The Chainlink

I recently came across this integrated tail light and camera product on Kickstarter (thanks BikeSnobNYC) and thought it cool idea. I use a camera and a tail light and it would be nice to have them integrated into one device. I'm a bit unsure that the backwards view will be effective, though.


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Tricolor shamed me into it, so here's a quick review.

As I mentioned yesterday, I've had the Siva mounted on my Giant for a couple weeks. It took all of about five minutes to mount. Like most modern bikes, the Giant has vertical dropouts, so all I needed to do was remove the rear skewer, wiggle the rear wheel out far enough to slip the dyno over the left side of the axle, wiggle it back, then replace the skewer.

In the time since I've installed it, I've probably ridden that particular bike back and forth to work (1+ hour one way) five or six times. Assuming the dyno was putting out juice, the little battery pack in the Siva should be very well charged. Other than a little bit of "notchiness" felt and sound heard when walking the bike, I couldn't tell the Siva was doing anything. Once riding at a very low speed (couple mph?), I can't tell that it's there. Of course, I'm getting to be an old fart, so my hearing isn't what it used to be. You young whippersnappers might have more sensitive ears.

I swiped the horrible mounting bracket from Ellen's bike (well, "swiped" is kind of a strong word - she didn't like it one little bit and told me I could take it), slapped it on my Giant, then zip-tied a USB cord to my top tube and plugged in the phone. Nothing. "Damn," I thought. "Oh well, nice experiment."

I turned on My Tracks to guarantee the phone was doing something marginally useful (though I do know how to get to work) and battery consuming as I rode. Once I got the bike rolling, the phone started charging, as evidenced by the lightning bolt battery icon. Whew! Apparently, the little battery pack on the Siva won't discharge through the USB connector, only through its own USB port. I will have to confirm that with the Siva folks.

Midway through the ride, I checked and the little lightning bolt had disappeared. "Damn," I thought. "Oh well, nice experiment," and continued on my way. When I got near work I wanted to stop just short of the office so My Tracks wouldn't spazz out when the GPS satellites disappeared behind the tall buildings. I noticed the screen said, "fully charged," and when I unplugged the USB cable from the phone, the little green light behind the speaker turned off. So, all was well on that front too. Looks like the phone's charging circuitry disconnected itself from the 5v power once the battery was fully charged. To be fair, the phone had been connected to a power source overnight, so it was already at 98% when I started out.

That obviously wasn't much of a test, but the phone will be in a somewhat lower state of charge when I ride home. Still, the fact that I could run My Tracks and have the state of charge go up while riding is a very good sign. My main aim for the Siva is to use it on long rides where I want to always have GPS enabled. Assuming it's rugged enough, it should do the trick.

On the ride home today, my phone started out at 81%, ended at 92%. Again, this was with My Tracks running.

I didn't mean to built you into anything, but it sounds like it's working as advertised; still a good alternative to a dyno for less than continual use. I hope it holds up in the wet, too.

Not a problem at all. I should have given it a shakedown before now.
Regarding wet conditions, I didn't pay close attention, but I think I probably rode in the damp/wet at least once. I do need to get some sort of cap for the usb port. I thought about checking Radio Shack today, but got busy at work.
I'm going out of town Friday evening for a week, but when I'm back, I'd be happy to show anyone interested the setup, such add it is.

Took yesterday off, but rode again today. I purposely left my phone disconnected from the charger overnight. When I took off this morning the battery charge was at 7%. I didn't run My Tracks on the ride in this morning. When I got to work, it was at 19%. Fairly reasonable, though I was hoping for a bit more out of a one-hour ride.


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