Thursday, August 28, 2014

Parked in front of a Microsoft data center

So, I don't have a "usual" place to ride on training rides.  Last night my wandering took me past the Microsoft data center that's just off of 294.  I got this really weird feeling I was being watched as I took the picture....

Happily, my riding has been paying dividends.  The Garmin 305 is doing it's job, and I've got a goal speed to match, beat, and flog myself when I don't.  Between the speedo, and strava segments I'm putting on watts rather quickly.  If not losing pounds. 

Back to the DC though.  It's a huge facility.  The transformers that power the place, are larger than my house.  and have blast walls between them so they don't blow up the neighbor if one does fail. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

I got my microview. A microcontroller with a built in display.

I really do love the USPS. They bring me toys. This time it was a kickstarter reward. I got in on the Microview Kickstarter. And.. finally it arrived.  Minus the packing material, and the plastic baggie on the Microview, here's what I got in the mail.

 Sparkfun boxes are so pretty.  Oh, while we're at it. Here's the kickstarter link.

How about a closeup of the hardware.  They sent me a solderless breadboard, a programmer, and the Microview.  The Microview is a completely professional piece.  It's Sony level quality.

And the Microview and programmer separate from the programming board.  Sparkfun did a really good job on the programmer too.  I'll show you the highlights of that in a moment.

That's a classy place to put your logo.  I like it. The programmer has every pin marked.  And it's got the fancy through headers, so you can plug the Microview into it directly, or plug it into a breadboard.

So, the part I liked best about the programmer is in the upper left hand corner of the board.  Instead of just marking "pin 1" as is typical.  They put a little drawing, so you can have a visual reference that doesn't need pin reading to get it right.   Between "top" and the off center display box, it'll be hard to plug the Microview in the wrong way.

Here's the Microview ready to be programmed.  It comes with some really fancy demo software, but that'll have to wait for another post.  

I am exceedingly pleased with this thing.  I can't wait to do something fun with it. 

And if you'd like one of your own. Sparkfun is selling them.  Here's the link:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bike Geometry Pictures, How I took them.

So, comparing bike geometries is a funny thing.  With sloping top tubes, and other various bike tricks the whole geometry thing is fuzzy. 

While helping some people sort out bike frame choices on a forum I frequent, I took shots of most of the bikes in my garage, to compare geometry.  Now, this has it's problems, taking photos that give GOOD ideas of shape is hard.  Cameras take a spherical image, and you get distortion out at the edges.  So to minimize this, I set up a tripod, about 30' away form the bikes, and zoomed in as much as I could.  This made the included angle smaller, so the distortion would be smaller. 

Here are the results.

2007 Dawes LT1000 46cm

2006 Fetish Penna 50cm

2013 Fuji Cross 2.0 48cm

2012 Mercier Nano (small)

2014 Fuji Ace 650 35cm

2011 GT series 3 42cm

The first 4 bikes are mine, and are setup for me.  The last two are bikes for a very short friend of mine.

2013 Louis Garneau X2 Comp  (Courtesy of Kamil)

I'd love to add your bike to this.  To take a picture, get your camera about 3' off the ground.  Table height is good.  Get the camera about 30' back from the bike, and zoom in.  E-mail or attach your images to the comments and I'll add your bike to the list. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Garmin's mistakes, and how to fix them. Edge 305 repair.

Recently, I've had trouble keeping up my pace on my bicycles.  I like to have a target to chase.. and that just isn't there without a bike computer. 

Everyone who's installed a bike computer, knows the pain of calibrating them, and then keeping their batteries fresh, and recording information off of them.. and well.. it sucks.  That's where fancy bike computers like Garmin's Edge series come into play.  By being GPS based, they calibrate versus satellites instead of wheel revolutions.  Garmin also puts a barometer on them so the can reasonably track single foot elevation changes, which GPS is a little less good at. 

Since GPS doesn't work in tunnels, and on the bike trainer, Garmin also allows the use of a wheel speed and cadance sensor.  So it's useful, even when the bike isn't moving. 

Suffice it to say, the Garmin 305 is a heck of a device.  And being six years old now, is cheap on the used market.  I found mine on craigslist, and picked it up for $55.  The seller didn't mention what was wrong with it. 

The Garmin 305 series has the battery, speaker, and USB port as part of the back cover.  The two halves are glued together.  But instead of using a wiring harness, they used spring terminals to bring the electrical connections from one side to the other. This is not a high quality coil spring, guide, and plunger setup.  It's some bent copper tabs that press on a PCB.  Those are affected by inertia, and vibration. 

The following isn't my image.. my hands were to busy doing the repair job to take shots of the guts of my garmin.

There's essentially no bulk capacitive value on the mainboard.  This means as soon as any power is removed, the whole shebang shut s down. 

This means surgery.   The accepted method of repairing this is to get some jumper wires, and solder the battery directly to the mainboard.  Which is what I did Friday evening.  I took the GPS for a bike ride on sunday, and the thing didn't shut off at all.

Here are the links I used for reference:

And.. while we're at it, here's how the rest of my garmin looks post surgery.

Darned thing almost looks like new.