Sunday, June 29, 2014


Yesterday, the 12 volt system volt amp meter stopped reading voltage, so I got out the volt meter to trace out the 12 volt line and found it had no power. I am getting power from the cigarette 12 volt source, so upon checking the fuse, found it blown. After replacing the fuse, the meter started working properly.
An aluminum plate was also made to mount the meters in and will be attached to the speedometer glass. This will cover the gaps and make a cleaner mounting for the meters.

The driver's side door panel was cleaned and a fresh coat of medium gray interior paint was applied, with the arm rest getting a coat of charcoal gray. A little carpet cleanup and the door panel will be finished.


Also, some time was spent on the internet ordering new outer window seals and researching how to install them. The diagram below is courtesy of Michigan Fiero Club. 


The trunk was also hosed out to and I am going to take some measurements, as the battery module would be easy to fit in the bottom and a floor could be fabricated that would still give the car some trunk space. This may be the easiest place to put the Better Place Module and will still keep the center of gravity low. I just want to make sure there is a place to put groceries or packages as the car only has two seats and no space in the cabin for cargo.

Thanks for visiting,


Saturday, June 28, 2014


The 12 volt system Volt/Amp Meter was hooked up and was reading current and voltage just fine, so I decided to hook up the traction pack meter. The 12 volt system meter was hooked up to the isolated side of the 12 volt dc-dc isolation converter, so it was disconnected and hooked up to the un-isolated side. The meter came on and read voltage just fine but read zero amps. It seems that both meters will need to run off of an isolation 12 volt dc-dc converter, so another one was ordered from Light Object. I am afraid if I try to run both meters off of just 1 isolation converter, the high voltage will get back to 12 volts on the isolated side and blow the dc-dc converter. I know the traction pack side will work because that was the first meter that was hooked up before I found out that they were not isolated meters and smoked them when hooking up the low voltage side originally.

On to fastening down the loom in the engine compartment. The wiring runs were straightened out and fastened to the brackets and firewall. I will need to disconnect an inline fuse wire and the tachometer lead to reroute them but other that that, the wiring harness is done. 


Then measurements were taken again and some figuring was done to determine if the battery pack will fit in the space between the motor/transaxle and front firewall. If the pack is placed to the passenger side of the engine compartment, it will fit. the rear passenger side of the car is sitting higher, so it appears that I need some additional weight on that side anyway. I am considering adding cells to both modules to increase the voltage anyway, so will make a smaller module that can go on the driver's side to balance the weight in the rear of the car. A cardboard template was made and it appears it is going to be quite a challenge to get the pack in that space without dissembling it.

I am still working on getting all of the Better Place module cells to hold  under 2.7 volts so I can try charging up to get them all to the same voltage level. The module had been discharged until the lowest cell is 2.5 volts several times but some of the cells have still drifted back to above 2.7 volts.

The speedometer wires from the VSS were connected to the wiring harness in the cabin so once the USB cable is finished, the center console can be installed.


To finish the interior, the door panels need removed to be painted and to install new outside window seals, so this was as good of a day as any to start.


The temperature in Ohio has been getting close to 90 deg by afternoon, so it has been quite miserable working on the car, even though a lot of little things have been getting finished. We are going to dinner with my Son and his Fiance, so had to knock off a little early but will continue tomorrow.


Sunday, June 22, 2014


Saturday the MC4 Cable Connectors arrived, so the connection was made through the fuse to the positive side of the battery pack for the heater. The diodes for 12 volt positive power, that I had originally thought were needed, arrived also but upon closer inspection of the correct schematic, found that there is a relay that puts power to the fan switch when the heater button is in any position but off. This circuit will make sure the fan is always running when the heater is turned on.


After the MC4 connectors were made up and the fuse installed in the circuit, the final connection to the traction pack was made.  Then work moved to the inside of the car to make up the control wiring to 12 volts. All of the circuit is completed and ready to connect to the heater control unit when the center console goes back in.



Earlier Saturday morning, I made a trip to Jo Ann fabric and picked up some grained vinyl to cover the top plate on the center console, where the Dell Venue 8 will be mounted. The vinyl was cut and adhesive was used to attach it to the wooden top cover plate. Part of the vinyl was clamped in place and while the adhisive was drying, work was done on other projects. Getting the vinyl attached was a little bit of a challenge, but it ended up working out nicely.




Then to the motor compartment, where the wiring was run around the firewall, to determine how much wire will remain inside the car. The project was started on Saturday, so Sunday Morning, I continued by getting out my box of loom and installing it over the new wiring harness run. After the loom was installed, I made up the speedometer plug and started fastening the loom to the firewall. The run from the controller and pot box have not been fastened down yet, so now that all of the wiring is complete, can be attached.



The Better Place module was connected to a 40 watt light bulb and readings were taken on each cell to determine the lowest one. As expected, the voltages went down as measurements were taken from the first cells bottom balanced to the last ones. The first few cells were back up to over 2.9 volts and tapered down to the 2.7 range on the other end of the module. The JLD404 is connected to the lowest cell and will be drained down until it reaches 2.5 volts, which is actually around 2.595 volts when measured with the volt meter. Then the pack be allowed to sit for a week or so and try and the low cells will be charged back up to 2.7 volts with the Powerlab 6. I am not sure this will work but it is worth a try, as trying to bottom balance all of them to 2.7 volts through discharging is not working.   


I needed to get a piece of aluminum bar, more loom clamps, and some screws to mount the clamps, so it was time to make a run to Millersport Hardware. Do It Best Hardware seems to be a bit less expensive than the Ace Hardware in Baltimore, OH but the Ace has a better selection of stainless steel fasteners. When I left the hardware store is was just about Beer:30, so I stopped at Valero and picked up a 6 pack of Sam Adams  Rebel IPA. After enjoying a couple if them, it was time for a little NAPcar along with the EVTV Weekley Show. It was getting rather warm outside, so thought it was a good time to take a break before continuing work on the Fiero this evening.

So entertained and refreshed, I went back out and made brackets for the wiring harness runs, while continuing to monitor the Better Place battery module discharge. When I came in around dark, the lowest cell was at 2.58 volts and the highest cell was around 2.75. I am hoping to bring the pack down enough that the highest cell is around 2.7 volts. I have a small night light hooked up and I am hoping that by discharging at a low amp level, the cells will not drift back up as much.

Anyway, that's it for this week, 



Awhile back my Homelite 2 cycle trimmer bit the dust, and after taking it to a repair shop, only to be told that they do not work on small 2 cycle engines, ordered a Black and Decker LiFePo4 cordless string trimmer. Home Depot had these on sale and at the same price as the Roybi, that weighed only 7.8 pounds verses the Roybi's 15 pounds.

Model # LST136 TRIMMER

Between the time my old trimmer stopped working and when the new cordless trimmer arrived, the grass that needed trimmed was almost a foot tall, so the first use of the new trimmer should be a good indication of how is is going to work out for me. After assembling the trimmer and giving the battery a charge, I took it out to give it a try. The Black and Decker Model LST136 has a variable seed setting and I set it on low. The trimmer buzzed through the tall grass with no problem and I am not sure if it was the lower speed setting or the different placement of the string guard, but I did not have grass being thrown all over my legs like I did with the old Homelite trimmer. Since it had been several weeks since I had trimmed, it took about twice as long as normal and when finished, the trimmer had just as much power  as when I first started trimming.

Assembled Depth (in.) 
9.623 in 
Assembled Height (in.) 
43.94 in 
Assembled Width (in.) 
4.44 in 
Assembly Required 
Attachment capable 
Batteries Included 
Battery Type Required 
40 Volt Lithium-Ion 
Charger Included 
Engine Cycles 
Electric Motor 
Extra Battery Included 
Line Advance System 
Line style size 
Manufacturer Warranty 
30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee 3 Year Full Warranty 
Maximum cutting path diameter (in.) 
Metal blade conversion kit 
Multiple heads included 
No-tool line replacement 
Number of Trim Lines 
Product Weight (lb.) 
7.8 lb 
Recommended line diameter (in.) 
Replaceable Head 
Shaft length (in.) 
Shaft type 
Shoulder harness/strap 
Start Type 
Trimmer Line Type 
Trimmer Type 
Consumer Electric Cordless String 
Voltage (volts) 

As I have been converting the Fiero to electric for a couple years now, the LiFePo 4 trimmer seemed to be a natural decision. I can see an electric garden tractor conversion in the future!


Sunday, June 15, 2014


Today we traveled to Coshocton to visit my dad for father's day and we were running a little late when we left the house in my wife's car and hurriedly took off on our 60 mile trip.  The day was  beautiful and the conversation with my son and his fiance on the way, were very enjoyable. About five miles from my parent's house, the car just died and we rolled to a stop on the side of a narrow berm with a very steep bank on the edge of the Muskingum River. I tried to start the car and nothing. Then I looked at the gas gauge and saw it was below empty and realized I had run out of gas. I dialed my parent's phone number and dad answered. After telling him I ran out of gas and where we were, I again tried to start the car and this time it started. We were able to limp up the road about 100 yards where there was a wide area on the berm and proceeded to wait for dad to show up with gas. It is a little ironic that 38 years ago I ran out of gas about 100 yards up the road and my dad had bailed me out by bringing gas. So dear old dad bails me out again. Happy Fathers Day Dad!

After filling up the tank, I proceeded to my parent's house and had a great visit with my family. My dad has been reading the blog and I am dying to get the interior back together so I can take him a ride. If I decide to install the third module, I should be able to drive the Fiero to Coshocton, as long as a charge point is found for the return trip.

Upon returning back home it was time to watch the end of the NAPCAR race and there were about 46 miles to go. They went through their final pitstops and when I woke up, Jimmy Johnson was doing burnouts. Anyway, rejuvenated, I headed out to the garage to do a little work on the Fiero.

Yesterday, the pictures I tried to take of the bulkhead, did not turn out so took another picture. The bulk head turned out great, so once the other one is painted black and the loom put on the wires, will make the wiring blend in and almost become invisible. My objective for the engine compartment is to make it as clean as possible, with all of the components tucked away but painted red so they stand out a little. I left all of the wires long so I can them along the firewall, around the right side of the car and along the back firewall to their destination. When the rear battery module is installed, the black cable you see on the bottom of the picture will be eliminated, as it is only being used for a battery voltage reading from the traction pack to the controller.


On to the Dell Venue 8 mounting in the center console. Work is starting to move pretty fast and the heater wiring and tablet wiring are the last items that need to be tied up before it is re-installed. I was surprised to see that the new BMW i3 has a similar placement for the screen as the one I am using in the Fiero. You can watch an i3 test drive on the link below.

evmedia - i3 TEST DRIVE

A hole has to be placed in the console top plate and console rubber to create a channel for the USB cable to run. All of the connections will be made inside the radio opening that will have a cover with the JLD404 mounted in it.  I will have a blue tooth mouse somewhere on the center console and may need to rig up a switch to short the USB data wires until the unit starts charging from the power supply. If not I will have to run off of batteries which will cause the back light to keep dimming. I am hoping Dell issues a power supply upgrade that will allow the tablet to charge without having to trick the system but am not hopeful this will happen. Also, I need to pick up some grained vinyl to cover the cover plate before final assembly of the console.




Finally, a productive weekend and I can see a little light at the end of the tunnel. 

Thanks for dropping by,


Saturday, June 14, 2014


My trimmer has a plastic hose to push gas into the carburetor when pumping the primer. The hose was old and had cracked in two, so I took it down the street to a repair shop to see if they had the hose. The guy came out and told me that they did not work on small engines and didn't know of any other shops that did either, so I brought it back home and went on the hunt for a tube that may work. I noticed a #10 cable with a thick jacket and proceeded to pull the wire out of it. I did some fitting and cutting to get the right length and after installed, the trimmer started right up and was able to accelerate again. Good thing because my yard really needs a good trimming. It is really hard to get things worked on anymore and it seems we pretty have a throw away mentality anymore.

After getting the weed eater squared away, I  started with putting the HiPower batteries back in the car and hooking all the connections back up. Wouldn't you know, I still have a ground fault but now it is only 65 volts. I followed it around the pack and it changes polarity at the last cell on the negative side of the pack. This is leading me to the front to back power leads, controller, motor, or possibly the DC-DC converter. Just before I started disconnecting leads, a small package arrived.


Light Object is amazing on their shipping as I ordered the DC-DC converter on Wednesday and it was here Saturday, with just standard USPS first class shipping. Having wired up the first one incorrectly, I went to the Light Object website and found a more detailed description of how it is wired.


Light Objects is a little lacking on the documentation sent with their products but usually has everything you need if you search their website and sure enough, after poking around was able to find a write up with a couple of pictures. As new meters were ordered that may have a different connector for the power side, I only soldered the 12 volt wires to the new DC-DC converter and will solder the measurement side after the new meters arrive. Most of the meters I have ordered are shipped via China Courier Service and it seems like the Slow Boat From China Syndrome! The meters are not scheduled to arrive until June 26.

Enough waiting around, I started looking around the garage for materials that could be made into the rear firewall bulkhead. Finally a dimmer switch was spotted with a housing that looked like it may just work. The rivets were drilled out and the dimmer electronics were removed. Then the search was on for a piece of  sheet metal to cover the hole in the firewall and mount the housing to. Finally I came across a small square (well almost) piece of metal that would work. One edge was cut a little rough so I got out my grinder and evened up all of the sides. Then a hole was put in the middle with a hole saw, a coat of black paint was applied,  and a weather proof  cable gland was installed. Then a hole was put in the housing with a hole saw and the housing was bolted to the plate. The assembly was mounted over the hole in the firewall with a couple of self taping screws. Ok, I am on a roll now so started feeding the network cable, 12 volt shunt cables, and 6 more wires to use for the speedometer.and anything else that may come up later.


Thanks for visiting,


Friday, June 13, 2014


My workload was a little lite and the weather wasn't bad, so I decided to take a half day vacation to work on the Fiero. This week a new dual meter arrived to replace the one that quit working and I decided to test the one that was used on the 12 volt system that was not showing an amp reading. A headlight was wired to the shunt and the meter connections were made on the test bench and after a small puff of smoke, the meter went dead. It is discouraging because at least they both lit up when they were in the dash and the 120 pack ammeter was actually giving me a reading. I thought the low voltage and high voltage sides were isolated on the meters but when I hooked the ohm meter between the grounds, there is a dead short, so a 12 volt to 12 volt isolation dc converter will need to be added to the circuit. I found different dual volt/amp meters and ordered a couple of them. So the meter project is in "Hurry Up and Wait" status.


On to the heater circuit. The fuse arrived last week and I got on the internet to try to find a holder. The only holder I could find was in a breaker switch, had to be ordered by the case of 40, and was $150, so my $6 fuse was going to cost me an arm and leg to install. Back to EBAY where I bought an inline fuse and holder for a solar system that will work. Again, "Hurry Up and Wait."


Diodes are going to be needed to run power for the solid state relay that is being used  for the heater so the element will not be energized unless the fan is running and 3 of them were ordered from Radio shack. Once again "Hurry Up and Wait."


A successful test was done on the solid state relay when the 12 volt control circuit was hooked up and an ohm reading taken across the output side. The indicating light lit up and the reading dropped from 100 mega ohms to around 3k ohms. I am figuring you need the high voltage hooked up for it to actually pass current so am not concerned about the reading.

After burning up the meter, I figured it is time to update the schematic so when they go back in the dash I won't hook up the wrong wires again. The red wire from the positive side of the traction pack also runs to the center of the console for the JLD404 and it was hooked to the low voltage positive wire coming off of the shunt. Since the dual meters do not seem to be isolated, it ended up smoking the power supply on the high voltage meter. Thank goodness these meters aren't real expensive!


The wiring really needs to get finished so I can continue on with getting the interior back together.There is still the JLD404, Dell Venue 8, tachometer, and speedometer wiring to go before the center console and seats can go back into the car. Then I need to come up with a bulkhead to run the wires through the rear firewall. So much work, so little time!

Until next post,


Sunday, June 8, 2014


Sunday, work started on the heater control. The original build had a separate switch to turn on the heating element, that was mounted on the side of the instrument pod. Over time, the switch started pulling out and the vinyl around the opening was starting to split. The hole was covered with electrical tape and some grained sheet was heated with an iron to melt the electrical tape into the original vinyl. Then the dash pod was painted, with charcoal interior paint. It isn't perfect but covers the hole and looks pretty good.


There is a micro switch on the pot box that is no longer needed because the Synkromotive controller will not start if the accelerator is depressed, when turning on the ignition, so it was removed and will be used to turn on the heating element when the heater selector is slid to the hot position. After placing the micro switch in several different positions, while operating the heater selection slide, a good placement was found and holes were drilled to mount it.




One of the pods that house the duct door actuators was in the way on the bottom of the surface where the micro switch was mounted so the hole was drilled a little smaller and the bolt was threaded into the housing plastic. You can also see the washer that had to be used to keep the bolt from pressing on the duct door actuator housing. When the micro switch is removed for final wiring, some contact cement will be applied to assure it will remain in place.

Then the heater fan schematic was used to figure out how to power the switch so the element would only energize if the fan was running. Diodes can be used to power the heater element control so no matter what speed the fan is set to, the element can be energized. After thinking about the system for awhile, a small led light will also be added so you can see when the element is energized. Also, a fuse will be added from the pack to the element.


Documentation is getting a little behind, so I am trying to catch up a little, as when the car is finished, it will have a service and operation manual.

When looking for the ground leak, the first row of cells had to be removed, so while they were sitting in the garage, the voltages were checked. They were all 3.34 volts and within thousandths of a volt of each other. If any of you follow John Hardy's battery work, he has documented this behavior in the LiFePo4 batteries. As they are cycled, the voltages seem to come closer to each other.


This has been a very productive weekend and all the known bugs have either been fixed or components ordered to fix them. The Better Place battery module is about half way through the second bottom balance and with some of the cells out of the car, I can survey where it can be mounted. 

Until next post,


Saturday, June 7, 2014


Saturday morning, readings were taken on the shunt holder studs and after finding resistance to ground, the shunt and stands were removed. New shunt holders were ordered from EBAY but the old rubber plugs were re-installed with an insulating washer to try to get ride of the resistance to ground.



Then the volt/amp meter shunt wires were checked and both had K ohm readings the chassis ground. The meter that no longer lights up was hooked directly to 12 volts and it still did not light up, so it is apparent that when the positive side of the 12 volt shunt was hooked up to the 120 pack voltage positive side of the meter, it blew something in the power supply. I then checked the continuity of the good meter and found that the power supply ground wire and the high voltage side of the meter's grounds were a dead short, so these meters are not isolated. I have new meter ordered from EBAY and ordered a 12 volt to 12 volt isolation DC-DC converter to isolate the meter' power supply ground from the traction pack ground.


Then the solid state relay was mounted on the firewall and the control and negative side of the pack voltage wires were connected. I ordered a 20 amp, 120-180 volt dc fuse from EBAY that will go on the positive wire going to the traction pack. A micro switch will be added to the heater control to energize the solid state relay.


Also a new driver's side parking/blinker lamp socket was installed.


Not a bad day, considering I also fixed my son's Fiance's speedometer and tachometer problem, helped clean the house, and took everyone to dinner at J Gumbo's. Hopefully all of the parts are on their way to fix the remaining problems.

Thanks for stopping by,


Friday, June 6, 2014


Wednesday, I received the dash light holders that had been ordered on EBAY and proceeded to fill the remainder of the light sockets where the sockets had been missing. When I turned the parking lights on, smoke started flowing out of one of the light sockets, then all of the lights went out. I had blown a 5 amp fuse a couple weeks ago and when checking the fuses, notice there was a 15 amp fuse where the 5 amp instrument panel fuse should have been. Seems when I bought the fuses The package had a 5 for the quantity in the pack and I thought they were 5 amp fuses. Anyway, the 15 amp fuse was not blown, so I tried the headlights and after coming up, would not go back down. Now I am getting worried, so went in to look at the instrument panel lighting schematic. Seems the closed contactors are powered on the same circuit as the tail light 20 amp fuse that also feeds the 5 amp fuse to the dash lights. After making a trip to get fuses, I replaced the 15 amp fuse that was in the dash light fuse socket and when checking the parking lamp fuse, found it only had a 15 amp fuse, that ended up being blown, andreplaced it with a 20 amp fuse. As soon as the new fuse went in the socket, the headlights retracted. When I tried the dash lights, all of them were illuminated now. Wow, what a relief! I sure did not want to have to pull the dash again to look for burnt wires.




The bottom balancing continues with the JLD404, on the Better Place Module. The Powerlab 6 would not discharge down to the 2.7 volts I need to get to so I contacted the manufacturer, and after several days, they said the programming for the internal discharge mode is why I am getting trouble codes trying to discharge to 2.7 volts, but If I go to regen mode with a battery, would be able to get down to that level. I will try later tonight and hope that takes care of the problem.


The weather has been great here in Ohio, and I am anxious to get working on the car tonight and starting early tomorrow morning! Both of the dual volt/amp meters need remove and tested outside the car, so I may start on that tonight.

Thanks for dropping by,


Sunday, June 1, 2014


The Powerlab 6 arrived on Saturday and just in time, the Better Place half cells had all been bottom balanced to 2.7 volts and were drifting back up toward 2.8 volts. My plan was to hook up the Powerlab and bring them all down to 2.7 volts, then end with a constant voltage phase until the current dropped off to a very low mv level. I was going to set the Powerlab to run for 5 or 6 hours for each cell, hopefully draining the half cell at a low  mv level each time the cell voltage started climbing. My first problem was I had the Powerlab 8 user interface loaded and I had to down load the one for the Powerlab 6. Then I found that no matter which lithium program I started with, the lowest level it would permit me to discharge to was 3 volts. I sent a request to the manufacturer and hope they can get me set up to discharge the cells on down to 2.7 volts. In the mean time, if any of you have bottom balanced below 3 volts with the Powerlab 6 or 8, I would appreciate you letting me know what preset and settings you used to do it.


Later in the day, the steering wheel was removed and the old cover removed. There was a sticky substance on the plastic of the steering wheel after the cover was removed and I spent about an hour cleaning it off. A cover was stretched over the wheel but the plastic lacing is not going to be used. I am going to attempt sewing the seam on the leather around the steering wheel, as that is the way the original steering wheel cover was attached and this method will look much better.


Sunday, most of the day was spent mounting the 12 volt system shunt and making a new plate for the battery to be mounted on. The way the shunt was installed originally allowed the DC-DC converter to bypass the shunt, I  thought maybe that is why I was not getting any current reading on the current meter. After everything was rewired and remounted, there was still no current reading with the headlights on. I checked the leads coming off of the 100 amp/75 mv shunt and found the reading was only 2.4 mv and should be getting a current reading of around 3.2 amps when the headlights are on. I have an ammeter so I will try to get a reading with it to confirm the actual amperage being used.



The remainder of the dash bolts were installed and the lower steering column/instrument pod  cover was painted and installed. Work still continues on the instrument panel LED lighting but I went back to incontinence for the blinkers. The parking brake on warning light still is not working, so I may need to remove the piece of molding that covers the parking brake to see if the wire came loose.

Anyway, I worked my A** off this weekend but don't feel like much progress was made.

Thanks for visiting,