Friday, January 29, 2016

Fuelly Wierdness Resolved

Another dreary day but since I had a full tank of gas, I just sort of rode around. I drove through downtown Fairbanks then headed out towards North Pole. I noticed that next to the Santa Claus House were some ice carvings. I believe that they have an ice festival though on a smaller scale than the one in Fairbanks. I had the GoPro on time-lapse so this picture and the next are just a couple of the frames. Ice carvings look much more spectacular when there is bright sun or some other sort of illumination. Most of the carvings haven't been started but since the fences and barriers haven't been put up, I opted to just ride slowly through the area.

Among the ice carvings, there were some reindeer. This one looks a bit shocked. He just sort of stared at me as I went by. I guess he's not seen a Ural before. After North Pole, I just headed back through the south side of town and wound through the Goldstream Valley, the next valley north of town. Goldstream isn't on the video since I just did a time-lapse through there earlier in the week. Some light snowfall but not enough to contribute anything other than reduced visibility.

I had been having some weirdness with the site I have been using it to track gas mileage with both bikes and the truck. In the middle of January for no obvious reason, it stopped computing the mileage on the Ural properly. Just the Ural. I messed around with records on the site for a while before noticing that the odometer reading looked vaguely familiar. The errors apparently started when the current mileage just went past the mileage when I first picked up the bike in July, 2014. I had put in a new speedometer last May which started me back at 0. The solution was pretty straight forward. I exported all of the records from Fuelly into a CSV file, created a new vehicle on, edited out the older records in the CSV and put replaced the old name with the new name and imported the CSV into the new vehicle. I guess I could've deleted the old vehicle but I wanted to retain the information. I guess the designers of the site never considered what would happen if an odometer rolled back to zero.

PBC #46

PBC #47

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Winter? !

34°F!! I was hoping to record another PBC video tonight to submit for Friday. But since it is above freezing, it's not going to happen. Of course this means slick roads for a while and these temperatures are definitely not normal. On Thursday morning, I have an appointment with the snowplow installer. They want to swap out the wiring harness as one of the plow mounted headlights is intermittent. I'm still debating whether to hang around in their waiting room or take the bus somewhere else.

So, even if it's below freezing tomorrow, I may not have an opportunity to go for a ride...

PBC #42

PBC #43

PBC #44

PBC #45

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Heated Grips v2

In my last post, I was hoping that splicing the wire was sufficient to fix the throttle side heated grip. Unfortunately, it still didn't work and I haven't dug into it anymore. It may be that when I tightened a set screw on the throttle lock it dug into the heating element sufficiently to cause it to fail.

My next attempt at reliable heated grips are these that I picked up at the local Harley/BMW/Honda/Victory/Polaris shop. They are sold for use on Polaris snowmachines aka snowmobiles. I'f they last at least as long as the grips I figure that I am ahead as they are a fraction of the price. Even being purchased locally. After going to all of the shops, none had any generic 7/8" motorcycle grips. What they had on the shelves were for snowmachines and ATVs both of which don't have throttle tubes. So I ordered some generic gel grips from Amazon made for, as they put it, BMW Ducati Harley Honda Kawasaki KTM Suzuki Yamaha. Even with Amazon Prime it'll still take a week for them to get here. Fortunately, the weather the next couple of weeks is supposed to be really pleasant unlike some other parts of the country.

When I had Aerostitch repair my Roadcrafter last fall (under warranty), I mentioned that the zipper pulls had come off of both of the main zippers. Their solution was to completely replace both zippers. After I got it back, both zippers were hard to slide since they were new and I didn't receive the little one-time-use package of zipper lubricant like I did originally. When I initially applied their lubricant to the zipper, I immediately recognized the smell as what I used to use for chain lube on my bicycle back in the day. I finally got around to picking up some of the bicycle chain lube and applied it to the zippers. Now they slide very easily just like the old zippers used to do. The Tri-Flow goes on wet but dries very quickly leaving bits of teflon on the zipper.

I'm still liking the Apple Watch. I discovered a new weather app that includes random comments as part of the report and predictions. This is a screen capture on the watch.

Here are the next six PBC videos. Nothing very spectacular or even interesting in any of them.






Tuesday, January 19, 2016

GoPro Power Resolved

It seems as if the GoPro issue I was having is resolved. I had broken the first rule of debugging by making two changes at the same time. I reformatted the SD card AND reloaded the firmware on the GoPro at the same time. I believe that the actual fix for my power problem was reformatting the SD card. Just to review, my problem was the the GoPro would re-boot after recording for a couple of minutes and when it rebooted, it would not reconnect to the GoPro remote. And there was some message on the LCD screen that I couldn't read due to the frost.

I think that I can now recommend the Switronix DVGP3USB battery eliminator as my latest way to power the GoPro. As it comes, it has a 10' long USB cable allowing it to reach from just about any mounting point on the bike to the USB outlet in the sidecar. It completely replaces the battery so it cannot be used to recharge the GoPro batteries as plugging into the GoPro USB port. The manufacturer's recommendation for use is to have the non-waterproof back to feed the cable through. Since I had the waterproof back with a gland fitting, i..e. waterproof cable pass through, I used that. To do that, I had to cut the 10' cable, run it through the gland fitting and solder the cable back together. Not a problem. I left a service loop coiled up inside of the waterproof back to simplify removing the camera.

PBC #36 and #37 were recorded on the same day. Shortly after starting, I noticed that the time/temp signs in town were showing a much lower temperature than I had measured at the start of the ride. So, naturally,  I stopped and started a new recording. How's that for evidence of being obsessed. Besides getting more points (as if that mattered), it does allow me to have a video uploaded in advance. BTW, I am far from being the points leader this year. A dual sport rider in Utah took his GS on a couple of 300 mile rides and has almost double the points.

PBC #35

PBC #36

PBC #37

Also a maintenance note.

  • 42,750 km
  • Torqued the heads (34 ft-lbs)
  • Adjusted the valves
  • Topped off engine oil 10w40 full synthetic
  • Checked transmission and final drive fluids (both full)
  • Adjusted drum brakes
  • Oiled speedometer cable
  • Checked plugs (OK)
  • Checked timing (OK)
  • Balanced carbs (minimal change)
  • Repaired right heated grip (broken wire)

    Saturday, January 16, 2016

    Frosty Trees

    Today was a cold, frosty day with wonderful clear, blue skies. Early this morning, the temperature was around -19°F. A good enough reason to not go for a ride. After Bridget and I went to the College Coffeehouse, she encouraged me to go for a short ride if for no other reason than to capture some non-dark video. The trees were covered with frost and I headed down the road to the dog mushers hall to start the PBC video. There was a race going on and I thought that I had the GoPro running but when I got home, the file was unreadable. I reformatted the card and re-installed the firmware. Hopefully all of this flaky behaviour stops. The picture is just an frame of the video.

    Later in the afternoon, we went to Ursa Major Distillery off of the Parks Hwy near Ester. A friend was doing a soft opening of his new pizza business, The Hungry Robot. Pretty nice looking portable oven! There were some problems getting the fire going inside of the oven so we left after a couple of hours as Bridget had plans for this evening. I had heard that there was a distillery in Fairbanks but I had no idea where it was.

    This photo by Steve Sabens was posted about 7:00pm showing that they got the oven nice and hot and was producing pizza. It gets up to about 1000°F and will cook a pizza in a little over a minute. This was a test on how things will go (practice run?) with real customers. We'll try again this coming Tuesday when they will be set up at HooDoo Brewing Co., a small local microbrewery.

    Here is PBC #34 that I recorded today with the sunlit frosty trees.

    Friday, January 15, 2016

    Cold Morning Ride

    It's been awhile since I had a picture while riding. The sunrise behind the clouds with the exhaust from the university power plant was enough of a reason to stop. The exhaust turns down since it's cold and calm enough for there to be a temperature inversion. Another reason for stopping is that one of the heat wires in my left glove was burning the back of my hand. The photo was taken from the turnout across from the natural science building and one of the few other areas on campus with a good view of the valley.

    I had a 9:00am meeting this morning so I left the house about 7:40am to record my daily PBC video. Too dark to really see much but it meets the requirements for submission. Todays ride was probably my limit. I ended up riding about 70 km. The temperature ranged from -5°F to about -18°F and by the time I arrived at my office, my feet were starting to get cold. I had decided earlier that I wasn't going to ride below about -10°F but I really didn't feel like driving today...

    Here is PBC #33 that I had recorded from the morning ride.

    Thursday, January 14, 2016

    New Technology

    Since it looks like I will continue going to Barrow, I went ahead and ordered a new travel laptop. My last couple of travel computers have been two different generations of the 11" Macbook Air. Fairly light at 1.09 kg. In fact, it weighs about the same as my iPad Air with the Logitech keyboard. The new 12" Macbook weighs in at 0.94 kg.or about 14% lighter and smaller in width and thickness. I had attempted to try and use just the iPad while travelling but have run into a lot of limitations. I was still able to get everything done but it just wasn't as flexible as just about any kind of computer.

    Here is a photo of the Macbook Air screen and below is a photo of approximately the same area of the new Macbook screen. To me, there is a significant difference in resolution and contrast and the new one is much easier on my eyes. Both have ½ TB drives and 8 GB of memory. A lot has been written in the press criticizing the choice of processors in the new Macbook. It has a 1.3 GHz Intel Core M versus my 2013 11" Macbook Air (1.7 GHz Intel Core I7). According to the benchmarks, the new Macbook is about 10% slower than my Macbook Air. I think I did notice a speed difference such as when encoding my latest PBC video. A bit slower but still acceptable for me.

    The other criticism is the lack of physical ports. All it has is one USB-C port and a headphone jack. The USB-C port is also used to charge the battery and to plug in anything else, Apple requires you to purchase and carry around a dongle. In my case, I picked up the one which has a standard USB port, an HDMI port and a USB-C port so you can still plug in the charger. The other criticism is with the keyboard. To make this laptop very thin, the keyboard is almost flush with the body and the keys have very little travel. To me, it's no big deal and works fine. The new "force touch" trackpad is a little harder to get used to. I occasionally press too hard.

    No complaints. The benefits far outweigh the shortcomings. High resolution screen, no noisy fan, 14% lighter, and smaller in just about all dimensions even though it has a larger screen.

    The other bit of technology that I picked up recently is an 38mm black Apple Watch Sport. I was very unsure about the "need" for this bit of tech as my analog watch kept time just fine and never needed batteries (solar powered). One of the things that made me at least consider it was that I was missing messages and phone calls from Bridget. While riding, I can't hear or feel the vibration of the phone when it's in my pocket but I can feel the tap from the watch. My winter helmet has a rubber fighter pilot style face mask which pretty much negates makes the Sena less than useful.

    This is just one of the faces available and many give you the ability to customize things such as the inclusion of the temperature, my next appointment and the activity monitor in the upper right corner. The price still seemed a bit excessive but after watching a review on YouTube, there was an ad that said to click here for $100 off an Apple Watch. That made it more reasonable. Since I've bought into the Apple universe, other products seem less useful to me even though they may have more features.

    Last but not least, just to insert a little bit of moto content into this post, here are two more PBC videos. Nothing significant about either ride...

    Tuesday, January 12, 2016

    GoPro Power

    I had picked up another method of powering the GoPro since the solution I used during my road trip stopped working. The former solution powered the camera through the 30 pin connector on the back that was meant for some of the optional backs such as an extra battery. I think it stopped working after I updated the firmware on the camera. I still had the waterproof case that I had modified to allow me to plug in a mini-USB cable and that has been working but the case is, obviously, no longer waterproof. I found another option that has a circuit in the form factor of the GoPro battery and door. It snaps in place of the battery and has a 6' USB cable. Since I still had the back with the waterproof gland from the 30-pin adapter, I cut the 6' USB cable, ran it through the waterproof gland and re-soldered the cable back together and covered the splice with shrink tubing.

    I took it out for a test ride this morning (see PBC #30) and it sort of works. Whenever there was a lot of vibration from ice on the road, the camera shut off. The remote would lose connectivity but will continue to happily report the last status that it had. I was also trying a new camera location with the monopod fixed vertically to the rear rack. I'm not sure I care for the new location and it could be contributing to the vibration problem as it's less stable.

    Here is PBC #30. Another below 0°F ride. After about 20 miles, I was thinking that the heated gear wasn't working again. But since it was both the liner and the gloves, I finally figured out that I had forgotten to plug them in when I put on the riding gear. After stopping to plug them in, no problem and toasty warm again. I ended up riding about 65 miles before stopping at College Coffeehouse.

    Sunday, January 10, 2016

    Back Home Again

    The wind finally died down last night and this morning, the frost on the metal railing looked pretty cool. The sodium vapor lights mounted on the outside of the building gave it a weird orange cast. And since it was a jpeg and not a raw photo, I couldn't simply change the white balance. No trees around here to get covered with frost just the buildings, vehicles and other man-made surfaces. Lacking vegetation, the only "natural" surface is ice.

    I think I finished all of the tasks that I needed to do while in Barrow on this trip. There are a number of things that I could only do while up here. Hard to do a lot of things remotely. I had set the GoPro up again on Friday just in case it turned out to be clear but there was a lot of blowing snow. So I didn't bother uploading the video.

    On Saturday afternoon, I arrived back home but didn't feel like riding. But on Sunday afternoon, there was a little time for a short ride. After all, had to see if the Ural still started. That was PBC #28.

    Thursday, January 7, 2016

    Barrow Dawn-to-Dusk

    Today was foggy probably due to open water. You can just see the open water as a dark like in the distance. I was told that there was a sizeable crack in the sea ice near the NARL campus but I couldn't find it. There was some concern as there is a group coming up next week to work out on the ice.

    The was taken from the same location except looking south. The airport is on the left and if you look closely, you can just make out some of the dishes out on the satellite farm. The sky colors here are fabulous.

    I was able to record another video with the GoPro plugged into a powered USB hub. The video was started at 8:53am and runs until 4:05pm. It was recorded as individual frames taken at 30 sec intervals and the resulting video was slowed down to 85% to make it match the selected music.

    I also have uploaded the PBC videos that I had recorded on my one day back home last Monday.

    PBC #25 - Recorded running around town in the morning.

    PBC #26 - The ride out to Fox, AK

    PBC #27 - The return trip from Fox, AK

    Wednesday, January 6, 2016

    Barrow Winter Dawn

    The light and colors in the sky at sunrise/sunset here in Barrow is nothing short of spectacular. The iPhone camera fails to capture the huge dynamic range. Even the HDR image I tried didn't capture the colors from the sun just below the horizon. At 1:00, it's still around 3° below the horizon. The first sunrise will be on January 23rd. I set up the GoPro on a window sill in the Barrow Arctic Science Center on time-lapse but the battery just doesn't last long enough. The start time is 10:30am and the battery ran dead at 1:05pm just before "solar noon". Maybe I can dig up a USB charger to run the camera on and try again tomorrow.

    Monday, January 4, 2016

    Back For a Day

    Just back in town long enough to unpack from on trip and repack for Barrow. Of course, there was time for a couple of rides. After 3 weeks, it felt good to get on the Ural again. I had some errands to run plus the monthly Airheads get together at the Silver Gulch. One of the errands to pay for fuel oil that was delivered while we were out of town. Only 300 gallons of #1. That is almost 50-100 gallons less than we've used during the same period last year. I'd like to think that part of the savings is from the new hot water maker. More efficient use of the boiler than the old system.

    PBC #24:
    The ride in this video wasn't from today The next three videos will be today's rides. When I started to output the first video, I realized that I still had one more in the queue that I had forgotten to upload.

    Saturday, January 2, 2016

    Naperville, IL

    Today's activity was the DuPage Children's Museum in downtown Naperville, IL. Being the last weekend before school starts it was, quite naturally, crowded. Not Disneyland style crowded but the parking lot was completely full by mid-morning. This was just an animated sculpture outside the door with moving parts and lots of clanking sounds. After a light lunch, I opted to simply sit in the car and rest rather than battle the multiple birthday parties going on inside of the museum. It was a very nice museum with almost everything interactive.

    The weather has been beautiful the last couple of days with sparkling blue skies though the light wind makes it feel colder than the thermometer says. I didn't bring any cold weather gear (coat, gloves, hat) with me on this trip so I haven't spent much time outdoors. Even though it was only in the 20s and 30s (°F), the wind and humidity made it feel really cold. After the museum, we stopped at a Trader Joe's to pick up some snacks for the flight back tomorrow. Trader Joe's and Whole Foods both accept NFC payments. I had used Google Wallet now known as Android Pay last year with my Nexus 4 and the only problem was that it needed Internet access when being used and the GCI partner is T-Mobile. Horrible coverage in San Francisco limited it's use.

    On this trip I have been using either my Google Wallet card or Apple Pay with my iPhone (AT&T). Using Apple Pay is so quick and simple with the fingerprint reader. Simply double tap the home button with the correct finger and put the back of the phone near the terminal. When the payment is completed, the phone sort of "clicks". That's it. Since the Nexus 4 has no fingerprint reader you had to enter your 4 digit pin when paying. Not quite as convenient. In all cases, I get a notification on the phone very shortly after any transaction. With the Google Wallet card, it's usually within a minute. Apple Pay uses one-time card numbers for each transaction so the vendor never receives your actual card number. Android Pay may work the same way but I haven't heard very many details. I don't know anything about Samsung Pay as I don't have a Samsung phone.

    Where, When, What and How

    I was looking through my photos today on my phone looking for something that sort of represented 2015 and this sort of stood out to me. This was one of the BC freshwater ferries that I enjoyed running into during my road trip. What stood out is not that I like riding on ferries but that they were completely unexpected. Discovery of them was due to random traveling without a real destination besides "south". After discovering them, I started to look through paper maps for more of them. There is no GPS setting for "prefer free ferries".

    After some thought today, I guess I do have some rides "planned". There is D2D on June 16th and 17th. The family reunion in Seward is the following weekend. And there is another reunion in the PNW in 2017. But that may not be a 4-wheeled trip. I still would like to go out to McCarthy again and ride the Denali Hwy sometime. I'm told that there are plans for a "real" road between Yellowknife and Inuvik instead of just an ice road. That could be fun just because it's new.

    So that is the extent of my planning. I do put in some time and effort deciding what to bring and how to carry it but less on where and when besides general guidelines. 

    Friday, January 1, 2016

    Happy New Year!

    On last Wednesday's #MotoChat on Twitter, the topic was riding plans for the coming year. Upon reading the topic, I was sort of dumbstruck that I hadn't even given it a moments thought. Maybe because the current riding season hasn't really ended. This picture was taken only one day away from home at the end of my trip last summer. I posted that I had no real plans except riding around Alaska and the Yukon Territory.

    Do others have riding plans already?

    BTW, if you have a Twitter account, please join #MotoChat at 1:00pm Pacific time on Wednesday.