Friday, September 28, 2012

EVCCON 2012 Conference Update

This has been an action packed conference so far.  I have seen several familiar faces in the group as well as some new comers.  There are several more cars here this year and it's been great to be one of those attendees that has one on the show floor.
Talking about the car with a couple conference goers (that's an ariel atom replica next to me)
Lots of electric Porsche (that's 5 in this picture)

Over the last couple days there have been some exciting announcements both here at the conference as well as in the EV community as a whole.  On the public front Tesla announced their Super Charger network this week which is exciting news for new Model S owners who live in California.  This is a network of fast chargers that will allow long range travel across the state of California and some surrounding states of the west.  The Super Chargers utilize solar energy to store and charge cars under a solar panel car port.  It will be exciting to see where this takes us in the future.  From within EVCCON Netgain Controls announced an exciting new charger/controller/DCtoDC converter everything box that will be available shortly to the builder community.  This system called the pulsar will be capable of 500 amps and will include a built in charger which will utilize the J1772 standard as well as have capability for DC fast charging.  It also includes a built in 50amp DC to DC converter and several other useful features not currently found today.  This would make for a very simple clean conversion using just one combo device as a kind of central brain and control unit.  You would essentially only need an accelerator, batteries and a motor/adaptor plate and you could have a running car with this system.  Very exciting!

Tesla Super Charger Network
New Netgain Controls all-in-one! 
Today was our day to hit the track I took full advantage and ran the quarter mile (too slow to note :) and then pounded the autocross circuit that was setup.  I did much better at this then the straightaway race.  My car weighs in under 2000 pounds and has a near perfect 50/50 weight distribution front to back and side to side.  I was able to take on the slalom like nobodies business!
Getting ready for my first run! (I should have gone for number 53...)
Check out the high resolution version on YouTube!

We will be in for another great day tomorrow with a picnic in the afternoon and a public car show followed by a parade.  Check back for more soon!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

EVCCON Reception Opening Day

It's been a great day at the opening reception for EVCCON 2012.  We started the day off with some breakfast at the Drury Lodge before heading over to the Show Me center for a walk around campus.  After all that time in the car over the last several days we needed some outside time.  Fortunately the weather held out for us.  The rain did eventually come in the afternoon but it was after we had gotten to the reception. We headed over to Jack's garage and checked in to get our badges and show the Beetle with other conference attendees that were arriving.

Great Ice Sculpture!

There were a lot of familiar faces around the garage from last years convention.  It was a different experience having a car this year.  I got a lot of questions and had a great time sharing the car with the group.
BMW 2002

Massive thunderstorms and rain outside

Tesla Roadster charging in the rain

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Day Four, Journey to EVCCON

We're here!  It's been a long road but we made it.  Our original plan was to camp one more night before coming into the Cape but we looked at the forecast again and it was almost certainly going to be a night of heavy rain and thunderstorms.  We opted to stay an extra night at the Drury Lodge in Cape Girardeau rather then risk a sleepless night in the tent (or the car more likely).

Missouri welcomes us!
This morning we hit the road a little later then yesterday.  We left the Miami University campus around 7:45 AM and headed through Indiana, Illinois and eventually into Missouri.  We got about an hour into our trip this morning and took our usual morning breakfast break.  We found a nice park next to what appeared to be a large elevated man made lake.  We sat down and had our cereal and proceded to go for a little swing before getting back in the car for several hundred more miles.  Most of the driving away from the University was on back roads and through fields and fields and fields.  It seemed like forever before we hit an actual two lane highway.  The roads seemed to turn only when the property line of one farm wasn't square with he next and we had to drive around the edge a bit.

Weeeeee!  It seemed like the thing to do at the time
Getting ready to leave our breakfast spot
A couple hours worth of narrow farm roads to get back to the highway
Once we hit the highway again we drove as far as Terre Haute, Indiana and stopped at a Ruby Tuesday for lunch.  This is really my go to restaurant as I find it hard to resist the rubies mini's!  We got back ont he highway and headed further to Mt. Vernon.  In our original plan we thought we might camp out the night and drive the extra couple hours to the Cape in the morning.  With the weather looking questionable at best we opted to endure the remaining two hours and pick up an extra night in the hotel.  This was really the best option for us and we are glad we spent the extra time on the road rather then pitching a tent only to tear it all down in the morning and get into our hotel.

When we got into Cape Girardeau I showed my girlfriend around a little but pointing out Jack Richards house and then we swung by the EVTV shop and headquarters.  There were several conference goer's already hanging out and we got a chance to say hi to Jack and show a few others the car.  After the quick visit we came back to our hotel to check in and unload the beetle before heading to dinner.  Its a long day and we are looking forward to a nice nights sleep and a long walk in the morning to get our legs back under us from all the hours in the car.

A little peak in the car by the EVCCON 2012 sign!
Oh good nothing fell out on the way here!
Tomorrow's update will come with some content and pictures from the opening reception of EVCCON 2012!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Day Three, Journey to EVCCON

Today was a long day on the road.  We left Cuba, NY and headed for Ohio.  We hadn't really figured out where we were going to end up today until we realized another friend was living and working at Miami University in Ohio.  This was a little further then we had originally thought we would go but ended up being just the right distance.  We had quite the adventure on the way there though.

This was our longest travel day so far and we made it count.  We left Cuba at a quarter past six in the morning and put in an hour or so before stopping briefly for breakfast.  The temperature by this point was still only 39 degrees and we continued to drive through dense fog for another couple hours.

The fog finally lifting

We started looking for lunch locations and came across an Amish restaurant called Der Dutchman that was located in Bellville, Ohio.  This was just what we needed.

Look, there's the Beetle!
 We got back on the road and decided we would make the trip over to Ohio State where my grandfather graduated with his PhD in Mechanical Engineering.  The campus is huge but we managed to capture a few pictures by the stadium.  I even managed to get a hold of the O on the side of the stadium!
There it is again
It took a bit but I got a hold of the O
We both posed for the shot
Tomorrow we head into Indiana and then Missouri!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Day Two, Journey to EVCCON

We had a beautiful drive today from our humble accommodations in Cobleskill.  It was a refreshing change from our drive yesterday.  As we approached our planned camping location we drove towards this black foreboding sky which proceeded to dump heavy rain on us.  As a result was ended up staying in a small motel rather then in our tent.

Not the kind of clouds you want to see when pitching a tent...
Today we drove through NY west to Cuba.  The country side was beautiful and largely uninhabited.  We drove through some hilly stretches of highway which was handled well by our Volkswagen Touareg.  Equipped with only the VR6 it powered up the hills with little problem even with the weight of our camping gear and the Electric Beetle in tow.  It was a day of some interesting sites.  We were passed by a full size pickup with a huge pumpkin in the bed.  We guessed that it would have weighed in at 700 or so pounds!  What does that have to do with electric cars you ask?  Absolutely nothing but it was impressive non the less!

This is a much better scene then yesterday!
It took a bit of getting used to towing the car on the trailer behind us and I have gotten pretty good at parking it.  We even parallel parked it today when we stopped in Owego for lunch.

Tailgater?  No, just the Beetle enjoying the open road.
The last stop we made before our sleeping destination was at Alfred State College S.U.N.Y where my lovely girlfriend worked before moving back to Maine.

Alfred State Colle SUN...
Tonight we are staying with friends in Cuba... NY.  Tomorrow we head to Ohio, birthplace of... my mother!  Look for some pictures of the Beetle in the blog tomorrow!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Day One, Journey to EVCCON

The beetle lives again!  I have been driving the Super Beetle electric the last week.  It's been a blast!  There is still work to be done to get things working exactly the way they need to be but for the moment I am just enjoying that EV rush!  I have taken some video and additional pictures which are not yet ready for posting.

Note the new magnetic decal my mother made up for the side!
Beetle strapped in and ready to go behind the Touareg

Today my girlfriend and I made our first leg on our drive to Cape Girardeau to attend EVCCON 2012.  This will be my second year attending and I am extremely excited to be bringing a car this year.  I am also delighted to have the company of my girlfriend for this years convention.  On our first day on the road we made it as far as Cobleskill, NY which is just west of Albany.  We are about 8 hours from home at this point.  Tomorrow we have a shorter day on the road at about 5 hours which will take us to the other side of NY.  Our original plan was to camp tonight but we ran into torrential rain and anyone who's tried to set up a tent in the rain can attest that it's not a happy night trying to get that done.  We instead found a cheap motel for the night with a diner sharing the parking lot.  It's no Ritz but it will certainly do the job!

A new update tomorrow with another day of travel.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Days away from a drive

There are a lot of connections that go into wiring up an electric car (so I have found).  A lot of progress has been made over the last week or so and we are coming up to the exciting part where power is applied to the system and a test drive is clearly in sight!

In the time since my last update a safety shutoff switch that has been mounted in the dash which is wired in series with an inertia switch that's now mounted under the hood of the car.  This will be connected directly to the contactor to apply pack voltage to the controller and give me the piece of mind to be able to disable the traction pack from within the car and also in the even of a collision.  I was able to replace a toggle switch in the dash in place of a toggle switch that is no longer necessary.  This gives it a real factor look and feel inside the car.

Don't mind the extra wires hanging out of the dash.  Those belong to the radio!

I have gotten a few extra parts which have not only enhanced the safety of the system but also improved the aesthetics and physical layout within the car.  In my original design I had only a large fuse and contactor to isolate my battery back from the rest of the system.  This would leave me in a tight situation if my contactor failed (as in welded itself shut).  I picked up a large maintenance switch which allowed me to run my positive pack voltage into a single input and then place my fuse box one of two output posts.  I used the second output post on the switch to run to my charger.  This cleans up the connections considerably and makes everything under the hood flow.  It also allows connections to be traced through easily through the system.

From the above images you can also see my mounting system for the DC/DC converter.  I mounted an aluminum plate onto the secondary mounting bracket of my charger and attached the converter.  This will allow for easy access to the connections and offer improved cooling as it gets the converter into a position with plenty of airflow around it.  The entire assembly is mounted to a larger aluminum plate which fits over the previous gas tank frame.  This leaves a large air pocket under the plate which should aid with cooling.

I'll step back for a moment and illustrate the guts inside the fuse box.  Originally the positive pack cable ran into the box through a single large fuse through the contactor and out of the box.  It also has a bridge from the fuse to a coil and a smaller fuse that is designed to run out to the DC/DC converter.  I decided to bring a JLD 404 into the system and so I had a need to apply a shunt to the system.  I moved a few things around and used a 60 mm battery bar to mount the shunt in series between the large fuse and the contactor.  It's a little tight in the box now but everything fits!

Before shunt
Correction...Don't put your shunt on the positive side of your battery pack.  it will damage your meter.  Also note that the white wire pictured on the left side of the contactor is actually suppose to be on the right so the DC/DC converter does not run constantly even when the car is off.
With all the components nestled nicely under the hood the main traction pack cables were pulled through the car and to the controller.  I used six gland nuts to protect the cable as it passed through the aluminum plate and then again through the firewall of the car.  Finally another set of gland nuts were put in place to exit the rear firewall of the car to allow connection to the controller.  Something to note is that when running the cables it was necessary to run them without the crimped ends on the cable as they did not fit through the gland nut caps.  Fortunately this was discovered right away and did not cause any problem when pulling the cables through.

Cables coming through the front into the cabin
Exit point for cables out to the controller.

Controller connection point (rubber caps have been added since this photo)
Next work day for the car is Saturday!  Hopefully after a few more hours it will be a ready for a test drive!  I'll then start buttoning up loose wires and putting some loom around exposed wires to clean things up a bit.  Look for another update next week with some video footage of my hopeful test drive!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Battery Boxes and Mounted Motor

It's been a while since my last update as you can see.  This is not for lack of work on the Beetle.  Though I did have a short break in my focus.  Over the last month I have been to Mexico and back and saw a fair number of "new" old beetles on the road in Morelia and it made me eager to get my Super EV Beetle on the road.
The last Beetles came of the line in 2003 to be sold as the 2004 model year
Now onto how the car is coming.  The brakes took a little more work then expected out of a conversion kit.  This seems to be a trend on this project.  When kits say they are designed for bolt on application with the model vehicle that your working with.  Be mindful that they don't always turn out that smoothly.  For the brakes they have been converted from the original drums to a full set of EMPI disk brakes on all 4 corners.  as part of the conversion I also added a new brake master cylinder to handle the additional pressure and fluid needed for the large calipers (large for a beetle anyway).  the rubber hose that came with the kit was not long enough to reach the junction points so new brake line needed to be run from the T fittings out to where they could be attached.  This was for both the front and the back.  Additionally in the front the mount for the rubber house needed to be moved and welded into a new orientation to accomodate the new position of the hose from the caliper.  Although this required additional work and time to run new lines it will be worth the added effort in the future and has allowed for a more reliable and clean installation.
Finally off the lift with EMPI brakes and wheels installed
How about some of the electric parts on the car now.  So far it seems that I have been spending some time on basic automotive upgrades to get the car ready for prime time.  I ordered an aluminum box to house my batteries.  After careful measurements I determined that I could fit all the cells in the front of the car where the spare tire once sat.  With just 30 of the 100 amp hour cells loaded in the front of the car we are looking at about 220 pounds.  If we consider that the full tank of gas along with the tank itself would have weighed about 80 or 90 pounds and the spare tire as well as accompanying jack and tools would come in around 40 pounds we are really only adding about 100 pounds to the front end of the car.  I have also removed the front bumper at this time which, although it doesn't weigh the extra 100 pounds it does weigh a lot and hangs out well in front of the front axle so I don't think I will be putting it back.  At least not with all that steel and chrome.  You will notice that the front does look pretty low in the picture and that is a result of a lowered suspension and not the additional weight in the vehicle.  I will be testing for tire rub once we are out on the road and determine if adjustment will be needed to bring it up a bit.  I'll also be looking at adjusting the back end as it rides quite high even with the motor and controller mounted.
Batteries in the box nearly ready for cables to be run
Motor mounted with accelerator (top center)
The motor was a bit of a challenge to mount up in the back.  As I showed in the video it was necessary to cut the rear apron to allow clearance for the back of the motor and the shaft to clear the rear of the car.  I say necessary however it really could have fit with just a trim.  It was just a lot easier to run the cutting disk up the sides and give us plenty of room to work with at the time.  The plate will be adjusted and welded back before we drive off too far.
For the accelerator the original cable was used but in a slightly modified fashion.  A curved metal tube was welded onto the existing tube and then welded to a hole in the lower part of the firewall that does not enter the cabin  The new accelerator sensor was then mounted above the upturned tube.  The original cable has a bend in one end which attaches to the pedal in the cabin and a straight peg on the end that went to the engine.  We used a torch to heat the straight peg and create another bent section in the back so we could hook it to the sensor.  If the cable needs to be replaced in the future it will likely need to be cut to remove it and the new one will need to be bent again.
Seats are in and looking like a drivable car again
I installed the seats in the car to get it ready for it's first test run (hopefully on Sunday).  The beetle specific mounts fit in nicely aside from a small adjustment to the front clamp. They had to be ground down about an inch to clear the frame on the seat mount.  Once again, so much for direct fitment kits...  Look for the first test drive next week.  If all goes to plan I'll have my GoPro video camera hooked up to record the first test run.  Until next time think electric!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Motor and Controller are in!

Today rather then my typical post I'd like to share a short video I made of the work I did with the beetle over the weekend.  I will add additional photos and description soon.  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

More Parts Have Arrived!

I have some parts!  This week I received some great deliveries.  I have my front and rear disk brake kits along with new bearings to go all the way around the car.  These disks will look great under the EMPI 8 spoke wheels. I decided to wrap the wheels in a set of General Altimax HP tires (195/60/15).  Although these are not low rolling resistance tires they are rated an 8 out of 10 for rolling resistance making them only slightly less efficient then the highest rated low rolling resistance tires.  I'll run a bit higher pressure in the tires to make them a bit more efficient.
General Altimax HP 195/60/15
EMPI Wheels with mounted General Tires
I also got in my new Corbeau sport seats with brackets designed to mount directly into the Beetle factory seat mounts.  No drilling or welding needed to get them solidly in place!
Corbeau seat mount brackets with slider
Corbeau reclining seats
I also picked up a Warn Winch to mount on the Harvey Trailer I brought home a week or so ago.   With the design of the trailer having sides that are above the door sills I will not be able to open the doors of the car once it is on the trailer.  This will make it challenging to drive the car onto the trailer and get out.
Warn winch 1700 DC
This Warn winch offers exceptional value from a reputable company.  For right around $100 I purchased a Warn 1700 which thanks to was delivered in two days. Along with this winch I have a little side project I am working on to mount a 15 watt solar panal and charge controller to the trailer on a folding system.  This will allow me to charge an auxiliary battery that will run the winch.  Furthermore I will not have to load and unload the battery to charge it on a wall charger or use booster cables to run the winch off the towing vehicle.

I also have the shipping information for the motor and controller from RebirthAuto.  The setup should arrive with most of the remaining components for for the engine bay by next Friday!  I was informed that I will be receiving the charger in a separate shipment.  It’s coming together now!