How to build a Solar Powered Trike
The purpose of this project is to build a vehicle that:
-Provides free, 'green' transportation for short distances (<10 miles), thus it must never
plug into a wall socket, or emit any pollutants.
-Charges while at work
-Is cheap, simple, and low maintenance.
-Draws attention to the practical application of green energies, and promotes Fossil Fuel alternatives.
-Reduces excess automobile wear and pollution from cold driving / short, in town trips.
-This is a is a project for Dr. Reza Toosi's 'Energy and the Environment, a global perspective' class at California State University, Long Beach. We look at the sources, technologies, and impacts of energy on our environment.
Link to other class projects, some of Dr. Toosi's ENG-302i lectures, and other interesting videos.
Step 1: Acquire a vehicle
The first thing to be done was completely disassemble the trike and paint it a bright 'fern' green. This step may not be necessary, but I felt that it was in my case since this is a school project that is supposed to grab your attention, and let you know that it is a true green vehicle. It is a vehicle that does not use gas, and does not plug in to a wall socket, which would defeat the purpose since electricity from the grid likely comes from a non-renewable energy source. It runs on pure solar energy.
Before painting the frame, I used this stage as an opportunity to reinforce the frame where the Batteries were going to mount. Lead acid Batteries are heavy, but they are relatively cheap.
One tube was welded in to distribute the load over 4 points on the axle carrier instead of two.
It also ties the rear sub-frame together, which makes the tube the load bearer rather than the weld beads, which may eventually fatigue and fail.
High pressure (65psi) tubes were equipped and the Trike was meticulously assembled in order to minimize rolling resistance.
While the welder was out a battery mount was fabricated, and bolts welded to the basket to be used as battery mount studs making removal easier. 12 volt LED's were put in the reflectors and wired as brake lights through the brake levers that cut the motor when you brake. They are wired through only one of the three 12 volt batteries.