Saturday 29 March 2014

Frimley frolic

Out to Frimley today with ladysolly; we did 21 caches, all rather easy, and two DNFs. The weather was so warm, I was wearing my camo coat with no sweaters.

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Another bash at the Cambridge Cachathon

Up North to Caxton today, despite the weather forecast.

On the bike; I tried something slightly new today. Instead of using the batteries in pairs, one pair at a time, I hooked up three pair in parallel, which should give me three tmimes the range. And it did; that worked well.

But the weather didn't.

Round about 2pm, I was freezing cold and very wet; it was sleeting. Sleet is a mixture of rain and snow, and so you can see how cold it is. I was thinking seriously about making a run for the car, and abandoning the remaining 20-odd caches in the circuit. I could barely feel my hands. But then the sleet eased up, so I carried on.

69 caches and one DNF, but the DNF had a redeeming feature.

This is John, he was leaving the churchyard as I came in. He asked me what I was doing, so I told him I was hunting for a trig point. But he didn't know what a trig point was, so I invited him to come and see one, and then he posed next to it. I had a very interesting chat with him, he's lived locally all his life. But he didn't know where the cache was, and I couldn't find it.

Another problem; the on-bike voltmeter started showing me a voltage that was a third of the true value. Oh well, I was planning to replace it anyway with the new volts-and-amps meter.

The bike worked well; the removal of the iffy connector seems to have fixed the problem I was having.

Sunday 23 March 2014

PIcking up the puzzles

Ladysolly solved a dozen puzzles. I'm rubbish at these, unless they involve something easy, like maths. Today, we went out to find the caches, but ladysolly hurt her ankle halfway round, so I had to do the last three solo.

13 caches found.

On the debit side, a bit of filling has dislodged, so it's me for the dentist again, ASAP.

Puncture resistance

When I'm out all day doing a 20 mile circuit, it's really annoying if I get a puncture. So I do everything I can to avoid this.

First of all, Kevlar reinforced tires.

From Asda folding tires at £11.48 or the very fine Schwalbe Black Jack from Tesco for £12.42. I prefer the Schwalbe, but I carry a folding tire in the car, it takes a lot less space than the Schwalbe.

Next, the inner tube. Normal inner tubes are very thin, but you can get thick-walled inner tubes that are much more puncture resistant. And they're cheap if you get them from JeJamesCycles here at only £1.75 each. Again, I carry a spare in the car.

Between the tire and the inner tube, I like to put a gel liner,  "Slime" brand or "Dr SLudge" or "Weldtite". Dr Sludge from Ebay, £10.99 for a pair. Make sure you get the correct width, then you cut it to length. The trick to installing it, is put on one side of the tire, then the inner tube, slightly inflated, then thread the gel tape between the tire and the tube. Then put on the other side of the tire, then inflate.

This has saved my bacon at least twice, apart from any thorn prevention. I've had tires worn so badly that they weren't just bald, they were completely worn through in one place and I could see the gel liner. But I was still able to get home, very carefully!

You wind up with a wheel that's quite a bit heavier than with a light tube and no gel, and because all the weight is round the rim, a much higher angular inertia, but certainly for me it's worth the puncture resistance that this gives me.

And I still carry a puncture repair kit, pump, spare inner tube and spanners.

Friday 21 March 2014

Volts and amps

I'd quite like a display on my bike that shows me volts and amps as I ride along. Volts tells me how much I've depleted the battery; amps tells me how much power I'm pulling at any given moment. I already have volts; amps presents a problem.

The problem is this. With the ordinary sort of ammeter, I'd need to run a six foot, rather thick cable from the battery to the handlebars, and back again, in order to transport up to 40 amps to the meter. That's not good. But there's a better way.

I found a meter on Ebay that for the price of a pint, show volts and amps on one display; 0-100 volts and 0-100 amps. And I don't need the heavy cables. Here's how it works.

To measure volts, only a very tiny current needs to travel, so I can use fine wires. To measure amps, I need a 0.75 milliohm resistor in series with the load (usually called a shunt). Then the meter measures the voltage drop across that shunt; that voltage drop is proportional to the current (using Ohm's law, V=IR), so it can calculate and display the current. So I ordered the meter, and a suitable shunt.

I've had the meter for a week; the shunt hasn't arrived yet. But I realised yesterday that I needn't wait, I can make my own.

Wire tables tell me that 10AWG wire has 0.9989 ohms per 1000 feet. That's very nearly 1 milliohm per foot. So my 0.75 milliohm shunt will be nine inches of 10 AWG. I got a short length of 10 AWG wire, and soldered it up. I connected up the meter, put my standard load of 10 light bulbs on, together with another ammeter, and switched on. I then needed to adjust the point of contact on the 10AWG wire so that the two meters read the same. Viola!

The meter will go on the handlebars, and four wires will go to the back of the bike, That will connect to my switch/fuse/wattmeter assembly via a plug-in connector; it will also connect to a small battery that is needed to power the meter. I looked around my workshop for a suitable six feet of four wire cable, and decided to use a bit of ethernet cable. They have eight wires, so I have four spare wires I can use for something else; I'm thinking maybe the USB power connector for the PDA.

All I need now is for my order of umpteen EC5 connectors from Hobbyking to turn up, and I can finalise the wiring. It all sounds so good, I've ordered two more of the meters, for the other bikes. At £3 each, it's hard to say no.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Covington Conga

First, I bagged a "Treasures of the Templars" cache, the last one that I haven't done, apart from the final.

Then up to Covington, to do the Conga; 28 caches in a nice circuit, done on the bike on good tracks and with no difficult stiles.

Back at Covington, I had lunch near the church, then went to get the final of "Treasures of the Templars". That took me to a place I'd visited before, because it was on the route of a circuit I did several months ago, and I guessed that the Templars cache would be here. But although SimplyPaul and I hunted for a long time, we didn't find it. But this time, helped by A) the certainty that it was there and B) the fact that someone else had found it since our DNF, I looked again. And after a few minutes, I found it! I've been doing this series for a couple of years now, it's nice to finalise it.

Then on to Higham Ferrers and Stanwick, just buzzing around on the bike to pick up another 20 caches, for a day's total of 49, and a few DNFs.

While I was out, the bike kept cutting out, but I'm pretty sure it's a loose connection, and I think I know which one it is, so I'll be replacing that connector with something a lot firmer.

Monday 17 March 2014

Stopping spam

I'm going to try out a spam stopper on one of my email addresses. This address gets nothing but spam, so it'll be interesting to see how well the stopper works. You can see it here

It works in a way I rather like; I change the MX records for the domain I want to protect so that MXguarddog receives the email. They then analyse it, and forward it on to my email address, suitably marked up with a SPAM flag. And to pay for it, all they want is a link to their site on my site, which I've done.

Setting it up was pretty simple, especially if you're familiar with MX records, or if you use one of several services such as Godaddy.

How well does it actually work?

I'll see.

Sunday 16 March 2014

A busy weekend

A busy weekend - on Saturday, down to London with ladysolly to see daughter.1 and grandson.1, who is a small ball of fun. We had lunch there and dinner, and, as usual, I ate too much.

On the way to London, I saw this:

"Reporting anything unusual won't hurt you". What on earth does that mean? I see unusual things all the time - for example, that poster. Should I report it?

On Sunday out with ladysolly to do a dozen or so caches, all very local.

Friday 14 March 2014

More mods on bike.1

First, the pannier. While I was in London a few weeks ago, one of the plastic hooks broke off my nice big pannier, the one that's big enough to take my big ammo can that can hold 12 of my 4s1p batteries. So I bought a replacement, they're quite cheap. On the replacement, one of the hooks has started to bend, and I'm not confident that it will stand up to the  combination of the heavy weight (several kg of battery) and very rough ground that I often bike over.

So I went back to the one with the broken hook, drilled out both hooks, and replaced them with a steel hook, made from an old broken 1U power supply. That looks a lot more sturdy.

I've been thinking about how I'm using these batteries, and I'm going to change. Using the 5AH batteries paired as 8s1p one at a time has worked, but it means that some batteries get fully discharged, and some don't get used at all. From what I've read about Lipos, it would be better for the longevity of the batteries to connect them in parallel, and not fully use all of them.

So I'm planning a new wiring harness. Pairs of batteries will be connected in series, so they'll be 8s instead of 4s, and I'll put four of those pairs in parallel, and end that with an EC5 female connector, because those are easier to solder than other types. That will connect to another wire, made up of an EC5 male, a 40 amp fuse, a contact breaker and a wattmeter, with an EC5 female at the other end. On the bike, will be an EC5 male. So normally, I'll ride with the batteries configured as 8s4p (eight cells in series, four in parallel) and if I want to know how much I've used, the wattmeter will tell me; 20 AH being the nominal capacity, 16-18 AH being a realistic number.

The tricky bit will be to wire up the balance ports. I have to connect two 4s cables to an 8s, and I have to get it exactly right, or I'll cause a short circuit, the wires will melt and I'll have a garage full of smoke. I think I know how to do it, though, and I know how to test that I got it right, and when I eventually connect it to the battery, I'll do it outside, just in case!

So then I'll use the 8-port balance cable for the cell monitors, so while I'm riding, each of those 32 cells will be monitored.

For charging, I'll use the exact same power cable that I use for riding, and charge them as 8s cells (I was wise enough to buy an 8s charger). I'll use a 1-to-4 parallel balance cable for balance charging (which I'll make by simply plugging three 1-to-2 cables together.

This should greatly simplify my battery management.

And I have these nice sturdy but light boxes that will take exacly eight batteries in each one. So I'll have an 8s4p in one, and and 8s3p (which I might upgrade to 8s4p by buying two more batteries, they're only £16 each) in the other.

And then, the PDA. While I was circling Letchworth, I ran out of battery on the PDA, which is no surprise, because I'd been out for 10 hours. So I've added another cable to the bike, running from the panniers (where I'll have a 20AH, 5v battery intended for powering iPhones and suchlike, which I suspect is actually only 10AH, but that's enough) up to the handlebars, so I can plug the PDA into that external battery. I had thought of taking a feed from the main bike batteries and putting that through a fuse, a switch and a step-down circuit, but I decided that simpler was better. And I can use the same lead to power anything else I decide to put on the handlebars.

Finally, I took off the wireless speedometer. Wireless sounds great, but they simply don't work very well, so I've replaced it with a wireful one.

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Letchworth marathon

I went up to Letchworth today, to do a ring that goes all around the town, and which adds up to around 100 caches. I told ladysolly I might be late back (I was) because I intended doing the magic 100 in a day.

On the bike, of course.

So I loaded up all seven batteries (in the event, I only used four) on my two large saddlebags, two bottles of water, sandwiches, spare PDA, charger for PDA, spare driver cable, emergency repair kit ... and pedalled out of the car park.

I had a problem immediately. The bike motor wouldn't start from stationary, and would only start helping when I was going fairly quickly. So I did several caches with that handicap, and then it cut out altogether. I tried changing the driver cable, to no effect. So I stripped all the tape off the junction box, and poked and prodded - no luck. I decided that the sensible thing to do was to not attempt the other 90 caches, but to head back for the car and go home, so that I could fix this problem and try again tomorrow.

On the way back to the car, the bike started working normally. I don't actually know what the problem was, but I suspect a loose connection. I'll investigate.

So, with a working bike, I carried on. Round about 1 pm, I'd done about 40 caches, and there was a handy bench, so I stopped for lunch, and to strip off two layers of clothing, because it was getting quite warm.

Then I carried on. Here's something nice I saw ...

It's a gate. No fence, just the gate. Let's have a look at the notice on the gate ...

I continued round the loop, but I also did a few of the caches in Letchworth.

While riding along the tarmac, I must have gone over a bump at one point, because one of my panniers jumped and came adrift from the back rack. The car behind me had to put his brakes on sharpish! I retreived the pannier and reattached it, but I'm going to have to modify that pannier so that this doesn't happen again. It needs stronger hooks.

Around about 6:30, it started to get dark, but by then I'd done about 85 caches, and I continued on using a head torch. I've also got a nifty rear light, which I put on when I'm on a tarmac road, so that people driving cars can see me. I also have a rear red light on the head torch, and the bike has headlights, so if any car driver fails to see me, they must be blind.

I made a mistake with one of my batteries. I connected it to the bike for power, but I connected the battery monitor to a different battery set, which meant that those batteries weren't being monitored. As a result, I ran them down to 3.0 volts, which shouldn't be a problem (although my usual low level is 3.2). But I'm having problems charging them now. Maybe I can sort it out, but if I can't, replacing that battery pack will only be about £32. I need to set somethnig up so that doesn't happen in future.

I got back to the car at around 7:30 pm, but I wasn't finished yet - I wanted to get a couple of puzzle caches that I'd solved a long time ago but hadn't yet picked up. Then I got back to the car again, had my coffee and bun, and set off for home.

An excellent day out, 104 caches done. And I'm knackered.

Monday 10 March 2014

Two more Infineons

The Infineon is the bike controller I got for bike.3 and bike.4. In bike.3, it works well, but because it's sensorless, it's not so good at acceleration from stationary. I think that would be a problem with any controller - the answer is, don't use sensorless motors.

In bike.4, it performs like a dream. It feels like flying.

So I bought two more controllers, a 6 fet 3077 and a 12 fet 3077. My plan is to put the 6 fet into bike.4, which will free up the 12fet one there now. And then I'll test it, because the 6 fet is only rated at 25 amps, and although I've been told that it should be good up to 60, I want it to be able to run at 40 amps, and I want to test to see that it really will.

The next bike I plan to mod will be bike.2. That's the Haro folder. It works fine, but when I replace the controller, it'll work even better! That should be a pretty easy mod.

Then when that's complete, I intend to tackle the Forza, which will, when finished, become bike.5, The Forza was my first e-bike. It's quite heavy, and doesn't fold. But because it's so solid, it'll be good for trips to places where I can be sure I won't need to do any lifting. I tried to sell it on Ebay a couple of months ago, but I only got offered £150 for it, and it's worth a lot more than that as spare parts. I mean, the motor wheel alone is worth £150.

It uses 36 volts, but I plan to run it at 48 volts nominal (meaning 57.6 volts when fully charged). I need to strip out the old controller and associated parts, and put in the new one, which will probably be a 12 fet so that I can run 40 amps. I can use my existing batteries, chargers, etc, so the only cost to this conversion will be the controller ($92) and a throttle/switch ($16).

As well as the controllers, I bought three throttle/switch assemblies, and three torque arms.

The poor man's Cycle Analyst

The Cycle Analyst is a comprehensive instrument for electric bikers. It tells you everything you might ever want to know about what's going on, and also helps you control things.

I was trying to decide whether to get version 3 or version 2.3, at a cost of $125 vs $155. Although I wanted a temperature readout, I knew that wouldn't work for me because my motor doesn't have a sensor - likewise many of the other features wouldn't be useful to me. So then I concentrated of version 2.3, looking at the features there, when suddenly, I realised that maybe I didn't want a Cycle Analyst at all.

So what do I actually want?

I'd like to know the voltage of the battery, the amp-hours used and the speed I'm moving at. But I already have those, via various things already installed. It would also be nice to know the current being pulled at any time, and that's the big piece of information that I was missing.

When I was testing bike.4, I temporarily installed an ammeter by running four big cables between the battery and the handlebars. 4 mm sq so that they could carry the big current (42 amps) without putting a lot of resistance in the circuit. But I didn't feel that this was really practical.

So I went to Ebay and had a look at ammeters that can go up to 100 amps. And there's loads of them, all really cheap, but with the disadvantage that you have put add an exterior shunt.

Hang on. That's not a disadvantage. That's a big plus!

I can put that big shunt down at the battery end of the bike, then I need only a couple of small wires, capable of carrying up to 4 amps (10 if I want to go up to 100 amps) up to the handlebars.

So, here's the Poor Man's Cycle Analyst, giving you a handlebar readong of volts, amps and speed, and when you stop and have a look at the battery end, you can see amp-hours and watt-hours, and peak current usage.

It starts off with one of these. £8.89 and that give you amp-hours, watt-hours and peak amps. Plus some other stuff that isn't so useful. That installs at the battery end, and will handle 50 amps (100 amps peak) at 60V. That's plenty enough for me. When my battery is exhausted, and I dismount to change battery, that tells me how many amp-hours that battery gave me. I expect 4.5 (these are 5 Ah batteries). If it's a lot less, then that battery has a problem, and I'll need to replace it.

I want to have a voltage display on the handlebars, because that gives me a good idea of how much power is left in the battery I'm using. £1.83 gets me a voltmeter that goes up to 120 volts, and uses only two wires (the three-wire voltmeters need a separate power supply, slightly less convenient).

I want a speedometer/odometer, to tell me my speed and how far I've biked. £2.08.

And I want an ammeter, but I don't want to run big cables from the back of the bike to the handlebars. The shunt goes at the back of the bike, the meter itself mounts on the handlebars, and those two cost me £6.03. The wiring from the shunt to the meter, only has to be able to carry a tenth of what's being measures. So, if I know that my maximum current will be 40 amps, I need wires that can carry 4 amps,

So the total is £18.83; the Cycle Analyst is £76.

Of course, the Cycle Analystdoes a lot more, and you need to read the description to decide if you want the additional features.

But I don't think I do.

Leigh loop completed

Ladysolly and I completed the Leigh loop. We had a lot of trouble with the first one (number 45), because I had an acute attack of the stupids, but we finished the rest without problems ... apart from lots of mud. With a few extras done, that came to 24 caches for the day. Ladysolly says she couldn't have walked any further.

We met The Two Motts along the route; they've done the Letchfield series that I'm lanning to do soon, and assured me that it's very bikable.

Saturday 8 March 2014

A walk on the Woking side

Out with ladysolly, near Woking. We did 26 caches in 8 kilometers, which is all that she could manage. On the way back to the car, we saw:

A cat sitting on a gravestone, looking like a statue of a cat.

Thursday 6 March 2014

More on bike.4

I took bike.4 out for a test run today after reprogramming the controller to allow more current. Going up the hill at the bottom of my road, the ammeter said it was pulling 40 amps, continuous! And after a few dozen yards, it died. I knew immediately what the problem was.

I used 13 amp wiring for this, because I wasn't expecting to to take more that 10 amps, maybe 15 at most. 40 amps is just too much for the puny wiring, and too much for some of the connectors, too! So I've rewired it using much thicker cable; 4 sq mm, which ought to be able to carry 100 amps.

Here's what the bike looks like.

The first picture shows the bike overall. The new back rack is supporting a pannier, and the battery is in there. The controller is on top of the rack. There's four ugly wires going from the controller to the handlebars and back; that's only temporary, so I can see the current draw as I go along.

The second picture shows my view from the saddle. From left to right, compass, GPS holder bar, ammeter (that's temporary), speedometer, voltmeter and gear changer.

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Cambridge canter

I went up to near Cambridge today, to do a chunk of Poshrule's new Cambs CachAthon series, which is a couple of hundred caches in a few rings. I aimed to do about 65 of them today, and to have another bash later.

I got the bike ready with all seven batteries (in the event, I only used four). I put four of them in one saddlebag, along with my lunch and a head torch, and three of them in the other, along with my "emergency tool kit" which is pretty large, and includes a spare inner tube. I've found the perfect battery box; it's a thick plastic ex-German-army box. Thick so it should protect the batteries if I come off the bike, and plastic means it's really light.

The going was pretty good, although a bit soft in places. There were a couple of stiles, but I was able to route around them. Plenty of mud, of course.

I did 63 caches, and one DNF, but on the way home I did four more, including one that I DNFed when I tried it several months ago.

When I got home, I gave the bike a power wash, but when I pulled out a prickly twig, I heard the dreaded hiss of air escaping. So after the bike was clean, I took it into the garage for a puncture repair.

I am seriously naff at mending punctures. I always end up with a slightly leaking tube. So after I tried and failed yet again, I decided to put on a new tube - I bought a job lot of these thick-walled puncture-resistant tubes for £1.75 each, so it really isn't worth my while to spend a lot of time trying to repair one. Repair is slightly complicated by it being an electric bike; I can't take the wheel completely off, and I also have to dismantle the torque arm to get the wheel loose. But I managed to install the new inner tube, and then I noticed that I hadn't put in the usual anti-puncture tape in this wheel (because when I installed the tire, I couldn't work out how to put it in). But I've had more experience of this now, and I installed the anti-puncture tape, which should mean this is less likely to happen in future.

So, 67 finds and one DNF, and I'm resting tomorrow.

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Bike.4 completed

When I looked at the back wheel with a view to tightening the spokes, I found there were four broken spokes. One, I could live with, but four? So I took off the tire and inner tube, and replaced the four spokes - fortunately, I still have a few left over from last time I bought then from "The Spokesman", because he's no longer in business.

Before I put the tire back on (well, actually, after I put it back on I had second thoughts and took it off again) I put in a gel insert; that adds to the puncture resistance of the tire. With the new spokes, the wheel is pretty solid now. Since most of the biking I do is off-road, on bridleways and suchlike, puncture-resistance is very important to me.

And I added a torque arm to the back wheel. That's because the bike motor tends to twist the hub in it's seating, and if it twists it out, that's a catastrophic prang, because suddenly it's a one-wheeled bike. And the forks are aluminium, which fails suddenly, unlike steel which at least give you a bit of warning because it deforms before it breaks - aluminium just cracks. The torque arm transmits the motor torque to the bike fram, using a thick steel arm.

I also tidied up the wiring, using a curly-wurly cable tidy to make it all look neat. I installed a bike speedometer, and today I took it out for a run. It runs very nicely. It has good acceleration from a standstill (which is important when caching because I do a lot of stopping and starting). The acceleration is so good, that when I started off at the bottom of the hill I live on, the front wheel tried to come up off the ground! And the three-speed switch lets me run in granny mode, 3/4 speed or full-on. Ganny mode is, of course the most economical, but when I'm on the way back to the car and I know I have a lot of battery left, and when I'm feeling tired from the day out, I can switch over to full-on and take it easy.

The weight of bike.4 is good at 46.8 pounds, including back rack, controller and wiring, but not including batteries.  The bike I'm mostly using now, bike.1 is 57.8 pounds, 11 pounds more.

I also tried reprogramming the controller to allow more amps through the motor, but it didn't seem to make any difference; I guess the motor is already taking as many amps as it can handle (and when I felt it, it wasn't even warm, which is good). And I'm happy with the power of the bike, so no need to tinker.

One thing I did do - I ran a huge pair of cables (4 sq mm) from the battery up to the handlebars, where I put an ammeter, and another huge pair of cables back to the controller. That means I can watch the current consumption as I trundle along. It's ugly and horrible. I won't be leaving that in place permanently, but it's good for the testing phase that I'm now in.

On Ebay again, I treated myself to a new set of engineer's metal files, the ones I have, inherited from my father, are very worn. And I bought some more spokes. And some connectors, for joining wires up in a way that lets you easily separate them when needed.

Tomorrow the weather forecast is good all day, so I'm planning to go to Cambridge to make a start on the Cambs Cachathon.

Sunday 2 March 2014

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner.

The trip to London was excellent. I started off at Chiswick Park, doing about 10 caches, incluging the first V", which goes nicely with the first V1 that I did last week.

I also saw the Tardis; that's my bike casuallly leaning on it.

Then I visited the Russian Greek Orthodox Church, then I biked east to pick up several more on the way. I stopped at 12:00 to phone daughter.2, who had offered to take me to a salt beef bar, but I was cruelly diappointed when she offered me pizza.

Onwards to Hyde park; picking up the one I DNFed a few days ago in Belgrave square (I repkaced it), and then to finally, at last, eventually, finishing "Alien Invasion". Yay! And while I was in Hyde Park, I did "On your bike", since I was on my bike.

Then on to the BBC, where I spent ages pacing up and down to do "The World" while watched by a bored security guard. And then just as it started to rain, I biked back to the car. I used 4 1/2 of my 7 batteries and found 33 caches.

While I was doing something to my bike, three ladies walked past, and I heard a bit of their conversation. "I had this thing popped up on my computer, offering to upgrade my sky box, so I clicked on OK, and now I can't" and that was all I heard. Another snippet heard while in Hyde Park "he's got a very addictive personality." "Oh, is he back on the cocaine?" I didn't hear how that one came out either.

Saturday 1 March 2014

Reviving the Synergie

I have a 20 inch wheel folding bike that I haven't used for a long time. Instead, I've been using the 26 inch wheel bikes, based on a Haro folder.

The  Synergie (which I plan to name bike.4) had two problems. The first problem was that the pedals got very wobbly. I decided that this was caused by worn bearings in the bottom bracket, and my local bike shop said the wouldn't be able to fix it, because it used a custom bottom bracket. I believed them, but after several months, I was looking in Ebay for a bottom bracket for one of the Haros, also because of wear. And I found that bottom brackets come in all sizes, and are quite cheap, about £9. So I bought one that I thought would fit bike.4, and blow me, it worked a treat. So, first problem fixed.

The second problem was more severe. I couldn't see any way to put a rear carrier on the bike, so carrying spare batteries, water etc was a major problem. I could only use a backpack, and that can be a lot of weight on my back. But very recently, I looked at bike.3, which doesn't have eyelets for a carrier, and reaslised that the carrier that I had on that, would very likely work on bike.4.

So I got one from Ebay, £15, and yesterday I fitted it, and it looks good!

This means that I can remove the rear battery carrier shelf (the battery will go in a pannier), and while I'm about it, I can replace the bike motor controller with something a lot better - an Infineon.

So I removed the battery carrier, and unwound the curly-wurly cable tidy, took off the cables, and looked at what I had. The first thing I saw was the reason why the front light wasn't working - the wire had broken. I also found that the microswitch on one of the brakes (it's to cut the motor when you brake, in case you forgot to) wasn't working.

So, I stripped off all the wiring, put on a new pair of brakes with working switches, put on the three-way switch that will change power levels from 50%-75%-100%, repurposed the light switch as an ignition cutoff switch, put on a thumb throttle to replace the twist throttle (I've gotten used to a thumb throttle now, and a twist throttle would confuse me), programmed the Infineon controller to match the bike, and got everything wired up.

Testing will follow ...

Update ...

The light switch didn't work, so I took it to bits and had a look. The problem was the wire, so I unsoldered that, and looked around for a suitable wire - I wanted something thin and light (this isn't carrying many milliamps of current). I chose a cable I've had for ages, it came with a UPS, and I don't link UPSes to my computers (you can tell the computer to shut itself down when the UPS signals that power is out). It looked like a serial cable, but it didn't behave like one. So it's been sitting in a box for many years. I cut it open, and to my delight I found four multi-strand wires inside. So two of them will go to the light switch (now my power-on and power-off switch, like the ignition switch on a car) and the other two will go to my voltmeter. So I attached the voltmeter to the ignition switch, and it looks very neat. All the electric bikes I've seen use a blog system. Five blobs means full, and it stays at five for a long time, then rapidly moves down to 4, 3, 2 at which point, you're empty. Not very useful. Another system is even worse, you get green-amber-red. Again, it stays on green for ages, then you get amber for a very short time, then red. So you have really no idea how much battery you have with either of those.

But the voltmeter (which cost about £1, plobably less than the blobmeter) tells you exactly how many volts you've got, to one decimal place, which is exactly what I want.

So now I was ready to roll. I put the bike on a bike stand, hooked up one of my old batteries (they have a 10 amp fuse, which I like the thought of in case of catastrophe), Ignition on, apply throttle ... nothing.


I tested the Halls - OK. I tested the motor windings - OK. I reprogrammed the controller to be happy at only 25 volts, tried it again ... nothing. I tried my Hobbyking Lipo batteries, nothing. I removed the brake cutouts, in case one of them was stuck on ... nothing. I unplugged the three-way level switch ... nothing.

I won't go down the list of all the things I tried; I'll cut to the finish. I had the throttle wired backwards. Duh. That's because I couldn't use a proper socket for putting the throttle plug into - I've ordered a bunch of suitable 6, 3 and 2-way plugs and sockets for this sort of thing so I shouldn't have this problem in future.

So the motor turned the wheel. But switching beteween level 1, 2 and 3 did nothing. Again, the cause turned out to be stupidity; in my thrashing around to fix the "it doesn't work" problem, I'd disconnected the three-way switch. As soon as I reconnected that, the motor turned, it responded nicely to the throttle, and the three levels worked - 50%, 75% and 100%.

By that time is was 11:30 pm, too late in the day to take the bike out for a spin. Plus, that bike doesn't have a speedometer (I've ordered one, £3, I cannot believe how cheap all this stuff is).
And I need to go round the bike tightening up all the things I loosened, I need to make it so that the wiring doesn't just hang down to the ground (cable ties are my friends) and I need to balance the rear wheel (I've noticed some of the spokes aren't taut, and the wheel isn't running true). But this is all straightforward stuff. At this point, I know that this bike is going to work!

And I weighed it. It's 13 pounds lighter than bike.1 (44 pounds compared to 57) and that can be a big blessing when you're lifting a bike over a five bar gate that should have been left unlocked but which has been chained and bolted. For example.

Tomorrow, I go to London again. I'll be going in from the West (my two previous forays came from the North and then the East. And I'm hoping to finally finish off London Invasion.

Weight report 78

15 stone, 6 1/2 pounds