Electric Spyder History
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The Electric Spyder Project has started as of May 2000.

is providing the kit car. Well, sort of. Tom McBurnie of Thunder Ranch is building a custom car for me. He does the car, I do the electronics. We are shooting for a car that is 45% battery or more and can go from zero to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds. The following is a scapbook of the progress in reverse order, the more recent stuff is first.

11 April 2002 - 12 April 2002

Added the second contactor and cleaned up the connectors between the dual controllers. Also tweaked the controllers to get the max power output. Took it for a run and saw 1000+ amps easily. Just some cleanup before the show in two weeks.

22 February 2002 - 24 February 2002

The dual controller setup arrived from DC Power Systems so it was time to move everything around on the electronics platform. I didn't realize I needed another contactor so I temprarily used just one. That will have to be changed on the next trip down. Most of the changed where made on Friday. The rest was finished Saturday morning. The car has lots of power but a little more tweaking will make it a little hotter. The tach still doesn't work right but the car runs well. We shot a short movie clip of an informal test run without the back hood in place.

Test run.

30 November 2001 - 1 December 2001

My expectations were low going into the weekend. We got the controller back from DC Power Systems and Tom installed it earlier in the week. The news was not good though as the car accelerated slowly and the power was limited. I spoke with Damon at DCP and he had me replace a resistor with one of higher resistance. I also discovered that the throttle calibration procedure limited the maximum throttle. This was evident when after putting in the 10K ohm resistor the maximum amperage draw was 13 amps. After cranking the potentiometer up the car accelerated well enough to leave some rubber and peaked out at just over 400 battery amps. Still only half the expected power but getting better. Best of all the controller did not blow up this time! There are still more problems to solve with the controller but at least the car is driveable. Next on the list is getting that power back up and getting the tach to work.

29 September 2001

The equalizer box has been fixed. New switches have been installed and it is ready to go back into the car. Each battery in the car has a wire coming from it's positive terminal back to the rear compartment. These wires plug into the equalizer box along with the negative terminat lead on the first battery. On the top of the box are test points that allow the voltage of each battery to be checked from the rear of car. Each wire is connected to a switch and then to the battery equalizers. This allows the equalizers to be disconnected from the batteries. The equalizers have to be disconnected and connected all at the same time so the switches are ganged together with a plastic bar. As the bar slides the switches all move in unison. With any luck there will be no more surprises with the equalizers.

7-9 September 2001

Progress has been interrupted by a few problems.The first problem was the bearing in the motor and the clutch.

The clutch was not adjusted correctly and was extremely hard to push. This contributed to the second problem with the bearings in the motor.

The motor bearings are not thrust bearings and having the pressure plate trying to push the shaft of the motor out of the end of the housing caused the bearings to fail. Tom replaced the bearings with thrust bearings and machined a sleeve for the shaft to tranfer the force to the bearing.

Everything was ready to go on this weekend. We managed to run the car around the block a few times with mixed results. There seemed to be a lot of interference on the tach pickup and on the wires from the pedal to the controller. The wires where shielded and that seemed to help but then the controller failed so we removed it and sent it back to get fixed.

The last failure was with the battery equalizers. It seems the regulators are not conditioned so when power is removed or connected a surge occurs which will cause an arc on most common switches. This caused two switches to be welded closed and probably caused the failure of two equalizers. New quick connect and disconnect switches have been ordered.

26-29 April 2001

The weekend of the show. After a mad rush to get the car ready for show we made it to the Association of Handcrafted Automobiles car show at Knott's Berry Farm. The car was not street ready but was ready to look at. We took the Director's Choice award at the show (2nd place overall).

As for the power problem, it was the tach sending wire. There was noise on the wire that made the controller think the RPM was too high. With the tach input disconnected the car spins the tires without even trying. Yeah! There are still some details left to complete and the covers need to be made.

13-14 April 2001

Progress was a little slow due to being short handed. A few disappointments too. The car didn't have any power and the equalizers released smoke. The equalizers have to go back but the car will run without them. The lack of power needs to be fixed. I have to do some trouble shooting. Next trip is just before the show and the car should be complete by then.

2-3 March 2001

It runs! It made the maiden voyage at about 4:30 Saturday afternoon. It only went about 10 feet before we realized the suspension needed adjustment but it worked none the less. We weighed the car and its just over 2500 pounds. That should make it just under 2600 pounds when it's done. The weight ratio is 44/56. Almost exactly what we were shooting for. On the final stretch for the show in April. One more trip to run some performance trials and to double check the details on the finished car.

8-10 February 2001

It's getting real close to being able to be driven. Almost had it going this weekend but a few glitches caused us to delay the first drive. Motor is in and the tranny direction needs to be changed. The batteries were all hooked up and at least one of the chargers works. The other two need to be adjusted. Or at least I hope that's the problem.It's amazing all the batteries fit in the car so well. It looks real clean so far.

3-6 January 2001

The car is coming along pretty well. The car has been painted and is starting to come together. I spent some time with Tom going over some of the power electronics. We discussed what the car should have on it and what needed to be done with the motor and propulsion system. I took some pictures of a few parts of the car and of the power electronics board, transmission, and motor.

28 September 2000

Details on the body are being completed.

19 August 2000

The body is on the frame. It was just put on the frame and there is still much more to do before its rolling and ready for paint.

12 August 2000

The frame has been powder coated. The body goes on next. Note the tabs on the side battery boxes for the tie downs. Although they are hard to see there are rear motor mounts on the rear cross bar. The roll over bar has been added to the front and side impact bars were also added.

22 July 2000

Battery racks are in place. Frame is just about ready for power coating. Just a few more tabs, rollbars, and side protection bars. All the batteries fit in nicely and the center of balance is close to the center with most of the weight between the wheels. The battery boxes on the side help form a nice rigid box with the side protection bar (not installed yet). Coupled with some of the other extra members the frame should be nice and stiff for that high horse power motor.

Tom and I discussed where some of the other components would go and where the wires would be routed.

17 June 2000

A little more progress. We made some more decisions about where things like the batteries would go.

3 June 2000

The frame is being constructed and the body is ready to be pulled from the molds.Things look pretty raw at this stage but here are the pictures. Click on the thumbnails to expand.