Turning Cantonese…

Schematic on the back of the Chatparts.com Controller.

Shortly after I bought my first cheap controller, and realising that it would probably be weeks before it arrived from its birthplace in China, I ordered a second, near identical one with an expedited delivery service so I could get things moving within 10 days or so, rather than having to wait up to two months. It was worth coughing up the extra money to save more weeks of waiting, and I reckoned that it was a good move anyway, as these ‘clones’ were inexpensive, and having a spare for the most important part of the bike – and one that was so tedious and troublesome to get hold of – would more than likely save me a lot of trouble further down the line. Call it an insurance policy.

The problem is that you get what you pay for, and in this case it meant a completely anonymous, unmarked and undocumented unit which the makers had gone to all the trouble of sanding – or dissolving – off component numbers and markings on the motherboard. Various theories have been posited for this behaviour: that they do this to hide the fact that are using fake, black-market or substandard components, or to simply try and prevent competitors from reverse engineering and duplicating their own superior products and putting fakes on the market.

The end result is that buying these devices is very much pot-luck. You can either pay premium rates for a well-respected and well-known brand, or you can take your chances with cheaper but less understood units which are nonetheless mostly identical in function.

Both of my units, as it transpired, arrived within three days of each other, and neither had a shred of documentation with it, and so far my attempts to get documentation from the sellers has met only with the most primitive and sketchy of documents amounting to no more than a labelled picture of a connector, or a sketchy and rudimentary diagram covering only the most basic functionality of the unit, and neglecting the many other mysterious wires and connectors accompanying the usual ones.

In this case, at least my backup controller came with what looked like a potentially useful – and reasonably comprehensive – diagram, however it is entirely in Cantonese. So in desperation I have fashioned a hi-tech translation process composed of my digital camera, Paintshop Pro freeware, a piece of Cantonese OCR freeware COCR2, and Yahoo’s ‘Babelfish’ on-line translation engine, in the hope that it will offer some clue as to what some of the more mysterious connectors are supposed to be rigged up to, and what they are supposed to do. I feel like Daniel Jackson off Stargate SG1….

This will at least enable me to fan some small flame of hope that I will be able to enable regenerative braking or find some way of getting the elusive brake-lever cut-out working as it should, while the sellers get round to responding to my pleas for more detailed information about these devices.

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