Thursday, December 17, 2009

FirstGear TPG Ranier Motorcycle Jacket

Now that winter is actually settling in, I am really enjoying my new FirstGear TPG Ranier jacket. Apparently, this is an outgoing model because they are on sale at both Cycle Gear ($180) and ($149) – MSRP was $400!

This jacket is stout – it weighs almost 6 pounds with the liner and armor in. The outside layer is heavy nylon, with Kevlar reinforcing at the shoulders and elbows. The nylon full-sleeve liner is removable, and can actually serve as a separate windbreaker. The front closure is a stout two-way zipper (so you can unzip the bottom parially for more freedom of movement) plus a snapped storm flap with rain gutter. It keeps the wind out quite well.

There are plenty of pockets, including four waterproof ones on the front: two large ones with inner and outer compartments below, a smaller one above on one side and a cell phone pocket on the other side. The cell phone pocket includes a clever strap with which you can lift your phone out without having to dig down into the narrow pocket. There are other pockets on the arms, inside the liner, inside the outer shell and a large pouch on the back. The front left inner pocket even has a grommeted opening in the inside at the bottom so you can route your MP3 player headphone cord with the zipper fully closed.

The fit is adjustable, with zippered gussets at the waist and cuffs The cuffs also have a velcro strap for additional trimming. This makes it easy to fit the sleeves inside your glove gauntlets. There are two waist adjustment straps and a stretch cord adjuster around the bottom edge. The jacket fits my fairly narrow build very nicely, with a couple of layers of shirts and sweaters under it.

The neck is covered with a comfortable fleece lining, and has a small flap that protects your neck from the zipper. There is a velcro closure on the neck band. A very nice touch is a nylon rain hood that fits under your helmet and stores into the collar when not needed. This should do a good job of keeping water from dripping down your neck.

Knox CE-approved armor (good stuff) is included at the elbows and shoulders. There is a thin foam back pad, which can be replaced with a more substantial one (not included). There are strips of reflective material on the back, arms and front of the shoulders.

While I have not yet tested this jacket in a full monsoon, I can verify that it is truly waterproof while riding in a moderate rain, for about 45 minutes. In addition, I find that my cold-natured body stays comfortable down to freezing temperature, with the afore-mentioned extra layers under the jacket. (My fingers, on the other hand, are another matter...!) {Pun intended :}

There are large zippered vents on the front and rear of the shoulders, which should help with ventilation in warmer temperatures. Nonethless, I don’t see this as a warm-weather jacket, because it is so substantial.

If the cold days are causing you to miss some riding, I recommend this jacket as a good cure.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

TomTom XL330S Disassembly

I don't recommend for anyone to do this.

I decided to disassemble my XL330S, because I want to add an eyebolt to the case so I can tether it to my motorcycle.

I used a knife to pry the bottom edge of the gray plastic case downward, which allowed the silver bezel lower edge to be popped up a little. This frees the tabs on the bottom of the bezel.
Then the bezel can be slid downward, to release the tabs on the sides and top.
I removed 4 phillips head screws.
Then I popped up the metal frame that holds the display assembly (it appears also to be part of the antenna). The grey rubber bushing stays behind on the display. It clips under two plastic tabs at the top.
Once the metal frame was out, I worked the display out.
The display is connected to the main board with a flexible conductor strip. The connector on the main board is latched by the light gray bracket. Here, it is in locked position, against the black connector body.
Here, the light gray locking bar has been slid away from the connector body (which looks almost gold in this photo, because of the reflection.) I used a small flat blade screwdriver to work each end loose.
The conductor strip is stuck down with double-sided tape. I was able to pull it up without kinking it too badly. Once the conductor strip is loose, it slides right out of the connector.
I removed three phillips head screws which were in the holes that look like donuts. Two on top, one near the bottom.
I popped the main board out, starting at the bottom. There is a locating pin near the USB connector that needed to be worked loose. Then I pulled the speaker and battery cables from their connectors on the main board.
There's the battery - it appears to be glued quite firmly in place.
Here's the front of the main board.
Here's the back of the main board.

So, here's the screw to hold the external clip I added. I used an 8-32 panhead stainless steel machine screw.And here's the external clip. I used a stainless lock nut and a washer on each side.
It's all back together... and it still works!