Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ever wonder why they don't make gasless donuts?

What you can't see in the vid is the gleeful face of my passenger; a mom from Ruthie's 5th birthday party who after hearing a burnout on the last demo drive said, "Yeah sure, let'er rip!"
But this one was sorta loose, as I didn't even engage the locker. That's for when you wanna pirouette on the front axle! ;-p

Service- my i!

All proper homebuilt EV's have some manner of emergency disconnect that the driver can use to mechanically disconnect the battery pack for either emergent or prudent purposes, such as when servicing the car. Not so with the OEM EV. My i has a 'service plug' to interrupt the high voltage system, but it resides in cramped quarters below the driver's seat, beneath a wing-nutted metal cover.

Not something one can easily access when the pedal sticks at highway speed! (at least our cars have one failsafe in the EVent of 'unintended acceleration'- you only have to avoid obstacles for 20-30 minutes at speed before the car runs out of juice!)

Being undeterred by the multilingual warning label, I removed the safety disconnect's safety cover.
Below here, one operates more on feel than sight, pulling forward the orange lever and lifting up the plug.

The insert has two not-oversized pins for the traction power, and two little signal pins that probably carry 12V. It snaps back in position as easily as it comes out, and the car comes back to life, memories intact.
Happy Motoring!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Since makin my own Volt was so much fun, I had to see how it compares to the real thing... Sooo, I dropped by the Chevy dealer and inquired if they had one available. Turns out they had ten! Also turns out they were so eager to deal that I got basically a "do-over" offer that would take the i-MiEV off my hands like it had never happened and start over with a loaded Volt at below MSRP! OF course, that would only mean that I have twice the tax credits waiting to be audited, and an additional $10k of debt, so at this point, I don't think it's worthwhile. If we didn't need more than four seats for a road-trip car (nearby grandparents that no longer drive highways, I'd be all for retiring the minivan and getting more Voltage). The Volt drives very nicely. It certainly accelerates better than an iMiev, though may not be quite as responsive as a Leaf... it's been a while. They've done an awesome job of eliminating wind noise, though if you only lower one rear window at practically any speed, the buffeting could pop an eardrum!
I drove it hard for 33.2 miles,consuming 10.1 kwh over 26.8 all-electric miles (for an average 373 watt-hours per mile (after 423 wh/mile during my first very spirited run), and in range-extending mode, an apparent 24.6 mpg. Consuming only 10.1 kwh from the 16 kwh pack before the charge was depleted could have been troubling, but this Volt only had 4 miles on the clock, and had been sitting for quite some time. The onboard display is reading August 25, 2011! I'll check the door jamb sticker to see if that's the build date, or maybe that's when the house battery last ran out of juice! IN the meantime, I'll enjoy a few more miles on this overnight test drive, and hope that the wife doesn't read this posting while she works the graveyard tonight.... Won't Mommy be surprised when she gets home in the morning!!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

BYOV (build yer own Volt)

Yessiree, us bootstrap EV'ers don't cotton to all the attention that Johnny-come-lately General Murders has claimed with their so-called electric vehicle, the "Volt". If somebody wants an electric car that drags around an engine just in case one needs a charge on the fly, that's so old school. BUT, Karmann Eclectric has yet to have the heady experience of drinking while driving, so I figured it was about time...

What we have here is an oooold ONAN Emerald generator set, first salvaged by John Wayland in the 1990's and used for trackside charging and an historic range-extended run to Mt. Hood, briefly mentioned in this obituary for the Red Beastie..

Anyway, the gencart had sat for years in another EV'ers back yard before I acquired it, and then I sadly let it languish for another six years before today's test. With the help of an old-timey neighbor of EV Expert Tim Ritchey, we got it running again, and after a fresh batch of fuel and warmup, it proceeded to pump out enough current at 160V to maintain over 12 amps of charge current(after charger losses) at 260 to 300 volts into my pack. Then during the road test, when heavy throttle application sagged the pack below 180V, the charger put out as much as 18 amps! I dunno what special sauce Wayland put into the little twin cylinder Emerald back in the day, but the electrical components were still cool after a solid hour at over 3kW output. This little gencart may be much more practical than I hoped! With the generator mounted on it's rubber dampers aboard a trailer hanging out behind the Karmann Eclectric, there wasn't any noticeable increase in vibration compared to pulling dead weight, and the noise was still significantly less than my aircooled Volkswagens! All in all, I'll call this Revolted Volkswagen a success! However, the generator immediately tripped the safeties on my J1772-compliant SPX EVSE, so it's not ready to charge a modern EV....... More to come!