Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lots of Pieces

I have been working on so many things at the same time, and that means nothing actually gets done. I am waiting for my new headlights, I am building the battery boxes, I got a power strip and working on the main car plug for charging, building the blower mounts, modifying the transmission shift points and I have ordered a PakTrakr.

The PakTrakr is a device that monitors each battery and displays the info. It displays each battery's Voltage, State of Charge, any warnings or problems. It will also state the total State of Charge of the entire pack becoming a fuel gauge for the EV.

Hopefully I will get more done this week and be able to post pictures and more EV driving test results.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's Legal, Sort Of

I called the Massachusetts Vehicle Check program on Saturday to find these mysterious EPA/DEP/RMV forms. The rep took down my information, VIN number and said he needed to give this to his supervisor and I would be called back. On Monday I did get a call back and I found out that there are no such forms. All the information about the conversion is listed in the database and all the inspector has to do is input my VIN and under EMISSIONs it will say EXEMPT. So I did all my paper work properly.

I also ordered new headlights and once I get those in I will get the EV inspected. I didn't get anything fancy since most of the aftermarket headlights use HID lamps and I have been told those are not legal in MA. So I just got brand new JDM Crystal Headlights, which are essentially OEM replacements and will use the existing bulbs.

Friday, December 19, 2008

What I Learned Today...

Was the following:
1- I hate politics
2- I need new headlights
3- I need to install my blower
4- I really hate politics

Well this is how my day went. First I wake up to find my finals are postponed till next week due to weather, so I get out and throw the chargers on the EV for a freshen up charge. Then after 2 hours, I pulled the plug on the chargers and plugged in a ceramic heater to preheat/defrost the EV. It worked wonderfully. I had the car defrosted and heated in 15 minutes and then I went off to the inspection station.

I first took my time getting there. I choose the roads that were the most flat and kept to the speed limit of 25 MPH. Then was the stretch of 40 MPH state road that I feared, and actually forgot about (I was going to avoid it, but forgot until I got there) and decided, what the hell, I floored it down the hill and the EV got up to 32 MPH, I wanted more juice, so I threw it into third gear and it went up to 35 MPH, I went back to 2nd gear and it held there. After 2,000 ft of this 35 MPH stretch was a hill that the speed limit drops to 30 MPH and the EV dropped down to 30 MPH going up.

So I finally get to the station and I check the battery levels and motor temp. Now the batteries read 104.1 volts surface charge when I left (they were definitely not fully charged)and read 97.4 volts when I got there. Now, you are supposed to wait an hour before measuring the voltage to determine the actual capacity left. The motor itself was barely warm, due to the high RPM and the internal fan actually working at 30-35 MPH.

I go up to the inspection guy and tell him about my EV and I need an inspection. He right away tells me that I will not pass because of the glazed headlights. Great, just another $150 expense. Then he goes on to tell me that he can't inspect it without a special form from the EPA or the RMV stating the conversion is inspection-worthy. So now I have to hunt down this mystical form and who ever needs to sign it.

Then I made my trek home. I decided to take the back roads to limit the AMP draw. That was a mistake. The back roads are really hilly and the low speeds mean low RPM, which means the internal motor fan is pretty useless. When I got home, that motor was hot and smelled funny. While I stayed in the motors temperature range, performance dropped like crazy once the motor got hot. My AMP draw went from 180 AMPS of accelerating to 120 AMPs and it was awful.

My total travel for this trip was 6.2 miles, in 20F weather and my batteries read 97.9 after I let them sit for an hour. So I had 63% power left in the pack, but it is my guess that the pack itself was really only 80-85% capacity to start with due to the cold and that I didn't let the chargers fully charge the pack.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Adjusting Settings

So today was a day of road testing. It took me three different controller configurations to get the EV to even get past 10 MPH, and I finally got it working up to 25 MPH before I ran out of road. I still have a few more configurations to try and the motor and batteries need a good break in, but my latest configuration was working like it should in a neighborhood.

Tomorrow I will do another charge and do some more driving. I need the motor brushes to be fully worn in before I attempt anything drastic and they look like they are 65% worn in, so they have a way to go. Hopefully I will gain more power once the brushes and batteries are fully broken in. I am itching to take the EV on the flat stretch and see if it will go up to 40 MPH like it should. Depending on the traffic I might just do that tomorrow after charging the batteries.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pictures for Your Entertainment

This week has been awful when it came to weather and actually getting things done. Finals have started so that's been taking up most of my time, but I took today off to get as much done as possible. And I have pictures.I tested the power brake system and it works great, except for the leak on the connection that connects the tank to the car. Some Teflon Tape should fix that right up, I just need to find where it's hiding. And I need to secure the pump down, probably with tie wraps. This is just a temporary tray until I get the car inspected and have time to hunt down a sold piece of metal or shelf to mount the components too.

This the my PB5 finally properly connected to the throttle cable. I spent more time than I care to admit figuring out how to mount the cable to the PB5, but I finally found two little car pieces with the proper width and hole pattern, and it looks really good too!
And here are all the batteries nice and snug and they got another full charge today. The only thing stopping me from driving it again is that vacuum leak.

Most of this EV is proof of concept. Some things that I want to do is build a stronger motor mount, buy proper cable and lugs for the best connections, install proper gauges and insulate the batteries. Hopefully today or tomorrow I will get in a test drive and see if it will do up to 35-40 MPH in 2nd gear like the calculations say it should.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Vacuum Switch Setup

This is my little box that houses the vacuum switch and relay for the vacuum brakes. This weekend was filled with getting ready for the holidays and finals, but I did manage to glue up the PVC vacuum canister and strap in all the batteries and build this little box. Tomorrow I am installing the vacuum system and test it out. Once installed and tested, I am going to connect the main cables back up and check the controller settings again before another test drive. If all goes well, I'll drive it around for a few miles to break the motor in more. This week I need to bring it into the inspection station, so my in my next test run I will try to get it to 35-40 MPH.

Oh, and today was the first day of snow so the nice weather has pretty much ran out. Tomorrow it will be cold, but sunny so I can hook up everything before it gets too dark.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Paper Work Part III

So this morning I went to the RMV and came prepared to the long battle. Well, it was a freaking joke. It took me longer to find the RMV hidden in the maze of buildings and poorly labeled streets. So I walked in, went to the desk and said I am converting my car from gas too electric, got a "Good for you." and a number to wait in line. I got called, went to the desk and it took a minute for them to do the paperwork and print out a new registration. That was it. Nothing special, no special RMV inspection or increased paper work. I am told I can go to a normal inspection station and everything should be fine. Now it's time to get this EV to an inspection worthy state and get that process done.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Paper Work, Part II

Yesterday I ordered a Vacuum Switch for the power brakes. I was going to rig up a normal on/off switch, but decided against it and forked over the $35 for the specialized switch. When the EV is on, it will keep the vacuum tank topped off as it were, and will only operate when needed. This will keep the power consumption down and the noise. The switch comes in on Friday and I plan to install it this weekend.

Now back to the paper work. Today I went to the insurance company to talk about the EV and they had never done one before. In there books, they didn't need any information on if it was gas powered or electric, as long as it was still the same Honda Civic and VIN number. BUT I needed to get the title changed to ELECTRIC in order to get the inspection done. So I have filled out the paperwork and on Friday I go into the RMV and start the annoying process of waiting in line. That should be fun.

So after that adventure I have to finish up the EV and figure out the inspection process. The RMV might require a special first time inspection. We'll see what happens, but I do plan on getting everything done for an inspection and joy ride. I still have to make the mount for the smaller accessories motor, A/C and P/S before I can go for the inspection. It doesn't have to function, but it should be installed so I don't show up with rope holding things together.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Doing the Paper Work

I did not get to drive the EV this past Thanksgiving. I was sooooo close but two things stood in my way: Vacuum Brakes weren't done and ACE did not have enough straps for my batteries. It was a unanimous decision not to drive it because it just isn't in the safest state. I spent all day Wednesday cleaning up the wiring and securing down the batteries and mounts. I am now working on controls for the Vacuum Brakes, Cooling System and A/C + P/S motor.

But I have a new set of problems. My inspection sticker has expired and now I have to talk to the insurance company about the EV and getting the title changed. I hope they will work with me, or I will have to shop around for EV insurance.