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Archive for category Recumbent Bicycling

Tour Easy: Ruggedized Zzipper Fairing Mount

After nigh onto 18 years, the pipe straps holding the Zzipper fairing struts to the handlebars of our Tour Easy recumbents finally shrugged off their plastic wraps:

Tour Easy Zzipper Fairing - OEM mount
Tour Easy Zzipper Fairing – OEM mount

Although they still worked, riding over broken pavement produced distinct rattles; alas, the roads around here feature plenty of broken pavement.

The solution is a rugged plastic block capped with aluminum plates to spread the clamping load:

Tour Easy Zzipper Fairing - block mount
Tour Easy Zzipper Fairing – block mount

The solid model is straightforward:

Zzipper Fairing - Strut Mount - solid model - Show view
Zzipper Fairing – Strut Mount – solid model – Show view

A slight bit of tinkering made the stack exactly the right height for 45 mm screws secured with nyloc nuts. No washers on either end, although that’s definitely in the nature of fine tuning.

The three sections print without support:

Zzipper Fairing - Strut Mount - solid model
Zzipper Fairing – Strut Mount – solid model

I reamed the smaller hole with a 3/8 inch drill to match the fairing strut rod. The as-printed larger hole fit the handlebar perfectly, although the first picture shows the tubing isn’t exactly round on the near side of the block, where it starts the outward bend toward the grips.

The cap plates cried out for CNC, but I simply traced two outlines of the block on 1/8 inch aluminum sheet, bandsawed near the line, introduced them to Mr Disk Sander for finishing & corner rounding, transfer-punched the holes from the plastic blocks, and drilled to suit:

Tour Easy Zzipper Fairing - clamp plates
Tour Easy Zzipper Fairing – clamp plates

Making two pairs of plates by hand counts as Quality Shop Time around here.

The first few rides confirm the fix: no rattles!

The OpenSCAD source code as a GitHub Gist:

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Michelin Protek Tube: Another Slow Leak

After a few days of topping off the rear tire on Mary’s bike, with no gashes or debris in the tire, I finally replaced the Michelin Protek tube and autopsied it:

Michelin Protek tube autopsy
Michelin Protek tube autopsy

While it’s possible to extract the valve and perhaps even clean / replace it, I think that’s just delaying the inevitable. The rubber shreds may be necessary to fill large punctures, but they seem to wreck the valve seal.

Her bike now has an ordinary (pronounced “cheap”) tube inside the Schwalbe Marathon Plus armored tire. We’ll see how long this lasts.

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City of Poughkeepsie Police Armor

Returning from a long ride, we spotted an unusual sign at the Vassar Farm entrance (clicky for more dots):

Vassar Farm - Poughkeepsie Police Training sign - 2019-08-12
Vassar Farm – Poughkeepsie Police Training sign – 2019-08-12

Even more unusual was the sight of a matte black MRAP jouncing across the field:

Vassar Farm - Poughkeepsie Police MRAP - 2019-08-12
Vassar Farm – Poughkeepsie Police MRAP – 2019-08-12

I hadn’t noticed an uptick of the insurgency around here, but I suppose it could happen.

It looks like a Cougar HE 6×6 MRAP on loan from the DLA 1033 Program to the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department. The flat top suggests they dismounted the CROWS gun, which seems a definite step down in no-knock capability.

Some poking around showed the Poughkeepsie Police Department acquired a 107 mm Mortar Carrier some years ago:

Marshall Project - Poughkeepsie 107 mm Mortar Carrier
Marshall Project – Poughkeepsie 107 mm Mortar Carrier

The M106 is an impressive hunk of tracked armor, although it seems unsuited for urban warfare and would certainly scuff up the streets pretty badly. I don’t know if they scrapped the M106 in favor of the MRAP.

I’m hoping they don’t collaborate with the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Department to patrol the Rail Trail, even within the City limits.

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Monthly Image: A Tree Full of Turtles

Spotted along Robinson Lane:

Tree full of turtles
Tree full of turtles

A closer look at the same number of pixels:

Tree full of turtles - detail
Tree full of turtles – detail

The little one way over on the left is definitely having an adventure!

I’d read of goats climbing trees, but never turtles.

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Mystery Knife / Chisel

I recovered a tool from an intersection during the homeward leg of a bike ride:

Mystery chisel knife - overview
Mystery chisel knife – overview

The scabbard is a bit the worse for having been run over by traffic, but the knife is still in good shape.

The back of the blade has been well and truly mushroomed:

Mystery chisel knife - battered back
Mystery chisel knife – battered back

The blade edge doesn’t have nearly as much damage as you’d (well, I’d) expect from all the hammering on the back and sides:

Mystery chisel knife - blade edge
Mystery chisel knife – blade edge

The molded handle suggests it’s a commercial product, but it has no branding, no maker’s mark, no identification of any kind.

Google Image Search returns useless views of tail lights and rifles. Here, try it for yourself:

Mystery chisel knife
Mystery chisel knife

I have no idea what it’s used for.

Do you?

[Update: It’s a Bell System Cable-Sheath Splitting Knife, made by Klein Tools. More details in the comments … ]

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Baofeng UV-5R Squelch Settings

The Baofeng UV-5R radios on our bikes seem absurdly sensitive to intermodulation interference, particularly on rides across the Walkway Over the Hudson, which has a glorious view of the repeaters and paging transmitters atop Illinois Mountain:

Walkway Over The Hudson - Illinois Mountain Antennas
Walkway Over The Hudson – Illinois Mountain Antennas

A better view of the assortment on the right:

Illinois Mountain - North Antennas
Illinois Mountain – North Antennas

And on the left:

Illinois Mountain - South Antennas
Illinois Mountain – South Antennas

Not shown: the Sheriff’s Office transmitter behind us on the left and the Vassar Brothers Hospital / MidHudson pagers on either side at eye level. There’s plenty of RFI boresighted on the Walkway.

Anyhow, none of the Baofeng squelch settings had any effect, which turned out to be a known problem. The default range VHF covered a whopping 6 dB and the UHF wasn’t much better at 18 dB, both at very low RF power levels.

We use the radios in simplex mode, generally within line of sight, so I changed the Service Settings to get really aggressive squelch:

Baofeng UV-5R - Improved Squelch Settings
Baofeng UV-5R – Improved Squelch Settings

I have no way to calibrate the new signal levels, but I’d previously cranked the squelch up to 9 (it doesn’t go any higher) and, left unchanged, the new level makes all the previous interference Go Away™. Another ride over the Walkway with the squelch set to 4 also passed in blissful silence.

If the BF-F9 levels mean anything on a UV-5R, that’s about -100 dBm, 20 dB over the previous -120 dBm at squelch = 9.

The new squelch levels may be too tight for any other use, which doesn’t matter for these radios. As of now, our rides are quiet.

[Update: Setting the squelch to 5 may be necessary for the Walkway, as we both heard a few squawks and bleeps while riding eastbound on a Monday afternoon. ]

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Pedestrian Hazard on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail

I ride slowly and ding my bell when overtaking pedestrians on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, but this group of walkers paid almost no attention as I rode toward New Paltz:

HVRT New Paltz - Canada geese - Eastbound - 2019-07-16
HVRT New Paltz – Canada geese – Eastbound – 2019-07-16

I contented myself by practicing my slow-riding skills while they ambled along and, eventually, moved far to the left.

A few hours later, they seemed to be having a picnic in the grass:

HVRT New Paltz - Canada geese - Westbound - 2019-07-16
HVRT New Paltz – Canada geese – Westbound – 2019-07-16

We parted as friends, which is always pleasant.

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