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

Monday, August 11, 2008

Life With An EV

I know I'm way over due on a blog posting and everyone has been waiting for a update on what it's like "Driving a EV". Well the best way for me to explain what it's like to drive my S10 EV is to tell you to imagine driving what ever car you have - just the way you do now - fast or slow - but you only have a one gallon gas tank. Which means you can only go say 35 miles before you have to stop and fill up. Lucky for you since you only have a tiny gas tank, is that you can fill it up anywhere your 30ft cord can plug into a 120v outlet. And best of all it only costs about a $1.50 to fill up.

What's the catch? You have to fill your tiny gas tank using a eye dropper. So getting that 1 gallon worth of energy into your car takes about 8-12 hours. Charging on 120V is slow and at best is only about 50% efficient, so there is a lot of waste heat. Since my garage is air conditioned I charge the truck outside. I put up a canopy so that the truck is protected from all the droppings from the trees. The canopy also lets me keep the windows down, and the EV out of the sun so I don't notice the lack of A/C as much.

Batteries don't like cold so I'll keep it in the garage this winter. The excess heat given off during charging will just keep the garage warm (it's heated). I can charge with 220V using a buck transformer I got off of eBay and that is much more efficient. Charges in 4-6 hours on 220V and is about 70% efficient.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Plug and Drive

Well I did it. I bought an EV - the truck I drove back on June 24th. Sammy and his wife dropped the truck off after work. I got the title transfered and a new tag earlier today. So far I've driven it into the garage! I got the computer booted and looked at the SOC (state of charge), pack voltage, etc. I decided not to recharge it tonight. Lighting and lights blinking. I'll let the bad weather clear up and charge it in the AM. Sammy suggested that I charge it while I'm home so I can keep an eye on it until I get used to it.

Click the picture to see the ones I took of my truck. More to come. I need to wash and give it a cleaning before I take the glamour shots.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

How I spent my 4th of July

A friend of mine, Dexter, invited be down to run in the 2008 Peachtree Road Race. He pinged me back in March , and I sent in my entry form in April. I pretty much had given up on getting picked in the lottery for one of the 55K out of state entries. But I was lucky, and the 1st week of June my race package and number (98411) arrived in the mail. So I drove down on the July 3rd.

I drove to Dexter's house north of Atlanta and met his family. Dexter's brother, Rick, came down from Baltimore to run in the race, so the three of us set out about 10PM for downtown Atlanta to spend the night with Dexter's Dad Roy. We got up at 5:45AM, and Roy dropped us at the MARTA station where we met up with Dexter's wife, Jan, Little Dexter, his fiancée Leila, and Cynthia at the station and rode the subway to Lenox Square which is where the race started. Rick and I had numbers in the same range, so we waited together. We started running at about 9AM , me with cell phone and camera in hand. By chance, Roy and I saw each other as I jogged by, but I missed getting that picture. My camera is slower than me :-(.

I was almost to the 1st mile marker when Dexter called to let me know he was done! He flew.. Sub 59 minutes for a 10K. His group when off earlier. I finished 1 hour 29 minutes 44 seconds... Slow.... 14:09 per mile average. Over a minute per mile slower than my already slow summertime pace. I did take a lot of pictures! I hope you enjoy them.

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.