Search all of my sites with Google

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Getting A Move On

I had another idea about how to mount the motor and drive the wheel, since I have had problems getting access to tools to try the first one, but I had to think about it for a long while to see if there was any stupidity involved, or any good reason not to try it. I thought of a couple of problems, but found a solution to one, and a temporary fix for the other, until I have access to a welder (and hopefully someone skilled at it's use).

It will put the drive back on the rear wheel, but still on a separate chain, on the *left* side, with a new sprocket mounted to the left side of the rear axle. That's what I need the welder for, but for now, I'm using JBWeld, which may be ok for tests, but I don't know that I could depend on it for very long, given the stress it will undergo.

The second problem I had with this way is that it would require me to physically pull the motor away from the drive socket to disengage it from the chain if I want to move the bike backwards, because the motor uses a worm gear inside, so will not turn at all when the chain runs in reverse (unless I *power* it in reverse, which the switch can do if I wire it up, since it's the window control out of the door).

The solution was to not use the bike-pedals for the sprocket mounting, but rather to use one of the junk bikes' rear wheel sprocket-and-axle assemblies, minus spokes and rim. When it's mounted backwards like I would need it to be in this case (to put the sprockets on the left side), it would make the ratchet inside the sprocket assembly work in the correct direction to let the chain move without the motor moving (otherwise not possible). This is the same thing it would have done when actually *in* the rear wheel that I was going to put on the front of the bike in place of the front wheel, in the original design, it's just going to be at the *motor* end of the chain now.

This would still give me bearings to rest the motor shaft & chain sprockets on, etc, and also give me the ratchet ability of the rear wheel so that I can still reverse the actual rear wheel without worrying about the motor.

So, now, I am using the rearwheel sprocket from the scooter's corpse, bolted to the former spoke mount on the right side of the above-mentioned former-wheel-axle to let the motor's gear mesh with it. It's just coincidence, but they do mesh just fine, and thus the motor can drive the scooter's sprocket, which drives the axle, which drives the sprockets on the left side of the axle, which drives the chain that then drives the sprocket JBWelded to the actual rear wheel axle, which drives the rear wheel and makes me go Vroom.

I hope. :-)

Because of the stuff off the scooter, I have enough parts I am testing out the theory of my alternate drivetrain, the one on the left side of the rear wheel, since I can't test the original design I came up with. I couldn't safely battery-weld the sprocket onto the bike's rear wheel, so I JBWelded it instead for the testing (it will still need to be permanently mounted if this works out); it ought to be hardened enough to remount the wheel on the bike tomorrow morning (it was applied around midday today), then usable by the next day, I'd guess. I still want to twist some good steel wire from the spokes to the sprocket's bolt holes where they line up in a couple of places to help absorb some of the torque/etc that is going to be generated by moving the thing with the chain, but I know it won't hold for all that long with just JBWeld, despite how hard that stuff gets. :-) This current idea still uses the window-crank motor off the Fort LTD, since that already has the reduction gearing built-in. I don't have a way to mount a gear onto the Kodak motors yet (they just have a partially-flat-sided smooth round shaft).

After the rear wheel is remounted, I have to determine the exact chain path and thus where I have to mount the motor, axle, and derailer/tensioner, then build brackets for each. If I'm lucky, I will be able to actually test drive it by Saturday, though I don't expect it to work the first time (probably need a total redesign once I figure out what stupidities not to do :-) ). I also will only be able to drive it directly from battery, as I have no controller built yet (and I can't fix the ScootNGo's, because they cleverly sanded off the markings on some parts, and others were burned too badly to tell). But at least it will be progress, which I am starting to need, with the job search and interviews happening recently.

Parts is Parts!

Since I had yesterday, today, and the rest of this week off, I biked down to Apache Reclamation to see what they had that might work for my purposes. There's a ton of stuff that probably would, but I didn't buy anything except a couple of DC motors that they had a whole bin of still in their wrappers (from Kodak, 1990 date code!), as experimental spares. I'd love to go back there again with a definite idea of what I need, measurements, etc, if I only could figure out exactly what that was. :-)

I also picked up a used ScootNGo electric from Deseret thrift store--unfortunately the motor smells and looks like it cooked at some point, and took several parts on it's controller with it (I wish I could have detected that smell before getting it; I might not have). However, it does have two working 12v batteries, about 15AH if I recall, so that'll help me get the test phase of the project going. Also has handlebar-mounted throttle, turnsignal switch, etc, all of which I can adapt to my bike. If I bought all the parts new that I can use off of it, it'd cost me about twice what the whole thing did, so it was worth it.

And Now I See!

Or rather, everyone can easily see me. While digging thru my boxes for other stuff, I found some jars of DayGlo paint I'd bought years and years ago at Hobby Bench on the clearance table, and decided it would be a good idea to make myself more visible. As a side effect, it also makes the bike junkier looking, thus potentially less of a theft target (though I've seen some pretty stupid stuff thieves choose to steal, so it might not matter much). It does make it pretty unique-looking, and highly visible, neither of which is a good thing for a theft target if they've got to ride away with the prize.

I deliberately did not use any particular care when painting it, as I only care that it is highly visible, not what it looks like, at least right now. I used bright yellow for as much of it as I could, till it ran out, then orange and red for the rest. If anyone ever hits me in daylight and then says they couldn't see me, I want to see their lens prescription--it better be so bad that they shouldn't even have a driver's license, because I think this bike can be seen from about 1/2 mile away now. At least. :-P

Seriously, it *has* already helped. I've had a number of cars that typically pass me in the morning on the way to work or the afternoon on the way home, which I easily recognize and am sure are the exact same ones, which before the paint job would pass so close to me I would be moved around by their air shockwaves, but now they (along with most others) move into the left lane where it exists, and pass as far to the left as possible in the same lane when there is only one. Also, people stopping for stop signs on the cross streets to my path would often not wait before, and I'd have to slam on my brakes to keep from hitting them as they went ahead anyway. Now, many many more of them wait till I'm past before going ahead (as they should per the law and safety reasons). I've even been thumbed-up by police and others for the "anti-collision paint job".

I'm still looking around for a really good deal on a roll of that reflective tape, which will help at night (I already have a brighter headlight than some motorcycles do, plus flashing taillights, and plans for more lighting I haven't had time/materials to build yet). Also, one of those vests like traffic control and construction people often wear, that is both DayGlo yellow with orange stripes, and has those reflective stripes on it in all directions.

I bought a new helmet (my other one recently had it's last impact that would let me trust it), and this time got an all-white one that I put some orange DayGlo stripes on. Again, I've gotta put my headlamp and backlight on it still, but it's very much more visible than the old one day or night.

Progress at last, after a fashion

Wow, it's been a while since I was able to put anything up. I got a part-time job at Petco that took a bit of my time, plus I've been spending more and more time trying to find a good-paying job to pay bills and rent with (the Petco job won't cut it for long, but it's better than nothing). I have been working on the bike project as I had time, just no real time to write it up coherently. Also, sadly, no time to draw it up, either.

First, a bit about cargo containers. I had been using the baskets you can see in the pics of my Columbia bike, the blue and white one. They work, but people can steal stuff out of them just by reaching in, since they have no lids (and even if they did, it's still just wire mesh, and have no security at all). Also, not weather proof, and can't hold small items without packaging them up first (which takes up valuable space and weight for just the packaging!). I've planned to do something about that for a while, but hadn't got round to it yet.

During the last few weeks, I did finally do something. I took the baskets off for now, and built a tube steel framework above the rear wheel like a regular cargo rack. It's made from the remains of an old computer desk (most of which I had already used to mount my window air-conditioner with early this summer). I have been collecting those rectangular plastic pails with lids that kitty litter comes in, both from my sister and from a friend, and finally figured some ways to mount them up.

Currently, only the one on top of the cargo rack is mounted, of which there will be pics as soon as I have time to dig up the camera and stuff (I'd've liked to take pics of the construction process, but I was in a hurry to get it done at the time, and forgot). I'll probably also include pics of the pieces, since I have to take it apart for some refits and maintenance anyway. The one I have now is mounted with the bottom of the pail toward the bike seat, long side horizontal across the bike to give the widest platform. It's just a bit wider than the rack, maybe 1/2". I bent into L-shapes a pair of gate-lock hasps from Stanley that I salvaged from the stuff CompUSA was throwing away during the closedowns, and bolted them onto the left and right sides of the lid to give me a way to lock the lid on reasonably securely (it's still possible to get into it, but it would not be fast and easy, and the simple sight of the padlocks on it would probably keep most thieves away from it).

I put the battery for the lights in there, up in the top front of it, where cargo generally wouldnt' be anyway. I used to have that battery zip-tied to the basket in front, which was not only insecure (more than a few batteries were stolen off the bike previously!), but also exposed it to direct sunlight, which I doubt is good for it. Now it's inside the white plastic pail, which should help reflect more energy away from it (relative to it's dark blue and medium gray battery colors). I considered building the charger into it, too, but I use the same charger for most of my gel-cells, so I'm not including it yet (it doesn't weigh much, so that's not a real consideration).

So far, the container has worked well, and allowed me to carry all the tools with me that I would normally need to fix anything, which I couldn't do before (because either people would steal them off the bike or I'd have to carry them inside with me whereever I go, which is not always possible--many places don't allow backpacks and stuff, because of too much theft, which I certainly understand). The same applies to water, snacks, etc, that otherwise I couldn't carry. The only change I had to make to anything on it was adding lockwashers to the screws holding the cargo rack on, as the screws vibrated loose (though not out completely) during the 25+ mile ride back from an interview in Tempe.

One other thing the container lets me do: use the Bike-on-Bus racks all the Valley Metro buses have. The baskets made the bike too wide to fit if there was a second bike, but with just the one rear container it's the same as any other bike, and fits fine. It's significantly lighter, too (the baskets are heavy steel wire). I don't know the exact weight difference, but I had a hard time picking it up before, and now it's easier.