English eTapped

It is done.

My friends at Bicycle Depot in New Paltz installed eTap for me. Good decision, they spent a ton of time getting the front to shift right on my very unconventional gearing.

Admission: I have a mountain bike crank and 46/28 ten speed rings from circa 2011–that is to say they are lacking many of the modern conveniences like good shift ramps etc. In any case, they do not get along super well with eTap. Just a note for people who are planning on retrofitting a gravel bike, with gravel gearing, with eTap.

My plan is, ultimately, to get Rotor’s 46/30 “Spiderings” and a Rotor crank to improve shifting. Kind of a bummer to have to get rid of my lovely THM 400-gram crank though. If you want it, you know where to find me.

However, even though the guys at Bicycle Depot were not entirely satisfied with the front shifting, my first words after a ride around the parking lot were “clearly, you guys have higher standards than I do!” It’s still better than mechanical.

Some pictures, I’m going to ride it for real tomorrow, provided my clients give me a minute to get out of the house.

So refreshing to have new bar tape. The old stuff was getting ratty.

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Pretty busy up front with levers, Garmin mount, light mount and blips. But only 2 cables! Looks weird.

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Blips. Mike at Bicycle Depot originally wrapped them under the tape (at my request) and then let me know it looked a little like my handlebars had grown tumors.

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Front derailleur with the aforementioned 10-speed mountain bike rings. Derailleur and old rings do not get along well. I don’t really need 46/28 any more, since…

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…I have an 11-32 cassette.

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PS: If you’re more interested in routes, a complete library can be found here.

John

medicalwriter.net

Over the Ridge and Into the Hills

Well, I guess I’m back in business. I rode 220 miles on an upright bike in 7 days, a good total at any time of the year! Part of it was an accident of weather–I ended up playing hooky last Friday because it was so nice out, so I got two longish rides in within a single 7-day period. I’ll report on the earlier ride separately.

Good news is that I’m a much stronger rider after 13 weeks of killing myself on a recumbent trainer. Plus my neck appears to be fully healed. Unfortunately, on longer rides I still have to stop every 30 minutes or so for a stretch–some of the muscles in my back become extremely sore, presumably from not being actively used for so long, since I was unable to lift anything (or ride a conventional bike) for 5 months.

So…last Friday I rode over the ridge, and down into the best riding country in the area. A friend at a local bike shop refers to this area as his “fortress of solitude,” and that it is. In many years of riding up there I have never seen another cyclist, which is crazy because it is gorgeous country. I’m referring, specifically, to the area north of route 209 but south of the Catskills proper.

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Seriously–if you get a chance, ride up there! If you’re coming from the city, go to the Poughkeepsie stop, ride into New Paltz, and start from there. Here’s the route, with the caveat that there are a few misroutings; if you want a revised route let me know.

Starting from my house south of New Paltz, I headed over to Gardiner, and then up Albany Post to Guilford Road.

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The least pleasant part of this ride is the climb up to 44/55 on Guilford Road. I don’t know why but it kills me every time. I’m totally fine riding all the way up the ridge from there, but there’s something about the way Guilford climbs that is quite painful.

From there, up 44/55. Here’s the traditional hairpin photo.

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And then up to the top of the ridge.

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Here’s an interesting variation: Laurel Hill Road. It says “no trespassing” on one end, but not the other. I also looked it up and it is plowed by the city, so y’know what? If my tax dollars are paying to keep their road clear, it’s mine to ride on. It’s a short, steep, downhill stretch of well-packed dirt.

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I stopped taking pictures for a while. I crossed over in Rosendale on a brief stretch of trail. Wasn’t much fun as the trail was mostly mud last week–not easy on a skinny-tired road bike. Plus my bike got even filthier. Thankfully, I “accidentally” forgot to wash it before taking it to the bike shop and, um, they took care of the dirty bidness for me.

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And that’s it! I made myself some bacon potato soup to recover.

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In other news: I’m converting my English 700C to eTap, or rather my local bike shop, Bicycle Depot, is doing the converting for me. “Wait!” you say, Super Record wasn’t good enough for you? The answer is that an electronic groupset is something that I’ve had a hankerin’ for for many years now. I don’t necessarily need it, but I’m a proponent of dead quiet, perfect shifting at all times, and I’m sick of monkeying with mechanical, particularly because my bicycle maintenance skills are poor. I mean, I can do just about everything needed on a bike–and I even built exactly one wheel–but because I don’t have to work on my bikes often, I don’t have a ton of practice so it takes me FOREVER to get most tasks done. Even something as simple as adjusting a derailleur or maintaining a hub. So hopefully electronic will keep me in perfect adjustment all the time.

Last photo with Super Record.

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That’s all from me this freezing cold Saturday afternoon. Hoping for some great weather next week for more riding!

John

medicalwriter.net

PSA: Get your flu shot, 2016 edition

A brief digression from your regularly scheduled programming.

Those of you who know me know that I do a considerable amount of work on vaccines. In fact, I’d say that it is the work that I’m proudest of, and it is truly a privilege to work with people who develop and train on vaccines (plus they are some of my favorite clients!)

Among all the revolutions that have come over the past century in modern medicine, I think I can safely argue that–at least from a public health standpoint–vaccines have had the greatest impact on disease burden.

Although this post is about the flu shot, just a note: not vaccinating your kids is an antisocial act. In fact, New Paltz is in the middle of a mumps outbreak. Yes, mumps. Nobody should be getting mumps in 2017. Dear dimwits: Jenny McCarthy is not a reliable source for health information.

I got my flu shot last week. I had a day of lethargy that may or may not have been related to the shot, but certainly nothing that impacted my regular activities. If you are afraid of needles, I should note that the needles on most vaccines these days are so fine that you barely feel them. Really!

John

medicalwriter.net

Lessons Learned (Personal)

Hey all,

In the spirit of being completely open, I’m going to admit that I did something stupid.

I’ve been setting up a fancy audio system in my office–after all, I listen to music 12 hours a day (at a minimum) so it’s a very worthwhile investment. I’m driving a Peachtree Nova from the digital coax output of my computer; I have the Peachtree set up as a preamp (even though it has an amplifier function because I’m using a McIntosh MC275 tube amp. All of this is going to Lipinski 707 studio monitors on my desk. Yes, they are enormous. I have a Y connector from the preamp outs so I can simultaneously run a sub. As nice as the Lipinskys are, they are a sealed-box design, so they have little bass.

 

The other day I decided to try the Toslink output (I had tried the USB output previously, but I can’t get the driver to work on my shitty Windows 7 computer. I had an optical cable still in the package because I was going to use it to drive the audio from my television, but I later found out that the optical out doesn’t work if you are using HDMI in. Why, I don’t know, but that’s what it says in the instruction.

I plugged in the cable to my computer, noting that they fit poorly, and then into my preamp and listened to some music. It sounded subtly crappy. The balance was off a little to the right, the bass was flabby. So I went on a hunt for the problem, switching around tubes, plugging and unplugging things.

Well, I FORGOT TO REMOVE THE LITTLE CLEAR RUBBER CONDOMS FROM THE END OF THE TOSLINK CABLE.

That is all. There goes a couple hours of my life (and 2 minutes of yours for reading this)!

Good news though: I managed a 9.5-mile hike up Gertrude’s Nose in the Shawangunks. A+ hike, a little hard climbing all those rocks with one fully functional and one partially functional arm, though.

John

 

 

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).

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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!