Saturday, December 13, 2008

Half shafts and software installed

Today our goal was to install the half shafts and have a go at loading the inverter software.

On the mechanical side of things, Frank and Ed installed the half shafts without too many issues. We had to muck around splitting the gearbox end of the shafts open to get them past the chassis but nothing that needed any grinding. The pins are in, filled with grease, but not siliconed and taped yet. Also, we need to torque the bolts (must not forget this!).

After a bit of mucking around Tom and Ed managed to load the inverter software, we did manage to engage the contactors, but no motor rotation as yet. It may be that the configuration needs to be updated for the WS28 version of the Siemens motor? We need to get some direction from the supplier because as far as we can see everything is correctly configured and wired up. Hopefully its something simple.

To finish the day off, we took the GS750V to the Pukekohe race track to get a few 2008 pictures of the car and the Greenstage Racing Team. This had been on the todo list for a while and we needed to get it sorted before everyone departed for Xmas. We got some nice shots while chatting with a few of the remaining motorcycle crowd (they had been at the track all day and were packing up as we arrived). It's great fun when people show an interest, especially when they find out it's electric and give us the big thumbs up!

So, another step forward and a few more still to go. Heaps of thanks to Frank, Ed, Tom, Thomas, Emma and Hugh. You guys rock!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Busy weekend

It's been a busy weekend. Frank took out the Electric go carting on Saturday, the first cut of the inverter software arrived later the same day and on Sunday, Ed and I were at the Clevedon Farmers Market showing off the GS750 with assistance from Dylan and Robert.

As usual the car generated a lot of interest and we have extended our network of contacts a little further. Thanks to everyone for the great weekend.

So now that we have the software, it's time to get this car rolling!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Clevedon Farmers Market

The GS750V will be on show at the Clevedon Farmers Market this Sunday 7th December between 8:30 and 12 noon. It's a good chance to come and see the car in a relaxed atmosphere and buy some fresh locally grown produce as well.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Formula E opening day

I had the opportunity to try out the new electric go carts at Formula E over the weekend. These carts are fast. I would have to say they are the best public carts I have ever driven. Heaps of acceleration and very good control. If you are into cart racing I would recommend you give them a try.

The reason for this opportunity is that we had the GS750V on display for the Formula E opening day. It's nice to be able to support another form of clean green motorsport. In my mind, the more the public becomes aware of the performance capabilities of EVs the better. Once young car enthusiasts start craving EVs over hotted up Japanese imports, then change will really be underway.

Getting the car into the building was the hardest part of the exercise. The current access doorway is only 1880 wide and the GS750V is 1830 wide (i.e. we had 25mm to play with on each side). With a bit of careful steering by Vik (and Phil from Formula E on the way out) we managed to negotiate this without any contact.

Sadly I didn't actually make it to the opening day due to family commitments, but Ken informs me it was very busy (especially in the morning) and everything went smoothly.

Because you can't get enough of a good thing, we have arranged a group booking to do some real racing at 1:30pm on the 6th of December (kind of an end of year Xmas get together). Let me know if you would like to come along as we still have room for more.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A few missing things

Back to normal!? After the speed show we have had a bit of a hiatus while we got back to more mundane things like sorting out paper work and catching up on sleep.

The passing of time also helps to address things you are waiting on. At the speed show, we were still waiting on the completion of a few key components. The good news is that our half shafts have been completed and Bruce has sent them up from Bunnythorpe.

The bad news is that we are still waiting on the completion of the inverter software required to drive the car. It appears that the software engineering has been more time consuming than expected (who forgot to double the estimate?), but it shouldn't be too far away now. The first cut is expected in late November.

In the meantime we have been working on our proposal for potential major sponsors. As a direct result of the Speed Show, we have already been approached by one likely candidate (they were on our list of potential sponsors). We believe the marketing opportunities are immense and we hope to expand the imagination and reality of both the public and corporate partners with what we have to offer.

Stay tuned as we knock off the remaining tasks in preparation for the track.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Speed Show (open to the public)

Busy day, many questions, many interesting people...

The decision to go public with this project at the speed show has been a good one. We have already established a number of personal and business level contacts which will be useful now and in the future and I'm sure in return we will be just as useful as a resource and motivational example for many of the people that stopped to have a look.

If you are in the Auckland area and you haven't been to the show yet, come and see us tomorrow. It's a great show and we would love to meet you.


Friday, September 19, 2008

At the speed show!

We made it. We have stand 125 at the Speed Show which is open this weekend (the 2oth and 21st September at the ASB Show Grounds in Greenlane, Auckland).

This morning we were busy setting up and this afternoon from 2pm we were open for the trade, sponsor and media only preview. I didn't manage to get any photos of the completed stand, but I promise to get some for tomorrow. To whet your appetite, here are a few photos of the car which we captured over the last week while we have been working on it. The picture of the dash shows the EVision fired up and connected to the test pack.

It has taken many late nights by a number of people to achieve this and the result is well worth it. Special thanks to Bruce, Paul, Tom, Ed, Vik and Michael. It takes amazing people to produce amazing results and we are well on the way.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The trip back home

In case you are wondering, yes, we have made it back to Auckland.

We left Bunnythorpe on Saturday at 3:15pm and arrived back in Auckland on Sunday at about 2pm (after spending the night in Thames).

Suffice to say we are now flat out getting the car ready for the speed show. I will update the blog some more closer to the show.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Day 11

One and a half days until the car and I return to Auckland. Work harder!

Since the windscreen was booked in to be installed at 2pm today, we needed to get the dash permanent installed. Some of the switches I was waiting for had not arrived, so I ran cables without the switches attached, this job would be twice as hard with the dash installed. The dash (which is now black) is riveted in and waiting for the glazier. It's starting to look nice.

The glazier arrived pretty much on time as I was tidying up and making sure the felt was sitting nicely above the dash board. Clint went through his preparations, cleaning the glass and masking the edges etc. The glass had some glue residue from the tape that had held it in place over the last 9 months while it has been waiting for us! A bit of turps and a glass scraper did the trick. The end result is quite stunning. The car looks so much better with the front window in.

After the dash and window saga, I completed the radiator install (a few bolts and a couple of brackets hold it down against high density stick on foam attached to the new air deflectors (required for the small radiator).

Bruce and Paul continued with the welding and grinding... Inverter mount points are now sorted and Bruce has started shortening the central harness mount points because the stuck out far to much and caused issues with space.

Anyway, time for bed. The car is looking good.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Day 10

Today we went shopping. Yes, it was the trip we planed on Monday. Took about 2 hours, but we got all the items: threaded rod, 2 radiator caps (one for the radiator and one for the header tube at the top of the system because the radiator is at the bottom), radiator and heater hose, dash switches, ignition key, fuse box and brake fluid).

In the workshop we completed the contactor bracket and and prepared the mounting points for the new radiator (it is smaller than normally used so the deflectors needed to be enlarged). Bruce had a small heomorage when he relised one of his measurements for the machining being done to the halfshaft was wrong. Luckily he got through to the machine shop before they started the job. All turned out well :)

Earlier in the day I sent out an email to various people I know, have been in contact with recently or that might be interested in what we are doing. Already I have had a lot of positive feedback on the project. Unfortunately though, for those that were new to the site and happened to have saved the blog's RSS feed, they will have probably got a bad feed address (this has only been a problem in the last 16 hrs). It's fixed now, but of course if you are relying on the rss feed, you wont be reading this!? Never mind...

Tomorrow lots of things are coming together. Final installation of dash, windscreen goes in, seats should be complete, boss kit and steering wheel arrives, inverter mount points completed. It's all coming together.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Day 9

I have transport back to Auckland! My brother is going to be in the area and has offered to stay an extra night to take the car and myself back up the island (to Thames anyway). This is good because the best transporter option we could find was going to pick the car up Monday and deliver it on Tuesday which is not ideal (I want to be back in Auckland Monday at the latest).

Today Bruce and I sorted out the floor pan area for the temporary battery pack and I ordered a couple of acrylic covers for the pack to keep fingers out while the rear of the car is off (this is not a long term solution, but will serve a important purpose while we have the test pack in).

Bruce also got into building the mount point for the contactor. we are creating an aluminum frame (which bolts to the top of the motor) to hold it. Bruce has cut all the aluminum so it is ready to be welded tomorrow.

I finalised positions for various buttons today (nothing is final until the holes are drilled). This meant I was able to start running wires and creating the looms for the various sets of buttons and switches (e.g. up, down, select and menu button loom for the dash2 on board computer). Still a bit more to do and I would like to get another key switch because the one I have from Bruce is missing a few bits and seems to have a strange auxillary behaviour (haven't tested it out electricaly, but mechanically it doesn't seem right).

Three days until departure.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Day 8

It was very cold this morning and it seemed to get colder as the day went on (winter is fighting back).

Today Bruce focused on finishing the half shafts (the car won't be going far without these!). I spent some time organising a sign writer to make decals of the sponsor's logos to go on the car. This included sizing them up and making a pattern for the logo going on the top of the front windscreen.

The radiator turned up today. This encouraged me to look at the details of how we are going to plumb this thing in. Turns out we have a bit of fluffing about to do (always the way). The inlets/outlets on the radiator, inverter and the pipe to the back of the car all have different diameters. Paul is going to make appropriate adapters for the pipe which solves most of the problems. Still leaves us with the inverter to motor connection which we will sort out with an appropriate size change adapter (could change the inlet on the motor or inverter, but I would rather not play around with these, at least until we have fired it all up). To get everything ready for Paul, I removed the aluminum pipes from the car and cut of the ends we don't need. The radiator receives air from the front air intake which is at ankle hight. This air is channeled up through the near horizontal radiator before exiting through the middle of the bonnet (this increases down force and reduces drag.

Now that the heavy engineering is finished in the cabin, I set about tidying up. After vacuuming I installed the POT box and connected the recently fabricated connecting rod (also attaching a return spring to the arm). Everything lined up nicely and the travel is good. It is all mounted above the level of the steering column, so it is well out of the way.

Earlier in the morning we also went and checked out the trailer progress. Everything is looking good. Discussed a few minor details like hook locations. The trailer will have a scissor jack at the front to control the tilt angle. We sourced one of these from a wrecker. Tried to get a common one with some corrosion protection which I think we did a reasonable job of (looks like it is anodised).

Thats all for today.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Day 7

Sunday. A bit of a late start all round. Gave me a chance to write a few emails and read up on a few things. Bruce and his son have introduced me to rFactor which is a virtual racing game, so I spent a bit of time exploring opportunities here. With the digital models Michael has done and help from Bruce and Co I expect we will be able to get a virtual electric Saker into the game without too much hassle (I'm sure Bruce will want to do a few petrol powered ones as well).

Anyway, after everyone arrived, Bruce started his day by feeding the animals (as usual, except this time the film crew captured the moment). While this was happening, I tidied up the lower seat mounts (wire brush and file) before giving them a coat of paint. The upper mounts are aluminum, so these don't need any paint. Bruce then set about mounting the seats in a position to cater for the larger drivers (small and medium drivers will need an appropriately sized insert). The upholsterer will be taking the seats on Monday so this job has been finished just in time.

The POT box had its first test installation, after fabricating the aluminum mounting bracket. I tested out the travel of the arm and link. It all worked fine when connected to the POT arms bottom hole, but not so good when connected to the others. I will need to cut a small amount off the corner of the retaining cover to remedy this. The picture below shows all the parts (from the left the aluminum parts are: spacer, retaining cover, POT arm and mounting bracket).
Bruce and I also spent a fair bit of time discussing inverter and contactor placement within the car. Fair to say we discussed and measured a number of different options. It's surprising how many new options you can come up with when you have physical items and the car in front of you. After believing we had determined the perfect location on at least two occasions we finished the evening having settled on what we believe is the best location, combining safety, low center of gravity and short cable lengths (no guarantee we wont change our minds overnight though). The inverter will be mounted in the rear, flush with the rear firewall standing vertically on its end and the contactor is to be mounted above the motor (the contactor is not overly heavy, but it is quite voluminous).

Tomorrow we need to do a final check off of the things we need to do, organise or purchase. We already know we need to go into town to get a few things so we also want to double check our shopping list is complete. So far we have:
  • Check up on the delivery date of the steering wheel and boss kit
  • Get the seats to the upholsterer
  • Get the external emergency knob and cable (it will activate the internal cuttoff switch)
  • Complete the machining on the half shafts
  • Design and fabricate the mount points for the inverter and the contactor box
  • Mount the batteries for the temporary battery pack
  • Mount the 12V axillary battery
  • Size the temporary battery pack cover/enclosure and arrange to have it made.
  • Check on the trailer progress
  • Complete the 12V auxiliary wiring
  • Complete the high voltage wiring (Inverter, contactor and battery pack)
  • Tidy up the interior and dash
  • Get the front window installed
  • Install the fire extinguisher
  • Install harnesses (just clip them in hopefully)
  • Wheel alignment/spring height
  • Finalise transport arrangements to get myself and the car back to Auckland
Should be easy!?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Speed show push - Day six (the motor goes in)

Slept in to 7:45 this morning. Was a treat for me since I've been staying up far to late recently.

The major achievement today was getting the motor and transaxle mount points finished and dropping everything into place to check it all out. Everything fits as planned.

Also, the accelerator pedal has been fitted to the car and a suitable area identified for the POT box. The dash also got a lick of black satin paint (it was decided that the bare aluminum metal would not be good for glare).

The film crew turned up early afternoon and got some good footage for the documentary. We made sure there was always a convenient and comfortable position for them to film from :)

It is Father's day tomorrow here in NZ and I am away from the family with this project so I will miss the morning rarching that the kids would normally give me. I'm sure they will save it up with twice the energy for when I get back at the end of next week. Also my son's "Let's get inventing" episode is on TV at 5pm. An extra long call home will be required!

Time for bed. More progress tomorrow...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Day 5

Friday. Today we completed the welding for the motor mounts and the seats (Bruce and I prepared the parts and Paul did the welding).

Also, we began fitting out the accelerator POT with appropriate attachments to connect it to the accelerator pedal (required the creation of an arm and a bracket to fit in the Saker's pedal box). We plan on using a rod and a couple of ball joints to connect the accelerator pedal to the POT arm. As well as the internal POT spring we will add a spring to the POT's arm to prevent it staying open if something goes wrong.

Earlier this morning I had a quick look at the on board computer to prepare for the wiring. I have come to the conclusion that this will be very easy to get going. I'm looking forward to when the internal wiring can begin as this starts to make it feel real. We still need to create the fittings to hold the inverter, contactor box and the batteries. When this messy work is complete, then we will start the wiring. Hopefully the wiring will start on Monday at the latest.

Before I go, if you haven't noticed yet, the greenstage website has been updated and it is no longer just a stub. It shows our imediate high level goals and ways in which you can become involved. Check it out:


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Day 4

Another day at the office. Today didn't feel very productive, but we organised a few things and made some decisions along the way.

Firstly, we have arranged to install bucket seats and have them upholstered as well. We removed the original European spec seating (which really is just a shaped floor pan). It is not very supportive and doesn't look very nice either. The NZ designed bucket seats are going to much nicer, they provide more support and make a bit more room in the cockpit.

Changing the mount points for the motor has been slow going, but we are making progress. We have been trying not to compromise the space between the end of the motor and the rear firewall (because this space is going to house a section of the battery pack). We needed a small redesign of the brackets which prevent motor rotation around the axles. The original design was encroaching a little too much on our battery space. This is sorted now and we will hopefully finish the welding tomorrow.

Finally, we have decided to retain the original front mounted radiator design. We do have the option of using a small radiator in the side pod air intakes which would save a bit of weight, but we are not going to do this at the moment. In theory the small radiator should be more than enough, but we don't really know if extra cooling is going to be significantly beneficial for our ability to run at full power for long periods of time. Hence we are making use of existing plumbing for a front mounted radiator. We will be starting with a medium sized radiator, knowing that we can go bigger or smaller without any hassle. This is a nice position to be in as we start to test out the capabilities of the car. We will be recording water and motor temperatures with the on board computer so we will be able to monitor the behaviour of various setups and make decisions from there.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Day 3

Today was a little strange. No particular reason, it just feels a little surreal. Working on a car this amazing has something to do with it. Combine that with the high power electric drive train and I think you will understand the feeling.
I have placed an order with Brent Smith Trailers to build a Saker specific transporter trailer by the 12th September. Brent has confirmed this will be achieved and he was happy to accomodate the modifications required to make the trailer just right for the job (this saves alot of hassel with renting or organising transporters plus it solves the problem of eventually having to buy a trailer anyway).

Today Bruce sourced the STi axels and prepared the chassis changes for Paul to weld later in the day. The chassis and mount point changes are now complete from a design point of view and largely complete from a fabrication point of view. We need to remove the motor and transaxle tomorrow so Paul can finish the job.

The eVision is now installed in the dash and we also have some tail lights (will get a third LED light to fill out the space later). We don't need blinkers or reversing lights for a race car (although as you can see we have installed blinkers). We only need brake and rain lights to pass scrutineering. This gives us a few interesting styling options which I might experiment with if we have time.

Until fabrication is complete and the mount points for the controller, contactor box and batteries are complete the focus needs to remain on auxiliary systems and other similar jobs that don't require access to the cockpit.

Tomorrow mount point fabrication will continue as well as auxilary system wiring, dash switches and buttons etc. We might also start looking at the POT box for the accelerator.

More action to come...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Speed show push - Day two

This morning we mated the transaxle, clutch, adapter and motor together in preparation for the installation. This allowed us to do a final sizing up of the chassis and mount point changes that will be required.

After sizing everything up, Bruce set about removing the petrol engines mount points. There was some discussion about needing to lower the rear bottom chassis rail , but after checking out the transaxle's axle shaft alignment with the suspension geometry in its normal position it was clear that we did not need to lower it any further.

Everything fits where it is meant to and there is heaps of room either side of the motor and in front of it for batteries (The Saker is a rear engined vehicle, so don't let this next photo confuse you).

It also appears that a decision about half shafts has been reached. We will source a set of Subaru STi axles (stronger than standard subaru axles) and modify them to fit the UN1 transaxle.

As well as this, the dash structural changes have been finished. The Dash2 is mounted but the eVision still needs some work (mounting requires the creation of a two layer lexan bracket with spacers. The front layer is the cover/lense and the back is the mount plate).

Tomorrow I need to make a decision about the trailer (buy one here, or use a transporter and source one back in Auckland). It will come down to cost effectiveness of the deal and how well the trailer is going to cater for the Saker (the trailer needs some specific features to handle the long front overhang and weight distribution of the rear engined vehicle). We will be visiting a very good local trailer manufacturer who has one completed and slightly run in trailer plus a semi completed trailer that might be a better starting point given the modifications we will be after.

Check back tomorrow!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Push for the speed show

We have the Electric Saker booked to be at the NZ Speed Show on the 20th and 21st of this month. Today was the first of day of an intensive two week plan we have for getting the car mechanically and electrically complete (this work is being done in the Saker factory located in Bunnythorpe). We don't expect to have everything finished, but the goal is to have all the major mechanical work complete and the majority of the electrical components permanently installed although with a temporary 144V test pack.

Currently our Bunnythorpe TODO list looks like this:
  • Trailer (needed to transport the race car back to Auckland and for future transportation needs)
  • Receive Motor + Transaxle
  • Motor + Transaxle Installation
  • Dash
  • Inverter + contactor
  • Battery rack/mounts
  • Rear tail lights (Brake + rain light)
  • Cutoff switch
  • seat + harness
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Graphics (Monday + Michael)
  • POT + Brake plumbing (+regen)
  • Wheel alignment/spring height
Today, while we were waiting for the motor and transaxle to arrive Bruce and I set about laying out the dash and making decisions about whether to use the European style aluminum race dash of the more elegant custom dash configuration commonly used here in NZ. To keep true to the goals of the race car and to minimise unneeded work we chose to modify the exisitng aluminium dash to house the EVision and the Race Technology electronic dash. This provides a minimalistic look and keeps the weight down so we are happy with the decision.

At about 3pm the delivery truck arrived. It dropped off the transaxle, motor adapter plate and clutch. This had all come from We Can Engineering, who had machined the adapter plate for us. The adapter plate looks very beafy and will certainly not be breaking anytime soon. It's possible it could have been made a bit lighter, but in the long term plan this plate, the clutch and the transaxle are temporary items so it's not going to be a problem. Right now we want things to be simple and reliable so we can focus on getting the car to the track sooner rather than later.

We weighed the components to find that all up we have a motor and gearbox combination that weighs 171kg (Transale 55kg, adapter 20kg, clutch 5kg and motor 91 kg) . Not light, but acceptable (it does give us more reason to get rid of the clutch and simplify the gear box in the future though).

After putting the Tilton clutch together and giving the adapter a coat of paint we called it a night.

For tomorrow, the dash is almost ready to be installed (just needs a few mounting holes drilled) and the gearbox and motor are ready to be mated and lowered into the chasis so we can plan the modifications required to mount the first electric drivetrain in a Saker GT.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Road to completion

Last week our motor, controller, eVision and chargers arrived. Kept us busy unpacking things and checking we had what we expected. The event also provided a bit of an unpacking frenzy for the documentary being created.

Some of these parts had been ordered back in January, so we have been waiting a while. Now that we have the key components, it puts the time line and road to completion squarely back in our hands. We are behind where we wanted to be, but I am not going to rush anything.

We have also been tidying up the lead acid test pack. I am pleased to say, it is ready and waiting for the challenge of testing the Electric Saker's mechanical and electrical systems when they are completed in the next 3-4 weeks.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Back in September 2007 I committed to a project that would make a difference and be noticed by people that might not normally take note of environmental issues. The project takes the form an an electric race car designed to compete with purpose built petrol powered cars. The starting point for the project is the Saker GT which is a successful space frame chassis car designed in NZ and raced all over the world. Our car is known as the Electric Saker.

EV technology is at a stage now, that if you are willing to spend the money, it is realistic to create a car that will out perform most petrol powered cars. The costs are still high, but they are now comparable to what some people have spent on their conventional race cars.

On Saturday I received confirmation of the delivery dates for our Electric Saker's motor and controller. Everything going to plan, the delivery is expected to arrive at our workshop on 31st July (one month exactly). We eagerly await this as it sets in motion the rest of our project schedule. This schedule and many other things are documented on our project wiki. Please have a look around. Although this wiki is largely intended for the project team, we encourage others to become involved. If you have relevant information and feel so inclined, we are happy for you to contribute directly to the wiki.

Enjoy the ride.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Welcome to the Greenstage New Zealand blog.

Why am I blogging and why does exist?

I have always been environmentally aware, I admire quality engineering including performance vehicles and I have a strong social conscience. Greenstage's purpose is to combine these three things (environment, quality engineering solutions and social good) into a profitable commercial venture that enlightens people to new possibilities, creates demand and pushes my buttons at the same time (I believe you need to love what you do).

To cut to the chase, Greenstage is about living a no compromises life style that is good for the planet. This blog will document Greenstage's progress.

I hope you enjoy the ride.