Corbin's Treehouse - Corbin Dunn, Santa Cruz, CA
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Archive for 2013

“No Dino” stickers

Got em! On my J1772 inlet “gas tank” cover.



Cyr Wheel Skinning: Not all tubing is the same!

I’ve ordered a few different types of skin for my cyr wheels. On one wheel, it has pieces from two different batches and kinds.This has shown me that one is much better! Both are 1.5″ x 1 7/8″ PVC tubing.

This one, Canada K091008 wears much faster:

This one, K120816 wears MUCH slower, and will last a lot longer:


Both I got from I’m not sure which is which!! Darn it. Here’s the two I bought..and the site doesn’t have these numbers on it:

PVC Cyr wheel Tubing – Kuri Tec® K050 Series All Purpose Non-Reinforced Clear Vinyl Tubing – $99 for 50 foot roll (two wheels for my size), Manf website info.

Second PVC Cyr Wheel Tubing, Kuri Tec® K010 Series Clear Non-Toxic Food and Beverage Grade PVC Tubing – $126 for 50 foot roll. Manf. website info.

Maybe it was the more expensive one that is lasting longer? I don’t know…..I *THINK* the cheaper one is more crystal clear and the expensive one has a more blue-ish tint.

Photography: V36 at Tunnel View

V36 at Tunnel View



Photography: Upper Yosemite Falls Hike

Upper Yosemite Falls Hike



LED Cyr Wheel v1 Problems

Some of the problems with my original LED cyr wheel:

1. LEDs are dying, from me stepping on them. I took one of the bad sections apart, and it seems to be because some solder connections break (such as for the resistor). I can solder them back together, but it is not worth the time to reskin/glue it. I need to figure out a better way to protect them.

Here you can see a resistor that fell off when I removed the protective skin. I think some hard epoxy on plain bare LED strips might “cement” them in place really well. Or some flexible silicon glue.


The strip above lost the ability to do blue on the 3 set of LEDs. The single color strips are pretty durable..but I’ve broken *a lot* of them this way:


2. Gluing the PVC on doesn’t work so well. The PVC doesn’t feel perfectly round in your hand, and it is harder to slip through.

3. The Arduino “reboots” if I hit the wheel hard. I finally figured out what causes this. My battery pack is made up of 8 rechargeable AA’s connected in series to give 9.6v (1.2v for a NiMH cell times 8). If I jerk the pack hard the spring compresses in the holder and breaks the connection on a cell, causing the Arduino to loose power. A capacitor might smooth this problem out, but the real solution is going to be a different battery pack that is permanently put together (i.e.: LiPo). I found some cells on Hobby King that should hopefully work, be more powerful, and lighter!


4. The Arduino takes a long time to boot. I just need to remove the boot loader, which waits a bit before starting the Sketch/Program. I ordered a hardware programmer to do this.

5. The interconnects between wheels suck. Yeah, I couldn’t find any locally when I made the wheel. I ordered some better ones from Mouser yesterday.

6. The cyr wheel inserts are tapped wrong; I tapped them sort of inline with the center of the wheel…which is where I want the LEDs! The next wheel I do I’m going to tap them completely on the side of the wheel (and not on the inside diameter where I stand).

Photography: Half Dome at Night

Half Dome at Night


12-25-2013. About 10 minute exposure. I was freezing cold that night; it was about 28F.

LED Notes / LED Cyr Wheel v2

I’m investigating LEDs for another LED cyr wheel (v2). Here is my first LED Cyr wheel and a video. I figure I’ll just make my notes on my blog for others to benefit.


  • Individually addressable LEDs, so I can do cool patterns
  • At least as many LEDs as my first wheel, but possibly twice as many (a strip on each side), which was my original plan
  • Built in battery charger and batteries (Lithium ion)
  • Easy to access way of reprogramming (i.e.: USB port)


  • Accelerometer for basing patterns on speed
  • Live touch strips, for dynamically changing the LEDs while in the wheel
  • Networked in some way so a 3rd party can control the wheel from a computer and dynamically send patterns to it.
  • A way for wheels to talk to each other for synchronized spinning

This post discusses Adhesives. I’m waiting to get those to experiment with gluing PVC together.


How many LEDs? My original wheel has an inner diameter of about 5’8″ (I’m 5’6″) = 68″. Circumference is that times pi: 68*3.14 = ~214″, or 5.4356 meters.

I had ordered my first set of LEDs from AdaFruit: 11 x RGB LED Weatherproof flexi-strip 60 LED – (per 1 meter)[ID:346] = $247.50 (Yeah, seriously expensive for non-addressable LEDs, and I din’t use about 6m of the stuff – I originally planned for LED strips on each side, slightly off from center weight position). That’s $22.50 per meter, and for the entire wheel I have 5.4m*60LEDs=~324 LEDs at a price of about: $121 per wheel.

So I ‘ll say I need 330 LEDs, or potentially twice that if I want them on each side (slightly off center).

What LED strip to use? The WS2812B LED contains a driver built into it, and seems more durable based on this RGB 123 post (it has reverse polarity protection). Pololu has a blog post here and for sale hereAddressable RGB 60-LED Strip, 5V, 1m (WS2812B) – $22.45 per meter (ordering 10m+) . Adafruit also has a new LED strip which they are calling “NeoPixel” ($23.95 per meter, for 4-39 meters ordered – 6M would be $144) –It probably is WS2812 (not B) based on their info, and saying how careful you have to be to hook it up.

Should I even use LED strips? Single-item ones from Adafruit: (WS2812 5050 RGB LED with Integrated Driver Chip – 10 Pack). I’d need 330 (LEDs desired) / 10 (per pack) = 33 packs of these, at $4.05 per pack: $133.65 –– these alone would be more expensive than buying the LED strips, AND I’d need a resistor added somewhere in there. I think me trying to manually solder 330 of these LEDs together is out of the question. I have to use strips.

Finding strips: I bought some of the WS2812 (not the B!) strips — the B strips seem to have reverse polarity protection built in..which is nice…and actually not that much more expensive. I just had 10% off from Sparkfun so I ordered 6M from them . Otherwise, I would have gotten them from Pololu in 2m strips 6 M total.

Edit: My friend matthew mentioned – it looks cool (but expensive) and the software was something I was thinking about doing!

How to Protect the LEDs?

New idea: cut groove, and fill in with liquid silicon rubber to protect LEDs

I had thought about this before but couldn’t think of a good way to cover the LEDs that wouldn’t interfere with light emission. Then I realized the LED strips already have some type of protective plastic coating, and it might be possible for me to embed them in some more!

Options out there:

SORTA-Clear® Translucent Silicone Rubber – …Kind of what I want, but not clear enough.

This looks like it is perfect, but it is *super* expensive ($200-$260) to order for me to just try it out:

Clear Flex® Water Clear Urethane Rubber–Uret/c3_0_6_1117_1153/index.html
..I’m not sure if it will “stick” to the wheel; if it casts, and then simply falls out, it won’t hold everything together.

Epoxy resign might be my best bet, and comes in a small quantity ($33)
Clear Epoxy Resin:
…and it might bond the things together nicely. I ordered some of this (about $50 with sipping – called EpoxAcast 690 – Trial Size (10017194))

This might be better for clarity, and seems great for allowing light to go through:
Crystal Clear® Series – Optically Clear Liquid Plastic
…but they don’t have prices listed for it on their website, and it is probably hard to get.

I’m also still considering cutting the PVC and gluing it back together; I’ll experiment more with that approach, although I dislike it. Cutting a groove will be tough for sure!

Edit: My friend Chris Bensen told me Crystal Clear is sold in small quantities! I found it quickly on Amazon – search for: “Castin’Craft Clear Poly Casting Resin with Catalyst 16 oz”  – $20. I’m going to experiment with that too.

What chip/microprocessor to control it all?

I previously used Arduinos for projects; they are easy to program and have lots of code and samples out there on how to use them. However, I’ve heard they are slow, and I want something with enough RAM to handle complex patterns. So, I’m going to drop Arduino and try a much faster Teensy 3.1:

Edit: Mad suggested I look into a Spare Core Arduino clone; it has plenty of RAM and built in wifi…so I ordered one!


I’ve had a heck of a time finding good connectors. My first wheel used really crappy connectors I bought from Frys that aren’t at all meant to connect wire to wire. The main trouble I had is that the big digital supplier sites like Mouser and Digikey are hard to navigate. I finally realized what I wanted was called “wire to wire connectors” in the industry. Eventually I found this great site on Molex: Wire to Wire connectors. I figure about 5 amps would be the max current, so I needed something that could handle that; that (should be) about the rating when all lights are powered full on (full white). I (think) 20awg wire will be fine to use to transfer power; the wire length from wheel to wheel will be short, and the wheel won’t ever be run at full white that long (full power). The Molex Micro-Fit connectors seem to fit the bill really well. Now, it took me hours and hours to find them and pick the ones I want; now I realize the website on Molex is setup really nice to filter down what you want. (I also learned I wanted “bag” and not “reel”). I don’t want “ears” on them as they won’t be “surface mount” connectors (another thing I learned). Once I had the part number, I could easily find it on Mouser (which is much better than Digikey).


Sunset from El Capitan, Yosemite

Sunset from El Capitan, Yosemite


12-25-2013. 5 exposures taken with the Canon 5D.


I’m investigating adhesives, and ways I can bond the plastic PVC tubing on cyr wheels back together. I want to cut the plastic tubing, and embed LEDs under it for some cool effects. For my first LED cyr wheel, I used high temp hot glue gun glue; that worked “okay”, but it is fairly easy to pull apart. I also need a better way of protecting the LEDs, as some are dying.

First I’m going to try RH Products “HH-66 vinyl cement“, which is easy to find from numerous resellers (including ebay). The website for it says it will bond vinyl to vinyl and it might just be what I’m looking for!


Some other investigations into plastic/vinyl cements led me to:

IPS SCIGRIP “Weld-On” 4784 Vinyl Cement


This cement seems good and may work. The 4784 has a high open time for putting stuff together, but I think the SCIGRIP 66 may be stronger and tack quicker (which might be nice as you don’t have to clamp for as long):


Website link:

The SciGRIP 66 is hard to find…I haven’t found a retailer for it. I can find the IPS 4784 on amazon:

I think it is hard to find because the name is confusing; It has “Weld-On” in the name, but that is IPS’s specific sub-brand, and their website for Weld-On doesn’t list the product (it is under SciGrip), but I can’t find it with the SCIGRIP brand name. DOh!

Normal PVC cement doesn’t work at all on flexible plastic/PVC tubing.

Oil pan fixed on my Harley

I have an old Harley, and it has leaked oil for quite a while. I finally decided to do some maintenance on the old bike and took off the oil pan and stripped the paint off.

The tank had a leak on the left tab; the tab was welded on, but vibrations created a hairline crack on it.


I filled it up with brass brazing rods and also repaired a crack in the bottom center mount. Then painted it powder coat red and put it back together.

I also added some new rear shocks, changed the oil, new oil filter, new speedo cable (mine snapped recently), and fixed the wiring for my turn signals (they ripped out, probably from the shocks bottoming out!). Time to go ride!


(c) 2008-2015 Corbin Dunn

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