Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Miata & e-Van Update, Plus Final Energy Fest Plug

Maybe I'll plug the Energy Fest first.  It's just days away, and I'm belatedly realizing that I never posted my own speaking schedule in Kempton this weekend!  (So much for being a self-promoting machine here on this blog.)  If you're an Energy Fest virgin it would be wise to take an advance peek at the amazing roster of informative sessions available there from 10 am - 4 pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Talks go on all day in the Renewable Energy, Sustainable Living, Environmental/Social Justice, Green Building & Transportation Tents!

The laughably cheap entrance fee of $10 yields the aforementioned ton of info freely given, a few workshops with modest additional fees, over a hundred exhibitor booths, delicious food, and a sustainable ethic: everywhere a trash can might be, there are compost/recycling/landfill bins instead.  You will be amazed at how low-impact even a large gathering of people can be.  There's also fun stuff like music, yoga, & children's activities, plus extremely cheap camping ($15).   It's a beautiful setting -- outdoors, but all the vendor & lecture areas are protected by large tents in case of rain -- in the foothills of one of the closest sections of the PA Appalachians.  Kempton is also the location of Hawk Mountain if you want to combine the Fest with an educational side-tour to learn about the magnificent spectacle of raptor migration.

I get a fair number of emails from national "green expo" groups inviting Bucks County Renewables to purchase an exhibit booth at the indoor, air-conditioned conference center they've booked in my area for their particular tour.  That's not what the Energy Fest is like at all.   Sponsored by the MAREA, a truly grassroots and entirely volunteer organization located in Berks County, it's a genuine effort to educate on a local scale, to gather and disseminate the results of hundreds of people's labors, research, and passion over one glorious weekend, and so it is infused with a spirit of communal effort & shared fun that is gonna be missing from any corporate-sponsored, profit-making endeavor.  Obviously it would be crazy for you not to come!

Friday, Saturday & Sunday mornings I'll be speaking at 10 am  in Tent 7 (details here - lecture T1) and on Saturday afternoon from 1:00 - 4:00 I'll be there too, presenting an overview of the process of building your own quiet, environmentally sound EV's, including system options and conversion steps.  This workshop includes a Q&A session with a panel of current EV owners, giving the opportunity to hear about a range of real-world experiences.  Bucks County Renewables donates half the gate to the Eastern Electric Vehicle Club, many of whose members have been mainstays of the Transportation Tent since its inception at the Festival in 2007.  I can't link to the workshop description for some reason, and you can't register online in any event, so just ask about it when you purchase your admission if you're interested.  In the meantime, here is a link to check out a few of the converted and production EV's and other alt-fuel vehicles that will be on display this weekend!

And that tasty preview is by no means complete because our newly-converted Miata will be joining the e-Van on display this year, and I am so excited because it looks like we are going to get to DRIVE it there!  I have to back up a little bit cause when I last posted the DC-DC converter (our 2nd!) was still on the fritz and Brandon had zoomed in from Lancaster to do a consult.

Brandon thought the problem might be in the mini-Anderson connectors.  Some of the pins may have been loose inside.  Bill on the other hand thinks there may have been a loose connection on the hard-wired side.  Just in case he fixed both issues, eliminating the Anderson connectors entirely from the circuit and tightening the double-nut connections on the other side.  So far our loaner DC-DC converter is functioning fine although it did mysteriously blow an inline fuse on Bill when he first tested it.

All these problems with charging the 12-volt battery have Bill wanting to have a dashboard monitor for it in the future! He picked up a whole other Miata cluster at the local junkyard and rigged up a state-of-charge gauge in it, but installing that baby is going to have to wait till after the Festival.  Bill reports that getting in the new horn took long enough.  It turns out the Miata horn is one elaborate assembly!

Look what he had to replace to allow us to go beep-beep again ...  Meanwhile the e-Van's been prettied up in preparation for the Energy Fest; on Saturday I helped Bill take apart the plexiglass enclosures for the batteries and clean them all off.  Yuk, lead-acid batteries can get gross.

While I was cleaning batteries in the passenger compartment I admired the new 1500w ceramic element heater under the seat where the batteries used to be!  A snazzy duct has been cut in the old steel box and the heater is tucked inside.


So tonight we brought the Mazda home from Bill's place to ours, a total of 21.9 miles.  The battery pack was reduced by 58.2 %.  That suggests a total range of 50 miles and an effective one of 40 (80% discharge being recommended for lithium batteries during normal use.  We won't plan to make it directly to Kempton unless the Miata's projected performance picks up over the week (it's a 50-mile trip) but we do have a proposed itinerary that would allow us to charge it up at a friend's house on the way, so stay tuned for that adventure!

No comments: