Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Great Scott!

Wow - I can't think of a cooler platform for an EV than a Delorean. I think that the power cables should go on the outside of the car.

The real question is, how fast can it hit 88 miles an hour? I feel like I'm leaving something out about the battery pack being able to generate 1.21 jigawatts of electricity.

Here is the site.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

DeWALT Batteries for an EV

While this isn't the first time rechargeable tool batteries have been used to power an EV, these are some pretty special batteries. Pictured above is Drill Bike. The EVAlbum page is here and the website is here.

One of the interesting aspects of the Drill Bike build is that the batteries were not physically altered. The builder bought a bunch of rechargeable flashlights and sawed those up to provide a dock for each battery. Very cool!

The build is based on 36V batteries that were designed by A123 Systems for DeWALT. Apparently EV nuts aren't the only ones interested in these batteries. It turns out that the RC crowd is taking them apart for use in various radio controlled endeavors. For example, LBMiller5 took one apart here and shared the steps.
Interestingly, each battery pack has its own integrated battery management system. That's pretty cool.

Will the EV550 use these batteries? I'm not sure yet - but I'll be scoping out these batteries pretty closely.

Friday, July 31, 2009


How on earth have I missed this concept / website for so long?
"Gridbeamers are the Grid Beam Users Group united to build a better world through logical thinking and reuseable parts."
Basically, the idea here is to build an erector set system for larger projects. Brilliant! I love coming up with projects and playing with them, but tearing them apart for re-use is really a paint. Enter, the GridBeam:

If you think that this is just some square stock with uniform holes drilled in it, then you are absolutely correct. I love it!

Check out this project... It's an EV! It's a small one, but I can see how the GridBeam approach could help build a normal EV. The first thing that comes to mind is battery racks. It's a whole lot less intimidating to build a rack of out these than to weld from scratch for some builders.

I can almost picture it now - build up a car frame and keep tweaking it until I like it. Then, when everything is running the way it should, mold some fiberglass over foam and voila! My new custom EV is all ready to go!

This is pure simplicity - wonderful!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

BatterySpace now carrying ThunderSky batteries

BatterySpace is now carrying the ThunderSky batteries here.

The above is the 3.2V 200Ah battery. ThunderSky makes even bigger batteries (I never noticed until I was digging around the ThunderSky site for links) like this 9000AH battery for submarines:

That's a serious battery.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Plasmaboy EV Racing

If you haven't heard of PlasmaBoy EV Racing, check them out. They built the White Zombie which has been blowing the doors of traditional ICE dragsters.

And here is some video... It's great seeing this little bitty car tear up the competition on the drag strip.

I'm always fascinated by the comments for EV's on YouTube. My favorite topic is "well, the power comes from Coal anyway so why bother"

"very cool, electric has possibilities, can definitely be fast, but incredibly boring on a visceral sense, at least to a spectator... the claim of not polluting is a joke, coal plants are THE number one sources of manmade greenhouse emissions, and the batteries themselves are highly polluting, mostly in disposing of them... but speed rules... if you're into sci-fi, and spaceships with futuristic power, electric seems the next stage... but i just wish it had some SOUND that was appealing, ya know?"
Fortunately, I'm starting to see more correct information being posted:
"When the well to wheel (total energy uses and conversions) emissions of a gasoline and electric car are compared, even if all of the power to run an electric car comes from coal fired power plants, it only produces one fifth of the pollution as a gas car. Considering the entire power grid and not just coal, electric cars produce, on average, only 3% of the pollution that gas cars do. Way to go Zombie!"
The more we can educate the masses, the more likely people will demand EV's. Good work PlasmaBoy! This is a great way to chip away at the "Golf Cart" performance stereotype/

Treasure Trove of EV Information

Recently, I've been scoping out Jack Rickard's videos on his Porsche and Mini Cooper EV conversions. Here are the links:

  • YouTube Channel - There are two series - one on the Porsche which talks about the Porsche as well as Jack's reasons for putting together an EV. There is great information here about battery management as well as charging.
  • Web Page - Not a great looking site but it points to a bunch of resources.
In particular, I like how Jack's shoes matches the color of the mini:

There is some really good in-depth information on dealing with batter balancing and how to charage a large battery pack. Jack is using the Thunder Sky batteries that I've been looking at longingly for some time. This is the same company that provided the batteries for Kearon's Ford Capri conversion.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Power Supply

Here's a little project that I've been meaning to get to since before the big move to the new house - building a benchtop power supply out of spare computer parts. Why build a power supply? Good question - lots of answers:
  • The only motorcycle battery I currently have is in my running Kawasaki Vulcan. I don't really want to spend time disconnecting the battery from that bike just for bench testing (there is no way that I would test stuff while hooked up to my bike).
  • I would rather not have to fool with recharging a battery just for testing
  • I've been itching to solder something and do an electronics project.
  • If I really mess something up, the power supply is smart enough to shut down rather than fry itself. If I cross the leads on a battery, ouch (I've heard that it's like crossing the streams).
  • This power supply also outputs +5v and -12v. I'm sure that will be handy for an electronics project sooner or later.
Behind every great project (and even mediocre ones like this) is usually list of semi-willing contributors:
  • Chris H for providing phone support while in Radio Shlock picking up parts (the power resistor worked like a champ).
  • Tim M for providing the donor power supply.
  • Ulysses and Wendy for the gift certificate that bought the heat shrink tubing.
  • Mr Barrowman for letting me play with breadboards in Technology class during the formative years.
Turning an ATX power supply into a benchtop power supply has been done many times by people who take much better pictures than I would, so here is what I used (there are many available online, but this is what I stumbled on):
  • This was a nice simple post on to build the unit. It even had some notes for making a more simple setup (no switches, LEDs, etc).
  • Instructables via Make - This was an okay set of instructions, except for a few key issues (the plan was more complicated than I wanted - I just wanted to plug it in - no switch necessary). More importantly, the plan called for a fused ground (readers tore the author a new one for that in the comments). That's not a safe / cool way to fuse a circuit, so I didn't do that.
Things I Learned
I always learn something from these projects.
  • I really need a better soldering iron. I still have my old nasty 30W pencil from Radio Shack. Specifically, I need something that I can rank up the heat on for soldering larger gauge wires. Make has had a lot of articles about just this sort of thing lately.
  • I need a better soldering station. I'm using an old sponge for cleaning and a screwdriver rack to hold my iron. It's neither safe or efficient.
  • Heat Shrink tubing is just cool as hell. It really makes a project look nice and neat. I think that it's a bit more robust than electric tape as well.
  • I should have drawn the circuit before I started. It was a dirty simple setup, but drawing it out would have saved some unbundling of "unused" wires. My workbench is a whiteboard, so there's no excuse there.
  • I should have saved the rest of the computer that I pulled the power supply from. It had handy things like LEDs that would have made the project look a little more nifty. Although it should be noted that it's pretty obvious when the power supply is on because the fan is louder than hell.
  • Wearing eye protection while drilling isn't as dumb as it sounds. My drill bit caught and spun the power supply around while the wires whipped around and broke one of my favorite Coke glasses. Darnit.
It looks like the "cool" way to build the unit is to stick the fan on the outside of the power chassis. I didn't really need any extra room on the inside, so I just left it where it was (the wires for the fan were pretty short anyway so this was the lazy option).

Now I can get to work on getting some of the basic electronics kicking on the bike (signals, brake lights, etc).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Two brakes are better than one

This has been a productive week. I just finished getting the front brake all hooked up and working. I was really surprised - everything worked on the first try! I was tempted to skip the teflon tape when I was connecting the brake line, but thought better of it.

All I did was run a bunch of fluid through the system to flush it out and it's good to go! Tonight's run around the cul-de-sac was smooth and uneventful considering I had two working brakes (front and rear). Yay!

I would have had the speedometer cable hooked up, but unfortunately I can't find that cable. I can find every other cable (Tach cable, clutch cable, throttle cables) except that one. I'm hoping that it's just hiding in one of my totes or something like that. If not, I'm hoping it won't be too hard to find a replacement.

I'm getting to the point where I really need to find some actual EV bits - like a motor, controller, batteries, etc. Sweet!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rolling Chassis!

It's back! I was so excited that I took the chassis for a spin around the cul-de-sac. As it turns out, my street is much more downhill then I ever suspected. Fortunately, the back brake (while not fully adjusted) operated enough to prevent another trip to the hospital.

While trying to figure out how to fill the forks with oil, I ran across this little gem from Walmart:

While it looks like something from a slasher flic, it's a "Flavor Injector." It has two stellar properties that I needed:
  • It was accurate enough to measure the amount of oil I need to inject
  • The needle part allowed me to inject the oil down in the fork itself instead of waiting for it to drain in slowly. I customized the syringe by cutting of the end, but otherwise it performed brilliantly.
Next up is finishing up the front brake. After I took the pic, I went ahead and mounted the front caliper and the brake lever. The pads and the master are in great shape, but some of the bits in-between might need some love. The bits are around 35 years old, so it's a wonder any of it works at all.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Rear is in Gear

Well, it's not really in gear per se, but the back tire is on! And you were probably thinking that because it took me eons to get the rear brake apart that it would take me forever to get it back together. Well you were wrong!

The drawback of it taking so long to get the bike back together is that I had to do a lot of referring to the manual to make sure I was getting everything back in the right place. Fortunately, I only had to put the sprocket on twice. Also, I'm not putting the cotter pins or torquing anything down until it's all together and lined up correctly. In particular, it looks like getting the rear brake pedal adjusted is going to take a bit of fiddling. The good news, however, is that it (the brake) seems to work fine even after my taking it apart and cleaning it up.

The next step is to get the front forks back together and get the front wheel back on. Then it will be looking like a proper motorcycle again!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


If you haven't already seen it, there is a sweet open source DC controller project in the works by the name of ReVolt (I dig the name).

The controller is one of the more expensive bits of an EV. It looks like building this yourself would save gobs of money (a good thing).

The project is still getting off the ground, but a few prototypes have been put together and it looks like it's working well. I'm excited because this hits on all the cylinders of my interest in building EV's:
  • It's DIY so I have the pride of building it and I know how to fix it if it goes wrong
  • It's cheap
  • Did I mention it's cheap?
The designer of the unit is trying to get some kits together to make it easier for non electronics pros (e.g. me) put together a unit pretty easily.

Once I get the bike to a rolling chassis, I plan on putting one of these together. The idea is that I'll testbed the controller in the bike and either re-use or make another one for my eventual car conversion.

Head on over to Paul and Sabrina's EV Stuff for more information on the controller and some videos of their conversion in motion.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Victory is mine!

Yay! I finally got the rear drum brake assembly separated from the axle! A while back, I was a bit flummoxed on how to remove it. It wasn't textbook, but a monkey wrench, some cursing and a whole lot of PB blaster eventually delivered victory.

I'm stoked - now I can start putting everything back together and get back to a rolling chassis.

The new shop is up and running

Moving day has come and gone. Finally, I'm all settled in the new space.

The new shop a big improvement over the old one in many ways... For one, I took the time to epoxy the floors before moving everything in. Also, this garage has a cutout that was a perfect fit for my workbench. It's nice being able to have the workbench recessed because it doesn't take up valuable floorspace.

The EV bike isn't in frame for these shots, but it's there! Another bonus for this garage because the workbench has its own little cutout, I was able to set up shelves all along the back of the garage for storage. Finally, all of my spare parts are in one place (instead of the basement, attic, etc).

Now that everything is set up, I don't have an excuse not to get back to work on the bike!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Nail in the Tire

Wow - I dodged a bullet on this one. First of all, while I'm still working on my EV bike project, I do still need to get out and ride, so I do have an ICE bike. It's an old 85 Vulcan 700 - a cool bike. It was ahead of it's time in several ways (two spark plugs for each cylinder, auto canceling turn signals, hazard signal function, etc).

I just put this bike on the road recently and had to get a new back tire to pass inspection. No problem it's money well spent. Less than 200 miles later, I picked up a nail. What is more odd is the way in which it lodged in the tire. When I picked up the bike at the shop (they've been in business for years and have seen a lot of tires), they asked me if I had been shot at with a nail gun.

That tire was so new it still had the little nipple things in the center of the tire. *sigh*

The odd thing is that I remember when I picked it up. I was riding along the Blue Ridge Parkway, I started hearing a subtle but strange high pitched sound from the right hand side of the bike. Well, that's where the nail lodged. I had only been riding this bike for a short time, so I didn't stop and check. I wish I had - the last part of my ride had me doing over 60 MPH on a separated highway.

While I normally examine my tires from time to time to make sure that nothing is wrong, my wife beat me to it. She was down in the garage and said "OMG - look at that!".

So, I now have a new tire. I hate having to pay again, but it beats tire failure!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

EV Biker is moving shop

No, I'm not moving my blog. My actual shop is moving! We're moving house, so instead of doing cool things like getting my forks back on the bike, I've been busy packing up the bike and associated parts for the new place.

The new place has a slightly larger garage, which is always a good thing. Also, instead of the two garage doors, there's one big honkin' door. Also, a good thing. This garage even has a bumpout which should allow me to put my work bench / tool chests in there instead of taking up so much room in the garage itself.

Some other good news is that an EV will be much more practical at the new location. Right now, I live on a very steep mountain and am about 12 miles away from the closest town worth visiting. At the new place, my wife will only have about a 4 mile commute (down from over 25 miles), so when I build the EV car, she'll be able to drive that to work.

Of course, this all means that I'm going to be spending all my time getting my garage set up with all of my tools and supplies that are currently in storage. My biggest fear is losing some important parts in the move. I've been very carefully bagging items and putting them all in totes. In the end I'll be better off because I previously had parts scattered in the basement, in the attic, in the garage, etc. All of the parts are going to be in one room once we've moved.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nerdgasm - casting pulleys

Holy crap - this is just plain awesome. This guy did sand casts of some pulley he needed for his EV bike conversion. Wow... My favorite part is him throwing old aluminum hard drive frames into the vat to be recycled. That's cool.

Great. Now I need to find a CNC mill machine. I'm sure those aren't cheap. The rest of the bits look pretty easy to come by though! Well, the metal lathe looks kind of expensive too. Okay, I won't be setting this up this weekend, but it's still cool as heck.

Here is the project page.

via Make

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Too cold for paintwork, turning to woodwork.

It has turned cold again, so no more painting for a little while. I couldn't stay out of the garage though, so I did make a little progress. I added the original speedometer back (not a big deal, two bolts). It is mechanical and runs off of the front wheel, so I'll just re-use it as is.

One problem that I've had with my fancy shmancy motorycle lift is my old small bike frame doesn't fit well on the jack. I've heard that you can buy different adapters for your life, but that just seemed like a good way to spend money without getting what I wanted. I had some lumber left over from a previous project so I used that to make some platforms for the frame. It only took a few minutes, but now I can securely lash the frame to the jack and not worry about it coming loose.

Forunately, I had previously picked up two extra long bungy cords that I figured I could use someday. Well, today is that day. Those cords are perfect for lashing down the frame.

I'm still working on my nemesis, the rear axle. That involves spraying some PB Blaster, beating the snot out of it, cursing, then leaving it to soak longer. I might have to bring it out in the sun on a warmer day to see if I can expand the sleeve a bit before the axle warms up.

Some other fiddly bits I've been playing with are the rear foot pegs. Nothing complicated there, but I stripped them apart and prepped them for paint. It was so cold that the rubbing alcohol I was using to clean them off wouldn't evaporate. Dejected, that's when I decided to make the blocks for the motorcycle lift.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


With every project, there is at least one part that causes more headache than the entire rest of the project. For me, that's the rear axle. Holy crap. The rest of the bike was in remarkable shape when I took it apart. The rear axle however has rusted to something inside of the brake assembly.

My first victory was getting the rear brake assembly to come apart. However, the axle is still stuck. I have put about a gallon of PB Blaster on it and have whacked the absolute crap out of it but still it remains. When the day arrives that I can finally remove the axle, I will wield the shaft like Excalibur itself.

Child Labor

I had some extra help in the shop. Having some extra hands to degrease nasty parts is really nice. The two girls were kind enough to clean up the rear fender for me. They did a great job!

They kept on asking for things to put together, so we ended up getting the bike a little closer to a rolling chassis:

It's starting to look like a bike!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Some EV Bike Inspiration

Here is a cool video I found today of a Honda Rebel conversion. Even though my 74 CB550 is over 30 years old, it's amazing how similar the frame design is between the two bikes.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Well Hung Frame

Last night, motivation struck and I made some serious progress on the bike. First, I took apart and cleaned both of my forks. It turned out to be not nearly as scary as I thought it would to break those down. I didn't take any pics of that process, but I did get to painting the frame - finally!

I did as much prep work as my patience would allow. That consisted using my faithful dremel tool (well, I have a cheap Harbor Freight knockoff) to take down the little spots of rust. I then roughed up the paint with some sandpaper. After that I blew the whole bike off with all compressed air. Finally, I wiped it down with rubbing alcohol.

Here is the bike before priming:

Here it is with the primer. I was able to do the whole bike with a can of primer, with plenty of primer left over. This is another good reason to convert a bike - there isn't as much surface area to work with when you compare it to a car.

Here is a shot of my professional hanging apparatus. These are some chains I found in my bins (they came from various hanging lighting fixtures and other projects). And yes, I'm just hanging it off my of garage door opener frame. It's conveniently located in the middle of the garage, so it works well. Note the little piece hanging from the chain on the right. That's the little piece that holds the gauges.

I actually got the first coat of black paint on last night. I'll take some pictures after my second coat tonight.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Toolbox Upgrade

Finally, we got a break in the weather. It has been very cold here as of late and that has slowed progress significantly. So, when a nice 63 degree shows up, do I start sanding the frame down? Of course not! I found a great deal on a toolbox and couldn't say no.

This was a floor model at Kmart. Ever since Sears bought Kmart, I've enjoyed browsing the tool section there for good deals on tools. Here are the shiny new toolboxes:

I went to town and organized all of my tools. I've been getting more and more organized with my tools - my garage time is limited and I don't like spending the whole time looking for tools.

This was a huge upgrade to the way I was storing tools. As you can see, I added some black drawer liner to protect the toolbox and keep the tools from moving around too much.

If you look closely, you'll notice that I had to drill out the lock on the top toolbox. This is how I got the units so cheap - they were floor models and the keys were missing. They were already knocked way down in price when I showed up, but the manager was kind enough to take some more money off for the lack of keys.

I actually tried to pick the lock before drilling. It was an utter failure. I know more about how locks work now, and I think I had the theory down, but in practice I won't be picking locks Magnum PI style anytime soon.

Before, this was my main toolbox:

It's a solid toolbox, and I'm going to keep using it. My dad gave me this toolbox when I left for college and I've been using it ever since. While it is too small to hold all of my tools now, it will make a great toolbox for keeping all of my files / allen wrenches, etc. I'm going to clean it up and add some drawer liner.

Here is the toolcart I was using:

This was actually pretty handy. I should have taken a picture of this before I took all of my tools off of it. I had the little black toolbox on the bottom and all of my screwdrivers in the little tool rack on the side. This was a very inexpensive way to keep all my tools together. Whenever I did work on the car (brake jobs come to mind), I would just wheel this little guy over to where I was working. It saved a lot of walking back and forth to the toolbox. Since I'm still recovering from a pretty stellar ankle injury, the less walking I have to do on the hard concrete floor, the better.

It will still be handy to have a cart, but I'll take off the tool holder apparatus.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What the Fork?

Ok, so I thought I was going to work on the frame next. Well, I was trying to order some parts to rebuild the forks with, but unfortunately the guys at Honda weren't entirely sure which parts I would need. They recommended that I break down the forks to see what they had. The old exploded images of parts aren't entirely clear, so they wanted to be sure they were getting me the right stuff.

I felt inspired last night, so I went to work on the forks for the bike. Well, one of the forks anyway. What I've found out so far is that it takes longer to degrease / clean up what I'm working on that it does to actually do what I set out to do.

For example, I had hoped to take both forks apart so that I knew exactly what to order. Well, I didn't get either fork apart. I spent the whole evening just cleaning up one fork.

Here's what I started with:

And here is what I ended up with after much scrubbing, brushing, power drill work, etc:

It's not factory or anything, but it looks a lot better than it did when I started. The hardest part was getting the nasty inspection sticker off. It had been on there since 05. Underneath the inspection sticker were all sorts of dings from years of abuse. When I get this on the road, I'll add one of those cool flaps of metal to put the stickers on.

I did manage to drain the remaining fork oil out (there wasn't much left). I'll get to use my handy-dandy ring-clip pliers to take these bad boys apart.