Sunday, June 28, 2015


Sunday morning it was overcast and chilly in Ohio but around 10:30 the clouds started to break up and it started getting warmer. After mowing the lawn, I turned my focus on the Fiero front battery box. The first task was to finish bolting in the driver's side aluminum angle, then the firewall angle was fit and bolted in. It was a little tricky getting it to match up on both sides, as it did not butt up to the driver's side angle because of the steering shaft. I had to use a level and clamp another piece of angle on the driver's side to make sure it was the same level. After jockeying it around a few times, it was finally able to be fastened in.


Next, measurements were taken and a cardboard template was made. After a test fit and a few adjustments, the cardboard template fit nicely into place.




When I checked for the weekly show on EVTV this morning, the site was down, at least the homepage and the EVCCON page. When they came back up, the EVCCON page had a link to register for this year's show. It starts September 29, 2015, so this leaves me about 3 months to get the other battery module in and tweak all of the controls, the charger, and gauges. Everything has to be done because I am officially signed up now!

Until next post, keep on building!


Friday, June 26, 2015


Over the last few weeks I have been collecting materials to start building the front battery box. Weight is an issue, so aluminum is the material of choice. It would be nice to have somewhere close by to purchase aluminum angle and sheet but as there were no vendors close by, turned to EBAY and ALRO Metals in Columbus, OH. The angle was actually purchased online but after a week, the order was still in review status, so I emailed the Columbus ALRO branch and arranged to pick it up in Columbus.


Aluminum sheet was expensive at Alro Steel and only came in larger sheets, so I looked on EBAY and found some aluminum diamond plate from IRONLESS for a decent price and low shipping rate. It was ordered Sunday and was delivered to my door from Wisconsin on Wednesday before noon. Not too bad!

Now all that was needed were some self tapping fasteners to attach the angle to the side of the fender wells. EBAY again came through and I was able to find some 10-24 x 1/2 Torx Pan Head Self Tapping Machine Screw Zinc Coated Steel screws from  FABERSURPLUS.

I was off work Wednesday to take my wife to the doctor, so started attaching the angle iron. The passenger side was open and the angle bolted in nicely. By the angle on this side was mounted and the vacuum pump was removed from the drivers side. 


The brake lines run down the side of the fender well on driver side, so had to be taken out of their mounting bracket and straitened, so they would run through a notch in the angle. By dark on Thursday, the angle was notched out and was attached on the front side.


I was really excited to get home Friday to continue work on boxing in the front compartment but as Ohio weather would have it, started raining on the way home.

Thanks for visiting,


Wednesday, June 17, 2015


If you have been following this blog, you may recall the two year old still in the box unused HiPower batteries I bought that ended up being bulged out over charged used batteries with melting around the terminals. Out of the 40 I purchased and waited for three month to arrive, only 37 would hold a charge and none of them over 80 amp hours. Fortunately, I had paid for the cells with a credit card and my bank gave me a refund for the last 12 cells after I filed a complaint. I was able to test out the new Synkromotive Controller and drive the Fiero about 10 miles but they had bad voltage sag and the car was nothing like it is now, with just one of the Better Place modules.

That sets the stage for my next purchasing adventure, that I am glad to say turned out quite a bit better. Back in January I had purchased a TCCH charger as a back up, as the PIC chip that I tried to have programmed for the Zivan charger, would not turn the charger on. My plan was to use the TCCH charger while I was sending the Zivan charger to Mark Weisheimer, a local EV enthusiast, who is a wizard when it comes to repairing electrical equipment. I needed to buy some Anderson connectors so I could hook up the TCCH Charger and just never got around to it until June. When I got everything hooked up and tried the charger, all I got was a red green flash, that the label said indicated it did not see the pack voltage.


I finally dug up the ebay seller's contact information and sent them a message through EBAY.  EBAY user lu1535 promptly responded and had me try and short two of the control wires together. Excited, I went out into the garage but the charger still was blinking red green. Later that evening lu1535 sent me the manual and it said to hook the red wire to black wire. That is what I had already done, so at this point I was a bit discouraged. Even though I had purchased the charger 6 months ago and had already left  positive feedback, lu1535 offered to give me a refund for the charger! I really needed another charger,  so thanked him and declined. My plan was to have Mark Weisheimer take a look at it but he was in Cape Girardeau MO, helping the EVTV Hack Team unlock the Tesla motor, so I emailed TC Charger, and promptly received a reply telling me to contact Electric Conversions, their US distributor. Even though this was a TC Charger and Electric Conversions is listed as an Elcon distributor, I received a reply back from them in a couple days and was told to hook the red wire to ground. Having already hooked the red wire to  the black wire, I emailed back asking them which of the 3 wires was ground and received an email telling me that the red wire needed to hook to the green wire for the charger to start and that hooking the red to black wire could blow the 12 volt power board, which is not repairable. Again, luck would have that the board had not blown and indeed, when I hooked the red to green wire, the charger started working. Thanks to lu1535 and Electric Conversions for the help you gave me in getting this charger fired up!

Until Next Post,


Sunday, June 14, 2015


EVTV had the group that is reverse engineering the CAN communication in OEM electric cars, to get the TESLA motors spinning, so I was keeping an eye on the EVTV webcam. There was a post on the EVTV blog, commenting how it would have been nice to have had a web cam showing the TESLA motor bench, where the team was working. I had saved a couple of pictures from the shop cam and when I was looking at them on my picture viewer, noticed that the two in sequence made it look like the group was dancing, so I just had to do a gif and post it. 


On the bright side, it seems that in between all the dancing, the team was able to spin up the TESLA motors, so congratulations to all involved for another job well done! This really opens the door for some pretty cool conversions with plenty of power.

I made a trip to Ace Hardware to pick up some angle iron and aluminum plate to start boxing in the front of the Fiero to hold the batteries. After getting the material home, I was not satisfied with it and decided to order some aluminum angle from Alro Steel. I plan to screw the aluminum angle to the side frame and then fasten the flat aluminum plate to the angle. To get the battery module into the space in the front of the Fiero, I am going to have to break the pack in half and put 8 cells end to end. I am not sure if the module will be standing up or if I will put it on the side like it was in the original Better Place module. I am not much of an artist but below is the general arrangement of the batteries.


It has been hard finding time to work on the car with the kitchen remodeling we are doing but I have been trying to divide my time between the two.

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, June 7, 2015


The last time the car was taken on the interstate, it tended to be a little unstable at 70 and 80 mph, so the wheel bearings were checked. The car was jacked up and the wheel bearings were removed, greased and tightened to 14 foot pounds, while rotating the rotor, then loosened, then hand tightened, before backing the nut off one hole and installing the cotter pin. 

While the wheels were off, the front brakes needed bleeding, so the bleed valves were loosened, tubing was connected to them and run to a bottle. The valves were cracked, then the peddle was depressed a couple of times then left to gravity bleed for awhile. 


The previous owner had installed lifts in the springs to support the extra lead acid battery weight and the springs are going to have to be removed to be able to get them out. I am considering adjustable coil overs all the way around, so this will wait to be done at that time.


A check valve was also installed between the shut off switch and the the new brake boost vacuum pump and it is shutting off properly. It is very quite and now that the check valve is in, the pump in no longer getting hot. The arrangement shown below is temporary, as a new inline check valve is on it's way from GM. This will make for a much cleaner looking arrangement.


While in the front trunk area working on the vacuum pump, measurements were taken to decide where to mount the front battery modules. I have another module bottom balanced and ready to install and I am rather excited to get the additional modules in so the car can be driven to work.

So much work, so little time until EVCCON!


Friday, June 5, 2015


Thursday evening my wife wanted me to run her to the store to get some shelving liner so I decided to take the Fiero, even though I had driven it about 10 miles on the interstate the day before, without charging back up. The car ran great and we made it to the store with out any issues. The new vacuum switch had arrived, so before we left, it was installed in the brake booster vacuum line and did kick on and off, sort of. After it pumped up, it would try and start and immediately shut off, so it seems the vacuum is bleeding off back through the pump when it shuts off. An inline check valve was ordered to install on the vacuum line right at the pump and this should fix the problem. It appears the pump will work fine without the large vacuum tank as soon as the bleed off problem is taken care of. While my wife was in the store, I stopped at a sports bar in Buckeye lake and had a PBR, that I must admit, tasted very good after a hard day at work. My wife finished picking up the shelving liners and a couple of new rugs for the new kitchen floor and we headed back home. Everything went well until we got almost home, as the 12 volt system dropped too low, causing the contactors to trip. I sat a few minutes to let the voltage recover and reset the controller and  relays. This got me to about three houses away from my hours, so I finally decided to just walk home and get our other car to push the Fiero home. My wife finally got to drive the Fiero but it was being pushed by another car. Of course, the vacuum pump did not have enough power to run properly, so she freaked out when the brakes did not have any power assist. Finally we got the car backed in to where the charger could be hooked up and everything was good.

There is now a plug on the 220 volt cable that can be plugged into the car so I am getting closer to being able to just plug the car in and charge. The JLD5740 volt meter was hooked up to the ABB 220 volt contactor, so after a little messing around with the settings, was able to get the contactor to close so there would be power to the charger. The charger seems to be temperature sensitive because the last time I charged was during the day and it started cutting back at around 134 or 135 volts. By the time the battery pack reached 137, the charge was down to 3 amps. Not so last night, as the amps stayed at 18 all the way to 137 volts. The JLD5740 did it's job and the moment the voltage hit 137 volts, the contactor tripped.


Tonight I can hopefully get the vacuum system working so will post about that tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by,


Monday, June 1, 2015


A day of vacation was taken today to take my wife to the doctor in the morning and it was a great time to take off, as the floor installers were also coming to lay our new kitchen and bathroom floors. We arrived back home around 10:30 am and after discussing some details with the floor installer, went out to work on the Fiero.

Another JLD5740 had arrived, so I hooked it up on one of the Better Place Modules in the Garage, with the same results, no voltage reading. Perplexed, I went back inside and pulled up the PDF instructions again and even watched John Allen's video of how to set it up. Then on about the 10th time of going through the instructions, I noticed that there was a 0089 code that brought up a screen to set the DC voltage range.


I guess your really read the instructions thoroughly before trying to setup a digital voltmeter! OK, I was on a roll now so I took the original meter and set out to install it in the car. After all of the wired were connected and settings checked on the meter, still ZERO volts! How could this be.....until I noticed that the wire had slipped out of the eye terminal crimp and was just dangling. After the new eye terminal was crimped to the wire, voilĂ , the meter read 117 volts. Well this was kind of good but kind of bad, since the meter in the car was reading 131.9 volts. Back into the set up menu to change the DC setting to 120 to 100 volts and change the positive pack voltage wire from the 500 to 100 volt terminal. Finally, the meter was reading 131.7 volts and life was good again. I can calibrate the meter with the offset function but .2 volts low is probably close enough. Now on to hooking up the contactors to close between 90 and 137 volts.

Also the new vacuum pump was hooked up but when the the car was turned on, nothing happened. I went up front and when inspecting the wires, the pump kicked on but then would not shut off. The vacuum switch was removed and a vacuum gauge was connected, reading 20 inches when the pump was running. This should be pleanty because the AirTron F-4200-X30 should kick off at 14.1 inches. After jiggling the wires a little, the pump shut off and then would not start back up, so when I was removing the tank, the common terminal must have been broken. Not to worry because EBAY has just about anything you could want and a new one is in transit as I type this blog post.


The new brake vacuum with not have a tank and the pump is so much quieter that it really solves one of my worst dislikes about the car, the extremely loud vacuum pump. The rotary vacuum pump has a much higher  pitch and much lower decibel level that really isn't that noticeable.

Thanks for viewing,