Tag Archive | "Toyota"

Cotacachi & Green


One great benefit to living in Cotacachi Ecuador is that no car is required. This a a great benefit for green living.

Cotacachi is colorful beyond green.  This is the mural on the arts center in the middle of Cotacachi.

cotacachi-green

This shot was taken by Dennis Goff and is at his new interactive site for anyone who has been to Cotacachi or wants to find out more about it from other members.

Here is Dennis with us on a trek taking photos.

cotacachi-green

There is more about the new site and more pictures in a moment.  First, a Cotacachi business idea.

Many new residents in Cotacachi have bikes and a desire for cleaner living.

Merri and I love to see this happening. Protecting the environment is of such importance.  This is why we are working with our friend, Mark Owen, to take our North Carolina farm off the grid.

Mark recently wrote this article.

Two Wheels or Four?

By Mark Owen

The ever-strengthening desire for the industrialized nations to reduce their consumption of oil has prompted considerable interest in alternative means of transportation. Today, even the Madison Avenue marketing strategists paint a positive image around vehicles with high gas mileage. We all know that a concept has become mainstream when we see it on expensive television commercials and news segments during prime time. We have seen the Toyota Prius on commercials for a long time. Flex Fuel, Hybrid and All-Electric technologies are currently or soon-to-be available to the general public.  The Big Three American companies, Honda, and Toyota all have an all-electric car in development. BMW put a fleet of 700 hydrogen-powered cars in California last year. On the horizon are hopeful technologies such as chassie-free cars framed with carbon fiber bodies, Lithium-ion batteries for Electric and Hybrid cars, and small hydrogen power plants for the average Joe.

All those technologies are gearing toward making cars that are fundamentally similar to the ones we drive now. Designers and manufacturers have determined that consumer tastes change slowly. And these improvements may suffice, and they may come fast enough to make a significant difference. But there are many of you who are eager to push the envelope, live just beyond the comfort of the mainstream, and ponder the logical extremes of the challenges we face.
I like to venture out there once in a while, out there in those logical extremes. So I purchased an electric bicycle. I have owned it for five weeks now, and I am very pleased. Mind you, I live in Florida where the winters are mild. OK, the winters are better than just mild, they are great. The weather has not yet prevented me from riding whenever or wherever I needed to go. I have fitted my new bike with a child’s bike seat to the delight of my daughter. She and I ride to her school on the smaller neighborhood streets almost each morning now. At a relatively slow eighteen miles per hour and with no car encasing her, she enjoys more of her glorious environment. I have also intrigued many of the other parents that watch us drive up to school.

I also fitted the bicycle with a small canvas trailer. It is intended for transporting children, but I only use it to haul groceries from the store or tools to and fro my jobsites. I am a contractor who works out of a small Toyota truck. I usually go to my jobs in my truck the first day and leave all my heavy tools there. The ensuing days I have the option of commuting to that job on my new bike. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t, depending on the distance to my jobsite. (It also depends on my mood.)

As you probably guessed, these electric bikes cannot travel far before they run out of steam. They run out of steam even quicker if you are pulling a trailer. Even a ten-pound trailer with skinny bicycle wheels. I learned this on my first commute to work. I got about half way there and the batteries died. I had to pedal the rest of the way there. I also learned that day that I should have brought my charger with me. I made it home for dinner that night, and did not feel the need to go to the gym the next morning, if you get my drift. I won’t soon forget that lesson.

Regarding the range on many of the electric bikes available, most of them can travel up to eighteen miles on a full charge. This varies considerably. The roads in my part of Florida a very flat. So that factor is the same as the “typical” used in most range evaluations. Most electric bicycles are called pedal-assist, so you are supposed to help the motor along by gently pedaling yourself. The weight of the passenger(s) is a factor, as is the weight of any baggage. I also learned that tire inflation and brake adjustment greatly affects range. Under-inflated tires or dragging brake pads will reduce your mileage.

I have found that my commutes to my daughter’s school are a very pleasant six-mile round trip. We can go as fast as she wants, I get a little exercise, and I comfortably make it home to recharge before I turn around to pick her up. Going to my work has proven to be sketchy because I usually drive on busier roads, at higher speeds to keep up with traffic, and the distances have been greater. Splotchy battery performance during my work commutes is what affects my mood some mornings. If I have a lot of work to do that day, I don’t want to also pedal half way home. As a sidebar, a fella gave me two supercharged batteries that he wants me to rig on to my new bike. They will strap into my basket. The electrical connection will be easy enough with a one-dollar connector from AutoZone. These batteries are “glass-mat” type from Harley Davidson motorcycles and have considerably higher amp/hour output than my factory-installed bicycle batteries. If I am crazy enough to do this, my wife or I will report back to you in later issues. That article will be a Must Read.
I will certainly keep riding my electric bike. I like the interest it generates, and the ensuing discussions. I would recommend it, with reservations, to many of you. If you are interested, read on.

I have done lots of research on the various electric bicycles available. Many of them are French or Italian. This concept must be popular across the pond. Most the other bikes (not mine) install their electric motor inside the center of the rear hub. I think this concept will work well in later-generation scooters, but If you run out of battery charge in one of these bicycles, it is very difficult to pedal them the rest of the way home. This arrangement also concerns me because parts for this assembly become very particular, very precise. Improvisation during repairs and maintenance becomes problematic. These European devices, in my experience, seems to be Solid State in that their many curious wires all bundle themselves into the center compartment where there are fuses and too many switches for my comfort. This center compartment contains a motherboard, a very proprietary piece of equipment that could not easily be circumvented. These bicycles are more like a moped than a pedal-assist bicycle. Electric bike technology should not be that sophisticated.

The other main style I saw was a regular bicycle with an electric motor that drives a wheel that you press against the rubber of your front tire for propulsion. This method creates both friction and slippage loss. More importantly, front-wheel-drive in a small car is good; front-wheel-drive on a bicycle is bad. The motion feels un-natural, and the weight of the motor on your front forks is very cumbersome. I felt like I had to constantly worry about endo (end-over-end flipping) or the front wheel slipping out from under me. Besides that, the aesthetics of these vehicles seemed all wrong.

I purchased my bicycle because it was the only one of its kind. It was  second-hand off Craig’s List, and I have no affiliation with the manufacturer. I have looked up their website, though. It is a Synergy Cycle, from Los Angeles, California. I saw yesterday that they reduced their purchase price to only $799.00. This is about half the price of any other electric bike I have seen to date. Their website advertises that a full charge costs between five and 7 cents. I have no reason to doubt this because my bike charges via a small transformer from a regular outlet from empty to full in about 30 minutes. (I will verify electric consumption and report this after I get my new amp-meter for my next birthday.) Either way, this bike has small initial and operational costs. Paltry indeed.

First it is a regular, high-quality, rugged bicycle. It seems they retro-fitted the motor system on after-the-fact. I know, that’s a redundancy, but my old high school English teacher probably won’t see this. And I really want to get this point across. Everything about this bike is as simple as possible. Any bike mechanic can work on most of it. Parts are as easy to find or improvise as any ordinary bike parts.

But then there is the motor/battery system. This stuff is strange to everybody. Who do you get to work on one of these babies? You guessed it…you, yourself, and you. The motor is about as big as a grapefruit, and it is bolted to the right rear main stay. Its got lots of torque and can pull a trailer and me with ease. (Even though extra weight draws more from your batteries.) Its armature runs parallel to the rear hub, about five inches above it. It is connected to the rear hub via a metal link chain and freewheel. This allows the electric motor to operate independent of the manual pedals. The manual pedals can operate independent of the motor, too. One pushes while the other freewheels. Or both can run simultaneous for top speed and longevity.

The motor is wired to the battery pack via two insulated wires that are neatly strapped to the frame. That’s all, just two wires. The battery pack is a plastic case that holds two 12v batteries joined in series to make a 24 volt system. There is a female jack for charging and an on-off switch on the side of this battery pack. The battery pack is removable with one quick-release bolt and one electrical connector. This way you can bring the battery in to your home or office to charge while the bike stays outside. From the battery pack (on the “bike” side of the dis-connector) there runs one cable to a thumb throttle on the handlebars. The throttle is spring tensioned. If your battery pack is switched “on” you may engage and accelerate the motor with a simple push of your thumb. The throttle is spring-tensioned, and its default mode is also “off,” creating a double “off” safety feature. It’s convenient and dummy-proof.

The only wires I don’t like are the two joined at the base of the throttle cable that go to each of the two hand brakes. If you are agile enough to simultaneously push the throttle with your thumb and pull the brakes with your fingers, the action of the brakes will shut down the electric motor. Talk about redundant. I’ve gotta give them credit, though. That is the only fat on the whole machine.

The double kickstand is very stable. It lifts your rear wheel off the ground and allows you to work on rear components while freewheeling, with the bicycle in the upright position. Did I mention the front fork shocks and the double mono-shocks on the main frame? The factory seat is nice enough, but I added a “gel” seat cover I mail ordered off the internet for $15.00. Even at 20mph+ this bike is comfortable and handles nimbly.

As much as I rave about it, though, I am having a hard time convincing my wife about the comfort of my new bike. She compares it to her car, though. And vehicle safety is another issue I concede to her. Like a good mother hen, she asks that I call her the moment my daughter and I arrive at school. And isn’t vehicle safety one of the biggest impediments to mainstreaming small, efficient vehicles? When I saw a new Smart Car pass by me on the interstate, even I think to myself “that does not look safe from here.” It makes me wonder how unsafe my electric bike looks from the vantage of a regular car in traffic.

Even so, my experience with the electric bike has made me ponder concepts such as electric motorcycles that travel at highway speeds. I have already seen children’s electric scooters that hold large batteries under the footrest for a low center of gravity. Could these toys be made a little bigger? Could they accommodate two or three passenger? Is “Two Wheels or Four?” really the only alternative? What about three wheels? I have also pondered safety seats for adults, safety helmets, and 5-point safety harnesses, similar to the features in NASCAR vehicles. I have faith that one of you readers will someday retrofit an electric motor from an industrial fan onto a beefed-up tricycle frame, bolt on a couple of tractor-trailer batteries, and test-drive your prototype at 70 mph. Another one of you might mold a NASCAR seat and a modernistic faring from carbon fiber and add it to the mix. Now that test-drive would be a productive use of the Bonneville Salt Flats.

We are now witnessing the first generation of electric bicycles. They will improve. Maybe this means they will have to look and act more like cars. Some of these bicycles will accommodate themselves to the existing road systems. Some roads throughout the country will be dedicated exclusively for the use of “ultra light” vehicles. Or something far-reaching and un-knowable will happen to this industry. I’m not saying this industry is going to supplant the possible demise of the Big Three, but who knows? Maybe somebody will retrofit one of those French mopeds with solar wings and try to fly it across the English Channel. I will be right there to cheer them on.

We have been looking at business ideas in Cotacachi such as Ecuador export ideas.

Here is a Cotacachi green business idea.  Import or make electric bikes.

For those interested in Cotacachi organic ideas see  Cotacach Organic Gardens here.

cotacachi-green

Entrance to Meson de las Flores.

This photo is another at Dennis Goff’s new site. Here are some more shots.

cotacachi-green

Gary Scott and immigration attorney, Roberto Moreno, at Meson.

Dennis is a professional photgrapher who spends winters in Cotacachi and saw there is an an ever increasing number of readers at our site who want to connect with people who have “lived the experience” in Cotacachi.
cotacachi-green

Ecuador roses at Meson.

Dennis thought it would be fun… and informative to start a light site.

cotacachi-green

Start of a parade. Wouldn’t electric bikes be better?

Anyone can join and contribute to the network.  Dennis will monitor content to keep it appropriate.   The intent is to keep it light hearted and fun and a great place for like minded people who enjoy Cotacachi.

Ecuador-tours

Tour delgates at Meson.

You can visit Dennis’s site here.

Until next message, may your world be beautiful and green.

Gary

Learn  more about Cotacachi business ideas at our July 4-8 Ecuador Import Export Expedition

Enjoy savings by attending our real estate tours at the same time.

July 4-8 Ecuador Import Export Expedition
July 8-9 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
July 10-13 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

We provide discounts for delegates who attend two or three courses and tours in a month.

Attend any two Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$949 for one.  $1,349 for two.

Attend any three Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$1,199 for one.  $1,799 for two.

Plus during the month of April, (this offer expires April 30) enjoy  our extra 2-4-1 savings.

Because Merri and I will not be conducting the July tours, our 2-4-1 offer lets you attend the July 2009  Ecuador export tour free if you enroll in one of our three International Tangled Web Business & Investing Made EZ courses, in July, October or November that we will conduct.

You get two courses for the price of one.  Enroll in any of these courses that Merri and I will conduct below and choose any one of the three July tours free.

July 24-26 IBEZ North Carolina + Tangled Web

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina + Tangled Web

Nov. 6-8  IBEZ Cotacachi + Tangled Web

There is no need to  hurry either. If you are not sure about attending two tours,  sign up and attend the July export tour now… then we’ll knock the tour fee off our International Tangled Web Business & Investing Made EZ courses, in July, October or November fee later.

You can also still take advantage of the two or three course discount as well.

For example, if you choose to attend all three of the July Ecuador tours… both real estate and export tours, then you can have the two or three courses discount and still attend a July, October or November International Tangled Web Business & Investing Made EZ course free.

The 2-4-1 offer expires April 30 2009.

We hope to meet you in North Carolina or Ecuador.

Gary


Sunny Multi Currency Investments


Sunny multi currency investments are here. Yet many multi currency investors are missing the opportunity because of dark clouds created by oil.

“The price of sex is death.”

One must ask what does this have to do with multi currency investing?

This was the opening statement in a health seminar conducted some years ago at our farm by Dr. Jay Glaser. Jay is an MD, Ayurvedic physician and one of the best healers I know.

Every year we try to sponsor a course conducted by some great teacher. one year we had an Ecuador Yatchak, Alberto Taxco. Another year a Vedic Priest, Dr. D.S. Dixit spoke. Our astrologer Blaine Watson taught a course another year and last year Vaidya R.K. Mishra taught a course. Once Bob Shane a scientist taught a course on quantum healing. Here is Blaine Watson and Vaidya Mishra teaching at our farm.

Multi-currency-courses

Here Thomas Fischer teaches multi currency investing.

multi-currency-teacher

Delegates enjoy a coffee break on our front porch

multi-currency-delegates

This year Susan Stanton, a business intuitive, also an attorney instructed a group here at the farm.

Merri and I cook and take care of our guests, plus gain the benefit of listening in as we work.

One interesting aspect has emerged from every one of these courses, the underlying truth of frequency…the idea of a start that concludes with a transformation…a beginning followed by an epic struggle that denies an end. The life of everything, living, business…technology…nations is ruled by this process…birth, growth, stability and finally transformation.

This is a universal truth…the kind that wise investors seek when they invest.

When we see something in the establishment breaking down, we have two choices.

#1: We can be afraid and try to stop or ignore nature’s inevitable evolution.

#2: We can ask what is being born from this death? What Phoenix lays n the ashes?

There is opportunity in every part of the cycle but nature gives greater rewards from creation.

Creation is the universal driving force!

Henry Ford made a bigger fortune from the end of the horse and buggy than collectors who preserved buggies and are holding gold mines in their collectables now.

This brings me to the oil crisis. There is a lot of fuss about how society is going to survived if we have reached peak oil. The noise about this risk reminds me vaguely of the “how will we survive Y2K” ruminations of the late 1990s.

To many forget that every evolution creates fear. Even the oil slurping automobile had trouble in its infancy. In England (The best early car designs were all in Europe and England…not the USA) there was stiff opposition from companies running horse-driven coaches.

These horse and buggy businesses then were the establishment. They felt threatened just as the oil using establishment does now.

In the mid-1800s toll fees for “early cars” were steeply hiked. Britain’s Red Flag Act was passed in 1865. The Act limited speeds to about four miles per hour required that every “road locomotive” have three attendants – one to steer, one to stoke and one to walk 150 feet ahead of the vehicle, bearing a red flag, signaling the driver when to stop.

Another auto act passed 13 years later did away with the red flag, but still required a man on foot to warn horse-driven wagons.

Now Opec and associates may have shot themselves in the foot by letting oil prices rise too far. Eventually oil consumption has to be reduced…because of supply and environmental fundamentals.

The recent high cost of crude oil may have accelerated the shift.

Headlines are appearing about multi currency companies like:

“GM eyes electric car future, joins with power companies on Volt technology”

“Prius to get solar-powered air conditioning”

“Toyota promises plug-in hybrid vehicle”

A recent article by Paul Davidson, in USA TODAY is especially important. This article says:

“Semiconductor companies are rushing into the solar power business faster than a Pentium-driven computer, promising to turn a niche form of renewable energy into a mass-market product.

“Since May, computer powerhouses Intel (INTC), IBM (IBM) and National Semiconductor (NSM) have barreled into solar energy, joining hundreds of fellow technology mainstays. Virtually every chipmaker is weighing a solar play, says Rhone Resch, head of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

“We have a classic Silicon Valley land rush,” says T.J. Rodgers, CEO of Cypress Semiconductor (CY), which owns 56% of SunPower.

“Drawing the stalwarts is solar’s 40% annual growth, says Gartner analyst Jim Hines. The 50-year-old chip business is expanding only about 5% annually after years of torrid growth.

“Like the computer chip, solar cells use silicon or another semiconducter as a basic part. By replicating the chip industry’s high-volume automated manufacturing, tech companies can deliver solar at prices competitive with grid power faster than the industry’s current 2010-15 target, he says.

“IBM, in May unveiled a breakthrough concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) system that magnifies sunlight to 10 times the energy from today’s CPV units, cutting the number of solar panels needed. A liquid metal absorbs heat so the semiconductor doesn’t melt, technology IBM developed to cool high-power computer chips. IBM last month announced a new technique for thin-film solar — which uses 1% of the semiconductor in standard panels — to cut costs and boost efficiency. IBM says it will license both technologies.

“Intel. The No. 1 chipmaker this month said it’s investing $38 million in German solar panel maker Sulfurcell. That followed the June spinoff of its own fledgling solar unit.

“National Semiconductor. The chip giant last month said its new technology can boost energy output in solar panels by minimizing losses from shade. It drew from its expertise in power management in cellphones. Executive Ralph Muenster wants to make passive solar systems “smarter.”

The big guns are moving into solar energy. Watch for multi currency investments in this field.

We’ll see more on why and how this can bring profit to multi currency investors in tomorrow’s message.

Until then, Good multi currency investing.

Gary

Join us October 3-5 for the Blue Ridge leaf change.
International Investing and Business Made EZ North Carolina

Or enjoy one of our courses or tours in Ecuador.

Ecuador Coastal-Quito Real Estate Tour

$17,000 Houses
See these condos by the beach at $18,000.

Ecuador Super Thinking + Spanish Course

Shamana

Enjoy part of the Spanosh course at this shamanic spa.

Ecuador Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Ecuador-acreage-for-sale

See this 150 acre property for sale at $50,000 on our Imbabura tour.

Ecuador Import Export Cours

Dozens-of-roses

Learn how to import roses and dozens of other products in our import export and Business Made EZ courses.

International Investing and Business Made
EZ Ecuador

See discounts for attending more than
one course.