Experimental Electric Vehicles

October 30, 2009

A Bright Idea

Filed under: 1 — tonyhelms @ 2:11 am

While tinkering around the garage and pondering new energy saving concepts I found a fairly inexpensive, easy to make, and rather efficient solar charging system.

Use solar power to recharge Dewalt tool batteries and “AA” -“D” size cells for many applications.


Find inexpensive solar panels and charging equipment and test the efficiency, durability, and practicality of home solar energy usage.

Assembly of experiment:

I started where I knew inexpensive yet efficient solar panels are readily available, Harbor freight. I did some research on their website first to find the best choice of each component needed. Here is a list of the items I used, all were purchased at Harbor freight

12″x36″ 15 watt 12V Amorphous crystal solar panel-$70

7amp Solar charge regulator-$30

200W DC/AC converter-$25

12volt state of charge indicator -$5

Werker 12v 55AH deep cycle battery- Free (well a left over from a previous EV I made, it was originally $70)

It starts with the solar panel, mounted in such a way that it will capture the light from 11:00AM to 3:00PM. These are the most powerful rays of the sun and will produce the most energy.

Here is how the solar system is wired, the Panel is connected to the regulator, the regulator then charges the 12volt battery. The regulator is then wired to the inverter that converts the 12volt DC battery to 110v AC power. This now me to run any 200watt household appliance on this outlet, items such as, chargers, computers, radios, small TV’s, etc. The regulator is necessary because during times of darkness the regulator prevents the battery from discharging into the solar panel, also the panel in intense sunlight can produce more then 12 volts, the regulator reduces it to back down to properly charge the battery.

Wire schematic

Panel mounted on roof of barn

On top is the solar charge regulator, the battery sits in the corner and the inverter next to the battery, attached to the battery is the state of charge indicator.

I decided to add this small state of charge indicator to monitor the battery during charge and discharge cycles. It only activates when the small button is depressed, therefore will not become a parasitic drain on the battery.

Now look at all the batteries i have charged with free and clean solar energy!

During cloudy weather the solar panel will generate upwards of 20 volts and 1.9A! This is very good epically good considering that I have not done any intense sun tests yet. the system works flawlessly and has plenty of power to supply the chargers. An important thing to note, I placed the panel close to the edge of the roof so that leafs and snow can be scraped off easily with a foam snow brush.

Solar energy is very viable and should be used more, the only disadvantages are things that block the light, leaves, snow, or things that could break the panel such as hail, branches, or golf balls. But the advantages are vast, a clean, quiet, and efficient method of using free light energy to help save electrical energy. Another big advantage is if the electrical grid ever fails your solar power will be a reliable, efficient, and long lasting source of power that will long out live any gasoline generator, remember gasoline is pumped from the tanks and ground using ELECTRICAL power. Solar power is a very practical, efficient, and most direct method of making electricity, and hope to see more of it in the future.

October 17, 2009

Sintra PVC material

Filed under: 1 — tonyhelms @ 3:27 am

As requested by two people who visit the site, this is a “how to” on how to fabricate and use Sintra PVC plastic board. The material comes in thicknesses from 1/16″ to 1/2″ and in a variety of colors, I will be using 1/4″ black Sintra, this thickness works best for most applications. the material can be found at almost any sign shop and comes in a 4’x8′ sheet for around $60.

Here is a list ways to modify it,

-soft bend
-sharp bend
-tap with screw
-prime and paint
-cement (permanent bond to itself)
-mill to specific shapes
-Upholstered for seats, arm rests…

As you can tell from my motorcycle the material can be used to make nice light weight and relatively aerodynamic farings for motorcycles.

—-I will now show the steps used to make these modifications possible—-

It is important to note that any part you plan on making should be made out of cardboard first, anything made of cardboard can be made of Sintra.

Once a pattern is made place it on the sintra and use a PENCIL to lightly trace the part, I found that pencil can be simply erased when all done. Use a jig-saw with a metal blade to cut the shape out

In order to produce sharp bends in Sintra the materal must be flipped to the inside of the bend and routed out with a 45 degree router bit. Only route about 1/2 – 2/3 of the material in order to keep the bend strong. Use a clamped straight edge to make a straight cut.

Now to bend the material use a heat gun and wave about 3″ from the bend area, keep trying to bend the part while heating it up. As soon as the Sintra starts to become flaccid simply bend the part to the desired position and hold it there for approximately 30 seconds, or until hardened.

For a SOFT bend use the same process but eliminate using the router and simply heat the part until the entire bend area becomes soft and roll the material to whatever desired position.

Sintra board can easily drilled, milled, and threaded. As shown in the pictures tapping screws and drill bits can easily modify or attach the part.


Since this material is made from poly-vinyl-chloride aka PVC, it can be bonded together easily and this bond is almost unbreakable. It can even be stacked together to make “blocks” of Sintra. At any hardware store go to the plumbing section and purchase some PVC cement, any type should work.

There are far more ways to use it then I have listed, hopefully this helps in any fabrication project of your own.

October 8, 2009

GSXR update

Filed under: 1 — tonyhelms @ 2:36 am

Mounted my 17″ motorcycle tire to the 17″x7″ enkni sport wheel that is intended for use with a Honda S2000

Here is the basic theory, with a high offset wheel such as this one I can now place the motor directly inside the wheel and use a single sided swing arm to mount it.

102_0597 this motor is a basic mock up of what it’s really going to be, but you get the idea, a spindle mounted as such and the wheel then mounted to the spindle.


I also cut a piece of sintra board, upholstered it and filled in the rear faring hole.

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