Recently saw where a person decided to impersonate an employee of the company on LinkedIn, but something did not quite add up when the name was cross-referenced internally. Some due diligence located a deceased person whose obituary photo had been usurped for the fake LinkedIn account. Smart enough not to take the bait on my contact request, but lots of interesting log entries hitting this site without a valid vhost. Lesson to be learned by the folks who accepted the contact requests, validate a supposed co-worker is actually an employee or contractor before accepting the request. Trust, but verify, when using social media.
Originally a Facebook post and note.
So a friend’s Facebook account got counterfeited (duplicated and made to look like her messenger account) and started contacting me over messenger. So I played along, while making contact with her via another comms channel to verify and let her know. Starts off simple enough; then there is a reference to some money via a grant. A quick Google turned up it was indeed fraud. So, I shared to link to my server in hopes they would follow it and let me see their source IP address. They took the bait and wouldn’t you know that my friend from Clayton is hitting my web site from Lagos, Nigeria. Sadly they dropped off before the details could be gathered on how the scam worked. I decided to tell them their game was up with me using Google translate into Huasa. My guess is they send a bad check that makes me lose funds, or they want upfront funds to make the grant application go through. So always be aware and note that anyone offering you money via a “social private grant fund” is probably sitting behind a computer half a world away who just wants your money. Hopefully the messenger images are in order.
Even after this conversation, the scammer uses Facebook messenger again the next day and provides a number a should text for my grant.
I guess faulty power locks are in my blood. After dealing the issue multiple times with my 2004 Pontiac Vibe (see blog posts), the same issue started with my 2012 Mazda 5 about six months ago. This time the front door power locks are working fine. The problem child is the driver side sliding rear door. For a while it was hit miss and sometimes it would lock and other times not. Finally, it just quit doing anything when either the key fob lock and unlock or the internal front door lock and unlock buttons where hit. While I would try to remember to lock the door manually after getting out my backpack in and out for work everyday; I often found I left it unlocked. Not Good. So today I had a little time and tried to tackle the issue.
I started by googling a video on removing the door panel. This one is pretty good and matched what I ended up having to do with mine to get the panel off. On the drivers side, I went way over board and took a lot of parts off that probably could have stayed on while I made the fix. I also decided to do the passenger side sliding door too, as it was starting to sound a little sketchy. Here is what I did and what I needed after lessons learned on the drivers side.
Tools and Supplies you will need:
- A Phillips Screwdriver.
- A door panel trim popper tool.
- Automotive Electronics Cleaner spray with a directional tube to insert in the spray head.
- Paper towels or absorbent rag.
- Take the door panel off per the video. It is easier to disconnect the wire and connector that go to the power window control at this point so you will be able to get the panel completely out of the way while working on the actuator.
- Find the plastic milk carton white box that has an actuator rod going to the door lock slider.
- On the rear of this actuator body there is the electrical connector and just above that connector is an empty connector that has an open slot into the body of the actuator. Locate this empty electrical connector slot.
- Take a rag or paper towels and stuff them up under the actuator to catch the overflow of electrical cleaner spray.
- Insert the tube coming from the can of electrical cleaner spray in the open slot of the empty electrical connector and spray an abundance of the cleaner. Wait about two minutes and repeat spraying cleaner into the slot.
- Try the lock and unlock button on the key fob or the lock button on one of the front doors to see if the power lock is working. If the power lock does not operate on the door in question, repeat step 5. If you have time, you may want to leave the door panel off for a while to allow the electrical cleaner to evaporate or you may have the strong smell of the cleaner riding around with you for a few days.
- If step 6 is successful, make sure any of the snaps that held the door panel in place are on the back of the door panel and not stuck in the inside of the door. If there are any snaps stuck to the door side, those will have to be popped of with the popper tool and inserted into the slots on the back of the door panel. You will not get the panel to re-seat correctly if you leave the snaps that are in the metal door.
- Make sure the connector and cable that goes to the power window is fed out the hole where the door handle connects before starting to reinstall the panel. Take the panel and align the lower edge of the window just above where the panel would normally sit. Then push the top of the panel over the metal ledge at the bottom of the window and slide it down until the panel is hanging on the metal ledge.
- Check to see if the screw holes line up around the door handle. If they do, go ahead and start the screws, but don’t tighten them. Now use your hand to apply pressure on the door panel where you know there are snaps that need to go into the metal side of the door. Make sure all of the snaps engage and screw in the screws completely at this point.
- Finally reattach the shroud that goes around the door handle and the vertical window trim piece.
- Enjoy working power locks again.
What I have learned, after dealing with this issue on two vehicles, is either the grease being used in the actuators is migrating to the bottom of the actuator case and causing an electrical contact problem or the motor is getting gunked up to prevent actuation. I did test the connector to the power door lock actuator on the driver’s side and could see voltage when the actuator should see a signal from the lock/unlock button or key fob. So I knew it was not a wiring or electrical issue outside of the actuator. The fix is electrical cleaner and I think it would work to remedy either of the potential issues causing the problem. While I would have liked to reintroduce some grease on the gears in the actuator after the electronics cleaner probably dissolved them away, I did not take the chance to reintroduce another potential electrical contaminate into the mix. We will see how long the fix lasts, but I suspect they will continue to work until I trade or sell of the car.
Approximate time to complete the whole job on one side: 45 minutes.
Originally published 8Aug2014 updated below – I would have to call myself and audiophile from a pretty young age as my dad was always recording the band concerts and coming home and playing them on a decently high end stereo at the time. My Dad and also had the pleasure of knowing Harry Grasser, a violinist, that would share some great classical LP pieces he had come across. I ended up leaning toward early 80’s contemporary Jazz after growing up on Pop and southern Rock & Roll. This was not from a dislike of those genres, but more of an escape. In the early 80’s I was DJ’ing at a local roller skating rink, Sportsworld of Cary. After playing Pop and a lot of R&B, the chill out music of choice, thanks to Jerry Rose, became a lot of what we call smooth jazz today. At night, I could not turn up the stereo to get my fix, so I would fall asleep most nights listing to some music through my headphones. Back then there was not a large market place and you generally chose between Koss, Sony or some of the new Walkman style phones. I ended up with some Koss Pro-4a’s and wore them out between heavy use and age. Since then I floated between ear buds of various sorts and some cheap around ear styles that I did not care if they broke as I was using them each night when I went to bed. Yes, I still listen to something every night as a fall asleep. But these days the tracks are mostly binaural beats or self-hypnosis focused on various things from pain control to body asleep – mind awake. With binaural beats there is a desire hear the low bass frequencies as they form the core of the tones sent to each ear at different frequencies to produce a harmonic within the auditory function of the brain which appears to sound like a beat. People tend not believe this part of the binaural beat phenomenon, but if you pull the headphone off of one ear the beat produced by the different tones to each ear goes away. So back to headphones.
Most of the cheap headphones I have bought have been really cheap Sentry brand from BigLots. Like I said, I was just buying something that worked that I did not care about as I might pull the cord out or break the ear piece off while sleeping. The specifications on the the Sentry around ear Studio model was 20Hz – 20,000Hz which is fairly standard for an average pair of phones or “cans” today. Eventually I came across some V-Moda LP’s at Costco and got those, but needless to say, they did not get bed time duty. They are some pretty good headphones, but I found the around ear cushions were just shy of going around my ears which limits them to short term use. Sound quality is definitely better than the cheap Sentry stuff and the ability to use them with the second cord that includes a mic that works with an iPhone is a nice feature and the storage case is added plus. But like I said, these are a little over the top for use while falling asleep. So I kept looking at reviews on Amazon and everything was about $80+ for something with 4 stars, but then I came across the Panasonic RP-HTF600’s (600’s for short). Most every review gave these guys 5 stars with very few low ratings. The specs for the 600’s are 10Hz – 27,000Hz at $29.99 price point. I have been listening to the 600’s about six months now and they find their way from the bed room to the computer room so I can listen to music, binaural beats or whatever else I decide to play through them. I have played with EQ settings and find that I like the sound they produce without any EQ adjustments. I have not really found any frequencies where they fail to produce a clear sound. The mids are not overbearing or muffled and the highs are very crisp with super smooth bass. One of the best traits so far are the new deeper tones I hear when listening to binaural beats. Some of the self hypnosis sessions that I have listened to for years have been rejuvenated like old people in the movie “Cocoon”. These are Amazon prices as of May 18, 2014. But you said $50, well the additional cost comes from Beyerdynamics replacement velour ear cushions. While the original ear cushions are okay, they would get a little sweaty being pleather. The Beyerdynamics velour cushions were recommended in a couple of reviews. And I am very glad I added them to the order. So far these cans have holding up on their own four over six months. I still want to try and make them a little more closed versus semi-open by inserting some blue tack on the inside vents; leaving only a small opening for ventilation. If I make that change, I will post an update on the improvements or detriments.
Some other sets I own in addition to the V-Moda and Panasonics are: Bose Mobile in-ear (clearance shelf at Sam’s Club), Bose OE (Target clearance item), Monoprice DJ headphones, Radio Shack Realistic Pro-35a (Titanium) also sold as Koss KTX Pro 1 on Amazon, and a pair of Koss from Walmart that have been discontinued. The Bose in-ear are good with my iPhone, but they are not going to win any contests even though I do find the microphone better than most in-ear mobile headsets. I have the OE Bose at work and find they are bassy with very good highs if my old ears can hear them, but they are missing some mid range that make the overall sound experience a little muddy. The Radio Shack Pro-35a could almost be a standard reference which is saying a lot when you think about the current Koss version costs less than $12. I picked up the Monoprice headphones on a daily deal or sale and got two more pairs for my nieces as gifts. They were 10 and 13 at the time I gave them to the girls and they have not broken either set in two years. I like the Monoprice as far as sound experience goes, but the headband tended to cut into my head and the pleather ear cushions caused some sweating. I made two mods to the Monoprice to improve them. One, I took the ear cushions I removed from the Panasonics and put them on the Monoprice set and I took a strip of rubber cut from an old bicycle inner tube to create suspension headband inside of the original poorly padded head band. If you take a look at the Koss Pro1 photo, the homemade inner tube head band looks sort of like that on my modified Monoprice cans.
No doubt I will probably keep looking at new cans and probably buy some higher end models if I come into some gift certificates or money. But unless I am a producer behind a studio sound board for a professional musician, I can’t see spending upwards of $150 for my old ears. So now I wait for the new Audio-Technica ATH-M50x to come down to my price range.
UPDATE 20Nov2017 – Venturing out of the $50 range & $10
So it has been a little over three years since I blogged on headphones and considering additional headphones now in the stable; I think it is time for an update. I finally picked up some of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x when they were on Prime Day or a Black Friday sale. I also grabbed some Bose Around Ear QC-25’s from the Bose outlet. And I had the opportunity to try some Bose SoundTrue Ultra in-ear headphones after my Bose in-ear Mobile’s were stolen from the DJ booth at the local skating rink where do my every Wednesday 80’s night gig. The SoundTrue Ultra in-ear were totally isolating like I was wearing noise reduction plugs for the gun range. So I ended up finding the Bose ebay store and picked up another pair of the old in-ear Mobile model. When I made the return of the SoundTrue Ultra by taking advantage of the Bose return policy, I updated to the new Soundwave Companion around neck speakers from Bose. If you remember the old Bones that you could wear around your neck, think of them updated with bluetooth and some decent sounding speakers with bass ports. If you are considering buying Bose stuff from the outlets, the return policy is 30 days for refunds and 90 days for an exchange. The latest find for a true set of cans are some Sennheiser HD 380 pro’s I found at the local pawn shop and negotiated down to $50. For alternative to the Bose Mobile’s, I also picked up some of the highly rated Panasonic Ergo-Fit in-ear, which I have to admit have pretty impressive sound for an under $10 price point.
A quick grade (A-F) on each one while listening to…
1. Barber -Adagio for Strings (Overall sense of sound field capacity)
2. Delta Rae – If I loved You (Ability to carry vocals)
3. Lindsey Stirling – Crystalize (Bass response and mid-range separation)
- Panasonic Ergo-Fit in-ear:
1. – B (good overall sound picture for style of headphone)
2.- C (volume seemed weak, but decent vocal renditions)
3.- B (amazing bass response for in-ears)
- Sennheiser HD 380 pro around ear:
1. – C (seemed to be a little hot in the midrange – correctable with a little EQ)
2.- A (very clear definitive vocals with full coverage of the light raspiness of her voice)
3.- A (great bass response with overpowering the violin even with the ultra low frequency bass at 3:05)
- Audio-Technica ATH-M50x around ear:
1. – A (very even across all ranges – best at carrying the crescendo up the 6:00 minute mark)
2.- B (vocalist seemed a little distant, but good balance between instruments and vocals)
3.- B (separation between low frequencies and violin was good and bass was a tad better than the 380’s)
- Bose QC-25 around ear noise cancelling connected via Bolle & Raven
AirMod Wireless Bluetooth Adapter:
- 1. – A (the Bose haters will say what they will, but these render this adagio with the gracefulness it deserves)
2.- A (clear vocals and almost overbearing with full band and backup vocals)
3.- A (crisp violin with ability to carry the bass off without distorting the other frequencies)
At some point, I will do a proper review of the Bose Soundwave Companion. I sit in a semi-open work environment and have these on most of the day for listing to music and I can usually keep them at a low enough volume that no one around me hears the sound as the speakers are directed up at my ears. I guess the only issue is, as they become unnoticeable to me, I get some looks when I forget to take them off and leave my desk when headed out for lunch or a break. I have been told they look like a mini neck rest for travel. When the volume is up on these they are pretty decent for full coverage of most all of the frequencies, but the mobile app does allow for cutting bass if needed.
The list below was quickly assembled from Google and sourced back to the respective company website, but it should not be considered an exhaustive list. I decided to put this list together to look at the bicycle market and how it seems like there are fewer choices in today’s market. There is also the proposed tariffs here in the U.S. on the imported bicycles from overseas. While this Bloomberg report covers that angle pretty well, you have to wonder what it means the American bicycle market. Will the tariff make it much more expensive to pick up a kid’s BMX bike from a big box store or make the price of the average entry level road bike increase by 25%? I guess we will have to wait and see on that, but I won’t hold my breath while we wait to see high end mountain or road machines being manufactured here in the U.S. due to the tariffs.
*Owner of Performance Bike stores
Note: Pon has offered to acquire Accell, which would certainly make the others look at each other as potential buyers, but the tariff situation could make for an interesting outcome for all of them.
So which bike brands are not owned by a conglomerate?
- Ok, I give up. Check this Wiki list for another few 100
I recently had the good fortune to come across an offering for some used Canon digital gear through my membership in the Photographic Society of the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham). Based on the pricing, I knew the equipment would go fast. So I acted quickly to get the first e-mail in stating that I wanted to purchase the gear. Here is what I have ended up with after it was all said and done.
1. Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame CMOS with 1080p Full-HD Video Mode Digital SLR Camera (Body)
2. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens
3. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens
4. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens
5. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens
6. Canon 1.4 Extender
7. Heliopan 77mm UV SH-PMC Filter (707711) with specialty Schott glass in floating brass ring
8. B+W 82mm XS-Pro HTC Kaesemann Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Nano Coating
9. B+W 67mm XS-Pro HTC Kaesemann Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Nano Coating
10. B+W 77mm Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Coating
11. Canon Cameras US 2598A001 67mm Protect Filter
12. B+W 82mm XS-Pro Clear UV Haze with Multi-Resistant Nano Coating (010M)
13. Lowepro Fastpack 350 DSLR Camera Backpack
14. David Busch’s Compact Field Guide for the Canon EOS 5D Mark III
15. David Busch’s Canon EOS 5D Mark III Guide to Digital SLR Photography
16. Canon Speedlight 600EX II-RT
17. Canon 430 EX Speedlight
18. Canon 420 EX Speedlight
19. Yongnuo YN-622C-TX E-TTL Flash Controller with Canon connector
20. Yongnuo YN-622C-TX E-TTL Flash Transceiver (4)
21. Off Camera E-TTL Flash Cord (Coiled)
22. Lensbaby Spark for Canon EF Mount
23. Vello Auto Extension Tube Set for Canon EOS
As you can see, the gear offered a complete Canon outfit and my rating on the condition of every piece is Mint+ . Now, those that know me are scratching their heads going, “But wait, aren’t you a die-hard Nikon guy?”. I guess the answer to that is; yes, I was. My history with camera brands goes back to a hand me down Kodak Bakelite Brownie and Kodak 126 Instamatic, before I got my first SLR, an Olympus OM-1. I shot Olympus from 1978 – 1992 when I sold several bodies, many lenses and my Sunpak 422(?) flash gun to go toward the purchase of my Nikon gear, which was a Nikon N90 with 28-70 and 80-200 zoom lenses and one SB-25 flash. Since moving to Nikon, I have been okay with the reliability of the cameras. I did have a N75 I bought for my wife go completely dead after a year. My first digital body, the D-70, got the flashing screen of death and had to go back for warranty repair. Since going digital, I have bought a D-200 and sold it. And currently have the D-70, D-300 and D-600. I would have to say the D-600 has been biggest disappointment of any camera I have owned short of the N75. The sensor blows highlights on skin if the exposure is only ever so lightly over exposed. And the final nail in the coffin is the shutter lubricant getting on the sensor. There is nothing like going on a three-day photography excursion and getting the first day’s images in Lightroom to find grease spots everywhere. Other than charity events, I pretty much quit shooting for fun, and dropped small commercial projects after the disappointment of the D-600 on that trip.
Now in hindsight, I guess I could have sold or traded my D-300 and D-600 to upgrade to another Nikon body; but the opportunity to start a new with Canon L series lenses, which are better quality than any I have built up in Nikkor and third-party lenses; and the other included accessories at 50% off of discounted retail pricing (B & H), it was an opportunity I could not pass up. The seller wasn’t willing to sell individual items and I could probably sell the equipment individually and make a profit. So this may be more of Canon experiment than a total switch. The wife expects me sell the Nikon gear and I will start doing that once I confirm there are no show stoppers with a Canon workflow.
My first real shoot with the Canon gear was Saturday photographing several purses with custom emblems containing initials that can be swapped between purses. The project was fraught with challenges. The need to keep the purse and strap in it’s exact same position between shots, a need to have the white background blowout for seamless presentation on the web site, potential exponential number of shots when there were about 30 sample emblems that could be shot in combination with all of the purses. I ended up with about 220 images to post process including individual shots of some of the new emblems which were not on the web site. I really need to re-shoot the emblems from straight overhead and will do that when I can get them back. As far as the new Canon gear goes, I used the camera with the 24-70 lens and two soft boxed 600WS strobes from the sides and a 300WS strobe trying to bounce off the ceiling to help keep the background go white. I was shooting at ISO 100 from F14 – F18 and all of the shots were clear and correctly exposed for the item. There were a couple of occasions where I had to go manual focus as the purse texture without an emblem attached and my inability to change the static position of the camera resulted in focus failure. For anyone that has done this type of product shoot, I think they would agree that getting a blown out or achieving high-key white background without blowing the highlights in the product is a challenge. If I have the opportunity to do another shoot of these items, I would shoot the emblems straight on, make a single photograph of each purse without an emblem and put the emblems on the purses using Photoshop. Your question is isn’t that a lot of post processing work? Yes and no. Yes it is potentially a lot of work, but it avoids two issues I faced on this shoot which were blowing out the background to white and keeping the purses and straps from shifting position between shots when the emblems are swapped. I think I would be better off getting a single shot and fixing the background and doing some selecting, masking and layer work to place the emblems virtually than having to use a custom +4.0 exposure brush in Lightroom on almost every background to achieve pure white. While I was able to copy some develop settings from one image to another, the slightest movement in the purse strap or handle meant doing the manual exposure brush all over again. I guess that is a lesson learned for the next time. The ultimate solution would be for the website to have base purse images without the emblem and a back-end web application to build the emblem image from the initials and colors the customer wants with the selected font and overlay it on the purse. Then the only images that would be needed are the base purses and product use shots.
So back to the Canon gear. I am pleased my purchase and will confirm my choice over the next few months. Between the two books that came with the outfit, I was able to get up to speed pretty quick and never felt like I had to hunt down some setting during the shoot.
Now to forge on with my second challenge of moving away from Adobe products to something else. Right now that something else is from ON1 and their newest version 10 and 2017 Camera Raw. I plan to experiment accomplishing similar edits using the ON1 tool set and see how I like it. Who knows, that might be the next blog entry. I have abandoned the project to move away from Adobe products. After one of the leading pros that On1 has used as guest instructor over the past year came out with a book on Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, it pretty much clarified that On1 is going to remain a supplemental player in the digital photo editing market and not a complete solution.
My most recent use of the new gear has come in the form of suburban wildlife photography. While working in the yard the last few weekends, a Red Tail Hawk has been regular visitor to the tall oak trees in my front yard. The first time, I went in grabbed my Panasonic point and shoot, a DMC-ZS50, and was treated to the hawk’s garter snake snack. On the next opportunity, I went for the Canon with the 100-400 lens. The effort was worth it as I came away with this shot.
|Camera Model:||Canon EOS 5D Mark III|
|Exposure Compensation:||0.33 EV|
|Exposure time:||1/1250 sec|
|Flash Fired:||No Flash|
|Focal Length:||400 mm|
|Shutter Speed:||1/1250 sec|
|Lens:||EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM|
Stay tuned to see if the Canon stays or goes. Right now, it’s staying.
After looking through some 4,000 photos I shot of the first year Miracle League games, I am a little bleary eyed and some of that is not just from looking at images. I can remember holding back tears as I hid my face behind the camera while shooting a lot of these and that same feeling came back tonight.
If you are not familiar with the Miracle League concept, it is a baseball league for disabled kids and adults. The field in Cary, at Henry Adams Elementary School, opened 10 years ago. The field consists of rubberized turf that allows wheel chairs to roll and is laid out with the lines and infield already marked. Each player gets a buddy assigned to them that will help with running bases and playing their positions in the field. At the end of the each game, the score is miraculously a tie every time. I still can’t figure that out after 10 years, but in reality the winner is everybody in Miracle League.
If you are around Cary on Saturday, September 17, 2016 at 11am, come check out the 10th Anniversary Celebration at the field on Cary Town Boulevard.
Here is a link to all of the Miracle League photos on my server.
The components on my 2007 Raleigh Cadent Carbon, while functional, were getting a little long in the tooth and I was ready to move up to an 11 speed double from the 10 speed triple that came on the bike. Originally the bike was built with a Shimano drive train by Raleigh with 105 Shifters and Ultegra Derailleurs. The triple would usually stop shifting to the big ring at least once a year when the cable housing started splaying apart on the shifter end of things. Luckily I got used to this and had some spare housing to fix when that would happen. Other than that, the 10 speed triple set up has been very reliable for the last seven years.
I started looking at piecing the new groupset together over the winter and my friend that owns a local bike shop offered me the NikNik discount to get me going on the project, but I did not want to order the parts through him and put him to the trouble swapping out items if something needed to go back that he couldn’t sell in the store. Being the procrastinator I am when it comes to big decisions, I held off until I came across some Ultegra 11 speed shifters on the clearance table at the local Performance Bike store. According to the mechanics, the shifters were new and had been installed on a customer’s existing bike, but then the customer decided against the upgrade and returned everything and had the same mechanics remove the stuff they had just installed. The wasted effort of the endeavor was evident in the bike mechanic’s tone as the story was told. So I grabbed these up with no idea where I would come up with the rest of parts. As I was checking out, one of the managers, Luke, said if you want those, take a look at this and we went back to the clearance table where there was also a FSA Gossamer compact 10/11 speed 170mm crank. I wasn’t sure if it was my size or not, so I held off until I could check my current crank arm length. Once at home, what I had thought were 172.5 mm crank arms were actually 170 mm just like the Gossamer crank on the clearance table. So back to Performance the next morning to grab the cranks. With two major parts down at a very good discount, it was time to figure out where to buy the other parts.
While talking with my friend at the local bike shop, I asked about Shimano pricing and how it was supposed to be cheaper now that they have limited the number of the distributors and he said he sees the same prices on Wiggle that he gets from Shimano directly. Sure enough, my price comparisons showed Wiggle generally beats any of the online bike part retailers so I placed an order with Wiggle for derailleurs, cassette, bottom bracket, cables and housings. I ended up needing a bottom bracket as the Gossamer crank set had a press fit bottom bracket included with it and I needed a 68mm english. The final pieces for the project were not part of the drive train, but I wanted to upgrade to save some weight. Those were the fork, stem, and seat post. I ended up going with an Amazon source for the carbon stem in my size of 100mm 17 degrees, and Bike Nashbar for the full carbon fork and seat post.
Finally, I did want to spend some money with my friend’s local bike shop even though I would only pay cost due to my close relationship with NikNik. Maybe I will blog about NikNik one day. This final purchase was a new wheelset. I bought the Mavic Equipe S wheelset based on what was left in my budget and think they will work fine for me and my style of riding.
Once my wife had left for the weekend to kid sit the nephew while her sister did some house hunting in D.C., the bike rebuild started. I don’t remember what order I did it all in, but eventually I ended up with all of the new parts installed and in need of some tuning and adjustments. I watched a few YouTube videos, especially on the shifter install and cabling as I have no experience with routing the cables along the handlebar. It was not too bad to get going once you get the shifters in the lowest or highest setting so the hole for the cable lines up so you can get the end to catch in the right spot. Cable housing length was a guesstimate, but seems to be working. The longest and hardest part of the build was the alignment and adjustment of the front derailleur. I don’t think it would take half as long next time, as I now know that with a compact crank and an 11-32 cassette it’s almost impossible to get the set up to be completely silent. The rear derailleur was easy compared to the front, but it was the one that needs some adjusting after the first ride.
One issue I did hit while doing the rebuild was trying to get the crank spindle installed into the new bottom bracket. I was pretty much convinced that I bought the wrong bottom bracket or the crankset was not compatible with the bottom bracket. Finally a timely YouTube search lead me to a Park tools video that explained it could take a couple of hits with a rubber mallet to get the spindle through the bottom bracket. A couple of whacks with the mallet and the crankset was installed.
Some other items I spent a little time researching before installing them were the cutting of the fork steerer and determining chain length. YouTube was helpful and remembering I had bought a tube cutting guide a few years ago made it a lot easier to get a straight cut. I did not wrap the steerer with tape where I planned to cut. I just used a mini hacksaw and went slow and steady rotating the fork and trying to make as much of the cut to the outside of the steerer tube. There was not any fraying of the carbon on the last cut from the inside to outside of the tube and I ran a sharpening stone (I couldn’t find my file) over the top of the steerer to smooth out everything before installing it. The biggest pain with the fork was getting the crown race off the old fork and getting it installed on the new fork. I was able to get it installed, but it was really tight on the new fork. To determine the chain length, I used a video that walks you through using a little piece of coat hangar to hold the chain together while you adjust the chain manually from the smallest sprocket and small chain ring to check the rear derailleur tension. Then repeat the process with large chain ring and largest sprocket. I ended up cutting off about 6 links before installing the link pin.
By the time I finished everything on Saturday afternoon it was in the 90’s outside and I was mentally beat. So I delayed a ride until I had some rest and cooler temps and that was this morning at 6am. I took the bike out and did my normal route from my house to edge of Lake Jordan, which is 30 miles round trip. When I got on the bike, front and rear shifting were working fine; but a couple of miles into the trip the rear derailleur did not want to go down to the 11 speed sprocket and there was some chain chatter in the smaller cogs. Pulling on the rear derailleur cable let me know that tightening the tension on the cable should make that stop and it did, but it did not address the shifting into the 11 tooth cog problem. What I think has happened is either the cable stretched or the set screw for the outermost position wasn’t quite right, but I am leaning toward another theory that when I wrapped the handle bars I had already made my adjustments and wrapping the cable housing on the handle bar may have resulted in adding some tension to the cable. I also wrapped the bars too close to the stem which puts more tension on the cables, so I will cut that back and then adjust the set screw and see what I get.
Overall, the ride was great. Being on the road between 6 and 8 am on Sunday was quite different from my normal ride times of weekdays between 6 and 8 pm. The front derailleur shifted smoothly and looked like it was going to let the chain fall off onto the crank arm a couple of times, but never did so I think I need to tweak that set screw as well. The wheelset is pretty quite and rolls well. While I took meticulous measurements and tried to match all of the new parts so they were measuring the same, I may have missed something on the handlebar and shifter set up as I did get a little numbness in my hands on the ride and come to think of it I did the shifters and handlebar angle by eye and never did measure like I did on the seat and seat post re-install. Update: Measurement of the shifter hoods showed I was off my about 4cm to the high side and I was able to adjust the angle of the handlebars to get the new hoods within a few mm of the old measurement.
At this point I am very happy with being able to do the upgrade and stay around a $1,000 budget including the wheelset. Would I try to tackle doing the tear down and rebuild on my own next time? It’s hard to say, but I am glad I did and have that experience now. There were times when I was so frustrated and tired that I made stupid mistakes like cutting cable housing to length while I had the new cable inside of it. DOH! And who knew a front derailleur could be such a pain in the butt. If you remember the original Star Trek movie and Khan goes into battle with Kirk and Khan forgets to think in three dimensions and is easily dispatched by Kirk. I think the front derailleur is the same. You have height, angle and depth. If any of those are off, then it’s not going to work correctly. See the bottom of this post for some photos. Here are parts and prices and weight information.
Parts/Price List and Sourcing:
|Bottom Bracket||Shimano BB-R60 Ultegra 6800/105 5800 Hollowtech ii Black/Grey English Thread||$16.99||Wiggle|
|Crankset||FSA Gossamer Crankset 34-50 CK-C6028||$83.00*||Performance Bicycle|
|Chain||Shimano Ultegra 6800 / XT M8000 11 Speed Chain Silver 11 Speed||$39.01||Wiggle|
|Front Derailleur||Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-Speed Braze on Front Derailleur Grey/Black 11 Speed||$27.99||Wiggle|
|Read Derailleur||Shimano Ultegra 6800 Rear Derailleur Black/Grey GS Medium 32T Max||$51.99||Wiggle|
|Cassette||Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-Speed Cassette Silver Grey 11-32T||$49.99||Wiggle|
|Brake Cable Set||Shimano Road Brake Cable Set||$6.99||Wiggle|
|Shifter Cable Set||LifeLine Performance Gear Cable Set – Shimano/Sram Black One Size||$13.24||Wiggle|
|Shifters||Ultegra 6800 11 Speed||$175.00*||Performance Bicycle|
|Fork||Nashbar Full Carbon Road||$128.00||Nashbar|
|Stem||RXL SL 3K Amazon||$42.00||Amazon|
|Bake Calipers||Ultegra 6800||$78||Nashbar|
|Wheels||Mavic Equipe S & Tires||$357.44||LBS|
|Total w/o Wheels||$752.20|
*- Performance Bicycle Clearance Table Items (new condition and warranty)
For those interested in weights, here is a breakdown as best I can using either the specifications from the manufacturer or actually weighing the component.
|Part||Old||New||Old Weight||New Weight||Diff Grams|
|Bottom Bracket||Truvativ GXP||BB Ultegra 6800||106||76||-30|
|Crankset||Truvativ Elita||Crankset FSA Gossamer CK-C6028 compact||1095||770||-325|
|Chain||Shimano 10s||Shimano KCNHG900 11 speed||–||–||–|
|Front Derailleur||Ultegra ’07 Triple||FD-6800 11 Speed||113||87||-26|
|Read Derailleur||Ultegra ’07 10s||RD-6800 Medium Long Cage 32 max||218||210||-8|
|Cassette||105 12-27 10 Speed||Ultegra 11-32 11 Speed||265||283||18|
|Brake Cable Set||JagWire||Shimano Road Brake Cable Set||–||–||–|
|Shifter Cable Set||Clarks||Shimano Road Shifter Cable Set||–||–||–|
|Shifters||105 ’07 10sp/Trip.||Ultregra 6800 11 Speed||500||447||-53|
|Fork||Raleigh Carbon Alloy Steerer||Nashbar Full Carbon Road||715||367||-348|
|Stem||Eleven81 100mm 17 degrees||RXL SL 3K Amazon||49||39||-10|
|Seatpost||Raleigh Carbon||Nashbar Carbon||306||241||-65|
|Wheels||Forte Apollo||Mavic Equipe S||1650||1690||40|
Last weekend I was asked to help photograph the Tour De Cure again after a couple of years away from this ride. Hats off to the participants, some of whom rode both days from Cary to Aberdeen on Saturday and back on Sunday. I saw lots of familiar faces and was truly astounded by the fundraising efforts of the champions who are are pictured here.
This weekend I had to pleasure to photograph my niece Raven and her boyfriend Andrew on the way to their high school prom. She will hate me for this, but I can’t resist the opportunity for a before and after comparison.
They grow up much too fast these days.
“How It’s Made” has created a monster and that monster is me. Let me explain. While watching the show “How It’s Made” on the Science Channel, I saw the making of fountain pens. This intrigued me enough to go through my desk drawers and see if I could find a few old fountain pens I had lying around. The only one that I had ever used was the Parker Vector from many years ago. It is an okay pen, but I have found my writing has gotten smaller and smaller over the years and the medium nib size was not close the Pilot Precise RT v5 (0.5mm) pens that I have been using for several years. The other pens I found had not been inked by me. One was a Sheaffer Snorkel that belonged to my parents. The other was a Camlin 47 that I don’t remember buying. I think it may have been a gift from a co-worker who went home to India and brought gifts back for everyone. For a couple of days, I used the Parker Vector before I stumbled on a clearance item just before Christmas at Office Depot. The pen was a Yafa Icona Cartridge fountain pen made in Italy.
I thought these would be some neat gifts for my nieces and other people and hunted around until I had about six of them. I did not feel too bad about my investment as the markdown price was from $16 to $2. These pens came with about seven color cartridges and I went through the darker colors over the next few weeks before experiencing some issues. The blue, purple and pink cartridges worked flawlessly until they ran out of ink. Then the black ink cartridges were tried and they continually dried in the nib. This was frustrating and made for a great excuse to start looking for a real pen as reviews of the Yafa basically equated to it being a $2 pen performance wise. (edit: Since re-inking this pen with decent Waterman ink, it is a good pen with a broad medium nib and a little more wet than most of my other pens sans the Camlin 47.)
You know what happened next, the Internet fountain pen community sucked me into the never ending debates of the best pen, ink, paper, etc… Can I just say for the record that there should be a 12 step program for fountain pen fanatics. Thankfully I am not ruining my health or wasting my fortunes on the hobby, but I could see things going terribly wrong without some constraints. So, I started with the same penny pinching scheme I always do. Which is, what’s the best I can get for the least amount of money. Call me cheap, but I call it staying married.
While looking for a potential pen candidate I looked to the Fountain Pen Network, Amazon reviews, and The Goulet Pen Company website. I think I spent most of a Sunday afternoon watching the Fountain Pen 101 video series and at some point found the best fountain pens under $50 video. So my first new fountain pen was the Pilot Metropolitan with a fine nib along with a converter. I really like this pen. The flow is not too wet and it lays down a fairly fine line. This pen is still the smoothest on paper of any of the pens I have bought so far. For the price, this pen is a real value. Then I started seeing the reviews on the TWSBI Eco. I ordered this pen and it quickly sidelined the Metro, but the ink I first used in it, Noodler’s Q-E’ternity, tended to feather in my cheap Big Lots spiral notebook. So then a little more research into Goulet’s top five under $50 lead me to the top of the list and the Lamy Safari in an extra fine nib. I also ordered the fine nib for this one to see what it was like. Compared to my TWSBI Eco, the Safari was a bantam weight as it lacked the balance the TWSBI had when the cap was posted. But the Safari EF nib was laying down the finest lines of any pen so far. For several weeks now I have floated between all of these pens and based on my work journal where I take at least two pages of notes per day, no pen has been used more than a few days before trying some other combination of ink and pen. That was until I found an Amazon warehouse deal on a 2015 Al-Star Special Edition Lamy Holiday Gift set.
For $50, I was able to purchase the Copper Orange Al-Star pen with six cartridges, a converter, and bottle of Lamy blue ink. It came with a medium nib that I tried, but found to be too wide for my style of writing. A quick swap of the EF nib from the Safari and now this has been my pen of choice. It is interesting to note that I tried the fine nib that came with the Safari and compared it to the medium nib on the Al-Star and the ink lines from both had no perceivable difference in size. I am pretty sure the feeds on the Al-Star and Safari are identical, but I have found the flow with the Al-Star is a little better than the feed on the Safari.
Some of the inks I have played with other than the Noodler’s Q-E’ternity are some Parker Quink permanent in black, Waterman serenity blue in the Yafa, and an expensive bottle of Pilot Ajasai Iroshuzuku. My experience with inks so far is that if the manufacturer offers an ink it seems to work best in that manufacturer’s pens. I know this is not what I see reported in the forums and other reviews, but when I had a cartridge that came with a pen and used it up and then used an industrial syringe to refill the cartridge with another ink, it did not perform as well. What I did figure out with inks is buying a bottle you don’t like can be an expensive mistake. So I have subscribed to the Goulet Pens Ink Drop program and just got a bunch of blue purples that I have tried with a calligraphy dip nib. What was interesting about trying the inks with the dip nib is that some kept the nib inked much longer than others. For samples of the different pens and nibs and ink samples see this gallery on my photo web site. For those interested in the Camlin 47, it is an interesting pen. It lays down a wet line and when I tried it using the Pilot Iroshizuku on some Oxford paper that is made from stone paper pulp, it made some puffy marshmallow looking fonts as it dried. On normal paper this ink and pen combination were fine. None of the other pens and inks exhibited this strange behavior on the stone pulp paper. As far as that paper goes, it is a strange beast indeed. Were it not for the perforations at the binding, I think it would bend the wire binding before ripping away. I also felt like the nibs started picking up some sort of coating off of the paper as I wrote on it. I will probably keep that pad for ball points.
Now to start the countdown to the Triangle Pen Show the first weekend in June.