Category Archives: Daily Feed

It took a while to come up with a topic today

I know this is not a problem that most people face: I had a burning desire to write today but nothing to write about. I knew I wanted to write but all the things I could think of to write about were either too political for this blog, or something I have already covered and written about to death and I really don’t want to repeat myself any more. That’s what caused me to stop writing about bicycle wrecks. “Hit from behind, driver claimed to “not see” the cyclist”, “Right hook, driver claimed to “not see” the cyclist.” “Left cross, driver claimed to “not see” the cyclist.” Yeah, writing that or nearly that for 6 years solid is what finally did it.

So what should I write about then? Well how about something trivial but amusing? This little guy needs a name.

He (?) shakes it when the sun shines on his solar cell.

Seriously, I can’t keep calling him (?) my “dancing solar powered alien” or variations of that. I’m partial to “Fred” but I’m open to suggestions, like when I named Francis/es after the mule in the Donald O’Connell movie series based on a suggestion. I’m even open to alternative genders for the little saucer dancer, male, female, other, I don’t care, it’s a plastic toy. It can have any gender assigned to it and it will all be good.

In other things morning services have been shut down at my church for lack of attendance. It got to the point that it was the people putting on the service plus Mrs. the Poet and me. and a couple of times I was in both of the sets in that statement. So it just became unfeasible to keep having morning services for essentially two or less people. The fact that I have been laid up the last couple of weeks made that “or less” more explicit. This is just not enough people to make turning on the lights and turning the thermostat up financially feasible. Also I no longer have a ride to evening services, so that’s that until I get lights on the bike and can ride again.

And since I didn’t have anything to write about when I started I’m well and truly out of material now.

Let’s try again tomorrow, Opus the Unkillable

Learning the limitations of my new software

After I posted yesterday I found a tutorial for the OBD2 software I found for my Chromebook, and it turns out it won’t let me reprogram my ECU. What it will do is tell me error codes and what they mean, and clear out the error codes. Still unknown at this point if it will let me bypass stuff that was on the donor vehicle that isn’t on or needed for the hot rod.

Something else I learned was I will need to get a Windows laptop or tablet to run the reflashing programs available for my ECU. And a fairly recent one at that, the other working laptop I used to have was running Win98 and that wouldn’t cut it, the flashing program requires XP or higher. There are lots of used computer shops around here, I should be able to get one fairly cheap. Unfortunately Mrs. the Poet’s Android tablet will not work. There are apps that will remap ECUs from an Android tablet, but not the ECU in the 1996 Chrysler donor vehicle.

On other subjects I’m still counting the days until I can sell my blood plasma. Because I was testing an unapproved medication I have to wait longer than usual to make sure all of the drug is out of my system, roughly the second week in February instead of the last week in January. I think I can cope until then. The last check from the secret shopper gig was straight pay, no bonuses, so things are snug around Casa de El Poeta, but not tight yet.

And on that note I’m signing off. Y’all have yourselves a great Sunday tomorrow.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

And the garbage fire literally takes the stage today

I don’t know how closely you follow Twitter or the news but there were two garbage fires in DC today, the one that was “elected” by negative 2.8 million votes, and a Parks Service garbage can that was set on fire in front of the working press.

What does this have to do with this blog about bicycle safety and a guy turning junk and discount parts into a hot rod? Damnifiknow. And my spell checker says I spelled that portmanteau correctly. Excuse me a moment while I check to see if either of the cats is hugging a dog… Clint is sleeping in a chair and Clyde is somewhere outside, so … maaayyyyybee? And that was a media ref from the OG Ghostbusters in case you didn’t catch that.

Firmly taking my mind off that subject, I’m still debating trunk space in the mid-Bucket, as a compromise between usefulness as a daily driver and handling/acceleration as a race car. I have a trailer kit in the garage that I can use for trips to the grocery and hauling luggage on trips to longer than overnight stays, but do I want to go to those kinds of lengths just to get a few thousandths of a second quicker lap times on Solo and AutoX races? Especially when I will probably need the trailer for carrying support equipment and supplies for Solo events anyway as I will be using race-only tires and wheels for the SCCA events and very probably swapping springs and shocks at the track for both Goodguys AutoX and SCCA Solo events. On the other side I have to install a pickup bed to meet the rules for Goodguys anyway, it is not that big a deal to make it functional as a luggage or grocery carrier. The problem is I have to decide pretty early in the design phase for the rear clip if I make the pickup bed functional because many structural members will have to be moved to make room for the trunk and make the rear clip structurally sound. Mrs. the Poet says she doesn’t care because she’s not ever going to ride in a car that doesn’t have doors or a roof. So I could carry my stuff in the passenger side of the car except for the wheels and tires.

On the other thing, the retuning of the ECU to run E85, research has drawn a blank on how to increase fuel to compensate for the much higher amount of fuel needed to reach stoichiometric ratios while still being able to run 93 octane premium without doing a complete rebuild of the fueling system. If I want to just run E85 all the time I can change to a much bigger fuel pump and run more volume at a higher pressure and stay within the metering limits of the stock injectors, but switching back and forth requires knowing beforehand the exact ratio of ethanol to regular gas…

And I need to put this to bed and be thinking about the car some more.

PSA, Opus the Unkillable

I found a better alternative to the phone app/hardware

After I posted yesterday I did some idle googling looking to see what kind of apps are available for my laptop and found one that reads the output from the OBD2 port and lets me reprogram to bypass missing systems by permanently setting the input as valid. I have to buy a cable to connect my laptop to the car but otherwise I’m ready to go.

This way is better for a number of reasons: The screen on my laptop is easily 4 times the size of my phone, there is an actual physical keyboard instead of a touchscreen for input, and the battery on my laptop lasts a lot longer in continuous use than the battery in my phone. Oh the connector cable for the laptop is $0.99 less than the phone connector cable, that’s important, too.

Unfortunately there will be a learning curve for the software to make it log everything when an error triggers so I can see how that error affects the rest of the engine. That will affect the measures I take to correct it. Right now I have 3 choices in dealing with error codes: tell the computer everything is fine and ignore the input, kluge something up that makes the computer think whatever triggered the error never happened, or pull the system off the donor car and install it on the hot rod. The last one is only going to be used as a last resort.

And while I was trying to type the previous paragraph Clint decided it was time for lap-sitting which interrupted the typing for about 2 hours. Nothing is bleeding, I just had to move the seat back so he didn’t knock anything off the keyboard tray which moved said keyboard out of arm’s reach. But he’s cute and cuddly so it was OK.

Also today was the first day there was enough sun to make my little solar-powered dancing alien decoration move and temperatures high enough to open the doors and windows and air the house out a touch. I don’t know if there is a correlation but my foot felt better today than it has in ages. It still hurt some, but nowhere near as bad as it did Sunday. I think I will be able to get that adaptor tomorrow and pump up my bike tires soon.

And now I have other things that need to be done so I’ll finish this here.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

It’s just a dinky piece of brass that’s keeping me off the bike now

All I need to ride my bike now is to pump up the tires. All I need to pump up the tires is a small brass adapter that lets a Schrader pump fit a presta valve stem. All I need to get the presta adapter is to be able to walk the two miles to get to and from DART.

That’s it. All that is keeping me off my bike is the two miles separating origin from destination before/after using transit. And that I can barely get from the front door to the mailbox at the moment. Just walking to the kitchen from my office is A Pain. I’m not doing a “poor, pitiful me” here. I’m angry. What I’m angry about is the fact that a trip to the store is a 2 mile walk or more pretty much wherever I’m going, because this entire town is built around everyone driving everywhere in a car, for everything, and transit is kinda stuck wherever it will fit, not where it’s needed.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is some retail about 0.6 miles (1 km) from the house as the worm flies. There’s a Dollar General at that distance and also a C-Store slash gas station going a different route right next to a laundromat and donut shop, and about 0.8 miles to 2 more C-Stores/Gas Stations, a Family Dollar, and a couple of restaurants. But the round trip is still over a mile to anything. And that’s bad. Especially if the trip was to buy something heavy or bulky. That’s one reason why I have kept my ALICE ruck in good condition in case I need to grocery shopping and there’s nobody available to haul the stuff back while I can’t use Francis/es.

On to the Other Subject, the hot rod and talking to the computer after I do a Dr. Frankenstein and swap it out of the minivan and into the hot rod, where it will lose its mind. I did some googling and found there are many devices that will connect a cell phone to the computer to read and clear the codes and software that I can load to change the fuel/spark maps. I will need to add the SD card to my phone to load the software because it is a monster app, but that’s tons cheaper than the dedicated reader/writer hardware at the parts store. This part of the project just started looking a lot more do-able than it did at the beginning of the week. Now whether I’m going to be able to tell the computer just once that it is in a 1500 pound hot rod instead of a 3900 pound minivan, or if I will have to do that every time I have to start the car is a question yet to be answered. But the existence of the hardware and software at a price in my budget makes me feel better about the project.

I mean, 15 years ago whodathunkit? Connecting your phone to your car to fix the car? It would have been science fiction. But today it’s just hooking one computer to another computer to fix things that are controlled by the one computer. The facts that one computer is sometimes your phone and the other computer runs your car are incidental.

So, a rant about walkability and transit, and looking at the DIY wonder of diagnosing and repairing your car by using your cell phone. Lot of ground between those two subjects.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

While I was stuck in the house I did some reading

I was reading actual dead-tree format books on installing and calibrating a stand-alone EFI system. Now I’m bummed out. It is starting to look like my best bet is getting a scan tool and figuring out how to bypass the error codes that will pop up when the factory controller finds out it is no longer sitting in a 1996 Chrysler Town and Country minivan but something a lot less in terms of mass and systems. There is already one minor system down that’s causing the Check Engine light to come on, what is going to happen when almost everything in the car is disconnected? I mean seriously my car will have no climate control, no doors or windows to check to see if they are closed and locked, no alarms on the seatbelts, and pretty much no anything else that doesn’t directly contribute to making the car go or stop, and on the stop side none of the hardware used in controlling the antilock brakes either. I might have to use the factory dash to get working instruments on this thing (but I still want to use the fake AM radio for starting the engine).

Now why would I be all bent out of shape on this after reading some books? Because the books pointed out I’m going to be going into this with no baseline fuel or spark maps to load into my standalone engine controller and no information about the injector flow. They do say how to create those maps the way the OEMs do, there is just one stumbling block: I would need to rent a chassis dyno for as long as it would take to create those maps, which could easily cost as much as the rest of the car, one place advertises $179/hr, another $100/hr, and a third place advertises $150/hr. The place with the $179 rate has a flat rate $700 tune for a speed-density system (like the Megasquirt) and I don’t know if any of them could program a flex-fuel map that would let me refuel with 93 octane if E85 wasn’t available.

There are piggyback controllers that would let me remap the fuel and spark for E85 and also leave the original maps in place for fallback when E85 was not available. But I would still need to use a dyno to tune it accurately. I could just multiply by the difference in Stoichiometric ratios to get a ballpark figure for E85 and get pretty good performance, but that would still be leaving horsepower and fuel economy in the engine.

Well, it is late and I may have things to do in the morning. so bye! Opus the Unkillable

I did something to my foot, some more

Seriously I have injured my foot and can’t account for how I did it. The ball of my left foot is swollen and painful and sensitive to the touch to the point that I can hardly walk today. The fact that it’s on the same leg that got mangled in the wreck leads me to believe there is a connection, but I also believe correlation is not causation.

My working hypothesis for the moment is it might be a cumulative stress injury from all the walking I have been doing the last couple of months, and the fact that I tend to walk digitigrade on my left foot because of the length discrepancy. The heavy callus on the area is ample evidence to that fact. I had Mrs. the Poet take a look at the bottom of my foot and she commented it was hard for her to tell for sure how much was swelling and how much was callus without poking at it, which was painful as hell. But after poking a few times she pronounced it badly swollen and I used a new euphemism for swearing: “Dirty Words”. I mean can you think of a better euphemism for using dirty words than saying “Dirty Words” instead of dirty words?

Anywho, what this means is I am stuck in the house for a while until this gets better. Seriously, I can’t ride my bike until I fix my bike, I can’t fix my bike until I get to the bike store to get a good presta adapter, and I can’t get to the bike store until I can walk about a mile each way to cover the foot trips to and from transit and the bike store. Just getting to transit from Casa de El Poeta is a 0.42 mile trip to the closest stop, and then there is the 0.6 mile trip to the bike store from transit to factor in. Then the same thing all in reverse for the trip home. So I have to recover enough to make one trip to get the part so that I can recover some more. But first I have to recover enough to tolerate about 2 miles of walking. And since at the moment I’m having a hard time walking from my office to the bathroom I think that might be a couple of days.

So I have been spending a lot of time on the bed to keep my foot elevated which keeps the swelling down, reading on my phone. I do the blog from my laptop that requires me to sit up but as much as possible I do in bed. So time to shut this down and hobble off to bed.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

OK here are the pictures before and after

Before I go for my walk today I’m going to make a quick post with the pictures of how the steering arms fit after a little filing on the register bits. This first pic is the one I did last night after finishing my walk. Note that the bits fit flat against the machined spots they are supposed to fit flat against on both sides now.
See how snug they fit?
And this is the one I didn’t do yet. Notice that the peg part of the arm sits on top of the machined hole in the spindle. There is only a few thousandths of an inch interference there but it is enough to make the part unusable without modification.
So close, but yet so far.

The difference is about 3 hours of work, 2 of actual filing and another hour of letting my hand rest so I could control the file better. I have to admit the ravages of age are catching up to me. I used to be able to rough shape bike fenders by pinching them with my fingers, now I have to take frequent breaks just lightly using hand tools. And this is the fun bit for me, the tedious fiddly bits that nobody will see unless they know where to look and what to look for.

Now that that’s done I’m going to get dressed for outside and go for my walk. My books on how to control the EFI on the donor engine came today so I have reading materials that have to be read soon, and the bike pump is due in tomorrow so I can cover more territory out hunting check-ins on my phone game, and get exercise without killing my foot.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

That was easy, time consuming but easy

I feel accomplished today. I went for a walk and picked up something for Mrs. the Poet, then got some tools (files) from the hardware for working on the mid-bucket and the Mini Sprint-T, got a present for the B-Day party I was invited to on Saturday, and fitted one of the steering arms to the spindle all by 2100. I had to walk 4.2 miles to get all of the stuff done that I had to leave the house to do, and then spend about 2 hours filing tiny amounts of metal off the steering arm until it fit flat against the spindle registers. It’s a snug fit, almost an interference fit, but fit it does. The material is so hard that there were no actual filings, just a dark powder that got my hands dirty but didn’t actually spread anywhere. I used a mill bastard file that was designed for precision work by the captive brand for Lowe’s, Kobalt. It worked very well. Tomorrow I will take some pictures of the arm I didn’t work on and the one I did work on and show the difference in fit on the spindle.

I also used the walk to rack up check-ins on my phone game that pays me money to play. I hit my limit again. I may not be racking up the big points, but I’m still racking up points to get more gift cards. And then next month I start selling plasma to make up for the gigs I lost in 2016. So Yay! me.

PSA, Opus the Unkillable

Just chillin’

I need to go to the hardware and get a file or 3 to fix the steering arms so they fit the spindles, but right now my foot still hurts, so I’m sitting tight and just chilling and reading Twitter and web comics on separate devices. I prefer to use my phone for Twitter, and my laptop for webcomics, so until just now I was bouncing back and forth between the two like some kind of screen addict. Now I just have the laptop active while I do the blog post. The weather forecast is that tomorrow and Wednesday will be much warmer so I’ll do my walk then and get the files. Actually I’ll probably go to Harbor Freight on the bus and get a whole set of files. And I can also use these to make the Mini Sprint-T, files are useful tools.

So I just finished my walk to get the $$ for tomorrow’s shopping trip and it was about the same temp outside as it was in my office when I left, but now my foot hurts again. Tomorrow should be better.

PSA, Opus