2 bicycles (+ 2 adults) in 1 studio apartment…

Erin and I have just moved into a very small apartment.  It’s only for a few months, and we only moved the essentials, but it’s still quite cramped.  Fortunately, I have experience storing bikes in kitchens.  Some may remember my original DIY bike rack.  That post got a lot of traffic, and many people complained about the crude construction.

Personally, I thought the original had a nice “beta-testing” feel to it.  But after looking at the pictures again, I’ll concede that it was probably an alpha release.

For the whiners who are into sandpaper and staining, I proudly present Bike Rack 0.2:

Construction is the same.  A 2×4 upright is held against a 2×4 plate, using a lag screw for tension.  Slip-on stud hooks are used to hold the bikes.  It’s still in beta, but I’ve added the following improvements:

This added nearly 15 minutes of labor, so in an emergency bicycle rack situation it may not be advisable.

Successful Troubleshooting!

I just sorted out a very geeky problem I’ve been having, and I’m feeling pretty proud of myself.  Prior to coming to Korea, I ordered myself an Asus EeePC 901.  For the most part, it’s been a fantastic machine.  My one complaint has been the wireless performance.  It’s mostly OK at my apartment, but on the go it has a real hard time connecting to access points.  If the signal strength is anything less than stellar, it’s just pretty flakey.  It may be a linux-related driver issue; I’m not sure.

Regardless, I’d had enough, so I ordered an Intel 4965 AGN card prior to my parents’ visit.  The original Ralink card used 2 antennas.  The new Intel card had jacks for three.  I’m pretty sure that three antennas are required for true 802.11N speed, but I haven’t done a lot of research on it.  Something about MIMO (multiple input/multiple output) support.   I thought 3 was probably better than 2, so I spent $5 and ordered one.  I don’t use N networks now, but I figured I might in the future.

Ideally, I would have disassembled the machine and found a good location to stash the new antenna, but the wire was really short, and I didn’t want tear everything apart.  I just stuck it under the (shielded) access panel.  I knew this was a piss-poor location, but I figured that I wasn’t using wireless N anyways, so it probably didn’t matter.

I made this update right before going to Thailand.  Everything seemed to be working well.  The new card connected to networks faster than the stock card, battery life was better, and it seemed to do a better job with weak signals.  I didn’t do a lot of testing, however.

I only used wireless a few times in Thailand, but things didn’t go well.  The connection was laggy, and Skype had terrible delay or dropped calls.  I blamed it lack of bandwidth, but the problems didn’t go away when I got home.  Even on my (excellent) Korean connection, I had problems using Skype.

Tonight I tackled the problem.  Ping showed terribly inconsistent latencies, and tons of duplicate packets.  At first I blamed my crappy router, but my other laptop had no problems.  Traceroute didn’t help narrow down the source of the problem.

I pulled the new wireless card and re-inserted the old card.  Problem solved.  This had me really frustrated, because the Intel card is pretty much brand new.  I tried the Intel card again, but without the third antenna.  Bingo! Low latencies and no dropped/duplicate packets.

I don’t know enough about the hardware or the wireless N specification to really understand this one, but it appears that the case shielding was messing up the third antenna, which caused the problems.  I’ll watch it for a few days, but the problem seems resolved.

I love easy fixes.  I suppose the moral is to do things right the first time, but methodical troubleshooting is critical when problems arise.

Motorcycle Repair

I got my motorcycle out of my parents’ garage last week, and it’s had some problems this year. There was a short in the ignition switch, and the bike would sometimes die for a split second. At cruising speeds, this wasn’t a problem, but at low speeds, it would stutter and lurch. Not good.

Thanks to the labor union at work (long story) my hours have been cut back, and I had the day off today. I decided to tackle the ignition problem. There’s an active forum on Yahoo Groups for Honda Nighthawk owners, and I found some advice on disassembling and cleaning the ignition switch.

I pulled off the headlight housing, disconnected and labeled the dozen or so connections inside of it, unbolted the horns, and pulled off the fuse cover. I could then remove the lock cylinder and ignition switch. I was even able to separate the ignition switch from the lock without breaking the little plastic tabs. When I opened up the ignition switch, I saw that a solder connection had broken.

I pushed the bike closer to an electrical outlet, re-soldered the connection, put it all back together and it runs like a champ. It’s a pretty sweet bike, and the community of riders is really helpful.

Check out the pictures:

Updated bike rack pics

I’ve updated the pictures the recent post about my bike rack. If you missed it before, check it out.  link

DIY Bike Rack

**UPDATE**

Check out the newest version of this rack:  Bike Rack 0.2

So for those that don’t know, I’ve moved into a new apartment. My old place was kind of a tiny hole, which was exacerbated by the pile of bikes that lived in my kitchen. We had 3 or 4 bikes leaned up against the wall, in various states of disrepair. I scribbled up some plans for a vertical rack with legs to support it, but never built anything.

A few months back, I saw this online, and figured I could build one cheaper.

Here are some pics of my version.


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