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Dirtfish Rally School (part 2)

Here's some pictures taken by the camera guy. Notice the huge grin on my face. More pics here

Going sideways never been so much fun - awesome feeling to be looking out the passenger side window while going through a turn

Me giving the thumbs up during the ride-along


Dirtfish Rally School (part 1)

Best groupon ever. $325 for a 1/2 day Rally Lesson. We learned the fundamentals of shifting the weight of the car using the throttle and brake and also left-foot braking. Started on the skidpad, then the slalom, and finally the Boneyard course. Perfect day - started dry and then rained a little bit toward the end. The school is built on an old mill and basically looks like a gymkhana location. Old large buildings around, different surface types all over. They said last month there was a Rally Cross even there and they had a 70ft jump for the pros like Tanner Faust.

Had a shit-eating grin the entire time. Incredibly fun to throw the car sideways into turns. Gratifying to to figure out where to turn the wheel to begin the drift- depends on your speed and the angle of the turn; then using left-foot braking to control the slide and positioning for the next turn.

I've been looking into buying a 2nd car (w/ manual gearbox) since it's more fun to be in control of the gearing. I'm torn. Either buy 1 nicer daily driver, or a 2nd crappier car. Probably just going to save the money for later.

More pics here


Mod #2 Retrofitting RNS-E into my 2006 Audi A4


Updated: I've been receiving a lot of email about where I purchased the unit. I got it off ebay. The seller's name was Naviworld24, or Navi-world24, or Naviworld-24. One of those. Not sure if that seller even exists anymore. Good luck!

I've always regretted not getting the awesome touch-screen navigation offered in the Acura CL-S; so I swore that the next car I get would definitely have navi. My desires were amplified when I moved to the Seattle area and had no idea where anything was - to this day I still get lost frequently. When it came time for a different car I was at first adamant about getting one with navigation; but upon learning how rare it that was, I looked into after market units and discovered that is was relatively easy to retrofit an OEM Audi Navigation Plus RNS-E into my car. Thankfully it was mostly plug and play with a harness adapter and the rest is just figuring out the details. I first prepped myself for weeks by reading thread after thread on Here's a link to the main retrofit FAQ/quicklinks I decided to write a guide with lots of pictures to aid others in retrofitting a unit - since many posts on the naviplus forum did not provide enough pictures.

I ordered my unit off Ebay (email me if you want details); and the unit came from Germany a few days after my paypal payment cleared. I saved a significant amount of money by purchasing on ebay and not from a dealer. The ebay seller provided everything I needed for the install, the head unit removal keys, harness adapter (I was asked to choose between Bose and non-Bose), code card, 2007 DVDR map, and a cdr of the PDF manual.

My car is a 2006 Audi A4 2.0T with premium package, comfort package, sport suspension, multifunction steering wheel, Sirius Satellite Radio (Part No. 8E0 057 593D which is REQUIRED for compatibility with RNS-E, use this guide to make sure you have the right one), and Bose audio package.

With those things in mind, I made sure the RNS-E would be ready to accept my Sirius tuner and be compatible with my Bose system.

Onto the install itself - thankfully my friend Jerry was in town to assist in my install; having an extra pair of hands definitely sped up the entire process (which took no longer than 30 minutes)

We first started by using blue painter's tape to protect any areas that could possibly be scratched or scuffed during the install process. I also laid down small towels around. It was particularly useful to have a towel on the shifter since that's where we rested the units quite often.

I had planned to place the GPS antenna behind my instrument cluster so while we were at it I taped the steering column for later.

We inserted the 4 removal keys into the slots with the longer sides of the key on the outside of the unit. The keys click into place firmly. This is where having an extra set of hands will be useful - we both pulled on the keys are the sides and we were able to slide the unit out with a few firm tugs. Jerry balanced the unit on the shifter while I removed the plugs behind it. Below are pictures of the removal and the resulting plugs behind it. Please take notice of the yellow Fakra adapter (I believe this is called Fakra...).

The next step was to start attaching the plugs to the harness adapter. This is where we ran into a small roadblock. I didn't quite understand how the yellow plug would attach to the adapter harness, but it turns out we had to remove the yellow part in order to plug the silver portion into the white one on my harness. The white plug that came with the harness had an empty slot next to it where we attached the silver plug portion. A flat-head screwdriver helped with removing the small purple tabs on each colored plug.

Once everything was attached, I plugged in the GPS antenna, threw it outside so it had a clear view of the sky, and turned on the unit to test it. Worked like a charm! I inserted the DVD navi disc and then hit "dvd-info" to see it was able to pick up satellites. Yep. We were good to go. The next part was to route the GPS antenna into a suitable location. I read the space behind the instrument cluster was good; so to begin we had to remove the lower dash on the driver's side. It was held in by 3 screws and two clips. Check the flickr gallery for visible notes on the locations of these screws.

Taking off the lower dashboard allows easier access to push the instrument cluster from the rear in order to place the GPS antenna in the cubby hole on the metal frame of the car. To remove the instrument cluster, first pop off the small trim piece above the steering column (see flickr pic notes); there will be two torx screws size 20 that need to be unscrewed.

Once those are out, the instrument cluster can be pushed out from behind. I was not able remove the cluster entirely because I couldn't figure out how to unplug the plugs from the cluster; but there was enough room for my hand to reach in and place the GPS onto the metal frame behind the cluster. Once that's done, just route the GPS antenna cable through the lower dash area and into the radio hole, plug everything in, put it all back together and you're DONE! The car still needs to be communicated through VAGCOM to tell it that it has an RNS-E now; I haven't done so yet, but I will soon. Thankfully the unit I got was already ready for my MFSW (multifunction steering wheel), Sirius radio, and BOSE (the particular harness). With my GPS antenna placement I am able to pick up 6-8 satellites easily.

The unit comes with MP3 playback through the two SD card slots behind the screen.

MP3 playback in action

The navigation lagged about 300m behind my actual location for the first hour or so, but after a few trips it has automatically calibrated itself and is now accurate. I am going to get into the engineering mode to double check the speeds it is receiving through the car CANBUS versus the GPS info. A picture of it in action - it features a night and day mode for better visibility. This picture is a bit washed out though.

The entire installation took about 30 minutes not counting the troubles we had with the crappy tools. Many thanks to my buddy Jerry who helped immensely with the installation and fixing of my crappy tools. If you are reading this guide to aid in your own retrofitting, please remember to ask the seller for the correct harness and make sure the unit is coded correctly to your car - I think these two things are probably the most important aspects to ensure a smooth and easy installation.

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Mod #1

Mod #1 complete. Suntek Carbon 35 all around. Suntek's Carbon line won't interfere with any frequencies & electronics. This 35% tint is darker than other brands' 35%; would really register 30-32 on a light meter. Great job by Jay's Tint Shop in Kirkland.

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