Saturday, April 18, 2009

1000 miles and counting

On the way to work on Friday I hit 1000 miles! It's amazing how quickly the miles are adding up now that I'm driving to work each day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Charging Station

It's official, the charging station is complete. I now have a reserved spot and don't need to come in early or put cones out when I leave for lunch. Woohoo!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

DMV trips two and three

I don't even know how to start this entry I'm so frustrated and humored at the same time. I headed back down to DMV with my BAR cert. First I'm told sorry, we can't change anything without the title. What? Nobody said this last time I was in here. So I just tell them I'll pay for a new one as if though I lost it. After an hour of waiting and paperwork to fill out they tell me they have change my car to Type Q. I couldn't remember off hand what Q was, but I told her it's suppose to be Type E. She tells me she tried E and it didn't work, but Q worked so she used that. WTF? So I asked her what Q meant, and this part tickles me. She says, "I don't know, but my supervisor said to try either E or Q and the computer didn't allow E but allowed Q so it must be correct". UGH

I leave because I don't know off hand what Q is. After getting back to work I find out they made my car a Hybrid! So I headed back down for trip three to the DMV. Now the two ladies that helped me are out to lunch and I'm told they have to help me I wait. After they returned I explained what Q meant. Now they need a manager to unlock my records because only one change per 72 hours is allowed. They spent a fair amount of time digging through menus and trying different options but couldn't get the computer to take Type E.

Finally I asked if they have entered in the data from the BAR cert since there is a DMV ID# on there and the BAR ref told me they needed to input that information into the computer. Well it turns out this needs to be entered into the smog section which will not show up until smog is due for the car. Yeah, it just kept getting better.

They wrote down everything they had learned on a paper so that when I come back in a month they will know where to start. Luckily the registration is due in a month because the BAR cert is only good for 60 days!

I'm hoping by documenting all of this I can save time for others in California who need to go through this process. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, April 10, 2009

BAR Referee

Today I had the appointment with the BAR referee. DMV required me to get a certificate stating that the car had been converted from gas to pure electric.

They asked me a lot of questions before and after seeing the car. I had to point our the batteries, motor, etc. State which emissions pieces I had removed (which was everything). It almost seemed they were trying to see if I even knew what I was talking about or catch me in some type of lie for why I converted it. They probably get a lot of people trying to pull one over on them to pass smog.

After the vehicle inspection they went to the computer and started going through a bunch menus. Then they showed me a huge list of all the items my car is now exempt from. The information was electronically sent to the DMV, but they also gave me a physical paper to take back when finishing the DMV paperwork.

That was it. No crazy safety inspections or anything like that. Just a quick visual over view of the top side under the hood. Next step, back to DMV.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

500 miles!

Today's second trip to work brought my total miles over 500 now. A small milestone, but one none the less.

DMV Registration Started

I think this part scares me the most of the whole process. I just can't find good information on what to expect here.

I went to DMV today and asked what I need to do in order to change the registration from Gas to Electric. After they did some research, they gave me the phone number to BAR (Bureau of Automobile Repair) stating that I need to get an inspection from them first and then come back.

After being on hold for 30 minutes I spoke with a nice gentleman who informed me I called the wrong number and I needed to call the BAR referee instead. I received that number and made another call. It turns out I can go to Modesto Junior College which is within battery range for a round trip! I'm so glad I don't need to tow it, especially if I don't pass and need to return.

I asked the guy on the phone now what was involved so that I could make sure the car was ready, sadly he didn't know. I have an appointment in two days so we'll see what happens.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

First drive to work

Yesterday the plug was installed and everything was in place for my first run to work today. I was a bit nervous but everything couldn't have went better.

I left 30 minutes earlier than normal to make sure I got the spot next to the charging station. They haven't marked it off yet and installed the sign so I'll have get there early for a few days or so. It's not an issue with my company as I think everybody knows I've done the conversion but we share the parking with surrounding companies as well and it would be hard to go door to door tracking down the owner of the vehicle to ask them to move it. :)

It looks like I used about 60% of my pack on the 35 mile drive to work. Sounds bad, but considering the 2,000 ft elevation climb over the journey it's about what I expected. It also appears I used about 35% of the pack coming home. I drove a lot faster on the way home since I had the downhill advantage so I could lower than number if I tried. I'll keep tracking the numbers, but it doesn't appear I'd want to risk the round trip without at least a little time on the charger.

Here is the pedestal / charging station that work installed for me. A big thanks to Front Porch and those involved getting this taken care of for me.

Here is another shot of the car charging at work.

I did run into a little issue when I first got there and plugged in. Within a minute or the so the car quit charging. Turns out there was only a 20 amp breaker installed and it wasn't enough. After talking to the electrician he installed a 20 amp breaker because the plug style I requested was only rated for 20 amps. An error on my part, but he came out immediately and upgraded the breaker and plug style to 50 amps. I had to change the plug styles on my side too and then it was up and charging. I still need to keep track of how long it takes charging at work and at home as well as the energy required to start calculating energy costs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

BMS Touchscreen

I've been debating mounting this monitor for the BMS for some time. First I wasn't sure if I'd keep it connected all the time or not. The original plan was to monitor the serial I/O going to it and then take that data and turn things like the capacity into something for my fuel gauge. I also wasn't sure if I'd even stick with this BMS system or replace it with something better. After looking around I'm just not excited about any of the other BMS systems, especially not for the cost of something that does more. Now that I've added my own cell balancers the system I think is going to meet my needs perfectly.

OK, so for the first time I got so caught up in trying to figure out the best way to do this and make it look clean that I forgot to take pictures of the process. Sorry all.

I used 1/4" plywood and created frame about an 1/16" wider on each side, so 1/8" wider/taller total. This is to allow room for the monitor to still fit after wrapping the foam and leather material around the sides. The frame is shorter on one side so the monitor tilts towards the driver and to compensate for the curving dash. The front side is easy since it's all squared up, but the backside took a few attempts to get the curves just right to match the dash.

After the frame was complete I took and wrapped the outside with a very thin foam using a spray adhesive to attach it. Next I wrapped it with a synthetic black leather material to try and somewhat match the natural look of the car.

Finally I screwed some L shape brackets into the frame (two on each side) and finally screwed the frame into the dash. This part killed me and was probably the biggest delay factor. I really didn't want to screw anything into my dash!

The wires are ran behind trim/panels up in behind the dash poke out through a small hole I made just above the radio and below the BMS monitor.

Here is a picture of the final product from the driver seat.

Another shot from the passenger seat. You can see a little better here how the back needed to match the contour of the dash. It's not perfect, but I'm happy with the results.

Of course after completing the install I had to take it for a spin. It was very nice having this information at quick glance and is going to really help my driving to easily see the amp loads. This quick little spin puts me up to about 280 miles so far. I keep checking at work and things are moving along on the plug install. Looks like it was a pretty big job to get power from the main panel out to the parking spots. It's scheduled to be finished this Friday so I might be driving to work finally as soon as next week. If not, it shouldn't be much longer. I can't wait!