Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Thorpy's Guide to Puncture Prevention

Thorpy's Guide to Puncture Prevention

It is quite annoying to have one's plans muddled by a puncture. Either you plan to ride, but can't because of puncture, or a ride is cut short by a puncture. Either way there is no sure fire way to prevent a puncture that will not impede slightly (or massively) on your riding pleasure. I should state that:

  • I am a fan of Shwalbe tires and most of the below relates to that brand. 
  • I have not covered tubeless systems. I know nothing about them.
  • My cycling is not sport based it is commuting, utility based cycling with a rural escapade thrown in on a regular basis.  
In conclusion if you are not fussy and just want to reduce puncture risk to minimum then use a sealant. If you are fussy and want the best options then use a V-Guard tire with a quality tube.  

Both will require some attention now and again, but it will be very infrequent, and will not spoil the enjoyment of your ride. 

Puncture Prevention - Tire Liners - NEVER

Awful (In my experience). 

The idea is that they provide a tough layer between the tire and the tube. They are normally made from a tough plastic. The problem is that they are fiddly to mount, often cause punctures and often do not stay in place whilst inside the tire.

Perhaps the worst of the above problems is the ability of the sharp edges of these plastic strip to cut in to the inner tube. So badly in fact that you will have to throw the tube away! I have only tried one brand (Zefal) and these should be avoided.

Puncture Prevention  - Extra Thick Tubes - SOMETIMES

For down hill racers, or very heavy riders riding low pressure tires over bumpy ground. 

Most inner tubes are made so as to keep air inside of them at pressure. Some tubes such as "thorn resistant" tubes or "down hill" tubes are made thicker than normal so as to give better puncture protection.

This may work against pinch flats (smashing in to a hard object causing a pinch between the rim and hard object) but I have found them to be little good against my main enemy, thorns. I still get plenty of punctures from thorns even with thick tubes.

Puncture Prevention - Puncture Proof Tires - OFTEN

These are often the perfect choice. A balance between puncture protection and performance. 

Now there are many options here, and I will deal with the best. Schwalbe offer some of their tires with V-Guard, this is a thin tough layer in the tire that does not alter the feel of the tire yet provides excellent puncture protection. These tire are very expensive, and there is limited choice, in terms of tread patterns etc.

A more common puncture protection choice is smart guard or kevlar guard, in both these case we see a squashy layer of rubber built in to the tire. A thorn (hawthorn / blackthorn) will go straight through a Kevlar guard tire. However, I have yet to see a thorn go through a smart guard (or green guard) tire which use 3mm - 5mm of rubber to protect the tube.

V Guard or Double Defense (DD) is the Best Option in my Experience

The problem with these green guard and smart guard tires is that they do affect the feel of the ride. Whilst riding green guard tires I notice a deadening of the ride which I do not like. The bike is noticeably harder to pedal .

Apart from "V-Guard" the best option for me in terms of choice and also cost is "Race Guard" this will not stop thorns, but is does stop all sorts of other sharps spiky things such as flints and stones. After 3 years my rear tire (Schwalbe Big Apple) is laced with cuts and "wounds" but examining the inside of tire shows no cuts reaching the inside of the tire.

Puncture Prevention - Sealant - OFTEN

A reasonably reliable choice for many, good for kids bikes, inexpensive and quick to implement. 

Sealants such as tire slime and OKO do work. They do seal holes made by thorns. However, they do not seal well when the thorn remains stuck in the tire, and can also clog the inner tube valve.

If a thorn remains stuck through the tire, the sealant will make a poor seal. The tire may take a few days to deflate, and will hold pressure if pumped up again long enough for most rides. But you will need to remove the thorn to get a good seal again. The easiest way to do this is to examine the outside of the tire until you find the "stub" of the thorn sticking out, then use pliers to pull it out.

I have ridden a bike for over year without having to remove the tube and tire. However I have had to extract thorns on 3 or 4 occasions. This can take almost as long as fixing a puncture if they are hard to find.

Puncture Prevention - Solid Tires & Solid Tubes - RARELY

Unlikely to be acceptable unless you performance requirements are low. 

I tried these many years ago and they were a disaster. They slip on the rim, have a terrible feel, and whilst these they will not get a puncture they will suck 30% of the enjoyment out of a ride. I guess they have there place in a zero maintenance, bike hire situation but if you own you bike, and enjoy riding it they have no real worth.

I slight deviation on these  is a solid inner tube, which is a ring of foam that you squash in to you tire. I have not used these but one would think they suffer similar characteristics to the solid tires, with the added complications of mounting them. Most also restrict the width of tires that you are able to use.

Puncture Prevention - Conclusions

Please find below recommendations:

Small Budget and Moderate Performance Requirements 

A large bottle of tire sealant can be had for £15 that will treat a whole families worth of bicycle tires. I would suggest OKO ATV Tire Sealant , as it comes with a steel valve removal tool (as apposed to flimsy plastic), is much cheaper than bike specific sealants and does the job. 

I use this in all my kids bikes, and my wife's bike, as they don't even notice it is there, and means when we set out for a ride, even if a tire is deflated, I can inflate it again and it will stay inflated for any length of ride. 

Higher Budget and Higher Performance Requirements 

"Race Guard" Tire with quality tube can be set up for around £25 a wheel. A "V-Guard Tire" with a quality tube can be set up for £40 - £50 a wheel. 

The later is a better choice, but you may not find a tire to suite, and the price is a little eye watering. 

Flood Risk Assessment London 

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Schwalbe 13F Inner Tube Review

Schwalbe 13F Inner Tube Review - Intro

A few years ago I purchased some Michelin C6 inner tubes to run with my Schwalbe Big Apples (26 x 2.35). They are a wide tire and I feel  that a wide tube is required. The Michelin C6 is a very thick walled down hill tube, but the valve had sheered off, so I have replaced with a Schwalbe AV 13F, which is a tube designed for use with wide tires.

Wiiiider than the aaavergage tube!
To be clear Schwalbe's Inner Tube Selector Tool , suggests I can use standard width or wide tubes.

Schwalbe 13F Inner Tube Review - First Impressions

The tube is very light for its size. The wall thickness is less than a typical tube, which means this tube can weigh just 185g. A little under double a regular tube. By comparison a down hill tube of the same diameter will weigh 300g +.

The rubber is very supple, and the valve is re-enforced with thicker materials in this area.

I have found these thicker tubes to offer no better protect against thorns than a normal thickness tube. Which leads me to think I will not get any more punctures using a light weight tube.

I I were in to extreme riding, then perhaps a pinch flat would be a problem. But for me that is unlikely.

Re-enforced valve tube interface

Schwalbe 13F Inner Tube Review - Do You Need a Wide Tube?

No this is the main question for me. I suppose the answer in a nutshell is NO, you do not need a wide tube. Many inner tubes offer wide ranges 1.5" to 2.5" for example, which would suite my tires.

But as with so many things bike, we are all of us tinkerers and experimenters in search or our version of perfection.

To my mind a standard high quality tube will be stretched to near its max width when used in a wider tire. Some questions this raises:

1 - Does this mean that the air pressure in the tire is pushing out against the elasticity of the inner tube, rather than the wall of the tire?

2 - Does this mean that the rubber held taught, is more prone to punctures?

3 - Does this mean that tube is less supple? Effecting rolling resistance?

For me these questions and the negligible worries they create are reduced by using a wide tube designed for wider tires. And for the sake of £3 extra per inner tube that is worth it for me.

Schwalbe 13F Inner Tube Review - Conclusions

So I don't really need this inner tube, I am not sure if it offers any advantages, but I feel more comfortable using it. Which in my book is worth something.

Environmental Permit Application London

Friday, 6 July 2018

Reducing Speed of Ebike

Reducing Speed of Ebike

There are many reasons why you might want to reduce speed of an ebike. 15mph is the max legal speed in the UK, so there is one reason. May be you would like to lower speed to match pedal gearing on a single speed bike. . . there is another. 

What I Did:

I attached a 1.2ohm resister to the signal wire of the throttle. There are three wires in a normal ebike throttle cable. They are nromally red, black and green. You need to solder a resistor inline with the green wire.

Addition of this resistor cut the top speed from ~25mph to ~10mph. Measured with GPS on flat road.

I added another 1.2ohm in parrallel to incrase speed, target being 15 mph. However a resistance of 0.6ohm ( 2 x 1.2ohm in parallel) put the speed right back up to 20mph+. 

Guess Work and Assumptions:

So from this we can assume that increasing resistatnce in the signal wire reduces speed. What resistance works on each bike is another question. Perhaps some bikes will require a higher resistivity. 

The perfect resistor for my bike would be between 0.6ohms and 1.2ohms.  But just 0.6ohms differnce can cause a 100% change in top speed, so it is a fine tuning process for sure. I have produced the below graph, which would indciate a resistance of 0.9 ohms would be about right for me.

The grapgh shows ohms required to give a percentage of original top speed. I know nothing about electronics. I would apprecaite pointers in comments if anyone knows something cool. 

5100 Series and 5300 Series processors in XW6600 and XW8600

5100 Series and 5300 Series processors in XW6600 and XW8600

Here wirtten are findings with regards to use of older processors in newer machines.

What I actually did:

I tried to use a 5335 xeon processor in a XW6600. It does not boot.

What I have assumed from this:

You cannot use an older proccessor from a XW8400 or XW6400 in the newer macines, the processors are not compatable. Which is a shame.

5100 Series and 5300 Series processors will not work in the XW8600 or XW6600. This despite them sharing FSB , socket type, manufactuer . . .even the coolers are interchangeable.

As a side note: Memeory is interchangeable between the newer and older models metioned here, for example Memeory from a XW8400 can be used in a XW6600.

So to conlude I suspect the following processors will NOT work in a XW8600 or XW6600:

  • Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor 5310/ 1.60 GHz,1066 MHz FSB
  • Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor 5320/ 1.86 GHz,1066 MHz FSB
  • Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor 5335/ 2.00 GHz,1333 MHz FSB
  • Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor 5345/ 2.33 GHz,1333 MHz FSB
  • Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor 5355/ 2.66 GHz,1333 MHz FSB
  • Quad -Core Intel® Xeon® Processor 5365/ 3.00 GHz,1333 MHz FSB
  •  Dual-Core Intel® Xeon® 5110/ 1.60 GHz, 4MB L2, 1066 MHz FSB
  • Dual-Core Intel® Xeon® 5120/ 1.86 GHz, 4MB L2, 1066 MHz FSB
  • Dual-ore Intel® Xeon® 5130/ 2.00 GHz, 4MB L2, 1333 MHz FSB
  • Dual-Core Intel® Xeon® 5140/ 2.33 GHz, 4MB L2, 1333 MHz FSB
  • Dual-Core Intel® Xeon® 5150/ 2.66 GHz, 4MB L2, 1333 MHz FSB
  • Dual-Core Intel® Xeon® 5160/ 3.00 GHz, 4MB L2, 1333 MHz FSB
  • Dual-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor 5365/ 3.00 GHz,1333 MHz FSB

Have fun!

Sunlight and Daylight Assessment

Monday, 25 June 2018

People's Votes March June 2018 - Pictures

People's Votes March June 2018 - Pictures

This a q quick post to share some images collected on the day. At around 1pm the march started to move off down Pall Mall. the end point of the march was Parliament Square.

Pall Mall was packed as far as the eye could see. Many were standing on railing or telephone boxes so as to get a better view of scene. 

A helicopter hovered above, whether this was a police helicopter or a TV chopper, I am not sure, but it followed the march over head for most of time we were there. 

I joined the march in Waterloo Place, in St Jame's. There was quiet a gathering here, waiting to join the march as it moved along Pall Mall. I walked up the steps from the Mall to get to Waterloo Place. 

Renew are a new-ish political party, which appose the government's current stance on Brexit. They had some well made banners etc. and were giving out free stickers. 

Many people on the march hand made placards which had some great slogans and quips. Some of the best are included here. 

At Churchill's Monument in parliment square, people held up a speech bubble for photo ops. which was quite effective. 

One man sat filming the march atop a telephone box. 

As we approached Parliament Square there was loud cheering and people clustered around the stage to hear the sepakers. 

This is very similar to the photo above, not sure why I left it in. 

As protesters passed Number 10 Downing Street people started to "boo" at one point close to 400 people were clustered around the gates of 10 downing street booing loudly. 

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Chapter 2

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Chapter 2 - Intro

In chapter 1 we saw me taking apart a 20 year old system I knew nothing about and trying to retrofit new components (which I knew nothing about), with some exciting but disastrous results.

Summary: Unless you spend some hours looking at you old and new parts and really understanding what things do then you will likely not succeed.

Cheap class D amplifier boards are quite reliable for building active portable speakers, where a casing is wood or plastic, and the amplifier is always attached to the speaker. I have done this 3 or 4 times with no problems. But building a amplifier, has proven far more vexing.

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Reusing an Old Power Supply

Even the title of this section underlines my ignorance. I measured output voltages from the old transformer only, and as such there were many unknowns. Although a power supply may supply 12V or 24V what current can it support?

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Speaker Terminals

Although there were eight wires leading to my 8 speaker terminals, some were bridged. This created a short circuit when I used them with my modern Class D amplifier which cannot (i liveable) have shared grounds. 

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Un-Painted Metal Cased

For a beginner a plastic or perhaps wooden case is more forgiving than a metal case. A dropped wire, or a miss-placed screw can create all sorts of problems. 

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Conclusion

If you really understand electronics then it may be possible to reuse some of the old components out of an old amplifier. The less you understand the more you should disassemble. 

For example a capacitor pulled from a boards will likley behave predictably as per specs printed on side. But. . . .

A module such as speaker terminals module with PCB may hide surprises that you can so without! 

So in ultimate summary reusing base components is less likely to get you in to trouble than trying to fit new modules in with older modules, they may not "play" nicely. 

Lastly I had some help with this project from folks over at DIY Audio Forum.  So thanks for that guys. Link to post below:

Other links not related to this post:

Flood Risk Reports

Environmental Permit Applications

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Numo S10 Review

Numo S10 Review - Intro

My iphone took a dip in the sea recently. Dead. £700 for a iphone X (£60 a month with Vodafone). So I took a punt on a Numo S10 for £100 from Amazon. Findings below:

Numo S10 Review - Screen

I can find no difference between the screen on this Numo S10 and my iPhone 6s. It is a clear screen, sensitive to the touch, I have no problems with it.
Screen is Perfectly Adequate in Size and Quality

Numo S10 Review - Buttons

There are volume buttons and a power button. . . and that it. They are stiff to operate but I like that. I should imagine it would annoy some people though. The rubbery feel is quite nice. I have no problems with the buttons on the S10. 

Buttons are Heavy but have a Quality Feel

Numo S10 Review - Performance

Snappy! Lag free Android experience, works A OK. Loads apps in a snap. The Numo S10 has a quad core processor, and 2GB of RAM. I haven't done any gaming on it but its seems fine. I have no problems with the performance on the Numo S10. 

Numo S10 Review - Port Covers / Flaps

Oh Numu! It was going sooooo well. These port flaps were obviously designed last thing on a Friday. There are 3 in total that cover:

  • Charging Port
  • SIM / SD Card Port
  • Ear Phone Port
The biggest faff is the charging port, it is hard to get the slim fit micro USB connector to fit in the port, without put the port cover / flap in the exact right position. Its very annoying. 

Add caption

Dual Sim or Sim & Micro SD . . . handy!

Deep Recess and Annoying Falp Make Plugging in Ear Phone  Bit Tricky

Charging. . . . 

. . . again Wrestle with the Flap / Cover in order to Plug in Cahrger

Numo S10 Review - Conclusions

A good value android phone, supposedly water proof, quick performer, excellent screen and build quality. . . apart from the port cover / ports flaps which let it down somewhat.

Would I recommend. . . not sure. It price is a big plus point.

The port flaps on an Otter Box Armour are fine to use despite being large and chunky. Here we have a nicley implemented phone, let down at the last minutes by overly small and fiddly port covers. 

Oh no Google Pay. . . which would have been handy. Lack of NFC assures this.

Close Up of Moulding

Pencil for Scale

Rear of Phone - I like the colour Orange!

Fire Prevention Plan

Waste Transfer Station Permit

Illustrator Devon

Monday, 14 May 2018

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Chapter 1 - Intro

I am not overly interested in electronics I find it fiddly and not very satisfying. However, to me throwing a large complicated piece of electronic equipment in the bin is a literally a crime. . .  or it soon will be. E Waste in Ghana

For someone with low skills such as myself the percentage of what can be upcycled / reused is fairly low. But it saves some waste at least. It may also save you some money, by re-using the case, power supply and connectors you are perhaps saving £50 / $100 on a DIY build. . . . . . I hope to complete this project for about £20 / $40. Bear in mind you can buy a cheaper amplifier for £30! But where is the fun / satisfaction in that I ask. . . . .

Watch Chapter 1 You Tube Video on Upcycling an Amplifier. 

I should point out that my first attempt at this build went horribly wrong. I did not understand the power supply and some of the other wiring. I fried all of my new circuits! So more rubbish for the scrap heap! So you know where you stand perhaps use a modern switching power supply. . . but then our goal to prevent waste is very much reduced. I am only really reusing the case, and a few connectors. Hardly worth the effort. 

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Chapter 1- What You Need

A minimum kit list of attempting this project is:

  • Voltmeter / Multi-meter
  • Soldering Iron
  • Screw Driver 
  • Wire
  • Replacement Circuit Board with Suitable Voltage

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Chapter 1 - Whats Inside?

The below amplifier is an old friend I bought this when I was 18 (over 20 yeas ago) and it has been used for countless parties, outdoor raves (linked with friends amplifiers), run on generators, used as a seat at bus stops. . . . . hence dent in lid! But alas it no longer works, and having checked the side I found the circuit board had a large crack running through it, and some of the leg have been torn from one of the large Class A Amplifiers.

WARNING: On the back of you amplifier there will likely be a message saying "Danger of Death" or "Risk of Electric Shock". This is there because there are bits inside that will kill you if you touch them. So if you do take the lid off you amplifier, that is what might happen. I am just explaining what I did. Only copy me if YOU choose to do so. 

So next I took off the lid, and had a look inside and found the following (click to enlarge):

You will note the large brown circuit board that cover most of the inside of this amplifier. I have no idea how to repair this, so will be replacing this with a small circuit board purchased from eBay. The boards look like this:

There are lots to choose from I will deal with which one later in this post. I am using the TPA3116. As I have some past experience with this board.

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Chapter 1 - Which Bits to Keep

So after removing all of the bits you do not need you will end up with this (click to enlarge):

I have removed the large heat sink because I am using a Class D Amplifier so  I will not need the large heat sink, if you are choosing a Class A or Class AB amplifier then it would be a bonus to reuse your heat sink. 

A good quality power supply will cost quite a lot, so the one you have is worth keeping. The power supply might be AC rather then DC current, check this with a multi meter. If it is Look out for the bridge rectifiers and keep those too so you can make DC current for new amplifier board! 

This power supply gives out multiple voltages, which is very handy. I suspect most amplifiers will have this arrangements as they will need to power low voltage lighting and higher voltage amplifier chips. The voltages from this supply are "non" standard. They are not 12, 24, 36 etc. they are 17, 27 43 etc. thye go up to 93V so risk of a shock there if I am not careful!

Also the RCA inputs and Output Terminals and any other input / out put parts might be worth keeping. There were also some large capacitors, which may come in handy for decoupling.  

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Chapter 1 - Watch a Video Summary

I have tried to summaries findings in Chapter 2. . . although for a full description of what went wrong perhaps head over to DIY Audio

Planning Consultants

Cargo Bike Blurb Community

Monday, 30 April 2018

Reasons to Switch from iOS to Android

Reasons to Switch from iOS to Android - Intro

OK! I have already made up mu mind to leave iOS, but here for those who are considering it is list of reasons why you might want too, and some reasons why it is probably easier then you think.

This comes from the perspective of a PC user who just wants a working phone, and does want to kneel on the door step of his local Apple Store in a trance like stupor every time they release a new model.

Reasons to Switch from iOS to Android - The Stick

I have been driven away from the iPhone and iOS by two events in the last year. . . . .

  1. The Slow Update Thing. . . . . I do not like to waste things. The thought of African kids picking apart my old electronics and dying early deaths weighs on my mind. The first thing I do when I get a new phone is put it in a bomb proof case. My iPhone 4S was in a otter box armour for it entire life, and was pristine. So you can imagine when Apple broke it (on purpose it seems) with an an update, I was a bit miffed. It was so laggy I just had to upgrade, and being a fool I went for and iPhone 6 which had. . . . . 
  2. The Battery Thing . . . . . . I did not update my phone this time around, which is hard work because Apple nags you to update, just like a spoilt child might nag you for the latest games console. So I expected long life, but alas my phone started cutting out at random intervals, when the battery was below 50%. Very annoying, often in the middle of calls, or when relying on navigation at a traffic junction. . . this is the battery problem Apple were trying to hide with their slow slow update. 
So that's it. I now have 2 bits of e-waste likely bound for India, or Africa because of Apple. I also paid £500 - £600 for these, bits of junk. I am not going back for more. 

Reasons to Switch from iOS to Android - The Carrot

I have been tempted by Android Phones for the following reasons . . . . 

  1. Waaaaaaay Cheaper . . . . You can get a cracking Android Phone for £200, you can get an OK one for £120. You can get a absolute rocket ship for £400. And we are still only half way to the price of last years iPhone. 
  2. Freeeeeedom. . . (of a sort) You can actually choose your OS version. Imagine that! Being able to install what ever software version you like on your phone (which you own). Amazing. Very Novel.
  3. Expand Memory Cheaply. . . Apple charge you £100+ for extra memory. Most android phones have a slot for a SD card, so you can add extra memory for £11.
  4. Take Music With You. . . . with iTunes and a few click you can export all your purchased music to MP3 and then put it on you new phone, often using the windows file system.
  5. Take Some Apps Too . . . . some apps are available on google play as well as iTunes, it is possible to transfer licenses on some, such as copilot GPS.
  6. Battery Life . . . . my latest phone lasts for 3 days between charges. Imagine that. 
  7. Knowledge of OS not specific to brand. Many many companies OS android OS, so once you have learnt to use it you can change manufacture without having to learn a new system.

Reasons to Switch from iOS to Android - Further Discussion

Apple used to make market leading phones. But others have now caught up. Save some money and buy and Android Phone. 

Thursday, 26 April 2018

VW Polo 9N 1.9 TDI or SDI - Power Steering Observations

VW Polo 9N 1.9 TDI or SDI - Power Steering Observations

The VW Polo 9N 1.9 TDI or SDI variant has a power steering pump that is located in a strange place.

To top up the fluid you will need to remove the battery (13mm socket set with extender) and also the battery tray (13mm socket with extender and perhaps knuckle).

The a battery tray is also partially attached to the air filter housing, so you will need to wrestle around that too. This video shows the location:

The pump is a 12v electric pump, and is accessed from underneath the car it looks like this:

In the video above you can only see the green cap poking up. The rest is tucked away and is accessed behind the bumper.

VW Polo 9N 1.9 TDI or SDI - Stiff / Lumpy Steering

If you have lumpy / stiff / intermittent power steering then it is likely that you have low power steering fluid levels. You should top up your power steering fluid level. BUT. . .before you do have a look under the car, is there oil dribbling out near the power steering rack. You may have a leak.

If you do have a leak you could either take it to the garage, and pay them £400 for a new rack, or you can use some power steering sealant. I have used the "Lucas" branded stuff and it is good. It gets consistently good reviews by everybody that uses it.

VW Polo 9N 1.9 TDI or SDI - Without Power Steering

I am a fit, well fed, 6ft tall man, who liked wrestling alligators (made up that last part) the steering in a vw polo is reeeeally heavy without power steering. Much much heavier than an old car designed without power steering.Forums are full of storey of people installing manual racks and then going back to power steering.

Environmental Permit Applications  

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Can You Jump Start a Car with a Motor Bike?

Can You Jump Start a Car with a Motor Bike? 

This is a common question on the web, with lots of dissipated information between you tube, forums and product reviews. So I have tried to summarise here.

In short this will work if you have a large bike and a small car. You will not be able to jump start a pick up truck with a scooter.

Its all about amps (CCA). A motor bike battery of any size will likely provide a maximum of 300 amps, but more often will be 200 amps.

A car will need 200 amps as a minimum, so the larger your bike, hopefully the larger its battery, and the better luck you will have.

Damage to Either System

The main thing to watch here is voltage. Both system should be 12v otherwise you will damage teh lower voltage one. Bear in mind that most 12V system runs at 14 - 15V (which is confusing).

The only problem I can foresee is that if after you jump start the car, the jump leads are left attached for too long, causing the car's alternator to charge the bikes battery too quickly.

Case Study 1 - Jump Start a Large Pick Up with a 250cc Bike

PROBABLY NOT - This doesn't doesn't work. A large diesel engine will require 500 - 600 amps plus current to start, and a small motor cycle battery will not provide enough current.

Case Study 2 - Jump Start a Small Petrol Car (1.5l) with a Power Bike (900cc)

PROBABLY YES - This would likely work OK, as the two systems are more closely matched in terms of their current requirements at start up. 

A Note on Battery Chemistry

The above applies for all types of Lead Acid battery which are the norm in most bikes and cars. However some upgrade batteries for Motor Bikes use lithium technology. The graph below shows that  lithium batteries but out more amps for their size than lead acid equivalent. 

The (red) line above shows lithium performance, vs lead acid performance (blue). So we can see that whilst a small lead acid battery will not get above 300 amps, a lithium battery can supply up to 1000 amps. Which would be plenty for even a moderate diesel engine start up.

Illustrator Devon

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

8GB or 16GB of RAM for Heavy Multi Tasking

8GB or 16GB of RAM for Heavy Multi Tasking - Intro

RAM is fairly cheap and easy to install. But how much do you need for heavy multitasking?

8GB or 16GB of RAM for Heavy Multi Tasking - Observations

Prior to my upgrade I was running 4GB of RAM, but owing to 32 bit limitations of 3GB and two 500MB graphics cards, I can only see 2GB of available RAM in performance manager.

This 2GB of RAM was always maxed out, hovering around the 1.8GB mark most of the time during day to day use. I use a 4 monitor set up so can have a awful lot of stuff open.

I recently upgraded to a 64 bit system, and so now I can use more RAM. I have installed 16GB, but how much of this will get used.

Typically I have open:

  • 4 Browser Windows (3 or 4 Tabs Each)
  • 3 MS Word Windows
  • MS Outlook
  • >10 Large PDF Files
  • MS Publisher with lots of Photos
  • Modelling Software or,
  • Sketch Up or,
  • AutoCAD
So how much memory does all this stuff take up? Just 3.67GB:

Windows is actually using a lot more memory standby memory, if we look in resource monitor we can see only 1.4GB Free with around 11GB used in standby. Standby memory hold on to applications that have been closed, in case they are needed again, this will gradually "fill up" the longer you have your machine switched on and you open and close programs.

8GB or 16GB of RAM for Heavy Multi Tasking - Conclusion

8GB will almost certainly be plenty for heavy multitasking. Any more than 8GB and really you are looking at server amounts of memory that give no real benefit. 

Would I have bought 16GB of RAM knowing what I know now? Probably not. But its would still be tempting because the more available memory for standby the better. . . . and there in lies the rub.

As a note aside the best performance upgrade you can ever make (in my opinion) is a solid state drive SSD. Even a old, low spec computer will work twice as fast with an SSD.  

Monday, 26 February 2018

Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants

Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants  - Intro

For some a trip to a builders merchants may be a daunting prospect. There are a few things to consider before you go as they are not like other shops.

If you have ever been in a builders merchants like Jewson, Travis Perkins or Buildbase, you will notice that the prices (if they are labelled at all) are normally high. Unless you are looking at a special offer price, then you are likley looking at the list price.

Quick Guide 

Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - Ring for a Price

Most products have a List Price. The list price is a made up price that a builders merchants will put on a product hoping that somebody will pay it. The price you "can" pay for the product is often a lot lower.

So the key is to ring up and ask for a "quote" (price) on what you want before you go to the actual "shop". When you have a price, try to negotiate a lower one.

Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - "Better Price Please"

Prices are not fixed, you can try and get a better price. Some staff will do this straight away because they are nice people, others are too lazy or do not care if you pay more.

The conversation might go like this:

You: "Hello could I have a price for 100 concrete blocks please"

Builders Merchant: "We can do those for 75 pence each"

You: "Is that your best price please?"

Builders Merchant "The best we can do is 69 pence a block"

You: "I will be getting some prices elsewhere so is this really your best price?"

Builders Merchants: "Yes" or "we could do them for 68 pence a block"

It is important to do this for everything you intend to buy. If you are building a wall for example, get prices for sand . . . cement. . . even a trowel and bucket before you go to the shop. EVEN get a price for a role of string. . . otherwise you might pay £6 for it.

Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - Get Price from Two Companies

Jewson (by example) might offer your concrete blocks (best price) for 68 pence each. If you then ring up Travis Perkins (by example) and say that Jewson will do them for 68 pence then they will either say:

  1. "Thats a really good price we can't match that"
  2. "We can do them for 65 pence"
You can even then go back to Jewson with the new lower price from Travis Perkins and see if they will beter it. In short it is very time consuming so it is best to email list to each Builders Merchants.

Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - Delivery

After you have your best price, ask for free delivery. This is an added bonus that is nearly always included for fairly large orders. 

Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - Get the Quote in Writing

It is very important that you get the price or quote in writing. If you just talk to somebody over the phone, then that is not good enough. You may not get that price when you pay! Which would be annoying.

Also if you have a credit account (see notes below) then you will not pay for maybe a month, by which point you will need you email to check the bill or invoice, against your quote. 

Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - Check Price

If you are paying cash or card on the day then then obviously check the price as you normally would. But if you pay by invoice then make sure when the invoice arrives (may be 2 weeks after receiving the goods) that you check the prices. They sometimes may have doubled! And you will be very glad you have your quote in writing (email). 

Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - Credit Accounts

Where things really fall apart is the accounting. You might think a credit account is a handy thing to have, but you will be harassed (record is 8 emails and 2 calls over 10 working day period) by their "partner" credit management companies, to pay the bills pretty much from the word go. Even for small bills under £100. . . 

Personally I try to make money by actually working and doing things, not skivvying around trying please somebody in a call centre. 

Jewson for example will not email invoices to you so you can check them easily, instead its masses of paper, or some inconvenient online portal where you can log on (yes another password to remember) to view them.

Getting the Best Price at a Builders Merchants - Conclusion

For large orders a builders merchants can save you a lot of money. However, these guys make buying something time consuming. This may be worth it for large order but for small bits and bobs, you may prefer to  go to B&Q or Homebase. 

Always look out for special offers in Homebase or B&Q, they are often cheaper than a Builders Merchants.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Does Microsoft Office USe Multiple Cores?

Does Microsoft Office Use Multiple Cores?

Having recently upgraded from a 4 core to 8 core system, I am wondering how well access (by example) uses multiple cores.

So whilst transferring a 65,0000 entry access database to excel, I have observed the below CPU behaviour.

So besides showing I need more memory, the performance monitor shows that work load is spread over 4 cores, possibly 5.

Changing priority of the process does not change this spread. A lot of people say that you don't need more than 4 cores unless you are doing crazy rendering or editing. They are probably right!

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Monday, 19 February 2018

Scythe SY1225SL12L 120mm Review

Scythe SY1225SL12L 120mm Review - Intro

Around 2 years ago I decided to make my PC quieter by using 2 Scythe SY1225SL12L 120mm Fans to replace the main chassi fan and also to replace 2 smaller CPU cooler fans.

Very Normal Looking

I run a HP XW8400 with two dual core processors, with thermal output of 60W a piece. This arrangement worked well for 2 years. I occasionally run CPU intensive models, the rest of the time its just multitasking and PDF making.

Scythe SY1225SL12L 120mm Review - Noise Levels

The fan is almost silent run at 12V this fan spins at 800 rpm. It is so quiet you have to listen hard even to hear it. It is quieter than the Arctic Cooling F12. But the air flow is lower. . . . regardless of specs, you do not feel much air going through case with these fans. After a switch back to Artic Cooling F12 there was a notable draft going through the case.

Cobwebs - The BAdge of Long Service

Scythe SY1225SL12L 120mm Review - Cooling

As mentioned above one of these Scythe SY1225SL12L will adequately cool 2 60W processors under light use. It will not cool 2 x 120W processors. I recently upgraded to 2 quad cores and even at idle the fan could not dissipate that much heat.

Scythe SY1225SL12L 120mm Review - Conclusion

The Scythe SY1225SL12L is a well made, excellent value fan, which is virtually silent. It is a great options for those wishing to build a nearly silent PC.

0.03A - Very Small Power Consumption

The fan is quite partly because of the design of the thing, but mostly because it spins a lot slower than most fans. As it spins slower it moves less air. If you are using over a 100W processor then chances are you will need more air flow, even when run on 12V.

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Friday, 2 February 2018

Reinforced Retaining Wall

Reinforced Retaining Wall - Intro 

This a a quick post to show some pictures of a reinforced retaining wall, along with a little non technical description, along the way.

A retaining wall is generally a wall you would build to avoid having a steep slope, or where you want to have a change in ground levels without a slope. Opting for a step instead. Retaining walls can be just a few feet high, or many meters.

Reinforced Retaining Wall - Basic Concept

If you were to stand a domino on its end, it could be easily pushed over. If however, you were to super glue the domino to a heavy table, it would a a lot harder to push over. Provided the glue were strong enough you would have to tip the table over to get the domino to topple.

In the same sense a concrete wall, can be easily pushed over by heavy soil pushing against it from one side, so we must attached the concrete wall to something heavy to stop it moving.

So we anchor the concrete block wall to a concrete slab. This is done by setting steel bars in the concrete footing, as shown above. The soil will try to push the wall, but with the weight of footing and the soil resting on top of the footing it will not move (providing the soil under the footing is not too squishy - a geotechnical investigation would determine this).

It is also important to let the ground water drain out from behind the wall. Gaps or pipes must be included to allow this.

Reinforced Retaining Wall - Case Study

In the below picture you can see the footing for the retaining wall has been cast, and the steel bars (rebar) are left poking up, ready for the wall to be attached to.

Next up the block wall is built up around the rebar. The block are hollow as they will be filled with concrete at a later date. Another option would be to build a wooden mould (shuttering) around the rebar and pour concrete in to the mould to make  wall.

As the wall is built horizontal bars are added, these are tied with thin wire to the vertical bars to keep them in place.

You can see here how the wall is built to one side of the footing. This helps keep the wall stable, as it will be loaded from (in this picture) the left hand side.

You can see more clearly here the thin wire sued to hold the bars in place prior to pouring the concrete.

On a very long wall such as this one you will need to have expansion gaps, these are breaks in the wall filled with squashy (compressible) material that allow the wall the  expand and shrink when it get hotter and colder.

Reinforced Retaining Wall - A Simple DIY Design

This retaining wall as pictured was likley designed by an engineer. And it is next to a railway so it is a very high quality, probably over specified retaining wall. 

For DIY purposes retaining walls can be built without reinforcement, from normal concrete blocks sometimes without any footings. But drainage is still very important. 

A method I have tried is a a thin strip footing topped with a concrete block wall. The blocks are laid on there side, and can be sloped gently back towards higher ground. If you do slope the wall back fill as you go. Gently pack the soil behind the wall. Every 4 or 5 block insert a length of 50mm drainage pipe between the blocks to allow of drainage. 

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Shimano V Brake Pads / Shoes / Blocks Compared

Shimano V Brake Pads / Shoes / Blocks Compared - Intro

Shimano make  V Brake Pads / Shoes / Blocks with a number of different compounds. This compound can be softer of harder for example to suite different rim types. Each Pad / Shoe / Block, has its own model number so you can find out which you prefer.

Shimano V Brake Pads / Shoes / Blocks Compared - Threaded 

The Below Pads have a Threaded Fitting


70mm - Threaded Type - Performs especially well in wet conditions and may pass DIN standards. Gives off less noise, but the pad is heavier, faster rim wear and tends to fade.

M70T4 & M70W

70mm  - Threaded Type - Only for side wall machined rims. Performs especially well in wet conditions and may pass DIN standard. Tend to be low noise, low rim wear and fade.

S70T & S65T

60mm or 70mm - Performs well in dry conditions and tends to be low noise. Wears in muddy conditions

Shimano V Brake Pads / Shoes / Blocks Compared  - Un-Threaded

The below pads have an UN-Threaded Fitting


70mm - Performs especially well in wet conditions and may pass DIN standards. Gives off less noise, but the pad is heavier, faster rim wear and tends to fade.

M65T & M55T

65mm & 55mm - Un-Threaded - Performs especially well in wet conditions and may pass DIN standards. Faster rim wear and tends to fade.

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