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More Goodies for the Bike

The new bike is going really well and the new accessories are starting to grow slowly. I’ve added some pages in the V-Strom section for my new Top Box setup and a page for Stickers which are both for function and eye candy.

I’ve got a heap of goodies on order to build up the new switch plate I got from Dan Vesel. When complete I should have a 12v cigarette lighter socket, a battery voltage and charging status LED and a permanent 3V supply for my eTrex GPS, all with independent switching. I can’t wait to crack out the soldering iron again, it’s been a while.

Farkle my V-Strom

Here’s something cool I’ve been up to. A Farkle for my V-Strom (no that’s not a rude word – look it up *Edit 21Mar21 – OK, so maybe one use of the word is really rude, but the rest are clean I promise). I now have a luggage guard for my bike so it’s ready to accept a set of soft panniers :)

Made by Dan Vesel in the US, this is a first prototype and bolted straight on thanks do Dan’s meticulous workmanship.

Click to see more about my Luggage Guard, or have a look at all the other products Dan makes for V-Stroms of all years.

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Welcome back me!

Phew, that was a close call. I’ve been pretty inactive here lately and by chance a colleague asked me a few days ago if I still had my domain / blog. I said yes – because I thought I did.

So I loaded the URL just for a peek at what I’d posted here last and got a shock. My beautiful blog had been replaced by one of those bullshit ‘looks legit but is just a page of adverts’ pages. It did have a pretty girl holding some textbooks at what looked like a University which was nice. But I have a wife who is even prettier and she has textbooks of her own so I didn’t really need to keep advertising girl around for any longer than necessary.

Turns out my host / domain registrar stuffed up but I was terrified someone else had bought  the domain and that was the end of it for me. After some anxious emails and one cranky support ticked submission it was all resolved within 24 hours of discovery. The moral of the story – if you own a domain stay on top of the registration and check it regularly, even if you ‘know it’s up to date’.

So if you’re reading this blog, and have made it this far into a thoroughly boring post then you must enjoy my random and sporadic waffle. In that case I have a treat  in store for you! I’ve got a few news worthy things to post soon so stay tuned :-)

Oooh goody it’s new toy time

After some time to recuperate, some lessons with a professional instructor for my R class license (<250cc) and hopefully in two weeks a ‘pass’ I should be back on a bike again.

<- I’ve put a deposit on this beauty. It’s a DL650AL2 Suzuki V-Strom in ‘Metallic Fox Orange’. When we looked online I was not really taken with the orange, I definitely didn’t want black and decided that the white might be better on visibility grounds. But have a look at the way the sunlight sets that tank off! I’m getting the orange because it’s the last one left on the floor, but after seeing it in the flesh I think it’s the best of the three colours.

Let’s hope those big twin discs at the front and the ABS helps me keep out of trouble and that this one spends its entire life ‘right way up’.

Not Again!

Bloody hell it’s happened again. This time I’m equally as lucky but the damage is a bit worse. My shiny new Shoei TZR doesn’t look too bad but I’ll bin it anyway, I’m now limping and the Sherpa is a write off.

I was on my way home on Kalamunda rd when out of nowhere a car turned right across my lane – right in front of me. I had enough time to start applying brakes but there was no room or time to try anything more evasive. I slammed into the passenger side and was thrown over the car and down the road. Thank goodness there was only a little sliding, lots of rolling and most importantly no bones breaking. Once again all my gear did it’s job. My worst injuries are to my left leg; a bit of skin missing, some of the biggest nastiest bruises I’ve ever seen and a stiff knee. Oh and here’s one nobody warned me about – the seating arrangement means the crown jewels took a beating, they did get their own back by tearing off my tank bag and mirror as I went past though! Read the rest of this entry »

Zip55 and Slope Soaring in Albany

This story starts in Oct 2010 when I saw a build thread on RC Groups for a new model called a Zip55 from Zaerotech in Hawaii. After a few weeks of reading & lusting and a few emails to Kevin about shipping costs I had one on the way. This model appealed for a number of reasons. I was already on the lookout for a higher performance slope soarer now that I’m getting more confident with the Alula and Duck. I love the idea of a model that packs up small and I also love to build from a kit or from scratch. On top of this, the Zip55 has some extraordinary design features including a removable, foldable V-Tail with automatic control surface connections and a magnetic wing retention system. Last of all the Zip55 is a wingeron which means the entire wing rotates about the main spar to provide roll control instead of using ailerons. This video is worth watching to see all the nifty features.

We visited Albany recently to go to a mates wedding. I couldn’t resist packing the models and all my slopers got some good airtime. Kristy was really good, not only did she put up with my incessant quest for an into-wind slope, she performed camera duty and drew some serious blood from those lovely legs while retrieving the Alula from the scrub. Yes she volunteered for that but I guess my answer should have been “No honey that’s OK” instead of “Thanks honey, I’ll just launch the Duck now since the wind is good”. That all happened on the first outing when we flew at the blowholes.

On the second outing an Easterly of approx 10kts was blowing so the Salmon Holes seemed to be the best spot. What ensued can best be described as a ‘slopegasm’. The lift was like nothing I’ve flown in before. I did dumb thumb the Duck into the bushes twice (yes I did my own retrievals) but it was such a hoot screaming around the curve of the slope, scraping the bushes and trying to get close for the camera. I haven’t really had the Duck grooving like this before, usually I’m working hard to stay up because conditions are light and I’m just desperate for a flight.

Then came the climax that still has a silly grin plastered all over my face. I assembled the Zip55, Kristy took what I was sure would be its final photos and I plucked up the courage to launch all my hard work off the edge. I had already clocked up 1 hour with the Zip55 at Mullaloo on her maiden flight but that didn’t ease the nerves. I needn’t have worried because she behaved impeccably from the moment she left my hand. I thought the Duck was good in the conditions but the Zip55 was amazing. It’s very clean aerodynamically and those thin high aspect ratio wings really get moving compared with a lump of flying foam. It seems to pull through tight turns really hard without showing signs of stalling and the energy retention is incredible. I had heaps of fun flying half pipes – doing passes along the slope as fast as I could before pulling vertical into a stall turn, diving back down and doing it all again. Possibly the most exciting part was the landing though. Top landing didn’t seem like an option so I got Kristy to guide me down the steps to the beach below while I flew high and stayed out of trouble. The next challenge was to bleed off enough energy to get it low and slow over the beach. Of course the only way to do that is fly far enough out over the ocean where there’s no slope lift….. The video below tells the story.


In Gadget-Man Heaven

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Well I might be a little behind the times here but after a shaky start I’ve finally caught up with the smart phone revolution and I’m loving it.

It’s not that this is the first gadget like this I’ve owned, its just the first one that’s this good! A few years back I had a Palm Tungsten E. It was a brilliant little PDA. By today standards it had very few features and functions. However what it did do – it did extremely well. The interface was intuitive and easy to use, it was fast and reliable. I found I was using it more and more in day to day life: scribbling notes, storing contacts, scheduling events etc. Best of all the information was easy to organise and retrieve. I guess you could say it was a mature product or technology.

Eventually I wore it out the much loved Tungsten E and it required replacement. I was lured to the dark side (Windows Mobile) in the guise of an iPaq 212. On paper it was so much better than my humble Palm. It had a bigger screen that was higher resolution, had built in WiFi and Bluetooth which meant I could even make it talk to a gps if I so desired. Oh the possibilities! But I’m afraid to say that’s all it was – possibilities. The interface was far too clumsy to be of any use for quick data entry or retrieval. It was unstable and buggy. After the hefty purchase price (compared to the Palm) I ended up shelling out more for a third party calendar app in the hope of getting something as powerful yet simple as the Palm had. With the Palm I could easily tell what I had planned in which categories with just a glance at the month view. Something I never truly achieved with the iPaq. Nowadays it lives next to the bed and gets used for watching YouTube videos of good English comedies before going to sleep.

I also made a dud purchasing decision when we got our Samsung F480′s. The whole touch screen phone thing was taking off and I wanted in on the action. All I can say is I don’t think the technology had matured enough yet. Or at least the software hadn’t anyway. Most of all the keyboard was sooo painful. Texting was an exercise in patience and extreme accuracy.

I wanted the simplicity and ease of use of the Palm, the features of the iPaq and a phone that I didn’t want to use as a hammer or wheel chock instead. I knew that the PDA category had all but been swallowed up by the Smartphone category so I suppose that’s where I should be looking. The iPhone seemed to be well liked and it seems the touch screen had developed to the point of being fast and easy to use – without a stylus too. I liked the idea of the Android OS and after a quick play on someone’s HTC Legend I was  sold.

After a lot of screwing around with Tel$tra (the staff were brilliant as always but their ‘system’ is a crock of s#!t) I had secured two new HTC Desires. This thing is awesome, the more I use it the better it gets. The option to use WiFi or mobile data, built in GPS, ability to browse our LAN for files (eg MP3′s from the Ubuntu media centre), seamless integration with Google’s services (which I already use), an interface that is clean and intuitive, a wide range of apps that are easily accessible and all in a package that has been stable and reliable thus far, the list just keeps going. I use my HTC Desire for emails and social networking, taking happy snaps, GPS navigation (including Geocaching), playing silly games, browsing the ‘net and texting. I’m back to having a calendar that is quick and easy to use. Best of all I can share calendars (through Google) with my bride so we can easily see everything we’ve each got planned. No more “I told you about such and such last week” from either of us! I even found an app that integrates / syncs with my blog and allows me to write posts about my phone, from my phone at 1am (that last coffee wasn’t clever). Finally a device with technology that has matured like the Palm’s had years ago. As an example: I’ve miss-hit at least one letter in almost every word in this post – but I’m not frustrated, ninety something percent of the time it knows what I really wanted to type.

Oh and it makes phone calls too.

Ouch!

Had myself a prang recently :( I overcooked it in the wet on my way to work and locked up the rear wheel approaching a corner. I had the presence of mind to come off the back brake to get it back together. Problem is I was then even closer to the corner and no slower, so I was just as enthusiastic on the brake again. This time the rear slid out so far I was afraid to let go of the brake incase it gripped suddenly and highsided. The bloody thing did it anyway and threw me off! Luckily there was no oncoming traffic and I went splat on my face followed by a penguin slide (on my belly) down the road.

The nice police lady didn’t charge me and the ambo’s took me to Royal Perth because they ‘were going that way anyway!’ After relaying the story again to the ED staff they had me laying down and immobilised with sandbags in the blink of an eye. Heaps of X-rays and 5 hours later I was given the all clear and allowed to move.

Apart from lots of bruising and some muscle damage, I didn’t have a scratch on me! All thanks to my gear. My Dririder jacket, full face helmet and leather gloves all paid for themselves. Most of all the helmet though, I hate to imagine what I’d look like right now if I’d had an open face helmet. My yellow vest and raincoat were torn up badly enough.

Funniest thing, the bike got a few scratches – but check out the indicator. Completely busted off but the globe is fine, still working too! The silver lining to this cloud – a new Shoei TZR :)

The World’s Best Hot Chocolate

Tonight I had the World’s best cup of hot chocolate! The explanation is going to seem a little strange but stay with me here. Nowadays I barely get to touch anything technical, so when something breaks around the house I’m almost singing for joy. Lately I’ve saved our Dyson from a violent death when I replaced the ‘lifetime’ filters which had become permanently blocked. Then it was time to solder up a new Sub C NiCd pack for the Dustbuster.

Most recently, I’ve been having an argument with an almost new microwave (read ‘just out of warranty’) that developed a penchant for consuming high voltage fuses (at about $10 ea). I was a little silly and assumed the magnetron was to blame so waited ’till a bargain popped up on eBay. New magnetron and new $10 fuse fitted and time for a test run. HUMMMMMMMMM – POP. Bugger this is getting expensive.

So time for more homework and I found this site which is a wealth of information for appliance repairs. Be sure to read the disclaimer though, there’s a capacitor in there that can kill you even when unplugged from the mains. After checking the cap’ was properly discharged I set about molesting everything with my multimeter. Aaargh, the diode had gone open circuit in both directions. Back to google and then eBay we go.

A parcel was waiting for me today with a new diode and (another) new fuse. 10 min work and it was all back together. This time a gentle hummmmmm and my sample water was getting hot. Success!

So dear reader, that’s why a cup of hot full cream milk in my trusty BP thermo mug with a few spoons of fancy pants chocolate makes the best hot chocolate in the world. And nobody’s going to tell me otherwise ;)

Don’t suppose anyone wants an as new, slightly used LG Magnetron?

WA Road Rules

Well yesterday I got my Weather Nerd on, today I’m getting my Driver Nerd on. (Yes I’m that guy who wears an uber cool fluoro vest  when riding my motorbike).

A particular facebook group  (There’s a perfectly good path right next to the road you stupid cyclist!) really got under my skin. So I went looking for the official road rules for WA so I could be properly armed before preparing my retort. Up until now I’ve only been aware of the Drive Safe book which is published by the Department for Planning and Infrastructure (now called Department of Transport). It’s a good tool for learners to study for their driving test but it’s not exactly a definitive list of the road rules though.

What I found was the State Law Publisher website which has (among many others) the Road Traffic Act 1974 and the Road Traffic Code 2000 available for download. Be prepared though, the Road Traffic Code 2000 is a cool 357 pages.

Ever been in a heated debate with a yobbo holden driving hoon over the legalities of  ”Lights on animal-drawn vehicles during the hours of darkness or in hazardous weather conditions“? Yup, I thought so. Well now you can finally settle the debate once and for all. (Part 13, Division 2, pp 204 by the way).

Lastly for the obligatory picture to add even more excitement to this already fascinating post. Eyes right for an intriguing stop sign. No, it’s not a typical stop sign as seen in a country town (the holes are too big for shotgun pellets), it’s a Traffic Light Stop Sign. I never knew such a thing existed – now we’ve both learned something new!