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Old 03-08-2009, 05:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Winnipeg
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start a "Fire" fly EV project

Hello Everybody.

I guess I will start by introducing myself:

My name is Trevor, and I live in Winnipeg. I am just another noob wannabe EV builder as of right now, with a determination to convert one of my vehicles over.

Below is schematic that I made up to show what I would like to do. My introduction is quite a bit lengthy, but what I would like to try to find out, is if this schematic "should" theoretically work or not. Sorry if I drew some of the components incorrectly:

Last Sunday, I had finally wathched the movie "Who Killed the Electric Car". It kind of reminded me of my intentions to convert my car over years ago, but ignorance caused me to believe that it would be too expensive and far too complicated. It also made me sort of angry at the world for a bit for thinking that I can't do anything about it, but realizing it's biased I rekindled the inspiration to start looking into ways that I could possibly make a difference even if only for myself.

I can't buy an electric car still as of yet, and for some reason, there aren't any flying cars around either. I drive subcompact import cars to and from work every day. You would think that small cars would get good gas mileage, but not in my case where my commute ranges 14-20 kms a day. Stop and go traffic like crazy; no timed lights, well actually, timed if you consider a light will turn red more times than not on the major route, unless you speed - go figure.

There is limited mass transit infrastructure where I live, however, I am close to a bus route. Still, I don't take the bus, and I drive everyday for a number of reasons. I really like cars and enjoy driving very much. That alone makes it very hard for me to find an alternative. I tired biking, but it's a very dangerous route to my work as there are a lot of busy traffic areas around. I thought about getting a motorbike for the summer but insurance is too high, and you need a bike license. I thought about a 50cc bike, but price, reliability, and again safety steer me away from that one.

My alternative last year in summer:

Drive to work, leave the car, walk home. Walk to work, drive home, and vice-versa. It takes 1 hour and ten minutes for me to walk one direction. Convenience was greatly lost but I enjoyed it; then I ended up spraining my ankle at work one day, and started driving again.

Back to the drawing board... which in my case now is You Tube. Well, actually, first I went on a website to see what an EV conversion kit costs for a Geo Metro again. Last I remember checking, I thought a conversion came in around the $8,000 to $12,000 mark. I still wondered if that would be worth it back then but again I was ignorant.

This time around, I saw a kit labeled as a kit#1 on a top site on a Google search being the lowest one offered for the price of $2,300 American. I was floored to see one that came in so low, but was even more blown away by the fact that it was a 48V kit. Again, the ignorance before had led me to beleive that an EV no higher than 120V was not worth building.

This is where I went back to You Tube. I wanted to see one of these Metros in action, but what I came across surprised me even more. A conversion done here in Canada for $672!? This seemed more up my alley. I watched the video of the first test drive of project "Forkenswift" and thought, that is exactly what I would be looking at wanting to do.

I do not expect my electric car to be very fast, or go very far, and I am not in on it because I think I will save mad cash by not having to gas up - I just want to be able to drive a vehicle powered by a renewable power source, even if it means I will have to take some back roads to get to work, and when I get onto the main road for the small stretch that I would, there would be so many red lights that I wouldn't be moving anywhere too quickly anyway.

One of my biggest peaves: Idling at a traffic light in the heat of summer and hearing the rad fan start up and shut down constantly as it tries to cool the engine.

My idea:

My idea is that an idea is worthless without some sort of a product, therefore I have to do something about it! I have made a preliminary schematic from what I sort of understand from a week of learning so far. I want to make an electric vehicle as stupidly simple as I can while still having some safety devices still in place.

My car:

A 1987 Pontiac Firefly (Canadian Chevy Sprint, Suzuki Forsa). Most kits that you can purchase for these are designed for the 1989 and up models, and wouldn't work on my car without modification as far as I know. I have already converted the transaxle over from the automatic that came in the car to a 5 speed manual trans. The engine that is in it has a bad water pump, knocks like a rock, and the gas tank just recently pee'd all over my lawn once I parked it for the winter. I am thinking it should be a good candidate for the swap, and my only reasons for keeping the vehicle up until now has been pure sentiment, otherwise it would have been junked years ago.

It is my first car, well, actually I owned my first car when I was thirteen which was a different car, but I never got to drive it and enjoy it like the Firefly which I got when I was seventeen; therefore the Firefly is my first insure and go vehicle that I got to drive on public roads. I have kept it for so long due to it's mechanical nature. I enjoy working on it, because it is mechanical, and not too electrical - OOPS! did I just diss electronics!? I am sorry, it's just that I don't understand electrical as much as I do mechanical.

I once installed fog lights on the Firefly. That involved a relay and I even wired them in properly only to be able to activate them with the ignition on and the head light switch on. I had installed a stereo on this car too as the old one had been stolen, but the harness was so hacked that it gave me headaches trying to figure out why when I pushed my horn button, my high beam indicator would illuminate whilst I still had no tunes. Replace the horn/dome light fuse, open the door and pow! Huh? darn radio!

Well, my first step in trying to understand electrical is to try to relate it to hydraulics. I can read hydraulic schematics, so some of it is there if you look at it the same as flow and valves as switches etc.

I found the schematic version 2.2 for the Forkenswift. I modified it to meet my "theoretical" version of an electric car that would be used only by myself and wouldn't be intended for others to really drive without me being around that is; it would be suited best to my wants.

I will explain my schematic, however, I am putting it up here as I expect my lack of knowledge as of now means I probably drew up a schematic for an alternative and expensive way to start fires if no matches or lighters happen to be kicking around to do the job. A renewable energy fire starting source; kind of defeats the purpose doesn't it?

Let me recall a time that I had made a computer motherboard go up in smoke, then I reset the breaker in my house, found the problem, and despite the horrible stench of burnt components and fibreglass board the computer still worked?

Anyway, I would like to build a car that is light, with a top speed of 40-60 kmh (35 MPH ish though higher would be better), have an electrical drive system completely separate from the existing vehicle electrical system and operate off of a minimum of four car batteries and a maximum of around eight car batteries. Four would be ideal at 12 volts to make a 48 volt system.

I do not want my car ignition key switch to be attached to the system as of yet, but would still like it that nobody else could just hop in and go without knowing what they are doing first.

A manual disconnect is a must for when the vehicle is not in use and for emergency situations (like the smoking motherboard incident).

A keyed ignition switch somewhere in line would be good for keeping it safe.

So, I want a car that quite simply put, works like this:

Connect up the manual disconnect for the vehicle electric drive system.

Get in the car, turn on the factory ignition switch, vehicle accessories come on if they are being used; nothing happens with the electric drive system.

Put transaxle in second gear.

Press on gas "go" pedal - nothing happens

Insert key #2 for other ignition switch which is attached to EV system.

Turn key to "on" position - nothing happens

Now, press on gas pedal - hear a click from the contactor allowing a circuit to form driving the car though throttle position turning a potentiometer which sends a response to a controller thus controlling the speed of the electric motor.

Let off pedal completely - hear a click and vehicle stops accelerating.

So essentially I want to use two keys, one being the key that came with the car to unlock the steering wheel and mainly do the brake lights, the other to bridge the circuit between a switch on the pedal and the contactor to make the car go.

I hope my schematic can help depict what I am trying to describe, it would pretty much be close to an electric power chair I would hope.

Parts right now I am finding are quite trivial to try to obtain. After a whole week of searching around, I seem only to have gotten one lead; but a seemingly positive one which is good. An old co-worker and friend of mine has a relative who is the president of a forklift company. I had contacted him (the company president) in request of some parts, and there is a good chance that they may be able to help me out. I would just like to have a half decent valid schematic in hand so it at least looks like I know what I am talking about when I go down to have a look at the parts. I am thinking it would be best and most rewarding if I could build the thing out of recycled parts and have to do all the work in modifying it to my car myself rather than going with a kit, though I am not going to be ruling anything out just yet.

For those of you who have made it this far through my lengthy message, I thank you for your interest and look forward to learning some more soon. As you can tell, I am just itching to actually get some stuff in hand so that I can stop talking about it so much and start doing something already!

Oh well, patience I suppose. This will be a long time project anyhow.

Thank you,


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