Converting a gas Quad to AC

Technical discussion on converting internal combustion to electric
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peskanov
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Converting a gas Quad to AC

Post by peskanov » Mon, 30 Jul 2012, 05:03

These last days we tried to play with the settings Johnny & thingstodo suggested.
Results have been mixed. Reducing the acceleration rate seems to improve vehicle starting, but we can accomplish the same effect just being gentle with the throttle.
Lowering the min. frequency also seems to help, but as I commented in the above post, we got strange "freezing" problems.

Now we have a more serious problem. It's related to this "cogging" effect. I am using this term I stole from thingstodo, as I don't know a better one to describe this uneven torque thing we are getting.
When we modify the proportional/integral values, we get this cogging effect. But usually, when using the default PI values everything is OK.

However, yesterday my friend Vicent took the Quad for a quick run, and moving at maximum speed in a long straight line he heard an horrible chain noise (speed was not affected though).
He thought the chain was broken, and quickly stopped on the side. Everything was ok, it was just that cogging problem again, and at maximum speed. Dangerous.

I think the KIM lacks some kind of safety feature, I don't think this should be normal. We have worked with VFD inverter before, and never seen this kind of problem. Not at the level, at least.

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Converting a gas Quad to AC

Post by thingstodo » Mon, 30 Jul 2012, 09:18

peskanov wrote:... Unfortunately, the KIM shown a bizarre behaviour, unseen before.
When decelerating to a stop, the KIM refused to really stop the work! You could read 10A or 20A still going to the controller, the Quad being totally stopped. The only way to kill the current was shutting off the controller; brake switch or releasing the throttle was ineffective.

That happened only climbing slopes, I think it worked ok stopping on a flat.

So we had to raise the minimal frequency again, up to 2.5hz. That was the minimal value we set in order to avoid the "false stop" problem.
That behaviour is very strange.

So, just to recap the details:
- the starting frequency is below 2.5 Hz
- you accelerate the quad up a steep incline
- after you stop, the KIM still shows 10 - 20A DC going into the controller. So you would assume there is 10 - 20 A to the motor

I don't know the KIM - is there a setting for DC brake? On industrial drives many allow you to 'hold' the motor in position for a few seconds by injecting DC to the field. That group of settings has a maximum time, so the motor is not heated up just sitting there. It also has a frequency that it activates at - if you coast to a stop from 5 Hz down, it doesn't operate. If you ramp down to 1 Hz, it will activate around 1.5 Hz (close to the slip frequency, but you can adjust it) and try to use the motor torque to bring you to a stop ... that's the only thing that comes to mind at the moment.

peskanov wrote:BTW, I would love to have my own dynamometer. You are a lucky guy Image

You are very kind to describe my attempts at measuring torque as a dynamometer instead of a pile of junkyard parts.

The home-made contraption that I connected to SalvageS10 and to my 5 HP test motor - 2 x 6, an old bathroom scale, wooden pulleys - gave me some order-of-magnitude numbers. I'd be surprised if the results were within 50% of actual values.


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Converting a gas Quad to AC

Post by thingstodo » Mon, 30 Jul 2012, 09:58

peskanov wrote:Now we have a more serious problem. It's related to this "cogging" effect. I am using this term I stole from thingstodo, as I don't know a better one to describe this uneven torque thing we are getting.
When we modify the proportional/integral values, we get this cogging effect. But usually, when using the default PI values everything is OK.

However, yesterday my friend Vicent took the Quad for a quick run, and moving at maximum speed in a long straight line he heard an horrible chain noise (speed was not affected though).
He thought the chain was broken, and quickly stopped on the side. Everything was ok, it was just that cogging problem again, and at maximum speed. Dangerous.

I think the KIM lacks some kind of safety feature, I don't think this should be normal. We have worked with VFD inverter before, and never seen this kind of problem. Not at the level, at least.

I thought I had borrowed the 'cogging' description from you .. I think that the slip is too high. There is a maximum torque that the motor can supply, the breakdown torque, and after that the torque drops off quickly to the pullout torque, so the motor slows down until the slip 'catches up' and gives you good torque for a short period of time before you go over torque again. Check out this page

http://www.reliance.com/prodserv/motgen ... e%20Curves

Figure 5 shows the torque curve

You had mentioned a setting - Max accelerating slip frequency - I think that may be the one that lets the KIM try to accelerate the motor past it's breakdown torque. I think that would show up if you were driving straight on level ground with the accelerator at the maximum. In one of the previous posts you had it set to 7. Try set it to ... 5? ... then change your PI settings and try to reproduce the 'cogging'. If you can't then this explanation may be why. If you have a tach installed you can tell if you are at max motor rpm. If so, I don't think this is the answer. If you haven't made it up to max rpm yet, it may be the answer.

It is important for you to have confidence that the KIM will reliably and safely do what you ask it to do.

The pullout slip frequency is set to 7 (from that same post - Posted: 2012 July 25 at 7:11am). You may need to adjust this setting to the same value as the Max accel slip frequency.

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Converting a gas Quad to AC

Post by thingstodo » Mon, 30 Jul 2012, 10:05

peskanov wrote:I think the KIM lacks some kind of safety feature, I don't think this should be normal. We have worked with VFD inverter before, and never seen this kind of problem. Not at the level, at least.

Can you capture all of the KIM settings and post them?

It never hurts to have others read through them - they may catch the meaning of a setting, since the settings are difficult to understand at best.

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Converting a gas Quad to AC

Post by thingstodo » Mon, 30 Jul 2012, 17:52

peskanov wrote:So, what could be limiting the torque? The controller, or magnetic saturation, or...? Any idea?

I know the question was not asked of me, but as usual I have an opinion ...

I think the limit that you have right now is the voltage of your pack. If you had a higher voltage, your KIM could push more current through the motor and get you more torque. It sounds your pack voltage is already over 72V. How high do you want to go?

I don`t think you are saturating the magnetic circuit yet - any extra power pushed into the stator that cannot be converted to magnetic flux should show up as heat (and that sound that welding machines make when you are welding - the short-circuit sound)

I don`t think that you are hitting 200 Amps yet. You could tell that on the DC ammeter going into the KIM.

If you hit the limit on the shaft, the shaft would twist or break off. I have not seen a motor shaft twist or break as yet. I think that the mechanical safety factors are quite large.

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Converting a gas Quad to AC

Post by woody » Mon, 30 Jul 2012, 18:19

thingstodo wrote:
woody wrote:
thingstodo wrote:
My motor is rated at 1745 rpm, so the slip for rated torque should be 1800 - 1745 = 55 rpm. 55 rpm / 1800 rpm * 60 hz should be 1.8333 Hz, but 0.9 Hz works better - I'm not sure why. And for higher starting torque I should have to use a larger slip, like 2, 3, or maybe 5 Hz like you have used.

When I try 1.8 Hz, I observe what I think you are describing as 'cogging'. Large torque, then no torque, then large torque again. I think that the slip is too high. The motor slips too far and produces no torque at all for a short time.

I don't think slip is proportional to rpm. From the point of view of the rotor, the slip is constant, so a nominal slip of 55rpm would be 0.833Hz. I would expect more torque at 1.8Hz (about double) if you had 2 times the nominal current available.

Hope this theory helps in practice!

If I'm not calculating the slip right - where did I go wrong?
Or where did I go wrong?
1800 rpm is synchronous speed for a 4 pole motor (2 pole motor would be 3600 rpm). 1800 - 1745 rated speed = 55 rpm of slip.

1800 rpm synchronous speed / 60 hz = 30 rpm per hz
So 55 rpm / 30 rpm per Hz = 1.833 hz of slip ... how did you get 0.833 Hz .. which matches my measurements much better, by the way?
I did 55rpm/60 seconds = 0.833 rotations per second. And then I leapt from there to Hz which is bogus, sorry, my bad. Your maths was and still is correct, I just misread it.
I think you are correct about the slip not being proportional to rpm - a specific slip should give you a specific torque output. The only torque that I have from the nameplate is full load torque - well, it's calculated at 15 foot-lbs torque, 1745 rpm, and that gives you 5 HP at the output shaft.

I was testing the 5 HP 460V star-connected motor (rated about 7.5A full load) at 23V measured AC output, 0.9 Hz frequency setpoint on the VFD, over 30 amps of current to the motor (problems measuring that low a frequency with my equipment, so I'm not confident of the voltage and current).

I am pretty sure that I got at least 2X full load current (about 15 amps) since I measured 180% full load torque.
So what could really be happening?

Nominal V/Hz = 460/60 = 7.6V/Hz.

So at 0.9Hz, ~7VAC would be expected.

At 1.8Hz, ~14VAC would be expected.

Ignoring your voltage and current readings...

If the voltage is too low then the slip won't produce as much torque (1/2 voltage = 1/4 torque).

"Cogging" would come from the slip being too high, i.e. the frequency too different from the shaft speed. This could be a symptom of the voltage being too low.

Any other ideas?
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Post by Johny » Mon, 30 Jul 2012, 20:01

Geez the KIM manual is vague, however these mystery parameters may be useful. They kind of describe the effect you are getting.
It could be that both values are too high - try reducing them by about 30%.

(15) Proportional Coefficient
Value range: 0.5-1, the adjusting accuracy is 0.01
Kelly KIM High Power AC Induction Motor Controller User’s Manual V 1.1
Functional description: If set the value too low, the throttle and load respond in the system will be slower if set the value too high, it will cause unsmooth drive or speed vibration.
Suggestion: Set according to the practical situation, factory default is 0.7.

(16) Integral Coefficient
Value range: 1-20, the adjusting accuracy is 1.
Functional description: If set the value too low, the throttle and load respond in the system will be slower if set the value too high, it will cause unsmooth drive or speed vibration.
Suggestion: Set according to the practical situation, factory default is 3.

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Post by peskanov » Tue, 31 Jul 2012, 10:12

thingstodo,
I don't know the KIM - is there a setting for DC brake? On industrial drives many allow you to 'hold' the motor in position for a few seconds by injecting DC to the field. That group of settings has a maximum time, so the motor is not heated up just sitting there. It also has a frequency that it activates at - if you coast to a stop from 5 Hz down, it doesn't operate. If you ramp down to 1 Hz, it will activate around 1.5 Hz (close to the slip frequency, but you can adjust it) and try to use the motor torque to bring you to a stop ... that's the only thing that comes to mind at the moment.
You can check main KIM settings on the captures at the previous thread page. The KIM is much simpler to program than a VFD in my experience.
I am convinced is a bug. Even if the problem comes from bad PID settings (maybe the speed curve cannot reach 0 due to settings), the controller should acknowledge the motor it's not moving anymore and act accordingly. It has an encoder, after all...
You are very kind to describe my attempts at measuring torque as a dynamometer instead of a pile of junkyard parts.

The home-made contraption that I connected to SalvageS10 and to my 5 HP test motor - 2 x 6, an old bathroom scale, wooden pulleys - gave me some order-of-magnitude numbers. I'd be surprised if the results were within 50% of actual values.
Image
Sorry, I read you thread weeks ago and totally forgot about your DIY "dyno"!
I re-read the torque test parts, is good to know you got 2x torque on low RPM using a VFD.

BTW, for anybody interested about thingstodo system to check torque:

http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthread.p ... 746-4.html
http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthread.p ... 746-7.html

I wish I was so methodical, but the eagerness to see results gets the better of me!
You had mentioned a setting - Max accelerating slip frequency - I think that may be the one that lets the KIM try to accelerate the motor past it's breakdown torque. I think that would show up if you were driving straight on level ground with the accelerator at the maximum. In one of the previous posts you had it set to 7. Try set it to ... 5? ... then change your PI settings and try to reproduce the 'cogging'. If you can't then this explanation may be why. If you have a tach installed you can tell if you are at max motor rpm. If so, I don't think this is the answer. If you haven't made it up to max rpm yet, it may be the answer.
I hope we will install the tachometer soon and then we will have a better idea about how the settings work.
We can reduce the slip settings (and we will if needed), but unfortunately I will loose power. Each time I raised the slip, I was able to get better acceleration on medium speeds. Also, the ammeter showed more power being used.

I will try your sugestion anyway, as it is important to know what causes the problems.
Can you capture all of the KIM settings and post them?

It never hurts to have others read through them - they may catch the meaning of a setting, since the settings are difficult to understand at best.
I will, this week. Anyway, current settings are very close to the previous (posted) ones. We raised maximum RPM to 3500, to check top speeds. I don't think the motor has torque enough at the end of the curve to reach 3500, but I don't know for sure until we install the tachometer.
I think the limit that you have right now is the voltage of your pack. If you had a higher voltage, your KIM could push more current through the motor and get you more torque. It sounds your pack voltage is already over 72V. How high do you want to go?

I don`t think you are saturating the magnetic circuit yet - any extra power pushed into the stator that cannot be converted to magnetic flux should show up as heat (and that sound that welding machines make when you are welding - the short-circuit sound)

I don`t think that you are hitting 200 Amps yet. You could tell that on the DC ammeter going into the KIM.

If you hit the limit on the shaft, the shaft would twist or break off. I have not seen a motor shaft twist or break as yet. I think that the mechanical safety factors are quite large
That's also my understanding, raise the voltage and you raise the amps and the magnetic field. When an AC motor starts on grid power, at full voltage, torque & current seems huge! Usually room lights dim on motor start...
But, in that case the limit is not my pack. V/f controllers power low RPMs with low voltage, so I guess the KIM is not trying to apply 72*sqrt(2) from the start (remenber, I want more torque on low RPMs).
I will have to check that. I have a multimeter which is quite good measuring AC PWM voltage.
Last edited by peskanov on Tue, 31 Jul 2012, 00:21, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by peskanov » Tue, 31 Jul 2012, 10:38

Johny,
yes, KIM docs are minimalistic Image
We did try several combinations for proportional/integral values, but did not get a "feeling" of what was happening.
Now that I read the tutorials on PID control, I think I have a better understanding about how to set them.
Unfortunately, KIM's system has not a full PID control. It has "proportional" and "integral", but not "derivative".
...And the "derivative" variable is the one related to smoothness of operation. I want to think the KIM estimates it from the P & I values...

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Post by peskanov » Tue, 31 Jul 2012, 10:48

Am I the only one puzzled about the KIM having the slip measured in Hz, instead of %?

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Post by coulomb » Tue, 31 Jul 2012, 13:41

peskanov wrote: Unfortunately, KIM's system has not a full PID control. It has "proportional" and "integral", but not "derivative".
...And the "derivative" variable is the one related to smoothness of operation. I want to think the KIM estimates it from the P & I values...

Almost certainly, it doesn't offer a derivative parameter because it doesn't use derivative control. It's quite common for a PID controller to actually be a PI controller (no D, so no Derivative).

Derivative control gives extra responsiveness, important in some applications like servo / position motors. It usually affects smoothness in a negative way; too much D can cause overshoot for example, and a tendency to oscillate. It also amplifies noise in the measurements, so when using D, you need good quality measurements, which is difficult in a vehicle.

So I don't think the lack of a D parameter is a real problem.
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Post by antiscab » Tue, 31 Jul 2012, 16:05

peskanov wrote: Am I the only one puzzled about the KIM having the slip measured in Hz, instead of %?


thats because slip is measured in HZ, not % - to get a specific torque, the slip Hz is constant across the rpm range, but the % is not

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Post by peskanov » Sat, 11 Aug 2012, 06:24

coulomb,
thanks for your explanations. It seems I missunderstood the derivative parameter, tutorials about PID controls are really hard to follow.

antiscab,
I understand slip should never be greater than 100%? If I set a 7 hz slip in the controller, then minimum stator Hz should be set 7 (for 100% slip). Is that right?

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Post by peskanov » Sat, 11 Aug 2012, 07:15

Some news from past 2 weeks:

I installed a multimeter onboard in order to see AC motor voltage. I know a PWM signal is difficult to measure using a common multimeter, but I have one which usually shows rather credible numbers (brand "hq power", no idea if it's any good).

With KIM set to 10V minimum, I drove the Quad a bit. Initial voltage measured at 20 VAC, and it grew with the speed up to 52 VAC max (which seems a correct measure, as our battery pack is 72VDC).
It seems this controller is purely "constant V/F" based. Each speed had its corresponding maximum voltage, no matter the power demanded.
The only strange thing I found was those 20 volts as minimum, instead of the 10V I configured and expected. Braking to a stop, I saw the voltage reducing to 0 fastly. It could be a multimeter vs. pwm question, of course.

We went to a very steep slope in order to test the Quad. Grade is probably 1-in-4 to 1-in-3 there. We know the Quad can't climb that slope at low or medium speed, so it's a good place to measure the motor in low RPMs.

At walking speed (or a bit faster), the voltage only raised to 30VAC, and the DC ammeter showed maximum 50A.

With those numbers in mind, we changed the settings of the KIM, and tried to convince it to raise voltage sooner.
We changed the AC motor voltage setting; original and correct one was 63V. We set it to 80V and tried the Quad. As nothing fried, we changed it again, pushing it to the maximum value: 110V.

The effect was immediate. It was the 1st time I saw the motor spinning the tires (just barely), and starting the Quad felt effortless even in a slope. AC voltage raised much much faster than previously, as I expected, and amps (in the DC ammeter) basically doubled, showing a poor efficiency compared to the original, correct settings. And the motor heated much faster of course.

We went back to the steep slope, and tested again. The quad was still not able to climb it at walking speed, but was very close to it (spinning wheels sometimes). The reason was not lack of power this time; on each try, the controller would trip close to the slope end, showing error 3-2:"Controller reset due to overcurrent".
Voltage was around 40VAC, so there is still room for more power in low revs. DC amps measured at 90A, with a rare peak of 120A.

Using that configuration we recorded a few videos. I uploaded two of them here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlDeDDcDf8g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=It7lKpXz_WU

After those tests, I programmed back some safe and reasonable settings on the KIM.
My conclusion: as many of you said on page 1 of this thread, we are controller limited. Both the battery and the motor will give us more torque, but the controller will not. What do you think?
Last edited by peskanov on Fri, 10 Aug 2012, 21:20, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by peskanov » Sat, 11 Aug 2012, 07:55

More updates;
going back to the cooling problem: we felt our original internal cooling system was too noisy, so we looked for alternatives. Without cooling the motor reaches 100C quite soon.

First, we tried to subtitute the air pump with hair-dryer fans. Those lacked the pressure needed to push the air through the motor, and were discarded.

Then, we set up two 12V computer fans on the walls of the motor. We looked for the most powerful PC fans available (which were too weak for this application anyway).
Result was a total failure, the motor heated exactly the same.

After those failures, we had 2 options in mind:
1.- Use the standard cooling systems, a big fan on one side of the motor. That would be very annoying, as the brake pedal is just there.
2.- Reduce the noise of the air pump and try it again.

We went for the 2 option, and wrapped the air pump in several layers of fabric. In the second video (from the previous post) you can see it at the final frames. We also limited the power of the air pump (nominal is 12V/10A, we reduced it to 10V/4A aprox.).
Noise levels were drastically reduced, and now the noise is bearable. Not annoying at all, in fact. If you check the youtube clips, you can hear it: it's the high pitched noise, turbine-like.

We are pretty happy with this system now. No matter how many amps we throw at the motor, the air pump keeps its interior at 60-70C maximum.
Now, we are determined to improve soundproofing of the pump and its hoses using professional material, instead of the old fabric.

One more update: we are working on a new rear sprocket. As we lack torque in low revs, we will be trying a 54 teeth sprocket. Current one has 45.

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Post by peskanov » Mon, 01 Jul 2013, 11:03

Thread resurrection!
Quad conversion is finished for good, and I thought it would be nice to write some comments and observations about it.
In order to get some low speed torque from the Kelly KIM, we tried a 54 teeth gear. It helped somewhat, but the KIM was just a lost cause. Speeds 0-50 kmh were VERY low. Climbing ability was non existent. The controller would shut down constantly due to excess amps (the nominal 200A is probably overrated).

After buying the defective/broken Unison Landranger controller (there is a thread about it in the controllers section) we rested a bit, and went for a second hand Curtis 1236 (350A).
We bought the 1236 from a know USA reseller who can be found in the forum boards.

Setting up the Curtis was a bit of a nightmare, as we took the unofficial connection path. A part of the adventure can be found here:

http://www.buggiesgonewild.com/electric ... ammer.html

Another problem was the hall effect throttle. The Curtis is prepared for resistance based throttle, but hall effect ones can be adapted. If anybody is interested let me know.

After some weeks of tinkering, we ran the autotune feature on our motor and tested the Quad. What a difference! The Quad FLEW out of the line!
Here is a list of the differences I have noticed:

- High acceleration, close to what Johny calculated. 2 seconds to 30 kmh, 7 seconds to 50 kmh.
- High climbing ability. You can stop in the middle of a very step ramp, and still move out of it with ease.
- Low amps at low speeds. Energy consumption has lowered a lot when moving slow, even when climbing ramps.
- Cold motor. With the KIM, we had lots of problems with motor heating and used an air pump. Now we have removed it, as the motor will not pass 70C even when pushing it! Right now we don't have any kind of cooling, but maybe we will add an small fan.

We had an small accident, as the rear shaft lost it's position (it can be adjusted). The motor was too strong and moved it; as a consequence the chain got loose and derailed. Fortunately no part was broken.
We are very happy with the conversion now, and every person who tries it looks stunned :)

Some last thoughts...
We started this conversion with a purpose: doing a AC conversion on the cheap. After 1 and a 1/2 year, these are my conclusions:
-AC motor rewinding works and is cheap. Just speak with professional rewinders until you find the right one, many of the are very resistant to "novelties" like 48ACV rewinds.
-Encoders are now cheap, thanks to Chinese cloning. Now you can find good encoders for less than $50, two years ago prices were just abusive.
-Controllers: bad luck here, there is not a good and cheap controller yet. The Kelly KIMs could be adequate for a (modest performance) motorcycle, but forget about cars. China still have to come with some good alternative; for now the cheapest option is a second hand Curtis/Zapi/Sevcon…

My feelings after this conversion: decent priced EVs could be produced right now without problems. The traction part (motor+controller) can be designed cheap and powerful, so the only expensive part is the LiFePo4 pack. And the packs are not SO expensive.
It seems, as many people have already expressed, that we need an equivalent of the Ford-T for the EV market.








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Post by Johny » Mon, 01 Jul 2013, 15:18

Glad to hear the final result peskanov. Your perseverance paid off and the rest of us will benefit from your controller woes. Well done! How about a video of the beast in action when you have time?
Last edited by Johny on Mon, 01 Jul 2013, 05:18, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Richo » Mon, 01 Jul 2013, 20:44

How 'bout a couple of final photo's for prosperity?
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Post by peskanov » Tue, 02 Jul 2013, 11:21

Thanks a lot guys, your assistance was the key in order to finish this little project!
I have some recent pics, after the paint job:
Image
Dashboard: we have redundant sensors a go-go!
Image

Yesterday, my pal Vicent took the Quad for a ride: two hours, about 35 km of mountain paths. Surprisingly, the battery returned with lot's of charge remaining! I guess he drove quite smoothly.
Lately, when we take the Quad it's difficult to resist the temptation of pushing the throttle to max...that way the battery is quite low after one/two hours Image

We will take some video too...I hope soon.

Now I have the itch to convert a car...and that's hell in Spain. About $7000 just to get it legal. Damn!

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Post by Johny » Tue, 02 Jul 2013, 15:22

Nice looking ride!
Now I have the itch to convert a car...and that's hell in Spain. About $7000 just to get it legal. Damn!
Are there maybe loopholes like getting it registered in another country and bringing it in as a going concern?

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Post by peskanov » Wed, 03 Jul 2013, 14:10

Well, there is the option of travelling to Germany, registering as a citizen there, buying a German car, converting it, doing the paperwork there and then move it to Spain. Quite a hassle!
Something similar is possible with Portugal, our neighbours, but the bureaucracy there is still learning about EV conversions.
Unfortunately this country is very far from the DIY world, specially speaking about cars (a sacred cow here).

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