Last night was a very sad night in my book...the Electric Celica is gone. On my way home and less than a mile from the house, some idiot wasn't paying attention at the wheel. She was coming north into an intersection and did not yield to the flashing yellow for a left turn, and I had the right of way. Yet she continued through not paying attention and slammed into the driver side and crushed my special car...
It pains me dearly to look at these photos yet again, but it is something I have come to accept. A large part of what I put all of my energy towards in my life is now gone. Gone because someone else made a mistake. Gone because they couldn't put their cell phone down and pay attention when driving at night. But through this horrible situation, I am trying to find the light in the dark, and just hope that everything will get better. I am trying to stay positive, despite the other driver's unknown insurance company that has horrific reviews online. While most of this damage is not repairable, it was a big part of my life and taught me more than any other education will. The amount of knowledge that goes into a car is so large, that everything I have learned will forever be engraved in my mind, and memories never forgotten. Unfortunately, this is the second wreck of my car, and this time, there is certainly no recovery. Luckily the passenger in my car and I were both safe and unharmed due to the racing seats installed and having a steel shell of a car. The car was very strong, and protected my girlfriend and I from getting as much as a scratch on either of our bodies, and for that I am eternally grateful. The car has been good to me, from constantly breaking down in the beginning stages, to becoming the most reliable and dependable car in our household, from taking me all the way to cable TV, sponsorships, and tours at corporate HQ's. I will always love and remember my Electric Celica, with my tree branch still in my bumper.
This is another very positive update! The car is pretty much done at this point, and there are only a few little things that need to be done to hand the keys over to the owner. At this point, it was just the main "decorating" parts of the front and rear to make it more aesthetically pleasing. Below you can see the beginning t sort through the wires and organize them more. I also made the clear Lexan covers, and also finished other aesthetics of the front.
With the front now being mostly complete, it was time to transition to the back which would be much more difficult. I started in the rear by organizing all of the wires, securing the dangling ones up clear of road debris, and eliminating any unnecessary wires as well. All high voltage cables were also tied up and organized as well, and covered with orange convoluted tubing for extra security. I also added black KYDEX (a type of plastic) panels near the motor, and black vinyl everywhere else to deflect rain from below, and guide the rain from the top. The interior was also finished and all put back together as well with all wires loomed up and tucked away and secured. The only part left to do in the back, is add the Lexan cover over the components, which only needs to be mounted.
As previously stated in my last post, I did encounter an issue with the J1772 protocol in the Bug. The BMS system I installed, the Orion BMS 2, has built in J1772 capability and simply requires you to hookup the wires to the charge port in the car. Unfortunately, due to the type of charger I was using, this led to error after error and would not allow the BMS to function correctly. I then had to build my own system that would handle the J1772 connectivity.
The parts that need to be handled on the car side, is simply building the network of resistors so that the EVSE is on the same page and knows what is going on. J1772 is essentially a "handshake" between the car and the charging station to make sure all of the factors are in correct order. For my purposes, I simply need to make sure the EVSE knew when it was connected, and the car needed to be able to send a signal to the EVSE when the button is pressed on the plug to cut all power for disconnecting.
In the above schematic, while somewhat complicated, gives you a simplified idea as to how the signaling works. I will explain it more in depth in a later post, but this was the schematic that I had to use when designing my control board. Note, I was wiring a board to control the right side of this diagram, so the "vehicle inlet" and the "vehicle controller" parts.
This was the final board that I came up with, utilizing dual microcontrollers. The second microcontroller should be ignored because this is actually a hybrid board that does two different tasks. But for now, you can see the large network of resistors that makes up the car side of J1772. A microcontroller is simply used to monitor the voltage on one of the J1772 port pins that let you know if the button has been pressed, before disconnecting. This then allows the car to send the signal via the resistors, to the EVSE to cut all power. All of these things happen within just a few milliseconds, faster than the blink of an eye.
Please disregard the dates the next posts are posted, these were all written then uploaded at once.
The Lightning Bug has been rolling along, pun intended. Several weeks ago I got to take the car out for the first test drive, which turned out great. But unfortunately soon after, I went to power up the battery charger for the first time and it did not work. This ended up causing a couple weeks of delay to send the charger back to get repaired. This week the charger arrived home and the first thing I did was hooked it up to the car to test. It powered up right away, and worked perfectly. At this time, the batteries were in dire need of some energy, so I was finally able to crank this really powerful charger all the way up and get those batteries happy. Great, finally a step in the right direction once again.
This charger, the PFC-40 from Manzanita Micro is quite a powerful charger despite it's cost. It is much more powerful than most of the production EV's out there coming in at a blazing 9.6 kW respectively. This works out to pulling about 40 amps at Level 2, and believe it or not, most of the common charging stations aren't quite powerful enough to supply that. Luckily, this is a variable current charger, so there is a knob available to adjust the current if you have a charging station (EVSE) that cannot supply 40 amps.
A little info on an EVSE, or charging station for those who do not know, it is essentially a fancy extension cord. In essence, it uses a protocol called J1772, which is the current standard for all EV's, except for Tesla. J1772 is the charge port most of us see when it comes to EV's.
As you can see, this is the J1772 standard, and that is the plug used with it. In my opinion, while it is just technically a fancy extension cord, I love the functionality. As EV chargers get more and more powerful, the last thing you want is to try to plug in or unplug 9.6 kW of power! This is not only dangerous, but also wears the power pins on the connector prematurely. The whole goal of J1772, is to make sure the user is not ever connecting or disconnecting under full power of the charger. The instant that you press the button to unlatch the charge plug, power is instantaneously cut off by the EVSE (charging station). And this involves simply little networks of resistors, simple yet extremely effective.
In the next post, I will discuss the J1772 issue I had to overcome when setting up this protocol in the Bug.
Unfortunately, over the years the popular RPM sensor we have used on our DC electric motors are not longer in production. This has led me to be forced to create a solution to this important issue. A more cost effective solution is on the way. It is important to know that a physical RPM sensor needs to make pulses on the motor shaft, those pulses are then transmitted to the motor controller interface, and then it is the interface of the motor controller that actually drives the vehicle tachometer.
The idea is based around this small ring that is attached to the end of the shaft, which will spin when the shaft does. This ring has 4 magnets embedded inside it. Something was needed to detect when each of the four magnets came around to a point. This device is called a hall effect sensor, and more common known as a hall effect transistor. This transistor connects the signal wire to ground when there is presence of a magnetic field. This change can then be measured by a microcontroller that is monitoring the signal pin.
According to the manual, the interface of the motor controller states that the RPM sensor must "pull the signal wire low four times per revolution with approximately a 50% duty cycle" (Manzanita Micro Zilla Motor Controller Package and Hairball 2 Interface Owner's Manual). What this means is that exactly 12V must be pulled low (0V) 50% of the time via a square wave signal.
This can be accomplished through the help of a microcontroller that can output PWM, or Pulse Width Modulation. PWM is simply a square wave that is high (in this case 12V) a part of the time and low (in this case 0V) another part of the time. So in this case, it is simply high, or on, half of the time, and low, or off, the other half of the time.
Looking at the diagram below, you can get an idea about how Pulse Width Modulation works and the relationship the duty cycle plays in that. Also note, in the diagram below 'T' is labeled as the Period, which is one complete cycle.
The final design of this RPM sensor is as follows. The hall effect will monitor the magnetic field to detect whether one of the four magnets comes around on the shaft to the sensor. Next, when the microcontroller that is monitoring this hall effect sensor receives a signal that there is a magnet, the microcontroller will produce a PWM signal with a duty cycle of 50% and use an n-channel MOSFET transistor to connect the other signal wire (from the interface of the motor controller) to ground in accordance to the set duty cycle. Transistors allow us to switch circuits on and off incredibly fast, and in this case it will have to send this PWM signal out each of the 4 times the magnets come around on the shaft within one revolution of the motor. The motor can reach speeds of 5000+ RPM, so this little sensor will have to work extremely fast and efficiently.
Once the interface of the motor controller starts receiving this signal from our custom RPM sensor, it will send out another signal wire that will drive the tachometer sitting on the dashboard of the vehicle. This will allow the driver to easily glance over to monitor the RPM of electric motor.
The Lightning Bug features a custom vehicle display. This display provides the driver with the current being pulled out of the pack, state of charge, button for lightning mode button, speaker button, and temperature and humidity readings.
The current, which is similar to the power of your car, is sort of like how much of the accelerator you are applying, and how much power you are pulling out of the battery pack. This is really important because when cruising down the road, you will want to occasionally keep an eye on that so you can be as efficient as possible. This is measured via a 1000 amp hall effect current sensor. This is a sensor that goes over one of the high voltage cables, and then transforms the 0-1000 amps (A) to a scale of 0-5 volts (V). This info can then be read by the controller module of the display which processes this info on the 0-5V scale, and transforms it to 0-1000A on the screen, and also a visual representation on the gauge.
The battery management system, or BMS, monitors all of the cells in the vehicle and performs many calculations. One of the calculations it makes is the battery state of charge, or SOC. The BMS calculates the SOC and then outputs it on a scale of 0-5V so that the controller modules of the display can interpret this into a percentage, and create a visual battery "fuel" gauge.
The controller module of the display is outfitted with a high precision temperature and humidity sensor. This sensor is mounted outside the vehicle so that it can report the outdoor temperature and humidity for this display to inform the driver on startup and on one other menu screen.
The display is also outfitted with two buttons on the second menu screen. These two buttons are "Lightning Mode" and "Speakers". The "Speakers" button turns on the in-car bluetooth amplifier and allows the driver to connect to the car's speakers and start streaming music from their mobile phone. The next button, "Lightning Mode", when toggled on, will actually double the horsepower in the car! This is a very cool feature that allows you to turn your car into a super fast high performance mode.
Mounting components -- very critical to ensure that all components will handle the hard use of a daily driver and last in the test of time. In the lightning bug, there were numerous improvements when mounting the major components, such that they could easily be removed in minutes for service in case anything were to happen. I also wanted to use all stainless steel socket head allen screws because they look much more professional. But one component, did not receive the same "easy removal" installation. That was the DC/DC converter. In the Bug, all of the major electrical control components are mounted on a large aluminum plate which is then mounted in the back of the car, and the components are installed on the surface. The DC/DC converter, was mounted through the back of the large aluminum plate that everything else mounts to, so it had to be installed before the large plate was installed to the car.
The painful lesson came after installing every component to that large aluminum plate in the rear, the DC/DC converter seemed to be acting as if it was defective and it needed to be removed to be tested. I learned that unfortunately, I was not going to be able to get the converter off without taking apart all of the electrical components and all of their wiring apart. I knew that I had to make that component mount in such a way so that I never had to go through that again.
In the picture above, I got a thick piece of 1/4 inch aluminum and drilled the 4 holes that will mate up with the 4 mounting holes on the back of the converter. My idea was to use small socket head allen screws, and drill counter bore style holes as seen in the photo below.
After doing this to all 4 holes, I was able to simply bolt in the converter and make sure all screws were recessed from the surface and strong enough to hold the converter. This can be seen in the image below.
Next, I drilled the outer holes that will secure the convert-plate assembly to the car as seen below.
Mounting to the car:
In the above photo you will see the converter mounted in the car. All that was left to do was mark, drill, and tap the holes on the big aluminum plate on the car. Finally, I simply held the converter up with one hand, and then installed all four stainless steel socket head allen screws with stainless steel washers with it. This created a nice looking installation, and one that would allow me to easily remove it like every other electrical component in the rear of the car. It's fair game to say lesson learned for sure!
I believe the has certainly been neglected for the past few years. Sure a push button start has recently been implemented, but is that really the best innovation that we can do? Why are our cell phones more secure than our vehicles are? You'd think for something worth as much as a car, it should deserve much higher security than simply key.
At Hawkeye Innovations LLC, we are taking a new approach to the ignition system; one that has been long overdue. We have a custom designed fingerprint ignition system, one that is deadly accurate. Our system employs a sensor with a false acceptance rate of 0.001% (Level 3 Security). This system is extremely accurate, and also has an internal storage which can store up to 160 prints in the system. Our ignition system is reliable and super secure. Just think, why shouldn't you have a more secure ignition system in your car? It just makes sense. It makes sense to have a more secure ignition system.
We also offer our Tri Switch Ignition system, a proprietary system when installed into your car, makes it virtually impenetrable. A special system in which prevents almost anyone from ever stealing the car. That is the security that we should've always had in our vehicles, and it is our standard to build cars with only highest levels of ignition security. Ignition security should be convenient, but also secure enough to keep your investment safe from thieves. We believe your car should be secure, which is why we continue to innovate the ignition system for the better.
When discussing any vehicle, safety is definitely one of the most important topics. But when discussing an electric vehicle, safety is almost an even bigger topic than that of a combustion engine. First, let's get one fact straight -- anytime you are traveling with a large amount of stored energy i.e. hydrogen, gasoline, or electricity, there will always be a danger. Now from type to type, the dangers can vary, but there will always be a danger with any of those kinds of vehicles, and there has been for a couple hundred years.
Lithium batteries, thanks to a few spontaneous fires, a couple Samsung cell phones on fire, put lithium batteries under a cloud of caution. Lithium is great for many reasons, but it can also be very dangerous if not treated with respect and caution.
We build our new battery modules out of 1/4 inch Lexan, which is a bulletproof polycarbonate. The 1/4 inch thick material is rated to stop a .22 caliber bullet. While this may seem overkill for our modules, it is important to go overkill in regard to safety. The thick bulletproof box is then assembled with small countersunk stainless steel screws all around the module to create an ultra strong construction. These very tough modules are also mounted to the car through thick steel brackets underneath, securing the modules to the car completely in the case of an accident.
There is also a special switched called an inertia switch implemented in all vehicles. In the case of an accident, on the instant moment of impact this switch shuts down the whole electric vehicle to prevent any kind of runaway event. This was tested in my unfortunate accident with my Electric Celica, upon the instant of being hit, my inertia switch completely shut my car down and prevented any further injury or issues. This is an affordable add on to the electric vehicles that make puts an additional level of important safety on the car.
Battery technology, something that critics of electric vehicles (EVs) have always pointed out as a clear limitation. And yes, of course battery capacity could always improve more, but is that actually a legitimate reason not to drive an EV? With the average person driving only 29 miles a day, why is it necessary to have 330 miles at your disposal in a day? Even having 110 miles in an EV would be considered more than practical for the majority of people when recharging could be completed overnight. That is like having about 1/3 of a gas car's range at your disposal each day, and the majority of people don't drain 1/3 of their gas tank per day. But even with that example, EV's can still easily exceed 200 miles while still maintaining a decent price with for example, the Chevy Bolt.
But is the future of battery technology capacity, lifespan, or both? While capacity is important, but shouldn't a lot of talk be about lifespan as well? For this example, let's examine the cells we use in the Lightning Bug. These cells are produced by Xalt Energy, and according to their spec sheet, to 80% DOD (Depth of discharge), meaning if you use 80% of the battery's capacity, the cells will be good for 14,000 cycles. So in the Lightning Bug, if you drive 88 of the 110 miles range, then recharge, that is one full cycle. When calculating, if one cycle is 88 miles x 14,000 cycles = 1,232,000 miles. What this means, is that the battery pack in the Lightning Bug will last for 1.232 million miles. Obviously, that will outlive the body of the car, in fact it will last for at least 6-8 vehicles! This presents the opportunity to transfer the battery pack into each vehicle that you own! And since the battery pack is half of the cost of all of the parts in the Lightning Bug, being able to pass down your battery pack for that many years is an enormous advantage compared to the average EV battery pack from manufacturers lasting between 8-15 years.
This is why I believe that the life span of the battery pack needs to be seriously considered as an advantage of EVs, or more specifically the EVs from Hawkeye Innovations LLC utilizing these cells. Being able to hand down your battery pack in your vehicles just adds to the multitudes of savings by already owning and driving an EV!
More to come later on battery technology...