Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Living with an Electric Car

I recently made another post on the Autopia blog at, and mentioned the car the electrified '94 Golf Kyle Dansie loaned me for a little more than a month.  I give a summary of my experience with the car in the Wired post, but didn't have room to include an interesting experience trying to push the range of the car one night:

On a very cold early December night I tried to make it back from the Electric Car Company of Utah's shop.  I drove about 15 miles from work to, to a parts store, and then to the shop, and charged the batteries while there. But I wasn't able to get a full charge before leaving.

Friday, December 11, 2009

DIY EV Battery Charger

The last major item I need to find for my conversion is a battery charger.  Amazingly, I'm staying within my budget so far (detailed in my wired post), but I'll probably go over if I pay for a new charger.

Russco and Quick Charge make some decent chargers that are relatively affordable compared to nice but more expensive Zivans and Manzanitas.  But if I buy new, I'm still looking at at least $500.  I have heard of people making their own chargers and got curious about how difficult and expensive it might be.  All a charger really does is apply a dc current to a battery right?  How hard can it be?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Regenerative Braking with an Alternator

When I first started serious research into EV conversions I was surprised to learn that most converters don't bother with regenerative braking.  I think the simple reason is just economics.  There are other ways, but to do it well it requires an AC motor and controller, both of which are much more expensive than the DC conversions.

I'm currently not planning to implement regenerative braking in my conversion, but imagining ways to do it is irresistible.  I got thinking about  hooking up an alternator to the back side shaft of my motor, and it occurred to me that the idea is so obvious that surely someone has done it before.

Sure enough, I found a Chevy S-10 conversion, using an alternator and an air conditioning clutch for regenerative braking. Can't find the name of the converter on the site, or I'd make mention.  It looks like a well done conversion, but ambitious.  He had to re-wire the alternator to generate the 120 Volts for charging....lots of work.

Motor Mounting Problems

Just before Thanksgiving week I went down to the shop of the Electric Car Company of Utah. Spencer and I were hoping to get the motor mounted up in a few hours.

I picked up the adapter plate and shaft coupler from Brian Berrett (Wilderness EV) at the same time that we picked up the batteries.  I also bought (traded batteries for) a flywheel and pressure plate from Brian as well.

Spencer and I spent some time loosely assembling everything to see how things would go.  Spencer was very impressed with the shaft coupler, some high quality machine work there.

Motor Shaft goes in the coupler here: