Sunday, November 13, 2016

New Pedals and Lights

I'm liking the Nishiki Maricopa road bike that I got a couple weeks ago but the pedals that came with it pretty muck suck. They are on the small size and not very grippy. So, after doing a lot of reading on, I decided to stick with platform pedals but ones that would be larger and grippier. I got a set of Wellgo MG-1 magnesium platform pedals this week and installed them today.

The reviews on Amazon were generally very favorable for the Wellgos, but mentioned that the painted versions tended to flake. So, I ordered the natural colored pedals. I tried them with sneakers and my Shimano cycling shoes, and they are definite improvement. The pins that protrude provide a nice grip on my shoes. I'll have to see how I like them compared to pedals with toe clips.

To make swapping the pedals easier I bought this Sunlite pedal wrench. A Crescent wrench would probably have worked, but the dedicated tool made it easier. E.g., it's about a foot long and gave me lots of leverage. The ends are slightly offset, which helps you from banging your knuckles.

Aside from the better pedals, the bike needed front and rear blinkies in case I get caught out near dusk. I put a Planet Bike Spok white light on the handlebar and a Stupidbright on the seatpost, pointing to the rear. (I picked up the Spok at REI while I already had the red light from a previous Amazon order.) Both mount with a stretchy rubber band and feel secure. I already did one ride with the taillight in place.

The reflectors will remain as passive backups.

Finally, I picked up a Blackburn Air Tower 4 floor pump on sale at my local bike shop last week. I needed a pump that would work with Presta valves. I have a Topeak Joe Blow floor pump from the 90s but it's setup for Schrader valves and the Presta adapter is long gone. This way I can have a pump setup for both, with no fidddling.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Nishiki Maricopa Bike

That deal for the '86 Nishiki Olympic road bike fell through. The seller kept discovering things wrong with the bike and offered me a discount or a refund. I chose a refund. Oh well.

So, today I bought this Nishiki Maricopa at Dick's:

It weighs about 24# in the small frame size that I bought. Frame and fork are 6061 aluminum. Three chainrings up front with 8 in back. The modern "brifter" shift levers are neat. I.e., the gear shifters are part of the brake levers.

I took it for a 6-1/4 mile shakedown on the Schuykill River Trail this afternoon. It rides well, much livelier than my Trek 820 mountain bike, even with narrow slicks.

The one upgrade I plan is to replace the pedals. They are pretty crappy and don't have toe clips (I'm not going to get clip-ins, but want toe clips). I'll add lights and probably a kickstand.

BTW, Nishiki is now a Dick's in-house brand. They bought the rights to the name for US distribution in 2010.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

New Bike on the Way, and a Ride

Since getting back into cycling a few months ago, I've been kicking myself for putting my old Nishiki road bike out by the curb last year. Although my Trek 820 mountain bike with 1.5" wide slicks is good for the local multi-use paths, even Forbidden Drive, a road bike would allow me to ride further and faster. So, I started looking around on Craigslist and eBay for older road bikes with steel frames.

Lo and behold, after a couple weeks of looking, this popped up on eBay:

(Picture from the eBay auction.)

It's a mid-80s (probably an '86) Nishiki Olympic with the same frame size and color scheme of my HS graduation present. The Mavic wheelset isn't original, however. After a few minutes hemming and hawing, I bought it.

The 1986 Nishiki Olympic was a 4130 chrome-moly steel framed bike with Araya aluminum wheels, Diacompe brakes, Shimano derailleurs, downtube shifters, and a Sugino VP crankset. Assuming the Mavics on this bike weigh about the same as the originals, it'll come in at about 23 pounds. It should be a fast bike. While riding my old one with a friend who's Trek 520 tourer was fitted with a cycle computer, he clocked us going about 50 MPH on one extended downhill run.

Unfortunately, I'm still waiting for it. I got a message from the seller who found that one of the crank arms was stripped, where the pedal is attached. He discovered this when he began to prep it for shipping. He offered to either knock $25 off the price, or replace it with an original part. I opted for the latter, so I'm hoping it'll ship early next week.

After I get it I plan to rewrap the handlebars, replace the toe clips (one is broken), and of course verify that the derailleurs and brakes work properly.

In the meantime, I picked up a couple items to help me maintain my family's bikes. First, a copy of Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance. In conjunction with YouTube videos, this should help me learn how to work on them. The second item was a Bikehand Pro Mechanic Bicycle Repair Rack Stand.

I tried out the repair stand for the first time this morning, before I went on a ride. I used it to hold the Trek while I cleaned the chain. It worked well. The stand feels fairly robust and folds up, so that it doesn't take up too much space in my shed.

After cleaning and lubing the chain, I went on my longest ride this year, 12.23 miles, at an average speed of 10.9 MPH and a max speed of 16.1 MPH. Considering I'm riding a mountain bike with aerodynamics slightly better than a brick, I'm happy.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Digital QRP with a Mac and SignaLink USB

Operating QRP PSK31 using a Mac, Fldigi, and a SignaLink USB interface. In the video I provide details on my antenna, physical connections between the radio and rig, and about configuring Fldigi.

More info on the antenna can be found in this older post.

Tap-O-Cap Reborn

It looks like the same folks who came out a couple years ago with a .22LR reloading tool set have introduced a tool to make #11 caps.

Thought I'd pass this along since every so often somebody brings up the old Tap-O-Cap. I have no connection with the company.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

WSPR on a Mac

I did some WSPR work out back today using my MacBook Pro, WSJT-X, Yaesu FT-817ND, SignalinkUSB, and my 20M vertical antenna.

Hopefully you find this useful.

Out of Sync Audio with .MOV Files on a Windows PC

I was editing a video using Windows Live Movie Maker on my Windows 7 PC today. I'd recorded an introductory clip using the built-in camera on my MacBook Pro, saved as a QuickTime .mov file. For some reason when viewing the file on the PC, the audio was out of sync with the video when viewed in WLMM.

A workaround was to convert the .mov file to .mp4 format using Handbrake. WLMM was then able to import the file with the audio in sync and I was able to finish editing the video.

(Yes, I'm primarly a Mac user but I like the user interface in WLMM better than iMovie. So, when I edit videos for my YouTube channel, I gravitate towards the PC. I need to find a better video editor for the Mac.)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Reenabling Back with the Backspace Key in Chrome

Chrome on my MacBook Pro was automatically updated this morning, after which I noticed that the backspace key no longer worked to go back a page. Apparently this was implemented a little while ago but didn't manifest itself on my machine until today. This matches the default behavior on Linux, which I detest, since I use backspace to return to a previous page constantly.

After some searching, I discovered that Google made the change to prevent people from accidentally deleting data in a form. Initially, there was no way to reenable the backspace key.

However, enough people bitched about the change to get Google to create an extension to restore the previous behaving. You can get it here.

A plea to developers: Please do not change the behavior of your program's user interface without giving the end user a choice.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

How to Remove the Cylinder and Side Plate of a Smith & Wesson Double Action Revolver

In this video I demonstrate how to properly remove the cylinder and side plate from a S&W revolver, including a discussion of the tools required. Using the proper technique when removing the side plate will prevent damage to the gun and preserve its value.

The demonstration piece is a S&W Model 10-5 chambered for the .38 Special cartridge.

The Weaver Deluxe Gunsmith Tool Kit I used in the video can be seen and purchased here.

Day Camp and Gear Discussion Video

On Friday I took a day trip up to the Conrad Weiser State Forest near Port Clinton, PA. In the video I demonstrate making a poncho lean-to shelter, discuss knife selection, provide a brief overview of the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag and Tarahumara pack, and make some coffee in an Esbit cookset.

I am trying to make and post more videos to my YouTube channel as I have time. Please hit the Like button and subscribe.