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.


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.


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



The EV Team was Mentioned in The Daily Herald!

The SVGS EV team was mentioned in The Daily Herald, a newspaper serving the Roanoke Valley and Lake Gaston area of North Carolina, for being part of the Herald Miller Invitational (to read more about the HMI, read our main post: The article was a print exclusive so it has been transcribed below:

Northampton, Virginia students put car work to test

Article by Brian Clark,

GARYSBURG – It was clear Thursday Roanoke Rapids Graded School District Interim Superintendent John Parker was impressed standing outside the North Carolina Center for Automotive Research.

The Garysburg facility played host to high school students from three North Carolina schools and one from Virginia as part of an electric vehicle, or EV, competition.

Students from Northampton County High School, as well as from West Wilkes High School in Ronda; Topsail High School; and Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School in Fishersville, Va., came together for a friendly competition.

Parker praised the efforts of the students and their teachers, noting he’s appreciative of ways of learning that go beyond the classroom.

“We need to bring out students’ intellect and abilities in ways other than bubbling in a multiple-choice answer sheet,” Parker said.

The impromptu gathering came together after a previously scheduled competition in Raleigh was postponed until later this fall, leaving seniors who had been working on these cars for the entire school year with no outlet to share their hard work. Chris Tolbert, EV club organizer for West Wilkes High School, approached NCCAR about using the facility for the gathering.

NCCAR Operations Manager Sam True wasn’t able to arrange a weekend event, but secured time for the kids to put their cars through their paces Thursday and today.

“In general, it’s a lot of fun,” True said. “They’re (the kids) smart, they like to be challenged. It’s one of my favorite programs and it’s something I’ve been doing for six years. I just enjoy it.”

The kids in attendance were eager to show off their work. A group of students from Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School had the oldest car at the event: A 1970 Datsun 240Z. The car had been gutted of its engine and other components necessary for a gasoline engine and rebuilt by students over several years as part of EV club projects, according to Eric Munro, one of the students from Virginia.

The group had recently added additional batteries to their car in hopes of giving it greater speed and range. Thursday was their first outing with the new modifications.

“We’re hoping the increase in power outweighs the additional weight,” said Munro.

In addition to Parker and Davis, the event brought Doug Miller, executive director of Auxiliary Services for Northampton County Schools, who came by to speak with the students.

Also there for the day was Harold Miller, a retired teacher from Northampton High School. He was one of the first organizers of an electric car program in the Roanoke Valley before his retirement in 1999.

All four were in agreement programs such as EV clubs are an invaluable tool when it comes to education children. In EV clubs, students are often left to direct the course of their work and then carry out their plans for the vehicles. They are further learning by being hands-on with their work instead of studying theory from a textbook, they noted.

“Anytime you can get a kid to use their hands and not sit there at a desk working, they’re going to learn it,” RRGSD Director of Student Services Tom Davis said.

The Herald Miller Invitational

The Herald Miller Invitational, a new event created by multiple team mentors to replace the postponed EV Challenge so that the teams had a year-end event to showcase all their hard work, took place April 14-15 at NCCAR. The SVGS EV team met early Thursday morning to load up the car and head down to North Carolina. We arrived with the Datsun around 8:45 and began unloading the car and talking to other team members about their cars and STEM cycles.

A morning meeting took place around 10 to plan out the activities that would take place at the event, taking into consideration what each team wanted to do. After the morning meeting, we broke into groups that mixed members of different teams together to do student-lead inspections of the vehicles. These inspections involved examining the safety, creativity, and ingenuity of the cars to give teams scores out of 200. The Datsun received an impressive score of 192/200.

The SVGS team then set up an autocross course and timing equipment for all of the teams to use. All members of our team drove the Datsun impressively well, getting the best times of the day on the course. Ben got the top two times, Eric got the 3rd and 4th best times, and Emily got the 5th best time. At the end of the day, we set up our car to charge overnight so that we would be ready to continue racing on Friday.

Throughout the day, a reporter from a local newspaper called The Daily Herald interviewed teams and gathered information about the event. To read the article, see our post announcing the mentioning here:

On Friday morning, Eric, Ben, and Byron headed to the main research building to participate in a troubleshooting event while Emily stayed with the car to monitor charging. The troubleshooting event was a class and practice session for teams to use troubleshooting boards to find and isolate problems within circuits.

After the troubleshooting class, all of the teams headed down to the track to participate in an altered autocross course from Thursday. The Datsun performed well again but the best times were earned by West Wilkes High School’s Miata, an incredible car that performed really well. To read more about the WWHS team and their car, check out their website []. To read about Topsail’s team, a great team that brought two cars and a STEM cycle to the event, go to their website [].

Throughout the day on Friday, a crew from followed the teams around to learn more about the program, do filmed interviews with members of the team, and get shots of the cars in action. works to put together educational videos and curriculum to be used for education in classrooms all over North Carolina. When the footage is put on their website, we will put up an announcement with a link to their footage from the event.

The team made it home late Friday night and unloaded the car. Overall, the Herald Miller Invitational was a great event and each member of the team had an incredible time. We can’t wait to get together with all of the teams that attended again in the Fall at the EV Challenge.

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:

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