LED Brake light conversion for a 1993 Triumph Tiger (version IV)

So, a few years after version 1, I have now completed my 4th iteration of this idea.

Version 2, was more 5mm LED’s like the 1st, but was unreliable.  Version 3 used the same LED’s as version 4 but with a 556 timer as in version 1.  Version 3 got very hot – so hot in fact it started to smoke.

This version is an interim version as it still gets too hot on full brightness.  Fortunately, the brake light only requires a fraction of the maximum output, so is perfectly useable for long periods of time.

New for version IV is the 12F675 PIC Micro Controller.  This was my first dabble with Micro controllers and I am hooked.  The reason for the change is that the PIC can do PWM like the 556 timer, but with less circuitry.  It also enables me to modify the brightness of the output without the need for me to take the cover off and adjust variable resistors (and it can also do 0-100% duty cycle).  This is the source code for the PWM and the control on the 675 chip.  Todo: Add watchdog timer support and maybe add option to reduce brightness steps.  Having looked at some PWM code on the net, I decided to create my PWM code from scratch.   I did try a 2 timer approach, but found that a single timer worked better for me.

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The Collecting of my 1993 Triumph Tiger

This is the story of the day I collected Tigger.

Like a lot of things in my life, doing something simple like this had to be different.

I saw the Tiger on eBay back in August 2008 and immediately fell in love with the colour. It was too far away for me to visit before the auction ended, so I took a gamble and purchased it based on the photos and description. Although it was claimed to be rust free, I could see that the wheels were in poor shape and would need attention. The seller also noted that there was a problem with the “carbs” and that a “guy” was going to do a full inspection of the bike to ensure that it was 100% before collection.

The Auction finished in August but because of my commitments and because the seller was going off on holiday I wasn’t able to collect it until September. In the meantime, I paid a deposit and, as the TAX would run out at the end of the month, I applied for a new TAX disc online using the current owners details so that I would be totally legal when collecting the bike.

The eventful day arrived when I would be traveling up to Warwickshire to collect the bike. I had my flatmate drop me off at Reading train station to catch the train to Nuneaton and meet the seller who would pick me up from the station. Even though the seller was throwing in a helmet, I was carrying all my gear and a helmet as I am not a fan of using second hand helmets.

The journey seemed fairly quick and it wasn’t long before I was walking around Nuneaton station looking for my lift. I figured I was fairly recognisable, being 6’3″, sporting a goatee, and either carrying or wearing my motorcycle gear. On the other hand, the person I was looking for was a complete unknown, so I gave the seller a call. He asked if I was carrying a helmet, and I said I was. He then said he thought he could see me, so I started looking around. I could see a guy, some distance off, walking purposefully towards me with a phone in his right hand. I told him that I could see him and hung up.

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Repairing Schuberth SRC System

OK, so my Schuberth SRC system kept turning itself off within minutes of it being turned on. At first, I thought it might have been because it wasn’t fully charged, but I ruled that out quite quickly. Having opened my SRC system in an attempt to improve the radio reception, I anticipated that Schuberth would not be interested in fixing the unit so it was up to me to see if there was anything I could do to solve the problem.

[singlepic id=107 w=320 h=240 float=right]It didn’t take long to get everything apart and see that my assumptions about the location of the battery and the components was incorrect.

It also didn’t take long to find out where the problem was. There was a ribbon cable between the two sides shielded by quite a thick metal sheaf.  Clearly, there had been a lot of movement of the shield as it was no longer soldered to the units at either side. Within the metal shield, and near the one end, the ribbon cable had been folded and flattened. Constant movement of the shield and the cable had caused the ribbon cable to fail where it had been folded.

Getting a new ribbon cable of the same size and type proved to be difficult, so I had to search for a 12 pin 0.50mm pitch ribbon cable that was longer than the original. In the end, I was able to get two off eBay for around £7.00 each which I was really pleased about; £14.00 instead of £200.00 for a new unit or the unknown cost of having had it serviced by Schuberth.

I did make one mistake whilst servicing the cable. I was a little impatient with one of the locking tabs of the ribbon cable and broke it off in my haste. I thought this was going to cause me a lot of grief, but I was able to to use a strip of plastic from the top of a headache tablet strip, fold it in half, and wedge it behind the ribbon cable like the original tab would have done. It took a long time to get the cable and the plastic wedge into place and ended up being as snug a fit as the original plastic tab. I doubt it will move before I have to replace the cable again (which I hope I won’t have to do).

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Review of Schuberth SRC for the C3

Having owned a black C3 helmet for almost 2 years, I recently bought a new Schuberth C3 helmet in Fluo Yellow for my daily commute.  I was offered a good deal on buying the helmet with the Schuberth SRC system that I couldn’t refuse.  I would like to point out to Schuberth, that paying the full RRP, of £280, for this system is way too expensive, and will deter a lot of people making this purchase.  Knock a £100 off the asking price and I am sure most C3 owners would save their pennies and buy one of these.  I would even go as far to say, that some people might actually go out and buy the C3 helmet just to have the easy integration of wireless communication, bluetooth and radio.

I absolutely love the way the SRC system integrates into the helmet.  Yes, it adds a bit of weight, but it is barely noticeable, and the convenience far out ways the minimal weight increase.  The only real issue I have had with the installation is that the flip lid requires a bit more effort to close than it does without the SRC system installed.  Maybe this will get easier with use.


Although I have not been able to test the rider communication, I have been able to test the bluetooth integration with my mobile phone and TomTom GPS unit, as well as the radio.

I have to say, the radio reception has been really poor.  I live in Berkshire and ride to London most days.  Outside of London I have hardly been able to receive a signal of any quality.  The radio constantly crackles and the signal fades in and out – so much so, that I have elected to void the warranty and take the system apart to see if there was anything I could do to improve the reception myself (video after the break).  I have soldered a wire onto the thick metal strip that runs around the back of the helmet and will let you know how I get on.  I would be interested to know if I had a faulty unit or whether or the SRC systems are this bad.

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Triumph Thunderbird 1700cc (limited edition factory fitted big bore kit)

The nail in the coffin for my old Thunderbird 1600 was when Triumph announced they were doing a limited run of factory fitted big bore kits and two new colour schemes.  This was back in November last year when it was still hard to get any details about cost or whether the two new colour schemes would be included with the big bore kit or an optional extra.  I sold the old bike there and then, after only 531 miles, and used the money as a deposit on the yet to be launched 1700.

[image title=”Thunderbird 1700″ size=”medium” id=”335″ align=”left” linkto=”full” ]

Four months later, in late March, I picked up my Thunderbird from Bulldog Triumph, in Twyford.  The time had finally arrived to find out whether that extra 100cc would make its presence known.  I had already told the shop that if I wasn’t happy with this one, I would be back for a Rocket III Roadster.

After nearly 1200 miles and six weeks of use, I have to say, the big bore kit makes a huge difference.

With the 1600, you feel compelled to change up through the gears quickly and at relatively low revs, whilst the 1700 is quite happy to linger in gears and feels content to use the full range of the available revs.

[image title=”Thunderbird Performance Curve” size=”medium” id=”330″ align=”left” linkto=”full” ]

The graph to the left shows the difference in power delivery.  The 1600 reaches peak torque around 2700 rpm and then slowly drops off whilst the 1700 reaches peak torque a little later – at around 3000 rpm – dips a little and then hangs on to the power until around 3500 rpm.  Whilst this shows the 1700 has more power, I think the following describes how and why the 1700 feels more comfortable to linger in gears.  The 1700 exceeds the 1600’s peak torque sooner, at around 2400 rpm, and continues to exceed the 1600’s peak torque until around 4000 rpm.

For me, Triumph are onto a winner with the 1700 and my local dealer will be sorry to hear that I won’t be getting a Rocket III Roadster any time soon.  The 1700 is for keeps!

My new (and old) Thunderbird 1600

Well, my new Triumph Thunderbird 1600 arrived last August and I have already sold it after only 531 miles.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the bike, but first impressions left me under whelmed.  I was expecting more torque than was readily available on tap and I was never impressed with the initial colours available.  It’s not all bad – well, apart from the after market handlebars playing havoc with my wrists – the riding position is great, it’s a lot more fun accelerating off the lights and over taking than using the Triumph America.  Although cornering is smooth, the footpegs scrape the ground a lot sooner than on the America, but for such a big bike with such wide tyres, cornering was effortless.  Compare cornering on the Rocket III Tourer which has a smaller 180/70 rear wheel and you’ll see what I mean.

The only reason I sold the bike is because Triumph are releasing a special edition of the Thunderbird with a factory fitted big bore kit taking it up to 1700cc.  They are also releasing two new colours; Phantom Red Haze and Phantom Blue Haze.  I have already put my name down for one of the limited SE’s in Phantom Red, so watch this spac

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Fitting a chain to a 1993 Tiger without draining the oil

A poor design of the early Hinckley Triumph engines is that the sprocket cover is part of the engine casing, usually requiring the engine oil to be drained to change the engine sprocket or fit a new chain.  To compound this, on the Tiger models, you have to remove the rider’s left foot rest as well.  This takes time and is a real pain in the ass, something I have done before and didn’t want to do again just to fix a broken chain that had slid off.

View of the SprocketAs I could reach – and turn – the top of the engine sprocket, I tried to feed the chain in from the top, which wasn’t very successful because I couldn’t get any access to the lower part of the sprocket.  Chain Fed Through (showing metal feeder bar underneath)I then decided that if I could feed the chain in from the lower part it would be easier to pull the chain around by spinning the top of the front sprocket.  This worked a treat.  I used a thin, curved, metal bar from a Triumph America screen as a support for the chain.  By placing the chain on the metal bar and feeding them both under the swing arm until the chain pushed up against the sprocket I was able to hook the chain onto the sprocket after only four or five attempts of spinning the top of the sprocket with my hand.  Once the chain was sufficiently far enough around the top of the sprocket I was able to start pulling it through with ease.

Bike/Car Camera System Using Alix 3d2/3d3 Boards

Foreword: A while back, whilst traversing a roundabout, some bastard drove into the side of my lovely car and, although it was his fault, claimed it was mine and that I was in the wrong lane, etc, etc. Before that point, I had been toying with the idea of installing a forward facing camera to capture my trips to Wales and the number of idiotic incidents one sees when driving anywhere. This was the final impetus I needed to start my project. My original system used a Mini ITX board without any hardware encoder, relying on the efforts of mencoder and the CPU to encode the raw stream to a useable size and of reasonable quality. I learned quite quickly, that a hardware encoder was required.

Choosing the Alix system: After getting fed up with the car I wanted to install a similar camera system onto my motorbike. Rather than doing something practical and spending lots of money on a bespoke system, I decided to use my experience from the CarCam project to build a system for the bike. Being short of space, I needed the smallest system I could find, with hardware encoding, USB support and run on 12V. Needless to say, I couldn’t find anything that fitted this requirement.  How ever, I did find a supplier of MPEG2 Mini PCI cards which meant I only needed to find a small system board that accepted Mini PCI.

Development: It’s been over a year since I started working on this project.  I have sold one system to a friend who has been using it to record his off-road exploits (as well as his commutes).  During this time, I have refined the code to a stable release and optimised the time it takes to start recording from power on to around 25 seconds (from around a minute in the early code).  The system is based on Slackware 13.0 with a heavily customised 2.6.30 kernel and environment.  I am using aufs2 to mount over “/etc” and “/var” to prevent the Compact Flash card from being prematurely destroyed by OS writes.  The handling of inserted/ejected media, as well as media errors, is done via syslog-ng which calls helper scripts when the appropriate kernel messages are generated.  Other scripts are called from cron to check that the recording doesn’t exceed the 4GB file size limit of the FAT32 file system and that the USB device doesn’t fill up.

Video Quality: The output video needs some deinterlacing, but the overall quality is very good.


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LED Brake light conversion for a 1993 Triumph Tiger (version 1)

I bought a 1993 Triumph Tiger last August to run through Winter.  As it happens, for one reason or another, I didn’t get it on the road until December.  In the three months I ran it, I went through around six stop/tail bulbs of various types, including LED bulbs.  I have no idea why the bulbs kept blowing but I decided that I could resolve this issue by designing my own LED circuit with some over voltage protection built in.

The main reasons for deciding to build my own circuit were as follows:

  • Off-the-shelf LED bulbs are not efficient at putting the light where you want it – and because of this, are often not as bright as filament bulbs.
  • My bike was blowing bulbs quicker than I was able to buy replacements.
  • I wanted to incorporate a flashing brake light circuit
  • I fancied doing something different

The initial design included two 12v regulators and two polarity protective diodes; one for each of the stop and  tail light circuits.


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Trident Exhausts for 1993 Triumph Tiger

I am currently doing 900 miles a week on my Tiger so I decided to treat it to some new exhausts as the old ones have been full of holes since I bought the bike over a year ago.  Triumph wanted around £300 per exhaust which are made of plain old steel with just a dash of stainless steel at the end and another extra stainless plate for a heat shield.  Looking around, I was able to find Trident Exhausts offered a selection of exhausts for the Tiger and I decided on the carbon and stainless steel option.  Peter Corlett was very helpful on the phone and the exhausts were around £80.00 cheaper than the Triumph offering with a lot more going for them.

The exhausts took a little over a week from order, to be custom made, and to eventually arrive at the door.

I was a little disappointed with some aspects of the exhausts; One of the baffles was dented to the one side, the pipework were of different lengths and – this is a little picky as I am happy with the finish – but the stainless pipework does not look as polished as the website pictures:


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