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As a family we attended a blacksmithing day at Happy Knife Forge last weekend. Highly recommended, it’s money well spent. Jason will not only show you the basics, but is keen to get you up and running as a blacksmith. My granddad was a coal merchant back in the old country and the smell of coke burning on the forge prompted a sense memory from the crib; it smelled like home.
I’ve ruminated on fabrication and micro-manufacturing on TMD before from a digital perspective using the latest techniques. Given the space and tools I’d quite happily spend my time designing and creating using everything from medieval blacksmithing through 20th Century metal working and on into 21st Century digital manufacturing techniques. Connecting these processes separated by time but with the same intent would produce some genuinely interesting and bespoke combinations.
I’ve had the itch to get back into welding for some time, but a lack of space and gear means I’m not while I’m where I’m at. The blacksmithing experience has me wanting to expand my metal working beyond just welding, which means even more space and kit getting added to the wish list. You can do a lot in a tight space, and I am, but when it comes to storing the chemicals and managing the heat in some of these processes, there is no substitute for space.
|A property with an old industrial building on
it would make for a fantastic restoration
leading to a multi-millenial foundry covering
everything from blacksmithing to digital design!
Given the time and resources I’d hit an intensive welding program, then set up my multi-millenial forge/shop/maker space with everything from blacksmithing tools through metal working and mechanical to 21st Century 3d scanning, digital modelling and printing. The forge would be in the corner of a repurposed, old brick building that also includes space for metalwork, all very fireproof. Across the floor in the same open concept.would be space for a paint booth/shot blasting station and plenty of mechanical workspace. Upstairs (open concept, with just a railing) would be digital design and manufacturing in a cleaner workspace. If I could walk out to that every morning to create, restore and repair, I’d hardly care if there were pandemics or anything else. Put it near some good riding roads (ie: not in Southern Ontario), and it’d be just about perfect.
|I’ve been thinking about a digital workshop for a while now, but the blacksmithing experience has me thinking old school as well.|
|The future-garage scene in Big Hero 6 gets the digital side of it right.|
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After a long day at work I found myself watching the sky change colours and jumped on the Tiger for a ride down the river. It felt like riding through a Van Gogh…
|All photos taken with a Ricoh 360 camera mounted on the windshield, autofiring every 8 seconds.|
|West Montrose Covered Bridge: one of these times I’m going to ride through and find myself in 1881!|
Photos are in reverse chronological order. Sunset was at 8:30pm – I was on the road from about 8:10 to 8:50pm.
If you want a breakdown of how to get on-bike 360 photos like this, check THIS out! If you really want to digitally flex, you can create a 360 ‘tiny planet’ stop motion film out of this kind of photography:
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The other day I tried a variation on the on-bike 360° photography I’ve previously done. Rather than mount the camera on a flexible tripod on the front of the bike, I attached a carbon monopod to the rear top-box rack, extended it and put the camera on top.
The bottom part of the monopod had a screw in point. With that removed I could bolt this very light weight, carbon fibre monopod to the rear luggage rack (which itself is attached to the frame) very securely. In almost an hour of riding on typically lousy rural Ontario roads both the camera and monopod were very secure and the photos showed no evidence of wobble or blur.
These are the parts used:
With the camera over a metre above and behind my head, the three-sixty degree pinched perspective makes the bike and I look quite far away:
After doing a round at full extension (the monopod extends to just over five feet or 160cms), I reduced the bottom leg. I couldn’t see the results of the shots until I got back and I was worried that the full extended monopod would produce wobble and blur or be structurally stressed (it didn’t and it wasn’t). The monopod only weighs a couple of hundred grams and can hold 10 kilos or 22 pounds of gear – the Theta weighs less than a hundred grams.
With the camera reset closer to four feet above the back deck of the bike I did some more miles, including riding over some very rough roads. Even in those circumstances the rig was solid, unmoving and took sharp photos, even in the relatively poor light (it had been heavily overcast, foggy and raining on and off all day).
|The pavement leading up to the West Montrose Covered Bridge is particularly rough, but even then the photos were clear and sharp.|
|Good horizons on such a tall camera mount, and this is at the lower setting.|
|With the camera set so much higher, corners don’t seem as dramatic. When the camera is mounted on the rear view mirror it turns with the handlebars, amplifying the lean effect.|
Perhaps the best example of the camera’s lack of wobble was the shot from inside the covered bridge. On an overcast, dim day in a poorly lit environment with the bike bouncing over rough pavement, the sharpness is still surprisingly good. This was so dim that I had to raise the sun visor in the helmet:
|This is a photo uploaded to the Theta 360 site and modified with the little planet geometry tool.|
I’d call this a successful test. Setting up this kind of monopod on a Givi tail mount for a top box works really well. The monopod base fits snuggly in the tail mount, which is a very solid, over engineering piece of kit designed to carry potentially heavy luggage. The monopod takes a big quarter inch bolt. I used a big washer on the bottom and a smaller one that fit perfectly inside the lattice on the top of the rack. With the monopod tightened down with a ratchet it was extremely secure.
The camera didn’t wobble on full extension, but with the monopod retracted one level (the shortest, narrowest one at the bottom) the monopod rubber met the top of the luggage lattice and it was even stronger. With the camera on the shortened tripod, the photos still offered a surprisingly distant perspective:
|With the monopod shortened one level it’s still well above six feet off the deck (I’m 6’3″).|
It’s another unique perspective to pursue with 360° on-motorcycle photography, but I have to say, I think it feels a bit alienating because everything is so distant and you can’t see the rider’s face. Short of flying a drone perilously close to a rider, there is no other way you could get this perspective though…
|One of the few sunny moments on the ride – you can see the monopod’s shadow on the road.|
Something like this might look really cool on a bike doing a wheelie, or someone knee down in a canyon. It also does a nice job of capturing the surroundings, but unless I’m looking for shots that are more about the scenery than the ride, I doubt I’ll be doing it again. I prefer the more intimate and exciting angles you get from mounting the camera closer and in front of the rider:
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… and it wasn’t so bad thanks to all the (quality) gear, all the time. This weekend we had family friends coming over so I took their son and mine up to S.M.A.R.T. Adventures for an afternoon dirt biking. My boy did a day on bikes last year so he was stepping up to intermediate level, the other boy had never ridden before.
It was a glorious day. We had snow last week but it was 15°C and sunny on Saturday, and we weren’t gettting on a bike until it had already reached that lofty high.
|They kit you up good at SMART!|
We got kitted up and out to the bikes. Ethan went with another new rider and did the how-bike-controls-work introductory lesson. Max hadn’t been on a bike in 10 months and had only had a day when he last did, but he remembered all the basics so off we went.
It was trapped so tight I was thinking it was already broken, but SMART doesn’t mess around with the kit. Those SIDI off road boots are the balls. Having been caught between the two bikes (which were now locked together), there was an incredible amount of pressure on my ankle, but the boots were taking the brunt. I couldn’t move and was frustrated that I hadn’t avoided the situation entirely, but it was a series of events I couldn’t see behind me and the accident was no one’s fault. Max was feeling terrible about it, but once the tail end instructor had run down the hill and seperated the bikes, I got up and tested the ankle and was stunned to find I could stand on it without any real pain. Even now, a day later, it’s only mildly bruised and I’m able to walk on it without any pain. If I hadn’t been in good off road boots I’d have dust for an ankle.
I’m still hoping to get Max and I sorted out with a couple of tidy 250cc bikes to go trail riding together. It’s great exercise, a wonderful way to get deep into the woods and sure, it could be dangerous, but with the right kit and a sensible approach to riding it’s a manageable risk that can also have minimum environmental impact. A knowledgeable trail rider leaves no trace while exploring wilderness in a way that few other activities allow, often enjoying over 70mpg.
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We had a break in the Canadian winter (in April) and I finally got a chance to exercise the Concours. This jaunt took me over 250kms from where I live in the tedious industrial farming desert of South Western Ontario, an hour up to the road to the edge of the Niagara Escarpment where I have a small chance of finding a corner to ride around. It usually gets colder by the lake, but contrary to physics, it went from 12°C when I left up to 27° by the lake. It only dropped down into the low 20s again once I found some altitude on Blue Mountain (a hill anywhere but in Ontario).
|It is actually nuclear powered! I feel like I really bonded with the Connie on this ride – we sailed for miles and we had many more in us when we stopped for the day. If you’re light on the throttle it gets reasonable mileage, but it’s a wonderful thing when you wake up that motor. Kawasaki has a special touch with engines.|
I had the 360 camera along for the ride and put together a montage using an incredibly complicated process that involves batch processing the 360 panaramas into ‘tiny planet’ images and then clipping them all together in video editing. It isn’t for the faint of heart, but it sure looks unique. This is the how-to if you’re feeling brave.
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What I’d upgrade equipment-wise if I had my druthers:
Ricoh Theta Z1: most 360 cameras are built for action video and make photography an afterthought. The Z1 is a photography first tool with the largest sensor, raw image file options and a quality of image quality rather than quantitity. It’s expensive, but if you’re into 360 photography and especially exploring the edges of it, the Z1 is the tool.
GoPro Max 360 Camera: I’ve chewed up a few Thetas doing action photography. The GoPro Max is pretty much everything proof and produces quality 360 images, though it is (like most 360 cameras) video focused.
At 16.6 mega-pixels the Max produces nice images, and the time lapse photography option would work well for on-bike photography.
It’d be nice to have an on-bike camera that I could just leave filming when the rains come. I currently have to get the dainty Theta out of the way whenever the weather sets in.
DJI Mini 2: I’ve got a Phantom 2 and it’s a fine thing, but it’s big and increasing restrictions on drone flight make it more and more difficult to fly. You can get around most of that by flying a micro drone (under 250 grams), which don’t require the same restrictions.
There are super cheap options with poor cameras and disposable air-frames, but the Mini-2 borrows the best tech from its big brothers in a small, foldable package that travels well.
Canon 6D Mk2 SLR camera body: I’m still enjoying my Canon Rebel T6i and I’d want an more advanced camera body that would still let me use the lenses I’m familiar with. The 6D is the next step on from the entry level Rebel cameras with improved features and range. Stepping up doesn’t come cheap though, though it would still be able to use my current lenses.
They describe my Rebel as a ‘beginner’ camera, though I’ve won competitions against ‘pros’ with ‘pro’ cameras, but the marketing does mess with my pride.
I love macro photography and use the Canon basic macro lens on the Rebel. This is the stop up full-frame lens for the 6D.
It would have to be next level because this lens alone costs more than my current camera body with a tele, prime and macro lens.
SIGMA 24-70MM F2.8 DG OS HSM CANON (ART)
Another lens that by itself costs more than all the lenses I currently have. DSLR shooting out of the ‘beginner’ cameras is for the privileged.
If you think the others are dear, here’s your telephoto, and only up to 200mm, for less than most of my motorcycles have cost.
I’d like more reach with a full frame camera but pro-really long telephotos start to get into same-price-as-a-car money. I’ve explored Olympus’s DSLR alternatives and enjoyed owning super-zoom all-in-one cameras too. Super zooms have come a long way in recent years. Sony’s DSC-RX10MIV has a massive 1 inch CMOS sensor promising good low light photography while also offering an astounding 24-600mm reach on a built in lens. Rather than chuck thousands at lenses and DSLR bodies (and then have to lug it all around), maybe a next-gen all-in-one super zoom should be next, though if this is a wish list then the money wouldn’t matter.
Rather than flash “pro” kit around, I’m looking for ways to innovate my photography. A full-frame DSLR would be nice, but for a fraction of the cash I could get myself a current micro-drone, a powerful super-zoom and the latest in 360 camera technology, which even with all my experience with, I still feel like I’m only just scratching the surface.
In a variation on photography, I’ve also previously explore 3d scanning with the first gen Structure Sensor. Their current PRO model is $695 (US) and comes out this summer. That’d also be on my short-list of ‘imaging tools’.
If I avoided the DSLR money-pit, I’d be into five and half grand in the latest imaging tools (360 cameras, drone, big sensor all-in-one super-zoom and 3d scanner). That’s 1/3 the price of a single ‘pro’ level telephoto lens. Wish list or not, I think I can do more interesting things with digital imaging with a more diverse set of tools.
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I’m in the process or stripping the last bits of hardware from the frame and bodywork in order to clean up and paint the frame and bodywork on the 51 year old Bonneville project bike. The bolts holding the licence plate holder onto the rear fender were 4 different sizes with the longest ones protruding so far toward the wheel that they’d be a safety hazzard on a big bump (the tire would make contact with them on full suspension compression, especially with me on it).
I was talking to a friend online who made a career out of flying helicopters for the military and he said he’s found wrong sized hardware in controls that have actually jeopardized flight safety. One of the rhings I enjoy about motorcycle mechanics is that it feels closer to aviation than four wheel appliance repair where an error like this might cause you inconvenience as you roll to a stop on the side of the road. If you’re up in the air or out on a bike and you have a catasrophic mechanical failure, it’s a very different consequence.
Another pilot friend (the perils of being an air cadet), when we were going up for a flight in a Cessna, brought it back around and landed when the engine didn’t feel right. Everyone was impatient at the delay, but he said something that is simply true that many people don’t consider when their flight is delayed: “it’s better to be down here wishing you were up there, than being up there wishing you were down here.” It’s a shame more people who work on bikes don’t think the same way. I’ve seen even professional work that was half assed to save time/money. Incompetence like that puts a rider’s life at risk needlessly. It can end up costing you far more than you saved.
|Pretty sure that last one isn’t a stock Triumph bolt. These’ll all get replaced with metric bolts because they’re easier to find, but they’ll be the right length, matching and be staineless steel.|
The 14-0101 bolts used to fasten the fenders on the ’71 Bonneville are 1/4″ X 1/2″ X 28 UNF, which are a bugger to try and find a match for. The longest bolt on the bike was an inch and a half – way too long for where it was. Working with SAE/imperial sizes on this bike makes it a real pain to match hardware out of what I have on hand, but stuffing a bolt that long onto a bike where it can interfere with the wheel isn’t sensible.
|SAE Wrench Size||Bolt Size (SI)||Metric Wrench Size|
1/4″ bolts can be replaced with an 11mm metric option and finding stainless steel versions of these are easy. I can also get four matching that are the correct length for the job at hand rather than bunging whatever I have in the toolbox onto the bike. Compared to other costs in this restoration, hardware costs are trivial (for under $40CAD I can get a 900+ piece kit). When I’m dropping $600+ on a new head, spending a bit on properly sized bolts seems like a no-brainer.
Of course, body panel fasteners are a different proposition to what you put into a motor or transimssion – in those cases I’d always use stock pieces to manage the heat and pressures involved as decided by the engineers to designed the thing, but for bodywork there is a bit more latitude, you just don’t want to be a pratt about it.
|While sorting the
frame I’ve cleaned
up the oil in frame
The Amazon bolt set arrived in less than 24 hours. It is (of course) snowing today in mid-April in Canada, so moving the other bikes out of the garage to paint things isn’t likely, and I can’t paint outside if it’s snowing. You need 10°-30°C temperatures, no direcf sunlight and good ventilation. If I can get the other bikes out of the garage, open the door a foot and run the fan, I might be able to retain enough heat to do it, but Canada’s ‘spring time’ isn’t helping things along.
If had a wee outdoor shed I’d use it as a paint booth, heating it to the required temperature and then having a fan to move the overspray out. This DIY paintbooth would be a thing if I had a larger workshop, but a shed outside is a real possibility. It could provide storage, freeing up space in the garage, but with some crafty ventilation it’d also be a paintbooth. If I don’t get to painting today, I can at least finish prepping the frame and body panels and hope for warmer temperatures later in the week.
|New tires and innertubes are on hand. The frame is being prepped.
I’ve still got some other body panels to clean and prep for painting.
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Long before I got into riding motorcycles I discovered ice hockey as a new immigrant to Canada. I played whenever I could from backyard rinks to 5am practices to driving miles for games on evenings and weekends. The smell of a hockey rink is a happy one for me, as is the process of getting ready for a game. For many years I played net, which involved putting on over 70lbs of gear each time (this was back in the day when it was made with leather and bricks rather than the fancy space-aged stuff they have now).
My ride starts when I go out into the garage and start putting the kit on. This isn’t tedious, it’s a chance to echo all those hours spent in cold arenas getting ready to lay it all out there on the ice; it’s an opportunity to put on my game face. I never end up on the bike out on the road half paying attention or thinking about something else because putting on the kit is a integral part of getting ready to ride for me.
|I don’t know about a different person, but I am a focused person. Here’s the MotoGP video.|
Back in 2015 we rode down to the Indy MotoGP round. Helmets are optional down that way and we went out once to pick up dinner just up the road without helmets, and it just felt wrong. The right kit means you can ride longer without getting wind or sunburned and can even make you more comfortable than free bagging it. Once you’ve got that approach, trying it the other way just feels wrong.
Helmets are especially important. I’m partial to Roof Helmets because they’re of high quality and are an advanced, modular design that lets you change from a fully safetied full face helmet (lots of flip ups are only safetied as open-face helmets) to an open face ‘jet’ style helmet with a quick flip. They’re aerodynamic, quiet and ventilate well. I’ve tried many different lids, including a dalliance with that beaked adventure nonsense, but (for me) a helmet that lets me feel wind on my face quickly and easily (I can flip it up when passing through a town then be back to full face comfort again in seconds without stopping) was what worked. Getting into kit that feels this right and is well made is all part of the pre-ride ritual and is no hardship.
If you watch any motor racing you’ll be aware of pre-race rituals that many riders adopt. Valentino Rossi was famous for his pre-race contortions, and those are only the visible ones! Doing this sort of thing looks eccentric, but you do what works for you in order to get yourself into a peak performance mindset. The amazing things you see athletes do don’t happen without mental preparation. Riding your bike well won’t happen without it either. Don’t get frustrated at putting your gear on, use that time to get yourself into the zone for your ride.
Athletes stand a much better chance for getting in the zone when they make it a point to engage in a pre-game routine that allows them to think about the upcoming game, elevate their mood state, and lower their negative anxiety.
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While I had the wheels off I took the rear brake apart. I keep being surprised by how simple this bike is. The rear brake is a mechanical mechanism, no hydraulics in sight. You press on that big brake lever (it’s big because you need the mechanical advantage for it to work) and that pulls the rod connected to a spinner on the top of the rear brake drum. The drum spins and applies the brake. When you let go, a spring on the drum spinner disengages the brake. You must get pretty good feel out of a direct mechanical system like this, and you’re not carrying any extra weight from a hydraulic system (fluid container, piston, pipes, caliper cylinders, etc), but I bet you’ve gotta have big calves to lock it up.
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