Detecting Lightning

For a long time, I have been interested in the weather and like my father, I also enjoy watching lightning listening for the thunder. One of the internet projects that I found very enjoyable to view was the or which is part of a large community project to track where lightning hits the ground. After a period of lightning storms a few years ago I signed up to the waiting list on Blitzortung to see if I could get my hands on a kit to rung from home. Well, several years later I got an email from Egon, offering me the option to buy the kit. I pondered the idea for a few days and then replied with yes. A few weeks later a parcel arrived and due to it being a wet weekend I eagerly opened it up and started work.

Parts from Blitzortung.

I ordered the full kit for the latest board called System Blue 19.5. The kit is the board, the case, USB power supply and 3 ferrite rod antennas. As you can see most of the surface mount stuff if already done but its sold as a DIY kit so I had to get the iron out and solder the last few items on. This isn’t very hard and it is fairly obvious how the bits are attached the most confusing bit for me was the manuals, there are a few guides and manuals and they are written for the ever-developing kit. This manual is for the older Sytem Red but is rather informative but has been superseded by this manual.

I ordered 3 ferrite core antennas and the 3rd is an optional one. For now, I am running just the two and will design and build a holder for the rods at a later date. This is referred to as the H-Field antenna and the other is the E-Field Antenna and has a circuit mounted

Once powered up you can access the interface for the unit via a web browser and after a few clicks, it was setup.

The interface is ok and works, it has a few bugs but for the most part, it is ok. I think the issues are around me tinkering with it as I test out settings. I have had it running for a few weeks now and have had the odd crash, and the other evening it had a lot of noise, causing false readings but moving stuff slightly higher up fixed this.

Typical reading I have had from the detector.

I have some work to do as I do have a fair bit of noise still but I am still working only a meter or so away from my PC.

The noise level isn’t fun.

But for now I am sending data into the system and you can view my station on both these pages.


I will write a bit more about this subject as I learn more. Plenty of tinkering still to do.

Sorting and fettling

Sorry I haven’t been up to much recently, after Ixion at Cadwell and work I haven’t spent a lot of time in the shed.

Oh, I did make use of the Land Rover to collect a fellow internet users (young lad from Reddit) bike that he had crashed into an innocent hedge while avoiding a badger.

Only damage was a broken mirror and pride.

The past two weekends I did end up on an epic sort out of a shelving unit just to find some cable ties, I really need a bigger shed.

This is half way through.

Lots of it is random bits that Dad has kept for other projects and some is the bits we took off that aren’t best but they might be handy for spares for other things.

But after getting that all back on the shelf I was happy to say I now know where the cable ties are and the pullers, levers, and even chain splitters are.

This was followed by a short trip (300miles 6hrs) to collect a bike for my Dad. A low mileage, Yellow Ducati Monster M600 as he likes my bikes but he wanted something a little smaller and he has wanted another Ducati since he sold his 750 Paso.

But enough of that, time for the fettling. Today I managed to get a few bits sorted, one was to fit a new charger for the bike, one unit, two charging leads. Its from NoCo which though its American they seem to make nice kit.

With that fitted I thought about sorting out the USB cable on the BMW, then I noticed a job on the KLR that I have meant to do for ages.

The front brake reservoir cap.

That is a rather chewed up screw, this tends to happen to Jap bikes as most people use Phillips screw drivers on them when the Japanese use their own JIS style of screw driver. That will be anther post another day.

I had tried to remove it a year or two ago and that is when it ended up like that. So armed with an LH Drill bit I set to it. Then I thought that rather than drill it out I might get away with using an Allen key to undo it. So with some luck, I found an impact Allen key that was just right and I hammered it down in there.

Allen bit hammered in.

It then came out, which was nice.

Now replaced with a new Allen bolt, with grease to prevent galling.


Later this will allow me to bleed the brakes again as the KLR is well known for crap brakes.

Now back to the BMW, where I then thought oh I might as well do this while I am here.

New seal for the cubby box in the tank.

Never understood why they just didn’t give me an extra few litres of fuel…its only 35ltr tank as it is. I had a bit of an issue with glues as the RTV just wouldn’t stick so I ended up using some superglue which has worked. Though if it fails then some sort of contact adhesive such as copydex is recommended.

Tomorrow I might actually get some stuff done on the bike that means I can go for a ride.

[email protected] 2020 #24

Ixion is a motorcycle mailing list that I have belonged to since I was ~16, some 21 years ago. This is back in the dark ages on the internet before the likes of social media and stuff like that, all the nerdy bikers with either on the newgroups (very much like Reddit) or mailing lists. Yahoo was a big search engine and had offered to host mailing lists there and a while bunch of them came online. I was mostly active on Ixion, RidesOrgUK and but over the years the newsgroups died off and the Rides group gradually fizzled out but Ixion didn’t it remained a good part of my life. Though I must say Ixion isn’t for the faint hearted as we have known each other so long that we can scare people with our sarcasm and general tone. But at the end of the day its a great bunch of people, many of whom organise some of the annual Ixion events such as SoS (Start of Season), AF (Absent Friends), Ixion does Steam and the biggest [email protected]

As you can gather from the title, #24 means that this annual track day is in its 24th year which makes us the longest continually running track day organisation in the UK. The early years are a bit unknown to me but for most of my awareness the track day has been at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire. Its a old circuit that these days is mostly used by motorcycles but has some history going back to 1934. Its a narrow circuit with some hills and some nice bends.

Map of Cadwell Park Circuit from Wikipedia

Now I have never ridden around this circuit, though I did get to drive a friends Land Rover around to get to part of the circuit as I have taken on the role as the event photographer. This was in part as I can do it, and one year the photographer booked decided he wanted to be elsewhere that day. Originally I charged for photos but with a job change it became harder to keep on top of the orders, and to be honest the Ixies are my friends plus if I sell the photos the track likes to charge me for the privilege. So these days the photos are free.

I do have more photos but they were pre-digital so I have to scan them in and that will take some time. Its on a long list of things I still have to do.

You can find the photos I have taken over at my gallery there are currently 173,025 photos I have taken posted online. That isn’t all the digital photos uploaded but its a good amount of them.

This year was special for the fact we were amongst the pandemic of Covid-19 which caused most of the world to go into lockdown and for quite a while it looked like we would miss out on this years events, with all the other Ixion events being cancelled we were kind of shocked when the government started to lift things and as long as we behaved we would be allowed to have our trackday. This was good as I don’t do much socialising and covid was sucking all the fun out of life.

I took the campervan as I am too posh to camp in a tent. Well I have done it, enough times in my life to be happy I don’t get as wet in the camper. I arrived at the circuit and it was hot, very hot but as the evening drew in we all were enjoying the cool breeze that came in. The next morning we awoke to *fog* and the news that until the marshals could see each other around the track that we wouldn’t go out and play.

Mike Newton walking the paddock.

So while we waited about we all socially distanced and socialised, chatting to friends and just chilling.

Then an announcement from Ruffle the orgianiser that all Ixies to collect by the scruting shed.

Ruffle, the organiser. 24years of cat herding can age a man…he is only 21 years old.

This is where it gets strange, Neil Ronketti a long time member of the list and the all-round nice guy decided that he would announce the new owner of the Spirit of Ixion which is an award handed out each year to the Ixie that best represent the group, usually to an ixie that has done something interesting or talked about interesting things over the past year that others had gone oooh that was nice. Neil had won it last year because of his blogging about bike racing and fettling etc. and his inspired me to start blogging about the bike stuff I had been doing.

Neil Ronketti
Not the best photo of him, challenge next year is not to make him look like a Monster Raving Loony Party Member.

So there I was happily taking pictures of people as they listened to Neil ramble on about why the person he was going to announce was being awarded the award. Then my ears heard a familiar name…. my own name. That bar steward had awarded the Spirit of Ixion to me. Now I am not used to being thanked or awarded anything so I was taken back a little and spent the time calling Neil a variety of swear words. But I thanked him for it.

I now have the award at home but I have had to tell the dog its not for storing her prized collection of tennis balls.

Now that was over it was back to the track and they let the people out on track. They went arround and arround all day and I ended up taking a large amount of photos. Another evening of talking boll*x with people and ready for the next day which started with, yup you guessed it more fog.

Fog, again

So while the hard core old people who were camping had their breakfast,

Orb and marvin on Army Rations

I decided to wander about taking pictures of people, even if they smirked as they thought they were out of shot.

Jim didn’t realise he was in shot and was enjoying the idea that I was snapping the other two as they chatted about the superior nature of their KTM (not here) vs Jim’s BMW (that was here).

There was also the odd person fettling their motorcycles so that once out on track it could leak coolant around the circuit.

Bike Fettling
This has been a ongoing project but lockdown removed a lot of his normal excuses of ‘not enough time’

Some even took the time to do a common thing and just ask “Can I have a go?”.

Orla Reed on Sol’s very special Katana
Sol’s Katana has a lot of mods and he loves doing it. see

Some even used the time to get down the essential bike care tasks,

Yes, Liam is really cleaning his already clean bike with his own tooth brush. I think he even sleeps with it, you would think there would be a law against this kind of thing.

But after a few hours they were back out on track being the idiots they are, going around in circles all day long. Except for the chap who had spent his lockdown sorting out his bike. Well, he leaked coolant around the circuit and then once he had pulled off he then went to remount his bike to then fall off…

At the end of the day everyone was happy, lots of fun had by all and as usually hardly anyone fell off and much p*ss taking done. Normally we would spend the Friday evening in Louth having a presentation evening and lots of socialising but due to Covid we didn’t do that and even worse the track wouldn’t let us stay another night as they needed to clean the place and then let in the next bunch of people who wanted track time. So I did my epic drive from Cadwell to the safety of the Mendip Hills after a long day of photographing but the roads were quiet and I got some relatively quickly. The next day I sorted photographs and then uploaded them and just chilled.

Thanks to Ruffle, Not Amanda (Bob), Neil and as always Gordon oh and the rest of the Ixion group. Can’t wait until next year.

Brown Trouser Moment on the bike

Hit a bump in the road while braking and then I lost steering. I thought I had a flat tyre. Eek.

Thankfully a chap heading to the local MX track stopped and had tools.

I had only fitted the lower mudguard the other weekend as I thought it would be nice to have both fitted to the bike for neatness. Clearly its not a good thing to do.

Later that day the clutch would stop working, but after sitting at the side of the road for 20mins there was a click and it worked again so rode home gently. Now in a sulk. I have other bikes but I just get a feeling I might break another one.

Tap and Die Storage

Last year I made a few purchases of Taps and Dies for cleaning/chasing threads on the Matchless and other projects. This is partly helped by my job as I am now a lot more aware of the array of threads used on things.

I ordered the bits from Tracy Tools down in Devon and ordered them loose so not in a case, I have seen sets in cases at shows but always disappointed about the standard of the taps and the cases.

So I made my own cases,

I have some gaps, that is because the tap normally come in sets of 3, Start, Second and Bottom but the sets I bought only had the Start and Bottom taps. The inserts for the boxes are basic and loose. Once I am happy with it all I might give it a varnish but this is just version 1.

Clare V142 Calibration Unit

So randomly looking at eBay one evening and I spotted a bit of test gear for Clare Flash Testers. I have the task of calibrating these at work and the chance to get a bit of kit for actually testing them was beyond tempting.

Next thing I know I had bought it, followed shortly by some other bits such as a Resistance and Capacitance box. Not sure why other than its nice to have some stable things to check my new multimeter against (more of that later).

I can’t seem to find much info on this unit as Clare has been bought out and is now owned by Seaward. Though I did find a page referring to a Seaward V242

V242 Calibration Check Unit

The V242 is intended for on-site verification of the Clare range of electrical safety testers. It is recommended that this instrument is returned to Clare Instruments for annual re-calibration.

The V242 is capable of checking the following parameters.

90, 115, 450, and 575 mΩ (Calibration limits ± 5% of value)
0 – 5000 Volts A.C. (Calibration limits ± 1.5% f.s.d.)
0 – 2500 Volts D.C. (Calibration limits ± 1.5% f.s.d.)
100 KW – 200 KW – 400 KW – 1 MW – 2 MW 5 MW – 10 MΩ – 20 MW. (Calibration limits ± 1%)
50 MW (Calibration limit ± 3%) – 100 MW (Calibration limit ± 4%)

The flash trip value of 5 mA can be checked using the Insulation Resistance value of 200 KΩ, which will give a reading of 5 mA at 1000 Volts A.C. or D.C.

No facilities provided for checking live load modules, such as ammeters and wattmeters, fitted to many Clare test stations. Such modules should be checked using a good quality AC test set.

This is from the above website.

I did some quick checks and most of the resistances are good but the Low ohm earth ones aren’t so good but that is mostly due to my meter not being designed to measure that low and the unit being designed to have 25A running though those resistances. So unless I find a 25A power supply that I can use then measure the ohms in the same way you do with a shunt.

Annoyingly someone has stuck stickers on the instruction sheet, I am looking at how I might be able to remove them. The brass/copper connectors on the front are also in rather poor condition so I thought I would open it up so I could give it a clean.

Now that I could see inside I noted it is rather basic. More importantly I can get to the nuts to remove the posts. So I removed one and had a go at cleaning it in a solution of salt and white vinegar.

I will admit I did make a mistake with cleaning some of the bits as I put them all in the same cup. The washers are zinc and that attracted the copper so ended up with the bits going black, but thankfully it only took a little light cleaning with a copper brush. The next connector I did them separately.

What will I use it for….I don’t quite know. Might take it on-site the next time I have a few of the old Clare flash testers to look at and see how it compares.

Oh look another project

Now this isn’t one of my bikes. This belongs to my Dad and was bought many years ago.

I had to fit the bike rack as originally the idea was to pickup my TY175 but the BSA was in the way so that came home first. I did make a start on painting the rack, might get the rest powder coated.

Now the BSA,

This is a BSA B25S Starfire (250cc) from 1969 and was sent to Canada. Then brought back to the UK. We still have the fun of getting this road registered. But for now we just wanted to get it going, my Brother-in-law had this for a while and had got it going. But after a few prods of the kick starter there was no life. So we made up new HT leads and Dad got on with looking at the points. Not long later it was running, of not a little high revving and a bit smokey but it started first kick.

Later that day I was painting some BMW bits and I happened to trip on some of the Buzzweld PIO (Plastics in One). Therefore I painted the seat. I suspect it will need recovering or repairing as there is a small hole in it.

While I wait for parts

So the parts are taking their time to get to me so I took the opportunity to do some work on some of the bits that I can’t normally get to. Now this isn’t going to be a concourse bike this for now is just to slow the deterioration and to tidy a few bits up.

Just a coat of primer, black paint and a self-etching lacquer to finish it off. This is mostly hidden, I just wanted it to sparkle a little. I also painted the airbox and the airbox cover while I was at it.

Another job was to clean the gearbox and the clutch housing. It took quite a bit of time to get it this tidy. Next stage would to get it vapour blasted but I just don’t want to spend that kind of money yet.

While I have the rear shaft assembly out I gave that a damned good clean and then sealed with some more self-etching lacquer from the people at Buzzweld.

Now to await the parts so I can get this thing back together.

And it was a nice day

As lockdown is easing a little I had to drop some stuff off at my sisters in Wiltshire so I took the bike. That went well, the bike was going well so I thought I might as well take the shortcut home and wave at a friend that keeps offering me money for the bike.

Just outside of Cirencester while in the outside lane doing 70mph on a dual cabbageway I lost drive, but I could rev. The first thought was oh dear the chain has snapped but being a BMW shaft-driven bike I wasn’t so lucky. I pulled over and there was little or no drive. I noticed a sign ahead for parking so with some luck I was able to ease the bike to a safe place under the trees. I rang home to say what had happened and Dad though happy to come to get me wasn’t going to be able to make it for a quite a few hours. This is when I made a mistake, I thought I would just get the RAC out. They have been good to me in the past.

I rang, told them what was wrong and I needed recovery. They said they would send a van. The van driver rang, he agreed that he doubts he could repair it at the road side so called the office to get them to recover it.

So 45mins later, he turned up. Looked at the bike and listed to the clanking etc. Said “yup, its broken alright”. So told the office and a recovery lorry would come out soon. I rang at 5pm, it was now 6pm. I waited, I crossed the road to keep in the sun as I had a feeling I might get cold.

Had a call at 8 from a chap in Frome saying he would be 1.5hrs, oh someone else local has the job now, they will call you shortly. Just after 9pm a chap turns up.

The bike is strapped down, I never like the way bikes get strapped down to flatbeds. On the centre stand, straps to pull it forwards and down. Straps on the rear to pull it down. Just the centre stand keeping it on the ground. At one point both front and rear wheels touched the deck…I whelped and we changed the straps about. Eventually home for midnight. It was a long day.

The next day filled with ideas of what had failed we started to strip the bike down. Its amazing how quickly these things go from big bike to half a bike.

As you can see we were tempted to make it into a some sort of BikeExif custom thing, but as I don’t own any exhaust wrap we didn’t bother. After the removal of the gearbox it was easy to see what the problem was.

That would be a rather broken clutch. So a new one has been ordered. I decided to go for a nice Sachs one as that is what BMW fitted. I was tempted to go for a Heavy Duty one that is happy to get oily etc but I wanted to go with tested an proven.

Sorting – Jubilee Clips

So some of you may already know but I do like collecting a sorting parts. Mostly nuts a bolts. The reason, I dislike taking time to search and hunt for bolts. Many times have I gone looking for a bolt only to find 3 of the right size but not a 4th. Then there is the “we have some, but not sure where” thing. So I like to sort and label the boxes, yes even the label maker have a label on it saying label printer.

Yes, spelling isn’t my strong suit.

During my last sort out a lot of the boxes got new labels. Lots of labels. I spent a good afternoon messing with the software for Brother Label printers as you can do stuff with spreadsheets etc and I use that at work often enough but this printer isn’t as smart and OMG the software is a nightmare to work with. So I resorted to hand typing lots of it out.

The boxes look rather smart as well. I ended up buying more tape and then reprinted a lot of the labels at a larger size as I may well end up like my Dad and needing glasses.

Then I faced this,

It is just a mess and drives me up the wall whenever I look for one the right size, not helped by the container also ending up with a good amount of oil in it. I was thinking of a neat way to sort these, then I remembered someone I know had got fed up of not having the jubilee clips he needed so he bought some but he went the extra mile and just bought a shop display unit of them.

I thought about this, as it is just so shiny and neat and oh shiny. But then I looked at the cost and though hmm I have plenty I just need a rack. Time to fire up the laser we have sharks to fry….erm OK. A quick bit of skilled drawing and I had an idea.

It made sense to me and I went and started drawing in Illastrator and Inkscape to get the design just the way I liked it. Then it came to cutting with the laser.

A bit of jiggering about and I had it assembled, I didn’t have any PVA glue to had therefore I used some hot glue.

Its not perfect, but it does what I wanted to do.

If you want to make your own based on my design then head over to thingverse where I have uploaded a slightly modified version as I made a few slight design changes.