Personal Electric Vehicles (PEVs) all contain the same basic set of parts: a motor, a battery, a motor controller, some sensors, and a display to parse the information. This simplicity allowed [casainho] to develop a custom controller setup for their own PEVs.
Built around the venerable VESC motor controller, [casainho]’s addition is the EBike/EScooter board that interfaces the existing motor of a device to the controller. Their ESP32-powered CircuitPython solution takes the sensor output of a given bike or scooter (throttle, cadence, or torque) and translates it into the inputs the controller uses to set the motor power.
They’ve also designed an ESP32-based display to interface the rest of the system to the user while riding. Since it also runs CircuitPython, it’s easy to reconfigure the functions of the three button device to display whatever you’d like as well as change various drive modes of your system. I know I’d love to see my own ebikes have a different mode for riding on road versus on shared paths since not getting run over by cars and not harassing pedestrians aren’t going to have the same power profile.
If you want to find more ways to join the PEV revolution, check out this wild omni-wheeled bike or this solar car built from two separate e-bikes. If that doesn’t suit your fancy, how about an off-label use for an e-bike battery to power your laptop off grid?
Whether hardcore petrolheads like it or not, we appear to be living through the final years of the internal combustion engine. In many countries there are legislative timetables in place for their eventual phasing out, and even those which remain in production are subject to ever more stringent emissions legislation. If there’s a problem with the EVs with which we’re expected to replace our fossil fuel vehicles it’s the cost, those things are still very expensive. An Aussie student has an interesting idea that’s won the James Dyson Prize: a low cost conversion for existing vehicles that bolts onto their rear wheel hubs.
Electric conversion of fossil fuel cars is nothing new, indeed we’ve brought you news of units designed to replace the original engine and transmission. Neither are wheel hub motors new, but the difference with this system is that it doesn’t require significant mechanical modification to the vehicle. It retains the old engine, and this motor sits inside each rear wheel.
It almost seems too good to be true, but a closer reading shows the rotor bolted on one side to the old wheel hub and on the other side to the wheel. The stator meanwhile is bolted to the existing brake caliper mountings. This would lead to a slightly wider track and a greater unsprung weight, but we can see that it would work. Besides the motor there’s a battery pack for the spare wheel well and a set of electrically-powered systems to supply the brake servo vacuum and other services. The idea is that this whole kit could be fitted for 5000 Australian dollars, which is somewhere south of $3200 USD. It’s not perfect and it still involves hauling around the dead weight of an unused engine, but we can see it might still have a niche. If, and that’s a big if, it ever makes it to market, that is.
There are plenty of reasons to install solar panels on one’s home. Reducing electric bills, reducing carbon footprint, or simply being in a location without electric service are all fairly common. While some of those might be true for [Dominic], he had another motivating factor. He wanted to install a charger for his electric vehicles but upgrading the electric service at his house would have been prohibitively expensive. So rather than dig up a bunch of his neighbors’ gardens to run a new service wire in he built this off-grid setup instead.
Hooking up solar panels to a battery and charge controller is usually not too hard, but getting enough energy to charge an EV out of a system all at once is more challenging. The system is based on several 550W solar modules which all charge a lithium iron phosphate battery. The battery can output 100 A DC at 48 V which gives more than enough power to charge an EV. However there were some problems getting this much power through an inverter. His first choice let out the magic smoke when it was connected, and it wasn’t until he settled on a Growatt inverter capable of outputting 3.5 kW that the system really started to take shape.
All of this is fairly straightforward, but there’s an extra touch here that makes this project noteworthy. [Dominic] wanted to balance incoming power from the photovoltaic system to the current demands from the EVs to put less strain on the battery. An ESP32 was programmed to only send as much power to the EVs as the solar system is producing at any given time, and also includes some extra logic to make sure the battery doesn’t drain itself from the idle power requirements of the inverter. Right now the system works well but the true test will be when it goes through its first winter. Even though solar panels are more efficient at colder temperatures, if the amount of sunlight or the angle of the panels aren’t ideal there is generally much less production.
During the 20th Century, much of the western world decided that motor vehicles were the only desirable form of transportation. We built our cities to accommodate cars through parking, stop lights, and any number of other infrastructure investments so that you could go get milk and bread in style. In the US, 50% of automobile trips are less than three miles and have only one occupant. [Bradley Gawthrop] asked if there might be a more efficient way to do all this? Enter the Personal Electric Vehicle (PEV).
What Are PEVs?
PEVs are a nascent part of the transportation mix that fall under the wider umbrella of “micromobility,” including scooters, bikes, skateboards, and the like. The key differentiator here is that they are at least partially electrically-driven. [Gawthrop] walks us through several of the different types during his Supercon 2022 talk, but since they are all small, electric powered devices for transporting one or two people, they can trace their lineage back to the infamous Segway Human Transporter.
Using an electric motor or two connected to a controller and batteries, the overall system complexity for any of these devices is quite low and ripe for the hacking. Given the right tools and safety precautions, anyone should be able to crack a PEV open and repair or tinker with it. As with many things in life, the real story is more complicated.
As [Gawthrop] notes, many a hacker has said, “I wish I’d been able to be involved in X before…” where X equals some technology like home automation and it’s before it got creepy or dystopian in some manner. He exhorts us that the time to be in on the ground floor with PEVs is now. Continue reading “Supercon 2022: Bradley Gawthrop Wants You To Join The PEV Revolution”
While there are a lot of exciting electric vehicles finally coming to market, many of us feel nostalgic for the fossil cars of our youth. [Mihir Vardhan] restored his grandfather’s car with an unusual gas-to-EV conversion.
While this conversion starts in the usual fashion by pulling out the gas engine, [Vardhan] takes a different tack than most by not just bolting an electric motor up to the transmission. Instead, he and his crew removed the head and pistons from the petrol burner and bolted the electric motor to the top on an L-shaped bracket. Using the timing belt to transfer power to the crankshaft, there is no need to figure out additional motors for the A/C compressor or power steering pump, greatly simplifying implementation.
[Vardhan] did need to add a vacuum pump for the braking system and used a DC/DC converter to step down the 72V traction battery voltage to the 12V needed to charge the accessory battery. While it doesn’t exactly boast the performance of a Tesla, his bargain-basement conversion does yield a converted vehicle that can get around town for only around $3k US, even if it does mean your EV still needs oil changes. We think this could work even better on a vehicle with a timing chain instead of a belt, but it’s certainly an interesting way to go about the conversion process.
We’ve covered our fondness for EV conversions in the past for cars, motorcycles, and boats if you’d like to dig deeper. Have your own EV conversion you think we should cover? Send us a tip!
Continue reading “A Different Approach To EV Conversions”
Last November, Tesla open-sourced parts of its charging infrastructure, not-so-humbly unveiling it as the North American Charging Standard (NACS). It’s finally taking off with a number of manufacturers signing on.
Companies launching “standards” based on their previously proprietary technology in opposition to an established alternative usually leads to standards proliferation. However, with recent announcements from Ford, GM, and Rivian that they would begin supporting NACS in their vehicles, it seems a new dominant standard is supplanting CCS (and the all-but-dead CHAdeMO) in North America.
As Tesla already has the most extensive charging network on the continent and has begun opening it up for other EVs, it makes sense that other marques would want to support NACS, if nothing else to satiate customer demand for a dead-simple charging experience. Dongles are annoying enough for plugging in an external monitor. Having to mess with one while handling high-power electrical connections is less than ideal, to say the least.
If you want to add NACS to your own EV project, the standard is here. We’ve discussed some of the different standards before as well as work toward wirelessly charging EVs (besides the inductive charger on the EV1). It certainly seems like the time to get in on the ground floor of an EV charging empire with an army of Charglas.
The Great Automotive AM Radio War of 2023 rages on, with the news this week that Ford has capitulated, at least for now. You’ll recall that the opening salvo came when the US automaker declared that AM radio was unusable in their EV offerings thanks to interference generated by the motor controller. Rather than fixing the root problem, Ford decided to delete the AM option from their EV infotainment systems, while letting their rolling EMI generators just keep blasting out interference for everyone to enjoy. Lawmakers began rattling their sabers in response, threatening legislation to include AM radio in every vehicle as a matter of public safety. Ford saw the writing on the wall and reversed course, saying that AM is back for at least the 2024 model year, and that vehicles already delivered without it will get a fix via software update.
Continue reading “Hackaday Links: May 28, 2023”