keskiviikko 30. huhtikuuta 2014

Front pack in

I also got the front battery box installed. I'll tidy it up later as well after the car has passed inspection. In any case, it fits and holds all 25 of SE40AHA 40Ah cells with room to spare.

The spare space gets used for a couple of components. Mainly the main contactor and shunt for Ah counting. The battery cables from the rear battery box and the outgoing cables into the controller will go thru the four gland nuts in the upper right corner. Cycle Analyst wires and contactor relay wiring will come in from the left.

After swapping the Webasto for another at Toni's Takeover at no cost, I finally have a working heat setup. The pump from ebay also works as advertised. The tiny tank provides gasoline for longer than the batteries can carry, but not much. In any case I now have more heat than I'll ever need. Probably more than my daily diesel driver ever puts out. The Webasto control panel found a place in the dash as well. It was easy to attach it to the fuse box cover, so that's where it went. I won't be using the timing functions so it doesn't matter if the screen cannot be read well. The on/off button is still easy to access and the red lights which come on are also easy to see.

lauantai 26. huhtikuuta 2014

Rear pack in

I got my SE60AHA cells installed in the back of the car. I decided to put all of them in the back and the 25pcs set of SE40AHA cells in the front. They will be connected in parallel. I have a service on-off switch in the rear pack, so I can turn it off and measure both sides individually to see if they start developing issues. I also need to move my main contactor and measurement shunt to the front as well.

In general the parallel bottom balancing seems to be a success. I ended up turning it off already the next morning, as the meter was switching the relay on and off with the cells bouncing above and below 2.7 volts based on load. I lowered the target voltage 2.6 volts for a little while and they just left them as they were.

All cells were at about 2.636 volts after taking it all apart and the 60 Ah cells bounced up to 2.656 or so, if I recall correctly. 40 Ah cells to less than 2.65 V. A single slightly suspicious cell stayed below 2.64 volts. Not a huge difference, but we'll so it does in the long run. It will also be interesting to see how the different capacity packs react to charge and discharge cycles, but I think it'll be just fine. If it doesn't work out I can always take them out completely and/or get another set of sixties later.

torstai 24. huhtikuuta 2014

Thursday quickie

I got the 60 Ah pack in parallel down to about 2.97 volts and decided it was time to connect it to the parallel pack of the 40 Ah cells. It went fine, no sparks or nothing. Well, some sparks, when the connecting plus cable hit the negative, but that doesn't really count. Anyway, it is done now and the heater based bottom balancer is happily chipping away at the rest of the remaining charge.

I think I'll let it drain the cells for a day or two after it initially hits the target 2.7 V. They'll try to bounce back for some time. Perhaps not so much that there's so many of them, but there does seem to be a about 0.02 volts of difference between the cells at the center and very ends of the packs, which may also take some time to propagate.

sunnuntai 20. huhtikuuta 2014

Parallel balancing

Just thought I'd show you what's going on. The 60 Ah batteries had arrived while I was gone and once I got back I started taking the shipment apart. Everything was there. Including the 25 pcs SE60AHA cells, a 4x20Ah 12V block, interconnects and a PowerLog 6S, which I may or may not need anymore. Thanks to my smallest offspring for helping out.

Couldn't have done with out you.

Having moved the batteries to the basement I proceeded to do a little experiment in parallel bottom balancing. Here I have the 60 Ah cells connected to each other in parallel. The 40 Ah cells are lower in charge, but once I get the sixties closer to them I may go ahead and parallel all of them and then proceed to drain them together to around 2.7 volts. Should be pretty well in balance then.

Sure looks like a lot of cells when you line them up like this.

Oh, one more thing. I thought this was pretty funny. Or sad. Can't decide which.

Personally I'd rather be on a plane with these batteries than most people.

maanantai 14. huhtikuuta 2014

Adventures in bottom balancing

Here's my bottom balancer - take one. The 50W 0.2ohm resistor is attached to a rather large CPU heatsink from a Dell 2U server, complete with heatpipes and thermal paste. Looked sort of nice and ready rock.

The first issues were the little clips heating up rather considerably, so I took them out. Next it seemed like the resistor was getting pretty hot too, so I added a little fan to cool the heatsink. It seemed ok. Also the voltage measured by the device was a lot off compared to a separate voltmeter. Turns out some the connections and the cell fuse were heating up and thus contributing to the error in measurement.

When I got back a bit later I found out that the resistor had given up the ghost. The device was activated, but no amps were drawn. The resistor would have needed more cooling than the little fan was able to produce. Luckily I remembered the rather large heating element from a Citroën C5 which I had purchased earlier to heat up the cabin, but which didn't give enough heat. I gave it a go and what do you know, it ended up consuming about 12 amps from a single cell. Prefect!

Also with extra fuse removed, heavier cables and unnecessary connections taken away the device also now reports correct voltages. I've set it to deactivate the relay at 2.7 volts, which means that it will drain the cell until 2.7 volts is reached and then starts to go on/off in an increasingly rapid manner as it's trying to get the cell to stay at 2.7 volts.

I'm doing this to prepare these old 40 Ah cells for marrying them to the new 60 Ah cells which should be arriving this wekk.

sunnuntai 6. huhtikuuta 2014

Snake's nest

I thought I'd give you a little glimpse into the snake's nest which is the main wiring box next to the controller. It's not all pretty and organized inside, as you can see. I'll try to go through what I have in there now, which may of course change at any time.

In the top left we have the big orange 50 mm2 cables coming in from the batteries. They go into the controller B+ (top) and B- poles (bottom left). Cables from the controller into the motor go out to the left.

In the top right corner you can just see a fuse box with a 30 A fuse in it, coming from the B+ pole and going into the left pole of the small 80 A contactor. The contactor is there to drive the Half Speed Reverse (pin 4) of the AXE7245 controller. It also acts as a distribution point for other high voltage equipment. The contactor itself is controlled by the signal from the gearbox reverse indicator.

From the high voltage distribution pole of the contactor the blue wires go into the AXE7245 controller (pin 1 for power), into the white connector which is connected to the 400W 13.5V DC/DC Converter and the gray Linksys PSU which outputs 12 VDC. 

Between the gray PSU and the contactor is a little black box, which takes that 12 VDC and converts it into 5 VDC, which drives the TPS in the carburetor housing. The 5 VDC negative is connected to the AXE controller (pin 3) and positive to the TPS (that yellow-green-pink roll of wire). The 1.2-3.5 VDC signal from the TPS goes into the controller (pin 2).

I couldn't use the +5 VDC from the car's original wiring loom, because it's ground to chassis and pin 3 of the AXE controller is connected to traction battery negative. It would create a ground leak, which is a bad idea and a big no-no if I'd like to get the car inspected.

At the bottom you can just see another black fuse box with a 50 A fuse coming in from the left from the DC/DC Converter and going out in the right to the +12 VDC vehicle positive distribution point.

That I believe is all I have in there right now. It's quite possible that I'll need to move the main contactor, shunt and service switch in to the front of the vehicle, but I think I'll have room for them in the front battery box. There certainly isn't much more room in this box.

The Linksys + 5 VDC converter combo may be replaced with a more professional solution later.

lauantai 5. huhtikuuta 2014

More batteries on the way and moving about

I just put some CALB SE60AHA 60 Ah LiFePO4 cells on order from I would have preferred the new CA-series, but they had none in stock. If I'm lucky, they'll arrive during next week. After I put those cells in I'll have 25 times 40 Ah plus 25 times 60 Ah for a total of 100 Ah capacity, which comes to about 8 kWh of usable juice. I'm hoping that will be enough to move the car around for about 50 kilometers (or 30 miles). It's not much, but should suffice for a city car. Also it will be easily to count amp hours from zero to 100 when driving.

In any case, it will bring the weight of the car to just about where I'd like to have it and once I've registered the car as it is, I can always swap the batteries for better ones later as they improve over time. I will probably need to construct a small battery box in the front as well. I'm thinking of placing the 40 Ah cells (35 kg of them) in the front and the 60 Ah cells (65 kg) in the back. That should give me a pretty nice weight distribution and since I've taken out around 60 kg from the back anyway with the fuel tank, spare tire and exhaust, I might even get lucky and not lose any seats. We'll see.

The two packs will be connected in parallel (25s2p, if you will) and I'm quite confident that they will balance the difference in capacity by themselves, both during charge and discharge. In any case, it will be impossible for them to be at a different voltage. I'm also sure the total voltage will immediately show if there's a problem with any of the cells in either pack, since it will start sucking juice from the other pack. It's not quite as sure shot as with a simple single series pack, but I think it will do for now. These two packs may see a new life later on in two separate motorcycles, if and when the car gets bigger cells.

In other news I solved the issue of pack negative leaking into the car chassis via Alltrax AXE7245 throttle input 2. I did this by taking the pack voltage down to 12 volts using a power supply and from there to 5 volts using a little DC to DC converter. This way I don't have to connect the 5 volts negative to the chassis at any point. For whatever reason my TPS kept on giving 1.2 volts on zero throttle instead of the 0.65V before, but that got solved with a new curve from They came through again in a day or so. Very good service.

With the ground leak problem solved and a new curve in the controller I was able to take the car for a little spin in our yard. Well, not a spin really, since there's no room to spin, but some motion back and forth anyway. Looks like my reverse light wasn't working though. Probably just the reverse detector plug got loose again from the transmission. It's missing the clip to keep in place properly.

Almost forgot. The hissing sound that the car makes comes from a rather loud blower I also installed. I don't expect the motor to heat up too much, but the blower pushing filtered air into the motor should help to keep it clean inside and also blow out any carbon dust from the brushes. I don't think I'll do anything about the noise. It's not a very pleasent one, but I reckon it's not a bad idea for the vehicle to make some noise audible at low speeds to alert pedestrians, which might otherwise be taken by quite a surprise.