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: (Anthony)
(knocks on wood)

The Metro and the scooter have both been running perfectly for 3+ days 40+ miles. I worked on the Metro today anyway, to further insulate it against future issues, but not because it Wouldn't Go.

Gonna take the Metro to Flipside. Then to College Station. Then to fucking Dallas!

You WATCH me.
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
Unlike many other people, 2010 was a good year for me. I'm sleeping late, have great relationships with friends and lovers near and far, am working on Permaculture during the day and iPhone development at night for myself and no one else, and on track to a new career doing what I love on the road.

o I successfully found and worked 6 months of an in-office job for the first time in about five years, and after being unemployed for about a year, and after working for the same company for nine years. I wanted to be reminded of how stupid and awful it was, while saving money to transition to freelance work.

o I successfully quit that same job to go on an extended vacation to Burning Man, Portland, Alchemy (the awesome Georgia Regional Burn), and Hawaii, following the advice in the Four Hour Work Week about mini-retirements. All of these trips except Hawaii were paid for in advance with money from my corporate job, and I arrived home from Hawaii with over 12 months of money in the bank to make my career transition. I met many current and made many new friends and lovers on the trip. This is the first step in becoming someone who can do his job from anywhere there's an Internet connection, allowing me to be on the road and visit people more.

o I've gotten a good start on iPhone and iPad development using Gamesalad, a tool designed to help non-programmers make games. I'm setting a February 10th date for my first submission to the app store, and I will then ship another twice a month for at least three months. If I can get $1000/game, I'll won't have to do any outside work to support myself.

o The Rate of Return on my retirement account, which I manage myself, was about 50% for 2010!

o I've navigated through Significant Drama to keep my little home-rental/co-op project going. As a result, most of my mortgage payment is paid for by my housemates, and my home continues to get nicer and more valuable a lot faster than I could do it alone. This year I'll finish remodeling the master suite and renting it out, while remodeling the garage and moving in there, which will net me another $300/month.

o I did a complete battery replacement on my electric scooter, enabling me to continue doing most local driving at around 1 cent per mile.

o I'm continuing to shrink my lifestyle and my Pile of Stuff to increase my happiness and personal freedom.

Thanks to everyone who made 2010 a great year!
errantember: (Default)
Got up today just before noon.

Yesterday I helped Amy do a cut-down and back frame of one of her biggest painting that wouldn't fit in her new truck. It took a lot of cutting and gluing and sanding, but we got it done. She worked on painting the new edges and claims it looks great.

Those who care about my health may be slightly alarmed to know that El Scooter is now working. I took the it from home up to Lamar and 71 on two different trips today, and it performed at least as well as it used to. I'm looking forward to longer trips soon, which will save me a lot on gas. Now that I have a rough idea of how often the batteries in the scooter need to be replaced, I can do a better total-cost-of-ownership calculation. It only uses about 1 cent per mile for electricity, but the batteries cost almost $500 to replace.

I continued work tonight on my Permaculture game idea with GameSalad, despite rumors that they're new licensing model will be horrible. I managed to make some rain, and a barrel to catch it in, and a plant to water with it. The tools allow me to work organically, trying out different ideas and physical dynamics to see what works and what doesn't. I have a very rough idea of where I'm going, but definitely not the kind of clarity I had around the Teddybear Eliminators game, which was going to be my first effort.
errantember: (Default)
...to get [livejournal.com profile] trippedbreakers help buying some parts for the scooter.
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
I got most of the Major Wiring done on Rupert today. I added the extra terminals to allow for checking and charging each battery separately, completed the Satan's Tetris of getting all the new not-quite-exactly-the-same-as-the-old-batteries cells into place, and discovered the longest cable was mysteriously about 6" short. I suspect the actual arrangement of the cables inside the machine was probably slightly different than the diagram. [livejournal.com profile] trippedbreaker is looking into whether he can make me a new one from the supplies people who work on electric vehicles professionally just have lying around. If not, I'll build my own tomorrow. In the meantime, I completed the circuit with jumper cables, and the correct total pack voltage of 12V x 5 batteries = 60+V is showing on the meter!

There's still substantial assembly and wiring left, but I can probably complete it in one day once I have some free time. Likely I'll have a functioning scooter by this weekend.
errantember: (Default)
Will be helping retrieve low-flush toilets for S. in anticipation of installing them tomorrow for some extra cash, then finally getting back to the scooter, which has been continually put off for several days due to home improvement projects/housemate mollification.
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)
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.

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