After 5 years of daily usage my seat gave-in. It ripped a seam on the right side.
Now I had the following options:
- Get it professionally re-upholstered for 60 € and fabric of my choice.
- Re-construct it professionally to be anatomically correct for 120 €
- Anatomical + gel foam for 160 €
- Buy the original seat from Aprilia for 150 €
- Buy an aftermarket taller one for 120 €
I didn’t like those options much because I had to cough-up 60€ at best, so I decided to fix it my self.
Background story: I needed a small camera to record my adventures on my motorcycle and on the ski track. I needed something small enough to mount almost anywhere without limiting my movements. A helmet cam would be ideal, but not really an option because of the cost.
A little bit of ebay search and I found what I was looking for. Turns out China has a solution for every problem.
It’s a tiny camera in the form of a car alarm fob. Even close inspection won’t give it away that this thing is a camera.
The specifications on most of the ebay sellers are all lies. Some state that the video is 720×480 and some 1280×1024 HD. The reality is that the camera shoots at 640×480 and upscales it to 720×480 pixels.
The quality is a bit on the “meh” side but I don’t care much. The footage looks clear enough for me.
They sell for about £5 with free postage worldwide! that’s about 6.1 euros, or 7.7 dollars! Cheap as dirt!
Just use the keywords “keychain camera” if you want to buy one.
I first tried to mount it on my helmet with some velcro so that I can attach it and detach it easily. That didn’t work very well for 2 reasons: I hadn’t thought much about the viewing angle and all I was recording was my speedometer and the tarmac in front of the bike. Small problem.
You can watch that first attempt here:
The second problem and most important was recording time. The tiny internal battery was just 180mah and went flat after about 20 minutes of recording. Not enough for long roadtrips, and also hard to find a PC up in the mountains to recharge. Supposedly it should record up to 1 hour when fully charged, but mine didn’t. Maybe it was a faulty battery.
So the obvious mod was to replace the internal tiny battery with a bigger capacity external one.
Cell phone batteries are good for that purpose because they carry the same voltage, (3.7v) and more than enough capacity. I already had a surplus nokia battery laying around but if you don’t you can buy a new one from ebay for just £1.39. Plus it boasts a whooping 900mah that should last a lot.
The battery I had was the Nokia BP-5M. It’s not the easiest battery to mod as the positive and ground terminals are awkwardly hidden inside a plastic tab.
I had to remove that, and solder directly on the battery’s circuit board or IC-Chip or whatever that thingy is.
The second mod I attempted was to change the mounting “system”. Instead of velcro, this time I used powerful neodymium magnet, the same way I mounted my MIO GPS on a generic GPS holder a few months back.Only this time, instead of hot glue, I used super-strong fast-dry epoxy. When it bonds, it becomes firm plastic.
I also attached a metal plate on top of the brake-fluid box on my bike and I was golden. The Point Of View is amazing. Plus it’s more stable than my head.
Everything was going well until after a couple of months use, the camera wouldn’t power-up anymore. It was a soldering failure. It was time to replace the battery again.
This time I ordered the Nokia BL-5B for £1.39 from ebay. It’s an easier to mod battery as it has flat and accessible terminals.The BL-5C should do as well.
Disassembled everything, soldered some fresh cable, glued the new battery with epoxy, and I was good to go again.
The final mod that I tried (For now) was to add a wide-angle fish-eye lens in front of the original lens to increase the viewing angle. I bought a wide-angle jelly lens from ebay for just £0.99 + Free postag, and glued it with epoxy. I had to hold it absolutely still for about 5 minutes until the epoxy dried, so i used the my trusty helping-hand tool.
Now my little camera does everything I want. It takes wide-angle footage, has a battery that lasts, and it’s easily mounted on any metal surface.
- Keychain camera £5
- 4GB Micro SD £3.99
- 2 neodymium magnets £0.2
- Nokia BL-5B Battery £1.39
- Wide-angle lens £0.99
Total cost of the project was £11.59
Next step will be waterproofing it.
When I use my Mio C220 GPS on my bike the battery doesn’t last long. This sucks. Especially for those long trips. Also, It would be cool if I could charge my cell phone and mp3 player on the go.
Add a powered USB port, hooked to the battery, for everlasting power.
The dirty details:
First of all, you’ll need an 7805 voltage regulator A.K.A. LM7805, a diode, a fuse, some cable, and a female Type-A USB port.
While you *could* wire up everything on your own, there’s no point doing so.
For about 1 Euro you can get a USB car charger, from ebay. (Postage included)
It would cost you more to get the individual parts, plus you would have to find some sort of case to protect them. For 1 euro you get everything you need. Sweet deal.
Carefully dismantle the car charger.
If it includes a fuse, you’re lucky. Mine didn’t. It’s fifty-fifty. Some have a fuse, some haven’t.
Although you could get away without using a fuse, I highly recommend it. We don’t want to burn down our beloved bikes, do we?
Get rid of the spring either by cutting it, or de-soldering it. This is the positive output of the circuit.
Also throw away the metal contacts. We don’t need those either. Just try to keep the little black cable intact.
It’s easier to solder on the cable instead on the PCB itself. Black equals ground, or negative.
This is where I connected my 2 amps fuse. I’m not sure whether you’re supposed to wire it on the positive or the negative lead, but I don’t think it matters much.
If you have a multimeter it’s a good idea to test the connections to make sure you’ve soldered everything correctly.
Now connect positive to positive, and ground to ground on your battery screws, and wait for the fireworks. (Just kidding). Just take extra care not to connect them the other way around, or the voltage regulator will get red-hot and start melting everything.
Now wire a mini-USB cable that runs from the battery, through the bike’s frame, to the handlebar.
This way you can charge your GPS and use at the same time.
And if I ever need to charge something under the saddle, I can always unplug the handlebar cable and plug any USB charger under the saddle.
The only problem with this configuration is energy waste. All the excess voltage is converted into heat. This isn’t just wasteful, it’s also a small flaw: When the engine is running, the voltage on the battery gets up to 14V, so the regulator has to drop it to 5V which is quite a drop. The specs for 7805 specify that it can take as input as much as 35V with a heatsink. In this case I’m not using one, plus everything is encased, and under the seat. Depending on your motorcycle, things might get very hot.
My Aprilia has the engine air-intake under the seat so I’m hoping to get some air-stream on it that will help cool it down.
My next upgrade will be to perforate the plastic so that it “breaths” better.
First, you’ll need a cheap generic motorcycle holder.
China is again the way to go. So fire-up ebay, and search for a motorcycle holder. Any device will do, as we only use the handle-bar ring, and the plastic platform.
I found a motorcycle holder for the Samsung i900 Omnia for just £2.75 including P&P.
Next step is to clip all the protruding plastic bits that hold the Samsung in place, until you’re left with a flat plastic platform.
I’m sorry, I don’t have any before pics.
Now glue some neodymium magnets (AKA rare-earth magnets) on the platform, and the equivalent amount of magnets on the GPS it self.
I glued them with hot-glue and up to now it holds great. You can use other glues as well, but my guess is that they will start dissolving under the blazing summer-sun. Epoxy would work even better if you have it.
Just make sure to reverse the polarity so that they actually pull each other instead of pushing.
We don’t want that, unless you’re trying to build a self-floating GPS.
It won’t work.
The mod works fine even with just 4 magnets. I’ve used 8 just to be sure. The magnetic attraction is so strong that it’s very hard to pull them apart even by pulling with both hands. There’s no way to accidental lose it.
After 2 years on my Aprilia Pegaso 650 Strada, I think it’s time to write a review of fuel efficiency.
How I measured:
Whenever I top-up my tank, I check the mileage and then reset the trip odometer. For means of simplicity and consistency, I top-up right after the yellow fuel indicator comes on.
Here are the results:
- At daily commuting in heavy traffic, I never get more than 200km per tank. That’s about 15km per litre.
- While touring at around 140km/h I get 230km. (17km per litre)
- During my last trip, I tried to keep a steady pace of 120km/h and never reached above 5,000rpm. Amazingly, this gave me a range of 300km!! (23km per litre).
While touring I can travel easily as far as 500km away with just 2 top-ups and some fuel to spare. Overall, I think that as long as you don’t go full throttle fuel economy on the Aprilia Pegaso 650 Strada is pretty sweet.