Friday, June 27, 2008

New Developments

More new developments than Frank Sartor's backyard! That's just a little joke about the ugly and crowded place I used to live, before moving to paradise...

The battery lawnmower has finally died. It was fine during the drought but now that we've had a lot of rain, the grass simply launched a frontal assault and overwhelmed the poor battery. Oh well, that's what you get for buying "Made in China". So we're back to borrowing a incredibly polluting 4-stroke when the grass needs cutting.

It has, however, given me a veritable shower of spare parts to play with. Ev-conversion in minature, if you like.

The motor itself is about double the size of a coke can. That's the green cylinder with the wires sticking out. It has no markings at all so I can't find the power ratings. The black part near the shaft is the adapter plate. I've flipped it out so you can see how my larger electric motor will fit to the transmission.

I've also salvaged a small battery charger, a switch and some wires. There was some left over copper water pipe from renovations at work, and my boss said I could have it if I wanted. Shwing!!! - hammered it out and now I have my bus bar as well. All up, not a bad week!

I've also got a quote for the pot box from Bylong industries. It will be $130 including postage and tax, so I've almost got enough saved up for that... Should be able to get it and the motor at the same time using my tax refund...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pizza night

Once again, I can't sleep due to having eaten pizza for dinner. There's definitely a pattern emerging....

As fuel prices rise, the debate about EVs consumes more and more space in the news. Inevitably, the blogs are containing commonly-held but unsubstantiated opinions (mostly in the negative). For instance:

"ELECTRIC cars are not “zero emissions vehicles”, Stewart Prins. They simply transfer the point of emissions from the tailpipe of the vehicle to the smokestack of the electricity generating plant. In Australia, where most of the electric power is generated by burning dirty coal, that means they put just as much CO2 into the atmosphere as if running on petrol. Electric vehicles are only green if the generating network is nuclear or hydro power. "
Gordon Drennan
Burton, SA

This is a common one, and for once I don't have to provide a response: another citizen has done it for me:

"Though it is true that the emission levels of an electric vehicle depend largely on the source of the electricity, it is dead wrong to claim that electric vehicles produce as much emissions as a regular vehicle.
Fully electric vehicles have an fuel efficiency equivalent of 1.5L/100km, as compared to regular petrol and diesel fueled cars which use between 5-15L/100km-largely due to the greater efficiency of a cyclical motor over a reciprocating engine(about 80% compared to 20%). To put it another way, an electric car consumes about 0.1 to 0.3kw-h/km traveled, wheras the average petrol driven vehicle uses the equivalent of about 1.3kw-h/km.
In short, what this amounts to is a minimum CO2 reduction of 55% compared to regular vehicles, even if the source of power is “dirty coal”. If natural gas, biomass gas or some form of renewable energy is the source, then the reduction in CO2 emissions can run as high as 99%. However, of greater importance is that electric and hybrid electric vehicles also significantly reduce, or totally eliminate, the emission of benzene (a carcinogen), particulate emissions (a cause of lung disease and asthma), MMT (a cumulative neurotoxin), carbon monoxide (a poison) and nitrogen dioxide (a corrosive agent which produces photochemical smog)-plus they reduce your yearly fuel and vehicle maintenance bills.
Surely these are reasons enough for us to encourage a wider distribution of hybrid and fully electric vehicles for both individual and public transportation."

I'm currently in the middle of drawing up plans for the adapter plate and battery racks while I save up for components. I'll post them up here once I'm finished. Also, Gavin from has kindly advertised my efforts on his website - hopefully some donations will be forthcoming.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The future of oil: electricity

Here's Richard Heinberg on The 7:30 Report last night talking about oil. The price isn't going to come down significantly ever, and the future is electricity, because that's what all our renewable energy sources create. Simple logic, huh?


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chinese Tea and the Electric Car

Amazing parallels between the development of steam boats and Electric Cars.

Breaking up is so hard on the bowser...

Ahh Oil, we’ve had plenty of good times together haven’t we?
Remember me learning to drive… buying my first car… our first road trip together. We’ve made some pretty good memories… you and I.
But if I’m honest I think we should start seeing other fuels. The last thing I want to do is hurt you but I think we are just drifting apart, heading in separate directions. You are having such a fantastic career, you’ve really found your niche and that more expensive demographic really suits you.
I know your parents in the Middle East are really proud; $100 a barrel, wow, you’ve really made it
. But you know I’m not that kind of guy, it’s just not my world. It was great when your career was just starting to grow and we could afford to spend a lot of time together, we could just hop in the car and go for a drive, just because we felt like it. Our relationship used to be about freedom, the open road, but now that you’re moving on with you life I feel like I’m being left behind, playing catch up.
It’s taking big sacrifices in other areas of my life to keep this relationship alive, it seems like every week I’m have to put in more and more but you just stay the same.
I’m starting to question whether or not its worth all the effort.
Let’s face it you’re a bit high maintenance, making all these demands about your needs for us to stay together. First it was just lubricant, but now you want me to get coolant and filters. It’s all too much.

Actually, Oil, I have a confession to make… I haven’t been entirely faithful.
It started out on the internet; it was just a bit of innocent fun. You were asking more and more of me and I just needed an escape. It started off just looking, only at fuels that were way out of my reach, I thought nothing would ever happen, it was just a silly fantasy.
I mean, can you imagine me with a solar car, or even a fuel cell? I wasn’t being realistic.
But when I went back to you it just didn’t feel the same. The spark that we had wasn’t there anymore; our relationship seemed dry and lifeless.

But then I met somebody that made me feel alive again. Sure it wasn’t what I expected; you and her are just so different. Well, yes you do know her actually, remember my childhood sweetheart? Yeah - batteries…
No, no she’s not like that anymore, she does way more than just toys now. She’s really turning her life around, she’s got work in laptops and cameras and she’s lost a lot of weight too, she’s looking really slim. She’s improved so much as a fuel source since we last saw each other.
She’s been working on her coal addiction too, going to renewable energy meetings. She’s learnt how to deal with her needs constructively, getting her energy from healthy sources like solar and wind. It’s really refreshing to see someone who is so independent and grounded.
She doesn’t need to go to exotic places around the world to recharge, she’s happy to just stay at home.
I’m actually thinking I’ll probably move out with her soon, we’re thinking we’ll just get a little car together on our own; we’ll build it ourselves to start with.
Maybe one day we’ll get one built by a proper car maker, but until then we’re happy to make things work in our own home built car. As long as we are together that’s all that matters.
sorry it has to end, honestly there is no hard feelings.
And you’ll bounce back from this, you still have your friends. I’m sure there is a rich, handsome sports car owner that will really appreciate you and give you everything you need, even as your career gets less and less mainstream. But I just can’t get batteries out of my head; I think we’re going to make a long and happy life together.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Quick update

This one's just a quick update: The distance the transaxle cable travels is 3cm, zero to full. That's the distance I'll need to replicate with the pot box.

On the issue of public charging, I've already mentioned that our local mega-shopping-centre (Logan Hyperdome) has no charging facilities. I'm thinking of asking them nicely to put in some power points, using these lovely centres as an example:

Westpoint shopping centre Enter via the Woolworths entrance (red level - lowest). When coming down the main entrance ramp, turn hard left and look for the powerpoints on the pillar on the corner and EV signage - park in the dedicated EV parking spots.
Woolworths - Round Corner, 494/500 Old Northern Road Underground car-park; look for signage and the dedicated EV parking spots on the far left-corner.
Westfield Hornsby - Cnr of Florence and Hunter Power points are located around the walls on most levels. Best to park early to be sure to find a spot near a power point.

This list is from SydneyAEVA (

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Modifying the throttle

I've got a pretty good idea what needs to be done to make the Pot Box throttle keep the transmission happy, while making it rev higher, longer (to suit the electric motor). It's all been flowing around in my head and it's finally come out on paper.
Firstly, there's a photo of the throttle in a previous post. It pivots when the accelerator cable (top) is pulled (by pressing down on the pedal) and this pulls the transmission cable (bottom) out to tell the transmission "I'm revving hard, keep it as low as you can for as long as you can".

I want to keep this information flowing, even increase it (to suit the higher - revving electric motor) while using the electric motor and pot box instead of the petrol engine.
So: I need to find out some specs. Here are two diagrams of the throttle assembly, showing it at "closed" and "open". As you can see from the red arrow, the top bit is pulled to the right by the accelerator pedal cable.

In the second pic, I need to find out the distance described by the red arrow. This will tell me the information I need to "maintain" when replacing the throttle. If "pull transmission cable out 3cm" = "Keep it in for an extra 1,000 RPM" that's the distance I need to replicate when linking the accelerator pedal cable to the Pot Box. Since the Pot Box has a shorter arm (and therefore travel distance), I'll need to modify/extend a lower arm to keep the transmission happy.

I'll be seeing my wife's grandfather (retired engineer) at a party tomorrow night, and I'll put it to him as an engineering challenge. I'm sure he won't be able to resist.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Donations and injuries

I cut my hand at work. It's not bad - a little more than a paper cut but it's right in the centre of my left palm so lifting or holding anything in that hand is impossible. Looks like the car will have to stay un-measured and un-cleaned for a few days while I heal up.

In better news, I've had a few donations over the past few days which have really perked me up! It's so good to see people taking an interest in this project and - best of all - helping me fund it. Thanks again - you know who you are.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Cracked the transmission riddle

Good news. The governor will automotically sense the transmission speed and shift naturally, even with the electric motor attached. The key is to modify the throttle input so the governor thinks the revs are climbing slower than they actually are. This will delay the shift a little and make life easier for the motor and the transmission.

Here's a shot of the throttle linkage:

The top cable pulls the throttle open when the pedal is pressed. This in turn PULLS the lower cable and tells the governor that the car is accellerating. If the pedal is "to the metal", the governor will tell the transmission not to shift yet, and keep it in lower gear a bit longer.

By lengthening the link arm and changing the angle, I can tell trick the governor into thinking the car is ALWAYS "pedal to the metal" and keep it in lower gear until it suits the electric motor.

In other news: I've emailed Queensland Transport (our motoring authority) for information/requirements for EV conversion. After a week and a half - nothing except an automated reply saying "we are committed to great customer service and will get back to you within 7 days."

I'm not in the least surprised, and I was never holding my breath. I'll give them another week and then use the phone.

I also sent an email to our local monster shopping centre - the Logan Hyperdome. This has one of the largest carparks in Qld but absolutely no facility for recharging EVs. I wonder if I can apply some gentle pressure and get them to install a power point or two.