Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Busy Semester

A lot has happened since the first day of class. But.... let's start with some business from last semester. We have acquired the software to "tune" the Small Shock mini bike. It turns out that one of our students has quite a knack for programming! Eric has managed to reprogram the bike's controller to provide a big increase in performance. However, the cold weather and snow depth here in Michigan prevents us from driving the bike far enough to gather the data needed to calculate how much range was lost with the new profile. That didn't stop Eric from taking a short (and very cold) test ride. Now, on to current news: we have a new project. A Manco Scorpion off road go kart was acquired and immediately lost it's gasoline engine. The new power source will be the electric motor and axle from an old golf cart. Our plan calls for upping the power from 36 volts to 80 volts. The golf cart's flooded lead acid batteries will be replaced by the lithium iron phosphate cells mentioned in the previous post. The class has been learning to manually charge these batteries with the constant current/constant voltage method. In the build process, some of the students will be learning to use the MIG welder, plasma cutter and other equipment needed to perform the modifications to our kart.

Eric works the software.
A screen grab of the software.
A frozen Eric checks the data logger.
Pete and Nick separate cells from battery packs.
Charging the LiFePo4 batteries.
Our new project. Seats two for twice the fun!
Removing the gasoline engine.
Mock up of the new power source.