E-car leads to e-future

April 9, 2011

The speed is there, the high fives and the smell of burning rubber. What are missing from these rally cars are the gas fumes.

That is because Jeff Blackman's e-car engineering program at HRVHS produces battery-run vehicles - no petroleum needed.

This Saturday, car enthusiasts and engineering geeks alike can see the local e-car team compete with other regional teams during the Electrathon America-sanctioned rally in downtown Hood River.

Ian Baxter, a senior on the team, is competing at this year's series with a custom-designed vehicle, sponsored by Cloud Cap Technology.

"I used their sponsorship to try a new motor and lightweight batteries," said Baxter, who custom-built his car body from ultra-light woods and fiberglass sheathing.

"I want to be designing environmentally friendly power trains for full-scale electric vehicles in the future," added Baxter.

The e-car program has provided Baxter, and the other team members, with hands-on experience in designing, building and refining operational vehicles.

Baxter, who will be attending Kettering University in Flint, Mich., was responsible for recruiting Cloud Cap Technology as sponsors for last year's e-car program, as well.

Blackman acknowledges that his e-car program, like Ian's newly designed auto, depends on local sponsorship and companies who invest in engineering skill development for teens.

"Google and E & L Auto Parts helped us put together a solar-powered trailer this year to carry our eight e-cars to and from races," Blackman said. "It can charge the car batteries while they are stored. We are very thankful for the support."

Baxter has learned firsthand how much that support means - having crashed during the first race of the season in March, then rebuilding his frame and front end. He couldn't have done the repairs without the sponsorship.

"I've worked on this car about six hours a week since September," said Baxter. "When I crashed it, I just started again."

Thrills and spills are sure to follow with Saturday's downtown rally.

The course runs a loop, starting and finishing in front of the Full Sail building.

Streets in the area will be closed for practice trials starting at 8 a.m. The competition begins at 11 a.m. and will finish around noon.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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