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Custom Components

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  • Build: Natasha
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J. Sinclair/CONCEPIA LLC J. Sinclair/CONCEPIA LLC Nothing quite like making your own circuit boards.

For those of you that don't know me well, I can get a little obsessed about a project. Natasha's electrics has been the focus of that stubborn obsession of late. In the last three days I've put a twelve solid hours into just her wiring; and I'm not even counting the endless hours of thinking that I do when faced with a challenging project. I did have a very clear plan of things I was going to do while I wait for the tank to be finished: I don't want to finalize the fitment of the wiring loom to the frame until I have the tank and can see where the wiring needs to end up. But I had in my hand the tiny relays for making the LED warning lights, and then I started down that path...

So the original plans called for three LEDs; red, amber, and green. That is still the case but I have added an additional relay and logic to the warning lights. This new relay now indicates when the Kill Switch is in the off position by illuminating the amber LED. So the red LED indicates when the RFID system is disabled and therefore the ignition has no power. Green indicates that the ignition has power AND the kill switch is on. If the Kill Switch is off AND the RFID is enabled/Ignition has power then the amber LED stays lit. Makes sense, right?

I soldered some test wires on to the relays and started testing if I could get this to work. OMG, this took a while to figure out exactly how to do. Either some LEDs would light or others would go out. It all depended on where you put the wires (DUH!), and whether you used the relays as Normally Open or Normally Closed. But in the end I got it figured out, even though the wiring looked like a bird's nest by the end of it.

Trying to fit everything inside the headlamp was going to be tricky, so I picked up some blank circuit boards from Radio Shack and decided to mount the relays to that. This would save space and tidy up the wiring considerably. It tool about six iterations of the board design until I got everything in a logical order without a million wires crossing over each other. I could have used a computer program to design the board for me, but decided to just print out a blank template I created in Word (a sheet of paper with 15 x 15 dot pattern) and figure it out by hand. It didn't take too long to get something that looked good. (You can see the final design in the photo below.)

I haven't done a lot of board soldering so I was very careful not to overheat the components or dump too much solder onto the connections. (I have to say I was somewhat bad and took my stuff into work with me; it was Sunday and the office was totally empty, plus work was unusually quiet. So I don't have any photos of the board construction, except for the one image I took of my desk and Marco helping with the wiring.)

I cut and mounted everything and was about to start soldering when I realized I designed the board as if looking from below; so I potentially averted a very frustration event there. It didn't take long to flip everything over and mount for a second time. I tested the board with a 9V battery and shockingly the board worked straight away. Tres cool!

The RFID box is too big to fit inside the headlamp so I busted that out of it's case; thankfully there isn't much to the board. I swapped out the 5mm red LED with a 90dB piezo pulse alarm from Radio Shack. I did originally have a buzzer type alarm there, but it sounded like there was a cheap vibrator stuck inside the headlamp, so changed it out for a 3-24VDC 3200Hz better quality alarm. This gives a nice and loud beep when the RFID signal is accepted.

After shortening all the standard power/signal wires and splicing them together, I put it all inside the headlamp. To start with I have used Velcro to attach the antenna and alarm; once I have organized and mounted the wiring loom a bit better then I'll stick the boards on the back of the headlamp. Being a curved surface I trimmed off all the plastic mounting tabs on the boxes, antenna, and alarm to make them easier to mount. Of course before that I will insulate the exposed RFID and LED circuit boards with spray on liquid insulation tape. I think that will provide enough waterproofness and protection. (Note: I did blow one RFID board while testing; I am guessing it shorted out against the metal headlamp. I am hoping that was it, and not changing out the LED for the alarm. A 5mm LED draws 20mA, and the alarm draws 15mA, so there shouldn't be a problem. We will see what happens with the next board. I have one spare.)

I originally thought I could mount the LED's into the kill switch assembly but there isn't enough room for all three, so instead I am going to squeeze them into the top of the righthand turn signal. There is just enough room to mount them and run the wires out the back, This means drilling another hole in my lovely headlamp brackets but there really isn't anywhere else I can put them. Note: The red LED will be permanently lit when away from the bike so give the illusion of some sort of bike alarm system.

Other stuff: I replaced the fiberglass heat resistant covering for the ignition timing wiring with some new black stuff from Grainger; that was pretty simple and really makes a difference from the old grey and oily cover that was there previously. I also mounted the hall effect sensor that will determine the rear wheel RPM and therefore my speed. The standard wire wasn't long enough, as it's meant to be mounted on the front wheel, but I couldn't find a nice place to put it without the sensor wire being unsightly, so elected to mount it on the rear wheel and extend the cable. Trying to find the exact style of cable on the web was impossible so I just hacked off the ends from an old stereo cable: it's 3 core instead of 2 core but the gauge is about right and the diameter matches exactly. Conveniently enough there was a welding vent hole on the swing arm, just below where I wanted to mount the sensor on the swing arm, so I then drilled a hole at the other end and fed the wire through, using some safety wire as a guide. I finished it off with a tightly fitting grommet and ran the wire up the right side of the frame to meet the speedo wiring. I will drill and tap a hole in the rear sprocket to mount the sensor magnet; which will be Locktite'd in place so not to have it come flying off when doing 100mph down the road. (I already lost it in the workshop, and after nearly tearing the whole place apart in frustration, I found it stuck to the side of the motorcycle lift. How the hell it got there from the workbench I don't know, but I think it hitched a lift on the screw-gun then fell off and latched onto the lift on the way down to the floor. Bizarre.)

Current hours on build: 138.0 

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