The Electric Spyder Project has started as of May
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.
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
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.