My Volt

Posted in Uncategorized on December 26, 2012 by chrischow

Why the Chevy Volt? Number one, the electric drivetrain. Its not a comprimise to driving pleasure, in fact it is the ideal propultion. Its smooth,  there is no bumps in the torque output, there is no gear switching. There is no sloshing of a fluid torque converter. There is no slipping of clutches. There is instant “throttle”response.

The Volt is packed with luxury features. One feature that works great and is never mentioned is that the air conditioning fans automatically turn down a little when you initiate a phone call. There is excellent phone and audio system integration eg. Pandora and stitcher. OnStar is free for three years and lets you manage charge status, setup alerts via email or SMS and best of all, start the climate control system 15 minutes before you enter the car.

Common quetions and answers that I have recieved or experienced first hand.

Don’t we need better battery technology? Or I’ll wait until battery tech has improved. The wait is over, battery tech has improved drastically. We have seen huge improvements in capacity. For example the 1995 GM EV-1 had a battery pack was double in weight and almost double in size for roughly the same capacity. Similar breakthroughs in the internal combustion engine would be insane.

Interestingly, since the battery pack is simply a pack, the “what if” problem of, next year a superior battery gets invented, then it’s almost trivial to upgrade existing volts. This was one reason that helped me tip me towards choosing to purchase rather than lease. Also I dislike car dealerships and car salesmen, so needing to see them more than necessary would be akin to self mutilation without the dopamine rush.

What’s the range? 350 to 400 miles, electric plus the gasoline motor. You almost never need to use the gasoline range extender. I’ve been driving for a few weeks now and have a lifetime of 85 percent electric driving. and this with only casual charging using the standard 120 volt charger. I have been getting 40 miles per full charge.

Isn’t your electric bill going to go up? Yes. But only slightly. It only costs about $1.50 to fully charge the Volt. Given an empty battery and about 10 cents per kilowatt. In other terms it’s about 3.5 cents per mile to drive on electric. A fuel efficient car burns about 15 cents per mile, nearly 5 times more expensive. Yet another way to put it, my electric bill goes up about $35, while my gasoline bill shrinks by $150, for a savings of $115 per month.

Surpassing performance facts about the Chevy Volt. It’s fast. Ok it’s not the fastest car I have driven. But it beats the Camry 0-30, has a better power to weight ratio than the Jetta TDI. 50/50 front/rear weight distribution with 25 Hz torsional chassis stiffness.

Do I have a special charging station at my house? Nope, it’s a standard house outlet that I plug in the charge cord into. The car comes with this cord. If you desire a quick charge you can self install a 240 volt charge cord for 500 bucks.

Is it like a Prius? No, in terms of performance, not even close. No clunky drivetrain. superior handling and acceleration. It looks better too.

How much was the car about 31,000 this is after the tax credit. The crossover point where the car starts paying for itself is 4.5 years. This is versus buying a similarly equipped car that doesn’t have an electric drive system. Of course, after this point the car gets cheaper and cheaper to drive and as improvements in grid power come online (more efficient and clean), the Volt also gets cleaner and cleaner to drive.

Some stats, this car is loaded with them.  So far, I’ve driven 400 miles and burned about 2 gallons of gasoline. 200 MPG. I’m at 85 percent electric and that’s climbing since I had a long drive from the dealership which started me off low. Check out to see what other Volt drivers have been getting in energy performance for yourself!


Volt at home


My Other Car Is Electric

Posted in Uncategorized on November 6, 2012 by chrischow

Last week I picked up a shiny new black 2012 Chevy Volt.

Stay tuned for pics and a full write up.

Its just like that movie, where everything is reversed.

Posted in Uncategorized on January 22, 2010 by chrischow

So how did I get the ol Volvo running again? Well, without the original carburetor? Check this out!

This was the original carb. At this point, it’s about 50/50 sea shells to zinc metal by weight. You really don’t want to see the inside, but I’m going to show you anyways. Overt your eyes if you are nursing or pregnant.

There was no saving this one. The metal was so worn out that even a 5 gallon bucket of PB Blaster wasn’t going to fix this. Sizing carburetors is like voodoo and I’m to cheap to buy goats so I picked up a carb with tons of adjustment. The Briggs and Stratton Flo-Jet which has TWO needle adjusters for fuel. One on the main jet and one for the idle. The carb came off an old 8hp side valve motor sitting in the trash at the old shop. The diameter of the throat, outlet and inlet were really close to the original. About 1″ on the outlet. The Flo-Jet is also an updraft type so it fit really well without resorting to a crazy adapting flange. Which still had to be made.

But yea, heck yea! You hardly see this much external adjustment on cheap utility engine carburetors anymore. Like I mentioned above, it has a needle valve adjuster for Idle FUEL not a silly air bypass. It makes life a lot easier. I guess Briggs wanted a carburetor that could be used on a wide range of motors (cheap) and give the owner the ability to change the mixture for whatever reasons, air density, engine wear, turbos, Volvo mb10a replacement.

A manifold all put together

Random scraps of aluminum and some filler rod.

Test fitting the carburetor flange.

Nexus One phone case for size ref

Update on the Sailboat motor progress, VOLVO MB10A is ALIVE!

Posted in Boat Mods on January 22, 2010 by chrischow

Step one, put it all back together.
Step two, don’t actually put it all together, test what you got with a can of Ether and jumper cables. CHECK!
Step three, put the manifold on and have it idle on the first start! BINGO

Next up, figure out if I need to get a new charing regulator. This motor uses a DC motor for staring and generating. I’m not too sure whats going on in the starter/generator unit. But it is called Dynastart and I think it was made by Bosch. I’m not sure if the windings for the two systems are shared in any way. I dono. Im confidint that its not too too wakey. In fact I think a VW bettle regulator would fit it fine. There are some nice solid state units available too. Here’s one I found today.

First page I found talking about a solid state bosch charing regulator for ‘dynamos’

A place that sells em’

Again, I’m not perfectly clear on what the proper way to switch around the power for the starting side and the charging side. This weekend will be electric.

Spanish instructions for ^^ that

Might move some posts around to seperate blogs…

Posted in Uncategorized on June 22, 2009 by chrischow

Im considering 1. installing my own instance of WordPress on my dreamhost account. 2. Moving some postings to their separate blogs. eg, irwin104.chow computerz.instantchow parkingboots.usfparkingisfuckingbullshit

whadayathink? =)



This blog needs more boat

Posted in Boat Mods with tags , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2009 by chrischow

So true, perhaps If I had an oil resistant keyboard at my “boat yard” (thanks Zach’s parents) This kinda writing might be easier. Nevertheless, heres an update on S/V RonTom the 1976 Irwin 10/4 I own. (note to self. publish that post about the epic voyage getting the sailboat already!)

After many weeks of searching on the CL and other parts of the Interwebs, I have finally found a replacement inboard motor for RonTom. So, its not exactly a drop-in replacement. But, more like a parts motor for that will be part of a franken-motor that will be re-powering my beamy beast.

The original auxiliary motor was a Volvo MB-10A heres some technical stats on it: yea, stolen from

Technical data
Engine MB10A
Production period 1971-1977
Operation 4-stroke
Cylinder configuration 2
Bore (in.) 3.5
Stroke (in.) 3.23
Compression ratio 6.5:1
Displacement (cu. in.) 62
Power (hp) 15
Max engine speed (rpm) 2000

Sweeettt 2000 RPM! The drive to North Carolina to pick up the motor was a bit torturous. My friend Bill and I drove my car with the ol’ Harbor Freight Trailer. One Sunday night and arrived in New Bern about 12 hours later. What? That doesn’t sound that bad? We’ll it wasn’t really, but All of Georgia was fog and then it rained most of the drive up. Then we passed South of the Border but had no time to stop! Oh my! The drive back home was not as complex. But both of us were pretty wrecked from being up for more than 24+ hours.

I found the motor on a random seaching of the google just on a whim. I was probably thinking that some hot new news about the MB10a was going to hit some blogs or something. Well I found one person on a sailing forum (can’t remember the name) that had a post with a link to a craigslist ad for a used mb10a. Cha Ching!

Heres a video of what the motor looks like running.

Again, those are not my videos. I wish! I got pictures tho!
Currently, I have been taking apart and cleaning rust. Lots of Phosphoric Acid dipping… Stay tuned for updates on the motor rebuild and the eventual repower of the Irwin.

su no more, man, i NEED root… man!

Posted in Electronica on May 29, 2009 by chrischow

Like a su junkie, the day i discovered the source of my fix was gone, withdraw kickin in.

So after the 1.1 update from months ago, I discovered that there were duplicate ringtones all over the place. Actually. All the notification/alarm/ui sounds where dupped. Kinda annoying. Well, after 1.5 update rolled through on my adp1 and still having that issue, I decided to take a deeper look onto it.

Turns out. After that update, still dups! adb shelled and cd’ed around to the /system/media/audio/ringtones and saw no dupplicate files? Was I crazy? Yes, but not really, I think after 1.1, Android decided it would be cool to add folder named ringtone alarm etc to be added to the list of available UI sounds. Neato, so a few months ago, when I backed up the phone filesystem, I had a copy of the entire / copied to the sdcard. Bam! The sauce of the dups.

Two min later.. idea! Lets delete the redundant audio files on the /system because, its sacred space, theres not enough room for silly ringtones AND skymap. Sadly, root access is no more, and well /system is not writable to users… wtfmate?


Perhaps its time to leave the safety of mom’s house, and move on to the exciting world of home rolled firmware. There are a lot to choose from. JF, Hykuman? TheMan? Update later, sleep now.

———WOOOHAAA hold your horses, Blinky light update————–

Freeken update, or more like JesusFreke update. After a few flames on #android. “type su ya id10t”… Here’s the riddle of my phone not having su. So back in January, the 1.1 firmware was “leaked” as the latest ADP1 firmware out. Ho hoho It was in fact the Holiday version of the firmware, relabeled as Android Dev Phone and well, everyone was duped. So after that, I let it ride out, no reason to change, after all, it was a good firmware and it worked great. But then I got an OTA update for 1.5 (cupcake), which Jf informed me of, was not likely as the ADP1 doesn’t get OTA updates… Holiday does… AHA moment.

So, that one other ADP1 owner that download that who mysteriously lost your /system/xbin directory, which had su in it… Time to wipe the deal and get an update from HTC directly, or install an “aftermarket” image.