Thursday, June 12, 2014

Giant Bicycles RideSense Sensor is Very Poor Quality and Shows That Integrated Sensors Can Be Bad Idea

I have a 2013 Giant Defy 1 Advanced and my wife rides the Avail 1 Advanced bicycle with the integrated RideSense ANT+ speed/cadence sensor.  We have been very happy with the bikes and very UNHAPPY with the RideSense sensor.  I will never buy a bike again with integrated electronics.

The problem started when the Ridesense sensor went dead on my wife's bike.  I went to remove it with a 2.5mm hex wrench and the cadence sensor portion of the sensor had broken off and was hanging by one wire.  I called the dealer that we purchased the bike from in Newbury Park, CA and they contacted Giant and sent me a new sensor.  When I tried to install it the width of the chainstay wouldn't allow the cadence sensor bit of the sensor to go in properly.  Either the hole in the chainstay needed to be bigger or the chainstay needed to be wider so I called Giant.  They said to take it into any Giant dealer and that they would take care of it.

Newbury Park is an hour away so I took it into the Giant dealer in Ventura, CA.  They are really a good shop and 5 minutes away.  The problem turned out to be some material left over from manufacturing was left in the chainstay and made it so a sensor could not be properly inserted or removed.  Once the material was removed the new sensor would go in, but not easily.  Since the sensor didn't fit right inside the chainstay because of the left over material from manufacturing Giant replaced the sensor at no charge so I was good.  Here's some pictures of the sensor.  The plastic the keeps the sensor attached is really thin and fragile.

A few days ago the battery went out on the Defy 1 Advanced.  I went to pull the sensor out CAREFULLY and it came out without breaking, but when I replaced the battery and put it back in the cadence arm snapped off.  Like the Avail, the clearance is VERY tight.  I contacted the Giant dealer in Ventura and they contacted Giant.  Giant told the dealer that they don't have that problem and I could buy another for $58.  I got the feeling that they (Giant) must have thought I was a knucklehead.  Maybe I'm stupid thinking that a simple sensor on a high end carbon fiber road bike should be easy to remove and re-install to replace a battery.  Guess I learned something about Giant-they don't stand behind their product.  There is no way I am going to pay $58 for a replacement Giant sensor when I could buy a Garmin GC 10 for less and have a much higher quality sensor.  Now I have no sensor and a big hole my chainstay.  This is a shot of the Avail with no sensor so you can see the nice hole left in the frame.

After thinking about it for a bit I decided to use the Garmin GC 10 sensor from my mountain bike.  It is very high quality, can take a beating, is easy to change the battery, and always works.  It can also use this really cool magnet instead of the Giant magnet that has to be strapped onto the crank arm.  Good solution, but looks funky.

After one ride the slight pressure of the cable ties on the RideSense sensor made it break into two pieces.

For something that is supposed to be on the inside surface of a chainstay it is mind boggling how fragile it is.  The fix for me until I go back to the Giant dealer in Ventura, CA to get the hole in the frame permanently plugged up I used a piece of a Park Tire Boot to seal the hole.  

I have worked on my own bikes for over 30 years.  I can do most routine maintenance and know what needs to go to the dealer to be done...(e.g. shock/fork rebuilds, repacking pressed bearings, new cables for bikes with internal cabling, etc.).   One thing I wouldn't think I would need to have to take my bike to the dealer for is to remove a 2.5mm hex nut and pull out a properly engineered sensor to replace a battery...then again...maybe I do...

Bottom line for me is a bike with integrated electronics means you are stuck with whatever the manufacturer gives you with the bike...a situation that that is far from optimal.  I am not sure I will ever purchase a Giant bicycle again because the way this small problem was handled makes me concerned about what they would do with a big problem.  The problems I've had with the RideSense sensor really diminish a great riding bicycle.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Very Nice Linux Desktop System

The requirements were for a system to run Linux Mint 17 (Ubuntu 14.04 LTS), standard applications, and no gaming.  The system needed to have plenty of processing power, scale if necessary, and be easily upgraded.  The system was also going to be a development host and network storage server.  After digging around a bit I decided on the hardware below.  Total cost was below $800.

Motherboard = Asus ATX DDR3 2400 Socket P Motherboards A88X-PRO

CPU = AMD Quad-Core A8-Series APU A8-6600K with Radeon HD 8570D

Power Supply = Rosewill CAPSTONE Series 450W 80 Plus Gold Certified Modular

Memory = Kingston Technology HyperX 8 GB (2x4 GB Modules) 1600 MHz DDR3 Dual Channel

CD/DVD = Asus 24x DVD-RW Serial-ATA Internal OEM Optical Drive DRW-24B1ST (Black)

Hard Drive = 2ea WD Blue 1 TB Desktop Hard Drive: 3.5 Inch, 7200 RPM, SATA 6 Gb/s

Case = Fractal Arc Midi R2w/side window

Monitor = Asus VS248H-P 24-Inch Full-HD LED Monitor

Keyboard/Mouse = Logitech Wireless Combo Mk520 With Keyboard and Laser Mouse

The Fractal Arc Midi R2 case is very nice.  It comes with 3-140mm fans that are very quiet and keep things well ventilated.  All necessary hardware comes with the case and both side panels come off easily making building the system pretty easy.

The Rosewill Capstone modular power supply cut down on the cable volume and runs very quiet.

Build time was about 1 hour.

Here's the final build before putting on the cover.

This system runs Linux Mint 18 and the graphics are very nice.  There's enough resources so the desktop user doesn't notice any other demands on the system like backups.

I thought about springing for SSD drives but the two SATA drives are so fast I don't think I would notice any speed increase except possibly on boot which occurs rarely.  For the price this system has impressive performance.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Moab Dust Bowl

I took this picture on 10/28/2013 from Sand Flats on a day when the wind was blowing out of the SE around 15 mph with gusts over 20 mph.  Looks pretty dusty to me.

My wife and I moved to Moab in 2007.  When the wind blew there wasn't noticeable dust, but over the last few years the blowing dust keeps getting worse.  The more the south end of Moab Valley is developed the worse the dust is when the wind blows.  What's in the picture above is pretty tame compared to a day with wind over 30 mph when dust can make the air very dirty.  I think the increase in blowing dust lowers the quality of life here and it is only going to get worse.

The unfortunate thing for continued development around Moab is the soil is very sensitive to disturbance.  This paper is one of many on the effect of soil disturbance on arid and semi-arid soil.  One of the visible effects of more disturbance is more blowing dust.

Moab has a bit of a conundrum.  The quality of the environment is what brings tourists to Moab and much of the development in the Moab Valley is damaging the environment.  At some point environmental degradation will drive tourists elsewhere.  With tourism being ~75% of the area's gross domestic product there is a lot at risk.  It will be interesting to see how much more development it will take to tip the scale.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

How to turn a Mac Running OS X 10.8.4 into a Caching Nameserver

I found that I wasn't happy with DNS response times so I decided to turn my MacBook Pro into a caching nameserver. So far it runs DNS queries very quickly and has a very small system resources footprint.

If you want to know what a caching name server is read this

Turning a Mac running OS X 10.8.4 into a caching nameserver is simple using the following steps. If you are not running OS X 10.8.4 this may not be for you.

1- Using terminal run the following command to verify the Bind Nameserver is installed on your system:

ls -l /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.isc.named.plist

If org.isc.named.plist is not in the /System/Library directory you may need to install Bind on your system. If the file is there move on to the next steps.

2- Now setup the /etc/rndc.conf and /etc/rndc.key files.
sudo rndc-confgen -b 256 > /etc/rndc.conf
  sudo head -n5 /etc/rndc.conf | tail -n4 > /etc/rndc.key  

3- Now make sure both named.conf and rndc.conf show named running on the same port.  grep port /etc/named.conf  grep port /etc/rndc.conf  If they aren't running on the same port edit both files using your favorite text editor and change the port numbers so they are the same.  I am running on the traditional port 53.  

4- Now setup Bind to run on startup with a single command. 

sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.isc.named.plist 

Note: When you run this command a window should pop up asking 
you if you want to allow access to this service through the firewall. 
Your answer should be "don't allow" unless you are running a server.

5- Your caching nameserver should now be running.  

6- The last step is to change your DNS servers in System Preferences to point to  Go to System Preferences -> Network and change your active interface/s to using the caching nameserver.  

7- Now you are done.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Not scuba diving any longer...and a site change...

After over 2000 dives since 1971 my scuba diving days came to an end in 2005 with an ear injury. I moved all of my underwater photos to my Picasa site which you can also reach via the Photo Albums link to the right. The other links I had on my previous site are still there except for the UW Photo and Diving Links page.