Thursday, 26 September 2013

ACOR Headset Review

ACOR Headset Review

ACOR Headset Review- Intro

I am build a new long tail cargo bike, and I needed a headest, so I bought the cheapest steel headest I could find on ebay.

The bearing ship dry, so you will need some grease. The construction is of steel, which is good, as if you don't have the proper tools for fitting the headset, you will less likly to dmagae it than you would with an alloy one.

ACOR Headset Review- Pictures

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ACOR Headest
Reviewed by Kermit Green on Spetember 26th 2013
Rating: 5

Otter Box Armor Review

Otter Box Armor Review

Otter Box Armor Review - Intro

Before I took an iphone holiday for a couple of years I used to ahve an otter box defender for my iphone 3. So when I recently decided to rejoined the 21st centuary, opted for an otter box again, but this time they had a more water proof offering the "Armor" series.

Otter Box Armor Review - Headphone Socket

At a little over 100g  this will almost double the weight of your iphone (4 in my case),  to around 250g. Which is pretty heavey.

The on off button on top of the case is quiet hard to push. But for your average beef cake this is not too much of a problem. The head phone port is pretty deep and so a lot of non apple headphones will not fit, I have some heavey duty headphones with the screw type jack that accpts a screw on adaptor, these will not fit.

Otter Box Armor Review - Opening and closing the case.

The otter boc armor has some very serious looking compression clips, for opening and closing the case. They are very stiff to operate but not too much of problem. Note the small open channel that run right of the way around the case, why is this here as it will only collect dust etc. . . . .

 Otter Box Armor Review - Rear of Case.

Opening with celar seal for camera lense and torch / flash lense. Rubbery finsih.

 Otter Box Armor Review - Bottom of Case.

Opening for microphone, and rubber flp for accessing recharge / data port. The flap on the armor with rubbery gromit is a good positive fit, and certainly feels like it should be water tight. 


 Again owing to the thick case material the port is recessed in quiet a deep opening meaning that no standard cahrges may not fit.



 Otter Box Armor - Front

The clear screen protector does not impeed use of the touch screen in the slightest, and does not go all "bubbly" owing to the static cling that used to plague the otter box defender I had for the ip3.

Otter Box Armor -Side

The volume controls are very firm to operate. The silent / non-silent switch is extremmly firm to operate, you have to push it so hard that it hurts your thumb!

Otter Box Armor - Conclusions

Various doubts have been cast on this case with regards to just how water proof it is. . . this is a big deal. I don't really want to submerge my phone I just want it to be able to keep out water if it gets wet in the outside pocket of a ruck sack or similar.

The case is large which is what I was expecting but I was not expecting it to be so heavey.

Controls are hevey to touch, but the screen protector is a vast improvement on previous models I have used.

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Otter Box Armor
Reviewed by Kermit Green on Sept 26 2013
Rating: 4.2

Friday, 20 September 2013

DIY Longtail Cargo Bike - Chapter 2

DIY Longtail Cargo Bike - Intro

Did you miss out on Chapter 1?

It has been 3 weeks since my last posts and I have learnt that:

  1. TIG welding is not for the faint hearted and perhaps( if you don't have £200 to spend on a HF TIG welder ) probably best left to the pros.
  2. ALWAYS wear gloves when doing metal work. A slipped hacksaw resulting me cutting my right hand middle finger to the bone (flakes of bone scrapped of on tubing), thank goodness I didn't hit any tendons.
  3. Working out the geometry of the frame even when most of it has been done for you already is still tricky for example figuring out the bottom bracket height took a few goes, and the seat tube had ended up leaning back too far for my liking, but you can't cut and re-weld too much especially with metal this thin.

 DIY Longtail Cargo Bike - Onwards

So having abandoned the TIG welder, I have just been cracking on with the gasless mig, which has resulted in some frighteningly ugly welding. Still hopefully it will function OK.

So here she is. Bag of spanners.

Welds are looking as terrible as ever.

I have used an ad-hoc 5 bar gate sort of design for the main tubing.

For the racking I am using some mild steel tubing which I have salvaged from a toy high chair! Will I die in a ball of flames. Watch this space.

One of the trickiest bit to do was joining the new rear half near the top of the seat tube. As you can see below there was a lug available to weld on too. The normal tubing will melt through when welding.

As you can see I have a fairly large overhang at the rear of the bike. I may add in some extra support for this, tubing down to the seat stays for example but as it is it is probably more than strong enough.

Despite lining up the frame as carefully as possible, at one point I noticed the front of the bike (ie the original frame) was way out of line with the rear segment. So I propped the bike on some logs and jumped up and down on top of it to straighten it out. Seems to have worked.

DIY Longtail Cargo Bike - What is next?

Next on the list is to put some foot rests on level with the chain stays, and then to check over all of the weld to make sure that they are finished off to the best of my ability. I may use some two part filler to go over the visible welds to spare my embarrassment.

I will need some extra support for the rear racking, attaching it to the centre tube may be enough.

As mentioned in chapter one I thing; I left too much chainstay attached to the bottom bracket, which has restricted my choice for tires, I have purchase some 2.00" CST tyres for testing, and they just fit. So no 2.35" Big Apples for me. boo hoo.

The cabling is going to be fun, but a standard brake cable is just about long enough to reach the rear brake. Not sure how well an rear mech is going to work running through 2 meters of outer!

Go to Chapter 3

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Friday, 13 September 2013

Giant TIG 150 Review

Giant TIG 150 Review - Intro

A month or so ago I decided I was going to build a DIY cargo bike, which would involve joining some thin tubing. I have owned a gas-less mig welder for a few years, but it has very little ampage control and so I opted to purchase a TIG welder. I had a budget of £0. So cheap was order of the day.

The cheapest TIG welder on ebay at the time was the Giant 150 TIG 150.

Giant TIG 150 - Side View

Giant TIG 150 Review - Build Quality

The Giant TIG 150 looks to be well made, it is not rattly and the the connectoprs fit well, and are a snug fit. Obviously this is only half of the story all of the gubbins in the box are important. . . I do not have a clue about those.

The Giant TIG 150 torch cosmetically looks well made, but the electrode comes loose during use resulting in the removal of the cermac cup and tightening of the holder. Hot easy when the torch is red hot!

Giant TIG 150 - Not a bad quality torch
The gas tap on the Giant TIG 150 torch is good and completly stops the flow of gas. 

Giant TIG 150 - You will need an adaptor.

 The Giant TIG 150 is supposed to run on a 20 Amp supply so you should run a lead from your cooker socket. With an adaptor such as the one shown. I have run this off a normal 13 Amp socket and it works fine, on a low setting (up to 90 amps on welder).

Giat TIG 150 - Comes with a WP - 17 torch.

A slight niggle is that the earth clmap is rather small and will not fit around larger work items. However, this is easily overcome by repositioning the clamps.

Giant TIG - 150 Clamp may not fit around larger items.

Giant TIG 150 - Repositioning May help.

Giant TIG 150 Review - What is in the Box

You get:
Giant TIG 150 - The Welder

Giant TIG 150 - Gubbins
 In the bag you get some acessories for the torch, various adaptors to hold various sizes of electrodes. 1.6, 2.0 and 2.4mm. Also three sizes of cup (pink things).

Giant TIG 150 - MMA / ARC electrode holder.
The kit comes with an electroide holder for ARC welding, which might come in handy.

A welding mask is also included.

Giant TIG 150 - Rear of Unit

 Giant TIG 150 Review - In Use

Before you start you will need to get some argon gas. I have done a price comparison on argon gas here. You will need to get a flow meter to. The fitting on the torch was the wrong size for the regulator I am using.

Now bear in mind that when I write this next bit I am a complete novice when it come to TIG welding.

Starting the arc, using the scratch start method is tricky especially as you can not see anything through the welding mask, if you have a auto darkening helmet then lucky you, this might make things easier.

The 1.6 mm ceriated electrode that comes with the giant TIG 150 is either poor quality or I was using too smaller cup size, even with 10 litres per minute of gas, the electrode kept melting. A replacement electrode lanthanated at 2.4mm lasts much better.

The picture below is probably around the 5th time I have used this welder, and I am sure that the welder would produce much better welds than this with a decent operator!

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Giant TIG 150 Review
Reviewed by Kermit Green on Sept 13th 2013
Rating: 3.7

Scratch Start TIG Electrode Problems

Scratch Start TIG Electrode Problems - Intro

After reading up on TIG welding for a couiple of weeks I finally got around to buying some pure argon and unwrapping the welder. I thought TIG welding would be a tricky process, but by opting for a scrath start machine I think I may have bitten of more than I can chew. Here are some of the problems I have encountered.

Scratch Start TIG Electrode Problems - Electrode Keeps Melting

I was expecting the tungsten Scratch Start TIG electrode to last for ages so after melting the whole thing over a series of small welds I was confused as to what I was doing wrong. After stricking an arc the tungsten Scratch Start TIG electrode would remain in good shape for 2 or 3 cm of weld and then after a fizzling noise the arc stops and you find the tungsten electriode has melted.

Accoridng to the numerous guides avaialable there are number of reasons this can happen, the first being that you gas flow is too low. It should be set betweeen 6 and 10 litres per minute. But even with gas flows of 10 litres per minute I was still see the tungsten melt.

This was helped by sawpping Scratch Start TIG electrode type from ceriated to lanthanated, and also incrasing eltrode diameter from 1.6mm to 2.4mm. I also swapped up a cup size for the gas lense, which I hoped would reduce reflected / radiated heat from the cup. Results - this has helped greatly.

Scratch Start TIG Electrode Problems - Electode keeps "balling up"

Everyone tells me it is imprtant to keep the Scratch Start TIG electrode tip sharp, but I just can't seem to make this happen. After sharpening the Scratch Start TIG electrode will last a few seconds before balling up on the tip, and I am back where I started. If anyone has a solution to this please post in the comments below.

Beginners Guide to Scrath Start TIG

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Thursday, 5 September 2013

Pure Argon Price Comparison

Pure Argon Price Comparison

Having purchased a cheap TIG welder on ebay, I was rather amazed to find that the pure argon welding gas was going to cost more than the welder! I think the general theory is that small disposable canisters are very expensive per litre, and so I have looked at a range of other stockists which are listed below. All of the below are rent free options. Some companies like BOC charge a monthly rental (!) on bottles which although cheaper for high volume users works out poorly for hobbyists etc. Prices are based on quotes from local suppliers in the Southwest UK.

Pure Argon - ALbee Weld

ALbee's 11 litre cylinder pressurised to 200 bar will give you approximately 2200 litres of uncompressed gas for an initial price of £168. This works out at a price of 7 pence a litre for the first bottle and with refills costing around £48 around 2 pence a litre for refills.

The ALbee cylinders also have an inbuilt regulator which will save you £25.

Pure Argon - HobbyWeld

Your first bottle of pure argon from hobby weld will cost you £72 bottle deposit and £48 for the gas. The 9 litre cylinder pressurised to 137 bar will hold 1340 litres of gas. This equates to 8 pence per litre for the first bottle and 4 pence per litre for refills.

Pure Argon - Disposable Cylinders

Each small disposable cylinder will hold around 60 litres of gas. With typical flow rates of around 6 litres/minute this will last for ten minutes. A single cylinder costs £14 on ebay. This works out at a price of 23 pence a litre.

Pure Argon - Southwest Gas

Available through various stockists. I was quoted £55 for a 10 litre bottle plus a £80 deposit. I do not know the fill pressure and so can not add this to the comparison.

Pure Argon - Adams Gas

Your first bottle of pure argon from adams gas it will cost you £55 bottle deposit and £120 for the gas. The 9 litre cylinder pressurised to 137 bar will hold 1340 litres of gas. This works out at a price of 13 pence per litre for the first bottle and 8 pence per litre for refills.


At 7 pence a litre for the first bottle and 2 pence a litre there after, ALbee weld pure argon would appear to be best value, you also get the free inbuilt regulator!

Hobby weld represents a slightly lower initial outlay assuming if you already have a regulator, but for a new start up like myself it would appear ALbee represent the best value.

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