Thursday, April 29, 2010

Electrak Mini-wheelie and test drive

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

PowerWheels Racing: Gravedigger motor setup

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

100,000 miles on Electric!

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

Electric Car High School Class?

For some time, I have been thinking that it would be great to have a high-school class in electric car construction.

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.

Electrathon Team members move their car to a workbench

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.