But I am just a pilgrim on this road, boys
Until I see you fare thee well
-Steve Earle, Pilgrim

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New LED Headlight

About a year ago, I started to build a LED headlight to run off my Schmidt generator hub. I have been running two Busch and Muller Lumotec halogen headlights wired in series. Most of the time I only have one turned on. For backup, I have a battery-powered Cateye HL-EL500. I primarily use the Cateye in town when I have to stop frequently because the Lumotecs do not have a stand light and require a little speed to begin to illuminate. I also have a small white LED button light affixed to the front of the trunk that I run at night to make me more visible from the front when I am stopped. I have a Princeton helmet light that I wear at night as well, but I usually only have it on to read the que sheet or street signs.

The design I started with was based on the Joe Gross Special, but I lost interest in the project when I ran into some problems understanding the schematics for the nFlex board. I do not know anything about electronics. I recently ran across a simpler design (Circuit 2), which got me interested again. I intended to go back to the Joe Gross Special, but I did not have all the electrical parts. I went to Radio Shack, and they did not have the parts I needed. They did have the parts to build Circuit 2, although the silicon diodes are 1N4005 rather than 1N4007. The capaciter is 1,000uF, 35V, which is the largest they had. Radio Shack is no longer the goto place for electronic components.

The light went together without any problems, and I rode around for about 10 minutes before I glued the back plate on with J-B Weld. I could not feel any heat on the outside of the light, so I assume it will continue to work without melting down. I intend to test it for an extended period of time before I ride a 300K brevet scheduled for April. When I did the test ride, I had both lighting systems on the bike and was able to compare them. The LED light beam is not as focused as the halogen, but it is a lot brighter. The halogen bulb has a few hours on it, so a new bulb would probably be brighter, but with the LED, I do not have to worry about the bulb browning out and having to be replaced. The LED beam also seems to falloff quicker than the halogen, but it may just appear that way because the beam is wider. The light does flicker at walking speed, but as soon as I start pedaling the beam is steady.

I do not think I saved any money building the light, in part because I bought some extra parts that I had to mail order because I did not want to have to order again if I screwed something up. If the first light continues to work, I will use the extra parts to build another one.

Old lighting system on the Romulus
(button LED is partially behind the left headlight)

New LED light

New lighting system

Side view

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bianchi Eros

I forgot to mention in my last post that I rode the Apple Butter permanent on a new bike. The seat stays on my commuter bike frame (Fuji Sagres) developed cracks, so I replaced it with my Raleigh Gran Sport frame that was my club ride/short brevet bike. I had wanted to replace the Raleigh because it did not have any bottle cage bosses or a head tube frame peg for a frame pump. I had one cage clamped to the down tube. I did not put a cage on the seat tube because that was where I put the frame pump. The rear dropout spacing is also only 126mm, and I was tired of trying to cram in a 130mm wheel. I could have cold set the frame to 130mm, but it is perfect for the 8-speed Nexus red band hub I had on the Sagres.

I bought a Bianchi Eros on eBay in December and built it up using parts from the Raleigh and my parts bin. The bike came with the headset and seat post. There was also a stem and handlebar that I resold on eBay. The "only" new parts are: a Sugino compact double crank (34x50), a Shimano cassette (12x28), a Rivendell V Brand handlebar bag, two Spanninga RL-1 taillights and a second King bottle cage. I also have a new Selle An-Atomica Titanico saddle I plan to put on after I lace it.

The frame is steel, but not lugged. It appears to be a 2002 model. Other than not being lugged, the only downside is that the fork, with the fenders, will not let me run more than about a 25mm tire. I was a little concerned about the narrower tires not absorbing the road vibrations, but I did not have any problems this weekend. I may look for a replacement fork, but for now I plan to leave it as is. On rides where I know there are particularly rough roads, I can always ride my Rivendell Canti Rom with 28-32mm tires. The setup is pretty well tuned in except for the stem. I would prefer a stem about 2cm shorter. The problem is that I have already shellacked the cork bar tape, so the stem will be a hassle to replace.

Shellacked cork bar tape looks good with the blue frame

Rivendell V Brand handlebar bag

Rivendell Little Joe saddle bag (no longer available)

Hard to believe we were riding a 200K two days ago.

More Cold Apple Butter

I went to Baxter Springs again to ride the Apple Butter 200K on Saturday with Mike and Nancy Myers. It was cloudy and about 32 degrees when we left at 7:00. We had a southeast wind that swung to the southwest about Noon, so we had a five to 12 mph headwind most of the day. The Myers had a flat tire just south of Galena, KS, about five miles from the start. That was the only mechanical problem the entire day.

East of Joplin, we rode by a field where there was a mare and recently born foal. The mare still had blood stains on her hind legs. As we approached, the stallion charged up to the fence between us and the mare and foal, the mare and foal started running, but the foal got tangled in its legs and fell. It quickly got up and headed off after the mare. A little further along, we were passing a field with goats when the herd dogs in the field beyond started barking. The goats looked at the dogs, then at us, then back at the dogs and then again at us before they decided the silly dogs were making much ado about nothing. The goats went back to grazing. The sun broke out after we left the control in Sarcoxie. It finally began to warm up, but I don't think it got much above 40 degrees the entire day.

The most excitement of the day was when I lost my Permanent card. I forgot to zip the pocket in my reflective vest where I keep my card. I realized the card was gone about a half mile after leaving the control in Mount Vernon. I told the Myers to go on, and I headed back towards the control. I checked the trash can at the control to make sure I did not accidentally toss it. Then I headed back along the route. Luckily, I found it about 5 feet off the road just a few hundred feet from where I realized it was gone. I did not see it when I first went back because there were ditches on both sides of the road. Good thing it was not at night, but having ridden half the distance, I was prepared to spend as much time a s necessary to find the card. With the headwind, I did not push it, so I did not catch up with the Myers until the control in Sarcoxie. I also saw former Missouri US Senator Jim Talent at the control in Sarcoxie. We got back to Baxter Springs just before 18:00.

Eight rides complete and four to go. The rest should be brevets, although I may ride a permanent in early March because the first brevet is not until March 20. Last year's brevet, there was snow on the ground, so the weather can still be a problem.

Fixing a flat

Mike & Nancy

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Springbike Super Bowl Ride

The ride started at 1:30 PM at the James River Assembly of God Church, just north of Ozark. There were about 25 riders. The skies were overcast, and the temperature about 33 degrees, but the roads were dry. Dave Christiano, club president, started us off and provided SAG. It was good to get out on the road because the weather has been to wet and cold to ride. I rode the longer route (32 miles). The sun broke out on the way back from Rogersville, and it warmed up to a toasty 38 degrees. There is snow in the forecast for tomorrow, but hopefully, the weather will start getting better.

Getting ready to start

Crossing the Finley River at Riverside