PopSci's own senior editor (and senior car expert) Seth Fletcher has a great op-ed in the New York Times today, giving an overview of the Obama administration's plan to put a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015--a plan he says is vitally important, highly ambitious, and totally possible.
A few months ago, we brought you the "You Built What?!" feature about Charles Guan's Electric Death Trap Shopping Cart Contraption. More recently, he released an excellent Instructable about making your own miniature electric hub motor.
I recently moved my shop, and in addition to the big issues, from forklift rental to sleep deprivation, we also had to deal with things like three-phase power, a variation of power delivery often used for big equipment. The old shop had it and the new shop doesn't. So what the heck is three-phase power and how can you convert machinery to go from the more common single-phase to three-phase and vice versa? Read on.
A Variac looks like a sci-fi laboratory prop. For some reason, I have three of them in my shop, and yes, one is just a book end. But they do have a useful purpose.
Variac is a generic trade name for a variable autotransformer. If that doesn't help explain much, let's look at what a regular transformer is, and how they relate to a collection of vintage arcade games.
You remember calculus, right? In a time before mechanized computing was performed by computers, complex (or sometimes just clever) machines were used to automate calculations. One example that has always impressed and fascinated me is the wheel-and-disk integrator, a simple machine capable of solving the calculus equations you labored over in high school without breaking a sweat. While this concept was used most impressively in Vannevar Bush's differential analyzer, an analog computer built in 1931, the chances are good that you've seen one in a more mundane application around your house: the power meter. Click on the photo gallery to see inside one and how it works, and follow the jump for more in-depth electro-geekery.
If a Segway and a foldable scooter got together, they might hope to conceive something like the YikeBike mini-farthing. The foldable electric bike resembles a sleek, futuristic upgrade of the old high-riding bicycles, and it can fold up for easy storage under a desk or in a cupboard.
Lightning bolts may not bring Frankenstein to life, but their blood vessel-like patterns could form the foundation for artificial organs. That would rely on a known lab trick that imprints electricity patterns inside plastic blocks.
It's known that driving a nail into one end of an electrically charged block results in an electric discharge running throughout the plastic. PopSci previously examined this process of trapping lightning, so to speak.
If you've ever wanted to strap yourself into one of those modern electric rides from Currie Technologies, now's your chance. A veritable smörgåsbord of surplus motors, gears, and controls is now available from All Electronics. Don't worry about this selection being a bunch of mismatched DIY surplus junk, either. All of these electric vehicle components are genuine Currie Technologies parts.
Two months ago, it was far from clear whether Detroit's Big 3 carmakers would even exist by the time their hometown auto show rolled around. Thanks to government funds they made it—and as a result, much of the Detroit show seemed to be a performance for Washington; an elaborate sales pitch for the continued relevance and potential solvency of the American auto industry. Hybrids, plug-ins, and pure electric cars, both real and vaporous, were central to that pitch. Meanwhile, Nissan, Infiniti, Porsche and Ferrari skipped town, and boutique electric-car makers Fisker and Tesla and the Chinese automakers BYD and Brilliance staked out sizable plots on the main showroom floor. Here's a selection of highlights.