Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Broken Subframe on the FJR

Well, I finally got bitten by the broken subframe on my FJR.

It's a known weak point on the bike.  You have the frame that goes around the engine, and then bolted to the back of the frame is the "Subframe" which is the part you sit on.  Also, the rear bags hang from the subframe as well and the trunk in the back sits at the very back of the subframe.

We were riding and the tail piece of the subframe broke off.  This meant that several plastic parts such as the body work and the grab rails were holding the weight of my trunk box.  Since the frame is supposed to hold them, they started failing at a rapid rate.

My buddy was following me and saw my bag flapping around and signaled me to pull over.  Thankfully the trunk didn't fully break off because that would add to the expense of the repairs.

I ended up with eight total breaks.  Two on the subframe breaking off the tail piece.  Two grab handles broken off, a cross brace broken in the middle, one break in the right side plastic and two breaks in the left side plastic.

My buddy was riding an identical bike to mine but without the trunk.  Our initial plan was to swap my mount and box over to his to get it home.  However we didn't have the tools to get his bolts out.  I stopped him before he screwed his up as he was attacking it with a pair of pliers.  We were only about 20 minutes from home so I phoned my wife to come pick up my luggage and then rode the bike home.

Here are the pictures.

Broken cross member.

Broken subframe

Broken grab handles.

Broken fairing

Fairing broken in two places

I started disassembly, here are some pictures of the broken subframe.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Using VirtualDub

Ok, so first off, this is total plagiarism. I totally ripped this document off from this site -> http://timelapseblog.com/2009/08/04/using-virtualdub-for-time-lapse/ 

 I use virtualdub for a number of projects including stitching my time lapse stills from my GoPro camera into videos. It's a free software that isn't so intuitive to use, but the above document makes it easy. That doc was written in 2009 and I had fear of losing it so I'm copying the text over here in case it goes away for some reason, and also to make it easy for me to find.  The original doc has some nice screenshots to go with it so I suggest using it so long as it exists.

One nice thing is that once you've been through the document, you can save your settings to use later and it's super easy to just open Virtualdub, load your settings and point it at your folder of stills, and then it spits out your video. But every so often it's good to go back and refresh what you are doing with it.

Bam! Open VirtualDub and you’re immediately hit with one of the most desolate user interfaces around.  There’s no flashy logo or timeline, just a wall of gray.  You’d be forgiven for thinking you made a mistake.  But if you can get past the stark user interface, VirtualDub offers a highly functional and free way to create time-lapse videos.

What is VirtualDub?

VirtualDub is a GNU General Public License video editor.  Basically, it’s an open source piece of software with plenty of free third-party filters available on the web.  For our purposes, it’s also an excellent way to create time-lapse videos.  While my recent post Using Windows Movie Maker for Time-Lapse showed how to make a time-lapse video using software already installed on most PCs, it was a bit of a jury-rigged solution.  VirtualDub is actually intended for time-lapse, among many other things.  The program can be overwhelming in its simplicity so today’s tutorial will stick to the very basics of creating a time lapse-video.

Download VirtualDub

The VirtualDub software can be found at http://virtualdub.sourceforge.net/.  After downloading, install the software onto your computer.

Arranging Your Pictures

Unlike Windows Movie Maker, VirtualDub requires the photos used for a time-lapse be in their own folder and numbered sequentially without gaps between number (i.e. 2,3,4 works but 1,3,5 doesn’t).  The easiest way to do this is to select all files, right click, and choose “Rename.”  It doesn’t matter what the beginning number is as long as the rest follow in order.  If you’re like me and take snapshots as well as time-lapse sequences on the same memory card, make sure you seperate them before proceeding.

Once your photos are separated, go to “File;Open video file…” and select the first photo in the series.  Make sure “Automatically load linked segments” is checked at the bottom of the import window.

VDub open video

You should now see a large, distorted image of your first photo.  Right click and choose 25% viewing size and then resize the window next to it.  The photos might still look distorted because the resizing filter hasn’t yet been applied.  The left window is the input file and the right is the output file.

Frame Rate

The first adjustment we’ll make is to the frame rate.  For Windows Movie Maker, we used a 16fps frame rate because we had to use a trick in order to get a working time-lapse.  While 16fps is usually fast enough to create persistence of motion, 24fps is the movie standard as well as the television standard in North America.  Europe uses just under 30fps 24fps works better, which is why it’s the movie standard.  The American NTSC frame rate is 30fps while European PAL is 25fps (Thanks to Dominic for the correction).

In VirtualDub, go to “Video;Frame rate…” and select “Change frame rate to (fps):”  Change the frame rate to 24 and click “Ok.”  This might be too fast or too slow for you, so play around until you find a rate that works.


The photos you imported are probably bigger than the final video you want, so we’ll have to resize the output.

Go to “Video;Filters…” and click “Add.”  Find the “resize” filter and click “Ok.”  Because you’ve already imported your photos, the filter knows the image dimension and aspect ratio.

VDub resize filter

At the top of the window, select “Absolute (pixels).”  The pixel size of a modern HDTV is 1920×1080.  This size is called 1080i or 1080p depending on whether the image is interlaced or progressive scan, but that doesn’t matter at this stage.  What matters is the maximum resolution of a TV screen is 1920×1080 so your video won’t gain anything by being larger than this.

Change the second number of absolute pixels to 1080.  If you shoot in 16:9 ratio, the first number should now read 1920.  If you shoot in the photographic standard 4:3 ratio, the first number should read 1440.  Click “Ok” to close the filter details and then click “Ok” again to close the filter list.


We’re going to save the final video as an avi. file, so we’ll need to use compression to prevent the video from becoming unwieldy.

Go to “Video;Compression…”  Here you’ll see a list of codecs.  You might have different codecs installed on your system than mine but many people will have the Divx or Xvid codec.  I use the Xvid codec; not for any particular reason.


Now all the basic settings have been adjusted, you can either render your video or watch a preview.

At the bottom of the screen is a series of small buttons.  The first is a stop button, followed by a play button with a little “I,” and a play button with a little “O.”  These are the input and output play buttons.  Click on the output play button and your video should start rendering in the output window.

VDub preview

Saving Your File

To save, simply select “File;Save as AVI…” and VirtualDub will do the rest.  You can upload this file type directly to websites such as youtube or edit it further in another program.

As I said at the beginning of this post, this is just a basic tutorial meant to get you started without any unnecessary complications.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Motorcycle downtime sucks.

It's been a tough couple of months for the motorcyclist in me. I had a nice trip planned over a four day weekend to visit friends and ride new roads, but that got trashed for a couple of reasons. A sudden snow storm probably would have been enough to cause me to cancel, or head in a different direction, but some routine maintenance the weekend before was what killed it.

I haven't done fork maintenance before and the FJR was in dire need of some attention in this department. I attended a mini clinic with some friends where one of our experienced friends showed us how easy the task is and set my mind at ease. I had ordered all the parts and tools needed, read a bunch on the particular forks for my bike and watched a zillion youtube videos. Sometimes, no matter how prepared you are, things can just go wrong and they did. I managed to seize up one fork so bad that one of the local suspension guru's at a Yamaha dealership couldn't accurately figure out what went wrong and couldn't fix it. They ended up quoting me $1300 for new forks which I didn't have.

Here's what $1300 worth of junk looks like in a box.

A search of ebay for parts netted me what I needed and I set about finishing the repair. It turns out that some of the parts I picked up were Chinese knock off junk and not authentic Yamaha parts. Everything was sent off to Traxxion Dynamics and they determined that my Chinese junk was so far out of engineering tolerances that they considered them to be bent. Money down the drain.

 Finding the last single remaining part I needed was difficult due to some issues with part numbers and such. In November I was looking at a shipping date of the middle of January for the part as it had to come from Yamaha Japan. Ended up finding that one part in the Yamaha warehouse under an older part number though and got it in December, later due to the shipping debacle of UPS and FedEx during the holidays.

Traxxion got me fixed up and this past weekend I rode for the first time in three months. It was amazing, I'm so happy to be back on two wheels again. My blog has been slow, but maybe now it will pick up as I head out on my silver motorcycle and have some new adventures.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My experience with Google Music

I finally decided to get into the whole cloud music thing. I'm not an apple person so itunes and icloud were out, even though all my music sits on an old 80GB Ipod Color. Yea, one of those OLD ones. It still works though, and I was surprised to find that after sitting unused in my bag that it still fired up as the battery had not depleted yet.

 For free, Google seems the way to go. I looked at Amazon and may still give them a go but for right now I'm testing on Google's platform. I figured I'd post up my trials and tribulations for others if they are looking to do the same, so I'll update this as things pop up.

 1. Import worked fairly well, I didn't have the speed problems that a lot of others complain about. I couldn't in any way import my songs purchased from Apple though, and they didn't do the matching that that Amazon used to do or still does. In fact, I don't think Google matched a single song I have with their library so my entire library is counting toward my usage statistics.

 2. Playlists have a stupid feature. You can actually add the same song to the same playlist multiple times. I'm not talking about the same song from different albums, but the exact same song. I thought the shuffle wasn't working but low and behold, I did actually put the same song in twice. Silly stuff Google.