RazEr: The MITburgring Ostschleife

It’s legit. Yet again!

Of course the first thing I did after making sure the motor worked was throwing it on RazEr. Then, over the past week, I have been beating the crap out of it by commuting everywhere – when I could. The weather has been abhorrent over the weekend.

I’m proud to say that everything has been working flawlessly. The scooter is almost excessively stealthy due to its low profile nature. When fully loaded, the motor makes a very attenuated “brushless whistle” that’s just enough to cause people in front of me to move out of the way instinctively, but they’re not really sure what on earth it is.

Well, until I fly by.

So let’s backtrack and see what happened.

Once again, I start with the finished product. Remounting the motor into the scooter was not a difficult affair, since the center hub and shaft was the same. Otherwise, it just involved hooking up a few wires again. It was nice to see something working after it had been sitting idly on a hook for a year.

Here’s a shot of the business end. Those side rails which form the wheelie bar have been around since the very first wheelmotor iteration!

It turns out that having the motor oriented towards the right side was not exactly a good design choice. I should have installed the can the other way – when torque is applied externally to this orientation, the wheel tries to unscrew the locking ring. This happened a few times in testing, so I ended up Loctiting the ring to the can threads.

Such a reversible process.

Here’s the important parts of the vehicle. If you have never seen this before, there are two 5AH LiPoly packs which form most of the belly volume. The remaining volume up front holds a big model airplane motor controller and a servo tester to convert an analog throttle voltage to R/C signal PWM.

Also, a bunch of LEDs.

Here’s a closeup of the flip side of the motor, the removable faceplate. Technically this should have been on the wire exit side, but it was 5 in the morning when I installed everything and I don’t feel like pulling it apart again.

This was actually the most fun part of the rebuild. I didn’t have another resistive throttle available, because they had all began malfunctioning. The cheapo servo tester I used actually doesn’t take a voltage and turn it into a pulse; it performs a timed discharge of a capacitor through a resistance. This was fine and all when the servo tester was used with the knob it came with, but it meant that I could only use a resistive method of interfacing the throttle. A standard cheap Hall Effect throttle puts out a voltage and won’t let a cap discharge through it.

So I did what any desperate engineer would do – I whipped up a slumthrottle out of some aluminum bits, a potentiometer, and a long extension spring used in torsion. It works better than it should. Using this, I recalibrated the throttle endpoints of the controller and also changed a few settings such as timing and startup.

With this, I went rocketing down the hallway a few times. Because I’m here writing this, you know it worked.

And boy did it work. Here’s the high score of the day, about 1,200 watts on a good launch. I’ve since pulled almost 1,400 by bringing my ‘kick start’ speed closer and closer to the controller’s minimum pickup speed.

The controller, being sensorless and aircraft-optimized, has a minimum speed below which it thinks the motor is stalled and will refuse to start. The “base speed” for Razer is about 5 miles per hour, below which the motor will not actually produce torque when commanded.

And here is RazEr after the “maiden IRL voyage” back at East Campus.

I’ve been using the scooter to commute every change I’ve gotten, just to put as many miles on it as possible. Nothing has yet broken, nor started shaking apart. I’ve been purposefully using sidewalks and cobblestone paved pathways whenever possible just to see what WOULD shake apart first, but the motor and other systems have remained steadfast.

The total mileage on this motor is probably 3 or 4 by now. A single cross campus trip consumes about 0.25 amp hours, and the longest trip so far has consumed 1.3 amp hours.

Here’s a Google map of the most recent “long haul”. I began with a cross campus round trip, then quickly followed with an continuous loop around the eastern half (third?) of campus. The distance was 1.89 miles, so given the 1.3 AH consumption, we can figure that RazEr has a “mileage” of about 25 watt hours per mile.

I’ll try to time a “campus loop” now that the weather is nicer. I’ve monikered the continuous strip of sidewalk and bike path bounded by Massachusetts Avenue, Vassar Street, Main Street, and Ames Street as the “MITburgring Ostschleife”, after the Nurburgring.