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)
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)
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)
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: (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.
errantember: (Default)
So after getting my license plate for the scooter, now dubbed Phaedron, it was finally time to experience the "going-downtown-to-go-clubbing-without-having-to-deal-with-The-Parking-Nightmare" scenario. I got all dolled up, hopped on Phaedron, and rolled for Elysium. Downtown is about six miles from my house, so I figured even in cold weather, the round-trip should be do-able without recharging. I noted the odometer before I left (410.8) and kept an eye on it as I drove, since I was cutting it fairly close. I also didn't take the charger, which was muevo-stupido.
Read more... )
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
So I had my scooter now for about a week. So far, it's been pretty crazy.

When I first got the scooter, I couldn't tell if it was charging or not. The power supply wasn't doing the happy dance when I plugged it in, but at least one time the gauge moved up when I had it plugged in.

Read more... )

It's here!

Dec. 31st, 2007 04:18 pm
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
My R-20 has arrived!

I've spent most of the afternoon figuring out how to put the handle bars, mirrors, and cargo container on. I took a spin on it over to [livejournal.com profile] kitty_smack's house, but she wasn't home.

So far the impressions are mostly good. I've had it up to 42 MPH on a straightaway with me on it. Considering I'm 30 lbs heavier than their test pilot, that's pretty damn close to the claimed 45 MPH speed. It's faster than I thought it would go. They claimed it would come "ready to ride", which wasn't strictly true. Evidently I was supposed to have gotten an e-mail pointing me toward a video on how to re-attach the handlebars (6 screws.) There were no instructions on how to use the charger, attach the mirrors, or attach the optional cargo box. Once those were on, though, it was fairly easy to fire it up and get it moving.

So far the only majorly confusing part is that if you really goose the engine, it shuts off. You then have to throttle back down and up again to re-gain power. I'm assuming this is a "feature" to prevent the engine from getting over-torqued or something, and not some kind of technical problem. It was little disconcerting to discover in the middle of a crowded intersection right after the light turned green.

Although it read 100% when I got it, and I only rode it about (not even) 4 miles, the meter now says only slightly more than half full. It's supposed to go a minimum of 30 miles on one charge, so I'm not sure what to think. When I plug the charger in, the charge/not charged light says "charged", and the fan doesn't come on. Not sure exactly what that means, either.

More as I get experience riding it. Possibly legally.
errantember: (Little Cowboy Scott)
WE ARE PLEASED TO NOTIFY YOU THAT YOUR MOTORCYCLE HAS BEEN SHIPPED.

In a few days it will arrive at the Schenker Depot in Sumner, Washington, USA from where it will be sent directly to you by truck with a lift gate.

WheeeeeeeEEEEEEEE!

My Anti-Manifestation Theory that the vehicle (ordered months and months ago) would arrive just in time for the worst possible temperature is precisely correct!

Time to go helmet shopping...
errantember: (Default)
I just sent in my deposit on the R-20, the 45 MPH electric scooter I mentioned earlier. I have no idea exactly when I'll be getting it, except that it's expected to be before the end of the year. They are hand-assembling them as the orders come in.

I got it in silver instead of my preferred red, because it will probably reflect more heat and keep the body marginally cooler on hot days. Assuming we ever have any hot days again.

Time to start thinking about $10,000 of extra chrome, Gothic wings and gargoyles, etc.

I may also have to purchase a Hun Hat.

I went down to Alien Scooters and test-drove one of EVT's 30 MPH models, the EVT 168, to get a feel for their products. I was very impressed by the overall solid feel, acceleration, and control ergonomics. I cruised around inside the parking lot, then headed by way of Kinney to Lamar, where I got to experience the thrill of being on a scooter in traffic for about two minutes. Motorcycle enthusiasts (hell, bicyclists!) will laugh, but 30 MPH seems pretty damn fast when your sitting in a chair 8 inches off the road. I can imagine the pants-shitting fun of going 120 on a crotch rocket. My only complaint was that it's tiny wheels definitely find and transfer the impact of an uneven road to my bony ass, and going over speed bumps was very difficult without bottoming out. We'll have to see if any of these complaints have been addressed on the R-20.

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