Aug 24 2011

BIG tank

tim

Safari Tanks make great aftermarket long-range tanks for dirt bikes. In many cases the increase in capacity is enough to make a dirt bike into a serious dual-sport tourer. Their products aren’t cheap, but they have a great reputation. It seems they’ve been working on a tank for the KLR:

KLR650 Safari Tank

The 32 litre KLR650 Safari Tank

It looks as though the tank takes up the same space as the original tank plus the fairing. If the production model comes in decent colours, it will certainly get some market traction – even more so in the US where the KLR has a loyal following.

Compared with some of their other products, that easily double or triple the stock fuel capacity, this one doesn’t seem all that compelling. Not that the size or quality isn’t great, just that the stock tank is so big on the KLR.

It does make me wonder what the dry weight of the Safari tank is compared to the OEM tank and fairing combination of the KLR. I’d also be curious to know how the balance of the bike is changed with the fuel load lower down.

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Aug 21 2011

Tool Tube

tim

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. When I added the Givi top box, and decided to attach the mounting plate as far forward as I could, so that the case could act as a back support for my wife, and to keep the weight forward as much as possible. Choosing to mount the plate there meant that the old tool box was covered up. At that point, the tool tube became more of a necessity.

The tube itself is a cylindrical container designed to be mounted to a tractor, to hold the instruction manual. New design and safety rules demand that new tractors have these, so the cylinders are now available as spare parts or aftermarket accessories. A few years ago the ADV community discovered that they make good toolboxes, so now they have a whole other market.

In the US they’re sold by Agrisupply for about $US5.00. Here’s they go for about $26 plus postage via motorcycle accessories resellers. Ouch. It didn’t take me long to track down the manufacturer and make contact with him via Alibaba. At the same time I emailed a couple of local tractor and farm machinery resellers. One could get it for $16 “plus freight” and the other could do it for $18. I ordered from the latter, and it came within a few days. The manufacturer eventually got back to me, saying that there is an importer in Australia who carries stock. By then it was too late, and I don’t know if I could have got them cheaper from him.

Anyway… here it is.

The tool tube

The tube, with nut, bolt, washers and some rubber grommets

I’ve drilled two extra holes in the upper mounting plate, which will make more sense in the images below. I also found that if I mounted the tube flush against the rear subframe I could not get the ld off, to the rubber grommets will be used as spacers.

Fitting the tube

Fitting the tool tube

The position of the two extra holes offset the top of the tube toward the outside of the bike, away from the tyre. I drilled matchin holes in the plastic bodywork (an extension of the rear mudguard) the sits between the tube and the frame. I then fed two cable ties down through the bodywork, through a rubber grommet, to the tube and back again, making a loop around the lower frame.

The tube in place

A total of 4 cable ties hold the top of the tube.

I did the same with the two original holes that lined up with the ones I’d made. It’s difficult to see in the photo, but there’s a small gap behind the side cover mounting hole and I was able to feed the cable ties in behind that. Pulled the cable ties tight and trimmed them. At the bottom of the tube I used a 13mm nut and bolt, and a large washer to distribute the force on the plastic. Fortunately the KLR has a perfect mounting point at that end already.

Next, I trimmed the side cover to accommodate the tube. There was a fair bit of trial and error, but I did learn a few things that might help others trying to do the same:

  • Mark on the side cover (masking tape is great for this)where the bottom edge of the tool tube sits, and cut in, perpendicular to the edge.
  • Mark a line down the underside of the side cover, about 25mm from the outer corner/edge. At the point where the side cover extends past the tool tube, turn the line back toward the inner edge of the cover. Cutting along this line should limit the underside of the side cover to 25mm wide, and it should return to full width at the rear. See photos below.
  • I used a hacksaw blade and an orbital sander for most of the work. If I were to do it again, I would first drill a number of holes along the marked lines (as close together as possible), then cut between the holes with the hacksaw blade, then sand away the remaining material.
Trimmed cover Trimmed cover
Here you can see the trimmed side cover, upside down.
Left:At the far end is the right-angle cut to accommodate the bottom of the tube. From there, the cut maintains a fairly even 25mm distance from the outer corner.
Right: At the rear of the cover, the cut changes direction, past the lid of the tool tube.
The result

The tool tube in place.

If you’re interested in sourcing one yourself:

The US supplier: Agri Supply

The Manufacturer: Autotech International (email bill.yuan@autotechgear.com)

The Australian Importer (according to the manufacturer): Fieldquip (email rob@fieldquip.com)

The place I got mine: AgPower

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Aug 16 2011

Wolfman Rolie

tim

I’ve been a big fan of Wolfman products for a few years now. For the Trip, I used an Expedition Tank Bag, powered from the bike, to carry my comms and camera gear. It’s big, well designed and well made, and it did a great job. My main luggage was the Wolfman Beta, which holds heaps and straps down tight over the back of the seat.

Sidenote: Lately I’ve added a Givi Monokey E45 top case to the back of the bike. It gives me secure, quick-release storage for my stuff, and makes the bike much more useful for commuting. Also, the addition of a wife earlier this year has meant that, for some trips at least, the pillion seat is taken.

Wolfman’s new-ish Rolie range of bags is brilliant. These simple, waterproof roll-top bags come in three sizes, but all share a common mounting “patch” with webbing straps, which makes them interchangeable and stackable. Wolfman have created a range of straps, harnesses and accessories which allow the Rolie bags to be used as tank bags, tank panniers, saddle bags and tail bags on just about any bike.

Today I received my order of a large Rolie from AdventureMoto. This thing is so versatile I can add it to the top of my Beta bag, to the rack behind my Beta bag, or to footman loops on top of my Givi hard case. Either way, riding one-up or two-up, with or without my other luggage, this thing gives me extra storage that’s waterproof and strapped down tight.

Pics to follow soon!

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Aug 16 2011

Now I want a hexacopter

tim

While looking at videos of that camera gyro thingy in action, I stumbled upon a couple of videos where a multi-axis gyro had been used to mount a camera to a radio controlled helicopter. Better still, I found a thing called a “hexacopter” – a 6-propellor helicopter and looks absolutely amazing. And fast.

Check this one out, carrying a 4kg weight:

But the footage you can get with a gyro-stabilised camera is just stunning:

Want one…

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Aug 15 2011

GS-1 Gyro Servo

tim

Here’s a curious gadget.

This guy is making a servo, much like you would find in a radio controlled car, but it has a built in gyroscope, allowing it to self-correct on whichever axis you mount it on. The gyro doesn’t need any sort of controller, and will work as long as it has power connected.

Used to mount a camera on the same axis as the lean on of the bike, it would have the effect of keeping the horizon flat on corners. It would also give the camera a sense of separation from the bike, so the viewer would experience the movement of the bike more than the movement of the environment around it.

This video shows how well such a setup would work on twisties (and he has a couple of nice off’s too!), but I think it would be amazing on dirt tracks as well, and would give some sense of how much the bike pitches from side to side when negotiating ruts and erosion.

Mmmm… fun.

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Aug 14 2011

Electrical Noise Part 2

tim

Today I pulled apart the bike and checked the wiring for the accessory power outlet that I’d added two years ago. Contrary to my previous doubts, I found that the positive cable originated at the main fuse, and the negative (ground) terminated on the frame under the seat. Both these locations are about a close to the battery as you can get.

I also checked the configuration of the relay, and confirmed that was OK.

Just to be sure, I rigged up another cable, directly to the battery, and started running some tests.

  • AutoCom and VIO POV both connected to bike power, with the engine running: Lots of noise on the VIO POV recording, but none in my helmet.
  • AutoCom and VIO POV connected to bike power, but through a 20A noise supressor: Lots of noise on the recording, but with some of the lower frequencies gone.
  • AutoCom connected to bike power, and VIO POV running on AA batteries: a faint, high pitched noise on the recording, but otherwise clear audio.
  • The VIO POV connected to bike power and not connected to anything else (ie using its own microphone): lots of noise, as before.
This is enough to convince me that the bike power is fine the way it is, and the VIO POV will be running on AA batteries from now on.
I also tested the Push To Talk switch, and found that the 3.5mm plug and socket that I’d added to make the PTT switch removable is pretty flaky. I’ll be looking around for an alternative connector for that.
Pulling the bike apart gave me an opportunity to clean parts of it that normally get missed. There’s still a lot of red dust in hard to reach places, so I dismantled a few things to clean that off.

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Aug 9 2011

Electrical Noise

tim

As part of the original setup for the Trip, I bought an AutoCom ActivePLUS, which connected my iPod, my phone, and my UHF radio, and routed the sound through to my helmet. The other thing it did was feed all of that sound through to my helmet camera.

One of the things I’d hoped to do was capture some commentary of my own and radio chatter from the rest of the party as a way of narrating the video. Trust me… helmet camera footage is interesting for all of 30 seconds, music or no music.

One of the things that got in the way of that plan (and there were a few) was electrical noise. All the comms gear was powered off the bike, and all the helmet camera video I recorded was infected with a whining noise which changed pitch with the bike’s engine revs. I was aware of the problem before the Trip, and bought a noise supressor which was meant to resolve the issue. It didn’t.

Last weekend I bought a larger noise supressor, and started running some tests on gear powered off the bike. Using the AutoCom and the helmet camera, I ran a series of tests with various combinations of bike power and battery power. What I found was that, even with the filter in place, the helmet camera picked up a lot of noise when powered off the bike. The AutoCom itself seemed to remain reasonably clear on bike power, though the helmet camera (running off batteries) still picked up some electrical noise from the AutoCom.

Both these gadgets are designed to be fitted to a bike, so it came as a bit of a surprise that both would be so susceptible to electrical noise.

I started searching the ‘net, trying to understand the nature and cause of electrical noise, and found that the most common cause was a poor ground (or negative) connection. I started looking at the photos I’d taken when I first added the SAE cable that powers the tank bag, and I think I might have found a clue. The positive lead runs near enough to straight from the battery, so that should be reasonably clean. From there it runs to a relay behind the instrument panel. The trigger wire on the relay comes off the instrument backlights (which are always on when the bike is running). Again, this shouldn’t be a problem, since the switch side of the relay is isolated from the power it’s switching. The weak point, as expected, is the ground. Rather than go back to the frame, or all the way back to the negative terminal on the battery, I attached the ground to a negative wire off the back of the instruments. I can’t be sure, but I think that’s the weak point.

The next step is to rerun the auxiliary power on the bike, with positive and negative originating as close to the battery as possible. From there I’ll break out only for the relay, and use the same trigger source as before.

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