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Show HN: A stop-motion video of an engine (howacarworks.com)
845 points by AlexMuir on Aug 15, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 188 comments

This is neat, but based on the title, I thought this was going to be a bit more informative about _how_ engines work, and how each subprocess contributes toward the end goal.

What I saw instead was a subset of subprocesses in isolation from each other, presented in an admittedly artistic fashion. It's impressive, and maybe the purpose is more to whet one's appetite for more information rather than be informative in itself, but that's not really what I was expecting or hoping for.

This is what you're looking for (https://animagraffs.com/how-a-car-engine-works/). It's a breakdown of pretty much every automotive internal combustion engine used today.

Once you understand the basics, the stop-motion video becomes pretty cool as you can try and label every part that's coming off

Just to be clear that animagraff is showing specifically how a 4cycle gasoline-powered reciprocating engine works. Diesel engines account for roughly 50% of automotive vehicles in the world.

Isn't diesel also 4 stroke? I know it has no spark plugs for ignition and there are differences but the main principals would be the same.

I'd bet most people in the US over ~20 or so have heard the sound of, or ridden in, a vehicle with a 2-stroke diesel:


That one, the 6V92TA, does the 'TA' imply it's Turbo Aspirated?

Those things sound amazing. And oh so dirty!

I once saw a very neat Youtube video where somebody build a combustion engine piece by piece in 2d physics simulation software. That also included the explosions and the pressure building up.

This was probably posted on HN at some point, but I haven't managed to find the video again.

I finally understand how a car works. Thank you for this.

> I thought this was going to be a bit more informative about _how_ engines work

Suck, squeeze, bang, blow

Four words, four cycles - covers the majority of engines out there (including jet engines). 2-cycle engines are slightly different, but not by much. Steam engine are fairly simple to understand. Sterling engines can be difficult for some to wrap their heads around. Then there are the really esoteric engines (and I am not talking about a Wankel, which is also a 4-cycle engine)...

IC engines are - at a very basic level - very simple in operation. Where the complexity comes in from the theory is doing that cycle efficiently and quickly; the more efficient the engine needs to be, or the faster it needs to turn, the more complex things get (much of the complexity there is in fuel/air ratio delivery, exhaust handling, and oil distribution to bearings and such).

If you really want to know how a 4-cycle engine works, look into going to a "local" (if you have one nearby) antique engines show, and look around for these:


They can be made to run slow enough that you can see all of their operations fairly clearly, plus they aren't all that complex (you could probably build one from hardware parts and a bit of welding). They are, however, extremely inefficient (and very messy - they sling oil/grease everywhere).

Ultimately, though - engines are simple. If your car ain't going, it's because one of a basic set of elements isn't being done - fuel, air, or spark. Now - what is causing one or more of those to be missing, that's where the "fun" is in auto mechanics...

Yeah, it's an ad. A pretty effective one, though, I think.

Made me hit "Subscribe" on YouTube. :) Looking forward to checking out the full series.

Made me subscribed either. Funny we will be working with an MX5 Miata soon. Can't wait to watch the tutorial. In the meantime, we need to decide which new tonneau covers on the market are best against water leak (I personally like those retractable ones featured here: http://4wheelonline.com/tonneau-covers.222468)

This YouTube channel is fantastic: https://www.youtube.com/user/EngineeringExplained

It has videos on pretty much every aspect of engines, organized in handy playlists.

Yeah he's great! My favorite on the more practical side of things is ChrisFix: https://www.youtube.com/user/PaintballOO7

Point taken that explanations are more important than descriptions but really there are thousands of places that explain the principles of how the internal combustion engine works.

This is the first time I've seen an engine physically taken apart so I can see roughly what goes where. I'm reminded of 'Danny The Champion of the World' who, at the age of seven, could take a small engine to pieces, and put it back together again. Pistons, crankshaft and all.

There is something wonderful about tearing an engine down and rebuilding it. There are varied complexities but all are great. Well, except for the engine in the old Colt Vista. That was not fun.

If you get the chance, go ahead and do it. There are many resources to guide you, unless it's a very rare engine. Even then, the principles are the same.

It's a lot of fun and fascinating to see how they work.

> If you get the chance, go ahead and do it.

... but remember to get new gaskets. The older they are, the chances get higher that they'll break on dismantling and you don't want to rebuild the engine and have it go boom the first time you turn it on ;)

To add to that, read the directions first. Yes, gaskets are a must. You might as well do new timing and water pump, as well.

If a rebuild didnt include setting timing and gaskets I would be very worried. It usually implies precision machining on the head, block, and valves, new pumps, rings, etc.

Ah sorry, I mixed up the words... I meant "reassembling". It definitely helps with old cars to tear them down, clean (and repaint!) everything, replace all worn-down parts and then put it together again, without going as deep as re-boring cylinder holes and inserting new pistons - that one definitely requires a skilled expert as well as specialized tools, while all you need for a disassemble-cleanup-reassemble can be done at a hobby garage or in your shed if you have a sufficiently large shed and a well sorted toolbox.

> I thought this was going to be a bit more informative about _how_ engines work

Agree. I was ready to upvote it [1] literally based on the title which I didn't do and don't ever do. Then I watched and was let down (contrast principle at work).

[1] And I wonder if that is why it's the top story on HN when I viewed.

It took 2,500 photos and 4 days to shoot, followed by about 8 days of photoshopping & grading.

Absolutely superb. The patience involved, that's what I can't get over about stop-motion animation – the ability to see the big picture while you're inching along frame by frame. Incredible job, it really is.

May as well put this here because it popped into my mind while watching your piece.

You know, if we do move as a society from the internal combustion engine to the electric drive train something of great beauty, mechanical logic, and engineering prowess will have been lost. Sort of humbling to think that these may only exist in the museums and enthusiast workshops of tomorrow. Kind of like steam engines today, see here: http://www.isvrally.com/ for a local example – “Innishannon Steam & Vintage Rally”

Thanks! The hardest thing is to try to remove multiple parts staggered over shots. Because the smallest distraction and you've forgotten which bolt you already turned and which needs to be turned more.

Very interesting insight. Thanks.

Beautiful! Are you planning on rebuilding it? Another shoot? Is there a reason you don't mark the parts original location or is that simply because you intend to replace them?

The honest truth: This whole car is headed for the scrapyard at the end because it's not worth the extra time ($$$ per hour) while we film to mark parts, directions, alignments etc. I mark things when there's time. We're also modeling the whole thing in 3D and I'm sure the guys doing that will be mixing the bolts and fixings up. I'm kind of interested in how well it runs after this reckless teardown and rebuild.

Ah, there is a commercial angle to this. Ok, that explains it. I've done a couple of rebuilds and marking parts is something I do religiously otherwise the rebuild won't live long.

You could probably get some $$$ back if you put the car up for sale (as a "for parts or not working/not roadworthy", to avoid any possible liability issues) --- I don't know about the market for Miatas, but I know that there are automotive collectors out there who are interested in cars that have "interesting" histories.

>We're also modeling the whole thing in 3D ...

Can you elaborate on the process for this? I'm curious what software you're using, how many modelers you have, and if you're using 3D scanning equipment.

Modeling everything by hand has to be unimaginably laborious.

Incredible work by the way, you've already sold me as a customer. :)

We're making it all by hand because it needs to be relatively low poly for the app and website :) I'll write about the process when we've figured it out completely. I'd say we are about 70% done on the modeling. Rigging and animating is a whole other animal.

This was the state of the engine a few days ago - all internals are done. https://twitter.com/howacarworks/status/895417122385481728

Very nice.

In that case, I suppose the most utility 3D scans would have is as references to enable a faster low-poly modeling workflow.

Then again, scanning would likely incur a non-trivial time cost—one that can't outweigh the very benefits the process affords.

We use photogrammetry for the block, head, dashboard and transmission. It's invaluable for these organic parts. Then retopologized.


Blender is amazing. Check out the new Eevee realtime renderer[1] in 2.8 as well! It's astonishing :)

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAVjwXEjDdo

I'd be as much interested in a 'making of' as I am in the final product you are making.

The amount of things to do on this project is incredible. When I embarked I thought we'd shoot 'making of' stuff all the way, but the reality is that even filming the film is hard enough work - to film the filming of the film would just be too much. I'd like to go back at the end and cover how we do some things - we really learned a lot. The other reason it's hard to do a 'making of' is that I actually don't know how to do this stuff, so we'd waste a lot of time explaining how to do it, only to discover a better way two weeks later.

> The other reason it's hard to do a 'making of' is that I actually don't know how to do this stuff, so we'd waste a lot of time explaining how to do it, only to discover a better way two weeks later.

That's exactly why a making of would be interesting. Here's an idea: shoot all that stuff anyway, with a single fisheye camera so that if you ever decide to do a making of you at least have some raw material to work with. Documenting this work that you are doing would have lasting value.

You are spending so much time and money tearing that poor Miata apart.

What inspired this?

It's a Miata, so it was probably inspired by hate.

I kid, Miata fans.

Honest question, if you just ran the video in reverse, could anyone tell that it was not an actual rebuild? It is stop motion after all, in a sense there is no motion but just captured moments in time, and those moments can be reversed.

Yes, of course. The parts are all still dirty, the seals still broken. After a rebuild an engine looks like new.

Alex, beautiful work. What kind equipment does one need to do stop-motion pictures? How did you learn about the process?

Just a DSLR really - the camera guy for this used a Panasonic GH5. It's more photography than video. But a couple of lights that you can position for a subject like this make a huge difference.

I love the style, which to me was reminiscent of a demoscene production. It put me in mind of this one from a few years back: http://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=50105

Good to see I'm not the only one who thought it was very demoscene-ish. In fact if you were to say the first 30 seconds or so were CGI, I'd probably be convinced.

Really nice work!

How did you do the shots where the cassette tape and the engine parts are moving around in the air?

String. Coat hangers. Bits of wire. Sticks as fishing rods. We tried various ways and in the end I mainly used some conductive cotton thread that I bought from Adafruit ages ago. It was strong enough to take a lot of weight, but nice and thin too.

For the heavy stuff I just had to hold it and then photoshop my legs and arms out.

That is really great - I never would have guessed how you did it.

> photoshop my legs and arms out

This reminds me of the first time I saw Forrest Gump. For some reason I didn't know who Gary Sinise was, and all through the movie I thought the actor playing Lt. Dan actually was a double amputee.

And in the flashback scene that showed him walking, I marveled at how they were able to fit him with artificial legs that let him walk so naturally!


> And in the flashback scene that showed him walking, I marveled at how they were able to fit him with artificial legs that let him walk so naturally!

They filmed that scene first then chopped off his legs and filmed the bits that came "before".

You owns the course or you just did the stop-motion?

I own the course. As much as you can own a video these days!

Congratulations, very well done.

judging by his username and the intro the videocourse https://www.howacarworks.com/video-course I'd say the former

You could've cut filming time in half or doubled it if you had chosen a different engine.

That would have required picking a different car to start with.

Ford v10 would have about the same amount of stuff per cylinder but 2.5x as many cylinders.

SOHC I4 from a "manual everything" economy car with 1st gen EFI would probably be about the lowest part count without getting into flathead territory.

2 stroke Wartburg or Trabant.

As a hearing-impaired person, I just wanted to thank you for clearly mentioning that it's subtitled. That shows it's more than just an afterthought, and seals the deal for me!

I don't understand why everyone wouldn't subtitle their content. I used rev.com and it costs $1 per minute and the results are great. So to subtitle three hours cost $240. With many non-native English speakers as customers it is a no-brainer.

It's good to hear this too, because the text in that box originally said 'Filmed in 4K' and I only changed it to 'Fully subtitled' at the last moment.

Great to know about them.

But their web site says $7.50/minute for subtitling, $1 for transcriptions.

Still may be quite reasonable to extend video reach that much.

Because it's lot of work. Like everything, it depends of the investment vs reward, unless you are driven by virtue.

I came from a school with a large Hard of Hearing population... I've really come to appreciate captioning on all videos. Mainly I just don't like listening to people say things very much, most videos have super annoying soundtracks and effects or other distortion, and really reading is just as effective.

Have captions on your video for everyone, not just the deaf people in your audience (unless you just really love the sound of your own voice so much that you want to force other people to suffer through it).

I don't say it's not a good thing to have them.

But it's not free. Either it's worth it or you are a good doer.

They probably should. It seems to be required by law (in the US) in a lot of situations.

I used rev for transcriptions once and I had to have the file redone twice because the first two transcriptions were useless. Haven't bothered with it since. This was years ago so maybe they've improved.

Thanks for sharing what you've used to transcribe / subtitle your video's with. I've been looking for a source like this, and sounds like you're happy with their service. I'll give it a go on my next video project.

Same here. One reason I love the advent of GIF-videos is that the GIF format basically forces people to subtitle anything they want to say... and it seems to be spreading to regular video.

IMO what is really clever about this is that it is a "sales" video - except you dont realise you are being sold to until the end, by which time you've enjoyed the video so much, the pitch at the end is reasonable.

And you've shown what the value is long before I asked myself the question "how much" - which I usually ask early in the process - but not here.

At least that is how I found it... great work.

Would be interesting to see conversion figures for something like this.

I can't really share conversion stuff yet. But one interesting observation off the top of my head is that my customers MASSIVELY prefer paying with Paypal to Stripe, even though I deliberately steer them towards Stripe.

It was a massive pain to implement Paypal and I hated every moment of it but it produced an uptick in payments.

Note the typo on your sales page at https://www.howacarworks.com/video-course#intro: "We're taaking a Mazda MX5 Miata to pieces"

Thanks, fixed ready for next deploy :)

I just paid by PayPal. I'm reading this post on the couch relaxing and I have no desire to go get my wallet and dig out my credit card. Way easier.

Also, after watching a couple videos and reading the content, the production value and informational value of this is super high. By the time I learned what the price was, I was fairly surprised how cheap it was. $20 is what I spend on a sandwich and drink for lunch. So it was an automatic no-brainer. You could probably double or triple the price easily.

Same for me, the price is a no-brainer.

I already have a PayPal account linked to my bank account. I wouldn't keep a balance in my PayPal account, but it's the most frictionless way for me to pay online. I haven't set up a Stripe account yet for no very good reason.

> customers MASSIVELY prefer paying with Paypal to Stripe

That's interesting. Do you have a theory about why that is?

I just paid for this using Paypal. I prefer paying straight from my bank account rather than using a credit card. My debit card (Dutch pin card) cannot be used for online payments, but Paypal is connected to my bank account. Is Stripe able to do something similar?

Same here, also Dutch. I, and I think almost all Dutch people with me, prefer paying from a debit account. This means either iDeal or Paypal with a connected bank account.

I've never integrated Stripe, but it seems it is possible to use iDeal with stripe:


Just curious: would you have not purchased if PayPal wasn't available and you had to use a credit card?

I would've this particular purchase, I'm one of those "DIY auto repair enthusiasts" :)

Using the debit card (PayPal) is just a way of tricking myself into buying stuff really :) With credit card I am constantly reminded of how much I have left of my limit (just like seeing how much cash I have left in my wallet) and next month I'm hit with a big bill for stuff I bought "long time ago".

Stripe can in America, through the ACH system. Seems to be able to do SEPA direct debit these days if the vendor is in the EU, too.

All my friends use Stripe, but I'm stuck with PayPal b/c I don't have a debit card.

Do you have any numbers on conversion rates of Stripe vs Paypal?

Interesting, what I got out of the video is that they seem to use Unior tools and in fact I thought it was an ad for Unior at the beginning of the video.

Might have something to do with the fact that I have been considering Unior tools for a long time now but always postpone (because of the price).

Unior provided the tools for this course. They really are great quality - and run by real people who are proud of what they make. I went to their factory in Slovenia where they make 99.9% of everything they sell. We talked about making the series and they saw the potential in it and supported me when it really looked a risky bet. I'm very happy to advocate their tools because they are genuinely good, European-made and backed by proper engineers.

How many 10mm sockets were lost during production? :)

Probably none because when you're not trying to beat the clock on book hours you don't make as many mistakes.

This was originally a "Show HN":


And this was Alex's follow-up a year on:


Very well done Alex!

Thanks - that seems an incredibly long time ago. When responsive design was noteworthy!

Top notch! It looks so easy! But you forgot the part where you spend an hour banging, cursing, and blasting that one bolt with a torch because it. just. will. not. budge, only to have it snap off and realize you're going to spend tomorrow drilling it out and tapping that hole...

WD40 and an overnight soak... Force will always get you broken bolts.

Corollary: No amount of force or increase in cutting speed will substitute for bad planning. (from my metal working guru friend)

Even better than WD40 (which sucks as everything equally) is a mix of ATF and Acetone for stuck bolts. From the store, pb blaster is the best. Wd40 stands for Water Displacer, it is not the formula our fathers knew. They would have used wax and a torch or wintergreen oil anyway.

If for some reason you don't have some ATF and acetone lying around, Kroil is the next best thing.

I am convinced from my experiences doing DIY auto repair that the jobs themselves are all fairly simple, it is dealing with stuck bolts and bolts that are hard to get to which turn the job into hours of work and frustration.

Yeah and putting one's body in poses and positions that are painful for someone who is accustomed mainly to sitting down in front of a computer all day. I discovered after buying my little hobby farm that mechanical stuff hurts me. I have injured myself all sorts of ways I didn't expect.

Also in meatspace you can't hit 'undo' or 'git reset --hard' .. I hate that :-)

> I have injured myself all sorts of ways I didn't expect.

It's kinda like how (in the days of old, at least) when you built a PC, if you didn't cut yourself and spilled a bit of blood (usually on a sharp case edge) - you were doing it wrong.

Instead, you have that one tight bolt you're wrenchin' and pullin' on - then suddenly it breaks free and WHAM, your knuckles get busted on the crossmember (or something else unforgiving).

Which is why, if you have the ability (leverage) and room, it always better to push on the handle of the wrench with an open palm or loose grip - that way if the bolt breaks loose, the inevitable won't occur...

Inspired by this viral video from a few years back perhaps? https://youtu.be/daVDrGsaDME

Absolutely :) There's a great porsche one too, and the most crazy of all is this one where they literally used an angle-grinder to erase a bike engine:


I can only imagine the amount of dust that created.

Beautiful work!

It's nice to see something that was designed with maintainability in mind. Designed to be disassembled, repaired and re-assembled later. Impressive engineering.

So different from most consumer products sold today which never use screws and are not designed for repairing. If it breaks down you're expected to buy a new one...

Engines are much easier to work on when they aren't in a car. It's when you have to work on them in the car (especially modern cars) that it gets tricky - or sometimes impossible (there are cars where certain parts on the engine are virtually impossible to remove, because the engine was assembled and installed before the body was fitted over things - usually, the only way to fix these is either to remove the body (virtually impossible for the diy'er), or by tearing half the car apart just to get to the part (and praying you can get it all back together afterward - without any extra parts left over!)...

True, though this cuts both ways: a similar teardown of the motive system of a Tesla would be like 8 or 9 seconds. Some fixed magnets, wire, a single speed gearbox, that's it.

Internal combustion engines may be designed for maintainability, but they have a much harder problem to solve to actually achieve successful maintenance.

Yet, my ICE is cheaper to repair than an out of warrany tesla.

What I found surprising about the video was that it made an engine seem, somehow, less complex and daunting. I'm sure that's a bit of an illusion created by the way the engine is taken apart (and the fact that it's not in a car and therefore you can rotate it as you need it, etc), but amazing work.

For me it confirmed that the basic things I'd learned from Car Mechanic Simulator were relatively valid... I've never even changed the oil on a real car, but I could name most of the parts in that video.

Wow, that was really awesome, great work! A small piece of critique, the last part of the video was really garbled/messy? and i kept trying to focus on the car parts, but was unable to due to it jumping around etc. So that part messed a bit with my eyes.

Sorry. The last part is too strong. I take full blame for it - I made it myself on Friday night because I wanted to get this out before it burned up more of my time and limited budget. I couldn't face another week of delays while the end was put together so I just bunged a few videohive templates together and went for it. I will redo it on Vimeo because I can replace the video there, but sadly it's now permanent on Youtube and Facebook I think.

(This is one reason why I'm running Youtube through my own site - I can upload a new version and anyone hitting this link in the future hopefully won't be forced into a seizure.)

yeah I was going to comment on the accessibility piece. Never thought I'd be one to say this, but since my job has changed recently, I'm empathizing with people who could be affected by this much more.

agree - couldn't watch the pitch part as it was just too much noise

stop motion part was impressive though

I've been meaning to play the hilarious-looking "My Summer Car" (http://www.amistech.com/msc/) recently as I have been hankering to learn about engines... perhaps it's wise to do the video course first!

How have I never seen this before!!

Very cool.

The motorcycle equivalent is this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkHJuU01-Wk&index=43&list=PL...

I watched about 3/4 of these ^^ videos, really learned a lot about how a combustion engine works.

I always kinda liked this one of a motorcycle engine with one end cut off. You can see how the valves work, and how they are designed to rotate under load, to even out the valve seat wear.


dang. this is so awesome. really makes the machine feel so much more accessible.

and your ad is one of the best i've seen since MasterClass ads in my Facebook feed. i felt like the ad was basically free content. i was learning!

Wait, this course is only $20? This seems like a lot of content for $20...

Really great video too

I thought the same. I guess you could charge way more for this kind of content. Great work!

It's not finished yet! Maybe when it's finished I could charge more but at the moment I'm happy if I can just recoup some of the production costs each week.

OT: Youtube hasn't tracked a single view from this being embedded on the site. Does anyone know if Youtube doesn't count embedded views?

Kudos for sticking with this project, which has not made you a ton of money overnight, since at least 2012.

I don't mean to underplay the work involved in programming and marketing this project, but just not giving up is perhaps the hardest part of things like this.

Any success, ever will have had a period of simply not giving up and continuing until it works. Overnight successes more often than not are years of hard work under the radar.

Congratulations, I can imagine the amount of work that went into making it.

I like to take things apart, and it made me a bit nervous, as each piece was separated, that I would never be able to put it back together :)

This is beautiful. Love the synthwave soundtrack :)

Where is the Reddit post of this? You're going to front page, for sure.

I'd never even heard of synthwave before I did spent 5 hours on Audio Jungle trying to find good music for this video. Now it's all I listen to while I'm coding.

I was confused initially, thought I had left my usual synthwave radios on. :)

May I add to the recommendations below:

1) Makeup and Vanity Set (MaVS)


Still my favorite composer, a couple years after discovering the genre, thanks to his richness and variety. Where other composers start to blend into the same 80s synth mush, MaVS manages to keep it interesting for me. Hard to recommend just one title, but maybe Stalker from the album Wavehymnal

2) Bourgeoisie - Space Tapes and Vice album


3) Ogre Sound - 195 album


Features a track titled "Revengeance Overcharge" for that 110% 80s satire.

4) Le Matos - Join Us album


5) There'd be tons more, but really Google Music's "Makeup and Vanity Set" auto-radio is gold.

Mirror for Backbone of the night: https://dadmusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-construct

You have subreddits, youtube channels and facebook groups where you can find new music.

Feel free to submit it to /r/cars and reap the karma :) (Edit: Maybe wait a little! I'm not sure I can handle the front page of reddit too.)

Congratulations! This is a really nice project, it seems to have the right combination between real knowledge about the car and audio-visual effects to keep people engaged.

I just subscribed to the video course and I can see the preorder offer is a no brainer, skimming through the PDF provided I can see there is enough value on it to easily make it worth the $20 by itself.

So as a suggestion: Highlight the PDF and its content on the preorder page, there is only one mention about it but it doesn't specify its contents.

Really nice work!

I did have a slight giggle when the promo at the end says you explain everything about 'modern cars', while you are working on a car introduced 27 years ago.

Of course I understand that disassembling a new car does not make financial sense, I'm not trying to be negative here.

I completely agree. This was basically the best choice of car that I could afford to buy and effectively sacrifice to the course (the steering rack, the wingmirror motors - it's all in pieces being modeled) I'd love to do it again with Harley!

All the visual effects starting a 2:03 nearly made me sick, literally. The actual content was great.

That's just awesome. Back when I had a VW bus, I disassembled it and did most maintenance myself - but never down to THAT level of detail. Especially, I had to spend around 40 bucks on new screws because I misplaced the old ones (or they broke off due to old age)

Very nice indeed. If you liked this video, you may also like this rebuild of an engine over 11 months. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daVDrGsaDME

Fantastic video, and timely -- just spent a few days cursing at a Mazda Z5 engine (in a 97 Protege) myself!

Really, it's a pretty great engine, but with 233k miles a little grumpy.

Very cool video! Purchased.

I'm really interested in seeing where you go with the 3D modeling. As a coder/DIY mechanic (one of many I'm sure), I'm pretty psyched by how this tech could be used.

I also want to say that I appreciate your price point. I think it's at a good point where it might be less than the potential value of the product, but attracts those who would otherwise dropout of purchase or seek other means to obtain the media.

this is cool but i had to leave part way through the main video. it gives me anxiety thinking about getting all those parts back together without loosing a screw or messing something up.

Right. As someone who has torn apart an engine before I was constantly thinking "where are those parts going?" "Are they just throwing them on the floor?"

He bags & tags them, calm your anxiety guys.

I really like the parallaxed, knolled layout of a car's parts that you did for your ad for your 'Ultimate Video Course' (middle of https://www.howacarworks.com/basics/the-engine). How long did that take to finish?

Very cool, well-shot video. As others have said, I was more interested in a detailed explanation of the inner-workings. After finishing the video and exploring others, I found my way to the video course preorder page. $20 paid! Great concept, best of luck. Plan to start watching this weekend.

It reminds of the time I spent with Car Mechanic Simulator. A nice 'fun' game on Steam if you like stuff like this.

I have the 2015 version and there seems to be a new one out now (2018 version) but the reviews warn about the many bugs

This looks awesome!

How is the course delivered? Downloadable or streaming only? Can I watch it on Linux?

I was wondering that too. (I was happy to see that the demo videos are HTML5, though.)

Very nice; and playful. How some of it is done is not obvious, like the pistons "taking off" out of the cylinders without the support mechanism for taking the shots being obvious.

Nice tip of the hat to Luxo Jr. at the end there.

What a beautiful work, very satisfying to watch this introduction, as people commented, just at the end you realize it's a promotional video of the course, and not just a piece of art.

Great job! I wish there were sites like this for more... things.

I don't want to sound like a fake commenter, but this somehow sold me on the course concept even though the part of a car I least car(e) about is the ICE.

Great video! Really enjoyed watching it. Great lighting. Towards the end, the images get flashy (don't do this please filmmakers, it makes my head hurt).

Pretty cool. Learning more about cars is something I need to definitely brush up on, especially when it comes to things under the hood.

This is impressive marketing, I purchased the class, am happy about it, AND liked the way it was marketed to me.

The sound design was excellent! Well done.

For someone like me who spent hours watching engine videos on youtube, this was an instant buy. Well done!

Really cool idea but my eyes actually hurt watching the end though and had to stop the video.

Agreed, the glitch effects were a bit overdone on the second half. Looks like incredibly high-quality content, though. I'm seriously tempted even though I'm not a petrol-head and have trouble changing turn signal lamps without breaking anything.

And the first thing i thought when seeing this: and thats why electric motor is the future.

Electric cars will only be the future if the battery technology gets much, much better. Pound for pound, the energy density of the best available lithium battery chemistry comes no where close to that of gasoline.

Given how we've seen how lithium-based batteries like to die in catastrophic ways, I am not sure I would like to have a battery with the same energy density as gasoline. So it's a question not just of density, but safety.

On top of all that, the batteries need to be able to be charged quickly; 10 minutes to a full charge is probably the upper limit, 5 minutes would be ideal. But that would take a massive upgrade of electrical infrastructure, and I am also not sure you could make such a charger friendly for use by a consumer (not the safety aspect - more the handling aspect, as the conductors for carrying the current will likely have to be somewhat hefty).

There's also the fact that chargers would also need to be standardized (that's an industry thing, though - and if things work out for electric motors and batteries, I am sure a standard would come about).

But first and foremost is the battery tech, unless we want to say that, to go long distances (4-500 miles per charge), you need to use an IC engine in some manner (even as a hybrid), but shorter "in town" distances (which I agree, most people only do) can be handled by electrics.

That said, until a low-cost, real off-road vehicle becomes available as an electric (and I mean it has to be affordable for a regular person, not some $60-100k fantasy vehicle, which is mainly what is on the drawing board right now), I'm not very interested. But I'm not everyone, of course. I'm just not a "car guy" - I like my vehicles to be trucks or jeeps...

It's so true, isn't it? But we've got a pretty long way to go.

Mazda, whose Z5 engine is being disassembled in the video is introducing a compression ignition gasoline engine in 2019 with claimed 20-30% efficiency benefits! We'll see how that actually holds up in practice.

Wish something similar is made for an electric car since it is the future.

nice ad. however, the tech side doesn't seem to have received as much love.

#1 PayPal returned me to an invalid URL after finishing the payment

#2 I've paid & logged in, nevertheless the website still shows me links to "buy the course".

Sorry to hear this - when you say the website shows you links, do you mean the app? There is a bug that I'm aware of that is pending submission for approval to Apple. I will check the Paypal return right now. Feel free to email me - info@howacarworks.com but I'll find your order and get onto you right now.

I can't deduce your order from your HN name so please do email me.

The raw complexity here is astounding.

Something something electric motors are far simpler. ;)

You know what I discovered doing this! It looks more complex but there's not much chemistry or invisible magic here. It's all pieces of shaped metal that fit together and move when a piston is pushed down. In an electric car you've got chemistry that you can't see or feel, magnetic fields that are invisible and electron flow that is hidden.

You're right! And that's why it's cool. It's tactile. Always loved mechanical things (and now am a programmer). The first mechanical thing I loved was the differential gear! More people should understand mechanical cleverness.

Id say electric car is subset of internal combustion, as you also have battery and generator to run that conbustion engine ;)

but energy waves is also within the law of physics.. they just work.

My $5 coke can RC car works on the same idea as a tesla.

It stresses me out, I imagine being left with a few dozen spare pieces at the end.

Nice! A Mazda Miata Engine!

Wow. I imagined it took tons of patients (well - 4 days worth). Amazing.


How did you make those flying parts? Photoshopping out the holders?

exactly. A lot of masking :)

Just £16! I've pre-ordered, that's a bargain.

Really awesome stuff. Thanks for you hard work!

BTW: Did the car came from Hungary? I saw you found 2000 HUF. :)

The foley on that video must have taken some time.

This looks AWESOME, @alexmuir! Preordered :)!

Was sold almost immediately. Beautiful work!

shut up and take my money! :)

Wow. That was superb.

Real cool!


Very cool. It's amazing how complex the combustion engine seems, especially compared to an electric motor. No wonder cars have a limited lifetime of typically some 150-200k miles.

It's going to be really interesting to our purchasing and maintenance patterns for EVs.

Ehh modern engines are pretty reliable. They can easily do over 200k miles. The actual combustion part is basically a solved problem. Modern fuel injection (amongst other things) has done wonders for engine reliability. It's usually other things that cause people to want to ditch cars around 150-200 k. E.g. the automatic transmission failing, timing belt (instead of a chain) failing around 100k, alternator and other electronics, pumps, etc.

A typical car will "last" 200k miles[1].

It's not really still a fair comparison to EVs, because a typical combustion engine will require significant and regular maintenance plus part replacement to make it to 200k.

> E.g. the automatic transmission failing, timing belt (instead of a chain) failing around 100k, alternator and other electronics, pumps, etc.

Exactly why EVs are such a game changer. They literally don't have any of those parts.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/automobiles/as-cars-are-ke...

Batteries in EV cars do need to be replaced at significant expense as well.

Mine's at 291,600 as of a 200-mile trip last night.

Runs like a top!

FYI Chevy trucks sell all the time in my area for good (high) prices with 200k+ miles on them. People don't seem to doubt they'll keep running.

I think many modern engine styles can achieve that, but lack of maintenance does a lot of damage, and most people aren't very good at maintenance. (Me included!)

Just re-commenting from above: my Mazda Protege (with the same engine shown in the video) has 233k and is still going strong, doesn't burn barely a drop of oil. Pretty amazing for a 20-year old car.

>Mazda Protege

I think you misspelled Ford Escort.

Speaking of which, trying to buy a Ford Escort on CList can result in some very ambiguous text messages.

Edit: Thanks for the down-votes. Please read the Wikipedia page on the Escort and Protege. They use the same platform from the 90s onward which was the time when Ford and Mazda collaborated on a lot of stuff. Both flavors of the platform have their pros and cons.

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