Wishlist for a new trail bike – musings, hopes and dreams.

If I were building a new trail bike, what would I have? Well, it would be replacing the Reign X1 that I currently use as my XC bike. Any new bike will have to be light, full suspension, and able to handle my riding inaccuracies..

So far with a quick look around at what’s out there, this is what I’ve come up with.

  • Santa Cruz Bronson V2 CC frame.
  • Fox 36 Talas 160 forks
  • Fox Float X shock
  • XT groupset, 2×10 (or XTR Di2 if it’s more affordable)
  • SLX or XT brakes (200/160)
  • Enve 27.5 m60 wheels, Shimano hubs
  • 760mm bars
  • tubeless setup.
  • Same WTB saddle as on Reign.
  • Shimano SPD pedals.

Costly maybe, but it’s a dream bike. Maybe about 12kg all-in and strong enough to handle my waywardness on the trails, and my clumsiness!

Won’t happen unless I win a lottery type of situation, but nice to dream.

Fox 40s on the way

I’ve just ordered myself a set of 2016 Fox 40 26″ forks, for my Santa Cruz V10.4 carbon framed downhill bike. The ability to adjust the forks is something that I have wanted to play with for a while. I’m looking forwards to giving these a run down the trails in Bike Park Ireland in a few weeks..

As a result of this upgrade, I’ll have a set of 2012 Boxxer forks, with J-Tech uprated internals for sale, with a full professional service on them. Great condition too.


At lunch recently with a friend at a newly-opened Thai restaurant nearby, I decided to try using only chopsticks for the meal..
Surprisingly (for an Irishman brought up with knife and fork) it wasn’t that hard to do, once I figured out how to eat the rice with them..

At least I’m not likely to really embarrass myself with them in the future!

Getting to use the astro kit


I’m learning how to take better astrophotos.. This photo is of the current setup that I’m using for taking star photos. I’m using a Celestron Onyx 80ed refractor (black scope on the bottom) with the Canon 600d, with a field flattener and Astronomics CLS clip-in filter to take the actual images. To guide, I’m using my IKI 70ed refractor with a recently sourced Synguider self-contained autoguider, which sends corrections to my new Celestron AVX mount that I got before Christmas.
Wednesday night I tried to take lots of sub images of M51, the whirlpool galaxy. All looked good, the first night out with the guiding setup. I forgot about dew, and I had a layer of ice on the lens.. Still managed to get enough images to do this


I’m currently taking pics of the Horsehead, and also pics of comet Catalina, so we’ll see how those turn out after I get them from the camera and process them.
It’s nice to take advantage of the first clear nights in quite a while!

Fun and Games in Kerry for the Kayaker’s New Year!

2015 turned to 2016, and I spent it in the depths of Kerry once again. Spending time with ULKC members on an unofficial trip to the Kingdom, it’s the only way to ring in the new year!

Sharing the Sleepy Camel with UCDCC was enlightening, listening to the best of acoustic music, and seeing the social interactions between the club members, as well as seeing old acquaintances once more.

It was good to bump into a few of the oldies from my original era of uni paddling, Joxxer, Richie Gillespie, and a few more.

Paddling? There was some for sure. I paddled the upper Caragh at a lovely medium-high level, a few of the others paddled the Gearameane, the Owenreagh, the middle Flesk, the Roughty, as well as some other classics. 130mm of rain in 12 hours was enough to put the rivers in the area, already in spate conditions, well over flood stage and turning the waterways into large fields. The road around Caragh Lake was flooded to maybe 1 m deep, kinda scary!

The PA system in the Glenbeigh Hotel was not functioning correctly so the countdown was not properly done. Still managed a nice countdown ourselves in a corner..

Black Friday deals.. A bit of a splurge!

Black Friday / Cyber Monday. Lovely little words that mean decent deals on techie things, and an opportunity to get a few bits and pieces that I’ve been meaning to get for a while.

On the astronomy front, I’m ordering a Celestron AVX mount. After a year without a computerised GoTo system, I’ve been missing the ability to just select an object and have the scope slew to wherever that object was. Plus, I’ve got my low-light security camera all ready to do electronically-assisted astronomy, to get a look at all those little smudges of light.. So, I’m getting this mount to attach either of my two smaller scopes to. With the SCB-4000 camera and a portable screen, I’ll be able to get  colour images in a few seconds, and I’ll be able to show those faint objects to other people as well. This mount should have decent tracking capabilities, enough that I should be able to take proper astrophotos again and fill out my portfolio of faint things. I’ll be on the lookout for a nice low f/ratio Newt for the video astronomy, and I’ll go quasar hunting..

I’ve picked up a SkyFi box and a cheap Amazon Fire 7 tablet to run SkySafari on, so that I can click on-screen and get the scope to move to where I’ve requested – wirelessly. I had to find another rom for the Fire tablet, removing all of the Amazon-only cruft from it and allowing the apps I’ve already paid for to run correctly on the tablet. The original OS on it prevents apps from contacting Google license servers, which stopped SkySafari from running. I’m planning on doing a completely wireless setup at some point, with wireless control of the camera and mount, which should make for easier setup and use when I’m out in the backyard. It’ll also mean that I can observe from inside when the scope is outside!

To the behemoth desktop computer I’ve added another 16Gb of ram for a total of 32. I should have no issues with running virtual machines for the thesis display now – not that I had much issue in the first place. Still, for a machine that’s 4 years old, it’s still ahead of the curve and above the average, still in the top 2% of systems according to the Steam hardware survey. I may yet add another 16Gb to restore the quad channel memory access that I had, as I now have 4x4Gb and 2x8Gb, and two free slots. I’m not looking forwards to having to hibernate this!

It was also an opportunity to try out one of the reshipping companies in the States, as there’s a new series of astronomy books being published, that will effectively become a modern Burnham’s Celestial Handbook. Amazon’s listing for the book didn’t ship to Ireland, so I trialled the sending of this to the reship company for further shipping, akin to the Parcel Motel idea. Turns out that the postage is x2 the cost of the book, and I’m not hugely happy with that, but I’ll have the book for cheaper than Amazon UK were selling it delivered.

The Galaxy S6 will be getting a nice waterproof case. I’ll have to look into sourcing a new gorilla glass screen for the phone, now that it will be protected again. Still kicking myself about having ordered the wrong model, and cracking the screen the day that the wrong model arrived! That will be a fun day fixing that, getting the heat gun out and replacing the outer glass screen.

I also managed to pick up a few Christmas present items, that I know will be appreciated.

Back in college officially.

Yes, the time has finally come, where I get my arse in gear and forge ahead with the completion of my Master’s Thesis, and to finally complete this Masters of Engineering course that I’ve been pursuing over the past while.

My letter of re-admittance arrived this morning, I’ve contacted the relevant Department personnel with regards to my supervisions and other relevant internal matters, and all looks good. I’ve been given a deadline to complete the document by in order to graduate this January. It’ll be tight but certainly possible.

A nice side effect will be being properly of student status again, and eligibility for reduced cost gym membership etc – as well as kayaking Intervarsities competition eligibility once again for the next year as a student and the year after as a year’s grace!

Now to knuckle down properly and get this thing done!

C&S Recruitment drive – a long, but fun day..

Yesterday was the annual ULSU Clubs and Societies recruitment drive, hosted in the UL Arena.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been preparing the Skynet cluster infrastructure for this event, resurrecting the physical webserver after the hdds cooked during a previous aircon failure, and getting a few other little bits and pieces sorted. I had a lot of work to do to facilitate Keith O’Neill of Bluechief, as he was updating and upgrading the ULSU website, and Skynet had agreed to provide the hosting and backend management for that site.

The day itself was a long long day, in the college for 9 and immediately lifting and dragging the pod constituents from the new Sprinter in to the Arena. Then back up to the Stables and SU to collect the rest of the part as well as the Compsoc equipment to network some 80 PCs in three basketball courts with zero infrastructure..

Some 3000-4000 people attended the Drive over the 3h30 it was open to the college population. Many new members in all of the attending clubs and socs, and some good showings for the Kayak and Mountain bike clubs. Lots of good chats with people that I hadn’t seen in a while, great to make new acquaintances as well as meeting up with old friends.

I had to help out with the takedown as well, and I got out of the Arena at about half past 9 or so, got treated to pizza (lunch!) from the OPC after that as thanks for my assistance lifting and dragging..

Satisfying day to see so many new people around the Arena, and I’m looking forwards to seeing all of the new people at the club events as well!

Fun in Bikepark Ireland

I was recently out in Bike Park Ireland and had a great day out there. John came along for his first time there, and he brought his ’07 Specialised Enduro and I brought my Santa Cruz V10 dh bike. It was definitely far too early for me to be getting up at that hour of the morning after finishing work at something like 4am, so I was definitely slower than I’d like to be but John was definitely getting up to speed as the day went on.

Definitely a good day. Somewhere about 20 runs in total, mostly on the Red, but a few Black 2 runs to spice it up were taken as well. David was supposed to come along as well but he had farming duties to attend to – pity as he missed a great day’s biking. Here’s a clip of one of our runs on the Red:
My chasing John

At the end of the day I found a little bit of a wobble in the rear of the V10, so I dropped it into Rory at RAW for a bearing replacement and general fixup, and it’s about as good as new now, nice and taut and ready for more abuse!

More toys.. A Wii has been added to my collection

Yes, I’ve sourced a Nintendo Wii!
I was doing a little tidying up of some stuff in the house, and I came across an old external harddrive. Looking at the contents I realised that I had backed up the games that were there when a Wii used to be under the television. I remembered fondly some of the games, and after some checking on Adverts.ie I found a decent set of a Wii and accessories and a nice games collection for a decently low price.
So I picked it up yesterday evening, and immediately proceeded to set about softmodding and adding the Homebrew Channel. It is good to be able to execute code on this device that Nintendo have not blessed! Especially since Nintendo stopped providing the Connect24 framework that provided the news and weather channel content, keeping that exclusive to the Wii-U.
The console, though nearly 9 years old, fits nicely beside the amp, and I have it upscaling through the AV amp onto the HD tv. Good picture, and I have been able to play my backups on the new Wii as well.
The next steps are to get MAME working with the 30Gb Google library of arcade roms that I have on my server.. That could lead to some very interesting gaming experiences!