Welcome to Robot Dialogs. This is a place where I will record my progress, mistakes, errors, failures, lessons learned and hopefully occasional success in my designs and implementations of robots and other technical endeavors. I will try to make it as educational, informative and entertaining as I can...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gas Mileage

Well today's post falls into the "other technical endeavors" category. For the past year and a half I have been collecting a fairly interesting data set: gas mileage. In June 2008 I purchased (that is I started paying for) a 2006 Ford Fusion (V4). Ever since the first time I filled the tank I have done one simple thing; I write the current mileage (to the tenth of a mile) on the receipt. Shortly after accumulating a few receipts I started a spreadsheet to record the data. Here we are 19 months later and I have some intriguing data to share. I've created several charts to illustrate various miles per gallon, miles/tank, price/gallon, and mileage vs. time. But first lets have some data:
Most significant thing to me? 755 Gallons and $2,294 Holy Crap! Okay so the data in green is the only data I have to enter for each receipt. It's not so bad if you save a few receipts and do them all at once. All the fields in yellow, and the graphs below are setup to automatically update as new data becomes available. By the way, all of this was done in excel. As soon as Google Docs Spreadsheets are capable of the graphs I will start to use it instead (more than once I've come close to losing this data). Now for the graphs:
Avg. MPG is probably the most interesting data set. You can clearly see the very stable MPG declines during my coop w/ Boeing last summer (22.5 mile daily commute in Southern CA traffic), my final school year (4 mile daily compute) and my current work commute of 24 miles on an evil Kansas Highway (HW 50).
One of the perks of collecting this data was a record of how much I spent on gas, and also the price change (for me at least) over time. The nasty swings in price usually occurred during road trips.
And finally a simple graph of mileage over time. The near vertical sections are road trips (KS->CA, CA->NY, NY->KS, KS->CO).

I know it sounds weird but I enjoyed watching this data set grow. It's a strange thing to watch and look back on your life experiences in graph form.

Here's a template Excel file you can use to record your own data. The graphs and yellow cells will automatically fill as you enter new rows in the green cells.