Last year's efforts, an Eibach Prokit to lower the car 1.3", and the larger wheels and tires to go with it, was a complete success. Still superbly happy with that. THis year, it's about going under the hood, and making sure I'm getting all the right data.
Ok, one of those is cosmetic.
The stock bypass valve for the turbo is reputedly not bad, but also tends to bleed pressure as well. A lot of people have documented this, specifically when they increase the boost to 20PSI. So, removing it, putting a block-off plate in, and installing the HKS SSQV Blow-Off Valve kit on the cold-side intercooler piping makes a lot of sense and will provide better response down the road. Stable boost is good boost, even if there's no documentation to suggest that just putting a BOV in place provides any power at all.
The Boost Guage is pretty self-explanatory, and is a relatively easy installation except... it means drilling a hole in the dashboard to mount it. Eeeps. Apparently, this is not a big deal, but it FEELS like a big deal. There's a few DIY's on it, as well, so I'm sure it's fine. But. Yeah. Eeps. Dashboard. Holes. Other than that, it's just running a vacuum line through the firewall, and tapping into the existing Vacuum system. Not a big deal, and provides necessary information (it should, IMO, have been something that came with the car). This information becomes even more essential if (ok, when) I end up getting the car tuned. Being able to monitor boost pressure will become necessary at that point, to prevent damage.
The AEM CAI is simply about breathing better. The ghetto-fab intake on the RSX (thanks to Jay) not only sounded great, but definitely provided more power (seat-of-the-pants), and gave a documentable increase in fuel-economy. The AEM, on paper, cuts out a bunch of restriction, and they claim about 7hp. Not enough, I don't think, to be noticable, but there, and again, will aid matters when it comes to tuning the ECU. Also, I'm expecting to get even more airflow, because I'm going to cut out the back of the foglight surround so I'm getting direct road air into intake, rather than just what's circulating. This is one that I'm not worried about doing: it's a bit of work with a dremel and then adding some mesh to keep the big stuff out, on the road.
On SUnday last, I drove up to Montreal to hang out with some of the forum guys, take some pictures, and see how the whole ECU tuning thing works. And I gotta say, the difference is night and day: just tuning the ECU, on an otherwise stock car makes it a NEW CAR. Seriously. Throttle tip-in is vastly improved, and while the (dyno-documented) 20-30hp is a nice bump, it's the 60-65lb.ft of torque that really make the difference. Average seems to be a jump from around 225lb.ft of torque at the wheels, to nearly 290lb.ft after flashing to the canned tune. And all of it down low (under 2300rpm). This is 'off-the-line' power, not theoretical top end. A custom (rather than canned) tune with slightly-more-than-basic bolt-on's (the stuff I have above, plus injectors and intercooler) has seen 270hp/320lb.ft of torque, and if you keep the stock turbo, but replace the internals of it, that jumps to around 300hp/350lb.ft. By all accounts, that's about the limit of the stock internals on the engine. After that, you've got to make the jump from cast to forged internals, and then you're looking at some serious cash. I think I'm unlikely to ever take it that far, though.
There's pics over on Flickr too. These're a good bunch of guys who, for the most part, are the same as me: daily-driver that they want to be something 'more'.
Aaand, I've signed up to 'participate' in the CUSA Show'n'Shine on Saturday, April 2nd. Honestly, I'm going for the experience. Although I'm picking up all of the above this week, none of it will be installed for this weekend. I'm treating the show as "VIP" parking. :) There's gonna be a ton of guys there from the various forums who I know, and it's a couple hours taking pictures of cars, and shooting the shit with like-minds. Free admission if you're interested in checking it out (mostly, I'm thinking Jay and notmikesince91 being the in-house car guys).
As for installing, this week is a write-off. The BOV