We have had a great year at CZ-EV and wish you and yours a Merry Christmas!
A special thanks to the builders in Ohio who have always been there to lend a helping hand when called upon!
The bottom balancing of the Better Place modules has been going well and the second module is all most done. The trick seems to be ending the bottom balance with a charge instead of a discharge. I had two cells that were still at 3 volts and discharged them to 2.91 volts before charging them back up to 2.95 volts. I have noticed that when discharging, the cells always come back up to close to 3 volts but after a charge at low amperage, will stat at 2.95 volts or drop a volt or so after charging. I am going to try to do a video of my second module bottom balancing and hope it will be useful for any of you still working on bottom balancing a Better Place battery module.
Hoping for a great 2015,
Friday, December 26, 2014
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Not much going on with the Fiero EV build last week but did decide to post the build on the EVTV Database. The pictures I have are not that great so I went back through my picture archives and finally found a few that will work for now.
This weekend all of my time was spent cleaning carpets and finishing up all of my Christmas shopping, so nothing new on the build. Looking forward to a new year and finally finishing up the conversion.
Thanks for visiting,
Saturday, December 13, 2014
No post last week but the build has still been moving forward. Dell finally offers a cable that allows the Venue 8 Pro to charge and pass data simultaneously, so I now have one in my possession and am happy to report, it works as advertised.
Dell Micro USB Dongle for Data and Charging
CHARGING AND RECOGNIZING USB DRIVE
A couple weeks ago I put the HiPower cells on Craigslist and had an inquiry from a guy in Indiana. We emailed back and fourth and today he and his friend came to pick up the cells. This puts the build back down in the $10,000 range, that was my original goal. Being able to charge while passing data is the last obstetrical in re installing the center console, so I have been arranging wires and getting ready to put the console back in.
HIPOWER CELLS GONE!
Now that the project has been reloaded, it is time to move forward!
Monday, December 1, 2014
With the four day Thanksgiving Weekend, I was finally able to drive the Fiero a few miles and found that first and second gears are engaging where third and fourth should be, so will need to readjust the shifter again. I had first second and fourth engaging pretty good with just third gear out of sync but want to get all four gears to be usable. Eventually I will get it but still fear the transaxle will need to be pulled out and rebuilt.
After I returned from the drive, the garage was cleared out and the Fiero is now parked inside, to continue work on the gauges and interior.
FIERO BACK IN THE GARAGE
My wife's old laptop, that is going to be used, to control the SKYRC iMAX B6 Balance Charger, would not allow me to download files and kept giving me messages that the security settings would not allow this file to be downloaded. After spending Saturday and Sunday on the internet looking for a solution, Internet Explorer 9 and then 8 were deleted and the internet settings were modified to make sure the download files was enabled. Finally, I was able to download files using Chrome. I am going to hook the laptop to the iMax B6 Charger next week and continue bottom balancing the Better Place module.
LAPTOP WORKING AND READY TO GO
As I have drained the batteries down a little, I am also going to test the new Pic Chip that Mark Weisheimer programmed for me. Hopefully it will give me the ability to adjust the voltage to 137.5 volts so the charger can be installed in the car again. Everything is hooked up to be able to charge on a J1772 charger but has not been tested yet.
ZIVAN NG3 CHARGER
PIC CHIP INSTALLED
The temperature was in the 60s today but the weather in Ohio is supposed to to turn cold again next week, so today was a good day to get the Fiero back in the Garage, so work can continue. Hopefully by spring, the two additional modules will be installed, all of the gauges working, and I can focus on giving the car a new paint job. Maybe this year I will actually be able to get it to EVCCON.
Until next week,
Friday, November 28, 2014
Last week the clip came off of the Powerlab 6 and blew an IGBT. I needed to charge all of the cells back up to 3 volts, so purchased a SKYRC iMAX B6 Super Mini Professional Balance Charger. So far, the charger has been working great, just charging from the unit, without having the computer interface hooked up.
BOTTOM BALANCE SET-UP
SKYRC - iMAX B6 DISPLAY
The cells are all below 3 volts and so far, I have not been able to set the iMax B6 to automatically shut off at that voltage, so have to manually shut the charge off. The cells are all reaching 3 volts and when the charge is discontinued, dropping back to 2.9 volts or so. My strategy is to get them to all fall back to around the same voltge (2.95) after they have been charged to 3 volts. Charging them will keep the cells from drifting up like they do when discharging them and I should be able to get them all to the same voltage much easier doing a charge rather than a discharge.
The temperature is supposed to get into the high 40s on Saturday and High 50s on Sunday, so will try and take this opportunity to get the Fiero in the garage.
Thanks for visiting,
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Last weekend I was picking up a prescription at the drug store and when I pulled out of the parking spot, heard a scraping sound. I pulled out and drove a little way and the sound continued, so got out of the car to find one of my tires was completely flat. I was able to limp the car across the street, where there was an air pump but after about 5 minutes, came to the realization that the tire was not going to pump up. The lugs take a key socket to remove, so I got it out and on the first lug, it split down the side. By fortune, there was a tire shop right next to the carryout that had the air pump. I had bought the tire at another Tire Store and had road hazard insurance on it, so asked them to just put on the spare. It was near the end of the day and they said they would not be able to put the spare on until the next day, so I called my son Shane. His girlfriend Vanessa was working in Pickerington and picked ue up to wait at her work until Shane got there to take me home. The next day he came back over and took me to pick up the car. Mr Tire put my spare tire on for no charge, so I would recommend this business as they were willing to help out someone in need and did not try to take advantage of me.
899 Refugee Rd
I took the tire to the tire shop where I bought it and they had to order a new tire, so dropped it off. I took my wife's car to work on Monday and the temperature had plummeted into the teens, so after work I walked out into the cold parking garage looking forward to going home but when the key was turned, nothing happened. I turned the lights on and they seemed to be working fine but I called security and ask them if they could come down and try and give me a jump. When they arrived, we hooked up the jumpers but the starter still would not crank. My son gets off work about the same time as me, so I called him and he picked me up on his way home to take me to my house. It is a strange feeling because it is usually me helping my son and his girlfriend keep their cars going and coming to pick them up, so I could tell it made him feel good, to finally get to bail me out of a jam.
Now the only car I had that would make it to work from my house was my Miata with the small spare tire. It was still really cold out and the spare is probably 34 years old, so I kept my speed to under 60 miles per hour on the way to work. I decided to take a half day off to go and pick up the new tire and again, kept the speed under 60 all the way to the tire shop. The tire replacement was free and I got a new key socket, so if I have another flat, I will be able to change it. I would recommend Tire Discounters because they honored their warranty, no questions asked.
1041 Hebron Rd,
Heath, OH 43056
OK, one problem solved but I still had a car in a parking garage in Columbus, OH. I tried to start the car a couple more times but the starter just would not turn over. Friday night I got on the internet and found a tow company that said they would come and pick me up on Saturday. Early Saturday morning, there was an ice storm in Central Ohio, so the wrecker company emailed to inform me they were not releasing any of their trucks until the temperature came up and the ice had been cleared. About 10:00 am, I headed to my son's house in Columbus and upon arriving, called the wrecker driver again. We agreed to meet at the parking garage in 45 minutes, so my son and I went to the garage and pushed the car to get it ready to push out of the exit, when the wrecker arrived. The driver backed up to the exit and we were able to push the car close enough to the truck for him go get it hooked up. We met the driver at a downtown repair shop and I paid the driver $75 for the tow. I would highly recommend Buddy's Towing!
As always, the repair shop said the car would not be done until Monday, so my son and I went to the Tip Top on Gay Street in Columbus and had a craft beer and lunch. While we were eating, the shop called to happily inform me they had found the problem and for the small price of $450 would gladly repair the car. Now I know how much a starter costs and I know how long it takes to put one in, especially if you have a lift, so was quite put out. To get it home would have been a couple hundred dollars and there was no way I could have changed it in the parking garage, so guess I will just have to accept the highway robbery. I would not recommend taking your car to Grismer Tire and Auto!
DO NOT TAKE YOUR CAR HERE
Anyway, I am hooking up a JLD404 with a small dc adapter to charge the cells back up to 3 volts and have ordered a cheap battery balance machine to use, once it get here. I bought this charger for the price of shipping the Powerlab6 back to Revolectrix and it has a USB port so it can be controlled from a computer. Hopefully, they don't put all of the restrictions on the setup as the Powerlab6 and I can charge and discharge without having to hook anything up to a 12 volt battery.
With everything going on, I still did not get the table if the front of the garage broken down so I can get the fiero in but tomorrow when my son helps me bring the car home from the shop, I am going to have him help me carry the table down to the basement.
Mark Weisheimer programmed the Pic chip that I bought for the Zivan charger, so I want to run the batteries on the Fiero down a little to try it out. We set it at 18 amps to charge and to shut off at 137.6 volts with no constant current charge at the end. I am going to need to watch the first charge and probably adjust the voltage pot to shut off at the correct voltage. The contacts on the JLD404 will also be set up to stop the charge a little before it gets to the 137.6 volts, so there will be two shut off mechanisms. Mark is really busy with the Lear Charger and Chevy Volt DC-DC converter development, not to mention the traveling he does in his day job, so I really appreciate his taking the time to help out a fellow EV converter.
Well, next week has to be better, because there isn't much room for it to get much worse, so I guess what doesn't kill you, just makes you stronger! Looking forward to next week!
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Over the last several weeks, I have been tearing the garage apart in search of the battery connectors for the third Better Place Module and it finally dawned on me, did I ever remove the connectors from the plastic holder that was used to hold the connectors and the BMS connections on the module. I opened the carrier case that the Better Place Module was shipped in and sure enough, they were still in the plastic holder. I had taken the connectors off of a module when I first disassembled the pack but bottom balanced a different module to put in the rear of the car and used the connectors that were already removed. I am not sure why I thought I had a bag of connectors.
BATTERY CONNECTION HOLDER
I had a friend once ask me if I wanted to buy a tractor. With a puzzled look, I asked him, why would I need a tractor and he replied; "To pull your head out of your Ass." Guess this isn't the first time I have found myself feeling a little stupid.
Last week the half cells were all drained down to 2.6 volts again and I have been watching the voltage come back up each day since then. This morning, the highest cell was back up to 2.911 so if it stays under 3 volts, I may try to charge each half cell back up to 3 volts. After a charge, the batteries stop drifting up and will drop in voltage if anything.
CURRENT HALF CELL VOLTAGE
The weather has turned cold in Ohio, so my next project will be getting the table in the front of the garage cleared off , broken down and stored out of the way. I really need to get the instrumentation and tablet connections completed, the center console back in and complete the interior. Then I can focus mounting the other two battery modules.
Until next time,
Thursday, November 13, 2014
During the summer my garden tractor battery went bad and Alien Motion had their AN22 battery on sale for $209.00, so I purchased one, with the intent of using it in the garden tractor until the end of the season, then putting it in the Fiero. It had plenty of power and started the 14 horse engine right up. I mowed for a couple of weeks, but the third week, when the key was turned, nothing happened. Upon inspection of the battery, the case was swollen and there were some dark discoloration where it had got hot. I sent the battery back to Alien Motion and they ask me to check the voltage output on the Garden Tractor. The next time I mowed, I took voltage reading when starting of 15 volts and after I was finished, it was still reading 15 volts, so the voltage regulator was not working. After sending Alien Motion the voltage readings and telling them that my voltage regulator was bad, they actually owed me nothing under their warranty terms but instead offered to send me a new battery for $100.00. I felt they displayed that they would stand behind their product, even when it went bad because of unwarranted causes and would recommend them to anyone interested in a good LiFePo4 12 volt battery for your build. They now have a protection board available for $34.00 extra that will keep the battery from overcharging or over discharging.
Sunday, November 9, 2014
When I started bottom balancing the second battery module, readings were taken on each 1/2 cell. There are two individual groups of pouch cells within each cell that are hooked in series, with each side reading around 3.85 volts to the center terminal or 7.7 volts across the entire cell.
ASSEMBLED CELL CUT AWAY
CELL SHOWING THE TERMINALS
SIXTEEN CELL MODULES
When initial readings were take across the entire 16 cell module, it measured 124.5 volts and each of the half cells were within a couple hundredths of a volt of each other, so I assume the Better Place Battery Management System (BMS) was top balancing the individual cells. After draining the entire module down until the lowest cell was 2.6 volts, I let the pack sit for a couple days and took readings on each half cell again, this time trying to identify the highest half cell. The lowest had come up to 2.85 volts and the highest was up to 2.95. By the end of the day the highest cell had come up to 3.04 volts, so I hooked the two 150 watt quartz lights up and drained the pack down until the highest cell was at 2.6 volts. The lowest cell had gone down to 2.45 volts. Then I hooked up the 40 watt bulb and let the voltage start climbing back up at a lower amp draw. Once the voltage climb stopped, I turned off the 40 watt bulb and turned on a 15 watt night light. I always put a note on my computer that the batteries are discharging so I will not forget to stop the drain before going to bed.
I may need to repeat this process several times before the half cells finally stabilize below 3 volts. Once they have set for several days and are all under 3 volts, I will use the Powerlab6 to bring them all up to 3 volts. Kind of like top balancing the bottom, as the Powerlab6 will not automatically shut off at a voltage under 3 volts when charging and if you try and discharge them below 3 volts, they just keep drifting back up. It seems that charging to bring them all to the same level at the bottom works better and gets them all to a more uniform voltage.
The LiMn2O4 cells operate at a higher voltage range that the LiFePo4 cells at at around 3.9 resting voltage (give or take) as opposed the the 3.36 volts of the Lithium Iron Phosphate cells and there isn't a lot of information on bottom balancing LiMn204 cells yet. Jack Rickard of EVTV reported that they just did not want to stabilize below 3 volts and said that is now the voltage he is using, so that is where I came up with using 3 volts.
After an hour or so with the 15 watt night light hooked up the highest cell stabilized at 3.809 volts, so the light was shut off and I will wait until Wednesday night to check all of the individual cells again. By next weekend, if they are all below 3 volts, I will start bringing them all up to 3 volts with the Powerlab6, if not, I will drain the module down until the highest cell is 2.6 volts and wait another week to see if it stabilizes below 3 volts.
Until next time,
PS. Still searching for the lost connectors!
Monday, November 3, 2014
Over the last several weeks I have been rearranging the garage to get the Fiero back in, so work can continue when the weather gets cold again. It was time to start bottom balancing the other two Better Place modules, so I made some jumper wires and needed another connector to connect the center two cells that originally had external connections going to them. I remember the bag of connectors being in the trunk of the Fiero when I made up the connections on the first module and remember moving it around, all the time thinking, I need to put these somewhere I can find them again when needed. I finally found the bolts in the shipping crate but the connectors were no where to be found. So all of the work I did rearranging the garage will need to be moved back out until the connectors are found.
Not to worry, the show must go on and I can still look for the connectors while the second module is being bottom balanced. I am using two 150 watt quartz lights for the initial drain and just putting a volt meter on the lowest half cell to monitor the voltage.
QUARTZ LIGHT FOR RESISTERS
After the voltage on the lowest half cell gets down to 2.8 volts or so, a smaller light is hooked up to keep a constant drain at a lower amp draw.
40 WATT LIGHT FOR RESISTER
Finally, after the lowest cell settles below 3 volts, I hook up a small night light to try and drain the battery at close to the same rate as it is trying to recover at.
SMALL NIGHT LIGHT FOR RESISTER
Once the small night light is connected, I take readings on all of the half cells and keep draining until the highest cell will settle at under 3 volts.
The final step is to use the Powerlab and charge all of the cells back to 3 volts. The LiMn2O4 cells seem to work at a higher voltage that the LiFePO4 cells and are charged to 4.2 volts before settling back to around 2.9 volts and at 3 volts are pretty much done when pulling higher amps when driving, so 3 volts as the bottom balance voltage should be fine.
The shifting is still not correct so I pulled the shifter so I could give it a good inspection for wear.
After an inspection of the shifter, I could not find anything wrong, so put it back in the car and and attempted to readjust the shift cables. It seems that the select arm keeps changing when the adjustments are done, almost like something is not returning to the same position inside the transaxle so my next step is to try and remove the pin holding the select pivot to put now bushings in it. If that doesn't work, I am afraid the transaxle is goint to need to be pulled and sent to a transmission shop to be gone over.
So as the batteries are draining, the search continues for the lost connectors. As I said in the title; If my head wasn't attached, well you know the rest of the story.
Thanks for visiting,
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
After weighing the Fiero yesterday, I decided to take if for a test drive to see if my watt hours decreased. As 274 pounds of batteries were taken out of the front of the car, I was expecting the watt hours per mile to decrease around 27.4 from the 288 to around 261 watt hours per mile. To my surprise, the watt hours per mile came down to 228, using 120 volts as the average.
When I removed the batteries, not only was the weight reduced but the front of the car came up a couple of inches, possibly changing the aerodynamics of the car. Additionally, the belly pan was removed. The other issue is what do you use as voltage when figuring how many watts you used? Before I started the drive, the voltage was around 135 volts and as the drive progressed, the voltage was slowly declining. Below is a graph that illustrates the difference in watt hours depending on what you use as the voltage.
TEST DRIVE WATT HOUR TABLE
Another factor is that the entire test drive today was in forth gear, as the shift cables are out of adjustment again. As stated above, I was expecting the watt hours per mile to decrease by around 27 watt hours but it dropped anywhere from 31 to 60, depending on the voltage I plugged in. I can see a real need for a good watt hour meter that counts up and down and gives an average watt hour reading based on samples of current and voltage.
I thought I had a log file of the drive but when I opened it, there was nothing but zeros in the accelerator voltages, so I must have actually turned it when I was sitting in the driveway.
The garage is cleared out and ready to pull the car in when the weather turns cold this weekend and I have started getting contactors and wiring ready to bottom balance the other two packs.
Thanks for dripping by,
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Last week, in response to Jack Rickard's comment on the EVTV Blog that, 1 watt hour per mile per each 10 pounds of weigh was a rough estimate of how large of a pack you will need, I posted that my car was using 288 watt hours per mile, so the car must weigh 2880 pounds. I went on to post that I would really like to weigh the car, to see how heavy it actually is. A few days later, Brian Couchene emailed and offered to let me use his scales. This Friday we made arrangements and I drove out to Brian's house to pick up the scales.
As always, I had a very informative visit, with a demonstration of the Lear Charger and the software that was operating it. Brian has a UI set up to change the voltages and turn off the charger. He is now working on trying to get the charger's 12 volt capabilities to work. The Coda, which these particular chargers were used on, did not use the 12 volt system in the charger but the EVTV team working on reverse engineering the CAN programming, is hoping it can be enabled. Brian has the engine and transmission out of the S10 he is converting and we went outside where it was parked, to talk about how he was going to install the E-Drive transmission and Siemens Motor. As always, it is quite enjoyable getting to spend an evening with a fellow EV converter, talking about electric cars and in the case of Brian, hybrid and battery powered switch locomotives.
Late Saturday morning, the scales were hooked up and zeroed, then the car jacked up, and the scales placed under each wheel.
Weight measurements were taken with the HighPower cells still in the front of the car, with them removed, and with them removed and me in the dirver's seat.
WEIGHT OF CAR
With the HighPower cells still in the front of the car and adding 199 pounds for my weight, the car would have been at 2825 pounds, so pretty close to the 1 watt hour per 10 pounds per mile.I will do some test drives with 274 pounds less than before and it will be interesting to see if I drop down close to 260 watt hours per mile.
By now, I was on a roll, so started taking the belly pan off the front underneath of the car. I was actually able to get all of the screws out without jacking up the car as the front of the car had come up several inches when the HiPower cells were removed. With the belly pan now out of the way, I started removing the heavy angle iron battery racks that were designed to hold lead acid batteries. I didn't have the car on jacks, so had to cut off one of the brackets to finally get the rack to drop out of the bottom of the car but finally it was out!
BATTERIES AND RACKS REMOVED
I was finished by 5 PM but was totally wiped out from crawling around on the driveway all day, so it was time for a little rest to get ready for the Buckeye game against Penn State tonight.
Thanks again to Brian Couchene for the use of the scales!
Until Next Time,
Saturday, October 18, 2014
After taking the car on the 20 mile interstate test drive, the voltage had settled around 119.5 volts and even though, there should be another 9 watt hours in the pack, according the the JLD404, I decided to go ahead and charge. At $0.15 per kilowatt hour, it cost me $1.04 to put 6.786 KWH into the pack.
The voltage and current were lowered last week at the end of the charge, so this charge dropped from 18 amps to 17 amps. I watched the end of the charge a little closer this week and the charger still is not shutting off as soon as I would like. At 138.2 the average half cell voltage is 4.312 volts or 0.112 volts over the recommended cutoff voltage.
I decided to stay with the Zivan NG3 charger because it only weighs 15 pounds and it fits neatly in the space on the engine side of the trunk, tucked away and barely visible. The drawback is it can not be programmed without sending it in the the manufacture rep in California, paying $75 and hoping they program it the way you want it programmed. Enter DIY Electric car and a thread on putting a PIC chip in the charger that can change the voltage cut off. I got one of the chips but have never programmed it because the original HiPower cells I purchased were never going to work. Now that I have the Better Place modules, it is time to put the Pic chip in the Zivan charger, get it back in the car and hooked back up to the J1772 and 220 volt sockets.
I left the chip with Mark Weisheimer when he worked on the Zivan charger after I blew one of the IGBTs., so contacted him to see if he had ever loaded the code. He has been heavily involved with reverse engineering the CAN commands for the Lear charger, used in several of the OEM electric and hybrid cars, so I was a bit worried he may not have time right now to program it but was relieved to get a reply telling me he would program the chip and help set it up in the charger. He also gave me some good recommendations on setting up a back up system to shut off the charger, just to be safe. I have a JLD404 and a spare contactor, so it is just a matter of wiring it up to shut off the charger if it's programming fails to do so.
A couple of the rollers on my garage door had pulled loose and the door would hardly close, so I made a trip to the hardware store for some new rollers. After working on it for a couple of hours, it is opening and closing just fine now. Also, the garage cleaning continued to try and set up space to charge the other two Better Place modules and still get the car in when it gets cold. Shouldn't be long and I will be able to get the car back inside for winter.
Until next time,