Monday, November 26, 2012

M.Y.O Eco friendly, sustainable, renewable, ecoligically sound, energy efficient wood gas stove.

Wood-Gas? ... when wood burns it gives off different gases and residues (it's what makes your pot sooty). Some of these are combustible but are often wasted. A wood gas stove uses some of these gases and ignites them in the form of a secondary burn, meaning less fuel, more heat and less black goo on the bottom of your pot ... oh and your fuel's free too.

Okay then, off you go and have a rummage in the bin. You're looking for two steel tins, one with a bigger diameter (10mm -20mm) than the other. If you're feeling posh you can even give them a wash and take the labels off.

Tin cans ... tougher than you think.

The first job is to cut a hole in the bottom (this will actually be the top of your stove) of your biggest tin. The hole wants to be about 10mm smaller in diameter than that of your smaller tin. A hole saw would be very handy about now but I'm sure you'll muddle through.

Small inner tin after shortening.

Put the big tin to one side ... now we're going to butcher the smaller one. The first job is to remove a portion of the top (open end). How much isn't crucial but somewhere between 25mm to 50mm will work fine. Use the grooves in the tin as a gutting guide.

Bottom of small tin with air holes added.

When you've done that, flip it over and drill some air holes in the base. Again and quite surprisingly these don't have to be accurate or precise. A 5mm or 6mm drill will work fine. The holes will feed air to the inner fire so they don't want to be restrictive but if they're too big your fire'll fall out of the bottom!

No measuring or drawing impliments were harmed in the making of this stove!

Now put it to one side and turn your attention to the big tin again. We need some large(ish) air holes in the lower portion of the tin. 10mm to 12mm holes will work well here, feel free to use a drill rather than a knife and fork (as per picture). If you would like your holes to be round then hold a piece of wood on the underside of the tin while you drill them. Depending on the size of your tin and your drill, you should be able to get about 8 evenly drilled holes around the circumference.

Air holes at top of inner tin.

Locate your small tin again (if you haven't already stood on it) and drill a series of holes around the upper circumference (the end you shortened). The size of these holes will depend (a little) on what size drill you used when you drilled the holes in the base of the big tin ... make these holes half the diameter of the bigger ones. Aim for 8 to 10 equally spaced holes, set about 10mm down from the top edge.

6mm hole in outer with inner tin in place.

Next, drill 2 6mm holes in the in the big tin. These holes want to be on opposite sides of the tin. They also want to be in a location where the small tin will blog them when the smaller tin is placed into the bigger one.

Place the small tin into the big one ( the shortened end of the small tin faces up ... if you wondered). Hold it firmly in place and mark the small tin through your 6mm holes. Take it out and drill through these marks with your 6mm drill.

Stainless! ... I must have gone mad.

Put the 2 tins back together (so the holes line up) and with 5mm bolts fasten the inner and outer together. Don't go mad tightening the bolts or you'll crush the tins ... nylock nuts are a good idea. The nylon inset will obviously melt but it'll still stop the nut loosening.

Nearly finished ... feel free to take the time to make yours nice.

The inside of your stove should now look something like this ^. Inner air holes at the top, nut securing the 2 tins and 'grate' holes in the bottom.

Pot stand fashioned from the remnants of your small tin.

Hopefully you've still got the bit of small tin the you removed earlier because this is going to make your pot support. Split it top to bottom, then cut a couple of inches from the circumference. Now drill a series of holes in it. With a little 'bending' you should find that it fits quite snugly into the lip on the top of the stove. When you're not using it, you should also find that it clips nicely around the outside of the stove.

This rough and it still works.

That's it, your finished stove. All that's left is a test run ... once it's warmed up you should notice that jets of flame start to appear from the top holes in the inner wall. These flames are the (previously) unburnt gases igniting when they mix with the pre-heated air entering between the 2 walls.

A small handful of dry twigs should be all that's needed to boil a litre of water. Obviously you can keep feeding the stove with twigs if you need it to burn for longer.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sanguan SG-T2200 light review.

Every year around this time the lighting arms race swings into action and every year things get brighter. It's a little strange to think that it wasn't too long ago that many of us were riding round the hills equipped with 10W of super dooper halogen power!

I'd been searching for some new lights for a few weeks and wasn't having much luck. I could have dug deep and gone for something from one of the established players but hand on heart I couldn't justify the outlay. I was a little bit stumped until I came across this ... the imaginatively named Sanguan SG-T2200.

Left button for on and power levels, right button for strobe.

One of the big draws besides cost and output was the long run times. The manufactures claim 50 hours on the lowest setting, we'll have to see whether that's slightly optimistic but as long as the battery will see me through 12 hours of riding I'll be a happy man. The battery is very neat and compact, it lives in a bag that fastens securely to the frame. All the cables seem very well sealed and certainly appear 'rain proof'.

Frame fitting batter pack, seems secure and well made.

 On taking everything out of the box, I was slightly surprised by how small the light unit was, it really is tiny. It feels robust and well made ... 'solid' would be a good way to describe it. The light attaches to your bars via the tried and trusted O ring method and feels reassuringly secure once in place.

Easy, no tool fitting. The O ring even glows in the dark!

I suppose the bit most folk will be interested in is ... how bright? Well I have to say it doesn't disappoint. There's a claimed 2200 lumen's on tap in the highest setting, obviously I've no way to confirm this but there's more than enough light for anyone. There's 4 light settings - Low - Med - High and Boost, there's also a strobe too which I'm happy to report is accessed via a separate button.

Boost setting.

 As is often the case with 'beam shots', the camera doesn't really do things justice. The above picture is on boost setting. There's a very clear spread of light with no halos or shadows. The depth and width of the beam is pretty impressive ... the telegraph pole on the right of the picture is well over 50 meters away.

Low setting.

Obviously on the lowest setting things aren't as bright but they're still bright enough to enable you to travel as quickly as you like over non technical stuff ... think fireroads, bridleways, etc.

At something like half the price of a 'UK made' light I can't help but think this is a real bargain. It's bright, with a good beam pattern. It seems very well constructed with good attention to detail, it's also compact and pretty lightweight. I'll keep running it through the coming months and see how things progress but at the moment I'm not expecting any problems.

The SG-T2200 is available through for £116 inc delivery. They'll also throw in a helmet mount and headtorch strap too, which can't be bad.


Update: 2 months on.

So, after 2 months what can I tell you? The light's had plenty of use in some pretty awful conditions. It's been used bar mounted and helmet mounted, it's been used on it's own and in conjunction with other lights (not that anything additional is needed) ... and in all honesty I can't fault it.

Zombie behind post, werewolf just out of shot!

For general/non technical riding the lowest power setting is actually more than enough. Even in low you can still travel at quite a pace along fire roads, etc without worrying about what's hidden in the gloom (branches, potholes, etc not werewolves and zombies). Hit the big button and step the power up a level and you've suddenly gained another 20/30 metres of clear vision. Another press of the button and things change again, you don't get much more throw but everything around you gets much brighter. Even in the 3rd setting there's no deterioration of light quality, no halos or hot spots, just a very bright, very big pool of clear and I'm happy to say, non blue light. A final push of the button puts you in 'maximum' or 'boost' and again things get brighter but the increment between level 3 and maximum is smaller. You still notice an increase in output but not to the same degree as is evident between the other settings ... is this a bad thing? No, not really. If you can't ride quickly on steep, technical trails with the light produced on levels 2 and 3 then you probably can't in daylight either! I've not encountered any 'powering down' in boost mode, so I can only assume that it hasn't got overly hot at any point. Maybe the freezing temps have helped or maybe I've not run it on boost for long enough ... I have tried though.

Although small and light enough to use helmet mounted I've found that I prefer to bar mount the thing. The spread of light is more than enough to prevent the 'you're now in a black hole' feeling when the trail gets twisty (unlike some bar mounted set ups). The reason I prefer it on the bars is the mount. The light unit is held to bars or helmet with an O ring, it's a very smart glow in the dark O ring and it's very secure ... no matter what you're riding the light unit stays put. However, when you press the big button to change power levels you do tend to move the light a little. It's much easier to avoid or correct with the light on the bars. It's not a real issue but it happens, just like it happens with every other O ring mounted light. The battery bag works very well, there's no movement or swinging, in fact you tend to forget it's there ... it's also very well made.

I can't tell you a massive amount about run times because it's never gone flat on one ride. I'm also conscious of preserving battery life (a throw back to lights of yesteryear), so happily change power levels continually throughout a ride. I can tell you about charging time though, on average the charger light goes from red to green after about 3 hours ... the charger doesn't get hot, the battery doesn't get hot, no ones house gets burnt down.

So, the plus points ... where does it score highly?

• Cost - it's a bit of a no brainer really.
• Quality - it's made in the far-east, some may argue that the quality must be low. I'd argue been manufactured in the far-east is what keeps the price down rather than quality ... it's very well put together.
• Output - anymore and it's starting to get a bit silly really.
• Easy to use - One simple button for on/off and power levels, with strobe on a separate button so you can ignore it (yay) 

Could it be improved?

• An optional remote switch would be a nice touch.
• Maybe a tiny visor over the top of the light for when you're stood up.
• A bigger capacity battery option for multi-day rides/races ... you can always buy a spare though I suppose.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

2012 Bear Bones 200 ... quite mad.

Well, the 2012 Bear Bones 200 has been and gone. 42 riders lined up at the (rather damp and windy) start, some looking for the elusive sub 24 hour finish and others just hoping to finish ... and a few still harbouring grudges from last year!

In 2011 only two riders completed the course in under 24 hours and they had the benefit of dry, calm conditions. So the fact that no fewer than 14 riders claimed a black badge this year is quite astonishing. Last years fastest time was jointly set by Kevin Roderick and Ian Barrington and it was Ian, who raised the bar this year, recording a time of 15H 18M!

The BB 200 returns next October but there will be an added twist. 2013 will be the last time we use this route ... so we're going to do it in reverse, that's right Bear Bones Backwards. Put October 12th/13th down in your diary if you fancy hurting yourself.