Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Neat Road Trip Planning Tool (plus other map toys)

As I contemplate my next road trip, I found myself using googlemaps to calculate distances but then finding the selected destination of the day not reachable within specified time frame or willingness to sit in the saddle for the amount of time required.

Tried seeing if googlemaps offered a range function which measured how far you could get once you input average speed, hours of riding, etc.  Nothing found but then I didn't spend a lot of time searching either.

I tried googling the phrase "map radius" or some such and stumbled upon this site:  Free Map Tools

They had a map utility that lets you: Discover how far you can travel on land from a fixed point. Specify the start point, then input either how far you can go or your mode of transport with time available. This tool will then show you the range of locations that you can reach in that time on an isochrone map.

So as an example, I put in my home zipcode, average speed of 45 mph and eight hours of traveling by driving and got this result:

source: Free Map Tools

The map shows me how far I can go, by driving (or in my case, riding), within stated parameters.  Of course, it can't account for you going faster in some spots or taking pictures in others but you get the idea.  In the above example, a day's worth of riding would get me to Green River, UT on the westernmost edge of the shaded area on the map.

I'm thinking one could use this tool to estimate overnight stops, estimate days of travel required to reach some final destination and so on.  

For instance, following the model above, I used Green River, UT as my jumping off point for day two of travel and got this:

Starting from Green River, UT...could reach Elko, NV

Day Three of travel, starting from Elko, NV would put me within
striking range of Sacramento, CA

I mentioned mapping toys in the title of this post.  Check out the Map Tunneling Tool, it allows you to select a point on the map on the left screen, and the corresponding point on the Earth if you could tunnel straight down from the selected point is displayed!  Cool beans.  So now, you can prove that one can't really dig his way to China, at least not if you're in the USA!  :)

Digging straight down from center of USA would put you
in the Indian Ocean!

Finally, an area calculator using maps.  In the example below, I found a satellite view of the local elementary school, designated the building with the tool and it tells you how much area it covers.  Not 100% accurate, but still, a neat tool.

Oh the things one finds on the Internet.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fall Colors in the Denver Metro Area

I believe this is the latest I've seen Fall Colors grace the trees in the Denver Metro Area.  I wonder what it means in terms of a snowy winter?

 The road leading into Chatfield Reservoir Park from the South

 I like the way the sun backlights the golden leaves....

 Had to go to the data center today for some work, the trees beside
the facility were a bit past their peak in terms of colors but still nice.

Trees at the elementary school near our home.

Gorgeous riding weather, sunny and warm with temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s.  Little to no wind and my network change went well!

Update: 19OCT14

Per RichardM's request, some pics of red Fall colors....not as brilliant red as the stuff on the East Coast but it'll do.  Oh, and throwing in a bonus pic of Brigitta at the Westlands Park in the Denver Tech Center, earlier this year.

A very much "tweaked" photo of the view near my house

The Entrance Arch at Westlands Park

Monday, October 13, 2014

Improving Ergos on Scarlett

I have a 32 inch inseam, perhaps 33 with boots on.  This has led in the years since I've started riding URAL sidecar rigs to some knee pain during long rides.

You see, there's not much room for one's right foot in your standard URAL. The standard seating height puts my right leg at an angle where the armor in my riding pants binds up on my right knee, eventually causing soreness and pain.

In the past, I would raise my right heel a bit and it helped, but I couldn't hold that for long periods of time.  I could deploy the pillion's ride peg and move my right foot back, resting it on said peg but again, it's not something I could hold for long.

The other day, it occurred to me that if I could raise the bench seat on Scarlett, it would allow a better angle for my right leg, obviating the need to ride with the heel higher than the toe as it were.

Some testing, some thinking, some observations later, I tried raising the seat using stacks of washers....this worked to raise it about 1/4 inch but then the mounting screws involved were not long enough.

This morning, I rode Brigitta over to the hardware store to get longer M8x1.25 nuts and bolts.  Brigitta ran well, and the headlight stayed on, so that was a good test ride after Saturday's work involving the headlight bucket.

Returning home, I set about installing the new bolts, using nuts to adjust the height of the bolts.  The bolts replace the OEM ones that held the mounting plate over the battery compartment in place.  The bench seat has a primary mounting bold that secures to the mounting plate, with two other bolts at the rear of the bench seat holding things down on that end of things.

Closeup view of the bolts which now hold the bench seat
about one inch higher than stock.  Usually, the mounting plate
sits flush on top of the tug's frame.
Note how the middle rubber bumpers now hang in the air.

Unless you really know to look, there's no real change to 
Scarlett's appearance.  Especially if I am sitting on her.

source: URAL
example rig with the seat flush mounted to the mounting plate

Getting geared up, I took Scarlett for about 30 minutes or so of riding.  My right foot fits much better now on the right peg, and it feels comfortable to hold my foot parallel to the ground.  I think this little mod will help during the long rides, but we'll see.

Scarlett at the power plant by Smith Road, north of the I-70 highway
and near Powhaton Road.

As you can see, storm clouds, which caused me to ride back homeward in a pretty steady rain.  No big deal but it was close to lunch so I just rode on home, getting wet since I didn't bother to don rain gear.

There is no such thing as warm summer rain in Colorado.

A bit chilled, I got home just fine.  Took a look at the relays which are mounted on the bottom of the mounting plate that the seat is anchored on; a few small drops of water hat collected on them.  I took some leftover rubber trim used for garage doors, black in color, place it under the seat and secured the ends to the pillion's grab bars.  That should keep water and snow from collecting on the relays, the proof will be the first ride in snow; which should be within the next two to three weeks if I'm lucky.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Headlight Weirdness by Brigitta, Resolved.

Back when I replaced the speedo/odometer on Brigitta, my '87 R80, I happened to notice that sometimes my headlight remained on even when the key was off!  Weird.  At the time, I attributed the headlight behavior to me messing about the wiring involved around the headlight area.

It sort of remained in the back of my mind however, and this morning I took a closer look at things.

One obvious thing as I moved her front wheel back and forth, the headlight would come on when the wheel was turned all the way to the right!  Yep, with the ignition off.  Heck, with the key out!  Obviously, a circuit was being completed somewhere, independent of the ignition switch.

Off came the headlight so I could get at the ignition wiring.

Ignition switch wires

Saw some bare spots on the wires, thought it'd be an easy fix.  Trouble was though, as I checked things by wiggling on the connectors, the headlight didn't come on.  Hmmmmm.

I followed the wires into the plastic tube which housed all four wires, wiggled that and the headlight would come on when I moved it in different directions!  Aha!  

So I removed the battery's negative cable from it's grounding point on the engine case so I could work on things without making sparks fly.

Started off peeling the plastic tubing away, and exposed burned/melted red and green wires.  Red of course is hot or power, green is usually ground.  The insulation had burned/melted off both wires in multiples spots, allowing the wire underneath to touch and complete a circuit when bent a certain way.

I kept peeling away the outer plastic further and further along, more burned and melted plastic insulation on the red and green wires!  Two attempts at just patching what I had exposed just resulted in the headlight being on all the time when I would reconnect the negative cable on the battery.  Not good.

Off came the negative wire again and off came the gas tank, I pulled the connectors off and pulled the wires out of the headlight bucket, continuing to free it from cable ties until I reached a four connector plug into the main wiring harness.  

Once the cable was free, I removed the entire outer tube.  I ended up removing all the melted red and green plastic, leaving both the hot and ground wires complete bare.  Once I had all four wires separated and cleaned off, I used electrical tape to re-insulate the now bare hot and ground wires, ensuring there was no contact between them anymore.  Each wire I re-insulated, I tested by touching the grounding strap on the battery to ground, no spark meant no contact!

Tidied things up with more electrical tape, re-forming it into a single wire bungle which I threaded back along the cable path and into the headlight bucket.  Got everything connected back up, negative cable in place, no headlight coming on when swinging the front wheel all the way left and right!

Tested the ignition switch, lights came on when I turned the key as expected and she fired up when I pushed the starter button so the connectors were correct on the ignition switch.

No more mystery headlight turning itself on for no reason!  I did take more pictures, but bare wires are just that, bare wires!  I lucked out, the melted wires had connectors on both ends which were in good shape, and it was a relatively short run of wires, perhaps 18 inches; so not a lot of ruined insulation to remove, not a lot of new electrical tape used to form new insulation.