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Archive for category Recumbent Bicycling

SRAM Shift Indicator Repair: Polypropylene Sheet

Over the course of a few weeks, both of the indicators in the SRAM grip shifters on my bike snapped off. Having recently touched my parallel jaw clamp assortment, it occurred to me I could mold snippets of polypropylene sheet (saved from random clamshell packages for just such a purpose) around the nose of a clamp and come out pretty close to the final shape:

SRAM Shift Indicator - shaped replacements

SRAM Shift Indicator – shaped replacements

A hot air gun set on LOW and held a foot away softened the polypro enough so a gloved thumb could squash it against the jaw. Too much heat shrinks the sheet into a blob, too little heat lets the sheet spring back to its original shape.

The flat tab of the original indicator is about 1 mm thick. I found a package of 47 mil = 1.2 mm sheet with one nice right-angle bend and ran with it.

Because I expect sunlight will fade any color other than black, that’s the Sharpie I applied.

They don’t look as awful as you might expect. The rear shifter, minus the cover:

SRAM Shift Indicator - rear detail

SRAM Shift Indicator – rear detail

The front shifter, with cover installed and HT PTT button below the still-good Kapton tape:

SRAM Shift Indicator - front assembled

SRAM Shift Indicator – front assembled

The transparent covers press the OEM indicators down and do the same for my homebrew tabs. I expect the Sharpie will wear quickly at those contact points; next time, I should tint the other side.

They’re rather subtle, I’ll grant you that.

Now, to see if they survive long enough to make the worry about a brighter color fading away a real problem…

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Sunglass Earpiece Trimming

Mary doesn’t like wearing the wrap-around-her-head earpieces found on sunglasses these days under her bicycle helmet, so I must trim them to fit:

Sunglass earpiece trim

Sunglass earpiece trim

Perhaps I won’t need an old pair to prepare the next set: a scant four inches from the hinge.

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Burnett Blvd at Rt 55: Passing on the Right, Redux

As usual, we’re at the Rt 55 end of Burnett Blvd, returning home from a grocery trip; I’m hauling two full bags of chow in the trailer. The white car pulling up immediately to our left will make a left turn from the left lane:

Burnett at Rt 55 - Right Pass - 2017-09-19 - 01

Burnett at Rt 55 – Right Pass – 2017-09-19 – 01

The more distant white car, turning left out of Overocker, is eases past us in the right lane to make a right turn:

Burnett at Rt 55 - Right Pass - 2017-09-19 - 02

Burnett at Rt 55 – Right Pass – 2017-09-19 – 02

We’re on the left side of the right lane, rather than the right, to avoid right hook collisions with drivers who flat-out do not stop before turning. Been there, had that happen, we know better.

The car approaching in the right lane will attempt to pass us on the right:

Burnett at Rt 55 - Right Pass - 2017-09-19 - 03

Burnett at Rt 55 – Right Pass – 2017-09-19 – 03

That’s happened before, too, so I’m watching this happen in  my mirror. My line will pass to the right of the inconveniently placed manhole cover in the intersection:

Burnett at Rt 55 - Right Pass - 2017-09-19 - 04

Burnett at Rt 55 – Right Pass – 2017-09-19 – 04

Mary’s nearing the right side of the lane, I’m in the middle, and the driver jams to a stop rather than run up over the sidewalk:

Burnett at Rt 55 - Right Pass - 2017-09-19 - 05

Burnett at Rt 55 – Right Pass – 2017-09-19 – 05

The passenger window is rolling down, which is always a Bad Sign:

Burnett at Rt 55 - Right Pass - 2017-09-19 - 06

Burnett at Rt 55 – Right Pass – 2017-09-19 – 06

It’s all the way down and I know what’s about to happen:

Burnett at Rt 55 - Right Pass - 2017-09-19 - 07

Burnett at Rt 55 – Right Pass – 2017-09-19 – 07

So I preempt the discussion by pointing out she was passing in an intersection and the license plate on the silver Chevy say FEX-4194:

Burnett at Rt 55 - Right Pass - 2017-09-19 - 08

Burnett at Rt 55 – Right Pass – 2017-09-19 – 08

She passes Mary and stops directly ahead of us in the middle of the right-hand lane. We jam to a stop behind her. The black car approaching us swerves into the middle lane:

Burnett at Rt 55 - Right Pass - 2017-09-19 - 09

Burnett at Rt 55 – Right Pass – 2017-09-19 – 09

She pulls around the corner onto Manchester and stops in the intersection. I stop well behind her to remain visible from Rt 55, which turns out to be a Good Idea:

Burnett at Rt 55 - Right Pass - 2017-09-19 - 10

Burnett at Rt 55 – Right Pass – 2017-09-19 – 10

Mary eases beside the drivers window, which rolls down. The driver says she’s going to call the police, “because we pulled directly in front of her”. Mary points out we have video of the entire encounter. The window rolls up and the driver pulls away.

Overocker, Burnett, and a short sprint on Rt 55 to Manchester is the only route from the grocery store to Rt 376 and home, so it’s not like we’re looking for trouble.

No helmet camera video, alas, because I tried those piece-of-crap Wasabi batteries in the Sony HDR-AS30V and the second one was flat-out dead. The first one, in the camera when I left home, showed empty after the half-hour ride to the grocery store, so they really are junk; “Premium Japanese cells” my foot.

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Tour Easy Headset Wrench

The headset on my Tour Easy ‘bent worked its way loose, which led to a disturbing discovery: the headset wrench I made from a discarded flat wrench vanished with the shop tools donated to MakerSmiths.

Fortunately, we live in the future:

Tour Easy Headset Wrench - Slic3r preview

Tour Easy Headset Wrench – Slic3r preview

A thin plastic wrench is absolutely no good for torquing down the locknut, but that’s not what it’s for. Adjust the bearing race to the proper preload with this wrench, hold it in place, then torque the locknut with the BFW.

The OpenSCAD source code as a GitHub Gist:

Now, I’d like to say that was easy, but in actual point of fact …

First, I forgot to divide by cos(180/6) to convert the across-the-flats size to the diameter of OpenSCAD’s circumscribed hexagon-as-circle, which made the wrench uselessly small:

Tour Easy Headset Wrench - v1

Tour Easy Headset Wrench – v1

If you have a 28 mm nut with low torque requirements, though, I’ve got your back.

While I had the hood up, I slenderized the handle into a much shapelier figure:

Tour Easy Headset Wrench

Tour Easy Headset Wrench

Trotting off to the garage with a warm plastic wrench in hand, I discovered the blindingly obvious fact that the headset nuts have eight sides. On the upside, the number of sides became a parameter, so, should you happen to need a five-sided wrench (perhaps on Mars), you can have one.

So, yeah, it’s rapid prototyping in full effect:

Tour Easy Headset Wrench Iterations

Tour Easy Headset Wrench Iterations

Remember, kids, never design while distracted …

, ,

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Sharing the Road on Raymond Avenue: Passing into the Roundabout

We’re approaching the Vassar Main gate roundabout on Raymond Avenue. I’m signaling for the middle of the lane, which involves extending my left arm straight out and pointing downward:

Raymond Avenue - Passing at Main Gate 1 rear - 2017-08-31

Raymond Avenue – Passing at Main Gate 1 rear – 2017-08-31

Evidently, the driver figures he can get past us into the roundabout, missing my hand by maybe a foot:

Raymond Avenue - Passing at Main Gate 2 - 2017-08-31

Raymond Avenue – Passing at Main Gate 2 – 2017-08-31

Six seconds later, we’re all stopped, because the planter in the middle of the roundabout is designed to hide the oncoming traffic and make you slow down:

Raymond Avenue - Passing at Main Gate 1 - 2017-08-31

Raymond Avenue – Passing at Main Gate 1 – 2017-08-31

I’m getting more assertive about moving leftward before we enter the approach, but obviously I’m not quite far enough over.

So it goes.

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Wasabi NP-BX1 Batteries: Consistent FAIL

The replacement NP-BX1 batteries arrived and, as I expected, perform just as badly as the previous pair:

Sony NP-BX1 - Wasabi GHIJK - 2017-09-01 - annotated

Sony NP-BX1 – Wasabi GHIJK – 2017-09-01 – annotated

The note I sent to Wasabi’s tech support summarizes the details:

The second pair of NP-BX1 batteries are just as bad as the first two. In fact, all four perform worse than the nearly two-year-old Wasabi batteries I’ve been using.

The graph shows the test results from my CBA III analyzer. All batteries were all charged in a Wasabi wall charger.

The top solid red curve shows the as-delivered performance in late 2015 for the battery I labeled “G”, tested at 500 mA. It delivered only 1 Ah, not the claimed 1.6 Ah, even at that relatively low current, but has delivered over one hour of service in the camera.

The top dotted-blue curve shows the as-delivered performance for the NEW battery I labeled “J”, also tested at 500 mA. It delivers only 0.88 Ah, 55% of the claimed 1.6 Ah, at a much lower voltage while discharging.

After two years, OLD battery “G” has more capacity and a higher voltage than the NEW battery “J”!

The lower curves shows the results for the four most recent batteries I labeled H I J K, all tested at 1 A to better match the camera’s actual current; the dotted traces mark the second test of each battery.

The orange traces show battery K has about 0.77 Ah of capacity, less than half of the claimed 1.6 Ah and much worse than the others.

I also re-tested battery old battery G at 1 A, as shown by the dotted red curve labeled “G:2017-09”. It outperforms ALL of the new batteries!

Batteries H and I have date codes BQF22, which I interpret as 2017-06-22: fairly recent stock.

Batteries J and K have date codes BPL28: 2016-12-28. They’ve been sitting around for a while, which may account for the poor performance of battery K.

These Wasabi batteries cost roughly twice (*) as much as they did in late 2015, have /much/ lower capacity, and, to judge from the date codes, they’ve been consistently poor since late last year.

What is going on?

It’s worth noting that Wasabi NP-BX1 batteries are currently $16 for the pair on Amazon and were $9 in late 2015. Allegedly genuine Sony NP-BX1 batteries run $50 MSRP and a suspiciously consistent $37.99 from all the usual big-box sources, including Amazon, where they’re out-of-stock for the next few months. Combining the number of counterfeits in the supply chain with Amazon’s commingled SKU stock bins, I have my doubts about what I’d get by increasing my battery spend by a factor of five.

I think it’s about time to conjure an external 18650 holder / helmet mount for that camera and be done with it.

[(*) Edit: I screwed up the unit of measure: the old invoice had two single batteries. The new order was one pair, so I now pay slightly less for much worse performance. A refund is wending its way through the system.]

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Sharing the Road on Raymond: Friend or Foe?

A silver Honda Accord Civic (NY HLS-3678) passed me on Raymond, just before the Vassar Main Gate roundabout, with about as much clearance as one might expect:

Raymond - Passing 2017-08-30 - 1

Raymond – Passing 2017-08-30 – 1

I noodled along Raymond at 18 mph and the car pulled ahead at the usual 30 to 40 mph. Just after the College Avenue roundabout, the car pulled off to the right, as if to park, but continued rolling slowly and I gave it plenty of clearance:

Raymond - Passing 2017-08-30 - 2

Raymond – Passing 2017-08-30 – 2

The car immediately pulled out into the lane, directly in front of the Escalade that’s been following me at a courteous distance since the Main Gate roundabout, and pulled up close behind me, which immediately put me at DEFCON 3. Basically, drivers get exactly one bite at my apple; anyone who deliberately passes me a second time is likely up to no good.

As always, I signal and take the lane going into the Collegeview Avenue roundabout, still at 18-ish mph, whereupon the driver lays on the horn rather heavily. Apparently, he intended to accelerate past me into the roundabout, but I got in the way:

Raymond - Passing 2017-08-30 - 2r

Raymond – Passing 2017-08-30 – 2r

I’m now cranking 20 mph. A block later, the car passes me, rather closely this time:

Raymond - Passing 2017-08-30 - 3

Raymond – Passing 2017-08-30 – 3

Maybe this is a friendly wave, but the horn thing suggests otherwise and, in any event, it’s hard to tell in real time running:

Raymond - Passing 2017-08-30 - 4

Raymond – Passing 2017-08-30 – 4

At this point, I presume he’s gesturing me to GTFO the road:

Raymond - Passing 2017-08-30 - 5

Raymond – Passing 2017-08-30 – 5

And we part company:

Raymond - Passing 2017-08-30 - 6

Raymond – Passing 2017-08-30 – 6

Raymond Avenue would be a lot more bicycle-friendly without some of the drivers …

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