Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winter is Here!

I have now well over 5,000 miles on my EV and winter has arrived! My heater is installed, but I am waiting for an overflow tank before I can use the heat full time. Right now the pressure builds up and shuts down the pump because it's a closed system, but once my overflow tank arrives it will be an open system and I can run it continuously. It's about 900 watts of heat but once it gets going it does a nice job of keeping the interior warm and the windshield clean.

I have gone about 7 months without buying any gas, and I am going to spend part of this break testing the winter worthiness of my EV. I just watered the batteries last weekend, about 1/2 a gallon for the whole pack, so I don't use much water which is good. This pack now has 4,000 miles and seems to get stronger all the time. I am hoping for at least 10,000 miles from this pack, hopefully more. I have figured my break even point is about 6,000 miles due to the benefits of driving an EV, so I'm pretty happy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Winter's Coming

I have over 4,000 miles on the EV, and now winter is coming. While the batteries are insulated, I still don't have heat in my EV yet. These past few weeks have been quite chilly, even some frost. While preheating the EV works to clear the ice, it doesn't last too long on keeping me warm.

Today was a day off from classes, so after my homework I worked on my heater. I originally had this overkill setup with all sorts of electronics, but I decided today it was unnecessary. I now just need to pick up two automotive relays and some anti-freeze and I can install this sucker on Saturday!

If all goes well, tomorrow I will pickup the last parts of the heater, get it all wired and lugged up, then Saturday I plug it into the EV and I should have an all season EV!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Harvest Energy Fair

Yesterday there was a Harvest Energy Fair at the high school, so my dad and I decided to check it out. I also decided to bring my EV to show off and check out the advertised Plug In Hybrid.
There were a local company who sells Electric Bikes there with three bikes that people could test ride. My dad took one for a spin and loved it.
There was also a Tesla Roadster! The owner just received it this past Tuesday and got word of this little event and had to show it off.
In this picture you can see my Civic EV, the 2010 Tesla Roadster and the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug In Hybrid. The new Prius has a slightly larger hatch and a 13 mile EV range, the Tesla has a 250 miles range and my Civic has a 32 mile range. My Civic and the Tesla were definitely big hits, you have the home made commuter EV and then the sports car. And yes, not only did I sit in the Tesla, I got a ride! It has some serious zip, I know what I have to modify my Civic into next!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Still Going

Well, my EV is still going! I had to buy new tires a few weeks ago, I got a flat on my way home and it was not repairable. I got Goodyear WeatherHandler Fuel Max LRR tires from Sears, and they have really good grip on the wet roads.

Last weekend I removed my batteries, cleaned out the trunk and checked water levels. Everything was great, and this weekend I am insulating the battery pack. It's been cold at night, 35F, and the batteries aren't too happy. Today I purchased two 2x8 sheets of 2" foam insulation and tomorrow I will rig up my new insulation box. This box will be twice as thick as my last box, and it will be easier to keep sealed.

I am also hoping to test my water heater this weekend. It's getting pretty cold out, but preheating the EV with the ceramic heater has worked fine the past week.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Power Windows

Since my driver's window stop working, I decided to go all in and see what the damage was. Ever since I owned the car the drivers windows was the only one that would work from the control panel on the door, the passenger windows only worked on the individual doors.
It didn't take me long to rip off the fender, side trim and finally peel back the insulation and inspect the 25 pin connector. Four wires were completely cut off and another 8 had severe cuts in them.
After inspecting the connector, I called up Honda looking for a replacement and they wanted $500 for a whole new cable! After an hour of trying to remove the pins on the broken connector I said forget this, went down to Radio Shack and pick up 25 bullet connections. After that, I spent over 3 hours cutting cables, stripping wiring, crimping, soldering and testing.

Now all my windows work from the main control panel! It has been my largest pain, which is now cured!

I have also had significant progress on my heater setup, which I will post about once I get some more time to case it up.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

3K EV Miles!

Last week I cleared the 3,000 EV mile mark! (1600 miles on this pack) It's been great driving gas free, but recently I have found a few annoyances that need to be worked on.

First, I still don't have my heater installed. The mornings have been getting colder (41F this morning) so it's time I got around to install it. Preheating the EV with the ceramic heater does work great, though. But my biggest pain has been the wire harness on the door. It's 14 years old and since I got the car I haven't been able to control any passenger windows from it, but this week it decided to stop doing the drivers window too. Not cool. So this weekend I am going to take off my fender and replace the wire harness. Well, more like repair it. It has been driving me crazy not being able to open my window for some fresh air, or to open the parking gate.

If repairing this harness does indeed fix all my window issues, I will then look into replacing my dead door lock. After I get heat installed, of course.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Proof of Concept

I have completed over 6 weeks of EV driving and loving it. I have officially started my EV Proof of Concept period with this setup, and the summer testing has been great so far. I have noticed some problems, not EV related, but problems with my Civic itself, such as problematic locks and windows, but nothing that impacts the EV fun at the moment.

Now this EV was originally designed to be my entry in the EV world, as my Proof of Concept and here are my requirements for my 1 year full test:

-8,000+ miles on a single lead acid pack
-All year capable
- Maintain 40-45 MPH
-20+ miles of range reliably
-Limited to no down time
-Fun to drive

The only thing I have left to do is install my heater for the fall/winter weather. I already have 1,000 miles on this battery pack and once I get around to installing my heater I should meet all my other requirements.

I should also mention that I have indeed noticed the extra money staying in my bank account, and I do like my parking space at school/work so it has definitely been worth it. So far my EV has been a great commuter and the real test will be how it lasts the coming school year.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

5 Weeks!

I have done 5 full weeks of commuting in my EV! By the end of this week I will have put 1,000 miles on this battery pack and so far I have not gone past 50% DoD so I should get a good life from this pack. Oh, and I have purchased a drop of gas in two months!

I have also received a small DC/DC converter for my AMP gauge that I will install tomorrow for this weeks drive. I will then be away on various trips for a few weeks but I want to get my EV setup so others in the house can drive it.

I have one more week of work before I start my vacations, then I will be off for the summer. I actually have quite a lot happening but I do want to have my heater setup installed but the end of August and maybe even the power steering/AC hooked up.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Two Weeks

I have been commuting for two weeks so far! I have had no real problems, I did have to adjust some controller settings but it has been very reliable and fun to drive! Today I watered the batteries for the first time and only a few cells needed water. I don't think they all came completely topped off at the factory but better safe than sorry. I have only three batteries left to water, I couldn't get to them this afternoon because I didn't have a proper wrench.

The only real things I need to do it get the heater finished and installed, and get a DC/DC converter for my Current meter.

Oh, and I am nearing my 2,000 miles EV mark! 1,913 gas free miles!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I have finally started commuting in my EV! 16.7 miles each way with a full charge in between and the EV is working great! I have a few little things left, like replace one of the controller cooling fans and get an isolated DC/DC converter for my AMP gauge.

I have done two days of commuting so far and haven't run into any problems. I usually take it easy, but sometimes I have been pounding the full acceleration to keep the gas guzzling, late-for-work people from trying to run me down at lights.

Oh, and I also like my parking space.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Front Suspension

I have finished installing the new struts and springs today. I didn't get any pictures, but they were easier to install than the rear. However, it was over 90F today and humid but I still worked on the EV!

Tomorrow my Zilla should be back and I can try out full power with this new pack. I have to clean up my EV and wash off a weeks worth's of pollen just to see out the windows. I have installed the vacuum switch and I am going to install a few more straps on the batteries. I plan on doing all this tomorrow morning before the mail arrives, usually around 1:00 PM, hopefully with my Z1K-LV all ready to go. It should take 5 minutes to install the Zilla as it's four mounting bolts then four power cables.

I also found out today that all the student parking lots will be closed down this summer, but I can still get to my EV parking spot! I have to test my range this week, try and get up to at least 17-18 miles before I go to work next week.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

ZIlla Update

I sent my Zilla 1K-LV back to Cafe Electric this morning to get the firmware updated. I was experiencing a problem where my controller would shutdown when it hit 95% or higher duty cycle. I had a temporary fix where I set the MAX motor voltage to 84 volts which stopped the shutdown, but I lost a lot of power and top speed, and forget about hill climbing. When I drive around time I see no real difference in performance, mainly because I poke around while I break in my pack.

Now that my EV is basically ready for full time use, I decided to send my controller back while I finish installing my front suspension system and clean up a few things. I should have my Zilla back next week then I can start longer trips. I had planned to take my EV out this weekend to my cousin's house but decided to wait until I get the new firmware so I can easily traverse the highway and hills.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Loading Up the Mileage

I have been slowly adding up the mileage on my EV over the past few weeks, but not as much as I would have liked. End of semester work and finals have consumed most of my time, but every so often I have gone out for a few mile run. The furthest I have gone out was 12.1 miles and I had plenty of power left.

I have started to use my battery heaters again, but I have no insulation on them. I learned that I need about 150 miles and the batteries to be above 75F for the best performance, based on my previous pack. I have about 80 miles on my pack now, so I have a ways to go before I challenge any large hills that need high AMPs. I also want to add a few more battery tie downs just to be safe.

I also want to drive my EV over to my cousin's house this weekend, assuming I have enough time to fully charge and I add at least another 20 miles in the next few days.

Friday, May 7, 2010

EV Tank

I have a total of 32 miles on the new pack so far, with my last trip being a 12.1 mile run. I am going to do as many trips as possible to pile on the cycles this week, with hopes of commuting next week.

I will say my EV drives like a tank! It must weight about 3,000 lbs, and feels crazy sturdy. I still need to replace my front suspension and had hopes to do it tomorrow but it's going to rain like crazy. Oh well.

I have also found out why I can zapped while my EV is charging! My isolated volt meter for my shunt is actually not so isolated! I will purchase a small isolated DC/DC for the meter and in the mean time I will use a 9 volt battery.

I have also noticed these batteries are way more efficient than my MAXX29 and charging times have decreased greatly. I will start to hook my laptop up again and start taking data on more runs and compare to my other batteries.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Batteries are In!

I spent all weekend bolting down the rack, making new cables and installing the battery pack. The first picture is of my home made cable crimp. Basically, it is a scrap price of aluminum from my adapter plates that I drilled/cut out to form the appropriate shape for crimping. I place in the cable and lug on the crimp and proceed to smash it with a hammer until satisfied. It makes a strong crimp with the top getting flattened by the hammer and the bottom/sides getting indented to make a good crimp, which I then finish it off with electrical tape.

The actual battery installation wasn't bad. The batteries are 63 lbs, but not a problem to place into the trunk. I strapped the suckers down using four carrier straps from the old pack, and I have four left over so I am going to get creative on where I should use them. The longest part was by far the wiring. I spent about two hours planning out the best wiring pattern, then I went to it and spent another 30 minutes setting up the PakTrakr.

The first thing most people would do would to go out and drive the EV. But you can't! The batteries do not come fully charged, and they spent about 3 hours charging the afternoon before I went on my first test tun. 1 mile loop, keeping the current under 75 AMPs and then return home to check the connections and recharge. I also needed to play with my brake vacuum, it was harder to stop with the extra weight.

This week I will be breaking in my batteries, and testing the range out as a go. I have been reading through EV America's docs, and they have a great section on battery care and use, so I will follow those with this pack.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Today I removed the MAXX29 battery pack and the racks for them. The batteries are still in good shape so they were not used as core charge but kept for other use, or I might fine other EV'ers interested in a beginner's pack for cheap change.
My batteries arrived this afternoon!

I didn't really expect my batteries until Friday so I took my time today removing my old batteries and racks. Then I did some homework and got a call that said my batteries were on the way! I still have to secure the new rack to the EV and build new cables. Now that I have the batteries I was able to make the measurements and I will start to cut cables and crimp new connections once I gather my tools to do so.

I am extremely motivated right now and have high hopes of having a test drive by Saturday, maybe even tomorrow afternoon if I get a good start on the cables tonight.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Getting Ready for US Batteries

Today I realized two things: My cables I have need a lot of work to clean up the ends, and that the new US 8VGC XC don't have the SAE posts, but just threaded posts. This means I need to change the ends of my battery lugs, so I ordered up 3/8" lugs and I will check my spare cables to see if I have enough.

I would need at least 12 hours to clean up my current cables, so it might be better to just get new cables and start fresh. I do have a lot of spare cable so I will see how much I have left over. I also have a handful of cables with bad clamps that I will have no problem cutting up and replacing the ends with new lugs. Just more things to do.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Slight Change of Plans

Earlier this week I found out that my order from Sam's Club didn't go through, and they didn't even have a record of it so I was going down their today to order when I got one more quote. This is the second quote for US 8VGC XC and it was excellent!

The price is more than the EGC8, but they have a much higher reserve capacity rating and the cost per estimated mile of range is the same. And I get them delivered to my door in a week or two. I am waiting for the final price sheet that I should get tonight and figure out the payments. I really hope to order them this week so I can possibly get them next week.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ticking Clock

Today was actually pretty productive for being a day devoted mainly to studying. Last night I received my battery rack all nicely welded much faster than I had expected. I didn't think I would see it for a week, let a lone just a day after it was given to the welder.

Today I got some paint and primer and went to work on the rack. One coat every hour, takes about 5 minutes to apply so not much time at all. I also called up Sam's Club to order 12 of the EGC8 batteries. Walmart/Sam's Club have recently changed over from Exide batteries to Johnson Controls and golfing season hasn't started around here yet so the batteries were not in stock. However, the rep said it shouldn't be a problem to get a fresh pallet of them soon and they have my info so I should get a call when the fresh pallet arrives.

I hope they arrive soon because my clock is ticking, but while I wait I have a box of cables that need cleaning and sanding since they have 10 years worth of corrosion on them.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Battery Rack 2.0

I finally had time this weekend to actually do something on my EV instead of just driving it. I finalized my battery rack design yesterday and this morning I took my EV out to ACE and picked up the metal and got to work cutting it up. I have it all laid out and my dad will hopefully get a friend to weld it this week. Once I have the rack fully welded I will have to paint it to prevent rusting and then install it.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Greener Pastures

It has rained almost non-stop this week, taking away any real chance I have had to work or even drive the EV. I did take the time to think through my battery upgrade and contact the local Sam's Club for some specs. I need to physically inspect the batteries to be sure, but the specs they gave me matched the US 8VGC to the letter, which is my current battery of choice. I have the price of the pack and next I have to check prices on the material for the new battery rack and to find a way to weld it.

I am giving myself until the end of April to get the new batteries and rack built. I am first going to visit Sam's Club, check out the batteries and get measurements. Then I will have my rack built before I even purchase the batteries.

Until then I will continue driving the EV around town and continue enjoying driving gas free.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Culprit?

After swapping the PakTrakr remotes and finding similar readings as I was getting earlier, I decided to do some random thinking. I went for a 9 mile run, and found that battery 2 was again getting lower under load, compared to the other batteries, so I went home to charge up. After 3 hours, I went to browse the PakTrakr screen and found decent charging voltages, but my remote said the batteries were at 104F! The remote was sitting on the cable that goes from battery 1 to 2 and it was hot, even after 3 hours of charging and not high amp cruising.

Stunned, I took out the DMM and found that the cable in question had 0.9 mV flowing through it at 2 AMPs charging current, while all the other cables were at 0.1mV! It had 9x the resistance!

I have replaced the cable with another (I've got a stash of spares) and hooked up the charging and it was a nice 0.1mV like the rest. This could be the reason why my PakTrakr has found battery 1 and 2 lower than others because part of the signals use that cable, and that cable has a lot of resistance when it gets hot.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Never Ending Thinking

I haven't driven my EV in the past few days because I have been booked solid with school projects. This evening I finished up a few of them, then did my usual EV web surfing of forums, blogs and such. I was reading another EV'ers blog and they mentioned having to replace their PakTrakr remote because it was giving errors, false failures and wrong voltages.

I have been under the impression that two of my batteries are bad, or lower than the others according to my PakTrakr. I have actually never measured the batteries with a volt meter, but decided to and found they were all equal according to my digital volt meter, but not according to my PakTrakr. So my idea is that I am going to swap my two remotes with each other and do a test drive for 12-13 miles and see if I get the same low battery warning I was getting before, or see if I get the warnings on other batteries.

It's 9:30 at night and I would run out right now and switch the remotes, but it's pouring rain. So I have a plan for tomorrow to look forward too.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

More Range!

I spent most of this week driving my EV, messing with batteries and figure out what I need to do. I have decided I need larger capacity batteries. My current batteries do very well until I reach 50% capacity, then they drop and sag a lot, so I usually stop driving at that point, or about 12.5 miles. My Zilla makes it very easy to pull massive amounts of AMPs for accelerating, and my commute has changed a little, so I really need more range, more like 25-30 miles for a lot of more things I have been doing recently, like visiting relatives and not having the time to fully charge, etc. Also, half the roads I took to school used to be 25 MPH due to construction, but are now 45 MPH, and maintaining that takes a toll on my range, but the Zilla happily gives the power while my current batteries cry.

What I did this week was do research of the 8 Volt Golf Cart batteries, from US Battery, Trojan, Exide, etc to see what options are out there. I am now looking at Sam's Club and Costco as they sell these batteries for excellent prices. I have also asked fellow EV'ers who use these batteries, and they consistently get 25-35 miles per charge from the 8VGC batteries. They are usually 170 Ah, a huge step up from my current 125 AH, and they do not suffer from lots of sag past 50% mark like most 12v batteries do. I have designed a new battery rack on paper, and I will check out material pricing this week on it, and also get battery prices from the local Sam's Club and Costco.

Now this means I have to make new battery racks for the 8VGC, but that will happen after I confirm the size and that I have the money for the pack and the tray. For now, my EV is great for all the around town activities, and it may get a little better with more cycles on the pack, but my normal driving activities require more range, and at higher speeds than I am used to driving.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Warm Weather Fun

I have collected so much data and done so more research on my batteries that I could write a paper. Wait, I am....

It was over 65F today and I couldn't resist driving my EV, so this morning I hooked up my laptop and drove 12.9 miles and didn't get a single low battery warning! I have also found that the extension cable I use to charge can't handle anymore than 10 AMPs continuously, so the end that plugs into my EV kinda burned out. I usually charge at 12.5 AMPs when I am at home and the connections end has been warm and slowly cooking itself. I have been using a 50 ft 12/3 cable that has a rating of 15 AMPs, but clearly it can't handle it, so I got my Dad's heavy duty 10/3 50 ft cable and it stay cold giving out 12.5 AMPs!

Here is my EV with the huge cord plugged in. It barely fits into the socket on the EV, but does a nice job. However, I still needed to replace my bad cable, so I hopped into my EV this afternoon and drove down to the hardware store and got it exchanged. I usually refrain from going any where in my ICE because it cost me gas money, but with my EV fully functioning I didn't think twice. My only concern was what music to listen too. :)

I now have two power cables, the big yellow one that sits at home and my smaller red one that now lives in the EV. This actually works well for me because now I don't have to fish out the cable from the basement every time I want to drive the EV somewhere and charge it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Zoom Zoom

I have fixed my issue with my batteries heaters, I just replaced the +5v regulator with one that works from -40C to 90C. My batteries now maintain a solid 76F, and they only cycle on for 30 minutes every 4-5 hours at night, and don't turn on at all during the sunny days.

My Zilla has sprung an unexpected problem, though. If I am cruising, then decide to go full throttle (100% duty cycle) the Zilla get's a fault and shuts down. Apparently this is a problem that was found recently with low voltage EVs and the Zilla, and there is a fix that I should be getting in the coming week or so. For now, all I have to do it set my Motor Voltage less than my Battery Voltage and it's all good because the controller will never hit 100% duty cycle that way. And during my drive today it worked great, and I suffered no performance decrease at all.

I have been slowly working my batteries into existence. I have been using test routes, ranging from 4.0 miles and increasing that and now I go for 12 miles at a time. I have found that two batteries are much lower than the others under load, but I have been working on them. What is happening is two batteries would get to the point when they would go under 10 volts under heavy load, at the 3.8 mile mark. Then I did some battery charging, equalizing and magic and they didn't complain until 8.8 miles, then 10 miles, now 12.2 miles. I believe they need to be broken in slowly, so I have been adjusting my driving to help out. Each drive gets better and better, and I am guessing that I should have my full range in a week or so of these break in drives.

According to EV America, letting the flooded batteries rest for a weekend affects their performance, and if they rest for a week you have to break them in again slowly.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Battery Pad Results

Results: AMAZING!

After installing the pads I left them on all night, and the next morning the pack was at 76F and the drive was GREAT! I had a massive EV grin mixed with an EVil EV laugh as I zipped up the largest hill in my commute.

I did find something interesting this morning. I left my heater plugged in last night, and it got the pack up to 76F in 20 minutes (it was already 63F) and then shutoff for about 4 hours before it got cold enough to reactive. The problem was it didn't turn back on! The voltage regulator I used wasn't the one designed for cold temps, it has a range of 0c-75C, where I need the one that goes from -30C to 125C. I did find a few in my electronic component stash that I will install tomorrow.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Heater Pad Installation

Today I spent the afternoon installing the Farnam Battery Heating Pads I purchased from KTA-EV. What took the longest was lugging the batteries out from the basement out to the EV, then hoisting them into the EV.

This is my temperature control circuit for the heater pads. This is essentially a massive on/off switch that uses a temperature sensor set to a value that trips when it is reached, then it shuts off the AC power to the heaters. I have it set to 75F and it will reactivate at 71F. I have also a fuse, master on/off switch for the AC and a solid state relay that does the heavy work.

And here are the pads themselves, installed in the trunk. They are 35 watts each, and I have one under each battery.
I did a test yesterday with the whole setup in the basement, and it got the pads up to 75F from 50F in about 3 hours. During this test I used a thermal probe between the battery and pad, now in the EV I am using the thermal sensor from my PakTrakr, which lays on top of battery 1. After I finished reinstalling everything, I turned on the battery warmers for 3.5 hours and the Paktrakr sensor recorded 58F from 49F. I insulated my batteries so there is little space for the heat from the pads to rise, except through the batteries themselves.

I have to neaten up the electrical cord for the pads, so I shut them off for the night, but tomorrow I will sort that out and take the EV out for another drive, then apply the pads. Right now it is 35F out and 58F in my batteries, so I am curious to see how my new insulation packing will work out and check out the temps in the morning.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Winter Proofing

When I ordered my battery heating pads I also ordered this:
And official "ELECTRIC" sign! My last sign was a computer printout half laminated with scotch tape that one of my dad's coworkers put on. It was one since August and finally fell off last week after removing snow from the car.

This past weekend I removed all my batteries to clean out the trunk and install my battery heating pads. What really happened was that I removed all my batteries, then spent the next two days equalizing my batteries, checking voltages and playing with a hydrometer. Then I finally got around to finishing the circuit that controls the temperature and spent the next few days dealing with snow.

Anyways, today I tested the heaters and circuit this afternoon in the basement with my batteries on it, and it did really well! After an hour it got the batteries up to 62F from 50F, and while that sounds low, it was also heating a concrete floor at the time.

Tomorrow I have a half day and the weather looks good, so I should be able to get the pads and batteries back into the EV after I finish vacuuming out the trunk. My next post will contain all the pictures and information on my battery heaters and what I did, etc.

I still haven't finished the cabin heater circuit, mainly because if I don't get heated batteries, I wouldn't have enough usable capacity to even run the heater.

Also, nearly every day this past semester the EV professor keeps asking when my EV in coming back, and I am hoping it will make it's 16.8 miles return next week, assuming I get the cabin heat completed and I so some range tests to make sure I can hit the 16.8 miles with heated batteries.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I have been working on building an electric water heater for the EV. I have been using a KATs 1500 watt block heater and a Jabsco RV water pump, and so far the bench testing has been great. I have more work to do, like build a DC thermal switch that I can adjust the temperature, and possibly some sort of relief valve system. I don't need much heat, but from my tests for far this should give heat just as well as it did with the ICE.

I have also been investigating ways to warm my batteries. Right now I have about 12 miles of range, and I need to jump that back up to 20 miles so it can be an all year EV. My batteries are usually around 50-55F on a good winter day with insulation alone, and they need to be over 80F for proper battery performance. I am going to try an electric blanket, because they are inexpensive and have temperature control built in. I only really need it in the mornings after charging has completed before I go for a drive. The insulation on the batteries can keep them warm/hot but they need something else to get them up to temperature.

Tomorrow I am going to check out some local stores to see what they have for electric blankets, and if I do fine some I will try them out this weekend. I have to redo my insulation anyways, so it should be simple to wrap a blanket around the batteries before I tape up the insulation.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Efficiency Testing

I have been running a particular test route for breaking in my batteries and testing out my EV. It's about 3.3 miles long and includes everything I usually see during my commute. It also happens to be a little more aggressive than my standard commute because there is a fair amount of stop and go. I have been collecting lots of data over the past five or so months and this is what I have found:

Kelly Controller -> 333 WH/Mi
Zilla Z1K-LV -> 312 WH/Mi
Zilla w/Skunk2 -> 270 WH/Mi

What these numbers mean it how much power it takes to go 1 mile of driving. Less power required = more range. I also did not baby it during any of these tests as the roads were quite populated with travelers.

My new suspension has done A LOT for efficiency, more than I had expected. My rear wheels were bent in quite a bit due to the weight and stock struts.

I did the route a few times just to make sure, but it seems my EV has dropped it's WH/Mi requirement a good chunk from last time I drove it to school back in October. It's looking like a 19% improvement in efficiency, which is amazing. And for comparison, it was around 55F back in October to this past weeks high of 42 F when I drove it.

I am going to have to collect a lot more data this week just to verify, but these past few runs have been great. Not to mention the suspension itself feels a lot better, although stiffer.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Suspension Installation

Today was really nice out, around 50F so I installed the rear suspension. Here is the Old and Busted:

And here is the new Hotness:

What I first had to do was the obvious, jack up the car and remove the wheel. Then I had to use another jack to compress the strut so I could install the spring compressor I rented from AutoZone. That part was tricky because the compressor could barely fit, but I did eventually get the struts and springs off. I then had to disassemble the old struts to get the Dust Cover and the top part of the strut assembly.

Using the spring compressor wasn't as scary as I originally thought. In the above picture it actually did get a little scary on the second strut when it came to decompress the springs. One of the compressors started to slip, but it caught itself.

The lower control arms on Civics have a nasty habit of freezing and busting the lower bolts. So I did not undo this bolt like the Civic Service Manual says too, but instead undid the upper bolt on the control arm and used the spring compressor and lots and shoving to get it out. It was about an hour to remove each strut, 10 minutes to build the new struts and springs and another 10 to install them. Now I have only done the rear suspension, I will do the front later on after I get my inspection this week.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Today I removed my battery balancers because they were interfering with cold weather charging, and I want to rebuild their programs from scratch. I have also started to Equalize/Desulfate my batteries using my trusted Home Depot 12 volt 10 AMP automatic charger. I have found that at least 2 batteries needed to equalize, and I will be equalizing all of them just to be sure.

I have researching the proper way to break in and care for my batteries, and according to EV of America, batteries should be equalized every 5-10 cycles and a slow break in for 30-50 cycles. They recommend driving 10-20% of my estimated range, and then adding 10-20% more every two cycles, and I should be able to reach the designed range.

I have a whole bunch of EV things to do, but I also got a modified version of the ZillaConfig that keeps track of Ah usage and KWh usage. I will do my standard 3.8 mile run and see how much power it really uses, then try it again after a full charge from the first run.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Suspension Round Two

I called around today and drove around town and found a solution to my suspension problem. We could not removed a few bolts, so I went out to see how could I get the suspension installed. After some hunting, I found that the local Goodyear was more than willing to loosen my stuck bolts. They would have even installed the new suspension, but I didn't have it fully assembled because I need parts from my old suspension to do it. So now all my stuck bolts were professionally loosened up and I can attack the coils again.

I am going to rent a spring compressor from AutoZone this week and give it a whirl. I don't need it to assemble the struts, but to disassemble the old ones.

I also found that one of my batteries was not happy during my 5 mile round trip. I have had the EV in and out of full service since October, so the batteries aren't in the best shape. I have put my trusted Home Depot charger on it, then I will charge each other battery individually also. This charger has been wonderful, and it has removed just about all the sulfation from other batteries, so it should do a nice job. I also made the mistake of not doing any break in drives since last week, and that means I need to start all over again. Ooops.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Suspension Suspense

Yesterday we attempted to install the new suspension system, with the help of my neighbor, his garage and sweet tools. We had the wheels off and most of the strut tower bolts, then we got stuck. One flange bolt would not come loose, but we could see if wanting to give with a bolt breaker. My dad and I decided that instead of breaking the bolt, and then getting screwed with busted bolts and a car with just 3 wheels, I would reassemble it and drive it down to the local Honda mechanic and see if he can install the suspension system. I also have not been able to find the bolts that would need replacement at any local auto parts stores, so I would have to go to the mechanic anyways.

Tomorrow I am going down to see what he can do. I have all the parts, and yesterday the car was just about in pieces in 10 minutes, so it is not a huge job. It has come to a point where if I did it, I would cause more damage than good.

I do have most, if not all of my components for my water heater. I am going to measure out the hoses and mock it up and try a test with the pump using a bucket of water.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Winter Wonderland

I haven't made my test heater setup yet, but I did play with my new digital camera. Tomorrow my Skunk2 suspension should be arriving so I decided to get a before picture. You can see how low the rear is compared to the front. Once the new setup is in, I want stock ride height. I also need to bring the EV in for inspection this month, and I would like to do that after the new suspension is installed.

And my control tray setup with the Zilla 1K-LV. I drove around today and realized I still have a small vacuum leak that needs to be clamped off.

And here is my interior setup. I have the Paktrakr and Current meter on the top, and on the side I have my Cruise Control that activates the current meter and my Idle control. It works great and I activate it when the transmission computer finishes booting and the D4 light shuts off. And below I have my 5K potentiometer that allows me to change my shift points.

The holiday mayhem of family visiting, cleaning, etc is over and now the relaxing part starts. I have collected most of the parts to make my heater and they are all set on my workbench, I just need to assemble it.