Archive for December 2011

Mukluk Fork Light: First Draft

As mentioned a month ago I had the parts laying around the house for fitting a Philips commuter bike light to a rigid fork crown. I’ve poked with this on and off over the last month, including taking some time to cut a water bottle to hold the battery and fill/fashion the top of it with leftover GREAT STUFF foam. Tonight I finally put together the power supply, built the wiring harness, mounted a bottle cage to a fork, and put it all together.

This looks like it’ll be a pretty good auxiliary light for winter riding; something to provide some nice, low-angle light to increase contrast / shadows. It’s listed as being ~100 lumens, and being a European commuter-style light it’s designed to cast a rotated D-shaped light, illuminating only the pavement and not shining in other riders’ eyes. Being mounted just above the Mukluk’s large tire this casts a decent-sized shadow, but I don’t think that this’ll be a problem when riding. I’m now just looking forward to the trails freezing so I can get out and try this.

To put this together I used the following items, all of which were sitting around the house unused, generally left over from other projects:

· Philips SafeRide BF60L60BALX1 Light
· Tenergy 14.8V 3Ah LiPo Battery Pack
· Sure Electronics PT-PC021 Step-down Power Supply
· Cannondale Water Bottle
· Random Fasteners
· King Cage Bottle Cage
· Silicone-insulated Stranded Wire
· Cable Ties
· Hot-Melt Glue
· Neoprene Sheet
· Left-over GREAT STUFF (Yes, I was somehow able to save a can and get it dispensing again by removing the nozzle…)

I’m not sure that I’ll stick with the fork mount for the battery, but wanting to keep the main bottle cage empty it seems to be the best option. I also might modify the battery holder to be a bit more solid, but right now I’ve got the power supply wrapped in neoprene which nicely holds the battery in place. This results in nothing rattling around and everything working pretty well, so we’ll see where it goes…

UPDATE: Runtime tests show a little over six hours runtime off of one charge. The setup has also been proving quite durable and reliable. I may switch to a smaller battery and a more permanent mount, but for now this setup seems to be working wonderfully.

CRAMBA’s Addison Oaks Mountain Bike Route Map

For a while now I’ve lamented that, while they do a nice job of illustrating the whole of the park, the park provided maps for Addison Oaks don’t show the mountain bike trail route very well. After a meeting with park management it was decided that a new map of the MTB route would be nice, and over the last week I spent some time gathering GPS data at the park and drawing up the map you see above: CRAMBA‘s Addison Oaks Mountain Bike Route Map.

When drawing this map I was working with the following intentions:

· Make the MTB route easy to find for new users to the park.
· Provide sufficient landmarks (mile markers, water tower, RC plane field, cell tower, lakes, etc) to make it easy for a new user to locate themselves along the route.
· Illustrate where the MTB route interacts with other marked routes, such as equestrian trail crossings and segments shared with marked equestrian and hiking routes.
· Allow the map to be used alongside the park-provided maps by including common reference points.
· Produce a map that is readable when printed in B&W or color.

I think that this map meets these intentions. There will, of course, be versions released after this as stuff changes around and points for improvement are identified, but I’m pretty happy with the result thus far. Hopefully others will find it useful.

It’s Not Morgellons

Every once in a while, usually after a long bit of walking, I will find a small hair sticking out of the ball of my foot. This part of my foot will sting a bit, I’ll find the hair sticking out, and a few hours after pulling it out with tweezers the pain will be gone. I suspect that a bit of hair in my sock — either my own or something picked up — will work it’s way under a bit of skin, then slowly push it’s way in while walking. It’s easy to remove and rather amusing.

Looking around a bit online I’ve found anecdotal stories of others (particularly dog groomers working in sandals) having the same problem, but it seems to be more rare and undiscussed than tonsillolith. And yes, I’m sure it’s not Morgellons.

Christmas Eve Paved Riding

Ever since the Macomb Orchard Trail paving was completed a couple months ago I’d been wanting to ride it to my parents house. After cancelling (due to slush) then resuming the plans later in the day I set out to do so today, managing to ride the whole distance with only one stop: a crosswalk half a mile from my house. I did the rest of the 29.38 mile treck in one go spanning a total of 1:59:53 (1:58:08 moving time), pedaling nearly the entire time, for an average speed of 14.8 MPH and average heart rate of 155 BPM.

This is an interesting route, because the first half of it (to the barn-shaped bridge over M-53 just north of 32 Mile Road) is uphill, and after that it becomes gradually rolling with nearly unnoticable (except for wondering why you are feeling slow) ups and downs. There was also a gusty wind out of the southwest, which made things a bit unpleasant at times. Still, the pavement on the path made it an overall nicer ride than when I last rode this route on Mother’s Day.

The most interesting part of this ride was how sore I was afterward. Being a flat, paved route it was easy riding, and I sitting and pedaling hard almost the entire time. This resulted in some hamstring (not sure exactly which muscle, but something right near my sit bones) cramping right after getting off the bike, to the point where squatting was extremely painful. One small dose of Ibuprofen, a warm shower, and a couple hours later and it’s better with just a little residual soreness. Due to being on trails my normal rides involve a good bit of sitting and standing up, but for this ride I had to occasionally stand on the pedals to take some weight off my sit bones and stretch a little. I think a few more rides like this would do me well.

Winter Beer Assortment

It’s been a while since I purchased an assortment of beer, but finding myself near Red Wagon this afternoon I decided to stop in and pick up a bunch of winter-y beers. The assortment purchased today is as follows, from left to right:

· North Peak Brewing Company‘s Dubious Black Chocolate Stout
· Delerium Tremens
· Samichlaus Bier
· Lagunitas Hop Stoopid
· Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
· New Holland Brewing‘s Dragons Milk
· Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier
· Southern Tier Brewing Company‘s mokah
· Brau Brothers Brewing Company Moo Joos Oatmeal Milk Stout
· Weihenstephan Vitus
· Genesee Beer
· Keeweenaw Brewing Company‘s Widow Maker Black Ale

Vector Symbols for Maps

Ever been drawing a map and found yourself needing vector copies of symbols? Well, thanks to the great state of Minnesota there is a font containing most of these symbols freely available. On the state’s page Recreation Symbols Extension for ArcView one can download recreate.ttf, a 126-character TrueType font containing indicators for everything from XC ski trail difficulty to lighthouse locations and from winter camping sites to RV dump locations.

To make using this font easier I’ve created a spreadsheet-based key listing each of the symbols next to their corresponding Unicode character. This can be found here: Minnesota DNR Recreation Symbol True Type Font Key.xlsx

There’s a few other nifty things that Minnesota has provided to the general GIS community, including Road Symbols. The rest can be found here.

UPDATE: Here is another set of symbols provided by the National Park Service (NPS). These are much more up to date and provided as both PDF and .AI files.

General Tire AltiMAX Arctic Snow Tires

Having some time this evening I fitted the snow tires to my car. Purchased from Tire Rack, I ended up with a set of General AltiMAX Arctic snow tires on steel rims in 195/65R15 size. This is slightly narrower and with a taller sidewall than the original tires, but conveniently one of the spec sizes on the slightly lower model of Civic, which makes pressure selection a piece of cake and left me with little doubt that they’d be a decent fit for the car.

These tires were mentioned to me by a couple friends, and they are Consumer Reports #2 snow tire pick, just behind some that cost almost 80% more. Delivered just a few days after ordering (albeit with the lug nuts coming a week later due to a order packing screwup) they were here quite quickly and ready to go.

Installation went smoothly, and with the purchase of a breaker bar, proper size sockets, and a torque wrench I had all the tools needed to make the installation go smoothly. I had a slight issue jacking up the rear of the car which necessitated some oak blocks to extend the reach of the floor jack, but once on the jack stands everything went smoothly. The old wheels came off with little effort thanks to the 18″ breaker bar, the new ones seated nicely, the lug nuts snugged up evenly, and torquing them evenly (once the car was back on the ground, of course) took just a bit of time with the wrench.

The test ride around the area went well, and while I can hear a bit more road noise that’s to be expected from the heavily siped tires. I’ve now got the car sitting outside overnight so the tires can cool to ambient temperature. Come morning I’ll fill them to specified pressure and they should be good for a while, or at least until we get down near single digit temperatures.

Now to wait for some snow and ice… It’s too bad this week has a forecast for rain and higher temps. Maybe I should have waited before putting them on. Oh well.

Broken Garage Door Closed Sensor

This evening I was tightening and adjusting a few bits on my garage door when I noticed that the plastic garage door closed sensor was bent to one side. Upon touching it and applying a bit of pressure to bend it back it snapped off, rendering the opener incapable of detecting when the door was closed. The result was that the door would close, hit the pavement, press hard, then reverse making it impossible to close the door without stopping it manually.

Wanting this fixed I hurriedly grabbed some scrap aluminum (left over end panels from the SDrive NUXX) and fashioned a new lever with a slightly different spring retention system. As rebuilding this required drilling out the original pivot rivet I had to use a screw in its place, but hopefully this will work out fine. I also applied some UHMW polyethylene tape to the edge of the lever in hopes of keeping it from abrading the sled which presses against it. Some nail polish was also used as thread locker (because I couldn’t find my Loctite) to hopefully keep the assembly together.

A photo of the resulting assembly can be seen here, and thus far it’s installed and working fine. Hopefully it’ll continue to work well and the old, low-quality plastic part will have a permanent replacement.

Bob’s Deer Camp Blend from Dead River Coffee

This morning’s breakfast includes a pint glass of Bob’s Deer Camp Blend from Dead River Coffee in Marquette, MI, which some friends (Nick and Marty) brought back for me on a recent trip. This blend, brewed up in an AeroPress, almost tastes a bit spicy. At first I thought that it might have a wee bit of cinnamon or cayenne in it, but after looking through the beans and finding nothing extra in there I think it’s just the chosen beans and roasting.

I’m really enjoying this coffee. Now I just need to find something to eat for breakfast with it… Hmm…

Used CycleOps Fluid2 Trainer

Look what I picked up from a friend this evening. I figure this will be nice to get me feeling good for spring-time riding, and maybe on track to try doing some seriously challenging rides next year.

This is a few-years-old CycleOps Fluid2 trainer, fitted to my 2008 Specialized Rockhopper Disc, my first mountain bike. Thanks to Erik I’ve got a smooth rear tire for it, and I’m hoping that this will work out well for a bit of extra exercise and riding during the winter.