Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Opening up the Donor

Paid a visit to Pro Automotive to drop off a new clutch pack and found that Robert Juarez had been hard at work fabricating the space for the rear battery compartment. Last week he and Keith got the old gas engine out, leaving the motor bay a blank canvas.

It will be a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle to fit the Seimens motor, DMOC inverter, cooling system, one bank of batteries, electric power steering pump, electric air conditioning compressor, power brake vacuum pump and reservoir, contactor and precharge resistor box, and all the plumbing and wiring for those devices.

Easier to visualize, the rear hatch area of the car has been opened up for the rear batteries.

Two banks of batteries will installed on the left and right of the opening, sunk down straddling the rear of the transaxle. The center of the battery box will be raised to clear the transaxle and will hold the charger, charger controller, and other electrical bits. With a solid cover over the battery bay, the rear cargo area will still be as functional as before.

The chassis structure runs beside the opening to support what I estimate will be around 325 pounds of batteries and charger. Steel angle is being added to reinforce the sheet metal front and back. The battery box will be fabricated to fill this space after the transaxle is reinstalled and the battery packs are on site so we can be sure of the dimensions.

The gas filler has been removed and will be replaced by the J1772 charge port.

In the meantime, I'm still bottom balancing the battery pack and should be finished with the last of that this week.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Bottom Balancing

While the Porsche is over at Pro Automotive getting prepped for the conversion, I have plenty of time to get the battery pack ready. I'm following the EVTV battery bottom balancing routine to get each cell to nearly the same voltage in a discharged state so that capacity variances are cancelled out when empty. This eliminates the need for an active battery management system with its associated safety and cell damage issues.

Since each of the 96 cells will get three passes with different discharging profiles, this is the setup I'll be using to automate the process. The red and black device is a Revolectrix  Cellpro PowerLab8 which controls and monitors each discharge cycle. Behind it is an old 12 volt lead acid battery, actually the starting battery removed from the eBugeye when it was converted back in 2010. The PowerLab8 will dump the current from the Lithium pack into the lead acid battery as it bleeds it off from the cells. The Dell laptop is USB connected to the PowerLab8 to give a more friendly interface. This was a MAJOR concession on my part. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a sincere and monumental aversion to anything Micro$oft, but the PowerLab8 software is Windoze-only, so there it is.

I found after doing a couple of cells that the lead acid battery couldn't accept any more charge, so I added a 12 volt AC inverter that lights a desk lamp to bleed off just enough current to keep everything working. You can see the inverter behind the laptop next to the battery.

I plan to keep the cells in the three bank configuration, so with a little help from my new engine hoist, I'm getting them in position next to the workbench and in reach of the cables.

The process is like watching paint dry. The first pass discharges at 25 amps down to 2.75 volts per cell, and takes roughly an hour and a half. The second pass at 10 amps once again finishes at 2.75 volts and takes about a half hour per cell. The final pass uses a CCCV (Constant Current/Constant Voltage) profile that takes the cells down to 2.75 volts at 5 amps, then holds them at 2.75 volts as it reduces the current until it reaches about .35  amps. All of that times 96 cells, so It's a good thing that the car is still in the shop.

Jack Rickard has reported that these cells are a bit "squishy", they keep bouncing back up around three volts at rest. I'm shooting for three volts plus or minus a few thousandths. The first bank seems to be settling in between 2.988 and 3.04. We'll see where they are after a week or so.

Stay tuned for the next installment with something a bit more interesting ...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Project Next Introduction

I've been accumulating parts for the last year or so and calling it "Project Next" for want of something more descriptive. In my garage is a Siemens AC motor with the DMOC inverter and GEVCU controller, a Better Place (Nissan Leaf) battery pack, a TC Charger, Chennic DC/DC converter, Derale dual cooling system, maintenance switch, emergency slap switch, and miscellaneous odds and ends all piled up in a corner waiting for a suitable donor car. Jack Rickard of EVTV Motor Werks just keeps making offers I can't refuse.

DMOC645 inverter sitting on Siemens
1PV5135-4WS14 AC motor
Better Place (Nissan Leaf) battery pack

My thinking has evolved on the choice of platform for this next conversion. My Nissan Leaf has been a terrific car, comfortable and trouble free. I took it on a four year lease in the hopes that by the end of the lease term there would be significantly better battery technology. That doesn't appear to be in the works near term, so I decided to build a daily driver replacement for the Leaf when I turn it in late June 2015.

Requirements were:
  • Closed car with year-round weather protection
  • Air Conditioning for Texas summers
  • Sufficient room for motor, battery pack, and accessories
  • Comfortable seating with power windows, mirrors, etc.
  • Sporty and unique, fun to drive
  • Total conversion cost under Leaf end of lease buy-out
I considered a progression of Audi TT's, Karmann Ghias, Corvairs, Honda Insights, Nash Ramblers and Metropolitans, Morris Minors, classic Mustangs, and just about anything else that caught my eye on Craigslist or eBay. They were all either too costly, missing a key requirement (air-conditioning, usually), too small, or in need of too much restoration.

Last week I settled on a 1988 Porsche 924 S. The 924 S was a two year only production run of 944 engine and running gear slightly detuned and mounted in a 924 body shell. Although the interior dimensions are the same, it lacks the wide fenders and tires of the 944, so weighs in a bit lighter with better aerodynamics.

This car has a really rough engine that gets worse the longer you drive it until it feels like you're missing a cylinder or two, so no hard feelings about replacing it with electric power. It does drive enough that I could check the brakes, suspension, tires, steering, clutch and shifter, transaxle, power accessories, and air conditioning. All check good. In fact I really like driving this car despite the nasty engine. It rides and handles great. And the price was right!

Hiding behind that bra is some front end bodywork damage that my body man extraordinaire, Robert Juarez says he can take care of and keep me within my budget. He'll buff out the rest of the paint and we'll have a good ten foot car.

So it's off to Pro Automotive on Monday to have Bob and Keith remove the gas engine, exhaust, and fuel system, then allow Robert time to work his magic.