Archive for category Recumbent Bicycling

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 …


, ,


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.


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.]

1 Comment

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 …


Tour Easy Daytime Running Light: Now with Chirality!

In the unlikely event our bikes need two running lights or, perhaps, a running light and a headlight, the solid model now builds mounts for the right side of the fairing, as before:

Fairing Flashlight Mount - Right side - solid model

Fairing Flashlight Mount – Right side – solid model

And for the left side:

Fairing Flashlight Mount - Left side - solid model

Fairing Flashlight Mount – Left side – solid model

Ahhh, chirality: love that word.

Those pix come from a cleaned-up version of the OpenSCAD code that finally gets the 3-axis rotations right, after a rip-and-replace rewrite to deliver the ball model with its origin in the center of the ball where it belonged and rotate the ring about its geometric center. Then the rotations become trivially easy and a slight hack job spits out a completely assembled model:

if (Component == "Complete") {
  mirror(TiltMirror) {
    translate([0,0,ClampOD/2]) {

However, putting the center of rotation directly over the center of the base plate means the ToeIn rotation shifts the bottom of the clamp ring along the X axis, where it can obstruct the mounting holes. Shifting the ring by a little bit:


… keeps the ring more-or-less centered on the top of the plate. That’s not quite the correct geometry, but it’s close enough for the small angles needed here.

Aiming the beam slightly higher makes a 400 lumen flashlight about as bright as any single LED in new car running lights:

Fairing Flashlight Mount - Mary approaching

Fairing Flashlight Mount – Mary approaching

You can just barely make out the snazzy new blue plate on the left side of the fairing.

A bike’s natural back-and-forth handlebar motion sweeps the beam across the lane, so I think there’s no real benefit from blinking.

The OpenSCAD source code as a GitHub Gist:

, ,


Sandisk Extreme Pro MicroSD Card: End of Life?

The Sandisk Extreme Pro 64 GB MicroSD card in the Sony HDR-AS30V died on the road once more, got reformatted, worked OK for a while, then kicked out catastrophic I/O errors after being mounted, so I swapped in the High Endurance card:

Sandisk - 64 GB MicroSDXC cards

Sandisk – 64 GB MicroSDXC cards

The Extreme Pro still passes the f3probe tests, so it’s not completely dead, but if I can’t trust it in the helmet camera, it’s dead to me.

It survived 17 months of more-or-less continuous use, although we didn’t do nearly enough riding for three months early this year. Call it 14 months x five rides / week x 1 hour / ride = 300 hours of recording. Multiply by 4 GB / 22.75 minutes to get 3 TB of video, about 50 times its total capacity.

The never-sufficiently-to-be-damned Sony cards failed after less than 1 TB and 15-ish times capacity, making the Sandisk Extreme Pro much better. However, it’s painfully obvious these cards work better for low-intensity still-image recording, rather than continuous HD video.

Using them as Raspberry Pi “hard drives” surely falls somewhere between still cameras and video, although Octoprint’s video snapshots and streaming media must make ’em sweat.

We’ll see how Sandisk’s High Endurance memory works in precisely the application it’s labeled for.


Leave a comment

Tenergy 18650 Lithium Cells: Initial Capacity

The daytime running lights on the bikes get noticeably dimmer when the 18650 lithium cell voltage drops below 3.6 V, so I picked up a quartet of Tenergy protected cells and ran ’em through the battery tester:

Tenergy 18650 Protected - 2017-08-04

Tenergy 18650 Protected – 2017-08-04

As with the ATX cells, the voltage decreases almost linearly with charge until it falls off the cliff near the end, but these have a higher terminal voltage throughout most of the curve, which is a Good Thing for LED flashlights.

These four seem to have about the same overall capacity as the ATX cells, so we’ll run ’em all in sequence and see how long they last.