PPPRS in KC at MF

Harbor Freight

We went crazy a few days before Maker Faire Kansas City and rebuilt a vehicle for The Power Racing Series. The boat that was a basket turned into a duck…

Of course no PPPRS trip is complete without a stop at Harbor Fright. We bought all the pink tires they had. You know the pink tires, the ones the destroy themselves? Yeah, those pink tires…

Duck Car

Duallies again! Brings back memories of Red Lotus, doesn’t it? But this time we did not destroy any pink tires. We destroyed other things, but we fixed most of them.

Duck Car

Ed was our primary mechanic and handled all of the electrical system stuff and most of the other difficult things. Ed has a lot of experience building cars and other things…

Duck Car

Lori (aka “The Lorry”, aka “The Truck”) has raced before in Kansas City, and it was good to have her back behind the wheel, er, well, handle bars… Unless you count the main drive wheel when we say wheel. Yeah, let’s talk about that bicycle hub motor that runs at 24 volts, and not 36 volts.

Duck Car

Kathy went full-on duck, but can you blame her? About that hub motor… It’s built for 24 volts, but after the controller malfunctioned we switched it out for a 36 volt controller, which would only work with 36 volts attached to it, so we added a third battery and went crazy. Things worked until they didn’t and the motor burned up, even though we kept pouring water all over it. Drat!

Duck Car

Well, that’s the way it goes in the PPPRS, you either taste victory or you smell things burning. We did manage to get within the top five during the Endurance Race, and maybe even hit second place at one point. It’s all a blur really, and honestly we care more about having fun than we do about winning.

See you in Detroit!

Powered Up for Maker Faire!

Lotusaurus Wrecks

Whew! We had quite a weekend! Somehow we managed to cram both Lotusaurus Wrecks and Iron Rose into the back of a minivan and haul them to Maker Faire Detroit. Luckily a second car followed us with all the tools and batteries.

It was a wonderful weekend of racing tiny electric cars. What’s that? You don’t know about the Power Racing Series? We take those Power Wheels cars that you buy for your kids, get them for free or super-cheap from craigslist, and then rebuild them as electric race cars for adults… for less that $500. Yes, it’s a little ridiculous, but it’s also a lot of real engineering. Some of these cars will impress the crap out of you!

So how did we do? Well, the cars held up, even through a few crashes, so that’s good. Audrey drove Lotusaurus Wrecks to victory in one race, and Iron Rose proved a dedicated mid-fielder throughout the weekend. All in all, it was pretty awesome.

Iron Rose

Note: We know you want to see this crazy racing yourself… well, you’re in luck! We’ll be holding a race at Maker Faire Milwaukee happening September 27th & 28th, 2014. Join us for the madness!

KC Maker Faire, here we come!

Lotusaurus Wrecks

Audrey has been working her butt off on Lotusaurus Wrecks, with help along the way from Tom, Ed, Tiffany, and other members, to get ready for the Power Racing Series event happening at Maker Faire KC this weekend.

But wait, that’s not all! There’s still a good chance Tiffany’s car “Iron Rose” will be ready to roll at the races as well. I mean, it’s not done right now, but as of typing this we still have nearly 24 hours to finish the build. I guess we can test it during qualifying. ;)

So yeah, if you’re in Kansas City for Maker Faire this weekend, stop by the pits and say “Hi” to us, and wish us luck, and award us some Moxie points… We always need more Moxie points!

#TinkerOn, my friends… #TinkerOn

To celebrate the National Day of Making we’re proud to share these great videos we made with the folks at Liquid Wrench for their Tinkernation web site. Big thanks to Tom, Audrey, and Tiffany for being the voice of Milwaukee Makerspace, and to all the other members involved and our pals at Pumping Station: One in Chicago who run the Power Racing Series.

Warning: The videos range from fun to educational to a little ridiculous. Enjoy!

Red Lotus

All the other PPPRS cars got an upgrade post, it’d be a shame if Red Lotus didn’t get one too.

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Before continuing, I should mention my involvement in this little beastie. I kind of got sucked into the Power wheels group at the space straight away: I joined the space in the middle of July, was riding around Baby Burrito for a parade the very next day, and went out to Detroit for my first PPPRS race a week or two later. Naturally, being a tiny little thing myself, I fell in love with this fast little car. (My goodness, I was so green at that Detroit race, there were orange treadmarks all over that course.) Red Lotus tends to eat through tires, but when we tried a new double-tire strategy, we had to cut the body to pieces in order to make more clearance for the wheels (and to use JakeNStein’s/Mr. Fusion’s batteries, but that’s a whole different story.) When we returned from Motor City, there was quite a lot of bodywork to do…

I started off by reconnecting the hood and the doors to the rear with a few screws and strips of aluminum siding. Then paint happened, because why not. After removing the old stencil work with Goof-Off (I had originally tried to paint over the old numbers, but they bled right through my paint), I sprayed on a thin coat of red with a heavy focus on clearing scuffs.

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Once that was dry, I had a field day with some old Testor’s enamel. The door numbers didn’t turn out quite as well as I was hoping for, but painting out the license plate and Makerspace logo made my day instead. Note: silver enamel bleeds through everything you throw at it. It’s best to not fuss about it and just let it do what it wants.

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Then I made a nice thing on the hood with acrylic. I was originally going to try using enamel, but that’s a level I have yet to obtain. The work kept scratching off, so I put a good 3-4 extra coats of sealant on it.

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Along with a fantastic new disc hub which was hand-machined by Tom, Tom, Tony, and a few other great guys (oh, and a mountain of 99 cent tires that hold up much better than anyone could have expected), the whole upgrade ended up quite fierce, I believe. 

The space went out to compete in the Fort Wayne Makerfaire soon after and we had a marvelous time. Got a bit scraped up, but I ain’t even mad. I think it gives the car more character that way. IMG_20130915_153648

After Indiana, we shipped out Red and JakeNStein out to New York for FINALS. However, there were a few fixes we needed to perform beforehand. We took home Red’s bent up left steering knuckle to straighten out and reinforce. Thanks to Dan, Joe, Tony, and Matt for helping me get that done in such a small time frame!

Once we were all fixed up and ready to race, Red Lotus did much better than anticipated. Along with Jake’s 3 silvers in the 25 lap heats and Endurance race, Red Lotus got a silver, a 4th, and a 6th in the 25 lap races, and  another 4th in the enduro. Red even won the Exhibition/for funzies race! All in all, I think we had a marvelous season, and I’m really happy and grateful for all the friends I’ve made and all the wonderful help I’ve received and all the cool stuff I learned. And of course, for the spectacular Milwaukee Makerspace for being the coolest pack of people ever.

Even though I’m sad the season is over, there’s still plenty to do in the off season. One thing is getting a more hefty pair of steering rods in place and putting in some stronger reinforcement for the steering knuckles. The amount of times I’ve had to pit this season from not being able to turn in a particular direction is just too darn high. Another top priority is getting a second motor onto the left rear wheel so the power is a bit more evenly distributed. However, that may make me too light to drive it without continuously drifting, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing…