At last!

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Finally got under 5 minutes per km over 5k!

Took a long time to get here. I reached 5m30s within a couple of months of running regularly and I’m six months further down the road now.

4m 30s is my next target. I expect it to be tough.

Inside the Tamiya Sport Tuned motor

I’ve got a soft spot for Tamiya’s Sport Tuned motor. It was fitted as standard to my Avante 2001 buggy, and I always found it to be surprisingly rapid – outperforming the supposedly faster motors I had been using before. Of course, I was about 14 years old and didn’t know very much about motor maintenance!

One of the mysteries about the Sport Tuned is the wind. My assumption has always been that it is a 23-turn motor, but you occasionally hear rumours that there are different versions for different markets. I’ve never believed that myself, because the motor has only one part number (#53068).

This particular specimen lost performance at the first round of the Iconic Cup this past weekend – probably the result of overheating when the TT-01E’s spur gear slid off its pin and partially melted. What better opportunity to tear it apart!

A couple of notes:

  • These motors are NOT easy to take apart. This was the first time I have tried, and I can assure you that anyone who is capable of tampering with one of these motors without making it very obvious has some extremely specialised tools to hand. The tabs that hold the endbell in place had to be ground away because there is no way of getting enough purchase to bend them.
  • Capacitors come pre-fitted internally.
  • One brush had quite a lot more wear than the other – this motor probably had about 20 runs on it.
  • The commutator was in a bad state with lumps over it (a sign of overheating) and there seemed to be a bit of copper in one of the slots (these should be clear)
  • I ground off the tab that held one coil¬†in place. There were 23 turns of 0.75mm wire wrapped around the armature.

If this was a rebuildable motor, it could have been saved with a comm skim and a proper clean. But it isn’t, and now it is scrap ūüė¶

“Scale” racing revisited

Some of the best racing I have done has been with “scale” RC cars, and in particular with the Tamiya Mini.

Unfortunately, the opportunities to do this can be pretty limited. My local club (Bristol Model Car Club) usually has a heat of Minis, but a lot of clubs don’t, and it is rare to find a regional or national series that supports scale racing.

So the Iconic Cup was something I just had to get involved in…

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The series is effectively a time capsule dedicated to the Tamiya Eurocup which last ran circa 2005*. This means that only Tamiya on-road cars from this period are allowed to race.

Unfortunately I don’t own any cars from that era any more. Rather than buy an out-of-production car (and all the spare part issues that could cause), I went for the only car on the permitted list that is still in production – that Tamiya TT-01E.

The TT-02 replaced the TT-01 a few years ago, but for some reason Tamiya have revived the older chassis for their MAN racing trucks, and for this “Diebels Alt” Mercedes 190E which is quite easy to buy on eBay from Germany – mine arrived within a week.

The hop-ups that are permitted are limited in scope, but the rules are not as strict as the old Eurocup. I have all of them! The new purchases are pictured, and I will be choosing some oil dampers from my spares box. I’ll update the blog once the build is completed.

I have owned a TT-01¬†before, and they are a surprisingly good¬†to drive. Considering¬†the limited power from the Sport Tuned motor, I’m confident that my car will keep pace with the more adjustable chassis in the class. We’ll just have to see whether my driving is up to scratch…

*An honourable mention needs to be made for the Super Production Cup which continued the spirit of the Eurocup for a number of years, and which I entered in 2011 and 2012.

STN-333 Bluetooth Headphones – a proper review

 

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Part of my reason for choosing the¬†Sony Smartwatch¬†was to acquire a one-box running solution, that could track my runs and play my music without taking up too much space. I find a 5.5″ phone far too cumbersome to run with, as I’m sure most of us do. Tracking runs on the Sony works well – but to see whether I could make good use of the music player, I needed to ¬†get hold of some Bluetooth headphones. Since this experiment could have ended in complete failure, I¬†didn’t want to spend UK high-street money on a branded pair. The ones pictured above cost me somewhere in the region of ¬£5 shipped from China. Cheap as chips!

The reviews on GearBest are almost universally extremely positive and each one seems to include the same style of picture and the same kind of¬†comments. I have my suspicions about their authenticity. There are also quite a few YouTube “reviews” which are basically an unboxing. Nothing useful there.

I will try and give as honest a review as I can via the medium of blog…

What you get

The ‘phones come in a box which looks the part, complete with specs in Chinese script of some sort. There are no English specs. I don’t understand them, but I’ve included them because you might.

Inside the box, you also get a (virtually useless) printed manual and a spare set of tips. The black ones are fitted to the headphones as standard and the translucent ones are the spares. Curiously, they are both about the same size, albeit different in style. I would rank them as a “medium” fit.

The headphones

The headphones themselves are a sports style and use a rubber “finger” to grip the inside of your ear and stop the earpiece falling out. I have some JVC headphones which use the same design (they call it “pivot motion fit”) and it works for me. It may not work for you.

Included in the box is a small clip and a rubber grommet. I’ve used them to clip the ‘phones to my top, and adjust the amount of loose cable. It seems like a pretty decent guess considering the instructions make no mention of them whatsoever.

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The earpieces are not too big – excluding the “finger”, they are about 27mm total depth and 15mm diameter. They don’t feel oversized in my ear. The standard rubber tip is too small for me, so I fitted some larger tips from a set of JVC headphones.

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The remote hangs on the right-hand side of your neck and is 50mm long, 12mm wide and 10mm deep. It looks and feels cheap, with visible moulding seams along the side. It has a built in micro-USB charging point and what I assume is a hole for a microphone. I have used them for 2hrs without needing a charge – I am afraid I am not sure what the maximum life on a charge would be.

The buttons bear no relation to their function as headphones. They might make sense if you take a call – but I’m afraid I haven’t tested that.

The middle button is the power button. Push and hold to to switch on, do the same to switch off. When powered up, the headphones will become available to pair (flashing red and blue lights under the “+” button). I’ve successfully paired them with my smartwatch, my phone (Moto G4 Android) and my laptop (Windows 10 – although it thinks they are a keyboard). ¬†When the headphones are powered up, the blue light continuously flashes which is both unnecessary and annoying.

When listening to music, a brief push of middle “phone” button plays or pauses the sound, the “-” button skips forward a track, and the “+” button skips back. What could be more logical!

You can also press and hold the “-” button when connected to a mobile phone, which will trigger what it calls “camera” mode. Effectively this seems to make the “phone” button act as a key that will select the default option on a page – it doesn’t automatically open your camera app. Unless this is some kind of bluetooth functionality that pro photographers use, I can’t see the point of it. I suspect the hardware inside is some sort of multi-purpose bluetooth chip which might explain why the headphone controls are so crude.

Sound quality

The good news is, the headphones do work, and they will pair with a standalone Android Wear watch; an Android phone; or a PC. I haven’t tested on Apple.

The not-so-good news is that the sound quality is pretty poor.

After switching to the larger JVC tips, the bass extension is good, finding greater depths on albums like “The Prodigy Experience” than my other (inexpensive) JVC FX34 and ETX30 ‘phones, without being boomy. However, the whole sound is very closed off, with the treble being particularly muffled, which really limits the soundstage and dynamics of the music.

There is also an issue with the unrestrained cables shaking around inside the earpieces, creating a noise as you participate in your chosen sport. The metronomic tapping is very noticeable when running. I might try and solve this by applying some rubber cement where the cable meets the plastic body.

At least the short cable of the bluetooth headphones doesn’t get caught up in things like a long plug-in cable does!

 

 

Conclusion

Your £5 will get you a functional product.

But there is no doubt it is a cheap product, with a crude finish on the remote, illogical controls, and poor sound quality.

When they break, I won’t be buying them again.

P.S. If you have any questions or comments, please add them below!