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.
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:


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.
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.
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.

271: Thursday 11th September 2014

I have been working on new designs for the battery monitoring display. I have come up with a real nice looking display that looks like a spectrum display with 10 bars and another bar for the overall voltage. I have not been able to get the serial signals linked to the bars at the moment. I have this working for the old configuration, so I just need to figure out what is different.
I have had some parts in my garage for a while now and I have just had a week in the sun in Tunisia and now I am having a week at home to unwind, so I thought I would get these parts fitted.
The secondary throttle spring was something I bought after I had my spring break and leave me with full throttle. Scary moments! I have been fitting an elastic band to return the throttle cable as the spring I made was a bit weak and wasn't always operating the throttle microswitch. Problem with elastics is they perish quite quickly. So I bought a long spring from ebay and fitted it today. I had to cut it as it was too long, but now it has a nice tension and always returns the throttle cable even if the spring on my throttle box fails again.
The other part that I got from ebay was a brake vacuum pump from an Audi TT. This type of pump is also used on VW Golfs and a variety of VW diesel engine vehicles. It is smaller than the chinese pump that it replaces and about 1/5 of the price. I paid £30 for this pump and £150 for my chinese pump. This was wired to the power steering pump as the chinese pump was not pulling enough vacuum to operate the vacuum switch. I tested the vacuum switch and it was working, cool. So I rewired the vacuum pump circuit back to the vacuum switch and now it works how I originally intended. When the vacuum is insufficient then the pump runs until the switch breaks and then the vacuum is good. this is linked to the main power circuit, so when the main contactor supply relay is active (key position 3 cranked) then the vacuum develops till the vacuum switch opens. When the brakes are applied the vacuum level drops, the vacuum switch closes again and the vacuum pump relay kicks back in.

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There was also some paint chips down the side of the door, so I sanded them and gave a touch of primer.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
Front bumper off and onto bench ready for mesh and spotlights.
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.
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.
driving spots added by simple marking, drilling and screwing to the bumper. Still need to connect them and adjust the beams.