Asheville, NC Mother Earth Fair

by Ben N on April 14, 2015



A big thank-you to everyone who came out to the Mother Earth News Fair in Asheville, North Carolina!

It was my first time being in the state and you made me feel very welcome. Turn-out for the Electric Vehicle presentations was great! If you are coming here after seeing one of my presentations, thanks for stopping by and having a look around! Electric Vehicle Instructional DVDs can be purchased through the links in the top bar. On the right are links to blog entries, and on the far right are project links.

Besides being a presenter at the Fair, I also had a good time going to see some other people’s presentations AND checking out what was at the booths. Here’s a few booths that stuck on in my mind, and I added links too in case you want to check them out!

Giant bees
Ok, so not actually a booth, but the weather was great for the event. Spring comes sooner to North Carolina than it does to Wisconsin, so I was enjoying the sunshine, buds on the trees, and the beautiful flowers. I have no idea what this purple-flowered tree was, but the BEES LOVED IT! Also, I think the bumble-bees here are twice as big as the ones back home and they were VERY busy going about their work.


IMG_2916_2Thermal Boundary Log Wall System
Unfortunately, these guys don’t have a web page, but I really think the time for their idea has come. When I first looked, I just saw a log-cabin – nice, but nothing earth-shattering. But when I saw “Thermal” as part of the name, I knew I’d have to get a closer look. The idea is pretty simple; take squared-off logs, hollow them out, and replace the interior with insulation. The cut-out material even gets reused for other parts of the cabin. When finished, it’s a traditional log cabin that is anything but.


IMG_2909_2Lazarus Woks

My friend, Greg, is the one that got me turned on to rocket stove technology, and he also made a great Wok out of an old agricultural disc. Looks like some other people had the same idea. At Lazarus Woks, they resurrect old ag. equipment into modern cooking vessels. The Woks looked pretty indestructible and heirloom quality.

Rocket Stove in an Ammo Can
peaking of rocket stoves, one booth had a very nice portable version – built in an ammo can. The MinuteMan Rocket stove is made from a modified ammo can, but it’s also insulated for thermal efficiency, and all packs up to the original size, complete with a carrying handle. The design looked very well thought-out, and the insulation also means you can use it while set right on top of a wood picnic table. Great for hiking, camping, and the Zombie Invasion.

Hang-A-Pot Clips
Some of the best ideas and inventions are accessories to popular existing items. The Hang-a-pot clip is exactly what it sounds like – just a plastic clip that lets you hang a pot agains a wall, a post, or any other vertical structure. However, the finished effect can be very nice. You can easily turn a fence into a hanging garden, or repurpose an old pallet into a flower display that will make everyone else on Pinterest jealous.

IMG_2923_2John C. Campbell Folk School
The local folk school had a really nice area set up with a blacksmith, wood carver, brick wood-fire bake oven, and plenty of “Olde-Time” demonstrations. In enjoyed speaking with the Blacksmith. I still have no idea how the wood carver made that toy propeller spin…..

IMG_2908_2Land of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition had a nice display of alternative vehicles. While most of them were commercially available vehicles from local dealerships, it seemed like most of the attention went straight to the ELF – an unusual pedal/electric four-wheeled bike car. Another new favorite was also on display, the BMW i3, an all electric car with styling unusual enough to catch people’s attention, including rear “suicide doors”.




IMG_2904_2KCOR Solar

KCor Solar had an interesting display of a self-contained solar water heating system. While it looked like something from a 1970’s vision of the future, it was a clever design and included an integrated pump system and a buried 200-gallon storage tank.

I had a great time at the Fair, and I hope that you did too!  I even got to meet up with a relative I haven’t seen in a long time, and we went and saw downtown Asheville. On the way out, I saw a Nissan LEAF on the freeway with the custom license plate “4GETGAS”. What a trip!

Stay Charged Up, and see you next time!

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Coverall Blog
December 17, 2016 at 9:02 pm

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1 Bill Bayer April 14, 2015 at 1:05 pm

Hello Ben,
I watched your DIY Car presentation Saturday. While I thought you were very entertaining, I feel you are doing a great disservice to the DIY’ers and EV community as a whole by spreading circa 2008 information as if there’s no other alternative. You had nearly every seat filled up with people eager to learn about what can be done and instead of telling them the virtues of building your own EV and the possibilities, you told them about using used Lead Acid batteries to make a tiny car that only gets a 20 mile range and still costs $13,000. You mentioned little to nothing about the advancement of lithium cells, AC motors or all the individual components readily available that make building a car fairly easy. I suspect, your efforts scared away far more than you would have hoped.
I would request that future talks should focus more on how to make QUALITY builds with usable day-t0-day driving range that could actually be a practical second car in the driveway. Adapter plates exist that re-use the clutch so nothing has to be machined or fabricated. DC-DC converters provide the 12v so there’s no need for a battery or 12v charger. Absolutely no reason to try to solder together a controller. Not only is it potentially dangerous but goes way, way beyond the abilities of 90% of people. AC motors are far, far more reliable and maintenance free. Etc… I know you know all of this already but this is what people need to hear.
I know your central theme was that it can be done “on the cheap” but if you don’t end up with something practical, what’s the point? Especially when technologies are readily available to take someone in a better direction. Yes, it’s far more expensive. That’s just how it is . Nothing in the entire Mother Earth News expo that involved emerging technologies was cheap. It is however cheaper to build an EV than buy a Leaf. Not only will it get better range but it will be YOUR car that you can actually work on.
Please take this under consideration for future talks.
Thank you,
Bill Bayer

2 BenN April 15, 2015 at 9:42 am

Hi Bill,
Thanks for your comments! That presentation was primarily focused on that particular car project, and people have always been interested in ways to keep costs down. There’s a lot to pack into a one hour presentation, so I can’t possibly cover all that I would like to in that small amount of time.
I will be doing another presentation this summer that is on more overall Electric Vehicle design. Batteries, AC motors and drives, and costs have all come a long way these past few years. That presentation will be more of overall design concepts and the range of components now available.

Some of my more current work is with three-phase brushless DC motors and Nissan LEAF batteries. Take a look at some of my latest YouTube videos for those.

Thanks for your input!


3 BenN April 15, 2015 at 10:02 am

Bill, in your comment, you said that the vehicle “… still costs $13,000…”
That’s incorrect. The entire project cost $1,300. Was that simply a typo, or were you under the impression that I really did spend $13,000 on this? It was a very bare-bones electric conversion, and I wouldn’t have dreamed of spending that kind of money on this. That said, $13,000 is FAR less than a new LEAF, and a person could build a fantastic electric car for that kind of money.

4 Bill Bayer April 17, 2015 at 6:40 pm

Hello Ben,
I actually thought $13,000 is what you said you spent on the project.
What a relief that it was only $1300!!
In total, I spent about $25,000 on my ranger conversion. It has an HPEVS AC76 motor and 90 CALB 100ah cells with two packs of 45s run in a parallel configuration for ~157v 200ah. That gives me roughly a 100mi range.
I have been watching your Leaf battery adventures and am eager to see how it works out in the Vectrix.
How do you plan to balance and charge the cells?

5 admin April 18, 2015 at 7:21 am

Hi Bill, looks like you have a GREAT truck conversion! Anyone I’ve talked to with the HPEVS motors has been really happy with them.
The LEAF/Vectrix conversion is going well. I will be reusing the original charger in the Vectrix, it just needs a tweak to the charger software, which I have already done. The LEAF wire harness has connections to every cell. I’m planning to run those wires to a quick disconnect up under the seat for battery monitoring and balancing with a RC-style balance charger.

6 Deon May 12, 2015 at 6:14 pm

Hi Ben, its been a year since I’ve ordered your video, “Build Your own EV”. I am now in the process of building my EV. The only concern I have is to extend the range on my conversion. My conversion will be a 1988 Chevrolet Sprint. I will be using an AC motor for my conversion. Good luck with you next project. Shoot me an email, and I will let you in on my progress. Thanks for the information video.

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