Schultz Engineering Project: Building an Electric Streamliner
BugE Chapter 5 - Tilting Body Experiments

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Roman Blind (Nylon Fabric) Body Concept: July 6, 2009

Think about a Dome Tent (nylon fabric supported and shaped by lightweight poles). A dome tent is very lightweight, waterproof, and windproof. By using nylon as the body material we can achieve these characteristics in a vehicle plus gain low cost, easy manufacture and fast prototyping ability.

Here are two pictures showing the hoops the body would be stretched over in the closed and open positions. The body supported by hoops would work like a Roman Blind when the canopy moves up and down.

Canopy on Pivots: July 10, 2009

Rear Hinged Canopy Demo- still too tall, but making progress. In this series of pictures, the canopy moves with the seat.

Here is a link to a large (6 MB Quicktime Movie format) 60 second video of the canopy, seat and rear hinge point of the canopy all moving at once. The movement is slow due to the speed of the actuator, but there is a parallagram at work. The rear pivot point of the canopy is moving and also the front support point of the canopy is moving, both are on parallel bars that are linked and being moved with the seat.

Later, I decided to fix the rear hinge point of the canopy and have just the canopy move with the seat because this would make the tail and the sides pretty much a non-moving pieces that I could rough in via a shaped tubing/spaceframe.

Test Ride with Canopy: July 10, 2009 On July 4 I did some distance testing without the canopy.

Totally un-faired, it draws 50 amps (36 volt system) at 28 mph on the flat and steady with no wind. This is 1800 watts; a little over twice the juice my dustbin fairing motorcycle draws at the same speed.

WITH the canopy on, it is drawing 35-40amps (1260-1440 watts) at 28mph. This is 70-80% of what was being drawn when riden without any canopy. Very nice riding this way, the wind in face and body is completely gone.

My biggest complaints at this point are
#1 lack of suspension
#2 poor turning radius
#3 lack of reverse

Note: It's starting to look like a standard BugE again isn't it? Cudo's to Mark Murphy for his great design. I like how I can still stick my arm out from under the canopy to wave, signal, get the mail etc. Major differences between this iteration and the standard BugE -
This one is easier to get in and out of,
this one is at least 1 foot shorter (less frontal area),
this one will be at least 50 pounds lighter (due to less fiberglass body work).

Tail Roughed In: July 19, 2009

Date on picture is incorrect. This picture was taken on July 19, 2009. The tail is roughed in. I had everything set for the seat and canopy to be articulating together, with the hinge point of the canopy fixed, when I burned out my linear actuator by leaving it deadhead for 8 minutes by accident...Anyway, now I will just put the body on in a mid-way down position to get it on the road. Next version with suspension will have tilting body and seat.

Poka-Yoking the Parking Brake: July 20, 2009

I poka-yoked my parking brake so that I would stop forgetting to release it before driving down the road (wondering why it seems less responsive). By mounting the disconnect switch close to the parking brake lever and bolting a flag onto the brake lever handle, I was able to make it so that the key cannot be placed into the disconnect when the parking brake is on. It works slick!

Work Done before body panels could go on: July 21, 2009

Lots of work went into this in the last few days. I cleaned up my wiring, updated my steering to have vertical handle bars, built a fixed position seat support, and built front doors that swing out.

First body panel goes on: July 22, 2009

I know it looks hideous, but it's all about function at this point. The body panels are 1/4" sheet foam. They are held in place with washers and twisted aluminum wire. It only took about 1 hour to install this body panel. Whereever the space frame not perfect, shims are easily added.

Body on: August 1, 2009

It only took 2 hours, but I couldn't work on it until this morning. I took it out for a spin up to 45mph and there is very little air getting in even with one of the side windows off. The panels held in place even though it was very windy out. The side window are fabric and held in place with bungy cords. They allow for adjusting side mirrors, getting the mail, using the ATM, waving to pedestrians, or signaling. The side windows are also easily removable for more ventilation.

Now it is time to get the turn signals, brake lights and amp meter hooked up so I can do for a run to see how does for aerodynamic efficiency.

Test Drive: August 2, 2009

I went on an 11.6 mile test drive today at 28mph with 1/2 mile in there at 46 mph. It took .99kWH to recharge per my Kill-A-Watt meter (990watts hours / 11.6 miles = 85 watt hours per mile).

On flat and steady at 28mph with and without the side nylon windows, it was drawing 42 amps at 36 volts (1512 watts). This is about 1.75 times what my electric motorcycle draws at the same speed. At 46mph it was drawing 130 amps (130 x 36 volts = 4680 watts).

With the old fiberglass body it was getting 95 Watt Hours/Mile. So, I've made an improvement, even with my nasty looking body.

General Comments on the Ride: The seating position is comfortable and the view is awesome (the canopy gives great 180 degree hemisperical vision with no obstructions), but the biggest problem now is the noise of the motor. The body captures the sound of the series motor and makes a deafening racket inside the body. My Perm-132 motor would be nice, but better still would be a hub motor...for now I will just have to build some isolation walls and add accostical foam.

Also, strong cross winds toss the BugE around a bit. I weighed it at 338# (rear wheel 138#, 100# at each front wheel) so, I'm about 18 pounds lighter than with the old fiberglass body.

First Commute to Work With Canopy On: August 13, 2009

I went on an 18 mile round trip test drive today at 28mph to work and back. It took 1.5 kWH total to recharge per my Kill-A-Watt meter (1500 watts hours / 18 miles = 83 watt hours per mile). 1.5 kWH is $.18 of electricity, so my electricity cost per mile is $.01/Mile.

For this trip, I rode 9 miles, charged for 1 hour (putting in .71 kWH into the batteries), and rode 9 miles back. Note: Because the BugE has a fast charger on board, this shows how and electric vehicle could be used it for errands with unlimited range if there were places to plug in at each stop! We need parking meters with 110V outlets in them. There are patents from the early 1900's for just such a device! But, today, with cell phone technology and RF ID chips, a person could buy a pre-paid CHARGE card that talks with the outlet. Just plugging the vehicle in would get the conversation between the charger and the EV going. The charge station would debit the vehicle as it is being charged, so that payment would be hassle free.

  • It was a chilly morning and normally I would have had to bundle up on the my moped (gloves and heavier jacket), but I rode with a lightweight jacket and no gloves and was perfectly comfortable.
  • There was just a little air coming in from the front around my feet, and some air getting swirled around by the back of my head and neck (evidently sucked in the from back).
  • There was some condensation on OUTSIDE of the canopy at lower speeds. I need to get some RainX anti-fog on there.
  • On flat and steady at 28mph without the side nylon windows, it was drawing 45 amps at 35 volts (1575 watts) pretty consitently during the entire trip.
  • I had my new thottle lock installed and this made it really nice to just sit and enjoy the view. I could improve the automatic release when brakes are applied.
  • Motor noise is reduced, but not fixed. The foam I added has calmed down the motor noise but not fixed it.
  • I made a cell phone call while riding to see if the signal and noise level would make it possible. The cell phone worked great and there were no control issues, because the throttle locks makes one handed steering no problem.

  • More sound deadening to isolate the motor
  • RainX for the Canopy inside and out
  • Move the steering handle bars 1" forward for ergonomics
  • Start closing in the bottom to help cut down on air coming in from bottom and to isolate motor noise.
  • Start closing in the tail to stop air from getting sucked in from behind
  • Finish some side windows.
  • Fix slight alignment pull to left