3D-Printing Time-Lapse

by Ben N on November 6, 2022

While I’m no master of C.A.D. or 3D-Printing, I sure think those time-lapses of 3D prints look AMAZING. So, I decided to figure out how I could do it with my own 3D Printer.

My 3D Printed test object – the Low-Poly Fox
First successful Time-Lapse Video.

A while back, I bought an Ender 3 S1 printer. (https://amzn.to/3fGq0Bt)
A friend of mine runs a small electronics business and had purchased SIX of them, so I decided it was the printer to go with. $400 seemed pretty reasonable, and the printer worked very well right out of the box.

I read a few articles and watched several YouTube videos to find the best approach. It seemed like the best way to do it was to have the PRINT HEAD physically press a button on a camera remote. The camera I would use is a Canon M50 mkii.
https://amzn.to/3Ta4kv5

That camera is smaller than a Canon Rebel, and more importantly, it’s MIRRORLESS. Essentially, it has all of the manual controls and features of a DSLR, only WITHOUT a mechanical mirror which has to flip out of the way. Time-lapses require MANY still images, and over the long-run, could actually wear out a DSLR!

I purchased a third-party wireless remote for the camera.
https://amzn.to/3fB6vds

It features a nice round shutter release button, which would be easy for me to target.

Next, I had to figure out how to mount the remote.
I took measurements of it with my calipers and then 3D modeled a basic shape which would hold it.

Holder for the camera remote control

I then printed that out on my 3D printer, and tested it. The remote fit pretty well. I designed the “hook” of this part to fit over an existing 3D file that I got off Thingiverse. That was a camera mount designed to clip onto the printer. Of course, now that I’m looking for it, I can find it, but it was similar to this one: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5487703

The remote could slide up and down in the holder, and the holder could slide side to side on the part connecting it to the printer.

Now, all I had to do was have a 3D printed “poking stick” mounted to the print head. I had previously downloaded and printed one. (https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3676341) However, it was designed for the Ender 3, NOT the Ender 3 S1, so I had to slightly modify it with a knife.

I could then manually control the position of the print head to see exactly where I would need to adjust the position of the remote. Once I did, I locked it in place by simply placing a 2″ spring clamp over it.

The software that came with my 3D printer is Creality Slicer.
In the software, there is a “Post Processing Plugin”. This can essentially add in G-Code automatically to the G-Code that the slicer software creates from the 3D model.

In this case, I’m adding in G-Code when there is a layer change. Every time that happens, the custom code runs. The code I added was:

G90

G1 F9000 X220 Y215

G1 F1000 X230

G4 P500

G1 F9000 X220

This essentially moves the print head almost all the way to the right very quickly, then moves the last centimeter more slowly to press the button, pauses for half a second for the photo to be taken, and then moves away from the button.

After that, the script continues for the 3D print shape. As the print head moves all the way to the right, the bed also slides all the way forward (Y215) so that the print is in the same spot for every photo.

I set up the camera, blasted a light at the ceiling, and ran a 3D object with the time-lapse G-code as part of it. Sure enough, it worked! The print head moved over, pressed the button, and the camera took a photo!

My first test of this was a 1″ cube, which isn’t very exciting, but it does print relatively quick and shows me if everything is working or not.

Very first test – just a boring 1″ cube.


I did find that there was a little bit of an issue with “Stringing”. As the print head moves to the right, the pressure on the molten plastic causes just a little bit to ooze out. That, and the movement away of the print head stretches out a string of plastic. Not the end of the world, but it doesn’t look good and leaves imperfections in the print.

I experimented with the G-Code to retract the filament before moving the print head, and then re-extruding it on return, but with poor results. Most of the time, the filament ended up retracting too far and actually coming out of the hot end! Adjusting the settings in the G-Code didn’t seem to help. I’ll have to address this issue later to figure out the best fix.

So, I 3D printed the Low-Poly Fox while still having the stringing issue. But this time, I had good lighting and a longer print. Other than running out of filament mid-print, and NOT having more of the same color, the print and time-lapse went well.

I brought in all the still photos as an image sequence into my video editing software. From there, I could re-time them, add pan and zoom, and some background music.

Not bad for my first real 3D Printing Time-Lapse!

If you want to more thoughts on trying this type of time-lapse, take a look at the same videos I did. I found these two to be the most helpful:

Well, that’s it for now!
As I work on future projects, I should be able to make some cool time-lapses when I create my 3D prints!

Until next time, stay charged up!
-Ben

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Thrift Store Solar+Storage!

by Ben N on October 16, 2022

Wow, what a week it’s been! The real highlight was stumbling on the thrift store score of the century…

Let me start off saying that it was an unusual set of circumstances.

The job I was going to be working on earlier this week was cancelled last minute. That job was more than an hour drive away in a direction I’m not usually traveling. However, I decided to head that way anyhow to do a few miles on a hiking trail there, part of the Ice Age Trail.

I’ve been working on that both for general exercise and continuing long term recovery from a vehicular collision in 2018, as well as a challenge the Ice Age Trail Foundation has going on right now.

I brought my electric bike with so that I’d be able to hike one direction, and then bicycle back to my car.

After my hike, I thought I’d stop by the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. That’s a thrift store with a focus on home materials. You can often find doors, flooring, tools, light fixtures and similar.

What I wasn’t expecting to find was an entire Generac PWRCell Solar Inverter and Battery system!

I turned right after walking into the store and the very first thing I saw was solar components sitting on the floor in the corner by the manager’s office. His door was open and he was on the phone. I took a quick look at the components and noticed there was no price or other information.

Once the manager was off the phone, I asked him about the solar equipment. He said it was recently donated and the previous owner said the one inverter worked while the other didn’t, and the batteries were two and a half years old. The store was asking $1,000 for everything.

Of course, the other issue with this is there would be no warranty, it wasn’t a “turn-key” system, and a person would actually need to know what they were doing.

Fortunately, I had done some sub-contracting work with a solar company and helped install the first two of these systems in the state, back when it was Pika, who Generac bought the system from.

My rule of thumb with thrift stores is that if you see something you like, BUY IT, because it won’t be there when you come back! I also didn’t have any room in the car, as my electric bicycle was taking up all the cargo space!

I asked the manager if they ever get in any bike racks. He said they did occassionally, and pointed me to where in the store they might have one. Sure enough! There was one for sale, a Yakima 4-bike rack that mounts into a 2″ hitch receiver! That’s pretty much EXACTLY what I would have been looking for anyways!

I paid for the bike rack and solar equipment. Then I took the rack outside, removed the bike, and made space for the solar gear.

After that, a store employee and I loaded all the solar equipment into the car. It took up ALL the cargo space, including having the back seats removed and the passenger seat slid forward. I hooked up the bike rack and mounted the bike to it.

Once home, I unloaded everything, but any testing work would have to wait. I was going to be very busy with work the next day and had to take care of things for that.

Four sections of lithium battery. Each rated at 2.5 kWh capacity.

Another day later, I had a chance to take a look at the gear. I wanted to set it up for testing. Unfortunately, doing it right really means a full-install, which is a lot of work, and NOT what I wanted just to test. So, I simply had the inverter laid out on what space I had – the floor or the hood of my (electric) lawn tractor!

I installed some temporary pig-tails of NEMA 14-50 for an input and a 30A twist-lock output. Running power to either inverter, both had the display and backlight turn on.

I started going through the menu and check out the programming.

I also built the battery. The battery is a large vertical rack with wiring, a black-start 12V battery, communications, and some other parts. Four to six battery sections mount inside that and then a cover goes over everything. I leaned the case up against the wall and starting building the whole thing. The battery sections are heavy, and there’s a number of clamps and grounding connections that need to be installed.

Battery pack, assembled but without the cover yet in place.


Then I ran wiring from the battery to inverter. This system runs everything on a DC BUS at about 360VDC, so I made sure to use wiring rated with 600V insulation. The upside is that at high voltage, it’s pretty low current, so some 12 gauge wiring would be fine for testing.

It took a bit of troubleshooting to activate the inverter and connect the battery. But when I did, IT WORKED!

I was able to try several modes and got the inverter to run from the battery in a simulated blackout situation – which was just me turning off the breaker powering the inverter.

Even better than that was AC COUPLING!
The inverter is “Grid-Forming”, meaning that it makes a nice stable 60 hz 120/240VAC, every bit as good (or in some cases, better than) as what comes in from the grid. This allows my Enphase micro-inverters to power on. Normally, grid-tie inverters automatically power OFF when disconnected from the grid as a safety feature. The down-side of that is the solar panels are USELESS during a blackout! No power from them at all!

I was now able to get the solar panels to turn on, and directly use the AC power output from my micro-inverters.

But what if I made more power than I’m using and the extra wouldn’t be able to go out to the grid? To my surprise and delight, the extra automatically went through the Generac inverter and IN TO the BATTERY! I was able to get 4,000 watts of power charging it! (The full amount I was producing on a not completely sunny day.)

My solar panels are rated at 5,400 watts on the AC side of things. The battery is 10kWh capacity. So, in the middle of a sunny day, I could charge the battery from 0-100% in about 2 hours! (See the video in the link!)

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/MKsmuTTA3Zk

I’ll need to do some further testing and after I’m done, do a proper equipment installation, but I sure am excited about this!

For $1,000 I got the equivalent of a $12K-15K system which not only adds battery backup power but ALSO means my solar panels are useful in a blackout. What a great upgrade!

It also means I’d like to add more solar panels. I already have the solar trailer in the back yard. Using this system to add in those panels to use them for grid-tie to reduce my electric bill further would be fantastic! That would likely also mean some trenching and purchasing the DC Optimizer for the Generac system.

Until next time, stay charged up!
I sure will!
-Ben

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Ryobi 3D Printed Lamp Holder

by Ben N on April 3, 2022

And here’s the lampshade that I made to go with it.

You can find the 3D model for the Ryobi Bulb Holder at: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5331517

The hub for the lampshade now includes clips to snap on to the lightbulb: https://www.tinkercad.com/things/fRzEAO9mrK8

I’m still tinkering with the lampshade brim file, and will make an update here when I have it fixed.

If you are interested in PURCHASING a Ryobi Light Bulb Adapter, they are currently for sale. Just go to: https://300mpg.org/ryobi-18v-light-bulb-adapter/

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Greenworks Electric Chainsaw

by Ben N on March 12, 2022

See the entire review of this chainsaw at: https://300mpg.org/greenworks-80v-chainsaw-review/

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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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Converting Tractor Hydraulics from engine to Electric

August 10, 2021

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 […]

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Solar Trailer: Tilt Lock Redesign

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 […]

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Building a Solar Trailer, Part 1

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, […]

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Tractor Work Resumes

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 […]

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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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