April was two months ago

Waaay back in April, I attended a local physics teachers’ meeting that I helped organize.  It was definitely one of the best such meetings we’ve had in years, though I must say we do a good job on meetings.  I don’t recall a bad speaker that we’ve had or bad food.

Our Friday evening we hosted a local top physics student and his physics teacher, part of our new outreach initiative.  We enjoyed a catered meal with adorable tiny and multitudinous desserts…oof.  Thank goodness for the exercise class I started taking at school!  Then we walked to the building next door and listened to University of Pennsylvania professor Ken Lande, who amazed us and grabbed us with his energy talk.  He’s nearly as good as Al Bartlett – certainly he is as alarming.  I started thinking about what I can do to help save the world.  (Follow the Al Bartlett link and watch his talk – I highly recommend it)

Saturday we had a talk by my NCSU professor, Bruce Sherwood.  He’s the one who taught me to use vpython and completely changed my view of introductory physics.  I’ve been promoting vpython with the local physics teachers and Bruce’s talk was very well received.

There were some short talks by members of the group and a business meeting at which I was elected “Corresponding Secretery” which means I took over the mailing responsibilities and I now write a bi-weekly newsletter.  But after lunch, we had an awesome experience:

Ollie brought members of the Eastern Electric Vehicle Club (EEVC) and their cars to explain electric cars, answer our questions, and show off their work!  I was impressed by the plug-in vehicles made by modding existing vehicles.  There was a guy with a  Ford 150 pickup truck that he converted to a plug-in gas-electric hybrid, a woman with a student-modified van, a guy with a Geo Metro convertible (link gives specs) turned into a purely-plug-in electric vehicle, and more!  Here’s the workings of the Metro:

under the hood

under the hood

in the trunk

in the trunk

The acceleration on these electric cars is very exciting – lots of delta v in a short delta t!  It comes from having a powerful electric motor and a low mass that needs to get moved.  The Metro got towed to the meeting behind a sexy sportscar, that’s how light it is.

Here is Ollie in a car converted to electric by high school students:


Ollie let us drive this car around the parking lot, and that was pretty cool too!  Those extra guages on the dashboard show the voltage across the batteries and the current drawn by the engine.  Multiply the two values together, and you will get the power in watts.  746 watts is 1 horsepower.  Mostly, you wouldn’t multiply while driving though…but you have to keep track of the voltage or you could find yourself stranded without enough “juice.”

I had a great time!  I am itching to find some crappy used car in decent shape, rip out the insides, and make an electric car for runs to the grocery store or whatever.  Yet another thing to put in the “future projects” file…

3 Responses to “April was two months ago”

  1. Melissa R Says:

    Would you like mine? It needs a new timing belt and muffler pipe, and does not have A/C, if that is the kind of crappy you’re looking for, but it’s a Honda, and it will run another 100K if you put the right stuff in.

    Me, I just signed for a car loan while I was in town this trip…

    • teawithbuzz Says:

      I did not expect to be working on this project this summer, but Melissa R has got herself a deal! No joke, we’ve discussed it over e-mail and sometime this summer I will give her money and then drive her Honda up from DC and park it in my driveway, where I can proceed to take out most of the innards and replace ’em with emissionless electric stuff. And yes, I know the electricity I’ll be plugging into for recharging is NOT emissionless, but I do pay extra for the wind-generated stuff (not that the electrons can tell the difference) so I can still feel virtuous.

      I’m gonna learn a lot, and get real dirty, and I’m going to have an electric car!

  2. Electric Car Journey Part 1 « TeaWithBuzz Says:

    […] Car Journey Part 1 By teawithbuzz Remember this post?  Melissa offered up her old Civic in the […]

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