Archive for June, 2015

Road Conditions: Spackenkill Rd – Eastbound Shoulder – Croft to Hagan

According to the map on page 116 of the “Walk Bike Dutchess” Planning Document, Spackenkill Road has a “Paved Shoulder Width” that’s “Greater than four feet”, but with an asterisk: “Paved width based on available data. May not reflect usable width.” Here’s what “usable width” looks like in actual practice.

I’m riding eastbound on Spackenkill Road, just past the signal at Croft Road. The shoulder has actually been at least 4 ft wide up to this point, but after Flower Hill Rd the paved surface narrows dramatically:

Spackenkill Rd EB - Croft to Hagan - 1

Spackenkill Rd EB – Croft to Hagan – 1

The right half of the shoulder is a drainage swale that wasn’t repaved along with the rest of the surface; the drain grates just add to the hazard.

This grate features a “bike safe” hex grid. What you can’t see is how far it’s recessed into the asphalt.

Spackenkill Rd EB - Croft to Hagan - 2

Spackenkill Rd EB – Croft to Hagan – 2

Did you notice the manhole cover dead ahead, extending from the fog line across the entire paved part? I did, which is why I’m moving into the travel lane: it’s recessed a few inches into the pavement.

The swale deepens and becomes a patch palimpsest closer to the signal at Wilbur Blvd:

Spackenkill Rd EB - Croft to Hagan - 3

Spackenkill Rd EB – Croft to Hagan – 3

Another manhole cover, recessed on the left and protruding on the right, with a rubble-filled swale requiring riders to move into the traffic lane:

Spackenkill Rd EB - Croft to Hagan - 4

Spackenkill Rd EB – Croft to Hagan – 4

The residual paint on the cover suggests the fog line moved a foot leftward, so the shoulder is slightly wider than it was before the repaving. At this point, the shoulder is a bit over a foot wide, if you ignore the manhole cover and don’t mind riding right up to the edge of the dropoff into the swale.

Just as an aside, why is it when motorists blow a red light, it’s perfectly normal, but when bicyclists do the same thing, they’re maniacs deserving instant death?

Spackenkill Rd EB - Croft to Hagan - 5

Spackenkill Rd EB – Croft to Hagan – 5

That’s why I stop at traffic signals and wait a few seconds before starting.

The shoulder gets wider toward Van Duzier, again if you ignore a recessed grate that’s so deep vehicles scratch the far side as they bottom out:

Spackenkill Rd EB - Croft to Hagan - 6

Spackenkill Rd EB – Croft to Hagan – 6

In Dutchess County, you get used to bicycling on whatever pavement you get. I can reliably ride a ledge half a foot wide, but we don’t expect drivers to navigate tiny slices of pavement.

Closing in on Hagan Drive, there’s a slightly concave wheel-trapping grate turned at a jaunty angle, smack in the middle of what surely counts as “more than four feet” of shoulder:

Spackenkill Rd EB - Croft to Hagan - 7

Spackenkill Rd EB – Croft to Hagan – 7

That one’s easy, although if you didn’t like riding close to traffic, you’d be in that gravel patch.

Back in the day, I commuted by bike to IBM along Spackenkill Road. It was in much worse condition with terrible shoulders, so the recent repaving isn’t all that bad. Oddly, back then it was an Official Bike Route with Official Signs; now that it’s improved, it’s no longer marked. Perhaps when NYSDOT gained control of the road, they decided it didn’t meet contemporary bike route standards?

On the whole, Spackenkill is much better than the usual Dutchess County fare.

Should you think that shoulder width isn’t a problem, then you should also have no problem with this deal: send me your paychecks and I will write you checks for anywhere from -25% to +150% of the nominal amount, randomly weighted by the sampled deviation of the shoulder width from four feet along both sides of Spackenkill Road. What say?

It’s not as though a cop will ask you about your average speed when you’re pulled over for speeding: it’s your maximum speed that matters. For bicyclists, it’s the minimum shoulder width and minimum paving standard.

A map with the route (clicky for more dots):

Spackenkill Rd EB - Croft to Hagan - map

Spackenkill Rd EB – Croft to Hagan – map

There’s a movie showing the complete ride from IBM Road to Red Oaks Mill.

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Presentation Video: Bring Enough Adapters

I plugged my trusty Dell Latitude E6410 into the VGA cable connected to a Viewsonic projector at TechShop Detroit to give the OpenSCAD Modeling presentation, but the display showed a surprising amount of ghosting; whether that was due to a bad cable or the usual presentation gremlins, I cannot say. Fortunately, although I didn’t have a VGA cable, I did have a fair assortment of adapters for the laptop’s DisplayPort output…

On the laptop end, DisplayPort to a DVI-D cable:

Latitude vs Viewsonic - DisplayPort to DVI-D

Latitude vs Viewsonic – DisplayPort to DVI-D

On the Viewsonic end, DVI-D to HDMI:

Latitude vs Viewsonic - DVI-D to HDMI

Latitude vs Viewsonic – DVI-D to HDMI

Worked like a champ!

The projector in the room for the Arduino Survival Guide presentation had a VGA cable, but had been losing sync and turning itself off, so I unplugged that, rebuilt the DisplayPort adapter string, and continued the mission.

I must add a known-good VGA cable and corresponding adapters to the assortment…

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Bring Enough Gun: M110 Self-Propelled Howitzer

Spotted this in Salamanca NY:

M110 Self-Propelled Howitzer - Salmanca

M110 Self-Propelled Howitzer – Salmanca

According to Wikipedia, the M110A2 8 inch / 203 mm Self-Propelled Howitzer became obsolete when improvements in smaller guns matched its range and firepower. The double-vent muzzle brake is diagnostic for the A2 model.

It seemed an odd decoration for a town inside an Indian reservation; we didn’t stop to read the plaque.

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Vector Mechanics at Work

Spotted this at an Ohio rest area along I-90:

New Rules and Regs Sign - orientation marker

New Rules and Regs Sign – orientation marker

The slanted stake isn’t a normal vector for the sign surface, but you could derive one…

For whatever it’s worth, Ohio wins the Interstate Highway paving quality award, hands-down, in comparison with New York.

 

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Victoreen 710-104 Ionization Chamber: Mounting Dimensions

Mounting a circuit board atop the Victoreen 710-104 ionization chamber requires figuring out the location of those 6-32 studs:

Victoreen 710-104 Ionization Chamber - oblique

Victoreen 710-104 Ionization Chamber – oblique

Given that it dates back to the early Cold War days, the bolt circle dimensions are all hard inch:

Victoreen 710-104 Ionization Chamber - mounting dimensions

Victoreen 710-104 Ionization Chamber – mounting dimensions

I embossed the studs into a pad of Geek Scratch Paper, eyeballed the stud-to-stud spacing from a cheap ruler, back-calculated the BCD, rounded it from 2.742 to the obvious 2.75, then fed that into the first BCD calculator that appeared in the obvious search.

The can is just over 3.5 inch OD and stands 1.5 inch tall.

The can will run at +24 V in relation to the rest of the circuitry, so the studs must be insulated from the PCB’s copper pours. That, most likely, will require some 3D printed doodads.

The circuitry must live inside a grounded metallic can that excludes random electric fields. Somewhere in the pile, I have a few sheets of Mu-metal that, while grossly overqualified for the task (even without heat treatment), should solder up nicely…

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Relic of the Empire: Telephone Room

Within the memory of those yet living, these rooms had a purpose:

Chautauqua Lake Rest Stop - Phone Room

Chautauqua Lake Rest Stop – Phone Room

That’s at the fancy Chautauqua Lake rest area on eastbound I-86.

The majority of NY Interstate rest areas are, suffice it to say, far less ornate. Their walls now sport bare phone mounting plates and cut-off cables.

They don’t have any phone books these days, either…

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Geek Scratch Paper: Historic Edition

An embossed sheet of my Geek Scratch Paper carried the valve knob sizes home from the garden, which prompted a comment from Mike about The Good Old Days in sunny California. Because I’ve disabled comments on old posts due to the spam load, here it is:

Ed has made references to his “geek scratch paper”… which brought back memories.

Gullivers Restaurant in Orange county, CA has been around since at least 1974. Back then they catered to the moderately expensive out-for-dinner crowd in the evenings and on the weekends, but during lunchtime they had a businessmans luncheon special in the main dining room that was oriented towards a decent meal and in-and-out-in-an-hour. The side rooms were for those that were doing longer lunches or business deals over lunch.

The key was that Gullivers was smack dab in the middle of Orange County’s tech region and right across the street from the large airport (now called John Wayne Airport). It’s also very close to Interstate 5, Interstate 405, and state highway 55… all 4-lane-each-direction major freeways.

During those lunch hours it was not unusual to see ID badges from over 20 companies in the main dining room. Several new products and at least one new company were formed over those lunches.

But the topic was “geek scratch paper”… well… Gullivers lunchtime paper placemats back in the 1970s were printed with graph paper on the back side!!!

Imagine: Geek scratch paper at every table provided by a thoughtful restaurant!!! And this was forty years ago!!!

I worked at one of the design houses in the area for over two years. I personally know of at least four new circuit designs, a half dozen new sheet metal designs, a number of circuit board re-designs, several new or modified software routines and at least six Product Change Notices and Engineering Change Orders that were started on the back of a Gullivers place mat (or three, or four…).

For a long time my resume had a bullet point that read “Able to convert lunchtime scratch paper engineering sketches into formal documentation and engineering change orders”.

I’ve not been inside Gullivers since 1981 – in over thirty years I’ve not been in that area except to drive on Interstate 5 on the way from Los Angeles to San Diego. The restaurant may be gone or remade itself into something else. But the next time I’m in that part of southern California I’ll make a special stop and check, and if their placemats still have graph paper on the back side, I’ll email you a photo or three.

On a different but similar topic… At one time the local ham radio club members used to choose which restaurant to migrate to after the monthly meetings by which ones had a blank back side on the place mats…. especially for the planning sessions prior to major events.

Mike WA6ILQ

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