Moto-logger update

Scroll down for the video!

It’s been a couple of months since I posted an update on the ‘Moto-logger’, mainly because other than using it, I didn’t update it! During that time notes and thoughts of improvements to the layout, function or stability were scribbled on bits of paper and sprinkled around the PC, waiting for a rainy day.

Last week it rained.

So here’s a screen shot of V1.7, now with a left-hand side bar and two selectable displays. One for the raw GPS data being received and the other ( a bit of a gimmick admittedly) is a ‘fuel calculator’. The Capo doesn’t register road speed in the ECU unlike the Triumph’s … so it made me wonder if it were possible to calculate fuel usage and tank contents from GPS data and the pulse width of the injectors – the duration the injector is open and passing fuel to the engine.

So here it is .. and it works. Well the needles move, the numbers jump around and the LED blinks with 5 litres remaining, so hey, it’s a runner! Clicking either gauge resets the calculators and ‘fills’ the tank to 25 litres. Turning off the bike/software doesn’t lose the calculations either, so taking a quick road-side slurp of coffee doesn’t mess up the figures. Happy days indeed!

V1.7 Improvements

  • Calculate MPG and tank volume remaining
  • Calculate Air Density
  • Calculate corrected EC80/1269 power output based on barometric pressure and air temperature.
  • Display received GPS sentences 
  • Display and log GPS time
  • Cleaned up the code (ish!)
  • Took out some bugs and improved stability.

Still to do …

  • Learn more and improve the code efficiency!
  • Add better file handling to prevent overwrites and crashes when calling a missing data file
  • Add a ‘Range’ …. miles to go, to the calculator (yes another gimmick!) – Done!
  • Temporarily log pulse width. I want to see a snapshot of what its range is. – Done!
  • Real-time plot display? – And done!!

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Alt-berg – big bike boots built brilliantly!

Bike boots wear out far to fast. Ok, that’s probably got something to do with wearing them for over fifty hours a week, a normal weeks work for a full-time bike Instructor. Even so, a pair wearing the soles through in five days takes the biscuit .. yes, that’ll be you Frank Thomas!

Most modern boots with their lashings of gaudy plastic, prosthetic hinges and zips wind tunnel tested at 200mph+ might be comfortable and maybe even waterproof of a few minutes, but then the soles just wear away quicker than a tracky-wearing teenagers arse-cheeks sliding off a moped at 30mph! That, dear reader, is the bottom line. Truth is, the professional rider needs something the high-street riding gear retailers just don’t stock.

After about a years instructing and quite a few pairs of boots, the best of which was a nice pair of (expensive) Alpinestars, I was getting pretty fed up with the constant outlay. Then I came across Alt-berg boots and everything changed. This is now my eleventh year of using them. My first pair of ‘Clubman Classic’ cost about £120, this year (Sept 2011) it’s £160 …. but still excellent value for the quality of boot you get. Alt-berg also make boots for hikers, military and supply to Police officers/DSA Examiners as well as us bikers.

Alt-berg is a small company in Richmond, Yorkshire and they are now also making boots from a factory in Treviso, Italy (more info to follow). The website is good, the telephone chat even better! But don’t expect instant gratification though, each set I’ve ordered I had to wait for (from 4-10 weeks depending on the time of year) …. remember, they are hand-made for YOU.

Each pair has fitted perfectly and broken in quickly. They’ve remained waterproof and comfortable all through their life (18 – 24 months continuous use). And then? This is the kicker … I send them back for a refurb!! Yes, for approx. £80 they resole and re-line the boots and they are good for another couple of years use. What other motorbike boot manufacturer offers this service? None that I know of in the UK for sure. Sadly, the service was suspended on 7th December 2011.

Ok, they might not be the most trendy boots, definitely no sultry smouldering looks of appreciation from the über-techno Power Ranger brigade at the local bike cafe … but then do I give a gnats nadger anyway? For all year round, four seasons use, function wins hands down any day in my book! Oh yes.

Cda di Ginestre …. Strada Brutale!!!!

Not much content about the Capo in this post I’m afraid, it’s about the road its poor wheels have to traverse!

I must admit, I get upset at empty promises, I really do. Political worse than any. And frankly I feel we’ve had more empty promises come our way than most! The problem, is the road ….. it’s not ours. It belongs to the Comune (sort of parish council) and so it’s their responsibility to maintain it. Except they haven’t.

Over the past four years it has steadily got worse, the rain has washed the white stone topping into the valley, the tractors/trailers (and our Land Rover) have methodically dug the pot-holes and wheel ruts deep enough to leave an average car suspended by its axles.

The postman was the first to refuse to come down it in 2009. Since then the list has steadily grown long enough to fill a phone book. We have to drive out to meet any deliveries and hitch up the trailer for the bigger stuff and hope the Landy can haul it back through the winter quagmire. The lack of a warning sign at the end of the road does however provide us with a form of hillbilly entertainment – a trickle of vehicles in various stages of ‘stuck’, each being pushed/pulled, towed or just abandoned until a drier day.

And so we started asking for repairs. We asked and asked, we photographed, we videoed, we wrote. We had a string of visits by the powers-that-be and we got nowhere. So through 2009-10 we slowly ramped up our little campaign – recorded delivery letters and more videos on an almost weekly basis.

Then at the beginning of 2011 we get told that our road will be done as soon as the weather improves. By June it was very improved, but still no sign of a little man with a digger. More phone calls and visits to the comune.

June gave way to July, then in early August a little man did indeed come along with a digger. For a week he widened and levelled the road, hell he even rolled the thing flat as a billiard table. He even dug up our water pipe, severed it and damaged the valve … then he went home.

At first glance his handiwork is an improvement (the road, not the water pipe!). But hold on a minute, he’s scraped most of the stone topping it had into the field and left it with a nice soil finish. Soil, feverishly sprouting vegetation and a few stray stones. August became a fading memory, then September along with it. The temperatures dipped and the sky became swollen with heavy storm clouds. And still no sign of the little man with a topping for our road.

More phone calls.

Into October we swing and  the vegetation is growing nicely on our once flat road. A constant succession of tractors, trailers and tracked vehicles have seen fit to tear up the once smooth surface. Stones from pea-size to axle bending boulders now litter the surface. Then the rain finally arrived and the soil-topped road soaked it up like a man dying of thirst. The vegetation flourished and the first tentative vehicles sank an inch into the goo. What hope then of getting the Capo out on Anakee 2’s? Back to the TKC80’s I guess.

Is there a happy ending? No. We’re back on a campaign to get it finished and no doubt we’ll get nowhere quickly, hey-ho. Mind you,  I feel better now I’ve got that off my chest!

How much are all-terrain quads these days?

Shorai batteries now in the UK

It’s a lovely warm afternoon and I’m stood holding a little lightweight box with two terminals …. It’s a fake, a toy, it has to be. This simply cannot be a real battery!

Some sleazebag once tried flogging me a wooden camcorder in bubble wrap at a French fuel station, luckily I rumbled him. I’m starting to have a sinking feeling, maybe I’ve been stitched up like a kipper this time. No way is this a battery, no siree Bob!

The thing is though, the Shorai LFX18A1-BS12* is indeed real, and yes, it does only weigh 0.96Kg against the portly 4.6Kg that the YTX14 tips the scales at. It can weigh as little as a budgies fart and pack more punch than a high power version of the standard battery because of the lithium-Iron technology it uses, frankly it’s way over my head but if it works, I’m all for it. Here’s the bullet points the technology is supposed to offer:-

  • Fraction of the weight of traditional batteries
  • Faster cranking for better starting
  • Faster charging
  • No lead or explosive gasses
  • Twice the service life

 What’s in the box? Firstly, a neat carbon composite battery with a measured floating voltage of 13.36v – that’s about 90% charged, exactly what the website says it should be. The box also contains an instruction leaflet, stickers (ooo!!) and lots of adhesive backed foam strips to pad out the little darling to fit your battery bay nice and snug like. It only took a few minutes to match up the foam to pad out the Shorai to YTX14 dimensions, then ease it into the battery bay and begin reconnecting the cables. One nice touch is that all the terminal nuts have a piece of foam pre-attached to hold them in place and hence, make bolting the wires in much easier … a simple thing, but much appreciated!

So the proof of the pudding, the first start. Nothing much to say really …. It started up nice and strong like it had always been there, absolutely amazing! It settled down to a normal 14.2v charge at idle and I left it for about 10 minutes and then turned the bike off. I went back the next morning and measured the floating voltage – 14.04v …… about 95% charged! So even in the few minutes I ran the bike, it had taken charge and dropped nothing overnight. This is looking promising!

The YTX14 that came out is about 3 years old and a quality make, but has started to show signs of distress over the past few weeks. So I think it fair to consider it life-expired and so use its cost/life as the yardstick with which to measure the Shorai unit.

This then is day 1, I’ll write periodically over the coming months about its performance, especially on balance with the YTX14 it has replaced. Hopefully in the next few weeks I should be getting the Shorai SHO-BMS01 charger to use directly into the batteries own port and then I’ll see how it fairs in ‘storage mode’ for the winter period.

The Caponord (all years) can take either the standard fitment LFX14A1-BS12 or the higher powered LFX18A1-BS12, they are both the same case size.

UPDATE 2014

Shorai have now replaced the original battery model for the Caponord/Futura with the LFX21A6-B12.