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Baby Steps · 29 July 07
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:
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.