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

Monday, September 29, 2008

EV on a Budget

Before I got my S10 EV back in July I had ordered a DX bike kit from Zap. It's been on back order since June and it finally came while I was in Boston. The DX is a dual motor 12v kit that you simply bolt onto your existing bike. Goes ~18mph with a range of about 15 miles depending on how much you pedal. It has a regenerative mode which is suppose to help charge the battery when you coast downhill. The motor will assist you as you pedal or you can just sit back and let it do all the work. Going up hill you have to pedal but the ad said... "Lets you take hills like an athlete." If the battery runs down you can just pedal like a normal bike.
As you can see the kit came with everything I needed. The black item in the center with the white "Zap" on it is the pouch for the battery. The motor is just below the pouch, to the left of the small black rectangle which is the battery charger. The silver item on the far left with the black stripe is the battery holder/mount. Inside of it is the motor control module - more about that later. The battery is the large gray rectangle in the middle. Notice the water bottle and cage on my old Cannondale. It has to go to make room for the battery mount. Bummer.
The battery is valve regulated sealed lead acid, so it is heavy. ~16lbs. Yuck. 18amp hours. There is an auxiliary connector that allows you to charge the battery while it is still connected to the bike. Or you can pull the Velcro apart and remove the battery pouch from the bike. The pouch has handles to make carrying the battery easier.
Here is it all installed. Simple. Took about an hour. The battery holder mounts to the frame using pipe clamps. The small black button on the gray battery mount is the on-off switch. The pouch has flaps that mate with the Velcro on the mount and a strap that loops under the mount. The battery is secure, and isn't going to fall out.
The motor mounts to the seat stay with a metal plate. Took a bit to get it adjusted so that the motor will try to 'climb' the tire as it pivots into the tire. This increases the motor's grip (friction) on the tire as the motor shaft rotates. If you pedal (or coast down hill) faster than the motor is turning the tire will push the motor away. Simple but effective design and seemed to work well. There is a lever to lock the motor against the tire if you want the motor to do all the work.

I wish I could say it worked 1st time, but it didn't. I hooked all the connectors up, charged the battery, but nothing happened when I pushed the handle bar mounted switch. Forward for high speed, back for low speed, and center(auto-return) for off. Took me about another hour to debug the problem.
The white/rust colored 3 pin connector in the lower left was shifted over to the left one pin. So only two of the three wires were mated to the pins on the control board. The 'root' cause was actually the large wire next to the 3 pin connector. That wire (spade) connector was flipped so that fat part was towards the 3 pin connector which prevented the white header from being able to slide onto the pin on the right next to the wire. Twisting the spade connector 180 degrees put the 'fat' part away from, and the thin part of the spade towards the 3 pin connector. This allowed enough clearance for the white header to slide over that first pin. No wiring diagram, and of course nothing is labeled. The correction is pictured here.

But after getting the 3 pin connector right, I when for a test ride and I have to say it easily pulled my 225 lbs along at a faster than I pedal normally pace and climbed reasonable grades (small hills) by itself. For sure I will have to pedal some to get up any real hill with the motor doing most of the work. Still too early to judge the range. But I have to say that this kit can take the hard work out of bike riding, while still giving you some exercise. If getting all hot and sweaty riding to work is stopping you from doing it this kit could solve that problem.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Boston's Big Dig

Wally and I made a quick trip to Boston on Monday the 22nd and then back home on the 23rd. Have to say it was perfect fall weather. Stopped by L.L. Bean and got me a nice jacket (no sales tax). While on the way to the airport Wally drove me around some and I was able to get some pictures of the "Big Dig".

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hanna She's No Friend of Mine

I had looked forward to my first weekend watching football. I was in route last weekend back from the UK so I missed Alabama stomping Clemson. Alabama was not on TV here this weekend, which turned out to be a good thing since I ended up being busy. I didn't even get to sleep in on Saturday. I was up at 7am. If you click on the picture and read the comments you'll see why I didn't have time to watch much football this weekend.

Monday, September 1, 2008

My UK Vacation

I'm back from visiting Bob and Julie in Wales. I had a wonderful time and got to see Chris and Jen again. Plus I meet Imogen and really enjoyed getting to know her. Sweetie pie is what we call cuties like her over here - I think treasure was the word they use and I think that fits just fine. Had a pint or two with Geoff a former IBM colleague while I was over there and I have to say I still like those English breakfasts. For those who haven't see them here are the albums - I put comments in them.
Day 1-2, 3, 4, 5-6, 7, and the trip home. Hope you enjoy them and feel like you were there.

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.