Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vancouver Motorcycle Show: 25 January 2009

We call it the Vancouver Motorcycle Show but it hasn't been held in Vancouver for many years. I believe the location was changed as a cost saving measure and also most riders come from communities east of Vancouver so the thinking was to make it more convenient by locating the "show" in Abbotsford, BC (a smaller community perhaps 80 kms away)., at the Tradex

(Tradex, Abbotsford, BC)

This year the "show" ran from Thursday to Sunday. We decided to attend on the Sunday. The large parking lot was nearly full and they had shuttle buses shuttling people to their cars.

(Yamaha section)


All the major manufacturers were there showing off all of their products


They even had helmets large enough for Giants



(Can-Am: new model introduction)

(Yamaha: T-max - Scootercycle)

(PGO: Spyder, copy of Can-Am)

I was speaking to one of the reps about the Can-Am Spyder and he told me that in British Columbia if there are 2 front wheels with a car type suspension and it has a "steering Wheel" then it is classified as a car for registration and insurance purposes.

(Can-Am Spyder, this one was already "SOLD")

If the Can-Am is out of your price range, then you can purchase this TANK, trike 49cc version:

(Tank 49cc trike)

If you happen to need a pizza delivery vehicle, then this TGB is what you need. Has factory Pizza trunk with heating element already pre-installed:

(PGO 150cc Pizza delivery)

(A really usable very, large trunk)

(can you tell that I really like this model)

If you look underneath you will see TWO independent side stands, one for each side depending which side you are dismounting. And both have engine cut off switches installed.


Another much more expensive Trike:


This models are similar to a car. There is a stick shift mounted right in the middle of your gas tank. The clutch pedal is under your left foot (as in a car), and the right foot controls the brakes. You have a twist motorcycle throttle as on a normal bike and you have to shift using your LEFT hand.


The start motor does double duty as your "reverse" gear


This is another neat scooter with fixed roof and windshield wiper. 150cc something or other. (can't remember the name, but made in China) . The wheels remained "fixed" to the asphalt, but the "CAB" is pivots on its own suspension so you are able to lean into the corners.

(inside, looking out)

(Honda: DN-01, scooter/motorcycle thingy)

(Honda DN-01, dash)

(Honda DN-01, front view)

(Honda: proto-type scooter)

(Honda scooter, model unknown, proto-type)

There was a lot to see, many new models. They also had a large market place area where they sell other products which might not be considered to be motorcycle related, and I include this picture of one of these products for my buddy, Jack Riepe of Twisted Road fame.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wireless Shutter Release, FreeXwire + others


It's definitely NOT riding season here in Vancouver, BC. You can't temp fate as while the roads look clear there is probably a lot of black ice hanging around. Our temperatures seldom go this low and are usually in the high 30s F, but when the mercury hovers below and above freezing, combined with fog then this is a recipe for ice and slippery roads when you least expect it. Now is the time to prepare your vehicles and equipment for the upcoming season.
I follow other blogs and I noticed recently that Jack Riepe recently posted information about his hobby Model Trains (which you can read here) . My hobby is photography . I have belonged to a few camera clubs, was a former camera collector and had been developing my own film and optically printing on my enlargers since the beginning of time. Couple this to my love of cars and motorcycles and you have hobbies blending themselves together for weekend getaways travelling the backroads of British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. Last year we went down to the Palouse (WA) and Hell's Canyon (OR). A year or so ago we travelled to Bella Coola and the Queen Charlotte Islands. While it is not always possible to utilize 2 wheeled vehicles on my travels I try to take you along and show you some of the sights along the way.
In the old days (before digital) my developing and snapshot budget was astronomical. It wouldn't be that unusual to shoot 3 rolls of 36 ex FILM per day, which worked out to close to $50./day. It would have been bad enough with just one camera, but I also travelled with MF equipment (more professional) which was even more expensive. Ten exposures on 120 film would cost about $20. (film + developing) and I would shoot at least one roll per day, depending upon format. A lot of hard earned money would be flying out the door towards fueling my hobby. I consider photos to be a remembrance of good times passed. If a photo can bring a smile to your face then it has dones its job. I decided a long time ago that I needed at least one remembrance per trip and as you know the photographer is hardly ever "in the picture". This is how I explored the use of Wireless Shutter Releases.

(Quantum FreeXwire FW10 Tranmitter/Receiver dual mode)

I remember on one trip we took to California and wanted to take a photo of the "Witches Tree" on the 17 mile drive (Carmel, CA) with ourselves in the foreground. I carefully set up the tripod, set the 10 second self timer, framed ourselves, hit the shutter and ran back to put myself in the picture too. Well, with film you have to return from your holidays, take your film to be processed and a week later you picked up your photos, and guess what ? I didn't realize that a rather large lady had walked behind us and was a prominent figure in our photo. The plan for enlarging this photo had now evaporated.
Very few film cameras had wireless remotes but when P&S digital cameras started to appear, many had IR remotes as accessories. I had been purchasing digital cameras since the beginning and tried to always purchase the ones with IR controllers. Olympus was one of those brands which initially included IR remotes as part of the camera. In the early days, digital did not compare with film so while I had a P&S in my pocket my main camera was a Nikon F-100 which had the 10 pin connector

(Quantum FreeXwire, FW44: 2 step MD cable for Nikon 10-pin connector)

Eventually the performance of digital cameras started to compare with film so I started to decrease film use. I used digital for Snapshots and MF film cameras for all of my serious efforts. It seemed that Nikon only includes their 10-pin connector for their upscale models such as their D-100, D-200 so I had been unable to use my Quantum units with my D-70 or D-80 as they have a separate 4-pin connector. All of these propriety connectors cannot be purchased from Nikon and are only available if you purchase another costly accessory and cut off the plug. That plug pictured above, FW44 is listed for US$109.99 fob: NY. So much money for a couple of feet of wire and a connector at each end.

(Nikon F-100 showing 10-pin connector socket)

For the past several years I had been relying on IR controllers with the D70/D80. They are great for those night shots (Timed "B" exposures) as it is more convenient than using a wired release. The problem with the IR controllers is that the sensor is on the right side and close to the lens (Front view). Whenever you try to place yourself in a group shot you have to be sure to stand on the right side so that the IR can "hit" the sensor. If you stand on the left, opposite to the lens (& lens shade), it covers the sensor and the camera will not fire. Recently while down at Washington Pass there was a lot of snow on the sides of the highway and we wanted to get a photo of the SIGN and mountains behind. The camera/tripod was set up for the photo, BUT the IR was "over-range", and was too far away to fire the shutter, so again I had to rely on the 10 second timer. It is not always possible to anticipate when the shutter will fire as you are running towards your intended position. This is when I again got serious to explore my options for a radio wireless shutter release, as opposed to IR as must be in direct view of the sensor and is only limited to a short 15 ft or so.
I am not promoting eBay but I noticed that a wireless shutter was available from several sources at a very reasonable (read CHEAP) price. Since it was only US36. including shipping direct to my door, I ordered one and here is what it looks like.

(Yongnuo: YN-128 made in China)

This is what I received in the mail. Includes both batteries for the receiver and the "remote" transmitter and instruction sheet. This is the unit for the Canon G-10, which also fits the XSi and various models of Pentax which use the 2.5mm mini stereo plug.

(receiver shown mounted on the Canon G-10)

There is no electrical contact made with the flash hot shoe adapter, the plastic foot merely slides and locks onto the shoe as a place to hold it. The protruding cable plugs directly into the RS-60e3 socket. You push a button to turn it on which turns on a RED LED on the front. The remote has a shutter button and a 2 position slide switch (instant & 2 second delay) . The shutter button works exactly as on a camera, half a push focuses and turns the LED GREEN, and a full push activates the shutter. If you put you camera on "B" mode and slide the remote switch to "B" position, you hold the shutter button (on the remote) for 3 seconds. The shutter on the camera will stay open until you push the remote shutter button again, in which case it closes.

(rear of "remote" showing 16 channels are available)

There are also dip switches on the receiver section which can also be matched to each other. These units have a range of approx 300 feet (100 meters) which should be adequate for my purpose and since they are radio activated up in the 400 mghz range, you do not have to be "line of sight". The beauty of this unit as compared to IR is that you can do a countdown with your hands out of camera view and take an instantaneous photo rather than chance a random 10 second timer countdown.

I must say that for the price this unit works as advertised. In fact, it worked so well that I purchased another one for my Nikon D80

(wireless remote shown mounted on Nikon D-80)

I paid a lot of money for those Quantum FreeXwire radio slaves and they have been unused for many years. I found some wiring diagrams on the web and made up my own 2-step MD cables .

(homemade cable FreeXwire mini to G-10 or XSi compatible)

Connected to my G-10 I now have wireless shutter release working with the Quantum FreeXwire unit.

(side view of FreeXwire)

These Quantum units are mainly used for syc'ing studio lights with inputs from various sources to trigger lights without wires. Each unit can be either a receiver or transmitter depending upon your needs. The prices for these cables are artificially high as you cannot purchase these propriety plugs from Nikon (10-pin or 4-pin) or Canon (N3 or T3) and while I have obtained the wiring info for these dedicated plugs I am unable to make them.

What use is all this info anyway ? Well, I am planning on more solo rides this summer and I wish to be able to take more self photos of my travels in various locations. And also as a devoted hobbyist just the challenge of finding out how things work and the satisfaction derived.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Frost is not . . .

your friend


All week my plan was to take my scoot for a ride on Saturday morning, but was thwarted with ice and frost. It was exceptionally heavy in the morning when I went outside to test the asphalt and car windows. So off to breakfast in the cage. By the time breakfast was finished, back home to grab the scoot. Temps are hovering around freezing so many layers of clothing, boots, gloves, fleece undergarments and the fog was still dripping wet. Murphy's Law I suppose working against me. The scoot refused to start. It started very easily on Wednesday evening. A quick turn of the key had the engine purring like a contented cat. Warmed it up and shut it down. Today was a different story. Chugged the starter many times and only a few "coughs". I didn't want to run the battery down so I connected my 100 amp commercial duty, engine start battery charger to the battery posts and Voila, after a few seconds the engine finally came to life. I disconnected everything, shut the motor off, and attempted another start. And again, it came to life so all I could think of is that somehow it must have dragged in some 'wet' air and iced-up.

(scoot has finally seen the light of day, after being couped up for about a month)

It felt good to be back on 2 wheels. There is still ice and snow piled around the roads so you have to be on the watch for slippery sections. Today a few of us are meeting for Capuccino and a short group ride.

(the regulars getting ready for takeoff)


The fog was "biting" cold and it quickly penetrated into your gloves so that your fingers were nearly numb. It would have been great to have heated grips or heated gloves, or even a handguard to block the air. Of course our ride took us around Stanley Park, where the fog was more dense. The fog has a way of covering the inside of your visor making it very difficult to see. All of our fingers were getting cold so we had to stop and warm up (to stop the wind chill)


Vancouverites are not used to these cold temperatures and our winters are usually very warm and moderate but we learned quickly that your exhaust is "your friend" . While we were stopped, many of us were attempting to thaw out our fingers by placing them near the exhaust/muffler, and it worked. Too bad there isn't a way to route the warm exhaust air into the handlebars to obtain "free" heat for our fingers. It's something that I had been thinking about for a while now, or perhaps a valve to re-direct the hot water from the radiator through the handlebars.


Someone suggested a hot beverage after our ride around the park and we ended up parked on Robson Street for internal warmth.


you can see the fog trying to reclaim more territory, and feel the chill of the air.


It was our first group ride after the snow, and the first group ride of 2009 . It was very cold, our fingers were freezing, but it was good to be back on 2 wheels.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fraser Valley, Chilliwack, BC area: Flooding

For me its been an uneventful past 3 weeks. But Vancouver was hit with many snow storms before Christmas resulting in the worst accummulation of snow in over 40 years. During this time my transportation choices were; walking, begging for rides to work, the bus and public transit for I was "snowed" in, or should I say, I was unable to use any of my self propelled vehicles. Our city is not prepared for the onslaught of huge amounts of snow . Not many of my neighbours drive down our lane so snow & ice pile up making it tricky for driving. In the early stages we did manage to get our Subaru AWD out so we did have some transportation options but it was being shared by 3 drivers. (my wife, son & myself)

I am a member of the Route 66 Association of Canada and we usually have a breakfast meeting on the 1st Sunday of every month in Langley so after the meeting we decided to travel farther east to see the affects of the recent flooding


The worst flooding is in an area just West of Chilliwack, a little village called Greendale. We travelled on backroads on our way and saw the remnants of a few mudslides on Vedder Mountain Road. It appeared that a few homes on the side of the mountain had globs of mud come down into their yards. There was lots of debris on the roadway and in many spots where they were doing cleanup the road was reduced to single lane alternating traffic. We saw one area where rocks and trees had come down and smashed upon a large tractor trailer unit, destroying it. (I just want to say that I do not feel comfortable documenting the misery of others so I have refrained from snapping pictures where there is obvious homeowner trauma)


We are in the heart of farmlands where the terrain is mainly flat with slight depressions which have now formed large lakes


In some spots you are able to drive around the water


And in other spots you are required to drive through the water. There was a strong smell of manure and it was reported on the radio to avoid contact with this water due to chemical and bacterial contamination, so I had decided NOT to drive through this water as I did not wish to contaminate our vehicle.


Of course, there are those who possibly have no other choice but to drive through the water to reach home


We are now on a parallel acess road which runs along our main Transcanada Highway (Hwy 1, aka: Hwy 401). Hwy 1 is elevated but on there are large lakes of pooling water along the sides.


There were videos on the news yesterday showing that the water was 2 or 3 feet high in places, but during the night the water has receded at least 3 feet.



We are truly lucky to not live in an area prone to flooding.