EVNetics Soliton1 – Connections and Configuration

This is the longest show we’ve done to date at about 2.5 hours. Kind of beyond “feature length movie” all the way to “made for tv mini series.” I fear it may be an endurance test.

But we did some neat things. We did describe in at least vague terms the theory of operation of a DC series motor and what a PWM controller is actually supposed to do. These little chalk talk sessions are risky. Too little detail and I get clobbered by every designer on the planet on all the stuff I’ve left out, including the part they consider MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL. Too much detail and I just walk away from those without the basic electronics and electricity fundamentals. Actually those are the viewers we’re doing it for. The designers already know how it works.

So it’s kind of a no-win for everybody. But I do read my e-mail and respond to what I can. And a basic undestanding of a series DC motor is in order and a basic understanding of a PWM controller and why that’s what is almost always used is useful for some viewers. It kind of sets up the background of what we’re looking for in a GOOD PWM controller and what is not so terribly important.

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And that sets us up for the review of the Soliton1. There are no perfect controllers and I can spend the next hundred blog pages and a career in online video listing all the things I wish this controller did. Excitement about additional features that just need a LITTLE MORE to be perfect is a sign you have a good product.

If everyone dogpiles you with ways to fix what you’re doing, you must be doing something right to get their attention. If you do something and nobody complains, then it probably wasn’t worth doing at all. I suppose the same could be said of videos.

But watch the video. We basically howl in glee over the Soliton 1. It’s a great package and I can say that without reservation. Since the video was made, we’ve done some further testing, and found a few peculiarities. But we’ve also demonstrated 1000AMPS for real out of this thing. Measured by the Zeva and displayed in real time on a new 10K tachometer I had to get just to show 1000 amps where I could see it for sure.

Bottom line is the physical package of this Soliton1 ought to get a design award somewhere. Sure it’s big. It has to heat sink a 1000 amp switch 8000 times a second.

The configuration software is what configuration software OUGHT TO BE universally. It’s very easy to configure and you can do it with any computer really, LInux, Mac Windows. It’s very intuitive and for what it accomplishes, really quite simple. Late in the video, I even found provisions for updating the software via a text file upload through the browser interface. I really COULD have used a Mac laptop to upload the update.

Wiring it in was probably the easiest hardware install we’ve had of ANY controller. I just detest the crimp pin connectors we always have to deal with on these things. Do the terminal strips look a little old school? Sure. They’re also legible, readable, and large enough even for my eyes. And you can make sure you have a good connection.

In operation, we have some questions. A mysterious but effective limp mode has appeared when we were trying to use a motor temp switch input. The device is CURIOUSLY sensitive to 12v. 11.6 volts just doesn’t cut it and it throws errors if your DC-DC isn’t up to Soliton’s expectations. The RPM cutout is a little touchy. But these are minor. In operation it will really draw 1000 amperes of current from the batteries and apply some portion of that at least to the motor. It will do this at 188 volts, and we’re told at up to a little over 300 volts. And the “control” is really quite smooth with regards to low speed control and you can easily configure the pedal, the power curve resulting from pedal input, and the build rate (slew rate) of the application of power.

Today, we did some 0-60 tests and got 10.0 seconds flat with a kind of portly 2385 pounds of vehicle, plus 450 pounds of people. So we were over 2900 pounds. That’s at a slew rate of 2000 amps per second.

As our brushes seat and we gain confidence in this setup, we’ll gradually increase that slew rate. The max is 25000 amps per second which would get us from 0 to 1000 amps in about 40 milliseconds. I’m going to guess we get a pretty nice 0-60 at something shy of that. As I said, we’re currently spending a leisurely 500 ms to build to 1000 amps.

Our ambient temperatures are sub freezing right now. The Soliton and the motor hardly get to body temperature. The pump doesn’t even come on – with a 40C snap switch on the pump ground.

So on packaging, configuration, installation, and operation this Soliton1 looks like a winner all around. They are regularly updaing the software. In fact, if you watch closely on the video we “update” to version 1.2. Actually we’ve already updated again to the January 9 1.3 release. So minor input/output questions etc. are easily dealt with in the normal cycle of things. We’ll be unlikely to come up with much they are not already hearing from their growing user base.

We’ll have a bit of a drive, and hopefully a much SHORTER show next week wrapping Redux up. We’ll talk about a few things and update you as they get worked off, but we’re pretty much done with the Speedster Redux rebuild. We added 21 cells and 350 lbs but we should be able to do 150 miles in this thing now.

We’re planning on taking both Speedsters and the Spyder to the Carlisle Kit Car and Import show in May in Carlisle Pennsylvania.

We learned a bit about the Soliton1 on this build, and it is with much relief and joy I must say. Because what is coming next will be the most daunting build we’ve ever considered and it must needs be doomed to failure on so many fronts I get weak in the knees.

And that is the 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT. This will use DUAL Netgain Warp 11’s and DUAL Soliton1 controllers.

Voila! First pictures of the completed Jim Husted (Jimerico) dual Netgain 11 assembly. He’s painted them gloss black with polished metal accents to match our vehicle. He asked us a number of times for what “EVTV” logo we wanted on them. I asked him to just “sign” the motors with his signature instead.

The idea has apparently grown into a new SIgnature Series. Very well, let it be scribed on all temple walls and obelisks throughout the realm, EVTV is using the FIRST of the new Jimerico Jim Husted SIGNATURE SERIES motor, based on TWO of the Netgain Warp 11 models in our Cadillac Escalade EXT build. They look gorgeous and we’re hoping to have them next week.

If you think we have a secret plan for this vehicle, you’re reading messages from God in cloud formations. We do not.

We have an assorted collection of ideas and notions we’d like to try out on a large vehicle to see if it can be done. We want to wind up with an effective ride for 4-5 adults with some cargo space and a good all season environmental experience – full heat for winter, including heated steering wheel, seats, and heated washer fluid, AND full blown air conditioning literally blown up my skirt through the seat cushions.

We’re going to try to develop:

1. An effective blower cooling system for the motors.
2. A REALLY effective hot water heating system from available junk.
3. A heated battery box.
4. Most likely a largish sized ultra capacitor box.
5. Pretty good sized Vicor DC-DC converter.
6. An aux shaft accessory plate with our Air Conditioning compressor and a fluid pump for both power brakes and steering.

I kind of plan on buying a couple of benches just to mount the transmission, the motor, the Solitons, the cap box on to get all of it running and do a little bit of turn testing BEFORE mounting it all in the vehicle.

So this promises to be a long conversion, with a lot of interesting new things – automatic transmission, etc.

Stay with us. There’s more to come…

Jack RIckard


46 thoughts on “EVNetics Soliton1 – Connections and Configuration”

  1. Informative video, I’d say it was a good balance of information and detail.
    I must point out that Jeff and Martin, (Tesseract and Qer), who you are rightly impressed with, are two individuals who you lambasted at various times and accused of “typing themselves smart” over on DIY. Obviously they were smart before they started typing. The irony is too much to go unmentioned. Still have that sword lying around?


  2. JRP3:

    If you’re looking for consistency, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I will freely lambast them in the future if they type themselves smart, and particularly if they pass out bad advice.

    I have no problem also praising them for an excellent product as to this controller.

    I don’t actually recall much interaction there, other than a discussion about an IOTA55 DC-DC converter that Jeff was trying to defend – in the face of very good data that it won’t put out as advertised by the vendor. Beyond that, I don’t recall casting them in the typing themselves smart class. But I may well have.

    Your logic, as usual is a little undercooked JRP. They may have been smart before, they may have actually gotten smart from typing, or they may have gotten a lot smarter by designing and building a controller – my personal guess.

    But your desire for a knee jerk reaction is what fuels all the typing to get smart. There is nothing personal that I know of between me and any of these guys, and if they do something valuable I think our viewers should know about, I hardly need a sword to not only talk about it, but in this case in detail and with loud praise.

    That’s precisely the problem with the forums. You all get into personality clashes over not squat, with NO regard for any actual issues. It is a fantasy land. We live in the real world with real cars. And we LIKE good controllers, and the people who make them.

    If using the forums as a free advertising medium gets them off the ground, I have no problem with that. And if it helps to get a sense of what users are looking for, even better. That doesn’t mean every post is accurate or valuable.

    In this case, the pudding at the end is pretty good. But I find your admonition very telling. You would prefer a food fight, on no substance, to an agreement ON substance?

    I think puberty onset is going to do great things for this community quite widely. We could do with a larger percentage of grownups.

    Jack Rickard

  3. Good show – enjoyed it and learned from it.

    You haven’t mentioned here the Lithium Sulphur (aka “Lithium Sulfur”) cells from Thundersky/Winston. For me this was the most exciting item in the show and a potential game changer if they really have managed to make Li-S cells with that kind of cycle life and if they sell them at a half-way sensible price.

    No more early a.m. overcharge conflagrations. To quote from a paper on the Oxis site: “…the cells were charged to double their open circuit voltage and held for 24 hours. During the overcharge test the cell temperature did not rise by more than 3°C…”

    No more range anxiety: from the same paper “…Li-S batteries promise to deliver over 3 times the specific energy of lithium-ion…” Your 150 mile range speedster is now a 450 mile range speedster. No one normally drives more than that in the day.

    Maybe less risk of the OEM EV bloodbath you have mentioned: Li-S should be a lot cheaper than Lithium ion longer term.

    I’ve already been round my GT40 with a tape measure

  4. I enjoyed the white board even though I already knew that. It is just a nice reminder and a help for any new folks coming into the realm of converting a car to electric. Now that you finally got your blog up I am stoked at Jim Husted’s work on your motor. That is one sweet looking motor. Perfect match to your Cadillac. Your going to rock the world with this conversion. Well at least rock our world. I will be watching that conversion closely.

    Pete 🙂

  5. Actually Jack we rarely get into personal conflicts in the forums. I think you are taking your own interactions as the norm, when the common factor in those interactions is you, not the forums. You have a knack for creating the drama you claim to dislike. The irony continues.


  6. JRP:

    Should I repeat the call? Ok. Grow up. And again try a reality pill. You think I never READ the forums? Oh, yes. It’s all sweetness and light with me gone isn’t it? One big happy family…..

    The irony ALWAYS continues…..

    You just have to be trying to ring my bell here….

    Jack Rickard

  7. Pete:

    Well that’s the downside of it. Most of our viewership would find it boring and probably not detailed enough to be useful – assuming I got parts of it right in the first place.

    But I think it set the stage for a controller review to get everybody on some sense of the same page.

    We’ve been waiting for months for the Husted motor. But I need something dramatic to move 7200 pounds.

    The other thing I need that is somewhat dramatic is better batteries. Big bet here that we see some serious announcements from CALB and THundersky after the Chinese new year. I hope they aren’t so far out in the future we are unobtanium on actual cells. My fear is to be stuck in the middle. it makes no sense to spend $25-$30K on last years cells with new better ones coming, and of course no sense to do a great conversion on a great car and wind up sitting there with no batteries.. .

    Timing is kind of crucial here. Jim Husted may have done me a favor by milking this one for a lot of time. But I’d rather his motor be good than be early, and we may have to wait on batteries anyway.

    Such is life in EVland. We won’t be the only conversion out there waiting on battery delivery I’m guessing.

    In the past, I’ve managed that pretty well. We almost always wind up with a stock of cells sitting here ready,. But I’ve just had a feeling there were going to be some breakthrough’s this year. Actually I had expected them by now…. they’ve shown some of these batteries at trade shows in China.

    Yes, the Lithium sulphur cells could be a breakthrough. I doubt CALB is going to let that go unanswered. And sure, they’ll be reasonably priced – as all new product intros are. Hell, they’ll probably pay US to haul them away…. The latest and greatest generally go at a huge discount….

    Jack Rickard

  8. I’m drooling over the Dual Warp 11’s. They would rip apart either of my two cars transmissions in a heartbeat. The Soliton1 versus Motor discussion would turn into Dual Soliton1/Dual 11 versus transmission as they shred apart either of my two 2000lbs and 2300lbs cars designed for wimpy 100hp engines without much torque with sheer Warp11 torque.

    You have a very nice transmission and motor setup for the Escalade. The Escalade and the transmission you are using should handle it. I can’t wait to see it.

    …Also waiting for the next video so I can see Speedster Redux flying down the road with 1000amps. 0-60 in 10 seconds at over 2900 pounds, sounds great. With some tweaking and less weight, I’d like to see what it can do if you sent it down the road with a light Brain or Matt.

    Assuming you are talking about the CALB gray cells or whatever else is coming, has CALB responded to any of your email questions about them or are they staying quiet? Their en.calb.cn site shows pictures of them but not with any of their spec sheets, seems a bit odd that there is no mention of it.

    John Resso 🙂

  9. John Hardy:

    I like their thinking at Oxis:

    “An EV battery stores a great deal of energy compared to most consumer batteries. Safety is therefore paramount. Protection systems are costly and liable to failure. Safety can thus only be ensured if the battery chemistry itself is inherently safe.”

    This is what I’ve been saying for some time. And fortunately, the LiFePo4 cells are there.

    Thundersky’s Lithium Sulphur cells sound quite different from the Oxis portfolio. But we’ll see. So far, they have a ONE PAGE spec sheet. But they are talking about 1000 cycles, which is the tough part of sulphur technologies.

    I also remain concerned about the use of lithium metal. They never really describe their “secret sauce” for “passivating” metallic dendrite growth. I’m glad they’re concerned about it, and if they have a solution, bravo…

    My sense is these are nearer term than lithium air. The Thundersky teaser is very exciting. They’ve promised me more info post Chinese new year.

    We’ll have to wait and see…. I just hope it isn’t an announcement with “availability by the 4th quarter” or something like that. We are itching to get an order in for the Cadillac so we can at least COMPLAIN about not having received them yet….

    Jack Rickard

  10. John Resso:

    Devining meaning from Chinglish is an art form. We get better at it. All in context:

    “Hi Jack:
    Thank you for your information, that we might be interested in announce a new type of battery which should be our grey case shell as you can see below, if you want any more information, please contact me for free.

    Best Regards
    Ted Mosby

    Ted Mosby is CALB’s International Marketing head. He included a new photo of a CALB grey cell.

    In the context of the ongoing conversation, this means “after Chinese New Year, we want to talk to you about this. Be patient.”

    Unfortunately, all the knowledge in these companies is at the top, and all the language skills are at the bottom. The further up the chain we get, the more difficult the communications. At lower sales levels, the communication improves, but they don’t really know.

    Ted’s the real deal. But not very comfortable with English. As my Chinese doesn’t precisely exist, I can’t fault him. If the past is an indicator, he’ll get one of the sales guys to get me the info in the next couple of weeks.

    Just a little insite into what’s involved to get information…. it’s a difficult barrier to cross…. but kind of fun…

    Jack Rickard

  11. Thanks for the info Jack
    I reviewed the site a few days ago and noticed seven contacts with one main contact and the rest for various markets but wasn’t sure who I would bug to ask for a question and was never sure if I’d get something that made sense, seems you’ve got decent contact in the past but it sounds like you’ve got a handle on getting the information.

    John Resso

  12. I look forward to a lengthy whiteboard discussion of capacitor banks! Actually, I’ve been hoping for that for a while as you have been teasing us with that way back when you mentioned using them on a GEM. And I’ll join the crowd of awe at the beauty of those dual warp11s! I think I’d put them on a mantle istead of installing them!

  13. Jack,

    I miss the stirring of the pot on the forums. It is kinda dull around there since your departure and m……’s departure. Now that one I don’t miss one bit. However there is little once again in the teaching department and not much in the building department either. Some new folks asking questions a quick search would answer. Makes for dull conversation. So I continue to build the MG and pluck away at the VW Bus. MG is looking good. The new Synkromotive controller is now in my hands. I am installing it in the MG for now. I almost got to where I could power up today. Maybe tomorrow. No new videos from us yet.

    Pete 🙂

  14. Pete:

    I have fond memories of my own “pickle” a green and white 67 bus. It was a little cold in Denver, and I traded it on a 92 Vanagon. More comfortable, but somehow just never was the same.

    That’s an interesting conversion.

    I have a lot on my plate these days trying to do the conversions, do the videos, and things like this blog. The forums became repetitive and the ratio of religious rant and superstition to info was awful. But I fell out of bed with EVDL because his majesty Dr. David was just too heavy handed, and tried to solve the inherent problems of such forums with a Nazi like rule that included deleting and editing posts.

    This was precisely the same issue on DIYelectrijunk. Mr. Green I think he was actually edited a post not only of myself, but the guy I was in full battle hack with.

    I have actually been involved with this a very long time – 1982 to be somewhat precise. And lived through many many iterations of this through FidoNet, Usenet, and others long before forums such as you know them. The lesson learned through it all is that people express themselves somewhat more freely than they should or would in person and it does lead to conflicts. But the slippery slope between “moderation” and censorship” is just a very hard line to divine in real time. It’s kind of like being a “little bit pregnant.”

    And so where I do encounter ANY forum that is a bit heavy handed in this manner, I always immediately resign from it and simply do not go back. A case of actually editing to misrepresent a members writings is so beyond the pale I won’t even go into it.

  15. But in reality, I don’t have the time for it and increasingly, these days, the patience. Most of these people express themselves VERY poorly with the written word, and having been a professional writer for some 25 years and specifically on technical matters, I kind of felt like I was thrasing with cripples in some respects. It was kind of one sided.

    Nature of the beast, I DO peruse them, usually quickly and with an eye to learning any new thing I can – these include blogs such as Autoblog Green but also DIYelectric, EVDL, EVTECH, Thundersky and a few others. The ratio of info to religious dogma and in fact just ridiculous noise works to reduce the value of that effort and seems to be actually accelerating in the wrong direction.

    So we do what we can here, and let those with an ear hear. We do NOT screen comments nor edit them, nor throw anybody off or anything like that.

    But JRP’s description of sweetness and light is just preposterous. I was just in DIY and was horrified to see a little tiff match over a guy who was trying to GET information about two controllers and two motors – guess why THAT caught my eye, and apparently a screwup where they blew a motor. But he didn’t want to PROVIDE any information at all. Jeff noted the name of the individual who this actually happened to, kind of trying to pin down the exact circumstances of the problem, and was lambasted for “revealing the sacred name” of the person. It seems they did not want details of this “mistake” to get out.

    This is a recurrent theme. I run into all these guys with bizarre theories vigorously presented and any attempt at rationalizing is ridiculed. When the car burns to the ground, it goes deathly still. No one wants to talk about what happened. What? So YOU can repeat the mistake and suffer the same economic loss? What’s THAT about.

    In any event, I have a long undestanding of forums and am absolutely not hesitant to call someone out. In doing so, I strive to be both informative and where possible, entertaining. But a mano a mano on an electronic bulletin board doesn’t bother me a whit. Truth to tell, I probably enjoy them up to a point.

    But yes, a little adult attitude is a requirement. I dont’ take it very personally and don’t hold anyone to a postion he may have been trying on for size in writing. There’s no grudges and no sophomoric banning from all temple walls and obelisks throughout the realm.

    Actually, I found most of TESSERACT and QER’s posts quite well founded, and do not recall the conflicts JRP alludes to. I did have a habit of bashing their little buddy DMITRI into the ground in his never ending search for a two week BMS project he could get on the market quick. I actually had some private phone conversations and e-mails with him trying to explain what the charge process WAS which he completely did NOT understand or comprehend even at the margins. So THEY may have taken it all badly, but I didn’t or don’t recall it if I did.

    In any event, they have put together a great little controller here. I see about 15 of them on EVALBUM which I found surprising. I think this is a comer and will be the DC PWM controller of choice for the foreseeable future – filling the vacuum Otmar and Cafe Electric have left in such a bad state.

    I’d love for someone to jump in with a similar CHARGER solution. It’s basically the same components and really operating in basically the same way – at much lower current levels. ie a microcontroller operated buck/boost circuit with current and voltage sensing.

    In any event, keep us posted on the 67 bus. I think it’s a great project concept. Send us some video.

    Jack RIckard

  16. Jack,

    I will do some video. Looking to get my new suspension goodies here soon. Then to the strippers to soda blast the thing top to bottom inside and out. Then to prime and paint. Still a good amount of body work but its in pretty good shape for what it is. Spent 5 years to find a decent priced project that is not all rusted out and or mashed up. I remember having a few words with tess and qer. That was early on but that settled down and we actually cooled our jets off list via the PM. Then they did the controller and I have been very impressed with them ever since. They earned my respect. Hands down. I am going to try out the quickcharger select-a-charge on board charger to charge up my lithium pack. I talked with them at quickcharge and they said you can figure out how many cells you can charge and use the F3 setting but you still need to watch as it goes into float and you don’t want to do that for long. They said many are having good results. They also have a lithium algorithm that they said they will upgrade the older models for $50. I am using my 96 volt charger to charge up 34 cells to 3.6 volts per cell finished voltage. I could add in another two and lower that to 3.4 per cell. They don’t have multiple settings but if you know your final pack size and Ah rating and number of cells they will custom build one for you. I will keep you updated on that one.

    Pete 🙂

    PS: I still stir the pot a bit but its getting boring. Should have a good run this week in the MG. 🙂

  17. Hi Jack

    Great show, I did not mind the length at all, the time just flew by, so do not worry about the length of the show. 🙂

    The info about the DC series motor and PWM controller was great, brining out the whiteboard is a good thing, keep it up, I am getting smarter. 🙂
    Getting more knowledge, brings up new questions 🙂 I will just ask one question here:
    Why does the motor have four terminals, when you only need to connect to two? (And put a wire across the other two)

    I was just thinking that it would be great if you took a motor apart, and showed what that looked like, but maybe you could invite George to come and do that, and maybe while he took the motor apart, he could talk about how the motor has improved over the years, and where he sees the improvements in the years to come? (I think that you mentioned something about this,but not for video, a while back, please do it on video)

    Your motor for the Escalade looks gorgeous, I hope that you get some good video of that, for one of the next shows, and maybe you could talk about what Jim has done to combine these two motors into one?

    What you and the rest of the crew are doing is much appreciated, thank you


  18. Pete,

    Do you have your MG spotlighted anywhere? I too am working on an MG and hope to convert it someday.


    Loved the last show. I need this basic kind of discussion about motors and controllers. I would like some more basic discussions like wiring, wire routing, battery connections, DC/DC converter selection/hookups, on and on…


  19. Hey Jack, I’ve never posted here before but have followed your blog and videos for a while. Thankyou for explaining how series dc motors and pwm controllers work, I found it very informative and useful!
    Thanks again.

  20. Actually, I have a number of MG’s myself. Have converted none so far.

    Two 1960 MGA’s
    One 1955 MG TF 1500
    One 1934 MG PA.

    The steel bodies are pretty heavy. But they offer a lot of battery room for a car of their size.

    I keep thinking I’ll come across somebody who has already done a tranny adaptor for the MG.

    Jack Rickard

  21. Carsten:

    “Why does the motor have four terminals, when you only need to connect to two? (And put a wire across the other two)”

    Mostly for flexibility. You can configure the motor in various other ways as well. But this is the configuration you will almost always see.

    You COULD for example seperately excite the stator and armature. You can “weaken” the stator (field) winding to get higher torque at higher RPM for example.

    There are a lot of games that can be played with these motors. Somebody is ALWAYS trying to get regenerative braking to play nicely with them – it kind of sorta works but winds up burning up the brushes and commutator.

    Jack Rickard

    Jack Rickard

  22. Jack, I very much enjoyed your explanation of Pulse Width Modulation.

    As for the dual 11 inch motors {very nice looking}, the tailshaft looks small. I worry that the shaft of the motor may twist off under hard acceleration. What is the max torque you will be applying at the business end of the motors? {For reference I am working around some 50 h.p. elevator motors. The shafts on these motors are about 2 inches in diameter and the outer cases on these motors are about 24 inches in diameter}. Please explain how you won’t twist the motor shaft.

    Thanks for your time and efforts.
    regards, JMS

  23. Jack/JMS,
    “for example separately excite the stator and armature. You can “weaken” the stator (field) winding to get higher torque at higher RPM for example.”

    So, I’m theorizing. To weaken your start rpm on a twin motor set up and have more torque at higher rpm like a car. You can wire the stators in series and the armatures in parallel.. When Soliton have made a “bigger daddy” controller.

    It won’t make a big difference would it?

  24. Hi Jack

    Thank you for the answer. I guess that to really take advantage of the possibilities one would need a more advanced controller with a separate connection to all four terminals. This would probably add complexity and cost, but it might also have some exiting possibilities, any thoughts?

    Battery news are always exiting, when is the Chinese new year?


  25. JMS

    “As for the dual 11 inch motors {very nice looking}, the tailshaft looks small. I worry that the shaft of the motor may twist off under hard acceleration. … Please explain how you won’t twist the motor shaft.”

    I cannot explain it. Indeed, I intend to severely twist the motor shaft. And indeed we would like to be able to experience hard acceleration. I guess the trick is that we don’t have to go up very many floors to do it.

    Perhaps this photo might help. http://media2.ev-tv.me/jhusted012.jpg

    The aux end of the motor won’t twist off (hopefully) because all it will drive is an A/C compressor and a hydraulic pump. The business end IS quite a bit larger as you can see from the photo.

    The two motors are connected by a couple of inches of spline at a smaller diameter. If we have a weak point, that is where I think it would be, but the torque from BOTH motors won’t be felt there.

    Jim Husted has been doing motors for a very long time JMS. In this case, it’s a little more than bolting two 11’s together. He had to have a special shaft made for the project, pull the original shafts, and much else. The terminals, field windings, connections to the brushes, everything was beefed up considerably.

    That’s why he gets the big bucks for these builds. He actually turns down the case, and then polishes it, then paints it.

    Jack Rickard

  26. There are all sorts of games that can be played with the terminals on these motors. Oachim’s razor influences me to avoid all of them.

    We looked at parallel/series switching. This is basically where you put the two motors in series for takeoff acceleration. In doing so, each motor gets HALF the voltage but ALL the current.

    Once you have reached a speed where voltage becomes somewhat of a limiting factor, your need for torque should decrease as well. In that event, you shift to a parallel configuration where each motor gets FULL voltage, but HALF the current.

    This involves some electromechanical switches. At these currents, that’s a little bit of a problem. The Kilovacs can be had at ratings up to 1000A, but that’s a little bit of a stretch. They can CARRY that much if you are careful about using a bit of metal on the contacts. But they really shouldn’t be used to make or break that. So I generally look askance of such schemes. I know they are in vogue, and we may look at them at some point.

    For this application, it seemed needless. We have two motors. We bought each a pet controller to play with. We can control them individually or together, and that seems a good dynamic for blowing stuff up all by itself.

    My personal view is the switching to do series/parallel is ugly and inelegant on the face of it. We’ve never even done an electrical reverse on a series DC motor. It just gives me the creeps.

    It may not be REALLY that important. But at these current levels, if I could I would make all cable connections six inches long, absolutely straight and welded on both ends, I would. We obviously stray from that, but you might note that every twist and bend gets the evil eye and a kind of visceral resentment at the inconvenience.

    You might recall from the PWM discussion that ALL wires have magnetic fields, even straight ones. And so they all have inductance. Now it’s true that it isn’t much inductance, but if we are switching 1000 amps at 8kHz and 192 volts, in some sense we have just built a 192kw AM radio station at quite low frequency. Were I to modulate it with a microphone, you could probably pick me up in California – although very low down on the dial.

    This is part of the BMS problem. It is invisible. You can’t see it. It doesn’t make your skin tingle. But it is there. And all those wires, who also exhibit some level of capacitance between each other and hopefully not the car frame lead to some unpredictable noise components.

    So to my eye, a nest of heavy cable running every direction to accomplish all this switching just looks UGLY. The reason it looks UGLY to my eye is that I’m seeing a lot of unintended interactions going on through these stray capacitance and inductance at really current levels I’m not accustomed to thinking in.

    The reason I’m ranting is we probably don’t talk about this much, and perhaps should. Connections are important, but routing and minimizing distance are also a big but subtle deal. Some electrical circuits just seem haunted by magic anomalies. They are really exhibitions of resonance and feedback because of these stray inductance and capacitance issues.

    So I would just mention that clean tight short and straight are GOOD things to think about when wiring particularly the power wiring. Loops and twirls carry a price and should be balanced with what you GET out of the deal. An example would be our additional six cells in the hump. When the idea was brought up, I immediately went to cable lengths and routing to accomplish it and it was just a little big ugly. I finally decided it was worth it, largely because the positive terminal wound up extremely close to the positive battery terminal of the Soliton1.

    Jack Rickard

  27. Hey Jack:

    Great segment on the Batt Bridge. The Pots are a great tweak, but I REALLY like your Ammeter circuit. Gauges just tell you SO much more than indicators. The amp gauge on Redux is equally interesting. Fabulous meter, Brian…

    I have a question about the ammeter:

    I would prefer to use an auto ammeter for this, because they are presumably hardened for the environment (vibration, humidity, etc.) and because they are generally cheaper than the shipping to get one to me. They’re also available in a huge variety of sizes and styles, most are 12V lighted, and its no surprise they are the ideal unit for a car.

    My question is: while I don’t care about the scale on the face of the instrument, (its pretty easy to find one without numerals at all,) or device’s operational range, usually 30-0-30 Amp, I actually want to set it up with the proper amount of deflection for this application, so that a full sweep (typically 45-90 degrees) is something like 2-0-2 volts. Is there any way to do this, or is the solution only to buy a non-automotive 2-0-2 amp gauge, and then try to light it with 12V and keep it alive in the dashboard of the car?

    I know this is really an Electric Devices 101 question, but how would I measure any old car ammeter easily to check its sweep and accuracy, and then what would could I use to wire it up and calibrate it correctly? I’ve watched the segment three times, and I’m a little confused about something else:

    Your numbers don’t seem to add up. Assuming you have a 2K Ohm gauge, wouldn’t you need an 18K (20K?) pot to make the circuit work, or something like 82K resistors with a 10K pot? I’m pretty much the electronics class dunce here, but do I at least have the numbers right from the whiteboard?

    Beyond that, basically, is a center-balanced auto ammeter something that can be recalibrated, or must I have a 2-0-2 (lab) gauge?


  28. Jack:

    Also, on a completely different subject: The Solectria/Azure Dynamics surplus Vicor bricks you are using (VI-251-09, and VI-B51-09, which I know you don’t use but bear with me,) are from a special run Vicor did for Solectria, and the actual specs are a trade secret neither Azure Dynamics nor Vicor will release. I tried. These bricks are easily identified by the suffix “-09” in the model number. They were sourced for a huge run of DC-DC converters, the sale of which fell through, and its very likely that if you open up one of the AZD DCDC750 units, four of these bricks are inside. AZD would neither confirm nor deny that.

    When I asked Troy Gaud, in the absence of a spec sheet, what the real range on these “-09” bricks is, (as they do not conform to standard V200 series specs on the label,) he took a couple of days to tell me that the engineers reported to him were good to “at least” 250V, and that they “begin to brown out” at about 130V, and that I should consider that their lowest operational input voltage. Since The AZD DCDC750 has an operational range “between 200V and 400V nominal” I’ve never really known what to make of these bricks.

    Do you have much experience and confidence with them over the range you describe, from 96V up to a limit of 215V or so?


  29. Jack, I saw the aux shaft in the picture and assumed the end powering the transmission was the same diameter. And then I remembered the twisted fitting from the Mini Cooper project. So you see the reason for my concern.

    Looking at the business end I think I see a fitting or is this actually part of the “special shaft” that was made.

    Thanks for the clarification on what Jim Husted did to the motors.


  30. Since your into making movies now, and I’d rather watch these movies on my TV, would you be interested in putting your content onto ROKU?


    I’d rather watch on a TV in my exercise room while riding my bike than sitting in my home office watching on my computer. With the length of these shows, I’ll be in great shape, and the weight loss should give me better range on my car.

    I’m hooked on this Roku device. I’ve not watched any broadcast TV since getting it. I can watch whatever I want whenever I want. Very cool.


  31. Tom/Vicor Bricks.

    I have quite a bit of experience with the J series Vicor bricks for 300 v to 12v conversion. Much more powerful and I like them a lot 180 to 400v input and I have tested that.

    This VI-251 series is as you claim, remaindered from Azure Dynamics. They must have a brazillion of them.. I probably bought twenty of them six months ago and they STILL have them on eBay. I think they are $24.95 each.

    I have NOT tested the input voltages on these bricks. But one of the things I like about the Vicor product is very wide input and output ranges. You can trim DOWN all you want on the output. ANd as I said, the J series has a 120v wide input range.

    In this particular case, we are at 192 volts and they are labelled 200. The data sheet on the VI series is very clear on the voltages for 251 – 96 to 215. I don’t know what is “special” about the -09.

    Here’s the spec sheet. http://cdn.vicorpower.com/documents/datasheets/ds_vi-200.pdf

    The 2 is the series (200) the 5 is the input range nominally 150 volts and full power from 100 to 200. You can get 75% power down to 85 volts and it will handle transient voltages up to 215.

    Now that’s the spec sheet on VI-251 series bricks. Codes following that are normally pin types, temperature ranges, and packaging options. I did notice the pins are a little different on these, smaller than most of the bricks I’ve seen.

    But the brick IS labelled 200v as the input. I don’t have a variable supply in this range that will put out sufficiently to do a load test. from 100 up to 300.

    But it seems to work very well at around 190.

    Jack Rickard

  32. Tom/re Meter

    There is no such thing as a 2-0-2 meter to my knowledge Tom. Generally, we are talking about a 50 uA zero center meter.

    It’s pretty simple. Measure the resistance of the meter coil with an ohmeter. I think you’ll find it somewhere around 2k. You want 2v for full deflection. That’s 2/2000 or 0.001 amperes (1 ma).

    So that’s the current you want through the meter. Take half your pack voltage, in this case 95 volts, and divide that by the 1 ma – in this case that results in a figure of 95000. That’s 95kohms.

    The meter is already 2 kohms. So you need 93. Let’s say half the pot and your leg resistor must be 93K. So probably best at 89K and on each leg and an 8k pot. THe pot is just a percentage of the resistance and gives you a range to “trim” the needle for zero with two equal voltages. You just wire it up, measure your voltages to make sure they ARE equal at rest, and then turn the pot until the meter is dead center.

    After that, a 2v differential should generate a 1 ma current through the meter and full scale deflection.

    If I were really building it? Both leg resistors would also be pots. Then I’d center it and adjust the leg pots for full deflection when I put in a simulated 2v.

    You’re quite correct. The trend and direction info on a needle is MUCH more informative than three LED’s. Also more expensive. I just ordered such a meter off of eBay for $73 I think. Three LED’s are a penny these days. They come in bags of 500 or 1000.

    I suspect all of this would work just about how I described it with an ordinary 30-0-30 ammeter from a car. Maybe I’ll get one and wire it up to see. Basically, it’s the same thing described above and starts with a resistance measurement of the meter.

    Jack Rickard

  33. Tom/Further on Vicor bricks.

    Reread your post. I’ve bought a lot of stuff from TroyGaud over the past year or so. He’s kind of a steady supplier. If he says 130 to 250 I’d say you’ve pretty much got the best info out there on input voltage.

    Going past that, you have to have a variable supply from 100-300 at about 20 amps. And a constant current load at probably 15. And a voltmeter on the output. You start in the middle at 15 amps and 12 volts, and adjust the input until the voltage starts to drop on the low end. On the high end, usually they will shut off to protect themselves. Or you may let the smoke out.

    The J series is much higher power at 500 watts output and I like that. 200 watts is really not a lot. I put three on this box and have 600 watts. The Chennics did VERY pooorly this time supposedly with 800 watts.

    I’m told by the guys at EVnetics that they have a PILE of these Chennics that let the smoke out. I had bench basically the same model a year ago and they would make 45 amps and hold voltage – 50% over the claim. But these didn’t last a week.

    Oh well…

    Jack Rickard

    Jack Rickard

  34. Yeah, the 12V power requirement is very vehicle-specific, and mostly about the car’s age and how much crap is running off of it.

    600W is probably overkill for the Speedster, especially with LED/Halogen lighting, but for your Escalade its less than half what you might need. I think that big Caddy comes with a 145 Amp alternator stock, and I’ve seen 240 Amp units intended for the loud music crowd. Everything on that truck just eats power. IIRC the ventilation blower is on a 50 Amp circuit. With that on full defrost, and the rear defroster on, if you need the ABS, you’ll be out of juice at 600W.

    BTW, There is finally a lock-up torque converter for the Powerglide, which I still think is the right gearbox for your truck, although at 1:1 on top it would likely require taller final drive in both diffs, or a Gear Vendors overdrive unit. The racing PG with the lock-up TC is here:


    With a GV overdrive and 4×4 adapter instead of the 2WD tail shaft, this could still be shorter than your 4l80e-based 6X. You’re probably tired of hearing from me about gearboxes…

    Matt’s the expert there, but it seems to me you might need a shorter transmission. When I first saw Jim Husted’s tandem monsterpiece, I thought: “Holy crap, that’s about a foot longer than a 6.2L Vortec longblock! They’re going to have to build a new crossmember where the radiator support is just to hold it, and the accessory drive might not even fit behind the grill, let alone the A/C condenser, which won’t fit any more.” Of course you’ll have to figure something out there. Maybe a Corvette condenser, or something else that’s short. Or tall and skinny and off to one side. Or maybe a shorter transmission, or something. It could also be an optical illusion and everything just drops right in no problem…

    Wow, men, what a project. Its cool beyond all reason, and a head-first plunge into the deep end of the pool by every measure and in almost every detail. I can’t wait to see how you get that sewer main of a motor stuck into the engine bay of that truck, which isn’t looking so huge to me anymore…

    Its going to be great TV no matter what.


  35. How about using the 600W bricks to charge a 12V battery? The bat will buffer high current draw peaks. The Escalade already has a 12V battery or one can be built out of Lithium cells.


  36. That won’t work, JR.

    The 12V bricks can only be trimmed up to output 13.2V or so, not enough to charge a 6 cell lead battery, or 4 cells of Lithium batteries.

    You can get 13.8V nominal Vicor bricks, but I’ve never seen one surplus, so it would be something like $800-$1600 in bricks alone to make up a DC-DC converter out of 3-6 of them.


  37. “The 12V bricks can only be trimmed up to output 13.2V or so, not enough to charge a 6 cell lead battery, or 4 cells of Lithium batteries. “

    The lithium should live a long and happy life staying charged at 3.3v per cell. Or am I missing something?

  38. palmer_md
    Why Hulu or whatever hardware. My pc has a hdmi connection. Feeds the TV very nicely at the video’s full res. Makes the TV/youtube/net tv/games etc. More worthwhile in all respects.

    Those DC-DC converters.
    Maybe use two on two different sets of loads. Neater and more compact than messing around with “other” batteries.

  39. Well actually, we DID a small battery from 16 A123 cells at one time. Made an interesting fire within a couple of months.

    For the escalade, I kind of like the idea of two DC-DC converters – maybe 600 watts each. Then we’re going to buffer that with a 500F 16.8v capacitor made of six of the Maxwell Ultracaps. That should provide about 500 times the buffering in the stereo capacitors, while knocking ALL the noise off the 12v forever.

    Jack Rickard

  40. Do those Ultracaps have nice and low series inductance so that they can scrub off the fast rise-time transients? I parallel smaller, low ESR, caps with the big boys to take care of the trash. -Klaus

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