I had a bit of a stress-monster moment last night. After finishing off a bit of work on the Capo, I fired it up and stuffed the multimeter probes across the battery terminals – 16.1V with the lights on! My heart skipped a beat and thoughts of a toasted rectifier rumbled across my mind. However the Sparkbright battery monitor LED showed steady green and should have been flashing red/green at this voltage. A prod of the ‘mode’ button activated the tacho/voltmeter in the dashboard and it said just over 14V. What gives? Then another glance of the multimeter channelled my thoughts in a whole new direction – an itsy-bitsy low battery icon was showing. A fresh PP3 and a calming cup of tea later and the Capo was in fact charging at a healthy 14.2V all along ……. So with the stress-monster firmly back its box, I made a note to check/change batteries in all the other tools in the workshop ASAP!
Way back when I started playing with the idea of using the dashboard tachometer as a voltmeter, I was aware I had one stumbling block …. I didn’t have a decent workbench power supply to calibrate the software/voltmeter against. In the end just using a battery and resistors the ball-park calibration wasn’t too bad, reading within a needles width of the correct voltage from 13 – 14v but it drifted terribly above and below this range.
Then in summer along came a gift from ABSL via Andy (Beasthonda) …. A very nice Thurlby 30V-2A dual power supply, which unfortunately had to languish in Oxford as it was too heavy to transport back by Capo! But patience is rewarded and it finally sits on the workbench, performing brilliantly and its first job has just been to calibrate the dashboard voltmeter once and for all. In the end it required a little code revision to get it just so, but it was worth it – now the voltmeter is accurate to a needles width over the full range of 9 – 16V. Happy Days! One more job to tick off the must-finish list. 😀
I really can’t say how much I appreciate Andy for thinking of me and ABSL for letting this power supply go to a complete stranger, I look forward to putting it to good use and hope that some of the tinkering on the workbench can make its way into other Caponords.
A couple of anniversaries this week ….. firstly the dashboard. Yes a full 12 months since it was finished and put back into the Capo for the last time, resplendent with its new inlay to complement the electronic changes. The auto-dimming back lighting and split indicator repeaters have been absolute winners – I couldn’t go back to a standard board again without missing them. Moving the side-stand and low-fuel lights to accommodate the twin indicator repeaters has had no impact, positive or negative. The voltmeter has been a different kettle of fish …. generally unused as the Sparkbight battery monitor handles voltage feedback when riding around – however it has proved a real benefit during start-up when the dashboard goes through its self-test phase. Now it’s become second nature to eye-ball the tacho needle to see what the battery voltage is pre-start. >12.6v and I know I should get a good kick from the battery!
The second anniversary, although shorter at 6 months and a tad over 11K miles, is the MCCruise cruise control. After a rushed install (not clever) I knew I had a heavier throttle than pre-installation ….. this was purely down to throttle cable routing and nothing to do with the cruise control itself. It simply didn’t like being re-routed behind the radiator, so I gave up and relocated the CIU (cable interface unit) to a new location by the throttle bodies. Now everything works fine – a light throttle and a happy cruise control. It’s been 100% reliable and functional. As a demonstration of its finesse I ran the bike in 1st gear at 25mph and let the cruise control take over the (100 horsepower!) throttle – all I can say is WOW! I would never have believed that the system could have the sensitivity to operate the throttle with such precision, but it did – up hill, down dale – never an ounce of jerkiness. Ok I admit no one wants to ride around in 1st gear …. but as an experiment, it proved to me that MCCruise have indeed developed an absolutely fantastic piece of kit.
Yes I admit it here and now, I’m doing a U-turn – a full 180° – and NOT stopping dashboard repairs at the end of January 2015. Jeez …. You’re thinking, I wish this chap would make his mind up!!
Why the change of heart?
A couple of reasons actually …. Firstly, a few emails over the past couple of weeks that have made me reflect on the initial decision, secondly a Christmas card. Yep – a lowly piece of card with a simple season’s greetings from a Capo owner in Finland.
Risto sent his board over almost 18 months ago and by all accounts is happy with the work done and each Christmas he has sent a card. That connection across the continent would never have happened without the dashboard repair service. This year I opened the card and felt a twinge of regret, uneasiness, a sense that a decision I was making was the wrong one. The bottom line is that I would miss the emails/calls and involvement if I stopped something that I’ve been involved with since the beginning of unravelling the dashboard circuits.
Jan and I sat down and worked out some ways to free up a little more time and I’ve decided to put other projects on the back-burner for now. So I will not stop doing what I’ve done for almost two years ….. Give folks a grain of hope that a piece of their pride and joy can be repaired or upgraded. Sorry for the wobble, but hey, I’m only human.
And Risto ….. If you read this, just remember that opening your Christmas card changed the course of moto-abruzzo as he staggers into 2015. That’s pretty awesome when you think about it! 😀
On 4th February Jan came back home with a suitcase fair groaning with all manner of goodies. The most eagerly awaited though, was the pair of new inlays from Lockwood International Ltd. So first impressions?
Excellent! From the textured material to the bleed-free printing, from the fit to the light-transmission …. everything was exactly as I’d hoped. The first thing I did was pop one onto a waiting chassis/board and turn on the lighting – did the text and colour match the light channels? Again, perfectly. Now I could relax, prepare the new chassis and get ready to fit one permanently to the dashboard. To fix it in place I decided to use a general-purpose spray adhesive and did a trial run on an old chassis/inlay to make sure it would be suitable. Everything seemed fine and it was certainly good experience to do a dummy run.
Making sure the chassis was grease and dust free was essential, then masking off the light-channels, mounting pegs and anywhere else I didn’t want spray glue to go! A couple of thin coats of adhesive were applied and the inlay fitted 10 minutes later to allow time for the solvents to evaporate. Perfect! It was now ready to be fitted to the circuit board, but first a couple of modifications to the board/processor circuits.
First the eeprom file needed to be updated for the Futura speedo/tacho, then the code in the microcontroller needed updating for the different (voltmeter) needle calibration. At the same time a couple of modifications were made to the circuits based on insights I’d picked up about Arduino boards from the Internet, also the auto-dimming circuit was finally added for the variable back-lighting, a bit of tweaking with the code – and it was all ready to be refitted to the Capo.
So there I was …. on a wind-swept but warm Sunday morning, dashboard in hand and about to see the fruits of a few months work finally come together on the bike. No doubt the code for the auto-dimming will need fine-tuning, but that can be done without removing the dashboard again – and that’s the line in the sand, right there. Once fitted, I shouldn’t have to remove them again anytime soon …. and that’s a great feeling!
I think that about now would be a great time to pause and say thanks to a few folks who have helped me keep the momentum in this little project. Firstly Jan for her patience and for lugging stuff across the continent for me, to Andy (beasthonda) for bouncing ideas around with me and his interest in the project, to Arvdee in the USA without who’s generous donation of a Futura inlay I wouldn’t have had a template. Last but not least, Clive from Lockwood International for putting the proverbial icing on the cake – thank you all!!!! 😀
Just got this photo from Clive over at Lockwood International in the UK, the nice folks who have made my new inlays for the Caponord dashboard. I’ll write more when they arrive …… I can’t wait!!
- Back-lit voltmeter within the tachometer
- Left & Right indicator repeaters
- Red-line raised to 10,000rpm to match ECU setting
- Side-stand lamp is now where the unused ABS lamp was
- Funky Aprilia lion instead of boring old ‘aprilia’ text
- ‘magneti marelli’ logo removed …. well they didn’t design this one!
Phase 1 is over, Phase 2 begins …….. yes, the reworked dashboard with voltmeter/tacho and fade-in/fade-out auto-dimming backlighting is off the workbench and finally onto the Caponord. I know it doesn’t look too inspiring at the moment, but it is only a prototype unit for development. The white tacho face is simply a temporary inlay printed on a piece of A4, so it better not get wet!
Inside the box lives an Arduino Uno with a homemade interface board that switches and adjusts the signals to/from the dashboard as required. The single connector plugs into an additional fused loom that runs to the battery positive terminal. I’ve tried to build in safeguards against under/over voltage, battery disconnection and reconnection spikes and its own failure with regards to how the dashboard functions, hopefully most if not all eventualities have been covered …. fingers crossed!
I’ll run this setup for a while and try to iron out any other issues as they crop up, but what then? Well Phase 3 has already started in parallel with Phase 2! A new microcontroller board that uses the same chip, but with a footprint that is an astonishingly small 8% of the Uno has been ordered. Not only is it small, it also loses the peripheral bits and bobs that I don’t need – and that means much lower power consumption. I’m really hoping to get the whole thing inside the dashboard case if possible, but the worst case scenario will mean a small box fixed directly to the back of the dashboard – so no wiring loom or bulky connectors!
As well as getting the inlay reprinted with the added voltmeter graphic, I’ve also decided on a little re-arrangement of the existing graphics and functions. For example, why oh why is a ‘side-stand’ light prime-center of the display when it already has a safety circuit to stop you riding away with the stand down? ….. Magneti Marelli over-egging the pudding I think.
So the side-stand is moving down to the (unused) ABS lamp spot, the low-fuel then moves up to the side-stand lamp and the low-fuel light then becomes the right-hand indicator – as it should have been all along. Yes, a turn repeater for both left AND right hand signals!!!
With all this in the pipeline, I can now source a decent place to have the new inlay card made. I’ve spoken to a couple of companies in the UK already, but I’ll keep looking around for a little while longer …….. do you know anyone you can recommend? If so, I’d like to hear from you.
Last but not least, here’s another short piece of video with the panel working on the bike.
Evening folks, I thought I’d share this with you as the nights start to draw in and riding gives way to winter tinkering.
I mentioned over on the dashboard page about the upgrades hopefully working by spring next year. Well some of them have come along in leaps and bounds, so I took a snippet of video so you can see a dashboard work-in-progress strutting it’s stuff on the workbench. OK, I know that there’s no voltmeter markings on the inlay yet, just use your imagination for now! It’s actually showing 12.4v ……….
Now while I’m waiting for an oscilloscope to miraculously appear, I’ll leave the board bench testing for a while to see if the code or controller breaks, then fingers crossed, it’s on to the auto-dimming back lighting instead of the three fixed settings of useless, mostly useless and acceptable.