Thursday, May 29, 2014


After getting back to work from the Holiday, my work load was light and the weather outside was great, so ended up taking a day and a half off to work on the Fiero.

By Wednesday evening one of the duel meters was working, so I did a short video.


Later on Wednesday evening, I started putting the LED lights in the instrument panel. The lowest wattage bulbs were not bright enough, so had to go with higher wattage LED bulbs. Then I blew a fuse while trying to get one of the bulbs in, so will need to go get some fuses.

Thursday morning I called Hebron Scrap and confirmed that they were open. The said they were, so the car was loaded up and off I went to unload some junk. Surprisingly, I got $63.00 for the pile that had accumulated in the Better Place shipping crate, so I put it in my fund to buy new leather seat covers.

Then a shunt was placed on the negative side of the 12 volt battery and connections were made to the lower duel meter in the instrument pane. While trying to remove the drivers side, front blinker light socket, my arm touched the battery pack and chassis ground, giving me a little jolt. Great! All I need is a battery leak to ground. When I was hooking up the low voltage duel meters, I hooked the red wire to 12 volt positive. This was a mistake because actually the red wire hooked to the pack 120 positive side of the shunt, and I fear with the ground leak, blew the high voltage meter 12 volt power supply. Anyway, only the lower meter is working now, so I ordered another meter from EBAY. When the proper wires were hooked up on the 12 volt meter, It read 13.8 volts but I could not get a current reading. Not sure if power is feeding through the dc-dc converter ground and not actually going from the battery, but I will need to do a little more work to try and get a reading of some kind from the 100 amp shunt on the 12 volt system. 

Hopefully I can get the meter that is probably blown out of the instrument pod by removing the face, as I am not thrilled about the possibility of taking the instrument pod out again.

The right angle micro a/b USB arrived today, so I will also need to work on getting the USB wire run to power up the Dell Venue 8 Pro.


A refurbished Powerlab 6 was ordered and should be here in a couple of days to do the second bottom balance of the Better Place module. All of the cells have been brought down below 2.8 volts but have drifted back to 2.85 or so. The Powerlab 6 will allow me to set a much tighter voltage range and I can let it set and cycle at a low amperage drain to try an being them all in line. I have a multi cell cable but am not sure if that will allow me to bottom balance 6 at a time, so will need to play with the Cellpro for awhile to see if that will work. If any of you have used a Cellpro with the multi cell connector to bottom balance, shoot me an email at

Thanks for stopping by,


Monday, May 26, 2014


My first post after purchasing the Electric Fiero was on Saturday, June 9, 2012, almost two years ago.Over that time, it sometimes felt like no one was visiting the site but to document the build, I kept on posting, almost every week. The blog has been a motivation for me and many times I have forced myself to go out and work on the car, even though I didn't really feel like it, just so I would have something to post.

I could probably have had many more page views but have taken steps to prevent sites like Semalt and Vampire Stat from artificially driving up my numbers and over the last 9 month, have seen a drastic reduction in hits from those type of sites. I was getting 50 hits a week from those sites for a month until code was added to help keep them from visiting this blog.

The first build blog that I followed from start to finish, had 4500 page views when the car was completed, and with my less than 1000 page views at the time, thought, I will never have that many people visit my site. Upon seeing that conversion, it is the best one I have seen so far and is currently the number one voted car on EVTV's Build Data Base.

It has always amazed me at the hits this sites gets from around the world and it is always nice to run into another builder at EVCCON who has visited the site. It is a great feeling to be involved with a hobby that brings so may people together, in a world where it seems so many work to tear it apart.


It seems like my page views are up over the last several months and this is probably because of gas prices starting to creep closer to $4.00 per gallon. Discovery Channel has also had a couple of EV builds over the last several months, so I am sure that may also contribute to the increased interest. Also, John Metric and Don Garlits have been pushing the speed envelope in electric cars so maybe people are realizing an EV is not just some kind of GREEN MACHINE, but can be made into respectable muscle cars. 

Thanks to all of you who have visited the site over the last two years and don't be afraid to leave a comment or join the site, it would make my day! 

Thanks again for viewing,



Sunday morning I started work around 7 am and continued getting the wires run through the dash. There were quite a few connectors that had to be attached to the wires and I made good progress.

Around 11:30, I got cleaned up and drove the Miata to my parents in Coshocton, Ohio, a little over an hour away. It was a great day and I was able to ride with the top down. We had chicken and hot dogs on the grill and had a very enjoyable time.

My dad has been reading my blog and has taken an interest in the build in the last couple of months. I really want to get the interior done and the seats back in so I can take him a ride. Who knows, maybe I can talk him into coming to EVCCON with me.

Sunday it was back out to the garage and I tried to solder wires on the JLD404 where the circuit board had evaporated. I got 3 of the 4 connections made back up and the meter did power up but would not allow me to enter the set up menu. It would bring up the zeros for me to enter the code but before I could get the 0036 entered, would go back to the hours display. I thought it would be nice to have a second JLD404 to bottom balance with but I guess it is not to be until I buy another one.

Monday morning began with watching the EVTV weekly show. I had watched a little on Sunday but I like to wait for the Youtube version so I can watch it with Chrome Cast on the TV. For some reason, the Chrome Cast streams much better that my computer so when watching it from Youtube, there are no lags or delays.

Then out to finish the wiring on the Fiero. About 9 am, I was putting the dash back in the car and was also working on getting the warranty transferred and updating the bios on the Dell Venue 8 tablet. I think between emailing the EBAY seller, calling Dell and getting on the Dell support site, I got the warranty transferred. After flashing the BIOS, the screen would not change orientation to landscape view, so I will need to work on that also.

By 4pm I had the instrument pod mounted and all of the wires hooked up.




In the afternoon, my wife and I rode over to Buckeye Lake and had dinner at the Smoke House, on the lake. It was still warm but slightly overcast so the ride with the top down was very enjoyable. When we returned home, there was still time to mow the grass, so I had a very productive day.

Until next time,


Saturday, May 24, 2014


Friday night we took my son and his fiance to the New Straightsville Moonshine Festival. New Straightsville, OH was an old mining town where the minors had gone on strike for more wages and ended up setting the underground coal on fire, more or less shutting down the mining operation. After the mines shut down, the locals turned to making what was considered special moonshine because of the quality mountain water. The moonshine became very sought after, both nationally and world wide. Because of the notoriety of the moonshine, the state of Ohio granted New Straightsville a special permit to operate a still during the annual festival, as long as the liquor was not consumed and discarded after production.  Once a thriving town, now New Straightsville is a remnant of the past. 



When we arrived in New Straitsville, all of the free parking was taken but one of the local residents was allowing visitors to park for $3.00. Not wanting to walk a mile, we pulled in and gave the owner his fee. We were parked next to a 1965 convertible Corvette roadster and notice that the owner was packing a 9mm pistol. Now this is a pretty good deal. In Columbus, it would cost me at least $5.00 to park and I have never been provided with an armed guard to look after my car. Only in New Straitsville!

Ok, you are wondering what a moonshine festival has to do with electric cars. Well the Friday night feature of the moonshine festival was a garden tractor pull on asphalt. I have seen tractor pulls on dirt but never on asphalt. The tires squealed when taking off and again as the engine was bogging down at the end of the run.These were very customized garden tractors, with most of them having body mods, chrome wheels, and show quality paint jobs. While walking down one side of the street I saw a guy sitting on the steps of one of the businesses, watching the tractor pull and thought to myself, I know that guy. When returning, I saw him again it and it dawned on me that I had seen his videos on Youtube.  It was Greg Grubb who runs a conversion shop in central Ohio. I approached him and said is your name Greg? He answered yes and I told him I had seen his videos on Youtube and had contacted him awhile back. We discussed EVs for awhile and he told me his wife pulled garden tractors. So that is what a moonshine festival has to do with EVs. You can see his Youtube videos at  GREG GRUBB YOUTUBE CHANNEL


Ohio has legalized making moonshine (not technically moonshine because it is legal) and the Straitsville Special Moonshine Distillery has opened it's doors in the town. I got one of the jugs from the first batch and although only 90 proof, it is rather tasty, especially with a little cider added.


Last week the garage was cleaned and all of the scrap metal put in the Better Place shipping crate, so Saturday morning I decided to take it to the scrap yard and turn it into cash. I checked the hours on the internet to make sure they were open and sure enough, their hours were listed as 8 am to 12 noon, on Saturday.. All of the scrap metal was loaded in the car and off I headed off to the scrap yard. A truck, loaded with old aluminum siding, was ahead of me as we drove down the dirt road to the salvage yard but when we got the the entrance, the gate was closed. I drove through Hebron, Buckeye Lake, and Baltimore, OH but the other scrap yards were all closed down, so I headed back home. A couple hours shot and a bunch of work loading and unloading some heavy scrap metal, wasted.

On to the car. The bottom balance continues, and I have about 12 cells to go in the first bottom balance. The remaining work needing done before installing the dash was surveyed and the wiring harness for the dash meters was started. About 2 pm, I kind of hit the wall.,as I was a little overwhelmed with the wiring, soI went inside and ended up taking a nap to collect my thought on how to proceed. About 5 pm, I went back out to put different connectors on the instrument pod gauges, and finish running the harness from the front battery compartment to the instrument pod. It is in place now with all of the connectors made up, so all that is left is to run a harness from the motor compartment for the 12 volt system. The Venue 8 Pro was mounted in the holder and the mini USB was connected to help figure out how to run the wiring. Then work was done on getting the solder off of the speaker connections and putting connectors on the wires, so they can be easily removed if the dash needs to come out again. Even though I got a bad start, quite a bit of work got done on the wiring by the end of the day. Even though I was in a 2 year electronics technical program in high school, wiring remains my weak spot, and progress on the car slows when I am wiring.




Tomorrow we are going to my parents but hopefully there will be more work done on the car, Sunday evening and Monday because I am really anxious to get the interior back together and the first Better Place module mounted.

Mission accomplished for the day, it was time to relax a little and sip on some Straitsville Special moonshine applejack!

Until next time,


Sunday, May 18, 2014


After working on the interior for a month in addition to disassembling the Better Place battery pack, the garage had become a bit of a disaster zone, so I decided it was time to clean thing up a bit. What brought everything to a head was when the bag of bolts for the instrument panel came up missing.

When I got in the Fiero to back it out, it moved back a little and then stopped. Then the controller fan started revving up and then shutting off and the car would not move. My son and his fiance came over so I could look at his radiator and after we grilled some hamburgers and had lunch, he helped me push the Fiero out into the driveway.

No one had purchased the Better Place shipping crate I put on Craigs List, so I decided to fill it up with all of the scrap metal, aluminum, and copper that was cluttering up the garage. After a couple of hours, it started looking a little better and then, under the shelves where the interior parts were stored was the bag of bolts.


My son Shane and I worked on his radiator and tried to put a patch over a crack in the plastic end piece. We thought we had it but he called later in the day to tell me it was leaking again. We will put a new radiator in it next week and that should take care of the problem for good.

After mowing the lawn, I decided to charge the traction pack as it had been sitting for over a month and the controller does have a slight drain on the battery. After charging, the controller was back to normal and the car could now be moved again. While it was in the driveway, I decided to wash it but by the time I got it done, the sun had almost set.


The Better Place battery module bottom balancing continues and I am getting close to putting the dash and instrument panel back in the car. When the pack is ready, I am going to install it in the rear of the car so the contactor and shunt can be positioned.

Until next week,


Saturday, May 17, 2014


This week the dual volt amp meters arrived from China and work began on fitting them into the instrument panel. The clear cover on my instrument cluster had been cut to mount the digital meters the original owner had installed but I found a bezel on EBAY that appeared to have the clear cover included. I emailed the seller and started working on making a box to mount the meters in that would fit under the glass. I used a plastic electrical box that had to have one end cut off and to shorten the length, then melted back onto the box and had everything ready to start mounting the meters but when the seller emailed back to tell me that the auction was only for the metal bezel and the clear cover was not included. So on to plan B. As luck would have it, the cuts in the clear cover were wider than the meter but could be trimmed for the width of the meter to fit in securely. I filled the gaps in the width with aluminum tape and painted it black. With the face plate on, you can not see the gaps in the side, so that is how it will be mounted.


A connector was installed on the pack voltage wires (can be seen hanging down on the bottom center of  the instrument panel in the picture above) and a small fuse will be added to the line when it is hooked to the battery pack. The meters were powered up to make sure they worked before installing the instrument pod back in the dash. Now it is on to running the wiring while the dash is still out of the car. One of the JLD404 contactors may be set up to light up the battery light if the pack falls to 95 amps, just under 3 volts per cell and I may use the temperature light to hook up the temperature probe wires coming out of the Warp 9.

Bottom balancing the Better Place cells continues but even though I left the JLD404 with a light bulb hooked up for as much as 24 hours on each cell, they still keep bouncing back up. I believe my strategy will be to go through all of them, then pull a small load on the pack and read the voltage on all of the cells as the pack drifts down to see how close they are. There is no wattage in the cells and as soon as the small light bulb hooked to the JLD404 comes on, the voltage instantly drops to 2.7 volts and the JLD404 shuts it off. 

Doesn't seem like much was done but when you figure in a trip to Advance Auto to pick up paint and wiring supplies, fixing the hole in the instrument panel pod, painting the pod, and installing the meters, a lot of time is involved. There is still quite a bit of wiring to work out, the connection from the controller to the Dell Venue Pro, mounting and wiring the JLD404, and running the wires to the 12 volt and pack dual meters in the instrument panel. Then I will be able to start putting the dash back in the car. 

The garage is a mess and I can't seem to locate the bag of screws for the instrument cluster and switches that mount onto is, so hopefully tomorrow, with a good shop cleaning, they will turn up.

Thanks for visiting,


Sunday, May 11, 2014


I started bottom balancing the first module of the Better Place battery pack last week and wanted to hook up a my JLD404 to measure how much capacity it was holding. I got the meter hooked up with a shunt and plugged in 2 1500 watt spot lights and was pulling 15 amps. I had to unplug the lights to stop the discharge, so decided to add a cutoff switch to the circuit. I was running low on crimp connectors, so had to fumble around a bit to get everything hooked back up but finally had the switch in the circuit. When I turned it on, something was not right, the lights did not come on and there was a pop and smoke billowing out of the JLD404 meter. Then there was a louder pop and I hit the kill switch. Seems I forgot to hook the lights back into the circuit but fortunately, my fuse (the 200 amp shunt) blew! All of this took place in 5 to 10 seconds that seemed like 5 minutes. Oh, if you run into  Brian Couchene or Mark Weisheimer, keep this story to yourself, they already get a chuckle out of my past history of plowing up electrical equipment. As you can see in the picture below, the copper on the circuit board is vaporized. On the bright side, I guess I did find an alternate to Damian McGuire's spanner to test C rate.


Not to worry, Light Objects sells new ones and this time I got the red display, as I believe the red shows up better in daylight than the blue did. So on to continuing the bottom balance. All of the individual cell voltages were recorded and the lowest voltage cell was marked. A volt meter was attached to the lowest voltage cell and the 3000 watts of spot light was turned back on and the battery pack was pulled down until the low cell hit 3 volts. Then all of the cells were checked again to make sure that this was still the lowest cell. I then hooked up a 40 watt light bulb and checked the voltage on the cells again to make sure this was still the lowest cell under load and it was. I took the cells down until the lowest cell hit 2.5 volts and then let the pack settle for 24 hours. The next day, the lowest cell had come back up to 3.05 volts. I realized then that this was going to be a real battle getting this pack bottom balanced. The 40 watt bulb was used to take the pack back to 2.5 bolts and then I used a small night light that allowed the pack to start going back up in voltage but was still draining the pack. 


I left the night light on until the pack settled at 2.695 volts and then let the pack come back up to 2.7 volts. I will carefully hook up the "NEW" Jld404 to cycle the night light until the lowest cell settles at 2.7 volts.


While the pack was draining, work was done on mounting the Dell Venue 8 pro. A template was made of the opening on the top of the console and a piece of ply wood was used to make a covering. The suction cup was removed from the mount I purchased last week and the front and back of the base were ground down so it would sit on the plywood. Then the bracket was positioned on the plywood and a hole was marked and drilled to fasten the mount to it. A thin vinyl was glued to the plywood and all of the pieces were mounted.



Another wire harness was made up to go to the rear of the Fiero, as the shunts and voltage readings will move to the motor compartment when the Better Place packs are installed.

The next project will be making a cover for the radio opening to mount the JLD 404, placing a micro switch on the heater controls to turn off the heater, and figuring out how to make a switch to short the data wires on the usb when the Venue 8 is booted up. The data wires have to be shorted to start charging but then can be un-shorted to allow for data processing.

Thanks for visiting,


Sunday, May 4, 2014


I just finished watching EVTV this week and thought the Taiwan trade show piece was rather good. It was also good seeing Jack driving the EV Thing and looks like it is finally close to a finished product. 

Yesterday the interior trim pieces were installed and the seat belts were fastened down. Everything went fairly well except I got some sealant from one of the panels on the new headliner. Not much but you try so hard for perfection when you are restoring a car that little things like that are rather discouraging. 


No time to cry over spilled milk, on to the instrument panel and placement of the Dell Venue 8 Pro. After rearranging, and rearranging some more, I kinda of hit the wall, so went inside to get on the internet and to think some more about how to get all of the components to fit in the space available. After some consideration and looking on the internet, I came up with a mount for the Dell Venue 8 Pro. Instead of using the center console pod, a plate will be made to cover the opening and the tablet holder will be mounted on the new cover. After thinking about it, this will allow me to use the camera in the Venue 8 Pro to get driving video and will allow me easy access to be able to remove  the tablet when the car is left unattended. 


The plan now is to mount two duel meters in the instrument cluster, one for the pack voltage and amperage and one for the 12 volt voltage and amperage. This will keep most of the instrumentation in one place and will allow me to use the dash space above the center console for the Venue 8 Pro. This meter will mount in the available space and the same meter will work for both the traction pack and the 12 volt system. I will use the 100 amp meter with a 1000 amps/75 mv shunt instead of the 100 amps/75 mv shunt that would normally be used. Just add a zero to the reading and that will be the pack amps.The measured side is is also isolated from the power supply, so there will be no need to add a small DC-DC converter to isolate them from each other.



I have been putting of starting the bottom balance of the better place cells but thought today would be a good day to start. Two quartz spotlights were hooked up across the module and the pack is draining as I am writing this post. I have had quite a bit of interest in the one module I am willing to sell, but so far, now one has been interested in it at the $1500 price I put on it. That is really not bad as if you were to buy one of the remaining packs that turned up at EVTV, it would be around $2200 per module.

After the batteries were hooked up and discharging, I went back to the center console restoration.  The vinyl had swollen on the sides of the center dash enclosure, making unsightly gaps between the face plate and the edges. Glue was squirted between the vinyl and plastic frame and clamped into place with the face plate in position. If this works, the other side will be glued this afternoon. Then the console cover will be painted the new dark gray interior color that the instrument pod and glove box will be changed to and everything should match when finished.


Still looking for a good drivers side 1985 Fiero GT seat but may still get get a set of leather seat covers to install. I sent an inquiry to a salvage yard that had seats for a Fiero but they did not specify if they were for a GT.

Just 3-1/2 months until EVCCON and would really like to have the care there this year. Still trying to figure out how to transport it there without breaking the bank.

Until Next week,