28 March 2011

Free-flow air filter

 I finally got the extra upgrade items for my scooter. Instead of throwing them all on at once, I decided to do one at a time and note performance changes. So first order is to change out the air box for this foam filter. I got the extra pre-filter because I ride in all weather and I'm worried about junk getting through. When I got the filter I was surprised at how thick the foam is! Inside is a spring to help hold it's shape. They advertised it as fitting even with the support frame, but it was a wiggle snug fit into mine. I got the 42mm because they said it was for the 150cc, but it was kinda loose and I wonder if the 38mm would have fit better. Either way it's on there now!

 I love the cleaner look of the left side without the air box there. That was one of my largest goals with the change out. with the new filter, engine noise is louder at more than 30% throttle. But with my exhaust opened up it's not terribly noticeable. Now I'm trying to re-adjust the carburetor to match the new air flow. I upped the main jet to a 115 from a 105. I think the 115 should be enough as I'm working it away from too rich at the moment.
This pic shows where the old air box was, and how much space it took up . Just over the wheel you can see the new filter. I have a little concern about water with this new filter. I noticed after getting home in a rain storm that there was a little moisture on the end of the filter. I may have to move it up higher or build a little wall to help shield it from spray.

Next mod will be either variator weights or driven pulley spring. I have the parts, just waiting to get the carb tuned in and a nice day to run tests.

22 March 2011

Budgeting

Summary: We went from paycheck-to-paycheck living to savings without changing income or big lifestyle changes.

I've been so happy with my new financial methods, I couldn't help but post something about it. We used to live, paycheck to paycheck. Always saying we can't afford this or that, waiting for the next bill. I kept thinking some day I'll make more money and I wont have to worry anymore. Well, waiting for money to roll in makes you old.
  I decided to make a budget. A complete picture of every cent that comes in and goes out. Instead of starting with an idealized visualization of what I wanted to be spending, I pulled my spending history for the last year. Since I rarely use cash my bank had pretty much all our spending history. I calculated all the little bills including monthly, bi-monthly, semi-annually, and annually then averaged them down to cost per month.

A blank copy of my spreadsheet is here, if you want to follow along: Budget Spreadsheet

Next I separated each into a category: Living expenses such as mortgage, water, power, etc; Savings expenses such as savings account, emergency savings, etc; Other expenses like donations, date night, etc; and finally Flexible expenses like fuel and food. These are what made sense to me. I see food and fuel as behavior costs that can be controlled.

Lastly I added a section to track income. Since we only have one normal income source, it was fairly easy to enter. I just entered all the info from my pay stub. then I added a column showing what percentage of my take-home pay each line was getting. Having just this data in from of my face really underlines where my money was going, and what I could do to change it.

After categorizing all the normal expenses we had, I found we actually had money left over every month. However I could not explain where it was being spent. It just disappeared somewhere. So I categorized it into something useful! Before my budget we had very little savings. I started an emergency savings account. It was only getting $50/month, but it was more than zero. I did the same thing with a short term savings account for a new TV. I actually opened new accounts for these because if I left it all in the one main checking account we would end up spending it. Out of sight out of mind!

  In the end we ended up with 4 checking accounts and 3 savings accounts at 3 different banks. Our main bank has the incoming+fixed spending checking account (no card access), the flexible checking account (debit card access), 2 savings accounts (emergency and short term), as well as my personal checking account. A credit union has my wife's personal checking account, and Smarty Pig has a savings account. For me, all this made sense to keep things separated. It could all be at one bank, it just worked out this way for us.

I setup automatic transfers and bill pay to distribute the money from each paycheck to the accounts and payees that need money. All expenses are averaged over the year so there are no surprise expenses (like HOA dues or car registration). The savings accounts are not card accessible, but still easy to get money out if we need it. I even get a personal budget to have fun with.

Most things are affordable, in small increments. The as-seen-on-TV way is to put it on credit. Have the item now, pay slowly over time. It works. Only you have to pay interest on it. If your future self can no longer afford it you're stuck. Reverse the process. pay yourself that low installment each month into your own savings account until you can buy said item. If something comes up before you buy it, you still have all your money. If something comes up after you buy it, you can walk away. That is freedom.

If you know where your money is going, you can control it! I can afford it now. It might take a little time, but no more consumer debit for us. Next up, remodeling and paying down our house. My budget gets adjusted every so often to reflect our changing lives. no big deal. But after a while you'll notice your savings account getting larger.

13 March 2011

Confusing electrical system

I'm still trying to figure out how to convert to a full DC system. I dug into my scooter the other day to see what I could see. My stator has one of it's 3 wires grounded to the frame. The white wire puts out about 24VAC, the yellow wire puts out about 26VAC. Measuring between yellow and white I get 2VAC. I made the guess that they are not wired as pictured in many diagrams as series coils grounded at one end. I'm thinking they are two series coils 90 degrees out of phase with the center tap grounded. I'd need to hook up my scope to really get it figured out though.

It also seems my regulator does not have the internal circuits which are often posted on the net. When I measure diode and resistance, I don't get the expected results. However I know it is regulating both white and yellow voltages, so it's not broken.

I tried bypassing the internal rectifier and used my own bridge on the white wire and ground, plugged that right into the battery with the regulator for voltage control. That let the battery maintain current into it! However as soon as I put the running lights on the DC side the battery was losing current (amp meter on the battery). So I switched and had the yellow wire on the rectifier instead of the white. Exact same result. So I thought that both of them together should provide enough power to run everything. They have enough to run it as AC and DC, they should be able to do it. Despite several attempts at various rectifier configurations I could not get any more power from both than I could from just one.

I've given up for now. I dont really want to spend the money (like $60) to upgrade to an 11 pole stator. I could rewind this one into a 3 phase, then I'd just need a 7 wire rectifier/regulator. But again that's going to cost $$. If I could just figure out my stator configuration I should be able to come up with a rectifier for it and use the stock regulator to keep the battery level.

10 March 2011

not such a hot idea after all

well, I intended to make a post about converting my running lights to DC. I took pictures and everything! anyway, I did it. But turns out it doesnt work like that:

So, a few posts ago I said I made a change to the wiring to make the running lights operate on DC. Well, yesterday I notice I couldnt get the scooter to turn over, not enough battery oomph. Turns out the charging system couldnt keep up with the lights on DC. Somehow I need to change the wring with the regulator/rectifier to get more power through to DC. For now I reverted it back to factory configuration. It still has all my mods, but I just jumpered a couple wires to put AC back to the lights. In my experimenting last night I forgot to re-attach the regulator before I started the engine and blew out one of my headlights. OOPS!

I'll figure it out eventually! I like a challenge.

05 March 2011

hacking the muffler


My stock muffler had a rattle at certain RPMs, and it was annoying. Also, going for a higher flow should make it run a little better. Looking online, I found performance mufflers for as little as $150, and up to $300.The single most expensive upgrade item! I could get a stock muffler for $60, but just to get rid of rattle? I found some other people who had modified their stock muffler to make it much more flow-through, but they had a different stock muffler than me.
 Today I had an opportunity to spend a few hours in the garage tinkering, so I unbolted my muffler and whipped out my hacksaw to see what I could see. After carefully cutting all the way around, I was surprised to find more junk inside than I expected.
 This is the loose part that made it rattle I think. It's a little passage tube that just fell. There was a lot of crud inside the end here. Well, I want to open it up to get more flow, so time to rip out that end baffle!
 Getting it out was fun, it was welded in two spots. A quick cut with my dremmel and some smashing and vice-grip work gets it out. There is a wire mesh holding a fibrous mat against the shell. It's not very thick, so maybe it's sound deader or thermal insulation? I dont know, but I ripped it out! The mesh was breaking down in a few spots, so it could have contributed to the rattle.
 The pile of some of the junk I pulled out. Most of the wire mesh went straight to the garbage can. It would be my luck that the fibers are asbestos and now I'm going to die from it. In the end I got it all out.
 To get the mesh and fibers out I needed to smash up the final baffle. It's all good though, it gives more open flow! It appears that the exhaust comes from the header into this tuned (?) pipe that has a U in the end. I thought about cutting it open with my dremmel, but decided not to. I'm not interested in a loud sounding muffler, just better flowing.
 I used my 24V DC home made arc welder to weld the little tube that previously was inside to the cap as a new tip. I then re-attached the end cap to the muffler. It's not a very pretty job, but it works. I'm not terribly good at welding, and the metal is rather cheap. I blew through several times but managed to fill all but one of the larger holes. Not a bit deal since I want more air flow anyway right?

Finally I took a little video to capture the new sound. To me it sounds like the 250cc motorcycles we used when taking the Idaho STAR course. A bit louder than before, and I can feel much more air coming out the tip. I took it for a short ride and believe I get smoother acceleration with slightly more pull. I really need to re-jet the carb to get more fuel, then lighter weights in the variator for more power. Next month!