Open Source Civic EV Kit

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Saying Goodbye to Electric Blue

Open Source Civic EV Kit

Well, as most of you have seen, there hasn't been a lot of activity for several months on this blog. I sold Electric Blue to my friend Murray (shown above) and he is taking good care of her. It's time to move on from this electric vehicle conversion hobby and see where life takes me.

Analyzing PakTrakr Files with PrestoPlot

Open Source Civic EV Kit

I took the Civic out for a spin today with my neatly installed PakTrakr and captured some data while pulling some reasonably high currents. I programmed the Synkromotive controller to limit the battery amps to 250 to help prolong the life of the batteries.

Mounting the PakTrakr

Open Source Civic EV Kit

It's time to mount the PakTrakr on the dashboard. Since I have a low-end model Civic, there are several unused accessory plates that I can tap into. Here's one that I popped out just to the left of the steering wheel.

PakTrakr Signal Integrity

Open Source Civic EV Kit

I finally got to trying out some filtering on the PakTrakr lines today with some pleasing results. I've read several places, that the PakTrakr signal line really needs a 0.1uF capacitor across it to deaden out any extra noise.

Fixing the Batmon Resistors

Open Source Civic EV Kit

Well it's about time I get the Civic working again now that the weather seems to be getting warmer. The biggest concern I have with my current system is the Batmon balancer resistors. The existing ones seem to be always on the verge of catching fire.

EV Awareness Day, Synkro faults

Open Source Civic EV Kit

Yesterday was our local EV organization's big annual event called EV Awareness Day. We held it at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland. I gave a press event with the Mayor Sam Adams and two VPs from local power companies (PGE and Pacific Power).

Time to Get a Larger Hammer

Open Source Civic EV Kit

After two days of running perfectly, I found yesterday morning that the amps were down and the FET had blown again. This really stumped me because I thought I had done everything to keep it cool and out of the switching region.

Cautious Optimism

Open Source Civic EV Kit

After talking with the power supply EEs at work, I came home and tried a few experiments to see if I could fix the alternative charge detector circuit.

A New Hope

Open Source Civic EV Kit

After the utter failure of the Soneil and the Joule chargers, I did some more research on individual battery chargers.

A Very Dark Day with the Joule Chargers

Open Source Civic EV Kit

This whole experiment with the individual chargers has been a very humbling experience.

Sleuthing the Soneils

Open Source Civic EV Kit

Against my better judgment, I took apart one of the failed Soneil chargers yesterday afternoon to see if I could find out anything about the failures. There weren't any burned components or obvious damage.

DC 2

Fixing the Potbox, Soneil's Arrive

Open Source Civic EV Kit

Over the past few days, the car has still been lurching around despite the potbox parameter adjustments that I've made inside the controller. I contact Bob Bath, the original CivicWithACord builder who sold me my PB5 potbox. It was brand new from KTA Services and not used/worn-out.

Going to the Electrathon/HPV Event at PIR

Open Source Civic EV Kit

Last weekend, I took the Civic-EV to Portland International Raceway to show it off at the Electrathon/Human-Powered Vehicles event there. Memorial Day weekend is the one weekend that PIR can't make any loud noises, so they actively recruit electric vehicles and bicycles of all types to race.

Moving the Instrumentaiton

Open Source Civic EV Kit

Since the Synkromotive controller has its own motor speed limiter based on input directly from the Zolox sensor, I decided to clean up the instrumentation by removing the RPM gauge and moving the Link-10 E-meter onto the dashboard.

Installing the Synkromotive Controller

Open Source Civic EV Kit

I stopped by the Synkromotive shop this morning and picked up my beta-test controller that I've been wanting to try out. After running out and buying some more magna lugs and welding cable, I came home and removed the Belktronix controller and all the associated wiring.

Buy 2

Installing a New Potbox

Open Source Civic EV Kit

As with many EV projects, much time is spent waiting for parts. The replacement Soneil chargers haven't shown up yet. On a more positive note, Synkromotive figured out some of the glitches in their new beta controller, so one should be available this coming Friday.

DC 2

Taking a Vacation

Open Source Civic EV Kit

It's been over a month since I've blogged about the Civic and people have started to ask where I've been. I'm still commuting (even with a blown charge detector) and the car has 1500 miles on it.

Planning to Replace the EV Components

Open Source Civic EV Kit

In a month or so, I'll be getting a beta-test motor controller from Synkromotive which will have a variety of programmable features as well as more power.

DC 2

Fixing the Charging System.Again

Open Source Civic EV Kit

After doing another fix to the Charge Detector box on Monday, I enclosed all the BatMon boxes to prevent them from shorting out due to grime and automotive fluids. Here are the plastic boxes I talked about in a prior post.

Rear Coil-Overs

Open Source Civic EV Kit

To finish up the suspension, I installed the rear coil-overs. The procedure is much the same as the front coil-overs. When the guys at Les Schwab swapped out the rear springs for the cut-down front ones awhile back ( see this post ), it looks like they chewed up the shock end pretty bad.

Buy 2

My First Week of Commuting

Open Source Civic EV Kit

This has definitely been an interesting week. With the front suspension coil-overs installed, I felt much more confident in driving the car around without bottoming out.

Frustrations with Springs

Open Source Civic EV Kit

Okay, I admit it. I'm an obsessed control freak. That said, let's move on. The drooping front suspension on the Civic is really getting me down (no pun intended) and I'm getting anxious with the coil-over kit sitting in my living room.

Installing the Front Coil-Over Suspension

Open Source Civic EV Kit

Here's the process I used to remove the existing Civic springs and install the front coil-overs. The first step is to jack up the front of the car and put it on jack-stands for stability. Since I don't have a spring compressor, I'm going to use the entire car as my spring compressor instead.

Over-Rev Protection, MTF and Labelling

Open Source Civic EV Kit

Today involved a bunch of miscellaneous items. Bryan at Belktronix sent me a little circuit that plugs into the back of the tachometer that triggers the LVP protection and shuts down the controller when the shift light goes on.

Finishing the Guages, Link-10

Open Source Civic EV Kit

I worked all day to get the tach sensor fixed and the link-1o installed. Here's my solution to fixing the tach sensor. I'm using a stainless steel bolt to hold it in (which is just barely magnetic).

DC 2

Suspension Toys

Open Source Civic EV Kit

Since I've been having difficulty finding springs that actually fit the car and handle the extra battery weight, I broke down and called Ground Control to see what they had to offer. They were very responsive and their technician recommended a coil-over set with custom springs for the project.

Debugging the Tachometer Signal

Open Source Civic EV Kit

I spent this evening, trying to figure out why the tachometer was flat-lining under acceleration. After talking with some EMI suppression engineers at work, they suggested covering the sensor with a steel shield to prevent magnetic fields from interacting with the sensor.

Mounting the Link-10 E-meter

Open Source Civic EV Kit

I decided to start mounting the Link-10 Battery Monitor (E-meter) this weekend. As many of you know the Link-10 is very deep and doesn't fit too well in typical pillar pod holes. To solve this problem, I purchased a piece of 2" (inside-diameter) ABS plastic tube from Home Depot for $3.

Making a Charging Timer

Open Source Civic EV Kit

I wanted to make a timer so that I could charge the car for a specific amount of time to prevent over-charging the AGM batteries with the Belktronix charger. The only timer I could easily find that would charge for several hours was a wall-socket mount like the one shown above.

Installing the Tachometer

Open Source Civic EV Kit

Happy Belated New Year everyone! Things have been quiet on the blog recently as I've been taking a break for awhile. Last week, I installed the tachometer in its pillar pod. Here is the pillar pod next to the driver's side A-pillar that I pulled off.

Christmas Presents

Open Source Civic EV Kit

Santa was good to me this year. I received a Link-10 battery monitor from my parents. I don't think they understand what it does and why it costs so much, but okay, they got it for me anyway. The items on the right came from Belktronix. The wires on the upper left are the Link-10 voltage prescaler.

DC 2

Frustrations with Zolox sensor mount

Open Source Civic EV Kit

I tried installing the Zolox sensor mounting ring for the Warp9 motor from EVsource today. It looks like the holes on the mounting ring don't line up properly. The holes for the Warp9 casing don't match, so I had to drill them a bit larger so the bolts would go in.

Mounting the Zolox Sensor

Open Source Civic EV Kit

After futzing around awhile, I was able to get the spacer ring for the Zolox tachometer sensor to line up. Here's the bottom of the mounting ring.

Add the Splash Guard

Open Source Civic EV Kit

I'd like to get the car off the jack-stands and back into a position where I can drive it while still adding things like the guages. After installing the speed sensor, the last thing needed under the car is the splash guard to protect water and grit from getting into the Warp9.

Tach Mount, Splash Guard and POR-15

Open Source Civic EV Kit

It's still pretty cold in the garage, but I motivated myself to get out to TAP plastics (10 blocks away) and pick up some ABS plastic for the improved splash guard. Here's the 3/16" thick piece of ABS lying on top of the existing splash guard.

Tachometer is Here!

Open Source Civic EV Kit

This is a cool day(And not just because it's freezing outside). The package with the custom tachometer from SpeedHut arrived. Although I received the 2-hole pillar pod last Friday, I wanted to show it here since I ordered both items from Speedhut. The wiring harness is nice and long.

Plastic Boxes and Speed Sensor

Open Source Civic EV Kit

I got some fun stuff today. The plastic boxes for the BatMons and the Zolox speed sensor with Warp9 mounting hardware came in. Here's a pile of 2x2" plastic boxes 1/2" high that fit the BatMon boards quite well.

Wiring up and Testing Batmon Boards

Open Source Civic EV Kit

Okay, it's time to get your wiring spaghetti on. I spent part of last evening (after fixing the speedo) and all of this morning wiring up the Batmon boards. In the process I blew the OVP channel on the IsoBatMon unit.

Fixing the Speedometer, Removing ECU

Open Source Civic EV Kit

During the test drive, I noticed that the speedometer wasn't working. It had worked fine before I removed the engine. After researching the Helms manual, I needed to get at the speed-sensor on the transmission to figure out what was going wrong.

DC 2

Fixing up the Rear Suspension

Open Source Civic EV Kit

Whew! I finally got my internet connection back up at home. This is the first of ten entries that will attempt to show many of the tasks I performed over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend. First up, we need to beef up the rear suspension to handle the extra 420 pounds of batteries in the trunk.