Editor's note: This entertaining bit was sent in by EE Times Guru Dwight Bues (Charles Picek's nephew). The events recounted here took place in the Fall of 2010. More EV charging stations have been popping up across the country (see more info in Brian Fuller's Drive for Innovation posts). And if he took the same trip now, Mr Picek would probably have a much easier time plotting his course. Have any info on new charging stations between Ft. Myers and Daytona Beach? Please go ahead and post your updates in the comments field.
Oh, and Dwight says that Charles Picek now has a Tesla Model S on order. I only hope I'm so energetic at 90!
Engineers are quite often stereotyped as "techno-geeks" but this observation is limited to classic "geek" items such as computers and other electronics (TVs, stereos, iPhones, etc.). There are a few noble souls that combine the "techno-geek" and "gear-head" (car enthusiast) in one. My long and widely varied career (along with my PE status), as well as a life-long love of automobiles, puts me in this new "techno-gearhead" category. Thus, my interest in the Tesla automobile.
The Tesla is my dream: for those of you who don’t know, a Tesla is an incredible combination of LOTS of "high-tech" components on a Lotus Elise platform, guaranteeing permanent "Bad Ride–owner" status to this young-old guy. I’m sure that if that doesn’t give me "street cred" right off the bat, the first 50 yards away from a stoplight will make a believer out of any Camaro, Corvette, or Porsche driver. Obviously, I had to restructure my retirement funds a bit to acquire this $150K+ roadster, but I finally did it and have been having a blast ever since.
I first caught the Tesla "bug" a few years back, before the passing of my darling wife. We had other priorities at the time, but I kept up-to-date with the engineering developments of the Tesla. For instance, the original model had a two-speed transmission, but they have improved and simplified the car since then. The current version is even more reliable and fun to drive. I also needed to get a backup camera, since the rear view of this vehicle is very limited. Luckily, it is wireless between the camera and the monitor so all I need is +12V to power everything. Who would want to drill holes in a $150,000 car, anyway?
I originally conceived of the Tour d’Florida when my friends Cliff and Doris (who live in Daytona Beach) invited me for a visit. I also own a Lincoln, but I thought that with a little ingenuity and some preparation, I could drive there and back in the Tesla. So, I finally DID make the big trip to the East Coast…after the second try. Apparently part of the preparation is making a LOT of phone calls.
I charged up on 120v here in Ft Myers (the Tesla has a 230 mile range, if you don’t push it TOO fast) and made it to Placida with 150 miles left on my charge and I topped it of on 120V. The next day I made it to Tampa where the owner of the Hilton Garden Inn has a Tesla and a 240V charging station. There it took only 3 hours to top it off to a 230-mile range while I had lunch. Then I drove all the way to Daytona Beach to Cliff and Doris' house and ended up with only 37 miles left. There I had to put it only on a 120V 10 Amp system. It took 37 hours to top it up to the full 230-mile range. Of course, that required me to stay over two days (luckily, they are good friends). Going back it was the reverse (Tampa, Placida & Ft Myers).
Boy, until they get some charging stations established around the countryside, it is a problem getting around unless you have friends with charging stations. I know New York has started setting up a lot of stations and Florida is trying. I also know another guy in Orlando with a 240V system in his garage (I can use it whenever he is home, but he travels a lot). Anyhow it was a fun trip. I'm meeting a lot of new and interesting people. Now you know what an 88 year-old retired engineer does for fun!!!
Charles R. Picek, PE (retired), graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a BE in Chemical Engineering. His 50+ year career includes involvement in the Petrochemical, Fertilizer, Pharmaceutical and Environmental industries. He holds several recent patents on filters and processes for his groundbreaking work in Water Purification and in situ Serum Sterilization. He has also served as Vice President of Engineering AMF, Cuno Division, Sales Development for the Pall Corporation, and President of the consulting group of CRP Associates. He is currently enjoying retirement in Florida, including his first loves: Boating and Fishing. His story was told to and ghost written by his nephew Dwight Bues, EE Times Guru.