Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Simple KAP (Kite Aerial Photography) First attempt!

How Do All,
At the moment I am not able to ride much due to back and shoulder issues, so I decided; to help keep the frustration of not riding everyday at bay I would get some of my kites out which I made many years ago and give KAP a try.
KAP stands for Kite Aerial Photography, and though kites and KAP have more or less been thrown by the wayside due to drones, I actually think the act of flying kite which I have hand made, and taking some haphazard photos with a camera dangling 90 meters off the ground much more satisfying.

I have never tried a drone and I probably never will, one of the reasons being my close proximity to Heathrow airport and Northolt air base, making flying a drone a non starter, and a short flight time due to batteries etc... Flying a kite on the other had can be undertaken pretty much anywhere without too much trouble, and the kite will stay up as long as there is enough of a breeze to give it lift. There are however height restrictions in the UK that I try to stick to.

I had an old Canon PowerShot SX200 IS which I have not used in quite sometime, so I built a suspension rig using an old bicycle gear cable, a sheet of battered aluminium which my dad found in the road, a mudguard stay and various bits of tat from my junk boxes.

I found on a KAP Facebook group a post about CHDK which stands for Canon Hack Development Kit, a program which you load into the camera via an SD card which changes the firmware, allowing you to program the camera to do all manner of things not possible with the basic camera.
I also added a KAP-UAE script which allows for fully automatic start up of the camera, taking as many exposures as needed at whatever intervals, and will also shut the camera down when the cycle is finished.
You can also interleave video between pictures and control loads of exposure settings of which I have no clue.

It was very windy and gusty when I took my rig out to test, and I decided to use my 1.5 meter Rokkaku kite, which immediately tried to fly up and vertically above me causing the camera to spin in circles around the kite line. I decide to add a fuzzy tail to the kite to lessen the line angle.

I took around 200 exposures and some videos, most of the pictures did not have a level horizon as the camera is constantly swinging, the use of a self levelling suspension rig called a Picavet might have helped a little but would also have made the set up more complex which I wanted to avoid.

Looking towards Heathrow Airport which fills the horizon, terminal 5 on the far right, and the control tower towards the left of the picture.

The trees that are just starting to come into leaf and look almost ghostly or powdery.

Walking the line down with a pulley to retrieve the camera and change the setting and angles of the camera. the end of the kite line is fixed to a screw in dog stake, this method makes for quick retrieval without having to reel 100 meters of line back in. it is also good for bringing down a strong pulling kite in high winds.

Using the pulley to bring the camera down from my perspective.

One end of the park.

Probably the most in focus exposure.

A view looking towards the city of London, Wembley Stadium is on the left of the horizon, and you may not be able to make it out but Canary Wharf and the Shard are also just visible, if a little blurry! the position of my house is marked also.

Playing ball.

A view looking towards Uxbridge, Hillingdon Hospital is quite visible on the right of the horizon.

One of the few exposures that had a fairly level horizon.

I love the shadows of the trees, a sight not seen on the ground.

Thank you for looking.
Take care, Barry - The Knotty Bear


Sunday, 2 May 2021

Simply Tubeless! A basic instruction guide to running standard tyres and rims tubeless.

 How Do All.

I have been running some of my bike wheels tubeless for about 5 or 6 years now and with great results on the whole.

I have run tubeless specific tyres on standard and tubeless ready rims, and also standard tyres on standard and tubeless ready rims.

I have used several tubeless sealants, Stans No Tubes sealant, Joe's Eco sealant and Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex Tyre Sealant to name a few. My outright favourite being the Joe's Eco sealant, which has yet to fail me!

I have also used various rim strips, sealing tapes and Ghetto tubeless variants depending on the tyres and rims I have been using, all work to a certain extent, but for my uses the best rim sealing strip I have found is a trimmed inner tube which when the tyre is seated and sealed creates I guess what you could call a semi tubular tyre. 

The inner tube sealing method is both cheaper and more versatile than most systems. I also use this system for mounting my standard tyres onto tubeless ready rims.

There are dozens of reasons for (and against) and ways of setting up tubeless, this is just my favourite method, and my reasons for doing this are simple convenience of not getting flat tyres when the puncture fairy visits, I also personally think the ride and handling is better, as for faster/lighter - heavier/slower? well that's something that really doesn't concern me, and I have found that my average speeds running tubeless have been similar if not a little quicker in some cases than running the same set of tyres with tubes.

Ok, so here is my Kingfisher Picnic Porteur bicycle which I hand built. I was originally running 26″ x 2.3″ (559 x 54mm) Rat Trap Pass TC Tyres which are very supple, thin cased tyres, tubeless ready. However I found that running them tubeless with Stans Tyre sealant, even the smallest of punctures would not seal fully, and when wet the sealed punctures could sometimes re-puncture, larger cuts of about 6mm would not seal at all due to the very thin tread and casing.

I then switched to 26" x 2.0" (559 x 50mm) Schwalbe Kojak tyres and have ran them with tubes for the past couple of years, but since having a couple of flat tyres within the same week lately I decided to set these up tubeless, as on my other bikes with the same tyres run tubeless I have not had a single flat for years!

Firstly for this set up you need a suitable size inner tube, this Schwalbe SV7 20" tube is the perfect size for wide 26" rims, my rims on this bike are 35mm wide. whatever size wheel you have you need to use a smaller inner tube that is stretched on your rim. a 26" tube will not work with a 26" rim, as there is too much slack.

Then with a rusty? (beach find on Walney Island) pair of scissors you need to cut around the outside (Tyre side of the inner tube) I start at the valve area and follow the mould line around the outer surface, then with a damp cloth clean off the talc from inside the tube. 

Here my is my standard, nothing special rim. it has one wrap of WTB sealing tape, as I used these rims with tubeless specific tyres previously, it doesn't matter what rim tape you have on your rim as long as it has some, I highly recommend Velox cotton rim tape!

Take your cut inner tube, place the valve stem through the hole in the rim and then stretch the tube around the rim, finally unfolding the cut edges over the sides of the rim. Also make sure your valve stem stays straight in the rim valve hole! and make sure the inner tube strip is centred and even all the way round.

It should look like this when done.

Now mount your tyre one bead at a time, and then with a high volume pump inflate your tyre, this may take some effort, however in this case the tyre seated and pumped up very quickly, and with little effort. 
If you have problems inflating the tyre, then you can either use a compressor or a modified pop bottle or fire extinguisher as a quick shot tubeless inflator, or if the well of your rim is very deep, then you can add a strip or two of duct tape or extra rim tape to build up the well before installing the inner tube. I have done this in the past but no longer find the need.
Also note that this old tyre has no sealant in it yet and even has a few pin prick punctures but still is inflated.

Next up you need some sealant! I use Joe's No Flats, Eco sealant I use a cheap 100mm syringe from eBay, a length of silicone tube (RC fuel tubing from eBay) which fits over the valve stem of the inner tube valve, a haemostat and a valve core tool 

Deflate your tyre and remove the valve core using the valve core tool.

Place the silicone tube on the syringe and close it with the haemostat. then with the plunger removed; fill the syringe to the recommended level with sealant. and replace the plunger just into the opening.

Now attach the silicone tube to the valve stem, and holding the syringe upside down (plunger down) shake gently to mix the sealant and sealing particles a bit, as they can clog the tube and valve stem in some cases. 
Remove the haemostat and quickly squirt the sealant into the tyre and plunge up and down a few time to clear the tube and valve stem.
Then reinsert the valve core and pump up your tyre again to a little higher than your intended pressure. 
I do not use high pressures, I usually run 5psi above the minimum recommended pressure (my preference) if you run your tyres at very high pressures then I don't recommend using this tubeless set up as there is the possibility of blowing the tyre off the rim!
I have found running lower pressures actually faster and more comfortable than the high pressures I used to believe in, I also rarely have punctures this way, and its kinder to your rims too!

Ok; so after inflating your tyre you need to turn the wheel every which way to fully coat the inside of the tyre and seal any pin holes, old punctures or voids in the thin side walls, and also seal the inner tube strip against the tyre, I also bounce the wheel around a few times on the floor to splash coat inner of the tyre, just to be sure.
Above; you can see where the sealant has filled and sealed a couple of tiny punctures, just wipe off the excess.
Note: If using a previously used tyre which has larger punctures/slits of 6mm or above, it is worth patching the tyre inside before starting, or you can plug the punctures first with the tubeless repair kit sticky strings mentioned down below. you can also use this to plug the puncture after adding the sealant and not being able to seal the larger puncture.

Above; you can see here that the sealant has seeped between the tyre and inner tube strip sealing it, eventually this will bond the tube strip to the tyre making that semi tubular tyre I mentioned earlier. 
You can still separate the tyre from the tube strip if you get a large un-sealable hole in the tyre, and then just remove the strip and use a standard inner tube to get you home.

It is worth leaving thin walled tyres on their side supported by a bucket or large pot for about 15 minutes a side so that the sealant can fill and seal the sidewalls properly as the sealant will spend most of its life only covering the tread area of the tyre as the wheel spins.

Once the tyre is fully sealed and you are happy that the job is a good one, you need to trim off the excess inner tube hanging over the rim sides. You can use a sharp pair of scissors, or like here I prefer to use a leather edge beveller tool (size 2) this cuts a fine smooth line and leaves hardly a visible edge to the inner tube.

A view of the cutting edge in the groove.

How the finished edge looks, it's almost invisible to all but the knowledgeable!

Using one hand to pull the strip of tube away as the tool is gently pushed around the rim, being careful not to scratch those lovely rims!

The finished wheel, and pile of inner tube edges. 

Finally! I recommend carrying a spare tube just in case of emergencies, however I have only once in 5 years needed this whilst using the supple cased Rat Trap pass tyres. and as I had forgotten that in my bag was an emergency tubeless repair kit for those times when the cut is too large for the sealant alone to fill the cut, this contains a tool to insert sticky rubber coated strings into the puncture, these then plug the puncture.

You will probably need to refresh the sealant every 6 to 12 months depending on climate, and if you have any punctures, generally I just remove the wheels and give them a shake to hear if there is still liquid in them and gauge if I need to add more and how much, you'll get a feel for it pretty quickly.

If I have forgotten anything please let me know and I will update this.
Any questions are welcome, feel free to use the contact button on my home page and elsewhere.
And please do let me know if you try this and how it worked out for you, or leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and if it was any help at all then I am happy to have helped in some way.

Take care,
Barry - The Knotty Bear.