One way of checking the brake lights work!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid BMW Dynamic Brake Light SystemWell it’s time to test out the prototype of the BMW-clone Dynamic Brake Light System ……… but how to keep an eye on the tail-light and hazards when riding around? Dig out a bit of scrap metal, the old Shorai battery and the Tarot 2D gimbal/GoPro camera combination – that’s how! 😀

Pardon the pun … but the Shorai battery was a complete non-starter as far as getting the Capo to wheeze into life (below 12C anyway!), so it spent the next few years doing various duties. Replacing the battery in my computer UPS (uninterruptible Power Supply) for one, then running the dashboard test-rig for a while before being the power supply of choice to run the Tarot gimbal or any home-brew datalogging/test kit that needed 12V. To be fair it’s 4½ years old, stored in the barn for extended periods, recharged with a crude 6V/12V charger, run flat as a pancake and overcharged …. and it still keeps working!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid BMW Dynamic Brake Light System GoPro Tarot 2D gimbalSo now we’re ready to rock the highways and byways with the gimbal/GoPro hopefully grabbing the footage I need. Once it’s done I’ll turn the gimbal around and grab some more quirky footage facing backwards! 😯

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!

Shorai Power – Pt2

Shorai-LFX21A6-BS12Just a quick post to update on Shorai batteries. As you may remember, I tried a Shorai LFX18A1-BS12 in the Capo and had mixed results. Mixed enough to swap back to a standard battery anyway! In my case, the battery became unpredictable below 12-14c, above that the bike started every time, below that …….. well let’s just say it could take a while!

Anyway, it appears that Shorai have changed the battery specified for the Caponord/Futura to the higher capacity LFX21A6-BS12. They are available via EBay(UK) at about £135+ with postage bringing it to an eye watering sum in the region of £190 … then I’m sure Customs & Excise will want a slice as well!

Shorai-table

After last time, I think I’ll give it a pass. The chunky high-capacity lead-acid YTX14 is doing a sterling job for less than half the price, but if it’s your idea of under-saddle bling then go and fill your boots by all means. 😀

Bye bye Shorai

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - Shorai and Yuasa batteriesLet me start by saying that the Shorai is NOT a bad battery, it’s just not the right battery it seems for a large capacity V-twin. Yesterday, after persisting with it for several months, I finally admitted defeat – one last baulked start tipped me over the edge. I wanted, no, yearned for the comfort of the old and heavy lead-acid battery and its reliable starts-every-time performance.

So is it a faulty battery then?

The simple answer is no, but it is a battery that seems to be very temperature sensitive. With ambient temperatures over 15c I had no problems, but now with the temperatures waving between 3 and 15c it’s a different story. Stalled starter, slow starts and engine stalling several times before it runs reliably – all after a 5 minute wait while endeavoring to ‘wake’ the battery by burning off some current with the lights on (Shorai recommendation).

The battery was only ever charged on the bike or with the Shorai BMS-01 charger and over the last week or so I conducted a few tests on it. In a nutshell, this is a 6AHr battery that performs like an 18AHr – when warm. In truth it seems to perform more and more like the 6AHr battery it is as the temperature drops, the bottom line is that its internal resistance is very variable and removes any advantage the battery has at low temperatures.

Frankly it’s all too fiddly and unreliable. Of course I can only comment on one battery on one large CC Aprilia, it may be far more successful running  smaller or 3/4 cylinder motors. My guess is that this battery will find its niche in the enduro/track-day sector and not necessarily be suitable in its current form for four-season street riders.

I’m really disappointed this didn’t work out but pleased that Jim at AMI has taken everything I’ve said on board and is even now in constant communication with Shorai to try to improve the product. Let’s hope a Mk3 version is just around the corner.

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.