CHAdeMO Relay Hack, Switch, and Testing

by Ben N on November 11, 2021

Continuing work on my CHAdeMO Vehicle to Home project...

On the Mitsubishi iMiEV electric car, it’s totally possible to activate power to the CHAdeMO port WITHOUT needing to use CAN bus signals. It can be done completely analog, with just a few simple 12V signals.

Part of the reason why is that the relay which controls part of the circuit to the battery contactors is easily accessible. This car has a few electronic components under the back seat. By removing the seat and protective cover, a person can easily get to the relay.

Jumpering the white and blue wires of the relay connector feeds 12V positive power to the one side of the battery contactors. Earlier, I had tested jumpering this, and it worked! The car needs to be in the ON setting to provide the power.

Now, I would instead add a switch. I simply connected some solder-less male spade connectors onto a length of 2 conductor cable, and inserted them into the correct ports on the relay connector.

I routed the cable up to the front of the car and under the dashboard. On the left-hand side, there’s two unused switch locations. I popped out the blank plates and set to work modifying one.

I have some light-up 12V switches which have an external diameter of about 7/8ths of an inch. I drilled that hole size through the blank plate and Dremeled-out just a bit more as needed for the switch. Then the switch popped right into place.

On the back of the switch is three connections. Two are for the switched signal and the third is for ground, which is needed for powering the light on the switch. I connected the two wires from the relay to the main connections. I found a bolt under the dashboard that would make a good ground connection. I added a ring terminal to the end of a piece of green wire and connected it from the switch to ground.

I now had a switch which would light up when sending power to the positive side of the battery contactors.

12V light-up switch.

To complete the circuit to run power OUT through CHAdeMO, pin 10 in the CHAdeMO needs to be grounded. I have that pin wired to go back to a switch and then to a ground. So, if I turn on the car, I then need to flip the switch for Pin 10 to ground AND flip the switch on the dashboard to ON and see the red LED light-up. Frankly, I could turn on the two switches in either order, but by flipping the dashboard light second, and seeing the light come on, makes that light a very good indicator of the HIGH VOLTAGE being on at the CHAdeMO port.

I could even wire things up so that Pin 10 was hard-wired straight to a ground, and then I would only have to flip on a single switch. However, since this is all just experimental and HIGH VOLTAGE, having two switches and making things very intentional seems like a safer approach for the moment.

I plan to connect power from the CHAdeMO port to a Hybrid Solar Inverter. I was able to purchase a SolarCity H6 inverter relatively cheap. This inverter supports on and off-grid setups and high-voltage solar and batteries. Unfortunately, it’s “orphaned”, and has no warranty or tech support. (But that DOES make it affordable!)

I believe that I can run my battery power in through the Photovoltaic input and create 120/240VAC split-phase off-grid power. However, I need to run a few testing experiments first and make sure to do things safely, including adding fuses and a pre-charge circuit.

That’s it for now!
Until next time, stay charged up!
-Ben Nelson

PS: I also played around with a UV-activated resin! It’s like two-part epoxy only it’s just a single liquid you can brush on. Then you set it in the sun and the UV light cures it solid in just a few minutes. I tested it on a scrap 3D print which was made from the same type of plastic as the handle of the CHAdeMO connector. I plan to use this as a sealant for the handle. Should make it stronger and waterproof.

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Tractors are mechanically complicated.
Besides a transmission, there’s also the connection for the Power Take-Off (PTO) and an engine-driven pump which powers the hydraulics.

Since there’s no longer an engine, we’ll have to replace the source of power for the hydraulics. Probably the easiest way to do this is with an electric motor and pump salvaged from a forklift. The downside is that the existing pump used a flanged connection on both ends, so connecting to it is NOT as simple as just threading in a pipe.

Instead, I needed to make a custom component that was the same size and shape as the flange mount. While I COULD have cut the existing metal hydraulic lines and used that as the start of the custom component, it would still be a fair amount of work, and it would destroy a classic tractor component which I might instead be able to sell to a collector for restoration work. Even if my design for a custom part failed terribly, I could always then go back and modify the original hard lines.

The first step was simply tracing the flange and taking some measurements. Frankly, that probably would have worked just fine. This part doesn’t need extreme precision – it just has to fit over the two o-rings. However, we also have a family friend, Fred M, who happens to be a life-long machinist. I took the opportunity to visit him and ask how he would take measurements of this part and put it into CAD. We spent some time over at his place doing this, and when we were done, we had an exact copy laid out in his software. The downside was that it was an OLD CAD program, and the only output on that computer was a FLOPPY DISK. Back at home, I would have to dig up an old computer to read the file!

Once I had the CAD file on my computer, I could start playing around with it in several ways. One was to bring it into my Cameo Silhouette Vinyl-Cutter software. From there, I could load cardstock into my machine and have it precisely cut out. This gave me a real-world, 100% scale paper model, which I could use to double-check against the tractor. Sure enough, it looked good!

The other thing I could do with the CAD file is open it in a modern 3D CAD program. I’ve been learning some of the basics of Fusion 360. In that software, I opened the file, extruded the flat shape into one the thickness of the part, and added some color. I could also use a feature in the program to quickly add other existing 3D parts, including the two hydraulic fittings I would add. In just a few steps, I had a great looking 3D model of what my part would be!

Now, I just had to make it real. A trip to the local farm store got me my hydraulic fittings. For the metal itself, I simply placed an order with a local metal supplier where I could order online and pick up in person.

I then printed out a copy of my shape, including center marks for the holes, cut it out, and taped it to the hunk of metal. I headed over to Fred’s to use the mill in his garage. It was a real treat to use actual machining equipment, instead of a cordless drill! We drilled out the holes, first by marking the centers, and then using progressively larger drill bits.

To round off the corners, I simply used a grinder.

With that, the main work on the part was complete, with the exception of threading the two main holes to 1/2″ and 3/4″ National Pipe Thread. I had done a little basic work threading before, but that was always on smaller holes and with straight threads. These holes would have a taper to them. It was decided the best way to do it would be using a tapered reamer, but we didn’t have that handy. I would have to come back some other time to finish the work. I left the part there with Fred, as that’s where we would do the work anyways.

Unfortunately our schedules didn’t work out with each other, and it caused a few weeks delay. The next time I talked with Fred, he said that he had done ahead, tapped out the holes, and threaded in the hydraulic fittings. I was a little disappointed not get to try that myself (and document the steps!) but was glad to be able to continue with the project.

I bolted the part onto the tractor, and it looked good! Then I pulled it off, primed and painted it, and got ready for final assembly. That’s when I realized that one of the wrong hydraulic fittings was used! I had to pull it out and replace it with the proper 3/4″ fitting. With that done, I could install the part.

Custom component AFTER replacing with the correct fitting!

On the electric hydraulic pump, I installed a reducing bushing and right-angle adapter to get the proper 3/4″ and 1/2″ input and output to match the tractor. I already had a 1/2″ hose, but needed a trip to the store to pick up the 3/4″. Assembling the hoses to the pump was pretty straight-forward – insert the hose, hand thread the swivel, and then give it a final twist with a wrench while holding the hose in place.

I WAS a little disappointed when I went to install the 1/2″ hose, only to realize it was actually the next size smaller! Oh well, another trip to the store…

An hour later, I continued my work, installing the 1/2″ hose to the pump and then making both connections on the tractor side.

The electric hook-up for the pump motor is pretty straight-forward. I just needed a positive and negative from a 12V battery. I installed a contactor inline with that circuit. Instead of using jumper cables and having a big spark every time I would start or stop the motor, this would make a nice, safe, and simple way to do it. I didn’t even bother to hook up a switch for the contactor, instead just using an alligator clip jumper to activate it.

Of course, I would need some hydraulic fluid in the system before any of this would work. Over the process of working on the tractor, it has all been drained. I opened the fill plug, noticed the dipstick with its FULL mark, and poured in most of a 5-gallon bucket of hydraulic fluid.

I was finally ready to test the hydraulics running under battery electric power!
Since the front-end loader was removed, the main tractor component left which used hydraulics was the rear 3-Point Hitch. A single lever just raises or lowers this by allowing hydraulic fluid to flow into or out of a large cylinder.

I connected the contactor, which turned on power to motor, and it spun up to speed. I put my hand on the 3-Point lever and swung it….
And….
NOTHING!

I could see and hear the motor spinning, but moving the lever did NOT move the 3-point hitch! What was wrong? I turned off the motor and sat there trying to figure it out. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I simply had NOT primed the pump.

The pump itself, along with the hoses to and from the pump had air in them. The air-bubbles prevent the pump from working properly. It will just spin, with NOT hydraulic fluid being pumped. I cracked the seal on the output hose at the tractor end, and flipped the motor on for a second. Almost instantly, I could hear the sound of the motor and pump change, the air purge, and hydraulic fluid start spraying out of the joint. I quickly stopped the pump, and wiped up the oil that was now on top of the tractor.

So NOW I was ready to test the hydraulics!
THIS time, moving the handle DID make the 3-Point raise and lower! The speed seemed about right, and this was with the pump only running at 12V.

I also wanted to see how much power the hydraulics was using. My multimeter features a current clamp and can measure both Alternating and Direct Current. I set it to DC, and clamped it on the battery cable with the hydraulic pump motor running. The motor was drawing about 50 amps. I also measured the voltage of the battery, while it was under load. Multiplying the two numbers gives me power measured in Watts, and that was around 600 Watts or so. It didn’t seem to matter much if the hydraulic fluid was just being pumped in a loop, or if it was being used to raise or lower the hitch – the current draw stayed the same. Of course, there wasn’t much load on the hitch either.

One thing that DID cause high current draw (at least for a moment) was when I would be starting or stopping the movement of the hitch with the lever. Basically, the hydraulic control has 3 positions – Raise, OFF, and Lower. Raising and Lowering routes the hydraulic fluid in opposite directions through the cylinder. The OFF position is more interesting in how it works. It’s an “Open Center” position. In that position, hydraulic fluid simply passes straight through the control, in a loop back to the hydraulic reservoir and pump.

In the original tractor setup, the hydraulic pump was mechanically geared to the engine. As long as the engine was running, so was the pump. There was no clutch or other mechanical disconnect to stop the pump. So, when doing NOTHING with the hydraulics, the fluid still has to circulate. If it didn’t, it would actually stall the pump and kill the engine!

Now that the hydraulics are driven by an electric motor, I CAN turn the pump off when it’s not needed. Seeing as how there’s about 600 watts of power being wasted just by having the hydraulic system on, I plan to install a switch to control the hydraulics separately from the rest of the tractor systems.

Now, I just have to get back to the tricky mechanical planning of mounting the electric drive motor while retaining the clutch and PTO!

Until next time, stay charged up!
-Ben Nelson

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Solar Trailer: Tilt Lock Redesign

by Ben N on August 5, 2021

My first test tow of the trailer went well, but one thing I still wasn’t happy with was the mechanism for locking the angle of the panels. So, it was time for a redesign!

The major thing seemed to be the fact that the tilt lock only had two points of contact. That meant that the locking pin could tip back and forth, allowing the panels to rock a bit when then should otherwise have been in a locked position.

I set to work designing a new tilt lock on the other end of the solar panels. This time, I’d put some thought into it and start designing on paper first. I opened up a drawing program on my computer and laid out a rectangle to represent the size of the metal I had to work with. Then I drew a 3/4″ hole in the middle for the central bolt, with multiple holes around it in an arc.

After a bit of playing around in the drawing software, I realized that I didn’t need a whole circle of holes, just half an arc, as the solar panels only rotate 180 degrees maximum. I also chose to use smaller 3/8th” holes, instead of the 1/2″ I used on the first lock. Since I only needed half a circle, I put the entire design off-center to make more space for the locking holes.

I printed out the drawing on tagboard, cut it out, and put it on the trailer exactly where the metal part would go to make sure everything lined up the way I intended, and that I wouldn’t run into any unexpected issues. Once I was happy with it, I could start working in metal.

I cut a piece of 4.5″ wide steel to 5″ long. Then I taped a print-out to it and marked the centers of the holes with a punch. I then drilled out those centers with a 1/8th” bit on the drill press. After that, it was using larger bits to get up to the 3/8″ holes I had decided on. For the center hole, I used a step bit to get up to the total 3/4″ diameter hole I needed.

After that, I slid the plate over the bolt and end cap and welded it in place. After polishing it up with a flapper disc on the angle grinder, the part looked pretty cool, and it was ready for priming!

No, the arc isn’t perfect, but it’s hard to cut curves with a cut-off disc on an angle-grinder!

Back on the trailer itself, I welded a piece of 3/4″ steel square tube. Drilling a hole through this would make two fixed points of contact to engage the pin.

I reassembled the cap/bolt/plate onto the end of the pipe, slid on the bearing, and got all the parts into place. Then I drilled a hole through the square tube, aligning it with the holes in the rotating plate. Sliding a 3/8″ pin through, the panels locked solidly in place.

One issue that I DID run into was a bad weld. When I welded the bolt to the pipe cap on this end, I only used a very small bead. I did NOT get the plate far enough down to weld directly from the pipe cap to the plate, so that tiny weld was taking all the torque of the rotating panels. As I tested the locking mechanism, I broke that weld by pushing on the panels while they were locked. So, I ended up repairing it by adding some spacers, and then welding the cap to the spacers to the plate. It’s now a very solid weld, but IT’S UGLY!

I double-checked the my original tilt-lock on the other end. On that side, I had gotten the plate all the way down to the pipe cap, and put a couple welds between the two. It was nice and solid, and all torque was transfered to the outer diameter of the pipe cap, rather than just to the 3/4″ bolt. Oh well, live and learn. For the swivels and locks on the OTHER side of the trailer, I’ll make sure to keep this in mind.

But now, I’m pretty happy with the new locking mechanism. It’s solid, works well, and looks pretty good on the side where you see everything happening.

For the next phase of this project, I’m going to get a battery, solar charge controller, and start wiring everything together.

Until then, stay charged up!
-Ben Nelson

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Building a Solar Trailer, Part 1

by Ben N on August 1, 2021

Recently, I had a day or two available to work while waiting on things for other projects. For some time, I had the idea of a “Solar Trailer” in the back of my mind. I had seen a number of commercially-built solar trailers go up for auction, but at prices more than I could afford!
So, I wondered, could I build something similar for cheap using mostly components I already had?

I really liked the idea of a trailer where the solar panels would fold up for transport, then swivel out for use. I already had an old utility trailer and six used solar panels. Those are 250 watt panels which I got for about $40 each.

To start, I mocked up a cross-bar with a piece of PVC pipe I had. Both plastic and steel pipe come in ten foot sections standard. Three solar panels together comes to a total width just shy of that 10′, so the panels can be mounted to the pipe without needing to splice pipe together or cut it short!

I figured I would start with some 1.25″ black gas pipe. It’s a readily available material at any hardware or home improvement store. I’d need a way to connect the pipe to a frame which would mount to the panels. Pipe clamps seemed like the obvious way to do this. 1.5″ automotive exhaust clamps fit perfectly on 1.25″ gas pipe.

I laid out the panels (face-down) to figure out my layout. I purchased a few pieces of 3″ wide steel from the hardware store. That’s the widest I could find locally. The frames of the solar panels are 1.5″ wide, so the 3″ material fits perfectly across them. I placed the 3″ steel widths on the panels, with the pipe clamps on top of those, and then the gas pipe on top of that.

I marked all the locations for the materials. Unfortunately, the steel flat stock wasn’t long enough to reach the far outside mounting holes on the solar panels, so I would have to drill panels through the steel and through the aluminum frame. (I slid a block of wood between the panel and the frame, to prevent drilling all the way through and damaging the glass!)

After welding the clamps in place, I mounted everything together with stainless steel nuts and bolts. I also tried to “paint as I go” on many of the parts, hoping to not have to assemble/disassemble/reassemble too many times, and I didn’t want to accidentally get paint on the solar side of the panels either!

Next, was to design a rotating mount for the entire assembly. I got caps for the pipe, which would screw right onto the end. I drilled a 3/4″ hole right through the center of each, so that I could insert a 3/4″ grade-5 bolt. That bolt would then go through a 3/4″ bearing in a pillow block.

I tested this out by lifting the whole thing onto a pair of barstools, clamping them in place, and then testing the rotation. The concept seemed to work pretty well.

Next, I needed to create upright posts on the trailer to support the panels. I wanted something sturdier than I could find at the hardware store, but still inexpensive, and easy to obtain. I called up a friend of the family and asked to dig through her substantial scrap steel pile. In there, I was able to find some pieces of 1.5″ x 3″ c-channel. Each piece was a little longer than I would need, and there were enough pieces that I could find more when I came back.

I cut the c-channel to 36″ long and welded it vertical on the front corner of the trailer. There were plenty of existing points of steel for me to weld to, so the c-channel was rock-solid when complete. On top of the c-channel, I cut and welded a cap which the pillow bearing could sit on.

I measured out the distance of the 10′ piece of pipe to locate where I would mount the other upright. I was having trouble getting everything nice and even and square there. One thing I did was I ended up leveling the entire trailer. With it level, I could use a spirit level to make sure my upright was plumb, instead of only using a square. (Since this was an existing home-built trailer, there was NO expectation that everything was flush, plumb, level, and square!)

I welded the rear upright in place and then welded the cap on top of it. Now I was able to mount the gas pipe across the uprights. I had disassembled the panels from the pipe and brackets to paint them. WITHOUT the weight of the panels, it was easy to mount the pipe. After that, I installed the panels, one at a time, back on the pipe.

To keep the panels in a locked position, I had welded a plate to the pipe cap on the rear end. With holes in that, and a hole in a fixed point, I could run a pin through both to lock the panels up and down or at an angle.

With everything together, I was able to test the swivel mechanism while ON the trailer. It works well. The panels are still heavy enough that I need to make sure NOT to let go, but I CAN rotate them with one hand while installing the locking pin with the other.

My main concern was that on the rear mount, it wasn’t in a corner. Although it was very solid fore-to-aft, there wasn’t too much to prevent it from flexing side-to-side. This might me a lot of bounce and vibration while towing. I wanted to add some cross-bracing, but also make sure to still leave the rear of the trailer open so that I could load on and off of it. (For example, still be able to transport my electric lawn tractor!)
Here, I add some additional material for cross-bracing.

The master plan for the trailer is that it will have 6 solar panels on it. I want to make sure my mounting system is sturdy and works well before building the rack for the other 3 panels.
I’ll take the trailer to educational events and demonstrations. I also hope to be able to use it as a practical device for remote events – maybe even loan it to the local food truck so that they don’t have to constantly run a generator! Since I already have a grid-tie system at home, I’d like to have a grid-tie inverter so that I can continue to make additional useful power, even when the trailer is parked in my back yard.

I already have an inverter… of sorts. I still have the 2300 watt UPS which I used a while back for charging my electric motorcycle AND powering my house in a blackout. Check out the POOR MANS SMART GRID for more on that! I also already have a 48 volt battery pack kicking around. While it is rather small, it’s still perfect as a starting battery for this project. https://youtu.be/juk39pA7E-E

Next, I’ll need to test towing the trailer. I want to make sure there aren’t any issues with vibration, tongue-weight, cross winds, or anything else I’m not thinking of.

Until then, stay charged-up!
-Ben Nelson

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Tractor Work Resumes

by Ben N on June 6, 2021

After a long hiatus, I’m working on the Electric Tractor Conversion again.
This past year was a bad one, with COVID, a couple of deaths in the family, and other issues.

One of the most difficult for working on the tractor was probably the fact that I was cut off from my typical resources for working on such a project. For example, I don’t have my own lathe or mill. I typically would use such equipment at a cooperative workshop, like the Milwaukee Makerspace, but that was essentially shut down for a year.

Likewise, I’m always trying to learn, and that usually means meeting up in-person with friends who are more skilled than I am in welding, machining, electronics, whatever it is that I need some advice or direction on while working on a project.

10.5″ diameter drive motor from a Nissan brand forklift.

I’ve decided that the best approach for the tractor is simply to use forklift parts. Forklifts are very common electric vehicles and the components are based on simple 36 and 48V DC battery systems. A tractor and a forklift also both have similar speeds, duty cycles, and expected levels of abuse.

Drive motor, test fit in approximate location.


I pulled the 10.5″ diameter series-wound motor from my “wheelie Tractor”. That motor is pretty much the maximum size which will fit in the tractor, both in terms of diameter to the faceplate of the transmission AND length, if I want to have enough room for a hydraulic pump. I originally bought this motor at a rummage sale, pulling it from a scrapped forklift the seller had, and used it in my Electric Geo Metro.

Forklift pump and motor.

Likewise, I located an electric motor and hydraulic pump from a forklift. After a little searching, I figured out that it’s considered a 6 gallon per minute pump. The electric motor spun fine when powered by my dumb multi-volt battery charger, and I was able to test it for proper rotation. After that, I tried running fluid through the pump to actually measure the flow rate. (I used water, knowing I’d make a mess, and the cleaned out and oiled the pump afterwards.)

At 24V, this pump CRANKS!
Watch the video about the electric pump

At 12VDC, the pump ran about like the flow from a garden hose, pumping 5 or 6 gallons a minute. When I tried running the pump at 24V, it really WAS twice as powerful… At least for about 10 seconds, before I blew the fuse on the battery charger. This was with an unrestricted output. At this point, I don’t know exactly how the pump will perform when it is instead pushing a hydraulic cylinder. I would imagine that the pump would slow down considerably. If needed, I COULD always add a speed controller for the pump.

Using my engine hoist, I was able to move the drive motor over to the tractor and roughly position it next to the transmission. It looks like a good fit. Of course, EXACTLY how far the motor will be spaced away depends on the hub which will connect the motor to the flywheel, as the flywheel needs to be in the same location as it was when mounted on the engine.

I was also able to wrestle the hydraulic pump and motor into approximate position. (I slid a stool under the tractor as a stand for it.) That motor might still be able to be mounted a little lower. That would allow for a nice rectangular area ABOVE the drive motor and pump for the battery pack. There’s only a small amount of space between the two motors and between the pump motor and the radiator. As long as I don’t have to move the drive motor out too much, I think it should be just about a perfect fit!

I’ve also been thinking about the machining that’s required for the motor mounting plate, the motor shaft to flywheel, and even how to connect the hydraulic pump to the tractor.

The tractor originally used hard lines all the way from the hydraulic reservoir to the engine-mounted hydraulic pump. I need a way to connect hoses from the new pump to the body of the hydraulic reservoir. I think the best approach is to machine a piece that matches the end flange on the hard-lines. It’s a relatively simple shape – just 3 bolt-holes and a hole for each of the send and return lines. That could easily be made with a mill and a drill-press. Alternatively, I could just CUT the hard lines, but I would still need to do at least a little machining to the ends of the pipes to adapt them. Since I’d have to do some machining anyways, I’d rather not damage the original hard lines and sell them to somebody else who is trying to keep their classic tractor running.

Flange end of the hydraulic hard lines which bolts to the tractor hydraulic reservoir.

I also spoke on the phone last night with a friend of the family. A few months ago, he was in the hospital with a life-threatening case of COVID. Now, he’s back out and doing well. As a semi-retired machinist, he has a lifetime of experience designing and machining custom parts. He offered to let me use his mill and give any tips and training I might need. I also consulted with him on creating custom splines, so that I could make a component which would properly slide onto the splined shaft of the drive motor. He told me that he has access to an EDM at his shop and that would be an ideal way to cut precision splines.

I feel like the ball is finally rolling again on the tractor conversion. I’m glad folks are getting vaccinated, and that we can “get back to normal” again, or at least something like it!

Until next time, stay charged up!
-Ben Nelson


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February Solar Electric Bill

March 7, 2021

How much did electricity cost me this month when I have solar panels? And how long do they take to cover their own cost? Find out in this video! What does this month’s electric bill come to? February is a dark month. We still have many days of solid gray clouds, although not as much […]

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Towing a camping trailer with a Tesla

February 20, 2021

When I was at Fully Charged LIVE, one of the more interesting displays was a private owner of a Tesla Model X and Casita travel trailer showing off his rig. Mike Zuteck gave me a tour of his towing setup. As he’s in the aeronautics industry, he was especially interested in modifying his trailer to […]

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Massive DC Forklift Motor

December 1, 2020

Forklift motors have been popular for a long time in DIY Electric Vehicle Conversions. They tend to be Series-Wound DC motors, which offer tremendous torque at low speeds and are common enough that that can often be found at junk yards. A few years ago, my friend, Tom, and I scrapped out a 6,000 lb […]

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August Solar Electric Bill

October 1, 2020

Today, I opened my August electric bill. It was NOT what I expected! So, I’m a little late. I got my bill nearly a month ago. However, personal and family matters have kept me busy from making videos lately. So, the bill sat until now, when I finally got a chance to open it on […]

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CHRGET Universal Mobile Charger

June 13, 2020

I was recently contacted by the folks at CHRGET. They said they were coming out with a new EVSE, and asked if they could send me one for review. Of course, I said yes! *Full Disclosure – Why would they send me one for free? Well, they would want the advertising, as they are doing […]

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Liquid Cooling for Nissan Leaf motor

May 24, 2020

I’m getting ready to bench test the Nissan Leaf motor, but both the motor and inverter use LIQUID COOLING! I doubt the motor and inverter will make much heat at all when bench testing. However, since I have to figure this out sometime anyways, I thought I would get it taken care of right now. […]

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April 2020 Electric Bill

May 15, 2020

At this time of year, it’s always fun to open my electric bill, to see how much money the power company OWES ME! Last month, I had a credit of over eleven dollars. This month, we have had more sunny days, and the sun is getting higher in the sky. So, I expect even better […]

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Welding frame rails / Rolling the Tractor

May 13, 2020

Converting this International Harvester 300 Utility tractor to electric has had a few challenges. One of them is that the engine is structural and connects the front axle (and everything connected to it) to the transmission. I found a relatively quick and easy answer when I discovered that some other tractors have frame rails that […]

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Nissan Leaf Transmission Tear Down

March 17, 2020

I recently disassembled a Nissan Leaf driveline. That was essentially just taking apart the main components of the charger, inverter, motor and gearbox. After doing that, several viewers requested seeing inside the gearbox. I was also interested in seeing inside and was curious if I could use part of it to mate with the motor […]

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Nissan Leaf Electric Motor from Junk Yard

February 19, 2020

Pretty excited that I just picked up a Nissan Leaf Motor! Yesterday, I drove to Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin to Diamond Auto parts to pick up not just a motor, but also the gearbox and inverter for a Nissan Leaf. The Leaf motor packs quite a bit of power into a small package, and they […]

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Suzuki SV650 Electric Motorcycle

February 9, 2020

One of the joys of going to FULLY CHARGED LIVE (Feb 1 & 2, 2020 in Austin, Texas, USA) was meeting people in the real world who I otherwise only knew via the internet. Robert Powell is one such person. We met up with him before the event opened and got a chance to see […]

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Chevy Volt Dent Repair

January 3, 2020

After installing the new doors on the Volt, it was road-worthy, but I still didn’t like the dent in the back fender. There were a few dings above the rear door as well. So, I set to work to figure out how to pull out the dents. I had already played around a bit with […]

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Fixing a Crashed Chevy Volt

December 28, 2019

I just purchased a Chevy Volt!While I’m excited about that, the only reason I got it was because it was cheap. And it was cheap because it needed a bunch of work… Not long ago, an acquaintance of mine was driving his 2012 Chevy Volt when a deer hit him. (No, he didn’t hit the […]

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Prepping to remove the Loader

November 20, 2019

I removed the sheet metal “Hood” of the tractor to get a quick look at the engine. Pretty simple under there, but both the loader arm AND the loader frame really block working on it. Clearly the loader has to come off right away. In the front, the loader is bolted to the tractor with […]

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Tractor Arrives!

November 15, 2019

Today’s excitement is that the tractor arrived!When we went to look at the International Harvester 300 Utility tractor, one of the appealing things about it was that the seller offered to be able to deliver it.So, today, I’m waiting for the tractor to show up on a gooseneck trailer. The seller, Wayne, showed up right […]

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Winter Projects

November 13, 2019

Winter hit hard and fast here in south-eastern Wisconsin, with 6 inches of snow in October and it’s 6℉ as I write this in early November. So, that means it’s time to button down our winter projects! CRASHED MITSUBISHI IMIEV AUCTIONIn the last video update, I mentioned a crashed Mitsubishi iMiEV that was up for […]

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October Electric Bill and Time of Use

November 12, 2019

I just got my October electric bill! Let’s look inside and see what it comes to. Since I have solar on my garage, my electric bill is far less than it used to be. I typically look forward to getting my bill and taking my best guess as to what it will come to. Overall, […]

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Ford 8N Tractor for Electric Conversion?

October 29, 2019

Today, I stopped over at a friend’s farm property to check out a couple of tractors. I’ve recently been researching which tractors might make good candidates for an electric conversion, but what I really needed to do is just go out and see some. A family friend, Linda, had two old tractors on her property. […]

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DIY Teardrop Trailer Tour

October 9, 2019

About 15 years ago, I built a teardrop trailer. At the time, I never dreamed I would tow it with an electric car! But here we are, living in the future! A teardrop is a retro style of camping trailer with a shape, you guessed it, like a teardrop. These were popular after World War […]

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Tesla Implant!

October 1, 2019

I recently met up with John Olson. He implanted himself with an RFID chip which would allow him to unlock and drive his Tesla Model 3 just by holding his hand up to his car! I met him at the Milwaukee Makerspace for a video interview. One of the reasons we met there was that […]

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Solar Savings – August 2019

September 9, 2019

I just got my electric bill for this past month. Let’s open it up and see what it comes to! August was relatively cool, so we didn’t use the air-conditioning much. That’s important, as what I PAY for electricity is simply the difference between how much I make with the solar and how much I […]

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Wheelie Poppin’ Tractor for Junk Parade!

September 2, 2019

This year, I made it. I got my overpowered piece of junk electric tractor into The World’s Greatest Junk Parade! Last year, I took this old GE Elec-Trak frame and added a forklift motor and 6 Nissan Leaf Cell Modules. The driveline was a little complicated, and I didn’t get it working in time for […]

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Lithium Battery Communications

August 26, 2019

I just got my laptop to communicate with the Valence lithium batteries in the Ford Ranger EV pickup truck! The truck’s instrumentation is pretty basic – just a “Miles to Go” and “Percent Charged” meter, which were designed to work with lead-acid batteries. I wanted to be able to communicate directly with the lithium batteries […]

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Electric ATV Repair and Upgrade

August 11, 2019

Not long ago, a neighbor was cleaning out his garage. Among the things he was getting rid of was an old kids electric ATV. It was in poor condition, but looked like a fun “fixer-upper”! My daughter is also now eight-years old and has outgrown her Solar-Powered PowerWheels. So, a Razor brand ATV looked like […]

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Electric Truck Lithium Battery Upgrade

August 10, 2019

I upgraded the Electric Ford Ranger to Lithium Batteries!The truck had Group 24 Lead-Acid batteries in the bed. The batteries pulled from the Smith electric truck are Valence brand Group 27 batteries designed as 12V replacements. So, the logical thing to do was simply pull out the lead and put in the lithium in it’s […]

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July 2019 Electric Bill

August 8, 2019

I just got my July electric bill. Time to open it on camera so that you and I get to see what it is at the same time! In July, we finally started getting some nice summer days! (June was surprisingly rainy and cloudy!) But along with the sun was HEAT. We used our central […]

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Battery Pack Disassembly

April 18, 2019

Once we finally made it back from North Carolina, we needed to unload the batteries. While we had a forklift to LOAD the batteries, we didn’t have one at my place and had to resort to an engine hoist, furniture dollies, and finally, steel pipes. Getting 2,000 pounds of batteries off the trailer was no […]

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Removing the Batteries from the Smith Electric Truck

April 15, 2019

Well, it’s been an adventure so far…I was originally asked by my friend, Seth, to accompany him on a road trip to buy a commercial electric truck. The Copart auction had already taken place. He just had to drive 900 miles to get the truck and drag it back home. In the highlight of the […]

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Ryobi 13″ 18V Lawn Mower Review

June 6, 2021

About two years ago, I purchased a Ryobi 13″ battery powered electric push mower. At the time, I thought I’d shoot a review, but then I decided I wanted to really get some use out of the mower first so I could have a good honest opinion on it.Here we are, two years later, and […]

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Mitsubishi iMiEV front end damage

November 19, 2020

I took the front end off the salvaged Mitsubishi iMiEV.This is what it looks like. The bumper is dented, but the radiator and other components are fine. It looks like it’s just bent metal that needs to be repaired or replaced. If anyone knows where to get a replacement bumper cover from, please let me […]

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