Friday, 13 July 2018

T-Max using my new sheave holding tool (and fitting a new belt)

This is essentially part 3 of a series

  1. identification of a problem
  2. replaced the major part

So this is sort of finishing off ...
When I did the work on my T-Max back a couple of weeks ago I didn't have a sheave holder to hold the sheave (pulley) but instead got it off with an 18v electric rattle gun. Now as I mentioned in that post I didn't know what the amount of torque that the rattle gun would be (although the maker says it's good for 215Nm (and the manual says 160).

So this post is about double checking that and providing a few observations missing from my previous post as well as some significant changes to my measured RPM.

New Sheave Tool

Normally I'd have "munged up" my own but after moving out of my old house I just don't have the workshop setup to do that right now so I decided to buy one. Having seen some ones on YouTube bend I was cautious, but I got this one off an eBay seller in Greece (not China) called f1sport (link to his profile) and while it worked out a bit for me (in Australia) I think the price is totally commensurate with the quality as its about US$83.

Here are some pictures I took of mine, its simply an amazingly high quality bit of steel

Basically all the bolts were in an included bag, and you need to assemble them ... given you're clearly mechanical buying anything like this the lack of instructions are more of a pat on the back of your intelligence than an omission.

The steel is impressively thick

Todays work

So with the variator held by the sheave tool tried using the torque wrench (set to 160Nm) to see if it tightened any, it didn't (setting off the small "click" in the head). So I loosened the nut, and then tightened it with the torque wrench and then tried to undo it with the rattle gun. Unlike last time, this time it did undo, it moved very slightly at first (if you weren't looking you'd be forgiven for thinking it wasn't moving, it took a few seconds of "rattling" before it was starting to move at a pace where I knew it'd spin off fast soon.

Basically I'm now confident on how much torque to put onto the nut with the basic electric rattle gun and have it pretty close to right (and lets face it the torque wrench isn't calibrated anyway, so there's bound to be error), which is what I did 2 weeks ago (and it seems I was on the money anyway).

So now I know.

The other purpose of todays exersize was to pull the belt off and put my new one on. I didn't do that last time because the surfaces of the new sheaves looked a bit rough (not polished) and so I was wanting to let the old belt "polish that in" for me before putting on my new belt.

This gave me the opportunity to have a look more carefully at the secondary sheave (which I didn't do last time) and see the extent of damage that may be there (as less was visible the way it was). While I didn't like what I saw, it wasn't as bad as the primary suffered.

Unlike the primary, the secondary suffered its impacts much closer to the center with just a few hits further out in the sheave ... this is consistent (in my view) with the "hard bit of shit" getting in there at highway speeds (where the wrap of the belt would be tight to the center at the rear and out on the perimeter on the front sheave.

Indeed a closer look makes it clear that some parts of the interior have not seen the belt yet as the dings are still rough and not filled with rubber dust.

The red arrow points to dings which seem to be sitting on the highest gear point of the belt, the green seems to have not seen the belt and I think the blue is the boundary.

I decided to put the new belt in and when I measured the older belt I was surprised to find it was significantly under spec. I'm sure that when I put the new sheave on that the old belt was 31mm, however when I measured it today it was 27, or at about 3mm below tolerance!

So I don't know if I did measure it properly or didn't ... vexing.

With the new belt installed (and knowing it was thicker) I took it out again for a ride and observed the rpm speeds with this new belt (and of course the installed 2 weeks back 19g standard weights). What I got makes me wonder if I indeed failed to measure the belt (or look properly at the vernier).

So now at 100km/h my tacho is showing (about, its not digital) 5,250rpm (more than 5200, less than 5300) which is actually much better, and closer to what my stock 2002 model was doing (which was 4830 and I had a digital tach fitted to that)

It goes like this now:
speed revs ratio

60 4000 66.67
70 4300 61.43
80 4500 56.25
90 4870 54.11
100 5250 52.50
110 5500 50.00
120 5870 48.92

With the "ratio" being how many revs per km/h, showing that the bike is now giving lower and lower revs per speed as gearing increases.

This data also shows that I clearly can't have measured that belt properly because

  1. its unlikely that it could have stripped off 3mm of belt in 2 weeks without there being a mess in there
  2. I further dropped the revs as I got it it was 5,800 @ 100km/h, after the weights it went to 5,600 and today with the new belt to 5,250


This is the data for my old 2002 model (previously discussed)

speed revs ratio

60 3740 62.33
70 4080 58.29
80 4250 53.13
90 4520 50.22
100 4830 48.30
110 5340 48.55
120 5800 48.33

which now looks pretty close, although the older sheave seems to be fully engaged much sooner than the new one. I did a video today (forgot to do one on a fortnight ago) and interestingly my observation was that the weights overcome the spring to fully engage the front sheave at about this rpm.

As it happens I have a theory on why its later to engage. The answer can be found by looking a bit further around the fixed side of the secondary sheave at the spring

which is BLUE !

I'm pretty certain that Yamaha don't colour code their springs which means it (like the malossi weights) are after market.

Looking around on eBay  I see that there is indeed a company making blue springs, but its not Malossi as their springs seem to be Red (+30%), White (+13%), Yellow (+7%) and Green (-39%).
The company selling Blue is unclear about it because their kit also comes with some other adjusters to allow you to increase the spring tension  more.

This then is consistent with modders without a clue because putting light weights in with heavy springs will restrict the engine to a narrower rev range (never getting top gears) and be super revvy (when the engine was designed to be super torquey).

I guess that the next things on the agenda are:

  • keep an eye on the belt wear and see of those marks are causing it to wear faster (and the heavier spring won't be helping)
  • I still have no idea what caused the damage, so perhaps its pull apart the secondary sheave and have a good look. I'd have done that today but I didn't have a 27mm socket which would fit

Given that its got relatively high mileage and an unknown service history its probably a good idea just to pull that secondary apart and give it all a lube up...

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Nut Bags

In Australia we call people who are crazy "nuts" ... thus those who are "as crazy as a bag of nuts" are often called Nut Bags.

The ancient Christians once used symbols on caves to mark their meeting places or declare themselves (usually a fish symbol), and here in Australia I've observed that Nut Bags are identifying themselves discretely with their own iconography:

Nut Bags may also associate with other merchandising

Friday, 29 June 2018

T-Max replaced primary Sheave

Since I got my T-Max I've been a bit concerned that its revving too high (compared to my last one). Its nothing I can be "sure isn't design" and its getting good fuel economy  ... but still 6000 RPM at 100kmh is too fukken much. So I decided to wait till the belt inspection interval.

In my last post about my T-Max I found something "amiss" when I went to check the belt (at the inspection time)

To save repeating myself I recommend reading that (short) post here.


I think that the problem is that the weights are too light (and there is probably some misinformation about the standard roller / weight mass out there).

I think that the current situation (with the new parts) is pretty much "spec" but I can't actually know as a lot of this data isn't published.


So, in this post I wanted to just discuss some details about the work involved and to talk about outcomes.

Firstly for those who haven't done this, but are thinking of doing it, I'd say that its not difficult at all. Having had the earlier version (the differences I'll speak of in a minute) this newer system (which is about the same right through to the newest ones) makes the task of removing the weights (or rollers as the manual itself variously refers to them as) quite simple. The task of taking the primary sheave apart (making belt inspections a peach) is itself not hard.

There are a few points in the workshop manual (which I assume you have) that seemed more complex (perhaps only to me) than they were actually in fact.

The first point is the removal of the primary sheave, reading the manual (and some of the on line videos) makes it out to be a process which needs a special tool ... the sheave holder. If you have a decent "rattle gun" (or impact driver / wrench) then its actually totally un-needed to have the "sheave holder".

The trick is to not break the tension the secondary sheave has on the belt with the bolts as prescribed. The friction of the belt already in place (from the last time the motor was shut down) is entirely enough to allow the removal of the nut ... and thence pulling off the "right hand side" of the variator sheave to allow the belt to simply droop onto the axle of the primary sheave (which happens to be the engine crankshaft).

Its a peach.

The rattle gun I intended to use wasn't strong enough in practice (red rectangle) , but was in theory. I suspect that the previous mechanic put it on with too much tension. It should be tensioned to 160Nm torque and in theory my rattle gun is good for 215Nm ... it wouldn't budge so I borrowed this brute.

which undid it in about 2 seconds. My (smaller) rattle gun was used then to put the nut back on and (not knowing the exact tension it would deliver) just rattled it on "briefly" with the merest of "whacks" (NB not going spakko on it). I intend to check the tension later with a proper tool.

When you first start to pull the covers off the crankcase housing you'll see this:

This is actually the nut you'll take off and yes that's the crank (and yes mine looks like its been punished).

When you take the crank case cover off, you'll see it like this:

And its that spacer (or "collar" as it is mentioned in the manual) which takes that BT grease, the rest (only in a few places) takes "assembly lube"

As you can see that collar has holes (4 actually) and as well as the O-rings has a groove on the inside (which is obvious when its off) that you pack a little more of the BT grease into.

When you pull the crank case cover off you'll see that it has a bearing, which the "collar" sits in (and that's why it wasn't visible in the earlier shot).

This is the crank case cover removed and seen from the "back". The collar sits exactly inside this bearing. You can perhaps just see the two black lines where the O-rings rest inside the inner race. While the bearing is free to turn, the BT grease is just to ensure that the inner race of the bearing has a layer of lube between it and the crank "collar", and the O-rings ensure the lube doesn't get to the belt (a bad idea).

Now in the workshop manual its all a bit more confusing:

as well as all the instructions on what to lube and with what. 4 in the dotted lines there is here:

The weights I took out of my original variator were all within the diameter spec (25mm, min 24.5mm) given in the manual. However the manual doesn't specify weight. They weren't Yamaha ones quite clearly.

They were "Malossi" (and the previous owner swore it was all stock ... sigh) and while they had a few visible flat spots the should otherwise be good to go.

... except when I weighed them (on a scale that is only reading in grams) I found they were some 18g and some 17g ... when I weighed the bunch they were 143g (or 17.8g on average).

Interestingly the Yamana ones were on average 19.37g (or 155g for the lot) which as a whole mass acting on the variator is about 12g heavier ... which will mean that it takes a higher RPM for the mass of these to overcome the spring (in the secondary sheave) and mean a higher RPM before the "front" is fully engaged.

Taking a look again at the image of the primary sheave it was clear that the lighter mass resulted in the sheave never being fully in its highest gear:

as the red arrow is pointing to the maximum run out of the belt, and there is still a good centimeter of pulley left to occupy (again explained in the first post). This suggests that for those who favor weight changes to alter the power distribution in their T-Maxes it is akin to just riding around in a lower gear. Meaning your engine will be doing more revolutions per journey and thus wearing more.

So, with the new weights in the new sheaves I put the BT grease only onto  the thread, the back of the nut and inside the collar, reassembled it and took it out for a test ride.

This is where I found interesting things. I have (now) 4 data sets of RPM vs speed

  • my first T-Max
  • a fellow on the internet who sent me his 2009 T-Max data
  • this T-Max before changing weights
  • and this T-Max after changing weights
Here's what I found.
  • my 2002 T-Max was much higher geared, doing 4830 rpm @ 100kmh (I bought an external Tacho for it that worked off the spark plug lead because it didn't have one) and the gear ratios seemed fully engaged (biggest it got on the front, smallest on the back) by about 100Kmh (sensible)
  • the fellow with the 2009 model was doing 5100 rpm @ 60 mph (curse the USA for still being imperial) which is about 96kmh
  • my current (2006) T-Max was doing 5800 rpm @ 100kmh (which is a fair bit higher than either of the above)
  • after the rebuild of the variator it is now doing 5600 rpm @100kmh (which isn't much lower but is lower)

So where next?

Clearly I need to double check how much further the belt is coming out along the variator at higher RPM, is it making it all the way out? I also need to pull the rear sheave off and see if there is anything amiss there (and I still don't have any explanation for what caused all that damage to the inner sheave).

However I'm thinking that "perhaps its just different" ... I mean its getting good milage (4.5l/100km (or 52US miles / gallon)) and there are differences in the models. For instance:
  • the 2002 model developed peak torque at 5500 rpm (a bloody smart location really), while my model develops it at 6250 rpm (marketing wankers involved I'm sure). This means that to keep the cruising speed (assuming highway use) close to the peak torque they'd need to move the rev / gearing ratio. As it happens its almost at the 5500 revs of the older motor and probably within 90% of peak (its a not a steep curve) right now.
  • Opening the throttle sees the rpm rise quickly (faster response than my older bike) to over 6000 which is getting near to where this motor develops its peak power
  • Peak power has been moved from 7000 rpm on my 2002 bike to 7500 rpm on this (the 2006) bike
Its quite likely that the lack of publication of Yamaha weights has led people to perhaps measure the early model and then not double check that the parts haven't changed.

Perhaps too, the change from Carburetor to Fuel Injection (and some years of service experience) has led Yamaha to decide that slightly higher revvs isn't bad for the motor?

The older model

Having had both now (and serviced both now) I can say that one of the steps backwards to me is the variator. The older one was much more robust in design and was actually well lubricated (while this one is dry). Lets take a quick look at the older one from the manual:

Things to notice are:

  • heaps more sliders to stabilise the sheave to the cam (as the outer sheave is not actually attached to the crank and relies on the internals to prevent slippage)
  • the weight rollers are deeply embedded in a bath of BT grease, so really are massively protected. I never once had any problem in 160,000Km of daily riding (including traffic, dragging cars at the lights, mountain roads and touring)
  • the whole thing is easily kept into one piece when inspecting and changing belts, and indeed being a bit smaller I never needed to take it off to change a belt (unlike the newer one).
Note in the assembly instructions just how much grease is involved...

so as you can see even when you remove it, that sheave does not "fall apart" in your hands (as the newer one will when you remove it if you don't keep a good grip pressing the parts together).

Combined with the more relaxed rpm range of the older one I feel that Yamaha has bowed to the "wanker" set (I mean, they've got the money right?) and taken the T-Max from a practical and comfortable general purpose motorcycle towards a "wanker bike" when the reality is that it can never be an FZR-600 (and if you want one of them you should get one).

The removal of the fantastic and practical and discreet tie down straps from the passenger grab rail (I've loaded plenty of cartons of stuff onto the older one as a real work horse) and the increase in this direction of the newer models says that even more loudly.


So looking now at these numbers perhaps it really is all back to standard now.

Anyway, when my sheave holder arrives I'll need to pull the crank case off again and check that the rattle gun put the right tension on that nut (it was a guess, but it can't be more than 215Nm because  that's all its good for, and who knows how accurate any torque wrenches actually are anyway) and I'll be able to inspect (after run in) how far that belt is getting up along that sheave.

I'm impressed with just how reliable and robust the T-Max is, having done 160,000 on my first one (most of that being my mileage) and now having this one with 107,000 (and I've only done 13,000 of that) I see that belts last well, maintenance is straightforward and they can tolerate an amount of shit without breaking. I seldom got 20,000 km out of a "chain and sprockets" on my bikes, and with belts being less work and about the same price its quite encouraging.

more as it comes to hand ...

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

T-Max CVT issue

Back in about July last year I got myself another T-Max, and its been an interesting time with it so far. It's been quite reliable and hasn't missed a beat, but since getting it I've noted that it rev'ed higher than my older one for the same speed. I expected that there was something worn, but decided that as I was getting really good fuel economy I'd leave it alone till belt inspection light came on.

So the belt inspection light came on a little while back and I got around to pulling off the cover and having a look.

Well ... I'm sure there's a story to this:

I'm sure someone noticed that when it happened.

Interestingly when revved the outside of the belt doesn't get past that black line, and it should.

Here is a quick video showing that more clearly where that gets to:

So I've bought new front sheave sides and in anticipation of wear (or worse) new weights. The sliders looked good to go.

I'll keep you posted

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Fireplaces in Australia

Australia seems to have a long tradition of building fireplaces which are stupid beyond belief. I can only assume its because most people (not just Australians) don't and perhaps can't think.

Lets take this old abandoned farm cottage as an example.

In this, the vast majority of the benefits of the fireplace are wasted. Sure it may be cosy to actually have the fire going in the evening, but you'll only get a tiny portion of the benefit from it; the direct radiation from the fire. This of  course only warms when the fire is still burning.

In contrast the back and sides of the (quite substantial thermal mass) fire place will probably remain warm for most of the night. And people wonder why their dogs and cats snuggle up to it when tossed outside for the night.

Now people will argue that they build them like this because of the fire hazard; more evidence of a complete lack of the capacity for thinking ... which side will most likely cause a fiire hazard the stones of the back and sides or the actual burning fire?

FFS ...

In Finland (and from what I saw the rest of Scandinavia) they build them more like this:

Note that the entire thing covered in tin sheet is essentially the stack of bricks in the Australian one, and note that its in the middle of the house (so that it can uniformly warm the entire place). The door to the right is the bedroom (its a small cottage) and so the back wall of that fireplace is right by the bed.

As well that steel door is an oven as well as where you build the fire. So you can put stuff in there to cook and "voila" no cooking fumes in the house!

Because its an enormous thermal mass the outside remains warm for pretty much the whole day, and at night after dinner till the next morning. The smaller doors at the bottom are for getting out the ash that's left behind and the top doors for heating smaller things.

That this one is covered in tin is just to cover the surface of the bricks as its nearly 50 years old and the original paint is flaking and the edges of the bricks cause a little dust. Tin was just the quick fix to make it look neater cheaply. Tin is not an insulator so it then just radiates out into the house.

Here is another one in a log cottage under construction, this one will be rendered with a covering and also tiled to look nicer.

in front of it is the kitchen and behind it is the living room.

Smart use of energy ... using your brain I'd say.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Camera Sensor technology has Plateaued

I was looking at a mates G80 and thinking wow, this is nice ... although its funny how its just come back to exactly the same form factor as the GH1 (and G1) originally had.

Naturally the G80 offers 4K video and a plethora of other groovy stuff like IBIS which is just "fuckDatsGood" (beyond belief).

However as a stills guy I keep feeling that even since the 2009 release of the GH1 that fucking not much has happened except tweak the tuning parameters, squeeze more pixels in (without fucking things up) and way better JPG engines in the cameras.

Now you may or may not agree with DxO Mark's measurements, but they are a ball park to start from. Myself I've compared my GH1 do a mates OM-D EM5 Mk1  as well as the Mk2 and found that I couldn't see much of any difference in RAW, but the JPG engines were ahead (but then as I prefer to just shoot RAW and process on Computer they are neck and neck.
The following examination of DxO measurement data seems to support this.
I compared these three cameras. Lets keep in mind that the GH1 was released in about July 2009.

those coloured blobs match in with the graphs, first lets looks at what ISO you get when you dial in a number

so the GH1 actually gives you a higher shutter speed (by virtue of its under-rated setting) for the same camera set ISO (because the actual ISO is higher than you think).

Ok, next dynamic range:

GX8@measured 109 ISO (dial setting 100) = 12.52 EV
GH1@measured 137 ISO (dial setting 100) = 11.63 EV

well for sure the newer cameras are doing better at 100ISO, but man it sure becomes closer at ISO 800 (where I do often work to get shutter speed) ...and none of those differences are likely ball breaking differences in real shooting.

Tonal range

Talk about your linear relationship. If this isn't showing that way back in 2009 sensors were at the edge of the plateau I don't know what does.

So to me, this supports my view that camera sensors plateaued, nearly 10 years ago.

Something to think about when justifying that camera upgrade ... and I can still get used GH1's in good condition for under US$180 pretty much every day of the week over at KEH.

Food for thought if you're a broke student looking to get into a system.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Canberra War Memorial

To me a visit to Canberra (rare for me) is not complete without a visit to the War Memorial. The place is often filled with school students who are (hopefully) learning about what it all actually means to have died in service of your country and perhaps given some sense of what that sacrifice means for those left behind.

Inside the place is divided into the various major wars with many exhibits of what people went through in the form of dioramas depicting some of the battles

some actual artifacts

as well as some equipment and machines

One of my personal interests is (of course) the Japanese mini-submarine which was destroyed while in Sydney Harbour (link of interest here)

This has now been brought in from being outside (way back when they had far less room) and restored to original paint. This set of shots depicts clearly the destruction wrought by the depth charge which took it out. Clearly the poor bastard inside would have been killed by the compression blast of that explosion from below.

Its tragic that the Japanese so favored veritable suicide missions which highlights

  • how little they valued their people
  • why there were quickly so few experienced soldiers, airmen and navy personnel
  • their desperation (which proved unfounded)
There is a lot of very interesting stuff there and I fully recommend a reflective couple of days (in short sessions of under 3 hours) to appreciate it. 

To me nothing summarized the bravery and oft futility of war more than this statue from WW1 in the "Hall of Valour" depicting one more soldier leaving the trenches to face the machine guns.

Lest We Forget

Monday, 14 May 2018

Day trip to Girraween

Well I woke up on Sunday and sitting around having coffee I thought : well its a beautiful day, why not pack a lunch and go do a short hike at Girraween

The T-Max makes a lovely highway bike too .. comfortable and friendly, so I put on my hiking boots, packed the Trangia, some water and some noodles and off I went

I took the track to "Castle Rock" which is steep in parts but not too far (about 3km).

From up there you get good views to the Mt Norman (and out of picture to the right) Bald Rock.

Sitting down out of the (stiff) wind I enjoyed a break with a local skink

The view to the North (into the sun, so heaps more contrasty) is "The Pyramids" ... great climb too, but really a good half day up and back ... so as I've done that plenty of times I left it.

On the way home I dropped into Wild Soul winery (cos I know the guy pretty well) and bought a bottle of 2016 Merlot Cabernet for dinner. He can on occasion make stunning wines, but last few have suffered from lack of good weather and some losses from a hail event. None the less they're always interesting. If you're in the area, drop in :-)

Hope you enjoyed a little of my walk too

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

ANZAC day in a small town

I live in a small town, not far from where I was born (well, a couple of hundred Km). Like most places in Australia we take ANZAC day seriously. Its not just a time for old guys (and some young too) to be able to be proud of their service, its all so a time to be seen by the community you live in and recognized for who you have been (not everyone likes to go around crowing about it).

There has often times in history been some community anger about Australias role in international politics (and yes, the armed forces is a wing of that).

So here's a quick look at today's "ceremony"

As it happens I know a few of the ex-servicemen ... for instance this pair of great blokes (who have both been guidance and support to me in my past)

Knowing these two guys for a few decades myself now its good to see them able to walk proudly and get some recognition for their past service in the local community. (sadly it hasn't always been so)

In particular I'm glad they're getting to find some rest from their own traumas (which only service men and women really get).

Hats Off

Friday, 23 March 2018

the Chicken from a Feather Problem

Have you ever had one of those moments on the internet (say, on Facebook) where someone says something that's just incredibly fucking daft (not to mention illogical) that you know to be impossible, yet states it as something like a genuine problem or possibilty:

  • Conspiracy: why aren't they doing .... (stuff like say "improving batteries" to what equates to 23KwH/kg)
  • Comprehension: "Mum working at home solves problem that has eluded science"
  • Physics: "Making things faster (like LANs sending data faster than light):
  • Defeating thermodynamics : "how can I power my car from a 12M solar pannel (and why aren't we all using EV's {when I'm not})"
you know, stuff like that.

Stuff that is way easier to propose than it is to explain why its "not happening any time soon".

My Mum used to say:
"Well you know what "Thought did?", he stuck a feather in the ground and thought he'd grow a chicken"
when ever as a child I said "but I thought...".  So I call this the Chicken from a Feather Problem.

Its where the proposal of the problem is rooted in a total lack of grasp of the way things work (you know, that useless stuff like Physics and Chemistry these people failed at school {because they were busy flirting or just had the brain of a Budgerigar ...}). 

This of course makes explaining it virtually impossible because the person just does not have the intellectual foundations upon which to lay out the answer (and ya know, like ... TLDR). Its akin to laying bricks on a lake. The second you place one on (what seems to be a flat surface) its gone the moment you release it. This model holds true even on a frozen lake because in a while (like by spring) the lake will thaw and the house will also sink from view.

Well I've come up with a proposal to attempt to explain the problem (at least to myself) which is based on the works of Dunning & Kruger published in 1999 called:
"Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments"

In this Dunning & Kruger postulate that (paraphrasing) people who are sufficiently stupid are unable to grasp that they are actually more stupid than even they can plumb the depths of, and mistakenly expect that you and them are "of equal capacity" ... youtube is filled with examples if you look for "stupid workers" or "idiots at work" (for instance). Their study of the "invisible ink" robber is just worth reading.

I think its fair to say that "The Dunning Kruger Effect" has entered "modern parlance" ...


Getting back to the Chicken Feather Problem I feel that the answer lies in the inverse of the Dunning Kruger effect.

This is where the thought processes of someone who is sufficiently stupid are literally incomprehensible to someone of sufficient intelligence.

I think it explains the problem well, for example if someone stupid (from oh ... say the USA) was travelling in China, when speaking to someone (who doesn't speak English), will try to repeat the question slower and louder  (all the while growing impatient with the person for not understanding).

To you and I would it would seem an absurd and tragic comedy, but to the person with DK syndrome is perplexing. (well OK, that's probably a bad example, because the full on thickwits in the USA don't usually have passports (and probably voted Trump)).

We see the failure of ourselves to grasp the stupidity (perhaps in disbelief) when we begin explaining to them why a feather can not grow a chicken ... perhaps going back to basic biology, and then as they serially fail to grasp anything, we attempt to go to first principles (which they also fail to grasp). It leads to our exasperation and probably only deepens the resolve of the moron involved that they are right and its all a "Deep State" cover-up.

Thus we were unable to comprehend the thought processes of the stupid : or Dunning Kruger -1

It is my hope that by reading this you'll be able to have more satisfying experiences on Facebook by recognizing early "the Chicken from Feather Problem" and when it arises know that engaging with someone like that is just never going to work out well for either of you because you're both unable to understand each other... despite having a common language.

So let them plant that feather ... and offer the olive branch it grew.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Panasonic 20mm f1.7 (thoughts on focus speed & testing)

one of those issues which "just won't go away" is the views expressed by camera "enthusiasts" on internet forum that X or Y is junk. Well today I'd like to discuss an old favouite among Wangers that just won't go away (even with a double tap).

The Panasonic 20mm f1.7: when they first came out I was attracted, as here I wondered about them and if one would give me something I wanted out of a lens which would cost me €399 (back then). As the price came down it got to the point of "well why the hell not just try it, and so back in 2014 I finally bought a Panasonic 20mm f1.7 because it was the only way to actually see. If you read that post I've got a few more details on how well the lens works and while I didn't go into the lens testing for sharpness (many others have done that so well...) I did comment on the difference between similar focal lengths.

So as you can see its an attractively compact lens on a compact micro43 camera body. Making not just a good lens, but making your micro43 mirrorless compact camera experience be ... well actually compact.

I've written a lot about this lens over time and indeed taken quite a many shots with the lens which have quietly featured on this blog. I'd say especially with modern phones being as good as my camera with the 14mm lens, it has resulted in this lens as being my default fitment lens to the GF1 - becoming more or less a budget Sony RX1 (which even still sells used for $1500 or over, way more than both a GF-1 {about $100} and the 20f1.7 {about $150} by a big margin).

Anyway, like I said much ado is made about how horrible the AF is on this lens , so this morning I decided to whack the phone and camera on a mount to actually test it. Below are the results.

Basically if this AF speed is not sufficient for you then you're a formula 1 track photographer (oh, wait, they'd use a longer lens anyway) or a totally incompetent photographer who blames their poor performance in getting images on the lens (you know, like bad workmen tend to do).

Generally I noted that it focused with less delay when your subject distance didn't change much. I had this set on a small single focus point to force the camera to make greater focus adjustments, but if you were shooting with the camera in face recognition (and the people were just at the table with you), or multi zone and let the camera pick it (suitable for scenery or cityscapes) then really its hard to go past this lens as a compact fast (and folks fast lenses means an aperture which results in a faster shutter for the same everything else ... ok).

There are of course many many other videos out there demonstrating just what I've done. Usually the Wangers don't actually provide evidence to support their claim (which is what Wangers or Zombies of Moronity do), but go on regurgitating someone elses cud.

So if you are contemplating this lens then I suggest that you try it. You may need to make some changes to your camera focus settings (like you'll notice I didn't use AFC (or C-AF I think on Olympus), but used the single shot. Combined with shutter release only on focus confirm that will help your keeper rate.

So is it only me? Well lets look on youtube a bit more (where people have taken the time to post more well produced material). This guy has a review on his OM-D and finds that they are close in AF speeds (as you can tell by the beeps in his video).

He suggests its slower but really, its perhaps the difference between 0.5 seconds and 0.25 seconds.  Hardly Glacial.

Another reviewer says good things about both stills and video:

Anyway, having covered that point, I hope you get as many rewarding shots out of yours as I have out of mine...

taken in dim light with no IBIS hand held at 1/30th of a sec

Monday, 5 March 2018

XC Ski Bindings (a primer for non-snow-country people)

This is for my Australian friends who don't know a  lot about Cross Country (XC) Skis and bindings. So if you're from Canada ... move on ... nothing to see here

Basically the style of XC I do is "classic" which means you propel yourself forward by a combination of "kick" + "stepping into the glide" + "poles"

Firstly, lets look at a video I did some years back on (by todays standards) a crummy camera. Take note of how much the heel lifts and how much the boot needs to move as if on a hinge.

Those are my "off track" skis (they're actually NATO military stuff so they're tough and can take abuse). When I post pictures of my local Ski Track like this:

its been groomed by a machine (snow mobile) towing something flat and heavy to pack down the surface a little (making sking easier) and carve in that pair of grooves, which resembles what you'd experience if you were "off track skiing" in a group (following someone as you do ... because its easier).

The Skis

So, lets look at the difference between "track skis" and "off track skis" ... firstly "track skis" are shorter


and of course lighter. My track ski weighs 880g while my off track ski weighs 1,780g (yes, nearly 2Kg on each foot, not counting the boot {or any ice you happen to get friendly with}).

This makes skiing the same distance harder work with off track skis (on a track) than track skis (on a track) ... if you have to lift you skis a lot (which you may do on the track when skating a bit) it wears you out a lot ... but the extra with and length means it will carry you over snow which you'd sink into with the track skis, making it easier going in the rough. The off track skis I use also have steel inlays around the edges to make it possible to get some grip on hard packed snow and ice (think spring)...

One needs to be a little careful handling (like storing and transporting) these because that edge is sharp ...

The Boots

On my bindings above (which are New Nordic Norm {a subject unto itself, introduced here}) and there are track and "Back Country" styles ... the BC ones are heavier duty, which becomes clearer when you look at the boots:

(... and do ya like my lounge pants?)

and have wider binding mounts and thicker binding Pins (which form the hinge, allowing stepping)

You can see from this shot that the boots are only secured to the binding at the front

and that the binding Pin is much thicker as well as wider ... so one boot will not go onto the other binding.

The boot presses simply onto the binding with a click (well as long as the fucking thing isn't frozen solid with ice, but see that other post) ...

... where the Pin is captured by the front of the binding and held captive in that hole (where the red circle is) by the arrow slider closing over the top of the "cylinder".

Thus the boot is held onto the Ski firmly allowing you to "ski" it forwards, keep good footing (that won't tip on you causing a twisted ankle...) and lift the ski to do stuff like change direction, step over something (like dog shit on the lake ... thanks arseholes) or move around stuff in your way (as happens in the forest when you ski up {yes up !!} a hill)

note the obstacles and uneven terrain ... hard work? Yep ... sure is, but much harder sinkin in to your groin and trying to walk it up or snow shoe up with your shoe getting snow falling in on top of it and having to lift your foot up further with every step...

When its too steep, you can climb by traversing (see the horizontal "lines" up the slope in the below picture) allowing you to keep your feet at a comfortable angle to your legs (unlike snow shoeing)  and if you have a decent clear run you can ski down which is a shitload of fun (unlike snow shoeing) but you can't steer without stepping.

But to step you need to "have sure footing", transfer your weight, lift the other ski (as if you were skating), move it "outwards", and step into that now moving the other ski (to follow the same path).

... expect to fall over a bit (entertaining those you're with) till you work it out.

So, now you know :-)