Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday Season

I have been busy enjoying the holidays, so I have done much EV related. I did order up a new suspension system, a Skunk2 Race package off eBay that should be arriving January 4th. In the mean time, I have been designing my heater setup and here is the start of it:

Basically I have gutted the AC heater core and have is waiting for a new casing, designed to sit a top the dash. I have it mostly designed, I am just searching to the parts to build it. I received some great Christmas presents such as a Radio Shack gift card for parts and a new Canon PowerShot SD780 IS that can take HD video, so sometime this week I will get getting some EV video in HD!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Just Chillin

Now that finals are over, I can get back to EVing!

Today I finally fixed my Shift Adjuster. I installed it backwards when I put the Zilla in, so when I went to use it the transmission thought I was flooring it and would drop into 1st for acceleration.

Now my heater is going to be interesting. I can't build it into the dash until Spring because it's so darn cold out and I don't have a garage. I was going to get one of those 12 volt heater/defrosters, but apparently those do absolutely nothing for heat. So I am working on creating a 96 volt edition of one of the Windshield defrosters and only use half off the heating element, so ~750 watts to save on batteries. I will have a switch so it can go between 750 watts and 1500 watts just in case, and all the proper fuses and wiring. I am working on my design tonight and hope to do something with it tomorrow.

Another thing that has been eating at me, besides the heater, has been my suspension system. The rear rides so low that I can hear the shocks bottom out when I got over bumps, and I am estimating that they will fail in the next 2-300 miles. The stock rear suspension wasn't designed to take 520+lbs in the trunk, let alone have it permanent. And if I ever update to a different lead acid pack, it will weigh even more.

I currently have my eyes set on a Skunk2 Sports suspension system on eBay and I may scoop it up if the price it right.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Little Kinks

Today I reassembled the splash guard for the motor and drove around some more. I have a problem with my Shifting Adjustment potentiometer, either a wire is loose or the pot is defective. I was driving today and had my shift adjustment to its usually spot and then after 15 MPH the transmission would jump between 1st and 2nd and it did that until I turned off my adjustment pot. I will check the connections tomorrow as it's raining like crazy now, and I will check the resistance, etc. I was having a "WTF" moment when crusing and all of a sudden it would drop a gear, then a few seconds later it would jump back up. Ugh.

I also buttoned up my batteries nicely and found something interesting. While my batteries are charging, the AMP gauge back light powers up! I found it interesting, and I first thought I had a problem with my 12 volt system, but further investigation shows it was just the construction of the meter and current going through the shunt can activate the backlight.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Heating Things Up

So after doing a few more Zilla runs, including the worst hill in my commute and ripping up it like nobody's business, I decided to take a good look at my heating.

So these past few days I have used my AC ceramic heater and tested out the capability of them.

It was 27F outside and with the Heater set to MAX, the car was fully defrosted in 8 minutes and 42F, in 15 minutes it was 50F and after 20 minutes it was a nice 58F inside!

I have decided to do the heating right and get the AC drained so I can install my ceramic heater core into the old heater core socket. I still have an AC heater for preheating/defrosting, but I full 1500 watt heater in the EV would be a wise thing. It will use about 15 AMPs, which isn't really that bad. I just need to find a shop to drain my AC so I can work on the installation.

I have also decided that I want to get Lithium batteries for my next set, so I have already started to save up. I am looking at 30 cell of TS-LFP100 from Thundersky, and it should give me 35 miles of range. It looks like that will cost about $3,300 which does sound like a lot, but when I looked at a higher quality/power lead acid pack, I found it would cost about $2500 for that kind of range and twice the weight with 1/10 the cycle life. I have lots of saving and research ahead of me to do.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Zilla Performance

I was able to drive the EV again today, and log the drive with the DAQ feature of the Zilla.

In this graph there is motor amps all over the place because here are a number of inclines, starts and stops and small amount of constant cruising during the run. I am estimating a top speed of about 55MPH with the new setup, which is pretty good. I need to fix my shift point adjustment, but the EV was pretty nice to drive. I just need to break in the batteries mode, and deal with the heater issues.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Zilla

I got the EV running! After I adjusted the Torque Converter I reinstalled the control tray with the Kelly and took it for a few mile joy ride. The new transmission has a very smooth shift to it and my batteries are going to need to be broken in. They have only 3 miles on them and I want at least 50 miles before I try driving back to school with the EV.

Now for the awesome greenness:
On Saturday I took the EV for a few little runs around the block, then removed the control tray and called it a day. We had to decorate for Christmas, get the tree, setup the lights, all before the snow storm coming that afternoon. Then last night I removed the Kelly and started to install the Zilla 1K-LV. Ok, here are the specs of the Zilla 1K-LV compared to the Kelly

Zilla 1K-LV Kelly KDH09401
Peak AMPs: 1,000 400
Cont. AMPs 350 160
Voltage 72-156 24-96

The Zilla also weights 15 lbs compared to the Kelly 6 lbs. The picture is of the Zilla fully wired up, but not installed in the EV yet. The snow got in my way, but tomorrow I plan on installing the tray and programming the Zilla up. I am going to be started relatively low for my settings, using only 450 motor AMPs and 180 battery AMPs to get started. 450 motor AMPs gives me 95 ft-lbs of torque, just about on par with the original ICE motor. Too much more and I risk destroying the automatic transmission. Besides, I don't need high torque as much as continuously available torque.

I don't have a water cooling kit for the Zilla yet, but I have installed the Zilla on my large finned heatsink and it should suffice for now. I just can't wait to see how the EV drives with this sucker!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lots of Frustration

I have been holding off posting because I have been frustrated with the transmission. Last week I finished assembling everything Thanksgiving morning, and then on Friday I went to test drive and nothing happened. The motor spun up, but nothing engaged into any gear.

Since then I have spent every bit of free time checking the transmission electronics, sensors, etc and make a conclusion that the transmission was defective and went to remove it today. I was just about to remove it, when I had one last burst of idea about the Torque Converter. I had my old transmission sitting behind me and I decided to measure the distance from the TC to the hole where the starter used to be. It turns out the TC was too far out of the transmission, buy 5/8 of an inch! It turns out that is also the same distance as the teeth on the TC that connects to the ATF pump gears! So all my frustration for the past week has been caused by me not installing the coupling properly!

This afternoon I reinstalled the motor, this time with the TC properly set (I hope) and did a spin up and I could now hear fluid flowing through the transmission. Tomorrow I will reinstall my control systems and give it a drive around. I still haven't spent any time with the Zilla, but if tomorrow goes alright, I can start on the Zilla this weekend.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Puzzle

It was really foggy and damp this morning, but I managed to get the control tray installed and spin up the motor. So far so good, but I didn't have time to actually drive the EV because there was turkey that needing eating.

What I did was install everything, check the connections and then tested the IDLE control and do some revving in Park. Something I did find interesting was that is took less AMPs to idle the motor, 10 AMPs down from 15 AMPs. I think that is indicating that I had a lot of transmission drag and my performance and range may possibly increase. Tomorrow I plan on removing the tarp setup and taking the EV around the block as it's all ready to go.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Minor Differences

There seem to be some minor differences between the original A4RA transmission and newer B4RA replacement. My coupling was pushing the Torque Converter too far forward, causing it to jam against the transmission bell housing. After removing and reinstalling the motor 6 times, I think I finally figured it out. I spent a good 45 minutes analyzing all my photos I took, then I went out to my coupling and did more measurements. The A4RA transmission allowed the TC to be pressed more into the transmission without much complaining, where the B4RA just doesn't budge without anything but perfection. The motor is now back together and bolted into the EV. I checked it with a 12 volt spin up and it seems fine, with a little coupling bolts needing tightening which I did.

Tomorrow I am going to reinstall the control tray and see what happens. Hopefully it will be driving again, a few times around the block will tell me.

Then I will get to my Zilla! I really haven't looked at it yet, mainly cause I don't want to get distracted from actually fixing the current problems. I am hoping to do some test runs before we leave for Thanksgiving dinner, then I can drag along my Zilla manual and figure out how I am going to install it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stubborn Transmission

Replacement this transmission is a pain. Saturday morning was spent refilling the ATF, then finding out the torque converter popped out a little so I had to disassemble the entire setup to adjust it. Then I put it all back together and found out it was then too far in and wouldn't spin, then it wouldn't line up, etc, etc, etc. So between Saturday and Sunday I had removed and reinstalled the motor 4 times! Then we got a scraping sound and called it a weekend, until today. I have been loaded with school work until today.

The weather has not be nice, rain and cold so I setup a blue tarp around my EV and working space. I took everything apart again and went on an investigation. I took pictures off everything, like 100 photos and then went about analyzing them. I found Aluminum shavings on the bottom of the transmission bell housing and found the culprit. The teeth on the torque converter is hitting the top left and top of the transmission! Something is not getting aligned properly! So now that's the current mission.

And on another note:
My Zilla 1K-LV was waiting for me at home last night! It's a beast compared to the Kelly, 20 lbs vs 6 lbs. I was getting really frustrated with my EV until this package came in. Now I just need to get this transmission working with my Kelly, then I will install the Zilla. I have no idea when that will be because nothing has been going to plan.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Coming Darkness

The Darkness comes earlier each day, making it harder to do EV work.

The EV is back together, minus 3 quarts of ATF. I spent all of yesterday getting the motor installed, the mounts back together and all the wiring of the control tray. The most difficult parts were the coupling and then the rear motor mount. I have a few bolts that just didn't want to go in, and after about an hour they finally set themselves.

Today I was finishing up the IDLE control wiring, then it got dark and I couldn't properly see the ATF levels, so I called it a day. I had to use the IDLE to get the ATF flowing because it registered FULL after only 3 quarts, and that sucker can take over 6 quarts to be filled up during an "overhaul". After a few seconds of idling, the ATF registered low, so tomorrow I can refill it up again. Then I can drive it FINALLY!

I plan on taking pictures and video with the idling, and want to try out the Pocke Dyno iPod Touch app to what the performance is like with the Kelly, then compare it to the Zilla when that comes int.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Transmission Removal Day 5

The weather this weekend was awful. Lots of rain and wind I no garage or shelter to work under. So yesterday I took in my control tray and worked on it a bit. I properly installed my IDLE control circuit and neatened up the loose cables.

Today the weather lighten up this afternoon and my dad and I almost finished the transmission swap! Well, the old one is out and the new one is in, but I still need to put the wheel back together and tighten up a few bolts before I get to reinstalling the motor and refilling the transmission ATF. I am going to spend this week reassembling the EV slowly so I don't miss anything. I am guessing about 2 hours to reinstall the transmission sensor cables, ATF cooling lines and get the motor back in.

I didn't take any pictures though. When ever I thought about it, I was covered in grease and in the middle of suspending a transmission. The actual removal went pretty easy once we figured out the ball joints. Usually you have to take both front wheels off, but we couldn't because the car became too unstable, so we just removed the left wheel and moved the transmission instead of moving the right drive shaft. It's wasn't by the book, but it worked anyways.

The EV is SOO CLOSE to being operational again! EV Components has says that my Zilla should be ready for shipment this week, so with any luck my Thanksgiving weekend will be installing the Zilla.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Transmission Removal Day 3 and 4

Days 3 and 4 were very uneventful. I was hoping to have a full day yesterday, but that was interrupted with last minute projects and a possible summer 2010 adventure.

I was having problems removing the ball joints from the lower control arms, so I had to go out and get sockets for an Impact Drill. After getting the sockets my dad still couldn't get the bolt off the damper fork on the right tire setup, so we moved on to the other side and that came off much easier. Then it turns out we didn't have to remove the fork, we actually needed it to help separate the ball joint from the lower control arm.

Those were also a problem. Last night we were stumped, so we went down to Autozone to get a Ball Joint Press used to remove/install the joints. Turns out it doesn't fit a Civic! Not even close. So I went down to the local Honda mechanic that does our ICE Honda's and his advice was quite interesting. Instead of using a removing tool, you use a jack to push up the rotors, remove the lower control arm Castle bolt (easy part) and then use a sledge hammer and beat the control arm until it pops out. It work great!

Now I have one axle removed, that shifter cable removed and all the bolts loosened. If the weather holds out I hope to finish the swap tomorrow. I am guessing 15 minutes or less to remove the transmission then maybe an hour to get the new one installed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Transmission Removal Day 2

Today was really a bust on what I wanted to do. All I got done was drain the transmission fluid, remove the ATF cooler and unplug the transmission from the wire harness.

I got hung up with removing the suspension system from the front wheels. I need to remove the lower control arm from the hub/axle setup but I couldn't get the bolts off. I need to get some impact sockets to I can use the impact drill to get off the stubborn bolts.

Tomorrow I will be doing some tool and socket shopping and hopefully finish the transmission replacement.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Transmission Removal Day 1

I have started to replace my transmission. On Saturday I removed all my electronics and my motor and here is the current transmission still in the EV.

And this is my new transmission. The original transmission was a Honda A4RA and this is a newer B4RA, from a 1998 Honda Civic LX and has 104,000 miles on it and it comes with a 3 month warranty so I have to get EVing!I haven't actually removed the transmission yet. Today was spent picking up the new transmission and cleaning it up. I also restocked my transmission fluid and made a list of how I am going to proceed. The weather looks good so I am hoping to get the transmission swapped out tomorrow and driving by Thursday afternoon. I plan on dealing with the transmission tomorrow and hopefully get the AC/PS bracket built but I will only do that if I have time.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lots of Thinking

I didn't get my new transmission this weekend. Apparently something happened and the transmission casing got cracked or damaged so it had to go out for repair and *should* be done Monday. Just great.....

Anyways, I removed the motor and have everything ready to replacing the transmission yesterday in the hopes that I would have the transmission all set to go. So today I decided to tackle my heating problem and found it's more of a problem than I had hoped. I was all set to go at it and remove the dash to get to the old heater core and remove it and replace it with the Ceramic element. After reading the service manual I found that I have to drain the AC and remove part of it, and I do not have the means to do that at this time.

I now have to figure out something else. I am thinking on building the Ceramic heater into a compact DC setup that will sit in front of the windshield and the only real purpose will be to defrost the windshield while driving. I will purchase another Ceramic heater to use to preheat the EV in the mornings.

I have also decided to get a start on making the mount that holds the AC and PS compressors. They have been held by rope for over a year now and I think it's time to do something about that. I have a basic idea that I will be fine tuning and hopefully built this week. I actually have most of this week off due to holidays and classes that have already ended, so plenty of EV working time!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Replacement Transmission

I have finally found a replacement transmission. I decided to stick with an Automatic and ordered it up today. I was looking at a manual, but when I showed up to the salvage yard the prices for the transmission, shifter, linkages, etc were just too much at this point. It's fall now and the good working days are numbered and I know I can replace the Automatic transmission in 6 or so hours, so that's the way I went.

The transmission is from a 1998 Civic and has 104,000 miles on it. It was still in the donor car so I couldn't bring it home today, but it's supposed to be out and ready for me tomorrow. I will be doing all the proper transmission care, checking all the sensors and draining all the ATF and replacing it with all the new ATF I bought, but only used a small amount of it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Oh My...

I finally got my idle control functioning and decided to give the transmission a drive. 1/4 from home it dies again, this time for good. It turns out that the TC wasn't the problem, but something with the ATF pump and possibly the clutches. I had to push the EV home, but at least it was down hill. I spent most of Halloween Day testing out the Idle and it was working fine, but after I went for a drive it gave out again.

Now I am looking for replacement transmissions before my Zilla arrives, and I am keeping an eye out for Automatic or Manual transmissions.

I have located a few places that have transmissions, and tomorrow I plan on visiting one or two of them to check them out. I want to have my replacement in my hands by this weekend because I want this EV going !!!! AAHHHH!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Back in Business

The EV is running again!

I took everything apart and decided to replace the only thing that I had a spare part of: the Torque Converter. I figured that the only things I had to loose was 8 hours and $25 of new ATF. The old TC was toast! I guess after 244,130 miles it make sense, so the new TC I put one was the one I got with my sacrificial transmission for constructing my plates last year. It has about 97,000 miles on it so it should be good for quite a while. I have been meaning to get rid of the old engine and transmission for some time now, and I am glad I didn't!

I have also decided to idle the electric motor. I am designing the circuit tonight and tomorrow I will be purchasing the parts to build it. The idle will make it easier for others in the family to drive, and I will be using the old Cruise Control switch to turn the idle On/Off so I can save power while at a long stop light. Though, it only takes about 18 AMPs to properly idle the transmission in Park, and most likely slightly less in gear. Also, having the idle will allow me to use the A/C when the car is parked, when I ever get around to actually building the A/C compressor mount.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


This morning I exercised my vocabulary of 4 letter worlds. My transmission DIED on me a mile from my house. I had just replaced my last battery and took the EV out for a break in run, Not a break Down run!!!

I was driving down the street and went to stop to make a turn, and I heard a very interesting whirring sound as the car slowed down. Stumped, I went to make the turn, heard the whir again, the car lurched forward and then that was it. I glided into the next parking lot and the transmission would not engage anymore.

So now I am ripping EVERYTHING out of the engine compartment and going to take a look at the damage. I am hoping it's just the Torque Converter as I do have a much newer spare. The transmission has 244,130 miles on it and I guess that was it. If replacing the TC doesn't fix my problem, I will be going to the local salvage yard and claiming a new transmission.

I am so mad/sad/disappointed right now it's stupid. I guess by the end of this conversion, I will have rebuilt every aspect of the car that it will be just like new. But for crying out loud, WHY NOW!?!?!?!?! The Zilla is due soon, I just replaced my pack and cleaned everything up.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Obviously Oblivious

Ok, so I have been having problems with my new brakes, specifically a VERY squishy pedal. I have bled the brakes twice, checked the fluid, readjusted the pades and shoes and still nothing seemed to help. The weather hasn't really been cooperating, so I decided I was going to bring it down to the local Goodyear dealer this morning and let them have at it.

A couple hours later I get a call saying that everything was mechanically sound, it just needed more vacuum!!! I never even thought about the vacuum!!! So I went to pick it up and just cranked up the vacuum and drove it home. Man, what a difference. I just finished cranking the vacuum high enough to provide the extra stopping oomph, but also shut off once it reaches max Hg.

Next on my to do list is replace the last "old" battery in my pack. It passes all the tests Walmart does on it, so I can't replace it under warranty, but I am fine with that because I wanted a good battery to test my BMS modules revisions on, and for camping power. I even have an old car battery to use for core, so I should be all set. I am also still looking out for a new suspension system, the last major piece besides the Zilla. I have found one I like, I just need to see if I have the funds for it.

My Zilla will hopefully arrive the first week of November, according to EV Components. I have been waiting forever for a nice controller, so another two weeks isn't too bad.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How I Used an Automatic Transmission in an EV

I have been lots of questions on how exactly I used the automatic transmission in my EV. So this insanely long post is a summary of how I did the whole transmission setup.

The first thing I did was design a motor coupling and plates that mimicked the old ICE. I kept the torque converter and flywheel setup, and since it mimics the original engine, the adapter plates and motor coupling can be used with the automatic or a manual transmission. I used the transmission's Flex Plate to design the motor coupler, which is a taper locking coupling. The aluminum plates were created using a second transmission I bought off Craiglist because at the time the car was still driving and I wanted to have as little down time as possible, so I bought the second transmission (which was skipping gears) as a EV sacrifice so I could use it as a template for the coupling and for the bolt hole pattern on the plates.Next, I left the Automatic transmission installed with the existing radiator/transmission cooler. I also left the PCM and ECU installed as they are needed to operate the transmission and the dash board. I also used the old engine mount to hold up the rear side of the 9" ADC FB1-4001A series wound motor. The motor has a rear shaft that will connect to the Power Steering pump and A/C compressor.
After all the mechanical is done, comes "fooling" the PCM. I Do not idle the motor at all. It does take about 6 seconds to build up pressure for the clutches to operate, but that only happens when the EV is first started before a trip. During driving the pressure stays up while at stop lights and such, and getting going again is no slower than with using a manual with a clutch.

Now comes the big question: How did I change the shift points on the transmission? Did I reprogram the PCM? Modify the transmission soleniods? I did nothing of the sort! The key to using to changing the shift points: replace the TPS with a 5 k potentiometer!

In and ICE he TPS tells the transmission when to shift, depending on how hard the pedal is pressed, when accelerating or cruising or coasting. By replacing the TPS with a 5K potentiometer I now can manually tell the PCM when to shift. The higher I set it, the longer it stays in each gear. After 1,000 miles of driving like this, I have had no problems and I have found a few settings that work well depending on which terrain I drive on. Higher RPMS mean better efficiency while lower RPMS allow for better acceleration.

I usually leave it at about 1/4 turn, however it needs to be set to 0 every time I start up the EV because if the TPS (5k pot) is higher than 0, the transmission thinks you are stepping on the gas and will lock the Shifter into place so you cant move it from Park. Annoying, but effective safety measure. And I will not be bypassing that protocol, but if I do the transmission can easily be shifted into Neutral with the EV off, and that is a safety issue that is checked during the yearly Inspection.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Battery Mangement System 0.1b

It's been awhile since I have updates anything. I finished my brakes, but I did the bleeding all wrong because I have NO stopping power. I can jammed the brakes to the firewall and the EV will stop, but barely. So I either did the bleeding wrong (which I think I did, pressed the pedal too far) or I killed my Master Cylinder/Brake Booster.

I also have replaced most of my pack under warranty because they were not working right. I have one left to replace, which I plan to do soon. They needed equalizing, but I didn't know until after I replaced most of them. I am going to replace the last one just so it's new like the others.

Anyways, I have really good results with my BMS. Here are pics of a few modules, and then installed in the EV.

I installed these and took them on their maiden drive to school (with funky brakes, but that's another thing) and found bugs in the software. I have a visual error reporting function that is supposed to activate for about 5 minutes, while disable the module, then go back to normal. They would not get to normal, so I sat in the parking lot rewriting the code at 8:30 AM and then updated all the modules.

They have been working really well. During the charging phase, the voltages are pretty much every where because of the batteries each being slightly different in age. (Well, one's about a year older than others.) But once the charger gets to the end, the balancers help spread the final voltages pretty evenly. I was having some problems where some batteries were charging at 15.2 volts and other at 14.0 volts. Now they all charge around 14.6-14.9 volts.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Brake Install

Here are some pictures from the new brakes installation. The top picture is comparing the old rotor on the left to the new one on the right. The Second picture is the old rotor and pads, which look awful. And the last picture is the final result with the new rotor installed and new pads. The entire EV got this treament, but the rear had drums so those got replace along with the shoes. It took about 4 hours to do the whole process, including bleeding the brakes, which was not too bad.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September Update

I have been EV less for over a week now and I am still working on the brakes. I have installed all the new rotors, pads, drums and shoes, but I had to fix the front left caliper as it was sticking badly. It had shave 1/8 of an inch off the rotor due to it being all gummed up and not releasing. Next I have to get more brake fluid and bleed the lines and I should be all set in that area.

I have also sold my old K99-4007 to another EV'er this past weekend, so I have recollected a good chunk of the money I spent on this conversion. I am making a spreadsheet of all my costs, but at the moment the total money spent on the EV, including money reclaimed by selling parts, is about $3,100. Pretty darn good, but that doesn't include the $2,000 Zilla 1K-LV I just ordered up.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Brake Time

I was driving home on Tuesday and half way home I smelled something odd, but wrote it off thinking it was the construction truck that pulled in front of me. Then about 2 minutes later I was cruising at 35 MPH @ 80 AMP draw and all of a sudden my speed plummeted to 25 MPH. My brakes were dragging quite badly that I ended up using all my battery getting home and I really could glide.

The brakes have never been decent since I started the EV. I attributed it to rust from sitting for the 4 months of conversion, but yesterday I finally had time to take a look at them. The rotors are warped, pads are rusted, drums shot and all the pads are scraping. Today I bought a new entire set of rotors, brake pads, drums and shoes and tomorrow I will install them.

I have no idea how old these brakes were to begin with, but there has always been a ratting sound that supposedly means warped rotors, but I never did anything about it because I thought new brakes would cost loads of money. I was wrong, these new sets of brakes all came to under $150 in parts.

I may see an serious improvement in performance and range with a new set of brakes that don't drag. I guess I will find out this weekend once I get the new set installed.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Out of Reach

I have waiting for my Synkro for while now, so I decided to contact EV Components to see what was going on. It turns out that getting the Synkro is getting pretty hard and production seems to be behind for the moment, so arrival was up in the air.

So I went with another option: Order a Zilla 1K-LV. More powerful than a Synkro and will be shipping within a month or so, and it's under complete control of the folks at EV Components. For the past year EV controllers have been hard to get a hold of, and the Zilla was basically untouchable because it had been out of production since 2008. I have always wanted a Zilla, but it does cost quite a bit, more than I have ever planned, but in the end it wasn't much more than a Synkro.

I should be able to zip around with a Zilla, seeing as they are the most popular for drag racing, a small commuting car so have nice zip with a power house under the hood.

I have also been driving the EV better, figuring out when I should glide, accelerate or pull over when the hills get too bad for the controller and I start to hold up traffic. I am hoping for a 2-3 mile increase in range with the Zilla because it won't be wasting AMPs going up hills, and I should be able to stick in 2nd for longer for way more efficiency.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Temperature Effects

Last winter I attempted to insulate my batteries, but didn't finish because I wasn't seeing a noticeable difference when driving less than 10 miles doing my around town driving.

Now I am starting to see the difference between 58F, 63F, 74F, 81F, etc in my morning drives. The past few days it has been about 48-60F outside and my batteries has been about 58-63 depending on the day. So last night my dad an I quickly whipped up a temporary insulated box for the batteries. It is made from 1" foam board that has been cut out and duck taped together, just to see if it works before really trying to make it nice.

Well it WORKED. Last night it was 78F on both temp sensors when we installed it, then I plugged the car into the charger and after 30 minutes the trunk was down to 72F but the batteries were at 92F! This morning, after the batteries had been charged for a few hours and just floating, the box was 81F while the trunk was 63F. The drive to school was much improved from the previous drives and I even had power left when I parked vs yesterday's limping onto campus into my spot.

This website has good basic info on deep cycle batteries, including a section on Temperature Effect:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

EV Update

I have a few EV-related updates:

First Paul and Sabrina's Open Source EV Controller is now available as a kit for purchase. Here is the Wiki:

And here is the main purchasing website:

I am considering making this controller this winter if the funds allow it. It has the potential to be a great contender to the EV world, not to mention having a spare controller around.

I have also been working on my BMS system slowly. I have been changing up the design a bit and adding a few features. I am going to make up a design and have prototype boards made by PCB Express. $51 + $9.85 shipping for 3 professionally made boards is a decent deal.

I think this design has the potential to be a sell able product and I am also going to design a charger system and LCD status screen also. Possibly create a charger/bms kit with a few interesting twists, like real battery/cell management and a computer programmable system.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Can You Pick Out The EV?

Can you pick out the EV? Wait- they're all EVs! Well, after about 5 months of trying to get a spot, there I am smack in the middle charging away. Today was the last bit of rearranging needed to squeeze me in, but now that's over, just in time for the semester to start tomorrow.

The school year started today for the public schools, which is good for me. All my high speeds hills that I have left to contend with are now 20 MPH school zone, which means good EV driving for me. The arrival of my new Synkromotive controller is still up in the air, but I really hope its soon. When I do get it, I am going to start off with the motor AMPs @ 500 and the battery AMPs @ 200 to save on battery power. According to the calculator I should need anymore than 175 battery AMPs to climb these hills, and anything higher is just wasted AMPs.

I also decided to do the math savings. It costs $2.86 a day to drive my ICE to school and back, which ends up being $57.37 a month at current gas prices of $2.70 a gallon. Now my EV takes 6.5 hours to charge, and at the 7.5 cents/KWh that is $0.49 a charge up, or $9.80 a month in electricity. The $0.075 is the cost of electricity at night, when I charge my EV. So it's basically a 6x savings in costs!

Now the trick is figuring out how long I can drive it before weather become a range limiting factor. BTW, it was 48 F when I left this morning and now its 86F where my EV is parked. This New England weather is just screwed up.

Little Tricks

Today was the first, real, Official full time EV use to work and back. I was welcomed on this September first with 48 F weather! It was in the 90s last week, and all of a sudden it was cold and brisk. On the way in, I did notice the cold had an effect on the batteries, and I messed with the charger yesterday didn't help.

First, the charger. I was reading that I should set the float on my charger to 14.4 volts, so I did. Well, some batteries didn't get fully charged because of that, so it went right back to 14.8 volts this morning when I got it.

Now the temp. According to this: the batteries were down to about 87% capacity due to the weather, and that was dead on. I usually have 40-50% left, but I was closer to 25% left and did my best to slow down. I did a few trial last winter and found that betteries were much warmer when left charging over night and range was quite decent compared to cold batteries, so tomorrow I will get to see if it still true since I will have the EV charger most of the night.

It's time to start thinking about installing the ceramic heater and get down to insulating the batteries, for real this time. I am looking into sheet metal or some type of cheap plastic to house the foam insulation.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Adventure: Home

My EV was basically fully charged when I left for home yesterday. The trip was pretty uneventful, but I ended up missing on of my planned short cuts, so I had to drive through some 45 MPH streets with mild hills, into the center of town, adding another 2 miles to my 16.5 mile commute. The EV did well, until the last hill home. I dropped to 25 MPH going up the hill and I had to pull over cause some guy was riding my tailgate. It was a 30 MPH hill, so I there was really not a big deal... Oh well.

I definitely need the new Synkromotive controller and to not miss out on my shortcuts. I probably would not have had much trouble with that final hill if I had an extra 10 Ah of juice in my pack to contend with. Actually, I am going to look it up to see if it was my batteries getting sort of low, of the controller not giving the juice to go up.

EDIT: It must be both the controller not giving the juice properly since the calculator shows That 230 motors AMPs are needed and only 165 battery AMPs to climb the hill, and an extra 10 Ah of power would be nice since climbing that hill at 30 MPH will use 3.75 Ah of pack.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Adventure

The Adventure actually began yesterday when I decided to take a test run of the route I picked out for my EV ride to school. So with MapQuest in my hand, I take my ICE and try out the route. I get a whopping 2.6 miles when my drivers rear tire blows. I pull into the nearby school parking lot like 100 feet away and find a HUGE tear in the tire, like someone took a sawzall too it! I tried to remove it but the sucker was rusted on so a call to AAA was in order and they came and used a sledge hammer to get it off. Put on the Donut and went home. I felt like I was towing 3000LBs with that donut!

Anyways, I needed new tires and today I find out I also need new brakes and I had a stuck caliber (which I thought needed replacement a few months ago). So with my ICE in the shop, I had to try out my route with my EV, pretty much going blind.

So I did take my EV, and I got lost. When I finally made it to school I had driven 18.4 miles, 2 miles farther than I needed too. I had power left, and the pack voltage never got below 84.4 volts under heavy acceleration and at rest was over 96 volts when I finally parked in.

That was only part of the Adventure. Yesterday I got my access to the lot with the school's EVs, the access pass and sticker. So when I arrived today at 8:15 there was NO PLACE TO PARK! I had a backup plug in another lot so I am currently charging there. But I really need a spot in the EV lot, so some EV rearranging is needed, and since they are all small Geo Metros, it shouldnt be too hard to get a setup that works for everyone.

Now I am prepping for the third part of this Adventure: going home. The Civic is on the charger and hopefully will be done when I am ready to leave. I cranked up the charging current a bit just to hasten it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I just got back from Walmart and exchanged the two bad batteries. It took longer than I thought, mainly because the price of the MAXX29 have increase $10 each since last year, so it took the Customer Service rep a bit to figure out what to do.

Anyways, the new batteries are fresh off the pallet with an August 09 date. I put them into the battery trays, but I haven't strapped them down or wire them up yet, that will be tomorrow's job.

Before I do that, I am going to charge the two new batteries with the smart charger, then hooked them into the pack and give it a few minutes with the K&W. Then comes breaking them in with a couple runs doing 25-30 MPH around the block should do it. There is only about 25 cycles on the pack, and it's OK to add/change single batteries as long of they are less than 50 cycles difference between them, so I should be fine.

I am still working out the finer details about getting my plug at school, but I am hoping to get things finalized very soon before all my saved money gets spent on gas again. It's costs me $3.00 a day to commute in my ICE, and only $0.60 for the EV, so it's quite a savings!

Under Load

I MapQuested a trip around town, using 35-50MPH roads with hills and drive 16.5 miles just to make sure I could make the trip to school. I found out that I have two really bad batteries. After 15 miles of driving, the PakTrakr starting to flip out saying that A1 nd B1 needed charging.

So I set the PakTrakr to monitor the batteries in question and found that under load, A1 was sagging to 10.4 volts and B1 was at 7.5 volts! The other batteries were only sagging to 11.2-11.1 volts while driving at 35 MPH. I made it home, but dropped the speed down to 25 MPH to keep the A1 and B1 batteries above 10.5 volts.

I am pulling A1 and B1 today and getting them replaced at Walmart. 18 month free replacement is going to be real useful right now. I kept all my reciepts just for this purpose.

At least I know I can make it the 16.3 miles, and most of the batteries were at 50% when I stopped. And the route I plan to take to school is limited to about 35 MPH and probably less hilly.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Too Many Variables

I decided to try another setting in the Kelly controller, one that would use less battery AMPs, and hence less acceleration. There must be hundreds of different combination's one can do with this thing, and they really don't come with any explanation on what they do.

I went over the mountainous journey, and instead of looking of power required to hold speed, I looked at the battery power needed to climb the mountain. It was quite frightening! I was pulling 250 AMPs for 3 minutes going up, and with some simple math the power it took from the battery pack was: 250 AMPs per Hour/3600 seconds per hour*180 seconds driving time*2 for Puekerts Effect = 25 Ah from the batteries! Thats 1/5 of my battery pack, and that was done three times after 12 miles of driving! No wonder I literrally crawled home! I used up at least half my pack driving 3 miles of mountainous hills, more than I expected. Now I know, avoid that part of town.

I have a few new routes I found using MapQuest that I want to try because they are basically flat, and will get me to where I want to go, hopefully with lots of power left.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Real Deal

Wednesday night I decided to take the EV out and try out the new cooling and program settings. The acceleration was GREAT and the controller stayed pretty cool. It was supposed to me a 12 mile round trip, but 4 miles in I can to a dirt road (under construction) and bottomed out the EV, cursed and went on. Then after reaching my destination I followed my dad home, asking to skip the dirt road. Well, he did avoid the dirt road and instead took the scenic routes to the mountains of our town! I ended up using almost ALL the battery power going up the hills, and came to a point where the controller went into low voltage shutdown and I was creeping along at less than 1 MPH.

I found that this what was my dad was referring too when the hills slowed him down. I did a battery check, and one was 50% and the rest were between 8% and 40% left! WAY out of balance!

I have used the single smart charger to bring up the lower batteries, and next I am going to set my K&W to do an equalizing charge on all the batteries. If this doesn't work, I am going to replace the entire pack with a new one, all under warranty. I also did try out the prototype BMS and it worked great after some minor software changes. Hopefully I will get a picture soon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cooling Off

I decided to do some more controller playing today. I added two CPU fans to the heat sink of the controller, and changed the controller program settings to Torque. Now it should give all the power it can, and with the extra fan cooling it seems to be doing a little better. I won't really know until my Dad takes it out again and reports back on those hills. My 7.7 mile trial run with the improved setup yielded great results and the controller heat sink was considerably cooler. And it was 85 F with high humidity out today, quite nasty for working on the EV, but I did it anyways.

This Friday is the meeting about getting plugs at school and I also hope to drive it 17 miles and see how it does. I might mapquest a route to go back and forth and see what happens.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Heating Up

I have not done much with the EV since I was away on vacation, but I do have a few things going on.

First, I started my Battery Management System. I have one prototype made up and will be trying it out soon. It's a Shunt type regulator with a programmable PIC processor and I have it setup for a 12 volt flooded lead acid battery. It also has a basic State of Charge meter, 0%, 25%, 50% 75% and 100%.

I also have a meeting next Friday about getting my plug for my electric car at school. I have been trying to get a plug for about 8 months now. This time instead of asking for a plug and getting clueless responses, I went out and found a spot on campus that would be great for electric vehicle charging, gave a picture to the right people and get a meeting two weeks later!

Now the controller. I am on the waiting list for the next batch of Synkromotive Controllers, and it might take more than 4 weeks! I have been going over more data from my EV driving, trying to get the most out of the Kelly, and I think if I add some more high powered fans to the bottom heatsink, it might make the hills better. There are these two hills in my Dad's route that the car really slows down, and they also happen to be at the end of his commute. The other day when he came home I decided to check the controller's temp, and the top casing was fine where I put the CPU fan on, but the massive heatsink was HOT! I have no forced air cooling over it, so that is my next job. I have a whole ton of high power CPU fans, so I will try those out. I am also going to take some TEMP readings today when I take the EV out and try some massive hills.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Going Over the Data

I have been pouring over all the data I have collected, such as range estimations, AMP draw at different speeds, top speed and all these hills. I them made a conclusion and took it to the electric vehicle teacher and he agreed: my controller is way underpowered.

Actually, I learned that my K99-4007 was actually quite fine for the Civic with the blower cooler and proper gear selection. It was my controller limiting the acceleration and AMP draw to the motor. Which makes sense because my controller couldn't provide the continuous power required to maintain hills, and I only need to higher AMPS for a few seconds.

So now I know it's the controller, it's on the top of my EV list of things to buy. I am still working on getting a plug at school, but I really need the upgrade controller before driving it there. I hope to have the new controller by the end of August, before the semester starts up again.

Friday, July 17, 2009

More Tweaking

This week was spent gathering more EV driving data by my dad. I adjusted the vacuum switch on the brake pump because the pump would not turn off. A quick adjust of the setting screw and it now stays off for a lot less of time, but still works just fine.

I also took another crack at figuring out the whole hill thing. I temporarily hooked up my current meter and took some AMP testings and then went off to the hill with the worst grade (5.6 %) and did a few runs, with momentum and one starting from a stop, after getting the controller warm.

I found that it would draw 200+ amps, then drop down to 182 AMPs and wouldn't go any higher, even if I floored it. This means that the controller is limiting the current due to heat.

So I found the most powerful CPU fan I could find and planted it on the Kelly controller. Man, what a difference! I have a heatsink for the bottom of the controller, but the top also needed some cooling. After a 5 mile run the controller was practically cold and usually it's quite warm. And it's 85 degrees F out today, and humid and it's probably closer to 120F under the hood and the controller will start to slow down at 125 F. The CPU fan was designed to cool Quad Core Xeon processors, so cooling the Kelly isn't too far out of it's design specs. And I can always add another one.

Now it has to go through some real testing but my dad driving it to work again and see if it's any better. The motor needs to see 215+ AMPs to hold the hills at 30 MPH, which means it needs to pull 215 from the batteries, which hopefully it can do now for longer than a few seconds. 20-30 seconds would be nice just to clear the hills.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


After a few days of daily driving, we have decided that we need to upgrade the controller. The Kelly just won't make some of the hills, dipping down to 5 MPH because the continuous power of the controller is 160 AMPs and I need more like 250 AMPs.

I thought it would have been fine because the other controller that was recommended to me was a Curtis 1221c, which is similar to my Kelly with 400 AMPs peak, but instead only 150 AMPs continuous.

I was going to build the Open Source EV Controller, but I planned on taking my time slowly building it over a period of a few months to iron out any kinks and give it a thorough testing. So now I have to research production controllers and I am currently looking at either the Curtis 1231C, Logisystems and the new Synkromotive controller. Right now my eyes are set on the Synkromotive controller since it has the highest continuous current of 400 AMPs and a peak of 650, so it would be a HUGE performance increase.

I also have put up my spare parts for sale on Craigslist and DIY Electric Car Classifieds to fund this controller upgrade:

I am hoping anyone out there will pick up these parts since it's a great deal, and a great way to get started on an EV project.

Here are the links to the Open Source EV Controller:
And this is the Forum Post on Ecomodder, a good read and a must read for anyone wanting to learn about this controller:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Battery Watering

Yesterday I checked the water level off all my batteries after getting the suggestion from my PakTrakr to "Check Water in Battery B1". I found that most of the batteries needed little to no water, which is excellent. Nothing was dangerously low , which is quite good after 230 miles of EV driving. I have read that watering is needed every 200 or so miles and it only takes about 15 minutes to check the levels and add new water if needed, so it might become a Friday night thing to do since the EV will be doing close to 200 miles a week, hopefully starting tomorrow.

Also, after my video run I checked my cables to see how they were and I noticed that one was quite warm so I removed it and found that is had high resistance. So I removed all the cables and gave them a good corrosion sanding. The resistance went from 0.4 ohms to 0.0 ohms after some instense cleaning, about 15 minutes per connection and I have 16 connections.... do the math... I watche Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and I still wasn't done with the cables....

I haven't driven the EV since that, but I should expect cooler cables and possible an increase of power. Since that resistance was limiting me to 240 battery AMPs (V=IR) now I should be able to pull more, but I really don't want to in order to preserve battery life.

Monday, July 6, 2009

EV Driving Video

Well, here it is, the first driving video! Proof that one can make an EV with an automatic transmission.

There is no commentary by me because I was sort of tired and I did another whole commentary but the the camera fell over at the first corner and I didn't realize until partway through so I scrapped it.

Anyways, it's a 1.1 mile run around my neighborhood doing 25 MPH speeds. You can clearly hear the 12 volt Thomas brake pump and when that is off, the hum of the electric motor. I am going to get another video one of these days with a bit of 45 MPH highway, but that will have to wait until I can get a passenger to hold the camera for me.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I have about 75 miles on the EV now and I am getting ready so some tweaks. I am going to adjust the controller settings for a smoother start and I am researching a new suspension system. I am also looking at the pulley system for hooking up the AC and Power Steering, but the new suspension is on the top of my list. I think I have found a system I like

I am also development my own Battery Management System. While wet deep cycle batteries don't require it, I figure it would be a good system to caring for the batteries and making sure they are properly balanced and don't get overcharged. I do have the PakTrakr but it only monitors the batteries, but doesn't actually manage them or balance the batteries.

I still haven't made the EV driving video but I am hoping to do it this weekend if the weather ever lightens up.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gathering Data

I have been happily driving my EV as much as possible, and the FB1-4001A is great! I have a total of 38 miles so far on this new setup and itching to put on more.

From the data I have collected, it looks like I have a range of 20.1 miles to 80% DoD, or 25.1 miles to 100% DoD. Now that is pretty decent since those test were with the biggest hills I could find.

Now that the EV is drivable, I have to learn to drive "better", i.e. slow acceleration, steady AMP draw, find the most efficient speeds, etc.

And it's also time to get plugs. My dad was successful and got three plugs from his work. I sent off an e-mail to my college's Access Services over a week ago and didn't hear back. Well, today I called them and they asked if I was the one who sent the e-mail, and I said yes. They said that as of today, they don't have an answer for me. Apparently I am the first person to request a plug, and they are somewhat stumped and trying to figure out what to do. They didn't outright say no, so it sounds like they are trying to figure something out. Now I am itching to hear their response, and I am quite hopeful.

I am also going to try to make a video of the EV in action in the next few weeks. The weather has been quite awful so I have been putting it off for a while. Hopefully when the rain stops I will get the tripod out and setup the camera in the back seat.

I probably should first clean out the EV.....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Balancing Act

I did two test runs again today, just short 3 miles runs, but my batteries are quite unbalanced. I also fixed the vacuum leak and properly connected the Curtis 1400E DC/DC Converter. The car is now drivable, except for the battery issue.

Right now I am charging each battery with a 10 AMP smart charger, one at a time. I have everything setup under my tarp and I will not drive it until each battery has been fully charged with the smart charger. Then I will take it for a good 6-8 mile drive, and charge it again with the main K&W BC-20.

The batteries became unbalanced due to sitting for 3 months, and having the PakTrakr sucking power from 2 of the 8 batteries more than the others (remotes and display).

Once this Balancing Act is complete, I will start to take new data for range and performance. I did take it up to 40 MPH this morning with no problems, even with the unbalanced pack. I am also working on installing the BC-20 into the trunk of the EV. I haven't spent much time on it yet, but I do have an idea that should be very easy, assuming I can get a marine 110v plug for the gas cap connection.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Assembly Day Two

I woke up this morning to torrential rains, which was not on the forecast on Friday. So, after breakfast, I setup my tarp and went to work on installing the control tray. After about 3 hours of bolting, cable installation, checking again and again, it was done!

It wasn't without some little quirks, though. I first tested the control tray and started to smoke up my Precharger Resistor because my DC/DC was connected on the wrong side of it. I just unplugged the DC/DC until I can lengthen the wire for the positive side tomorrow.

After, I fired everything up, got in the EV and went to drive, and the Transmission wouldn't come out of park! It turns out that I had parked it funny, so I had to use the key to override the lock out, rolled down the driveway a few feet, and it was fine.

Then I went for a 1 mile jaunt around the neighborhood, and the EV had much more power now than before, with driving up to 25 MPH. I did feel like it should have had more power, but I decided to skip the step of checking the Kelly Controller settings before my little trip. After I got back, I hooked my laptop and found out that I had the wrong settings on the controller! I changed the settings and tomorrow I will go out to test them.

Now I do have a few things to work on. The vacuum has a leak in it, and my TPS sensor fell out when I installed my control tray, so I will have to reinstall that. I also have to go on a few small trips to break the brushes and batteries in again, so maybe 2 or 3 small trips this week will do that.

Once I get the little quirks out, I will make a video of the EV in action. I need about 30 minutes to fix up the little things, then I should be good for a real joy ride.

My next goal is to install the charger into the trunk. Right now it is an external setup, but I will change that and install the K&W BC-20 into the trunk so I can charge it in any weather. Then I will work on the Power Steering and the Air Conditioning, but that's later on.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Assembly Day One

Today was a full day of EV work. It took way longer than I hoped to get the motor in. After getting the plates on the motor, and the motor hoisted up and car aligned, I found out that the motor was too big to be dropped down! So I have to remove the plates, and then lower the motor into the bay onto the ground, then add the plates again. Then came the aligning which did take a while, but the real pain was the two little bolts on the coupling. I spent two hours trying to bolt those little suckers, but I finally got them in. The whole setup spins by hand beautifully so I built the motor mount.

I did get what I wanted down today, and the new motor looks really good in the car! Tomorrow I will be installing the control tray and finishing everything up and through the car on the charger. I am guessing I have about 2 hours of work left before it will be drivable, so the morning should be busy.

I also made myself a checklist to be safe. I am glad I did it because I was so close to missing a few on the little things.

  • Bolt Flex Plate to Torque Converter - Done
  • Install main line cables - Done
  • Install motor - Done
  • Install motor mount - Done
  • Install Control Tray
  • Install Precharge Resistor
  • Test Control Tray w/o main traction power (12v test)
  • Check Kelly Controller Settings
  • Hook up Transmission Ground
  • Hook up TPS sensor - Done
I have half my checklist done, and the other half should be nice and easy once the control tray is installed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Getting Ready for Assembly

I just thought I would post this picture of the test setup of the FB1-4001A on the transmission.

Anyways, I spent the past few days getting ready for the motor install on Saturday. I have made and installed the new main line cables, or the Umbilical Cord, as I have been calling it, I built part of the motor mount and I started to collect all my tools to get ready.

Now my only thing I have to think about is whether to drop the motor in from the top, or bring it up from the bottom. I am going to search the EV Album for other Civic's with this size motor and try to find out if they did it from the top or the bottom. The motor is quite massive, and it will be a tight fit!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Metal Puzzle

I have finished cutting and drilling the plates, and aligning them! It took me longer than I thought because my coupling insert was somewhat defective. All the holes need to be drilled slightly larger, and it took me about an hour of attempting to put the system together to figure that out.

I am still hoping to get it driving this weekend. I need to make the motor mount and crimp some new cables. Of course, now that I am ready to assemble the EV, it decides to rain all week. I will be setting up a tarp so I can work on it, and some parts like the crimping of the cables can be done inside. This is what I the plan is:
- Install FB1-4001A and mounts
- Install new main line cables
- Install Control Tray and test
- Update Kelly KDH09401 program
- Drive!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Adapter Plates, 2.0

It turns out that the machine shop just doesn't have the time to work on my plates. So today I went down and picked up my FB1-4001A, sacrificial transmission and the new plate stock. I then went off to Home Depot and picked up a new 15" Drill Press, new bits and new DeWalt batteries then spent the day setting up the equipment.

The drill press seemed more complicated than the EV! After setting up, I went straight to work. It goes so much faster now that I have the old plates to use for patterns, and all the right equipment does wonders. I only spent about 30 minutes actually making the plates today, but I will be working on them for the next few nights with the *hope* that I can install it this Saturday. I am also taking my time and making these new plates as professional looking as possible, vs my other "hacked up" plates, which did look pretty bad up close, although they worked perfectly.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Test Fit

Now that I am completely done with classes, it's EV time!
I did a test fit of the control tray in the EV today, and I have to say I do quite like it. I need another trip to ACE to get some 1/4-20 bolts to mount the controller/heatsink to the mini tray, and I need a longer hose for the vacuum switch. Then I will lock down the vacuum tank and finish up some wiring and test the tray.

I also fiddled with the BC-20 charger today. My batteries needed a freshen up charge, but the charger wouldn't work. I found out that my setting resistor needed to be readjusted to deal with the heat. After 45 minutes of fiddling, I started a top off charge.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Finally, Some Real Progress

It has been about a month since I have done one tiny thing on the EV. Actually, I haven't really worked on it since winter break. A little bit here, or there, but this past semester has been loaded and most of the things I wanted to do did not happen.

Well, I finally have day to work on the EV. I received my new heatsink and mounted the controller to it.

I have also finished wiring the entire control tray. The only two things left for the tray is to mount the heatsink controller to it's small tray and to add lock washers to the nuts. Then it gets installed and tested. I am also going to make up a clear wiring diagram eventually.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May Update

I am in my final weeks of the semester so I really haven't been able to do to much on the EV. I am almost done with the new wiring for the control system but it has taken much longer than I hoped because I had to get new relays.

If I play my cards right, I should be able to finish the rest of my semester's work this week and take Friday afternoon off to work on the EV before seeing the new Star Trek movie.

I also have ordered up a proper heatsink for my Kelly KDH09401. I have a 8.5"x12" finned aluminum heatsink coming in soon that will not only look better than the plate I have not, but should also provide even better cooling.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Control Tray Frame

I have completed the hardware part of the control tray and setup the electronics on it.

From right to left, I have the 12 Volt Thomas Vacuum Pump, Electronic Control Box, Curtis SW200 Contactor and Curtis 1400E 96 Volt DC-DC converter. I need to pick up some more bolts for mounting the components and I haven't wired up anything yet. I am redoing ALL the wiring to neaten it up and reconfigure a few components I now have like the DC/DC.

I am hoping to finish up the electrical parts of the tray this weekend and test it out. Now I don't have my motor yet, but I don't need it to test the low voltage systems. I am estimating an hour or two for the wiring so I am almost there. This weekend is going to have excellent weather so testing it out should be easy.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Some Motivation

Well this weather has giving me some more motivation to work on the EV! It was about 70F today and I got a lot done on the control tray.

I have one more mount to make for it, then I get down to installing the components. I also am going to to cut out some sheet metal to make a base for the components and for splash protection. This tray isn't complete yet, and it already looks really good. This engine compartment is going to be stuff, but hopefully it will look professional.

It looks like this weekend I will be finishing up this control tray. I will also be redoing the entire electrical setup. I have a new contactor that I want to use to replace the two parallel smaller ones I have. There are a few things in the engine compartment that can be removed and cleaned up a bit, like excess wiring brackets that aren't in use anymore.

Right now my wiring setup is rather difficult to follow and messy. Now that I have a DC/DC things will be changed around a bit.

My motor is still at the shop and will probably be there until mid May. When I do get it back it should be a matter of a day of installing it and making the motor mount.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

April Update

It's been about a month since I last posted, and that's because I have been busy slacking. I haven't gotten a whole lot done, and I am still waiting for the new motor adapter plates. I talked to the machine shop last week, and they haven't started it yet, so it's still a ways off.

I did finally remove the Cruise Control Unit from the engine compartment and readjusted the PakTrakr wiring. I did receive the 96 volt Curtis DC/DC that I traded for and it looks really nice:Between weather, school work and holidays, I really haven't done anything with the EV. I have all the control systems on the work bench, but I haven't purchased the material to building the new control tray system yet. I was going to wait until the motor was in, but at this point I have just going to work on the tray when I get the time just to get something done.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Break Time

I am on Spring Break this week so I should be able to work on the little things on the EV. The FB1-4001A, transmission and related parts have been dropped off at the machine shop and I should be contacted this coming week with a quote on it. So I probably won't be installing the motor this week, but I have a load of other things to do. They include the following:
  • Rebuild Control Board on steel plate
  • Install DC/DC converter
  • Wire LCD AMP Meter
  • Make metal battery straps
Of course who knows how much I will actually get done. I have been setting goals, and to be realistic, my goal is about one of those a day. Instead of "getting it done" I will get little things done, one at a time, and eventually it will be "Done".

I have decided to use a DC/DC converter in my EV since the AUX 12 volt just isn't up to the task for very long. I actually got a DC/DC converter with my big lot of EV parts, but it was for 120/140 volt EVs. I actually tried to sell it, and instead got an offer to trade it for a similar DC/DC converter designed for a 96 volt system! PERFECT! It should arrive on Wednesday according to FEDEX, and then I will be able to actually drive my EV at night! The 12 volt battery isn't powerful enough to run everything, including headlights at night. Headlights were actually designed to run at 13.5-14.5 volts, not 12 volts. And they are VERY DIM at 12 volts.

Meanwhile, I have been cleaning up the basement and taking an inventory of EV parts left over. I have quite a substantial amount, almost enough for a full EV conversion, like a motorcycle, VW Bug or a Geo Metro. While the ADC K99-4007 worked in my EV, it would be much better in a Bug or Metro that is 1,000 lbs lighter and with a manual transmission to keep the RPMs higher.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


I just had to post this picture. I removed the K99-4007 today and decided to place it next to the FB1-4001A to see the difference. And WOW what a huge difference. When I first got the K99-4007 I thought it was huge and heavy. Well after a few weeks of moving around the FB1-4001A I picked up the K99 and found it to be light. This picture really doesn't do it justice.

When comparing these two together, it's amazing that the K99 pushed a Civic upwards of 40 MPH, so what is the FB1-4001A going to do? I really didn't think there was much of a difference when I had the two motors separated, mainly since my memory thought the K99 was bigger than it really is.

So the FB1-4001A, spare transmission and coupling will be going to the machine shop on Monday!

I am taking this opportunity to work on the gauges and the control board. Right now my AMP meter is a volt meter sitting on the passenger side floor so I want to install the real backlit meter I bought. My control board consists of all my high powered systems tie wrapped to an old closet shelf, so it looks tacky and unprofessional. I want to get a aluminum plate or a metal sheet to mount the control systems.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Motor Prep

While things have been busy, I have found the time to contact the machine shop and get ready for the new plates. This past weekend was spent finalizing the drawings for the new plates and prepping the motor for installation. I still have my spare transmission I used for making the first plates, so I will use that again. The machine shop will get the FB1-4001A, the spare A4RA Automatic Transmission and the coupling.

It's snowing like crazy now, but later in the week I will be removing the K99-4007 from the Civic and getting out the coupling to give to the machine shop. The Civic should only be off the road for 1 or 2 weeks while the new plates are being made, then I will install it during Spring break. I also plan on finalizing the hood section of the EV, with an aluminum mounting board and splash protection for the components.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Long Weekend Fun

This weekend I got a lot of things done that have been on my list. First I installed a charging port in the old gas cap location. Here it is, and the odd shape is for the special plug already connected to the charger.
I also configured the K&W BC-20 for 96 volts and tried it out. So far so good, but I need to make a water proof box because this charger is setup to be on off board charger. It was setup this way when I bought it, and I decided to keep it that way.

I also installed the PakTrakr into the dash. It previous sat on the passenger's seat, and it was always in the way when I took someone for a ride, or picked up someone.

I redid my battery pack wiring with the new 2/0 gauge cables I got with the lot I purchased that included the charger, motor, meters, etc. I cleaned up the connections and they fit perfectly. The battery pack is much cleaner now and is presentable.

The last thing I did was work on the FB1-4001A. I had to adjust the timing from CCW to CW. I also greased up the bearings and the next thing I need to do is check the brushes and use the brush stone to reseat them.
I haven't driven the EV this past weekend because of all the work I was doing on it. I probably won't be able to work on it until Friday or this weekend, but I intend to contact the machine shop about getting the new plates made for this motor.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's All About Efficiency

Ok, so here are the pics of the blower:
The blower has been working nicely, but I still need the bigger one! Going through the motor data, I have found that the K99-4007 is only 73-78% efficient at the RPMs I am using it at. Pretty dismal, and a good reason why range or power isn't great. The FB1-4001A is 89% efficient at the same RPMs, so it should be giving me about a 16% increase in range, and twice the performance.

My new coupling hub has arrived along with a pulley for the rear shaft. Now I can get to contacting the machine shop about the new plates.

I have also completed an 11.4 mile run on a single charge, but I have discovered two bad batteries. They sag much lower than the others, and also have a lower charge after a full charge cycle. After the run, the PakTrakr read 21% remaining! That is way under my estimates and after checking voltages, 6 of them read 50% or more, and the two bad ones read very low. So now I have to remove the two bad batteries, but first I am going to check the water levels before doing anything drastic. But to get at them, I have to redo all the cabling, so I will install my new cable and try to get the PakTrakr and AMP meter installed properly.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Motor Cooling

Today I finally installed the blower! I will post pictures tomorrow, but it seems to be working really well. I did a 3.7 mile test drive and it was my best run yet, in performance, motor temp, and estimated range. Not only did it yield the best results, it was also my worst EV-style driving yet! Most of it was hard acceleration, 40 MPH and then I did a hill that I have tried to avoid, but sometimes forget. My previous attempts at this hill started out with me putting the pedal to the floor, getting up to 30 MPH, and by the top I was down to 15 MPH. This time I stayed at the 25 MPH speed limit at the beginning, and held it all the way up. And I wasn't flooring it at all. I have done this run a couple of times, and each time the performance is awful and the motor is way to hot to touch. After this run, the motor was warm, but I could hold my hand to it and not get burned. This blower is just a temporary "patch" as it were until I get the FB1-4001A installed.

I did not get to do my 10 mile run because I got too involved with the blower. So hopefully this week I will take a decent joyride and see how the 10 miles goes. I am hoping for a 35 mile range, but my data is everywhere at the moment.

On the DIY Electric Car forums there is talk about LiFePO4 batteries for $0.35/Watt Hour or about $2900 for a 96 volt 90Ah pack, perfect for my EV. The LiFePO4 would weigh less than my deep cycle pack, and yield 2x the range.