High School Tech Ed Electronics teacher and his students build an EV
My students and I have been following the development of the electric car with great concern and frustration. We felt the car companies were “holding back” – either not making them affordable or simply not allowing the performances to be what was possible. So my students and I decided to build a working prototype of an electric vehicle from off- the- shelf parts that could be recycled. We named the adventure Project EV and the EV itself would be called “Endurance.”
Because we had no budget (as you would expect for a small high school), we knew we had to be frugal and inventive. Our (internet) research quickly led us to select a PVC pipe chassis design from a nice fellow in Florida. He also suggested using bike wheels and a neat DC brushless motor that was originally designed for E-bikes. A local school supporter gave us $595 for the electronics and a plumber donated much of the pvc pipe. Initially, a few people doubted us, insisting we were just building a “go-cart.” ”It’s an EV,” I proclaimed….people shook their heads and walked away. We began in early January of 2013.
Two seniors, Zach and Ryan, worked together for 4 months. I chose 2 “skinny” kids to drive – Hannah and Alec. Team EV learned to measure, cut and glue PVC pipe. Soon, Endurance was assembled, painted, and wheels and steering were added. They also learned about automotive front ends from Endurance’s king pin and tie-rod adjustments. Terminology, such as caster, camber and toe-in rolled off their tongues. We reviewed miles per gallon equivalent math, distance on a charge, and battery charging rates. We then installed the DC motor and fabricated a wiring harness to connect the controls, regenerative braking, the three sealed lead-acid, 12-volt, 18 ah batteries, and charge port (which made Endurance a Plug-In Electric Vehicle or PIEV). They added a multimeter, which acted as a “digital gas gauge” and even wired a switch for reverse!
By late April, Endurance was ready for its maiden voyage. Surprised and a bit reluctant, my Principal agreed to let us test Endurance on the schools’ running track. So, that very Sunday, my engineers and drivers, with Endurances’ fully charged batteries, made history. They drove Endurance flat out at her top speed of 18 mph for 24 miles before the batteries ran down, even though we calculated it would only run for 18 miles! Endurance performed magnificently, and achieved 422 MPGe, exceeding our expectations!!
It was a wonderful day for the “little guy” and the long-ignored potential of our Tech Ed department. We proved an old teacher with bad eyesight and a bunch of kids could make an electric vehicle with parts that were never meant to work together. Soon, 2 local newspapers ran our story and then 2 local TV channels. The kids were on cloud 9 and the naysayers quit laughing. Even our School Committee asked us to bring Endurance to their next meeting for a presentation, which had a standing-room-only audience!
As I said to a local reporter….”Said Victor Hugo…..There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come”…..Project EV was a great idea…and it’s time."
Converted a motorcycle and a car with no previous EV conversion experience
When I first saw "Who Killed the Electric Car?" I couldn’t help but cry a little. It was so sad to see not only all the wasted work that went into the EV-1 and other electric cars, but just how our culture is generally so wasteful and dependent on fossil fuels. Thus started my revenge.
I went to a summer energy fair and saw how easy it was to build an electric bicycle with a kit. A week later, I was cruising all over town on my E-bicycle instead of a car. Unfortunately, car drivers still gave me no respect, not realizing how fast I was riding on what looking like a grandma 10-speed. And pot holes weren’t fun with no suspension and the extra weight of the batteries... If only I had something that looked fast, had high visibility in traffic for safety, and had better suspension.
The next summer, I built my own electric motorcycle, using off-the-shelf parts, and painted it bright yellow to match the batteries. It had great acceleration and didn’t need mufflers! I even played around with building in some speakers to play various engine sound effects! My cycle could be as quite or loud as I wanted it to be. (I even had the George Jetson flying car sound effect loaded in there!) When winter hit, it meant I had to give up the EV motorcycle and go back to a gas car. But by then, I had the experience and confidence to convert a car to electric. Keep in mind that I never took an auto shop class in high school, and I had NO background in electronics, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me!
The following summer, I built my own electric car using salvaged and used parts, and an Open Source controller. With no experience and only $1300 total spent, I had my own electric car! I returned to the energy fair, this time as a presenter, teaching how ANYONE can build their own electric car. My presentation was the biggest single workshop at the biggest energy fair in the country!
Since then, I’ve given presentations all over on electric vehicle construction and have over 1.5 million views on my YouTube account, teaching from my driveway with a home camcorder. I’m a founding member of our local EV club, and routinely win prizes at car and motorcycle shows, usually in a category of all my own. My motorcycle has directly inspired no less than half a dozen people to build their own electric Kawasakis, Harleys, and Goldwings.
Folks have ordered hundreds of copies of my electric car and electric motorcycle instructional DVDs. I’m currently working on getting PV to charge my electric vehicles, and am using a salvaged UPS with my motorcycle to power my entire house in a blackout. I even once got a speeding ticket in my electric car, but that’s a different story.... Read more on my adventures in clean transportation on my blog! http://300mpg.org/
A town prepares for EVs with charging stations and business initiatives
The cost of charging an EV is significantly less expensive than the equivalent cost of gasoline. Consider the following example from Ameren Illinois' recent EV assessment report filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission. A conventional vehicle getting 27.5 mpg and traveling 600 miles per month will cost the owner about $800 a year (assuming gasoline at $3.00/gallon). However, an Ameren customer would expect to pay between $60 to $160 (depending on the rate plan) in electric costs for the same distance.
Public charging stations being built in the town can be outfitted with payment acceptors that require a fee before charging can take place. However, there is an additional cost to adding this feature to the charging stations. Similarly, there is an added installation cost, as well as on-going maintenance fees associated with networking the charging stations to a communications system that supports payment collection. These extra costs are projected to far exceed the cost of providing free charging. As supply of EVs expand, it is expected that these public charging stations will eventually require an access fee.
The EVTown initiative is designed to prepare our community for the rapidly growing EV industry and to make our community more attractive to emerging businesses and their employees, thus strengthening our economic base. It will complement the many other environmental and sustainable initiatives already underway, and it will enhance economic opportunities and the quality of life for our residents.
College student builds an electric BMX bike
I took revenge by making an electric bike! It’s a BMX powered by a 5 kw electric brushless motor originally intended for R/C aircraft. I first fell in love with EVs after a ride on a Tesla, so I decided I needed something electric (but cheap!) too.
I took my brother’s old BMX, which was on its way to the trash, and completely rebuilt it and blessed it with electric power. Despite a decent knowledge about electric power systems coming mainly from my previous project of a solar powered automatic aircraft (known as LUSA), I still had a lot to learn before building a truly useable electric vehicle, so I began to search the Internet, which has been my first source of information since it is the meeting point of a worldwide community of DIY electrical vehicle enthusiasts.
Discussing my project with people from all over the world, representing almost every possible combination of age, profession, ethnicity and so on, felt amazing and gave me a sense of connection with the changing world. I was also surprised by the amount of extremely knowledgeable and skilled people, including a lot of retired engineers, who were extremely kind and willing to teach to a young person like me: this truly pleased me and made me feel like I “was on the right track” with this project.
I kept things rather simple in the conversion: power comes from a 24v 25 Ah lead acid battery and the customized motor is handled by a commercial ESC, but such simplicity hasn’t spoiled things at all, it just gave me more reliability. The bike has LED headlights and a homemade on-board computer as a system status monitor with an LCD. In the city it copes with the traffic far better than anything else, being fast and agile, plus it has basically no access restrictions. Oh, and it is also much fun to drive :-)
I am currently developing my very own brushless motor controller in order to improve its performance and to be driving something that I built almost from scratch. This project got me to know a small but fast growing world of start-up companies and ambitious projects, I got so motivated by all those people working hard on their dreams and beliefs that I started to develop some vehicle-related products with two college mates.
a home built vehicle is such a gigantic satisfaction that as soon as
I’ll be done with college I’ll home-convert my gas-eater Mini to