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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
On Sunday the EV team met from 6-9. We got a donation of a shelving unit from one of the team member’s parents for use in our new shed. The first part of the meeting was spent assembling the shelves and getting them in place in the shed. They were immediately put to good use. The team continued working on charging batteries and making progress on the Porsche 911. The new ignition is in place and functioning, we discovered where the switch was for the reverse lights and beeper (it had broken off) and have plans to fix it, and the covers for the steering column and fuse block were put in place. Another thing that got accomplished at the meeting was that the mail truck, which has previously been used for storage, has been cleaned out and organized.
On Wednesday, the team met and replaced the switch for the reverse lights and beeper, sorted through some documentation on the Porsche, and continued charging batteries.
On Sunday, the EV team met from 6-8 to work on clearing out our new storage shed and developing a list of goals for the NEAT Rally in October. Our goals include getting the Porsche converted from lead acid batteries to lithium ion batteries, getting our batteries back in the Datsun in a new configuration, and setting up our BMS to match the new configuration.
On Wednesday, the team met from 6-9 and welcomed a new member, Caitlin, to the team. We gave her lessons on safety and then got to work on the Porshe 911. We put it up on the lift to look for a solution to a problem with the reverse lights and wiring. We also began charging batteries that were donated last year so that they could be put in the Porsche as part of its conversion from lead acid batteries to lithium ion.