Tuesday, July 30, 2013


This week I picked up 4 Gigavac GX12 contactors and also ended up getting a Ferraz Shawmut (Mersen) A50P350-4 fuse and some Marathon 1000 Volt, 800 Amp stands to mount it on. Two of the contactors came with metal mounting stands and bus bar to connect everything.


The components weren't the only thing I got, Brian has a wealth of knowledge of electronics and gave me some very good ideas on where to put the contactors and fuses to make sure everything is protected. He also had some IOTA DC-DC converters and pointed out where I can put a thermistor to precharge the capacitors so they don't get a sudden jolt when energized, helping it to last longer and possibly keeping the contrctor coils from getting fried. I got to see the Bosch transaxle and Siemens motor that was used in the Transit Connect EV built by Azure Dynamics and a UQM motor and controller. We played with the Manzanita Micro PFC 50 charger and discharged it into some lead acid batteries. There are still a couple of the chargers for sale at less than half price of a new one and Brian tests and goes over them before he lets them leave his work shop.  I left my house around 6 pm and did not get home until 10:30 pm but had a great time talking EVs. Thank you Brian for the good deal on the parts and all the information you gave me. Hope I can pay you back when you start your S10 build.

The wiring continues and I traced out the Pink and Purple wires that were spliced into the harness going into the plug on the firewall. The harness on the right in the picture below, was removed and that is where the pink and purple wires came back out of the block. I searched on EBAY and was able to find the connector, so I am going to put it back in and run the wires out of that plug. I will only need the plug on the right in the picture below and the wires on the plug I bought are long enough to splice new wires into. The ones I don't need will just be removed or cut off flush. I think this will be better than having spliced wires running out of the loom.


The pink and purple wires were spliced back together and new loom put over the wires, then the harness was attached to the firewall.

The wires that were going to the speaker amp were removed and the engine compartment is starting to look a lot cleaner. Wires were run from the charger's normally open, common, and normally closed relay, instead of using the contacts on the AVC2, I am going to use the ones on the charger to disable the positive wire going to the controller when the car is charging. This will keep someone (ME) from trying to drive away when ac is applied to the 220 volt plug or the J1772 plug.





 The HiPower LiFePo4 cells are being cycled again finishing with a bottom balance as I want to determine how many of the cells will be usable. I will bottom balance all of the good cells one last time before installing and giving them the initial charge as a pack. There is some adjustment on the Zivan Charger by adjusting the pots but I also have a chip that will allow me to adjust the voltage using the PIC 3.  I am getting closer to putting the motor cradle back in the Fiero and once that is done, will be able to determine the final placement for the battery boxes in the rear of the car. I am going to use the existing angle iron battery racks for the front pack so I can test the car but once everything is running, will put aluminum battery boxes in the front also.

Next week is EVCCON  so I will try to do a post from Cape Girardeau. I was going to drive home Sunday after the Convention but think I will go to the NEDRA Test and Tune at Dyno Dom's Sikeston Raceway in Sikeston, MO.


Sunday, July 21, 2013


The DC-DC converter mounting turned out good and was out of the way but accessible; However the original battery placement was just out of place. I want to use the ledge below the DC-DC converter to mount relays and contactors but where I had the battery was wasting space. I had some thin aluminum sheet and decided to fabricate a bracket to bolt to the bottom of the DC-DC converter for the battery to sit on. This will free up the ledge below and make the battery much easier to get to.



When the motor was installed the cradle was not very level and although I attempted to level it, must not have found a good spot to run the 4 ft level across it. When the assembly was sitting on the level garage floor on the legs of the engine hoist, you could see that the motor was low on the outboard end. A good spot was found to run the 4 ft level across the cradle and the motor was rigged up, mounting bolts removed, and lifted up until it was level also. It ended up being an inch too low, so I went to Ace Hardware and picked up a piece of 1 inch square tubing to raise the mount up. After drilling the holes, the mount was reinstalled with the square tubing as a shim and the motor was finally level with the cradle.



There are 2/0 cables running from the front battery pack through the tunnel to the rear of the car and I have been spending some time under the car making sure they are attached securely. The end in the front trunk area had a Pack Tracker CT around the cable where the terminal was crimped on, so I had to cut the terminal off to remove it.


There are just so many loose ends to tie up I am a bit overwhelmed at times. The next project on the list is to hook up the relays on the AVC2 to disable the car when it is charging from the J1772 plug but there are also relays on the Zivan Charger, so I could actually disable the main battery pack anytime the charger was running using that one. That would give me protection from the car moving when charging from the 220 plug as well. I have some relays that were used on the original build and have some Gigavac GX12 contactors to pick up next week so that will give me some components to work with once I decide how to wire everything.

I have been playing with the bad HiPower cells that arrived with voltages less that 1 volt and have one that holds 20 AH but goes strait to 3.65 volts when you are charging, then starts the constant current phase, goes immediately to 3.29 or so during the cool down, then to 2.65 volts when discharging and goes right to the constant current phase. I bought an Autocraft 1/12/75 Amp battery charger to get the 12 volt batteries I was using charged up enough for the PowerLab 8 to work. It kept faulting with a message that the voltage was raising too quickly because they had discharged too much. My old 12 volt battery charger finally bit the dust and I did not have any way to get them charged back up enough to do regen charging with the PowerLab 8.

Sunday was spent catching up on yard work and as luck would have it, when I hooked the new 12 volt charger up to charge the batteries, the meter did not work, so I had to take it back to trade for another one. The store where I bought it was out and I had to drive to another store in a near by town to pick it up. No problem, it was a nice day and I had the top down on the Miata so the extra drive was a bit relaxing. On the way home I stopped at Buckeye Lake Brewery and had a pint of their fresh IPA. They also make root beer and I was going to pick up a grower of it but they were out. They only brew small batches of the root beer, so you have to be there at just the right time or they are usually sold out.

Upon arriving home, I cleaned up the 1970 John Deere 10 horse garden tractor I finished rebuilding last year. I had to do some battery cable repair and needed to use a shot of starter fluid to get it to start. Not sure if the battery wasn't charged enough to get enough fuel from the fuel pump or if the carburetor needs adjusted but it runs great once it started. 

I tend to leave a trail of tools when working on the Fiero as I hate to put a tool away until I know I am finished with it. Usually I am working on a couple different projects at a time because of waiting for parts so after awhile, I have to stop and just clean up the garage. All of the tools have been cleaned and returned to their place in the tool box, the floor swept, work bench cleaned, and all of the trash cans emptied, so I am ready to start fresh next week.

My wife and I finished out the day by taking my son and his girlfriend out to dinner for her birthday. It  is always good spending time with them and really completed an enjoyable day..

Only a couple weeks until EVCCON so hope to see some of you there.

Thanks for visiting,


Monday, July 15, 2013


The battery balancing continues but is almost done. The Powerlab 8 is a great tool but actually provides a little too much protection and logs a safety code at the drop of a hat. The regenerative charging into a 12 volt battery is a great idea but the 12 volt battery has to start at just the right state of charge or you get a safety code that the voltage is, too high, too low, or the voltage is rising too fast, and either shuts down or shifts to internal discharge mode. If you discharge into a battery, you can do it at up to 40 amps, but if the Powerlab 8 switches to internal mode, it only discharges at 10 amps. As I have a dispute filed through the credit card on the purchase of the HiPower 100AH batteries, I want to log the capacity of all of them; So that keeps me from just rigging up the JLD404 to bottom balance the cells. Out of the 40 cells, probably 20 of them have at least minor swelling but surprisingly, some of those are actually showing pretty good capacity. The cell in the picture marked Bad was at 0.091 volts when received and will not take a charge. It was probably in a string and went to reverse polarity when the pack was discharged too much. This is how all of the last 12 cells arrived and it is no surprise that the USPS did not want to ship them. Chase deposited the payment for these cells back into my account and I got a letter saying the dispute was settled, so I guess the seller is welcome to pick up the batteries at their convince.



 I have also been able to finish up some of the tasks I wrote about in previous posts. The charger is mounted and wired up to the 220 volt and J1772 plugs.

All of the wires on the AVC2 board have been connected, loom installed, routed across and attached to the firewall. 

 The DC-DC converter is finally mounted and once the 12 volt battery is connected, will all be wired up. I made a tool to install the nut rivets but broke down an bought an installation tool. It does a much better job and makes installing the nut rivets much easier. 
I am going to shut off the power to the DC-DC converter when the key is switched off, so the main purpose of the 12 volt battery will be to run the AVC2 board when charging from the J1772 plug. I will also have it switch on the DC-DC converter while charging.


There are a couple wires in the wiring harness going to the battery connection that have wires spliced into them. I believe the purple wire that has one of the wires spliced into it, is from the starter switch and originally went to several relays, and the pink wire that has a wire spliced into it, was the power for the distributor.



 The wiring diagrams are not very clear but those are the only purple and pink wires I can find on the schematic. When I got the car, it was wired so you had turn the key to start to engage the main battery contactor and when you turned the key back to run, the contactor stayed engaged. The precharge resister was connected all the time, so even when the contactor was off, you had power to the controller through the precharge resister. I found this out the first time I reconnected a battery connection and got a pretty good spark. There was no maintenance disconnect so I will need to install one. Also, I picked up some conductive zinc paste that is recommended for aluminum connections that I am going to try.

I am also going to reroute the battery cables from the front battery pack through the duct and out where the computer used to be.

Front Battery Pack Cables

I received the new terminal crimper I purchased from EBAY. so will now be able to properly put the terminals on the 2/0 cables when connecting the battery pack.

I am getting quite a few hits every week; So don't be afraid to join the my blog. If you are converting an EV, leave a comment or email me the address, as I am always looking for active build blogs and YouTube Videos to view. I have used many of the ideas found in other builds and appreciate those builders who share their information.

Thanks for viewing,


Saturday, July 13, 2013


The goal of this project is to build a quality EV for under $10,000. To accomplish this, I started with a running lead acid converted 1985 Fiero that needed new batteries. 

The Fiero was in the garage ready to start the conversion and I decided to pull it out to do a little project before starting the disassemble.  When I pushed the accelerator to back out, nothing happened and realized I had not turned on the switch so I reached down and turned the ignition switch not realizing my foot was still pushing the accelerator. The car left a patch of rubber all the way out into the driveway, then stopped. I had blown the controller five minutes before I was about to start the conversion.

An add appeared on the DIY Forum for some NEW HiPower 100ah cells that had been purchased for a project and had been in storage for 2 years. After the EVComponents  group buy fiasco a few years back that left some buyers out thousands of dollars, I cautiously inquired. The seller had 36 batteries left and after talking to him on the phone, decided to purchase 12 as a test. He would not take PayPal and insisted I pay with a credit card. (a good move for me in the end) After I paid him, he said the batteries would be delivered in 3 days. After a week I started getting concerned and called him. He said the Post Office had made him provide an MSDS and repack the batteries so indeed, they did show up the next day. The batteries all looked new and had voltages of between 3.2 and 3.3 volts, so I ordered another 12. Same as before, delivery took longer that the seller had promised and although the voltages were about the same as the first shipment, some of the batteries looked a little dirty. I thought maybe they were just packed by someone with greasy hands and stacked them up with the first batch. Then I ordered 16 more cells that would bring my total up to 40 cells. After a month, 4 cells arrived. These cells looked used and one was badly swollen. After another month, the last 12 cells had not arrived so I filed a dispute with the bank that issued me the credit card and contacted the Post Office. Within 2 days, the money was credited back in my account until the dispute was resolved. Three months from the original order of the last 16 cells, the 12 cells finally arrived. They were all swollen, had burnt terminals and were obviously used and abused cells. I called my bank and changed the dispute from "merchandise not delivered" to "merchandise not as described" and within a couple days received a letter from the bank that the dispute had been settled and I could keep the $1100 that had been credited back to my account. The seller had emailed to inform me that he no longer accepted credit cards and wanted me to send him the payment via PayPal. I informed him the dispute would be handled through the dispute I place with the bank and so far no payment has been made for the last 12 cells, but they are available for the Seller to pick up for return if he so desires.

So far, the batteries have been the only components that were ordered that gave me any problems. All of the other tools and components that have been mail ordered have arrived quickly and been in as described condition. 

When upgrading a previous build figure on other items such as clutches, brakes, suspension parts, rust, body work, and such that you may want to redo. These items can add up not only in dollars but also in time spent on the build. The original builder converted the Fiero in 3 months and I am already 4 months into the rebuild with quite a bit of work left to do. The car had no instrumentation and I have not even started on that part yet. The engine compartment is almost done and the motor cradle about to be installed but routing wires, mounting chargers, dc-dc converters, 220 v and J1772 plugs, placing contactors and such, takes quite a bit of time if you want the build to look good when your are done.

Lessons Learned
  1. Do a complete check out of all the components when starting with a previous build. The seller     warned me of the controller issue and I thought I would wait until the rebuild to correct it. There is a micro switch on the accelerator that is supposed to operate a contactor that would have prevented this from happening. The contactor had burnt up and was bypassed, allowing full battery power to be dumped to the controller if the accelerator was depressed while the key was switched on. That was a $1700 mistake.
  2. Even if the components in the car add up to quite a bit more than the price the seller is asking for the whole EV, make sure they are what you want to use in your build. The Fiero had a Curtis 1231-C controller, Warp 9 DC motor, IOTA DC-DC converter, Zivan NG-3 charger, a very loud vacuum pump for the power brakes, and 20 Crown 225 lead acid batteries. There was a loud bump in the cradle when going from a stand still that required the cradle to be removed and reworked.  In reality, the motor was a component I wanted to reuse but the controller, dc-dc converter, and vacuum pump are components that are not the most current and better products are available now. I am going to use them to keep the price down but they are not what I would have chosen if I had been building the car from scratch. 
  3. When ordering used parts off of the forums be very cautious and try to have a trusted friend or relative check out the merchandise in person, if it is not close enough for you to inspect yourself. My nephew lives in LA and offered to go to the seller's house to check out the cells but I did not take him up on his offer. Had I done so, I am sure the seller would have either shipped me the new cells or would have told me there were no more new cells and let me know that all that was left were used cells, so I could have declined purchasing any more of them. Make sure and use a credit card, as that provides you with a dispute process. If you use PayPal, be aware that there is a time limit on your dispute process, so make sure and get your dispute in on time. The last option is to not purchase any items from the forums but that takes the "Las Vegas" fun out of the build.
  4. If you sell any components from the original build, do your homework. I sold 20 batteries for $475 that I thought were almost shot but could have sold 20 more at the price I listed them for on Craigslist. I had a golf cart owner look at them and tell me they were still in good shape. I had checked voltages and  done hydrometer readings, so to me, they were all junk but when a new set goes for over $100 each, maybe the $30/cell starting price I was asking, was a bit low. When I offered the Zivan Charger on DIY for $600, I had an potential buyer within hours. I ended up not selling it but from the response, deducted I should have asked more for it.
The build is over $7500 now, counting what I paid for the Fiero and the only major purchases I have left are the battery connectors/fasteners/washers and the battery boxes. I have found SS m8 bolts and Nordlock washers for a pretty good price but still have not come up with connectors. While testing the batteries, I found out how important it is to clean the terminals and make sure you have a good connection as if there is any corrosion at all, the terminals will heat up even at 25 amps. With a 750 amp controller I can see a big problem if the connectors are not properly connected!

If you have any past experiences in purchasing parts for your build I would love to see your comments