Saturday, April 26, 2014

Wrapping It Up

The end of the school year always seems to bring with it an urgency to finish a project or two. This year is no different. We were fortunate enough to be selected to diagnose and repair a 2006 Toyota Prius with a sick battery. Some day we will have our own battery reconditioning equipment; in this case we installed an aftermarket reconditioned battery. The unit came from a very reputable company and carries a three year warranty. Our students did an outstanding job of interpreting the data that they gathered and had the battery out of the car in a time frame that would rival that of much more experienced technicians. They then removed the battery cover and pinpointed the failing battery module. If only one module were bad, we could replace it with another one with a capacity similar to the others. In this case there were multiple modules that, while not as bad as the failed one, were also on their way out. When the replacement battery arrived, it was quickly installed and road tested. I cannot overstate the educational value of this "real world" training experience!

In other news, the electric conversion of our off road go kart has gone quite well. Next year's class will take up where we leave off and perform whatever final modifications they deem necessary. They will then disassemble it and send the frame out for powder coat. While we wait for the frame to return, most of the other parts will be cleaned and painted. We still haven't decided on a name for this project; the name "Assault & Batteries" has been tossed around. If you have an idea, let us know. A few facts about the cart: it is QUICK. The top speed isn't great, but the torque is impressive. We are running 80 volts through a 36 volt motor, so the armature speed is very high. The only problem is that we are using the old mechanical speed control from the donor golf cart. The series of resistance coils reaches temperatures near 700 degrees. It's just a matter of time before it melts, so next year's class will replace it with a solid state pulse width modified type unit. The steering system is rather crude, so a rack and pinion unit will be installed. The fact that there is still work to be done does not reflect a lack of effort on our students part. There was a lot of modifications to be done and I am proud of how far this group has brought this project forward. 

The end of this semester doesn't mean that this blog won't see any activity over the summer. The NMC Barbeque, the National Cherry Festival Cherry Royal Parade and other interactions with the public will keep us busy until August. Stay tuned. Until then, enjoy these pictures of our latest project as it looks today.