Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Echo Dot (3rd Gen) Ceiling Mount


Alexa, play my playlist...

My goal has been to have music easily accessible while hanging out on my front patio. I'm aware of all kinds of stereo's, Bluetooth speakers/devices that could accomplish this, but I wanted something that wasn't tied to my smartphone, as well as something that wouldn't involve a major renovation (my front wall is brick). Now before people start to comment that I could have run stereo speakers in the soffit and into my house, that was already more work than I had planned as the soffit doesn't seem to be removable without using destructive force (I'm not sure how it was installed). I also wanted something that would be relatively permanent, in that I didn't want to have to charge something, or turn it on and off. 

My solution was an echo dot mounted to the soffit, where my echo dot would be sheltered from the elements and provide music upon verbal command. So I turned to the world wide web for solutions, and there are a few great ideas out there. However none that lent itself to my situation, so I borrowed from some and built my own.

Material List

  • Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
  • RC Screw Pins (10-15mm long)
  • 4" Ipex ABS/PVC end cap
  • 1 or 2 Wood Screws
Tools List
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Pencil and Ruler
  • Ladder
  • Allan Key/Phillips Screwdriver
I began by sourcing the parts I needed, Lowes had the 4" End Cap (I don't think it matters if its ABS or PVC). I selected black to match my echo dot, but they also have white. 

I now needed a solution to hold the echo dot, while it's being suspended up-side down. For this I would use Traxxas 5145 Screw Pins (4mmx15mm). I have so many replacement remote control parts for my Traxxas T-Maxx, that this was an obvious choice and they are quite cheap. I would only need 3, so a $5 package would do 2 mounts.
My first step was to draw a + sign on the back of the 4" end cap. Referring to the diagram below, at positions "A","B","C" I would be drilling small holes using a drill bit slightly smaller than the 4mm screw pin (make sure the holes line up to the middle of the echo, when it's sitting inside the end cap). At position "D", I drilled 2 larger holes that I would use to pass the power cable through (and optionally the auxiliary output if needed).
With the echo dot inside the 4"end cap, carefully screw in the 3 screw pins until they clamped the echo dot in place (do not overtighten). You should be able to carefully turn the 4"end cap over, and have the echo dot remain securely in place.
Loosen the 3 screw pins, and remove the echo dot. I drilled 1 hole for the wood screws that will be secured to the ceiling (position "O", you can use 2 screws if you would like). Secure the 4"end cap to the ceiling, now run the power cable through the "D" hole and attach to the echo dot, seat the echo dot into the end cap, then snugly tighten the screw pins, and I was done

When I build stuff, I often forget to document as I get all caught up in the designing and assembling, I need to learn to slow down. With that said I wish I had taken pictures of the process, if I make another one I will better document it.
This project cost me about $10-$15 CDN in parts.

The conclusion... I just love that whenever I go out I can have Alexa play me music. It's been up all summer, and the downward facing buttons allows me to program the echo dot if needed. My only regret is that the soffit is some type of metal and it vibrates with the music and produces a distorted noise. I may be able to dampen the soffit so as to eliminate its resonance, but we will see.

If you have any questions, just ask

Monday, August 23, 2021

Update: Rize Side View Mirrors

About 2 weeks ago I posted about installing side view mirrors on my Rize Liberty. I've had the opportunity to venture out a few times and test them out, and my results are pretty much inline with my predictions. These things suck! No, they are really bad. **Please no one consider buying these**

What makes them so bad...


  • For starters the actual mirror part is curved in a way that distorts whatever image is being viewed, it's also not that clear. While you can still make out if something is passing you, whether that object is an 18 wheeler, a car, or another cyclist you wont be able to make it out.
  • It's made of plastic which is brittle, so they probably wont last long. Also the plastic doesn't grip the bar end very well, and they move quite easily (great when setting up, not so great when riding).

  • Cheap!
  • Nice adjustability, as the mirror moves 360 degrees around, can flip to the right or left, and the bracket also swivels around 360 degrees. 
I have to say these were really disappointing. I had a similar pair, with a round mirror that I had purchased for my scooter. They were purchased on EBay years ago, unfortunately not in my history anymore. I really liked those ones, I'm hoping I can source them again. Anyone have any suggestions for a better pair to try?
Thanks for reading

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Rize Side View Mirrors


I've never been one to have side-view mirrors on any of my bicycles, and personally I really resent the look of them. 
So? Why install them? 
Well, life in the city has changed. While bike lanes have been around for a while, motorists haven't evolved nearly as quickly to adopt them (present company included). Thumb acceleration on the Liberty as well as its overall speed, can easily propel you into unsuspecting traffic. I learned this when I had a heavy modified Yamaha BWS-50, where the general motorist public, saw someone on a scooter, and immediately assumed they were slow. Motorists tryied passing me all the time, many times resulting in them cutting me off as I was quicker than they anticipated. It was at this time I learned to love side-view mirrors.
So, in a nutshell, I'm installing them for safety, but we will see.

I ordered 2 pairs of side-view mirrors from AliExpress for a total cost of $17.85 CDN, shipped to my door. One pair is for my Liberty, the other for the wife's Bolt-X.
I want to say that these mirrors are horrible junk, and while I don't recommend anyone buying these, here is the link anyway.
One mirror arrived broken, managed to still use it.

Interestingly these mirrors are made with a brittle plastic, which just doesn't grip the bars very well (most bar ends I've ever used are nylon or rubber, which when tightened forms a nice seal) not these.
The quality is sub-par, but really what did I expect for under $5CDN/each. The design is actually quite good, with full articulation in every axis.

Slide a flathead screwdriver between the endcap and grip, and twist. After some twisting and prying, the endcap should come loose and be removable.

I added a strip of sandpaper around the mirror so it would grip the bar better, probably not needed, but I didn't want to attempt overtightening, as these mirrors are very brittle.

Slide the mirror into the bar end, and tighten with the supplied Hex key.
Repeat on the other side, and done.

Here is my Liberty

Here is the wife's Bolt-X

The wife and I will try these mirrors out, and see if we like them, we'll probably invest in a better pair.
Hope you enjoyed this post.

Saturday, August 07, 2021


Oh my goodness...

My blog story continues as follows, when I first started blogging (11 years ago) it took me almost a year to get 500 views a month. If my memory serves me correctly, it took about 3 months to go from 500 to 1000 views a month. Things were getting exciting as more and more views were coming from around the world, and not just friends and family. To put it into perspective, 500-1000 unique views would generate between $3US and $5US dollars a month. This is not the kind of money someone brags about, however it was steady, residual, and covered the operating costs ($10US a year for the domain name). 
By the forth year, I started to see my blog steadily hit $10 a month. Not only was this a great sign for my blog, my writing, and my wallet (I don't actually carry a wallet, it's more a bill fold) but I was satisfied in knowing people might actually enjoy what I have to say. 
In 2016 the European Union passed the "General Data Protection Regulation" which was a way to control what data is kept when you visit a site. I am all good with this, but it completely changed everything, for the worse. You see, this is the part I don't understand. I wasn't personally collecting users data when they visited my site, that was Google. It was also Google, that was using this info to place advertisement on my site through AdSense. I was merely getting a piece of the commission from ad sales. However, since the GDPR, I was instructed to bring my blog up to code or suffer the wrath of the EU. 
It's 2021 and I still haven't complied with the EU and as of yet the EU has not contacted me, or put out an arrest warrant. However since 2016 my blog has been completely demonetized. I continued to post articles, advertisement continued to be displayed, and I'm sure Google has continued to make money, but I haven't. 
Demoralized by the lack of monetization, in 2018 I attempted to comply with the EU's GDPR, but every attempt I made to bring my blogs code up to compliance, by copying and pasting code into the template, were all unsuccessful. I just don't get it, the code is Googles code, sure I have modified the generic template to resemble something closer to my likings, but it's built off a template provided by Google. The data collection is done by Google, not me, they provide me with all the statistics. The placement of advertisement, also done by Google, I can accept or deny vendors, but that's the extent of my involvement. I have repeatedly attempted to contact Google regarding this, and I get vague, run around responses which eventually end up not working.
To put things in perspective, at least from my point of view, I'm currently getting about 5,000 to 7,000 unique views a month (this is after taking the last 2 years off, previous view numbers were higher). If I was making $3 for 1,000 views, I can only surmise I would make $21 for 7,000 views. Now lets not get things twisted, and lets be honest, after 11 years and only making $21 a month, seriously this really isn't worth the headache. While money isn't what motivates me, knowing that, the harder I try to make this blog successful, the less compensation I get, really sucks. But seeing as Google is still probably making money off my blog, I should get something to at least cover operating costs. 
What I find rather amazing, is that some articles written 8 years ago, are still getting constant views every month. I would like to continue to writing articles like those, but not for Google to make money on, and me make nothing.
So my realization is as follows 
  1. Give up the www.mass-imo.com domain, so as to eliminate any costs associated with running this blog, write basic articles
  2. Move off Blogger, spend some money, and do things right
  3. Give up entirely
  4. Start something completely new
I think I know which one I want to do
Anyone have any comments?

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Liberty Handlebar Upgrade

This may fly in the face to many who like the chopperesque look of the 2020 Rize Liberty, but for me, I wanted a more motocross inspired look, similar to the 2020 Rize Blade, but with suspension. I also wanted a bar going across the top so as to mount my phone, or camera. In my goal to achieve such a look and feel I opted to change out my Liberty's handlebars for a set of BMX handlebars that I had on hand. I may very well change these out when I find my perfect Liberty bars, but until then I'll test these out.

Here is what I came up with.

* If you are going to attempt upgrading your handlebars, be sure of the following... 

  1. Make sure the handlebars you choose are the same diameter of thickness as the stock bars, or you will need to add shims, or replace the headset stem.
  2. Make sure the handlebars are wide enough to fit all the controls
**(In all honesty, I found out the hard way about the tips mentioned above, as this is the second set of bars I used, as the first weren't wide enough for all the controls to fit on)

Step 1.
Starting on the throttle side,  I removed the grip, throttle, brake and ebike controller

Step 2.
I proceeded to remove the display screen

Step 3.
I then removed the grip, brake, gear selector and bell off the opposite side.

Step 4.
Remove the handlebars, or remove the stem if your upgrading that as well.
(The 2020 Rize Liberty comes with 25.4mm handlebars and a 25.4mm x 28.6 stem, my BMX handlebars were 22.2mm, so I used shims to make up the difference. Another option would be to get a stem that was 22.2 mm x 28.6mm or you could go larger with MTB stem and handlebars combo which is typically 31.8mm x 28.6mm)

Step 5.
Pick your handlebars!
(Generally you want handlebars that have 7.5" or 190mm of space from the bend to the end of the handlebar. The first pair of handlebars I used were cut down and didn't have enough room for all the controls)

These are the bars I had on hand and went with. They are Haro BMX handlebars

Step 6.
Install you bars!
As my bars were 22.2mm I used shims to get the 25.4mm needed

Step 7.
(Basically go in reverse from step 3 to step 1)


My Thoughts.
While this is all subjective, I really feel more comfortable using BMX handlebars, as that's what I'm used too. Making sharp turns seems much easier with these handlebars, compared to the standard Liberty bars. In the future I'll change out the stem, and get handlebars that are a bit taller as these are short at 8.5" high. Also need to do some cable management work.

Hopefully this post has been helpful to those looking to change their 2020 Rize Liberty handlebars.