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The manual… Sometimes it’s a good idea to read it.

July 1, 2013

Years ago, let’s say sometime about fourth of fifth grade, my teachers would hand out a sheet of paper with directions similar to the excerpt below:

Materials: You may need: a sheet of paper, a pencil, and a box of crayons.

Directions:

1. Read all directions before beginning.
2. Take out one sheet of lined paper.
3. Place it on your desk so that the holes are on the left side and the margin is at the top.
4. Skipping lines, number your paper 1-7
5. On the first line, write your name.
6. On the second line, write the name of the person sitting across from you.
7. On the sixth line, draw three stars using a blue crayon.
8. In the center of the paper, about 5 lines below line seven, draw a box.
9. Write the number of siblings you have to the right of the box.
10. Divide the box into four equal parts with a purple crayon.
11. Color the top right hand section of the box orange.
12. Draw a flower in the bottom left hand corner of the box.
13. Color the center of the flower red.
14. Turn your paper upside down.
15. Write out today’s date using all capital letters.
16. Turn your paper right side up again.
17. On line three, draw a small picture of your favorite food.
18. Draw a circle around it.
19. Write the name of your first pet on line four.
20. Draw a star in each corner of your paper, using four different colors.
21. Underline two of the stars.
22. Turn your paper over.
23. Fold it in half lengthwise.
24. Fold it in half the other way.
25. Write your middle name on the outside.
26. Ignore directions one through twenty-five and enjoy watching everyone else do this activity wrong.

The first few times we all took the “test” we failed miserably, but after a while we learned to actually read the directions.

Forty-ish years later that lesson has been lost on me.  My Suzuki V-Strom came with a Dynojet Power Commander III USB (PCIII) fuel processor.  Without going too deep into the weeds (I will get there eventually, trust me…) it overrides the motorcycle’s computer and allows for custom settings in the fuel injection system.

As I have been known to do, I decided that good enough just wasn’t good enough.  The bike was running fine – really, I had no problems with the way it ran – but there I was, bike somewhat disassembled and computer hooked up to the PCIII.  Had I read, or more likely even payed attention to some stuff I did read, I would have known what was about to happen instead of wondering what just happened.  Cause and effect in action…

First, some background.  A while ago I decided that if I was going to try some long distance riding I would have to set my bike up to get great fuel economy.  A major part of getting good fuel economy would be tweaking the fuel delivery maps in the PCIII.  I have tried a few different maps over the last month.  Yesterday I started really playing with the PCIII.  I figured that the PCIII is a few years old and could benefit from updated firmware.  That, in itself, was not the problem, though it was a major landmark leading me to the problem.

A quick Google search found an update – and some (20/20 hindsight alert) important instructions.  Whatever…  Anyway, there I was, ready to perform digital surgery.  PCIII accessible? Check.  Bike running and powering the PCIII?  Check.  PCIII connected to my laptop with the new firmware ready to go?  Check.  Instructions read and understood?  I know what I’m doing…

“Update Firmware”  click.

Updating…

Update failed.

Wait, why did the bike die?  Damn it…  I’ll just restart it.  (Imagine the sound of an engine cranking but not starting.)

What the???  Why did…  Ohhhh.  Now I get it.

Less than 10 seconds after putting the bike into a coma, I realized that when I started to update the firmware the PCIII would stop performing its duties as a fuel manager, shutting off fuel to the engine.  The PCIII needs the engine running to operate, and by extension, complete the update.

A quick glance at the instructions I mentioned earlier verified the fact that I should have used a 9 volt battery power adapter to keep the PCIII powered up during the update.  That adapter didn’t come with the bike.  Not my fault here (yeah, it is…).

Another Google exercise, along with some phone calls to Dynojet, confirmed that the PCIII is, in fact, in a coma until further notice unless I can find a reprogrammer, which is the digital equivalent to a witch doctor.  None at the local bike shop, though they will be glad to take a look at the end of the month…  (Really?).  My remaining options are to buy a reprogrammed ($40 plus shipping) or remove the PCIII, send it in to Dynojet, wait for them to return it, then re-install the PCIII on the bike.  Convenience won out, and I will soon be the owner of yet another “I’m an idiot” trophy (yeah, I have several).

As for the bike, I was able to reconnect the original connectors, bypassing the PCIII for the time being, in order to allow the bike to run.  Once I (correctly) fix the PCIII I will put it back in line and continue dinking around with the knowledge that I will be able to get myself out of that jam much faster next time.

G26

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