Monday, 18 May 2015

Gifted three electric mopeds

My partner (who is a freecycle-a-holic) said to me the other day “Would you be interested in 3 electric mopeds” obviously my response was a distinctly positive “YES!” and after a little toing and frowing (mainly due to me only having an estate to shift them in) I am now the proud owner of said 3 electric mopeds. 

However I have yet to receive the keys or VC5's the guy that gave them to me is a good frioend of Steve from Jozztek and I understand that this is where they came from originally (Confirmed after speaking with Steve) One is an "Electricycle Retro" I have not had the time to investigate the other 2 due to lack of time, watch this space.

Back on the road

Got my Honda “ElectroBeat” back Wednesday 15th April 2015 picked it up from SMD’d garage after work, I have been driving it to and from work (with a few extra journeys here and their) without a hitch so it looks like the gearbox replacement was a complete success (nice one Brent) and I was amazed that it cost me less than £300 to fit, considering the fact that they had to remove the motor and old knackered gearbox and replace the whole lot along with modifying the (newly acquired second hand) clutch plate and modifying the old coupling plate (basically removing the old modified/cut down clutch plate center and welding in the newly acquired and cut down center part to the old coupling plate) and refitting the whole shebang back into the car, I would call this damn good value.

TBH If anyone who is reading this needs a good mechanic in the Brighton area of Sussex England I would not hesitate to recommend SMD as simply the best mechanics I have ever encountered, Bravo SMD

Still so much to do on the RX8!

To be honest the Rx8 build has not even started properly yet, The Donor car has been stripped out and is ready for the motor fitting, However the coupling of motor to diff has proved more of an issue that I had thought and we will still need to get something made by a machinist, I was going to try and sort this out myself to keep costs down but unfortunately due to other projects (Houses and other boring stuff) I am having to leave this to the mechanics, I hope that they will be able to sort something out soon and get the motor fitted ASAP.

Here is a basic list of what I need to do.

1) Get Motor coupling made and Motor fitted
2) Get Battery boxes made, Get lid fixings fitted, Give to Brent for fitting into RX8 (Angle iron welding required to hold boxes)
3) Give Soliton to Brent for sizing and fitting. 
4) Buy copper buss bar plate and drill on KX3 mill (4 holes per cell x 5 cells per plate = 20 holes per plate)
5) Get the Power steering Canbus widget (needed to enable power steering on RX8) 
6) Line battery boxes with plastic packer and fill with cells.
7) Clean every single battery connection back to dry bright copper, and fit bussbars
8) Source and fit BMS or LVC/HVC boards! (can’t get the Methods boards any more so it might have to be a homebrew BMS)
9) Finish building EMW (V12 control board) charger (need to purchase LCD screen’s ASAP)
10) Source components for reverse, Kilovac relays? (ask Steve)

Easter Holiday Battery testing Completed

I took a few extra days annual leave to pad my Easter break into a good couple of weeks to give me time to finish a few ongoing projects.
One of which was finishing the EIG cell tests for the RX8, So I now have all 351 cells tested and ready for the traction pack construction to begin in earnest.
I stacked a block of 30 cells with the silicone sheets as separators to see how the overall size was affected by my changing the cassette construction, looks good. I now just need to figure out how I am going to mount the cells in the boxes (yet to be made)
I am currently thinking that if I get the boxes (3 of them) made so that I can tightly pack the cells in with a 3mm plastic insulating insert between the Ali box and the cells around the outsides and at the bottom of the boxes this should allow me to secure the cells from moving by packing the cassette tops with some sort of plastic packer bars that will prevent the cells moving inside the boxes, with the addition of the tight fitting and silicone sealed lid that should stop and sort of potential for movement, Steve (Jozztek) suggested using an inflatable bag made from a reclaimed inner-tube at the ends to allow a reasonable pressure to be put on the end cells and hold them all together, but I am not happy with the potential for a simple puncture going unnoticed and causing a battery to come loose inside the pack under high torque (hard cornering for example) So I am going to stick to the tried and tested “Pack em in snug” method.
I am going for 3 separate boxes to allow a couple of strong guys to lift a single box in place, if I put the whole lot in one box I would have to disassemble the whole pack to get at any of the cells, although this is unconventional it is a consequence of building my TP from individual cells rather than cell blocks that most people use (Thundersky for example)
I will get some very accurate measurements in the next couple of days and get the boxes commissioned ASAP, No time to loose now as my September deadline is approaching very rapidly :-}

Friday, 13 March 2015

Battery testing continues now that spring is finally here :-)

So I have recently gotten back out to my workshop to try and pick up on the battery testing again, there has been a big break from this due to the shitty English weather over winter and other time pressures, but with only 6 months to go before I need the RX8 (which is barely started) I need to get a move on.
I have done a few cell tests recently but have not as yet gotten back into the swing proper, just prepping the rig so that I can easily swap out cells and test 2 every 30 minutes or so has taken some time, plus the blow up of my decent Antec PSU hampered the charging situation somewhat, I have now completed charging all of the cells ready for testing (other than a few failures that need retesting, failed due to random setup failures that are not necessarily problems with the cells) 

“Honey I blew the Gearbox”

Ok so speaking of failures in my last few posts here comes another!
Yes I can now confirm that my adolescent driving style over the last year and a half has finally taken its toll on the tiny little Honda Beat gearbox :-(

After driving over the mother in laws the other night I hear the dreaded “pop” and grinding of teeth once again (barley a month after this happened before) except this time I was literally and coincidentally driving past my mechanics workshop so it was a simple matter to roll it round the corner and park it up for Brent to look at ASAP.
He got around to it a couple of days later, however this time the news was not good, I had stripped the splines from the old clutch plate that we had used to make a coupling plate from and it has also worn the splines on the gearbox as well, so a new gearbox and clutch plate are in order.

You can just see from this blurry photo that there is a distinct lack of splines in that there hole :-(

We have source a replacement gearbox and clutch plate and should hear on this Monday coming from the guy who is selling them.

For now I am back car sharing the deep fat fryer :-(

Meltdown on the Powerlab!

Here comes another failure! I was picking up on the testing rig the other day and after starting a test smelled the bad smell of burning plastic, I began checking over all the battery connections with my nose looking for the source and then the charger quit with “Banana plugs disconnected” during the test. Checked the plugs and sure enough the negative terminal on the Powerlab 8 had melted! Bugger.
Luckily I had a stack of these sort of banana sockets (albeit for old school jacks) that just so happen to be a perfect fit, and after investigating an exact replacement I discovered that they were originally of a distinctly poorer quality than the ones I had in stock, Also luckily my partner had a kids birthday party to attend with our kids so I managed to find a couple of hours to affect a repair (and a pretty nice one at that) Confident that the issue was resolved I went straight back to testing, Successfully now the melted plug has been replaced, I replaced both the –ve and +ve connectors just for ascetics reasons and made a much better mechanical connection that the poor soldered connection that were present originally.
I think the reason for the meltdown was due to the fact that my battery testing rig has a set of buss bars that are connected via banana plugs to the Powerlab 8 which means that I am not plugging and unplugging the banana jacks after each test (as you would normally if you were just testing a single cell pack) so any degradation of the banana jacks was not being noticed until it caused a problem (i.e. melted) So in order to prevent the same happening again I replaced the faulty banana jack plug with a shiny new one (stripped from a dead cell pack) and cleaned the banana jacks pin with wet and dry paper. I will just have to check the jacks more often between cell tests.
I can honestly say that if there is one thing I have learnt (the hard way) it is that the most common cause of problems with HV EV tech is bad electrical connections.