SJEAA Meetings

Took the scooter to the Maker Faire.
– Saturday just watched combat robots.
– Sunday I decided scooter was safe for no helmet riding.
– Gave rides to a dozen people.

Got interviewed many times.
– Chronicle
– Mercury news
– NY Times.
– Daniel interviewed on Maker TV
– Daniel gave an interview with him and the cute reporter on the scooter.

Found a shorted cell in one of the nimh packs.
– New ones have been ordered.

Sloppiness found in a gearbox.
May make scooter for 2 people.

Saw the CalCar Prius crew.
Peter’s serial hybrid bikes.

At the SJ convention center this past week there was once again a huge GM SUV parked backwards in the EV parking spot.

– looking around, there was a distinct pattern of one 120vac outlet per each wall
mounted fire extinguisher! There were at least 10 that I could see!
– So I plugged in and charged off one of them!

EAA 04.12.2008

Spent all of last Saturday debuging Tim Wong’s Soleq DC wagon.
– Tim designed and built an excellent bar graph BMS. See the picture.
– The pcb files and software are on his site for free.
– Tim’s BMS can monitor 18 batteries.
– My truck would have 18 groups of 14 cells to cover all 252 cells. Nice fit!
– He has an improvement that isolates the pack from the dash electronics.
– Tim is a mechanical engineer. So there is hope!
– Car has a DC motor know as a SepEx for separately excited.
– Car has 200 amp regen!!
– Found an open circuited 5.1v zener in the driver circuit for the armature circuit.
– The Armature circuitry had zero current output.
– We lacked a scope so debug was limited.
– The Field circuitry measured 15 amps output and was working fine.
– The main transistor was a 2N3773 NPN Power transistor in a TO-3 case.
– Maybe 100 transistors total.
– 6 boards for forward, 3 for regen.
– Found and removed a ground fault in the pack so the charger now works.
– The new lead acid 6v batteries were a bit bigger and were stuffed in by a mechanic and the compression cracked the bad battery.
– Tim expects EV’s to be as reliable as a Toyota Camery. He is willing to drive a curtis powered DC car to get reliability.
– He tells me the other owners all have had controller failures.
– Tim’s URL:

This past week my truck hit 9k miles on the nicad pack!
– A major pack watering is due any time.
– The new charging curve has minimized water usage of the cells.
– Watered last August!
– Many of the bussbars have a tapped hole which would make for a nice attachment point for a BMS sensor.
– Reducing work load on the USE boards by refusing any new repairs so that I can get back to the other projects such as the A123 Lithium module.
– Passing the work on to Chris.
– I’m an R&D guy at heart and need to stay there.

I just barely got accepted into the Clean Air parking program for
Downtown San Jose where I park and charge my electric truck often. The
list of vehicles in the link below does not have US Electricar or
Solectria vehicles listed. That’s why I was initially declined for the
parking decal. After they finally figured out that my registration has
the fuel listed as ‘E’ for electric, they gave me the ok to receive the
sticker. So, if you are a San Jose resident and want the parking
sticker that allows you to park for free, make sure you circle the fuel
type clearly on your registration to remind them to look! I talked to
them twice and made sure that they know that Solectria and US
Electricar vehicles are genuine EV’s. They may not remember!! I also
let them know that many home brewed vehicles with have the fuel type
‘E’ listed on their registration as well.

The decal allows free parking at the garages listed and at all parking
meters. The only one not on there that has pay parking is the SJ
Convention center. There is an EV spot there with charging however.

The decal is $30/year.

EAA 3.8.2008

Truck died.
Wagon died.
Clothes dryer died.
Computer dying.

Worst ground fault in history!
– Spent 10 days looking for source of GF.
– Found that the group of Bluetops were coated in KOH.
– Cleaning them up changed nothing!!
– The GF would change position significantly for no reason.
– Old method of finding GF did not work.
– Had to invent a new method that could be patentable!!
– I damaged 2 cells prying cells out with a hammer.
– Swollen cells don’t fit well and can get stress cracks.
– Found 1 cracked cell that use to be full from group of Bluetops!!
– Now it’s time to get the cell cycler running as there are no spare cells.
– Pack is now running with 3 cells less.

Solid state vacuum switch is still working great on the power brakes!!

8500 miles on pack!
– Last watering was in late August
– 2700 miles ago!!!
– Could make it to 3000 miles
– Already at 6 months between waterings.
– Could make it to 7 months between waterings.
– A full pack watering takes 4.5 hours using an electric pump.
– Need to make an absorbant cell cover when watering to prevent dripping down sides of cells.

EAA 02.09.2008

***Group Business***
Website has a new techlinks page.
-Unfinished! Unreleased.
-AC vs DC systems
-Peukert factor
-Both LRR tire files
-120vac vs 240vac
-PG&E CO2 footprint Calculator added
-Needs a new picture


Pack should need a watering in the next couple of weeks.
-6 months between waterings!!

Massive ground faults
-Lots of rain leaking into pack on cell tops.
-Stranded after car wash. Limped home. Several restarts.
-Vacuumed up excess water from cell tops.
-Dried out pack with a fan for 48+ hours.

John’s USE car up north in now running.
-Rebuilt 3 of his boards.
-Traded for a charger and a DC-DC converter.

Mike’s USE truck in SoCal should be running today.
-Just needs help lifting up the bed so he can attach the pack.

3 More USE boards sent up from SoCal.
-All 3 are running now.
-Still have many bugs on 2 of them.
-1 has only dropout issue.
-Was told I had to charge cash for the repairs.

A123 Lithium module
-Design the stud to spreader plate interface.
-Braze? solder? Machine?
-Stud? Threaded?

USE test fixture
-Now has Motoring mode testing installed.
-Added throtte pots
-added brake pot
-Many things run only in motoring mode.

Mach220 chip was successfully copied and tested in a vehicle.
-Couple years of work.

Rear end got tapped when a lady + 3 babies did not stop in time.

Pack due for a watering.

Exceedingly glad to have a new lid on the battery box!
-massive rain storms have not made the lid leak any water at all!!
-Zero faults!!
-Only slight changes in isolation readings.

Toggle switch for taking the transformer in and out of the circuit works nicely.
-Faster charging on 120vac.

12/8/07 EAA

-CAD Images of A123 Lithium module for truck.
About 36ah capacity.
Close to nicad capacity.
Lower peukert exponent.
Will fit in place of two nicad cells.
Same voltage as two nicad cells.
Machined from ABS/Delrin.
Will have it’s own BMS to keep it in line.
Will be solding the cells.
May submit to SVEAA for $$.

-Purchased pack lid from fellow USE truck owner Craig for just shipping costs.
Nice and flat!!
Added 80mm fans with filters.
clear covers.
Silicone sealed to the lid.
Dual 3/8″ pipe exhaust.
Positive box pressure keeps contaminents out.
Battery box still needs the side holes repaired for complete sealing.
Duct taped sides for now.

-Added switch to bypass transformer.
Improves current flow to pack on 120vac.
Blows breaker at work.

-Solid state vacuum switch is finished and installed.
LED for 5v
LED for relay activate
LED for vacuum level
Box took some machining.
Very compact.
Purchased vacuum switch from Canadian EV Parts for backup.

-Pack at XXX miles since last watering.
Higher amperage, shorter time charging helped!
Just one cell way out of spec.

-Cold weather efficiency still excellent!
218 whr’s/mile going to work with headlights on.
290 whr’s/mile going home.
254 whr’s/mile average.
276 whr’s/mile before improvements.

-Purchased load tester ????

Orange hammer
wipe board markers

EAA 11/5/07

-Bought new heater for truck. Need to get it installed.

-Installed 18 out of 36 helicoils(Permacoil) to help seal the battery pack box lid.
18 side holes need rivet nuts installed after holes are re-shaped due to width issue.

-I’ve driven 12k miles of the trucks 16k miles.
-Truck has 7k miles on the nicad pack.
Spent many hours adjusting the SG level in each Bluetop cell for best life.
Some were way over, most were just a little low.
As much work as single cells is, they allow individual measurements and tweaking.

-Learned how to use software for monitoring ground faults.
When system hard faulted it showed +50 counts above the pack voltage.
After removal of first minor ground fault, the counts were brought down to +25 counts above pack voltage.
After removal of second major ground fault, the counts were brought down to -25 counts under pack voltage.
There is still a ground fault on the passenger side of the pack.
Need to remove entire pack and caulk seams in plastic panels to help reduce ground faults.

-Dropouts are still a major issue.
Swapped main boards.
First one got far worse.
Found that a later revision board has zero dropouts!!
Something on the main boards is wearing out or drifting out of spec.

-Purchased 6 quarts of Mobile1 0W-20 Synthetic.
WIll replace Asoil synthetic because ACP rated the Mobile1 as best lubricant.

-Looking into more work on battery reg’s located on one board.
Compatible with Don’s truck’s DB25 connector.
Will be based on ACP’s BatMon system and my clamper system.
Could ask EAA for sponsoring.
Sell boards with bom for the DIY’s instead of dealing with building them too.

-Bill in Nevada has his USE truck running with the RAV4 pack.
Could be longest range pack in history of USE.

Take load tester for Don
Orange hammer

Clampers for Don

EAA meeting 10.13.07

No more 230vac charging at work.
– Power needed for change in building layout.
– Demoted to 120vac but with an outside outlet installed just for me.
– takes 5 hours, 3-4 times longer to charge.
– Can’t run company errands any more.

Time to get the pack lid sealed to the box.
– Luckily I duct tapped it closed Friday morning before work!!
– Still got one fault on the way home.
– Need to drill out and install threaded nuts.

Heater might get replaced with an external heater that is used in trucks.
– Two SOCal members have made this install already and say it blows very hot air.

Drop outs are becoming so frequent that it’s time to try another main board until this issue gets figured out.
– Several guesses in the group.
– No data for problem except mine and a few scattered fixes.
– I’m convinced that components are drifting out of spec due to the wear out factor experienced in two main boards.
– worse in cold, humid weather.

– A USE truck sold for $13.1k on Ebay.
– Purchased copy of all doc’s and cd’s for $75.
– Ended up with nice schematic drawings of the Air cond system install.
– Whole truck wiring on one D size drawing.
– Software called Buscom to talk to other processors. This could help de-mystify the drop out issue.

Built a new computer. Yippee! It’s much faster.

Closed down motor control business after 4.5 years!
– focusing on Dolphin boards now.
– EE job can produce burnout doing that same things at work and home.
– Could allow time to work on BMS system once again.

Working on making my workbench more anti static compliant
– rolling chair on hard plastic matt generates alot of static.

Moved a couple of Dolphin customers to Chris Zach.
– He claims 100% success.
– Is charging up to $1000 for a board repair.
– I just trade for parts.

Vacuum switch for power brakes still not found.
– Ron has solid state version part number??

Nice report on Lithium battery cells from EVDL member in Australia.
– Might be a good place to send Lithium test requests to.
– Have URL is needed.


SJEAA 9/8/07

-Precharge circuit disintegrated. Arcing across pins in 3 pin conn.
-Installed a 4 pin connector leaving one empty space between HV and +12 pins.
-automotive fuse put on a long, light show as a precharge fuse.
-Waiting for the replacement relay gave me incredible appreciation for the truck when I had to drive the wagon at 3300 whr’s/mile.

-Hardware failure of scooter created concussion the Sunday after the last meeting.

– Current probe from Agilent arrived.
– Scope shots
– Characterized the precharge circuit.
– Need a higher reliability SPDT precharge relay.

-Back to debugging Dolphin boards.
-IR therometer from Radio Shack for finding hot parts quickly due to John Schaefer.
-Laser is a waste when trying to measure close parts.

-It would be nice to amass enought parts to convert a Honda Insight to an EV…

-400 GM engineers moved from the Fuel cell group to the drive train group!!!

* Read Terry’s report.

* Truck has 10k miles I’ve added.
* 5k (the pack death zone) of that is on the nicad pack.
* Purchased at 3765. Now at 14k.
* Need to get the overcharging improved.
* Needs front end alignment. Front right tire feathering.
* Still want to get Coroplast added to undercarriage.
* Ordered Tektronix Current probe. A622. Due in 4 weeks.
* Ordered factory GM parts. Cup holder, sun visor, window crank + washer, dash bezel.
* Plan on using LED’s for the dash lights.
* New job. 208 and 230v charging. 240v to be installed.

* Segway clone. Goal is 48v. Test on 24.
* Made from robot parts.
* Just needed to add a gyro board, $121 from
* Code updated to adapt for segway use.
* 20″ BMX glass/eng resin wheels.
* Will use 6″ wheels for testing.
* May go with 24″ wheels.
* May have it on the ground this weekend.
* Estimate 50whrs/mile efficiency.
* Spring loaded twist grips.
* titanium spring or coil spring.

* Had confrontation with hydrid SUV owner at SC Costco.

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