EcoRider: First Test Run

by Tim Fulton on August 6, 2009

This entry is part 5 of 15 in the series Ecorider

Thats right, the EcoRider is alive!  I got the motor mounted, threw a few batteries on it and was able to do some testing.

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Thankfully, a friend of mine (Ben Nelson – website) who is also into electric vehicles gave me the gauge you see above, and another friend got me the shunt for the gauge.  So, I was able to measure how many amps the mower pulls while using it for doing different things.  This will help me size my battery pack and make a decision on what voltage I want it to run at.  To measure voltage I just used a cheapo digital multimeter I had laying around.

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This is the test setup.  I had two batteries laying around.  One was a deep cycle, and one was a starting battery.  I had to pull another starting battery out of my car to get three on the mower for the test.

With everything strapped or bolted down it was time for a test drive.  The mower ran around great at 36 volts.  It pulled 20-25A while tooling around the yard.  However, I quickly found out that my pulleys are a bit large.  First gear is faster than I’d like it to be for precision maneuvering, second gear is faster than I would normally mow, and third is warp speed for a lawn mower.  However, I am happy that the amperage draw is still relatively low for just tooling around.

This brings us to the mowing part.  Once I engaged the mowing deck, my amperage immediately jumped 75A higher.  This kicked the total amperage draw up to right around 100A constant.  This is definitely higher than I had hoped.  One consolation I have is that I know my pulley is too large.  Going with a smaller pulley will kick the speed back down and will decrease amperage draw some what.

The test run gave me some very good information.  With it I can now make some informed decisions about batteries, their capacity and what voltage I want to run.  But, it also leaves me with some questions like how can I lower the amperage draw to extend battery life?

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