Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Charger Set Up and More

Well, after the initial test, and after the excitement passed of seeing the wheels spin, it was time to get back to work so I can actually get the car out of the garage.

Here's a quick rundown.

  • Ran power from the main battery pack to the DC to DC converters
  • Hooked the DC to DC converters up to the auxiliary battery
  • Tested the output of the converters while car is off and while it's running
  • Installed all the inline fuses for the Zilla controller and Link 10 meter
  • Connected the reverse lights to the reverse switch in the transmission
  • Went through the menus and set up the Link 10 meter
  • Went through the Zilla's configuration menu and set that up
  • Cut and refit all the carpet and plastic parts for the trunk
  • Checked the air pressure on all the tires, set them all to 40 PSI
  • Charged the batteries completely and set up the charger
Setting up the charger was a pretty straight forward task, but it took a long time. Five hours to be exact. The reason it took so long is because the batteries come with only something like a 40% charge. Apparently that's how you're suppose to leave them if you're not going to use them for a while. Anyway, when charging these batteries, you need to be careful that you don't go over the manufacturer's recommended 3.6 Volts per battery. In reality, even that's a bit high. The manufacturer even states that you'll extend the life of the batteries if you leave them slightly under charged.

To keep them safe, and extend their lives, I've opted for a target charge of 3.5 Volts per battery; times 48 batteries equals 168 Volts. I didn't come up with this value on my own, I learned a great deal from Jack Rickard and his web site: EVTV.ME . Jack has done a hell of a job exploring the limits of these batteries, posting the results and explaining what he's learned from doing so.

So with the target of 168 Volts, I plugged in the car and started pushing some current to the batteries. The charger can read the pack voltage, and it has a potentiometer that allows you to set the voltage you're pushing. Once the pack reaches the voltage you want, you turn the potentiometer down until a light comes on. That indicates the target voltage has been reached and the charger goes into a timer mode and backs down the current until it switches off.

The whole endeavor took 5 hours, with me checking voltage every 5 minutes to be sure I didn't miss the target. It was a long day, but I got the charger set, and I only had to do it once.

I ordered a replacement for the stock tachometer. I fiddled with it for an hour and couldn't make it move at all. It's too bad, I really wanted the stock look. But I found a place on line that makes custom ones, with what ever color numbers printed that you want, what ever background light, a number of fonts to choose from etc. And it was very reasonable at $120. The bad news is 7 days before it ships.

More tomorrow!

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