Tuesday, September 30, 2014


The third charge of the pack was was started around 4 PM on Monday but had to be stopped around 6 PM so I could take my wife to the grocery store. The 220 volt breaker was turned off and the power to the JLD404 was unplugged. While the wife was getting groceries, I had a taco and a large glass of Elevator Company Horny Goat at Ziggy's in Pataskala. I really enjoy craft beers but it seems the extra hops sometimes tends to turn me into Sleeping Beauty.

Upon returning home, the charger was started again and the JLD404 was turned on again, so the charge continued. When the charge was started in the afternoon, the temperature was in the 80's and part way into the charge, the thermal cutout kicked in and dropped the amps down to 14 volts from the 18 volts original amperage. The charger had cooled, so again my amperage was back up to 18 volts. I decided this time to take readings every 1/2 hour after the initial voltage readings were taken at the start of the charge. Two more half hour readings were taken and I went inside to watch TV, noting the time when the next reading needed to be taken. Seems as a result of the higher hops IPA, I drifted off into nap time. Frantically waking up, I ran outside and the JLD timer was exactly at 4 hours, so I had completely missed the 3-1/2 hour reading. The voltage was slightly over 139 volts and the amperage had dropped to 3 volts but the module had taken 60 amp hours, just 5 amp hours off of it's rating of 65 amp hours. I went to the engine compartment and did a careful smell test to see if the sweet odor of battery electrolyte was present but there were not traces of it.


It seems like the voltage was finally starting to spike but I missed documenting the most important end of the charge because of my little unplanned nap. The charger is almost set where it need to be and if I can stay awake the next time the module is charged, I believe just a little lowering of the voltage and current pots will get the charger shutting off before the voltage reaches 140 volts.At 139 volts, the cell average is 4.35 and I am going to do a little research on the breakdown point of the electrolyte to see if 4.35 volts is still under where the electrolyte boils and gasses.

My son's car was finished, so he brought my wife's car that he borrowed, back to the house and we went over to Gary's Place in Kirkersville, OH to pick the car up. Seems the alternator and starter were both bad but the NAPA alternator was still under warranty, so that helped a little. So hopefully tomorrow night I can take a test drive in the Fiero and start doing some range testing.

Thanks for visiting,


Sunday, September 28, 2014


I woke up around 7 am on Sunday and made a pot of coffee, then got on the computer to check email. To my surprise, EVTV had loaded the September 28th show on Youtube. This is good because if it is on Youtube, I can watch it on the tv on Chromecast. I can put it on tv from my computer but Chrome cast seems to stream much better when enabled directly from Youtube.

On this weeks Show, Jeff Sotherland was making a heater plenum for Jack's VW Thing. Being a machinist, I can appreciate how useful a tool like that would be when converting an ev but also realize how expensive and how much room a CNC milling machine takes. Since most of us don't have access to those types of tools, we need to find creative ways to sort of black smith the solutions to our problems.

When the end broke on my shifter cable, I tried to cut the nylon end in half, thinking I could slide the bushing off of the cable to allow me to drive a rod in it to make it large enough to get the cable to fully seat inside it again.


As luck would have it, the bushing would not slide off and now I had a shift cable with no end. I clamped a pair of vice grips on the cable and using a hammer, got the cable to almost go back to it's original position in the bushing. Then I put a smaller die on the hydraulic cable terminal crimper and compressed the bushing around the cable sheath wires. After moving the cable assembly to a couple of different locations, I was finally able to position it on top of one of the transaxle bolts and got a couple of pretty good hits on one of the flat spots from the original crimp. Hopefully, that compressed the sleeve enough to hold the sheath cable in place.


Then it was time to figure out how to make a new end attachment with out the luxury of a machine shop. After searching around for awhile I found some 1/8 inch aluminum and cut a couple of pieces about 1-1/2 inches long. When comparing the two pieces to the nylon cable end, it was obvious I was going to need more thickness. I thought about going to the hardware store and getting a thicker aluminum bar but decided to make the new cable end a three assembly, so another piece was cut. Then they were clamped together in the vice and holes were drilled and one of the pieces was tapped for a #10 screw. Then a hole, the size of the recessed part of the shift cable end.was drilled and a drill the size of the rod was drilled in about 3/16 of an inch.


A hole, just a little smaller than the connector ball was drilled through all three bars and the ones on the outside were counter sunk with a 1/2 inch drill bit. The the inner bar had a shot put in it so it would slide over the connector ball


Then the new connector was test fitted on the end of the shift cable, and disassembled again to do more fitting from looking at the marks left by the shift cable end in the aluminum bars.


The new shift cable end was then removed and additional adjustments were made to the fit based on the marks the cable end left in the aluminum. After filing, cleaning and greasing the ball socket, the connector was installed.


Now the gearshift was put in third gear and a pin was inserted in the alignment hole.


Finally the nuts on the transaxle selectors were tightened and the shifter went through all four gears and reverse smoothly when parked with the motor not running. I was going to take a test drive to test the shifter but noticed the JLD404 was not on. After checking voltage and finding there was none, I checked the fused and found two of them blown. I had moved some wires around when adjusting the shifter and must have shorted one of them. Now that the JLD404 was back on, and the pack voltage was down to 96 volts. Below 90, the dc-dc converter drops down to 10 volts and trips the controller, so I am going to have to recharge. I had the dc-dc converter plugged into the pack all day as I was using the extension cord to operate my power tools all day, so that must have been enough to run down the module.

After working all day to make a new shift rod end connector, I was beat! For September, it sure got hot in the afternoon and I had to stop and go inside to cool down a couple times. Looking forward to charging the pack and taking the Fiero out on the road to test the new shift linkage!

Until next time,


Saturday, September 27, 2014


After trying to get the shifter adjusted, with little luck, if finally gave out completely during a test drive. Fortunately, the shifter would still go into first gear and I was able to make it home. Seems the sheathing cable had worked out of the crimp and was moving in and out. With the car sitting in the driveway, the shifter would work flawlessly but when driven would do a couple of shifts and then seem to be out of sync. It must have just been moving a little and when it finally came completely out of the crimped socket was easy to fine. What makes it worse is after the batteries were installed in the engine compartment, the cables have to come over top of them and I hope this is not why the cable pulled out of the socket, as that will mean the last four cells of the module will need to be moved to the other side of the transaxle to allow a space for the cables to go through,

I am showing 47 amp hours used out of the 57 that was put in the pack, so it will be interesting to see how close I can come to 57 amp hours, as the voltage is down around 119 volts. On the first charge, once I got to 119 volts, there was not much left in the pack.

My parking brake seems to be sticking but I was able to finally get it to release. I got some WD40 and cleaned the ends of the cables with Scotchbrite before spraying them down. I have started only applyling a couple of clicks when setting the parking brake and it seems to be releasing now.

My son's car has not been starting so I spent most of Saturday trying to get it going. We were able to get it to my house but then were unable to get it started, even with jumper cables. I pushed it to Gary's Place Garage in Kirkersville, OH, as he has a lift and can easily get under the car to check the starter.

Will post again tomorrow if I have any updates, so until next post, thanks for visiting.


Sunday, September 21, 2014


Just when you think you are over the hump, it seems there is always something that crops up to bite you in the ass! When I took the car for a drive on Saturday, the voltage was reading 119 and upon starting out on the road in front of my house, the car kept popping out of third gear. No problem, just use second and fourth. This worked for a couple of miles until the car started loosing power and would just creep down the road. I turned around and headed back for home until the car came to a stop and would not go any further. The resting voltage was down around 91 volts and the controller voltage cut-out voltage is set at 90 volts, so the pack voltage was dropping below that level and the controller would not engage. I called my wife and had her push me the couple of miles back to the house. I had taken a couple of drives and with only 40 amp hours in the pack had expended the pack, so it was time for another charge. 

Before charging I measured all of the cells and found them to be between 2.85 and 2.9 volts, so decided to use the Powerlab 6 to bring them all to 3 volts. These cells are different than LiFePo4 cells and when you get below 3.5 volts or so, drop very quickly.Later that evening, I started setting up the charger and about 9:30 pm, started charging. There is a pot on the Zivan NG3 charger that will raise and lower the cut-out voltage, so I gave it a couple of turns to try and get the voltage raise to around 134.4 volts or 4.2 volts per cell. On the first charge I stopped at 4 volts per cell. The charge went smoothly and raising the cut-off voltage got me pretty close to where I need to be.

The JLD404 was hooked up and the car was taken for a test drive on the interstate. It accelerated to 80 mph with plenty of room left on the accelerator but still would not stay in third gear. I am going to need to check all of the settings on the JLD404 but it said I used 21 amp hours to go 9.1 miles or 2.31 amp hours per mile. At 120 volts that would be around 276 watt hours per mile. I did have the car up to 80 mph for a moment on the interstate and had about 3 more miles at 70 mph. At 276 watt hours per mile I could go around 28 miles per module, so with the other 2 modules installed, I should be able to go to work and back, 22 miles one way. I still have 37 of the 100 amp hour LiFePo4 cells in the front of the car so the weight of the additional 2 modules should be the same or a little less. Half of the dash lights and the 12 volt meter I installed in the dash were not working, so it seems like it is always one step forward and 2 steps back.

Work was also started on the center console cover and a piece of vinyl was cut and put on with adhesive to cover a rip in the console. After a new coat of charcoal paint, it looked very good. The storage box door and speaker covers were painted flat black and gives the console cover a very good contrast.

Work continues but at least the car is insured now and can be driven on the highway. Hopefully in a couple of weeks the interior will be done and work can begin on mounting the other 2 modules.

Until next time,


Thursday, September 18, 2014


Back in August my garden tractor battery went bad after using it to regen discharge the Better Place cells with the Powerlab 6. Alien Motoin had their AM22-01 heavy duty LiFePo4 battery on sale for $209. My plan was to use it the rest of the mowing season and then put it in the Fiero this fall. A MCU Battery Low Voltage Disconnect Controller by Peak DBI was even purchased to keep the Alien Motion battery from over discharging. The battery worked great until last Sunday and when I turned the key on the garden tractor, nothing happened. Upon further investigation, the battery was puffed around the positive terminal. When I contacted Alien Motion, they said they were scratching their heads trying to figure out what happened and suspect the voltage regulator on the garden tractor was not working correctly. Then I did not hear anything for a couple of days and had to email them again, asking them what they wanted me to do. Finally they replied and gave me a RMA number and told me to send it back to them.


Then the Elite, Model DCM9040, volt, amp watt meter went bad, so it hasn't been a good week. The EBAY seller is going to send me another meter, so I guess it could be worse.

My son's fiance got a speeding tick when they were coming to our house on Labor day, and also got a ticket for expired license plates, requiring her to appear in court. My Son could not get today off of work, so I took a day of vacation to got to court with her. She was afraid she was going to lose her license and was in a rather bad mood on the drive to the Lancaster, OH Court House. There were so many people with traffic tickets there, that only the person with the ticket could go into the Court Room. With nothing I could do to help her now, I walked down the Main Street of Lancaster hoping to find some interesting shops to look around in. I was only gone 15 minutes when my phone rang and it was Vanessa. She was on the court roster hanging in the hall of the Court House but when she went inside the court room, her name was not called. When she approached the bench, the Judge told her she had paid her speeding ticket fine and renewed her license plates, so there was no need for her to be there. Great, the day was starting out very good.

We arrived back at the house and I changed cloths to go out and work on the Fiero. All of the battery connection were made up and the contactors were all wired up but the motor connections had to be made up, the dc-dc converter and battery installed, new wires connected to the battery pack for the dc-dc converter, and a new wire run from the positive side of the battery to the controller for it to measure pack voltage. For being almost ready to test drive, there sure was a lot of work to do but one by one, each task was completed. Now the moment of truth, I got in the car, turned the key to the run position, then to the start position but nothing happened. A laptop was connected to the controller and the pot box was re-calibrated. Same result, nothing happened. I was getting 13.5 volts to the controller when the key was turned to start but when it was released back to the run position, the voltage went to zero. So into the house to pull up the relay schematic. After studying the schematic and looking at the relay connections on terminal block, two of the wires were on the wrong connection. The wiring was put on the correct terminals and back into the car to try again. Now I was showing 13.5 volts when going back to the run position after the key was turned to the start position but still did not have any pack voltage showing. Upon further inspection of the negative contactor actuation wires, found that one of the wires had slipped out of the crimp connector. A new terminal was crimped on to the wire and another start try was made. This time there was 13.5 volts in the run position, and 124 volts pack voltage but the motor still would not run when the throttle was depressed. Seem I had pushed the emergency/maintenance switch, so pulled it back up in to the connected position. This time when I went through the start sequence, the motor ran when the throttle was depressed. Finally, success!



As the insurance went into effect on September 13, I was finally able to take the Fiero on the Highway and run it up to 60 mph. It did great and the pack voltage did not drop lower that 114 volts under moderate acceleration from the 124 resting voltage. The 12 volt system did not drop below 12.5 volts and recovered to 13.5 volts when cruising. 

I am going to need to tidy up some wiring and get it in loom but then on to finishing the instrumentation and interior.

Thanks for visiting,


Friday, September 12, 2014


The Fiero will be officially insured after midnight, so I am anxious to get the 12 volt cutout box that was purchased on EBAY and test the Better Place Module. I guess the second module could start to be bottom balanced and the Dell Venue tablet finished wiring. This would allow the center console to be installed, so there is actually work I could be doing.

Tomorrow I need to put new brakes on my Miata, as one of the rears has started scraping. New rotors and pads were ordered from Autozone and were shipped to the house as part of the purchase price. I may start discharging the next module while I am working on the Miata, so once all the bugs are worked out with the new connections and connectors, it will be ready to install in the front compartment.

As a JLD404 needs to be mounted in the center console for the fuel gauge, I am going to need to pick up another one from Light Object and below is a link if any of you need to pick one up.

The weather has been getting cooler over the last several days and it is hard to believe that summer is almost gone. I have been working on the Fiero 3 nights a week and every Saturday and Sunday since April, hoping to get it done enough to take to EVCCON. Now I am hoping to get it done enough to drove to the Columbus National Plug in Week event on September 21st at Easton Town center in Columbus, OH.

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, September 7, 2014


An early start this morning and some real progress was made on connecting the battery pack. All of the connections have been made and once the 12 volt battery cut-out arrives from South Africa, everything can be tested.



The Better Place cell terminals are a bit flimsy so I had to try to support them as good as possible. The positive side bus bar has a nylon bumper added so the force of the lead going to the electrical box that contains the contactor and emergency/maintenance cut out, will be pulling strait down and not pulling at an angle. Once the cables are tightened down, the whole connection should be stiff enough that it will not flex.

Additional spacers were added to the Plexiglas top cover and this morning when I opened the motor cover, it kept the water from the dew that had collected over night from getting to the battery terminals. 

Also the shunt and positive pack voltage wires were run into the cabin of the car, so soon I will be back inside the car getting the wiring ready so the center console can be re-installed and the JLD404 mounted.



The Fiero will be insured soon, hopefully about the same time the car is ready for a test drive with the Better Place Module. The way I set up the connections to the module will make it easy to connect the cables going to the front of the car and I will be able to drive the car while installing the front modules.

Now that I have bottom balanced one of the modules the other two will be easy. I will hook the two 1500 watt halogen lamps and start draining the pack, while checking the voltage on all of the cells. Once the lowest cell is identified, I will set up the JLD404 with a contactor that will shut off the lights when the lowest cell reached 2.5 volts and will turn back on then the lowest cell comes back to 2.7 volts. I will leave this set up for a week, then let the pack set for a week to settle out. Finally,  I will find the highest voltage cell and use the Powerlab 6 to charge all of the cells up to that value. This seems to be the quickest way to bottom balance these cells.

Thanks for visiting,


Wednesday, September 3, 2014


When I went back to work on Tuesday, after the holiday weekend, surprisingly it was kind of slow, so left work at noon and took Wednesday off also. My cleaning effort had cleared off the table enough that the Plexiglas could be laid out and cut. My original idea was to bend the edges down so any water would roll off but after trying a hair dryer, then a propane torch, I did get it to bend but when it was test fitted, was too wide to fit.


On to plan B, just cut a flat Plexiglas cover, make a slot for the trans axle cables, cut 4 bolts to make studs for the coupling nuts, drill 4 holes, and bolt the cover over the battery.



Thanks for stopping by,


Monday, September 1, 2014


It seems that my shop was designed by EVTV and it get's pretty messy, as I am intent on going forward and do not always pause to put tools away and keep things organized the way I should. Yesterday and today, I took some time and started organizing the miscellaneous fasteners and other items that accumulate during the course of a build. I have storage bins that have been sitting around mostly unused, so started sorting and getting all of the left over items sorted so I can find them in the future.





When I was putting the instrument panel back together, I actually had to stop and clean the shop to find all of the bolts and will probably need to do the same when the center console goes back together. Hopefully while cleaning now, all of the bolts will be located and help speed up the process when ready for installation.

Jason Horak posted a couple of good videos from EVCCON and I have embedded the link to them below.

When I woke up on Sunday morning at EVCCON, the sky was dark and it looked like rain, so decided to head back to Ohio. Sure wish I would have taken a chance on gone to Dyno Dom's for the drag race!

The shop cleaning should be done sometime before next weekend, so hopefully it will be full speed ahead by then. I am actually ready to start testing the relays and contactors and if they check out, will be ready to wire the first Better Place Module. The way the module is being configured, it will be easy to add the second and third modules to the existing one as I am making previsions to tie in the parallel cables from the front of the car.

More next week,