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2007 Maker Faire

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Revision as of 19:55, 29 May 2007 by Felixkramer (talk | contribs) (Modified photo captions)
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The Make Faire team: left to right, Ron Gremban, Jim Bernard, Carolyn Coquillete, Chris Ewert, Walt Ferris , Nick Rothman, Cody Philippi, Robb Protheroe, Tom Driscoll, Felix Kramer, Jim Philippi. Not shown: Randy Reisinger, Ailian Chong, Amanda Kovattana, Marc Geller, Fraser Smith.

Pre EVent Messages

From Felix

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
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

From Ron

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.

Post EVent Messages

1st From Ron

Jim, in case you're worried about not yet having heard that your conversion is working, here is its status:

  1. We got within minutes of being able to do a smoke test before everyone began cleaning up and leaving the Maker Faire. At that point, I made an executive decision to delay the smoke test until we have had a chance to check out the conversion by eye against the diagrams and by voltmeter at a less hectic pace. That way we might find something before it becomes a problem.
  2. We were going to do the follow-up work today until I realized that it can be done later this week, while my Brussels slides must be done by tomorrow (Tuesday) night. So we are scheduling for later this week -- tomorrow if I get the slides done tonight (unlikely at this point).
  3. I found Norm's original instructions for reprogramming the V4 CAN-View in my saved email (something I didn't manage to do while at the Faire), and plan to try again to reprogram your CAN-View before giving up and sending it back to Norm. I'll let you know the outcome. In any case, we can use my CAN-View to verify your conversion.
  4. We have begun a list of things you will have to complete after you get your car home. It is not a huge or extensive list, but contains things we noticed such as the need for some kind of brace to keep the batteries from tilting backward, e.g. in case of getting rear-ended or squealing out with dragster acceleration.
  5. Tell Cory "Hi", and that we hope he had a good time with us -- and your wife that I look forward to meeting her, and we hope she likes what we've done to your (collective) car.

2nd From Ron

James Philippi, whose 2006 Prius we converted at the Maker Faire last weekend, is now the proud owner of CalCars' latest PHEV conversion. An excellent team (named below) did a great job in public during last weekend's Maker Faire at the San Mateo fairgrounds. Ryan ('s webmaster) is creating a new webpage with pictures and descriptions of the process.

Jim's lead-acid conversion has a few special features not found on previous conversions:

  • The battery box, originally designed to house another project's a Li-ion pack, was adapted to this conversion. It features a hinged steel frame with gas shocks to allow tilting up for access to the spare tire. We are considering having a better-adapted version of this box fabricated for DIY converters. It, along with an accompanying wiring harness, would save a huge amount of labor.
  • As with Sven Thesen's conversion, it has a charger custom built at the last minute and donated by Delta-q, a company that is coming out in 2008 with a line of chargers specifically for PHEVs. In this conversion, the PHEV battery cooling fan blows on the charger's fins during charging, obviating the need for a separate charger fan.
  • Jim has bought and installed a CAN-View screen that hides itself, when not in use, in the compartment below the radio.
  • Jim has installed an auto computer that can also display on the same screen, providing internet access, logging, and other capabilities.
  • There are now three cars (mine isn't one of them yet) running with my new control board: Jim's, Chris Ewert's, and Kurt Jensen's new Prius conversion using a pack of his company's special NiMH batteries. There have been a few teething problems, but the second version of the PCB layout, due in a couple of weeks, should solve them all (I don't recommend stuffing any more of the original fabrication run, as each will need to have a handful of mods applied).

NOTE: Chris Ewert has agreed to be our new DIY project documentation manager. All documentation questions and suggestions should be addressed to him. Chris has already made significant contributions to the documentation at PriusPlus and has begun reorganizing the site. He will be helped by Jack Wiren and Eric Simon.

From Jim Bernard

Thanks to you all who made the Maker Faire a very successful event for CalCars. As the new guy, I am very impressed with the team's dedication and passion for the mission. I talked to many Faire goers who stopped by, and their enthusiasm and support for our efforts was quite evident and it felt good.

Plug In!

2007 Maker Team

Thanks to all the members of the two Maker Faire conversion teams:

  • Jim Bernard, project manager -- arrived two weeks before the event and hit the ground running

Technical team:

  • Ron Gremban, CalCars' technical lead and designer of the DIY conversion
  • Tom Driscoll, designer of the previous battery box (Tom and Robb designed the mods to this battery box)
  • Jim Philippi, owner of the converted Prius and installer of most of the non-battery-box pieces and wiring
  • Robb Protheroe, mechanical engineer with electronics experience
  • Chris Ewert, tied with Kurt Jensen as builder of the first independent Prius conversion using CalCars' DIY plans
  • Carolyn Coquillette, mechanic extraordinaire and Prius service technician/business owner
  • Nick Rothman, a Prius service technician/business owner -- and a Hymotion installer
  • Walt Ferris, electronics engineer, did the layout of the control board
  • Jack Wiren, tech writer, working on our DIY documentation
  • Fraser Smith, a last-minute addition to the team, who fabricated all the high power cables during the Faire

Documentation team:

Education team (had the majority of contact with the public, thereby fulfilling a major goal of the event while also giving the technical team the space to do their thing):
  • Felix Kramer, CalCars' founder
  • Marc Geller, co-founder of Plug-in America
  • Randy Reisinger, project manager of CalCars' Li-ion CONV project
  • Ailian Chong, selling Sherry Boschert's book, "Plug-In Hybrids: the Cars that Will Recharge America" on Saturday
  • Amanda Kovattana, selling Sherry Boschert's book, "Plug-In Hybrids: the Cars that Will Recharge America" on Sunday


Photos from Chris Ewert

These are photos that User:Cewert has shared with us from the EVent.

Photos from CalCars

These are photos provided by Felix of