Hump Wiggles – I got the FireGL V5200 Softmod to work!

Again, don’t just read this blog because you have a MacBook Pro Core Duo and you want to make it act like a FireGL V5200, read it because you care.  Seriously, I got the ATI Moiblity X1600 to softmod into the FireGL Mobility V5200 following a myriad of somewhat unintelligible instructions from the internet (I think I get points for reading both Chinese and Italian posts which referenced this mod).

The driver I ended up using was from the actual AMD/ATI official site but it was an older version, 8.353.1.1000 to be exact – from 5/8/2007.  There is a chance that the newer ones will work but you have to do a patch using RivaTuner 2.11 using one of the patch scripts I found and my concern was that the older scripts would somehow not work with the newer drivers.  So yeah, you run the copy/pasted patch script on the driver you downloaded and you modify one of the setup files within the installation to allow the “MacBook Pro Mobility V5200” to appear as an option and actually talk to the correct address in the system.  From there you should run “Driver Sweeper”, uninstall all existing video drivers, and reboot and hopefully it goes to a safe mode VGA driver.  At this point you’ll try and install the thing.  It worked on my 3rd or 4th try finally using the new ATI driver, so go figure.

The good news is SolidWorks runs a whole lot better with the FireGL driver and the Instant 3D stuff works as well, Window XP’s video is a whole lot snappier.  Now if only I had that older Broadcom Chipset so my signal strength in XP would come back..

Campy 10 Shifts Shimano 8!

Bless you kind souls at CTC UK who creating the rear shifting cable pull ratio page. It seems, despite all the other irrational things that happen in this world, by a stroke of luck Campagnolo 10 Speed Ergo levers such as the ones I own will shift 8 speeds using a normal Shimano rear derailleur (I do have a pretty sweet all metal RSX 8v) and a SRAM/Shimano 8 speed spaced cassette, no fancy cable routing is required. According to the table the normal 8 speed ratio is 4.8mm per shift, using Campy 10 it’s 4.79. I’ve read a forum with readers in the UK who said it works fine. The God’s must be crazy. And that means I’m leaning towards an 11-28 SRAM ocho estrellas. Okay. Now, is it 44/32 or 46/34 up front? Decisions, decisions. I realized for the sake of chainline on a 130mm rear triangle I shouldn’t run a mountain triple, as I was briefly considering a set of vintage XTR 952 cranks that looked pretty sweet in a triple configuration. Also with the triple I could just keep the 12-21 cassette that’s on there. I don’t know what this would’ve done to my chainline, but I imagine it wouldn’t have been good.

Hanka where are those SRAM Double Tap™ shifters?

So I got the 2009 Trek XO2 working with my old gear from the Salsa. I am still uncertain about keeping the Campy Chorus Carbon 10 levers, I mean I like them well enough, but as it stands I don’t see myself converting to a Campy drivetrain and if I upgrade to 10 speed I’d rather go SRAM or Shimano. And currently the 2009 SRAM Rival group looks like the best deal going. The only question that remains is one of gearing. I’m not hoping to make this bike a full time ‘cross racer, more of a light off road touring & dirt buddy if you will, so even in that context carbon shifters seem like a bad idea. I know, I know, bar-end shifters and aero brake levers are always an option. But so are flatbars and a set of cheap SRAM gripshifts.

The real crux of the build, besides which shifters to go with, is just how compact of a chainset I want. Alex Wetmore has a great page talking about the pros and cons of 110 vs 94 BCD cranksets and how compact doubles, especially when you go with something like 46/32 or a 44/31, can actually give you more reasonable chain crossover. When I was looking at gearing tables for 2 x 9 mountain bikes, I pretty much came to the same conclusion. It seems most 2 x 9 mountain drive trains run something like 44 x 29 up front and an 11-34 in the back. Some racers will bump that front chainring to a 46 I guess (or down to a 42) depending on the speed of the course. A 44 x 11 gear gives 104 inches development and a 29 x 34 gives 22 inches (on 26 x 2.1″ tires w/ 175mm cranks). I mean that’s a pretty good spread for off road I’d think.

SO, I’m leaning towards using the more common 110 BCD crankset with a 46/34 up front, unless I happen to win a set of sweet 8 year old Race Face square taper Turbine cranks in a 94 BCD double configuration (or vintage Ritchey Logics) I would say that the advantage of something like a 44/31 setup using an 11-28 cogset gives almost the same range. On my Jake the Snake when we rode across the US I ran a 50/40/30 triple with a 12-32 8 speed cassette in the back and Rivendell “Silver” friction barend shifters. That worked fine. I didn’t find myself fully loaded in 1st gear very often. I’d say I spent most of my time on that trip in the middle 40 tooth ring switching between 24 to 12 on the back (45-90″ development). And as I recall, the real problem was when I shifted up to the 50 tooth ring I really only got two more gears using 50×14 and 50×12 (96″ and 112″ respectively). We generally didn’t go over 18 mph, and as I recall there were only a couple of days when I remember us using having a tailwind and actually using those big rings.

And when Hanka and Katie battled it out for 1st at Pijnacker this past weekend? Well sadly the Rainbow Colors didn’t win it on SRAM Double Tap technology, but it was a good battle nonetheless.

Airport Extreme! Broadcom! Oh my!

So, if you don’t care about wireless data connections and or OS X & XP you should ignore this post. I recently did a little 802.11n upgrade to my aging Core Duo Macbook Pro and I bought an “official” Apple 802.11n Airport Card that has 2 antenna wire inputs. It’s chipset is the Broadcom BCM4328. My Apple System Profiler polls this as Broadcom BCM43xx 1.0 ( and in Windows XP it clearly shows up as the BCM4328. Now, shouldn’t this be all good? Well sort of, there have been some problems.

Under OS X 802.11n (ie Airport Extreme) works like gang busters over the Time Capsule but it seems my 802.11g performance has taken a huge hit. And under XP SP3 both my g/n performance has degraded. So what’s the deal? Well it seems I should’ve gone with an older version of this chipset.

Apparently the BCM94321MC aka the Dell 1500 Part Number NJ449 was the original version, which worked well for people under Tiger. There obviously are other options, but the key here was the 4321 chipset as opposed to the newer 4328 chipset. So what’s the issue? I don’t know. I imagine the XP drivers aren’t fully up to date. And I also imagine 802.11n MIMO works better with 3 antennas which is why the newer Core 2 Duo machines come with the 3 antenna input Atheros wireless cards. Can I add a third antenna wire and put in the Atheros? I don’t know. Should I sell the one I installed and try the $30 Dell 1500 NJ449? I would say yes.

Another issue that has developed is that with around 15% battery the wireless card will go dormant and not startup again without a reboot. Nice. Whatever, I suppose I cannot complain too much. It mostly works.

Future computers, cyclo-cross and dreams

Apparently Apple is getting back into the Chip manufacturing game again.  We can only hope as x86 PC users go, that they don’t abandon Intel’s architecture completely in the near future so that we can still dual boot and run Virtual Machines like Parallels and boot alternatives like Ubuntu.  What is more likely, if we’re going to play the speculation game, utilizing PA Semi Apple plans to continue to push the envelope with mobile computing implementing low power parallel processors to the point where Intel chips are not relevant.  This seems possible.  If you consider the computing shift from massive mainframes, to workstations and now laptops, the future of computing is largely OS and processor agnostic.  The excitement over so called ‘Netbooks isn’t just that you can “hack” a $400 MSI Wind Laptop and make it run OS X Leopard it’s that the model is shifting from proprietary systems and dedicated hardware moving computing straight into the ether.  Which begs the point that the iPhone is only the beginning of Apple’s mobile computing strategy and that in 10 years time the current generation of MacBook’s with their svelte machined aluminum uni-body enclosures will seem elephantine.

For the record, I did get the 7200 RPM Seagate 320GB hard drive to fit the MBP and upgraded the Airport mini PCI card to 802.11n Extreme.   It goes  pretty well over the Time Capsule for backup with Leopard’s Time Machine.  Yes, I upgraded to Leopard too.  And it boots way way faster than Tiger ever did for whatever reason (not just the 7200 RPMs).  I slip-streamed XP Service Pack 3 and then did the whole Boot Camp installation on a 100 GB partition, SolidWorks Student Edition worked fine which was something of a relief for me.

Also, I have a new 2009 Trek XO2 frame to ride off the pavement of New York.  There are a few more ‘cross races this season and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make them all as they tend to be 1-2 hours away in Jersey and it’s like $30 per race.  My hopes are to ride the Croatan Aqueduct trail, do the mountain bike loop in High Bridge Park in Harlem, and perhaps take Metro North and ride some of the trails in the Hudson River Valley.  There is a race weekend in the Hampton’s and with entry to a citizen’s race your number is entered to the raffle for a Richard Sachs’ custom cyclo-cross bicycle complete with full SRAM kit (so as to skip the 7 year waiting list and selling of kidney).

My new ride

My new ride the Trek XO2

Richard Sach's Cyclo-Cross

Richard Sachs - The best of handmade steel