Monday 4 December 2023

eBike Problem Resolved

At the risk of repeating myself I'll explain how the bike brake system problem has been resolved.

The brake system has a function where the controller cuts power to the motor when the brakes are applied.  This makes sense as you wouldn't want the motor to continue applying power whilst you are applying the brakes.  The origin 'cut-off' system consisted of a supplied sensor being glued to the brake lever and magnets glued to the body of the brake.  When the brake is applied the lever moves the sensor away from the magnet which breaks the magnetic field activating the power cut-off to the motor.  The problem with this setup was the sensors or magnets kept separating from the bike.

Roll the clock forward two years and a manufacturer has developed a brake mechanism where the sensor and magnet are integral to the mechanism.  This seemed a good solution and for a minimal price I purchased a pair of their brake levers.  However on connecting them I found the system didn't work.  The physical brake application worked, but the sensors didn't. 

When I wrote to the supplier and explain the problem, along with photos, he offered to send me two patch leads for a nominal $1.  They arrived today.


Brake with integral sensor and the disconnected controller cable


A three pin connection


Patch lead fitted

I suspect the brake lever manufacturer got the pin connection wrong.  Once the problem was identified the patch leads were made correcting it.


Now when the brakes are applied the motor cuts out and a small red icon appears on the display.


Release the brakes and the icon disappears.   Yes, the bottom of the display is correct.  Yesterday I rode 76.1km in 2:50.  Today I'm feeling the effects Smile

Sunday 3 December 2023

Tom Jones has died!

No it wasn't Tom Jones the singer!  The death occurred after a very brief illness.  Despite some expensive medical treatment it was determined nothing further could be done resulting in him being  euthanised.

Our only granddaughter was devastated when she heard the news.  Her father explained this was part of the cycle of life.  Mia wanted to see Tom one last time.  She also wanted to make a cross for the grave      Although they had less than two years together it was apparently heart wrenching watching her grieve over the loss of Tom, one of her two naked guineapigs.

I'm still coming to terms with the thought I had a naked guineapig named after me!

Australia Post delivered a parcel today.  It's Sunday!!!  One assumes Australia Post have moved from 5 to 7 day deliveries pre Christmas.  The package contained the Insta360 camera Jan had ordered for me.


We have mutually agreed that at our age if we want something there is little point in delaying, unless there are financial implications.  Of course Jan isn't going to place an order until she can find the lowest price and the maximum number of discount codes.  The purchase price was somewhere below 25% the normal retail price.

The box contained (L to R)


  • USB C charging cable
  • Quick Start Guide (how to insert the battery, charging cable and turn it On/OFF)
  • Safety instructions (don't overcharge the battery)
  • Camera
  • Lens cleaning cloth
  • Waterproofing Instructions (how to seal and dry)
  • Soft Cover
  • Stickers

The camera had to be registered online in order to download the video production program.  Camera user instructions were minimal.  I'll need to start watching You Tube. 

Meanwhile Jan's Christmas gift is some type of fancy electrical appliance which isn't available in Australia.  It's coming from the UK.

Thursday 30 November 2023

What's This??

Today we received three parcels from Aliexpress.

The first was a replacement suction mount for the video camera.  It will be used to secure the camera to the inside of the vehicle windscreen.  Actually it's a replacement for one I lost misplaced a year ago.

The second parcel contained the camera clamp I'd ordered.  I want to mount the 4K video camera and gimbal on the bike and the original plastic mounting bracket wasn't up to the job.  The camera kept moving.  This mount is made from metal and appears to be far stronger.


I've discovered if I mount the camera directly to the bike handlebar then the vibration when riding results in shaking video footage.  I'm hoping this new clamp will allow me to secure the camera and gimbal to the handlebar and the gimbal will eliminate most of the vibration.


I need to do a test ride to both check that the clamp is sufficiently strong and that the gimbal removes the vibration.

The last parcel was a conundrum! 


It contained a small purple frame.  The label on the parcel had been overlayed on the original by the Perth based local courier company.  I could faintly see some of the detail on the original Chinese label and could see it was addressed to Jan.  But neither of us had ordered this item.  The only outstanding delivery from Aliexpress is the LED bulb for the Torch project.  Had the supplier got our order wrong?  We don't know!

Eventually I removed the purple item from it's packaging and it appears to be a miniature folding chair.  Something you might find in a dolls house! 

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Christmas is Delayed

It appears Christmas this year might be delayed or even cancelled.  It's all down to climate change; green energy; and the political impact of "greenies".   More on that later!

The poor passionfruit vine has now been transplanted in the garden for the fourth time.  It originated as a sucker on my brother's vine which he gave it to Jan.  On receiving it I planted the vine in a large black plastic pot.  Jan then decided the plastic pot wasn't a good idea and had me re-plant it in the ground against the back fence.  The vine started to grow and she realised it needed more room.  Out of the ground it came to be re-planted against the long fence in the swimming pool enclosure.  I subsequently strung long horizontal runs of stainless steel wire on the fence to provide support for our growing vine. 

Six months later we had the local council officer conduct the first of a three yearly pool safety inspection.  We were advised we couldn't grown anything against the fence as it might allow a small child access into the pool area from the adjoining property. 

The poor vine would need to be transplanted for a fourth time.  But where?

Jan decided the only available location was in the front garden on the boundary with our neighbour.  Over the last eight days I've been gradually constructing a frame for the vine.  It's been very hot so I've done this slowly in the evening to avoid the heat.  The posts and timber frame were completed on Monday.  Yesterday I installed the stainless steel wire before planting the vine it it's final location (I hope).


I made a serious mistake with the wire installation.  It was an "age thing!"  I forgot to wear leather gloves when handling stranded wire and only afterwards realised pulling on the wire numerous times to tension it had resulted in the wiring cutting my hand. 

In this next photo you can see why there may be a problem with Christmas this year!




Friday 24 November 2023

Hot and Solar Review

No blog update for a week.  It has been so hot we have scarcely left the house preferring quietly sit in an air conditioned room.  Yesterday the mercury reached 40+C and today is only slightly cooler.  Apparently this is the hottest November in Perth since records started being kept! 

Not wanting to work outside I've been patiently waiting for a few purchases to arrive from Aliexpress.  Today the bike mobile phone holder arrived.


It came disassembled and without instructions.  Fortunately assembly wasn't too difficult.  It's all metal construction and appears to be well made.


The only issue was the new mobile phone protective case.  The case makes the phone too thick to snuggly fit in the bike holder.  My concern was that the phone might bounce out of the holder.


The back of the phone case has an aluminium plate with a folding metal bracket which allows the phone to be propped at a 30deg viewing angle.  The other aluminium plate slides and covers the phone's rear camera lens.

It looked like the larger of the two plates was secured in each corner with a Torq screw.


That assumption proved to be incorrect.  They were fake screws made of the same "rubbery" material that the case is made from.  Using a razor knife I separated the plate from the case discovering it was glued on.


The case was then thin enough to fit into the bike phone holder


It's too hot to go for a bike ride and test the new holder.

Solar Review

Approximately every two years I complete a review of the cost of our home electricity for the previous two year period.  I'm specifically looking at two areas.  First;  is it possible to reduce our consumption?  Second; is a home battery a financially viable option?

The house has the maximum sized solar array and inverter permitted by State Regulations.  That is; a 6.6kW array and a 5kW inverter.

During daylight we usually generate more electricity than we consume selling the surplus back to the grid electricity provider.  We purchase electricity from the network during darkness.  The cost of purchasing electricity is 400% more per kW that they pay us for our surplus that we send back to the grid.

During the last two years our daily cost for electricity has been $2.15.  Of that $1.04 is the supply charge which is the daily cost of being connected to the network.

I have calculated we would require a 10kW battery to be independent of the the grid.  I estimate the cost of the battery and installation at $15,000.  The battery has a life of 10 years.

My calculations reveal if we installed a battery and remained connected to the grid then it would take 37 years to recover the cost of installing the battery.

Disconnecting from the grid would result in it taking 19 years to recover the cost of the battery.

Obviously installing a battery under the current network supply costs isn't a financial option.

The battery only becomes financially viable if our daily cost was to exceed $4.11.  Deducting the daily supply charge leaves $3.07.  Therefore, we would need to triple our current average daily consumption to make installation of a battery a viable option.  Alternatively, the cost of installing a 10kW battery would need to reduce to $7850. 

Meanwhile, Jan received the latest water bill.  The amount exceeded $200.  However we only consumed $22 of water.  The remainder was the supply charge and the cost of sewage disposal.  The public is being constantly told water is scarce and to conserve it.  Yet we pay more to dispose the sewage!  Surely we should be told to use the toilet less frequently?Smile  Actually the sewage charge is based on the council rates for the property rather than the number of people in the property or the amount of time the toilet is flushed.  Which just goes to prove people in authority believe the more affluent you are, the more effluent you produce! Smile

Thursday 16 November 2023

Food Wastage and the Torch Project

Last night's TV News had an article about the amount of food in fridges that gets discarded and how it might be utilised instead.  Jan wasn't particularly impressed as very little food gets discarded in this house.  If it's edible and surplus, then it tends to get get recycled.  Her latest two cakes are an example.

Jan baked me a lemon cake using one of the lemons from the tree in our front garden.  The other was for herself.  A coffee and cabbage cake with marmite icing.


As you can see from the above photo I'm powering through my lemon cake.  Jan is fortunate because I hate the taste of coffee!

Our home orchard is progressing.  The mulberry produced a large amount of fruit.  Most of which Jan ate whilst I was in Taiwan.   The apricot has three fruit.  Hopefully we will get them before the birds.  The tree was only planted 12 months ago and still very young.


Two years ago the mango tree was dying.  Jan nursed it back to health and today I noticed it was bearing several small fruit.


The Pink Lady apple tree has seven small apples and the Red Fuji apple has 12.  It's still too early for the peacherine  and plum trees to bear fruit. 

The postman delivered another component from Aliexpress for the torch project.  The Battery Management System (BMS) printed circuit board.


Some modifications were made to the pvc insert allowing it to fit.


The wiring was then completed


The board will be glued in place before being covered with duct tape.  But not before the led bulb arrives which will enable me to complete a test to ensure the modification works.

I've also been thinking about how the battery charger can be connected to the torch.  I found a large metal washer in one of my "that might be useful one day" containers which is an exact fit into the torch base replacing the spring.


I'm thinking it might be possible to run the positive and negative wires through the hole in the washer to a socket stored underneath it.  When the batteries require recharging the base and washer could be removed to gain access to the socket.  Might work…. time will tell!

Saturday 11 November 2023

Another Idea Moment

Until last night my Maglite torch conversion project involved making a sleeve out of timber.  The exterior of the sleeve would be the diameter of the inside of the torch and I would drill a hole through the length of the sleeve the same diameter as the lithium batteries.

Whilst sleeping last night I had another idea.   Instead of using timber perhaps I could use some of the various pvc pipe offcuts which I'd kept for one of those "you might need this one day" times.


I might be onto something with the idea.  Four small pieces were cut from the black reticulation hose and fitted onto the batteries


The blue piece of pvc pipe fits snuggly inside the torch and the white piece fits into the blue.  The batteries fit into the white section.


Then I remembered I had another box of electronic bits and pieces I might need one day.  In the box was a 240V Ac to 9V DC adapter


We have an old 12V lead acid battery which is dead and I decided to take it to the local recycling centre in the adjacent suburb.  As I was dropping it off in the battery section I noticed four power tool lithium batteries.  I popped them in the back of the vehicle.  It's not stealing…. This is a "recycling centre" and I'm recycling the batteries. Smile


After pulling the batteries apart I had 28 Li-on 18650 cells.  Each of them needs to be tested to establish which are "dead" and what is the storage capacity of the remainder.

I'm using my iMax tester which is powered by an old computer power supply which I have tricked into working by thinking it's connected to a computer



Each battery has to be charged, then discharged, before charging again.  The second charge will give me a readout of the capacity.  Doing all the batteries is likely to take 7-10 days.

Meanwhile Australia Post delivered the new bike cranks and pedal ordered from Aliexpress. 


I disassembled one of the pedals to check if it was adequately greased.  It was!  Each pedal has three bearings and is far superior to the cheap pedals that came with the bike.

Thursday 9 November 2023

Bike Issues

A week into my recent cycling trip I noticed an issue with the bike brakes.  As I wrote in an earlier post, the bike had been knocked off its stand outside a 7-Eleven.  This had placed strain on both the front hydraulic brake hose and the cable to the brake sensor.

The brake hoses are slightly too short as a result of me increasing the height of the stem using an extender.  I needed to extend the height because bending to reach the handlebars was hurting my back.  I had the brake hoses replaced in Hualien making them longer.  This left the problem with the rear brake sensor cable.

The brake sensor is part of the e-bike control system.  It consists of a brake sensor mounted on the body of the brake and a magnet glued onto the brake level.  When the brakes are not being applied the sensor and magnet are close together.  Applying the brake moves the magnet away from the sensor breaking the magnetic field.  The motor controller identifies the brake has been applied and cuts power to the motor until the brake lever is released.  The issue was with the sensor which had been pulled away from the brake body resulting in the motor controller thinking the brake was being applied.  Consequentially I would get no pedal assistance from the motor.  I attempted a temporary repair by taping the sensor in place.  However this didn't always work.

Time has moved on and the earlier Bafang e-bike brake sensor system has now been integrated into the body of the brake.  I asked Jan to order me a pair from Aliexpress whilst I was in Taiwan and they arrived today.


The magnet and sensor are now built into the brake.

Unfortunately I can't do the brake replacement as the bike is at the local bike shop.  As I was disassembling the bike in Taipei ready for boxing a number of ball bearings fell out of the lower fork headset.  On closer inspection I noticed the bearing was broken.  Both the upper and lower headset bearings require replacement and that is being completed by the shop.

Although I don't have the bike I can do some maintenance on the Shimano Alfine internally geared hub which is in the rear wheel.

The first step is to partially disassemble the hub laying out the parts in the order with which they will need to be reassembled


Whilst it is possible to disassemble the actual gears for cleaning I'm not going to do that as I have an alternative method


It looks clean.  and so did the interior of the hub housing


The gears went into a container of petrol.  Which was then placed in the ultrasonic cleaner


Where it started to bubble and fizz as the petrol was vibrated.  The next photo isn't blurred.  It's the vibration of the petrol


After 60 minutes the petrol had changed colour


Despite it's initial appearance the gear mechanism must have been dirty


After removing it from the petrol the gears were left to dry before reassembly and re-oiling the hub.

Before I forget.  I measured the 9V from the 240 to 9V converter and it is AC rather than the required DC.  I have another idea. My box of "might be needed one day" has a number of 240AC to 12DC power bricks.  I could relatively cheaply reduce the 12V to 9V.

And now a photo which tends to give credence to those rumours about English farmers.


Wednesday 8 November 2023

Fixing the Engage Monitoring System

Back in 2017 I installed an electrical consumption and solar input monitoring system for the house.  The system measured the electrical consumption of the house and the amount of solar power produced from our rooftop panels.  The system takes and records data every 5 seconds.

At the switchboard there are two battery powered Transmitters (three AA non rechargeable batteries in each).  The Transmitters wirelessly connect to a 'Hub' in the house which is connected by ethernet to the router.  The router then stores the collected data on 'The Cloud'

The problem I have identified is the non rechargeable batteries go flat and the battery terminals are corroding.


Transmitter corroded battery compartments

The plan is to disassemble the Transmitters fitting a positive and negative wire to the battery terminals in order to power them with an external supply


Rummaging through my box of old power bricks I've found one with the appropriate 240V AC input and correct DC output.

The converted Transmitters now look like this


There is a dual 240V socket beside the switchboard.  One socket is used by the irrigation controller and the other is spare.  Well not any longer as it will be the power supply for the Transmitters.

Now I need to check the 240V to 9V power brick for the torch conversion.  Mick (nb Oleanna) picked up on something I hadn't noticed.  The power brick is marked 9V AC rather than 9V DC.  I'm claiming the issue occurred because I'm older than Mick and therefore have worse eyesight. Smile