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!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

You know you're famous when...

My truck has officially reached the highest level of notoriety: the local Starbucks chalkboard.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

This weekend's project: the proverbial black box.

And no, I'm not going to tell you what it does or what's inside.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The latest errr 'improvements'

Yeah, I know, underbody lights on a rusty old truck... but they really do look cool! I spent the better part of this saturday installing these things.

While I had the truck up in the air, I decided it would be a good time to add that swaybar that's been sitting around the garage. So, in addition to looking cool, my truck also handles remotely better. Not a bad weekend.

Anyway I've been working on a little bit of everything lately so I'll try to keep the updates coming!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

And the verdict is...

Success! I rolled into the driveway with juice to spare, and I even stopped at Starbucks on the way. According to my trip odometer, my truck has seen almost exactly 70 miles today, almost all of it in 55 mph zones. No trouble there... Talk about a money saver!

Later folks... This is a very pleased EV driver, signing off.

Fun drive to work...

Well, so far so good. I got to work without any problems and plenty of charge left. Having never driven my truck in heavy traffic, I was impressed how well it kept up. And now: will I make it back home??

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Range test results

I did an informal range test on my truck yesterday. The official test track consisted of several miles of open, 55 mph road, and several miles of slower stop-and-go driving.

The results (drumroll please)? A very comfortable 45 mile range over a period of about an hour and 10 minutes, with the truck still comfortably maintaining 55 mph when I pulled in the driveway.

I was, needless to say, quite pleased.

Next up: The 70 mile roundtrip commute to my summer job, in rush hour traffic. I hope to undertake this expedition tomorrow morning, and I should have the results sometime tomorrow afternoon. I'm excited. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Breaking news!

Well, not quite, but whatever. My latest "media event:" ABC came over and did a feature story for today's news. I didn't get to see it, but reports indicate that it turned out well, and the transcript looks good. Not a bad day!

Stay tuned for more after these very important messages!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

144v upgrade

Here's a pic of the 144v upgrade on my truck. I added four more batteries above the motor. The other four that were already in the engine compartment kept their original position. The component board was turned on edge and mounted against the firewall, and the charger and vacuum system were scattered all over the place to make room. Everything else stayed exactly the same.

Up and running

Wow, I'm quite the procrastinator... I'll try to post updates a little more often now that I have (slightly) more time!

Anyway, here's the big news: the Tercel is up and running! I've had it on the road for a few weeks now and I love it. Lemme tell you, this thing is FAST! It has no trouble breaking the tires loose in 2nd gear, and I have yet to reach the top speed (so far I've had it up to around 70). 2nd gear is fine all the way up to redline at 55.

I do have to say range isn't so great (so far it's about 20-25 miles), but I guess that's what I get for building a car with cheap marine batteries and a huge motor.

In other news, I've just finished upgrading my truck to 144 volts, which seems to have helped out a little bit in terms of speed and acceleration. I'll probably do a range test sometime this weekend, and I'm optimistic in my expectations. Anyway, more on the later.

Oh yeah, happy Independance Day everybody!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Instrumentation... it's a good thing

Here's the gauges mounted in the cluster. It actually worked out pretty good. The isolated power supplies are mounted on the back, and there's a nine pin D connector wired up for easy IP removal. Not to mention they look really cool with the blue backlight... I'll add more pics next time I power them up.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

More wiring... it never ends!

This morning's project: making up battery cables. These are the cables for the rear 120 volt pack. Most positive and most negative connections are at the top (front) center of the pack, and the circuit breaker is at the bottom. This way, when I throw the breaker, it essentially cuts the pack in half. When the breaker is thrown, no more than 60 volts will be present across any two terminals.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Living the EV dream!

Just a quick post to brag about how much I love my truck.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Getting closer...

I'm getting close to getting my car rolling... just working on putting together all the little bits and pieces. This is the vacuum canister for the brake system. It's made of 3" dia. white PVC, 22" long. It will be mounted right behind the bumper, in front of the batteries, so I won't be missing the space.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Here's the rear batteries temporarily set in place. They fit surprisingly well.

I picked up the batteries this morning. 14 marine deep cycle 12v batteries. As always, this is one of the more exciting parts of the project! Now I just have to put my car back together and wait for my gauges to show up...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Wiring... and lots of it!

Today's project (and probably the rest of the week, for that matter!) was straightening up some of the dash wiring and removing all of the unnecessary engine wiring. Well I'm at it I'm going to run the gauge wiring through the original harness. Tedious at best, but it will definitely look nice and make the car easier to service. Not to mention, it can be kind of fun once you get the hang of it.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

EVing in Plymouth

This weekend I took my truck to the Plymouth Green Street Fair with the Michigan EAA. We all had a lot of fun and the crowd definitely enjoyed it. The kind of interest we saw was really awesome. Darin also brought out his awesome electric drag bike. Having never seen one before, I thought it was pretty slick, with its twin Eteks and 96v system... Power!!!!!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Why you ask?

The point of all this was to get to the wiring harness, which, as luck would have it, comes through the firewall right in the middle of everything. I had to pull the dash, steering wheel, gauge cluster, heater core, and about a million other items to get to it.

Needless to say, my car isn't very happy with me right now...

My nemesis the dashboard

I told myself I wouldn't do this. I begged and pleaded with the heater core to spare me the trouble. But as time passed, it became evident: I had to pull the dashboard. So there it sits, on my garage floor, looking smug after putting up such a struggle.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Plugged in!

Well, not quite, but the plug is now installed on my Tercel. I think I'm having problems with my GFI because I can't seem to get power through it. Other than that, things are moving along pretty quickly. My gauges are on their way from Nanjing, China, and I'm working on the wiring harness now.

And for those who have been wondering- my truck is running great. I just haven't had the time to post pics. More later!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ready to go...

The completed component board install, minus the throttle cable. Time for the smoke test!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

You see a wiring harness... I see a work of art

Here's the completed wiring harness for my component board. If all goes well I should have this all installed by the end of the day.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Hey all, it occurred to me (and I guess to a few other readers as well!) that it can be kinda hard to figure out exactly what's going on here without reading the blog from the very beginning. So for those of you who want some quick and dirty info, here's a couple links on my cars:



They'll also be in my links section. I don't update them as often as my blog, but they should provide some good info.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

I spent an hour or so this morning building a mount for the charger board up front. This is the test fit. I think it looks pretty good. I've also been spending some time on the front-to-rear wiring, mainly for the chargers. It's coming along pretty quickly, and the recent warm weather is really making things easier!

Monday, March 24, 2008

I got most of the high-voltage wiring on the component board done today. The pic shows the layout I ended up with. The most positive and most negative of the pack will be attached to the shunt and the fuse, and the motor wiring comes out the bottom of the board. Eventually, I'll put those big Anderson connectors on here to make it really easy to remove.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

This is the finished throttle sensor setup. To disconnect it, I'll just loosen a wing nut on the cable and remove it. It should also be a lot easier to adjust than when it was mounted to the firewall.

This is for anybody that wants to see what's really inside a Raptor. I had mine apart today for a little while. I'm mounting throttle sensor to the case of the controller. It should be a lot more portable and reliable this way.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The beginnings of a removable component board. I should be able to transfer this between my truck and my Tercel, eliminating the need for a new controller, contactors, etc., at least initially.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I'm spending the afternoon today cleaning up in preparation for the Discovery Channel. They're coming over for an interview on Monday. My truck is getting a bit of a workout moving my dad's cars around.

Charger boards all wired up, and ready for a test fit.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

One board, all wired up. Now I just have to add a connector and mount it in the car.

One down, two to go...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

One of the charger boards. I'll have two of these in the trunk, and another with four chargers under the hood.

I'm spending a few hours today working on mounting the 14 chargers for my Tercel. I'll make sure to post more pics when I'm done.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Well, if I do say so myself, the Tercel is looking pretty good. Can you tell I like orange? Since the last post I've finished the component board mount and I have the battery racks mostly done. It's not perfect, but it'll get the job done. Since I'm going to be mounting batteries underneath the front crossmember, I had to remove the brace underneath it. I had to add a whole bunch of extra bracing to make up for it. You can see that in the pic below.
Below you can see the front battery rack. This is going to hold three batteries. I would have liked to have had four up here, but there isn't quite enough room on the left side. I can always modify it later on. Hopefully I'll eventually be able to cram one or two more in there to take some weight out of the back. There's actually quite a bit of room here- you just have to spend the time to figure out how to use it all. I'll also have to find room up here for the 12v accessory battery.
Here's a look at what I'm working on for the rear battery rack. It's really just temporary. I'm going to be stuffing 10 batteries back here. Once I get the car dialed in, and get the batteries all where I want them, I'll sink them into the floor. This should let me have almost all of the original trunk space.

I have a lot of work to do yet. I still have to run all of the wiring (something that I'm going to think through a little more with this car than I did with my truck), assemble the component board, set up the gauges, work out the vacuum system, and of course, purchase and install batteries, along with a bunch of other little stuff.

This is going a lot faster than my truck, though. It really helps to know the basics of how everything is going to go together. I'm hoping to have this car on the road by the end of the month- we'll see what happens. Now that I've gotten this far, I'm getting really anxious to get it rolling. It looks like it's going to be a really fun car. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Well, it's been a little while since I last updated. And yes, I have cut my hair since the pic was taken! I've gotten quite a bit of work done. I now have the motor installed in my Tercel, and I'm working on battery racks and component layout. So far it's looking like I'll have 3 or 4 batteries up front (plus one for the 12v system) and then 9 or 10 more in the back. Although this is far from optimal as far as weight distribution goes, it'll get me on the road. I'll always be able to modify it later on.

In the spirit of doing things on the cheap, I'm working on a component shelf that will allow me to transfer all of the major components and wiring from my truck to my Tercel by simply unplugging a couple connectors and loosening a few wing nuts. This way, I won't have to buy new contactors and stuff while the Tercel is still in the test stages. It will contain the controller, both contactors, fuse, circuit breaker (maybe), current shunt, and a few other minor items. It will have one connector for 12v power and signal wires (power on, amp meter, volt meter, controller status lights, and a few other things), another connector (one of the big Anderson ones) for the motor, and another Anderson for main battery power.

It will also have a plug for the charger, which is only going to be used on my truck. I've purchased 14 6A 12v smart chargers to use in my Tercel. By using individual chargers, I'll get an automatic equalize charge, not to mention saving a bundle of dough. They will be mounted on-board (they're very small, maybe 8" long), and they will all be tied to one main charge plug. Since they're smart chargers, they'll automatically switch to a trickle charge when the batteries are topped off, taking better care of the batteries than any group charger ever could.

I've been working on my own homemade controller design, but I don't think it will be done in time (hence the reason why I'm working on the removable component board). My controller will be an IGBT controller, driven by a flash-programmed PIC, which will allow me to edit the firmware at any time just by plugging it into a computer serial port. I have a Powerex 600A 1200V IGBT that I purchased surplus off of ebay. This should provide more than enough current-handling capability. If I size the filter caps right, it should be able to handle at least 200V or more. I'm also working on an LCD interface using a 16x2 44780-controlled blue LCD, which is easily interfaced with the PIC.

Initially, it will probably be a pretty bare-bones setup, but later on I hope to add features like built in cruise control, current limiting, RPM limiting, throttle endpoint adjustment, and more. That's the great thing about building these things yourself- once you have the basic power stages and driver complete, you can add all kinds of crazy features for very little cost, often by just adding a few lines of code.

Anyway, I've got some more to report, but I think this post is long enough... I'll try to add some more updates ASAP.