Mutant vehicle advise needed on the small scale.

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding the building and creation of mutant vehicles in Black Rock City
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artbjorn
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Mutant vehicle advise needed on the small scale.

Post by artbjorn » Wed Nov 19, 2014 4:09 pm

I am looking to build a single person mutant (cupcake size) and am wondering if there are suggested brands or things to look out for in buying a mobility scooter, ie: are you using the stock axles or doing a chain drive to a beefier unit? My design will require a joystick control.

Thanks,
Stitch

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Re: Mutant vehicle advise needed on the small scale.

Post by Elliot » Wed Nov 19, 2014 7:23 pm

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rmc50
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Re: Mutant vehicle advise needed on the small scale.

Post by rmc50 » Thu Nov 20, 2014 4:52 pm

The main question I would ask is : How much use do you intend to get from this?

If you intend to utilize this vehicle on a daily basis and make trips to the deep playa then you need to consider the range and recharge of batteries for any electric vehicle.

When you look at the specifications for a mobility scooter consider that the range is given under ideal conditions: hard pavement, new batteries, full charge, low or typical weight.

For your mutant vehicle, things you add on will increase the weight. You will NOT be on hard pavement and dirt will dramatically increase power consumption. If you can't plug it in and let it charge all night you probably won't be starting with a full charge on the batteries. If you wish to go at night, all the lights you will need to put on will further draw power.

I would recommend that you adapt the vehicle to utilize larger batteries and make it really easy to swap the batteries out. Leave one set of batteries at camp, getting a charge whenever generator power is available and then swap the batteries out each morning.


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Captain Goddammit
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Re: Mutant vehicle advise needed on the small scale.

Post by Captain Goddammit » Thu Nov 20, 2014 6:23 pm

Tell us all about it! There's several of us on here who love M/Vs and have been building them (and hot rods!) a long time.
What are you planning on making? the answers to your questions depend on all sorts of things.
To speak in really general terms, gas engines edge out electric on the playa due to range and recharge times, but if you're set on scooter mechanicals we'll go from there.
Bigger wheels and tires are something to think about; some years, the playa is hard and smooth, some years it's very soft, silty, and rippled. You don't know what you're gonna get, and bigger tires are the safer bet.
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Re: Mutant vehicle advise needed on the small scale.

Post by ranger magnum » Thu Nov 20, 2014 10:02 pm

This ^^^^^

Captain is right on. Id totally go gasoline power if possible. I drive a Gator around Playa during my shifts, and this year the Playa was so soft and deep, that it nearly stopped me in my tracks.
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Re: Mutant vehicle advise needed on the small scale.

Post by AntiM » Fri Nov 21, 2014 4:11 am

Moved over to Transportation, where it is a better fit.

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Re: Mutant vehicle advise needed on the small scale.

Post by theCryptofishist » Fri Nov 21, 2014 7:10 pm

I know less about scooters, but I've heard people say that all electric wheelchairs are made in the same factory in china, with the differences being somewhat superficial. I bet there are scooter and wheelchair groups all over the web who would have useful stuff to say.
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Re: Mutant vehicle advise needed on the small scale.

Post by Shoeshine » Wed Dec 17, 2014 12:25 am

Rock on for the small MV... the party buses are damn cool but I love the ingenuity and creativity of the small ones just as much.

My MV for "14 was a hybrid...

gas for main drive train, and electric for a set of actuated moving legs and lighting. I used a mobility chair (wrecked and otherwise useless) guts for the electric portion.

My limit on driving was definitely the batteries (meaning charge time). If you have the cash, I would echo the sentiments of getting a separate set of batteries than can be easily changed out. You, of course, have to determine how you will charge, if you have a camp with a constantly running genny, no biggie. A charge controller with a readout is mandatory, it sucks to get to the other side of the city and realize you aren't making it home. Good news is that most chairs have this integrated. At 2/3rd, or a little less, charge you head in the general direction of home base. Don't underestimate the "squirrel factor" you WILL jettison off in some random direction on a whim. I strapped a Honda EU on the back as a backup. Begging a liter of fuel is easier than charging up batteries from a dead stall. I could switch the lights over to the genny and make it home at night sans leg movement if I had to.

With all that in mind, the joystick is a great controller for BM. It relies on separate movement of two wheel motors to steer. Way easier than a steering wheel to navigate tight quarters. My main drive was a zero turn mower with hydrostatic motors for each wheel. Super maneuverable. Easily controlled backing up. Braking is also integrated... just let go of the stick and you stop.

I got my chair off craigslist for $100 so my experience is limited, but it seemed that they were pretty standard components. If you can find one of the XL ones designed to handle larger folk that would be ideal. Mine was 24 volt, enough for my purposes but there are 36 or even 48 volt models out there.

good luck
and the more details you can provide on what you are building the more folk here can chime in with real life (as much as this is real life) experience.

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Re: Mutant vehicle advise needed on the small scale.

Post by EspressoDude » Wed Dec 17, 2014 6:49 am

A good test of 'mobility' is to try it out on your lawn, or loose garden soil. I got a free mobility scooter a few years back, repaired the controller, put wider tires on it. Worked great on level concrete. Almost stalled in the grass. Gifted it forward, since it would not work on playa.
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Re: Mutant vehicle advise needed on the small scale.

Post by theCryptofishist » Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:02 am

Shoeshine wrote:A charge controller with a readout is mandatory, it sucks to get to the other side of the city and realize you aren't making it home. Good news is that most chairs have this integrated.
All the chairs I've had have been useless on this. They only start indicating that they are running low when the batteries are all ready seriously depleted. Above a half mile, but how much I'm not sure. And that's at sea level on a place that doesn't get playa hot very often. And it's at slowing to a crawl in order to make it that far. I'd love to have something more accurate, so I can plan my usage on any particular day.
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