pay respects? Nice to note, I will be driving this car in my 1988 F1 season I made):

Spa MP4_4 1

Spa MP4_4 2

Spa MP4_4 3

•The 1991 Jordan Benetton 191 driven by Michael Schumacher (his 1st F1 car drive, RESPECT):

Screenshot_vrc_1991_jordan_191_monza_25-6-117-0-22-28

Screenshot_vrc_1991_jordan_191_monza_25-6-117-0-25-32

Screenshot_vrc_1991_jordan_191_monza_25-6-117-0-27-41

•The 1963 Chevrolet Corvette C2 Stingray (my dream car!):

Showroom_chevrolet_63vette_26-5-2017-0-2-39 Showroom_chevrolet_63vette_26-5-2017-0-2-59

Showroom_chevrolet_63vette_26-5-2017-17-34-49

•The icing on the cake… The 1988 F1 Season I made using lots of 3rd party mods and editing just some of them. Here’s the teaser photo of the 21 cars going thru T1 of Suzuka 1988 track:

FIA 1988 F1 Championship Teaser

And with that! I am done with my quick thoughts! It is almost 3am at the end of this post… so maybe it wasn’t so much of a quickie… meh.

Til next time! PEACE!

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SimRig Update: More Pedal Mods!

In my previous post about finally building a Sim Racing Rig, I mentioned that I modded the brake pedal by removing the rubber stopper/block that Logitech put in order to simulate progressing brake tension, but the design was poorly thought out as the rubber block/stopper, made it next to impossible to brake fully. Thus I decided to remove it.

Not satisfied with such a simple mod, I wanted to make the Logitech G920 pedals feel a lot better and a lot more responsive, especially in the throttle; I felt the throttle spring is too light and have fine control of throttle a little bit tricky. I also found the stock face plates of the pedals didn’t really feel comfortable as the are a bit too tiny, especially in the throttle, thus I decided to be on the lookout for after market pedal face plates.

Thankfully, as is with most racing wheels for simulators, they are nearly identical to real life counterparts, so you may use after market parts for real cars in the racing wheel and pedals.

I found a cheap enough pedal set, with a long enough throttle to feel comfy and a large enough, rally style brake face plate, that can make it easy for me to do heel toe braking if I need to (which I don’t need so much in F1 games), and it being large enough, makes it very comfortable to brake.

I then decided to switch the stock clutch face plate with the stock throttle face plate, since I bought the after market face plates without the clutch; the stock throttle face plate is large enough for the clutch in my opinion.

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New pedal face plates for the brake and the throttle; used the stock throttle face plate for the clutch.

I then switched the springs from the clutch to the throttle and vice versa; the stock clutch spring had more tension than that of the throttle, and I felt that if when I need to use the clutch, I want it to be pushed down completely and quickly. Whereas the stock throttle spring had little to no tension for me, making it difficult to pepper the throttle to control the speed in corners when trying to lift of. So by switching the springs around, I got the tensions I want for both the clutch and the throttle. (Note: I removed the face plates of both the throttle and clutch in order to work on them)

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The seedy underbelly of the pedals
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Time to mod!
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Prior to opening the bottom to the pedal case, I removed the face plates of both the throttle and the clutch to get access to them
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Removed the housing of the springs
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The bigger and shorter spring was originally for the clutch and the thinner and longer spring was originally from the throttle; did the old switcharoo and the tension for both pedals are perfect for me

After all these, was it worth the time, effort, and expenditure? As with all hobbyists, they would say of course it was without having good tangible evidence as to back up the purchase. Well I do…

DSC_0504
Using DashPi (available for both iOS and Android); might make a separate post on how to use your tablet and phone as dash meters or telemetry

I was just having a quick drive around Monaco where my best time with my personal car setup was a 1:19.231 (I am not the greatest sim racer out there; others easily get 1:13.00s) and shattered it, while not driving really seriously, with a 1:18.897. So, yeah, it was worth it.

What is my next project for the SimRig? I do wanna make 2 dedicated sim dash devices so I don’t always have to use my iPad mini and my Zenfone 2; plus I get to program exactly how I want them to look and what telemetry to collect using readily available programs intended for Arduino. Though I won’t be doing it anytime soon as I don’t have so much time for such projects just yet. But it  will happen sometime.

Til next time! PEACE!

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My Sim Rig 2017 (Finally)

If you know me personally, apart from tech, gaming, blogging, guitars, NFL fan, and photography, my other passion are cars and motorsports, particularly, Formula 1.

I have a Formula 1 fan since 1996 and I never failed to watch every season since I became a fan; sure there are a few races I missed per season due to studies and what not, but overall, I never missed a season.

Being a fan is totally different from hopping in the bandwagon. I know the history of the sport, I know the strategies, I know the innards of these cars, etc. I say this, because a lot of people still think I just hopped on to the bandwagon since my boss liked Formula 1. NO.

I have vivid memories of watching the Spanish GP way back in 1996 and saw this red car flying thru the wet track and won the race. That was the Ferrari F310 driven by Michael Schumacher. Since then, I became a fan of Schumacher, Ferrari, and the sport.

Up to this day, I am still a big fan of the sport and Ferrari; win or lose, even during 2009, there worst year in recent memory, I was still rooting for Ferrari. I didn’t jump into the bandwagon for the new dominant teams or drivers… I stuck with my team like a true fan.

So being a fan of Formula 1, of course, I am a bit of a speed freak; I also enjoy me some World Rally Championship, World Endurance Championship, and mostly other open wheel racing like Formula 3 and recently Formula E (No I don’t like IndyCar; I mostly like FIA sanctioned events). Naturally, I love driving games, they are my second favorite genre after Role Playing Games.

However, the last racing sim that I owned and really played was Gran Turismo 4 in the PS2 (First racing sim that I played was Gran Turismo 1 in the PS1) and F1 99-02 in the PC. Becoming a PC gamer, however, there were not that many good simulators; sure there was, like I said, F1 99-02, great for F1 fans, can be modded to one’s heart’s content, there is rFactor, Live for Speed, etc., but none caught my heart and passion for racing like Gran Turismo and F1 99-02. Not even the later F1 games from Codemasters caught my eye at first. Games like Assetto Corsa and Projext cars, as well as iRacing, got me intrigued, but I never thought of playing racing games again in my PC.

Suddenly, I stumbled into a Logitech G920 for 66% off… So I decided to load up my favorite sim racing YouTube channels I use to frequent a lot back then, found some new channels and personalities, and found out that a lot of the sim racing games have gotten so much better, the peripherals from the racing wheels, button boxes, displays, transducers, etc., have gotten way better since the last time I was really into sim racing, not to mention that F1 from Codemasters seemed to have imrpoved over the years as well. This whet my appetite and I knew I can no longer pass up a 66% off racing wheel.

I also got a racing wheel stand since I just want a dedicated rig for the wheel and pedals to be had mounted and I can easily tuck away at the side of my PC without having to mount and dismount on the desk each time I wanted to play (that is one of my biggest turn offs back when I was younger when I had to mount and dismount from the desk each time). I also decided to get a wheel stand, not a complete cockpit, because I don’t have that much space in my room anymore, nor do I have a real dedicated PC rig for sim racing, thus I got this, a small right that I can easily drag using furniture slides to sit flush with my desk and tuck away when I’m done.

Here are the photos of the items:

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FINALLY! These packages took 5 days to arrive!
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Ultra soft Styrofoam packaging… not my type.
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The simple wheel and pedal stand. It also has the optional stand for the shifter, which I will use when I order the shifter.
DSC_0391
The accessories
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This is what 66% off looks like; the box is not in good shape, but the wheel and pedal are in great condition and work like a champ
DSC_0393
What 66% packaging looks like…
DSC_0394
Good lookin’
05-16-2017 SimRig-5
She is built! Fairly easy build, the rig didn’t have proper English instructions and the Chinese instructions with pictures were basically useless. One can eyeball the build of this thing.
DSC_0424
Easily tucked away on the side
DSC_0426
Used these furniture sliders for carpets to easily drag it around; I didn’t mount it using the adhesive since I don’t want the rig to slide about when I brake.

I decided to modify the brake pedal, as if you read reviews on the Logitech G29 and G920, the brake pedal gets stiffer and harder to push down on the farther it gets. It tries to emulate the progressive tension of real life brakes, but honestly, it is a terrible system they used to try and emulate the braking characteristics, especially those with a hydraulic brake system. I decided to mod it to make it easier to push down on and I used this video below to help me do so. Very helpful as he mentions the sizes of the hex and screws, so if you don’t have it, you can easier look for the exact size in the hardware store. The pics below were taken using my phone, hence quality isn’t as good as the otehr photos:

IMG_20170520_180311
This doctor is gonna do surgery… Oh yeah, I’m a licensed physician that loves to game.
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The simple innards

 

IMG_20170520_181730
Almost there…
IMG_20170520_181830
Here is the culprit! That black rubber stopper/block causes the difficulty in braking. Awful design Logitech!

 

 

IMG_20170520_181844
The bane of my braking
IMG_20170520_183044
I also adjust the clutch (not needed in F1 sims that I usually play now), the brake, and the throttle face plates.

 

The video I used to help me remove the rubber block in the brake pedal:

In the future, especially when I move back to the States, I will definitely improve my SimRig, maybe with a better wheel system, better cockpit, but the ones I am looking forward to purchasing next time would be button boxes and displays. The latter is very important to me as I like to turn off all on screen display in game and have an external display showing me time, fuel, my gear, RPM, RPM limiter, speed, lap times, tire pressure and temperature, brake temperature, oil and water temperature, and the list goes on.

I can’t really find any good ones here in the Philippines since sim racing isn’t really as big as one might think here, so I downloaded app for both the Android and iOS and used my phone and iPad mini to work as user datagram protocol (UDP) devices and display the telemetry I need.

This is the most difficult part, as both apps use the same loopback IP and port, I had to use 8 hours to read the program language of the game and the 2 apps, edit the program, edit the ports, the IP addresses, the loopback addresses, etc, and troubleshoot each new code I wrote. Needless to say, I got both apps to work without conflicting with one another and having them display the proper telemetry separately.

DSC_0434
Using my devices as UDP for telemetry; the most difficult part is setting these up without them conflicting with one another.

Here is a video of my trying the new wheel, re-learning how to paddle shift, using an un-modded brake pedal, and testing my 2 devices if they are working properly. Please, no hate on my lap times. I didn’t edit the setup of the car or anything… I was merely testing these all.

This is like my photography hobby, my guitar hobby, my PC and gaming hobby, where I really started out humbly, not getting the highend or at least mid-high end products for my hobbies since I was just getting into them, so in time, I know my SimRig will be as awesome as the SimRigs most YouTube sim racers show off.

Someday…

Okay, that may have been overkill… still worth a share!

Some glamour shots when set up:

SimRig 2017

SimRig 2017
SimRig 2017

Til next time! PEACE!

P.S.

I “might” be reviewing the Logitech G920 and the BRZ Racing Wheel Stand, but I haven’t even released my Logitech G933 and F710 reviews, yet. So, yeah, I don’t know.

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