The Blog

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

3 more steps on the journey to Electric Powered Transportation

1)  It was a cold and dreary Sunday when I rode over to Erik's house on my bike that we planned to light up with LED's.  Erik's father, Roger got very involved as we set up in the garage and went through the long process (six hours) of installing LED's, a rear "bumper" for attaching some of the lights, the DC to DC converter (takes the 36 volts out of the battery and turns it into 12 volts to power the lights).  Erik was amazing.  Not only for his stamina but for the string of ideas he had for solving the challenges that we encountered.  Erik's mother and Erik's sister also joined us in the garage and contributed good cheer and a nice plastic soap dish that houses the DC to DC converter.  As you can see by the photos, the results are amazing.  These are really bright lights that are even visible when direct sunlight is shining on them.  Not only to I feel safer riding around but I am turning heads and starting conversations about electric bicycles that are started by admiration for my lighting.  Quite a successful project.  By the way, with all the lights running, I am using about 11 to 12 watts of power.  Considering that the average power draw of the motor is probably around 300 watts, I'd say the demand on the battery created by the lights is pretty insignificant.  And I never have to worry about batteries for my lights!

Figuring things out

The finished product

2)  The tandem build -
After finally getting all of the pieces together, I set up a time to put the tandem together.  A lot of the work was purely mechanical so I was able to get some of the students to work together with me and Jonathan Ando as we build up the bike.  When we got it ready to roll, it ran okay for about 10 minutes and then died.  In addition, the gears weren't working well so there was a lot of skipping going on.  The students were very engaged and the ten minutes of riding that we did get were lots of fun.  After school was out, Jonathan and I figured out that we had another controller on the bike that we built in Boulder on our trip.  We switched out the controller and the bike worked great.  We had a number of theories about what was up but the bottom line is that the controller that came with the wheel didn't work.  As with electronic components, if they die, they tend to die pretty much right away.  Once they prove that they work, they seem to work for a long time.  Golden Motors is very good about backing their products so I don't think I will have any problem replacing the bad controller.
Later, I put a different deraileur on the rear wheel and it works a lot better.  With a little adjustment, I think this bike will be up and running in a jiffy.   Taxi anyone??

Coming together - 
Notice the Green battery pack from our cross country adventure

Jonathan Ando and Julio
The maiden voyage

 3) The arrival of the electric motorcycle.
Back in early December, I ordered an electric motorcycle from Zelectric Vehicles  Slated to arrive at a friends house in the flats after 3, the motorcycle arrived around 8.  The throttle wires had been pulled out during shipping and it was fairly dark by the time I had the bike off the truck so I had to go back the next day to try to get the bike working.  After a couple of days of messing around and with the owner of the company providing limited support from China, I was able to get the bike running and oh, what a blast!!
(The bike is assembled in America and the owner was visiting China on business with his component suppliers.)  I am currently trying to get the DMV to understand that the motorcycle doesn't need EPA certification since it is an electric bike and has no emissions.  I had a very challenging conversation with the DMV person who was not interested in "out of the box" challenges.  I did manage to get a temporary permit and I have to get the motorcycle certified by the California Highway Patrol before heading back to the land of the DMV.