Friday, February 27, 2009

Electro-Metro Update Feb. 27, 2009

Here's the latest on work on the car.

It includes removing more interior and cutting a "test hole" in the back seat.

Enjoy the video.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

No More Corn Syrup - Day 2

It's only day two. Already I found out that my bread has High Fructose Corn Syrup in it!

Time for some new bread!

Also, I made an exclusive theme song for the project as well!

No More Corn Syrup!

That's it! No more corn syrup. This stuff is everywhere! It's in all sorts of things it shouldn't be, and is making our country obese.

Watch as I try to eat without corn syrup.

Will I succeed?! Will I snap and splurge on the sweet stuff? You be the judge!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

No More Corn Syrup

Today, I have given up corn syrup. Who knows for how long exactly.

For some time, I have been thinking about the experiment of completely avoiding corn syrup.

It would be an interesting experiment. Corn syrup is in EVERYTHING in America. If it is sweet, sticky, gelatinous, saucy, or any way delicious, it mostly has liquid corn sugar in there.

Now I am not the type of person who is any good at doing things until they either HAVE to be done, or are so EPIC that they demand attention all to them selves. In other words, I am no good at just "having a little less sugar in my diet".

Noooooo. Just not the way I work. So, NO CORN SYRUP WHATSOEVER it is.

Originally, I was thinking 30 Days. One solid month of avoiding the genetically-modified sweetness, would break me of the habit. That is, until I started thinking about Lent.

Now, I was NOT raised Orthodox Christian, but I have always loved the IDEA of giving something up to make you appreciate it that much more. We could all do a little more inner thinking about how good we really have it. I knew that Lent was coming up, and I really knew very little about it.

So, I did some basic research about it - when it starts, when it ends, etc. What I was shocked at was that Lent is 46 days! That's right - the 40 Days we always here about is an inside joke! Apparently, Sunday already was God's day, so that doesn't count. So, Lent is the 40 days before Easter, NOT INCLUDING SUNDAYS!

Great. This just took my commitment up from 30 days to 46......[grumble]
However, I now have a great excuse for when people question my unusual eating habits.

Instead of a long explanation about my experiment and how corn syrup is in everything and how you almost can not get NON-genetically-modified corn in this country and how obese americans are because of their sugar addiction..... [deep breath] I can not just say, "It's for Lent".

So for Lent it is. I am writing this now the first night of the first day of Lent, and I can tell you it's an adventure already.

This morning, I attended a seminar on Farmland Preservation and Land Use issues. The event included coffee and rolls in the morning, and lunch at noon.
Stumbling into the event (I usually stumble until about 10:30 or so... not much of a morning person) I found the muffin voted least likely to contain corn syrup, grabbed it, then found my seat.
The conference was very interesting. Lunch rolled around, and sandwiches, chips, and cookies were brought in. Hmmm... Do cookies have corn syrup in them? I don't know - without an ingredient list, I pretty much can't tell. What about the mayo and mustard on the sandwiches? I was hungry, and there really weren't any other food options handy, so I dug in.

Earlier in the morning, the MC also announced that one of the dairy farmers participating in the event had brought in a cooler of milk. That sounded good - solve thirst, and support local farming. I was half-way through my second gulp of a chocolate milk "chug" when it hit me. CHOCOLATE MILK. Sure enough, as soon as my lips left the bottle, I could read "high-fructose corn syrup" as the second ingredient.

I was not off to a good start for my no corn syrup diet! Well, I am still getting into the swing of it. Next time I will be ready.

My wife and I go out to dinner on a fairly regular basis, mid-week, to a local family restaurant we like. Wednesday or Thursday nights are never busy, and it's a fun way to pep up the doldrums of the work week.

When she got home tonight, she definately had that look of "I don't want to cook - let's go out."

So off we went to the restaurant. In her car, it was already warmed up. (Not in my electric car - it is currently jacked up in my driveway with the springs missing, as I figure out how to boost the suspension.)

We sat ourselves down at our favorite corner booth.
"Just get the gyro..." she says. We have this on-going conversation as to whether or not try new things at a restaurant, and possibly be disappointed, or to stick with something we know and love. I happen to like the gyro. She likes the tacos. We both love the chicken dumpling soup. The soup comes with everything. Go ahead, order soup... you will get soup with it.

Hmm - a gyro. No corn syrup in that. Oh wait. It has sauce. Grrrrr! So many sauces have corn syrup! In my mind, I am already ordering the fish fry.

When our waitress comes, I explain that I have given up corn syrup for Lent. How corn syrup is everywhere, and ask if they buy their cucumber sauce, or if they make it themselves. Here's where the good home-style cooking part comes in. They actually DO make their own gyro sauce from scratch! No corn syrup in there at all!

I order the gyro.

After a delicious bowl of chicken dumpling soup, our dinners arrive.
My gyro plate comes with french fries, and the waitress informs me that "you won't be needing ketchup then, will you?"

The thing is, I like french fries. I like them with ketchup. Ketchup has TONS of corn syrup in it. But I was thinking way ahead on this one. I deftly pull a bottle of MY OWN KETCHUP from my coat pocket. And not a little bottle. A full-sized squeeze bottle of Organic Ketchup which I had slipped into my coat pocket before leaving home.

Both the waitress and my wife laugh at me. They both already know I am weird. The waitress has seen us in there before with our Tupperware, so that we don't need one more foam "To-Go" container to dump in a landfill, and my wife knew what she was in for before she married me.

Now I am feeling pretty clever about myself. My fore-planning with the ketchup keeps me pleased through dinner as I munch on my lamb-filled flatbread and fries.

Another thing I like about this restaurant is that many of the dinners include dessert. Sweet desserts. Sweet STICKY desserts. D'oh! My mind races down the list of "house-desserts":
House Cake with strawberry filling
Ice Cream
Rice pudding

I'm pretty sure every one of those has corn syrup.

Sigh. No dessert for me, whether it's included or not.

When the waitress comes around again, I inquire if either of the dinners include dessert. They don't. I ordered the gyro sandwich, not the gyro dinner. My wife ordered something different from the usual, so no dessert there either.

Now, I am fixated on what sweets DON'T have corn syrup in them.

I step over to the cash register to pay. On the counter is a glass jar of mints. I reflexively lift the lid, then pause a moment, and set the lid back down. The waitress looks at me as she hands me the receipt.
Me "Now you are starting to get it?"
Her. "Yep"

I leave the restaurant mint-less, but successful.

Of course, I now can't get dessert out of my mind, and we swing past the grocery store.
My wife tells me that she thought there was an "all-natural" brand of ice cream that did NOT have corn syrup.
We go down the ice cream isle. Yes, it is an entire isle. We are in Wisconsin, the Dairy State, and even though California now has dairy farms well in excess of our own, you still can't beat Wisconsin for ice cream consumption.

Sure enough - there it is. Breyers All Natural. Not even a HINT of corn syrup on the ingredient list. I compare it to the label on another carton. Not only does the corn-syrup-free box have a list HALF as long, but I can also pronounce every ingredient on it.

I grab a carton of mint chocolate chip. The ice cream is white, not artificially green. I love it.

Well, not too bad of a day for a corn syrup-free lifestyle. I screwed up with the chocolate milk early in the day, but I was feeling pretty good about Organic Ketchup, and Natural Ice Cream.

Now what happens when I want a Rum&Coke, or a margarita? Neither of those are going to work. Looks like I will have some more planning and investigating to go before me as I continue to go corn-syrup-free.


Friday, February 13, 2009

electric car conversion/ walk around

The latest video from YouTuber Ipgas1.

Get to see an overview of his Holden Barina.

A little beefier than my car (120V vs 72V) he does have a few interesting items on his car, including a home-built charger.

It's also always fun to see what differences are in a left-hand drive vehicle. (Brake master cylinder is on the "wrong" side!)

This video will give you a good overview of a DC electric hatchback.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bypassing Limitations

It was as warm as one could hope for in Wisconsin winter this weekend.

Which of course meant that I would have the spring urge to tinker.

For a while, I have had an idea about a controller bypass for the car.

While PWM (Pulse-Width-Modulation) electronic motor controllers are great, they do get expensive fast at higher voltages. I bought the highest voltage I could afford, which was a Curtis 72V controller.

The car performs reasonably well for a "grocery-getter", but simply doesn't have the speed for the larger country roads, including the 45 mph road right outside my house. My house is also just on the other side of a hill, with a 55 mph speed limit on the other side of it, so guess how fast people drive past my place.

Well, they drive faster than I want to pull out in front of with my little 72v eco-beater.

I really don't need a lot of control, just higher speed for one little section of road. too bad buying the next controller up would be so much money. If only there was a way to use my controller at low and medium speed, and just get some higher voltage straight into the motor for selected stretches of road.

Off to my box of miscellaneous forklift parts.
A common electro-mechanical part is a "contactor". Contactors are basically very beefy mechanical on/off switches. A specialized type, a reversing contactor, completes one circuit a split second after disconnecting the first one. It's a great way to switch high-amperage circuits.

I put together two reversing contactors, screwed them to a hunk o' plywood, and started cabling them up. The idea is that normally the contactors keep the original controller in the circuit, but when powered up, they disconnect that and connect the batteries, plus two ADDITIONAL BATTERIES directly to the motor - TURBO MODE!

In case you didn't know, the more voltage, the faster the motor spins.

Once I got everything cabled up, I tested it in the driveway with the car's front drive wheels jacked off the ground. Everything seemed to work fine, so it was off to road testing.

I got out on the road, and drove along, going through a couple of gears to get it up to about 40 mph. Then I let off the go pedal, and hit the TURBO.

It's like there was a whole 'nuther gear - but amazingly, it had lots of power, like a lower gear, but at the same time, more speed, like a higher gear! This is only possible through the power of higher voltage.

The car briskly accelerated to 55 and then crept up to just past 60. My ammeter was pegged out. It's only a 300 amp, and the PWM controller is rated at 400. I really have no idea how many amps I was pulling, but it was plenty!

The Turbo Bypass really opens up a lot of possibilities. I could now drive a short hop on the freeway. I can power up that last stretch of road, just before my house, where the speed limit hops up. Maybe I will even try that one really big hill.

Still, before doing much more of anything, I need to properly rig up some diodes and other little bits that will make the system work better. (And not FRY the controller!) Trying to hand-hold a momentary-on switch while driving and then hitting the main contactor isn't exactly elegant.

What I do love about this is that I was able to go beyond the voltage limitation of the PWM controller, just by using a little imagination, and some parts I already had around.

Without spending a cent, I was able to experience how my car could perform as a 96V system. Not bad for "try before you buy".

I can now only imagine what the car would be like at 108, 120, or 144 volts.

Of course I am now bitten and hunger for more voltage. It really is hard to describe the feeling of flying down the road propelled by nothing more than electro-magnetism.

Ok, I guess there is a standard line to describe it.

It's electrifying.

EV grins,


Monday, February 2, 2009

It's already been a week since my last post on this blog.

One one week, it seems I have done everything, and nothing.

Although we have had a few days of sunlight lately, we are still in the grip of winter, with all of it's energy-sapping short days, and finger-numbing cold.

This keeps me indoors and not nearly as active in my projects.

A couple of things of note though.

On the bio-diesel frontier, I located BOOKS! That's right, through Craigslist I was able to obtain three different books on the old Mercedes diesels, including one gigantic mechanics manual of late 70's imports, which is over a thousand pages long!

I now have all the technical information, sizes, and measurements I need about my 4-cylinder Mercedes Diesel.

Later in the week, I was able to find two internet forum threads on people who have put 4-cylinder Mercedes diesels into trucks. Both were 4x4s, and really had to squeeze the 5-cylinder in there. I am now starting to feel that the more compact 4-cylinder is the right choice for my application.

On the one thread, the builder kept the original Mercedes automatic transmission, and modified it to the truck. The other builder created a custom adapter plate to mate his truck's original manual transmission to the diesel engine.

This is great in that I now have insight into BOTH of the two different ways I was looking at for the diesel install.

I also got an e-mail from a local eco-friend. The said she had a barrel I could have for my bio-diesel use, but was out of town for the rest of the week. I called her on Saturday, and was able to meet her husband and pick up the barrel.

This is something they have had in their back shed since using it to stockpile gasoline in the 70's oil crisis. Well, this barrel is going to have new life, serving its original purpose, helping plan ahead for our energy needs.

I also heard good news from Rob, one of the two guys I know who is really going all out for bio-diesel. He has located a small, but steady source of used vegetable oil for conversion to bio-diesel.

He is also at the heart of a "Community Supported Energy" project, which has ambitious goals for local, renewable energy production. As part of that, they have decided that bio-diesel production is one of the prioritites.

If you haven't seen Rob's Blog, you really should check it out. He is a fountain of knowledge about gardenening, energy, and a lot more. Especially note his Jan 25th, 2009 entry in regards to energy production and bio-diesel.

Also, I have been continuing to help others on their electric vehicle projects, including Tom's Neon EV project, and Swee's electric (and eventually bio-diesel-hybrid) trike.

Not only are these electric car get-togethers great for getting the work done, but they are also great events for like-minded folks to talk tech, throw out ideas, and get their dreams out there.

I did notice that one of the members went out to start working on his Electric Riding Lawn Mower conversion after being jump-started by working on other people's EVs.

Good works seem to be contagious.