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Welcome to the Electric Car Weblog. In addition to links, news, and tips about electric cars and other forms of alternative transportation we are publishing an on-line diary of our current EV project. Started in August 2005 the chronicle follows the conversion of a gas powered Ford Probe into an Electric Car.

You will find articles organized by categories, along with recent comments, along the right hand column of the website. If you are just getting started with the idea of converting a gas car to electric be sure to check out Your First Electric Car

Welcome and enjoy!

Baby Steps · 29 July 07

Baby Zane

I realized the other day that if gas prices keep going up there’s going to be a big shake-up in the baby raising “industry.” Pretty much everyone I’ve talked to, including my Mom, says that they took their baby for long drives whenever it was colicky. What to do when gas prices go north of three bucks a gallon? Long walks? Simulated cars (think rumble seat on a treadmill)? Fewer babies?

“Our baby is only getting 18mpg!”

Maybe continue the car ride therapy using smaller, more efficient automobiles? I imagine a baby would snooze just as well in an electric car as in any other; there’s still road and tire noise, potholes, and jostling. And it’s not like you need hundreds of miles of range to put a baby to sleep.


Luckily our new baby, Zane, seems content to be settled down the old fashioned way: long walks and shoulder snuggles. Still, who knows, this may be a viable new market for Electric Cars.

It’s been a long, strange past couple of years but I think my attention is now starting to turn back to getting Eve on the road. No promises (to you or myself) on how long it is going to take, but I’m starting to plan what needs to be done next and even cleaning a spot in the garage to work on her.

The biggest roadblock is buying the batteries and with all of the recent baby expenses it is still going to be a month or so before I can afford the ones I want. I’m still looking to use the Hawker PC2150 AGMs. I want to go with non-flooded batteries this time and barring a gift of Lithiums from a rich Uncle (or corporate sponsor), these seem like a good compromise. Still need to find someone who will sell them to me (last I checked the company will: if I drive down to Rhode Island and pick them up).

In no particular order here are the rest of the tasks for the resurrection of Eve:

  • Dash: finish putting the dash back together
  • Ignition: I ripped out the key switch with plans for some sort of all electronic system “key.” Something like RFID, perhaps, but for now a relay and a simple on/off switch should suffice.
  • Heater: the heater cores are in place, just need another relay to power them and a dash switch.
  • Battery Boxes: maybe I can re-use some of the battery boxes from the old EV (and Atom), but I’ll have to weld up new mounting frames fore and aft.
  • Battery Cable: again, most of the old stuff should work, but there will probably be a few more to fabricate once final controller layout is determined.
  • Electronics Mount: the MDO board (wood) that I used on the last EV was nice because with wood you can drill/screw wherever you need it. It was a pain to move it out of the way to check battery levels, but then again I won’t need to do that. I’ve always thought a nice, enclosed plastic box for the electronics would keep things neat and out of the weather. Suggestions are welcome.
  • Seats/Style: I’d been thinking of buying lightweight “racing” seats, but we’ll have to see how the money flow is. Will need to put down some sort of carpeting … 70’s era shag?
  • Charger: on the last EV the charger was in the trunk (next to Gas cap, used for AC cord) with a long cord running the charging DC to the front. I think the charger will live up front this time and either a long AC cord to gas cap or a plug/outlet by the front grill. Cutting down on excess wire helps save wasted power.
  • Style: Eve doesn’t look too bad as she is, but the paint is old and oxidized and at some point she’ll need a new paint job. I saw a fluorescent green Probe a while back and besides being a visual “zolt” I kind of liked it.

When I was given Atom it came with a motor, controller, and charger. I’ve given away the motor and controller, but still have the Solectria charger. It’s a nice, heavy duty charger the only caveat being it is meant for a 120vdc system and I’d been planning a 144vdc system. But if I drop the system voltage down to 120vdc I’ll have less batteries to buy and deal with: less weight, but less “oomph.”

I’ve plugged the numbers into our EV Calculator and here’s some charts comparing the exact same setup in 120vdc and 144vdc for second gear:

144vdc Range Chart 120vdc Range Chart

Click the images for full sized versions.

Right away there’s 150lbs of savings in battery weight, which is always a good thing, especially when needing to haul them up the steep hill to our house each day. The Curtis controller is rated from 96-144vdc so it should be fine with the change. The one caveat being that with resistance being pretty much static, a decrease in voltage will mean an increase in current to get to the same power output. Since the Curtis has a max of 500 amps I think that means the peak power availability will be lower.

The commute to work is about four miles one way and the only real power requirement is the ability to make it up the steep hill on the ride home. No interstate driving (maybe a few miles on rare occasions) and no need to impress the girls/guys/cops with my mad tire smoking skills. If I want more range the best bet would be to invest in low rolling resistance tires, something that can be done later.

So that’s the plan! I’m finishing up on my other obligations (house remodeling project) and while the baby does suck up a lot of spare time (and brain cells!) things are starting to get a little bit easier.

Oh, btw, if anyone is interested in a small vehicle chassis I still have the remains of Atom. Good tires, solid frame, might make for a nice zip-around-the-farm EV. Free for the taking, just drop me a line.

p.s. I didn’t mention it, but a couple weeks before Zane was born our good friend Zeke passed away. He was a great dog and we were lucky to get thirteen years to enjoy his company. He’ll live on here as the mascot of Electronics for Dogs.

Comments 38
  1. Greg Fordyce    Jul 30, 2007 09:16 AM    #

    Hi Jerry, Have a look at www.secbattery.com. They have a range of batteries and lots of published data regarding discharge rates. The sales rep here in the UK was very helpful. After talking to him I went with a gel battery instead of a AGM. The gel batteries can be discharged lower than an AGM. He said AGM’s shouldn’t be discharged below 50% on a regular basis as that will shorten their life. If you would like I can contact the UK rep and have him pass your details onto the US rep.


  2. jerry Halstead    Jul 30, 2007 09:34 AM    #

    Hi Greg,

    Thanks for the link and recommendation. Which model battery did you get from them?


  3. Greg Fordyce    Jul 30, 2007 11:18 AM    #

    Jerry, I am using the Cellyte 12FTG 100 ah batteries x12. They wouldn’t be my first choice but they had 17 unused old stock that they sold me at a very good price so I have 4 spare, (I am using one for my 12 volt system). Have a look at their 6-12TLG and their Microlyte Redtop.

  4. — Phil Feinstein    Jul 30, 2007 11:56 AM    #

    Sounds like you don’t need much to get Zane to nap. All three of my kids were “Speed sensitive” and wouldn’t sleep in the car unless I could get above 40MPH and stay there until they nodded off.

  5. — jim hurst    Jul 30, 2007 22:33 PM    #

    Hi Jerry,
    we went with the Sears DieHard Platinum earlier this year, and we really like them so far. We used 8 group 34 (I think they are really the Hawker PC1500). We have gone 20 miles on a charge over some of the worst terrain my Dad could find, not bad for 400lbs of batteries. You could just go to Sears and get the Platinum PM-1 – Group Size 31M, Sears item #02850131000 Mfr. model #PM-1 seems to be really the Hawker PC2150. They are made by Enersys for Sears $249 each. I have bunches of pictures I just need to send them to you :)

  6. — Joel    Jul 30, 2007 23:41 PM    #

    One sugestion, for the ignition you could go and use what the modern BMW use, its a infrared LED key, very low tech, simple desing. when you put the key into the slot, a mini infrared led in the car send a signal to “spit out” a code. the key responds with a code. and the car starts. this is good because its imposible to replicate the key without the “spit out” command, and they cant “hotwire” the led’s because without code there’s no start. a simple micro controller and some programing could do. I dont know any C++ programing but if you know someone talk to them maybe they can make something up.

  7. jerry Halstead    Jul 31, 2007 12:54 PM    #

    Thanks for the battery info Jim, I was wondering who might distribute these batteries.

    Joel: interesting idea too. I even know all about c++ programming. As they say, SAMOP: simply a matter of programming! ”:^)

  8. — jim hurst    Jul 31, 2007 20:36 PM    #

    dont forget the offer still stands if you need something welded or fabricated. BTW I made a video for the Rational user conference about the car. I won a 30gb video IPOD http://www.rationaltube.com/videos/rtv266363/

  9. Greg Fordyce    Aug 01, 2007 09:19 AM    #

    Hi, Jerry.

    Just had a thought about your 120v solectra charger and wanting to go with a 144v system. Use Dr. Larry’s idea, slightly altered, 10 batteries connected to the 120v charger and buy 2 12volt chargers or a 24v charger for the remaining 2 batteries.

    I am using individual chargers on my conversion, as per Dr. Larry and that has been working well.


  10. jerry Halstead    Aug 01, 2007 13:21 PM    #

    Jim: Great job on the video, good to see you guy’s EV mobile.

    Greg: Well, if I go with AGMs and also use some sort of regulator then that is a possibility.

  11. — that other guy    Aug 03, 2007 01:01 AM    #

    been reading your two sites for the past day or so, quite a read! fascinating. i thank you for taking te time to put up these two sites, atleast one reader really appreciates it (and likely quite a few more)!

    i had just one question about the power steering, which you briefly adressed. IIRC, you said steering was magagable without assist? makes me grimace, having to steer without the spoon-fed convienience of technology! in the case of keeping the power steering, just what kind of work is put into getting the hydraulics pressurized? spare me, i know very, very little about the mechanical wonders of the automobile. absolutely fascinating to read about, though!

  12. Gavin Shoebridge    Sep 13, 2007 23:15 PM    #

    Sorry to here about Zeke the wonderdog passing away.
    I got used to seeing his cameo appearances in the odd photo here & there.
    He’ll be missed.

  13. jdh2550    Sep 27, 2007 21:57 PM    #


    Baby steps is very relevant for me! I was surfing around here a number of months ago. I was eager to get into the world of EVs but didn’t think I could swing the time (and perhaps talent) for a car conversion.

    So, I bought one of these motor scooters: XM-2000

    (fair warning – I also now sell them and that’s my site – if you want free shipping just drop me a line).

    Anyways – I’ve done a few simple mods. And I’m working with another owner on a LiFePO4 battery replacement for it.

    I commute 12 miles a day and it costs a penny a mile :-)

    That was my first baby step.

    The next baby step is this weekend I’m gonna convert my gas lawnmower to electric (I have all the parts ready).

    After that and the LiFe conversion I hit the “big time” and I’m gonna convert a CB-750 (graciously donated by a friend).

    After that, who knows I might yet graduate to a car…

    All the best – yours is still one of the best sites out there!

  14. mattW    Nov 14, 2007 13:29 PM    #

    Hey Jerry, any chance on an update on the car’s progress? Are you still working on it or has it been indefinitely postponed? I have been trying to wait patiently but my curiosity is getting the better of me. Hehe Love the site by the way and if you get a chance you might wanna check out my kids car conversion at http://www.diyelectriccar.com/blogs/mattw/

  15. jerry Halstead    Nov 20, 2007 20:40 PM    #

    Hi Matt,

    Postponed for now: got a six month old baby and a huge project at work that has fallen behind. I’d love to say that I’ve got a plan but so far all of my plans have fallen to the wayside.


  16. Blackdogfx    Dec 02, 2007 18:45 PM    #

    Hello Jerry
    I stumbled on your first EV website and was so inspired !!!
    then I realized that it was 1990ish and wished I built an EV then also when I had only 1 child, now after 3 girls and now beny JR (MONSTER MONKEY JR), now almost 3 yrs and able to take things apart like his dad, im ready for an Ev
    Im truly inspired by your progress with ev’s
    and your thuroughness.
    I want to make an ev before I have to spend $5 a gallon for that special juice, its sick.
    now im looking for a small van like that yellow mini van the British guy converted
    what do you think about the kit EV america sells?
    and 1 child that is still non mobile
    get to work, stop belly aching.

  17. Blackdogfx    Dec 02, 2007 18:55 PM    #

    my shop I constructed Click Here

  18. jerry Halstead    Dec 04, 2007 13:39 PM    #

    yes, of course, what was I thinking…

    Nice hut!

  19. — savo    Dec 31, 2007 16:34 PM    #

    I have been reading yours and other’s diaries about EV conversion. No one ever seams to talk about the SRS. Or Air-bags. Have you come across info in this area? Are they just left alone? Are they not an integrated part of any modern Vehicle?

  20. — savo    Jan 01, 2008 14:26 PM    #

    I have another question for you :-). This is about your heater core.
    There are alot of people that talk about the heat that is generated from the motor controller,charger, DC-DC converter. How much heat to these things produce. I image that peak temps take just as long if not longer then an ICE radiator. Albeit not as hot.
    But what would you say that the temp is at its peak? Would it be enough to heat up some water? That would transfer heat to a heat exchanging device like a heater core? Water gets hotter sooner then ICE coolant does, doesn’t it?
    I don’t imagine that there is anything in the automotive world to attatch such a heat transfer device. But in the computer world we have a great group of people called OVER-CLOCKERS. These people have come up with interesting was of cooling down a computer processor. One of them is “water-cooling”. Thave make these coppor or Aluminaum plates that are ment to be attched to the processor, Water flows through it. Kind of like the way an engine is. Now if you could find away of attaching these to your controller.
    You would have two heater cores. One under the hood for when you don’t want heat. The other for when you want heat.
    This kind of heat can be Trigered with a valve. To change the flow of the water to one of the to cores.
    Now if you are the kind of person that is now used to having instant heat with an EV you can still have that. Use that in tandem with your ceramic heater. You can even control it with a thermal diode to autoMAGICLY change the heating from ceramic to fluid once it is warm enough. And like I said before when you don’t want heat it can close that valve and divert to the core in the engine bay.
    This could also serve to maybe extend the life of the controller. It would keep it at a much lower temp. Perhaps a range extender? Not using current to power an electric heater. I know that this will add another fluid, but think about the possibilies.
    Just as a warning: I have been called Rube Goldberg in the past.

  21. — Alan FitzPatrick    Jan 03, 2008 20:01 PM    #

    Very cool site. I live in RI and have a cabin in Woodsville. I’d love to stop by and check out your project. I could even deliver those batteries for you.

    Good luck,

  22. — michael kilawee    Jan 10, 2008 16:26 PM    #

    Great site!
    I have a 1990 mitsubishi mighty max pick-up.
    It stills runs great, but I was thinking how cool it would be to do an electric truck. No worries about battery placement. Put them in the bed and get a bed-cover or topper!
    Has anybody used a manual trans for an ev? -michael

  23. — michael kilawee    Jan 12, 2008 14:56 PM    #

    More research (I’m just getting started at this) Showed me lots of examples of manual trans in EV.
    I really like Dr. Larry’s Geo! It would be all the commuter car I would need!

  24. — James May    Jan 12, 2008 17:08 PM    #

    Hi Michael.
    It is a good idea to do lots and lots of research before you cut up your working pick-up.

  25. Jack Bradshaw    Feb 24, 2008 13:49 PM    #

    Hi Jerry…good to see progress (as well as Zane…only new grandkids here) Just a note that the Eagle Summit is also a Mitsubishi…..available for inspection anytime here in beautiful not-quite-downtown Hampstead, NH


  26. Rustin Haase    Mar 19, 2008 22:04 PM    #

    It has been a real pleasure reading your project story. Its almost enough to get me to do the same. I can understand how having kids in the home changes the whole equation. I’ve got 4 in mine and they are a real handful. Like lead-acid batteries, you can’t return ‘em so I might as well keep ‘em. [smiling] Like you, I used to dig holes in the Nebraska landscape in my youth. I guess I wasn’t as weird as I thought I was. I’m particularly interested in what kind of range Eve ends up having once you get it running. I live 25 miles from work so I’m pessimistic that your kind of rig would do the job, but who knows. [smiling] I’d love to be wrong on this one. I do have a brother-in-law with a large equipment shed near by. I’m sure we’d have the room for such a project, but we’d have to do it x2 since he would want one also. At least our wives would know where we were. [smiling] You must have the “bestest” of all possible wives to put up with all this. I think my wife would actually support the idea.

    Keep up the great work.

  27. — Douglas Hall    Mar 22, 2008 11:19 AM    #

    You may find the article by Nigel Calder “Breakthrough” In “Professional Boatbuilder” of interest. It’s about battery technology and Odyssey batteries. It starts out saying how hybrid vehicles are shaping battery tchnology. (you’ll need to use the table of contents. I can’t give you a direct Link) http://www.proboat-digital.com/proboat/20080203/
    Note the purported benefits of TPPL (Thin Plate Pure Lead) Odyssey & Optima.


  28. blackdogfx    Mar 27, 2008 16:02 PM    #

    The electrical system should be left alone and just powered up thru the original fuses and main power in for the car, then all the original systems will work,(anti-lock brakes, traction control, airbags). checkout blackdogfx dot com for more info

  29. — Greg Shide    May 23, 2008 01:17 AM    #

    Read the first conversion, really enjoyed it. Can’t wait to see how this one turns out. Found them while I was researching info for my own project. Still in the planning stages. With $4 gal gas I’m sure this will speed things up.
    Looking forward to eve being on the road. Thanks.

  30. — Jeremy W.    May 29, 2008 21:40 PM    #

    I have one question for anybody willing to answer it. Where can I buy a 144 volt advanced DC motor? please help as i am in the process of building my first EV and need a motor as soon as possible.

  31. — Jeremy W.    May 30, 2008 15:49 PM    #

    Never mind. I found a good motor. its not an ADC but it is just as good.

  32. — Jim Curtis    Jun 28, 2008 00:13 AM    #

    When you get ready to start building again, I have a distrbutor that can sell you the PC2150. Part of your problem is Enersys has a very long lead-time on this battery and limits the amounts distrbutors can buy. He would have to order them, but he buys a lot from them, so they tend to move him up the list. OSI Battery 800-626-4173. Also if you can find them Northstar battery is old Hawker people and build a battery that is as good if not better then the Enersys, but they are also running behind and have long lead times.

    For all of you out there looking at AGM batteries. The two batteries above use deep cycle paste on the plates. If you are going to use an AGM for EV use make sure that it is a true Deep cycle AGM using deep cycle paste on the plates. There is a big difference in cycle life of the batteries. Most AGM you find in general purpose which will only do about 250 cycles 80%DOD. A true deep cycle AGM will do 350-400 80% DOD.

    Hope to see you get back to building. Your sites have been a big help.

    I am going to work on an S-10. Room to hide the batteries and I still need to haul stuff from time to time. I can also throw the gen set in the bed and get a longer range when needed.

  33. Jerry    Jun 28, 2008 10:49 AM    #

    Thanks Jim, I’ll give those folks a call and see what the price/availability looks like.

    I’ve always wanted to make a test rig and then buy a few batteries from the various popular brands to run them through the paces. Try to get a real-world metric rather than trying to extrapolate from marketing brochures or spec sheets that target different usage (i.e. cold cranking amps). Just need a little extra time and money! :)

    S-10’s seem to be an ideal platform, especially for using banks of 6 volt batteries. Best of luck and let us know how it goes.

  34. — Jim Curtis    Jun 28, 2008 12:33 PM    #


    I will be going with 12V 134 Ahr deep cycle AGM batteries. I sell batteries for EaglePicher and have used these for many solar applications. We have a distrbutor in Japan that buy several 1000 a year and they go into the golf carts and other electric cars over there. We have never really tried to market in this area in the US. So I will build an EV and use our batteries and see how they work. One disavantage I have over the Enersys, is my plates are a little thicker. This will limit the amount of amps I can charge with (only 1/3 of 20h Amphr) So with the battery I am going to use that would be about 45 Amp max charge rate.

    Also if I was looking for low 0-60 times I can not discharge as fast as the PC2150 they can dump about 1500-2000 amps for short times. Mine is only 1000 amps but for what I am looking at this is more then enough. Plus for me the cost is right, I get them at cost.

    I will let you know how it goes.

  35. — SP    Jul 22, 2008 07:17 AM    #

    After finding all the info, I’d love to convert my spare car into an EV. I can find some dough to pay for the Lithium batteries.
    for a starter, can you tell me what I should be looking at in LI – battery specs for a mid size car ??

  36. — Mark W    Dec 05, 2008 13:36 PM    #

    Hi All, I’m in the market to buy a conversion. I was contacted my www.blackdogfx.com. They quoted me $30k for a 1987 Suzuki Samuria with lead-acid 120v. Does it really have to be THAT MUCH? How expensive are the electro-pieces? What should I expect to pay for labor?

  37. — DanP.    Dec 05, 2008 16:29 PM    #

    10× 12volt Oydessy 100 amp hour batteries, 50 mile range

    120 mile range add………..$7000

  38. blackdogfx    Dec 27, 2008 01:53 AM    #

    Hello Mark the Quote I gave you was for LiFe batts
    and we have a set in an integra right now but they are not performing
    very well
    we are going to stick to the Oydessy batts for now
    and the above price is for the Sammy
    and we dont have a good option right now for the 120 mile range
    The $24K is for a fully restored 1987 sammy with a fully sealed 144volt system and the PC2150’s 12 of them should get around 50 mile range
    Thanks Beny