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Feb / Mar 2015
Electric Motorbike PDF Print E-mail
Written by Henry Harvey   

My electric motorbike build

Step-by-step through an electric bike conversion

As a designer and motorcyclist, I had the idea of building an electric motorbike for a long time. The opportunity arose when I was in my final year of an honours degree in industrial design at Victoria University. I rode a 1987 Honda VFR400 to my lectures and the bike started having engine problems. I pulled out all combustion-related components and sold them.

When I was ready to choose my major components—the batteries, motor and controller—I had to ask a lot of questions and directed many towards Iain Jerrett of Astara Technologies. Iain has built several bikes with AC motors so his experience was very helpful. In order to make considered decisions, I narrowed my use scenario. The bike was going to become a torque-happy commuter, capable of highway speeds but designed for city use. This was mainly driven by economics.

Read more in the latest issue of The Shed

Catalina dreaming PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ray Cleaver   

Catalina dreaming

Anyone flying into New Plymouth airport may look twice at a hangar on the western end of the airfield with an unusual tail of a large aircraft poking out.

Few would realise what’s within: ZK-PBY, a 1944 Catalina flying boat, the only airworthy one in New Zealand and a remarkable aircraft with a remarkable history.

Inside the hangar the Cat, as it’s affectionately known, is undergoing major repair work.

This is a shed restoration with a difference. If you think restoring an old car is a big job, this project takes the cake.

One of the key players behind getting the Catalina to New Zealand is Brett Emeny, who said the project has great support from the organisation that owns the aircraft, the New Zealand Catalina Preservation Society. Volunteer work, support and donations keep the ball rolling.

Read more in the latest issue of The Shed

Plasma Cutting PDF Print E-mail
Written by Greg Holster   

Plasma Cutting

Plasma is a state of matter where gas or a mixture of gases is heated to an extremely high temperature and ionised to become electrically conductive. In plasma cutting, compressed air is the main source of supply with nitrogen the gas used for commercial or heavy industrial uses.

The electrically conductive arc is forced through a small, constricting orifice/plasma tip to create a high-velocity jet of ionised gas. The parent metal or work piece is then melted away by the heat of this clean, controlled arc. To put it into perspective, lightning is probably one of the most recognised forms of plasma.

The intense heat of the plasma arc is around 22,000 °C. Compare this to oxyacetylene at around 3150° C or Oxy/LPG at 2850 °C, and you will have an idea of the energy created. To reach this, plasma machines use DC power sources with very high open-circuit voltages.

Plasma is ideal for cutting both ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Aluminium and stainless steels are the most common, as well as thin steels and zinc-coated alloys.

Read more in the latest issue of The Shed

Rocket Programme PDF Print E-mail
Written by Roger Lacey   

NZ rocket programme takes off in 2015

“New Zealand’s space programme” sounds like an amusing caption or billboard slogan but Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck is absolutely serious about making our small country a leader in the commercialisation of space.

After winning the Most Inspiring Individual award and top prize in the Innovation in Design and Engineering category for his Electron rocket at the 2014 NZ Innovators Awards ceremony, he has decided it is time to show New Zealand what he and his team have been up to.

Since the 2009 launch of the suborbital-sounding rocket Atea 1, Rocket Lab may have been out of the headlines but they have not been idle. In late 2015, Electron, their latest rocket, will soar skywards to place a 100-kilogram satellite into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). It is planned that this launch of the Electron will herald a weekly satellite launch programme, based in New Zealand and aimed at satisfying the rapidly growing demand for small LEO satellites.

Read more in the latest issue of The Shed

Man of metal PDF Print E-mail
Written by Helen Frances   

Man of metal

Metal is Bill Martel’s passion. He realises his own dreams in metal and those of his customers out of a very large “shed” in Plimmerton, the engine room of his business, Metalmorphic. One of his most recent projects was a two-storey metal slide between the floors of the Trade Me office in Wellington.

During 17 years of high-precision work, he and his team have made all sorts of furniture, balustrades, ornamental light shades and more, even a 17th-century wrought iron sun dial, four metres in diameter, which they “cut up into little pieces” and reassembled to correspond with the southern hemisphere. One client wanted a 50-metre copper and wrought iron balustrade in which every screw lined up perfectly.

“I like working for difficult and pedantic people,” Bill says.

Other pedantic jobs include 1.5 km of mirror-finished balustrade and handrails at the new Clyde Quay Wharf complex in Wellington (formerly the Overseas Passenger terminal) which had to be dead level.

Read more in the latest issue of The Shed

Industrial style PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Blackwell   

Industrial style at home

My daughter was looking for a large lamp for her husband’s birthday and struggled to find something in a modern industrial-type look that she had in mind. She asked me if I could make something around her thinking. She particularly wanted a large tripod base with an adjustable lamp on the top.

We searched around for a suitable lamp for the top and found an adjustable lamp on a spindle base.

I made the tripod. The three wooden uprights were machined out of beech. I put a half-round slot in the rear top portion using a bullnose bit on my router table. I also added two nodules, the same depth, at the side near the top to allow for the head of the bolt and the nut.

The half-round was very easy to machine in one cut but, as with everything I do on the router table, I used stops and other safety holding devices to ensure that if something went wrong my fingers were well away.

Read more in the latest issue of The Shed