July 29th, 2010 by peter
I had the opportunity to attend the Plug-in 2010 conference at the San Jose McEnergy Convention Center yesterday by volunteering for Plug-in America. Sherry and Marc of PIA reignited my interest in EVs back when Sherry’s book came out, so I was eager to contribute and get to catch up on the latest in the EV world.
Well, the biggest news to come out of Plug-in 2010 was the Chevy Volt pricing. GM was planning on releasing the pricing at about 10am on Tuesday, but Bloomberg had already leaked it by 8:30am when attendees were finishing up breakfast and coming into the exhibition hall. Oops.
Nissan scored the best spot in the hall right in front of the entrance, with Chevy to the left. Even before attendees came in, there were at least half a dozen people hovering around the Leaf. The Volt– well I saw two camera men setting up for the GM press conference.
There had been speculation that the Volt would cost about $45,000. This was correct. The Volt’s MSRP will be $41,000 with another $4k in options. The other choice is a $350/month lease– not sure what GM will require down. The Leaf is about $33,000. GM had one ace up it’s sleeve to beat the price difference and perceived better reliability of the Nissan offering: an 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty.
Except that right after the GM press conference, the head of Nissan North America announced that Nissan would match Chevy’s warranty.
The GM Volt team members walking around looked rather dejected, versus the Nissan employees, who were giddy. To be fair, the Volt looks like an all right car, and for those who need the range, it offers something the Leaf doesn’t have. But the Leaf looks really good inside and out, and it’s a whole lot cheaper.
The big news for me was the explosion in charging options. At least half a dozen companies– consuming at least 1/3 of the floor– were offering some sort of charging solutions. Several of these companies also overlap home and industrial automation, angling for a position in the coming smart grid.
The conference was much bigger than two years ago and definitely more interesting. However, it is tiny compared to something like the SF International Auto Show. Then again, it costs a whole lot more too.
I ran into David Herron, owner of the visforvoltage.com forum, and also Kane Fortune and Colin from Fortune-Hanebrink, makers of the Hanebrink All Terrain Electric Bicycle. I’d been wondering how Hanebrink had managed to use a hub motor for a bottom bracket drive. I couldn’t find a reasonably powerful hub motor that could fit in between a set of pedals. Well, the answer is, neither could Hanebrink, because they had to increase the spacing between the cranks (called Q-factor) by, well, quite a lot. The hub motor axle was shortened on the non-drive side and beefed up on the drive side. It was a little hard to make sense of all that’s going on, but there are some free wheels, sprockets, and bearings in there… take a look at the photos below.
I also had fun talking to the folks from EETrax in Boulder, Colorado. They sell parts for EVs but in their spare time build crazy electric vehicle and drink beer. My kind of fun.
FYI, parking at the convention center is $20– but you can park on the street just a few blocks away for free.
100727 Plug-In 2010 Conference23 pictures
San Jose McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, CAJul 28, 2010
July 21st, 2010 by peter
The City of San Mateo is developing a 5 year Bikeways Master Plan aimed at increase bicycle usage and is currently accepting feedback from the public. The primary goals are to reduce automobile usage and increase bicycle/pedestrian mode share for trips less than 1 miles to 30% by 2020. I attended the San Mateo Bickeways Master Plan meeting last Wednesday, July 14th to participate. I expected a dry, boring event, but I was completely wrong. I walked out excited about the city’s plans for cyclists.
The meeting started in the council chambers where a group of consultants hired by the city introduced the background and goals of the Master Plan before taking us over to the atrium to speak with city representatives at several stations about possible changes.
Afterwards, the attendees broke into five groups of ten for sessions covering our bicycle usage habits, problem areas within the city, and solutions to those problems. Back in the council chambers, representatives from each group spoke about each teams best recommendations for the city.
My group was extremely excited about our first suggestion– a “bicycle superhighway” paralleling the Caltrain tracks proposed by one of the city board members in our group. Not only does Caltrain serve the critical North-South route, but it cuts through the center of the city, making access from most locations in the city to the “highway” convenient. Although it sounds like a daunting task, most bicycle improvements are funded as attachments to other public works and California recently approved a high speed rail system which may use the Caltrain right of way. The rail line would be enclosed and a bicycle path could be incorporated into the design on the outside. This would extend the whole system along the peninsula!
The idea of being able to cruise, without stop lights or signs, from San Francisco to San Jose excited everyone.
We all agreed that the existing system of bike lanes and routes has many short comings. Many patches of accessibility are not connected and there is too much emphasis on bicycle facilities on major roads. Delaware, for example, is a major North-South route, however, nobody feels comfortable taken inexperienced riders on Delaware and the condition of the road is very poor, especially around 92. Additionally, access across 101 is poor, especially the total cluster at 3rd Ave.
Other popular ideas were development of the city waterways to include bicycle paths; consistent, visible parking in downtown; and a proposal for a trial to remove a car parking space on the corner of each block in downtown and addition of raised bicycle parking. This would make parking easy to find and also solve one of the major issues downtown: the sidewalks are not wide enough for bicycle parking. Currently, there are places to lock bicycles in the parking garage. However, few participants were even aware of these and most didn’t want to park in the dark, uninviting (and seemingly unsafe) the first level or walk up to the second level.
Another interesting idea was to re-purpose parking meters after conversion to an electronic parking system. The posts left over from the meters could be used for locking bicycles. A nice addition for electric bicycles would be to install electrical outlets on some posts.
Finally, the city must coordinate with neighboring cities as, at least in our group, no one bicycled exclusively within San Mateo.
May 14th, 2010 by peter
I’ve been looking at a lot of 1950s advertising for design cues for posters. In regards to technology, it seems that electric toasters and refrigerators were the craze back then– a little difficult to adapt to bicycle.
However, the design elements cross over easily enough. The fonts used were quite different from today– some fancy sans fonts and hand painted ones. There were often rounded geometric shapes such as elllipses and boomerangs. And of course, the colors. Here are a few handy links for palettes:
And finally, a handy CYMK to RGB color value converter.
Without further ado, here’s a poster created using the above resources.
March 23rd, 2010 by peter
I remember watching Forbidden Planet in college. That was a decent movie, a bit silly now (especially the music) but it’s still well rated on imdb. Many of its other 50′s sci-fi B-movie brethren never fared so well. While the movies were bad… there were also the posters.
All the absurdity of these hastily made, far fetched movies summarized in one extremely loud poster– monsters, screaming women, military men, and ludicrous speech bubbles. I guess it was hard to make a scary poster back then because usually some text in the poster had to explain just how scary the movie was.
Well, here’s our own scary thought: electric transportation.
March 23rd, 2010 by peter
The Maker Faire Bay Area 2010 is exactly two months from today. Exhibitor applications opened up a couple of weeks ago but we wanted to get it done in style so it took a little while to put the entry together, but the submission went in today. Apparently, we’ll hear back April 7th whether we’re in– stay tuned. (UPDATE: the application was accepted!)
This year, it’s going to be a trip to the future with a retro twist. Check out the video!
August 19th, 2009 by peter
HybridMojo displayed the tandem electric bike, Electro Ball pedal generator test of strength, and the electric vehicle educational display at the second annual Take Flight for Kids event at San Jose’s Reid Hillview Airport. It was a particularly hot day in San Jose but we enjoyed the company of the presenters around us and especially had fun at the miniature robot combat booth.
June 5th, 2009 by admin
HybridMojo was located in Bike Town at the 2009 Maker Faire in San Mateo. Our booth included not only a few electric bicycles, but educational information on sustainability, basic ev components, and how to build bicycles. The carnival themed test of strength pedal generator from the Google I/O Developer conference was back once again, this time with the reliable MY1018 motor.
The fair organizers put an entrance right nearby us, so we got quite a bit of traffic. The upgraded booth probably helped too, as it was more elaborate than any in sight. And amusingly for us, we had debated how to hang our bright orange banner so we clipped it to the ends of two 10 foot sections of EMT. This sign became a meeting place of sorts, with folks on cell phones milling about trying to meet up with friends using the sign as a landmark.
Last year, everyone wanted to know max speed and range so we created information sheets that hung off the bikes. This year, by far the most common questions were whether the bikes have “regen” and why the tandem is powered by Makita batteries– so we’ll be updating the website and information sheets accordingly.
Many thanks to Sherry and Bridgette and the rest of the crew who put the show on. Great time as always. And thanks to our crew– Ben, Sheila, Victor, and Mike!
090530 Maker Faire 200949 pictures
San Mateo Expo Center, San Mateo, CAMay 30, 2009
May 27th, 2009 by peter
HybridMojo will be featured at the After Hours Playground at the Google I/O Developer Conference this Wednesday, May 27th from 6:30pm to 10:30pm at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. We’ll have the best parts of our display plus a feature on bicycle route planning using Google Maps. Sheila, Louie, and Peter will be manning the booth. We’ve been working hard to get ready and are looking forward to mingling with the Google developers!
Google IO Developer Conference17 pictures
Moscone Center, San Francisco, CAMay 28, 2009
March 9th, 2009 by peter
Saturday was quite crowded and attendees with seminar passes spent most of it in class rooms. There was a mix of classes from Ben Serotta’s life story with Q&A to Keith Anderson’s narrated gallery of frame painting photos. I felt that Friday’s speakers were excellent presenters and unfortunately Saturday’s speakers fell somewhat short of their predecessors. However, Sunday was a definite highlight as I skipped all but one seminar and had some great conversations on the show floor. My mission from the outset had been to talk with every exhibitor (I think there were almost 100) but by 3pm I was starting to go hoarse and had only made it through half of them. I had done my homework by visiting every exhibitor’s website beforehand and picking out my favorites, but it turned out that quite a few of the people whom I did not mark down were actually really cool. For example, Dave Wages of Ellis Cycle had some really sweet brazed frames where he had run all the cabling through the tubing in creative ways– I guess I wasn’t the only one who felt that way because he won an award for his technique at the end of NAHBS. I tried hard to find recumbent focused builders too but there weren’t too many. While at the Naked booth, realized I was talking to Sam Whittingham, the world land speed record holder on a bicycle. ”Fast Freddy” Markham was also at the RR Velo booth.
Note to self for next year: stand closer to Don Walker during the awards presentation if you want free swag. Don did his best to try and throw the rain jackets and other items all the way to the back of the crowd by the Southwest Frameworks booth but the realities of aerodynamics kept us from getting any freebies.
Many thanks to Don Walker, the volunteers, and the builders. It was a very educational experience and my only regret is that I haven’t attended in past years!
February 28th, 2009 by peter
The first day of NAHBS was great. My day started off with Carl Strong’s seminar on the business of framebuilding, followed by a bike fitting seminar from Woodford bikes in Wisconsin. Afterwards I had some free hours during which I only made it through a few builders exhibits– Billenky, Carl Strong, David Kirk, Richard Adams, Sycip (also from San Francisco), and Sillgey to name a few. Everyone has been really cool and I’ve picked up quite a few good tips. There is definitely a range of opinion on some topics– how much tooling you should have, for example– but everyone is helpful.
One thing that surprises me slightly is that no one has heard of the Maker Faire, a definite fixture in the “maker” community in the SF Bay Area. Brent Curry of Bike Forest in Toronto even had a poster of his couch-cumbent bike (a love seat turned into a tandem recumbent) posted at his booth. The couch-cumbent is perfect Maker Faire material.