Friday, November 18, 2011

Brand used transmission

We developed a noise in our MR2 transmission and ordered one from a MR2 message board member in Texas.  We decided to remove the old one after the NEAT Rally.  When we returned, we removed the motor and transmission, cleaned up the new one and replaced the old.  To our dismay, the "new" one had the same sound.  After consulting with our "go to" mechanic, he agreed  that it was one of two things.  Either it had the same issue as the old one, or it is a noise that is inherent to the MR2 transmission.  Well, we decided to replace the "new" one with the old tranny and take the "new" one apart to see what we could find.  Stay tuned....We will take it apart soon and let you know what we find.  On a side note, we are really good at removing the motor and transmission, having done so about 12 times in the past month!

Monday, November 7, 2011

NEAT EV Rally results

The Topsail Electric Vehicle Team travelled to the 17th annual NEAT EV Rally in Northampton County this past weekend at the NCCAR facility. The students competed in seven events and tied for first place overall in the competition. The team had many compliments for their attitude and work ethic. They represented Topsail High and Pender County with class and always. One instructor even wanted to take Ryan Mowrey back with him to show his students how to act!  The weather cooperated for the most part, and the vehicles performed very well.  Our truck, nursing a battery with a bad cell was only able to manage 12 laps of the NCCAR 2 mile track.  The Toyota MR2 drove 56 miles in the range and could have travelled another 25 miles but had won the event.  The lithium batteries make a huge difference in the range and performance of the car. 
  We would like to congratulate the NEAT team for their results and thank them and their instructor Thomas Pope, along with Harold Miller, for putting on a fine event.  We look forward to next year!  We will practice the pit crew before the event this time.

The results were as follows:
First overall
Acceleration: First Ranger
Acceleration: First MR2
Range: Second Ranger
Range: First MR2
Design: First MR2
Autocross: First Ranger
Autocross: First MR2
Jeopardy competition: Second

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Water Miser Vent Caps

Since the "speed caps" on our US Batteries had begun to crack and fail, we decided to get new standard type vent caps.  EV Team member, Matt, did a bit of research and ran across a company called Flow Systems.  They offer a better vent cap that reduces watering, hydrogen venting, prolongs battery life and keeps valuable electrolyte in the cells by using a hydrophobic cindered disc to return all water and acid droplets back into the cells.  We installed the caps today and are looking forward to the minimal maintenance to come.

Friday, October 28, 2011

New Warp 9 install

Thanks to Bob Batson at EV America, and George Hamstra at NetGain motors, we were able to get our old motor covered under warranty.  Not only that, the motor that we received was actually the new Warp 9 with 28 improvements that will help overall efficiency!  The new motor went in without a hitch, but we seem to have noticed a new problem with the transmission that we never noticed before, a rattling at certain RPM's.  We think it was pre-existing, but we can not do anything with it until after we compete in the NEAT Rally competition next week at the NCCAR facility in Roanoke Rapids, NC. We think it may be a synchronizer, but will not know until the transmission is removed and taken apart.  We only hope it hold out until after the NEAT Rally.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Battery problem!

On a routine check of the batteries in the truck, we discovered a slight problem.  The students had learned how to use a refractometer to check the specific gravity of the lead acid cells to determine the state of each cell in comparison to the rest of the pack.  The results found the 14 month old US Battery US145xc batteries were within a few tenths of each other except for one cell was considerably lower than the rest.  Upon checking it out further, we noticed the water level was lower as well, even though we had topped them off the day before.  We also noticed that there was a considerable amount of oxidation underneath the battery box below where the battery in question was.

  We removed the battery to find that it had been leaking around the side seal near the top of the battery.  We contacted Fred Wehmeyer at US Batteries and he suggested we try to fix the leak by melting the side where the seal was broken, and if that did not work, he would try to get the battery replaced under warranty since it had been leaking since the day we installed them.  The fix did not work, so Fred contacted Larry at Battery Specialists in Greenville, SC, a distributor, and arranged for us to have the battery replaced.  Larry assured us that we would have the battery before our event on November 4th!  Stay tuned.

Leading the homecoming parade

What has become a tradition at Topsail is just another way to spread EV awareness.  Each year the THS EV Team leads the way for the homecoming court around the football stadium at halftime.  We were only able to drive the Ranger since the Warp 9 motor has been sent off for repair.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Removing Warp 9 motor for repair

Wouldn't you know it, our MR2 motor has developed a very rare problem.  The balancing putty has broken off the armature and in turn has created a bad vibration within the motor.  Supposedly, this only happens if the motor has turned over 9000 RPM's.  Not likely this has happened, but nonetheless, NetGain is repairing the motor for free.  This week, we removed the motor in the MR2 and shipped it off to Warfield Electric for repair.  Of course, we have a competition November 3rd, so hopefully we will have the motor back in time to install before then.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Spot Festival 2011 display

We braved the rain and crowds at the 2011 Spot Festival in Hampstead, NC on Saturday to display our vehicles.  All 10 members were in attendance to help raise awareness of our program and the feasibility of electric vehicles as a practical means of daily transportation.  The crowd was a bit less than last year because of the rain, but that did not deter the class from reaching out to anyone who had questions.  A great day of camaraderie for the EV12 Team!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Presentation to Cape Fear Society of Professional Engineers

Today we made a presentation to the Cape Fear Society of Professional Engineers at Hugh McRae Park in Wilmington.  All 10 EV12 team members were in attendance to show the vehicles and partake in the catered Bar-B-Que dinner. Also in attendance for support were our Chemistry teacher Mr. Jeffcoat and lead counselor, Ms. Rabe. The event was a great opportunity to show Professional Engineers what a group of High School students are capable of achieving.  We were presented with a $500 check from Atlantic Tool and Die and also were able to have a 50/50 raffle to raise additional funds.  
  We made several very good contacts with area companies such as G.E, Corning, Sturdy Corporation, plus Cape Fear Community College and UNCW.  We look forward to developing our relationships with these groups.

Friday, July 22, 2011

PLUG IN 2011

Wow, what a week!  We had the awesome opportunity of representing the EV Challenge at the  Plug In 2011 Expo this week in Raleigh.  Not only were we able to gain experience about emerging EV technologies, we also were thrust into the spotlight as hundreds of vendors and guests viewed our MR2 and asked questions about our program.  Wonderful exposure!
   Three Topsail students, Stephen Henderson, Shelby Sessions and Ryan Berkey were on hand to field even the most difficult questions about the EV Challenge program and the MR2 conversion.  Most notable was the typical reaction of "A High School did this?".  Yes, it is out...High School students are capable of great things if given the proper education and motivation.  Nothing like being able to convert and drive an electric vehicle to stoke the fires of creativity and passion!
  Being the only non factory manufactured Electric or Hybrid vehicle at the show, the Topsail High MR2 seemed to stick out among the likes of the Volt, Leaf, ImEV, Focus and Prius.  With the newly installed Lithium Ion battery pack, the MR2 can achieve close to 100 miles on a charge, a fact that was not lost on the onlookers as they marveled at the creativity and overall workmanship of the High School project.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Advance Auto Fundraiser

Today we had the MR2 and Ranger on display at the Wrightsboro Advance Auto in Wilmington.  We had a great time talking about the vehicles and selling hot dogs as well.  Five of the EV12 team wee there including, Parker, Shelby, Tyan, Dylan and Roman.  A special thanks goes out to the Mowry family for their support.  Being on display helps the team to gain confidence in displaying the vehicles while raising awareness of EV's.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Classy Chassis car show at Poplar Grove

Today the truck had the opportunity to show off at a local classic car show, the Classy Chassis Car Show at Poplar Grove in Wilmington.  The show was rained out for Saturday and we had to cancel, but thanks to Ryan Mowrey and his family, we were able to show the truck today for most of the show.  Ryan and his brother Mike, a former EV team member from several years ago, picked up the truck and drove it to the show where they were already showing Ryan's classic pick up truck.  Needless to say, there were plenty of questions from a crowd that is not used to vehicles that don't make any noise!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Synkromotive controller installed in MR2

We finally got around to removing the Raptor 1200A and installing the Synkromotive 900A in the MR2.  The Raptor has served us well over the last 9 years, making appearances in three different installs.  It is a very powerful controller, but that is all, it does not allow for programming or data logging.  The Synkromotive controller has been working flawlessly in our Ranger for over a year, so we decided to install one in the MR2 as well.
  Initial observations are the MR2 with the Synkro has a tad bit less acceleration.  On the plus side, gone is the horrible accelerator delay we had with the Raptor.  This issue reared its' ugly head in Auto Cross events where you had to press early on the pedal in anticipation of the power surge....not fun.
  Now to drive the MR2 and data log the results.  The data logging will really help us to track the performance of our Lithium pack as well.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

8th Straight EV Challenge title!!!

The Topsail High School Electric Vehicle Team won the EV Challenge final event for the 8th consecutive year this past weekend at the NCCAR complex in Roanoke Rapids NC.  Placing First and Second overall in the competition against 14 schools from as far away as Iowa and Miami.  Our now Lithium powered MR2 actually posted a better time than a $110,000 Tesla Roadster in the autocross event!  Our Ford Ranger scored a perfect 100 in the Vehicle Design category, a feat that has never been accomplished.  The Ranger team dominated in every category and tallied a perfect 10 cumulative score....the best score possible(Low score wins like golf).
The following students won awards:

Truck Team
Troubleshooting - Zach Fouty, Sal Castoro    First Place
Oratorical- Sean Bullock, Stephen Henderson   First Place
Vehicle Design- Alexis Demetrious, Chris Raynor   First Place
Range- Alexis Demetrious, Todd LeMaster   First Place
AutoCross- Joseph Graves   First Place

Modified Car Team:
Oratorical- Zeke Hartner, Joseph Graves     Second Place
Vehicle Design- Tony Capace, Joey Godfrey    First Place
Range- Tony Capace, Joey Godfrey    First Place
AutoCross-  Sean Bullock    Second Place

Website Design-  Shelby Sessions    First Place
School Initiative-  First Place

This has been by far the best class I have ever taught while a Topsail High School.  They represented the school with pride, dignity and class.  The class went into the competition with the motto "Dominate", and they did just that.  As Sean Bullock said, "Preparation = Domination", a formula that has worked for THS EV for 8 years!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Battery boxes and Lithiums

We had battery boxes fabricated by Billy Vaughn at Wilmington Sheet Metal and they fit perfectly!  We will now take on the task of mounting the boxes and wiring the 48 batteries in series.  The other technical issue is providing a means to secure the batteries once inside the boxes.  Always something to do...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In the news. Morning show on WECT TV6 and Fox 26

We had an excellent opportunity to be featured on the morning show on WECT TV6 and Fox 26 today.  We had to be at the school at 4:30 for the live feed on location.  All of the students were there and the reporter, Claire Hosmann, loved working with the EV 11 class.  Were were live for an hour and a half where we would be interviewed every 20 minutes.  All of the students were well spoken thus representing the program with class.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lithiums have arrived!!

Finally, we took delivery of 49 ThunderSky 100Ah Lithium cells.  We will soon be installing them into the MR2 and replacing the ols, nasty lead acid batteries.  Hello future!  We should drop about 700 pounds in the switch and have a real electric car finally.