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Offline PeterL

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Ruminations on survival - a primer
« on: March 17, 2019, 06:56:42 pm »
I wrote this both to release stress after a particularly 'interesting' day on the road, and to amuse a good friend and riding buddy. Hope you can enjoy as well.
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Hours spent playing in traffic today (Sorry, mom) inspired the following missive. Entitled:

 "Thunder" and Lighting

Two things you need to know:
  1- my vehicles have always named themselves. It can take minutes or months, but once the label
   appears, it follows the car/bike/whatever for life. My current ride, a 2008 Concours 1400 ABS,
   was christened "Thunder". It might owe something to the exhaust note, or (apologies to Garth
   Brooks) because Thunder ROLLS!

Ah, you've recovered from bad pun #1. Don't get complacent, there may be more.
  2- Presumably you know what a Venn diagram is. If not, go Google it, we'll wait. (insert "Jeopardy"
   tune here) Everyone up to speed? Great. Point #2, and I can show you the math, is that a Venn
   diagram of the terms "People" and "Idiots" would be almost impossible to discern from a true
   circle except at VERY close range. Think angstroms.

I am a bit on the wrong side of "mature", have been on two wheels for over 50 of those years, and yet people can STILL somehow constantly come up with new and even stupider ways to surprise me whilst driving their cars. Given that observation, the populace's ability to ignore a half-ton of motorcycle and Day-Glo clad rider should probably not infuriate me to the degree that it consistently achieves.  Tough!   NOW you will find out why it is unwise to anger an engineer. Most souls will get angry and shout or break things. Engineers get mad (or even just slightly annoyed) and what gets broken are the laws of physics, decorum, and plain common decency. You remember where the constant pursuit of the Roadrunner caused an endless variety of objects with "Acme" stencilled on them to drop on the Coyote? Point 1: I founded "Acme".  Point the second: my tenet in life is "Anything worth doing, is worth OVERdoing!". So I generally will drop things starting from a point in close lunar orbit. Hey- if it was good enough for Robert Heinlein...

The licensing laws in this country are, IMHO, overly lax. But, surprisingly enough, it is comparatively rare to issue a license to a profoundly blind individual. And therein lies an angle to exploit. Visual stimuli are tough to ignore. ANNOYING visual stimuli even more so!

Lets start off from the rear. Autos seem to rear-end motorcycles with distressing frequency. I'm not the first to reinvent the 'brake strobe' concept. I have, in my own fashion, taken the concept and weaponised it. The rear end of my bike has two LED arrays, tied into a neat controller module I unearthed on eBay. It gives dozens of possibilities for pattern, frequency, and ability to inspire loathing from cagers. It does NOT, however, allow them to say "but I didn't see him Your Honor" under oath and with any chance whatsoever of repeating that  to a Lie Detector tech and not spending several years to decades enjoying seriously substandard living arrangements and large, hairy roommates who want to call you "Shirley".

Right, on to the side view:  I replaced my turn/running light bulbs with seriously overachieving LED units, and the signal relay with an electronic, rate-controllable item. This let me 'tune' my signal flash rate to a frequency that is just a smidgen short of 'Strident', but is well north of 'Arresting'. Again, think "Shirley".

Now the great state of California has achieved deserved acclaim for being the first to legalise "lane splitting". A good idea, too often marred by the fact that the whole "People/Idiots" model unfortunately includes a fair number of bikers as well. I specifically accuse the cerebrally-challenged who think "Loud pipes" achieve anything other than annoying the neighbors and anyone unfortunate enough to be driving behind them. Which is where the sound waves propagate, dummies! The other three quadrants of the motoring topography can't hear you for squat. Then, alas, there are the 'boy racer wannabees' who think that passing traffic with a delta greater than the speed limit on the Interstate is a good idea. Seriously? The guy four cars ahead just initiated an unsignaled lane-change, your "Squidly-Special Turbo-Super 600-and-three-quarters" and his "So big it has it's own gravity field" SUV are going to be attempting to possess the same spatial/temporal coordinates at vastly different intrinsic velocities in the next 2/5th of a second. Valentino Rossi would be screwed. Hell, Doctor Who would be screwed!!

My analysis has indicated that maintaining a reasonable delta (10 to 15 MPH over traffic average) gives you at least SOME chance of spotting Goober McGasGuzzler initiating something remarkably moronic in time to have a reasonable chance of avoiding a career as road pizza. Part two of this means (you guessed it) we are now going to do something to make us hard-to-ignore as we approach from their rear. First- headlights. Bright is good. The sun is bright. We all see the sun. Now... think "supernova". Right, NOW you're cookin'! Modern LED replacements for your bikes OEM halogen units, or even (shudder) Edison-era incandescent lamps allow you to throw a significant barrage of photons at the people not yet lucky enough to be behind you. (But please, make sure that your headlight/s are AIMED PROPERLY. There's visible, and then there's just plain RUDE!)

Part two of what was formerly known as the "Heinz Doofenschmirtz Traffic-inator" master plan involves installation of an (astonishingly enough once again) completely legal and DOT-approved device (for motorcycles) called a 'headlight modulator'. This allows your high beam/s to, during daylight hours as insured by the required photocell, cycle "high/low/high/low" at a specified rate of twice per second. Combine this flashing with illumination levels previously achieved only by mil-spec terawatt lasers, and you have something that will not only make it vanishingly unlikely that drivers ahead of you (this to include drivers merging from side roads, shopping malls, and/or the Kit-Kat Klub's luncheon buffet) will, again, be at all likely to be forced to endure ten-to-twenty of Shirley-dom.

As a last line of offense, I recommend some driving lights. Again, LED units are both small, power efficient enough to run them on your Grom without draining your electrical system, and attention-grabbing like Phoebe Cates in that movie. You know the one. Once again, please insure they are aimed properly. It's only courteous after all.

So there you have the basic blueprint for "Enhancing your visibility to a ludicrous extent for fun and profit". We hope you have found this educational and/or rewarding. If you are, even just in your imagination, rubbing hour hands together and giggling in a manner certain to alarm mothers, children, and smaller varieties of livestock, well, gosh darn it, I'm proud of you!

Next week we'll study the proper way to install a 4-trumpet big-rig airhorn array on a Yamaha R3. Bye now!
Mine all mine: 2008 C14 ABS (aka "Thunder")
projects: 1982 cb750F (project "Ichigo"), 1983 VF750S (x2) (I named the first one "SabreOne" just so's I could name the second one "SabreTwo-th"), and something that started life as an '03 SV1000s but has now mutated beyond recognition...
just gifted: 2003 BMW K1200RS, 2018 Multistrada 950, 2019 Yamaha Tracer GT (Nice. But I'd still rather have my friend than his bikes, y'know?)

Offline lars

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Re: Ruminations on survival - a primer
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2019, 02:32:08 am »
Peter,

I haven't gone quite as far as you have with lighting.  Thinking maybe I should catch up some.

Can I get a modulator that alternates the two headlights so they look like they're winking all day long?

Seriously,  the turn signal lights on our bikes are pretty weak.  Can you give a link to a supplier for your LED lights?

Thanks,

Lars

Offline funsize

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Re: Ruminations on survival - a primer
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2019, 09:43:01 am »
Peter, you bring up good points.  My bike's name is Pearl because she's pearl white.  In regards to LED lights, I have them on my bike.  I love them.  Even though I use my turn signals and am very vigilant of the drivers around, I still was rear ended by a driver who was on his phone as I was turning right.  Thankfully I had a witness.  Thanks for your article.

Irene
2015 Vulcan 650s

Offline JimBob

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Re: Ruminations on survival - a primer
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2019, 11:17:27 pm »
Peter,

I haven't gone quite as far as you have with lighting.  Thinking maybe I should catch up some.

Can I get a modulator that alternates the two headlights so they look like they're winking all day long?

Seriously,  the turn signal lights on our bikes are pretty weak.  Can you give a link to a supplier for your LED lights?

Thanks,

Lars

Lars, I think most states don't permit the wig-wag strobing of lights, that's reserved for police or emergency vehicles. I'm sure that's state-dependent.

Even a motorcycle headlight modulator doesn't turn the headlight off/on, it varies between high current/low current (on old "edison" light bulbs, as Pete called em). I'm guessing for LEDs they use a voltage modulation.

I have 2 small halogen driving lights placed high on my C10 (just at the lower curve of the windshield - about same height as mirrors). They work great for visibility (probably because they're higher than the headlight) even though I have them aimed downward. Adding a conventional modulator to them has been REALLY effective. I found this by accident, because I had upgraded the headlight to HID, and modulators don't work with HID. So the modulator went to the driving lights.

Offline RWulf

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Re: Ruminations on survival - a primer
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2019, 02:20:47 pm »
JimBob your right. The federal motor vehicle code does not allow light to wink
from side to side. It actually does not allow headlights to be turn on and off
eather. The way the modulator do it is to dim the hi beam lamp. Not actually
turning it off. The low beam lamp stays on all the time.
I have used modulators starting in 2000 and find them to be very effective.