The Hybrid Trainer Vehicle made it's first public debut this weekend at the NMC Energy Expo. The event was also the grand opening of the Aero Park Labs building right across the street from our facility. Because the car is only about 70% complete, we pushed it over there. It rolls very easily, so it was a very easy task. Turnout for the Expo was great, despite the snowy and windy weather. The first thing that attendees noticed was the light hum of the wind generator located in the front yard of the lab. I couldn't help staring at it, marveling at the concept of harnessing the energy of the wind and using it to replace the energy that would otherwise be generated by burning coal or wood. For a (short) glimpse of the trainer on the local news, check here.
Thanks to our grant from the NMC Foundation, we've made a great deal of progress on the construction of the hybrid training vehicle. With the help of our students, the fabrication of the engine mounts and rear suspension is nearly complete. A great deal of work lies ahead, but our students and I are looking forward to it! We're almost at the stage where the project can be considered to be a "Roller", which means that the unit can be moved around, but not under it's own power. That may not seem to be a big deal to most people, but as anyone who has been involved in a project of this magnitude knows, it's a major accomplishment. A list of the tasks yet to be performed would include: mounting the rack and pinion steering, fabricate the steering column, mounting the battery package, fabricate the radiator mounts and install the radiator cooling fans, mounting the service battery, fabricate some kind of instrument panel in which to mount the multi-function display unit, starting and main power controls and mounting the seats (just to name a few). The biggest hurdle to face will be configuring the vehicle's wiring harness. We will start that phase of the project with the wiring harnesses that we removed form the 2004 Toyota Prius donor car. Not all of the wires will be needed to complete our project; obviously we will not be needing power windows, door locks or mirrors. No deck lid release, glove box light or reverse lights are in our plans. Therefore, every single wire, every circuit and every system will be examined, deemed necessary or not, and removed, relocated or modified. This phase of the project will be part of the curriculum of the AT210 Hybrid Technology class. We can't wait to get started. Here are some photos of the progress so far: