The Useless Machine

Sunday 2011-12-18

The past year, you may have seen me tweeting some “#secretproject” tweets. Last week, the project was finally revealed, and here is the video, in case you’ve missed it:

This is what is known on the internet as a “Useless Machine” or “Leave-me-alone Box”. In case you want to make one, there are plenty of instructions online. I think you can build a basic version of this in about a weekend, and it will cost you less than ten euros.  Read the rest of this entry »


Anti-fog Helmet Visor Tip

Monday 2010-04-19

In some biker magazines you’ll see some cheap journalists write that the “dish washing soap anti-fog is an urban myth”, and that it will “blur your vision”, some may even say it’s downright dangerous. This blogpost is to show that if done right, dish washing soap is actually the absolute best anti-fog treatment money can buy. If you’ve tried this and still don’t like it, there are some easier alternatives at the bottom for your convenience.

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Wiimote Whiteboard

Friday 2008-12-12

WiimoteWhiteboardFor people wanting to have an interactive whiteboard but don’t have the money, Johnny Chung Lee has found the solution. Using a Wiimote, he can track an infrared lightsource (like an LED) and use that to control the mousecursor. I tried some software on the Mac and the PC, and I actually got both to work without too much trouble.

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You Can’t Fix What You Don’t Measure

Saturday 2006-02-25

… maybe the title should be “Two Stupidities A Week”, but since both stupid actions had to do with measurement, or rather the lack thereof, let’s stick with the proverb.

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Rotten Rotor

Tuesday 2006-02-14

Kawasaki KL 650 Tengai crankshaft drawingLast week I tried to pull the rotor by using a rotor puller, and a socket (from a socket wrench set) to block it. The socket burried it’s way into the first thread of the crankshaft. After realising this, I tried to fit the rotor bolt, and it wouldn’t go in. Since only the first thread was damaged, I carefully drilled it out (only needed to go 2 mm deep), and now the rotor bolt fits nicely again. Read the rest of this entry »

195Nm Victory!

Tuesday 2006-02-07

Kawasaki Rotor Holder (from workshop manual)For some strange reason, my brother’s Kawasaki KLR Tengai dead-stopped. After starting it again, it made some strange noises. It also had lost a lot of oil somewhere along the way, so we decided to not run it again before we found the cause of the trouble. A few weeks ago we encountered a funny problem, we couldn’t loosen the rotor-bolt. In the Kawasaki KLR workshop manual is a picture of a strange wrench to hold the rotor. Ofcourse we’re cheap, so we wouldn’t spring for a nifty and probably expensive Kawasaki specialty tool for a very old bike which not worth more than the petrol that’s in the tank (okay, okay, but you get the point).

32mm wrench, colored from heatingThe rotor bolt is tightened to 195Nm. That’s a lot of force there, so it’s not surprising we couldn’t loosen it by holding the flywheeel with our hands. So we set out to create a tool of our own. We even ended up trying to bend an old 32mm Chrome-Vanadium wrench, which resulted in an empty gas can, a very hot workbench and nice colors on the wrench, without it bending even the slightest. We we barely able to heat it to the point it got red-hot, because the metal just conducts the heat away from the point you want to heat.

Holding the piston to loosen the rotor-bolt (overview)So I started mailing with Vincent, a good friend of mine which happens to be “quite handy” with motorbikes . He pointed out that you could also stop the rotor from turning by holding the piston. Because we wanted to measure the play in the bigend bearing we needed to remove the sleeve anyway, so I immediately went back to the workshop to do this. After removing the sleeve, I could easily make some wood pegs to block the piston. The wood would have to have a big surface and be strong enough to hould the piston, without damaging the piston or the engine casing.

Holding the piston to loosen the rotor-bolt (detail)It turned out to work great! I needed to attach a long bar to the socket wrench to be able to apply enough force to the bolt, but in the end I got it! In the picture on the left you can see a detail of how the wood blocks are resting on the engine casing. After loosening the bolt, there was absolutely no visible damage to the piston or the engine. Even greater news is that there is also virtually no play on the bigend bearing, so we don’t have to disasemble the crank.

Wearmarks from applying 195Nm to the boltWhen looking at the bolt, the results of applying so much force to the faces of the socket wrench become visible. We know for a fact that this bolt has been removed once before, so these wearmarks are from tightening and loosening the bolt just two times. I think we can tighten it one more time, but after that it needs to be replaced.

Brilliant Fluids

Monday 2005-10-31

Patience has paid off! In stead of stripping the front fender from the terrible italeri decals, I left it as is, and started searching the web for solutions. I read some brilliant tips on the forms at, and went to the local model shop and bought some Microscale SET and SOL decal solutions.

Actually, de bottle labled “SOL” proved to be the most useful. After you applied the decal, and it is all dry (like my carbon fender struts), you gently apply the SOL fluid to the decal with a soft brush. As you may have guessed, SOL stands for “solution” and that’s what it does, it dissolves the decal slightly. The decal becomes so soft you can push and stretch it with the soft brush. Don’t overdo it, if the decal won’t go any further just let it dry, and try again tommorow. Sometimes it takes 2 to 3 tries.

The funny thing is that when the SOL fluid is applied, your decal may start to wrinkle. Ignore this. Just let it dry for a few hours (don’t touch it!) and it will straighten out. Really great stuf!

The SET fluid smells like vinigar, and you are supposed to apply it to the model before you put the decal on. I have tried it, but I haven’t seen the benefits of it yet. Maybe the SET fluid de-greases the surface a bit, but since I keep the surfaces clean anyway, it won’t do much for me I guess. I have a lot more twisty and lumpy carbon parts to do, so maybe I’ll get back at this…