Friday, April 30, 2010

May 1 Ev-ent oh wow

Okay I know this is last-minute but we have TWO! Teslas, a mini-E and a bangin' line-up of converted EV's, including the e-Van which, in keeping with its spritely spirit, kept us dancing in agony till the last minute.  Will the batteries charge?  Yes, after charger and back-up charger failed and Saint Bill had to charge the 144v pack two at a time with two 12v chargers.  Will the tow materialize?  Yes, it did after a last-minute scramble for back-up and then back-up of the back-up. 

I am so excited that the e-Van will be rolling out tomorrow. Saint Bil's done an incredible amount of work on it and I can't wait to show off the Amazing Things That Can Be Done With Lexan and a Table Saw.  

Really, this is why I started Bucks County Renewables: so I could hang out on a gorgeous May Day checking out a whole range of EV's from conversion to production, all on the road right now, hanging with the incredible crowd of thinkers, makers and doers that I've gotten to meet in the last four years.  And for once ... I don't have to take the photographs.  Looking forward to sharing Anna Digate's record with you: thanks to her, Don & Bob Young and Val Bertoia we have a really great show coming up tomorrow.  I'm so excited about it I'm posting instead of going to sleep, but now, to bed with me because I have to make an early start!

Monday, April 26, 2010

May 1 EV-ent and Junior Solar Sprint Coming Up!

With the May 1 EV-ent around the corner we have a line-up of vehicles confirmed that ranges from an electric go-kart to a converted electric riding lawnmower, two Ford Rangers and two early-90's compact cars, a 2003 Hyundai Tiburon, and a 2001 Insight (formerly a hybrid, now fully-electric and charged with solar).  And just today I learned to my pleasure that we will welcome the Heat Shed's mini-E!  Who-hoo!  Not to blab about what's going on behind the scenes, but we're lobbying hard for a certain electric sports car to round out a terrific show of both d-i-y and production EV's that are actually out on the roads today.  Next year we foresee capping off this series of displays in Macungie with one featuring a Nissan Leaf and a Chevy Volt, showing how fast and far we've come in the EV world in just three years.

So don't put it off, this three-year arc  is a project in watching history happening!  Come out this Saturday and see the cars, soak up the assembled knowledge of the owners and operators who are there to share their experiences and their excitement over driving the quiet zero-emissions vehicles that will move the U.S. away from dependence on foreign fossil fuel.  The infrastructure is here today, and so are the cars of the future. 

Okay, you can see I am a little excited (I should have put that last paragraph into our press release)!  Everyone on our little ad hoc committee has been working hard to put on a great show, and (not to omit an e-Van update) Saint Bill has mounted the vent fans and tubes for outgassing during charging, and most of that wiring is done!   I know he wants the whole set-up to go on automatically when the charger gets turned on, which will doubtless mean more problem-solving at the last-minute -- we'll see what happens between now and Saturday!

Before I go back to getting various last-minute pre-EV-ent things attended to, I want to plug this upcoming occasion -- the Junior Solar Sprint in Philadelphia on May 22.  Click on the graphic to enlarge the flyer.  Joe Bruno, coordinator of the event, is recruiting judges for the Technical Merit & Most Outstanding Vehicle awards, and there is also space available for display of vehicles, so get in touch with him if you want to volunteer or to showcase a car!  

Monday, April 19, 2010

Go Green Expo & Progress on e-Van!

Spring is a busy time for EV owners with Earth Day activities and all the general coming-out-of-the-shell energy.  No exception here; on Sunday I attended the Go Green Expo at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center to hear a panel on alternative transportation featuring Oliver Perry, the president of the EEVC, Isaiah Thompson of the Philadelphia City Paper and Seth Leitman, co-author of Build Your Own Electric Vehicle.  

 I announced the May 1 EV-ent in Macungie there and when I mentioned that we were going to be giving away a copy of his book, Seth immediately contributed a signed copy!  So hey -- this Green Living Guy is great!  Currently a writer and radio/video blogger on a variety of environmental issues, Seth has a long history with EV's, having worked directly on experimental implementation of both alternative-fueled buses and electric commuter cars in New York City. 

In additon to co-authoring the well-respected text Build Your Own Electric Vehicle, Seth helped to produce Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle (which he also donated for the May 1 EV-ent!) as well as many other volumes in the Green Guru series.  Check out his website at

So if you can join us in Macungie on May 1 -- you'll have the chance to enter a drawing for a signed copy of either of the above two books!  Not to mention the chance to pick the considerable brains assembled on our panel of owner-operators of converted EV's.  This is an invaluable learning opportunity for anyone who's curious about the process, and always a fun time for the panel paricipants as well.  These guys (and they are mostly guys, but me too) love to talk about EV's.


Meanwhile, on Saturday I went down to visit the e-Van -- looking resplendent, don't you think? -- which has been under Bill's care.  Bill and I were being interviewed by Kutztown University student David Dunn, a long-time EV enthusiast who has chosen to document our work for a project on Alternative Fuels for Commuters he is doing for his environmental conservation class.  David loved getting to check out -- and ride around in! -- the e-Van and I was happy to see how much progress has been made!  Bill has been hard at work and our goal is to have her complete by the May 1 EV-ent. 

The front battery enclosures in their oak-and-lexan casings are all done (left) and the rear enclosures are well underway (below). 

We ordered -- and had delivered in record time -- some very cool-looking marine bilge blowers to vent out the hydrogen gas that can accumulate during charging of the lead-acid batteries; the computer fans we used on the initial conversion weren't really strong enough. Getting them installed is on the agenda this week.  Too bad they won't be especially visible.

Did I say April was busy?  With the Macungie EV-ent on May 1 and the 21st Century Automotive Challenge in State College late in the month it is looking like May's gonna be chock-full!  I'll keep you posted!