Gabriel is 13 years old. He is passionate about building and making and putting things together, from the moment he gets up in the morning to when he is in bed, sneaking another Make magazine or electronics book under the covers to read.
He has been attending the Bay Area Maker Faire since he was 10 years old and has always dreamed of entering one of his creations in a Maker Faire.
For his current project, a Wooden Electric Kart, Gabriel was inspired by an article on Karts and Wheels in his Make Magazine (Issue 26). As soon he got home from summer vacation this year, camping in Utah and Arizona, he started working on his cart.
He started by drawing out diagrams of his ideas for the cart. He then used a jigsaw to cut out the shape of the cart out of plywood. In the future, he would like to take a welding class so that he can make a cart out of light weight metal tubing. This would make the cart lighter in weight and therefore would increase the efficiency of the motor.
Gabriel’s goal has been to make the cart out of what he and his dad have around the house, as much as he can, to keep the costs down. Therefore, some of the materials were not his first choice to use.
One of the challenges was when Gabriel test drove his almost complete cart around the yard several times. The universal joint for the steering, which was made of zinc, broke. So Gabriel and his dad put their heads together to come up with a solution. The solution was a stronger universal joint made of steel for an automobile from the wrecking yard.
Also, Gabriel was not happy with the steering the way it was. The original cart had a fixed wheel steering. It would go straight or all the way to the right or left. But it was difficult to steer the angles in between or to hold the steering straight. He and his dad are now in the process of redesigning the cart’s steering so that it will have parallel steering.
Gabriel’s other challenge is that the battery he is currently using, a 12 volt battery, is not strong enough for the motor. Therefore, the cart does not go the speed that Gabriel would like to see it go. So he is exploring alternatives, such as using two 12 volt batteries.
The other parts designed and made by Gabriel are the accelerator pedal and the brake pedal. The main power switch was something Dad had already. A reverse and forward switch was purchased. The drive wheels were from an electric tricycle, and the motor from an electric scooter.
Written by Lena Petersen
Editor’s Note: Be sure to look for Gabriel at Maker Faire on Dec 7 as he rides his Wooden Electric Kart around the Faire grounds!