Category Archives: Uncategorized

All Your Anechoic Chambers Belong to Me

]Went out for a very brief first ride today. Only 9 miles!

So…anyone know of an anechoic chamber in the tristate area that I would be allowed to use–even if I have to do an all-night session? I have several calls in, including one to my alma mater, but no dice so far.

The reason? I need to take some exceedingly accurate measurements in order to design my crossover. Now, I could do them by correcting for reflection from the floor and ceiling, but that wouldn’t be as much fun, would it?

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Personal: Finding the Right Cap

As you can see from the below my hobby while not able to ride has become audiophilia. Rational audiophila, but audiophilia nonetheless.

I’ve decided to try my hand at developing an active triamped system using DEQX as a room correction system/electronic crossover (actually, the speaker is biamped and I’ll be running dual powered subs, so in essence it is a triamped system). I’ll write more about what this means, why I’m interested, and how I chose DEQX in a later post–in fact, I plan to document the entire process so that it can be replicated by someone equally naive. It should be interesting, as the hardware comes with a 178-page manual, and I also have to learn about DACs and a lot more details about amplifiers and speakers than my current “that sounds nice.”

I reserve the right to go back and edit these posts, as I’m likely to convey a lot of misinformation as I go along. In fact, I definitely will be coming back to these and cleaning them up so that it becomes an effective guide.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Before I scare you off DEQX forever, you should be aware that a) basic setup, which provides truly astonishing sound, is simple even for the technically disinclined; b) a dealer can set it up for you; and c) you can get a free 3-hour setup session via Skype if you prefer to take a middle route. I am just going the absolute hardest route–setting it up myself and using all of the most advanced features–because I find it entertaining.

I also plan to give some plugs to the various techs and businesses that are helping me figure this out and suffering through my dumb questions.

For now, though, I need a capacitor. Why? Regular passive speakers have a crossover that divides the signal from the amplifier so that the high frequencies go to the tweeter and the low frequencies go to woofer. The crossover acts as a natural protection against the amp frying the tweeter (the woofers are, apparently, more tolerant). Because active amplification means that I’m connecting the tweeter and the woofer directly to the amp, the tweeter needs some form of protection. And that protection takes the form of a capacitor.

So, capacitors (which store electric charge) come in all different values, measured in microFarads. I needed to figure out what size to get. According to the DEQX manual, I needed one that falls 2 octaves below my crossover point (the point where the frequencies are divided into high and low for the tweeter and the woofer), which in this case is 2800 Hz. Octaves are not linear, instead there is a 2:1 relationship. So 2 octaves below 2800 Hz is 700 Hz (divide 2800 by 4). (One octave below would be 2800/2 = 1400 Hz, and three octaves below would be 2800/8, or 350 Hz).

Then I had to get my tweeter data sheet to identify the resistance in Ohms at 2800 Hz–which turns out to be very close to 8 Ohms.

Now, plugging that into this handy formula:

C=1/(2*pi*f*R)

C=1/(2*3.14*700*8)= 2.84 x 10^(-5) = 28 uF

So I need a 28 uF capacitor. That value isn’t common, so I chose a 33 uF capacitor, which I purchased from the nice Canadians at PartsConnexion. Voila!

(Obviously this is a 6.8 uF capacitor, not 33 uF).

Alternatively, you can use this website to calculate the required capacitance:

http://www.claredot.net/en/sec-Sound/high-pass-cross-over-6dB.php

Good times were had by all. Now I have to learn to solder.

Executive Summary:

  • In an active biamped or triamped situation, a protective capacitor between the tweeter and binding post is desirable
  • The correct capacitance is determined in X steps: 1) Get your tweeter data sheet and find the resistance in Ohms at the crossover point you choose; 2) find the frequency that is 2 octaves below your crossover point by dividing the crossover frequency by 4
  • Plug it into the website above
  • Buy two from PartsConnexion (because they are lovely Canadians)

To be continued.

John

Personal: Connecting Cello Stereo Components — The Elusive Fischer 104 Connector

Remember when I said don’t read my personal posts? There are going to be a lot over the next few months as I recover. Just general stuff I’m thinking about.

I have the pleasure and privilege of owning some Cello gear. Cello was a company started by Mark Levinson that sold very high-end audio equipment in the 90s. Many of the components were used in professional audio studios.

For example, here’s the Audio Suite and Palette, perhaps the finest equalizer ever made (I’m a strong believer in the value of tone controls, none of that audiophile short-path pure signal bullshit).

audio-palette

The major problem with Cello gear is that instead of using standard balanced XLR connectors, they used some crazy Fischer connectors because they “sound better” (audiophile bullshit). It’s virtually impossible to find the proper information on these cables, much less get them made.

After extensive research, and some help from my friends at Blue Jeans Cable, I found the correct part numbers. I’m putting them here as a public service announcement so that nobody needs to go through what I did to find these little assholes.

S104A040-80 male with E3104.3/8.7+B strain relief (fits cables up to 8.7mm D).

S104Z040-80 female with E3104.3/8.7+B strain relief (fits cables up to 8.7mm D).

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In case you want to make your own cables, you can buy them from Michael Percy at Percy Audio. I recommend Blue Jeans cable though–well made, inexpensive, and no weird superstitious crap about cables and connectors sounding different etc.

Bored yet? I’m making a long list of rides and hikes to do as soon as I recover fully…hoping to get back on the bike by October!

Aumick Road Hike

Yesterday’s adventure was a hike up Awosting Road to the top of the Shawangunk Ridge. I’m almost hesitant to give this one up, as we only rarely see other people on this hike, so I almost feel like it’s my own private path…nevertheless here it is.

Aumick

It’s moderately challenging: About 4 miles (8 miles round trip), 1400 feet of elevation gain. There are a few sections where my mastiff looks at me like “why the hell are you torturing me like this?”

It’s worth the effort, though, particularly when you get close to the top, where the scenery takes a distinctly Lord of the Rings turn. Magnified on the day that we hiked this by plenty of fog. I know my sometime co-blogger John S rides this on his bike, but he clearly doesn’t go the same way we hike this path–it’s far too rocky to ride, and there are 18% plus grades on loose gravel. This picture doesn’t remotely do justice to the beauty of this hike.

A Hike

A hint if you decide to hike it: you’ll come to a number of forks. With the exception of the first, where you’ll take a left, always take the right fork.

John

2015

Hi everyone!

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with the blog. I have been riding a lot, it’s just that there isn’t quite as much mystery and adventure or as many pitchfork-wielding hillbillies on the Hudson side of the Shawangunk Ridge, so there’s less to report. It’s lovely riding, but it lacks the splendid–and sometimes scary–isolation of riding in the Catskills proper. Yes, I can still get over to my old stomping grounds, but the minimum round trip is 60 miles, so as you can imagine it isn’t a routine weekday kind of thing.

So, this year: Only 3780 miles, assuming I manage to get out for another 80 miles before the end of the year. A pittance compared with my all-time high of 8500+ in 2012, when I first moved to Ulster County. Home ownership and the job have gotten in the way of more time on the bike, but I think this is enough miles to feel reasonably good about myself.

My regular riding companion, who will remain nameless here, has been sidelined by first plantar fasciitis and then Lyme’s disease, poor guy. Yet another reason why I haven’t been out on too many adventures–sometimes it takes a commitment to someone else to spur me on to some of the dumber rides I’ve done. And finding someone who rides the way I do isn’t easy.

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So if you live nearby, like very long rides, getting lost in the middle of a sleet storm,  returning home somewhere between 2 and 5 hours late, and taking long accidental hikes in road shoes over boulder-strewn goat paths in the high Catskills, ring me up. I should mention that someone told me that I like to turn any enjoyable activity into a death march–for example, instead of planting 50 daffodil bulbs like a normal person, I planted over 2500 and managed to strain not one, but both biceps to the point where picking up my new kitten hurt. So it goes with riding as well: It’s not fun unless you’re so burnt that you don’t know how you’re going to make it home!

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If you’re looking for a good route in the area, please remember that you can always go to my ridewithgps page. Questions? Feel free to e-mail.

Have a happy new year, all.

 

 

Velo Lumino: High end lighting components for high end bikes

And now for something that has nothing to do with the Catskills, but is connected to riding.  Allow me to make a shameless plug for my new business, Velo Lumino. The idea started last fall when all I wanted was a nice little integrated switch to control my generator lights from the stem, to finish off my otherwise complete Jeff Lyon randonneusse.  I knew that a few frame builders had made widgets for this sort of thing, in limited distribution to friends and customers, and Boulder Bicycles makes them exclusively for their Rene Herse builds. But I wanted a switch and didn’t feel like buying a new Herse just to get one (although I would love a new Herse!).  So I teamed up with frame builder Tom Matchak with some ideas for a neat switching mechanism and Tom and I quickly came up with a nice integrated design that, in our opinion, is so novel, integrated and easy to install, we decided to make it available to the public. Along the way I also picked up 3D CAD modeling skills, and that started the proverbial avalanche of ideas that quickly made their way to small batch production. The current lineup includes the stem switch that Tom and I developed, an alloy fender taillight that I designed, and a front fender headlight mount, so you can mount that nice Edelux right on your fender instead of at the fork crown, in case you don’t have a front rack. More components are in development, and will be added by years’ end. All Velo Lumino components are made to last and to have a classic look. Hand made in the USA, and backed by a 3-year warranty.

As for Catskills ride reports… alas I won’t be back until October when hopefully I’ll be able to document some really nice fall foliage rides.

So for now, check out velolumino.com and also its companion blog, Electricalites A.T..

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–Anton aka somervillebikes

 

 

Andes Memorial Day ride, Or: how I lost my climbing legs and haven’t been able to find them

Here in Boston, we had record snowfall this winter:  over seven feet of snow fell in three and a half weeks, and it was brutally cold.  I did not commute by bike for the whole month of February, and even over the next couple of colder-than-mormal months, I did fewer rides than usual. Essentially I only commuted. By Memorial day I had fewer miles clocked in than I normally do by April.

I was up in the Catskills for Memorial Day weekend, mostly to do yard work (yes, John F, home ownership is a ton of work!). Many of our mature garden plantings had gotten decimated over the winter, not directly because of the extreme cold but indirectly: the deer were desperate, and began eating plants they normally don’t prefer. I set aside enough time from my garden work to get one short ride in, one that I had mapped out one cold February day as the snow drifts imprisoned me in my house.  I’ve written about Andes in my Tale of Three Hamlets post, but there is an abundance of dirt roads in the township that I haven’t explored. This short 31 mile route would explore many of them– 23 miles worth (dirt roads are annotated below in green), and add to my growing network of vetted dirt roads of Delaware County, which I track old-skool style with a marker and a big wall map. One day I will transpose it to one large digital map, and make it available to the public.

andes-31

Despite the forecast for temps in the 70s, it was 36 degrees when I started! I wore every layer I brought with me. Starting in the town center, you pass by at least a dozen antique stores and cafes. An interesting historical anecdote: I’ve heard, but have not been able to corroborate on the interwebs, that this building, formerly a bank, is in the history books as being the last bank in the US ever to be robbed by robbers on horseback:

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In less than two minutes, you’re out of the village and the first turn off of Main street takes you to farmland:

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The early morning light created dappled patterns along the tree-lined roads.

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Despite the above-average snowfall this winter, the spring has been unseasonably dry. Creek beds that normally run high in May looked liked this:

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View from Gladstone Hollow Rd:

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First climb, up Hyzer Rd, and I had to start shedding layers. Within an hour, I had shed all of my layers. Two hours later, the temp had risen to 70!

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The characteristic pink-red shale dust of the county’s dirt roads. Being so dry this spring, the roads were particularly dusty.

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By the time I reached the last climb on State Rd, my legs were officially shot. I can’t remember the last time my legs actually felt like they were on fire after only 4200 feet of climbing, but they were. This time last year I had ridden longer and hillier rides. First priority: get more climbing miles in!

On a related note, I recently rebuilt my Rawland Stag with a mix of SRAM road and mtb components, basically a Rival 10-speed road group but with an XX mtb double crank and X9 front derailleur, and designed in an extra low, sub 1:1 gear (28×32– previously my low was 1:1, 28×28). I have to say, the sub 1:1 was utilized, and in fact truly appreciated, on this ride. I’m also pretty impressed with SRAM. I’m new to SRAM, but so far I find it rock solid, and it hasn’t skipped a beat.  It’s also very quiet, far quieter than the Dura Ace 10-speed group it replaces.

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A humble old farmhouse. Simple and tidy, with nice proportions. I wish they still made them like this.

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Did I mention animals? Despite clocking in only 31 miles, there were plenty to see. Sheep…

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horses…

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geese… beavers (ok, I didn’t see beavers directly, but note the beaver pond and lodge)…

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and even a second beaver pond…

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The highlight of the ride was the continuous 5-mile descent down Wolf Hollow Rd, which looked like this for much of it:

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I probably won’t have another report until July when I am up there next. For my next ride, I will explore either farther east toward Roxbury and Margaretville, or west toward Franklin and Walton.

Andes 31 ridewithgps route here.

–Anton