Kicking Off the Year, 2016-2017

The Electric Vehicle team started the year early, with the first meeting of the new school year on Sunday, August 14. We’re proud to welcome new members Ryan Marx, Nolan Vess, Ethan Choate, Eric McKenzie, Parker Turnage, and Josh Bryant.  Since the first meeting of the year we’ve installed a new auxiliary battery pack in the Datsun, done body work such as fixing the side view mirrors, worked on reparing the Datsun’s bumper, and ambitious new members have even fixed the outside door handles. A cataloguing system for all the team’s batteries has also been constructed, with cloud updating capabilities. DSC_0386.JPG

The EV team put on a good showing at the SVGS STEM open house, showing new SVGS parents and students both the Porsche and Datsun. We were happy to tell new students all about the benefits and experience gained being part of the EV team.

An exciting new addition to the Datsun is the Raspberry Pi tablet PC installed in the Datsun’s dashboard, which will allow for easier and on the go data collection from the Orion BMS system. The Pi was installed at the end of last year by team member Ben Lawn as his senior project, however our first field run with the Pi will be at our first event at the end of September.

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With our very first event of the year being on September 30th down at the North Carolina Automotive Research Institute, the team is working quickly in order to prepare the Datsun for some racing! David Waterman has generously donated his electric lawnmower to the EV Team, which we’ve extracted the BMS from and placed in the Datsun. Weighing in at about 200 lbs, the team had to do a little engineering in order to safely transport the BMS pack into the Datsun correctly, utilizing some metal pipes and rope. The team aims to wire the BMS into the Datsun and construct a 172 volt battery grid in time for our first event.

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Here’s to a successful and fun year for the Shenandoah Valley Electric Vehicle Team!

 

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This Month In EV, April 2016

Early on in the month, the team designed and installed a buzzer system in the Datsun connected to the BMS that warns the driver when a cell drops below a specified voltage. This was part of the solution to the problem we faced in March at the Spring Thaw Event where the batteries overheated and reached almost unrecoverable low voltages. Since we lost a few batteries at the Spring Thaw Event, the team put 12 more batteries in the front of the Datsun, bringing the car’s voltage up to around 176 V, the highest it is allowed to be for competitions and the highest it’s ever been in any of our cars. During this time we also reshaped one of the bottom side panels on the Datsun that had gotten a little beat up in one of the autocross runs from last month. We also continued to charge the car in preparation for the Herald Miller Invitational.

In the middle of April, the team traveled to North Carolina to participate in the Herald Miller Invitational, a substitute event created in place of the EV Challenge. To read more about that, click this link: https://svgsev.wordpress.com/2016/04/16/the-herald-miller-invitational/.

Towards the end of April, the team charged the Datsun and worked on minor things while also planning events and meetings for the future. We plan on taking the Datsun to the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School’s Award Picnic in May to show off our work to other students, parents, and members of the community.

This Month in EV, March 2016

March has been an exciting month for the electric vehicle team! The team took a trip down to NCCAR in North Carolina to participate in the Spring Thaw Event and also showcased the cars to the community at the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School Open House. The article for the Spring Thaw Event can be seen here: https://svgsev.wordpress.com/2016/03/17/ev-spring-thaw-event-2016/ and the article for the SVGS Open House is available here: https://svgsev.wordpress.com/2016/03/27/ev-team-at-the-svgs-open-house/.

Aside from the big events that the team has been participating in, the team has been working on fixing the batteries in the Datsun after the overheating problem that was faced at NCCAR. The solution to this problem was to remove the cover that used to be over the main pack of batteries because it held in heat. We will also be checking the temperature more often during racing to determine if further action needs to be taken before problems becomes too serious.

After the Spring Thaw Event, the seat belt for the passenger seat in the Datsun had to be fixed because it came loose. It was an easy fix that only took one meeting to complete.

A main focus of the team has been collecting and analyzing data from the battery management system while the car is running. We have experimented with and decided on shut off values for current, voltage, and temperature to prevent drivers from running the batteries past dangerous points. In addition to creating these shut off points, team members installed a buzzer to warn the driver when the lowest cell drops below 1.5 volts.

This Week in EV 11/29 – 12/5

The past few weeks have not gotten summaries because they have all been pretty similar. We spent a lot of time charging batteries to prepare for the conversion of our Porsche and working on wiring and figuring out the Orion battery management system. However, this week was a rather exciting one as we finished charging all of the batteries and got the Datsun’s battery management system to work while charging the battery pack.

On Sunday, the team prepared to participate in the Staunton Christmas Parade by creating posters, a music playlist, and doing some final touches on the cars.

On Monday, the weather was gloomy (rainy and cold) so the team decided it would be best for the cars if we did not participate. There was not a very big crowd at the parade in the rain so we believe this was a good decision.

On Wednesday, the team met from 6-9 and worked on charging the Datsun while observing the battery management system’s data as it balanced the pack of batteries for even charging. This was a very exciting accomplishment as it was what we had been working towards for so long. We were able to charge up our batteries to about 3.3 V each and the overall pack voltage to around 150 V. We recorded the data from the BMS and hope to graph it soon to look for trends and patterns that could be helpful to us in the future.

On Thursday, the team met during part of governors school to plan out the upcoming month and set goals for what needs to get done in order to stay on track for the upcoming Spring competition in North Carolina.

On Saturday, the EV team participated in the Waynesboro Christmas Parade where we spread community awareness about us and the Shenandoah Valley Governors School. We were able to drive the Porsche all the way through the parade without any problems.

Another thing that happened recently was that the team was mentioned on the Shenandoah Valley Governor School’s website for attending the NEAT Ralley in North Carolina in October. To read more about that, check out this link: https://svgsstudentnews.wordpress.com/2015/12/01/svgs-month-in-review-october-november-2015-experiences-and-community/

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This Week in EV 10/18 – 10/24

On Sunday, the team met from 6:00 to 8:30. We continued charging batteries and connected the peripheral cells in the Datsun to the Orion BMS. We tested the new cell configuration and designed a new mount for the BMS. On Wednesday, the team met from 6:00 to 7:30. We began installing the new mount and rewired the BMS wiring harness to accommodate the new mount. On Thursday, the team met during the school day to write up goals for the upcoming month.

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This Week in EV 10/11 – 10/17

The team did not meet on Sunday due to the excitement and exhaustion of the EV Neat Rally. On Wednesday, the team met from 6-9. One of the team members brought along her Romanian exchange student and we were able to show her the cars and allow her to participate in our evening’s work. We had a large turnout of students as well as a visitation from a member of the team a few years back who worked on the display system in our Datsun. The battery management system in the Datsun was the main focus of the night. New members were taught how to strip wires and make connections using crimping tools and heat shrink. We got all of the wires of the battery management system prepared with ring terminals to be hooked up at a later date.

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This Week in EV 10/4 – 10/10

The meeting on Sunday was rescheduled to Monday due to possible inclement weather. On Monday, the team met from 6-9. While charging the Porsche, the teachers passed out permission forms and legal waivers to the members going on the trip and went over what to pack, the schedule, and general expectations. We replaced the low auxiliary cell with a fully charged one and decided on what hardware we would use to mount the BMS in the Datsun. On Wednesday, the team met from 6-9 and broke into three groups to work on various tasks. One group worked on fixing the connections on the batteries to ensure that the wires would be under any stress when the batteries were held down for racing, the second team worked on charging batteries, and the third team worked on getting timing equipment to work for the races at the competition. Friend of the team, Mark Bartosik, joined us for most of the evening to see that everything was running smoothly and if we needed any help. The team added an extra meeting on Thursday to load the vehicle, supplies, and tools needed for the competition. The team decided to only bring the Porsche because of the high number of students with prior commitments and because the Datsun was not entirely ready to race. On Friday, the team met at 4:30 am and headed to North Carolina for the EV Neat Rally. Click here to read more about the competition at it’s dedicated post.

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This Week in EV 9/27 – 10/3

On Sunday and Wednesday, the team met from 6 to 9. We rethought the Datsun battery wiring to allow for easier connection of additional cells to the BMS and drew a diagram to reflect these revisions. We made new 1 gauge wiring to fit into the new wiring scheme. We continued charging cells and installing charged cells into the car.

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This Week in EV 9/20 – 9/26

On Sunday, the team met from 6-9. We had a big turnout with new members and we were able to show them around the shop, give them safety lessons, and teach them about the cars. The team traveled to David Waterman’s (one of our sponsors) house to pick the battery pack that he loans to us every year for our Datsun 240Z. We got to look over his electric lawnmower, one of the fastest in the world, and pick up some scrap metal for various projects. When we returned to our shop we placed the 200 lbs pack in the back of the Datsun and worked on coming up with a wiring design to implement at the next meeting.

On Wednesday, the team met from 6-9. We worked on charging batteries for the Porsche, charging batteries for the Datsun, and filing through documentation on the Porsche. The senior members drew up new wiring diagrams and schematics for the Datsun so that new members could understand the wiring of the cars.

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This Week in EV 9/13 – 9/19

On Sunday the team met from 6-8:30. We began the meeting by looking at a hybrid electric vehicle owned by a member of the community named Katie. We then showed her our cars and discussed a wide range of electric vehicle topics with her. A new member, Nathaniel, showed up and was able to see the cars and get a safety walk through from Byron. We continued charging batteries and preparing for the Porsche conversion. David Waterman, one of our teams sponsors, will be bringing back his lithium ion pack that we borrow from his lawn mower (the fastest zero-turn Dixie Chopper in the US) to be put in our Datsun again. With all immediate work done on the Porsche, the team turned to the Datsun. The Datsun’s wiring was the main focus of last year’s team; all the wiring was taken out and completely redone partly as a learning opportunity and partly out of necessity. The team checked to ensure all auxiliary factors were working properly and charged up the auxiliary battery. After that, the team discussed the possibility of going out to a local business later in the week to try to get tire donations for the Porsche.

On Wednesday, the team met from 6-7:30. We wired a switch to turn on and off the auxiliary battery to prevent it from discharging on its own.

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