Electric Vehicles Could Be The Grid Storage Solution We’ve Been Dreaming Of

As nation states grapple with the spectre of environmental and economic losses due to climate change, we’ve seen an ever greater push towards renewable energy sources to replace heavier polluters like coal and natural gas. One key drawback of these sources has always been their intermittent availability, spurring interest in energy storage technologies that can operate at the grid level.

With the rise in distributed energy generation with options like home solar power, there’s been similar interest in the idea of distributed home battery storage. However, homeowners can be reluctant to make investments in expensive batteries that take years to pay themselves off in energy savings. But what if they had a giant battery already, just sitting outside in the driveway? Could electric vehicles become a useful source of grid power storage? As it turns out, Ford wants to make their electric trucks double as grid storage batteries for your home.

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Hackaday Links: June 6, 2021

There are a bunch of newly minted millionaires this week, after it was announced that Stack OverFlow would be acquired for $1.8 billion by European tech investment firm Prosus. While not exactly a household name, Prosus is a big player in the Chinese tech scene, where it has about a 30% stake in Chinese internet company Tencent. They trimmed their holdings in the company a bit recently, raising $15 billion in cash, which we assume will be used to fund the SO purchase. As with all such changes, there’s considerable angst out in the community about how this could impact everyone’s favorite coding help site. The SO leadership are all adamant that nothing will change, but only time will tell.

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Electric Vehicles Do Battle On Pikes Peak

When we think of electric cars, more often than not we’re drawn to the environmental benefits and the smooth quiet commuter drives they’re so ideally suited for. However, EVs can also offer screaming performance, most notably due to their instant-on torque that gives them a big boost over internal combustion vehicles.

In recent years, this has led to a variety of independent and manufacturer-supported efforts taking on some of motorsport’s classic events. Today, we’re looking at a handful of recent entries that have tackled one of the most gruelling events in motorsport – the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb. Continue reading “Electric Vehicles Do Battle On Pikes Peak”

Electric Vehicle 1900’s Style: New Leases On Old Tech

Excited about your new electric vehicle? Thomas Edison would be, too. He tried to produce electric vehicles for Ford around 1900. Petroleum-based vehicles dashed his dreams of the electric car, and the battery he wanted to use languished as a technological dead end. The batteries were long-lasting, sure, but they were expensive and had other problems, not the least of which was producing hydrogen gas. But that battery technology is receiving renewed interest today, because some of the things that made it a bad car battery make it good for alternate energy projects.

You wouldn’t think a century-old battery technology that was never very popular would make a comeback. But then again, who thought we’d see the return of bell-bottom pants or vinyl records? Continue reading “Electric Vehicle 1900’s Style: New Leases On Old Tech”

Open Source Electric Vehicle Charging

Electric vehicles are becoming more and more common on the road, but when they’re parked in the driveway or garage there are still some kinks to work out when getting them charged up. Sure, there are plenty of charging stations on the market, but they all have different features, capabilities, and even ports, so to really make sure that full control is maintained over charging a car’s batteries it might be necessary to reach into the parts bin and pull out a trusty Arduino.

This project comes to us from [Sebastian] who needed this level of control over charging his Leaf, and who also has the skills to implement it from the large high voltage switching contactors to the software running its network connectivity and web app. This charging station has every available feature, too. It can tell the car to charge at different rates, and can restrict it to charging at different times (if energy is cheaper at night, for example). It is able to monitor the car’s charge state and other information over the communications bus to the vehicle, and even has a front-end web app for monitoring and controlling the device.

The project is based around an Arduino Nano 33 IoT with all of the code available on the project’s GitHub page. While we would advise using extreme caution when dealing with mains voltage and when interfacing with a high-ticket item like an EV, at first blush the build looks like it has crossed all its Ts and might even make a good prototype for a production unit in the future. If you don’t need all of the features that this charging station has, though, you can always hack the car itself to add some more advanced charging features.

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Hyundai Mini 45 EV Is A Small Car With Grand Ambitions

One of Hyundai’s recent concept cars was an electric vehicle named “45” in honor of its inspiration, another concept car from 45 years ago. When footage of a child-sized “Mini 45” surfaced, it was easy to conclude the car was a motorized toy for children. But Jalopnik got more information from Hyundai about this project, where we learned that was not nearly the whole picture.

The video (embedded below) explained this little vehicle is a concept car in its own right, and most of the video is a scripted performance illustrating their concept: using technology to help calm young patients in a hospital, reducing their anxiety as they faced treatment procedures. Mini 45 packs a lot more equipment than the toy cars available at our local store. The little driver’s heartbeat and breathing rate are monitored, and a camera analyzes facial expressions to gauge emotional stress. The onboard computer has an animated avatar who will try to connect with the patient, armed with tools like colorful animations, happy music, candy scent dispenser, and a bubble-blowing machine.

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Three-Wheeled Turret Car Looks Like It Should Be Orbiting Thunderdome

In a post-apocalyptic world, this is the hacker you want rebuilding society. He’s showing off a three-wheeled go-kart that pivots the cockpit as it steers. A hand crank mounted at the center of the vehicle pivots each of the three wheels in place, but keeps the driver facing forwards with a matching rotation. Hit up the video after the break to see it for yourself.

The real question here is, how did he pull this off? The watermark on the video shows that this was published by [wo583582429], a user on Douyin (the platform known as TikTok in the US). We plied our internet-fu but were unable to track down the user for more of the juicy details we crave. If you have a lead on more info, leave it in the comments below. For now, please join us in speculating on this build.

This is a pretty good closeup of one of the wheel assemblies. First question is how does the turning mechanism work? Since all three wheels and hub are smoothly coordinated it’s likely this is a planetary gearing setup where the inner ring has teeth that turn the rings around the tires themselves. However, we can see a spring suspension system which makes us doubt the lower ring surrounding the tire would stay engaged with a planetary gear. What do you think?

Trying to figure out how control and locomotion happens is even more of a head-scratcher. First guess is that it’s electric from the mere simplicity of the setup and this closeup shows what looks like a circuit breaker and wires connecting to batteries on either side of the suspension system. But where is the electric motor?

It’s a horrible image, but this is the best we can do for a view of the other side of the wheel assembly. There is a box that appears to be made from aluminum mounted to the wheel frame. After a few hundred times through the demo video we don’t think there’s a chain drive going down to the axle. It doesn’t look like there is a hub motor at play here either. We wondered if there was a second smaller wheel under the top of the frame to drive the main tire, but again, the suspension system would make this unfeasible and at points in the video there is clear daylight. Spend some time reviewing the Zapruder demo film below and when you figure all of this out, clue the rest of us in please!

It’s awesome seeing bootstrapped vehicles come to life. One of our favorites remains this all-terrain motorcycle that has no problem taking on stairs.

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