Sunday, November 23, 2008

Final Testing Stages

We have already determined that this EV will never be "done". My dad an I are always finding ways to make it better, stronger and whatever else. So my goal of being "done" is actually the goal of being able to safely operate the car. And I am almost there!

Today we got most of the battery racks mounted, and tomorrow the last rack goes in. I redid the main cables and tomorrow I also drill in the holes and mount them to the breaker. Then I get a couple of S hooks from ACE to mount the control tray and straps for the batteries.

It's amazing on how many little things you can do and have just about nothing to show about it. But a lot of that those little things got done today. My dad worked on the bolting down the battery racks while I worked on the control tray and main wiring. Right now I am estimating an hour left to strap the batteries down and install the control tray and test the low voltage system. By tomorrow night the only thing I want left to do is the vacuum brakes and blower cooling. Then on Wednesday I am going on a couple mile trek around town to test the EV before my Thanksgiving day voyage.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bits and Pieces

Today was one of those days where I worked a lot but got nothing done. Well, I did get most of the control tray done and started on the blower cooling. I did my shopping at the local ACE Hardware today and got the plumbing I needed for the vacuum system, my blower cooler and the nut for bolting down the motor mount.

This is the battery tray for the lower three batteries in the trunk.

This is my control tray setup with just about everything wired up.

Here is 12 volt blower and the plumbing components I have to force the air into the motor.

This the the blower assembled for the most part. I couldn't find any decent sheet metal to make the grill attachment for the motor so that's next on the scavenging list.

Now this it my 12 volt Thomas Vacuum Pump and the insanely large vacuum chamber I have. I will be cutting down the pipe so it actually fits in the car. It's about 4 inched too long at the moment but I wont be modifying it until the control tray is installed and I see what room I have to work with.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Controller Tray

I started making tray for the control box and controller from the shelving piece. I did a test fit last night and today I made it sturdier and trimmed it down. Tomorrow it goes in, then I get to work on finishing the little things like making the cables shorter from the controller to the motor, and modifying the main positive cable so it can hook up to the circuit breaker.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Frozen in Time

So today was FREEZING!! It was so cold that my hood release froze. Before I set to work on the front of the EV I setup my chargers and started a charge cycle. As of right now, 6 batteries are fully charged and the first two in the string are still charging. It's been less than 4 hours, but I expect that those two batteries to be the stragglers until the entire pack has a dozen or so cycles on them.

Once the chargers were activated, I went back to the hood section and started to layout the control box and vacuum brakes. Well my mind must have been frozen too because I just stood there and could not think of what to do. I was "thinking" for about an hour before I called it quits and went in to check on the DIY Electric Car forums for some motivation. And to warm up.

I must say I do my best thinking when I am driving. I was coming home from dinner and I had the most brilliant idea for mounting my control systems. A shelf. We have a boat load white metal grate shelving that has been sitting in the basement for years. I can take one of the shelf trays and cut it to fit the engine compartment. I can then mount anything too it and it won't impact the controller heatsink or weigh too much.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Playing with Steel

I finally cut up the metal for the final battery rack and tomorrow it's going to the welder. This smaller rack will hold three batteries and will be bolted down to the car.

On Wednesday I am going to try out my new chargers that arrived today and I am going to work on the front control box and controller setup. I have to shorten the wires on the motor and make new connections on them. I also have to make new connections for the cables that will connect to the circuit breaker. Then I will install the vacuum brake system and set it up with a temporary ON/OFF switch until a get a real vacuum switch. I am literally scraping up the pennies to get the EV to a driving state.

I have also ordered a 12 volt blower to help cool my motor. My K99-4007 will be much happier with the blower and should take those hill much better once the brushes wear in for 100 or so miles.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Circuit Breaker

The weather has been really lousy lately. It rained all day, but I setup my tarp and went to work on installing my circuit breaker into the car. It took all day to find the proper place, and then cut out the holes for the switch and screws to hold it in. I had to align the breaker so it wouldn't interfere with the emergency brake or the gear shifter. What really did was take a wild guess and had at it and got really lucky. The circuit breaker fits great in there and it doesn't look awkward.

I measured out the material needed for the last battery rack and tomorrow I am going to go buy 4 feet of angle iron.

List of What I must do before the Thanksgiving joyride:

- Connect main cables to circuit breaker
- Build brackets for controller and control box
- Install vacuum pump system
- Secure Batteries

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Control Box

I have the Control Box 99% done. The only thing left is to label the connections and add a "High Voltage" warning sign.

In this box I have the low voltage system (12 volts) and the main contactors for the high voltage system (96 volts). This box is essentially the hub for the EV electrical system. The barrier strip has connections for the ignition wire, controller power, contactor power and throttle. The PB5 Throttle box is also built onto the box. I want to make the front compartment look as simple as possible, which was the purpose of this control box.

I am still trying to keep my EV deadline of Thanksgiving and my list of things to complete is shrinking. Tomorrow I am going to setup my tarp over the car and finish installing the circuit breaker. Then I will work on securing the batteries and making the front tray that will hold the control box, controller and vacuum brake components.

Also, I ordered two more chargers, one to replace my bad charger, and one as a spare. They should arrive on Monday and hopefully I will have most of the EV completed so I can work on insulating the batteries, venting them and installing the chargers into the trunk.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Little Things

I have about five little projects going on at the same time. I have the control box about 90% finished, the center console removed and ready to install the circuit breaker, measurements for a beefed up motor mount, bolting down rear batteries and the vacuum brakes.

Tomorrow I am going to finish the control box and try to get the circuit breaker installed in the car. It's amazing how much the control box has cleaned up the wiring. I even mounted the PB5 Throttle to the side of the box and I think it looks really great. I hope to mount this control box and the controller on a modular board so I can move them for working on the EV or put them into another EV if a make one with similar specs later down the road.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lesson's Learned

So I found out quite a few things this weekend. First, my little 6.7 inch ADC K99-4007 does not like hills at all. There are a few hills around that I purposefully avoid, but today my dad wanted me to try one. The motor cried the whole way up and barely maintained 10 MPH. It didn't help that I had no running start, and the transmission computer decided to shift down to first, essentially making me lose what power I had. It did go up the hill, but the motor got quite warm, so I half to avoid these hills and make a forced air cooling system. I was probably pulling over 250 AMPs at the motor, which it did not like.

Here's a summary of changes I need to make and what I need to do before Thanksgiving:
- Bolt down all the batteries
- Make better cables and get lugs for the controller and motor
- Create a forced air cooling system for the motor
- Beef up the motor mount and bolt it down
- Complete control box
- Mount breaker into cabin
- Finish Vacuum Brakes and PVC tank

One of my chargers also died today, I think one of the internal relays gave out. It makes thing ticking sound and then displays "Check Error" and shuts off. So I will buy another bunch of chargers on eBay.

I have this Tuesday off from classes so I am going to make my small part shopping list and get as many things down as possible.

I would like to be able to drive this to my cousins house for Thanksgiving, which is 12 miles away, and then plug it into charge when I arrive.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Full Power Test

Today I planned on putting in another battery for a test drive. So I added another battery and saw a more room in the trunk. So I decided just to dump in all the batteries and give it a run for my money. Well, it was GREAT! Nothing neck-breaking, but the low speed acceleration was acceptable.

I never took it past 25 MPH because of lack of power brakes, but it still had power left AND I was going up hill slightly. I am also almost done with the vacuum brake setup, and once that is installed I will attempt a drive outside of my dead end neighborhood. There is this really nice 1/2 mile patch of relativity flat road that has a 40 MPH speed limit and it's just outside my neighborhood that I might try out tomorrow morning since there will be little to no traffic at all.

Then I tried out the chargers again and only got an hour or so of charge because rain came back. So here is a few pics of my 8 batteries in the trunk and my charger setup. Surprisingly all 8 chargers are only pulling 4-5 AMPs from the wall, but I think that has to do with the fact the chargers have different charging schemes.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Charger Matching

It's raining today so I decided to take the chargers and see why three charge differently than the others. Well I found out. The charger I have are labeled Schumacher SC-600A, and I have three different generations of them. Great, so that means that each generation has a different charging scheme and that leaves me to find out how long each charger takes to charge. They should all be the same though because they are each 6 AMP smart chargers.

And I have a plan on how to do that: I know that three chargers have the same exact charging scheme, so I will use those on the front three batteries. The other 5 chargers will be used on the rear batteries.

This weekend I plan on taking the control board out, build the front battery rack, install the vacuum brakes, and what ever else humanly possibly I can do. But before that I will take the EV out for another drive to drain the rear batteries down and then settle in for a nice full charge and hope it doesn't take eternity.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Low Batteries

So I setup my chargers today and took a look at the voltages and compared them to my runs and such. And then I took at look at my Depth of Charge chart and realixed the batteries were at 65% when I started my runs this weekend, and were 60% today when I went to charge. It has been really cold this past week and that along will kill off 25+% of power, and I did a few runs with the driveway before this weekend.

So lesson of the day: Always keep these suckers charged! I knew I should have done a charge on Friday, but didn't really get around to it. I hoped to drive it again this afternoon thinking I would have a 2 hour charge, and I even pumped the tires back up. I bet this low state didn't help my tests out at all too.

I spent about 4 hours charging the batteries and I think I need to do some modifications to some of my chargers. Three batteries charged fine but the other 2 were taking their sweet time. They were also the lowest of the batteries when I bought them. I took them off the charger and later this week I will go back and setup those 2 batteries again and let them do an equalize charge and let them gas a bit.
This is what the battery voltages looked like when I unplugged them and then drove back up the driveway:

Battery 1 - 12.78v
Battery 2 - 12.66v
Battery 3 - 12.83v
Battery 4 - 12.83v
Battery 5 - 12.82v

When I have time I am going to take apart a "good" charger and a "bad" charger to see what settings are different. I believe there are potentiometers than can be adjusted, so I want to make sure all the chargers have the same settings.

Motor Math

So while I was taking my lunch break I decided to do some math to get a clear picture on why the performance was so low, mainly the acceleration. Acceleration is determined by the peak HP of the motor. So here is a table of the peak and continuous HP ratings for my motor with the controller I have:

ADC K99-4007 on Kelly Controls KDH09401
60 Volts || Peak = 14 HP || Cont = 6.7 HP
72 Volts || Peak = 22 HP || Cont = 8.5 HP
96 Volts || Peak = 29 HP || Cont = 10.0 HP

So running at 60 volts is just about the same as a really oversized golf cart. Up a slight hill really stunk and it took a while to accelerate to 25 MPH with an open road. But once I got up there, the momentum and extra weight of the batteries kept the car moving nicely. My hope is that the performance at 96 volts will be decent up to 30 or 35 MPH.

If I just throw another 12 volt battery in the trunk I should get a serious increase in performance. I may do that because my front battery rack isn't even close to being done, but I still have the huge urge to drive it around. When complete, I should be getting at least 2x the performance I am getting right now, which should be great.

This afternoon I am going to pump up the tires and put the chargers on for a fresh charge since I haven't down it in a week or too.

I also have to start to think about an electric heater or defroster because the mornings have been cold and the car windows have been frozen.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Nice Little Joy Ride

So I got the plates machined on Friday! It was great, I went over there and planned on leaving it for the day, but one of the machinists was free and did it for me right on the spot. Took about 20 minutes and they didn't even charge me! I had each of the bolt each counter-sunk 1/8 inch and now the ticking sound is completely gone. There are excellent people at the R.J. Moran Machine Shop and I will be doing business with them again, I know that.

I also decided to take a pic of my control board before I get to neatening it up. I was going to work on the box this weekend, but I decided to put the motor back in and drive it around.

Now for the goods. I reinstalled the motor and control board back into the EV and I adjusted the low voltage setting on the controller and drove it. I left the controller at 75% maximum output, and man was it sluggish. It drove like an oversized golf cart and i could barely hit 10 MPH up a mild hill and I could get to 15-20 MPH with a slight down hill and a long runway of road. So here is my video of that test:
Then I had a few things to do, came back and decided to set the controller to 100%. What a difference! Not only was is much peppier, I was hitting 15 MPH easily and got up to 25 MPH before slamming on the brakes to avoid the little kiddies playing in the road. Sadly, I didn't get a video of this run. I have clocked about 2+ miles so far in my EV!!!

The performance seems rather low at the moment because of four factors.
1) I am only running at 60 volts, and the torque for my motor is rather low at this voltage. So essentially it is an oversized golf car.
2) I had sticky front brakes that need some attentions and this is definitely created more drag. 3) My PB5 throttle control doesn't go all the way because of the limited throttle cable, and the actual design of the PB5. I haven't measure how far it actually go, but I think I only get 75-85% of total throttle output.
4) the tires are really low on pressure. I mean really LOW, and this is adding unwanted rolling resistance.

So on Monday I plan on pumping up the tires and giving it another go and see if there are any performance increases.