Sunday, December 19, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
One of the first consumer Chevy Volts gets brought home!
When I originally heard the official release date of the Volt would be Fall of 2010 - specifically November, it always seemed so far away, and though it just wouldn't happen.
But here we are. And the first few Volts are rolling out.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Here's the latest video of Paul's AC controller.
Originally, Paul started a project of a homebuilt DC controller. With input from many other people, it turned into the fantastic Open ReVolt DC Controller Project. Take a look at Ecomodder.com for more info on that.
Since that project, many people have been asking about AC motor controllers (variable frequency drives.)
This video is the open source AC Electric Car Controller project that he has been working on since then.
If you are interested in kits for the Open Revolt, you can buy them through Pauls web page: http://www.paulandsabrinasevstuff.com/index.html
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
You just gotta like the White Zombie. Nothing like taking a street-legal electric car to the local race track and beating all the gasoline cars.
It's what my Electro-Metro wants to be when it grows up....
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
Last night, my wife and I drove over to a city park, where they show a movie outdoors on a large, inflatable screen.
It’s always a good time, with a big crowd of families in their folding chairs, enjoying the outdoors, and whatever the film happens to be for the evening.
After the showing of THE FROG PRINCE, we walked back to the car, put our chairs and coolers in the trunk, and hopped inside.
“That’s odd, I don’t remember removing my radio lately..” I thought to myself. Sure enough, the radio was gone.
In my homebuilt electric car, almost everything is used or salvaged. One of the few items in the car that isn’t is (WAS!) the car stereo – the cheapest one I could find at Wal-Mart with a digital tuner.
Fortunately, the window wasn’t broken, and nothing else was taken. The thief even disconnected the stereo at the wire harness, rather than cutting it. How considerate. If I can still find the same radio for sale, installation will be a snap – just plug it back in!
I called the police, and then stopped by the station today and had a report filled out.
So, there you have it, apparently the RADIO is the most valuable part of the car.
I would have liked to have seen someone try to steal that car – the clutch pedal is the main power disconnect!
Monday, June 21, 2010
I wasn't off to the best start.
The night before, I was up to at least Midnight working on burning, printing, and packaging my BUILD YOUR OWN ELECTRIC CAR instructional DVDs. The next day, general work obligations kept me from leaving when I wanted to, and when I finally was on the road traffic came to a dead stop.
Now keep in mind that I am driving a Chevy S-10 Pickup truck.
With the 2.2L, 4-cylinder engine.
Towing a ton of Electric Geo Metro.
With an electric motorcycle in the bed.
Oh, and I don't have a radiator fan on the truck...
And still have the grill-block from the winter.
I thought it was a bit odd that my coolant temperature gauge started going up. I always figured that with how oversized most radiators are, the only time I would ever need a radiator fan is on a hot summer day, stuck in a traffic jam, towing a heavy load...
Oh, right. That's exactly what I was doing.
Since the traffic was completely stopped anyways, I hopped out, and with one quick snip of a zip-tie, my grill-block was gone.
Back inside the truck, I plugged in the power connection for the ELECTRIC radiator fan that I removed from the Geo Metro and installed in the truck in place of the mechanical "propeller" fan. I use it about once a year. Today was that day.
A couple hours later, I was finally at the Energy Fair. Once I had unloaded and set up all my display, I headed back to the campground. On the way, I saw a Solectria Force getting dropped off for the show. It belongs to one of the tech schools, and had been beautifully restored.
At camp, it rained cats, dogs, and thunderbolts that night. Hard to sleep in a monsoon, but the weather was great the entire rest of the weekend.
Camping at events like that seems to somehow encourage do-it-yourselfers to go full-tilt, such as homebrew setups, or minimalist camping.
The best thing about the energy fair is the people. We had quite a few EcoModders show up. Besides me, Hondo, Ryland, OvalOverload, and Dave Koller were there, as well as a few people who should at least be honorary ecomodders, including Chuck with his modded rear-steer I-5 Elec-Trak, a guy who runs his Geo Tracker on homebrew ethanol, and an electric S-10 builder.
Saturday is always the busiest day of the fair. It was also the first time I gave a REAL presentation on building an electric car.
There I was, in the front of a tent designed to seat 100 people. It was standing room only. Someone told me they thought it was nearly 200 people there. Some folks couldn't get close enough to see or hear me, so they came back to the fair on Sunday for the other presentation!
I am not a professional speaker. Nope. Not at all. That many people staring at me, expecting me to be a professional EXPERT did give me a bit of stage-fright. So that's the first thing I told them - that it was just a bit nerve-racking to be up there, and that I was NOT AN EXPERT. What I was is just a regular guy who decided to do something a little different.
Luckily, that's exactly who they wanted there that day. I launched into my stories of Left-Turn-Only Test Drives, Electric Motor Scrounging, and my notorious appearance before Judge Stern for the speeding ticket, all while getting through the steps of a practical EV conversion.
I also wore my Open ReVolt t-shirt, (Well, one of several I have had made.) to help sell people on the idea of open sour projects, home-brew can-do, and making the project affordable. To help spread the word, I gave my buddy Ryland a silver-on-black shirt.
Later, an amazing amount of people told me how much they enjoyed my presentation. Several folks said that it was the most-well attended workshop of the fair!
I was also selling the very first copies of the BUILD YOUR OWN ELECTRIC CAR instructional videos. They sold out VERY fast, and I quickly had a waiting list for more.
Another highlight of the day was going to a test drive in a Wheego Whip
(Thanks Jimbo!) This Electric Smart Car look-alike was zippy and fun. I drove a few miles around Custer at 35 miles per hour without using a drop of gas. The headroom in the car is great! (I'm 6'0) and the bucket seats were very comfortable. At the end of the day, the Wheego was literally plugged into a windmill to recharge. How's THAT for point of use clean energy!?
Another idea that came up during the day was for a vehicle workshop next year. Several people said how much they liked my car because of the "hands-on" and "DIY" approach. I had also joked about how knowing what I know now, I could maybe convert a motorcycle to electric in a three-day weekend. So here's the idea: For next year - build an EV in a weekend. A motorcycle would be very do-able, and a car could be done with proper preparation. We would need some donations, and some labor help, but I think it could be done.
Just imagine the signs - Friday Noon: Pulling the Engine, Saturday 2PM: Installing Batteries, Sunday 5 PM: Driving Away.
We could even auction the finished vehicle off as a fund-raiser!
Sunday is usually the quietest day of the fair - meaning I only talked to 5000 people... I did a second BUILD YOUR OWN ELECTRIC CAR presentation, this time with a bit fewer people there.
I also did interviews with several camera crews, including two from broadcast TV, Channel 7 and Channel 9, both from Wausau, Wisconsin. Although both were full-length interviews with me and lots of video of my car, the only news story I could find had just a brief shot of me leaning over the car (I'm wearing a purple t-shirt) and an extreme close-up of my bad wiring!
The return trip from a long weekend event like this is always a tiring one. Once again, I hit traffic jams (at 11 at night!) due to road construction, but I finally made it back home, and slept soundly knowing that I was doing my part to try to make the world a little better.
Thanks to everyone who showed up, volunteered, presented, exhibited, and in any other way participated to make the 2010 MREA Energy Fair such a success!
Thursday, June 3, 2010
by BEN N on JUNE 3, 2010
Just recently, I announced that I am making an instructional video on how to BUILD YOUR OWN ELECTRIC CAR.
No sooner had I started than Murphy’s Law reared its ugly head.
To start with, I already had the Open ReVolt controller out of the car, so I thought I would film that as the very first bit of the video. Once done with that, I wash the car, and reinstall the controller. I went outside and started washing the car, only to realize there was A GIANT CRACK THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD! RIGHT BEFORE FILMING ALL THE BEAUTY SHOTS OF THE CAR! All I can figure is that the windshield must have had a chip in it I hadn’t seen. Hot sun, and cold wash water just made the tiny crack bigger.
I started shooting all the various sections of the video, explaining how the motor works, how to build an adapter plate and coupler, and rig up batteries and chargers.
Then, I had an idea for a cool shot for the beginning of the video – I would film the car in an empty parking lot, where I could rotate the camera around the car on a small wheeled cart. I threw the cart and camera in the back of the car, and zipped down the street to the local mega-church (they have a GREAT parking lot!)
I made a couple of takes of my rotational cart shot, until I got one I was happy with. Also, the sky was threatening rain, so I was quick to pack up.
Back to my house is up a big hill, on a fast section of road. Now keep in mind that in an electric car, you actually want to be in a HIGHER gear for greater power. The higher gear creates more resistance, which allows for you to draw more energy from the batteries. “What the heck, I’ll use 4th gear….”
So, just as I turn from the church parking lot to the main road, I see a car coming up quick behind me, just over the other smaller hill right there. So, I accelerate… In 4th gear – drawing 500 amps sustained for about 5 seconds…..
Pop! I instantly realized what happened, and cursed myself for it.
Now keep in mind that about a half-hour earlier, I was recording instructional video on the various EV components under my hood. When I pointed out the main fuse, it was pretty obvious that it was only 175 amps. ( Hard to miss the way I marked it with a Sharpie.) In the video, I mentioned that the smaller fuse is fine, as long as I am not sustaining a big heavy draw on the batteries.
So there I am on the side of the road, with a blown main fuse. Now I’m no fool. Of COURSE I have a spare fuse with me. What I don’t have is the right wrench to remove the old fuse and install the new one. Fortunately, I’m only a ten minute walk from home. I walked back to my house, got my wrench, socket wrench, a packing blanket, and threw it all on my cargo bike, so I could quickly bike back to the car.
That’s when it starts raining.
I think it’s safe to say that “You might be an Ecomodder if….” you have ever changed a 200 amp fuse in a rainstorm on the side of the road. When I was done, the car ran fine again. I padded the back of the car with the packing blanket and threw my Murray Santa Cruz in the back.
Everything was right as rain again. (And as wet!)
I’m hoping the rest of filming the instructional video is a little less adventurous.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Tonight, I got my Elec-Trak up and running again!
It's only three batteries in there, and I don't even have the blades hooked up yet.
Funny thing is that without the other three batteries in the front, the front tires actually get airborne on take-off!
I still have plenty more work to do restoring this old, electric riding lawn mower!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The Milwaukee Makerspace is at it again!
This time, participating in "Power Wheels Racing" - modifying stock kids electric vehicles for more power to compete against other teams in tug-of-war, races, and maybe even PowerWheels Polo.
Gravedigger is so big, that if it weren't stock, it would exceed the rules about vehicle size! We actually had to call in and check on that!
These motors are from RV power jacks. They are 12v DC motors with a little gear box built it. If they can lift an RV, they can push a toy car!
We'll keep you updated with more videos in the future.
Friday, April 16, 2010
The other day, I was pretty excited to have rolled over 2000 miles on my electric Geo Metro since conversion. Well, that would be nothing for Doug Korthof and Lisa Rosen, who recently passed 100,000 miles on their RAV-4 Electric.
The following is thanks to Plug In America.
“Doug and Lisa’s trusty 2003 RAV reached the notable milestone in March. Back in 2003, their RAV was the last EV sold from Toyota of Hollywood’s lot and possibly the very last retail RAV4 EV delivered. The car has been driven at least 14,000 miles annually since that sunny September day, often hitting the road bright and early for the 80-mile round-trip commute from the couple’s home in Seal Beach to Energy Efficiency Solar / Acro in Pomona. This electric workhorse of an SUV, charged with electricity generated by their own solar array, also earns its keep hauling ladders, miscellaneous equipment and solar panels.
Doug proudly proclaims that the RAV’s record-mileage on a single charge was an impressive 138 miles. “I really like driving on energy I make myself,” he says.
Adds Lisa, who also fancies driving on sunshine: “I was initially surprised by how completely the car fit into our lives. It is environmental, it’s economical, and it’s family friendly. Our RAV4 EV is like the energizer bunny. It just keeps going and going and going . . . “
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
When I was in high school, algebra and other requirements were not my favorite thing. It seemed like most of my classes weren’t things that would be useful in life. Certainly they were not anything to get excited about in the morning.
What I did enjoy were art classes and the few shop classes that I got to take. Here was some real actually DOING something instead of memorizing dates or conjugating verbs.
Now imagine high school students today. They may not have any classes they get excited about either. Drop-outs are far too frequent. Manufacturing jobs are all now overseas, but we are told that the “Green Economy” is going to provide the jobs of the future.
What if there was a class in electric car construction? Students would learn by doing. Those who excel with the mechanical would enjoy the “hands-on” aspect. Those who love theory and electronics would be needed as well. The artistic could do the paint job. Of course schools don’t have budgets for projects like this, so maybe the more social students could do fund-raising bake sales and car washes.
When done, every student in that class would have a project that would make them proud. That would keep them in school. That would be amazing on any job application or resume.
Imagine a high school sophomore who helps build an electric car, and the first car he ever gets to drive IN HIS LIFE is electric!
How do we set up a class like this? I have no idea. I am not a teacher, not an administrator, and no part of the school system. I am clueless as to how to start something like this. But maybe you know how. Perhaps you at least have some advice or ideas. If you do, please comment below.
One path, similar to my idea is the ELECTRATHON. Electrathon is a high school extra-curricular competition where students design, build, and compete electric go-carts. The competition includes an endurance race and competitive, creative presentations of the vehicles to a panel of judges.
Last summer, I was able to help out an Electrathon team, by loaning them an ammeter from my Electro-Metro. Theirs broke shortly before the big race and needed one for last-minute testing. The students were bright and had a variety of skills for working on the vehicles. While having a well-equiped machine shop at the school helped, it’s really the students attitude and creativity that can make projects like this happen.
So how about it? A few of us tinkers work in our garages on eco-friendly vehicles, but how can we get students excited about school and train them in skills that could be useful in the future?
Let me know, your input is very important.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Look what my sister made for me!!!!
|This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized 1024x680.|
That's right, a genuine Open Source T-Shirt!!!
Actual screen-printing - not iron-on!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I got the call from my friend, Swee, yesterday that the solar panels were in.
We did a bulk order of three pallets between 4 or 5 people. His store doesn't have much of a loading zone - only the street parking directly in front of the store.
I wanted to get there as soon as I could, knowing the the panels were most likely just leaned up somewhere, taking up space.
Being used to "consumer packaging", I almost expected every panel to be completely covered in inches of styrofoam and cardboard boxes. Nope! These were pallet-shipped - nothing but solar panels stacked on top of each other with some heavy-duty plastic wrap to pin them all in place.
We loaded up my share of the panels into the back of my truck. They fit well between the wheel humps in the back of my Chevy S-10 compact pickup truck.
Today, I tested one of the panels, and then stacked them all in my garage.
In cool, sunny weather, this panel was sending out about 95 volts DC open-circuit! I'm not used to working with HIGH-VOLTAGE panels. Most of my experience with PV has been on 15 watt or smaller 12V units.
Next up? Figure out how to make all that high-voltage into something useful to charge an electric car, cordless tool batteries, and run a few lights.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
Yesterday was another EV build day.
The big fun surprise was that my friend Tom had dug up a tablet PC that runs Windows XP.
That means I can run the RTD Explorer software on it to view information, in real-time, from my controller. I will also be able to tweak the settings on the controller. For example, if I want to accelerate faster, all I have to do it type in a command. I could also turn it down if someone else is driving the car for the first time (possibly good for Valet Parking!)
Since it is a full-blown computer (just only a 8.4" screen though) I can also run music or videos on it. I think the computer will be mounted right by the car stereo, so I can output sound from the PC into the car stereo.
This could be nice to be able to show off some of my YouTube videos in the car while displaying it at a carshow. The tablet PC even has an expansion port. If I can find a dock that goes with it, I could use it to run a second monitor to display in the engine compartment!
For specs on the tablet PC, please visit:
Mine does not have Bluetooth, and the antennae on the wireless LAN doesn't seem to be working right. Also, I have no battery for the computer, but was able to find a power adapter that will take 11-16V in (range of 12 battery voltage) and output the required 20 volts DC for the computer.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
After I left Tim's house on New Years Eve, he continued working on finishing off the Enginer PHEV kit in his Prius. This footage was shot by Tim as he connected the wiring from the PHEV kit to the cars computer. He has since driven the car a few times and noticed higher traction pack voltage because of the PHEV kit.
He will still need to do some more driving to find some the actual fuel economy improvement from installing the additional battery pack.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Sunday was another EV Build Day.
While I was busy updating the firmware on my Open Source Controller, Chris and the other guys were adding brake fluid and tach-testing the cycle.
The big excitement was to actually take the bike outside and road test it in the snow.
While the cycle did beat 1200 RPM with the back tire up in the air, an actual road test showed it to be considerably slower. The controller on the cycle is just a low-amp golf-cart controller donated by one member. It was thought to be a faulty controller, but hey, it was free!
Once we were done playing with the bike in the road, we brought it back inside for more troubleshooting. Looks like the controller is bad after all. We might just have to borrow a known good controller (like the one from my Citicar) just to see what the cycle can do at full speed.
I was amazed at how quiet the motorcycle was. The driveshaft is CONSIDERABLY quieter than a chain drive.
The cycle already had the shunt for an ammeter installed, so we will have to add the ammeter itself for further testing. Also, the cycle is running with 3 batteries in it (36V) but is designed to fit 4 batteries total.
We'll post another video of motorcycle testing after the next EV Build Day.
If you are anywhere near the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA area, check out:
Monday, January 4, 2010
I just finished updating the Open Source Controller firmware and the real-time display software.
I now have a lot more ability to tweak the settings of the controller, including limiting amperage, and using the controller to close the main contactor after an adjustable pre-charge time.
It's fantastic that since this is all open source, anyone can add new features to the controller through simple software-only updates.
Essentially, almost anyone can build a 500 amp, 144V controller that would rival a $1500 one, for about $300 in parts.
To buy a kit, or find out more about this controller, please visit:
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Friday, January 1, 2010
Yesterday, I got to help out my friend Tim, by lending a hand helping install the Enginer Plug-in kit in his 2004 Prius.
It took a couple hours. There were a few odd little things that were just a bit frustrating in the installation, but overall, it was pretty straight forward.
While I wasn't able to stick around to the very end, we did get the install almost all the way done.
I broke the video into the following 4 on YouTube