220: Tuesday 20th December 2011

I have had a couple of charges now and the distance was up to 8 miles while using the screen heater. This is still not much and I still want to swap 2 batteries as the rest are still showing a good charge when the 2 are flat. I spoke to the paint guy and he can work with the windscreen in and mask round it, so there is no need to have the windscreen out and back in again at different times. I am having the screen changed today for a new one and this takes care of the crack too. I am still awaiting my sunroof panel then I can fit it and hand it over to be painted all over, cool.

219: Sunday 18th December 2011

Fitted 120v charger back on today. Worked fine, first charge, 80% indicator came on almost straight away. I ran a tester across each battery and found my 2 suspect batteries at 16v and the others at around 14v. About 3 hours later the charger had finished and I got 4 miles and it was flat again. Ran a tester again and found 12.5v on most, but 10.15 and 11.2v on the 2 suspect batteries. Charged again for about 3 hours and got 7 miles after running the screen heater to clear the frost off the screen, so that is better. I am hoping that I can get the batteries to cycle up and take more charge over the next few charges. I want to get the battery monitoring system up and running very soon now, so I can see exactly what is happening while I am driving. I have handed this over to my friend now who is using it as a case study for developing several modular systems. My system shall include a display board, a dual CAN board and 2 CAN 10 way measuring ports. This all connects together with serial links over CAN and a USB connection for programming. Looking forward to this now.

218: Tuesday 14th December 2011

I have had a few attempts at getting Sparkie going again, but failed because although the batteries were showing over 12v, when they were put on the car and loaded, the voltage fell dramatically. I found 1 battery at 7v and another at 5v. I swapped them for 2 others and they responded badly too. I was suspicious of the position of the batteries, but this was not a problem. I swapped them for another 2 and they were o.k., but all the batteries were semi-flat. My suspicions about the charger were correct. I set it back to running at 120v and it was continually resetting. It was out of warranty so I had to bite the bullet and send it back for repair. I paid the £141 bill yesterday and it is on it's way back to me now. I spoke to the guy who did the repair and it was one of the fans that had faulted and was pulling the logic board supply down when it powered up and this was causing the reset. It has been fixed and cleaned and is coming back in the next few days. Hopefully I can get my batteries charged up and go for a run soon to see what range I can get. I am going to borrow a 12v drop tester from a friend to find the best 10 batteries and put them all on the car. At least I should be able to charge up again soon. I have ordered a glass fibre sun roof panel as mine is rusty. Otherwise there is one little rust spot on the back of the lift gate, the rest of the car is fine and just needs taking back and repainting.

217:Thursday 1st December 2011

Saturday I stuck my electric badge on the reflector between the rear lights This won't need to be moved when it goes for a paint job, cool.
Monday I rang the battery recyclers and they told me that the batteries could be delivered Thursday (today), and I should check to confirm that is still o.k. on Wednesday. So Wednesday came, delivery confirmed and 7:30 Thursday they arrived. I did a quick check with a volt meter and the lowest was 12.07v, the rest were all over 12.5 volts. Thankfully I now finally have a good set of batteries. These should keep me going for ages now so I can save up for LiFePO4 200Ah batteries. Hopefully they may drop in price too or somebody come along with an extraordinary deal. Lots of things can happen, but at least now I can get my car back on the road again. Coming home from work and go figure, it was raining! I had an easy night, watched some TV and took my daughter to football training. I have a day off tomorrow, so maybe in the afternoon I can get the batteries hooked up. I have a full set of the red ones on the car. They are the same spec as the yellow, and I have them loaded in the car already. I need to move the rear batteries into the rack as they are just loose in the trunk at the moment and the front are in position, but need to be connected and fixed down. I need to modify the charger back to working with 10 batteries then I should be set. The red batteries match the car almost perfectly.....

216: Friday 25th November 2011

Several things to report from the last couple of weeks; I have now secured a swap deal with the battery recyclers for 23 lead acid batteries just like the ones I have already. This is especially good as they will swap directly and no modifications required except to put my charger back to work with 10 batteries again. I have been assured that these ones have been tested using a load and they are all holding 12v. The previous set were discharged down to zero volts and I had to recover them. I have some funding that I could have used to get Lithium batteries, but I could only get 100Ah. Now although this would give me more range than I have had so far, it would not be my goal. Since I now have a stock of 13 spare batteries coming as well as the 10 on the car, I can keep sparkie going for a long time with a limited range. I am hoping for about 20 miles or more this time. This takes care of most of my journeys. For me to say my car is in a finished state with respect to batteries, I would need to get 200Ah Lithium, that should give me a range of around 100 miles and for that I need to save some more money. It will come in time and sparkie will be complete. I have also got my wife to agree to let me get her another Jeep Cherokee and convert it to electric. We had one and she loved it, but it was just too expensive to run at 13 miles per gallon on a good day. The objective for me is to buy and convert for under £1000. I have some batteries I can use now and the car could take the weight of 20 batteries when I get some Lithium for sparkie. I am looking at the revolt 1000A controller and a salvaged motor from a Fork Lift truck. I am not sure about the charger yet. I believe the revolt will set me back about £500 and this is less than half what I paid for my Zapi controller and meters out more current too. I like the idea of open source code for the controller, so I can tie in a battery monitoring and display system. I also got my "electric" badges that I ordered from cloud electric in USA via Tim, cheers Tim! See photo below. I got 2 because I thought I would damage one removing it before I sent it off for a paint job, however I have decided to stick it on the plastic reflector between the rear lights, so it can just stay on. So I shall have a spare if anybody is interested for a modest price. I am supposed to be getting some made up by rapid prototyping at work in the original Ford Probe writing style, but I have not heard anything yet. Tomorrow I shall unload all the batteries to the front of the garage so they are ready for collection and I have space to receive the next lot. On Monday I shall call the recyclers to arrange the drop off and swap back and hopefully by next weekend I shall be up and running again.

215: Saturday 12th November 2011

Yesterday I set about changing the output voltages for the Zivan charger. I wanted to try to operate on 8 batteries instead of 10. Since I melted that last battery I have tried to find some batteries good enough to use as dummies just to get a charge into the car. I had been charging with ten and running the drive on 9 batteries. I have a reasonable set of 8 batteries and this is enough to drive my car (just). In the photo below you can see 2 of the screws that need to be removed to take the case off the charger.
The next photo shows the other 2 screws at the other end, then the case comes off, but you do have to prize the mains cable out of the case as the rubber grommet sits in a slot that goes round a corner on the case. I have circled the screws in green. When removing the case take care not to knock the indicator LED and the selector switch for the different charge curves. The selector switch has a screwdriver adapter pushed on it and it pops off quite easily. If you disturb the LED then it may not line up with the window in the case when you put the case back.
I connected the charger to the mains and measured the output at the small Anderson connector and found that it starts at 143.8v for a few seconds then changes to 136.5v as the indicator goes from red to yellow to green flashing. As I have 10 batteries that makes 14.38 volts and 13.65 volts per battery on average. If I multiply these by 8 then I know what the new voltages should be. I calculated them as 115.04 volts initially, then settling to 109.2 volts when the indicator is green flashing. The photo below shows the logic board sticking out of the main board. I have outlined it in green. There is a voltage and current adjustment multi-turn potentiometer on this board. Take extreme care not to touch the heat sinks as some of them will hold a high voltage and give you a shock.
In absolutely tiny writing on the board you can just make out the letters "I" and "v" beside the two potentiometers. The right hand one in the photo was adjusted, but the voltage would not go low enough.
On the main board by the Anderson connector is a resistor labelled "R20". I soldered the equivalent of 2Mohms resistor across this resistor. I turned the power off first! When I powered up and allowed it to settle, the voltage was too low, so using the voltage adjustment pot again I wound it up to exactly 109.2 volts. When I cycled the power off and on again the initial voltage was 115.1 and then it settled to 109.2 volts. This was exactly what I wanted, so after breakfast today I fitted it back on the car. In the photo below I have put a plastic clamp between the crocodile clips on my tester just to stop them touching together.
In this photo you can see the tester showing the final voltage after I had completed the adjustments. Unfortunately, despite my efforts, the charger was then stuck in a reset cycle as it was still seeing a high resistance load from the batteries, so it was continuously starting and resetting. I shall try rotating some batteries round again to see if I can get it to charge properly. I had this problem before I started and since I spoke to the supplier on the phone they confirmed it is caused by a high resistance in the battery pack.
The next problem is that the new lower voltages mean that the contactors are not in the correct voltage range as they are meant to be 120v, but now operating at 96v. I was getting a problem with the reverse contactor not releasing some times. I am concerned now that this will be too much of a stretch to try and run like this. I desperately need some more batteries. I shall persevere and see how it goes.

214: Saturday 29th October 2011

My daughter had asked me to drop her off at a party and I had been running on 10 batteries all day doing just short journeys. As the weather has been mild this week and I had put the package tray back in the rear, the batteries were running nice and warm. I had a few hills to hit on this short journey and my 10th battery (the suspect one) sang out a little whine and then a hiss. We carried on wondering where the noise had come from when there was a huge his and a big cloud formed in the back of the car. We pulled over and opened all the windows quickly, then opened the trunk to find a melted 10th battery. Fortunately I had been running on 9 batteries for several weeks and had terminals with easy access set up and a wing nut to secure the connection. So I went through the process, to the front of the car and unplugged the Anderson connector, disconnected the 10th battery and moved the terminal onto the 9th battery, to the front and reconnected the Anderson connector. We shut everything and got back in the car ready to carry on the journey on 9 batteries, but I had no power. Then I realised I had hit the emergency stop button, so I released it and keyed on and away we went again. That was that drama over with. See the photos below, this is a proper melted battery.
the next photo shows the vent cover has popped off and melted. There was water under the cover from the steam that was ejected.

213: Sunday 16th October 2011 part 2

I have been getting upset with looking at the big hole where I had my plate for the switches and seeing my old switch panel that fitted in the pod in the centre console with a big empty space around it. All the wires were showing and it had a completely unfinished look about it. I took the plate away to get it blinged up and I am still working on the graphic display for the battery monitoring. This will be mounted on the plate along with the switches. I had the piece that I cut off the boot carpet and that had black felt and hardboard. I cut a section off, peeled the felt off and cut the hardboard to the template that I made some time ago for the previous plate. I drilled the holes and mounted the hardboard in the console then tried it in the car. It all fitted. I then spray contact adhesive on the board and stuck the felt on. Carefully with scissors I cut round the edge and then with a craft knife I cut out the holes. I then took a graphic that I had made on paper and sprayed the back with glue and stuck it on the felt. I mounted the plate in the console then went to the car, fitted the switches and then fitted the console in place. This is only a temporary solution, but it looks 100 times better than the hole I had before where the gear lever was. See photo below.

212: Sunday 16th October 2011

Bright on a Sunday morning, had a nice poached egg on toast with some bacon on the side, cup of tea, watched a bit of 'children of Dune', then turned sparkie round in front of the garage. I checked the 12v system and it was measuring 11.22 volts after being on charge all night. I unbolted the securing bracket and removed the deep cycle battery that was powering my 12v system (just about). Re-routed the cables for the 12v charger and mounted this with cable ties and a hold down bracket to stop it from jumping around. I refitted the original battery tray, added the battery that I got from my friend yesterday and fitted it with a clamping bracket at the bottom. I checked the battery yesterday with a drop tester and is was showing 'good', today I put my volt meter on it and it showed 12.60 volts, cool. In the car the gauge shows out of the empty zone on the battery alone and when the key is on and the DC-DC converter active it registered half way up and that is great as in use there it needs extra boost. With the charger connected (see photo) and the key off, then the voltage was measured at 13.78 volts. This is a moderate charge. After about 10 minutes it dropped down to 13.26 volts. This is a trickle charge. I disconnected the charger and the battery was reading 13.19 volts, so the quick boost had charged it up some, but I suspect this was just a surface voltage. At least the charger is working correctly with this battery. A positive experience (pardon the pun).

211: Saturday 15th October 2011

I went to my friends workshop and helped him building his street racer today, and in return I got a carpet for my trunk and a normal car 12v battery for my 12v system. With the plywood floor that I made yesterday, I cut the carpet to the same shape and fitted it in the trunk. As you can see in the photo it looks quite finished now. The carpet came from a Ford Mondeo that was a write-off, so it was not a perfect fit, but near enough. I only made one cut across and in it went. I shall probably fit the 12v battery tomorrow as I need to put the battery tray back and it would be much easier as it was dark now. I also sent back the 20A charger I had bought so I am reverting back to a simple car battery with a household type charger. That worked for the first 2 years and I still haven't had to buy a battery. I enjoy working on my friends car too and it is a bonus when you can get some bits in return to help my car along.

210: Friday 14th October 2011

I was having a tidy in the garage and I had the old board that went on top of my old Lucas batteries still. I wanted to cover the spare wheel, so I took the battens off the back of the plywood and cut it to fit over the spare wheel space. Next job is locate some carpet for the trunk. I had the original carpet and cut it to fit the first set of batteries I had, it would have been too small for this size trunk space. I think a decent house carpet off cut should suffice (grey or black would do).

209: Tuesday 4th October 2011

For the last few days now I have been running on 9 batteries instead of 10 and getting a better range. I am still waiting for the battery recyclers to get some more deep cycle batteries so I can go and select some and swap with the dead ones I have now. I kept swapping the 1 dead battery, and the last one was promising, but it was charging much slower than the rest, so it was dropping down and down every time I discharged. I put this on the end of the pack and arranged a copper bar extension from the terminals of the last 2 batteries, so I can move the connection from 9 to 10 batteries easily. The motor controller seems to be ok with changing some settings and fooling it to believe it is a 96v system. The power is slightly less, but the range is more than double what I was getting before and the 9 batteries are all discharging evenly. I have to connect up for 10 batteries before charging as the charge is 120v only and I don't want to change this at the moment. The process is as follows; for example when I get to work, open the hood and pull the main battery pack connector go to the trunk and move the minus terminal cable from the 9th battery to the 10th and bolt it on. re-connect under the hood and then plug in the mains cable for charging. However yesterday I forgot to put the connector back on under the hood, so the charger was connected to nothing. Shock, horror, what was I to do? Fortunately I had done some tests the night before and I knew my range was 18 miles in ideal conditions, so 7.5 miles each way should be possible, and it was. That was really lucky though. The worst case was that I would have put it on charge and sat in work for couple of hours to boost it up. I learnt from that mistake and it won't happen like that again. Meanwhile work is still progressing on the battery monitor and the centre console plate, but I have nothing to show right now.

208: Tuesday 20th September 2011

I have had a suspect battery on charge for 3 days now to get it up to the same level as the rest of the batteries on the car and after work I came home and put it on the car, then put the car on charge, so they can all charge up together. I am hoping this will get me some use for the coming week. My friend is progressing with the board layouts for the battery monitor display and then we shall be working through the sensing circuits and communications boards. My other friend is progressing with the fascia plate to mount this and the other switches on. It will either be chrome letters or a polished brass plate engraved and painted in with red. This will be on a shiny black background. This will be like putting the icing on the cake (for the interior). Meanwhile I keep phoning the battery salvage yard in the hope they will have some more bats I can do swaps with and squeezing the last few Ah of capacity out of the ones I have now. Hopefully I can win the lottery this week and get it kitted out with Lithium batteries. If I won the lottery I think I would get another Probe and convert it with a no compromise approach. The I would have a good looking hot car that could do 300 miles between charges. Dream on..... 87)

207: Tuesday 30th August 2011

Got back to work today after the public holiday and my friend who is working on my display circuit had done some more work on the background template. We discussed some changes and how to complete the background before we move onto the sensing circuits for the batteries. The photo below shows were he got to with the display. It is starting to look good and also resembles the design that I made up some time ago.

206: Monday 29th August 2011

Not much happening at the moment. My 12v charger on the car decided to pop. It is probably because it was charging a much bigger battery since I swapped the normal car battery for a deep cycle one. I got another charger working and I then fitted the new one I bought a few weeks ago on the car, so now it will get a boost to the 12v battery when plugged in. That should take some strain off the DC-DC converter.

205: Sunday 21st August 2011

I had my Friend Mark from facebook come round for the first time on Wednesday and I gave him the tour. He videoed everything and then edited it a bit, so here is a 6 minute 30 vid clip showing round the car and driving etc. My only disappointment is that I did not have the new plate for the controls inside otherwise it is just about done now. I am sure there will be plenty more upgrades to come still. I have the battery monitoring system in development and that will be added once I have the new plate and the display mounted on it. You can watch it better directly on youtube. Enjoy the vid clip......

204: Thursday 11th August 2011

My evening ritual has become the following: come home from work, put a tester on the batteries and measure them. Find the left one in the rear is down to about 6 or 7 volts, change the battery for the latest one I have on charge, put the car on charge. Then I come back some hours later and go for a drive to make sure I can get enough range to get to work the next day. I have a spare car in case it is too low. The picture below shows today's sacrifice. This battery was down to 6v and rather hot when I took it off. Notice the bulge on the side. This actually sticks out about an inch. I have another on now and it is performing a bit better than the last couple. I spoke to my supplier at the recycling yard and he has no batteries in at the moment, but is happy to swap them again for good ones when he gets some in. I reckon I might have 12 to swap by the time he gets them. I am to phone him in the middle of next week to see if he has got any more stock. Hopefully it won't be too long before I can get a completely good set of 10 batteries. For now it is doing me for my journey to work and back. Fortunately I can charge up at work otherwise even this short journey would not be possible.

203: Sunday 7th August 2011

Today I checked my email and found that my friend and enterprise colleague in the display venture had actually got my display working on command. Cool, he has put a temporary logo on the display for demonstration purposes. Next step is to rig up the battery monitor circuits so I can then work out how to display the information on this display. First I need to figure out my friends PIC chip coding..... ;o)
Had a bit of a mishap! I have been monitoring the battery voltages and found one to be a bit lower than the others, but then I noticed it had kind of melted a bit. I swapped this one out with another that I have been conditioning. It was showing better voltages, but still went down below 10v when the pack was done. This was due to severe imbalance. I have swapped this with the one running the 12v system as the demands are much lower and it may perk up yet. I did some test runs and the 12v system is holding its own still and the battery is getting conditioned too. I found another of the batteries is also reading quite low. I am hoping to get a set balance nicely soon so I can achieve some respectable mileage. I am getting a fairly reliable 10 miles with the imbalances. I hope to get this up above 15-20 miles soon. If I cannot get this right soon, then I am going to need to bottom balance the batteries and charge them all up together and hopefully this will bring them in line a bit more and also get the maximum charge in them.
While I was doing this work I noticed the batteries hissing while on charge and then I realised I had not put in the tubes for venting the gases when charging. In this photo you can see the network of pipes linked across the top at the front of the batteries.
Here is a closer photo of the tubes connecting the charging vents.

202: Friday 5th August 2011

Did nothing today apart from watching movies. I am glad because it was raining and really humid. Yesterday I finished mounting the batteries in the trunk. In the photo below you can see the left side hold down bracket. Notice how there is a "dog-leg" going off the side panel where there was a fixing to hold a cargo net, that was a handy fixing point. These were also fixed to the floor of the trunk.
In this photo you can better see the hold down bracket across the top. This has a bend in it so that it applies pressure to all the batteries across the width. After the previous battery slide I was making sure these were very secure.
After having done a couple of drives in sport mode (the full 800A max) all the 12v systems started failing at around 7 miles. This was due to a failure of the main 12v battery (normal car battery). With a garage full of deep cycle batteries, it seemed like a crime to go and buy a new ordinary car battery that is not really designed for this kind of usage, so I set about figuring out how to mount another battery in the front and it just about fits. My first attempt would not allow me to shut the hood, but with some adjustments of heights and angles I was able to mount this battery firmly and make a hold down bracket too. As space was limited, I had to weld this bracket together as I could not have nuts and bolts sticking up in the air. It does make a neater job too, but you also need to get it right first time or it is a real pain re-doing. The connections were made using some cables I had laying around. I shall revisit this some time soon. After my first drive, the 12v system was low, but had not been charged after I had installed it. The second drive, after a charge saw my 12v system at a much healthier level and in both cases I did not lose any functionality, so that is another upgrade done. This cost me an extra half day that I hadn't planned for. I still need to get the front up in the air to refit the wheel arch liners and some clips on the front bumper. In the photo below, the space behind the left head lamp is where the old battery was, and the battery on its end is the new one.

201: Tuesday 2nd August 2011

Yesterday I got the batteries clamped down and connected in the front of the car.
I then added the crash impact assembly to the front.
In this photo you can see the copper strips that I used to make the connections.
Using cooper bar makes the connections neater and there is very little that can go wrong with these connections.
Today started with the bumper fitted on the top fixings only. In the photo below you can make out the side lights and indicators, but the photo does not do it justice.
In this photo just the side lights are on and the LEDs are a bit clearer.
Up close and personal, you start to get an idea of what the sidelights look like for real. I tried to take some shots at night, but the contrast was too much and the photos were either a glare or just the lights and license plate on a black background when no flash was used.
Last job of today was to mount the batteries in the rear. I still need to add some fixings to the front bumper, but I need some axle stands to jack the car up so I can get to all the fixings underneath. I borrowed these from my brother, but by the time I got round to his house I had to go back have dinner and go badminton. I did not want to start on this late, so it is a job for tomorrow. Also I have started making the hold down brackets for the rear batteries. I went for a little test drive and all the batteries slid to one side with a thud. That was a little worrying. Because I have mounted these batteries on their ends (you can do that with AGMs), I have created an enormous boot space. The rear suspension looks much more healthy now it has less weight than the previous batteries.

200: Sunday 31st July 2011

I had a refreshing week in sunny Spain on an all-inclusive holiday last week. This mainly consisted of a few walks along the beach, but mostly swimming in one of the 4 pools, sunbathing, food and drinks all free and really nice. Spent one day in a spa having Turkish, Roman, Scottish bi-thermal and aroma bi-thermal baths as well as a hot and cold jacuzzi. Feeling quite relaxed now. Came back yesterday and today I have rebuilt the battery racks for the front end of the car. In the photo you can see the batteries in position on the new rack, but the hold-down bracket is not finished yet. That is a job for tomorrow along with the rear racks. I am going to shed loads of weight and gain my boot space back. I have to remount some other brackets too for the vacuum pump and other circuits. Some of the batteries that I have brought back have lost their charge in the week they have been left and I suspect they may be FUBAR. I shall contact the recyclers and see if he has some more I can do some swapping with. He is only interested in the weight of the lead.

199: Thursday 21st July 2011

Not much to report at the moment. I have spent the last 2 weeks charging batteries up. I ended up with 2 chargers and my neighbours one died, so now I need to buy him a new one. My cheap charger is still soldiering on and I now have 14 charged batteries, at least charged enough to make them usable. Generally they are all above 12 volts now. I have decided to go with 10 batteries and not 20. I know this will give me a smaller range, but with my new battery monitor I can see a battery failing early and swap it out. In theory I should have 13 spare batteries now and if my source gets more I can swap them for a nominal fee for nice fresh ones. He is only interested in the weight of lead for recycling and not whether the battery has any usable life in it. The last batch he had in was about 100 batteries. I bought 23 with the intention of mounting 20 and having 3 spares. I think at 580kg this is just too heavy. I have also worked out a different way of mounting the batteries on their end and getting a large boot space back. There are so many advantages with having 10 instead of 20 on board. The sacrifice is range. I rarely go any large distances and I have my little Fiat if I need to. Now this is truly a hobby mule and I can do lots more upgrades in future. I am looking forward to giving the paint a freshen up as it is really faded now. I am going on holiday soon, so I shall be having a week in Spain and 1 week at home. I expect to have sparkie back running again before the end of this second week of my holiday.

197: Thursday 7th July 2011

Today my batteries arrived at 7:30am on the dot, 23 of them. Now I need to figure out how to get them all in the car. When I got home from work I popped the terminal caps off and tested them. I found only 2 batteries had any charge at all in them. They had been completely discharged. In the photo you can see I have taken the 12v charger off the car to charge these one-at-a-time. This is going to take a few weeks, so now I am asking around for more chargers. I don't want to put them on the car charger as this will deliver a large current and these need to be conditioned back up to a working voltage. However it will take about 24 hours to charge each battery and I need 18 more to get the car working. If I had 2 chargers the would take about 9 days, with 3 chargers I can do this in under 1 week. I have plenty of other jobs to be getting on with until the batteries are all charged up. I need to get to the metal supplier and get some angle section to make the new brackets. I shall mount 4 in the front and 16 in the back. I need some copper straps to make the connections as well as I only have a limited supply. I was hoping to take my car to the vehicle enthusiasts day on Thursday next week, but it would be too much of a rush job to get it done in time. As I have a "spare car" now, I don't need to rush. I want to get back onto electric drive though as it is a lot cheaper, especially if I get to charge up at work.

196: Sunday 3rd July 2011

Sorry for not blogging much lately. I have secured some more batteries from a recyclers yard and they are Enersys (Hawker) 12V92F that is 12 volts and 92 Ah for a 10 hour cycle. As they are physically quite small I have asked for 20 batteries to make 2 strings of 10 and this should give me 184Ah of capacity at 120v. They Are Lead Acid AGM technology. I shall phone tomorrow to arrange the delivery date. These were relatively cheap and I have ordered an extra 3 as reserves in case one pops and to give me more options when I run into problems.
So onto the recent upgrades:
The photo below shows the bracket that holds the front indicator and side light lens to the front bumper. This has damage in 2 places. I made a plate to cover the section that was cracked so it could support the fixing screw and the surrounding plastic securely and one of the sides was also cracked by the screw mounting, so I glued some washers either side so when it is fixed to the bumper it will stay together.
This is the Aluminium plate I made to support the mounting screw. I first made a paper template, then transferred this onto the Aluminium and then beat a curve into the shape.
Here the plate is glued in place and painted matt black. I used a simple spray on contact adhesive to fix this in place.
Next was the hood latch. I took this off and brushed the rust off using a wire brush wheel in my pillar drill and just kept moving the latch over it. I took off the some of the parts that were rusted right through. It is now just the essential part to unlatch the hood. A fresh coat of gloss black paint made it look ready to go back on. I also worked some release oil into the latch mechanism to make everything move easily and freely.
I spent some time with a wire brush wheel in my drill going round the area of the supporting structure behind the front bumper. This picture shows the finished area all brushed up and painted with smooth red Hammerite paint to stop the rust.
This photo shows the other side before any work was carried out and this side was the worst as the slam panel support was rusted right through and not attached at the bottom. This needed welding, so it was left until the welding was done.
Next I moved onto the indicator and side light clusters. The photo shows a row of ultra bright LEDS all glued in place ready for wiring up. Originally I did some tests to try to run the LEDs in groups in series to eliminate the volt drop resistors. I found a group of 7 LEDs worked well an were nice and bright. However when I connected them and tried it on the car, they would not work because the voltage was slightly lower. This made them voltage intolerant. I had all the resistors I needed to have a single resistor for each LED, but inside the cluster this would generate too much heat as each resistor is essentially wasting 10 of the 12 volts available so the LED can work and this worked out nearly 0.25 Watts for each LED. I know this doesn't sound much, but I was planning to have 63 Ultra Bright Amber LEDs for the indicators and 63 Ultra Bright White LEDs for the side lights. That makes 126 LEDs at 0.25W or 32 Watts of heat.
Here the lens is separated from the mirrored part. I found that if I had 3 LEDs in series with a single volt drop resistor, then this was 1/3 of the number of resistors wasting energy and they are all doing this at half the voltage, so 1/6 of the power or about 5 Watts and that is o.k.
Here you can see the Amber LEDs all lit up in the dark. I shall still keep the bulb as this is brighter and the fault detection does not "see" the LEDs load properly, so with the bulb everything works fine.
Making up all these groups of 3 LEDs in series was much neater if I made them up before gluing them to the plastic lens. So I made a jig to position the LEDS so they could have the connections trimmed folded and soldered together nice and neat in 3s.
If you can make out in the photo below there are two long rows of LEDs (white and amber) mounted on the lens. This was a real labour of love as it took absolutely ages and was very frustrating as one little slip when tested them would damage a group of 3 LEDs, then I had to chisel them off the lens and make a new set of 3. They were all held on with super glue (cyanolacrylate).
Finally today my friend took Sparky away and welded the front panel. I can now finish brushing up the rusty bits and painting before the bumper goes back on with it's new funky LED lights, cool.
The same friend has also sorted me out another car to use while I am completing all the upgrades and waiting for batteries. I had another run-around when I first started this project in March 2009, but I sold it when I got Sparky on the road. This was a mistake as the Lead Acid batteries don't last very long so while I save up for Lithium batteries I shall keep getting recycled UPS batteries for a relatively cheap price and if I am stuck then I have my run-around to get me out of a fix. I feel much happier and my wife is too as I can stop nicking her car now. The Toyota Previa is quite a big car as a run-around and more expensive. This car is a 1998 Fiat Punto 1.2L Petrol and Manual transmission. Very clean and cheap to buy and run.
I shall not leave it so long between blogs now. I just was a bit short of cash and I ran out of batteries in my camera and could not power it up to get the photos off.

195: Sunday 29th May 2011

When I win the lottery, I want to be able to get the Probatron a fresh coat of flashy paint and some scissor action door hinges. If I do win the lottery then I will make it into a convertible as well. An electric Ford Probe convertible with flippy up doors and a flashy paint, how cool is that? Until then, I can just try and scrape off some rust and make good everything underneath the bumpers. Starting with the front. I found a couple of bonuses in removing the front bumper, I could remove the redundant coolant filler tank and PAS cooler pipe that was all corroded. so that another approx 1kg off the weight. The picture below shows the front end stripped down and rusty.
Hopefully the next time I report on this it will be after I have dug all the rust off, brushed it all back and applied rust inhibitor, then I can start painting it and applying protection coats, then I can fit the bumper back on. I am contemplating changing the bumpers to some funky body kit as there are some rather smart ones out there for the Probe. I shall also have a go at updating the lights to include some LED strip instead of the normal side lights. The lights come apart fairly easily, so this should be fairly straight forward.

194: 28th May 2011

I have fitted the centre console back in the car, but I cannot remember if the PAS switch was "on" when I took it out of the old panel. It does not matter as there are no markings to say which is on and off. I know that I set it up so when it is off, the switch is illuminated. This is not a problem now as I don't have a gear lever in the way any more. It all went back together with no real problems. The only change I had to make was to the wiring between the FWD/REV switch and the stop button as they were no longer right next to each other, so I had to make a longer wire between them. Not really a problem. The photo below shows the view from the Drivers door.
The next photo below shows the view from the passenger side.