My BMW R1150 GSAA at Deals' Gap

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Entries in R1150GS Adventure (5)


Example POV.1 Video: Deal's Gap ride

I've been posting about the POV.1 camera on my R1150GS Adventure, but haven't provided any examples of video shot while riding. What better ride to capture on video than the infamous Deal's Gap (US 129) on the NC/TN border (also know as the Tail of the Dragon). If you're reading this blog, you are sure to already know about its 318 turns in 11 miles. On a quiet weekday it can be a lot of fun. On a busy weekend, there are better (safer!) roads to ride.

I had the opportunity to ride it from East to West on a somewhat quiet Monday afternoon early in October. You can see from the video that there was still a bit of traffic to content with. The POV.1 was set to record 720p at 30 frames per second (the best it will do). Enjoy!

Part 1:

Part 2:


Ending the Jesse Sag

As you know, my R1150GS Adventure has Jesse Odyssey bags. I also have a Remus replacement muffler that was installed during the BMW MOA Rally in Wisconsin in 2007. One of the problems that's haunted my bike is Jesse "sag" and shifting muffler alignment that's occasionally caused enough movement that the stainless edge of the Remus contacts the powder coated surface of the left Jesse bag.

You can see the paint damage next to the Remus muffler

Earlier this summer, I removed the muffler, aligned it better on both ends and took care to tighten the bottom clamp enough that I believe it no longer shifts. However, on extended trips, I usually have both Jesse bags quite loaded and the design of the left side bag and mounting hardware does allow some sagging which brings the edge of the Remus closer to the aluminum of the bag.

While hanging out in the hotel parking lot during the 2009 BMW MOA Rally in Gray, TN, I spotted another R1150GS Adventure that had a piece of unique, non-electronic farkle added. It was an extra bag support that mounts to the existing Jesse hardware and pushes outward on the the bag - preventing the sag and strengthening the "system" if the bike should fall over on its left side.

I needed to depart the rally early the following day for Wisconsin, so Ed Gray spent some time at the rally looking for the vendor that made the piece. He found them!

They are Excel Cycle and Machine Werkes of Delevan, IL. Tom Dowell (owner) makes some NICE stuff for the BMW riders! Ed was kind enough to pick up one of their R1150GS Jesse Bag Supports for me. They also have them for the R1200GS!

I installed it easily this morning, removing the adjusting nut and two of the three washers for proper alignment with my left-side bag.

Finished! No more sag!


Hyper-Lite Flashing LED Motorcycle Brake Lights - Great Customer Service!

I've had Hyper-Lite flashing LED brake lights on my R1150GS Adventure for several years now. The pair (16 bright red LEDs each) are attached to a bracket behind my license plate that positions them to the left and to the right of the plate. I have them set to flash for the first five seconds of braking and then they remain on continuously until I release the brake.

The problem:  About a year ago, I started to lose LEDs on the bottom half of the left assembly. First a couple LEDs failed to illuminate and then finally the lower half (8) all went out. These assemblies are potted and can't be opened up or repaired. I figured that someday I would just purchase a replacement for them.

During the 2009 BMW MOA Rally in Gray, TN, I wandered past the Hiper-Lite booth and decided to at least mention the problem. I did not expect to be handed a replacement assembly! Wow, mine were well out of warranty. These folks stand behind their products. Highly recommended for enhanced visibility and the quality of the product.

The replacement Hyper-Lite LED assembly

I removed the failed unit this morning and within a few minutes had the new once installed and tested. All is well and I no longer have to endure hearing "Did you know some of your lights are out?"


Power-output level "hack" for the ICOM F21GM GMRS Radio

As mentioned previously, I have an ICOM GMRS "handy-talkie" mounted in the Jesse top-box on the R1150GS Adventure. It's cabled to the AutoCom intercom and draws bike power (12 VDC) through a battery eliminator product CBE-210 from Batteries America.

On a whim, I checked to make sure I had the radio set to transmit at the highest possible power (4 watts) since I have it cabled to a permanently mounted Antenna Specialists/PCTEL ASP7795 3dB gain UHF antenna on the top of the Jesse top-box. The ICOM user guide provides a procedure that requires you to push a sequence of buttons and listen for a series of beeps to confirm that the setting change was made. Well, no luck. It seemed to be stuck permanently on the low (1 Watt) output level.

ICOM F21GM GMRS RadioI removed the radio from the bike where it would be easier to work on and in the process, found that using the ICOM-supplied BP-222N Ni-Cd battery pack instead of the battery eliminator, I had no problem adjusting the output power between the 3 levels using the procedure described in the user guide. WTF?

There must be some way the radio can tell the difference between one battery pack and another.

Here's the radio and the CBE-210 battery eliminator:

And here's the radio with the BP-222N Ni-Cd battery pack:

They look pretty much the same on the inside, don't they?

I figured it had something to do with that small spot of exposed metal in the middle of the battery back and that small "push button" switch on the radio itself, but wasn't sure - yet.

Now, here's yet a 3rd picture. This time, it's the radio with ICOM's alkaline battery pack that allows AA batteries (6) to be used for power.

Note the lack of the exposed metal patch on the battery pack. Hmmm, getting warmer.

Since there's no way that alkaline pack would support 4 watt transmit for very long, I surmised that the metal patch (or lack of it) had some influence on the telling the radio it could be programmed to mid or high power settings.

I did some quick checks with my trusty multi-meter and determined that there was continuity between the metal patch and the Negative connection on the Ni-Cd battery pack from ICOM. Ah-ha! The CBE-210 from Batteries America "looks" the same, but there's no similar continuity. Bummer!

I bet the fine folks at Batteries America didn't know the F21GM uses this connection (other ICOM radios sold to the amateur radio community don't so it doesn't matter - IC-V82 and IC-U82 models in particular).

More testing with the meter revealed that the Negative battery connection was actually connected directly to the metal chassis within the radio when the battery was snapped in place. I also determined that what I originally thought was a "push button" switch on the radio was actually just a spring-loaded contact designed to press (and keep pressing) against that metal patch on the battery.

The Hack:

I determined that that little spring-loaded contact just needed to be kept "in contact" with the Negative/ground provided by the battery. Since that Negative connection was actually connected to the radio's chassis I figured a small piece of aluminum foil folded a few times for extra thickness and placed over the contact would do the trick.

The picture above shows the foil before I added a small piece of clear packing tape over it to keep it in place. Miles later, the radio's still happily transmitting at the 4 Watt (highest) level and I'm a happy camper. Problem solved.

Ed Gray's made the same modification to his radio and also continues to be happy with the results.


Newest farkle project - Onboard video recording with a V.I.O. POV.1

One of my Christmas presents was this sweet POV.1 video recording system from the folks at V.I.O.

Full disclosure: I selfishly purchased this for myself from my Ebay sales windfalls. What can I say? Adding farkle is addictive and I hadn't done anything with video - yet.

Everything you think you'll need comes in this nice soft case, allowing quick deployment. The POV.1 is intended for mobile and personal use (skiing, biking, skateboarding, etc.). I intend to semi-permanently mount it on the GS.

Video files are recorded to an SD Card which can be removed from the recording unit to allow the files to be copied to your computer - or you can use the included USB cable to transfer them. I'm not sure I'll be dragging a laptop to the garage to transfer the files, but it's at least an option.

The three main components of the POV.1 include:

  • The weather-proof, rugged video recording unit with built-in LCD display and speaker
  • The wireless remote control used to start and stop recording
  • The metal encased video camera with lens cap

AA batteries and a small 1GB SD Card were included in the kit from V.I.O. I purchased mine through Adventure Designs when they were running a special that included free shipping and a 4GB SD Card.

Some initial observations:

AA battery power wasn't going to cut it when installed on the GS. Being able to power it from the bike would be necessary.

The camera mount included in the kit is probably good for some applications, but didn't seem like it would hold up to the pounding it might have to take on the GS.

The good news: Both of these issues were apparently well understood by the engineers at V.I.O. because I learned in January that a DC Power Adapter and better mounting kit were in the works. I immediately warmed up the credit card and placed my order for one of each.