Thursday 31 July 2014

Two circuits at Stamford.

The first circuit was  "Greatford and back" The first cache I found was a cache with a four letter code. I like finding those; the four letter code means that it's quite an old cache, seven or eight years at least. I left a 1000 gb drive in it for the next finder to swap for.

I continued round the circuit, and was able to make a fairly long digression to pick up another four letter cache "The Moat". And I made a small digression to pick up a puzzle that I'd solved. When you're on a bike, a digression can be very quick if the surface is good.

I got back to the car at 2:30, had lunch, and set off on my other circuit, "Wilsthorpe and back". Because I'd parked where the two circuits are close together, I didn't need to relocate the car, I just loaded up with fresh batteries and set out.

When I finished that, I headed for another puzzle that I'd solved, but on the way there I noticed a cache that I'd tried before and DNFed. I stopped, got out (in the rain) and tried again, and this time I found it!

53 caches found today, no DNFs.

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Bike maintenance

When I was out yesterday, the chain got caught between the gears and the wheel - this was with bike.3. I had to turn the bike upside down to get it sorted out. So today I adjusted the gear's travel, so this shouldn't happen in future.

I also had a look at the disc brake. A disk brake is supposed to be more effective than a rim brake, but I'm not finding that. I had a look at it in case the problem was worn pads, but I don't think it's that.

I just won an Ebay auction for a doglegged rear carrier plus two panniers, for £31 (including P&P). When that arrives, I'll try to fit it to bike.3. And my P-clips are on the way; they should make it possible for me to attach the rack to the bike, even though it doesn't have the standard fittings.

I've also been doing a lot of preventative server maintenance. Before a drive fails, it tells you, in various ways, that this is going to happen. I've replaced six drives for this reason. 

Tomorrow I'm going back to Stamford - it's a rich hunting ground!

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Stamford again

I went out to Stamford again today, to do three circuits.

The first was "Copthill and Back". I found all the caches, and met a geocaching couple halfway round.

The second was   "Copthill farm and Back". In two places, I had to get through a locked farm gate, although it was clearly marked as a right of way. Naughty farmer! Three of the caches were multis, that had a final a long way away; I did those after I'd finished the circuit. For one of them, I didn't get the correct final location, but I found the cache anyway because the clue was so good.

The third series was "another Stamford Saunter". I'd already done a few of those, but I wasn't able to complete the series because I had two DNFs. One of them I'm pretty sure is gone; the other one I rather think might be gone, but I'm not certain.

A total of 44 caches done today.

The nut and bolt holding my rear suspension together was, I suddenly noticed, extremely loose! I hand tightened it, and tightened it properly when I got back to the car.

Also, the rear carrier that I'm using lets the pannier get much too close to the wheel. I want to use a carrier with an extra "dog leg" to keep the pannier off the wheel, but this bike doesn't have the fittings for a rear carrier, so I'm using a "universal" carrier, which doesn't have a dogleg. But I had an idea today - P clips! So I've ordered a doglegged carrier from Ebay, and some suitable P clips, and I think I might be able to bodge a solution together.

Saturday 26 July 2014

Flat tire

The back wheel of bike.3 is totally flat, and I don't know why. I checked the outer tire and found a thorn, maybe that's the reason. Tomorrow, I'll dive in and have a look see what the problem is.

What I don't understand, is that it was OK when I brought it back from my last day out, and it isn't a slow leak, it goes totally flat in a few hours.

A new inner tube is probably the answer; I have several of the very thick type that I got really cheap.

Great curry

We visited daughter.1 today. Grandson.1 had an epic shrieking fit - I think it was because ladysolly washed his hands and he wanted mummy to do it. Daughter.1 made a great curry for dinner.

Friday 25 July 2014

LCD voltmter

The LCD voltmeter arrived. It's *much* better than even the red LED voltmeter. It covers 18 volts to 80, which is ample. It's very visible even in the strongest sunlight, which the red LED isn't. And it's also visible at night, because it has background lighting, but very gentle. And as an unexpected bonus, it only pulls 6 milliamps, compared with 14 for the red LED. 14 milliamps isn't much, of course, it's about half a watt. I'll be putting this on the bike today.

The package came marked as "From Ding Dong Feng", declared to customs as "Garden tools".

Thursday 24 July 2014

Compliance restored

Bad news.

I take credit cards via the internet, so I have to be compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. I'm not sure exactly what happens if I'm not - more than 80% of sites aren't, according to the last figures I saw. But I am. Or rather I was.

New vulnerabilities pop up all the time, and my Secure Server is tested once per month for all of a zillion vulnerabilities. I've been fine for the last couple of years, but my last scan turned up this. I'm not going to try to explain it, because I haven't tried to understand it myself. Except that it's a problem with OpenSSL, the thing that does the crypto stuff on a web server.

So to retain compliance, I have to update my web server.

I downloaded OpenSSL version 1.0.1h, and compiled it. So far, so good. Then I have to weave that into Apache, the web server. So I downloaded the latest version, 2.4.10, and that's when it got hairy. It wasn't obvious to me how to tell the Apache compile, to use the new OpenSSL, and I spent eight hours before I finally worked out all the problems. I did all this on my test server, of course, so that I didn't need to mess with my production server until everything was tickety-boo.

Some of the problems were, of course, pure stupidity on my part,. For example, when I configured Apache, I forgot to tell it to include the ssl files, and then I spent an hour trying to work out why it didn't respond to accesses to the secure server. And it wasn't obvious what to put in the Apache config file; I tried about ten different things before I finally got it right.

Here's the one that worked:

./configure --prefix=/usr/local/apache2.4.10 --enable-ssl --with-ssl=/usr/local/ssl \
--enable-module=most --disable-rewrite --enable-alias --disable-status \
--disable-asis --disable-autoindex --disable-imap \
--disable-negotiation --disable-actions --disable-userdir \
--with-apr=/usr/local/apr --enable-ssl-staticlib-deps

So then I tested it with

curl --head http://localhost/

and it came back with

HTTP/1.1 302 Found
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:23:00 GMT
Server: Apache/2.4.10 (Unix) OpenSSL/1.0.1h

which meant that it was using the new OpenSSL.

So then I told the people who do the monthly server test, to do a retest, and they did, and I'm compliant again.

Until the next time ...

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Eastward ho!

Today I went east, because the weather forecast looked a bit umpty around Northampton.

First, I did a series along a disused railway. I do like disused railways, you get a good surface and a level run. And I can sing "Chattanooga Choo Choo" as I trundle along.

One DNF there, but I got the bonus, and put a hard drive into it.

Then another short series along the same railway (but further north), then in to Witham to grab as many as I could there, including a nice 12-stage multi.

About halfway through my tour of Witham, I went over a major pothole, and the resulting BUMP loosened my back carrier, which supports the batteries. Fortunately, I was near the car at that point, so I was able to carefully get to the car, and then use the tools I had (and some spare bolts that I have in the car) to fix the carrier.

Here's what happens when you build a bench and you've lost your spirit level:

That's bike.3 in the background. I'm going to do some major maintenance on it tomorrow.

38 caches found today.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

My new clock

 I was using the pilite on a Raspberry Pi for a scrolling time display, but I had a problem with it. And anyway, a matrix of 14 by 9 pixels is a bit ... limiting. Then I saw something that gave me an idea.

It's a 4.3 inch monitor, resolution 480 by 272, and it's only £11 - it's designed for using in a car as a DVD display, and to show the view from a reversing camera. I decided not to get the seven inch version, which costs £10 more, and has the same resolution. It'll be just as hard to read.

I bought one, and it arrived yesterday. I plugged it onto 12 volts of power, and into the Raspberry Pi, and it worked straight off. The Pi booted up, and I could see the boot process on the small screen.

You can read the text, just about, if you screw your eyes up, but I didn't expect it to be as good as that. And you can run X-windows, but reading any text will be just as difficult. So what, you're wondering, is the use of a monitor where you can't really read the text?

Enter figlet. You install it with "apt-get install figlet" and it converts this:


into this:

           #      #######     #     #######    #         
          ##      #    #     ###    #          #    #    
         # #          #       #     #          #    #    
           #         #              ######     #    #    
           #        #         #           #    #######   
           #        #        ###    #     #         #    
         #####      #         #      #####          #    

Which can be read, very easily.

I have an external temperature monitor, that's telling me that it's 29 C outside right now. And I have a monitor that counts the number of distress emails I've had from my servers. And I put all that together, and got this:

And that is readable from across the room.

It wasn't all straightforward. When I told figlet to display the banner from inside my perl program, nothing happened. So I wrote the banner to a file, and I use a bash script to display that file, every five seconds. There's maybe a more elegant way to do this, but - as long as it works!

The Pi wants 5 volts, the monitor wants 12. So I use a 12 volt power supply (a wall wart), and use the 12 volts directly for the monitor, and put it through a step-down DC-DC device to get the 5 volts, so I can run both the Pi and the monitor off the same power supply.

If there's no activity on the keyboard for several minutes, linux blanks the screen. To avoid this, you do "setterm -blank 0"

Computer clocks are notoriously inaccurate. So I have a server that consults a reference time server each day and updates its time from that. All my other servers, including this Pi, update their time once per day from my time server. So it shouldn't ever be more than a couple of seconds out.

For the future ... it occurs to me that I have a dozen or more Raspberry Pis doing various important functions. For example, I have one computer whose function is to gather email from all the various email addresses that I have (probably around 50), put them through a despammer I wrote, and lets me access all my email in one place. It's an important function, and I entrust it to a Raspberry Pi because that Pi has been running nonstop for 536 days now.

I could put a 4.3 inch monitor onto some of them to give me real-time readings of ... well, I don't know what. I'll give it some thought. But if I can put a small monitor onto a Pi for £11, there's going to be some things I can do.

... update ... On Ebay, I just bought a five inch monitor, which seems to be very sure that it's 800 by 480 pixels, for £12.79, free postage. I won't see it for a couple of weeks, though, it's coming from China. At that resolution, it'll probably be good enough to use as a monitor, although it might be that the PAL output from the Pi is the limitation.

 ... update ...

The screen blanks after a number of minutes. to stop that happening, edit /etc/kbd/config
and set BLANK_TIME=0

Weight report 83

15 stone, 5 pounds. Still going down!

Monday 21 July 2014

Romance is not dead!

It wasn't quite as hot today as it's been recently, so I went out caching. I did two circuits on the bike, and one on foot, plus a few extras on foot. It was hot and muggy. I'm trying to remember how I freeze in winter.

I got an excellent view of the Morlock transmitter. Yes, I know that isn't its real name, but to me it's the Laurel and Hardy pair.

I took that while doing the "Yogurt Pot" series, which is notable for it's lack of yogurt pots. The other thing that made it notable, was when I got to the southern end of the track, I needed to climb over a style to get to the multi, but the stile was blocked by a snogging couple. That's not too remarkable, I often see courting pairs of muggles. What made this different, was that they weren't exactly young. I'd put the female at 60, maybe more, and the male likewise. And I think I'm being kind.

So I coughed quietly, and the male turned round and said "Oh! Where did you come from?" And me, being very much a literalist, interpreted that as meaning "Where did I come from" and I waved my hand and said "Just across the fields."

So I'm wondering, why would a married couple of my kind of age, be snogging several yards down a public footpath, where they're unlikely to be spotted? And the immediate answer that sprang to my suspicious mind was, "They're not married," which I quickly corrected to "They are married, but not to each other."

This was confirmed by what you see below.

I took that picture from a long way away, for obvious reasons. You can see the Morpork Transmitter, and if you look carefully, you can see two cars. And I observed the male muggle getting into one of them, and the female into the other. So they've made this assignation in separate cars, and as I left, I saw that they were now both in the same car, but I didn't look to see what they were up to.

So there's hope of romance for all us oldies!

58 caches found today, no DNFs.

Saturday 19 July 2014

GSAK on Linux

Wouldn't it be nice, I thought, if there was a version of GSAK that works with Linux. Then I thought about Wine, which gives you something not completely unlike Windows, working in Linux, and I tried it.

It's a bit umpty. It sort of works, but things crash at unanticipated moments, and access doesn't seem to work at all. But it works, kind of. And maybe I can get gc access to work.

So I can use my Windows machine for doing the access - that tends to take a long time. Then I can backup the database, restore it on the Linux box, and then make the necessary export of a GPX file from there. The file export is *much* faster from my Linux machine,  which is at least partly because it's a much faster machine with a lot more memory.

I've also started dabbling in GSAK macros.

Thursday 17 July 2014

LED voltmeters

Today, an LED voltmeter arrived. That means that I now have a green one, a yellow one and a red one. I wanted to see which would be most readable in sunlight.

It turns out that in direct sunlight, none of them are readable. But when I took them into increasing amounts of shade, the red one was the most readable, followed by the yellow, with the green one being pretty bad. That slightly surprised me, because green is the best colour for human eyes. But experiments don't lie.

Then I thought, hmm, how about an LCD? So I've ordered an LCD voltmeter, that can display 18 to 80 volts. I'm thinking that this will work in even the brightest sunlight.

I also ordered a 3.5 inch monitor. I'm planning to use it for a Raspberry Pi display, to replace the LED-array that doesn't work too well. The Pi has a composite output, which will drive the display nicely.


Tuesday was a day of rest, having done 80 caches on Monday, and therefore knackered.

Wednesday we went down to London to visit daughter.1 and grandson.1, and make plans for a visit to Eurodisney in a couple of months.

Thursday was a quiet day because we got home too late on Wednesday for me to go out.

Friday will be spent at home because the outside temperature is forecast to be ridiculously high, more than 30C, which is over 85F in the old style.

So not much happened this week.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Fart @ France

Colin Furze is a plumber. And he has an idea. Fart at France. On July 20th.

Colin has form. He made a jet bicycle, using a pulse jet that he made out of scrap metal. He's good at making things. He's built the big pulse jet that will be making the noise, and pulse jets are really loud. When he fires this thing up at Dover, they'll hear it in France.

The source of morals and ethics

Where do morals and ethics come from?

In my case, it's from thinking about what's right and what's wrong, from living experience for the last 65 years, and from society around me influencing my ideas.

For religious people, it's from their god.

So I'm puzzled about the ethicality of women bishops. I wouldn't want to be a bishop myself (and they probably wouldn't have me, because I'm an atheist, but I'll come to that later). But women used to be barred from becoming bishops, and this was a matter of religious faith. Apparently, somewhere in the New Testament it says "Women can't be bishops", or something that leads to that statement.

Here's what I don't understand. That statement is *still* in the bible. If last year it said "Women can't be bishops" then today it still says "Women can't be bishops". Yet the Church of England is now allowing women to be bishops (with some caveats, which I'll get to later). Did their god change it's mind? If so, how do they know?

It seems to me, that this change in their ethics (from "Women can't be bishops" to "Women can be bishops") has come from thinking about what's right and what's wrong, from living experience, and from society around them influencing their ideas. Because it can't have come from their god.

Which means that when religious people say that they get their morals and ethics from their god, they are mistaken.

What happened was, there's a society consensus that people shouldn't be barred from jobs on account of their gender. And that consensus has finally penetrated the Church of England, which has changed its morals and ethics to conform with everyone else.

But. There's also a society consensus that people shouldn't be barred from jobs on account of their faith. Which means that atheists should be allowed to become bishops. And there is some appeal - you get to dress up in fancy dress, you get to live in a palace, you get to move diagonally. Some appeal - but not enough. I'd have to tell people how to behave, and I'm not keen on that. And I don't fancy spending long, boring hours in churches.

And now the caveats. If a parish is unwilling to accept a woman bishop, they can ask for a male alternative. OK, I understand that this exception was necessary to get the vote through (more on voting for right later), but if a parish insists on having human sacrifices, should that also be allowed? It's either right to allow women bishops or it isn't. Letting people choose their own morality and ethics? That's tantamount to atheism! Anathema - I pronounce anathema.

On voting for what's right. I remember, 25 years ago, on Usenet, there was a technical question about viruses. I gave the correct answer, other people gave answers. Eventually, the person who asked the question added up the responses, and said "20 people said yes and 15 people said no, so the answer is yes."

And one of the things that most annoys me about religious people, is this assumption that where the law of the land conflicts with their religious beliefs, the law has to give way. And that's just wrong.

Peterborough pedal-power

Ladysolly was playing bridge this evening, so I got a long day out. It was hot and sunny, and I got through six batteries on my travels.

First I did "Upton and back", and while I was doing it, I encountered this:

As you can see from the marking on the post, this is a bridleway. How am I supposed to get a horse over this stile? Fortunately, I wasn't on a horse, and I was able to lift my bike over.

I finished that circuit (36 finds, 1 DNF) and then went on to "Wansford and back". In the middle of doing that, I diverted to do "SSC2014", which covered ground that I remember going over a while back. I also grabbed "Hawthorn view". Again, I remember doing this before, although this time, I had the added fun of having to cross the A1, a fiercely busy dual carriageway. Near the end of "Wansford and back" I diverted again to pick up some extras, including a puzzle I'd solved a long time ago.

Near Sibson, I found myself on the wrong side of the river Nene, and the only possible bridge I could see was a railway bridge. But all was not lost! As well as carrying the railway, it was also a pedestrian bridge (and if you're willing to carry your bike up two flights of stairs, a bike bridge).

I got back to the car at 7:30 pm, a good time to set off for home.

78 caches done today.

Saturday 12 July 2014

To Langley Country Park

Out today on foot with ladysolly, to Langley Country Park. We went about six miles, found 24 caches, and failed to find two. Ladysolly did the most difficult ones (of those we found).

It was pretty hot, but not excessively sunny; hot sun makes ladysolly wilt. Even so, she wilted three caches before the end, and I left her at a cafe and finished the circuit solo, then came back for her with the car. A good day out!

Friday 11 July 2014

Updating cache data

GSAK is my database of geocaches. The question is, how do I keep it updated?

1. I have seven PQs that all run each day. They cover "Southern England", "London" and the other five regions that I'm likely to visit, my total "caching area". There's a limit of 1000 hits in each query, so I ask it to find all those listed within the last month.

That gives me an up-to-date database of caches, and the first 30 days of logs. A good start. And GSAK has an option to grab all the PQs from the web site for me without me having to download each one and feed it in.

2. GSAK also has an option to update cache listings. But there's an allowance of 6000 full listings (including logs) or 10,000 partial listings (wthout logs). I have my caching area divided up into a grid of 16 squares. Each day, I can ask GSAK to get an update of one of those squares. That means that my log list is updated even after the first month.

3. There's a problem. People archive caches, and that isn't reflected in either of the updates above. But GSAK has an option "Status update"; that updates the "current/disabled/archived" flag. I need to do this every few days, so that I dont go hunting for a cache that is no longer there. For a while, they limited the number of caches you could check to 10,000, but that limitation seems to have gone now.

4. I have a second account on the web site. That means that I can do 6,000 more updates each day, if I want to.

So with all the above, I can keep my GSAK database pretty much up-to-date. But then I have to get information onto my PDA, TomTom satnav and iPhone. I want it on the iPhone as a backup in case my PDA stops working while I'm in the middle of nowhere (this happened a couple of days ago when the rain got me).

So I run a query on my GSAK database, making a GPX file of all the caches within 130 kilometers of my home that I don't own and haven't found. That gives me a huge file, but then I process it. I have a program I've written called gpxtocsv that:

1) Creates POI files for the TomTom satnav, showing trads, multis, puzzles, solved puzzes and "other" caches.
2) Creates cut-down GPX files of the iPhone, for importation into Memory Map. There's four of these: NW, NE, SW and SE.
3) Creates gpx file for Geosphere; Geosphere is my preferred iPhone app for caching. There's 16 files, in a 4 by 4 grid. If I'm not in a place where I can get 3G signal, I can use this offline database.
4) Creates CSV files for Memory Map. One big one, which is about 46,000 caches; I  an load that onto my main desktop computer. But Memory Map on the PDA can't handle such a big file, so I make four files: NW, NE, SW and SE.
5)  Creates MMO files, 16 of them. They get stored on my PDA CF card, and that means that if I have the wrong Memory Map file, I can switch to any of the 16. That's been useful once, when I loaded the NW quadrant onto Memory Map, but on the way home I passed through the NE quadrant. I saw the cache on TomTom, but I had to load the relevant MMO file on the PDA to find the cache.
6) Creates html files, so that when I click on a cache on my PDA, it displays the cache information, including the last 25 logs. I find that reading the logs sometimes gives me that bit of extra help that lets me find a stubborn cache. But I can't store 46,000 files; the PDA uses the FAT file system, and if you put that many files into a single directory, it runs like cold treacle. So, I lump into a single file, all the caches that have the same starting three letters (two letters for four-character cache codes). And very often, when I'm going round a circuit, that means that adjacent caches are on the same file, so displaying the info is instant, because it's already loaded. Doing it this way means only 4400 files, and the FAT system can cope with it.


I update GSAK, I run a query to output all unfound caches within 130 km, I run gpxtocsv to create all the various files I want. Then I update the html files on the cf card (and on my backup card), and load the Memory Map info for the quadrant that I'll be visiting. I copy the POI files onto my TomTom, and copy the Geosphere and Memory Map files onto my iPhone.

I have no idea how other people cope with this.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Down south

The weather was forecast to be rainy today around Northampton, but no rain around Arundel, so that's where I went.

First a circuit of 33 caches, padded up to 38 with a few extras. Then back to the car for food, coffee and battery replacements. Then out again for another 23, plus one on the way home, for a total of 62 today.

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Working on bike.1, part 2

With the Infineon 4110 controller, I get 19 mph up Doggetts Wood Lane, 22 down. To make it work, I have to connect the controller's YGB with the motor's BYG. The maximum current draw was 42 amps.

Then I tried the sensorless controller. And it wouldn't work! Eventually, I realised that even if you tell it to allow a minimum voltage of 16 volts, it still decides that 32 volts is too low. So I gave it 10s of battery (37 volts nominal), and it worked fine. There's no hesitation on start-up, and I get 19 mph uphill, 22 down. The maximum current draw was 40 amps.

And finally, the original black Chinese controller. I had to do some work first, to make the connectors compatible with the Infineon, but after waving my soldering iron around for a while, it was ready. My idea for taking a voltage feed from the throttle/blobmeter worked. I also got rid of the handlebar power switch. There's no point, if I want to power off, I unplug the battery. Or use the switch that's near the batteries.

For the test run, I used 10s, and got the same speed as for the Infineon. The maximum current draw was 32 amps, that's the controller limiting the current.

So I left the black Chinese controller in place, tidied up the wiring using lengths of inner tube, curly-wurly cable tidy, and plastic cable ties, and now it looks very neat.

When I go out with it, I'll take the sensorless controller with me, and a couple of 2s batteries. I reckon that if I need to, because I've made them all plug-compatible, I can switch over controllers in the middle of a muddy field, no tools will be needed, and it should take me perhaps 10 minutes.

New motor

I've just ordered a new motor, from Xiong Da Motor. This is a bike motor with two gears. It means that for going up hills and suchlike, I can change to low gear and got a lot of torque; for travelling on the flat, I change to high gear and get more speed. It's a very neat idea, and it's been well recommended by expert ebike users on the forums I visit.

It's only 250 watts, so it's within the UK legal limit, and I'm also hoping that it's light, so the bike will be easy to lift. The specification says it's 3kg, which sounds good.

The controller is sinusoidal. Most controllers deliver power in a square wave; sinusoidal should mean a quieter motor. and it comes with a switch for changing gear, and an LCD display

It's just a motor, no wheel. When it arrives, I'll have to lace it into a rim, which means I'll need to buy spokes, but I can't get them yet because I don't know the length I'll need. I've laced a motor into a wheel before, and it's a lengthy and fiddly job. That's because you have to get the spokes just right; if the hub is slightly off-center, then the ride will be up-and-down. And so you have to go through a procedure known as "truing the wheel", which involves tightening and loosening spokes until it's all just right. Last time I did that, it took me several hours. Fun to come!

Monday 7 July 2014

Wet wet wet

The first circuit I did today was "Thornhaugh and back". I've already done ten of these, so there were only 36 to do, but I did some extras along the way.

I got back to the car at about 3:30, had my sandwich, drank my coffee, and, refreshed, got back on the bike to do a few more that were on the road. But then I followed the trail of caches to do "Old Sulehay and back".

That took me to an old quarry, and I got rather lost here. To do one of the aches, I abandoned the bike and set off across the nap of the land - meaning some very up-and-down terrain. Then after I'd finished the caches in the old quarry, I got hopelessly lost finding my way out, and went all round the place before I emerged onto a road.

While I was doing the last but two, a thunderstorm started, and (using the usual technique) I noticed it was only about a mile away. That made me nervous about taking shelter under trees, and anyway, trees leak. As soon as their leaves are all wet, they drip on you at about the same rate as the rainfall.

So I completed that cache, which involved a bit of tree climbing, then went on to the last but one, and on the way there, I got completely drenched. Worse, so did my PDA, and it refused to function. So I fell back on my iPhone 4 (inherited from ladysolly) which can be used for caching (unlike the iPhone 3, which can't). Then I moved on to the last cache, also done with the iPhone, then back to the car.

I was soaked from head to toe, but at this time of year, that's not too awful, it being fairly warm.

The new bike prop stand works a lot better than the one that came with the bike, mostly because it's adjustable. I'll go on using it for a while, and if it doesn't reveal any big drawbacks, I'll fit on to all the bikes.

69 caches done today, no DNFs.

Sunday 6 July 2014

Working on bike.1, part 1

Bike.1 has been suffering from an occasional (very occasional, it's only happened twice) problem with the motor. After being shoved through vegetation (which happens more often than I'd like), the motor runs so roughly that it's not usable; wiggling the wires entering the motor has fixed it both times. But I'm concerned that it might not next time, and I'll be left with a motorless bike for the rest of the circuit. Not a disaster, but not what I want.

My guess is that this is a loose connection on the hall sensor wires where they enter the wheel. Unfortunately, to check this, I'd have to take the motor apart, and to do that, I'll have to remove all the spokes and get the motor separated from the wheel. Which is a big job, but not as big as the job of replacing it, and truing and balancing the wheel.

So I've bought an Infineon controller that will run the motor without the halls; my plan is to take it with me (it's not large or heavy) and if I have an unfixable problem in the middle of a circuit, I can swap to the sensorless controller. But for that to be viable, it has to be a matter of unplugging the old one, and plugging in the new.

I have an sensored Infineon controller. The easiest solution will be to install that. Then, to make the swapover, I just unplug a few wires, and plug them into the sensorless controller. I use EC5 connectors for the power (male at the controller, female on the battery side) and 4mm connectors for the phase wires (male on the controller, female on the motor side), so it's easy for me to plug any controller into any battery, and and controller into any motor. But the throttle connectors are non-standard, but that's not a big problem, it just means that I have to solder up a little adaptor.

Today, I started to work towards that, and I ran into an immediate problem. When I put on the sensored Infineon controller and powered up the bike, the wheel didn't turn.

There's a way around this. There are three phase wires from the controller, and three to the motor; yellow, green and blue. But these colours aren't in any way standardised. Everyone uses yellow, green and blue, but the colours don't always mean the same thing.

But there's only six possible ways you can connect three wires to three wires. I tried them all. On four combinations, the wheel didn't turn. On one, it ran backwards, roughly and very fast. And on one it ran forwards, smoothly, with a top speed (with the wheel held in the air) of 19 mph. That top speed worries me a bit; if it's 19mph under no load, what will it be when I'm sitting on the bike and riding along? There's only one way to find out, and I'll do that another day, it's too late now for testing.

I also tried the sensorless controller. That gave me an immediate good result, but again, a top speed of 19 mph.

I also found a couple of problems. The yellow Hall wire was almost broken off, so I had to replace the connector. And the black hall wire is almost broken, that's going to need soldering. Worse, though - the front wheel was loose! I have no idea how it got like that, but a loose wheel is *very* dangerous. You can imagine what would happen if the front wheel came out of the forks when I'm going along at speed! Ouch. Ow ow ow. So I sorted that out.

I'm not finished yet. I have to do a road test with each of the two Infineon controllers, then a road test with the original controller, then I can decide whether to use the original controller or the Infineon, and if I use the original, I have to do a bit of soldering to make it all plug-compatible (meaning, adaptors for the throttle), so I can do a controller swap in the middle of a muddy field.

And I need to sort out a good connection for the handlebar voltmeter - I think I know how to do that on the old controller. There's a four-way cable that goes to the original throttle/blobmeter. Three of those will be for the throttle; 5v, hall and earth. And the fourth one, I think, will be the battery voltage, so all I need to do is use that. With the Infineon controller, I've already worked out a suitable adaptor, taking the voltage reading from the six-way cable.

Then I can neaten up all the cables using some curly-wurly, use cable ties to secure the cables to the bike, more cable ties to secure the controller to the back rack (reusable cable ties, so I can do a swap in the field), put on lengths of inner tube to waterproof the cabling, and I'll be ready to roll.

But tomorrow, I'll be using bike.3. I've bolted the side-stand on more firmly, because I don't want a repeat of part of it falling off as I go across a field. And I've bolted a piece of plastic to the rear carrier, to keep the pannier well clear of the back wheel. A pannier rubbing against the back wheel will soon wear through.

Saturday 5 July 2014

Money for old rope

Every time I get petrol, or buy a sandwich, I get asked for my Nectar card. I vaguely know what that is, but not precisely, and I was wondering.

Yesterday, a lady at a service station pressed a Nectar Points card and leaflet into my hand, so I decided to find out.

First, I set up an email account with AOL, under the name of Mr Nectar Points. I gave my date of birth as 01/01/1911, and made up any other details they wanted.

Then using this email address, I signed up for Nectar Points. Their signup asked me for a street address (I made one up) but for most of the questions I chose "I decline to answer".  And I gave my new AOL address. This means that if I start getting spam to that address from other people, I'll know the source. The other details I gave were the same as for the AOL address.

By the way, when someone asks for your "mother's maiden name" on such a form, don't give it. They don't really want it. What they want, is another password that can be used in case you forget your real password. So you say "I forgot my password", they say "What's your mother's maiden name", You say "Robinson" and they say, "Well, that certainly proves that you are who you say you are, here's your password". You can see why this is a daft idea - if someone finds out your mother's maiden name (which isn't usually  big secret) they can access the things that you used that on. What I do, is I make up a word, and give them that. Then I write it down, the same way I write down the password and other details.

Banks use a similarly useless scheme. They ask me to prove who I am when I phone up, by asking for my account number and sort code. In vain do I point out that this information is on every cheque that I send, and is not a secret that other people cannot penetrate.

The scheme is very like Green Shield Stamps, if you remember that far back. In effect, it's a discount of 1/2p per pound you spend. That gives them a way to track what you buy; they'll discover that I buy a sandwich on a few days per week, and lots of petrol. It'll be interesting to see what emails they send me.

They wanted a phone number - no way!

To spend this discount, I can convert Nectar Points to Ebay Vouvhers, at the rate of £2.50 for 500 points. Since I buy lots of stuff on Ebay, that's probably what I'll do. Or I can just get the amount taken off my next purchase at Tesco.

Friday 4 July 2014

Another trip to Market Deeping

I like it here. There's not many cows, horses and sheep. It's not that I'm worried about farm animals, it's that where you have farm animals, you have stiles, which I don't like.

So today I went to do three circuits, "Helpston and back", "Hike around Helpston" and "Marholm and back". Plus I did a bunch of oddments, and a load of solved puzzle caches in that area.

I've fitted a new prop stand to bike.3; it seems to hold the bike better than the standard prop stand. But I got to a cache, was about to deploy the prop stand, and noticed that it wasn't there. The leg had fallen off somewhere along the way to the cache. So after I found the cache, I retraced my route, looking for the missing part - and I found it!

I went out today wearing a cricket shirt. This has long sleeves, so my arms are protected from some of the nettle stings and thorny scratches. It's not as good as my camo coat, but I really can't wear that in this heat. The cricket shirt worked so well, I've ordered three more.
And a yellow shirt (see below).

I don't know how many miles I did - quite a lot, I think. I got through five batteries.

A total of 70 caches done today, which means my found total is now 37619, and that puts me back to number one UK cacher! But it's not about the numbers.

The replacement controller (not using Hall sensors) for bike.1 has arrived. With that in place, it'll tell me whether the problemis with the Hall connectors, or the main power connectors.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Market Deeping again

I'm mining a rich vein here. Today, I did three circuits, "West Deeping and back", "Stamford and Deeping Canal" and "Bainton and back". And I revisited the church micro I failed on before, and this time I walked round the graveyard three times and finally found all the info. And the cache.

Add in some extra along the way, and I found 63 caches today, one DNF.

And this:

Not a dog toilet.

Tomorrow I rest. We're going up to London to visit daughter.1 and grandson.1

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Heart transplant for bike.2

The motor in bike.2 is broken. The gears melted, and I can't get a replacement at a sensible price. So on Friday evening, I ordered a new motor from Germanladen, via Ebay. It's a 48 volt motor, it comes already laced into a wheel, and it comes with a controller, throttle and everything else that you might need. And it cost £179, including carriage, which is a very keen price. They're based in Portsmouth, so I won't need to pay any extra duty, or Vat, or other special charges that you pay when importing goods.

It arrived today! That's very quick, because they wouldn't have seen the order until Monday. Unless they work weekends.

The first thing I did, was take off the tire and tube that it came with. There's nothing wrong with them, but I want to use my kevlar tire with the extra gel insert, and my thick puncture-resistant inner tube. That was easy to do, and I noted that the rim is double-walled which means it's extra strong. And then I turned the bike upside down and dropped the wheel into the forks. A slight surprise; the wheel nuts are 21 mm, which is a lot bigger than the usual 15 to 18 mm. I added a torque arm, tightened everything up, put the bike right way up and installed the controller and the throttle. I also connected my handlebar voltmeter up to the output from the controller labelled "headlights" because that output is at the battery voltage. I put cable ties all over to make it a bit neater, and took four batteries (three 4s and a 2s, for a total of 14s, and connected it up. 14s is 52 volts nominal, which is close enough to the 48 it wants. Freshly charged, that's 59 volts; nearly empty that's 45.

The speedometer gave me a slight problem.The spokes are thicker than a normal bike (that's good), so the speedometer magnet wouldn't screw on to it. I got round that by taking a couple of strong magnets and letting them hold on to the spoke; that seems to be good enough to run the speedometer, and if the worst comes to the worst and they fall off, then that just means I don't know my speed.

I took the bike out for a run. It ran nicely. The controller limits the current draw to 22 amps (my wattmeter confirmed that). So I could probably get more oomph out of it if I used my Infineon controller.

The bad news is the weight. It's gone from 52 pounds, to 59. And that's entirely down to the motor. Still, if I don't lift it, that won't matter. And I'm sure I can lift 59 pounds when I need to; bike.1 is 58 pounds.

I have a few finishing touches to add; I want to put a metal plate to protect the place where the wire comes out of the wheel, and I want to add a second torque arm. I want to put curly-wurly plastic over the wiring to make it look neat, and I'll add a few more cable ties.


I got a few spams from Experience Data offering me lists to spam to, so I emailed them back, asking how they cleaned their database. They explained the usual; they send an email, and if it arrives then they think everything is OK.

I emailed them back, pointing out that this doesn't actually do anything useful, and asking to be removed as I'm a private individual. I got a rather gruff email back, asking me to stop wasting their time and saying that they got the list from Database Angel. I emailed them back that if they didn't want to read my emails, they could simply delete them. Which is what spammers tell their victims.

So I phoned Database Angel. They said that Experience Data is a competitor, and they would never sell them data. And I got them to take me off their list. They also mention that they had a lawsuit with Experience; I didn't ask for details.

So I told Experience that Database Angel denied they'd sold them any data. I didn't tell them that they were being sued, as I guessed they already knew that.

Then I got another email from Experience. They've asked Database Angel for a refund as their data is so bad. the Angel is refusing a refund, so Experiience is taking legal action.

So that's all good then.

You know all those spam emails you get? I think that for a lot of them, even for most, the scam isn't that you pay for a worthless product. The scam is that some unscrupulous list vendor has scammed a wannabe spammer out of their hard-earned money for a rubbish list of email addresses. And I'm usually on that list.

A long day out

Ladysolly was playing bridge all day, including the evening, so I had a late pass. I decided to go for a long bike ride.

First, I did "Deeping Lakes and back", about 20 caches. I'd planned to do this a few days ago, but I stupidly hadn't loaded them onto my PDA - this time, I did. One of them took me a long time, but eventually, I found them all. That got me back to the car, so I had my sandwich and relocated to do "Maxey and back". I failed on the first one, but got all the others. It was a strange route, that sort of doubled back on itself on the map, but when I was actually following the trail I understood why this was.

Again, back at the car I had coffee and a bun, and then on to the third route of the day, "Market Deeping and back". I found all the caches, plus a few extras along the way, and got back to the car at about 8pm.

A long and exhausting day out; 82 caches found.