Archive for July, 2008

1987 Red Ford Ranger is here! EV here we come!

Posted in EV on July 21, 2008 by wizbandit

I picked up a 1987 Ford Ranger this weekend for $500.  The engine was already taken out, another transmission was installed then the previous owner got busy and had to abandon the project.  It came with a truck load of extra parts, two front fenders, assorted turn lenses, headlights, grill parts, wiring harnesses, two wheel rims, a whole steering column, a cloth bench seat and a bed liner.  The inside is a bit rough but nothing a good cleaning won’t fix.

It’s off to start ordering the electric conversion parts!


PHEV Prius gets finishing touch

Posted in PHEV on July 21, 2008 by wizbandit

After charging the PHEV with the power cord hanging out of the trunk I finally got ambitious and located some bumper-mount power inputs.  They are made by MARINCO and cost around $12 each.  They mount in a standard 1 1/2″ electrical conduit hole so being an electrician by trade I just happen to have a Greenlee punch that size. The metal lock-nut that comes with it is a cheesy cast style that I replaced with what is known as a RIDGID CONDUIT lock-nut.  It is a bit larger and stamped which makes it a bit stronger.  It was a bit difficult to get the lock-nut real tight being there is only room enough behind the Prius bumper for your hand so in retrospect the next time I will braze two 1/4-20 nuts onto the lock-nut to use as thumb-screws.

I used a standard 4″ square electrical box cover I punched a 1 1/2″ hole in as a backing plate but the next one I think I will use a 4″ octagon box cover instead.  I had to curl the top and bottom of the plate to match the curves in the Prius Bumper, the octagon box cover should be easier to bend.  The lock-nut on the left is the one that comes with the inlet plug.  There are three places on the plug if you want to use screws you can drill a 1/8″ hole and use SS screws.  Be sure to mount with the GROUND terminal UP as there is a drain hole inside the connector to let water out.  What I did, after fighting to get the lock-nut tight was to carefully drill & tap the three screw places right into the metal backing plate, tapping threads to 6-32 and using 6-32 x 3/8″ SS screws to hold the input connector solid.  This I found out taps through the lock-nut and keeps it from turning as well.


Now with copper prices so high I wasn’t surprised when I went to get a cord for the Prius to find 50 footers around $25 for the cheaper ones and up to $50 for the “commercial grade”.  All were either ugly orange or black/red, yuk. BUT!, hear this, around the Holidays most stores have GREEN extension cords!  I ran onto a big boxful left over at Home Depot, #14 AWG, three wire, 15 amps cords 50 feet long for $12.95 each, can you say “scoop”?.  The only problem they had 3-plug ends on them which required cutting it off and installing a standard female 15A cord cap.  Damn, the price on those things HAS SKYROCKETED!! Don’t even go look at the “twist-loc” connectors, I saw some up to $50 each!! The “Pro-Grade” 15A female cord caps were over $5 and most closer to $10, BUT!, wait, Wal-Mart to the rescue!, Leviton 15A Pro-Grade cord caps UNDER $4 EACH blister packed!! Don’t even bother going to the Wal-Marts around me because they are all gone 🙂

I have been replacing batteries this month, the 18AH MK brand are being replaced with TOYO 20AH units.  The TOYO were only a few dollars more than the MK’s.  I buy them from WEST FLORIDA BATTERY in Port Richey, FL, a family owned & run battery business, ask for Bob, tell him plug-in-Prius-Jim sent you!  I thought I was suffering early battery failure but when I calculated the cycles on these from 02/15/2008 to 06/15/2008 with 1 to 4 cycles per day I estimate over 300 cycles on these batteries!  Weekdays usally one with my son driving to school and home with maybe another for an evening trip to the store, all these add up if you include maybe 3-4 for each weekend day.  Here is the new TOYO with the Zener/Fuse shunt installed.

Toyota PRIUS is Subsidizing GAS GUZZLERS ?!?

Posted in PHEV on July 17, 2008 by wizbandit

So you THINK you want to do the right thing for the enviroment.  So you THINK buying a Toyota PRIUS is good for everyone.  Think again. PRIUS “scalping” is in full swing!  Yes, there is a waiting list to be scalped, like sheep to the razor, future PRIUS owners are getting in line for a wallet buzz.

I having been trying to buy another PRIUS Package #2 for months now but I’m not going to be shaved.  The PRIUS is being marked up by thousands of dollars to offset the cost of the slow selling Toyota “Gas-Guzzler” line of vehicles such as the Toyota TUNDRA coming in at a whopping 15MPG city!  My last attempt with a Southwest Florida dealership ended in dismay with a hard-set $1495 over MSRP.  In the local area I was quoted $2995 over MSRP and I was told this morning SOME Florida Toyota dealerships are charging FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS over MSRP!

I offered a dealer to put a big “This Vehicle provide by XYZ Toyota” on the car right near “This Plug-in Hybrid Gets 100+ MPG” but they refused, any Toyota Dealers reading this willing to sell me a PRIUS at MSRP?

With demand rising and supplies falling, Toyota has – surprise! – cut incentives and raised prices. The Prius goes for an average of $25,274, up $869 from a year ago, according to JD Power.


There is NOW WAY you can recover the demand pricing on a PRIUS even if you drive 200 miles a day to work.  You have the LOAN, if you don’t pay cash, the FULL COVERAGE INSURANCE, the INTEREST on the LOAN and remember, YOU NEED TO BUY FOOD!

Don’t even get me started on your Electric Bill, Water Bill, Garbage Pickup and Telephone service on top of a NEW PRIUS to pay for. Oh, don’t forget PROPERTY TAXES!  I will continue this RANT later…

Mis-Tracking Woes…

Posted in Solar Power on July 14, 2008 by wizbandit

Now that we here in Florida are into our 120% humidity and afternoon thunder storm season I have noticed some peculiar behaviour by the Solar Trackers.  With some dew or big raindrops on the clear lens the sensors would get hit with some reflected light and move erratically. I used some new white Krylon paint labeled safe to use on plastic.  They seem to perform a lot better now.  I used some 1″ painters tape around the middle of the clear jar.



This also protects the lid from UV break-down.  The clear jar is PETA but the yellow lid is made out of some plastic that is not UV resistant.

Solar Power System update

Posted in Solar Power on July 9, 2008 by wizbandit

It has been a while since I updated my solar power system progress so here is a brief update.  I’m still making room in the garage to build a “Solar Wall” to hold all of the system and upgrade components.  This project includes organizing my new 60 foot steel arch building that my sons and I built last summer.

The “Tracker Farm” now has three almost complete trackers.  Tracker #1 has 12 KC120 panels, tracker #2 has 10 KC130 panels and tracker #3 has just 8 for now.  My Apollo T-80 charge controller is being “fed” with 6 panel arrays.  The mount on tracker #1 is much heavier duty than the others so I was able to fit 12 panels on it.  I settled on 10 for the rest which makes for a slight 6 panel array problem that I solved by combining panels on different trackers to make six panel arrays.  Tracker #2 has on 6 panel array and 4 left over so I will have 10 on tracker #3 eventually but only 8 now.  Tracker #3 then has one 6 panel array and 2 left over that I have temporally combined with tracker #2’s left over 4 to make a six panel array.  When I install tracker #4 it will have 10 panels and I will put two more on tracker #3.  What this boils down to is three 10 panel trackers or 30 panels broken down into 5 six panel arrays.

Here are the present arrays, left to right, tracker #3 is waiting for two more KC-130’s.  My report of present power production is as follows. 10AM on a full sun day the trackers are making in July 48 amps and the roof tops are making 28 amps.  There are 3780 watts on the trackers right now and 4080 watts on the roof.  At 5PM the trackers are making 50 amps and the roof tops are at 12A.  After 5PM the trackers continue to make diminishing power while the sun is directly west leaving the roof tops in the shade at less than 3 amps from reflected daylight.

My conclusion is as yours should be, keeping the PV Panels as close to 90 degrees to the sun makes for a LOT of extra power.  The mainstream nay-sayers tell you it’s more economical to just install more PV Panels on a fixed mount than to track.  To this I say phfsssssssst.


1) The first & foremost, MORE POWER!

2) Easier to discover dirt, bird droppings and clean the panels.

3) Easier to take down for hurricanes. (Florida)

4) Easier to maintain.

5) They provide great shade, a few lawn chairs underneath, a cold drink…

6)  You get to watch them, look at them, talk to people about them and enjoy them!


1) Easier to run into with things like head, lawn tractor, car.

2) Easier for thieves and Vandals to get to them. (makes video cameras necessary in my case)

3) Cost.  They cost more for the hardware unless you build them yourself like I did. I used old C-Band satellite dish mounts.

5PM UPDATE for 07/09/2008:

At 5PM in full sun, blue sky and 88 degrees the T-80 MPPT charge controller on the trackers was showing 52 amps solid from 3780 watts.  The Trace C40 non-MPPT controller on the rooftop arrays was showing just 28 amps solid from 4080 watts. I rest my case.

Spirit of DC PHEV visit to Tarpon Springs, Florida!

Posted in PHEV on July 8, 2008 by wizbandit

The “Spirit of DC” was here and she brought one Jerry “EVJerr” Asher by for a quick CAN-View repair and fill-up with Electric Juice provided by abundant Florida Sunshine. She had a dead, blank stare, Miss Spirit’s CAN-View V3plus was asleep.  My first diagnoses was correct, somehow the Microprocessors FLASH memory had been corrupted. Having the proper tools here in Tarpon Springs to “re-flash” the MPU’s I told Jerry no problem, well, I thought none.  I downloaded the new firmware codes from the CAN-View site and re-programmed all the MPU’s but she didn’t come back alive.  A quick email to Norm D’, the designer of the famous CAN-View PHEV computer system received a quick response and the means to get the system back working.  If Norm had not been generous with sharing information on the internal workings of his CAN-View project with me last year EVJerr might have well ended his quest only after a brief tour!



Jim Parish (Me) in the white Tee and EVJerry in the blue.

Visit to keep track of EVJerr and his journey across America (and now Canada to visit and personally thank Norm!)

I had contacted BayNews9 the evening before about a great news story on “Florida’s Energy Future” utilizing Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles and Solar Power.  When I called this morning to ask if they were going to come out I was told  no.  Apparently “Powering Florida’s Future with Electric Cars & Solar Power is not Newsworthy”. Tell them how YOU feel, they thrive on viewer feedback.