October 25, 2012
I got a letter recently from Project Vote Smart, thanking me for being one of their original supports (beginning around 1990 or so). They also sent a nice pin.
But what I really like is being able to go to their web site during this gnarly election process and find real data about candidates, instead of having to sift through the endless commentary that floods the news.
I realize they’re a small voice compared to all of the Super-PACs that are pouring money into races & ballot measures, but they also are one of the few rays of light I can find in the political landscape. If you’re a voter who likes to make their own decisions instead of voting the “party line”, I’d strongly encourage you to support them.
October 4, 2012
So in the end, we didn’t win.
We did avoid hitting other vehicles, or crashing into a hay bale, or crashing into somebody (like a race volunteer), unlike a few other vehicles I could mention.
And we looked good…
Turns out my near-death power slide on Nimrod during a test run caused the rear axle frame to bend, leading to toe-out (or toe-in? I can never remember).
So we were scrubbing off wheel rubber the whole way down – which was…disappointing.
But we’re ready for next year’s race, this time with a properly aligned frame…
September 2, 2012
Schmed & I have decided to attempt Aconcagua this December.
Which doesn’t leave much time for travel planning, setting up Big Data training in Buenos Aires, finding mule packers to help get gear up to base camp, and (most importantly) implementing a training regime appropriate for getting to almost 23,000ft.
We’re planning to make it a business-climbing-vacation trip, which means the family flies to Buenos Aires in mid-December, and we spend two weeks exploring the city and surrounding areas.
May 27, 2012
Time to see if the steering adjustments are working…
…and the brakes too
April 27, 2012
Once I knew I had a winning ticket for the race, I did what any programmer would do when getting started.
No, I didn’t make the t-shirt. I wrote a simulation.
Step #1 was to get the profile of the race course. Google Earth has nice support for generating a profile from a path:
Next was figuring out how to simulate the race. For every meter down the course, the profile lets me calculate the change in elevation, and thus the change in potential energy. Once I have this, and the mass of the vehicle, and the resistance due to wheels and air drag, and the moment of inertia of the wheels, then it was a simple matter of mapping from delta PE to delta KE:
And then I could turn these equations into code:
Finally, I could generate results with different weights, and graph them.
The sad result was that more weight == better results. Though I imagine rolling resistance isn’t linear with weight, as the “footprint” of the tread expands under increased load. Plus there’s the issue of being able to stop at the bottom of the hill…
April 25, 2012
I’ve been keeping a collection of emails sent by my Dad, as he works in his shop to get a disk brake attached to our (small) wheels. I think it’s pretty amazing that he’s got the energy and persistence (at 85!) to keep working away at a problem until he solves it.
Two days ago:
I have been chasing my tail for several days trying to get the brake discs to rotate without ‘runout’ when installed with the wheel on my support brackets. I have gotten as close as +/- .005″; not good enough.
Each time I lapped the face the disc bolts to, and reinstalled the disc, I got different results. I tried adding shims to the bearing outer races – no luck.
Finally, tonight I removed one of the spacers from between the bearings and measured the length at 4 points with a micrometer. 1.0303, 1.0302, 1.0295, 1.0288. That calculates to an angle of 0.1836 degrees.
Now I wonder how to true up the sleeve. I don’t know which end is off. And I don’t know if my lathe and chuck are accurate enough. I can also chuck it in my milling chuck. If I grind off a little I will need to add a hard stainless shim type washer to compensate and keep the length to 1.030. I have shim stock in various thicknesses.
1) I checked out the lathe; it is pretty accurate.
2) I trued up the sleeves by chucking in the lathe and grinding with my Dremel. One end was off on each of them.
3) Brake disc run-out, and the wheel still wobbles!!
And today, victory!
Today it finally dawned on me that the top hat we made to mount the brake disc to the wheel really forms a backbone for both. The disc is pretty flexible; the wheels are made from fiberglass reinforced plastic which has a low modulus of elasticity. In between is the rigid metal top hat.
By adjusting the bolts to the wheel, I have the one wheel running less than +/- .002 instead of +/- .020. Now I am working on the face of the hat against the disc. If need be I can shim and get it accurate. The gap in the brake clamp is .090 with a little drag on the feeler gauge. The disc is .070 thick, leaving less than .020 total.
I’m glad he’s on our team
April 12, 2012
The Nevada City Adult Soapbox Derby event is approaching with frightening speed. Time to increase the development velocity of our Tube of Terror.
And it’s looking smooth and true…nice.
Though maybe not as aerodynamic as we’d want.