Thursday, July 23, 2009

A revised dashboard and wiring harness.

Since I'm changing the type and location of lighting, it's a perfect time to also make the wiring neater and add a dashboard. Here's the design criteria
  • I decided to use the same wire color coding scheme as before will make future wiring expansion or troubleshooting easier. Although tempting, I decided against using a fancy fuse block. The wiring just isn't that hard to troubleshoot. Instead, I'm going to simply have inline fuses.
  • DOT and NHTSA requires a motorcycle grade headlight (which must HAVE motorcycle markings on the lens) and turn signals in approved positions. So, the HI/LO headlight and turn signal wires need to be long enough to reach the front of the vehicle. Same with the ground wires. I'll be keeping the dual-navigator lights in the old positions on switched 12V just because I got-em.
  • I really like the idea of being able to take the cowl off for servicing. So I'll be keeping the molex connector used between the cowl and chassis.
  • I like having the speedometer (plus indicator lights) on the handlebars as well. (the handlebar area includes brakes, throttle, speedometer and lighting controls) I probably could simplified the wiring a bit by putting this bit of instrumentation on the dashboard, but I think having the speedometer on the handlebars looks better. For now, I'll have molex connectors mounted in the dashboard for quick-disconnect but I may make an extension to the wiring so I can run them up the steering stalk instead of having wires going directly out the dashboard.
  • I wanted to fit the dashboard in the area under the arch and have it be transparent so people can see roughly how the BugE is wired. However, when lifting the cowl, I usually grab this lip to lift it. That means the new dashboard will need to be mounted with screws so it can be detached on occasions when the cowl needs to be lifted off.
  • I put in three accessory switches. One for fan, one for the old navigator lights and an accessory switch for future use. I also wanted to leave enough room for a future car radio.
  • I also wanted to put in a "Signal Minder" type box rather than the plain turn signal relay that shipped with the kit. So, I added additional spade connector taps that the signal minder box would need.
  • For now, I put in the retro 48V charge indicator behind the dashboard (rather, behind it which is one of the benefits to having a transparent dash). Eventually, I would like to get rid of that 70's looking thing and buy or build a circuit to allow the digital E-F indicator in the speedometer to represent electric capacity.
  • A more secure key-switch to allow the lights to operate but not the main motor when the car is being shown at exhibits.
First, I drew out a dashboard and marked with a ruler and sharp nail where material should be cut and removed. Then, I took out the Dremil tool and started cutting out material. Even though the material is inert, it's a good idea to wear a respirator for this since quite a bit of plastic dust is generated.

Here, making sure the switches and Molex connectors are in the correct places before running the wires to them.

The shelf is held on by 4 screws. It holds the dashboard plus an extra shelf attached to it out of "L" brackets. The shelf has additional holes drilled into it so zip ties can hang off of it.

Next, I put on wire holders on the bottom of the fan so the new wire runs could neatly go along the top of the cowl if they were either going to the front, right or left on the car.

To make wiring neater, I decided to add some wire wrap around the bundles. Then, I attached the front headlight using a long bolt and plastic pipe for a spacer then ran it's wires through the cowl. On the plastic pipe spacer, I put three large rubber grommets on the outside of it. They don't add anything structural but the grommets look better than simply a short piece of plastic pipe. Finally, bullet connectors were crimped on & the pins pushed into the molex connectors.

What went well.
  • During construction, I've found a world of difference between using a cheap crimp tool and a better one. I bought one for $30. It's worth it. I've saved time and money by not needing to redo crimps.
  • The molex connector pin tool from Radio Shack at $7 is also kind of pricey but it allows fixing mistakes.
  • Using solder & heat-shrink rather than tap connectors makes wiring look MUCH better.
Not so well.
  • The K&S turn signal handle bar control has a special 9-pin connector on it. The connector is hard to find, hard to solder and it's expensive. If I was to do another vehicle, I would consider cutting it off and replacing it with a molex connector available at Radio Shack.
  • Dremil to cut the transparent dashboard from LEXANdoes work but doing so without scratching is tricky.
  • Kisan signal minder SR-1. is a luxury that's not really needed. After buying it, I thought of an idea to give 4-way flasher capability to the BugE without resorting to spending $99 for a special flasher box. I decided to mount an inexpensive slider switch in the dashboard to allow me to connect the right and left turn signal wires together. Once connected, instead of only the right pair or left pair working when the turn signals are activated, both pairs will flash in 4-way flasher mode. So, save your $99. Spend $3 for a slider switch instead

I found a 12-pin connector between the cowl and the chassis is great for detaching the BugE when the cowl needed to be worked on. However, I found it would have been even better to use (3) 2-pin molex connectors instead of one big pin connector. That way, the connectors can pass through the small battery tray hole one at a time so the battery tray can be removed without cutting any wires. Also, the original side navigator lights needed to be taken off as well. Originally, my NYS-DOT caseworker said they were OK to leave on since non-dot lights are considered ornamental. Unfortunately, I didn't get that in writing. So, during my next correspondence, he insisted the sidelights also needed to be removed. To cover up the hole locations, I used amber reflectors.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tax credit for the BugE

If I could have registered the BugE in 2009, it would qualify.

Link to the 2009 rules are HERE.

So for my BugE, here's how it could work....

Is the BugE a qualified vehicle? Yes! It is a three wheel vehicle propelled exclusively by electricity. It has 4-12V optima blue top batteries rated at 55A each. So, total rated battery pack capacity is 2.64KWH. That is just over the ARRA requirement of 2.5KWH.

Would I qualify for the tax credit based on time of purchase? Perhaps. Several kit components were purchased in 2008. However, the pile of parts I bought is not officially a "vehicle" until it gets a VIN. So, I would "buy" the VIN when I pay the sales tax on all the parts. At this time, the parts then magically turn into an official vehicle. If I get the VIN in 2009, I would qualify.

Now, the question is, how much would I get back? The credit is 10% of the cost of the vehicle, up to $2500. The amount of course depends on the final total of the car components I claim. For NYS, I'm only obligated to value the car based on "major components". So, I'll only be counting components that actually went in the car rather than duplicated or upgraded components that were purchased, with intent to use, but were not not installed in the vehicle.

Now for the bad news. Thanks to the NY DMV delay, the BugE really existed as a vehicle only since it was registered (which unfortunately finally happened in 2010 rather than 2009). Meanwhile, the battery pack size requirement for 2010 increased to 5kwh. So, staying with the Lead-Acid pack put the BugE under the 2010 kwh limit. Had I registered it with a lithium pack, it might still have qualified for a tax break. However, I didn't. Ironically, I'll probably be upgrading to Lithium but I won't get a tax break for my doing so. Link to 2010 rules are HERE So, I've managed to avoid every single tax incentive for getting an electric vehicle.