Despite the increasing popularity of various electric vehicles, the limits of battery technology continue to be a bottleneck in their day-to-day use. They don’t behave well in extreme temperatures, they can wear out quickly, and, perhaps most obviously, charging them is often burdensome. Larger batteries take longer to charge, and this can take a lot of time and space, but this research team from Chalmers University are looking to make this process just a little bit easier.
The group has been developing an inductive wireless charging method for large vehicles including cars, trucks, busses, and ferries that can deliver 500 kW across a 15 cm (6 inch) air gap. The system relies on a silicon carbide semiconductor and extremely thin copper wire in order to make all this happen, and eliminates the need for any human involvement in the charging process. This might not be too much of a hassle for plugging in an electric car, but for larger vehicles like busses and ferries traditional charging methods often require a robot arm or human to attach the charging cables.
While this technology won’t decrease the amount of time it takes batteries to charge, it will improve the usability of devices like these. Even for cars, this could mean simply pulling into a parking space and getting the car’s battery topped off automatically. For all the talk about charging times of batteries, there is another problem looming which is that plenty of charging methods are proprietary as well. This charger attempts to develop an open-source standard instead.
Thanks to [Ben] for the tip!
E-bikes can replace car trips for some people, and adding a solar panel can make the fun last longer. [Luke] did some heavy modifications to his RadWagon to make it better, stronger, and faster than it was before.
The first step was replacing the stock 750 W controller with a 1500 W model to give the motor twice the power. [Luke] plans to replace the motor if it gets fried pushing too much juice, but is planning on just being careful for now. To stop this super-powered ride, he swapped the stock mechanical discs out for a hydraulic set which should be more reliable, especially when loading down this cargo bike.
On top of these performance enhancements, he also added a 50 W solar panel and maximum power point tracking (MPPT) charge controller to give the bike a potential 50% charge every day. Along with the OEM kid carrier and roof, this bike can haul kids and groceries while laughing at any hills that might come its way.
Checkout this other solar e-bike or this one making a trip around the world for more fun in the sun.
The media got their collective knickers in a twist this week with the news that Wyoming is banning the sale of electric vehicles in the state. Headlines like that certainly raise eyebrows, which is the intention, of course, but even a quick glance at the proposed legislation might have revealed that the “ban” was nothing more than a non-binding resolution, making this little more than a political stunt. The bill, which would only “encourage” the phase-out of EV sales in the state by 2035, is essentially meaningless, especially since it died in committee before ever coming close to a vote. But it does present a somewhat lengthy list of the authors’ beefs with EVs, which mainly focus on the importance of the fossil fuel industry in Wyoming. It’s all pretty boneheaded, but then again, outright bans on ICE vehicle sales by some arbitrary and unrealistically soon deadline don’t seem too smart either. Couldn’t people just decide what car works best for them?
Speaking of which, a man in neighboring Colorado might have some buyer’s regret when he learned that it would take five days to fully charge his brand-new electric Hummer at home. Granted, he bought the biggest battery pack possible — 250 kWh — and is using a standard 120-volt wall outlet and the stock Hummer charging dongle, which adds one mile (1.6 km) to the vehicle’s range every hour. The owner doesn’t actually seem all that surprised by the results, nor does he seem particularly upset by it; he appears to know enough about the realities of EVs to recognize the need for a Level 2 charger. That entails extra expense, of course, both to procure the charger and to run the 240-volt circuit needed to power it, not to mention paying for the electricity. It’s a problem that will only get worse as more chargers are added to our creaky grid; we’re not sure what the solution is, but we’re pretty sure it’ll be found closer to the engineering end of the spectrum than the political end.
Continue reading “Hackaday Links: January 22, 2023” →
Well, this is embarrassing! Imagine sending a multibillion-dollar rover to an ancient lakebed on Mars only to discover after a year of poking around at the rocks that it might not actually have been a lake after all. That seems to be the impression of Jezero Crater that planetary scientists are forming after looking at the data coming back from Perseverance since it nailed the landing in what sure as heck looked like a dried-up lake, complete with a river delta system. A closer look at the sediments Perseverance has been sampling reveals a lot of the mineral olivine, which on Earth is rare near the surface because it readily reacts with water. Finding lots of olivine close below the surface of Jezero suggests that it either wasn’t all that watery once upon a time, or that what water was there was basically ice cold. The results are limited to where the rover has visited, of course, and the nice thing about having wheels is that you can go somewhere else. But if you were hoping for clear signs that Jezero was once a lake teeming with life, you might have to keep waiting.
In other space news, we have to admit to taking NASA to task a bit in the podcast a couple of weeks back for not being quite up to SpaceX’s zazzle standards with regard to instrumenting the SLS launch. Yeah, a night launch is spectacular, but not having all those internal cameras like the Falcon has just sort of left us flat. But we should have been more patient, because the images coming back from Artemis 1 are simply spectacular. We had no idea that NASA attached cameras to the solar panels of the Orion spacecraft, which act a little like selfie sticks and allow the spacecraft to be in the foreground with Earth and the Moon in the background. Seeing Earth from lunar distance again for the first time in 50 years has been a real treat, and getting our satellite in the frame at the same time is a huge bonus.
Continue reading “Hackaday Links: December 4, 2022” →
Since the widespread adoption of USB 1.1 in the 90s, USB has become the de facto standard for connecting most peripherals to our everyday computers. The latest revision of the technology has been USB 4, which pushes the data rate capabilities to 40 Gbit/s. This amount of throughput is mindblowing compared to the USB 1.x speeds which were three to four orders of magnitude slower in comparison. But data speeds haven’t been the only thing changing with the USB specifications. The amount of power handling they can do has increased by orders of magnitude as well, as this DIY USB charger demonstrates by delivering around 200 W to multiple devices at once.
The build comes to us from [tobychui] who not only needed USB rapid charging for his devices while on-the-go but also wanted to build the rapid charger himself and for the charger to come in a small form factor while still using silicon components instead of more modern gallium nitride solutions. The solution he came up with was to use a 24 V DC power supply coupled with two regulator modules meant for solar panel installations to deliver a staggering amount of power to several devices at once. The charger is still relatively small, and cost around $30 US dollars to make.
Part of what makes builds like this possible is the USB Power Delivery (PD) standard, which has enabled all kinds of electronics to switch to USB for their power needs rather than getting their power from dedicated, proprietary, and/or low-quality power bricks or wall warts. In fact, you can even use this technology to do things like charge lithium batteries.
Continue reading “DIY USB Charging The Right Way” →
Ebikes are slowly taking the place of many cars, especially for short trips. Most ebikes can take riders at least 16 kilometers (10 miles) without too much effort, at a cost that’s often a single-digit percentage of what the same trip would have been with an internal combustion engine. If you’re interested in dropping the costs of your ebike trips even further, or eliminating it entirely, take a look at this small ebike with integrated solar panels.
While any battery can be charged with a sufficiently large array of solar panels and the correct electronics to match the two systems together, this bike has a key that sets it apart from most others: it can charge while it is being used to power the bike. Most ebikes don’t have charging enabled during rides, so if you want to use the sun while riding to extend the range of the bike you’ll need to find one like this. This bike uses two 50 W panels on the two cargo areas of the bike, attached to a 400 W MPPT charge controller. The Lectric XP 2.0 ebike has a motor with a peak rating of 850 W, but in a low pedal-assist mode the solar panels likely output a significant fraction of the energy used by the electric drivetrain.
Even if the panels don’t provide the full amount of energy needed for riding around, the project’s creator [Micah] lives in Florida, so just setting the bike outside in the sun for six to eight hours is enough to replenish most of the battery’s charge. It’s probably not going to win any solar-powered bike races anytime soon, but for an efficient, quick bike to ride around town it’s not too shabby.
Historically, there have been a few cases of useful wireless power transmission over great distances, like a team at MIT that was able to light up a 60 W bulb at several meters, and of course Nikola Tesla had grand dreams of drawing energy from the atmosphere. But for most of us wireless power is limited to small, short-range devices like cellphone chargers. While it’s not a lot of work to plug in a phone when it needs a charge, even this small task can be automated.
This build begins with a 3D printed cradle for the smartphone to sit in. When the device detects that the phone has been placed in the cradle, it uses a linear actuator to drive a custom-built charging cable into the phone’s USB port. Similarly, when the phone is lifted from the cradle the cable is automatically removed. It appears that there is some play in the phone’s position that lets the charger be plugged in smoothly, and the project’s creator [Larpushka] points out that the linear actuator is not particularly strong so we don’t imagine the risk of damage is very high.
While wireless charging still may have the edge when it comes to keeping debris out of the port, we still really enjoy a project like this that seems to be done for its own sake. There are some improvements that [Larpushka] plans to make, but for now we’re delighted by this build. For anyone looking to add true wireless charging to any phone that doesn’t have it, though, it’s not too difficult to accomplish either.