errantember: (darth bobo)
About two months ago, I had three functional vehicles: a Honda SUV, a Geo Metro, and my infamous EVTA R-20 Electric Scooter. I now have zero. I sold the Honda (for a really excellent price), the batteries on the scooter died, so I was down to the Metro. I took it up to D/FW to see my Mom, then almost immediately to San Antonio to visit an old friend with a new baby. No problems on those trips. However, it's now randomly stalling out, and all the previous solutions I've tried haven't been working. I've got another message out on the Geo Metro list, and have previously gotten Monster Help from them, but in the meantime I'm vehicle-less. The kind of problem I'm seeing is one of those issues where any one of ten different things could be causing it, and the only way to find out which one is to systematically try them all.

The Metro probably isn't going anywhere for a while.

I'm intending on replacing the batteries on the scooter before I sell it, but I wasn't planning on doing that until spring. In the meantime, I'm looking seriously into buying a gas-powered scooter. I can get one for under $1,000, and, unlike my electric scooter, I'll be able to drive anywhere I want without having to worry about running out of power, waiting to recharge, or worrying about rain. It's really too bad, because electric scooters have the potential to be *way* better than gas ones, but unfortunately none of the major manufacturers are making them, and the ones that do get made often suck or are outrageously expensive.

I also don't have the money for something like this at the moment, and it greatly increases the likelihood that I'm going to have start dipping into my retirement savings if I don't see some serious gaming income soon.

Time to re-double my already re-doubled efforts!
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
My friend [livejournal.com profile] trippedbreakerneeded Late Night Cat Food, so I offered to let him borrow my electric scooter. He happens to convert vehicles to electric for a living, which will become ironic shortly. While talking to [livejournal.com profile] spottedvasa on the phone around midnight, I got a text from him informing me he was stuck at a gas station a few miles away with a dead scooter.

I replaced the scooter batteries a few months ago, luckily with ones purchased from Alien Scooter on South Lamar, meaning they have a warranty. His opinion was that the batteries were acting as though they were just about to die (as in die-die, not die-just-discharged.) They cost approximately $500. Recently, the scooter has been suddenly nearly dieing when only about 20% into its range, and I had forgotten how cold it was tonight. Lead-Acid batteries lose a huge percentage of their power in the cold.

So I swooped in to the rescue with the charger and an extension cord. We plugged it in and left it for about two hours. My original plan, which I'm very happy I vetoed, was to bicycle down to the scooter, lock up the bike, and ride the hopefully-charged-enough-to-get-home scooter back. Instead I decided I'd rather take the Metro down to it, park it, and take the bus or something tomorrow when it's warmer. At 3:05 AM, I just got home after a chilling low-speed-into-the-wind scoot home. The scooter is now charging in the carport, and I am going to *bed*.
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
When last we left our hero, the electric scooter was randomly tripping its breaker. Every time that happens, the power to the bike dies (no matter how much traffic you're in), and you have to stop, remove the seat, flip the breaker back on, and keep going. This happened six times in one trip, and was getting pretty old. Maintenance minutia follows.
Read more... )
errantember: (Default)
On my quest to repair my second-most-fuel-efficient vehicle, I rode to the Home Despot on my most efficient vehicle, my burner bike. Despite not having been cleaned or worked on since Burning Man, and despite being coated in a highly corrosive alkali dust, it got me to and from my destination without excessive amounts of "exercise." My friend Adam Rice just accomplished the Major Miracle of bicycling solo from coast-to-coast, which got me to thinking that it might not just be rumor and innuendo that you can *go* places using bicyclic transportation. I turns out that [livejournal.com profile] worldmegan took one of her first bicycle trips in years the same beautiful day. Coincidence, or great minds thinking alike?

El Scooter, Rupert, has been down for a few months due to dead batteries. I have now purchased new batteries, and in addition to simply re-wiring them back into the bike, I will also be adding extra terminals that will allow me to check the voltage of and charge each individual 12V battery separately. Previously it was only possible to check and charge the whole pack at once. According to [livejournal.com profile] trippedbreaker, this can cause the batteries, which are never exactly the same, to become more unbalanced over time, which shortens their life and the range of the vehicle. Previous plans to replace the 34Ah batteries with 50Ah batteries were dashed due to size and weight constraints. This was a bummer, since that extra capacity would be enough to go anywhere in Austin and back, even on a cold day, on a single charge. Now I will occasionally still have to plug in while out, so the great Outlet Hunt will continue.
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
I'm drawing a picture of this, but it's taking longer than I thought.

The pipe on the handlebars of the scooter has only a single bolt to lock it in place over the pipe on the front wheel. Because the tolerances are sloppy, the slightest looseness in this bolt makes the handlebars wobble. You can *tighten* the bolt, but getting to it requires remove about nine screws and half the cowling of the bike, and even with a lock washer and a lock nut, it only lasts about 30 minutes before loosening up again. For that thirty minutes, you experience this thrilling, novel feeling like you are almost in *control* of the vehicle. Unimpeded by simple harmonic motion or random Brownian Effects, you can *feel* the road. When you turn the handlebars, the wheel turns exactly the same amount! And *then* the scooter *goes* there! Around the life-threatening 1/2 inch pothole! Past the blind motorist pulling out in front of you! Up onto the sidewalk and over the toy poodle!

It's all very exciting. But then the jiggle starts.
Read more... )
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
Rupert, my incredibly-unreliable-but-incredibly-cheap-to-operate EVTA R-20 Electric Scooter is once again ready to roll! Our latest round of Drama involved a leaking valve stem (minor) and a fairly badly bent front axle (major.) I was very impressed with the help at Urban Moto Shop on Lamar just north of Barton Springs. They not only fixed the valve stem on a busy Saturday afternoon in under an hour, but they gave me a new axle for *free*! Preliminary investigations online indicate the replacement cost would have been closer to $50 from other sources, and I wouldn't have been so certain it fit.
Read more... )
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
Collateral Celebration

It's good to know it's not just *my* life that's in danger when I fly across the pavement on my EVTA Deathmobile!
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
I decided to head out on the scooter today to do my Farmer's Market/Wheatsville run and to work on my resume and read The Web That Has No Weaver : Understanding Chinese Medicine as part of my latest head trip. I saw there was a chance of isolated thunderstorms later in the evening, but I figured I'd be home by then. Because the scooter is a) electric and b) is missing 50% of its main body panel, I generally don't drive it when I think it will rain. Not to mention the fact that it's dangerous and uncomfortable and I was wearing sandals.

I was headed north on Lamar when some idiot in a huge black pickup pulled a crazy stunt where he pulled out into the oncoming lane and *stopped* while waiting for a spot to open up in his lane. It had started sprinkling earlier, and I'd already had the thought that it was a very dangerous time to ride because it hadn't rained hard in a long time. All those fucking SXSW (GRR!) people had been hosing the streets with oil from their low-end, poorly-maintained shitboxes and the road was likely to be slick. When I hit the brakes, the scooter tried to lay over. It got to about 45 degrees before I caught it with my *sandaled* feet in Horse Stance and narrowly stopped it from smearing me over the pavement.
Read more... )
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
The charger for my electric scooter stopped working after coming home in the rain the other night. After talking to [livejournal.com profile] trippedbreaker to narrow down the possibilities, and confirming that the warranty had run out, I decided to take it apart to see if the problem was something obvious. Of the hundred or so components inside, it turns out the one that was broken was very obvious and fairly easy to fix. A coil had pulled out of the board on one side. I tried re-soldering the stub, but it was too short to fit through the board, so I ended up pulling one coil of the 50 or so off to lengthen the wire, soldered it in place, tried it, saw it didn't work, un-soldered it, stripped off the insulation on the wire, then re-soldered it, all in under two hours.

Now it works. :)
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
I went from my house in South Austin all the way up to north past Mueller airport on my scooter in very cold temperatures tonight to go to a Re-Evaluation Counseling class I recently signed up for with my old Permaculture instructor Selwyn Polit. The scooter's range is reduced by as much as 40% in very cold weather, as it has lead-acid batteries. I charged the it for three hours there, which is respectable, but definitely not a full charge. I *then* proceeded from Mueller down to Elysium for Combichrist, *then* drove home *without* *recharging*.

By the time I was going pulling into the driveway, the E-meter was blinking red. It's the closest call I've had so far, and it's an *awesome* test of maximum range on the bike, since it's rarely this cold in Austin. Taking these kinds of risks is exciting. It helps me feel like I'm pushing the envelope for sustainable transportation, and the consequences of getting it wrong aren't *too* bad.

At least, they aren't when it's not nearly below freezing outside. :)
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
Acid Part 1: Sulfuric

Echo's car wouldn't start. Amidst a shower of caked-on sulfuric acid, I replaced one of the terminal ends, and also a ground wire that had literally cooked itself in half.

I used a bigger wire.

Acid Part 2: The Acid Test

In 40-degree temperatures, I took the R-20 electric scooter to Elysium for the first time since the last repairs. Even with the reduced range from the cold (it has lead-acid batteries), I still got home while still in the yellow without recharging. This is the longest trip I routinely take with no extra power, because I haven't found a place to hork e- downtown yet.

Ok, ok...

Dec. 20th, 2008 04:22 am
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
...the R-20 is now *officially* fun again.

After strapping, glueing, and zip-tying on a few more pieces, the only thing really left to fix is the body panel that needs painting (meeting with Amy tomorrow) and re-reinforcing the trunk. After closing everything up and checking things, I took it out from here to Central Market and back again, and it was a total riot. I can't wait to ride it again when the roads are dry, which hasn't been the case since I got it moving again. The ride is a *lot* more solid now, and the front faring no longer scrapes the front wheel, all due to the improved shocks. The bike *seems* to accelerate faster than before, but I haven't ridden it in about five months, so it could just be the infinite contrast between movement and stasis.

Too bad the bike doesn't spend more time in this auto-mobile state.
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
Much like a foreign country searching for it's previous respect for the U.S., I find myself unable to locate the charger for my scooter because it's been so long since I've seen it. After waiting for months to get a replacement controller for the broken one, then more weeks of waiting for an explanation for why the replacement didn't *fit*, and then another few weeks of physically altering the body to *make* it fit, and finally a wet, miserable night of putting all but one of the body panels back on, I *finally* took a demi-legal trip to HEB. The mirrors are all fucked up, it hasn't been charged in who knows how long, it's dirty, the attachment for the trunk will have to be re-fixed after having already been fixed once after falling off the bike in the middle of Lamar during rush hour, but the scooter actually started at Point A and carried me to non-co-located Point B, then back again from Point B to Point A. The new shocks seem much better than before (didn't bottom out once) and I bet I'll get sprayed in the face with greasy water less often when I put the front faring back on. Gas isn't $4/gallon anymore, and my health insurance will be running out soon, but at least the fucking thing can move under it's own power again.

Halle-fucking-lujian, Ho-cakes-sona, Hu-babybaby-ray.
Read more... )
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
After a night of work by myself and [livejournal.com profile] trippedbreaker, the R-20 is nearly ready to ride again. A new controller, throttle, DC-DC converter, and shocks were installed, and the motor is responding to throttle. Installing the new controller require physically re-constructing the controller mount, because the new one they sent is two inches longer than the old one. Now I just need to figure out how much of the body, which I'd like to re-paint, should go back on. In the short-term, I may decide to simply try to airbrush over the imperfections rather than re-doing the entire bike in hot metallic pink, which was my original plan.
errantember: (darth bobo)
After three weeks since getting the parts and two weeks since sending my first "the new controller you sent me doesn't fucking physically fit into my scooter" message to EVTAmerica, I finally got a response and an admission that the cut on the back of the power supply wasn't as steep as it should have been, which is why it doesn't fit. This isn't strictly true, since the current power supply is mounted on top of *exactly* the same holes as the old one, so what they're *really* telling me is that they fucked up and made the wires stick out too far, and they expect me to fix it by cutting into my new power supply with power tools. Despite or perhaps because of my anger, this seems fitting somehow.

At least, it will be once I'm done.
errantember: (St. Ember)
I've just completed the hour+ long job of removing the controller from my EVTA R-20 electric scooter, which died recently. The controller and the throttle are under warranty, and will be replaced for free. Several other items, all of which were probably damaged due to the inclusion of too-wimpy shocks on the original model, are *not* under warranty despite having been damaged or destroyed by either a design flaw or manufacturing defect. Let me make a short list of what I can remember off the top of my head of things that have gone wrong with the bike since I've had it.

1) Wouldn't recharge when I first got it due to a disconnected charge connector, stranding me at my friend Adam's house and costing me over $100 in cab and towing bills.

2) Front wheel scraped on inside of front faring, wearing completely through the fairly thick plastic in under two months from when I bought it.

3) Speedometer/Odometer slipped out from top assembly, meaning neither work anymore.

4) Front brake cable was scraping against front tire, wearing through all of the two layers of outer jacket and abrading the inner hydrolic cable

5) Consistent problems with bottoming out the shocks, hurting both the bike and my back, and likely causing most if not all of the above problems.

6) Throttle (which is actually the handle you hold onto on your right hand) broke off and literally slid off the handlebar while I was in heavy traffic. I was able to keep it working by jimmying it long enough to get home.

7) One or both rear passenger folding pedals broke off due to insufficient ground clearance.

8) The battery box on the bottom of the bike scrapes in some turns for the same reason

9) The bike would randomly cut out, generally in conditions of what could be overheating. This problem was intermittently present for about four months, but finally resulted in the controller itself dieing a few days ago, stranding me yet again. This time costs were mitigated due to [livejournal.com profile] trippedbreaker's help and a near-suicidal U-Haul run where I had to have the truck back to U-Haul in less than two hours during rush hour or face a $150 fine.

I'll be mailing all of the damaged parts in question (at least those I can find) back to EVTAMERICA tomorrow. I related news, I just got a marketing announcement regarding the R-30, the "new and improved" version of the R-20. Read this and tell me it doesn't sound like "The R-20, but not broken anymore."

Read more... )
errantember: (St. Ember)
My EVTA R-20 is now officially a very large paperweight. After another round of my least favorite problem, that being the engine randomly cutting out in the middle of heavy traffic, it finally completely stopped responding to the throttle beyond a quiet *click*. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] trippedbreaker for picking me up at Dan's Hamburgers yesterday after having been stranded there with a scooter-full of groceries for over three hours. While not really mind kind of food these days, I had an excellent chicken strip dinner there, and one of the employees and his truck driver were instrumental in the retrieval of the scooter today. The cargo vans they have at U-Haul don't have ramps, and I didn't have one, either. Instead I asked if they had a truck with a ramp, and they did. But it had to be back in less than two hours or I'd have to pay an additional *$150*. Since I didn't have any help at the time, and both the scooter and my place were close by, I decided to risk it. Once I got to Dan's, I realized my mistake, because the ramp isn't wide enough for feet to touch the ground when on the scooter. The employee (likely a manager or owner) and the driver of a delivery truck helped push the scooter up the ramp while I guided it, and helped me back out of the parking lot. I made it with over 45 minutes to spare, but it was quite an adventure.

It seems that [livejournal.com profile] trippedbreaker is of the opinion that it's probably a controller problem. This is covered by their warranty, although I'll have to remove it myself. This is the latest in a long string of problems that I've had with this scooter, which is why I point everyone to Alien Scooters whenever they ask about getting one themselves. It turns out there is now a 60 MPH electric scooter for around $5k, but at this point I don't think I'm going to get another electric until I see some long-term reliability from at least one brand.
errantember: (St. Ember)
So, last night when I went over a bump on the way to poly dinner, the throttle broke off Rupert, my EVTA R-20 scooter. The throttle is basically a sleeve that fits over the end of the handlebar and attaches on one side to a spring-mounted rotator mechanism. The plastic ring that joins the two parts evidently broke. Luckily I got all the pieces, and was able to spastically limp home. Leaving from the downhill-and-over-a-speedbump exit from Planet K directly into heavy traffic on Lamar without any real guarantee I could get the throttle to work was the most thrilling part of the adventure. Today I used Crazy Glue Gel (vastly superior to Superglue in that it's actually possible to use the same container more than once) to try to re-assemble it, and, so far, it's looking pretty good. I don't expect it to hold forever, and I've already mailed the manufacturer pictures of the failure. I expect they will send me a new throttle, but I didn't hear from them at all today.

I hope it holds out to and from the Peter Murphy concert tonight! I've got duct tape, just in case.
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
Someone else feel free to check my math, but:

Scooter takes 2.2KWh to charge.
Austin Energy residential rates for under 500KWh: 3.75 cents/KWh
Scooter minimum range per charge: 30 miles
Current approximate gasoline fuel cost: $4/gallon

2.2 KWh/1 charge * $.0375/KWh * 1 charge/30 miles * 1 gallon/$4 = 0.0006875 gallons/mile = 1454 miles/gallon

...at current gas prices.
errantember: (St. Ember)
This is becoming so common I'm thinking the fucking thing will need it's own blog soon.

Today the speedometer stopped working. I suspect this might be because of the banging noises I've been hearing from inside the front faring, where I'm assuming internal electronics are not properly secured.

On a brighter note, the odometer *also* stopped working. Perhaps, since it turned out to be in kilometers instead of miles, it's simply taking a break until the mileage catches up.

Tomorrow I can dig into it and see if something came loose.

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