This Month in EV, February 2016

Looking back on the goals the team set in January (finish charging the Datsun, participate in more outreach opportunities, get tires donated, get another pair of racing seats donated, and finish converting the Porsche from lead acid to lithium ion batteries), February has been a very productive and successful month. The team has started and accomplished quite a few of the set goals and we have plans for the ones that we haven’t gotten around to yet.

The Datsun is charged up to the best of our abilities and ready to race in the Spring Thaw competition at NCCAR in March. Also, a passenger seat is in the process of being installed in the Datsun (hopefully in time for the competition). Once the seat is in place, we hope to have an outreach event that will allow people to ride in our electric car and get to learn a little bit more about EV. The Porsche is well on its way to being on lithium ion batteries. After a little bit of brainstorming, a layout has been configured for the newer, smaller batteries as well as a wiring diagram. All that’s left is putting the batteries into the newly made racks, wiring them up, and getting the controller put back in place. That being said, it does not look like the Porsche will be ready in time to participate in the Spring Thaw event. Rather, the new and improved Porsche will be unveiled at the EV Challenge in April.

Throughout the course of this month, a team member and an instructor have been in contact with Dish Network and have worked out a grant for the team. This money will be going towards the costs of competitions and will help the team out a lot. Thanks Dish Network!

Next month, the team will be traveling to North Carolina to participate in the Spring Thaw Event. Goals for March include: finish the Porsche conversion, give rides in the Datsun, get one more seat for the Porsche, and get new tires donated for the Porsche. Also in March, the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School will be having it’s annual STEM Open House and the team will have the cars on display with students to talk about the program and bring awareness to the community.

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This Month in EV, January 2016

January has been a pretty busy month for the EV team. Early on, planning was under way through a long series of emails for an outreach opportunity to share what the SVGS EV team is and what we do with some members of the community. That event ended up being a big success. On January 20th, some students from Staunton’s RAW Learning Private School visited the Governor’s School to run through some stations and activities led by members of the EV team. Mr. Daw gave a presentation on what the EV Challenge is and what the competition is like along with a description of the STEM Cycle program. Byron and Ben showed off both the Datsun and the Porsche, allowing the kids to see the cars up close and hear more about how they work and what we do as a team at meetings. Emily led an introductory level class to solar energy that included a brief video, a look at the solar panel that SVGS recently got, and some interactive games focusing on renewable energy.

In addition to focusing on outreach, the team has been putting a lot of effort towards working out charging the Datsun. We’ve hit some bumps along the way with some straggling cells and some cells that seem to be reaching much higher voltages that others. Our original hopes were that the BMS would prevent this but we are finding ourselves having to go in an charge some cells individually. Another thing in the works for the Datsun is the fabrication of a controller fan cover to keep small objects from falling in and jamming the fan while the car is being worked on.

The team has also been working towards accomplishing the goal of getting new tires donated for the Porsche 911 so that we can race it safely at the upcoming EV Challenge. We have taken the lead acid batteries out of the car and are working on planning the layout of the lithium ion batteries.

Some goals for the team in the rest of January and through February include: finish charging the Datsun, participate in more outreach opportunities, get the Porsche tires donated, get another pair of racing seats donated so that people can ride in the cars, and finish converting the Porsche from lead acid to lithium ion batteries. We’ve got a lot ahead of us but the progress we’ve made so far this year has the team excited for what’s to come.

 

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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2015 EV Neat Rally

The team met dark and early for the 2015 EV Neat Rally at 4:30 am on Friday. We hitched the trailer to the back of the truck, packed up all our gear, and left for the NCCAR facility in North Carolina at around 5:00 am. At the event, the team listened to several seminars including troubleshooting, battery chemistry, sponsorship/outreach, and STEM cycle construction. For official design and safety regulations regarding the STEM cycle, click here. Later in the day, all the teams from the participating schools were scrambled into groups of three for a pit-crew competition which entailed using an air wrench to swap two tires on a jacked car. Members from the SVGS EV team scored first and third place in the competition. On Saturday, the team designed an autocross track for all the schools to practice on in an unofficial competition.  Team members drove the Porsche and gained experience with basic handling, manual transmissions, and even worked our way up to drifting around sharp corners . We departed from the event at around 2:00 pm.

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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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All About Our Cars: The Datsun 240Z

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The 1971 Datsun 240Z was donated to the EV team in November of 1993. Since then, the Datsun has advanced through many wiring configurations with each passing wave of students. The vehicle currently runs on 156 V of lithium ion batteries, a student-built IGBT controller, and a 35 HP series wound DC motor. The team’s vision for the future of the Datsun includes increasing the number of batteries and overall voltage, getting a passenger seat, and implementing a data acquisition system.

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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