Saturday, April 22, 2017

DeWalt 20V Max 6.0Ah Pack Teardown & Analysis

It's been a little while since I've had a shiny new tool battery to tear down!  This one showed up in the mail for some analysis and evaluation - so analyze and evaluate it I shall!

As of the time of posting, you can get 2 for $150 (shipped) on eBay - which almost certainly beats your local hardware store by a lot.  But, only if they're good.


This is a notable pack in that it's (supposedly) using 20700 format cells - the first non-18650 based tool pack I've had the opportunity to rip into.

What's inside?  Is it any good?  Read on to find out!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Doing the Math: 2016 California Autonomous Vehicle Disengagement Reports

Self driving cars.  The imminent future of on-demand and super cheap transportation - or still a long development slog ahead, depending on who you listen to.  Earlier this year, California released the 2016 Autonomous Vehicle Disengagement Reports - which are reports of times that the human driver had to take over from the computers (either because the computers handed off control, or because the human wasn't comfortable with what the computer was doing).


When the reports came out, quite a few sites covered them - at the year granularity.  They just did some quick aggregation of the numbers for a whole year, perhaps made a graph, and (as is common in the media today) published a quick article about it.

I haven't seen anyone delving deeply into the data by using the month-by-month numbers - which are provided.  So, I did.  And some very interesting trends showed up for a few companies!

Interested in how everyone did in the month-by-month data?  Read on!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Ural Gear Up: Oils Change

I've been talking about Urals for the past three weeks, and this week finishes my (current) Ural series with a post on a task that every Ural owner should be familiar with - oil changes.


The recommended oil change interval for the engine and gearbox (at least on the older model I own - 2005 and similar) is 2,500 km (1550 miles), with an oil filter change every 5000 km, and a final drive oil change every 10,000 km.

What an awful lot of people do instead is to just change everything (oils and filters) every 2500 km.  The bike doesn't make much power, but it runs an older and looser air cooled engine design hard - 40hp if you squint at the dyno sheet and a bike with the aerodynamics of a sheet of plywood make for a hard working engine!  The engine doesn't hold much oil either - only a hair over 2 quarts.

In any case, oil is cheap, metal pieces and labor are expensive.  It's cheap(ish) insurance, and regular oil changes are a good way to catch problems before they get bad - both from the oil and from the time spent around and under the bike, paying close attention to things.  Fine metallic powder/flakes in the oil?  Annoyingly, normal.  Metallic chunks?  Time to dig in deeper...

Plus, it's insanely easy to change the oil on this bike!  It could be a KTM...

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Assembling and Installing a Ural Sidecar Windshield

A Ural without a sidecar windshield is like... a Ural without a sidecar windshield!  Great for dogs, less-than-ideal for kids, and an awesome cargo hauler.  But, if you want something that's still great for dogs, becomes great for kids (or wives, siblings, etc), and is only slightly less awesome as a cargo hauler, you really, really want a windshield.


Unfortunately, if you order a Ural Sidecar Windshield (I got mine from Ural NE), what you get is a box of parts.  There are no instructions or anything useful like that, and internet advice on assembly is sparse, so you get two items in one - a windshield, and a puzzle!

If you find yourself in this situation, fear not!  I've done some puzzling for you, and have a guide for turning your box of parts into a shiny installed Ural windshield on your sidecar!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ural Gear Up: Cracked seat post repair and doubling up rubber supports

I've got a 2005 Ural Gear Up - and I noticed towards the end of last fall that my seat was getting really, really soft and bouncy on rough gravel roads.  On top of that, I was having to hold myself forward or I'd go sliding off the back.  Clearly, this isn't how things are designed to work - so I investigated!


What was the problem?  My seat support cracked, and was allowing far more movement than intended.  On top of that, the rear rubber support ("spring"?) was old, and simply didn't offer as much resistance to movement as it once did.

How bad were things?  Well... here's how far the support had cracked.  It wasn't completely through, but it was getting there in a hurry.


Time to fix this!  Fortunately, I know someone who is quite good with a welder.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Uraling Through the Winter

In October 2016, I bought a Ural.  Specifically, a 2005 Ural Gear-Up.  This is one of the 2WD models, and it comes with pretty much all the various gizmos - shovel, spotlight, fluid container, machine gun mount, spare tire, rear rack... just about everything you could need!


I rode it all the way through the winter this year (which was a particularly rough winter for the area), put a few thousand kilometers on the clock, have done some work on it and added a sidecar windshield, and at this point I think I have a decent feel for this particularly obscure and unique form of transportation that is the source of endless questions from, well, everyone.

Why do I own a Ural?  Partly, I've wanted one for years.  However, it's mostly because a Ural is a motorcycle that can carry my daughter in the sidecar while my wife & I ride (we both ride).  So far, my daughter loves it, and we're planning on quite a bit of riding this year.

But... Ural?  If you're curious, read on!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

I2C LCDs: Reverse Engineering the I2C Converter

If you need a basic LCD display for an Arduino or Raspberry Pi, it's hard to beat these I2C LCD kits you can find for about $5 on eBay.


Some of them come soldered, some require you to solder things together - but they're cheap, they're I2C, they work... and they are incredibly frustrating when you didn't write down the magic incantation to initialize the LiquidCrystal_I2C class, and cannot manage to get the silly things working again!

Fear not!  With a bit of time, a bit of knowledge, and a cheap multimeter, you can figure out exactly how to set one of these up, starting with nothing but the adapter module!

Read on, if this particularly arcane corner of tech interests you.  But you're probably here from a search engine...