May 27 2010

Buster: Car and batteries examination

So here’s the lil fella I picked up for £3..

This little mock quad-bike is pretty lightweight. There’s some metal framework for the axles, but the rest is all a moulded plastic body. I’d be worried about it taking the weight of extra parts if it wasn’t designed to cart around reasonably large children.
The rear drive wheels are pretty worn, and all are the cheap hollow plastic variety.
They’re a lot wider and with less grip than the ones on the original Buster’s frame as best I can judge from the few photos. I’ll keep it in mind as it may have issues with drive and steering.

The rear wheels have separate drive motors, driven together on a static axle. Cheapest design, but running the motors together should be fine.

Controls are pretty simple. Two sealed 6v lead-acid batteries, a two-button toggle for forward and reverse, another for fast and slow (seems to switch the batteries from serial to parallel connection, so 6v to 12v) and a foot pedal switch to make it go.
The controls on the handlebars are purely for show. There’s nothing in them beside a horn powered by a separate set of AA batteries.

I should be able to strip off a few odds and ends, but as it’s a monocoque they’ll be a limit. And since I’m running out of space here, my Buster will need to be able to be stored outside.
I suspect the control electronics may be a bit smaller, even using as close to 1970s parts as I can. Maybe if I upturn a plastic bin on them that’ll be sufficient rainproof housing.

I was quite excited to find it used two 6v batteries, as that’s what Buster was designed to run on. However when I measured them they only read 2.27v each.
Lead-acid batteries are also not meant to be concave.

My charger wouldn’t read it as needing the charge. Rather wish the charger gave out more information on battery status. Charging complete has the same indication as being unable to charge.

As a last-ditch effort I pried the sealed cover off one of the batteries and found three rubber caps. On pulling one off there was a characteristic sucking noise. All the cells were under vacuum. So I suspect the car may have been left out in hot sun for a long time, and literally boiled the batteries dry. So when they cooled the covers were sucked on.
With nothing to loose I grabbed a bottle of demin water and proceeded to refill the cells with a syringe through the tiny vent holes.

Sadly, that didn’t work. Even after a few days for the plates to re-wet, the readings didn’t change at all. Due to construction there’s no way of getting electrolyte back out again to check the gravity. At this point though it’ll just be simpler to spend the £20 buying a new set of more powerful batts.

[20/06/2010: Amalgamating old posts from “Dreamwidth Creative Blog” into sci-fi-fox.com to re-purpose DW blog account.]

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