Finger on the pulse

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid. Speedometer pulse from the rear-wheel sensorWhile the wrist is healing nicely on light-duties and (thankfully) out of the heavy and restrictive cast, I’ve had a chance to play with the idea of an active cruise control for the Capo. An active system will adjust the throttle automatically to maintain a given speed even as the road rises and falls unlike a passive system which is nothing more than some form of throttle locking mechanism.

Arduino cruise control sketchThe system I’m thinking about will, when all parameters are met (speed, revs etc) lock onto the chosen speed when the ‘Set’ button is pressed. The microcontroller will then look at the error between the chosen speed and actual speed and adjust the throttle as neccessary to try and maintain the error at zero – this is done using PID (proportional-integral-derivative) in the controller. If cruise is stopped (operation of brake or clutch) or the PID error goes beyond a pre-determined maximum (high gear on a steep hill for example) the requested speed is stored and can be re-activated by pressing the ‘Res’ume button. And while in cruise, the speed can be adjusted in 1Kmh increments by using the same two buttons, now working as ‘Acc’elerate and ‘Dec’elerate. That’s the theory anyway!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid. Opto-isolated and cleaned Speedometer input signalInputs

  • Power – 12v on/off switch
  • ‘Set/Acc’ &Resume/Dec’ buttons – 12v
  • Front and rear brake light switches – 12v
  • Clutch lever switch – 12v
  • Speedometer signal from the dashboard (output on pin 14 of the 16-pin connector) -12v square wave 85% duty cycle frequency modulated
  • Tachometer signal -12v square wave 50% duty cycle frequency modulated.

Honda GL1800 Cruise ServoOutputs

  • Two colour LED for power, cruise engaged & error codes – 5v
  • Motor drive signal – 5v PWM to motor control board.

To date the inputs and safety stuff has been written and from the tacho/speedo signals it’s calculating what gear the bike is in pretty quickly, but I’m sure it can be speeded up …… I just need to learn more programming! The operating parameters I’ve decided on are:

  • Cruise enabled between 50Kmh and 160Kmh (30mph – 100mph)
  • Cruise enabled between 2,750rpm and 6,000rpm but might change the lower limit to 3,250rpm in 6th gear
  • Cruise enabled in 4th, 5th and 6th gears only.

At the end of the day, I just want a system that will give my old worn out wrist a rest at motorway speeds on the run between Italy and the UK, taking into account the (very!) variable speed limits and ascents/decents especially through Switzerland. If it can do that I’ll be a very happy bunny indeed.

Of course this is all well and good, but I’ve got to get all the bits talking to each other first and make it robust enough for long-term and safe use on a motorbike ….. the problem is that in amongst all this enthusiasm my wrist still has a way of letting me know who’s really in control while swanning around on light duties!


It’s all in the wrist …

Talk to the hand ......Just as the last of the crappy weather ebbed away and thoughts of having a run out on the Capo sat warm and snug in the front of my mind …… life came along and handed over a great big slap in the face by resurrecting an old injury. Over the past five decades I’ve been fortunate enough to only break one thing in my ageing chassis – my right wrist, unfortunately three times!

For the past 13 years its been ‘unstable’ or so they said, certainly it’s dished out its fair share of misery from time to time, but always controllable with over-the-counter meds. Until this week, when ‘unstable’ finally fell off the proverbial perch. So now I know how a provincial hospital in Italy works ….. and I can only say a heartfelt thank-you not only to our own doctor in Civitaquana, but also all the staff we met at Penne hospital who made my visit a positive experience.

So now I’m trussed up like a Christmas Turkey, stewing nicely for another week before I go back to hospital. Meanwhile the sun shines, the road dries out and the Capo sits silent ………. I don’t rightly know which of us is more miserable! 🙁

That’s quite enough of that thank you very much! I’ve time to spare, a working left hand and a computer to play with – so how about designing an active cruise control to give the wrist a bit of respite on those longer journeys? Let’s see now, one microcontroller, a Pololu motor driver board and a GL1800 cruise module might just get the ball rolling …… it’s tinker-time!!!!! 😀 ……. the resurrection!

Capopedia.netWell another wet’n windy Sunday is upon us yet again and I find myself scouring the small-ads for a boat, a bloody big boat capable of taking animals and motorbikes 2 by 2 …. Because if we have much more rain folks, I think we’ll be washed clean off the hill-side! A month now with hardly a dribble of sunshine ……  🙁

But in fairness it has given me chance to take stock and work out where I want to go Capo-on-the-internet wise. A couple of years ago I registered and started a Wiki with the idea of using it as a repository for ETV1000 knowledge that could be refined and added to by the Capo owners themselves.

All well and good …… but I didn’t really get stuck into it, so others that signed up probably looked around and felt just as daunted by a blank bit of web space and didn’t come back! Now that’s my fault entirely and as the months rolled by I did nothing to address the issue.

So …… time to reflect. Is it a good idea anyway, or should I just hit the button and nuke the whole thing? It was close I don’t mind admitting. Cost, responsibility and a not least time & effort, versus content deletion, cancelling the domain name and saving a few bob. But what are the alternatives?

The internet hosts various Caponord forums of course, in many languages. But in English we’re pretty much used to one site only …. AF1. Forums are fantastic places for the exchange of ideas and information, the problem however is that the details get buried in a never-ending procession of new posts and threads, yes they can be ‘stickied’ but it’s not perfect. This can make access to the information difficult if not almost impossible at times, depending on how obscure the search is. Add to this the fact that periodically the host may purge the pages to save on storage space (archive them) loosing images and links they contain as they’re reduced to raw text and you can see that maybe they’re not ideal for information storage.

And so after some thought  the Capopedia wiki is resurrected. The software has been updated, login and new user structure (hopefully) working and a bunch of extensions have been added to make the whole thing a better experience for admins and users. As of this week I’m going to make an effort to at least put aside an hour or two each day to chip away at it …. nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the …… well you get the drift.

So if anyone is interested in becoming a Sysop (administrator) to help run the thing, I’d be glad to hear from you ………. 🙂