Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Doctor David Delman's Electric DeLorean

If you haven't seen this video before, it wouldn't surprise me. As I write this, the video only has 173 views on YouTube.

I stumbled upon it in the "RELATED VIDEOS" and had to watch.
Not only does the car have a flux capacitor, it also has a touch-screen interface for a built-in computer, and an LED array battery monitoring system.

This is a great video that answers almost all the questions people always ask me about electric cars.
For more on the project, visit the web page at: http://www.electricdelorean.com/

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chris' Electric Motorcycle first power-up with speed control

While I was only able to stop by for a while at the last Milwaukee Electric Car Club meeting, I did bring with the Magura twist-grip from my cycle to loan to Chris.

He only had to do a few more things to get the cycle up and running - install the fuse and shunt, wire in a pre-charge button for the resistor, and add a keyswitch.

I wasn't able to do to much on his bike, but see how nice and shiny the fuse is? Yep, that was all me and a Scotch-Brite pad!

We'll keep the videos coming as work on the cycle progresses.

Monday, December 21, 2009

EV Battery Monitoring System

Yesterday, I was able to briefly stop by the Milwaukee Electric Car Club.

Lot's of things were going on - EV motorcycle and Trike construction, conversion of a snow-blower to electric, and some work on the custom battery monitoring system for Tom's AC Dodge Neon.

I just grabbed a quick shot of the LCD Display for the system, next to the computer being used to program it. The "computer" itself is just a tiny circuit board with connections for a monitor, mouse, keyboard, usb, and data in and out. If I remember correctly, it is a Parallax micro-processor.

If you pause the video near the begining, you can see that the display shows information on the voltage of the High and Low voltage systems of the car, monitors temperature in 3 key areas, tracks amperage, and total KWhs used, including keeping track of energy reclaimed from the regenerative braking!

The system was still being tweaked while I was there, but looked like it was almost ready to go.

I will make sure to get a video tour of this monitoring system once it is totally up and running, so you can know all the details on it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Electric Car Dealership X-mas TV Commercial

While stumbling through some posts over on the Ecomodder.com forums, I ran across this video of a television commercial for Electric Cars you can buy right now.

Was it a Volt? A Leaf? A Tesla?

Nope, no, and hell no.

It was for a small dealer who carries Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs).
If you aren't familiar with NEVs, they are electric vehicles regulated by law to low speeds (typically 25 mph max).

Styles vary from golf-carts to European microcars converted to electric.

NEVs are the mopeds of the EV world. They work for many people. They make fantastic grocery-getters and errand mobiles.

I do howerever, have a bit of a beef with NEVs:
1) Stupid Laws:
There is no standardization of laws about NEVs nationally, state-wide, and sometimes even locally! For example, in the state of Wisconsin, the state DMN allows and licenses NEVs in a time and pricing similar to motorcycles, but each individual TOWN, VILLAGE, or CITY that you want to drive in needs to pass a law ALLOWING NEVs, including stating which roads you CAN and CAN'T drive it on! Where I live, I would have the battery capacity to drive through no less than a dozen different municipalities.
In addition, you may not CROSS most state roads! You can walk across the road, ride your bicycle across, but may not cross in your NEV.

2) Cost:
Many NEVs cost more than you might think. Basic golf-cart style NEVs start around $8000 and nicer machines can go for as much as a typical entry-level new car. On the other hand, I can buy a used electric golf-cart on Craigslist for $800. Can I just add headlights and turn-signals to it to become street legal? Nope!

3) Confusing the Public:
For many members of the public, the only electric vehicle they have ever seen is an NEV. It's pretty easy to assume that since the only electric cars they see can only go 25 mph, that ALL electric cars can only go 25 mph. Why bother having electric cars at all if they can't even go faster than a bicycle!?!?

That rant aside, NEVs can be great vehicles. Last time I was in California, I saw quite a few zipping about. Heck, I even almost got run over by both a GEM and an electric bicycle in the same afternoon!

I guess the main thing that saddens me is that NEVs are really the only current alternative to typical gasoline vehicles. For many of us, public transportation is not available, and winter weather and long nights don't work well for bicycles either.

I look forward to seeing television commercials for the Volt, the Leaf, and other clean and efficient motor vehicles.

For now, we can all just laugh about how Santa doesn't like taxes.....

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

011 Electric Car Conversion: Freeway Test Drive

We take Tom's electric car out on the interstate.
It drives great!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Jay Leno - A2B Electric Bike

I finally got around to watching the latest episode of Jay Leno's garage. On it, he features a very slick electric bike, the A2B.

Watch the video here, or go straight to http://www.ultramotor.com to check out specs, images, and more on this cool electric bike.

Fund-raising Eco-Challenge: Rickshaw!

Green transportation for those who need it.
Enough said.

Mer-Chevy Transmission and Flywheel removal

Here's a video of what I have been up to lately on the Mer-Chevy Benz project.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Battery Warmer - part 2

While I built a battery warmer for the Electro-Metro a while back, I never got it installed.

There was some sort of a problem that was setting off the GFI on my charging power outlet AND the GFI in the car.

I took the cover off the warmer, fixed the problem, and installed the warmer in the car.

Running the warmer for an hour or so seemed to bring the batteries up to "Not Cold" temperatures, which is all I am trying to do - just get the batteries somewhere between 50 and 70 degrees F.

I will still need to experiment to find out what the ideal run-times for the battery warmer are at various temperatures.

Since the battery box is INSIDE the car, any heat escaping from the battery box should help to heat the cabin (at least a tiny bit!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Electro-Metro gets new hub caps

Today, I picked up some cheap hub caps at the auto parts store. They are just plastic, nothing special, but I think the car looks a little nicer with them.

Car with just painted rims (which are rusting....)
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Car with new hub caps.
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Not sure I ever directly mentioned it before, but I added an ELECTRIC sign to the back of the car.

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I have noticed that I do drive a little more aggressively now, just so that the car seems to have speed and power, rather than people thinking that all EVs are slow and have poor acceleration. That's not the EV's, that's just the way I usually drive!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mer-Chevy engine and tranny take-apart

I got some more work done on the Mer-Chevy Project this weekend.

Last weekend, we ran out of daylight before we could get the transmission off the S10 gasoline engine.

So, yesterday, I did the work of removing the tranny from the engine.

The transmission had some long bars that bolt the transmission to the engine.
After getting the two apart, I also removed the pressure plate, clutch plate, and flywheel from the gas engine.

The Mercedes diesel engine has lots of things still connected to it.
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The goofy round thing on the left/upper left is the air conditioning compressor. It also has a big metal bracket that wraps around the engine to hold it. I removed both the compressor and that bracket. The bracket bolts also held the water pump in. That started dripping coolant out on me when it loosened. I will have to get some shorter bolts to re-install the water pump.

The pulley in the lower right is the power steering pump. I removed that as well and both the belts still on the engine.

On the other side, I started working to remove the flywheel.

The flywheel is held on by a dozen 8mm hex socket bolts. I had to go out to the parts store to buy a male hex socket to fit those bolts.
I slid a long bolt through a whole in the flywheel, and through the starter motor hole to hold the flywheel in place while I turned out the bolts.

9 of the bolts came out fine (but boy were they torqued!) while three of them just stripped out. No way were those coming out now. I called Rich and asked for any advice on getting the bolts out. He suggested using a chisel and hammer to bite into the bolt heads and whack them counterclockwise.

I dug around and found a pointy chisel. I was amazed that the chisel really would bite into the metal of the bolt head. After some careful whacks, I actually was able to unscrew them!

With all the bolts out, I pulled the flywheel off.

Behind the flywheel, I was able to take out 4 bolts holding on the "transmission adapter ring" and smack it off with a rubber mallet.

Here's the drive end of the engine with the flywheel and tranny ring removed.
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Here is the ring that was removed.

It's all cast aluminum and fits directly to the engine block. I should be able to use this as a template to create a custom adapter plate between the Mercedes diesel and the Chevy manual transmission.

Here's a photo of the Chevy Tranny with the Mercedes adapter ring in front of it and the 2.2L gas engine in the background.
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I should be able to start work soon on designing the custom adapter plate between the diesel and the manual transmission.

Also, I need to figure out if I can find a flywheel off a Mercedes with a manual transmission, or if it is possible to modify the flywheel from the S10 to fit the diesel. I think that might be the tough part.

Does anyone know of a good forum for Mercedes diesels to ask questions and buy/sell/trade parts?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

EV1 in a movie.

Tonight, I watched the film SCORCHED, a 2003 bank-heist comedy.

One of the lead characters was played by Woody Harrelson. The character is a nature-loving-crackpot who lives in a dome with power from solar panels, with his room-mate, a duck.

What car does he drive? A beat up EV1!
In the movie the car is dusty and missing the rear wheel covers.

I looked up some info on the movie (thanks IMDB.com!) and found that it finished filming just before August 2001.

The court ruling against CARB was in June 2001, and the statement by GM about taking the cars off the road was in February 2002.

That means the car could have been a regular, official leased vehicle at the time.

I know that Woody Harrelson was a supporter of the car, I don't know if he EVer leased one or not. (I don't remember seeing him in WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR.)

The other weird part is that a motorcycle is featured in the film - the exact same make/model/and color that I converted to electric!

What are the odds of an electric car and my EV Motorcycle in the same movie?

Throw in a black Geo Metro, and I would be freakin' out!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, You Turkeys!

While driving to a job the other day, I went through a neighborhood that had about 20 turkeys just wandering through the yards, and across the roads.
Fortunately, I had a camera handy.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Project: Mer-Chevy - Engine Pull Day

Yesterday was a big day on continuing my "No More Gas" project.
I have had both a Chevy S-10 and an old Mercedes 240D sitting in my driveway all summer.

I finally had a free Sunday when my buddies could come over to help pull both engines from the vehicles.

The 240D's diesel engine will go in the pickup. I am shooting for 40 mpg, while running on bio-fuel.

The next big trick will be figuring out how to mate the diesel engine to the truck's manual transmission.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Project Mer-Chevy back on track!

Today was a big day on the Diesel S10 project!

I FINALLY had a Sunday to myself! (Way too busy at work lately, and other projects..)

So, last night I called up my buddy Rich, and e-mailed a few other folks to see if anyone else could come out for the engine pull.

This morning Rich, and Tim (who you may remember welded the Electro-Metro from INSIDE the engine compartment..) came over so we could pull the 4-cylinder diesel engine from the Mercedes 240D.

These guys are animals of car destruction. The showed up at 9am and we had the engine out before noon. I had done hardly any prep work on the car before they got there!

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Rich brought his fine selection of tools, including the engine hoist and car ramps.

Here, Tim stands next to the freshly pulled 2.4L diesel engine (with attached automatic transmission)
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Since we made quick work of the first engine, we then took a lunch break. Tim let me drive his Prius to drive into town for lunch. It was a little weird. It's a nice car, but I typically don't have an engine, just an electric motor, when I make that trip! (Please see the Electro-Metro build thread...)

Back from lunch, we went to work on removing the 2.2L 4-cylinder gas engine from the S10. It was a little more work in that we couldn't just cut cables at random, and I wanted to keep useful things like steering, coolant and washer resevoirs, etc.

We ended up having to remove the driveshaft, pull the engine part way out, remove the engine mounts, then pull the engine the rest of the way out.

We did remove the transmission from the diesel engine, but it was getting dark by the time the gas engine was out, so that one still has the tranny on it.

One good thing I did find out about the diesel transmission is that it already has an "adapter plate" of sorts between the engine and transmission. Apparently, this is something they did to make their various engines and transmissions a little more interchangable. For me, it means I have a head-start on a way to connect the Mercedes diesel engine with the Chevy manual transmission.

What's next?
It's time to remove the manual tranny from the S10 gas engine, and then start figuring out and adapter plate design.

After pulling both engines, the diesel DOES look pretty monsterous compared to the gas engine. I measured, and it should fit fine, but it will be a bit of work making everything line up!

Also, the diesel has a really low oil pan on the far FRONT of the engine, and the steering went BEHIND that. On the truck, the oil pan is in the BACK of the engine and the steering goes in FRONT of it. Figuring how all that is going to work will be fun!

Again, the goal of this project is to have a utility vehicle capable of going long distances with one or two people, getting very good fuel economy, while sometimes carrying a heavy/bulky load or towing, and be able to run on biofuels.

A small-engine bio-diesel pickup truck meets that bill nicely!

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(Chevy 2.2L gasoline engine, with Tim for scale.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dodge Neon Update Nov. 15, 2009

More on Tom's Car!
He has been able to get about 50 miles on a charge.
Also, the bugs have been worked out for shifting. Overall, the project is quite a success. It only needs a few small things still worked out.

Watch the video for the details straight from Tom!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Eco-Challenge!! Plastic Mirrors

What's the best use for over 50 pieces of 2'x2' plastic mirror?
I am collecting suggestions through YouTube and various blogs. The best suggestion will be what I actually do with the mirrors for some sort of Eco-Project.

Extra points for: creativity, eco-friendliness, DIY, and cheap!

Leave your comments and suggestions below!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Electric car ride

Just a little video of rolling shots of the Electro-Metro with the ELECTRIC CAR song by THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS.

Monday, November 2, 2009

EV Controller now communicating

Yesterday, I installed a serial port on my homebuilt controller.

Not only is it much more affordable than a commercial controller, but it has some great features when hooked up to a computer for data logging. I'm just really excited to go for a ride with a laptop hooked up!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Battery warmer part 1

Poor performance from your EV in the cold weather?

You need a BATTERY WARMING TRAY to keep your batteries at a nice temperature in the winter.

Here's how to build one.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Homebuilt Controller testing

User JACKBAUER on ECOMODDER.COM has been busy over in Ireland working on a home-built open source controller that will run a 13" forklift motor for his BMW conversion.

This is the latest video of his.

Also, notice that he is using the car's original throttle sensor as the input source to the controller, just like Tom G did on his AC Dodge Neon. In EV conversions, it's always nice to reuse as much of the existing car parts as possible, especially if it means saving you having to purchase a new potentiometer!

For more on his project, visit his other YouTube videos or go to his comments in the Open Source Controller thread on Ecomodder.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tesla Roadster in EV/Hybrid/Gasser Pile-up!

I found some photos of a car crash in Denmark.

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A brand-new Tesla Roadster got REAR-ENDED HARD!
Also involved in the incident was a Toyota Prius, and a VW SUV.

Apparently what happened is that the Prius rear-ended the Tesla at a high-speed, forcing it right under the SUV. (The Tesla and SUV would have been stopped at the red light. You can see the traffic light to the left of the emergency worker in the one photo.)

That would explain how the SUV got on top of the Tesla, with apparently little damage to the SUV, yet you can see little bits of Tesla red under the SUV's rear bumper.

The Roadster driver walked away with minor bruises.
Notice how the cockpit space of the car is almost completely undamaged. (Except for the windshield!)

In the only other well-documented collision of an electric car that I know of, an SUV ran a red light, T-boning the EV hard. The EV simply slid sideways, the weight of the batteries keeping it flat and level on the ground, and the EV driver never lost control of the steering.

EV's are perfectly safe vehicles, but I think these photos do show how it might be a good idea for all vehicle bumpers to be the same height. I sat in a Tesla last summer. It is so low to the ground, it is rather difficult to get in and out of.

Thanks for the photos to user SKAGMAN in Flickr.


Most hypermiles, ecomodders, and fuel-economy fans are familiar with using a block heater to improve fuel economy in a gasoline vehicle. However, drivers of electric vehicles should also know that warming your batteries in the winter can give greatly improved EV performance.

In general, my cheap-o electric car (running on used batteries) has had a range of about 20 miles in the summer, but could be as low at TEN miles in the winter!

While there is snow, increased rolling resistance, thicker transmission fluid, etc in the winter, the MAIN difference is battery temperature.

Many battery types just can't give out as much power when they are cold. A simple example of that is trying to start a gas car on a cold winter day. The starter (powered by the battery) just doesn't crank as fast and hard.

So, to keep our cold-climate EVs in top notch performance for the winter, here's a few things to try:

If you have a garage, use it! Even though my garage is not attached to the house, isn't heated or insulated, it still keeps the wind, rain, and snow off the car. What little heat is in the car gets retained a bit better. If you have a heated garage, that's probably the ultimate way to get better winter EV performance.

If you don't have a garage, at least try to park out of wind, perhaps next to a tree, which in real-world testing have been shown to act as heat storage and help prevent frost formation on the car's windows. (But watch out for pine sap!)

Batteries will be much happier if they are wrapped in a cozy blanket. If batteries are exposed to the outside world (such as under the hood) heat can also be lost to wind. Any insulation should be water-resistant and non-conductive - using foil-faced foam is a bad idea - but using pink builder's foam works great.

Find some way to get a little heat into your batteries. The best way is with something in direct contact with the batteries, either under them, or on the sides. It will need to have some sort of automatic temperature control, to prevent overheating.

Waterbed mattress heaters, electric blankets, and water-pipe freeze prevention tape all have automatic temperature controls, and can easily be repurposed to warm batteries. Make sure to not set batteries directly on heating elements. Many heaters can be easily wrecked that way.

While I don't mind wearing a heavy coat, hat, and gloves in the winter, it is nice to be just a bit cozier than that in my car. Last winter, I experimented with an oil-filled electric radiator space heater. I simply put it in the car (behind the passenger seat) and ran an extension cord out the window. That was plugged into a timer going to the wall. The heater came on automatically in the morning, and heated the inside of the car for about 45 minutes before I left for work. I would unplug the heater, and drive off. The heater would stay warm for about 10 minutes after that. (In my gas car, it takes 10 minutes for the engine to warm up in the winter!)
The unexpected side effect of warming the inside of the car, was that it also warmed the batteries! By trying to make myself more comfortable, I also improved the range of my battery pack!

Another trick is based on the fact that running electricity through the batteries (either discharging OR charging) warms the batteries.
Set the car's charger up on a timer so that the charge is just finishing up when you will next use the car. The batteries will be a little warmer than they would be if they simply sat charged all night. Also, opportunity charge any chance you get. Even short charges can increase your range more from the heat than from the electricity to the batteries.

I hope these tips help keep your car happy and healthy this winter! If you have any other winter electric car tips, please post them below!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

EV Motorcycle Slideshow

While digging through some old files, I ran across a slideshow I made from stills of converting a Kawasaki KZ440 clunker to an electric motorcycle.


The Metro at 108 Volts!

The one thing limiting my upgrade to a higher than 72V system has been the charger. Specifically a little tiny resistor to change the output voltage of the charger.

At the last EV Build Day, I picked up a couple resistors, which rigged in series to each other, should get me the right resistance for the charger.
(Since then a friend of mine has also put in an order to a large electronics dealer, and I got in on his order for a set of resistors for the charger.)

This morning, I was able to upgrade the resistor, and I added three more batteries to the back of the car.

Of course, this takes up my trunk space, and I did love how "Normal" the car looked with just the rear battery box.

Now at 108V, my 0-100V analog voltmeter is pretty much useless.

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I took the car out to run an errand, and test its performance.
I went up the BIG hill in my area, and the car seemed to zip right up it. Overall speed performance didn't seem like it was that much greater.

Coming back home, I was surprised that I couldn't get the car over 55 mph. It took me a while to figure out that it was because I was only in third gear! I needed to upshift to increase amps and speed. After that, I got the car just past 60, but by that time my pack was really getting run down and I had to get off the freeway.

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A while back, I upgraded the rear springs of the car to some off the front of a Ford Ranger. These springs were really designed for holding 144V of batteries, which I HAVEN'T been running since then, so the back of the car has been riding high.

With three more batteries in back, the height of the back of the car seems to level out.

I am also trying to figure out the best way to keep my batteries warm this winter. Since I only have one traction battery under the hood right now, I might move it to the back of the car, just so all the batteries stay the same temperature. This would also drop the back of the car just enough to level it out.

The car is now charging in my driveway, but I am sure I will have to top off a few of the batteries with an individual charger to get them all even.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cycles and Winterizing

Sunday was another EV Build Day of the Milwaukee Electric Car Club.

It turned out that we had great weather. Sunny, and about as warm as can be expected for October in Wisconsin.

Of course, it also means that some of us are thinking about what we need to do for our EVs for the winter.

I have already noticed my battery voltage dropping extra quick in my homebuilt Electric Geo Metro. Lead-Acid batteries just don't like being cold, as most drivers have noticed trying to crank their starters in the winter.

So, I spent a little time with a few parts I had kicking around from the home improvement store. I measured my battery box, and cut a one-inch-thick chunk of pink foam insulation to that size. Then I used a router to carve a serpentine path in the foam, so that I could push heat tape down into it. This is a product used to wrap pipes that could otherwise freeze, or put on the edge of your roof to keep ice from forming. It has a thermostat built right in to it.

One of our other members was also working on trying to add some insulation to the batteries in his electric S-10 pickup truck. Unfortunately, there wasn't much room between the batteries and supports to squeeze insulation in there, so he went on to work on his Pak-Trakker instead.

The real fun of the day was working on Chris' motorcycle.

Already, the motor is mounted in with a custom Mr. Speed adapter to the driveshaft of the cycle. That's right! It's a shaft cycle! You don't see too many of those in the EV flavor!

Todays work was figuring where to put the batteries. Because the frame itself is fairly large, it sure makes the job of battery location easier. Still, it's never easy to fit big square batteries into curved spaces. Chris and Rich welded in the first battery tray directly next to motor. Another battery could fit in FRONT of the motor, but only if it were turned and stuck out a bit funny.

Instead, we used a bottle jack to spread the front down tubes just a tad, so the battery would fit cross-wise. Then the second battery tray was trimmed to fit (Chris with the grinder again!) so it could be welded in place.

The cycle has been a really fun project to work on, with pretty much all the parts donated, and all of us doing what we can, when we can. I can't wait until we work on the body for the cycle. I'm sure it will get pretty crazy with LED back-lighting and interesting shapes.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

4x4 Gasoline-Hydraulic-Electric-Hybrid Torque Beast!

This is no joke!

But I am not talking about a car - rather, a riding lawn mower.

It all started because of my upcoming Annual Bonfire.
I hold a bonfire every year, as an excuse to meet up with old friends, and clear out brush and wood not useful for my wood stove.

The event is at my parent's property, which is large and wooded, with a big back area for the bonfire.

Also, my Dad runs a remodeling business, which is housed just down the street, so I usually grab extra wood out of the dumpster from down there. This year, one of the construction cargo trailers was filled with an entire torn-out cedar picket fence.

The idea was to pull the trailer already loaded up with all that cedar, from the shop over to the house, and then use the lawn tractor there to pull the trailer into the wayback, and unload it all for the bonfire.

It SEEMED like a good plan.

The problem is that it has been cloudy and rainy for the last two weeks solid, the ground has really softened up. The trailer is a BIG and HEAVY trailer and the jack is welded in place, it doesn't swing up.

I tried pulling the trailer across the lawn, but any time I got going even SLIGHTLY uphill, the tires would just start to slip on the grass.

I would back up just a little, to get a better running start, but every time I tried that the tires would just slip again, and I would end up further back than I started!

When I finally ended up in the lowest point of the side-yard, I decided it was time to give up. I unloaded most of the wood to the ground, and was then able to pull the trailer out to the road, up the driveway, and then into the back property.

It's a big hill going into the back. It's DOWNHILL out there, but UPHILL coming back. I thought that would be OK, because the trailer would be empty for the trip back.

Keep in mind that my father's lawn tractor is a Simplicity V-Twin with a Hydro-transmission. It is very powerful and has an variable speed transmission. However, I was NOT able to pull the trailer back up the hill with that gas tractor. It wasn't really a matter of power, more about where you put that power. The trailer is tail-heavy, and when not loaded, actually pulls UP just a bit on the ball hitch, instead of adding tongue-weight to press the tractor tires into the ground.

I just didn't have enough weight on the ball, and wide enough tires. The tires would just spin, no matter what angle I tried to tackle the hill at.
Of course, I couldn't just hop off and help push, because the tractor has a kill switch in the seat. Believe me, I TRIED to hold down the seat and push the tractor at the same time, it just really doesn't work.

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[Similar tractor to my father's 16 HP V-Twin with Hydrostatic drive]

By this time, it was getting toward the end of the day, getting dark, and threatening rain. I had to get home, so I ended up un-hitching the tractor, parking that in the garage, and left the wood in the side-yard, and the trailer in the wayback.

I figured that maybe I could come back the next day bringing my Electrak ELECTRIC riding lawn mower. The tires are wider (and half-flat to boot!) and it's tough to get more torque than you can with an electric.

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[My 30-some year old electric riding lawn mower with 1/2HP drive motor]

Soooo, today, I put MY tractor on my beater utility trailer (thanks Mr. Speed!) and drove over to my parent's house. I unloaded the tractor from the trailer, then hooked the trailer to the tractor, and in two runs had all the wood moved from the side-yard to the wayback.

The Electrak handled the big hill with no problems while towing my trailer back up it.

My Dad happened to be about while I was loading up the second load of wood. I explained to him about the night before how the gas tractor couldn't pull the empty trailer back up the big hill, and how I brought my tractor out to finish the job. He said something like "Aw, you just brought it out so later you could brag to your friends how your electric one works better than my gas one."

Um, yeah, I think he pegged me there.

Now that I actually moved all the firewood, the next job was to show off how great my Electrak worked by towing the construction trailer up the big hill.

I rode out back and went to hook up the trailer. That's when I remembered that the ball hitch on my tractor is really low. And the trailer isn't. The jack does NOT swing away, it can only be cranked up so far. I was actually able to hitch it up, but at the first little bump the trailer jack just dug into the ground.

Hmmm. So, that's not going to work. If only there was some way to skid the trailer jack OVER the ground. I grabbed a plastic sled from the garage and put that UNDER the jack. Instead of hitching the trailer to the ball hitch, I just hooked the safety chains to the ball instead. That way, the trailer could be up higher and NOT dig into the earth.
This actually worked. I started climbing the hill, and quickly got past the dug-in tire mark of last night's work with the gas tractor.

Still, it wasn't much further until the bad tail-weight of the tractor, and the increasing steepness of the hill meant that the Electrak's tires were now slipping as well.

Grrrrrr. Frustration.

I backed down the hill. I tried a couple other things, even hooking the BACK of the trailer to the tractor. None of them worked.

Oh, did I mention it was now raining? Not a downpour, but 40 degree rain is never fun, especially when you already have turf trouble.

So, my problem was that the tractor hitched up great to the gas tractor, but that didn't have enough traction, and the tractor wouldn't hook up decent at all to the Electrak, which had MUCH better traction, but still ended up slipping, just further up the hill.

If only I had four-wheel drive.

It occurred to me that not all four wheels had to be on the same vehicle.
One of the many little things I still need to fix on the Electrak is the seat safety switch. Since it doesn't work, it was simply bypassed, which simply means that if you fall off the tractor, it keeps driving without you.

That's also an advantage, because I now had at hand two tractors, but only one me.

I grabbed my tow rope and and moved both tractors to the trailer.

You can see where this is going, right?

I parked the Electrak just a bit up the hill, and hooked the tow rope to the ball hitch. I hooked the other end to the front bumper of the gas tractor. And hooked the trailer to the back of the gas tractor.

I now had an Electric-tow-rope-gasoline-hydraulic four wheel drive torque beast!

I put the Electrak in first gear - which is REDICULOUSLY slow - and then hopped on the gas rider and eased the hydro into its slowest speed. Because it's variable speed, I could speed up or slow down by tiny amounts to match the speed of the Electrak, mindlessly crawling away ahead of me, and keep tension on the tow rope.

Once or twice the wheels of one tractor or the other would start to slip, but all I had to do was speed up a tad to ease up on the Electrak, or slow down a bit and let the Electrak pull the gasser when its wheels were slipping.

I can't believe this actually worked.

I think it was like a Saturday Morning special.

I was all high big-headed thinking that my electric mower would out-torque the gasser and I could brag about it.

In the end, only by gasoline and electric getting along, could we all work together to get the job done.

Go Team Hybrid!

Maybe next year, I will go back to the old-fashioned way: stuffing firewood into the back of an electric car!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

THE SPARKSTER! Homebuilt EV Motorcycle.

A while back, I gave some advice to Mike, on how to rig up his electric motorcycle project.

He decided to build an electric motorcycle after seeing what I had done.

(The Sparkster, (foreground) and the inspiration for it, my EV KZ440. (background))

Today, I was rounding up EVs to show off at a local energy fair, and E-Bike Mike showed up with his converted Harley Sportster, the "Sparkster".

The cycle is running at 60V with an Alltrax AXE controller (72V max), and off-board charging. Mike has a motorcycle buddy who is good with the welder and paint sprayer, so the finish on the bike it top notch!

The chain noise is a little louder than on my cycle, but the chain is about twice as big as well!
I had never ridden a hard-tail before (ouch!), but other than that, it rides really well, with a real low center of gravity and good acceleration.

(Mike, far right, green cap, shows off his cycle.)

See all the photos at:

PS - I also just realized why the cycle is a hard-tail. Look where the motor is mounted. It's directly under the seat. As the real swing arm would move, it would change the chain length. One way to solve the problem is to hard-mount the rear wheel. By having the motor right under the seat, it frees up space for more batteries in the original engine area of the cycle. This means more batteries and a lower center of gravity.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Open Source controller install

I finally got the re-done version of the open source controller and installed it in the car.

It doesn't LOOK like much, but works well and is a heck of a lot cheaper than BUYING a new one.

I am still running the car at 72V, but now have the ability to up the system voltage just by adding batteries.

I think a 96V system might work well in the long-run, as I only need to make room for two more batteries, my charger supports up to 108 volts, and my voltmeter only goes to 100!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chris Cycle update Sept 20 2009

Yesterday was another EV Build Day with the Milwaukee Electric Car Club.

We did some work on Chris' Motorcycle. Rich bent up some tube for the right-hand section of the frame to replace where the gas engine and transmission filled in.

Chris worked on the motor mounting plate, which will hold the electric motor in place to connect it to the drive shaft.

We still aren't sure what the batteries will be yet, but we do have three Group 24 Interstate 12V batteries kicking around that I think we will start off with.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

500A Motor Controller First Tests in Golf Cart

Home-Built EV controllers seem to be all the rage lately.

Last weeks video of the Lectric Leopard featured a very high-end home-built controller with some very slick features.

This video shows a controller built on the OpenRevolt project, which can be found at Ecomodder.com in the Fossil Fuel Free forum under "Paul and Sabrina's Cheap EV Controller".

What's great about controllers like these is that they can be built by everyday people who have no particular electronics skills.

It is literally "Power to the People".

Enjoy the video.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lectric Leopard and Jerry Asher visit

Last night, a few of us local EVer's got together in Madison, Wisconsin.

The main reason was that Jerry Asher was coming through town. Jerry is a board member of the Electric Automobile Association, a proud supporter of all EV's, and a great guy. He has toured the country in his Plug-In Prius, THE SPIRIT OF DC, and is involved in other EVents, such as the recent POWER OF DC electric drag racing event.

Besides the guys in attendance, there was also one Lectric Leopard in the back parking lot. One of the guys has been hard at work on a high-end, homebuilt motor controller.

This video is from right after he did a "firmware update" on the controller - reprogramming it into "fun-mode".

In all, a last-minute, informal, very fun event!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

008 part 2 Electric Car Construction 101 - Video 8 part 2

Part two of video 8.

008 Electric car construction 101 video 8 part 1

Continuing the adventure with Tom of converting a Dodge Neon to Electric AC power!

VIDEO: Electric Car Conversion 101 - Part 6

If you have been following Tom's Dodge Neon EV Conversion, you may have noticed that video number 6 was missing. That's because I was out of town during the engine removal. Tom had another friend film him talking about the engine removal on a point n shoot camera. I finally just found the CD of the camera files and put them together to upload to YouTube.

So, here it is, enjoy the missing Video #6.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cougar Open Revolt Power Stage Milling

If you have been following the "Cougar Controller", now known as the Open ReVolt, you know it has taken on a life of its own!

Started by our friend Paul, with the early version tested in the Electro-Metro, another member of the crew is now MANUFACTURING the circuit board for the latest version. Here is the power circuit board being milled.

Can you spot what's wrong with this picture?

I will give you a hint:
That's an electric car.

This is the first time there has been any gasoline in that car in over a year - since the car's gas tank was removed to make room for batteries to power an electric forklift motor that replaced the car's gasoline engine.

Unfortunately, I have been neglecting my lawn for the past two weeks as I was traveling to an "eco-bed 'n' breakfast" and then off to the big renewable energy fair.

While my car is powered by electricity, my lawn mower is not. Nope, I am stuck in the fossil fuel age when it comes property maintenance. Although my long-term goal is to have a bigger garden and planted areas, for now I must trim my lawn to acceptable neighborhood standards.

A few weeks ago, I had an appointment to go see an Elec-Trak (GE-built electric riding lawn mower) that was for sale, but had it stolen out from under me by somebody who swung by and dropped off a load of cash, sight-unseen!

My friend Tim, with help from all our EV Buddies of the Milwaukee Electric Car Club, are converting an old Simplicity lawn tractor to battery electric. Once done, Tim will be able to mow his lawn fossil-fuel-free.

Although I am busy with several other projects, I think something similar would be great. We'll just let Tim be the Guinea Pig on this one.

So for now, I have to use my electric car to go buy gasoline for my petro-mower.

The irony is not lost on me!


(PS: Safety first! Yes, the windows were kept open, and there were no EV parts near the gasoline capable of igniting any fumes)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Back at the MREA Energy Fair!

June 18, 2009
Custer, Wisconsin.

Right now, I am sitting on the futon of a new friend in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, just miles from the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in Custer.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the fair, and it's bigger and better than ever.

My particular interest is in sustainable transportation. Lucky for me, the fair includes an entire Clean Energy Car Show. In fact, that's why I am here - to show off a pair of home-built electric vehicles - both a car, and a motorcycle.

Although my interest in clean transportation most likely started with the electric motor my brother put on his bicycle as a kid, my most recent foray into clean transportation started here, at the MREA, three years ago.

I saw a bicycle with a front-wheel drive electric motor on it.
Brilliant! The front tire pulls you along, and you can still pedal with the rear! A plug-in hybrid bicycle.

When I got home, I plunked down the cash (ok - debit card, it was mail order....) to buy an "electric bicycle kit".

The kit included an entire front wheel with motor, controller, charger, and the other required doo-dads - just add a bike and batteries! I hit up my local thrift store and found an old ten-speed, complete wire wire rear baskets - perfect to hold the batteries!

A couple hours later, I had an honest-to-goodness electric bicycle! No more gasoline for me! Just fresh air and sunshine, and silent 20 mph cruising without pedaling!

While I zipped around in an electric euphoria for much of the summer, I eventually found that it wasn't the perfect vehicle for me.

The ten-speed frame had NO suspension. Terrible on my rough country roads. Worse than that, I was shocked how cars treated me. Vehicles constantly pulled out of driveways RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. I suppose my grannie panniers did not add to the speed-demon image. Indeed, a headlight and horn would not have been back additions.

Hmmm. Suspension. Lights. Horn. Something that says - "Get out of my way! I'm really flying here!" I believe that's the definition of a motorcycle.

That's right a motorcycle - not an engine cycle.
A motorcycle is really just a big bicycle. It couldn't be too hard to make one of those to be electric, could it?

I then began my quest to build an electric motorcycle. Eventually, I found one cheap. The engine and transmission were shot, the tank was dented, and there was no title. But it met my main requirement. It was cheap!

I went to the library and found a book about converting vehicles to electric, and bought an electric motorcycle guide through the internet.
I scrounged for parts on E-Bay, finding an electric motor being sold from college robotics battles, and purchased a motor controller through a golf-cart store.

The motorcycle was really coming together. Of course, I have no background in welding, nor do I really have any tools beyond a socket set. Everything on the motorcycle was simply bolted in using threaded rod through the original frame mounting points.

The motorcycle was ready and on the road only days before the MREA Fair, exactly one year after I had first seen that electric bicycle. Of course, it wasn't pretty, and it was running on the tiny 18ah batteries that I had been using for the bicycle.

It wasn't until the next year that the motorcycle was back at the fair with the Optima Yellow Tops.

I love the motorcycle, but it still isn't the perfect vehicle for Wisconsin, especially the 8 months of the year with snow on the group. If only I had some sort of motorcycle with a roof and more than two wheels on the ground.....

Of course that then lead me to thinking about building an electric car. Come on! I gotta be kidding myself. How could I possibly build an electric car?

Well, I already learned some basics working on the motorcycle. The car is heavier, needs more batteries, but is pretty much the same otherwise, right?

Well, it's a bit more complicated than that, but in the year in a half since I decided to build an electric car, I have learned more about motors, power brakes, batteries, guages, watts, ohms, amps, cables, and myself, than I ever thought possible.

I have made new friends, chit-chatted with the Tesla salesperson as I sat in a Roadster, learned that brake fluid and plasma cutters are a bad combination, and so much more. I even bought a 1970's street legal electric car, met the creator of the vehicle, and drag-raced it (winning!) against others.

Now, I have been asked to consult on a battery-powered vehicle for a net-energy-producing "house of the future".

So here I am, at the Energy Fair again, where so much of this started, ready to show off both an electric car and motorcycle I couldn't have DREAMED of a few years ago.

Last year, I lost my voice speaking to so many fair attendees about clean transportation. Just two weeks ago, I installed the cheapest radio I could buy in the Metro. One of the radio features is MP3 audio playback from a solid-state USB thumbrive. Rather than answer the same questions over and over - How far does it go on a charge? What's the top speed? - I will simply record a sound file and have it play through the stereo.

This time, the work will simply speak for itself.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Prius 70 MPH Electric Mode (Second Demo): Ewert Energy Systems

The Ewerts are at it again!

This time with a more watchable / less bouncy demo of the 70 mph EV Prius mode! Filming during the day makes the view screen much more watchable. They also answer a few questions that people have asked since the first video.

Electro-Metro Instrument panel

I am trying to get as much "spit and polish" on the car as possible right now.

The MREA energy fair - the largest in the Midwest, and one of the largest in America, is only a week away, but I am gone all next week!

I just got the dashboard back in with the new stereo, and mounted the ammeter, volt-meter, vac guage, and 12V gauge.

Still not really a "final" version, but it is functional and looks much better than what was there!

Next Up: Zip-tying ALL the loose cables under the hood!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Local man builds electric car

Here's a little news piece on a guy in Indian who did a really nice conversion on an Eagle Summit.

I like the green lightning on the side of the car! Sort of what I was thinking for my Metro!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Prius 70 MPH Electric Mode: Ewert Energy Demo

A Prius that can go 70 Miles per Hour on just electric?

Yep! A couple guys in Chicago just did that last night!

Just watch the video! (Or listen to it, the video is a little bumpy!)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ride the Citicar ! Tomorrows technology, yesterday.

I spoke with a guy in Madison on his way to the HotRod power tour who had a Amphi-car. In talking with him, I found out he bought it from a guy in Illinois who restores them.

That guy is known as "Dave the Wave".
I was also told he had a Citicar.

I looked him up and found a YouTube video I had seen before. It features Dave the Wave and his Citicar.



Friday, June 5, 2009

Chicago EVs and Alt. Autos

Recently, I had a chance to speak with George Gladic on the phone about his Prius converted to a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle. (PHEV)

George and other members of the FVEAA (a Chicago electric car club) are featured in this video.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Citicar Cruise to Bob's

What's more fun than a Citicar? How about getting a whole bunch of them together, drag-racing, and tooling around town!

Here, we drive a bunch of them to the home of the Citicar creator.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Electro-Metro project donates parts to High School EV Race Team!

This afternoon, I was over at the Watertown, Wisconsin High School to lend a hand to the Electrathon Team

Electrathon is a high-school competition to design, build, and compete electric go carts.

I had an e-mail from an advisor this morning saying that their competition was this Saturday, today was the last build day before then, and they just lost their ammeter.

They were looking for a last-minute replacement, so the guy thought of me.

I drove over to the school, hauling along my electric motorcycle to show off to the students.

They got a kick out of the cycle, especially since it used the exact same motor and nearly identical controller as their electric go-cart.

They also had another car there which was propane powered.

Their electric car weighs about 70 lbs without batteries. That's light enough for two students to pick it up and set it on a welding table to work on.

I also noticed a few trophies kicking around from previous wins in the competitions.

The Electro-Metro's Ammeter was mounted to the Electrathon cart with a piece of Lexan. It's really light stuff. Weight is important, as a big part of the competition is an endurance run.

The entire car is completely designed and built by students. In some cases, students designed parts on CAD software and then had the cutting done by a machine shop. Check out the nice shape of this custom steering wheel. Notice the thumb-mount throttle.

Here's a shot of the propane car.
It has some crazy-nice front end suspension on it. The brake rotors, rear sprocket and a few other parts were CAD drawn and then custom-cut. Last year, this car was electric, but they kept burning up Eteks, so they changed it to propane this year.
On the business end of that car,
the brake rotors were drawn by the students and the differential was designed by one of the parent advisors.

Good luck this weekend!

Bring back the Metro's Ammeter in one piece!!!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

UW-Whitewater Earth Day Alt. Car Show

Here is a video done by a student about the University of Wisconsin at Whiteware about the alternative car show they had there on Earth Day 2009.

It has a couple of shots in it of me and the Electro-Metro, including driving the student off in the Metro at the end of the video!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Elon Musk on Letterman 2009.04.29 (HQ)

Not a bad bit of having a real electric car getting some exposure to the masses.

Unfortunately, David Letterman has some laryngitis and helps per petuate a few of the common myths/fears that people have about electric cars.

Dave also didn't have much good things to say about the Volt's range, even though it's more than 30% longer than the average American's miles driven per day.

All in all, still worth watching, including seeing the Tesla S car itself very briefly at the end.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Helix Streamlining, 1 Year Progress Update

A great interview with Craig Vetter, summarizing the work he has been doing this last year with aerodynamics on a Honda Helix motorcycle.

All of his work would apply equally well to electric vehicles and other alt. fuels.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

electro metro vs citicar

I had some fun following a CitiCar to a showing of WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? at the TIMES in Wauwatosa, WI.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Homebuilt EV Samurai Burns Rubber

Norm has been working on several EVs, this is the third one now.

He's running a 72V controller at 84 volts, with a REAL EV motor.

The video quality is a little dark, but that's what happens when you stay up til 3 in the morning working on EVs.

Watch the nice little streaks of rubber his EV Samurai leaves!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Electric Metro gravel spin 2

The "burn-out" may not look all that impressive. Several people online have already been making fun of the first one. I think part of it is that the video was shot at 24P, which sort of distorts the "time" of it. Also, there is NO ENGINE NOISE! If I dubbed in some really loud engine sound effects, I'm sure it would be much more impressive!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Electric Geo Metro spins tires on gravel

While the Electro-Metro has proven itself to be a nice little car, nothing says FUN like upgrading your controller for MORE POWER. Here's the first video footage of the 144V Open Source Controller in action.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Getting Charged Up

This Saturday, I went to Fort Atkinson, WI to show off my electric motorcycle at a small Alternative Vehicles event, hosted by Heart of the City.

While it was a small event, not held in conjunction with any other event, such as Earth Day, or even a Farmer's Market, it still had some great exibitors.

Attending were representatives from the Milwaukee Hybrid group, bio-fuels, electric bikes, and two different Neighborhood Electric Vehicle dealers.

There was something odd about this event, and it didn't dawn on me until one of the Milwaukee Hybrid Group commented on it. "Looks like we're the gas-guzzlers here."

He was right. The only gasoline powered vehicles were the Prius and Escape Hybrid.

Even the diesel being shown off was 100% bio-diesel. No petroleum there.

As strange as it seems, EVs (electric vehicles) are becoming mainstream in their own small way, at least in some sub-cultures of our society.

Just recently (last Tuesday!) my city has passed ordinance allowing Neighborhood Electric Vehicles to use the public roads. The publicly-owned power utility is going to purchase one or two NEVs for staff to travel between the Utility building and the City Hall. That trip happens several times a day. The two buildings are within two miles of each other. That's not enough time for a gasoline engine to EVER warm up, KILLING fuel economy - but a perfect use for an Electric Vehicle.

Since the Utility had to replace an aging vehicle anyways, going with an electric vehicle is a great way to not only help the enviroment, but also just plain save tax-payer dollars.

With the City owning an electric vehicle, it helps "pave the way" (pun intended) for private EV ownership, and public and private EV charging stations.

One of the NEV dealers, Green Autos, (https://www.greenautos.com/) was kind enough to provide me with an EV Charging Station sign. I am hoping to be able to use it as a sample to help spark the imagination of local officials in how we could build an EV-Friendly community.

And this isn't all about Battery Electric Vehicles either. As commercially manufactured Plug-In Hybrids become the norm, we will already have the charging infrastructure available for them.

Imagine a city in an Economic Boom because it attracts the best customers and employees, who know that employers and retail establishments support clean transportation. Employees could drive to and from work all week without using gasoline. How's that for an attractive work-place?

Through electric charging stations and other programs, along with our lakes and parks, our city could become an Eco-Tourism destination.

It's all possible, and it's all happening right now.

Not long ago, I got an odd comment on one of my web videos. This was one of several videos showing me building an electric car. The posted comment was "Great for you, but what about us who can't afford electric cars, and don't have all those great skills you have!?!"

Skills?! When did I get those?
I built my electric motorcycle with pretty much just a socket wrench, hacksaw, and wire stripper!
The electric car cost even less to build than the motorcycle did!

One of my personal heros, Thomas Edison, once said, "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."

I didn't have lots of money, nor plenty of mechanical/electrical experience.

What I do have is a library card and a dream, that we can do things better than we have in the past.

That's all any of us really needs, just motivation, and a plan for the future.

So, what is it that you can do? Work at it. Dream big. Make things happen.

If every one of use just uses what they have to improve on how we have been doing things, just think how bright our future will be.