Dec 12

Dec 12, 2004

Canopy bubble is on!

I need to extend a huge thanks to Garrie Hill for kindly sending me a canopy bubble he makes for the record setting Varna Diablo Streamliner who Sam Whittingham of Gabriela Island, BC piloted to a world record 81 miles per hour at the 2002 World Human Powered Speed Challenge in Battle Mountain, NV.

I wanted to paint the back half of the bubble black to help block out sun, so I did a sketch of a flamed bubble which I thought looked cooler than simple a black half-dome.

Then I masked it out and painted it with some high gloss Krylon plastic paint.

As you can see, it looks great against a white background, or at certain preferable viewing angles:

But when I put the bubble on the fairing and took it outside, you can't really even see the flames.

I made a small platform at the back of the bubble to hold my Eternalight - thanks to TC Hazzard who drives a Mango velomobile. He recommended those strobes as the brightest available. Here is a small video of the lights flashing:


I went out for a little neighborhood ride to test all of the modifications I had done recently and it went very well.

The canopy bubble: It gets very warm in there!!! I need to think about ventilation now because the canopy started to fog up. According to Goro's book: The Leading Edge, there are a number of places to add a vent hole. He recommends small holes in the bubble itself, a NACA duct just in front of the bubble, or a small hole at the stagnation point on the nose. The nose might be the easiest place for me to add a duct because I suspect that is where I might find the greatest pressure for a large volume of air if that is required. I'll probably hook up a plastic vacuum cleaner hose so that I can direct the airflow to the inside surface of the canopy bubble and over my face.

I need to secure the bubble down to the fairing surface better - it was bouncing up and down like crazy. The front fits onto the fairing very nicely - tongue and groove slots hold the front very flush and snug with the fairing. The rear end of the canopy is just sitting on top of the back of the fairing and bounces up and down as I rumble down the road. Some Velcro might be all that is required to hold it steady.

Unfortunately, I can't wear my helmet with the bubble because it doesn't fit. I failed to properly check the clearance before I located the bubble position and now my head is too far back in the bubble to fit a helmet also. Not sure what to do about that... I suppose I could look for a smaller helmet, but currently the bubble is so tight that my hair rubs on the top.

The Steering: I was very happy with the new steering system. There is plenty of leverage for small steering adjustments as you travel down a straight road. To do a maximum sharp corner, the steering bar moves about 60 degrees. My hands are in a comfortable position and the bars don't collide with me knees or the fairing roof.

The strobe lights: The Eternalight strobes are surprisingly visible in the sun, and even more visible in the shade. In direct sunlight, I could stand back about 30 feet and still notice the lights flashing. Since this streamer is so low to the ground, it is very difficult to see at the side of the road. Being visible is EXTREMELY important for safety reasons. I might look at adding more of these Eternalight strobes to further improve being visible. Ideally, it would be great to have a flashing yellow strobe in that rear window, but I'm not sure how much power they require. Perhaps I can get close to the brightness of a yellow emergency strobe by adding more Eternalights.

The Sintra holder for the Eternalight seemed to hold it quite well, but when I got home, the light was gone! I drove my course looking at the side of the road for where it was have fallen out only to find it later on the floor of the fairing. I need to add a piece of Velcro to the light to hold it in place.

Mirrors: I need to add a rear view mirror because with the blacked-out canopy bubble, I cannot see behind me anymore and it's quite disconcerting.

Front wheel seal: I taped some soft foam rubber strips around the front wheel to stop snow and mud and water from splashing into the fairing. It seemed to work, but when I got home I noticed a large buildup of snow at the back of the front wheel as it enters the fairing. At least there was no splashing of mud and water around the inside of the fairing - so I guess it worked better than before. I've been meaning to build a coroplast wheel well to isolate the spinning front wheel from the inside of the fairing, but it's going to be a intricate and complex job and I was hoping there was an easier solution.

Rear wheel strut slot sliders: I spent some time thinning out the slider so it would slide more smoothly, but took them out for this test, so I still don't know if my modifications work.

And finally, the new todo list:


1. Test the strut slot sliders
2. Add a rear view mirror
3. Fasten down rear of canopy bubble
4. Fasten down the Eternalight strobe with velcro
5. Look into adding MORE Eternalights
6. Re-glue Sintra canopy lid slots
7. Front wheel well
8. Add a vent hole with ducting to the canopy bubble.
9. Finish the wheel covers.
10. Add a second front caliper brake
11. Make a portable wind trainer using the (mini-rollers)
12. Look into painting the fairing
13. Find a helmet that fits in the bubble

TOTAL distance on TCR1
826 km

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