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Monday, 11 January 2021

Swytch bike ride

 Second test ride of the Swytch today.

I started with a plan to ride to the top of the Downs and take some photos, it was definitely going to be cold (approx 2 hours later the car said -2.5c) but was also misty.

A new plan was called for, I would do my "normal" 10 mile loop : 

mostly flat with a couple of hills, all road, at my middle aged fat bloke pace I'm looking at around just under an hour. I should be able to do it quicker but generally I'm out for a ride, I get some puffing going,  I get some sweat going and I listen to some podcasts.

My revised plan was to do the loop all on power level 1, with the plan to do another day on power level 5 to see what difference is makes.

I'm beginning to wonder why I try to make a plan, a close to the 2 miles from home mark there is a short sharp hill, it takes a couple of gear changes and a bit of effort and it's done but today all I could feel was the drag of the front wheel.

Onto the next section which is a slight uphill and I was finding it just as much effort as normal. I checked which gear I was in and no different to normal and no little red light on the sensor so I pulled over to take a look at what was what.

Sure enough the sensor has moved, so realigned as best I could, changed to power level 5 to get more obvious effect and really the rest of the route was a demonstration of how this should not  work. It is quite clear that I'm not getting enough assist and the problem is misalignment of the sensor / disk meaning that I am getting a response about half the time which explains the pulsing effect I was feeling yesterday.

Almost back home and one the flat and I get a notable vibration which lasted perhaps 20 seconds and went away - that was definitely just random vibration.

Back and home and warmed up again and checked the settings on the power pack.

1) The wheel size was set to 26" not 28, changed that

2) Top speed is set as expected, so have increase that to see what happens - if anyone can help here I'm stumped because the setting only moves 1 step, almost like there is a further restriction in place.

3) Power level is set as default @ 80%.

Then there is the PAS sensor, the sensor itself has lost its stick and the replacement stickies are much thicker than the original so unusable  and the cable ties don't have enough strength to hold it in place and the sensor disk is both not flat out of the box and after 1 rid mis-aligned horizontally and vertically.

What I have now done is to use one of the disk inserts to fit around the sloped part on the inside of my pedal, it doesn't fit as such but appears to be much more solid.

I have replaced the provided cable ties with bigger ones for the sensor so I can get some good tension.

Finally, I have tested just up our road and looks like might be on for better things whilst using a teenager to test the throttle shows it does work but the issue is me :-0

Saturday, 9 January 2021

Review: Embers of War

Embers of War Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

Swytch E-Bike

My kit finally arrived 2 days ago so here is a short summary from today : 

 First decent ride today with the kit fitted. If anyone fancies a read of my first experience. 

 Not the easiest of starts yesterday - new wheel so new tyre and inner tube only to get a puncture instantly (also fitting the tyre on the wheel is awful, either the wheel is a tiny but small or the tyre (admittedly cheap tyre) is a little large so seating it and keeping it seated was difficult, luckily I was able to use my belly as a third hand to pin it in place) and then my front brake (hydraulic) had stopped working so I had to "burp" it - turns out to be easy but another delay meaning I didn't get out until mid morning today - which is a shame because turns out there were some amazing formations from the ice on the wind on top of the Downs. 

 Anyway, somewhat different riding experience to what my I am seeing on "proper" ebikes that I have tried (delivery has been so long most of my friends now have ebikes :-(), it's a much more gentle assist but I'm glad to say that I managed Streat Bostal without stopping which is only the third time I have managed it. 

Was an interesting challenge, new front tyre was all slippery on the slightly icy surface and near the top at its steepest the fat bloke in the saddle causes the front wheel to barely stay on the ground.

I am a little disappointed with the level of assist but on the other hand I didn't buy it to make a motorbike, I've got one of those, so I still have to be fully involved in the propulsion process (I also have a throttle, yes it can propel me at walking pace on the flat) - disappointed but actually rather glad because it means I will still be going out for a bike ride and making some effort. 

 Anyway, yes, a gentle assist meant I got to the top and was a puffy, sweaty mess but unlike previous attempts I was still functional. I did 12 miles in total, unremarkable speed overall. It's interesting because the aforementioned ebike owners complain about drag when the battery isn't on but this is not too bad although it is really noticeable on a downhill where there should be plenty off momentum but the front wheel just doesn't spin freely enough and that really impacts progress. 

 I experimented with the battery off, some on the lowest power and some on highest power (not sure what the point of the middle ones is :-)) and over 12 miles used roughly 80% of the battery (pro pack) which feels disappointing. I was trying to work out how far I had gone on each setting but will have to try again - the plan was to use one setting but I was having fun changing things around as I went. 

 I took my camera and it stayed in the bag the whole way, I didn't take my front light, it was quite misty in places and I can safely say that the light on the battery pack is squarely beaten by my the lights I have from Poundland, mood lighting is my current assessment. 

 The only other things learned is that while the bike works just fine without assist it really needs an on / off button that is more convenient so battery life can easily be turned off because it really isn't needed all the time.

One thing the throttle did confirm, and I had noticed this when I tested the bike on a stand, the motor doesn't seems to roll constantly, it seems to pulse which means the ride is like going over tiny corrugations on the road all the - any one else had this? I thought initially it was perhaps a malfunction in how I had mounted the PAS / sensor because the disk clearly isn't perfectly flag and sure enough as predicted the momemt the bike encounted any off road I found the sensor moved but the throttles show that isn't the case - slightly concerning, more testing tomorrow.

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Luminar Ai

 I thought I would start making some notes about Luminar AI which is a new photo editting product from Skylum software.

They have a number of previous products including Photo Lemur which has an automated workflow to enhance pictures and Aurora HDR for HDR enhancements.

Their previous mainstream product is Luminar (currently version 4) which aims at more traditionally editting but making things easier for normal people to use.

Luminar AI promises to use artificial intelligence to suggets templates which are enhancements similar to looks in Luminar and Presets in Lightroom.

Does the product work?

Well it doesn't work with much else running, I quite often use Lightroom at the same time as World of Tanks and other software but Luminar AI just crashes if a game is loaded.

Standalone it will run but its catalog is basic, it's just a list and doesn't approach Lightroom for provision of digital asset management, it's essentially just a browser, so no geo-tagging, no keywording, no collections for export.

My initial experiences with Luminar AI have been disappointing, standalone the AI templates are definitely A and not very I. Combined with a lack of DAM capability I was all set to invoke my right to request a refund as many customers have already done - a lot of hype to deliver something that is merely ok.

However, I have chosen to perservere, in some cases I have had a positive response from the vendor where I have had issues although there is still a clear absence of a roadmap to convince anyone it is going to get better. 

One of the issues I have had resolved though is use with Lightroom as a plug-in. AI does not work like other plug-ins, you  have to Export not Edit which is odd but once that option is discovered it does work and unlike Editted pictures the output is not then returned to the collection you were it although the picture is uploaded to Lightroom and can be manually added.

Is Luminar AI worth the effort?

Yes, I have paid for it and what I have found is that using the templates to experiment is worthwhile. Unfortunately, there is no preview capability (which given the AI must be doing something why is that information not available?) so you have to apply a template and once chosen go to Edit and make sure all the other attempts are removed, workflow does not appear to have been considered and another issue I have raised that has not had a response. What I have found though is that the templates provide ideas, some I have found I then cannot replicate in Lightroom so have used the AI output but most just highlight that I can tweak the picture back in Lightroom which means the product is adding value but not necessarily for the reasons Skylum thought it would.

Monday, 21 December 2020

Can I post anything good?

 Fed up of negative comment I have will have a very brief and amateur review of my new soundbar for my PC, this is from Amazon and is such a quality item that is was tough to find the brand name (Aisung, yes that well know brand).

What is it : 

Yes a basic sound bar. 

I have been trying to organise my desktop to reduce clutter and that evolved into putting my speakers behind the monitor and that was an unsatisfactory solution both due to the space taken and access to the buttons.

So I purchased the above for £24.99 and also these black metal shelves :

They were £22.99 so as expensive as the speaker but I can repeat the design for our other workstation and keep to a theme in the room.

I have mounted the shelf under my 27" monitor, the shelf is about two thirds of the width of the monitor and the speaker is roughly an inch short on either side and not as deep (even with the poorly position and sticking out USB cable at the back) so gives a little room for the remote control and a couple of pens.

Sound is excellent for something so cheap, it's not hi fi but certainly better than previous speakers I have had and is ideal when connected to my PC using the 3.5mm audio jack.

It also has a USB input, that can be used to power the device and the connection from the PC but my PC has a USB grounding problem so makes an awful din but it does work, I have it plugged directly into a USB block for power and it seems to be fine with the lowest power block I can find (I don't recall what it was but as with most people I've accumulated a pile of USB plugs and I picked the one with the lowest numbers and it works just fine).

It does support a bluetooth connection, it is either or for the connection options but it connection with no issues, colleagues on webex meetings have told me it sounds like I am in bucket but that is fine because I am able to tell people that I am upending my bucket, sitting on it to watch the office burn as the next poorly planned activity kicks off.

Any problems? Yes as the volume rises, just like most, particularly cheap devices, the hum grows, when the PC is in use it is inaudible but when the room is empty it is quite noticeable.

The only other issue is that it has purest chinglish audio confirmations, So when I turn it on using "line in mode", the usual 3.5mm jack connection, it announces "lie in mode" and I am quite disappointed that I don't then get a lie in. Actually it's still amusing me a month into ownership.

Pleased wed with my purchase and it has also enabled me to buy shelves to sit on the monitor, two of these :

to sit either side of the webcam which means even less junk cluttering up my desk, £12.99 for the pair and they are stable (one has a small whiskey decanter and glass on it).