Jump to content

Tank Bag Electrification Incorporating Autocom, V-1 and Roady


Recommended Posts

I've been meaning to post about my tankbag electrification project for about 8 months, but between one thing and another (not the least of which are my rusty photographic skills), I didn't do it until now.


I've had my Autocom for 4 years, my V-1 for 3 and my XM for almost 2. At times I've had my Autocom mounted under my seat, in the tail cone, inside the front fairing and up on an RCU shelf (along with the V-1 and XM). Each time the installation was an improvement in convenience, as well as a cleaner installation than before, but not until I put everything in my tankbag did it all come together so well.


I was concerned going in because of a couple of factors. The first was the wiring. With three accessories, there's an excess of it for a confined space like a tank bag. The second was space. I usually carry my Camelback hydration bladder in my tankbag and I wanted to continue doing so.


At first I tried to do this with foam. I bought a brick of it and learned how to soak it in water, gently squeeze out the excess, and freeze the wet foam to make cutting with an electric carving knife easier (much to my wife's consternation, who made me go out an buy my own knife). The problem is that you have to be quick and neat or the lightly frozen foam thaws in minutes and the knife bites and wanders. Three foam bricks later, I gave up and sought other alternatives.


I thought about plastics, but plastic scratches and I think it looks cheap. So I began thinking about a wooden box. Actually, more like two layers of wood held apart by the width of the Autocom (laid on its side) and a couple of stand-off posts. This would be an "open" design, so that at least a little air could get to the components. First I began mocking up the components on my workbench, holding a lot of things in place with masking tape and zip-ties. As I'd feared, the wiring was a mess, even if I zip-tied excess wires into bundles, it just wasn't clean enough. Lots of leads were going to have to be shortened.


Sean Daly was a great help. He'd helped me mount my Autocom inside the front fairing a few months earlier (the cleanest installation to that point and one I can recommend if you're not a tankbag person), and in so doing showed me how to machine a Pep Boys fuse buss to narrow it down and make it work in a tight space (I have a small Sherline tabletop lathe and mill, so that helped). This gave me multiple power outputs in a confined space. A Centech or Blue Sea fused buss will do just as well.


Powerlet Products provided the PTB-001 Tank Bag Electrification Kit. I went to Home Depot, bought a copper coupler for 1/2-inch water pipe ($.39), went home and put a razor's edge on one end of it by rotating it against a grinder wheel. Once I decided where I wanted the power to go INTO the tankbag, I held the copper coupler with some channel locks and got out the Benzomatic torch. With the coupler glowing hot and a 12" piece of 2x4 stuffed into the tank bag to give it support, I simply burned through three layers of Big Mak tank bag (including the plastic side stiffener) and VOILA!, instant hole, completely cauterized with no loose threads of Cordura to deal with. And it was the perfect size for the PTB-001, too! Using the PTB-001 metal backing plate, I then heated a screw that was the right OD and burned the four screw holes through the bag that would serve to secure the two sides of the wiring plug to the tank bag.


That was the easy part. On my workbench I was still struggling with wiring. Again, Sean Daly came through with some of his custom-made isolated leads with very short wires. That helped a great deal. But I work for a leading Autocom dealer and with all due respect and appreciation to Sean and his fine products, using Autocom isolated leads was my prefered choice. When I mentioned this to Autocom USA, they said, "Didn't you know that we'll custom shorten the leads on our isolators for you." No, I didn't, but I try to learn something new every day. So I ended up paying twice for the same thing. But I was breaking new ground here and as far as I was concerned that was the price of admission.


More wiring concerns came in the form of the Roady power plug. Two-Wheel Innovations makes a nice 12v-to-6v power source, but it gets very hot and has to be kept out in a high-flow airstream. Not exactly what I was looking for to go inside my tank bag. So I took the standard Roady power plug apart, whipped out the Solder Wick, shortened the output leads at the PC board, and while I was in there I removed the Pos/Neg front contacts and soldered a set of input leads onto the PC board so I could just put some spade connectors on and plug into the power buss instead of plugging it into a female cig socket. This saved me the space of the cylindrical cig socket.


The final issue was the V-1. Except for the input lines from the power buss to the V-1's power splitter (which I shortened), everything else is 4-line phone cable. I had a phone cable tool and a bunch of Radio Shack phone-line plugs from a previous home project and it all came in handy as I was able to custom cut and graft the proper plugs onto the proper-length cables. In all, I probably eliminated about 10 feet of wire from all three accessories.


It was all coming together.


For wood I went to a hobby shop and bought some 3/32" Birch plywood. It turned out to be a bit softer than I would have prefered, but it worked well. I used 1/2" birch square-section to epoxy a stiffening perimeter on the top and bottom pieces of my "box" as well as to make screwed-in stand-offs to support the top piece. Some day I'll replace the standoffs with the same made from Delrin.


Now let's see if the pictures came out.




First I took power from the battery and ran it through a 12V/10A lighted rocker switch (about $5 at Pep Boys) which I mounted on the dash of my R1100RT. From here the power goes out to the tankbag whose plug is mounted facing forward.



Here is a view of the front of the bag, including the surface-mounted Powerlet PTB-001 tank bag electrification plug. The upper metal bracket was made from a carpenter's joint plate I bought at Home Depot for 75 cents. It serves as the mount for both the Hoon Hardware Roady Holder and the V-1 remote visual. I secured it in place by drilling four holes (in a square pattern) up through the bottom of the bracket and through the bottom of the Big Mak Tank Bag's map case, including through the map case stiffener. Then I pop-riveted the bracket in place through those holes. I may undo this and add an aluminum plate in place of the tank bag stiffener in order to eliminate just a little bit of head bobbing that the weight of the Roady and antenna are causing. The yellow plug you see hidden behind the tank bag's carry strap is actually the inline plug for my handlebar-mounted PTT switch (the in-line plug once again came from the custom work Autocom USA's tech dept.), which I only use when my wife rides with me. Otherwise I just VOX my broadcasts. The condom-like rubber cover is the pinky off a latex glove. It just helps keep things clean. I use them on all my unattended plugs.



From the front you can see how the V-1 remote visual tucks in under the homemade bracket. Atop this bracket sits a Hoon Hardware Roady Holder (the No Offset model) which, naturally, holds the Roady. The antenna mounts to top of the Roady Holder as well.



Here's a look inside the tankbag. You can see the V-1 and its audio adapter sitting atop the wooden "box." Down on the first level you can see the back of the Autocom main unit. The entire wooden "box" is stained and lacquered. A strip of industrial-grade Velcro runs under the center of the box, securing it to the forward portion of the tank bag. On the rider's end of the tank bag is enough room for my 70-oz Camelback bladder (which only holds about 55-oz of fluid in it since it's long and skinny and needs to be folded in half to fit) along with room for sunglasses, a ballcap, some spare FRS batteries and a few PowerBars.



Here's a view from the left side. On the lower right you can see the FRS radio clipped to the tank bag's mesh pocket.



I like a coiled helmet lead for its gentle pulling resistance, but I needed a straight lead in this application. So, by taking the lead and slipping a loop through the blue Radio Shack Velcro strip in the picture, I get the resistance I want, with some give as the loop is taken up. Believe it or not it works flawlessly. I have also laid in and zip-tied an Autocom extension lead under the seat for when my wife rides with me. Then I just pull the extention lead's front plug out between the tank and seat and the rear plug out between the rider/passenger seats. I take the Autocom's passenger lead out from the tankbag, hook it the front plug, and my wife connects her helmet to the rear plug. When I ride solo, it's all out of the way. It does mean I have to disconnect one more plug when refeuling or removing the tankbag, but oh well.



Lousy pic, I know. But this is a fair representation of what I see on the dashboard from my rider's perspective (minus the blurriness, even at my age!). I've blocked the speedo only beyond 110mph and the tach below 3,000 rpm (I can still see the needles, just not the tips), two areas I rarely have the need to look down at.


Well, that about wraps it up. I wish I'd done as good a job presenting this as I did in building it, but I have to say that I am always very pleased when I look at it and even more pleased at how beautifully it works.


The final advantage of this setup is that whether it's a coffee stop at Denny's or a motel stop for the night, with one plug I can slide the tank bag off its platen and take it in with me, leaving no exposed electrics behind for prying eyes/hands.

Link to comment

One final thing. Cost.


I already owned the Big Mak tank bag, so between getting the isolator leads shortened, the inline PTT plug, the wood, the PTB-001, the stain and lacquer (both of which I already had), the Hoon Hdwre mount, and the small stuff mentioned above, I spent about $115.

Link to comment



What a masterpiece.


Its always nice to see people thinking it through and working it all out. Of course that’s one of the benefits and beauties of having a modular, flexible system like Autocom, and thanks for pointing out that while our standard parts have evolved over the years to offer the best overall compromise to suit what the majority of people need, we do offer a custom design and build service for those that want it, (its very popular and so unfortunately at busy times you may have some wait!)


Best wishes


Link to comment
One final thing. Cost. I spent about $115.
Truly beautiful work Fernando. I really need to learn how to post pictures. I did a similar project a few weeks ago. Total cost=$1. I gotta get some pictures.
Link to comment

Excellent work. I've "kept" the thread so that it doesn't auto-delete. This'll be something we'll want to have around permanently so that people can see a complete install. thumbsup.gif

Link to comment




I recall you doing an excellent DIY tank bag job yourself, are you not going to add that to this everlasting post?


I have designed but not yet fully developed a wiring harness with just one in-line connector for use to allow your Autocom to be bike mounted and powered but with options for phone, music, in tank bag, plus GPS/Radar on bike, with option for bike to bike transceiver to be either bike or tank mounted. But I also see the potential advantages of option to mount the GPS and radar on tank bag. STILL if the UK government gets their way, they plan to BAN radar detectors in the UK, possibly because they are losing so much potential stealth tax? So that will be one less option to worry about.


I am also changing my details to include UK as many people don’t seem to realise that I am the UK factory and not the USA distributor.


Many thanks



Link to comment
I recall you doing an excellent DIY tank bag job yourself, are you not going to add that to this everlasting post?


Yeah, I think it's saved somewhere. Tom Roe actually started all this "self contained tankbag" stuff. I built on what he'd done. In addition to what FB has figured out, I also put a digital voice recorder on mine. It connects to the pillion helmet lead and allows me to record notes to myself through the mic in my helmet. Pretty cool, actually. I've put together dozens of rides by reading mileage and turns into the DVR and then transcribing it when I get back. Besides, I'm always wanting to make notes about things as I ride by them.


The other thing I did differently than FB was use aluminum instead of wood. I find it takes up less space and is lighter.


Otherwise, though, his install is far cleaner and well-thought out than mine. I love the power switch on the dash.

Link to comment

Fernando bowdown.gifbowdown.gif


I am coming to San Diego to pay you a visit when I get back to the states. That is a sweet setup. David, thats a great idea with DVR. thumbsup.gif

Link to comment



Your digital voice recorder sounds like such a great idea. Could you elaborate more on how you have it hooked up (why only on the pillion lead?) & how you use it (ie, do you have to change from passenger to pillion leads?)


I am just in the planning stages of a tank bag to use on several bikes (mainly a 1200RT & 1150GS) to include: Centech fuse box, Autocom & a Mix-It amp to allow inputs of: RT radio, XM & iPod. My idea was to have a cell phone & Mix-It plugged into the Autocom.


Any ideas, suggestions would be most appreciated - I'm in awe of your (& Fernando's & other's) creativity & ingenuity.



Link to comment

I use a Sony IC recorder ICD-MS1 with a 128MB card and it gives me about 8 hours 41 min’s recording. You could use a larger card if you needed more time, but batteries would need to be changed or you could bike power with a 12v to 3v adaptor.


I also use and prefer my Sony DAT recorder (cant remember the model but I have two in R&D and they are the business for professional data logging audio). I use them for BBC and SKY recordings etc and our promotional videos. The recording of the demo on our website was done with one of these.


ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS FOR RECORDING FROM AN AUTOCOM IS HAVING MANUAL RECORD LEVELS, OVER AUTO RECORD LEVELS. Because Autocom is ultra high quality noise cancelling so you get virtually NO sound when not speaking, hence Auto record levels go SEARCHING for sound and can adjust gain possibly by over 200x and so you will over amplify and hear excessive noise, PLUS electrical interference.


If you set a fixed record level to suit the level of you voice when speaking through the system you will hear virtually NO sound other than your voice and maintain the TRUE quality of the Autocom noise cancelling.


OK I’m a perfectionist when it comes to this, and some people may like the ambient noise in between speech to make a sporty effect. When we use our DAT recorders for the BBC etc, they usually also want an ambient noise recording to manually mix some noise in, otherwise people may think its dubbed.



I connect this to my Autocom in one of three ways.


1) To the passenger headset speaker wires, (easy with our headset Y lead on Pro or Active but remember you need line isolation with our 7 pin systems) so that it reliably uses the Autocom VOX so NO SOUND goes out to the recorder when you are not speaking. This is more reliable than using the Sony VOX and so saves wasting recording time/batteries.

2) To the phone socket but this gives full time output as the VOX does not cut this. this is not a problem if you recorder has VOX pause/record and thsi shoudl work well with maunal recoprd levels as the Autocom noise cancelling is very good.

3) To the transceiver Aux lead, which like the Phone socket is full time output no VOX cut.


NOTE, recording from the headset speaker outputs on a 7 pin Autocom will require isolation transformers to protect the output amps. PLUS reduction resistors to reduce sound levels.


On our earlier 5 pin systems you will still require reduction and possibly some isolation will still help


Hope this helps but is anyone needs a diagram or a professional audio recording lead please call Autocom UK +44 (0)1926 431249 and ask for Simon Hall or Doug Sant.



Link to comment
Nice set up. Have you noticed any loss of sensitivity to the V-1 due to being inside the tank bag?




Well, naturally with the V-1 in the tankbag I've lost the direct line-of-sight that's essential for Laser detection. But that's pretty much worthless. Laser gun targeting is so tight and narrow that if you get a warning, you're it and it's already too late.


As for radar warnings, I really don't think I've lost anything, but even if I have, with a V-1 you get such early warnings that you've got more than enough time to react. Most of the time I pick up radar about two miles out, so I don't worry about it. In the 8 months I've had it, all my radar hits have given me more than enough time. In fact, it's almost boring waiting for the radar unit to finally come into view.

Link to comment

The final advantage of this setup is that whether it's a coffee stop at Denny's or a motel stop for the night, with one plug I can slide the tank bag off its platen and take it in with me, leaving no exposed electrics behind for prying eyes/hands.



Another great by-product of Fernando's setup is the ability to switch EVERYTHING between bikes... if you are unfortunate enough to need to make that type of decision every time you go riding! dopeslap.gifdopeslap.gif



Link to comment
The final advantage of this setup is that whether it's a coffee stop at Denny's or a motel stop for the night, with one plug I can slide the tank bag off its platen and take it in with me, leaving no exposed electrics behind for prying eyes/hands.



Another great by-product of Fernando's setup is the ability to switch EVERYTHING between bikes... if you are unfortunate enough to need to make that type of decision every time you go riding! dopeslap.gifdopeslap.gif




I'm working on it, Denny. Looking for a second ride. Something Japanese so I won't have to care (did I just say that?). Much.

Link to comment


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...