270: Saturday 22nd March 2014


Today I set about getting the battery monitoring system working. I had taken the boards to work with me and my friend Ray reworked them and loaded the latest software on the boards and the display. There were some termination resistors missing and some extra connectors required to link the serial cable. We had some idea that one end had the serial connections reversed so then a simple pair of connectors that we could used banana plugs to swap them gave me a working display.
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Once I have this working properly then the motor controller programmer unit and the multi-meter will go. Eventually the radio and this display will be replaced by a 2 DIN Android unit. It is really difficult to get a good photo, but in reality very easy to view.
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This photo shows what is on the display a bit clearer. The second bar on this display is the only one actually connected at the moment as I ran out of wire. I shall get a roll of small core speaker wire with red and black paired wires for the connections. That way I can make sure I get the positive and negative wires right. I tested all the inputs and found only 7 of the ten working. I shall go through this with Ray as he had to make a patch board and some links were removed, but I don't have the circuit diagrams for the patch board. The next job is then to calibrate the inputs so they read consistently. The red dots are from open connections so the voltage is almost random. This is a design problem that needs to be solved so the inputs are tied high or low so they don't float when not in use. I also think the numbers are wrong and should be 8, 12, 16v, but I can't remember as it has been a long time in the making and forgot. I also want to rework the graphics to make the lines a bit wider on the display and set up some different modes for focusing on one battery. Once the measurements are coming in freely and accurately then the software can be improved to better show any problem batteries. As the display has its own processor there is a lot of power to display things in some intelligent ways. Also this is a touch screen, so I can build some interesting functions onto it. Just need to spend the time.

269: Sunday 9th March 2014

Last Sunday I had a car reverse into me in a car park. To start with I couldn't open the door. I came home and pulled the wing out by the door and the damage was clear. It had a crease in the wing, so the only thing I could do was to replace it. I got one off eBay, but it had a massive blob of glue on it (PU) that had been used to hold the trim on. It would have been a lot easier just to get the proper clips. So I cut the glue off with a sharp knife, then shaved some more off with a pallet knife (paint scraper), then got the last off with white spirit. I ran over the whole wing with a sander to key the surface.
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There was some paint blistering around the indicator repeater and the styling line. I had removed the styling line plastic strip and took out the indicator before sanding. This took some parts back to the metal, so I gave the whole wing a coat of primer.
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While the paint was drying I removed the old wing. I had to take care around the side skirt, again cutting through the Polyurethane that joined the panels and removing a couple of extra bolts.
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I had to fill in one of the trim clip holes as it wasn't required with my side skirt. I used the glass fibre P40 mush to fill the hole. Once this was dry I sanded it level and touched up the primer ready for the top coat.
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There was also some paint chips down the side of the door, so I sanded them and gave a touch of primer.
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With the primer all dry and lightly sanded I put a top coat on. As with the rest of the car it was a temporary coat to get it all the same red. I hope to get the proper paint soon on the whole car.
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I fitted the wing on carefully and touched up a few minor scratches that I accumulated along the way. I installed the old style indicator repeater, that's another thing I need to replace now.
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I refitted the front bumper, the colour match is not fantastic, but it will do for now. I cracked the panel by the headlamp on the bumper again. I pushed it together and it is just a hairline crack. That's another job now.

268: Wednesday 26th February 2014

 
Today I installed a rear view parking camera and mirror/screen. Really pleased with the end result. The rear camera is mounted just above the number plate (time for a new number plate me thinks!).
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The mirror turns into a screen when I put car in reverse, cool. The image from the camera has coloured lines to mark zones. I used a low kerb to check the distances with respect to the coloured lines and the red line is about 4 inches to the kerb. The photo is not as clear as in reality as I had to use a long exposure to get a half decent shot and not using a tripod.

267: Sunday 16th February 2014

 
Now the Mesh is done on the front bumper, I just need to wire up the spotlights then I have done all the outside body modifications I had planned. I turned my attention back to the battery monitoring system I was developing. I had the boards for a while now, but I needed to mount them in the car and wire up. It took a while to thread the serial cable and power cable under the carpet and through to the centre console from the rear trunk. I mounted the circuit boards onto the lid of a 'clipshut' lunchbox that I bought for £1. I cut a section out of the end so the wires can come out at the bottom.
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I connected an old power supply connector that fitted the board to the 12v supply for the electric drive controls and connected one of the measurement input 'pair of wires' with croc clips to one battery. I just need to get either a gender changer or a serial 9 pin lead with male plugs on both ends then re-flash the software in the boards and we should be ready for the first tests of the display. Once this is working I shall work out how to translate this onto an android phone or tablet. I shall probably try some different configurations on my integrated touch screen first.

266: Sunday 19th January 2014

Mesh arrived in sheet form.
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Front bumper off and onto bench ready for mesh and spotlights.
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Mesh was marked about 15mm around openings, then cut with a big pair of normal scissors. Sore fingers though and scissors probably not their best now.
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I bent the edges of the mesh over the openings and tapped them down with a small hammer then I applied blobs and scrapes of fibreglass mash (P40) to the folded edges.
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driving spots added by simple marking, drilling and screwing to the bumper. Still need to connect them and adjust the beams.

265: Saturday 21st December 2013

Today I fitted the new bolts that I ordered (again) to replace the countersunk screws. Good job really as the whole bank of 15 batteries had shifted to the right and were not sitting on the supports any more. The bracket on the end had busted off as it only had small screws in it. I shifted the batteries back and fixed the end back on with much bigger screws.
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With the new bolts I could get a spanner on them and get them nicely torqued.
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I put hold down straps across the top and hopefully they will help stop them from shifting. I really can't be asked to make yet another metal rack at this point in time. I hope to get some Lithium batteries soonish.

264: Thursday 12th December 2013


 Yesterday my new front driving lights and grille mesh arrived. Today I tried a few different configurations. I shall put mesh into the other spaces.

I want pairs of lights on each side, I like that.

I think I prefer the 1st view in the first two photos. Please put comments if you agree or disagree. What is your favourite configuration? See below:
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First configuration:
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Second configuration:

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Third configuration:

263: Saturday 30th November 2013

Friday I Connected the ends of the rows of batteries in the rear. These were the parallel links so there were 3 rows of 5 and 3 rows of 2, this effectively makes 3 rows of 7 batteries. Today I completed the links in each row with the copper straps I made from plumbing pipe. I ordered some M4 bolts, but it was actually M5 that I wanted, so I was bitterly disappointed when I realised my mistake as I could not get replacements quickly. My neighbour had a stock of short countersunk M5 screws, so I used them for now and I shall replace them when my order comes through. The disadvantage is that they are as tight as I can tighten with a screwdriver. This would probably be o.k. for all time, but to be sure I have order hex head screws so I can put a spanner on and get them good and tight. While I was doing this I had a guy come round to install a free type 2 charge point, cool. The picture below shows the charger beside the garage door. My neighbour asked for his house to have one fitted too, so I get a £20 Marks and Spencer voucher for the referral. I got a couple more neighbours to sign up and get theirs installed too, so more vouchers for me. I sold it on improvements to the house value.

262: Sunday 24th November 2013

Before I started working today, I borrowed some lengths of construction timber from my neighbour and set up a long bench with 2 trestles. This was so that I didn't have to keep bending right down with the  and avoid hurting my back (I have my chiropractor on speed dial).
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I bought a pack of wooden battens to construct the racks and I also used Some metal L section to go over the spare wheel well. I had several fixings in the trunk as I have had several different battery types in the past, so I made use of them to fix the new frame down. So back to wood shop class. Fortunately I have quite a good snip saw and and power screwdrivers and a pillar drill etc.
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Just chucked the batteries in next. Caught my fingers a few times. The air was blue, and my finger nail is now going black.
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My wife Mary came out and helped by fixing the rear bumper.She made up the fibre glass, applied it and clamped the bumper. She then wiped off a couple of spots where it had gone on the paint, and then left it to dry.
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Later I took the clamp off the rear bumper and it was stuck good and proper, so hopefully it will stay that way. I shall give it a little touch up on the paint when the weather is good. It looks good now, but there are a few minor chips along the edge.
The next step is to make the connections, then put the hold downs across the top to stop the batteries jumping up. Once they are connected it becomes like one huge battery, so it doesn't move.

261: Saturday 23rd November 2013


I took all the batteries out of the trunk and then placed the 21 batteries in ready to be connected and mounted. Sunday I shall make up wooden racking to mount the batteries properly. I am not going to do metal racking this time as I know I shall get Lithium batteries at some point, then it will be like permanent. This is just another set of recycled batteries that I managed to acquire. I went to all my local hardware stores and could not get 30 x 4mm hex bolts and some washers. Each shop had nearly the right one, but not quite. I had some in my hand then I thought about the price (£15) and they weren't what I wanted and too expensive as well. I came home and got some from eBay for £2.36, then some split washers and flat washers, exactly what I wanted and all for about £6. Only problem is that Sparkie is going to be out of action until they arrive as I won't be able to make the connections. Good job I still have my little Fiat. My daughter Sydney has her driving test coming up and I am sure I will lose the Fiat when she passes. So I have my wife Mary's car to use too, but I need Sparkie to get me to work.  I still need to finish my charge cable, but I have all the bits now, just need time. I am having an operation on my left knee on 13th December and I am trying to get everything done and back on the road before then too so I can drive as I only need my right foot to drive.
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With all the batteries loaded I checked the rear suspension and there is still a fair travel even with all the extra weight. At 14.2kg each for 21 batteries that's just under 300kg. I had a set some time ago that weighed in at 400kg in the trunk, so I know it works o.k. Also the ride height still looks good, so I am happy all round. Now to get them all mounted and the connectors made. I am also going to fix the side of my rear bumber where it popped off. I shall just fibre glass it and clamp it. If it pops off again I shall screw it too, but that involves drilling and filling and rubbing and painting etc. It might not be necessary, so see how this holds up.