posts tagged with the keyword ‘ppprs’

2016.11.13

Stair Car

I’m going to be posting a bunch about a 2017 build for the Power Racing Series, and along the way I’ll be highlighting some parts of the build and explaining things. We’ll start with the motor controller, because being able to control the speed of a motor is crucial to building an electric vehicle. (Yes, we’re building an electric vehicle. Check out powerracingseries.org for more on this whole thing.)

DC Motor

Disclaimer: In some parts I’m going to keep things fairly simple.

Let’s start with some basics. A DC (direct current) motor spins when connected to power. In the diagram above we’re using a small motor and a 9 volt battery. Connect them together and the motor starts to spin. If you flip the wires (as in red wire to yellow wire, and black wire to green wire) the motor will spin in the opposite direction. This is how “brushed” DC motors work. There are also “brushless” motors, but we won’t get into those.

I sometimes like to refer to DC motors as “Don’t Care” motors. Want it to go the opposite direction? Flip the wires. Want it to go a bit slower? Give it a lower voltage. (Again, we’re simplifying things.)

Motor Controller

Here’s a motor controller. It has a connectors so you can connect a battery and a motor. You can’t make the motor go in reverse with this controller, but that’s okay for now. You can control the speed of the motor, but we don’t do it by lowering the voltage we do it by using “pulse width modulation”, commonly referred to as PWM. PWM is a method of controlling motors, lights, and other things by turning on and off the power really quickly. (Here’s a SparkFun article about PWM.) If you’re wondering why we don’t just lower the voltage (perhaps by raising the resistance) to make the motor go slower, read Why is PWM used to control DC motor speed instead of using a variable resistance?

Motor Controller

OK, so this motor controller comes with a potentiometer. When you spin the potentiometer is varies the resistance from 0 to 100K ohms. This get translated by the controller and feeds the appropriate PWM signal to make the motor go somewhere between not moving at all and full speed. The 100K pot also has two extra wires which work as a simple switch to turn the motor controller on and off.

Before we move on, a bit more about this controller. It’s from China, and it’s really cheap. I only recently discovered it’s a “Leadrise” controller after someone provided this Amazon link. You can find these on eBay for under $13. (Damn, that’s cheap!) I’m going to focus on doing a low-cost build, so keep that in mind along the way.

Throttle

The 100K pot is a nice way to test the controller and make your motor spin fast and slow, but you aren’t going to want a little potentiometer on your electric vehicle! Let’s find a throttle. Now, motor controllers of this variety typically require a “0-5V” throttle, or a “0-5K throttle”. The good news is, the 0-5V throttles are really cheap, the bad news is, this controller requires a 0-5K throttle, which are not cheap.

Magura makes a nice 0-5K throttle. You can find them for around $50 or so. There’s also a 0-5K thumb throttle that’s a bit cheaper. Any of these 0-5K throttles will work fine with this controller, and if you can decipher which wires are which you can cut off the 100K pot and wire in the 0-5K throttle. Easy, right!?

In a future post we’ll get into connecting up the throttle, and after that we’ll look at adding in reverse, and eventually get into building our own throttle controller that will allow us to use very cheap 0-5V throttles with this controller.

2015.10.05

Power Racing Series - Detroit 2015

This is no time to relax! It’s time to see the photos from The Power Racing Series event at Maker Faire Detroit, which happened back in July, that I’m posting in October. Better late than not at all!

Want more? You can see the whole album on Flickr, and scroll down for a video!

Power Racing Series - Detroit 2015

Power Racing Series - Detroit 2015

Power Racing Series - Detroit 2015

Power Racing Series - Detroit 2015

Power Racing Series - Detroit 2015

Power Racing Series - Detroit 2015

Oh, there’s also a video, because Jim finally got around to editing my footage. I shot the DSLR stuff from the ground, and others got the aerial stuff. I also managed about a half dozen GoPro cameras during the event.

2015.07.19

Moxie Board

Hello Racing Fans! I thought it might be appropriate to show you the cars that raced at Maker Faire Kansas City for the 2015 Power Racing Series

Mutt Cutts

Mutt Cutts was one of the cute cars. You may know it from the “Dumb And Dumber” films. Well, here’s a tiny replica. It wasn’t the fastest, but it was the furriest. This was one of those cars that we worried would tip over in every turn. It didn’t.

Sweet Tooth

Sweet Tooth, built by Collin Royster, a prop-maker in Kentucky, was a damn impressive build. The clown head and forks were for decoration only, and got removed for the races.

Phantom 48

Phantom 48 returned once again! These guys just keep refining their already fast and reliable car. The rat rod impressed us with its looks in 2013 and hasn’t changed much cosmetically, but from what I understand they’re constantly tweaking the code running on their controller.

Cartastrophe Jeep

The Cartastrophe Jeep also returned in 2015, and just like Phantom 48, their car looks about the same, and performs about the same. Fast and reliable, most of the time, except when it breaks.

KITT

KITT from OMG is the car from Knightrider, and it did good, not too fast, and not too much breaking down. A good mid-fielder.

Huminator

The Humninator, the only in the series with a full suspension system! The Humninator is a take on The Terminator theme, and a Hummer. A pretty fast car, though it suffered a bad failure in KC, Scott is fixing it up for Detroit!

Herbie

Herbie (The Love Bug) is just adorable, and is the work of Chris Lee (from Nashville’s Kessel Runners Racing) super-star Wars Nerd and prop-builder.

Minecart (Steve)

The Minecart (also known as “Steve” was a big wooden box that surprised us all with its speed and agility. There’s some great reasons to build your car as a big wooden box. An unexpected surprise with this one!

Dangermouse Mark III

The second car from the Cartastrophe was the Mark III from Danger Mouse. I am unfamiliar with the series, but the car is a wedge of cheese. It did well for the first showing.

Jurassic Rover

Jurassic Rover is another really nice build from our friends from the south. I can’t remember which state they were from, but the car was beautifully done.

Duct Tape & Zip Ties

Duct Tape & Zip Ties car is an old classic, build mostly from old bikes. It’s not fast, but it is (somewhat) reliable and goes for the “slow and steady wins the race” idea.

FUBAR Truck

FUBAR brought their old green truck all the way from New Jersey! Bill and his team keep fixing it and breaking it and racing it and having a good time. That’s what it’s all about!

LEGO Car

LEGO Car (as we called it) was built by a team of high school kids. The body was foam and kept breaking, there was a Razor scooter underneath for steering, they used 6 motors, of which between 1 and 3 worked, they blew their controller and used a relay, and they were known as a “rolling chicane” but they had fun and were a crowd favorite. Awesome.

Bigger photos? See them on Flickr. More will be added over time…

2014.08.06

lotusrear2

In June we hit up Kansas City, but everyone knows that July means Maker Faire Detroit, and the craziest Power Racing Series event of the year, pulling teams from the Midwest and East Coast (and even NIMBY from the West Coast joined us this time!)

It was definitely crazy, with eighteen cars we ended up splitting one of the races into two heats, one for “fast” cars and one for “slower” cars. (And hey, Audrey drove Lotusaurus Wrecks to victory for Milwaukee Makerspace in the slow race!)

Once again I did a lot of filming during the event, and this time had three GoPro cameras in place. Here’s the official #PPPRS video:

But wait! There’s more! There’s a YouTube playlist titled Power Racing Series – Detroit 2014 with nearly 40 videos of the action. I’ve still got a lot of uploading to do, including more Moxie skits, but it should keep you busy for a while.

As usual, there’s so much going on at Maker Faire, it’s hard to see it all. While in town we also got to visit OmniCorpDetroit and i3Detroit, both awesome makerspaces in the Motor City.

There are still a few more races this season, including Fort Wayne, Indiana, New York City, and even something in Milwaukee, Wisconsin! I’ll be at that last one, as it’s five miles from my house, though I’m not sure about the other two… If anyone wants to sponsor me to attend a Maker Faire, let me know!

2014.07.21

Car Repair

Disclaimer: I’m not really much of a car guy. I mean, I own a car, but I’ve never been into repair and maintenance of them. Probably because when I was in high school there were “gearheads” (people totally into cars) and I just didn’t get it. I’ve mostly considered cars as a means to get from point A to point B. I’m more concerned about being able to haul things than I am about doing it in some super-powerful manner or even looking going doing it.

While I’m still not really into “regular” cars, I’ve had a good time being involved with the Power Racing Series, where we modify children’s toys and race them. Milwaukee has had a team since the start, and I’ve been involved for three seasons now. It really is a combination of serious fun and serious engineering, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that repairing a car body by drilling holes in the plastic and connecting pieces with zip ties is the right way to do it.

Zip Ties

Yup, totally serious. That’s how I repaired my wife’s car this past weekend. Drilled holes, connecting pieces with zip ties. Done. (And yeah, this isn’t the first time I’ve repaired this car with zip ties!)

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