Putting some mileage on

I’ve finally put enough mileage on the scooter to wear out one of the tires.  The nylon plies are showing.  This also BTW, marks the first time that I have taken a picture with my new phone and uploaded it to the blog.  More to come.  I even take requests!

It’s a long story, but I feel guilty for not working more on sustainability projects the past 2 months.  That should change in the next couple weeks as my “to do” list has been brought back down to manageable.  There have been articles in Mother Earth News and a few other periodicals lately that have reminded me that sustainability is not necessarily a destination as much as it is a direction.  It’s just a matter of how fast I’m travelling on that road.

Coming plans are A/C for Sparky, more work on the Lotus, a large tank for the rainwater collection to work with some meaningfull volume and pressure and, in a few months, a greenhouse.  More frequent pictures and even some video, should be coming.

August update

It is a month later and time for another update.  It may sound like I’ve been lazy but thats not the truth.  The fact is that we have been refurbishing a rental house that we own and it has been sucking time and money for the past two months.  This is finally nearly done although it will take a while to rebuild our savings.  The up side is that some things at work will be out of the way this week and I am beginning to have more time to work on other projects.  I should have the air conditioning in Sparky done about the time that things cool off and I don’t need it.  One cool addition is the adaptor that recently arrived from Tucson EV so that Sparky can now charge from a public charging stations like the ones just installed at our local recreation center.

Sorry, I meant to publish this last month.

SEG

Yay! Drove to work burning zero gas!

I finally had a set of night shifts on my schedule, so driving at night is cool enough.  It was cool to get that EV grin again.  Those three batteries that I was concerned about have seemed to come up to even with the rest of the pack after a few charge/discharge cycles.  There are still plenty of things to bring up to par with Sparky.  Hopefully I will continue to chip away at them until September when things should lighten up at work a bit and slightly cooler temperatures should both give me more time and also make working outside less miserable.  My son continues to use Sparky as well and I use the scooter for short errands when the weather allows.  I think we’ve cut out gasoline use by about a third over the past couple months with more to come.  Even with the EV charging, our June electricity bill was less than the same month last year.

I will keep posting when there is something to share.  Hope to have some interesting pics soon.

SEG

Summertime!

Well, it’s summertime in Florida again.  This is reflected in the power bill going up to $119 for AC and in work outside slowing to a crawl.  It’s just no fun trying to work on various components of an electric car or anything else for that matter, while dripping with sweat.  Work does go on only more slowly. The headlight and rear wiper switches in Sparky failed and were replaced.  My current priority is to get AC working.  I’ve built a rig to hold a motor and compressor.  Within a few days I will order a condensor.  The trick will be to get the controller triggered and wired properly to run directly off of the main traction battery pack.

The calipers for the rear of the Lotus are from a Porsche Turbo 911 but the rims are from a standard 911.  Therefore, the calipers are a few millimeters too large…  for now.  I am working on slowly grinding them down.

The hydroponic rack has been abandoned for now as just about everything in it has been eaten by some animal or other.  This winter a greenhouse will be built (mostly out of recycled materials) enclosing the current rack and a few other things.

We’ve traded in by daughter’s gas car for an ’07 Prius.

There has been interest in resurrecting the Suncoast Electric Vehicle Association.  There is a meeting of the involved people on the 30th of this month.  I will keep you posted.

The Sierra club had a viewing of “Revenge of the Electric Car” on Thursday this past week.  It was good to see about 50 people there all enthusiastic about electrification of American transportation.  There were about 5 other EVs in attendance; a Weego, a leaf and a couple Volts.  Mine was the only conversion.  It still impresses me the variety of questions people ask about EVs and the conversion process.  There is a wide range of perspectives from lay person to mechanic to engineer.  Each has their own direction from which they view them.  Some people are concerned with cost, range and performance, others with practical aspects of fabrication, obtaining components and assembly and others with systems optimization.  We had several long conversations about all of these issues before and after the meeting and movie.  It was great to “talk EVs” with all of the people there.  I hope that a few new converts will come of it.

Work has slowed with the weather as well as increasing involvement in other aspects of my life.  There are seasons, an ebb and flow to all things.  Sustainability is important and I think it should underlie all things, but it’s not everything.  Work will go on and I will try and figure out how to upload pictures from my new phone and get them on here.

Enjoy the summer.

SEG

power bill

Darn it!  The electric bill came today.  We owe $29.  The ammount is not the relevent issue, it’s the fact that the number is positive.  I was so hoping to be net zero last month but the record high Florida temperatures have taken their toll.  Maybe this fall or next spring.  I’ll keep you posted.

SEG

CRAP! I CAN’T go to work!

At least not without burning gas.  Just when I get sparky up and running, they start construction on the parking lot we were using.  This means no more access to the sockets I was going to use to charge.  Even though it is possible to go to work and back with the range Sparky has, it is not a good idea to stress the batteries that way on a regular basis.  Using the full range of the vehicle should only be done as a last resort, like when some wise guy tries to mess with me by unplugging it.  On the plus side our new parking area is covered, on the other hand, not an electrical socket in sight.  Crap!  One step foreward, two steps back.  I’m going to have to ask the security office if they have any ideas.

No rain since the barrels filled last.  I have finally built a pump to either sprinkle the lawn or use a hose with the collected rainwater.  Not exactly the same pressure as the spigot, but it’s compact, fits in a nice enclosure and it works well enough to water the lawn.  Now to make two more, one for each barrel.

Still eagerly awaiting the electric bill.  How many people look foreward to that?  I really think we should be net zero or better this month.  That would just be too cool.

I think there will be a Lotus update soon.  Look for it!

SEG

I can go to work!

Sparky made it just over 56 miles with room for a bit more!  I would estimate a final range somewhere between 60-70 miles.  This means that my 52 mile round trip commute to work is now possible in my electric car.  Granted, it would be much more comfortable with air conditioning, but at least it can do it.

SEG

Happy Earth Day!

Yes it’s earth day again.  Similar to Christmas, Easter and Talk Like a Pirate day as they are all single days to celebrate something that should be in our hearts and minds all year long.  Of course, it is impotrant to plant a tree, recycle and say “ARRRR” occasionally.  It is also important to remember that even as good ideas are forgotten more quickly than the latest boy band, these days of commeration can and should serve to re-focus our attention to things that matter.

Speaking of things that matter, (to me anyway) things have been going well at the homestead.  Sparky has exceeded its previous lead battery range by ten miles with no signs of weakening.  35 miles so far without a charge and the average volts per cell is still 3.26 (that’s good).  Lithium rocks!  I’ve been having issues with the battery monitor, and there is still a list of things that need to be fixed and upgraded, but Yay! Progress!

The new photovoltaic solar panels are doing well.  At one point yesterday, they were making 6.8 killowats.  I don’t think my house has ever used that much at one time.  Can’t wait to see my power bill for this month!

The rain barrels are finally installed. We haven’t had any rain for the past week, So I didn’t feel the need to get them done.  Finally, it started raining and I felt guilty for sitting my but for the previous day or two, so I went out in the rain and (with hand tools) installed them.  They are now full.

Now it’s time to go pick my son up from the airport in the prius.  Hope this earth day is as satisfying for you as it is for me.

SEG

OK, I’m old.

Maybe it is because I am old that I can be thoroughly tickled by the fact that according to the statistics tirelessly collected by wordpress, I have several hits from Ireland, even one from Germany and one from Chile.  Chile?!  (Coincidentally, I speak about enough Spanish and German to hold a simple conversation.)  I know that some of these people are just googling for lotus parts, but it is more fun deluding myself into thinking that they actually read some of the posts and care a little.  Even though it can sometimes feel a bit one-sided, the site statistics provide a kind of feedback.  Lately there has been an uptick in readership, and the numbers tell me that it’s more than just family and friends checking out the site.  I don’t have that many family or friends, it must be somebody else.  It’s not exactly like the site has gone viral, but it’s nice to see some growth.

As I said, I am old, enough to have had a pen pal.  Even now the relationship is the same as then.  I write, they don’t.  It’s just like Charlie Brown.  I’m old enough to remember writing letters to family in Scotland via airmail and still having to wait 2 weeks for response, or having to pay five dollars and get up early or stay up late to call them by phone.  I’m old enough for this point and click stuff to still impress me.  This ability to reach anywhere in the world instantly, I think is truly the wonder of the internet.  So thanks, Al Gore.  And to my readers, thank you, gracias und vielen danke.

SEG

I HAVE THE POWER!

41.4 killowatt hours today!  The new solar PV panels are up today Woo Hoo!  There’s nothing like watching your house pump 5.4 KW or more into the grid for hours at a time while using almost nothing!   The solar PV system is now complete as there is no more usable space on the roof for panels.

I also bought three 57 gallon rain barrels which I will hook up in the coming days for rain harvesting.  Also coming will be a 500-750 gallon tank for rainwater that should take us through the next dry season.  We even got a small composter as we will be starting on a small raised bed garden in the next two weeks.

Sadly, I will have to start paying for my grapefruit juice soon as the 4 1/2 gallons I squeezed in Janruary are almost gone.

The BMS in Sparky is now fully wired.  There are still several upgrades and a few repairs that need to be made, but it is now basically driveable as it can be charged safely.

It’s been a busy, productive week.  Some projects have been concluded.  The hydroponic setup has been cleaned out for a re-planting and new projects have been started.  Gutters have been placed for rainwater collection and I will probably start some occasional work on the Lotus soon.

It’s been an exciting time to be a suburban ecogeek!  I will keep you posted.

SEG