MAKING SURE I GOT IT RIGHT
let me clarify stage 1 & 2 to make sure my understanding is correct. most people are going by COBB, which seems stage 1 is just a reflash (new map) ECU and stage 2 being the turboback being done as well.
for those light modders not planning to go crazy it seems the most cost-effective solution is to either 1.) do an opensource tune or 2.) buy an accessport. a lot of people seem to go to tuning shops (professionals) but this kind of seems unnecessary for most of us light modders. unless money is not a factor and you want only the best for your wrx.
for OPTION 1 of opensource. it seems you only need to buy the tactrix cable to use along with your laptop. i actually have a netbook but i don't see why it can't substitute and if anything a netbook's size probably makes it more convenient. OPTION 2 of accessport, it does the same thing as option 1 but in a nice convenient pre-packaged unit.
LOTS OF BEGINNER QUESTIONS
now i've been attempting to read up on all this tuning and for a noob like me it is a lot of info. i see on COBB's website they make maps for their accessport free. CobbTuning.com - Subaru AccessPORT Maps
i guess these are the basic ones being shared for free. the files are *.ptm. are these strictly made for the accessport only? it seems people can buy maps also, is this really a smart option for people like me who are light modders? what gets to me if a pro tuning is customized for a specific car taking in all variables, it seems a waste to pay $100 for a map that is not custom for you vehicle.
can someone link me to where i can find free maps used with opensource? i've used the link in the "Opensource Read Up.." sticky, but can't seem to locate any maps for a 2003 WRX. also the opensource seems pretty simple (when not doing custom tuning). it seems like running a winzip program. the main appeal of accessport to me is how they have all these maps available on one location.
WHAT HAPPENS TO MY GAS MILEAGE?
if i do any tuning you are basically taking the stock ecu setup and changing it to be a more performance based ecu. i would assume this would reduce my MPG? so the price you pay for not spending $1000 on a EM, is the pain in the ass chore of going into diagnostic mode and reflashing ecu everytime you want to switch between efficiency and performance?
TAKING DIAGNOSTIC INFORMATION...
it seems everytime you want to change maps for either OPTION 1 or 2, i have to put the car in diagnostic mode and go through the process. my question is how does diagnostic data taking work? does the ecu save data on it and you can pull it off later, or do you keep the laptop/accessport plugged in while driving??