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2007 Maker Faire

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Revision as of 01:07, 12 May 2007 by Rjf (talk | contribs) (Felix)
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We're a bit last minute in announcing this, hope you can come help. Below is the announcement I just posted to CalCars-News.

To help with the tens of thousands of people coming by, we could use:

  • 1 or two people to help with Friday work area set-up
  • Before the event, anyone who uses Adobe InDesign for some help updating posters etc.
  • A large supply of "Why Plug-In Cars" (I keep running out) and any Bay Area EAA chapter info
  • 1 volunteer for Sat and 1 for Sun exclusively responsible for holding up Sherry's book, being a talking blurb, and selling it (could be 1 person for both days)
  • 1 or 2 volunteers for our Public Education/PR Team; doesn't have to be both days; we're short on Saturday (our Tech Team is set)
  • Of course, the invitation at the end applies to all members...

If you can help, please write back and change subject line to indicate how! Thanks, Felix

SUBJECT: Next Weekend: Public PHEV Conversion@Maker Faire San Mateo: Bigger & Better Year 2

This second annual event, twice as large as last year, includes amazing projects, demonstrations, workshops and presentations. Here's how O'Reilly Media, its organizers, describes it: "A two-day, family-friendly event that celebrates arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset. It's for creative, resourceful folks who like to tinker and love to make things. We call them Makers." Join us at the Maker Faire, Saturday May 19, from 10-6 and Sunday May 20 from 10-5 at the San Mateo Fairgrounds.. Save $5 on the $15/day/$20/weekend admission (lower for students and kids) by buying tickets online <>.

At this ultimate Invention/Conversion/Do-It-Yourself event, CalCars will convert a Prius into a PHEV for the second time. Everything will be in public view, with a technical and an educational crew explaining what's going on, and, if our experience last year is a model, dodging the TV and private videographers and tech paparazzi covering the event.

Our general description below, the brief listing at are complemented by Ron Gremban's announcement of the event at <>. This conversion ties into both the late stages of the Electric Auto Association-PHEV "Do It Yourself with technical help" Project and CalCars' planned spin-off of a for-profit PHEV conversion company.

The EAA-PHEV PROJECT CONNECTION (technical details and discussions at <>). Last year the Prius we converted Ryan Fulcher's Prius with lead-acid batteries. The car went home to Seattle, becoming the first PHEV in the Pacific Northwest. (That vehicle has since been further modified to include a new design by Manzanita Micro.) For last year's event see the Treehugger report with Daryl Hannah <>, CalCars at Earth Day 2006 Maker Faire <> and much description, photos etc. at <>.

We had hoped by this time to have a full "Do It Yourself " solution for Prius owners in the form of:

  1. a fully open-source design
  2. public documentation
  3. easy-to-order parts
  4. a method to connect Prius owners with technical helpers

But this all-volunteer effort is not yet complete. Last November, in Phase 2, we converted a Prius for the Thesen-Kramer family of Palo Alto (no relation to Felix Kramer). You can watch that happen on KQED's new QUEST TV program -- see <> and see a photo of the team at <>. That car became the fourth PHEV Prius in the Bay Area. Since then, four other members of the EAA-PHEV group, in Illinois, New York and England have done conversions using our designs-in-progress and control and display systems we've helped make available (see <>).


We'll be adding to a stock 2006 Prius with lead-acid batteries our latest versions of the control electronics and cooling and charging systems, integrating it all in Jim Philippi's car. Last November, Jim traveled all the way from Houston to be part of that conversion team. This time, Jim will drive back in his very own PHEV to become the first private owner of a PHEV in Texas, where he lives with his wife Vickie and son Cody. Jim works at Continental Airlines and is interested in solar energy, wind power and energy efficiency. Jim says, "We decided to convert our car in November 2006 and slowly we have been buying parts. We are very glad to have this opportunity to work with CalCars to achieve this goal, and to further spread the word that cleaner cars can be made with current technology. It's better for the environment, and for our national security. In the future we want to put solar panels on our home to charge our new PHEV. We would like to thank everyone who helped make our dream possible."


CalCars volunteer Jim Bernard, an electrical engineer from Pleasanton, CA, is Project Manager for the Maker Faire. Jim is a senior product and business development executive with a background at Sun Microsystems, and Adaptec. He says, "recently I attended a presentation in SF by Sherry Boschert on her plug-in hybrid book. For about six months I've been educating myself on various aspects of Green Technology as I transition from my high tech career track to my next phase. I plan to strike a different balance in my life, one which gives back by contributing towards big goals. I've been looking for a focus area within Green Tech, and may have found one in plug-in hybrids."


In January we announced <> plans to begin a project to install Valence Saphion lithium-phosphate batteries in two Prius and two Ford Escape Hybrids, and create a company to deliver volume conversions (while continuing CalCars as a non-profit). Our motivation was primarily the slow pace of availability to individuals of after-market conversions, which continues (though recent developments among aftermarket companies give indications that may improve in 2008 -- see <> and <>). While we continue our advocacy activities, we're working to recruit a management team (see <>, and we expect to have some of the components on display at the Maker Faire. The car we convert at Maker Faire will benefit from "trickle-down" technologies from that project, including use of an early prototype version of an innovative battery box that allows access to the spare tire.

We hope you'll visit us at the event, in the main Fiesta Hall. And if you consider yourself a PHEV advocate, you're welcome to join us in talking to people streaming by. Stop by/stay for an hour/spend a whole day!

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Felix Kramer
Founder California Cars Initiative
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --


Due to uncertainty as to what we would be ready and able to do in time for the Maker Faire, we waited until the last minute to decide what to do this year! Last year we converted Ryan Fulcher's Prius into CalCars' second lead-acid PHEV. This effort, which was successful a day after the finish of the Faire:

  1. helped spawn this website, sponsored by both CalCars and the EAA and graciously maintained by Ryan himself.
  2. began in earnest CalCars' efforts to document and facilitate do-it-yourself (DIY) PriusPlus PHEV conversions.
  3. inspired Ryan and Rich Rudman to develop a different PiPrius conversion kit now being sold by Manzanita Micro.

We were hoping that by now we would have complete plans and parts availability for DIY Prius conversions. Though we didn't make it, we are getting close. I designed a new, much better, more flexible, and easier-to-use, control board (not yet fully refined and debugged, but expected to be complete in time); many people have worked on documentation; and Chris Ewert has a nearly-complete and running conversion in Chicago.

In the meantime, CalCars has been making headway on a parallel project using safe Li-ion batteries from Valence Technologies to design and market in quantity a Li-ion Prius PHEV conversion kit. This will of course be more expensive than lead-acid DIY conversions. Some of the components will be on display at our Maker Faire booth.

To spearhead, speed, prove, and publicize the final stages of CalCars' DIY Prius conversion project, we decided to do another DIY Prius conversion at this year's San Mateo Maker Faire. James Philippi of Texas has been gathering parts to convert his 2006 Prius, and CalCars has a commercially-designed Li-ion battery box available from our Valence project. We plan to bring these two pieces together at the Maker Faire into the best yet DIY conversion, while once again showing to the public and media what can be done in a short time by a dedicated crew of amateurs and professionals.

Jim Bernard, an able EE and manager, has just joined our CalCars team and is our project manager for the 2007 Maker Faire. He is jumping in with two feet at a critical time, as we have little time left to prepare and I will be gone next week at the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference in Long Beach. Many of last year's team will also be joining us for this outstanding event.

Please come watch and visit with us if you can. If not, watch this site for news as well as for improved DIY documentation from the completion of James Philippi's, Chris Ewert's, and more conversions that will soon be complete.


Maker Team

Name Subteam Invited Confirmed Phone Email
Jack Wiren Docs X X (408) 289-4495
Eric Simon Docs (650) 726-4699
Felix Kramer Education X X (650) 520-5555 fkramer(at)
Sherry Boschert Education X Maybe Sun (415) 681-7731 sherry.boschert(at)
Marc Geller Education X Sun, maybe Sat (415) 336-5678 marc(at)
Amanda Kovattana Education X X akovattana(at)
Randy Reisinger Education X X (408) 858-1973
Jim Bernard Proj Mgr X X (925) 367-3243 jimbernard(at)
Ron Gremban Technical X X (415) 924-9409 rgremban(at)
Jim Philippi Technical X X (832) 407-2939 philippi(at)
Chris Ewert Technical X X (630) 880-8809 chris(at)
Carolyn Coquillette Technical X X (510) 435-6901 lusciousgarage(at)
Nick Rothman Technical X X nicholasrothman(at)
Ryan Fulcher Technical X No (206) 280-3054 rjf2007(at)
Walt Ferris Technical X Fri, Sat (415) 250-8822 walton-ferris(at)
Tom Driscoll Technical X X (415) 456-4366 tdriscoll(at)
Rob Protheroe Technical X (707) 849-2422 robb(at)
Ron Freund Technical X rfreund(at)

conference # 218.862.6100 with code 367.3243