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Fuquay Varina, North Carolina, United States
A guy finding out if life really does begin at 50.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Driving My 1st BEV

I don't remember the exact date of my 1st EV (Electric Vehicle) ride. It was in San Diego. I was in the 3rd grade. The landlady of the apartment complex we lived in, which was just down the street from Adams Elementary School, had an Electric Cushman 3-wheeler. She used to drive me to little league practice after school. I remember zipping along in it and how quiet it was. The next EV I rode in was October 20, 2007 when Jim Bartlett took several of us for a ride in his 1998 Ford Escort which he had just finished converting from a ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) to a BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle).

Well riding in a EV is cool - BUT - actually driving one is even better. I got to do that on Tuesday. So June 24, 2008 will be one of those days I won't forget. (No I don't remebmer the date of my very 1st kiss but I remember the girl *Amy*). I drove a Chevy S10 convented by US Electricar in 1994. I of course forgot my camera, but the one I drove is similar to the one pictured. It's a 312v battery pack driving a 3 phase AC motor with regenerative braking (meaning the AC motor turns into a generator and charges the battery when slowing or stopping). These trucks are not backyard DIY conversions. US Electricar professionally converted about 90 of these trucks. Click the picture for specs.

Oh... So how did it drive? You ever drive a S10 pickup with an automatic? It zipped right up to 45 mph in a blink, and it does 70 mph down I40. The only difference is no noise, and the 'feel' of the regenerative braking when you take your foot off the accelerator. It has brakes, but the regenerative braking will actually stop the truck depending on which of the regenerative braking settings you use. In the most aggressive setting there is no coasting. You lift off the accelerator and it feels just like you applied the brakes. The other settings are less aggressive and the truck will coast more like an ICE powered vehicle.

Stay tuned for more news related to me testing the waters of EV ownership...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Snake is Bigger than Your Snake

FotoMom (aka Maryann) had a snake in her kitchen for a over night stay on Sunday. Luckily, on Monday, her guest left with a bit of assistance. A happy outcome for both her and the snake.

So as luck would have it late Tuesday morning I was going to the garage and I saw my new friend - Slim - a nice 4ft black snake. I see snakes from time to time, but generally not snooping around the house and garage.

Slim kept on moving and went by the door. It's a 36inch door so Slim is about 4ft tip to tip.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

ShopBot Buddy

JB came in from Maui Wednesday morning. We went to a ShopBot training class on Friday and Saturday. ShopBot is a company in Durham that makes 'personal' CNC machines. Their CNCs are inexpensive, some less than $10K compared to other CNCs costing >$100K-500K. ShopBot CNCs are for wood and not metal but they are amazing machines.

A PC or laptop is used to run the ShopBot. Click the picture to see the album of pictures with some of the neat things that they can do. The tool that cuts the wood is a 3HP router or a spindle turning a 1/4 to 1/2 inch shanked bit and cuts 600 inches/per minute. That means it can cut a dado from end to end of a 8 foot sheet of plywood in less than 10 seconds. They can move the same length in 3 seconds. The video does not do the speed justice. We were cutting at 3 inches a second (poky).

Monday, May 26, 2008

Start of Summer - Nothing new under the sun

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, and you might find yourself taking a trip by car even though gas prices are heading towards $5 a gallon. If you want to put $4-5 a gallon into perspective grab your lawn mower gas can and go fill it up. That little gallon jug will cost you close to $5 to fill up (if you fill it to the top). Don't do what I did and take a 5 gallon container. I about had a stroke! Over $20 for that! It's a totally different feeling when you can see how small that amount of gas is. Filling your vehicle doesn't have the same effect since you can't picture the tank hiding in your car somewhere. Seeing the tiny jug will drive it home.

While I'm on the subject of gallons of gas I'm reminded of a e-mail from my uncle in California. It was a chain e-mail worth reading. If you are one of those happy go lucky types that believe all men are good then just stop reading. If you are more realist and know that the rain falls on the good and the bad you should keep reading. With gas pieces all over the place and changing minute to minute how much does it cost to fill your tank with 13.23 gallons at $3.799 a gallon? Go on, do it in your head (hah).

According to Google:

3.77900 times 13.23 = 49.99617
More about calculator.

That's $50 worth of gas. If you really did that in your head then you can stop reading now too. But if you are like me and always in a hurry and thinking about other things while filling the tank (like when will the pump stop) doing math like is not going to happen unless there is a 5th grader handy. So to keep the math simple stop the pump at 10 gallons and the pump better read $37.79. If it doesn't show the correct price take a picture and leave. Call the state Agriculture Department and report them. If it reads right then continue, but know how many gallons should fill the tank. If you learn it takes 13 gallons to fill up at the quarter of a tank mark you remember that and start filling up at the quarter tank mark every time. No more between the mark fill ups. Get used to this as you fill up around home so that when you stop at that station beside the interstate you'll know their pump is cheating you when it gets to 14 gallons. Better they cheat you out of $5 instead of it slowly dawning on you after say 15, 16, or 17 gallons ($10-20). For sure you need to know how big your tank is. Look in your owners manual and write it on a yellow sticky and put it next to your gas gauge. Once you figure out the quarter tank (and/or eighth tank) fill up write that on the sticky too.

I'm being paranoid you say? Think about it... Looking at that pump is painful. Do you really focus or are you like me just in a hurry for the pain to stop and you get away as fast as you can? Around home you are probably safe and need not worry (much). But at that exit along I95 I wouldn't be so sure.

Memorial Day - a Day of Remembrance

Today is the day we remember those who gave the full measure for our country. I sit here with the freedom to type this blog because of the high price for our freedom paid by those men and women. I owe them all I have and I thank their families for their sacrifice love one. Freedom is not free.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Eye candy...

So it's Saturday, not just any Saturday but a PERFECT blue sky 75 degree North Carolina day. So what do you do on a day like that... Look for eye candy! I found some at the 18th Annual MADE IN THE USA - Car Show. Hope you enjoy the pictures. You'll wish you were here... SAVE UP!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Two cute 20 year olds together add up to one Maryann

Rick e-mail me an invite this week to a surprise birthday party for Maryann at 11am today. I was a little late so I missed the actual surprise part, but still got to have lots of fun and enjoy all the good eats Rick had. Patricia (aka Major Mom) did the cake and really did a wonderful job. She downloaded pictures of Maryann as a little girl and had them printed in edible form. As you can see she did a great job. I thought Patricia placing the pictures on the cake to form a film strip was very creative and a really neat way of decorating it. Maryann was emotional at seeing such a beautiful cake made just for her special day. Click the cake to see the the rest of the pictures I took today.

I wrapped the thumb drive I got Maryann in wrapping paper that I assembled from a old day at a time dog calendar. I also made the paper bow for her present using the instructions I found here. The paper bow was a hit and several folks ask me how I made it. It was fun and easy. If you have a paper cutter it would make cutting the paper into 1 inch wide strips a snap. I just used scissors. I suspect an razor knife would work well. If you use paper only printed on one side like I did I recommend not alternating the sides (A and B). I just used hot glue, but if kids are doing this use some other adhesive.