Sunday, March 23, 2014

Test Run to Providence!

The Team at Brown University
The team took another big step toward the New York trip with our milestone test run to Providence last weekend!  In just over 5 hours of travel, Mark Jeunnette rode the trike/trailer combo all the way from the N52 shop to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island!

We prepared for the big trip with some important testing and fine tuning the week before.  We made some final adjustments and tested out the running trike/trailer combination through the halls of the IDC.  This successfully proved that all of the controls were working properly...and that the trike was indeed faster and handled better than the mobility scooter.  

After we made sure that all of the equipment indeed fit inside of Erich's truck, Mark got to take the trike out for some more road testing as well to make sure that all of the systems and regen were working properly.  The trike held up well after a long set of laps through the parking lot, although we eventually encountered a problem in which the contactors would not remain closed.  Although it seemed alarming, the problem was quickly identified as a bad connection and corrected back in the shop.  Overall it was a very productive day of testing.

The Big Day

The Crew at N52 before departure
 March 15 was the big day, and we were all ready to go, planning to get everything packed and ready to go at 6am and on the road by 7 so that we could be out of the city before traffic got too hectic.  The weather didn't quite cooperate though, and some light rain in the early morning delayed our departure.  Fortunately it wasn't enough to cancel the trip, and gave us all a chance to head up to Harvard for a quick IHOP breakfast as a team before loading up the truck.  

 After getting situated in the N52 parking lot, we were good to go! Mark drove the trike with Erich and Alex rolling in the pickup truck, and I drove the minivan with Roberto, Joey, Jacob, and Eric.  We followed directly behind the trike to watch out over Mark, and Erich left later with the truck.  The roads were a little bit slick to begin, but we made it out of MIT just fine, with everyone on the sidewalks pointing and cheering for Mark as he drove by.

After about an hour of driving, we stopped at Stonybrook Plaza in Roslindale to check in and tighten up some screws and grab some snacks while we were there.  Roberto made sure to point out and take a picture of the notorious telephone pole that we hit with the truck when attempting the Providence trip last year.  This spot in Dedham was the farthest Lennon made it on the ebike before the hub motor burned up:

The trike was handling well and making great time, although we had to make a quick, unplanned stop when one of the flags flew off and Roberto had to go running after it. 

Mark also had to pull over just before noon after encountering a problem with the throttle.  It proved to be minor, and was fine once the controller was reset.  Yet, when we opened up the fairing, we noticed another problem in that the wheels were kicking up all the dirt, mud, and salt into the fiberglass enclosure and making a mess of the inside of the trailer.  We quickly cleaned off the dirt from the electronics as best as we could and temporarily solved the problem by covering the trailer with rags and tshirts inside of the fairing.


We were quickly back on the road and back to passing people who were just riding normal bicycles, until we hit another snag just after we crossed into Rhode Island at 1:15 and were stopped by the cops.  With the minivan following the trike at 20 mph, we started really backing up traffic when we reached narrow roads.  The policeman definitely had some questions about the trike and what we were doing with it, as well as safety concerns.  After a brief conversation, we were all set to continue the voyage, but with both the truck and the van leading the trike and periodically waiting up for Mark.

At 2:30 we finally reached Providence, and headed over to Brown to meet up with Roberto's cousin and some of our friends who attend school there.  It was an exciting 5 hours of travel, and the trike held up well as it rolled on in to the Brown campus.   

After some burgers, milkshakes, and a tour around the campus, it was time to pack it all up into the truck and head back to Cambridge.  It was a fun and exciting trip, but none of us had the energy or enough sun left in the day to ride the trike back over to MIT.  The few extra unplanned stops pushed the trip just over 5 hours and ended up being 51.84 miles, in which we used 30% of our battery pack.  It was definitely a successful adventure, although at that rate it'll be cutting it close trying to go the entire 200+ miles to New York City.  We've got some refinement and work left to do, but we're hoping to make the necessary adjustments and embark on the New York trip soon!


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