Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Lixada Wood Gas Stove

The other day I ordered a Lixada wood gas stove using an Amazon gift card. This stove is sold under a number of different brand names on Amazon and eBay, generally for a bit under $20. The stove is made from stainless steel and has the following components, which nest together:

  • Base with air holes.
  • Double-walled combustion chamber with holes on the inside near the top.
  • A bottom part to hold the fuel off the ground. It also has air holes in it.
  • A pot stand with folding arms.
  • A bowl which can be placed in the combustion chamber to burn liquid or gelled alcohol fuel. If inverted it can be a platform for hexamine or trioxane tablets.
Along with the stove itself a nylon mesh bag was included for storage and transport.

Since I had some time this afternoon I decided to give it a try, using some sticks from my yard. The stove did not come with any instructions but I'd read up on them online. Supposedly, they work best with the combustion chamber filled with sticks oriented vertically, burning top-down.

I used a piece of dryer lint/paraffin wax fire starter to get it going.

After a few minutes the wood gas that's released by the burning wood gets flowing through the sidewall, comes out the interior holes and ignites.

Shortly after it got going I put my Olicamp Space Saver Cup with home made lid on top. I had 12 oz. of water in the cup to make some tea.

A couple things caused my boil time to be overly long (i.e., damn near a half hour):

  • It was windy, which caused a lot of heat loss via convection. The next time I use the stove I'll use a wind screen.
  • Some of my wood was damp. Also, I waited too long to refill the stove when the fuel burned down, which made it take longer to ignite. I should have fed it small pieces of wood before the flames died out.
As long as I kept it fed so that the wood gas was being burned it was pretty much smoke free. If I let it die down and then added fuel, it was smokey.

The idea of a stove for which you can forage fuel is very attractive for camping, hiking, and bugouts. I need to play around with it a bit more to get the knack of minimizing cook times. In particular, one fuel I want to try is charcoal briquettes, which we keep up at my friend's place where we camp a few times each year. Another fuel which other owners have reported works well are wood pellets, as used in pellet stoves.

I'm planning to follow this up with a video, once I get the raw footage edited.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Revised Olicamp Lid

I wasn't satisfied with using a screw and nut to secure the handle to the DIY lid I made for my hard anodized Olicamp cup, so I ordered a Tandy Leather rivet kit earlier this week. It was delivered today. The lid now looks like this:

The stud part of the rivet was longer than I needed, so I trimmed it with dykes before setting the head.

The rivet should be more secure in the long term than the screw and nut, and easier to clean if food gets on it.

I can see the rivet kit coming in handy for future projects.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Olicamp Hard Anodized Cup and DIY Lid

The other day I ordered an Olicamp hard anodized aluminum Space Saver cup from Amazon using some points. It arrived today and I think it'll be a good piece of gear. It's lightweight and has graduations so that you can use it for measuring water.

One thing it lacks, however, is a lid, which means that if you use it as a pot to cook or boil water in, it'll take longer and use more fuel. I've used expedient lids made from aluminum foil in the past with my GSI stainless cups and USGI canteen cup. I wanted something better for this cup.

My first try was made from aluminum flashing. I traced the lip of the cup on a piece of scrap wood to create a form, and cut a piece of flashing a bit larger around than the cup. I then secured the flashing to the form and pressed it around.

It looked like ass.

In search of a better solution I ran across this video by IA Woodsman, in which he made a lid for a stainless GSI cup from the bottom of a 12 oz. coffee can. I had an empty can so I went back out to my shop and made a similar lid.

The lip of the aluminum Olicamp cup is a little larger in diameter than the stainless GSI cups, so I cut eight small slits around the edge of the lid so I could spread it out to better fit on the cup. Instead of IA Woodsman's copper D-ring, I used a stainless steel split ring from my scrap box. Click on the picture to see the full sized version which shows how it can be set so that it doesn't flop over.

The ring is secured using a similar tab to IA Woodsman's. However, I used a stainless screw and nut instead of a rivet.

I'll probably carry the cup nested over the bottom of a 32 oz. Nalgene or 40 oz. Kleen Kanteen bottle, with the lid in the bottom of the pouch.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Baofeng Digital Interface Cable

Like a lot of hams and preppers, I own a Baofeng HT. Last week on Facebook, Baofeng Tech announced the APRS-K2 digital interface cable for their radios. Note that while BF advertises it as an APRS cable, in reality it's not limited to that. Other owners have reported that it works with DroidPSK, for example.

At $18.79 on Amazon Prime I had to order one to give it whirl. I have a 2012 Google Nexus 7 tablet that I can use for Android apps, but I'm primarily an iPhone/iPad user. So, after I got the cable I grabbed the app from iTunes and loaded it on my iPad Mini 2.

The BF APRS-K2 cable is like the KF5INZ Easy Digi interface for iPads, in that it relies on VOX to key the rig to transmit. I programmed UV-5RA with the 144.39 MHz APRS frequency, enabled VOX, and connected everything. had no problems keying the rig with VOX sensitivity set to 2.

Unfortunately I don't seem to be within range of an I-Gate, so although the setup was beaconing, there was no way to port it to the website, other than the app's web connection.

I intend to try the cable with other modes and apps, for example PSKer on the iPad and Fldigi on the Nexus. I'm thinking it might work with the speaker/mic port on my later 2013 MacBook Pro, as well.

Finally, the APRS-K2 is not just useful for Baofeng owners. Since Baofeng radios use the same cables as Kenwood, HTs, the APRS-K2 cable can be used with those as well.

New Bike

I wound up not getting that old Nishiki, but I did get something. See post here. Unfortunately, it looks like that the seller of the old bike is trying to stiff me, so I had to open a case with eBay.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

New Bike on the Way, and a Ride

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

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

(Picture from the eBay auction.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bike Ride at Dusk

After work tonight I took a ~6 mile ride, which reinforced why it's prudent to wear bright clothing, have reflectors, and lights on your bike.

My ride was on the Schuykill River Trail between Miquon and Shawmont and by the time I got there it was dusk. There was some group run going on so that trail was crowded. A lot of runners were wearing dark clothing and as it got near 7:00 PM they got increasingly hard to see. Those wearing a safety yellow/green shirt were a lot more visible.

Likewise, only about half the other cyclists had lights and many of them didn't have any kind of reflectors.

Something the younger folks need to be aware of is that while you may be able to see just fine around dusk, those of us over 40 often start losing our night vision. (I noticed mine starting to go when I was 35.)

When I got back into cycling this summer I picked up these lights. They are cheap and at least in dry weather, work well. I put a set on my daughter's bike and with the rear set to alternately light one of the three LEDs, I was able to see her from over 200 yards away.

I also encourage the use of reflectors. Yeah, they're uncool. They are less uncool than getting hit by a car or another cyclist because they couldn't see you. Incidentally, I tested the supposedly-reflective sidewall lettering on my Bontrager H2 tires after getting home and was not impressed.

Finally, brightly colored clothes help make you more visible. I wore a bright orange Champion Powertrain T-shirt and I also have one in "reflector green." These shirts are lightweight, wick away moisture, and dry quickly. I have a few others in more subdued colors that I wear in the woods or in colder weather as a base layer, so they are multi-purpose.

Added a Mirror to the Bike

One of the things I've noticed riding on the local bike paths is how easily a faster cyclist can come up from behind without being heard. It would also be nice to check on following riders in a group ride, so, I decided that adding a rear view mirror would be a good idea. The one I chose is a Mirrycle MTB Bar End Mountain Bike Mirror. Amazon also lists a two-mirror set if you want one for both sides.

A closeup:

The mirror mounts via a split post much like older handlebar stems. It requires you to remove the end plug or cut a hole in the grip. I had conveniently lost the plug from the left end of my handlebar when I crashed earlier this summer, so that was already take care of for me. Doh.

The unit is mostly plastic so I'm hoping it'll hold up. As long as I don't clip it on something or crash on the left side it should be OK.