Friday, August 12, 2016

Seventh Anniversary


This past July 26th 2016 marked the seventh anniversary and all is thankfully still going well. The only thing that has failed on me just recently is my Westach Ammeter guage. It started getting flakey by showing inaccurate current readings and then suddenly went flat on me while occassionally showing signs it was still working. All connections were tested and the fuse was verified so I went ahead and ordered a new one from Westach in the US to replace it. I am still waiting as they only build them upon order requests which takes up to five weeks. That's all for now folks.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sixth Anniversary


It is six years today that the Protege has been running on electrons and I am still loving it. The odometer now shows 255 149 compared to 203 872 when I started. This means I have done 51 277 kilometers or an average of 8 546 per year. Keep in mind that I don't drive it during the winter months (mid December to end of March).

I don't feel alone on the roads anymore now that I am accompanied by Volts, Leafs, Model Ss and others. I am amazed by the number of Tesla Model S EVs on the roads these days. I saw one up close at the car show and they are truely in a class of there own but also very very expensive.

I want to apologize to all those who sent me messages that went unanswered in the past year or more. My excuse is that I simply got mixed up with the email account that was using and had not logged in to it for a very long time. Nevertheless, thanks for all your comments. Amongst the messages I received were questions like "If you had to start your conversion today, how would you go about?" My answer to this one that I would approach it the exact same way but the equipment I would use would obviously be different.....I would go with an AC motor and different controller. This is not to say that a DC motor like the netgain warp 9 would not be an attractive alternative because cost is always a consideration in a conversion project.

Cheers for now,
Jim

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fifth Anniversary


Another year gone by and business as usual with the car. The electrons are still flowing.....



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fourth Anniversary of the e-Protege

July 26, 2013.
Today is the fourth anniversary of the Electric Protege.
The more time passess, the more I appreciate this vehicle.
I haven't had much to post about my day to day experiences with the car because nothing significant has come up. Just driving it regularly and still loving every moment.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Third Anniversary of the e-Protege

Today is the e-Protege's 3rd anniversary.


It's been a very busy year at home and at work with not much news to report about the car. I have replaced one cell and I am keeping an eye on two other cells in my pack which are sagging low at 1C.

Cheers, 
Jim

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Earth Days

Earth Days is a 2009 documentary film about the modern environmental movement.

Watch Earth Days on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Driverless Car

Google has been working on developing technology for "Driverlees Cars". The project is led by Google engineer Sebastian Thrun, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and co-inventor of Google Street View. Watch the first twelve minutes of this "Brave New World" episode and you will be amazed.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Light Bulb Conspiracy

Long time ago, products were made to last but in the 1920s some businessmen thought that a product that refuses to wear out is 'a tragedy of business' (1928). This is how 'Planned Obsolescence' was born. Shortly after, the first worldwide cartel was set up expressly to reduce the life span of the incandescent light bulb, a symbol for innovation and bright new ideas, and the first official victim of Planned Obsolescence. During the 1950s, with the birth of the consumer society, the concept took on a whole new meaning, as explained by flamboyant designer Brooks Stevens: 'Planned Obsolescence, the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary...'. The growth society flourished, everybody had everything, the waste was piling up (preferably far away in illegal dumps in the Third World) - until consumers started rebelling. This documentary film was written by Cosima Dannoritzer.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Surviving Progress

Ronald Wright’s bestseller A Short History Of Progress inspired this cinematic requiem to progress-as-usual. Some of the world's foremost thinkers, bankers, and scientists challenge us to overcome progress traps, which destroyed past civilizations and lie treacherously embedded in our own. Executive Produced by Martin Scorsese and produced by Cinemaginaire and Big Picture Corp in co-production with the NFB.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

THRIVE

THRIVE is an unconventional documentary that lifts the veil on what's REALLY going on in our world by following the money upstream -- uncovering the global consolidation of power in nearly every aspect of our lives. Weaving together breakthroughs in science, consciousness and activism, THRIVE offers real solutions, empowering us with unprecedented and bold strategies for reclaiming our lives and our future.



To be released worldwide on the internet November 11, 2011.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Solar Roadways

I recently came across this brilliant idea on turning traditional asphalt roads into energy generating infrastructure using specially designed solar panels. With the costs of building and maintaining asphalt roads rising, this makes a lot of sense. I am amazed by innovation like this. Have a look for yourselves and visit Solar Roadways to learn more.



"Years ago, when the phrase “Global Warming” began gaining popularity, we started batting around the idea of replacing asphalt and concrete surfaces with solar panels that could be driven upon. We thought of the “black box” on airplanes: We didn’t know what material that black box was made of, but it seemed to be able to protect sensitive electronics from the worst of airline crashes.
Suppose we made a section of road out of this material and housed solar cells to collect energy, which could pay for the cost of the panel, thereby creating a road that would pay for itself over time. What if we added LEDs to “paint” the road lines from beneath, lighting up the road for safer night time driving?
What if we added a heating element in the surface (like the defrosting wire in the rear window of our cars) to prevent snow/ice accumulation in northern climates? The ideas and possibilities just continued to roll in and the Solar Roadway project was born."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Second Anniversary of the e-Protege

July 26, 2011 marks the e-Protege's second anniversary.

Cheers everyone.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Improvements - Part 2

Adding cells to my pack forced me to purchase a power supply to individually charge each new cell to balance with the rest of the pack. I opted for the Mastech HY1520EX DC Power Supply. At first, I had trouble understanding how to correctly set the unit to safely charge my cells. After reading and deciphering the brief instructions and getting pointers from contacts, I managed to figure out how this unit works. I also had to be very patient because the unit was self adjusting the current based on the set voltage and it took many hours before the cell reached a full charge.


Now for the BMS. As many will admit, shopping around for the right BMS is not an easy task. There are many different types and models on the market many of which are relatively new.

Before making a BMS choice, I had prepared a short list of desired features or functionality.
  1. Programmable and flexible for resizing battery pack and customizing charge voltages (CAN Bus). 
  2. System that is not susceptible to interference (false alarms).
  3. Good Graphics to display cell monitoring and charging data.
  4. Logging capability for tracing overall system or cell behavior under charge/discharge.
Based on the above, I found myself looking for a digital BMS with CAN bus control for charging. The system that I chose and installed is the EMUS BMS made by a startup company in Lithuania named Elektromotus. This product is still in the development phase but has some very attractive features with additional features planned in future releases.

The Control Unit is very compact and uses small gauge (24 awg) wiring that requires carefull handling. If you have to redo any connections, you will need a special extraction tool and mini style (3mm) crimper. Proper fastening is also very important to prevent movement and connections from breaking loose.

The cell modules are also compact and install with a particular order (one Bottom module, one Top module and alternating A and B modules). Note: The boards will come with longer positive terminal wires in the future to allow for more slack.

Early on, there were some delays integrating the BMS into the car due to incorrect buggy software initially shipped with the cell modules. Also being new to the system and referencing a draft version of the documentation, I received good online support to gain an introduction to the system and get started. At first I chose the default configuration parameters which eventually needed to be modified to better suit my specific setup and to also minimize some communication errors reported by the system software between the BMS control unit and the cell modules. The system was also intermittently reporting unexpected and frequent charging state changes. These issues were alleviated by making some timing configuration changes but not completely resolved and still under investigation. Nevertheless, I am still able to use the system and operate the vehicle on a daily basis and have learned a few new things from the experience with this BMS.

Configuring the BMS is done via a the EMUS "Control Panel" program on a windows operating system (running on a laptop is ideal for mobility).

The "Update" screen (above) is used to upload the Control Unit image file.

The configuration screen of the "Cells" (above) allows you to enter information about your cells and desired parameters for "Low" and "High" voltage, temperature, etc. If you ever resize your pack, all that is needed is reconfiguration.
The configuration screen of the "Charger" (above) allows you to enter information about your charger and desired parameters for Slow/Fast charging current, etc. Updates to the documentation should help determine how to calculate and set these values correctly for your specific needs. In my case, slow charging at 9 amps draws 12.8-12.9 amps at the AC socket which I found to be ideal for opportunity charging since standard north american AC circuits are 15 amps. I have fast charging set to 20 amps (or charger max.) since I have a dedicated 20 amp AC circuit for fast charging at home.

The "Timing" configuration screen (above) allows for setting the duration of charging phases as well as cell polling and display period. The polling and display timer defaults were set at 2.0 sec but this eventually was lowered down to 0.1 sec to minimize some errors I was getting. I am not certain but I believe that having the timers this low or frequent could result in larger log files.
The "General" tab within the "Status" window (above) shows the overall state of the system similar to the EVGUI main screen.
The "Cells" tab within the "Status" window (above) shows bars for the cells, temperature and balancing current (shunt current) of the system similar to the EVGUI cells screen.
The "Elcon Charger" tab within the "Status" window (above) shows the charger state, set and actual voltage/current similar to the EVGUI Charger screen.

Monitoring the BMS inside the car is done via the EMUS EVGUI.
The EVGUI runs on an HP iPaq 5700 PDA (above) which I have mounted to the windshield using a universal car mount.
Here is a shot of the EVGUI touch screen menu.
The "Main" screen above is showing that the BMS is in "Charging" state.
The "Cells" screen above shows bars for the voltage, temperature and balancing current of each cell.
The "Charger" screen above shows the charge state, pre-set and actual voltage, current and power of the charger as well as the minimum, maximum and average cell voltage.
The "Consumption" screen (above) is empty since this is for future use in upcoming releases (TBD) as there are provisions for connecting a current sensor and speed sensor to the control unit for data to be calculated.

All data gathered by the evgui is logged and saved on the iPaq SD card. Similarly, the control panel logs are saved on your windows PC/Laptop. Currently, the log files need to be converted to csv format by a proprietary log file converter program provided by elektromotus and then opened in excel. If the csv file exceeds 65,536 rows, excel will report that it cannot load the entire file and will only display up to 65,536 rows. In my case, I had to split my logs into multiple files using Linux "split" (command line utility). The drag about this is that the data is spread across files and somewhat inconvenient. There might be a future release that includes a feature to easily identify low cells avoiding sifting through logs to find low, defective or damaged cells.

For reference, below are some wiring diagrams showing how I integrating things in the e-Protege:

At this point I am anxious to see improvements in the BMS and looking forward to any future add-ons. I shall post more news as things develop.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Improvements - Part 1

This past winter I chose not to drive the car so that I can make some improvements. Since the car is seldom used during the tough winter months this was the perfect opportunity. I aimed to complete the work by spring but experienced unexpected delays and only got back on the road in June.

The first thing I did was install a decent battery heater. I was originally using a space heater but this was a temporary solution and not very efficient. My decision was to go with a 60 foot length of heating cable (300 watts) that is used for de-icing the roof of a house purchased from Canadian Tire. This meant that I had to remove all the battery monitors, cell balancers, batteries and battery box from the trunk in order to run the heating cable inside the box.

The cable was fastened at the bottom of the box between to sheets of metal like a sandwich.


While the battery box was out of the car, I put back the stock interior trunk panels and added some carpeting to give things a nice neat look.


In order to control the battery heater, I installed a household thermostat. This can always be swapped out later and replaced by a cell module based thermostat and BMS function that can trigger a relay to turn on the battery heater (TBD).


The second thing I did was plan for another BMS that would allow me to easily resize my battery pack. I modified my battery box to accept an additional 5 cells and use straps instead of bars to tie-down the battery cells.


Before putting the battery cells back in the box, I passed an additional flexible conduit underneath the car between the trunk and the motor compartment for future expansion (ex. BMS or other options). I also mounted a smoke detector inside the trunk for added safety. 


Going from 40 to 45 cells required that I upgrade my charger. The original Elcon charger was 128 volts nominal and the new one is now 144 volts. I also had the new charger enabled for CAN bus control which meant I had to purchase a CAN module.


I was also due for tires so I got myself a set of Kumho Ecowing all-season low rolling resistance tires.


More to come soon in "Improvements - Part 2" where I will describe a new BMS that I am evaluating.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

First Anniversary of the e-Protege

July 26th 2010 marks the first anniversary of the e-Protege. When I took the Electric Protege on it's first drive after the conversion in 2009, the odometer was at 203872 kilometers and today it is at 213464. That is just shy of 10,000 kilometers driven so far without any regrets or incident worth mentioning. I just recently finished making a metal sprocket like plate and attached it to the power steering pulley which is mounted on the CE shaft of the motor along with the original tach sensor (Crankshaft Position Sensor) mounted close by. This now allows me to re-gain the functionality of the car's stock tachometer. I am now happy to see where the Warp motor RPM are at while I am driving. Here is a small sampling of speed, gear and rpm:

80 kph / 50 mph in 3rd gear = 4000 rpm
90 kph / 55 mph in 4th gear = 3650 rpm
100 kph / 60 mph in 4th gear = 4000 rpm

Accessing the motor or compartment for maintenance is now much easier and quicker after the control box was built last November. Now I only need to unplug six connectors, remove six bolts and lift from both sides with a helping hand and voila, everything is exposed. The great thing is that it only takes about 10 minutes.


Here is the power steering pulley onto which a 35 toothed plate was mounted. This plate mimics the stock plate that was on the ICE crankshaft pulley. The final pulley assembly was painted black for rust prevention. For more info on this, you can refer to an older post dating back to April 2009 named "The Old School Approach".


This is the stock CKP sensor (tach sensor) mounted on the aluminum motor mount supporting the commutator end of the motor. The gap between the tip of the sensor and the edge of the toothed plate is approximately one millimeter. The pulley is not shown mounted on the motor shaft as it was drying after being painted and I forgot to take a shot of the final look.


This is approximately how much gas I saved this year by switching to electricity.

The 2000 Mazda Protege's published fuel economy is 25 mpg or 9.4 litres per 100 km for combined city and highway driving. This means that I would have consumed approximately 940 litres of gasoline worth approximately $1000 at an average cost of just above $1 per litre. I know that I have plugged in the car about 200 times and my total cost of electricity is about $200 ($0.02/km driven). This makes it an approximate net savings of $800 as an EV. Of course, no oil changes, tune-ups or combustion engine repairs which can really add up especially on used cars. What's important however is no CO2 emissions :-) 

The only maintenance done on the car in the past year was replacing the front brake rotors and pads which I did myself. The discs and pads were barely worn down but an annoying noise had developed in the past few months due to the driver side disc/rotor being warped forcing me to replace them. The total cost was $100. The quality of brake rotors has noticeably deteriorated in recent history. With almost everything being made cheap in China from recycled metal, it appears that discs are now much more prone to warping. I've have even heard of discs being warped new in the box.

As I think back at the year that has passed, I often wonder about government energy and climate policy especially in the wake of the largest oil spill and mining catastrophe to hit North America not to mention the many other ongoing environmental catastrophes around the world that are barely reported. In reading and watching other sources of media for relevant news, one comes to learn why things do not improve or change fast enough. One key reason is that executives in the fossil fuel industry rotate in and out of government positions like a revolving door. The oil industry's government lobby is so strong (much like that of the banking industry) that any efforts to change the status quo or implement tougher regulations is practically impossible. So I guess that our politicians are working to serve the few huge corporations rather than the many ordinary people like us. Check out dirtyenergymoney.com for more on this topic and watch Michael Moore's latest film "Capitalism A Love Story". On climate change, it seems that Wall Street's involvement in the Climate Exchange will be the next financial bubble. From what we have learned about Wall Street, I think most will agree that this is shaping up to be another scam. What a shame! 

I also recently became aware of thousands of dolphins that are secretly ambushed along the coast of Japan as they travel along their migratory paths. While watching the award winning documentary "The Cove", I was shocked to learn about the fate of the dolphins at the hands of humans involved in a multi-billion dollar industry.




Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cosmetics and the Good Consumer

As I have often done in the past, I'd like to share two more interesting short films that I recently viewed. The first one is about the cosmetics industry called "The Story Of Cosmetics" by the famous Annie Leonard and the second film is called "Good Consumer". I believe that both films deliver important messages. Enjoy!



To learn more about cosmetic safety, visit the cosmetic safety database named Skin Deep.

Monday, June 28, 2010

EV Moratorium Lifted

A few months ago the Ontario Ministry Of Transport was refusing EV registrations without providing any reason. Later on some sources indicated that people were fraudulently claiming that their vehicles were electric in order to avoid Ontario's "Drive Clean" tests or at least that's what officials may have wanted people to believe.

The moratorium has now been lifted after much pressure and lobbying on the MTO and their are new rules, forms, decals and select license offices designated for EV registrations across the province. In addition to this, the sales tax rebate ends in two days (June 30, 2010) and it does not appear that there will be any other similar incentive to replace it.

Guidelines and regulations regarding EV conversions in other provinces across Canada are very inconsistent. Apparently, EMC has gotten involved with the MTO in order to better develop the safety requirements for EV conversions. This is all good news and I hope that other provinces across Canada can follow suit.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Spill The Truth

I've been closely following the BP Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico since last month. I am amazed by the failed attempts to stop the spill and more amazed by some of the secrets revealed and the countless safety violations committed by BP and probably other oil giants.

The mainstream media has been broadcasting live images of a pipe spewing oil and non-mainstream media is trying to alert the public that the real problem could actually be 5-6 miles away where larger plumes of oil have been witnessed. It wouldn't surprise me if this live camera feed was just a diversion. What a major disaster! They say it is an Exxon Valdez every 5 days....





Johnny Cash sang back in the day, "Don't Go Near The Water":





Raining oil in New Orleans:



News Sources:

Prominent Oil Industry Insider: "There's Another Leak, Much Bigger, 5 to 6 Miles Away"

Chevron Has 5 Activists Arrested and Bars Entry to Global Victims of Its Practices at Annual Shareholders’ Meeting

Monday, May 17, 2010

Gridlock

All is well with my EV commutes and there has not been much to report on lately. As the weather is getting hotter, the air is also getting smoggier. With no AC in the car, I find myself driving with the windows down and breathing the emissions from hundreds of ICE vehicles while stuck in the occasional traffic gridlocks.

Speaking of gridlocks, my wife recently stumbled on a speech that Tom Hanks made at a college graduation that we found very inspiring. Read below.

THE POWER OF FOUR
by Tom Hanks


Today's main purpose is to celebrate your entering into society, but the fact is you have all been very much steeped in it already- Poughkeepsie being the proxy and microcosm of the whole wide world. None of you were untouched by the events in September of your freshman year, none unaffected by the ideological movements of local and geo-politics since. All of you have been staring your individual fate and our collective future right in the eye for the last four years. The common stereotype would have you today, cap in the air, parchment in hand, asking yourself "what do I do now?" You, the class of 2005, have already had many, many moments during your time at Vassar when you asked yourself that question. You might have added the word 'Hell', or some such four-letter word to the phrase: "What the HELL do I do now?" In which case, today might not be all that different from other days on campus-- except your parents are here and they might take you out for better food.

On Commencement Day, speech makers are expected to offer advice--as though you need any, as though anything said today could aid your making sense of our one-damn-thing-after-another world. Things are too confused, too loud, and too dangerous to make 'advice' an option. You need to hear something much more relevant on this day. You need to hear the most important message thus far in the third millennium. You need to hear a maxim so simple, so clear and evocative that no one could misconstrue its meaning or miss its weighty issue.

So, here goes. It's not a statement, but a request. Not a bit of advice, but a plea. It is, in fact, a single four-letter word, a verb and a noun which takes into account the reality of your four years at Vassar as well as the demands of the next four decades you spend beyond this campus.

It's a message, once made familiar by the Beatles--those Northern English lads who embodied The Power of Four.

Help. HELP. HEEEELLLLLLPP

We need help. Your help. You must help. Please help. Please provide Help. Please be willing to help. Help... and you will make a huge impact in the life of the street, the town, the country, and our planet. If only one out of four of each one hundred of you choose to help on any given day, in any given cause-- incredible things will happen in the world you live in.

Help publicly. Help privately. Help in your actions by recycling and conserving and protecting, but help also in your attitude. Help make sense where sense has gone missing. Help bring reason and respect to discourse and debate. Help science to solve and faith to soothe. Help law bring justice, until justice is commonplace. Help and you will abolish apathy-- the void that is so quickly filled by ignorance and evil.

Life outside of college is just like life in it: one nutty thing after another, some of them horrible, but all interspersed with enough beauty and goodness to keep you going. That's your job, to keep going. Your duty is to help-- without ceasing. The art you create can glorify it. The science you pursue can prove its value. The law you practice can pass on its benefits. The faith you embrace will make it the earthly manifestation of your God.

Here at Vassar whatever your discipline, whatever your passion you have already experienced the exhausting reality that there is always something going on and there is always something to do. And most assuredly you have sensed how effective and empowering it can be when more than four out of one hundred make the same choice to help.

You will always be able to help.

So do it. Make peace where it is precious. Help plant trees. Help embrace diversity and celebrate differences. Help stop gridlock.

In other words, help solve every problem we face - every single one of them--with the Power of Four out of a hundred. Help and we will save the world. If we don't help--it won't get done.


Congratulations. Good luck. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day. For many, Earth Day is every day as it should be. The earth gives us life and so to survive we must protect the earth. We owe it to our children and future generations.

Over the years, I have seen past and present people, groups, organizations and institutions make noble efforts and brilliant speeches towards protecting the environment. For the first time ever, a religious leader has spoken in strong support and encouragement of protecting the environment. His name is Patriarch Bartholomew and he believes that "harm to the environment" is a "Sin". Watch the below excerpt or view the entire video entitled "The Green Patriarch".


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Moratorium On Electric Vehicle Conversions

Disappointing news!

Recently, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation in Canada announced a moratorium on electric vehicle conversions. This has come as a big surprise to many EV converters as you can imagine. Read the article published in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper entitled "MTO moratorium short-circuits electric vehicle conversions".

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

World Water Day

Yesterday was World Water Day and the makers of the film "The Story of Stuff" released a new film named "The Story Of Bottled Water". It uses simple words and images to explain a complex problem, in this case manufactured demand: how you get people to think they need to spend money on something they don't actually need or already have.

Over the last two decades, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle and other big beverage companies have spent untold millions of dollars making us afraid of tap water. They've told us that if we want to be sure what we drink is pure and clean-not to mention hip and fashionable-we should buy bottled water.

Unfortunately, it worked.

In the United States alone, approximately 500,000,000 bottles of water are consumed each week. Imagine that: while 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water worldwide, other people spend billions of dollars on a bottled product that's no cleaner, harms people and the environment and costs up to 2,000 times the price of tap water.

But there's good news: Last year, for the first time in a long time, bottled water sales fell-not that much, but they went down. Consumers who want economy, portability and convenience are switching to refillable metal bottles. Restaurants are proudly serving tap water. And cities, states, companies and schools around the world are ditching the bottle to save money and do their part for the environment.

Watch The Story of Bottled Water and then pass it along to your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers-anyone you think might be interested.



Another absolute must see documentary film is called Flow - For Love Of Water. In this film, there is a captivating quote that dates back to 1854 from the American Indian chief of Seattle replying to an offer from the white government of the United States to "buy" a large area of Indian Land.

"How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land?

The idea is strange to us.

If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

We don't own them.

Every part of this earth is sacred to my people.

Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people.

This beautiful earth is the mother of the Red Man.

We are part of the earth and it is part of us.

The rivers are our brothers. We give the rivers the kindness we would give to any brother.

But the white man does not understand our ways.

He is a stranger who takes from the land whatever he needs.

The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on.

He kidnaps the earth from his children, and he does not care.

I do not know. Our ways are different than your ways."



The control and commercialization of water is discussed in many films. Blue Gold - World Water Wars is yet another example of such a film that attempts to raise awareness on the global water crisis.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Arrives Early

Normally winter starts fading out in early April but this year the warmer weather arrived a month earlier. All the snow has melted and I am now driving the EV on a regular basis with a total of 5000 KM driven to date. Hopefully, the winter won't come back to bite us in April.

The PakTrakr battery monitoring system has disappointed me. I had to recently return one of the remotes for repair as it continued to give me false alerts and incorrect voltage readings. It was returned to me repaired only to eventually malfunction again. Although I am happy that I now received a new replacement remote, I am somewhat tired of removing and re-installing it since it involves unscrewing terminals, cutting tie wraps and re-routing wires. I know of others who have reported similar problems and this naturally makes me question the overall quality of this product.

Every so often, I read stories or watch reports on television about how sustainable development is hindered by the faltering economy and industry protectionism. The mighty dollar and it's pursuit by the richest corporations is the biggest road block. Our world's outdated and corrupt monetary system is just not compatible with the sustainability model. One is the total opposite of the other. To understand this better, watch this award winning documentary film named
Zeitgeist by Peter Joseph. You will feel a sense of awakening.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Climate Wars

Happy belated New Year to everyone. I've been hibernating after the holidays taking it easy and spending some quality time with the family. The EV has also been hibernating for the most part with occasional driving now and then. I've been top charging the battery pack once every 7-10 days just as I would if it was in storage. I can say that the sub zero (below freezing) temperatures have a very noticeable effect on the batteries. My best estimate is a 20% increase in voltage sag. To reduce this effect, I have some ideas for improvements to the battery box to incorporate some form of thermal management but this will have to wait until next summer/fall. For now, I am content leaving the EV at home during the winter and commuting to work using public transit. This is also good for rust prevention as the car is not constantly exposed to road salt and winter grime.

As usual, I've been reading quite a bit and watching more and more documentary films. I recently listened to a CBC Radio series called "Climate Wars" by Gwynne Dyer dealing with the geopolitics of climate change. There are some stunning conclusions made with different scenarios of what the future may look like for humanity and the state of our planet. Here again, I urge everyone to indulge and have a listen in.

There are three podcasts

"Ideas1", "Ideas2", "Ideas3",

and one video speech

"TVO".

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter Has Arrived

Today we got our first snow storm of the winter. School was cancelled for the kids and I left the EV at home to avoid the traffic fuss. Although the car is parked in the driveway, it is under a winter car shelter which I purchased and installed back in October.

Since I have been a little concerned about the effect of the cold temperatures on the battery pack, I purchased a small ceramic PTC heater to place in the trunk to keep the temperature above freezing. These can be found at just about any local hardware store and are very affordable. Luckily, I have all my cells in one location which keeps them at an even temperature. I have the thermostat of the heater set fairly low to maintain an average temperature around 10 celsius. Although the battery cells warm up during overnight charging, I am more comfortable knowing that the heater provides an extra automatic source of supplementary heat.






Lately, I have also been keeping a close watch on an open source development of a mini BMS that is being developed by Dimitri through the DIY Electric Car forum. Nice to see all the contributions and exchange of discussions between many members.

Last September, Electric Mobility Canada held a conference on Plug In Hybrid Electric Vehicles in Montreal called PHEV'09. There were some very interesting presentations and speeches given on a wide range of topics. Unfortunately I was not able to attend but did read up on and view many of the presentations online by accessing the conference proceedings on the EMC website and found very many of them to be interesting and very informative.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Carbon Offsets

I've been wanting to know how much carbon dioxide (CO2) a typical small car produces in a year when driven on a daily basis. I found several sites on the internet that calculate the size of your carbon footprint for just about everything (household, transportation, etc). Here is one of those carbon calculators.

It is said that the average US vehicle has a footprint of 10,383 LBS of CO2 per year. When making my own calculation based on a small car and less mileage travelled (ex. 15,000 KM or 9320 miles), I came to 6029 LBS or 2.7347 tons per year. That is how much CO2 is out of the air when a car like this one has all it's fossil fuel pollutants removed when it is converted to electric.

A couple of nights ago, CBC Doc Zone aired an episode called "Carbon Hunters" which looked at the concept of "Carbon Credits" or "Carbon Offsets" as one of the ways to slow climate change. This approach is not the best but it was deemed necessary and adopted by the UN because other approaches were taking too long. Something that I did not know is that carbon credits have become quite the commodity and can be traded for cash on the Chicago Climate Exchange and other international carbon exchanges.


- One metric ton of CO2 out of the air for one year = One Carbon Credit
- There is one ton of carbon in 3.67 tons of CO2

Apparently, there is a "gold rush" for carbon offsets and many speculators are jumping in for a piece of the action. I don't know exactly how much one carbon credit is worth today, but I know that Denmark's carbon tax is $25 for every ton of carbon. Watch the film to learn about this. I am sure you will find it intriguing.



Watch Carbon Hunters online in it's entirety.

I also recommend the film "The Story Of Cap & Trade".


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Control Box

As things are pretty well broken-in after 3000+ kilometers driven it was time to make one important addition to the car. The electrical controls in the front compartment were originally installed in a temporary fashion and I was always intending to contain most of the components inside a control box in order to shelter them from the elements (water, salt, road dust etc). I wanted to get this task done before the first snowfall but I knew this was going to be difficult now that I don't have access to an indoor work space. So, I decided to take the car to Richard's place so that he can put together a custom control box that would fit nicely up front and that would be easily removable to facilitate servicing the car.

All the wiring leading into and out of the control box can be disconnected using Anderson and Molex type connectors. The pot box was left outside of the control box for easy access without having to open the control box. At the same time, the Charger was slightly repositioned for added hood clearance and the power steering pump was lowered for a better control box fit.

Here is a shot of the custom bracket used to support the front of the control box and charger.

The power steering pump is seen here after it was lowered to make room for the control box.


Another shot of the front bracket (driver side).

Control Box (empty).


Control Box (with components mounted inside).


Control Box mounted inside the front motor compartment (uncovered).


Finished look with control box covered.



During the making of the control box, I commuted to and from work on public transit and was anxious to get the car back. I spent plenty of time watching and reading about conversions and keep finding some very interesting material. Here is a project presentation recorded on video entitled "Customizing Commute Ecology" given by a Carnegie Melon University professor named Ilah Nourbakhsh. The project is named "Charge Car" by the "Create Lab" at the university.