Working on the Duc

Although it’s Saturday and I’m currently doing a bit of work, I’m happy to say that I have had a bit more time lately for non-work projects. In addition to a few small projects around the house, I’ve had a chance to do a bit of work on my motorcycle (Ducati Monster). A few weeks ago, I chopped the tail off (literally – with a hacksaw), plugged the holes, and installed a new LED integrated taillight (integrated==turn signals && brake light in the same enclosure). This cleaned up the back end quite a bit (and it looks cool).

There was one problem with the installation though. The right turn signal blinked super-fast (strangely, the left was fine). I knew the root cause right away – LEDs draw barely any electricity, so the flasher unit basically thinks that there’s no bulb and blinks fast to warn you (I think this is how flasher’s work). Anyway – I confirmed with another rider that installing LEDs frequently causes this and was told how to deal with it if I chose.

I chose to ignore it initially – it was weird to have one side of my bike blink faster than the other, but I suppose the signals were still effective. This weekend, however, I picked up a pair of LED signals for the front of the bike. I popped off the old set, then wired in the new LEDs (without mounting them). I tested the turn signals, and they worked – but now BOTH sides were blinking at near strobe speed. I thought about leaving it that way, but decided I’d go ahead and make it a real project.

Earlier in the week, I picked up a few 10ohm x 10 watt resistors from the electronics store and had them ready (I basically needed to make the flasher work harder). The resistors were pretty big, but the wires were flexible, so I figured I had a chance.

I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, so I just sort of propped everything together – one resistor on each front signal (note – wired in parallel – not serial), then turned the key. I was ecstatic to see that the signals on both sides worked perfectly. I had extra resistors in case I needed to put resistors on all signals, but I left the other two in the package. Something tells me I should do all 4 corners anyway, but I’ll leave that for another project.

From here, it was a matter of wiring and mounting. I got fancy and worked the resistor and wires through some heat shrink tubing. Everything is tucked behind the headlight – not quite professional looking, but not bad. And, for $3 in materials (excluding the lights) and an hour or so of work, I’ll call it a success.

This project, as you’ve guessed by now, has nothing to do with testing – but it did require thinking, forethought, and attention to detail – all skills that I think testers should have. I guess I’m just a one trick pony.

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