New Car

The Probe is dying… I’ve been spending too much recently to keep it going, so I’ve traded it in for something a bit more family friendly.
Ford Mondeo (not quite that model, as it’s got a manual box), which is 5 years old with 50,000 miles on it.
Hopefully this will mean lower maintenance costs for a while, but still be as much, or even more fun to drive as the Probe, but of course I’ve still got the bike for big fun.

TomTom again


I turned the TomTom back on in navigation mode this morning, and it had lost all my preferences – including the pairing to the hands free kit.

I’m back to using the Garmin for wardriving until the blutooth gps stuff is a little better sorted – at least I’ve got that option for now, and at least I can use the naviagation at the same time.

It seemed too good to be true when it was as easy as it first appeared.

TomTom as a Bluetooth GPS

I was chatting with Steve Kingston earlier today, and it came up that he had managed to hack his TomTom Go to deliver NMEA GPS data through bluetooth to his Mac laptop. I’ve currently got 2 GPS receivers in the car – one in the TomTom for directions, and the second wired to a serial port on the laptop for when I’m wardriving and doing other GPS related stuff on the laptop.

I was only thinking the other day how much nicer it would be to be able to connect to the TomTom through bluetooth, 1. it would get rid of a gadget in the car, and 2. it would get rid of the cable connection to the laptop.

So I took a look at Steve’s post and Roberto Piola’s site and managed to get it working. The only gripe I have is that when you use the TomTom in Bluetooth GPS mode, you lose all the route finding functionality – basically you just get a black screen with a few status lines. You can’t have everything at once, and I’ll take a look at some of the scripts and see if it’s possible to run this in the background while the navigation continues. Oh, and the fact that you have to hard-reset to get out of the application – just leaves a little to be desired.

Wellies again

This will be the last welly post for a while, but we’ve just had some more nice press coverage in the Times Good University Guide – You can look at the pdf of the two page spread here.

The photo was taken by a very nice freelancer called Tim Cuff who has a gallery of six different photos which you can purchase if you feel so inclined.

I do like the magic levitating wellies.

Wellies again

It’s been a frantic few days, mainly getting the embedded assembly language debugged on the welly wanger.
This afternoon, we transported it down to the department, and doing some testing on a grassy area outside, then the weather broke.

I moved the car next to the machine, so that I could keep the laptop dry whilst keeping firing, which we did for a short while, and we were achieving reasonable distances – I have records of over 40 metres on some shots with plenty of power to spare. The crosswinds were quite gruesome, and we nearly lost a welly a couple of times, but Tom managed to recover them every time.

The the rain really started, and we were gratful for the tarpaulins that I’d bought last weekend, as evidenced by the photo. album361/DSC_1459.jpg

We had a couple of problems – one of the motor solenoids came loose and shorted out against the chassis, causing it to activate unexpectecly. Then, as the rain started to ease, we were doing a last couple of tests, and the motor released some “magic blue smoke” – if we don’t have a big motor, we don’t have a machine, and it looked like ours was dead – nothing electrical works after the “magic blue smoke” is released.

We took the motor back to Ians, and found the problem – probably due to us runnning it at 24V we had overheated the main supply wire inside the motor case, melted the insulation, and it had shorted to the case. We spent an hour or so rebuilding the connections, and tested the motor – it works off load – we just have to re-install it tomorrow before driving down there.

Travelling tomorrow, competing Wednesday, then holiday for a few days.

Welly Wanger – new photos

Look in the album that houses the following photo for new pictures of the machine out in the big wide world…


I’m almost starting to believe it now.

There’s a piece in The Daily Post today about it as well – I’ll try to get a copy and scan it for the gallery.

France Photos

Well, I have finally got up all of the photos that I managed to take whilst in France. 2006france/DSC_1241.jpg (Click on the picture and it takes you to one of the photos in the album – there are about 90 photos there.)

Some are badly exposed because of the problems with the exposure mechanism in the D70, which is about to be posted off to Nikon UK for free repair.
I will write more about the trip later.

Murphy’s law

Well, I go off to France on the bike for a week, and what do you know, we have a thunderstorm, a power cut, and although I upgraded the server so that it comes up clean after a power cut, I forgot to set the BIOS to power on when power returns, so the server was offline for pretty much the whole of my trip.
I got back to Aberystwyth earlier today, and have just been in to switch the machine back on, and have remembered to change that BIOS setting and save it to CMOS so that it should come back up automatically again in the future.

Now I can upload some of the photos I managed to take with the D70 before it came down with the dreaded “flashing green light of death” – a support call to Nikon customer services is in order first thing Monday morning for a return authorisation.

I almost thought that I’d have no photos, as the CF card reader that we have at home doesn’t appear to work very happily with MacOS, and it corrupted all the photos that it brought across, so I ended up having to import them on Suzy’s windows laptop and put them onto the file server, and get them across to the Mac that way.

The journey home

Saturday morning, and I have to get the chain fixed. I phone Fowlers, and they almost laugh at the idea that I want a chain fitting – they’ve got no space for about a month in their workshop. They do give me a couple of other places I could try though – the first of which offers me a week on Monday, so I phone M R Motorcycles. “Sure, bring it down – we’ve got one on the ramp, but if you’re here in about an hour, we’ll put it straight on” That’s what I call service – I pop down and good as their word as soon as I pull up outside the mechanic wheels it stright in.
The front sprocket I’ve got on there is non standard – it’s a 15 point, and the standard is 14 – I have a 15 put back on, it makes touring easier – gives slightly longer legs between gears, the GSX1100 is renowned for having it’s ratios set too close together. The chain that is taken off is 120 link – and they’ve only got the standard 118 link in – not sure if that’ll fit with the larger front sprocket – I might have to go for the 14 after all, but it goes on fine, and my wallet is £166 lighter. They also had a lovely Norton Commando 850 in there for four grand, but I don’t think tha Suzy would ever forgive me.

Back to Suzy’s parents for some lunch, and the bike feels so much better for the new chain – the old one had started to wear itself against the swinging arm – the tyre will wait until I get back to Aber and Cambrian Tyres.

It’s tough getting back on the bike – I’m aching, and it’s the last leg, less than two hundred miles back home. Back on the M4, then as I turn off onto the A470 I see a brand new Ferrari at the lights in front of me. Now the GSX has a new chain on it, and I’ve filled the oil up again – this guy just can’t out accelerate me – I’m sure that if he kept the hammer down he would have got away easily as his top speed would be better than I could manage on the bike, but I can still do 0-60 in under 3 seconds, and I don’t care what car you have it simply can’t compete with that type of acceleration. He gets to Merthyr and turns off – I carry on over the Beacons, and stop at the biker caff on just after the summit – if you’ve ever been over the Brecon Beacons on the A470, you know where I mean – the big layby on the corner. A mug of good caff tea, and a natter with some guys up from Cardiff for a day out, and I’m back on the road home again.

Boy it’s good to be home, now where shall I go next year… I’ve learned a lot about touring on a bike – mainly take a couple of days off after a thousand miles riding, and take a mate or two with you – if anyone want’s to tour for a week or two next year, then drop me a line…