Winter Bites

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Sure, it looks nice outside, but don’t let that fool you. This winter has teeth, and it bites. All week we have been getting highs of minus 20, and lows approaching minus 40.

I have been out, now and then, to do some shorter walks, but you can imagine what it’s like if there is any kind of wind. Still, it’s nice to see some sunshine for a change.

Today, since I won’t likely be going out, I decided to do some updates on intentions I have for the New Year. Keep in mind, ‘intentions’ are not ‘plans’. They are things that I have in mind to do, but there’s no real timeline, or definite goals here.

These things could change at any point. Unlike trips I do with my brother and my son, who ‘must’ have definite dates in order to book the time off work, these intentions are just clouds of thought.

I’ll start off with some new developments regarding that ultra light raft I was considering, so that I could pack it in to the more remote lakes.

The Alpacka raft that I was considering for this purpose did have some drawbacks. For one, the price was quite high at over $500. Also, the shape of the raft was not very conducive to straight tracking, and I expect that it would spin around very easily. Here’s another look at it, in case you haven’t seen it yet;

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At the time, this raft seemed like the best bet for what I was looking for, but I had to put the purchase on the back burner for a while because of the cost, and other priorities. It wasn’t dead in the water, so to speak, but the wait did pay off.

Between the first time I saw this raft, and now, the company that makes the kayak that I use, called Advanced Elements, has come out with an ultra light kayak of there own called the Packlite. Since I’m already familiar with the fine quality of Advanced Elements kayaks, and I feel that it does have some better features than the Alpacka, I’m switching teams.

Not only is the Packlite more than $200. cheaper than the Alpacka, it also has, what I feel to be, a better design for paddling. Have a look;

packlite2014_19_19

You can very easily see what I mean about a better design. The pointed front end and the longer hull will allow this boat to paddle much straighter than the Alpacka raft. The Alpacka raft was a bit lighter, at 3lbs 3oz. but the Packlite is no slouch at an even 4lbs.

So, with a price of around $300. the Packlite is now on my hit list. My intention is to have it for this coming paddling season, if life works out that way.

Another item on my radar is my electric bike, which I purchased just before the winter arrived. I haven’t really had a chance to take it out on the road yet, but I have done tons of research on electric bikes in general, and I have made some decisions.

Again, just to refresh memories, here’s the bike I’m referring to;

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I’ve done some rework on the bike already, like cleaning up the wiring and connections. I also put some nice glossy black paint on some areas of the bike that were a bit weathered, like the rear hub motor, and the wheels and front forks. Those changes are not shown in this picture.

The biggest drawback of this particular ebike is that it’s powered by Lead Acid batteries, which do not provide all that much run time. Lead Acid batteries are a lot cheaper than all of the alternatives, and that’s why many ebikes use them, but they are very heavy, which will also reduce the range of the ebike.

So, my first thoughts went to somehow increasing the range of my ebike and, in this case, it was either go big, or go home. I wanted a range of at least 100kms on one single charge. With the Lead Acid batteries in it now, I’d be very lucky to get 10kms.

This is where the internet is such a wonder. You can find information on anything you want, and not just some information, but all the information presently available. Forums are usually my go to place when I’m looking for information on something like this, and I landed on an electric vehicle forum called Endless Sphere.

Here I found all the information I would ever need regarding ebikes, along with any other electric vehicles you could think of. It turns out that a 100km ebike is quite possible with the technology we have today. It’s all in the batteries.

There are many different types of batteries these day, but the ones that are most powerful usually include the word lithium in their names. Even among lithium batteries, there are differing chemical make ups, such as lithium-ion, or lithium polymer. However, lithium batteries don’t come cheap, and a fully assembled pack that would give me the 100km range that I wanted would set me back close to, or even over $1,000. You read that right one grand.

There was no way that I was going to, or could afford, to spend that kind of money on a battery pack for my $140. ebike.

However, could I actually build a battery pack myself, for much less cost? Again, I searched the information available on the Endless Sphere forum. Of course I could, forum members have been doing this for quite some time now, and there are detailed instructions on how to do it.

So, I’m in the process of gathering the items I will need to build my own 100km battery for the ebike. I’ll get into more detail when I actually start the job, but it involves using the cells out of old laptop batteries. When these batteries die, it’s usually only one or two cells that are actually done for. The rest of the cells are still quite useable, if you can strip them out of the packs and reformat them into a new pack.

I already have 15 old lenovo battery packs on the way. Each pack will contain from 6 to 9 cells inside them, so that’s somewhere around 120 cells. I may have to buy a few more old laptop packs, depending on how many good cells I am able to retrieve from these 15 packs. I figure I will need about 120 cells to build my battery pack.

Anyway, those are my intentions for the New Year. Let’s wait and see how this all plays out.

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