Monday, May 16, 2011

Hey, just wanted to point everyone over to my new site at Things are really exciting, I have a product coming out imminently which I am totally psyched about so check it out!

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's been a while! Lots has happened over the last couple of years. I've been working hard behind the scenes, and it's finally coming to fruition. Maybe some of you still check in every now and then. I just thought I should let you guys know what's new.

Here goes... *drum roll please*

I am now the proud founder of spingarage LLC! I started this company in January to develop an integrated electric vehicle drive system, and so far there are lots of good things in the works. I really feel like some of the ideas going into this are huge. I've been working mostly on brushless motors and controllers, and my first product is going to be right along those lines- a development board to help people like me build brushless motor controllers (I've been calling it project kickass, for those who might end up seeing that on my Twitter). Some things never change, huh? Looking at my older posts this is just two phases away from what I was up to two years ago (nerdy three phase joke, sorry)!

Anyway- needless to say, this blog hasn't been getting much of my attention lately, what with the 12-13 hour workdays that come with starting a company. You can keep a little bit more up to speed on my company by liking Spingarage LLC on Facebook (it actually isn't capitalized, but Facebook wouldn't let me get away with that) and by following @spingarage on Twitter. There will be a website up soon, too.

As a few of you will no doubt put together eventually, I'm not at Purdue anymore. I finally had an idea that was just too big to pass up, and decided it was time to move on with my life and do bigger things. With three years of Purdue engineering behind me, I think I'm a lot better equipped to do what I do, and I've definitely grown a lot as a person in my time there.

While I'm on here, I really want to say thanks to all of you who have supported me on my journey to where I am now. It's been a blast, and I'm looking forward to more of the same over the next few years as I continue to follow my inspirations with my company. You guys are the ones who gave me the confidence and enthusiasm to do everything I did when I was younger (albeit not that much younger...), and definitely paved the way for everything I hope to do in the future. Thanks, everyone!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Despite the recent snowfall and subfreezing temperatures, I have managed to stay relatively productive. The most recent developments (as of last night) are a little more progress on my motor controller design. So far, I've completed the isolation circuit for the IGBT driver. I'm using an optocoupler between my PIC's output and then input of my driver IC, and a 5v to 15v isolated DC/DC converter to power it. I'm using a resistor to return the driver to a logical low after the PWM pulse from the optocoupler. All things considered, I'm pretty proud of the circuit. It allows for full isolation (a few kv, need to review the datasheets to be sure) between the high voltage and low voltage systems, while still requiring only one low voltage input and without tapping the high voltage to power the driver circuitry. This keeps the parts count minimal (6 ICs including voltage regulators and stuff) and the price down. The most expensive part on the driver board cost me $8.

Right now I'm trying to come up with an internal precharge circuit. I want to avoid a high voltage tap across the contactor if at all possible. Right now what I have in mind is a circuit that disconnects the caps from the high voltage while the contactor closes, and then reconnects them through a MOSFET or IGBT once it's juiced. That way, the solid-state part of the circuit would take the brunt of the charge current and minimize arcing. Still working out the details.

After that's all taken care of, I'll be working on designing the PCB. I'm hoping to have only one board for the whole controller. This should be possible if I use the same board (with adequate gaps for isolation, of course) for the high voltage cap circuit as well as the low voltage driver circuit. If I do this right, I'm pretty sure I'll only need one internal connection outside of the PCB- the one that goes to the gate of the IGBT. This means less opportunity for failure, more vibration resistance, etc.

Anyway, I'll be doing my best to get this thing ready to test while I'm home over spring break in about 3 weeks, so I'll be staying busy. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

So, above we have a picture of my home built controller project in its current state, along with a couple other staples of college life that are continuously inhabiting my desk. Might not look like much right now, but it's actually quite a step forward. I've got it up to the point where it's able to power my 600A IGBT. Granted, it's currently running a motor I pulled out of a VCR that was in the trash behind one of the frats, but it should, in theory, be able to take quite a bit of juice. All that's really left are a couple little programming tweaks, some, uhh, minor wiring upgrades, etc. and it'll be ready to drop into a car. I've got a monster heat sink taking up the other side of the desk, and a few 2200 uF caps are on the way as I type. I've also got a few isolation issues I have to take care of. The logic input to the gate driver will be isolated with an optocoupler, and I'm currently searching for an isolated DC/DC converter to provide power to the "dark side."

Oddly enough, this is actually really exciting for me. I've been working on and off on a home made controller for a good long time now, probably a little over a year, and I finally have enough knowledge that I can probably make one work reliably. Since I've used a surplus IGBT and mostly inexpensive electronic components, the cost for this thing should come in well under $200- quite a bit better than the $1800 or so you might find yourself spending on a Curtis. Of course, that doesn't include the two programmers I've gone through in the process of learning to program, or the mini laptop I ended up buying because it was the cheapest thing I could find with Windows XP, or the several dozen chips I've fried for various inane reasons, but it's still worth it.

Anyway- stay tuned, more developments soon!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Howdy folks! Those of you that have been paying attention despite my constant attempts at boring you to death may have noticed that I've been 17 for roughly a year. This train of thought would eventually lead to the conclusion that I'd have to turn 18 sometime soon. Rather than keep you all wondering, I might as well just admit it: I'm finally 18!

In addition to me just wanting to brag about having survived another trip around the sun, I might as well bring everybody up to date. College has, oddly enough, been time-consuming! Nevertheless, I've managed to get a little work done on EV-related projects every now and then. I've been doing quite a bit of electronics work, and have succeeded in getting a few gadgets up and running with varying degrees of success. I've built a few motor controllers of various types on the small scale, digital voltage gauges, and a few other non-ev-related items that I am equally unrightfully proud of- digital clocks, stepper motor controllers, that kind of thing.

Anyway, right now my main focus is on the motor controller side of things. Mainly, I'm working on scaling up a motor controller that can handle 6A to something that can handle 600A. I'm probably going to be building either a single- or double- IGBT controller, to save space and boost efficiency. The main goals of the project are to keep size, weight, and of course, cost to a minimum while maintaining capabilities suitable for road-going vehicles.

One of the coolest things about a project like this is that it allows you to do something about everything you didn't like about the production stuff you used before. For instance, the throttle sensors used by most modern controllers really suck. Even my Raptor, which is supposed to have auto-sensing capabilities for throttle positions, requires a lot of tinkering to get it working to its full potential. My controller will have a programming mode that requires some setup beforehand, but can be calibrated to just about any throttle setup.

Well, that's about it for now. As always, I'm going to try to keep everybody a little more up to date, but as we've seen in the past that doesn't always work out as planned. Nevertheless, some pretty big developments might be coming out of the GreenflightEV lab (aka "the dorm room") in the next couple months, so stay tuned!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I bring you Jay Ingram's book, The Daily Planet Book of Cool Ideas. Yeah, I know right, nice book. But the best part of the book is, of course, pages 258-261. Those are the pages that feature my truck! After Discovery Channel Canada's interviews, the book picked up the story, and a few months later, voila- I'm in a book. So yeah, if anyone's interested, it is now available in the US from
Hey everybody, as usual, it's been a while! Sorry for the wait. It's great to read all the comments though, so keep 'em comin! Anyway, a couple weekends ago I finally got to go home for a few days, so I got to do a little work on my truck.

What with school and everything, I never really got to talk about what happened at this year's Woodward Dream Cruise. As usual, the cruise was awesome and everybody had a great time. I spent a little while at a car show with a couple other EVs. Awesome to see the interest.

Of course my new underbody lights were a big hit, as was the, umm, "extra torque" I got from my 144v upgrade. Anyway bottom line, right as the cruise was drawing to a close I pulled out the left motor mount. Turns out it was the factory rubber mount that broke- of course I'm proud of the fact that my homemade mount stayed intact!

So, over the weekend I replaced the motor mount, installed a new shifter (the old one was damaged when the mount broke loose), and enjoyed a couple days of driving around aimlessly. It's funny, after not driving for a couple months you really start to miss it. Not a bad weekend, all things considered.

Apparently, since I fixed my truck, my parents have taken a bit of a liking to it. As much as it goes against my intuition to let my parents drive my truck, I'm glad it's seeing some use. Good for the batteries, and of course it's still a money saver. Just wait till next year when I get a parking permit...

For those of you who are wondering, school is going pretty good, it's a big adjustment but I'm having a lot of fun.

Anyway- I've got a post that should be coming right after this one, assuming my computer doesn't crash or something. It's big enough that I figure it deserves its own post.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Well, this is the first blog post while living at Purdue University. That's right, after all this time, I'm finally at college. Anyway, I'm writing this from my dorm room after taking a bus ride to the store to get some parts for my homemade air conditioner (yeah, it's plenty hot in my dorm room).

So- the upshot is, I've finally learned how much hate buses. Yes, the electric car guy hates a form of public transportation. Now, before you all pile into the family hybrid with baseball bats and come to Indiana, let me explain myself in what I like to call, "10 reasons why I hate buses."

1. You're tied down to their schedule, which is, of course, really eratic. If the bus is late, so are you.
2. You're packed in there like a bunch of overgrown sardines.
3. You get lots of dirty looks if you get on carrying two huge styrofoam coolers, copper pipe, bilge pumps, and other commonplace items.
4. The bus drivers definitely don't believe in brake preservation.
5. It's a terrible place to meet girls. I don't care what you've seen on TV, it just doesn't happen that way.
6. You've got to be some kind of freak of nature to understand the labyrinth of 1As, 3Bs, reds, greens, blues, and whatever that make up the system.
7. The bus routes are just as nuts as the maps that describe them.
8. If you're one of those "it's the journey, not the destination" people, you might as well just give up.
9. Bus drivers are jerks. (OK, not all of them- probably just the one or two that I've dealt with)
10. See rule #1.

That pretty much concludes this rant. Stay tuned for more on this and other fascinating topics!