Jan 2, 2016
Category: Electronics
Posted by: jackstringer

Well project Flashy lights got another step closer as I found Autodesk 123D Circuits that allows you to play with an Arduino without having to break it in real life. So I made up a quick mock up of the Amber Beacon project I have. The code will make the programmers twitch as I suspect its over complicated.


I did have issues trying to work out the correct way to hook up a MOSFAT transistor and I am using bulbs as the LEDs I plan to use are going to be 10W LED and wanted to simulate that better.

Now to work out how to have multiple patterns, make it switchable, and possibly to include some PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) AKA brightness adjustment.

I know this is complicated way to build something I can buy off the shelf but it does mean I get to play. Eventually the Amber Beacon on top of the vehicle will get the same upgrade with better (synced) flashing. Even thought of hooking the amber bar to the indicators so when the Alarm goes off so does the beacons, and or indication (suitably dimmed).

Jan 1, 2016
Category: Electronics
Posted by: jackstringer

So a few more of my friends have chimed in with some suggestions,

Using a microcontroller is complete overkill! smile emoticon You can do non-programmable flashing with a simple timer circuit like a NE555, there are plenty of example circuits on the web. Beware your calculations of power - 12V is nominal, it can be much higher when the battery is being charged hard in cold conditions, and LEDs aren't a simple resistive device like an incandescent lamp, so whilst 0.83A is a rough average current, the peaks may be much higher, as all LED lamps are strobed at high frequency (many kilohertz) as they are much brighter that way. Transistor switching is normally done on the negative side of the load (your LED lamp) as the electronics for that is simpler than switching it on the positive side. Simplest is to use a NPN Darlington power transistor switching the negative side of the lamp, there are many transistors available from Maplin and lots of example circuits on the web. Obviously positive switching is easier to wire on a vehicle so you need to figure out which is best suited to your needs. Search for "emitter follower" or "high side switch" circuits for some ideas if you want to use positive switching. Farnell used to stock some nice high-side FETs designed for automotive use (i.e. immune to the electrical noise in a vehicle plus the heat etc). I don't recall the part numbers as it's a long time since I used any. FETs are complicated to drive unless you get the "logic level input" type that contain extra circuitry to interface directly to a signal from a microcontroller. The switching transistor will burn a fair amount of power so it will need a heat sink. It's worth getting a beefier transistor than you think you need, so that there's margin for extremes of temperature else it'll overheat and fail on a hot day.

Have you got a spec for the LEDs so we can tell if they are simply a diode or if they have any embedded driver circuit? To get the best out of any LED you need to know several things such as the maximum average power as well as the optimum over-current to drive them at. Typically you always over-drive an LED but in short bursts, as it generates far more light that way. For example if an LED wants 1 Amp average power, you could give it 1 Amp continuous and get 1 unit of light from it, but if you forced it to take 2 Amps it might give off 4 units of light, but you can only afford to turn it on at 2 Amps half the time so that the average current (power) remains the same at 1 Amp. Typically the strobing is at many kHz so that it's invisible to the eye, but the net effect is that the LED would be giving you twice as much (usually more) than its rated constant output.
-Stephen Hobbs

Seems my idea of a Arduino maybe overkill but might not be as hard to work out as the wiring for the above ideas.

The LED chips I have are cheap from China and specifications are a little unknown. But below is the info I do have,

High Power chips LED COB 20mm square
10W Warm White DC9-12V 900mA 3000K-3500K 900lm 140°
10W Amber DC9-12V 900mA 585-590nm 400lm 140°

My current thinking of the layout 4 banks of 2 mounted in the grill. Not to scale mind. The chips are 20mm but have 140deg view so don't think a diffuser is needed. Might just get some clear plastic glued on unless I can find someone with a 3D printer that can print clear lenses for me. I would love to have a multitude of patterns for fun. 1 & 2 could alternate etc hence the like for the UNO which I think can deal with 8 channels.

Dec 31, 2015
Category: Electronics
Posted by: jackstringer

As some of you may noticed I am a bit of a geek. I have been thinking I need to have an electronics project. Mostly to have an excuse to buy a Raspberry PI. We a short while back I bought some 10w Amber LEDs, now I am thinking of a project to make my own set of amber flashy lights. I know at the end of the day the bought kits are going to be better and cheaper but I want to learn.

I have since ruled out the PI for this task as the time to boot it would mean time that the lights are not working. So it looks like a Arduino which looks interesting. It is simpler and does what you ask it to do. Now I just need to learn about electronics and how to program a Arduino and all will be fine.

Would like to have a programmable set of flash patterns which I can add to as time goes on.

Big issue atm is working out the best way to drive the 10w LED lights. Which is 0.83A at 12V so I guess I would need to use a transistor to power this as a relay would just break down from the constant switching. Now how do you work out the transistor needed.

Some of my friends have kindly suggested a Arduino UNO and to use MOSFETS so I am currently reading up on a handy tutorial from hobbytronics.co.uk on how to use the UNO to power high power items.

The other option is to use a full size Arduino and a 'shield' designed for controlling motors etc., there are plenty around, often with screw terminals for connecting the power and loads.

Oct 4, 2015
Category: Disco 2 2003
Posted by: jackstringer

Damn this has been a long time since I posted anything on here. Well I have added a few accessories to the Land Rover over the past few years. Bits like a LED Amber Lightbar, CB Radio, Amateur Radio, Phone charger, On-Board Camera, Rear Work Lights, and Driving Lights. These I have wired in one by one but now after several years of abuse I think I need to look at wiring up the stuff properly. Partly as my job working in the calibration industry means I get to see how the professionals wire up stuff.

First stage was to purchase and fit a extra battery mount. This isn''t a necessary requirement but its a nice to have feature as with the correct wiring I won''t run down the starter battery if I happen to leave the rear work lamps on for a few hours. Now the battery mount I bought was a excellent kit from a chap called Ryan Wild (W1LDR). This has been fitted for best part of a year but due to a lack of funds I never got around to fitting a Leisure battery.

The Battery,

Well the best battery to fit in this place is a leisure battery as they are better for discharging and re-charging. They have less Amp output but they deal with running stuff far better. Now the battery tray measures 240mm (w) x 170mm (d) x 200mm (h) which is a damn annoying size to find for a battery so for the time being I have fitted a Yuassa 50Ah 63 type battery which is a bit small in the space I have but its not overly expensive of a battery but it does allow me to get started on this project.

Charging the Battery,

From looking around I decided I wanted a 16A Smart Relay Charging Unit from eBay for £15. What this does it allows me to charge the second battery once the main starting battery has been charged up. Some people will just wire the batteries together but remember that means you get the combined power of two batteries but once you discharge them both will be out of power plus you have to ensure that both batteries are of the same power output otherwise one will always be trying to over charge the other.

Apr 19, 2012
Category: Matchless G3 61
Posted by: jackstringer

Well last year I rode to Baskerville Hall in Wales for Ixion''s SoS on the Matchless but the head gasket failed while on the way up to Clyro. But I managed to continue riding and even went for a 75 mile trip on the Saturday but in the evening while others were having a go at starting the bike it lost all compression and wouldn't start. So I had the shame of recovery from the RAC on the Sunday morning.

So I plan to ride there and have a ride out and ride home this year. Only issue is that its wet, very wet. If you want to follow my journey to Wales you can follow it via Google Latitude.

Well I made it there and back again, with no issues other than a small amount of falling damp on the way home.

Nov 17, 2011
Category: Matchless G3 61
Posted by: jackstringer

Well its that time again, MOT time. This year the Matchless seems to be sulking and wont start. Seems either the battery is flat or the engine has wet sumped. Either way I just have to wait for a better day to get out there and try again. I have the battery on charge and will leave it out of the bike to see if its just loosing charge though lack of use or weather the Matchless has short which causes the battery to go flat. The wet sumping issue is another problem, I might just have to give it a damn good kicking to clear it out.

May 4, 2011
Category: Matchless G3 61
Posted by: jackstringer

Well its working again.

As the gasket had cause the last failure I decided to replace it. I also took the chance to replace the 4 bolts that hold the head to the barrel as 1 or 2 had damage on the threads. Also fitted a new base gasket and new seals at the end of the pushrod tubes as they were leaking a little oil.

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There seems to be signs the copper cylinder head gasket has leaked in the past and its just been done up tighter to get it going again. There is a indentation into the head that is from the copper gasket but only near 2 of the 4 bolts that hold the head to barrel. The head also shows some squashing of the metal on the top area of two of the bolts so we used 2 washers to pack it out more otherwise the bolts would tighten against the thread in the barrel rather than putting pressure on the head against the barrel.

On the last two outings on the bike I had lost 2 nuts that hold on pushrod inspection/rocker cover so I bought some new ones from Jampot Spares and then drilled and lockwired them in.

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Apr 10, 2011
Category: Matchless G3 61
Posted by: jackstringer

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Well I went to Wales and had a great time, I managed 285km before I broke the bike and now I need to replace the head gasket. I wrote a full report of my weekend here.

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Apr 8, 2011
Category: Matchless G3 61
Posted by: jackstringer

Taking the Matchless to Wales to Clyro which is just over the border. But I will be taking a nice route over the Old Severn Bridge and then through the valleys.

This will be the longest trip I have done on the Matchless so I am a little nervous.

For those of you that are bored you can follow my progress via Google Latitude (SWITCHED OFF) which has a map and my current location.

Apr 6, 2011
Category: Matchless G3 61
Posted by: jackstringer

Well considering I am taking the Matchless to Ixion''s SoS I thought it would be a good idea to do some basic checks on her.

Well the seat and tank came off and I cleaned the sparkplug. Replaced a missing nut on the rocker arm cover. I also whent around with a spanner checking for loose bolts as I had some noises from the bike the other week.

{Gallery img=376}

As usual the tank was a PITA to refit due to damaged threads on the mounting bolts.

I also took the chance to fill the toolbox up with tools as even though I have RAC coverage I don''t want a failure to get to SoS just because I could not do up a bolt. I have spanners, pliers, insulting tape, cable ties, screw driver, socket and wrench, and spare sparkplug and spanner. Some bits wouldn't fit in the toolbox so I had to cable tie them on with nice yellow cable ties.

Some Ixies have expressed a desire to have a ride on the Matchless. Well I am planning to get to the hall rather early, just in case I need to swap bikes. But if any ixie wants a go then they are welcome to have a go as long as they pass two tests, a) start it[1], b)be prepared for Britishness[2]

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My route plan so far is to keep of Dual cabbage ways and M-Way as much as possible as I have no mirrors and I don''t want to be thrashing it on open roads. I have a Google Maps link to the route[3]. Not sure B roads are a good idea yet. I might go the A48 until I get to the A449 and head north.

[1] Its a 350cc 4 stroke single with kickstart and decompresser. Auto Advance and Retard so no worry of kickbacks[4]
[2] Gear lever is on the right and first gear is up 1 notch, and the rear break is on the left.
[4]well sometimes she does, just for the hell of it.

Mar 23, 2011
Category: AJS 350 57
Posted by: jackstringer

Work has been slow on the AJS project as I have not had the enthusiasm to sit in the shed over the winter and do stuff to the bike.

Well I have been doing some more work to restore the bike over the past few weeks. So I have bought a new gadget to aid with the cleaning. A grit / sand blaster that is very good a cleaning the old paint and rust off the parts. After cleaning I have just been spraying it with 'Red Oxide' paint to prevent rust.

See the images below to get an idea of how its going.

Nov 2, 2010
Category: Matchless G3 61
Posted by: jackstringer

Well I went off for a ride on the Matchless to say hello some of my Ixion friends. The ride was to Northleach which is on the Fosseway about 60miles from home. So over the ride is did 120miles. I can say that the Matchless is a little uncomfortable on a long ride but that is my longest ride on the bike.

The lights are the original 6 volt filament bulbs. The ride was ok if only people turned off their outside lights, car headlights only got a issue once the fine rain started coming in as I was not going fast enough for the water to run off the goggles. What I will do to help with the lighting is to replace the wires and to clean up all the connections as I think this is part of the problem.

I could go to 12v bulb and electrics but I would like to maintain this bike and not upgrade it. 6v is ok for most uses it just not the best option for a bike that is used at night. With luck the AJS will be the bike that I use for long rides etc. The Matchless is going to get trials tyres and to be used for trail riding and reliability trials

Sep 8, 2010
Category: KLR650 Tengai
Posted by: jackstringer

Well today I had to go for a ride to get a few bits and bobs, and when I got back the bike was rather bouncy. Looks like the damping has gone. Time for a new rear shock.

Jun 12, 2010
Category: Matchless G3 61
Posted by: jackstringer

Well I decided to go for a ride to test the timing on the Matchless, seems much better than before. Which is a start.

Wile out on this riding I stopped at my brother-in-law''s place and noticed a few drops of oil on the floor. He owns a Series 1 Land Rover so knows the delights of owning a British built vehicle.

I went to ride home a noticed a few more drops of oil on the floor. Damn its leaking I thought, just ride it home and sort it there.

By the time I had got home it had leaked a fair bike of oil and the carb and engine was now covered in oil. I guess it saves me the job. The problem was a small peice of rubber tube that links the two bits of copper pipe that feed oil to the rocker box had perished and split. So its now repaired as I plan to go for a nice ride out on it tomorrow.

Oil Leak
Well my Matchless proved itself British by leaking oil
Oil Leak
The bike self lubricated all over the place.
Source of the Oil Leak
The oil leaked from this small bit of rubber that connected the two copper pipes together.
Jun 8, 2010
Category: Matchless G3 61
Posted by: jackstringer

Today me and my Dad decided to re-re-re-re-do the timing. This time I had stumbled onto a bit of info. The Auto advance and retard which is just some weights with springs that adjust the timing as they spin faster. This we had set up at 1/8in before TDC but this was advancing the timing too much at speed so was making the engine work extra hard which was giving me the issues. Will go for a test ride once the weather gets better.

Jun 6, 2010
Category: Matchless G3 61
Posted by: jackstringer

Well wile I was at work my Dad decided to have a play with the timing as he was convinced it was still wrong. But still no better so I decided to see if itma from the Jampot Forum would be kind enough to lend me a few hours of time to gain access to his great wisdom of all things Matchless/AJS. So I put the bike on the trailer and paid him a visit, he lives near Marlborough in Wiltshire. I stayed a few hours and talked bikes and asked him about silly bits of Matchless ownership that are not worth writing e-mails to ask but are handy to know anyway. Well he checked my settings and other than a few things it is all ok.

itma the great

Somehow I took a picture of him and even though the rest of the image is good he has come out all pixelated. Must be a his secret spy stuff that protects him from photography. ;-)

Jun 3, 2010
Category: Matchless G3 61
Posted by: jackstringer
Jack Stringer riding his Matchless G3

I have been spotted by a keen photographer (my dad) riding my bike to work the other morning. It was nice to be back on the Matchless after is seizure but its still not right. I think I have some timing issues.

Mar 21, 2010
Category: Matchless G3 61
Posted by: jackstringer

Went for a ride today and wile going up a hill I notice it started to get a little slow on me. I had to go down a gear to get it to pull, I just put it down to cold weather and c*rs that were getting in my way.

Well 2 miles later the bike started to struggle with a gentle hill, once I got to the other side it seemed better but not well enough. At about 50mph the back wheel just locked up, luckily I remembered my 2-stroke riding days and I pulled the clutch in and rolled to a stop. I got it into neutral and phoned home to get my Dad out with the trailer to pick me up.

Got the bike home and I pushed the kick start down and it was not sized any more. So I gave it a kick and it started and ran. But I stopped it and I wanted to get the head and barrel off to see what had caused it to stop in the first place.

Well the piston is scored quite badly and its has caused a bit of damage to the barrel. I will go see what needs to be done to it when I go to Bristol on Monday.

Nov 24, 2009
Category: Matchless G3 61
Posted by: jackstringer

Went to see the DVLA about sorting out the age related number plate. Well it was sorted in about 10mins. I now have a new reg for the bike. 608 XUX. I also got the tax disc at the same time. Waiting for a new number plate to turn up now.

Nov 17, 2009
Category: Matchless G3 61
Posted by: jackstringer

Docs back from DVLA and its MOT, Insured and Taxed. I have the paperwork to sort the age related plates now but just need to get the forms and fill them out. I have taken it for a ride, and its a little sluggish but I still have to look for cables caught under the tank.

Oct 4, 2009
Category: Matchless G3 61
Posted by: jackstringer

Well I have bought a 1961 Matchless G3 350cc single. Its a Ex Dutch Army bike that has been imported into the UK in the 70s before they did age related numberplates so I have to go to the hassle now of sorting that out so that I wont have to pay road tax.

I started it today just to make sure it runs ok. All sounds ok. As there was not much else to do I decided to give it a clean just using a rag and a can of WD40. Later on I added some ACF50 to give it some protection. This bike is not for restoration its got character the way it is now. Though I will keep an eye out for some replacement Olive Drab Green paint. I also want to research the history of the bike.

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