evmini.caMaking an Electric Mini

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Title:Making an Electric Mini

Description:Latest Post ?·? First Post ?·? All Posts My name is Dylan Parker and I've created this page to document the process of converting my 1978 Austin Mini 1000 into an electric vehicle. I had little to no...

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Making an Electric Mini Follow on Tumblr Ask me anything RSS Feed Archive Making an Electric Mini Latest Post · First Post · All Posts My name is Dylan Parker and I've created this page to document the process of converting my 1978 Austin Mini 1000 into an electric vehicle. I had little to no experience working on cars when I started, so this project has provided a steep -- yet satisfying -- learning curve. I took my first test drive on Oct 5 2012. I consider the conversion to be completed as of Jan 2013. Donor Car — 1978 Austin Mini 1000 Motor — HPEV AC50 Controller — Curtis 1238-7501 Battery Pack — 32x Lithium Ion 100AHA Pack Voltage — 96V Nominal Pack Weight — ~250 lbs (~112 kg) DC-DC Converter — Sure Power 71030i Battery Charger — Delta-Q Quiq 96V Max. Range — approx. 80 km Full Charge Time — approx. 10 hrs Full Charge Cost — approx. $1 Cost per KM — $0.01 Search Posts Featured Posts Recent Tweets @dylanparker marcelobrisac-blog Asks: Dylan, congratulations and thank you for sharing all of this. I am planning to convert a mini moke into electric and I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions. You decided to get rid of the original transmission from the beginning. It made some sense since you would have had to fabricate something to close the gear box once the engine was gone. But then, you had to fabricate the whole subframe again. If you were to start now, would you replace the transmission or try to keep the orig? evmini Said: Hi Marcel. Congrats on your plans to convert your moke! That would be a fun car to have as an electric. Your question is fair, but I don’t think I know enough about cars to answer it properly. Specifically, I don’t know what would be involved in interfacing an electric motor with the stock Mini gearbox. I was trying to avoid breaking new ground… so I knew that people had successfully mounted Honda D-Series transmissions in a Mini, and I knew there were adapter plates available to mate the D-Series transmission with an electric motor. With that in mind, I went that path since I knew each step was feasible. Earlier on I did discuss with Randy at CanEV the idea of fabricating some sort of adapter for the Mini gearbox, but it would have involved removing and taking the gearbox on a drive to him to see if it would work. Also, I believe, the initial quote to build an adapter wasn’t so different than having the subframe modified for the Honda transmission. I think if I had to do things again now, I’d look into skipping the gearbox entirely and just go with some sort of single-geared direct drive setup. I really only drive in 3rd and then use reverse for backing up. A single geared setup could handle reverse just by spinning the motor the other way. Hope this helps. Nov 17, 2014 12:41 pm 0 notes Comments nelsonpk58 Asks: Congrats on your EV conversion ! Great to read all about it. You certainly are a determined guy, especially doing all of it with the car outdoors. Just bought a 1991 mini to use around town. The car has been largely restored, but has no engine in it. So as I was looking around for an engine, I was wondering about an electric conversion, and there you were. Now I have decide to go gas or take the plunge to EV... Thanks for sharing your experience. Paul, Montreal. evmini Said: Thanks for your comment, Paul. I strongly encourage you to take the plunge. I took many detours with my conversion that weren’t totally necessary (ie keeping the original speedometer) and the process could surely take less time for anyone starting with some car knowledge. Be sure to document it if you do start and post the link back here. Good luck. Let me know if you have any questions. Sep 9, 2013 12:23 pm 0 notes Comments Post-Conversion Update It’s been about 6 months since the conversion was completed and I’ve put about 700 electric kms on the Mini so far (mostly in the past two months). The Mini is my around-town errand car and gets taken out at least once a day. Other than a tire alignment issue (now fixed) and a lithium battery issue (one refuses to hold a charge – in process of being replaced) the car has been an absolute dream to drive. I plug the Mini in overnight about once every few days. The addition to my electricity bill is too small to notice. I got a chance to show the car off at our local EV meetup. Some great feedback and hopefully inspires some other conversions. I already have some ideas on upgrades / modifications to my setup, but figure I’ll drive it as-is for at least a year before pulling anything apart. Jul 17, 2013 11:30 am 1 note Comments Mechanical to Electronic Speedometer Conversion After realizing that the old Mini mechanical speedometer couldn’t be directly driven by the Honda transmission, I started searching for some solutions to allow me to keep the stock gauge. I had some frustrations with the Cable-X box solution and decided that having the gauge professionally converted was just overkill (and expensive). My last attempt before just giving in and using a new programmable speedometer was to buy the smallest programmable speedometer I could find and see if I could do the mechanical to electronic conversion myself. SpeedHut was the only company I found that could give me a small programmable gauge that went from 0 to 150 km/h across a 240° sweep. The company was incredibly helpful in answering questions and I’d highly recommend them to people needing programmable gauges. Here is the SpeedHut speedometer beside my Mini speedometer. I disassembled the Mini speedometer. A few crimped edges, some screws and it all comes apart. Then I disassembled the SpeedHut gauge and tested if it would fit within the Mini enclosure while keeping the needle centered and not blocking lights and fuel gauge etc. The SpeedHut gauges can come with a button on their face, or on the end of a cable that plugs into the back of the speedometer. I opted for the back and found I could nicely coil the cable in the rear of the Mini enclosure and then mounted the button through one of the old mounting holes. I don’t plan on using that button (except for initial calibration) but left it handy just in case. After loosely centering the electronic speedo, I replaced the Mini faceplate to see where the odometer LCD would sit. I knew the SpeedHut gauge had the odometer below the needle and the stock Mini odometer is above needle, but I hoped I could just rotate the center disc and have it lineup. At first it looked plausible, but then after powering up the Speedometer I discovered the odometer was about 10px lower on the LCD than I needed. The window didn’t line up. In the photo below, the middle disc is rotated and moved a fair bit off-center to get the odometer visible. The SpeedHut gauge also has a trip meter below the odometer, but to make that viewable would mean widening the window or fabricating something new. I wasn’t concerned about the Trip meter. I mulled for a bit, then decided I’d unsolder the LCD from the Speedometer to see how much play there was in positioning. I discovered that the LCD has a small ribbon cable for data and the main soldering is to power the LCD backlight. After some more mulling, and some tests I decided that I didn’t want or need the LCD to ever be lit (the Mini speedo has backlighting already) and so boldly decided to remove the backlight from the LCD completely. The backlight panel is quite bulky and with that out of the way the LCD now had enough play to slide closer to the needle and allow for correct alignment through the rotated Mini odometer window. I used some silicone to securely stick the LCD exactly where I wanted it and let that dry. With the backlight gone, the LCD panel was now quite inset behind the odometer window. I wanted the LCD brought closer to the speedometer face. The SpeedHut gauge came with a plastic spacer that, amazingly, was perfect to raise the gauge off the back of the Mini enclosure to bring it flush with the odometer window. Nice! I siliconed the spacer to the gauge then siliconed them both to the back of the Mini enclosure making sure to get the needle exactly centered. I was feeling pretty confident at this point, so decided I should calibrate the Speedometer while the screen was fully visible. Calibration is done by hooking the speedometer up to your vehicle speed sensor and then putting the speedometer into ‘calibration’ mode. You then drive exactly 4km and stop the calibration. The speedometer tallies the number of pulses it saw and can now give you an accurate speed reading. Rather than mapping out a route, I used the Odometer+ iphone app to tell me when I’d driven exactly 4km. Easy peasy. The calibration went well, and the needle seemed to be reacting appropriately for the rest of my drive home. I say 'seemed to’ since I didn’t have any speedometer face on during this calibration. In retrospect, once I was pretty sure the speedometer was going to work for my needs, I could have done the calibration before the integration got too far along. Before final assembly, I needed a way to attach the the center disc to the speedometer face. In the original setup, the disc was fastened to the mechanical internals with two small bolts. I decided to attach a piece of copper across the face for the front disc to bolt to. In retrospect this was unnecessary – I could have just siliconed it permanently and placed the bolt heads there for show – but it made sense at the time. The end look is the same. The center disc, now rotated, has all of the white lettering upside down. So before attaching the center disc with the two bolts, I gave it a spray paint with some matte engine enamel I had lying around. The colour and texture is not identical but I’m pretty happy with the end result. Yes I lose the text, but I couldn’t think of an easy way to keep it. Also, I think the gauge looks nice and clean without it. Before final assembly I also gave the needle a new paint, cleaned up the glass, polished the chrome, re-attached the bottom fuel gauge and then put it all back together. I am very pleased with the result of this custom conversion. It really wasn’t that difficult in the end, but I definitely got lucky with how well things pieced together. Here is the fully assembled speedometer. Success! Now to go and sell the Cable-X box… Jan 25, 2013 3:05 pm 1 note Comments I received my SpeedHut electronic speedometer today and have been disassembling and trying out different orientations within the mechanical Mini speedometer. I’ll have more information and photos once I get further along, but first testing looks promising. Jan 22, 2013 8:05 pm 0 notes Comments Cable-X Redux It’s been 2 months since I declared my speedometer problems solved. Unfortunately, that is not the case. As a recap, I wanted to keep the stock Mini speedometer and make it work with the electronic speed sensor in my Honda transmission. I opted for a small black box made by Abbott Enterprises in the States that listens to the pulses coming from the speed sensor and then spins the mechanical speedo cable the appropriate amount. Between the pointless shipping of the box back and forth for resultless testing, a manual adjustment of the box to prevent its internal motor from spinning against the case, to issues with cable binding once all parts were bolted down, to the box’s extreme sensitivity to even the most minor of arcs in the speedo cable… I have wasted too much time pursuing this as a solution. At the moment, I have the box mounted, wired and connected in my EV. Yes, it technically ‘works’ if you ignore the sluggish needle activity at low speeds. But the dealbreaker for me is the overly whiny noise the cable-x produces. I would strongly suggest that the cable-x should never be considered for use in an electric vehicle. Electric cars are quiet. Adding this overly-whiny stepper motor to the car defeats the purpose of getting rid of the noisy ICE. It sounds like I have an electronic kids toy with dying batteries trapped under my hood. And from what I can tell, this is normal behaviour for this box. It just isn’t noticed usually because the usual gas engine drowns it out. Also, I sent it back to the manufacturer, they tested it, and sent it back to me indicating that it fully meets their standards. I’ve been stewing on this for a while hoping to have some positive news and solutions before posting anything. My latest plan is to order a small programmable speedometer from SpeedHut and have them modify the range to be 0-150KM/h across a 240° sweep. Next, disassemble my stock mechanical Mini speedometer and somehow mount the faceless SpeedHut speedo through the back of the Mini speedometer and re-attach the Mini needle. There will be some mucking about with odometer windows and mounting holes etc etc, but I’m hoping this will let me get the result I’m looking for. If this turns out to be unrealistic, I’ll likely just purchase a SpeedHut GPS speedo with built-in fuel gauge, high-beam and turn signal indicators. Jan 10, 2013 2:05 pm 0 notes Comments I needed to pull two wires through the under-car conduit today for the BMS cell loop circuit. With the battery box out to pull wires I took the opportunity to also pull a 3-wire power cable to connect the hood-mounted battery charger to a marine-grade inlet plug mounted in the old gas cap location. After much frustration I finally got the wires pulled through and then wired up and mounted the gas-cap inlet plug. Check out the pictures but I think it turned out really well. I also re-installed the batteries with all of their BMS cell modules glowing green. I now need to actually wire up the BMS head board for proper notification and action on LVC/HVC events but – if I understand correctly – there shouldn’t be any harm with charging with just the cell modules installed. Nov 26, 2012 8:38 pm 0 notes Comments BMS Weekend I received my MiniBMS (distributed) kit a few days ago but unfortunately it arrived with some of the cell modules with the wrong sized rings and too-long wiring. It also wasn’t clear to me whether the mismatched units had their LVC/HVC values set the same. In the end it turned out they were workable and just needed wires shortened and new rings crimped on. I took care of that on Friday in preparation for more BMS work this weekend. When I show people my EV they are almost always interested in seeing the batteries. My batteries without a BMS looks nice and clean and the simplicity is apparent and easy to explain. I was worried about installing the BMS as many photos I’ve seen online make the BMS wiring look so complicated that it surely discourages many people contemplating an EV conversion. I instead want people to shrug and think “that doesn’t look too hard”. I started by installing a few cell modules to a single bank of batteries. Unfortunately the cabling that creates the looped circuit attaches with spade connectors that point away from each other. After muddling with it for a bit I decided to bend my spade connectors at about 45° so I could minimize the direction changes I needed to do. After some measuring I determined that I needed 14 short connectors and 13 long. So, I cut all my lengths and got down to my crimp, bend and solder session. And here they are sized, crimped, soldered and bent. The batteries aren’t all connected together here – let alone installed in the car – but the tiny green LEDs indicating that each battery is between LVC and HVC is comforting. Here is a better closeup of the cell-to-cell wiring where I tried to avoid the octopus-effect and make the connections consisten. Most of this work was done yesterday, and I planned to re-install the batteries today, wire up the BMS head module and test things out, but alas I wasn’t able to slice out some time. I’ll post more photos once that gets completed. Nov 25, 2012 7:29 pm 0 notes Comments Custom Heater Switch The original Mini used a heater pull-cord to control the flow of radiator fluid through the heater assembly. It has this great little fire icon (much clouded-over with age) and I decided I wanted to clean it up and re-use it with the new ceramic heater setup. I disassembled the original pull-cord and discovered that one of my recently purchased push-pull switches could be force-mounted to the old switch enclosure. Here is the finished push-pull switch with the original knob and fire icon all cleaned up. I’m pretty pleased with how this worked out. It keeps the original look and functionality but works with the updated heater assembly. Nov 18, 2012 4:41 pm 0 notes Comments Time for a Battery Management System My front-right hybrid axle (Honda inners, Mini outers) are making a few clunk and whiny sounds under certain conditions. I pulled out the axle for a close inspection of the CV joint and inner axle joint but no problems stood out to my inexperienced eyes. I booked an appointment with a local mechanic that specializes in Minis and was going to drive it up Monday. I checked the distance and it is about 20km away. That is a significantly longer drive than I’ve done so far with this EV. My lack of a battery management system (BMS) on my batteries doesn’t seem to be an issue with the shorter drives and topping up charges. I check the batteries regularly and all 32 stay remarkably in balance. My concern is that with the deeper discharge of the batteries for a longer drive that I’ll run into balancing issues when trying to re-charge and potentially damage a battery by overcharging. So, I put in an order for a Mini BMS system today from CanEV.com. It should arrive by early next week at the latest and I can get that installed to put my battery balancing concerns to rest. For the moment, I’ll stick to short trips and continue on some more cosmetic changes to the car. Nov 15, 2012 12:41 pm 0 notes Comments Cable-X Resolved I’m very frustrated with the Cable-X people at Abbott Enterprises. After some expensive round-trip shipping, they returned the device to me last Friday with the box clearly labelled “TESTED-NO-PROBLEMS-FOUND”. They had never contacted me about the problems I was having and so I hoped this was just a way to avoid my paying double sales-tax. I attached their provided speedo cable and re-installed the Cable-X box between my VSS and speedometer to do the initial test startup. Immediately it was clear that no changes had been made and the problem of a struggling Cable-X motor still existed. I just about smashed the box on the ground. Long story short, I eventually pulled the box apart and diagnosed the device myself and discovered the components were mounted incorrectly so that the electric motor was non-centred with its shaft too close to the box wall. This meant that things seemed fine until you actually bolted the speedometer cable to the box which caused the electric motor shaft to rub against the enclosure. Why didn’t Abbott Enterprises try that? So, in the end, I have a working Cable-X box that is correctly interfacing between my 1993 Honda Civic transmission electronic Vehicle Speed Sensor and the stock 1978 Classic Mini mechanical speedometer (and odometer). Hooray! So far, I recommend Cable-X if you have a similar VSS-to-mechanical situation. Just don’t rely on them for support if things go wrong. UPDATE (Jan 10 2013): I no longer recommend Cable-X for EV applications. Read more here. Nov 15, 2012 12:31 pm 0 notes Comments With the ongoing rainy weather I decided to replace the sluggish old windshield wiper motor. I thought it would be an easy swap, but alas, it actually involves pulling apart the motor enclosures and swapping gears and cables. New wiper motor looks great and functions great. Nov 5, 2012 10:37 am 0 notes Comments Cable-X Issues I got a chance to test out the Cable-X box today. After some issues with the 3-wire Honda VSS plug (I purchased on Ebay earlier ) I discovered that a part of the original plug was still lodged in the VSS plug inlet on top of the transmission. After digging it out with a tiny screwdriver I could finally seat the purchased plug all the way down. Understand that I am downplaying the time this procedure took to unfold. Once that was figured out could actually test a powered VSS and powered Cable-X box. The box functioned, but the little motor it used to turn the speedo cable was sluggish and whiny and always seemed like it was being restricted somehow. Even with the speedometer cable unplugged from the speedometer and straightened out, it still was sluggish and struggling. I took a short video demonstrating the delayed start and whiny finish and sent it to the people at Abbott Enterprises for their diagnosis. I received a reply within hours declaring the Cable-X motor faulty and that I needed to send them everything back. Argh. More cross-border shipments and delays. I shipped it all back to them this afternoon via UPS with a Tuesday delivery in Arkansas. I think at this point UPS has received more in shipping fees than the device is actually worth. Unfortunately, if I want to use the original Mini speedo, this is the best solution I know of. My Father arrives tomorrow from out of town and at least I have a functioning EV (minus a speedo) for him to check out. Oct 26, 2012 8:44 pm 0 notes Comments I received the new encoder and contactor today. Within 10 minutes of delivery I was outside with the car jacked up, tire off and the encoder casing being removed. Installation was trivial. Merely removing two screws and sliding sideways off the metal encoder wheel. The new one installed just as easily. Next I swapped out the new contactor for the old one and then tentatively snapped the main breaker. All seemed good so I gave inserted the key and turned the ignition. Success! Everything is working again! My wife and I decided we wanted to keep the original speedometer, which is tricky since it is mechanically driven and the Honda transmission has an electronic Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS). I found a company in the US that offers a product specifically for this problem. It is called Cable-X by Abbott Enterprises Inc. Because of my unusual setup I needed to ship them the old Mini speedometer cable after which they sent me a Cable-X box with both the old cable and a new cable. The idea is the Cable-X box listens to the signal coming from the VSS and then translates that into spinning a small motor to spin your speedometer cable. I have the Cable-X box and have been going through the initial calibration process to determine the dip-switch settings so the Cable-X knows the proper conversion from pulses to speedometer for my configuration. It is mostly wired up, but I need to test it out, then mount it somewhere near the VSS in the car. Once I get to that stage I’ll post some pictures. Oct 25, 2012 1:52 pm 0 notes Comments While waiting for the encoder to arrive I decided to pull the heater for some slight modifications. I was concerned that the ceramic heater would get too hot for the casing and so I left the surrounding radiator fins intact to dissipate the heat. It turns out that the fan easily keeps up with cooling the heater and that the bare surrounding fins just allow cool air to be blown into the cabin of the car. So I took some more sealant and sealed off one entire side of the radiator. Now the air will be forced to go through only the heated section. The single ceramic heater element draws about 13A peak. Although it does provide good heat, I’m considering installing a second element in the same air path and then adding a switch to run one or both at the same time. The 28A draw will definitely affect range but it won’t be on constantly, and knowing the car can be adequately warmed will surely result in it being used more often through the winter. I’m really hoping the encoder and contactor arrive soon. Oct 24, 2012 11:20 am 0 notes Comments RSS Feed Ask me anything Previous Page Next Page Single A Theme :: Version 1.3 :: By Business Bullpen

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