Roll camera …….

gimbalAprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Tarot 2D gimbal mounted to left-hand crash bar

Pronunciation: /ˈdʒɪmb(ə)l

Noun:    A device for keeping an instrument such as a compass or chronometer horizontal in a moving vessel or aircraft, typically consisting of rings pivoted at right angles.

Origin:   Late 16th century (used in the plural denoting connecting parts in machinery): variant of earlier gimmal, itself a variant of late Middle English gemel ‘twin, hinge, finger ring which can be divided into two rings’, from Old French gemel ‘twin’, from Latin gemellus, diminutive of geminus.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Tarot 2D gimbal & GoPro Hero 3+ BlackAh …. don’t ya just love a bit of ed-u-cation! Yes folks, the word of today is ‘gimbal’ and after a bit of thought yesterday morning, I got mine out and played with it. 😀

So what does this gimbal-thingy do then? Well, in a nutshell, it holds a GoPro camera perfectly steady in pitch and roll while the mounting point is moving around. These things are intended for use on drones, those multi-rotor helicopters that you see flying around, but one look and the old grey matter kicked in …… wouldn’t that be fun on a bike!

And that brings me to yesterday morning, a half-hour blitz in the barn had a mounting plate made and another half-hour had the whole thing fitted, wired up and tested on the left hand crash-bar – which isn’t too bad given that the gimbal has sat in its box since delivery two months ago.

At lunch time the start-up routine was well under way …… pat down the pockets ‘testicles, spectacles, wallet’n watch’check, key-on and wait for the dash to finish its self-test – check, fire up the motor and before the gloves go on – camera to record! And this m’dear Smurfletts is an edited video of ‘Tarot Gimbal Test 1’ – I like the sound the front disks make at the end of the video!

Now the keen eyed among you will notice that in bends – especially constant radius bends – the camera begins to roll in the same direction, and this had me stumped for a while. I thought it might just be settings in software, but not being sure I decided to sleep on it.

In the end I think it’s to do with the fact that ‘verticle’ changes when the bike is in equilibrium in a turn (the whole ‘leaning’ thing) and this tricks the sensor into believing that ‘up’ and ‘down’ have moved – so the camera begins to tilt into the turn. Anyway I hope you enjoyed watching some or all of the video as much as I did filming it!

Feedback please ……

 ... will I dream?           (SAL9000 - 2010)Moto-abruzzo has undergone quite a change in the background, somewhere deep in the bowels of the code lots of little ‘0’ and ‘1’s have been fiddled with …… and so I’d like to ask your assistance in flagging up any links, pages etc. that don’t work properly so I can fix them, or sob quietly in the corner (my choice!).

The idea is to hopefully get website content distributed to you a little quicker and so ANY feedback is greatly appreciated. Either leave a comment on the particular page/post or contact me through the contact page. Cheers!

On the right wavelength? (Part 2)

Waiting at the Post Office today were a couple of type-380 60 red LED tail/brake light bulbs to have a play with. I got these from in preference to the 92 LED version that needs modifying to fit into the Caponord reflector/socket (thanks for the info Andy!).

To recap  on the conclusion of  ‘On the right wavelength? (Part 1)’ – In my opinion it would be unwise to fit WHITE LED tail/stop bulbs in the Capo UNLESS you first have definitive proof of the red light output and even then, there is the subject of the legality of fitting them in the first place!

What follows then is a laymans point-of-view of the alternative red LED bulbs after a fun-filled afternoon tinkering in the barn …….Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - 5/21w incandescent & Type-380 60 red LED bulbSo ……. off with the lens cap, pop out a bulb and in with the new …. Easy to fit with no modification, they are certainly brighter than the standard 5w tail lights, while the brake lights are definitely on a par, if not a tad brighter than the standard 21w filament, most importantly the change in output when the brake is activated/deactivated is crisp and very obvious. Of course the one thing you notice electrically, is the wayyyyy lower drain on the battery when braking! Here’s a table comparing the power usage:-

Difference in power consumption

One additional point I noted in favour of the LED’s is actually based on their construction …. the filament bulb relies heavily on the reflector/lens diffusion to spread the light because it only has one fairly focused source of illumination, whereas the LED has 60 independent sources that reflect and refract far better giving the appearance of a much brighter output from ALL of the lens, a more uniform glow if you will!Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - Both bulb types with lens in place

Oh and one thing I almost forgot to mention about the LED bulb is that all 60 LED’s are illuminated at all times, the activation of the brake light simply intensifies their output, rather than switching on/off additional LED’s as I’ve seen in some bulbs. I think this maintains a much more even and balanced spread of light.

Conclusion …. yes the RED bulbs work as well if not better than the incandescent and of course the power saving is incredible. How they perform when hot and after several hundred hours of use has to be seen. In the end though I do have to wonder about two things; the logic of selling white LED bulbs for use at the rear of a vehicle and the woefully outdated UK/EU legislation in use – for example, using a bulbs power consumption as a measure of its output is unbelievably outdated. Technological change is here and seemingly faster with each passing year, legislators need to move out of the 20th century if they have any hope of keeping pace.

Me? …… I’ll leave them in for a while, just for evaluation off-road you understand. 😉

Caveat: Using LED tail/stop bulbs on the Caponord in the UK is illegal and as such karlb/moto-abruzzo cannot condone their use. They don’t carry an approval marking nor do they meet the brake light power requirements (15-36w) as set down in the The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989′ ….round in a circle we go …. the very thing we’re trying to save (power) it turns out we can’t!!

Dimmer and dimmer

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Evening over the Gran Sasso ....I switched on the fog-lights to better illuminate the mud and stone strewn road ahead; when it dawned on me that I hadn’t taken the Capo out in the dark for ages, months  probably. And here I was winding a path along our troubled road and hopefully onward for a nice little night-time ride all in the name of testing the auto-dimming backlighting!

After getting the set-up working nicely with the old thumb-over-the-sensor routine, it was time to take the old girl out for a spin and see what the illumination was like both in unlit rural and street-lit urban riding. I took the netbook and cable along so that changes to the code could hopefully be done at the roadside.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid .... and over the Maiella.In the end I was really pleased with how the lighting worked anyway, the only change I made was to the minimum brightness – dropping it slightly – so that it’s totally readable without putting stress on my tender night-time vision. Daytime backlighting is, as you would expect fully-on at 100% while the night-time drops to 30%, which with the higher output LED’s (blue & green) is just about spot on.

But ……

And there’s  always a ‘but’ …… the two LED’s in the binnacle (Autoswitch & Battery monitor) now stand out as being overly bright compared to the dashboard at night, so, time to work out how to take these signals and pass them through the Arduino and subject them to the auto-dimming code as well, then the whole cockpit area will be sorted at last!  😉

Saddle up and ride out …..

No hour of life is wasted
that is spent in the saddle.
                                     Winston Churchill

Bless him I never had old Winnie down as a biker, but hey if the cap fits …… 😀

Yes the humble saddle, that piece of plastic/metal and foam that can feel like an armchair or a razor blade, or in fact morph from one to the other over the duration of a few hours or minutes depending on the bike! To be fair the Rally-Raid seat is pretty good, if anything just a bit soft for my weight and could probably benefit from a stiffer foam to stop me sinking into it and putting too much weight on the old coccyx.

After 11 years of wear and tear I was thinking about getting them recovered/padded but didn’t much fancy being without the bike for several weeks while the job was done – step into the limelight Stanleybobly, who just happened to pop-up on the AF1 radar with a near-new set of Raid saddles for a painfully decent price. It would have been plain rude not to have bought them!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid. Doesn't she look splendid with new saddles!So now the Capo has a spanking new pair of saddles and I can work out where I want to send/take the old ones for refurb at my leisure – any advice about UK upholsterers always appreciated.

…… and thanks again to Stanley for selling them to me! 😉

On the right wavelength? (Part 1)

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid. Tail-lightsWhat colour is your tail/brake light? Red I’d hope…. or is it really? Take the Capo’s lens cover off and it’s just a pair of common old yellowish 5/21W incandescent bulbs, the red is of course provided by the light passing through the red lens. In fact since time immemorial the only way simple incandescent bulbs were coloured was either by a coloured cover or380 60 LED bulb being dipped in a coloured dye. Why? Simply that the humble incandescent bulb fires out light at all different wavelengths from infra-red to ultraviolet, so a simple filter is all that’s needed to allow the required wavelengths to pass through.

Now of course we have LED’s…. and these little puppies don’t work the same way. A red LED will generate light in the 610-760nm wavelength – red …… a blue LED in the 450-500nm wavelength, you’ve guessed it – blue! But what about white LED’s? Well they produce red, blue and green light BUT they are dominant in the blue wavelengths and actually very poor emitters in the red – the very colour we need for our taillight!

So here’s the next question….. Do you change out your ‘so yesterday’ incandescent tail/stop bulbs with ultra-trick, smack-up-to-date LED’s? And if so red or white? Well here are a couple of photographs that I hope will help with that dilemma.

Using my old but trusty Nikon D200 I took the first picture with the Capo tail light and an LED torch for comparison. The second picture is exactly the same except this time I added an infra-red filter to the camera. Now the camera is only picking up light in the red wavelengths ……… look at the torch, I think you’ll agree that in the 2nd picture the torch is most certainly dimmer than the two puny 5w tail bulbs, yet overpowering in the 1st photo – quite a dramatic difference me thinks!

Now OK, this is just a torch not a pukka LED tail/stop bulb, and yes I concede that not all white LED’s will output the same amount of red light – but how do you KNOW what the output of that bulb you’re eyeing up on Fleabay really is?

Bottom line?

Don’t fit white LED tail bulbs into the Capo, stick with ordinary bulbs. Bummer on the power-drain, but better on the safety side – nobody likes a rear-end shunt……..

…….but what about the red LED version? Stay tuned for next weeks thrilling roller-coaster episode – ‘On the right wavelength (part 2)’.  😉

Caveat: Using LED tail/stop bulbs on the Caponord in the UK is illegal and as such karlb/moto-abruzzo cannot condone their use. They don’t carry an approval marking nor do they meet the brake light power requirements (15-36w) as set down in the The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989′ ….round in a circle we go …. the very thing we’re trying to save (power) it turns out we can’t!!