About Scott

I'm a computer guy with a new house and a love of DIY projects. I like ranting, and long drives on your lawn. I don't post everything I do, but when I do, I post it here. Maybe.

Chevy Volt Counterarguments: Price, Government Subsidies, and Operating Cost

I guess for better or worse, I’ve become a Volt advocate.  I’m no fanatic, however.  Only time will tell whether the Volt is a win or a loss, either for me personally or for the nation at large.  Will the batteries fail as soon as the 8-year/100,000 mile warranty is up?  Will GM still be in business to honor those warranties?  Will this first leap into mass-market electric vehicles (including the Leaf and Tesla) drive technological improvements and economies of scale? I can’t answer those questions. But I do love our Volt.  My wife and I bought it not because it was an electric vehicle, but because it fell into the criteria we set for price range (with rebates), performance, … Continue reading

Sparky: MPG Update

Sparky's Grille

Sparky has a few more miles on her, and so I wanted to give an update on her gas stats.  Why the gas stats, and not the battery?  There are three reasons:  I don’t have any electrical consumption data right now*, I would like to know the cost of a long road trip (which would be mostly gas-miles), and the lack of a clear MPG number just plain annoys me. *Electrical consumption data is now available here. What I mean is that the car itself, and the related OnStar apps will tell you that the vehicle has traveled (for example) “211 Miles Per Gallon“, which is such a misleading statement that I find it offensive.  While the car may have … Continue reading

Installing Our New 240V/Level 2 Voltec Charge Station (Phase II)

This is a follow-up to my previous post, Chevy Volt Metered Charging (Phase I). In the first phase, I ran a new dedicated circuit from the subpanel in my garage to the opposite wall to connect a 120V charging station.  In this phase, I removed the existing receptacle, rewired for 240V, installed the Voltec Level 2 charging station, and wired the kWh meter inline. It’s not my intent to write a full set of instructions for installation here.  The purpose of this post is to illustrate some of the installation steps with real-world pictures, which are somewhat hard to come by online (the pictures are rather small, but you can click on any of them for a larger version). As … Continue reading

Sparky Gets a Gift from Chevrolet (Unboxing)

A weird thing happened today.  There was an unsolicited package waiting on our front porch, labeled with the Volt’s logo. What could possibly be inside of it?  Was it a mistake and we got an extra charger?  The keys to yet another Volt?  Well, there’s not all that much to say about it, so here are some unboxing pics.. Ah!  Some… thing.  Well, it’s very nice cardboard with quality printing (the picture doesn’t do it justice). It looks like a book. Oh, it is a book!  And some other literature.  Wait, what?  Is that a Flip digital video recorder?  Yes, in fact it is a Flip DVR.  How odd.  In the enclosed letter is says something like “[..] record all … Continue reading

Chevy Volt Charge Cord – Hot During Charge

I thought I’d throw this one out there because it seems I’m not the only one observing this problem.  My Volt’s 120V charge cord and the short plug lead are running hot during charging. You can see some other people’s input here, on this archived forum thread (I was not involved in the thread, but it came up first in a related Google search): http://gm-volt.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-6581.html This is my charging setup (still waiting on the 240V Voltec Charging Station): To connect to the Volt, about half the length of the charge cord has to be unwound. I noticed yesterday that the plug (the NEMA 5-15R) was very warm.  The plug lead was warmer still.  I went on to feel the charge … Continue reading

Why I hate FedEx (Particularly FedEx Ground)

I shop online a lot.  I mean a lot. I mostly have things shipped to my office, which saves me the dreaded door tag at home.  Granted, the door tag isn’t my problem with FedEx, though I would never ever ever ever have them deliver to my house (ever) again. Home Delivery “You want that thing crushed, and in two weeks, right?” Out of maybe 8 FedEx home deliveries I’ve had in my life, 2 were crushed so badly that the boxes split open, 3 took more than nine days to arrive, and in one godforsaken incident we received a door tag.  Right before we left for vacation.  And it was a gift. That’s right.  Since you can’t re-route or … Continue reading

Chevy Volt Metered Charging (Phase I)

Chevy Volt 120V Charger Mounted on the Wall

My wife and I recently brought home a brand new Chevy Volt (named “Sparky“), the plug-in electric hybrid vehicle (PHEV) from Chevrolet.  It’s a really cool car, and you can read about our first experiences with it here. Of course, the whole point point behind a PHEV is the actual plugging in.  The Volt comes with a 120V charger that plugs into your average 15A receptacle, and can fully charge the car in about 10 hours. Chevrolet’s charging station partner, SPX, sells a variety of Level 2 charging stations compatible with the Volt (and most plug-in electric vehicles, including the Nissan Leaf).  The Level 2 charging stations use 240V, and can charge the Volt in about 4 hours.  We’re going to be … Continue reading

Stupid, Angering Garage Door Opener Project

“An automatic garage door opener makes you feel like you’re working in a futuristic wonderworld”.  – Frank Ormand, Pretzel Magnate With the purchase of Amanda’s new Volt, I had to get the garage ready for a permanent resident.  She had kept her old Saab in the driveway, so I pretty much had the run of the place until now.  Protection from the elements aside, the garage is just a logical place to stick an electric car whilst it’s charging. And my father raised me on automatic garage door openers, so I figured installing one would be the right thing to do. Here’s a before picture of the garage: Nothing to laugh at, I suppose.  But the stupid door would just … Continue reading

Sparky, Amanda’s Brand New Chevy Volt

We have a new baby in the house, and not the pooping/barfing kind of baby. It’s a brand-spankin’-new Chevrolet Volt, purchased from Arnold Chevrolet in West Babylon, NY.  They had the last black Volt in all of Long Island. First Impression I didn’t really have any pre-conceived notions about Chevys, and have never owned one.  But we did have a 2005 Acura TL for a few years, and that’s the closest vehicle to which I can compare the Volt in overall build quality, fit, finish and features.  The Volt is comparable in price to a TL (discounting the $7,500 tax credit), and in my opinion is in the same class.  Hell, the front end of the Volt even looks similar to the … Continue reading

The Mac vs. PC Debate (Makes No Sense, and PCs are Better)

I grew up on the Mac vs. PC debate.  Hell, I before that I grew up on Apples.  But “Mac or PC” was the first decisive computer issue on which I can remember taking a side. The first computer I ever programmed was an Apple IIe.  I guess I’m dating myself here, but at the time that computer was the greatest thing since .. sliced apples?  Not only was I programming on a IIe, but I was programming robots, using a Fischertechnik robotics kit.  (Oh, and I was doing it at summer camp, putting me that much higher in the nerd-hierarchy).  5.25″ floppies, CATALOG, LIST, GOTO 10;  The whole deal. At some point we got our first computer at home:  A 386SX … Continue reading