Cigar Box Guitars

04.21.2009 | 10:06 am | General

The Blues is considered by most musicians to be the only truly American form of music. It traces it’s roots back over a hundred years ago to the slaves, working in the fields. They could not afford a factory built guitar, so they improvised with anything they could find. An old cigar box, a long piece of wood, and some string and they had an instrument.

Early blues artists like Lightning Hopkins and Muddy Waters started out using cigar box guitars, or CBG’s. CBG’s have a wonderful, swampy, bayou kind of sound that modern instruments just can’t duplicate.

There has been a resurgence of CBG builders and players, and there are several web sites dedicated to the building and playing of these truly American instruments. You can also find quite a few videos on YouTube. Check it out if you have time.

Shane Speal

Making a CBG

Cigar Box Nation

These are some CBGs made by members of CigarBoxNation.Com




Update on the MP3 Player Installation

03.31.2009 | 7:17 pm | Goldwing

I finished up fiddling with the MP3 player today. I figured out what the problem was with the USB jump drive was. The drive I was trying to use was formatted in NTFS, when it needed to be FAT or FAT32. It also had 2 partitions on it, one was formatted in CDFS so that it could boot with it’s propriety software that came with the jump drive. Once I fixed the partition issue and reformatted it, it worked fine.

I was looking at the AUX input and basically decided that I would probably never plug anything into it, and if I did, I have no idea what it would be, unless it was another MP3 player, which makes no sense. So, I did not do anything further with it.

I have loaded up my songs on a spare SD card I had lying around, stuck it in the player, and went for a shakedown ride to see if I had any loose connections that might cause problems. After about 30 miles over some pretty bumpy roads, everything stayed intact and the unit works like a charm.

Overall, this player does what it is supposed to do. It stores almost 600 songs (if I don’t want to see the NO DISC flashing) or almost 10,000 otherwise. I will limit myself to the 6 folders with 99 songs, and if I want more, I can just pop another SD card in the unit and go on my way.

This was incredibly easy to install. I just took the seat off, plugged the cable into the vacant CD connector, ran the cable under the seat and up into the trunk, and stuck it to the inside of the trunk lid with Velcro. It took less that 30 minutes from start to finish! No drilling holes, no splicing wires, no soldering, no nothing.

In my mind, the functionality it doesn’t have is more than made up for in ease of installation, and simplicity of use. I would recommend this unit to anyone who wants to KISS like me. At roughly $130.00, it seems like a bargain. You can see this unit at BikeMP3.Com

More Information on the MP3 Player

03.30.2009 | 2:35 pm | Goldwing

Being the inquisitive person I am, I did some more rather thorough testing today so I could experiment with this unit. But before I go into that, I need to preface it with a few facts:

The OEM Honda CD player is a 6 disc player. The MP3 player connects to the OEM connector with no user modifications, and uses the existing wiring harness. You just plug it in.

Since the MP3 player is NOT a CD player, certain things will not work, because you are attempting to make the CD player do things it was not designed to do. It does not have the ability to fully emulate a CD player using folders full of MP3s.

So, certain features of the CD player will not work:

It will not shuffle or random play songs from different directories.

It won’t automatically play from one folder into the next. When it plays the last song in a folder, it starts over with the first song in the same folder.

You can put up to 99 folders, with up to 99 songs in each folder on the SD card. But, since the OEM CD changer was only designed to handle 6 discs, it gets confused and will flash “NO DISC” on the display screen if you select a 7th or greater folder. However, it plays the songs in the folder just fine.

That being said, on with my review.

I successfully tested the unit with several different SD cards, from a 512mb up to a 2gb card. I even tried a micro SD card in an adapter. All of them worked correctly. I merely copied the MP3s that I wanted to play onto my SD card using a standard card reader attached to my USB port on my computer. I opened the trunk, popped the card into the unit and cranked up the tunes.

This unit also has an AUX IN port that takes a standard 1/8 inch audio plug for plugging another music source into the bike’s audio system. It also has a USB port that accepts a USB jump drive, but I have not tested either of these features yet.

My personal thoughts so far:

If you want to keep things simple and easy to install/use this unit fills the bill. It mounts safely in the trunk (or wherever you choose) and utilizes the existing control buttons. I prefer this to an externally mounted music unit anyway since I find that I can easily get distracted by fiddling with the radio instead of watching the road.

To keep it from flashing “NO DISC”, only use 6 folders. That still gives you almost 600 songs to choose from. I have no plans to take my entire music collection with me. If I need another 600 songs, I can just stick another SD card or two in my pocket and plug them in when I stop for gas.

If you want all the functions of a full featured iPod, then get the iPod interface and you are good to go. For me, I think I prefer the ease of installation and convenience of the MP3 unit. Plus I don’t have the additional expense of having to buy an iPod for the bike. I own an 80gb iPod Classic, but I don’t want to risk damage to it by having it bouncing around on the bike.

I will try to test out the AUX input and the USB jack features in the near future.

BikeMP3.Com looks like they may be offering a BlueTooth interface soon. If I get my hands on one, I will post about it.

Adding a New MP3 Player to the Wing

03.29.2009 | 5:06 pm | Goldwing

A few Goldwing riders came by the house today and we worked on bikes and basically fiddled around for the afternoon. It rained in the morning, so unfortunately, many of the riders had to cancel.

My project was to remove the existing Sirius satellite radio that is on the bike. I took it off for a few different reasons, the primary one being that we are cutting back on non-essential items while I am unemployed.

Secondly, I didn’t really use it all that much. The reception with the OEM antenna was spotty at best, and it seemed to cut in and out a lot, especially when I rode down a tree lined street.

And thirdly, I had tried to use a cable to connect it to the AUX plug on the bike, but I got a lot of engine noise with the longer cable and didn’t want to pay $25 for a noise filter. When I used the FM Transmitter mode, and I rode for longer distances, I was always looking for a blank channel to use. It was just easier just to take it off.

I picked up an MP3 unit that I am replacing the satellite radio with. This unit makes use of an unused CD player outlet to route the sound to the bike’s sound system.

The company offers the MP3 player, which has a built in MP3 player that uses either a standard SD card, or a USB jump drive. You can just copy your music from your computer onto the SD or jump drive, and pop it into the player.

They also have an iPod interface that lets you plug your iPod into the bike’s sound system. There are advantages and disadvantages to both systems.

We took the seat off and plugged the MP3 unit into the empty CD player plug.


I wanted easy access to the player so I can change my music files when I want to, so we tried a few different places, and ultimately decided on sticking  it to the inside of the trunk lid with Velcro.


This was the easiest way to go, and it did not require any drilling. I just cut a notch in the rubber seal for the trunk lid to accommodate the cable.

I copied some songs to the SD card, and plugged it into the unit. (The player has been tested with SD cards up to 8GB. Larger cards may work, but have not been officially tested yet.)

We turned the bike on and selected the CD player on the audio system. The display thinks it is a CD changer, so you just use the button on the handle bars to change “CD” or track. The CD corresponds to the folder on the SD card, and the track corresponds to each song. Pressing the track button on the handle bars changes to the next song. Pressing and holding the button switches to the next folder or “CD”.

The display looks like this:


This shows that I am playing the 4th song in the first folder.

When you change the display to the Nav screen, it looks like this:


You can see the song information in the bottom left hand corner.

Depending on your personal preferences, there is a down side to this particular configuration. Since the Goldwing display does not support text display, you cannot see the specific song information, only the folder and track that is playing. If this is a deal breaker for you, then you probably want the actual iPod interface. The down side to that is that you have to mount the iPod on the handlebars, or some place where you can see it. I am personally willing to have the unit tucked away safely in the trunk. Not seeing the names of the songs is not a big deal for me.

I will be testing this out in the coming weeks and will post my results here. But so far, it looks like a slick little unit at a reasonable price.

Huntsville Trip

03.5.2009 | 10:50 am | Goldwing

One advantage to being unemployed is that I can take off and ride any time I want to. So I did.

I decided to ride from Orlando to Huntsville, Alabama to see my daughter, her husband and the grandbabies, Troy and Colton.

I left on Tuesday morning about 0400. The temperature was about 43 when I left the house. I put on my leather jacket with my rain suit over top, and a pair of leather gloves. Even with the heated grips, my hands got really cold, so by the time I reached the first rest stop on I-4, I had to stop and change gloves.

As I rode up I-95 towards Jacksonville, the pre-dawn temperature was slowly dropping. 41… 39… 37. I picked up I-10 and headed West towards I-75.

36…34…31…by the time I reached Lake City Florida and pulled off to gas up, the temperature had reached 28 and I was really feeling it. At this point I was wishing I could afford a complete set of Gerbings heated liners and gloves. I had the seat heater on and warmed my fingers by sitting on them. I must have looked like a big, safety yellow pervert with my hand between my legs!!!

At the mini-mart, I chatted with the lady behind the counter. She was a widow and her husband used to ride and work on bikes before he died years back. She told me that her husband used to ride in all kinds of weather too, and told me the coffee was on the house.

I got back on the road and as I headed up I-75, the temp started to rise and a few hours later it was up to 55, which made it bearable.

I stopped for gas in Pell City Alabama, which is a bit East of Birmingham. The girl that worked there was amazed that I had ridden that far on a motorcycle. She and her husband have a VTX-1300, and she said she could only ride for an hour or so before her butt got sore! When I told her I was on a Goldwing, she just smiled and said, “Ahh…really comfy, eh?”

The rest of the trip up was uneventful, and I made it to the kids place about 1500. My son in law met me at the visitor’s center for Redstone, I went through security, and chatted with the security folks a bit. Being as it is a military base, you have to wear full gear, full fingered gloves, and a yellow safety vest or you can’t ride a motorycle on the base. I had it all so I was given my pass and we headed for the house.

It was chilly and rained almost every day so riding locally was pretty much out of the question. I spent time with the grandbabies and they stayed home from day care so they could play with their PawPaw. (me, for those of you NOT from the South)

I wanted to be warmer on the trip back, so we went to the local Cycle Gear store and I picked up a pair of cold weather riding gloves and a pair of leather chaps. The chaps were on sale for 50 bucks, and the textile riding pants were much more expensive, so since I am on a budget, I got the chaps.

I started watching the weather, and it looked like I needed to ride home on Saturday, since a cold front with snow was due to roll in on Sunday. It was sprinkling a little bit when I left Saturday morning around 1030, but not too bad. I had my leathers on, with the rain suit over top and I was toasty warm. The temp was 45 as I left Huntsville, and it continued to sprinkle until I got close to Birmingham, and then it cleared up, but remained cloudy.

At my first gas stop, I shed the rain suit for a bit, since it was warming up into the lower 60’s.

Later on, the weather band radio was advising that there was probably going to be some showers after I passed Atlanta and got into southern Georgia, and it sounded like the portion of I-10 from I-75 to Jacksonville was probably going to be rainy the entire way. I opted to take 75 all the way South towards Tampa, and cut across on SR-44 by Wildwood, back to Lake Mary.

I made it as far as roughly Valdosta Georgia before the rain started again, so I stopped, got gas, and put the rain suit back on. Since there is still construction on 75 (duh, when isn’t there construction?), there were a few rough spots. I was passed by a semi during one of those spots, and I got the pleasure of being drenched by a “wall of water” as the semi passed me. I had forgotten to cover my satellite radio, which is not water proof, so I don’t know if it is going to work or not. (I have it sitting in a warm place, drying out now.)

I found it kind of cool that, in one of the construction areas, there was a flashing sign that said, “Caution Motorcycles. Uneven lanes ahead.” I don’t know if that was due to it being bike week or not, but I thought it was a nice touch that they specifically mentioned bikes.

I saw a handful of people pulling bikes on trailers. No, none of the bikes on the trailers were Goldwings, and we all know what kind of bikes they were, so let’s not go there…

After I got away from the rain, it really warmed up and reached 75 at one point. Once I got past the I-10, it stayed dry for the rest of the trip.

I stopped at a rest stop to grab a snack from the vending machines. A woman and her two kids asked me if I had just ridden through the last bunch of rain, and she was amazed that I had. Her kids thought it was way cool, and they gave me high fives!!!

The rest of the trip was uneventful, and I pulled into the garage at about 2145.

Overall, I continue to be impressed at how sweetly the Goldwing handles the highways. The smooth, silky power and the stable handling makes it a dream to ride, especially for long distances.

The boys loved their Paw Paw’s motorcycle.




Quantum of Solace

01.29.2009 | 4:29 pm | General

I finally got around to watching the latest Bond movie. What is a Quantum of Solace anyway? I still can’t quite get my head around that.

As Bond movies go, this one was the worst I have ever seen. It has nothing to do with Daniel Craig, but it has everything to do with the movie itself. There were just too many things that did not portray 007 in the manner that he should be portrayed.

Even though 007 was licensed to kill, he always did so reluctantly and never killed unnecessarily. In this movie, he was on a killing spree and M had to yell at him about it.

There was also an obvious lack of gadgets, which have been the hallmark of every Bond movie since day one. The fanciest thing he did was take pictures of people with his cell phone!!!

Duh!!! Even I can do that!!!

The only thing that seemed to remain intact was his martinis, shaken not stirred.

The chase scenes were WAYYYYY too long. I got up and went to the bathroom during the one where they ended up hanging upside down in the warehouse. Longer is not better, and they just dragged on, and I found myself wishing that those scenes would finally end, instead of wondering how they would turn out. Actually, this case, I knew how they would end up. Bond would kill the guy.

Overall, I was hugely disappointed. This is coming from a guy who had every Bond movie ever made on his iPod. I admit I am a traditionalist, but that notwithstanding, I thought Quantum of Solace was the worst Bond film ever.

My vacation from a few years ago

11.1.2008 | 9:50 pm | General

While not bike related, here is a little web thing I put together after my trip to England and Cypress in 2005.


I have come to a conclusion about drivers…

09.30.2008 | 9:01 am | Goldwing

Several conclusions actually.

Conclusion #1 – People are going to drive in a manner that makes them comfortable.

This comfort zone does not take into account speed limits, other traffic, or current road conditions. These people drive according to how it “feels” to them. They head down the road, and if it feels like a 60mph road to them, that’s what they will do, regardless of the 35mph speed limit.

Taken one step further, these drivers will become angry with anyone who prevents them from staying in their comfort zone. This may be the person in front of them who is doing the speed limit, or the person who is being extra cautious at the intersection and doesn’t pull away fast enough. This may be the root cause of some incidents of road rage, and may certainly account for any number of “one finger salutes” that are flashed on any given day.

It never dawns on them, even when they passed you several miles back, and you are now beside them at the traffic signal, that their excessive speed did not accomplish anything, or get them to their destination any faster.

They were NOT speeding because they were in a hurry to get somewhere. They were speeding because it felt “right” to them. Plain and simple. This is not to say that ALL drivers are this way, but I think a large number of drivers may fall into this category.

Conclusion #2 – Increasing the penalties for certain infractions of the law will not serve as a deterrent or have any effect on the behaviour it is designed to alter. People do not get into their cars in the morning and say to themselves, “Boy, I better drive more carefully now that the fine have gone up.” The penalty has absolutely NO effect on changing people’s driving habits.

Making the fine for hitting a motorcycle $50,000 would not make any difference, nor would it lower the number of crashes. Nobody thinks of the consequences when they get into their vehicles. All they know is that they are going somewhere and they are exercising their God given right to drive. The possibiliity that they may break the law never even enters into their heads.

Those government bodies that pass laws for increased penalties are merely trying to show their constituents that they are doing SOMETHING to try to make things better. Their heart may be in the right place, but it will be to no avail. Mandatory aggressive driving courses have a much better chance of altering a driver’s behaviour.

Conclusion #3 – Drivers are just as likely to NOT see a motorcyle as they are to NOT see a car. I don’t believe that the size of the vehicle, the sound of the vehicle, or having additional lighting will make any difference. A driver actually has to look in your direction in order for 2 of these factors to come into play. You could be driving the Space Shuttle down the road, and these same people will pull out in front of you. They just aren’t paying attention.

In the days before most vehicles had their headlight on full time, a car with it’s headlights on stuck our like a sore thumb, and the visibility factor for them was increased. Nowadays, darn near every car on the road is equipped with daytime driving lights. Any vehicle with it’s lights on is more likely to blend into the background along with all the other vehicles with their lights on. I have my headlights on high, and I turn on my dual 55w halogen driving lights and people still pull in front of me.

We as riders are ultimately responsible for our own safety. There is no substitute for good situational awareness. All the safety devices in the world are not going to keep us safe.

It is what it is, and you have to ride like everyone else on the road is a moron, because they frequently are.

That’s my story, it is based on my own observations and anecdotal evidence, and I am sticking to it.



A Poem

08.26.2008 | 3:13 pm | Goldwing

Thanks to Crazy Dave from the HondaShadow.Net forum for his permission to repost this.


The Treasure
By CrazyDave

There it lay
covered in hay
dirty rusted and bent

to his friends it looked
like trash
but to him it was heaven sent

he paid the man fifty bucks
and not a penny more

hauled it off in a rented truck
and went about the work to restore

hours turned into days and then weeks
as he scoured for parts hard to find

every other aspect of his life was just a blur
as the bike occupied his mind

matching paint looking at pics
of bikes from a time gone by

he never really thought he would get it right
but he was sure going to give it a try

set backs seemed to be the norm
and redos were a common thing

but he never really seemed to get all
that mad but a familar song he’d sing

it was a tune his dad once taught him
so many years ago

and it got him through the times in his life
when fate had struck him a blow

A month turned into two then three , four
and finally a year

just a few small details and the completion
was finally near

He primed the bike turned on the gas
and kicked it’s ancient mill to life

stood back and admired his work along
with his daughter and wife

He rode it to town and stored it in the barn
looked at it and smiled kinda sad

Wiped it down with a terry cloth and with a tear in his
eye, said this is for you dad

That very bike was his fathers he rode it the day he

He sat on the bike , thought of his dad and finally broke
down and cried

A photo shoot with the Goldwing

08.23.2008 | 10:29 am | Goldwing

The HondaShadow.Net forum is planning on creating a calendar that they intend to sell to raise funds for the ongoing maintenance of the forum. They asked the members to submit photos of their bikes with the “ladies of HondaShadow”. My friend Lori graciously agreed to be my model, so we shot some pictures at Fort Christmas, and at a local car wash.

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