281: Monday 15th June 2015

Spent the last couple of weeks getting the battery rack prepared to take the lithium batteries. First attempt bowed a lot due to only having flat steel bar to support the batteries. I had an idea this would happen, but it was much worse than I expected. I welded some angle to the underside of the flat bars and it is good and strong now.
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Mounted everything up and loaded the batteries on. They were a good snug fit and needed "persuading" to get the last battery in. I have painted the rack and welded a couple more brackets on to hold it down as it was resting on them before and was causing a rattle when driving. Now to load the rack back in the car, bolt it down then make a load of connector strips from the copper bar I have. I also need to make the hold down straps to go across the top. I shall use some 25mm angle (5mm thick) to hold the batteries down. I had to get smaller section than the 40mm used on the rack so that it can run between the terminals without any possibility of touching and causing a short circuit anywhere. I shall also use the tie downs to carry some trunking to run wires for the battery monitoring system. Still loads to do.

280: Saturday 30th May 2015

Spent last weekend and a few hours during the week trying to get the racks made for the lithium batteries to go in the trunk. I shall sell off the lead acid batteries to people doing solar projects and alike. It's quite a tight fit, but I can get all 38 batteries in one place. This will make the loading more balanced. Once I have removed the lead acid batteries from the front I can use the space for the hydraulic suspension pump accumulators and valves etc. Also started getting noises from my motor again. When I release the throttle pedal I get regen braking. It is possibly a stuck relay, but this was disabled to reduce arcing on the motor brushes. I shall replace the brushes and try to figure out where the logic is failing on the regen control. Sparky has been on the road and electric for over 5 years now. We have completed 15000 miles of electric driving. Apart from the batteries, I have had to repair the motor when the brushes wore out and damaged the commutator. Otherwise it has been really reliable.

279: Tuesday 7th April 2015

I took an extra couple of days off on top of the Easter Break to give myself a 6 day run at getting the Lithium batteries mounted in the trunk. Unfortunately just before Easter I had been suffering with gout in my left knee and then flu. At the end of the break I had just managed to move the existing batteries in the trunk to rearmost allowing space to mount the new batteries at the same time. They just fit for height with the tailgate shut.
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I also made a sample connector for the new battery pack. This gives me a template for making the rest. I bought 4 strips of copper 3x 15x 900mm. I drilled the holes at M10 for M8 bolts allowing for expansion and movement. The small bolt in the middle is for the battery monitoring system. This will monitor groups of 4 batteries initially. I shall work with Ray to introduce more boards and increase the monitoring to all 38 batteries.

278: Sunday 8th March 2015

Today I fitted my JLD 404 Intelligent Ah meter. I sacrificed another air vent in the centre dash alongside the battery voltage monitoring system. The combination of the 2 will enable easy monitoring of the battery condition, and capacity and usage. The JLD 404 in particular enables watching amps in and out of the battery pack. I bought this to monitor my new Lithium battery pack when I get it mounted and connected. You can see a small gap under the meter, but this is because I need to get the proper clips to secure dash panel properly. When it is pushed in the fit is really good. A bit of tweaking in the next few days shall get it fitting just right. I have some configurations to enter as the amp values are not right at the moment. The voltage levels shown are a bit lower than that shown by the motor controller programming module, but I expected this as I had a normal voltmeter on there before and saw the same, so I have confidence in the values. The programmer has loads of smoothing and algorithms applied to the voltage, whereas the JLD 404 provides a direct instantaneous reading. 

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I also put some black silicon adhesive under my rear side window as it was 'floppy', stuck solid now. I clamped it for a good 4 hrs or so to make sure it was stuck good. Result was good.

277: Thursday 26th February 2015

Today I received new batteries. 38 x CALB 180Ah giving a 21.6kWh pack. I have ordered a JLD 404 to monitor the amp hours in and out and I need to send my charger back to have a new microprocessor put in so I can select Lithium. The microprocessor I have at the moment only has charging curves for Lead Acid batteries. I also need to make new racking, lots to do now.

276: Saturday 7th February 2015

It's been nearly 3 months since my last post and since then I have found a couple of new sources for recycled batteries and I now have a set of 10 lead acid batteries that I like and 9 spares, so I should be o.k. for a while. I was chatting on Facebook in the Ford Probe group and Danny ze dog showed me some front lights he had made. I was most impressed with the actual LED strips and he pointed me to the place I can get them. The strips are 2 colours in one strip (white and orange) so ideal for the side light units on the probe. I also was approached by a man called Duncan who lives near me in a pub car park as I pulled in. He was fascinated with my car as he has 6 Ford Probes himself. His wife has a pink one! Apparently my car is a legend in Ford Probe Clubs and forums.
The picture above shows the white element and below shows the orange. If you connect both then the orange takes priority and the white comes back on after about half of a second from when the orange goes off. That works well for the indicators and side lights. These strips are bright enough that I don't need the main lights to drive around lit streets. What I have on the Probatron right now was the previous attempt where I glued 63 white LEDs along the top and 63 orange LEDs along the bottom. 3 white LEDs have stopped working on one side and it looks like the car has a tooth missing. The white had a slight violet tinge to it and was nowhere near as bright as these strips even though they were ultra bright LED types. I got new lenses from Duncan and the new strips from Ali-express (china). The strips are actually nearly twice as long, but I cut them to fit. You get 2 strips in the order too, one for each side so that is just what I needed.

275: Saturday 15th November 2014

The last couple of evenings I have spent a few hours exploring the touch screen functions of the screen I am using for the battery monitoring. It was reasonably easy to set up as an intelligent display. The 4D workshop tool set contains widgets that can be designed on a WYSIWYG screen then the object code can be generated and pasted into the main code at the cursor from a single button click. I have added large digits to the display for showing the voltage of one battery. The touch screen functions are really simple to use.
 
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In Spectrum Mode:
  • 10 bar spectrum display shows the 10 battery voltages
  • 1 bar display for total voltage ( divided by ten to use the same scale )
  • 3 digit display shows the total voltage
  • Touch the spectrum on the screen to access the Single Battery Mode
In Single Battery Mode:
  • Large 3 digit display shows an individual battery voltage
  • 1 bar display for total voltage ( divided by ten to use the same scale )
  • 3 digit display shows the total voltage
  • 3 digit display shows the battery number on the bottom right of the screen
  • Touch to the left of the large digits to reduce the battery number
  • Touch to the right of the large digits to increase the battery number
  • Touch the bar display on the left to access the Spectrum Mode
In the video I touched the left of the screen whilst saying "touch the right of the screen", oops. Simple mistake!

274: Sunday 9th November 2014

I received an email from a guy called Christopher Allen who was promoting an electric car price guide that he wants to get onto every USA newsstand. Please visit the link and donate of possible, but please spread the word. See notes below from the email from Chris...:

"I believe that having a comprehensive guide to EVs on the newsstand right next to all the other automotive titles is crucial to creating demand for EVs. The problem is, as Car and Driver pointed out in the current issue, "...at present, no carmaker (other than Tesla) wants to sell one more electric than it absolutely has to.""


"So we've launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the 2015 EV Buyers Guide on 1,000 more newsstands so that more people can get the whole story about the new low cost of zero emission driving. The project is at:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/electric-car-insider/electric-car-insider-magazine-2015-ev-buyers-guide

If you'd be willing to support the campaign, tell a friend, or even just post a note about it on one of your social media sites, it would be deeply appreciated."

"We'll be hosting another Electric Car Guest Drive in April. We'll have at least three new EVs in the club: the BMW i3, Chevy Volt and - cross your fingers it comes out in time - the Audi A3 e-tron. I'll be happy to send you a complimentary invitation if you'd like. Hope to see you there."

....end of message from Chris...!

Please support this drive by re-posting and donations. Thanks....James Killick.

273: Wednesday 5th November 2014

Since the last time I posted on here I had a number of problems with the display flickering. I checked all the supplies and the earth connections but could find no fault. Eventually the display just died. I took it to my friend Ray who put it under his magnifier and found I had cracked it. I bought a new display and based on the experience I had, changes were made to make it a little easier to read. I mounted the new display to the crash pad in stead of the dash panel, so there is no physical connection to the cover. I shall add more functionality that will use the touch screen to select a single battery to monitor in future, so a good solid fixing will hopefully stop any future cracking of screens.
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I took the overall Voltage bar over to the left so it sits on its own. When it was on the right it was blending in to the other bars. I also added the LED displays at the bottom. The left LED is the overall Voltage, the right is Amps. The Amps will only show 800 as there is no connection to any current sensor at this time. I went for a drive and found it much easier to read the display now and the Voltage LED display was following the Voltage reading from the motor controller tester function. Only problem was at random interval the bars went high or low, so I suspect the measure boards are doing something weird. It would be no surprise as this is version 1.0 still.

272: Saturday 13th September 2014

I set up my laptop with CAN software and linked up to the CAN Bus to get the battery voltage values. I tested each battery voltage and calibrated the CAN data to correspond to the battery voltage. I found the voltages were not changing at first. I think when I last fiddled with the measurement boards I didn't put them back together properly and I was 1 pin out on the connector. I carefully put it all back together and all the voltages were nearly right. I gave them a tweak using the calibration trimmers on the board so the hexadecimal values were representing the actual voltage measured for each of the 10 batteries. Unfortunately the display has a noisy power supply connection or a bad earth or something like that and I am getting some mush on the screen. It worked fine when it was powered from the USB port on my laptop, but when I hook up to the car, then it is glitchy. That's my next problem to solve. The image below is the background screen from the screen design program.
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The actual display in the car with real data is much nicer than in the picture. The camera has picked up an interference pattern and reflections of my finger taking the picture amongst other things. slowly, but surely it is getting better and better. I also have the overall voltage working now so I can potentially get rid of the motor controller programmer box sticking out of the trim as I am  just using this to monitor the battery pack voltage in general. I shall fix the noisy power supply issue first.