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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Year in Review, 2015-16

It has been quite an amazing year for the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School Electric Vehicle team. Team membership has gone up, a lot of projects have been completed, and there are big plans for the future.

Over the summer of 2015, the team installed the Orion battery management system in the Datsun 240Z. This system was incredibly helpful to the team all year and will continue to be helpful as it provides a way of monitoring all the batteries at once and protecting them from damage during racing. Also over the summer, the team’s website was created and has been a helpful tool for documenting our progress all year.

During the Fall and Winter, the team worked on increasing team membership by recruiting at home schools and presenting to all of the juniors during their physics classes. We got a lot of work done on the Porsche, most of which was cosmetic. The team fixed the switch for the reverse lights and beeper which had broken off, attached covers for the steering column and fuse block, put in a new ignition, and worked on charging lithium ion batteries to be put in the Porsche when the time came to convert it. The team received a storage shed early on and we quickly filled it up and used it for storing all of the things that had previously been kept in the mail truck. As for events, the team participated in the EV Neat Rally at NCCAR from October 9th through the 11th. The team also showed the Porsche in the Waynesboro Christmas Parade. During school, we had meetings with some of the team members during third block independent work time to plan out goals for the near and distant future. On the Datsun, the team added about 36V to the back and put in David Waterman’s pack of batteries from his lawnmower that he donates to us every year. Every Fall, Romanian exchange students come to the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School; this year, one of our team members brought her exchange student to a meeting to show her our electric vehicle program.

Spring has been an exceptionally busy time for the EV team. We started the new year off with an outreach event with the RAW Learning Private School where team members gave presentations to younger students about the EV Challenge, our cars, and even about the solar panel that the Governor’s School received from Dominion. We began the process of converting the Porsche from lead acid batteries to lithium ion batteries by taking out all of the old batteries, configuring how the new batteries would fit in the Porsche, creating wiring diagrams, and installing racks for the batteries. Members of the team worked with Dish Network on getting a donation for the EV program. A proposal was submitted for funding ideas on many small projects; however, Dish was looking more for one big project to put their money towards rather than many smaller things. The team took the Datsun to the EV Spring Thaw Event at NCCAR in the middle of March. As for work done on the Datsun this Spring, a passenger seat has been put in, 12 cells have been added to the front to bring the car’s overall voltage up to around 176V, and a lot of progress has been made with the battery management system including setting safety features and analyzing data collected from it. The team showed off both the Datsun and the Porsche at the SVGS Open House on March 24 and also participated in the Herald Miller Invitational at NCCAR, an event created to replace the postponed EV Challenge. At the Herald Miller Invitational, the team was interviewed by a crew from an educational website called itsourair.org which will be creating an episode about electric vehicles and the cool things we do at EV to be shown in classrooms all across North Carolina.

An ongoing project with the team is that we are working on installing a touchscreen in the Datsun that we can use to monitor our batteries while we are racing.

Some overall things worth mentioning include that the senior members of the team collectively earned 850 hours. Team membership has increased from 2 members last year to 8 members this year. Also, on the school initiative forms, a system of scoring teams used by the EV Challenge based on categories relating to public relations, the team scored 162 points, significantly higher than what we scored last year.

The team’s plans for the near future as well as next year include taking one of the cars to the SVGS Awards Picnic, getting tires donated for the Porsche, finishing converting the Porsche to lithium ion batteries, continuing to expand team membership, continuing to work with Dominion on getting a grant for an EV charging station, continuing to expand team membership, getting some type of speedometer function for the Datsun, and upgrading the motors/controllers in both of the cars.

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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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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