04 March 2010

DIY Heated Gear: Update

I had to make a few changes to my controller for the heated gear.  Partly due to inattention, I connected the fan controller board wrong.  When the lights didn't light, I turned it on again until I smelled something funny.  Only then did I realized I'd connected the yellow (hot) to the black (ground/earth) and the black to the yellow.  Oops.  I quickly turned it off and corrected the mistake.  The result was that not all of the knobs generate the spec amount of power.
Not too bad.   I thought I could live with it until I made the heated pants (which I don't like and may re do) and connected them to the box.  This time I had it plugged into the bike and smelled the same funny smell.  I quickly killed the power and decided I'd also killed the box the next day when the gloves stayed too hot no matter how low I turned the knobs.

I didn't want to wait for another mail order, so I went to my local Micro Center and purchased a 30 watt per channel fan controller, the Sunbeam Rheobus Extreme.  I chose the Rheobus Extreme because it was the highest wattage fan controller I could source locally.  Since I had to replace the controller board, I decided to address the other issue I thought I was patiently waiting until I could afford a different case to resolve.

The Radio Shack Project box was too tall and made the controller bulky and virtually inaccessible inside the tank bag.  It was also difficult to modify so the controller looked like it belonged in the box.  I wasn't looking forward to re-using the old box so I used a plastic container like the one Chinese Take out comes in.  I used the same process as I did with the Lamptron LC2 by removing the knobs, front panel piece, and the framing piece (in the case of the Sunbeam).  This gave me the padded board.

I used the front panel piece as a guide to make holes in the side of the plastic container and a knife to make them rounder and a little larger.  Doing this eliminated having to modify the knobs like I did with the previous board.  With the holes out it was easy to slide the little board in place and re-attach the knobs.  Later, I put the cord inside the box instead of taping it the outside.  Here are the final results:

I wanted to attache the front panel to the outside of the new box but it was too tall.  Later, I added a simple inline on off switch so that I could turn the power off to the controller instead of all of the electronics I have connected to the y-adapter.  With the new look, it's a lot easier to adjust the temperature on the fly.  An added benefit is when I have the gps/pda mounted, I can see the screen better.

I'm also trying thinner outer gloves.  The old gloves are bulky and change the feel I have for the bike.  To replace the Heine Gericke gloves, I went to Lowe's and got some deerskin or goatskin gardening gloves.  Back when I took the MSF Beginner Course, one of the instructors had a pair and said they make great motorcycling gloves.  When I lived in Long Beach, CA, I tried a pair from Home Depot but they were too stiff and I never got comfortable wearing them.  They became regular garden gloves when I moved home to Georgia and made my first garden.
I tried the new gloves this afternoon but I let my hands get too cold before I put them on and didn't wear them long enough to see if the thinner gloves work.

I also realized I had the gloves on too high which necessitated me turning the gloves on and off often and the reason I added the switch.  As my mother reminded me when I explained the failure, this is all a learning process.  If I stick to it, I'll get it right!  She's a great mom.

Here are links to all of the DIY Heated Clothing posts.  

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