Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Getting Ready for Winter Riding

A few more tasks done to get the Ural ready for cold weather riding. Added the gauntlets which cover the handlebar ends. They do a great job of blocking the wind from your hands and dramatically improve the effectiveness of the heated grips and/or heated gloves. The gauntlets do prevent you from seeing any of the handlebar controls so you do have to do everything from memory. The wiring for the left heated grip had come loose sometime this summer. Probably when I installed the horn as that involved running wires under the tank. It was a simple task to lift up the tank, locate the connector and plug things back together. Since I just replaced the battery last April, I'm going to try relying on that battery instead of installing the group 24 battery that I've used for the last couple of winter.

I swapped the two rear tires (and wheels) so the tire with the almost new tread from the sidecar is now the pusher. The last time I removed the rear wheel was to replace the rubber boot on the driveshaft. At that time, I noticed that one of the brake springs was broken again. In the picture, it's the spring on the lower right. The entire assembly was replaced under warranty about 25k km ago and that included the brakes.

Raceway didn't have any springs in stock when I was in Oregon so I ordered a couple from Ural Northwest. The shipping was almost as much as the parts and they were sitting on the counter when we arrived back in Fairbanks. I used the nice brake adjustment tool that I picked up from an independent Ural mechanic in Maryland who goes by Gobium on the Soviet Steeds Ural forum. This homemade tool made it a snap to adjust both shoes to provide even braking. BTW, the way Raceway had the brake shoes adjusted, one of the pusher brake shoes wasn't even touching the drum. It still looks brand new. Maybe Ural needs to add this tool to their tool roll.

I'm still debating whether to replace the front tire. I still have another brand new tire on the shelf. But the front tire still has some life left so, for now, I’ll leave it as is.

I think the last couple of months have made me feel the cold. I used to be able to work in the garage for hours at a time. Not any more. What should have taken one afternoon has taken me several days...

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Alaska Statewide DMR Net

Yesterday, as on most Monday evenings while we were on the road, I participated in the Alaska Statewide DMR Net hosted out of Homer, AK. Since Fairbanks does not have a DMR repeater, I use my Raspberry Pi hotspot. While on the road trip, I generally paired the hotspot with my iPhone. I probably could’ve actually used it while on the road as the Pi is powered through a micro-USB port. There were only ten participants on the net including two people from out of state. Ohio and New York.

One of the original justifications for the FCC to support amateur radio was to encourage skills that can be used during an emergency. The nets are for the same thing. Develop skills that can be used to maintain organized communication during emergencies. To me, this is less applicable to some of the digital modes such as DMR, D-Star, Fusion, etc. as these need Internet connectivity to function. Granted, very little bandwidth is needed but connectivity is still needed for use outside of the range of the local repeater.

This afternoon, I took the Ural out just up and down the unplowed subdivision road several times to warm up the engine oil. It's draining right now as I write this. After messaging Dom about the newer oil viscosity recommendations from the Ural docs, I picked up a gallon 5 qt jug of 5W40 full synthetic oil. It took three quarts to fill up the deep sump. I'll include the Ural graphic here so I don't forget. 31k km on the replacement odometer which means the rig now has a shade over 55k km.

After changing the oil, I ran the rig up and down the snow covered road a few more times and the engine really runs quiet and smooth. I don't have very many of the carbide studs as I had not ordered any this year. So I'm thinking of not studding the tires and just rely on 2WD to get up the hills. And just not riding when conditions are less than optimal. Such as now... 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Freezing in AZ and DMR Hotspot

Yep, I guess it was a good idea to winterize the RV. This is an iPad screen capture (I deleted the ads) from the Weather Channel app for Benson, AZ, the place we stayed just a few days ago. I wasn’t sure if I was wasting my time winterizing the rig but I guess it could get cold in any area. I just didn't expect it so soon. You can see that there is a freezing alert for the area.

I had ordered a small OLED display from Amazon before we left in September but it never arrived. I canceled the order and Amazon promptly refunded the money. I reordered from another supplier and deliberately looked for "Fulfilled by Amazon" and had it delivered to Corvallis, OR, and it arrived before we did. But I forgot to bring the 3D printed holder for the display that my son made. Now that I'm home and have the display, the tools, the 3D printed part, and some wire, I finally installed the display onto the Raspberry Pi. I mounted it to the top of the Pi case. It shows the call sign and first name of whoever last talked on the talk group that I have keyed up on the radio. I can get the same (and more) information on a web page being served up on the Pi.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Back Home

I think the dogs were more excited at seeing the snow than I was. Or at least they prefer to not riding in the belly of the plane. There isn't a lot of snow and the neighbor mentioned that this is the first snow that is probably going to "stick". We went to Alaska Coffee Roasters this morning and met with some from the usual crowd. Then we went to the yarn store that will be closing up shortly. After a little more running around, we are back home. Time to get going on some other projects.

Not a very interesting or exciting picture but I have three Raspberry Pi computers in the RV and two of them haven't had any updates applied since I put them into service. This is the one that has been continually collecting data from the Tristar solar charge controller. It ran continuously from around 3/2017 to 10/2017 and from 4/2018 to 11/2018. Not a single crash or hang during the entire time. I'm impressed with the Raspberry Pi computers.

The second Pi is running OpenElec and has been a media server connected to the TV in the RV. It hasn't been running continuously as I shut it down if we don't have sufficient Internet bandwidth. We mostly use it to watch YouTube videos. Instead of updating it, I am probably just going to install whatever the current version is.

The third Pi is my DMR hotspot and it is the previous generation Pi2B+ that I had lying around. It doesn't have built-in WiFi and Bluetooth that the Pi3 has but the metal case I have it installed in negates those features. It is current as it has the update process built into the Pi-Star distribution. I do have an OLED display that I'm going to install so it'll show real-time connection info. I have the display sent to me in OR but I neglected to bring the 3D printed display mount that my son made for me.