Wednesday, March 14, 2012
When I pulled up to the bike rack yesterday, I saw something new: an unfamiliar lock and chain that appeared to be well-used. I thought that it perhaps belonged to my co-worker, who took the whole team along bike shopping over lunch earlier this week. He ended up with a fine, barely-ridden Trek 4500, which appears to be of a 2006 vintage:
It ended up being for someone else's bike, which I saw later in the day:
So it's official. It took almost two years, but someone else is finally riding their bike here.
I made the mistake of attempting to forge onward through the Indian Creek Trail construction yesterday. I made it, but let's say I won't be doing it again until the trail opens. Bike/Ped-friendly options for getting from one side of US-69 to the other through central Johnson County are few and far between. If you find yourself near Corporate woods, you'll be stuck braving 119th, College Blvd or 103rd street. I've stated previously that Johnson County is split into islands by highways. Within each island, it's pretty easy to get around using residential roads. To jump from one to another is often a frustrating affair.
I'm experimenting with a GPS transponder I built (think of it as kind of like a poor-man's "SPOT" tracker). It fits nicely in the pannier zipper pocket. I'm sure if I parked my bike somewhere with this thing attached, it'd get called in as a "suspicious device" and the bomb squad would get called in.
Inside, there's a waterproof box containing a few gadgets including a small radio transceiver, GPS, a battery pack and some other stuff that's needed to make it all play together nicely.
It's far from perfect. I'm still kind of working on it. I tested it yesterday while riding between home, the office and the hospital. It worked only part of the time. It transmits its location every time you make a significant change in heading (at every turn, basically) and about every 20 minutes when stationary. The problem is that it's largely a one-way operation so the rig doesn't know if the message actually got through, and I'm using a very low power transmitter. There are ways to fix both problems at the cost of increased power consumption and/or more expensive radio equipment inside the box. The map below is missing a significant number of turns, especially through residential and trail areas.
I will experiment with it some more as time goes on. I know there are smartphone applications that can upload your position and track your rides for you. I was looking to build something that operates without relying on the Internet. The above map was drawn using data gathered from a mesh network of amateur radio digital repeaters and internet-connected gateways.
Anyhow, I'm still here. I'm still riding for work and errands when I can. I'm still a nerd. You can call me Captain Dashboard. I don't mind.
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