Wednesday, November 25, 2009

KillaCycle on the way!

Just a quick note to say that the KillaCycle has started it's journey to NZ! Bill informed us that it left on a truck yesterday after many days of hard work making sure everything was packed and documented appropriately for customs.

The journey begins :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

KillaCycle schedule while in NZ

The schedule for the KillaCycle while in NZ is now 100% confirmed for the period 21st Jan - 6th Feb 2010. Here it is :
  • Thur 21st - Sun 24th Jan - Wellington, show and talk at Te Papa (Bill Dubé will be speaking 6:30pm Thursday and 1pm Sunday for 30-40 minutes).
  • Mon 25th Jan - Palmerston North, show and talk (Te Manawa museum, 10am - 2pm).
  • Wed 27th Jan - Taupo, Bill and Eva talk, but KillaCycle not on display (Roberts Reserve, Lake Terrace, 1pm - 3pm)
  • Thur 28th Jan - Hamilton, show and talk (Wintec, 2 - 3pm Automotive workshop D1.01 Avalon Campus).
  • Sat Jan 30th - 4 and Rotary Nationals - show and shine (ASB Showrounds, Greenlane, Auckland)
  • Sun Jan 31st - 4 and Rotary Nationals - drag racing (Fram Autolite Dragway, Meremere).
  • Sat Feb 6th - Nelson, NZDRA National Series meet - drag racing (Motueka Aerodrome)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Saker GS750V motor and wheel rotation (High Quality Video)

Here is the high quality video of the Electric Saker's first wheel rotation. Thanks to Tom for extracting the video!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saker GS750V motor and wheel rotation!

Today Ed, Mark and myself (with visits from Tom, Tabitha and Frank) achieved what we have been waiting nearly 12 months for. We had the GS750V powered up and turning it's own wheels!

Well done guys!!! This is an awesome achievement. Thanks to all that have helped us in getting to this point, both locally and internationally.

Read on for more details...

Our plan had the day broken into 4 phases:
1) Re-test the 30V test rig setup after it had been relocated from the software dev environment.
2) Test the 1.1kW motor from the test rig with the 150V test pack.
3) Lunch and forgotten encoder cable provided by Kirstin :)
4) Upgrade the 1.1kW motor to the Siemens motor in the GS750V and watch the wheels turn!

The setup we had is still very much a work in progress since the STM32 and Tumanako control board is not yet installed in the inverter casing. Hence the inverter and the control board where setup on a table beside the car for this test. The contactors where situated in a temporary but secure location which was convenient to get the power from the battery to the inverter.

You can see the setup we had for phase 2 in the photo below:
After a successful morning and a smiling visit from Kirstin, we moved into the business end of the day. We jacked the car onto blocks and connected up the Siemens 1PV5135 WS28 motor, which is already mounted in the car and connected to the gearbox. After an initial juddery rotation and a blown fuse (test pack fuse is only 30A so we don't stress the batteries), Ed discovered the encoder was hooked up incorrectly. So, rather than simply replacing the fuse, Mark upgraded it to a breaker which is resetable if something goes wrong and also easily used to make the pack safe during maintenance. Thank you Mark!

After addressing the encoder wiring and increasing the flux limits on our torque control, we got some very smooth motor control indeed. Check it out (please excuse the battle Ed is having with the forward/reverse torque control POT we had setup for the test in this video):

So, it's the home straight now! We need to complete the single Tumanako control board, finish off the wiring loom and complete the associated vehicle control software (adding additional safety checks and vehicle loom IO). Then we will be ready for dyno tuning (motor parameters need work) and of course squeezing in the first test drive :)

Also, expect to see a high quality video of todays test uploaded in the next couple of days. I'm currently looking for a cable from my sons video camera that I borrowed!? I hope I don't get into trouble :)


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Contactor control and mods

It has been a little while since our last post, but lots has been done. When we commissioned the clutch at the garage we grabbed the contactor box to investigate interfacing it with the Tumanako inverter. The box had a few "nasties" in it - the precharge resistor was switched in across both contactors with IGBTs - no galvanic isolation, at any point!

Last week Phil and I put together a bit of a plan to modify it for increased safety and to interface it with the Tumanako inverter's STM32 chip. We removed the IGBTs and instead installed a third contactor (a Gigavac GX12 Phil had bought previously as a secoundary safety device, now becoming a primary safety device). With the HV circuit now sorted out all we needed to do was interface these 12V coils with the 3.3V micro. A circuit was drawn up, and a quick trip down to the local electronics store and we were ready. I put together the circuit on a strip of veroboard, and with a bit of Phil's coding we had a basic IO test clicking the contactors in and out.

This week I have tidied up the contactor box, mounting the veroboard circuit while Phil attacked the precharge code. We are nearly ready to try out a decent battery pack, and if that goes well we will have the chance to try out the Siemens motor.

This will be quite a milestone: race motor, race inverter and contactors. The car will be ready to spin it's wheels (under it's own power) for the first time.

Stay tuned!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Clutch commissioned

One of the things we need and want is a working clutch! From a safety perspective it is a physical safety valve, a simple way to stop the motor driving the wheels, is to push the clutch in. Still no gear stick controlled changes though (the linkage is missing), a job for Bruce at a later date...

After fitting the newly machined clutch line adapter (thanks Ed) and a length of flexible high pressure hose, we proceeded to bled the clutch.

Once this was done, we thought the clutch slave cylinder did not have enough travel to disengage the Tilton clutch plates. What was actually happening though, was that it was travelling too far and re-engaging at the end of the travel (after being disengaged at the half way point). Strange behaviour indeed and we are not entirely sure why it is doing this. It could be fixed with a stopper under the clutch pedal, but we would like to understand this better.

I'll be asking a few questions tomorrow. if you have any ideas, please let us know.

Anyway, it was good progress and big thanks to Frank and Ed for making this happen :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Turning wheels...

You may be asking, what's happening with the GS750V (the Electric Saker)? As you may know, almost 12 months ago exactly we discovered that the inverter we purchased was a little deficient (due to software issues that have not been addressed by the manufacturer).

Thankfully, this is one of the areas the Open Source Tumanako projects have been making great progress in. If you have not been following the Tumanako projects, I suggest you take a quick peek at the Tumanako blog.

Although there is still significant work to be done before a full Open Source inverter and vehicle control software system is released, I can confirm we will see the wheels turning on the GS750V in the near future.

Stay tuned for the video!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bill Dube' on Radiolive

Bill Dube' was on Ewing Stevens' Radiolive show on the morning of 31st August. Bill talks about the fact that with the new battery pack the current New Zealand 1/4 mile record is in their sights!

Thanks to Radiolive for providing the audio:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

KillaCycle upside down in New Zealand

I have been talking with Bill Dube for a number of months now about getting the KillaCycle to New Zealand to do some clean green drag racing (excuse the smoke).

We have come to a general agreement to target the 2010 4 and Rotary Nationals in January next year. The event organisers are on board, so it's all go!

This will be a great way to demonstrate one of the worlds fastest electrically powered vehicles in front of a young enthusiastic crowd who are very receptive to modern technology, especially if it makes things go faster :)

Sponsorship opportunities are available, so if you or your company would like to be associated with the KillaCycle team while they are in New Zealand, please let me know (contact via email).


Sunday, March 22, 2009


A long term stated goal of Greenstage has been to promote and develop open source technology. I thought this would play out significantly in the future, once we had the GS750V completed and racing. The immediate issues with our inverter are preventing the completion of the GS750V, interestingly they have also created an opportunity to bring our long term plans forward and hence solve our current problems. All in one go! On the Wednesday just gone we hosted an international launch party for a number of open source EV projects. The event was a gathering of very capable people showing much enthusiasm for the projects and EV technology in general. These projects are collectively being developed under the Tumanako banner (Tu manako is Māori for hope & togetherness) and so far aspects of Tumanako have received commitment for technical and financial support from 5 different entities (and I expect more to follow): EV Drive - Bob Simpson Metric Mind Corporation - Victor Tichonov Disruptive Enterprises - Alex Smith Lynx Innovation - Kevin Huljich Greenstage - Team Greenstage As well as the open source technical design and development I am very aware of the importance of fostering and developing commercial manufacturing, testing, packaging and sales aspects of the resulting products. Without this the projects will become just another wad of information that only a small subset of people can make use of. The commercial entities supporting and bringing these open source products to market will provide consumers and OEM's with the opportunity to leverage these products with confidence. Combined with the long term technical benefits of open source development, this synergistic commercial manufacturing has the very real opportunity to create a strong and attractively priced set of products. To learn more about the Tumanako projects, visit our Tumanako Launch wiki page where you can see some of the presentations and photos from the evening. The Tumanako projects are being hosted on SourceForge and changes will be visible as development progresses. We already have a formidable team and this team will only grow and get stronger as the projects progress. If you have an interest in the outcome of these projects, or you would like to get involved, please let us know. Let the fun begin!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2009 - Optimism in the face of adversity

You can probably guess from the lack of celebratory post, that we have not had the car driving yet. We are still working with the inverter manufacturer to get this resolved. The crux of the issue is the DSP board and the software that runs on it. I hope to have more information and positive news about this situation next week.

In the mean time we are still looking at the bigger picture of what this GS750V project is about. Pre Xmas I became aware of the SolarNetwork project being lead by John Gorman. This Open Source project aims to create a network of solar nodes, where each node measures locally generated power (from PV cells or similar) and local power consumed. All this information is collected together and used to predict future generation and consumption scenarios based on weather forecasts and the future build out of solar node infrastructure.

I believe this solar node network and its associated data will become a very powerful tool to plan future business models and business expansion with respect renewable energy generation.

The other exciting opportunity John and I have discussed, is the opportunity to expand the SolarNetwork infrastructure to support V2G (vehicle to grid) functionality. The idea being that if the owner of the EV plugs the car in for a top up, indicates that they want to minimise the cost of the charge (and the impact on the environment) and that they will not need the car for another 4 hours say. This then allows the V2G system to effectively sell power from the EV battery pack during peak demand and charge the pack when demand is less and power is cheaper. The V2G system manges this process to ensure the pack is fully charged upon the owners return. Of course the owner also has the option to tell the V2G system to just charge the pack as quickly as possible and keep it that way until they return if thats what they desire.

This may sound like a magical fairy tale, but from a software engineering point of view this fits into the category of a very doable medium scale project. The bigger challenge is with the physical infrastructure. This is where the beauty of attacking it with an Open Source project comes in. It will allow the basic concept to be developed to a working stage with one specific type of infrastructure (e.g a specific charger and/or inverter combination). The capability can then be expanded by adding additional functionality to the control algorithms and by adding support for other brands and models of infrastructure (i.e. other manufactures charges and inverters).

Greenstage has already ordered a solar node and hopes to be on the SolarNetwork in the next couple of months. If you would like a solar node, or to get involved with the development, please contact John and let him know how great his project is.

Why wait for the world to change? Lets just do what needs to be done!