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Next Weekend: Public PHEV Conversion@Maker Faire San Mateo: Bigger/Better Year2
May 11, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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This second annual event, twice as large as last year, includes amazing projects, demonstrations, workshops and presentations. Here's how O'Reilly Media, its organizers, describes it: "A two-day, family-friendly event that celebrates arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset. It's for creative, resourceful folks who like to tinker and love to make things. We call them Makers." Join us at the Maker Faire, Saturday May 19, from 10-6 and Sunday May 20 from 10-5 at the San Mateo Fairgrounds.. Save $5 on the $15/day/$20/weekend admission (lower for students and kids) by buying tickets online

At this ultimate Invention/Conversion/Do-It-Yourself event, CalCars will convert a Prius into a PHEV for the second time. Everything will be in public view, with a technical and an educational crew explaining what's going on, and, if our experience last year is a model, dodging the TV and private videographers and tech paparazzi covering the event.

Our general description below, the brief listing at­pub/­e/­339 are complemented by Ron Gremban's
announcement of the event
This conversion ties into both the late stages of the Electric Auto
Association-PHEV "Do It Yourself with technical help" Project and
CalCars' planned spin-off of a for-profit PHEV conversion company.

The EAA-PHEV PROJECT CONNECTION (technical details and discussions at Last year the Prius we converted Ryan Fulcher's Prius with lead-acid batteries. The car went home to Seattle, becoming the first PHEV in the Pacific Northwest. (That vehicle has since been further modified to include a new design by Manzanita Micro.) For last year's event see the Treehugger report with Daryl Hannah­watch?v=51nMDhu7qIE#GU5U2spHI_4, CalCars at Earth Day 2006 Maker Faire­makerfaire.html and much description, photos etc. at­wiki/­Inaugural_Maker_Faire.

We had hoped by this time to have a full "Do It Yourself " solution
for Prius owners in the form of:
1. a fully open-source design
2. public documentation
3. easy-to-order parts
4. a method to connect Prius owners with technical helpers

But this all-volunteer effort is not yet complete. Last November, in Phase 2, we converted a Prius for the Thesen-Kramer family of Palo Alto (no relation to Felix Kramer). You can watch that happen on KQED's new QUEST TV program -- see­audio-video.html and see a photo of the team at­photos-groups.html. That car became the fourth PHEV Prius in the Bay Area. Since then, four other members of the EAA-PHEV group, in Illinois, New York and England have done conversions using our designs-in-progress and control and display systems we've helped make available (see­where-phevs-are.html).

We'll be adding to a stock 2006 Prius with lead-acid batteries our latest versions of the control electronics and cooling and charging systems, integrating it all in Jim Philippi's car. Last November, Jim traveled all the way from Houston to be part of that conversion team. This time, Jim will drive back in his very own PHEV to become the first private owner of a PHEV in Texas, where he lives with his wife Vickie and son Cody. Jim works at Continental Airlines and is interested in solar energy, wind power and energy efficiency. Jim says, "We decided to convert our car in November 2006 and slowly we have been buying parts. We are very glad to have this opportunity to work with CalCars to achieve this goal, and to further spread the word that cleaner cars can be made with current technology. It's better for the environment, and for our national security. In the future we want to put solar panels on our home to charge our new PHEV. We would like to thank everyone who helped make our dream possible."

CalCars volunteer Jim Bernard, an electrical engineer from Pleasanton, CA, is Project Manager for the Maker Faire. Jim is a senior product and business development executive with a background at Sun Microsystems, and Adaptec. He says, "recently I attended a presentation in SF by Sherry Boschert on her plug-in hybrid book. For about six months I've been educating myself on various aspects of Green Technology as I transition from my high tech career track to my next phase. I plan to strike a different balance in my life, one which gives back by contributing towards big goals. I've been looking for a focus area within Green Tech, and may have found one in plug-in hybrids."

In January we announced­calcars-news/­658.html plans to begin a project to install Valence Saphion lithium-phosphate batteries in two Prius and two Ford Escape Hybrids, and create a company to deliver volume conversions (while continuing CalCars as a non-profit). Our motivation was primarily the slow pace of availability to individuals of after-market conversions, which continues (though recent developments among aftermarket companies give indications that may improve in 2008 -- see­news-archive.html and­howtoget.html). While we continue our advocacy activities, we're working to recruit a management team (see­jobs.html, and we expect to have some of the components on display at the Maker Faire. The car we convert at Maker Faire will benefit from "trickle-down" technologies from that project, including use of an early prototype version of an innovative battery box that allows access to the spare tire.

We hope you'll visit us at the event, in the main Fiesta Hall. And if you consider yourself a PHEV advocate, you're welcome to join us in talking to people streaming by. Stop by/stay for an hour/spend a whole day!

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