Monday, November 30, 2009

China and EV myths

This China_Fact_Sheet_Electric_Vehicles fact sheet from the White House is pretty encouraging for the future of EVs. Specificially the paragraph about "Public Awareness and Engagement", which I think, is the biggest hurdle. Over the past year I've talked to alot of folks with unfounded preconceived ideas about EVs. These are the best ones.

  1. "The range of an EV isn't enough for most people." An LEED builder
  2. "The electric grid can't handle electric vehicles." A mechanic
  3. "Electricity generated from coal pollutes as much as gasoline." A british friend
  4. "Ethanol is the worst environmentally." A energy think tank "expert"
  5. "We won't have electric cars anytime soon." The same think tank guy
  6. "We don't all need an electric car like Al Gore says." A Montana house representative
  7. "If we don't use gas then we won't have taxes for roads." A local builder

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

EV Dashboard

EV Dashboard is a Windows Mobile application that also runs on a Windows CE 5.0 based dash mounted GPS device like the one below.

This is a GPS touchscreen from Notice the catchy phrase on the side. It also says "Very Good Very Powerful" across the top.

After finding the time over a couple weeks to connect the Paktrakr up to the TS cells I was able to get the EV Dashboard connected. There were only a few differences between my test data and the live data from the Paktrakr so I only had a few tweaks to the display. I'll mount it in the car next.

It is pretty easy to see that cell 7 on Remote 4 is under charged. (I haven't activated the cells yet). There are 45 cells (20 in the trunk and 25 up front) and Remote 3 has only 5 cells on it and is split with 4 in the back and 1 under the hood. This required a single wire strung back to the remote in the trunk. Also, the remote's lead is not quite long enough so Ken Hall from Paktrakr is making an extension.

Here is the setup tab. You can select the battery type, select logging to the SD card and run back your data in simulation mode.

Contact me if you are interested in using the EV Dashboard. I'll can just send you the beta bits. Also let me know if you can build a low power bluetooth serial cable for the Paktrakr. That would save some power and $ for the IOGEAR Serial to Bluetooth adapter and DC adapter and it would be a more elegant solution. This previous post has some setup details.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Activating Thundersky LFP

Thundersky LFP cells require an "activation" charge cycle before discharging. James from evcomponents said "The max is 4.25 V Although you should only do that the first time for activation. After that 3.8 V should be the max. ".

The Thundersky "quality certificate" says:

"The electricity is half loaded when the batery produced, the battery cannot be discharged directly under any condition, and must be charged before first use. Please check and if the voltage is 4.2v means the battery is fully charged. If the battery is used in series there must be professional technicians to handle and required charger and BMS must be attached in use."

Then in a separate print out it says:

Before first discharge the battery, please charge it to 4.2V with the constant current of 0.1CA~0.5CA and stop until the charging current falls to 1% of the original."

So, I have the Manzanita Charger set to 191V as the cutoff for 45 cells at 4.25 each. Below is a graph of the paktrakr data from the charging cycle for 8+ hours. The amps are X10 to fit on the same scale as volts. The small blip before the "hockey stick" is when I turned off the charger to go to bed and restarted it in the morning. The charger started tapering the amps at 191V and then the voltage dropped. I set the amps to 10A manually and then adjusted again at the end to 1A.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Snow Driving

We took the del Sol out for a drive today. All-in-all very good but the acceleration was very choppy and slow and after about 5 minutes at about 40 MPH the controller cut out. I pulled over and it wasn't hot to the touch. I've been warned about overheating with the Kelly KDH but it isn't a hot day (see the pictures below and notice the snow). I'm more than a little concerned that the Kelly controller is both underpowered and easily overheated.

It took 5 attempts to get up the drive way between the choppy startup and the summer tires on the slick snow. Since the car came with studded snow tires I'll have to put them on soon.

After contacting Kelly Controlls customer service they said the KDH14401A (144V/400A w/ Regen) was underpowered for the vehicle. They recommended an upgrade to the KDH15600B (156V/600A). The A models are 7" while the B models are 11" and the web site says the B's are a newer design. I'm hoping that will take care of this problem.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I've decided to get the original Tachometer in the dashboard working. I've saved the blue (BLU) wire on the wiring harness, that ran from the distributor to the junction connector C415, to connect to a hall-effect sensor and 2 magnets on the motor auxiliary shaft. Thanks to Brian's work at S2KEV the tach signal should need 2 12v pulses per revolution of the motor. This coincides with 2 spark plug ignitions per revolution for a 4 cylinder car.

The gauge goes to 8000 RPM so the FB1-4001A should register on the gauge well. I've got 2 magnets to JB weld to a 3/4" shaft collar for the auxilliary end of the motor, a bolt to mount the Melexis sensor, 2 nuts to adjust the sensor and an angle bracket to mount the bolt on the motor mount instead of on the motor directly. They told me I was reinventing the wheel at Ace. We'll see.

I used an old 4 wire plug from an old computer and only used 3 of the sockets. The parallax site has recommended cables and magnets to go with the sensor. Another option for the hall-effect sensor is this Honeywell SR13C-A1 which is pre-mounted and wired in a plastic snap case. I ended up using this one with a metal strap bent into position.

Well, my first try didn't work. There was almost no voltage on the output when a magnet passed by the sensor. But after I dug a little bit into it the wiring diagram they recommended sensor circuit have a pull-up resistor between the Supply (12v) and Output (tach wire). I tried out the resistor with my son's Circuit Jr. kit and it worked so after putting in a 4k ohm resistor the tach works. With the car on jacks and in 1st gear I was getting about 2000 RPMs for 10 MPH.

Here is the sensor mounted to an L bracket on the motor mount on the auxilliary end of the motor. I've re-crimped the ends with the resistor and wrapped it in heat shrink to keep it clean.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More snow and the next EV

It is snowing. And snowing. We already have about 2 feet and counting. I'm pretty sure that the del Sol won't make it through the deep stuff. So even before it is finished I'm thinking that the next EV will have to be a AWD, maybe an older Honda Civic Wagon AWD. Here is our alley this morning with a garbage truck stuck in the snow. You don't see that everyday.