I’ve been receiving more products in the mail lately and figured I had better start experimenting with them before I get overwhelmed with too many things. Tonight I decided to learn how to wire up a switch to my DC-to-DC converters and light up the LED within it using the 12 volt output.
I had quite a few adventures trying to get it setup with the buckey converter first using a bench power supply. I had experimented previously setting up the buck converter in my car after replacing some fused, but without a switch. I took it one step at a time.
Light up the LED with 12 volts from the bench power.
Light up the LED with the buck converter.
Turn the voltage regulator on and off with the button.
I made a few mistakes, but I was able to get it working in the end. The buck transformer is only setup to deliver 5 amps over 12 volts, for a total of 60 watts. The next test was to try out a DC-to-DC step down converter capable of 30 amps over 12 volts as 360 watts. This converter was a bit special since it had a wire for a key switch.
It has a minimum of 48 volts that it will work with. My bench supply only delivers a maximum of 32 volts. The rest of my adventures were out in the garage wiring it up to my cars batteries.
I had a very difficult time with the instructions. There were two main issues that held me up. The one that held me up the most was the diagram of the key switch leading to the 12 volt output supply with yellow and black wires. The written instructions were a bit off as well regarding wire thicknesses. The actual wire harness did not match the photo on the instructions regarding red wire sizes relative to each other.
I made a few corrections and posted them here as a reference for anyone else who may be considering this device, or have already purchased it and are just going nuts trying to figure it out.
For your viewing pleasure, watch me as I tried to figure this out.
I’ve been talking with a few people in CitiCar and Comuta-Car groups and to someone at D&D Motor Systems to replace the motor that I’ve got. The model numbers of the motor and axle that I have do not provide enough information alone.
For anyone going down the same route, here are the numbers that I see, that you can use for reference. The motor has some details on its plate, but some of the details are worn. I am unable to see the serial number at the moment:
5BC 49 JB 327 C
Motor plate information
Numbers 820178-4, 5, and 20 appear on the axle. Another number appears as 815107X, but it may also be 8/5/07X or 8/5107X or 8/5107X.
The number five appears in the center of a circle, tilted on its side, with eight dots around it in odd positions filling eight of ten spaces.
There is also a letter “D” with a letter “W” inside of it.
I need to pull the motor off of the Dana spider axle to see inside and identify the motor coupler, spline, or shaft it will need. I’m not at all a car guy, but that’s the lingo I keep hearing. I’ll just pull it off, snap a few pictures, count things, and make some measurements with my calipers. How hard can it be? After all, I’ve watched David Brunson install a motor on his Comuta Car, so I’m certain that I am an expert mechanic now.
I wasn’t sure if removing the motor involved axle oil spilling out. I was told no, but then a few people chimed in and started offering tips on how to replace the axle geese. I figured while I’m working in that area on a 40 year old car, what bad could come from fixing something that ain’t broke? It felt like general maintenance that should be done every X-thousand miles or X-years, whichever came first. Sure enough, the owners manual had something to say about it:
SIX MONTHS AFTER PURCHASE AND EVERY SIX MONTHS THEREAFTER
Check differential fluid level. Use 90 weight Hypoid gear oil. Fill to top. In cold weather lighter weight fluid may be used. It is not advisable to mix different weights. When changing types of oil, flush system. Use no lighter than 30 weight oil.
I’m under the impression that the “every six months” is just topping off what’s already there, but this thing is so old, I’m wondering what I’ll find inside. I think I can just drain the fluid and fill it back in. If I need to crack it open, I’ll have everything on hand, just in case.
Mobil 1 Synthetic Gear Lubricant LS 75W-90, 1 Quart
Permatex Ultra Black Maximum Oil Resistance RTV Silicone Gasket Maker (3.35 oz)
Performance Tool Multi Use Pump
CRC Brakleen® Break Parts Cleaner Non-Chlorinated (14 wt. oz.)
FloTool Standard Duty 7 Quart Drain Pan
TEQ Correct 2 Ton Hydraulic Trolley Jack
Order from Advance Auto Parts
DC to DC
The other night, I had a few supplies come in. One was a DC-DC Buck converter from 24/36/48v to 12v. I was hoping I could hook it up so that it would work in both the 48 and 24v mode that the car runs in.
I had two sets of wired 12v sockets. I cut one of them in half and spliced the buck converter into the middle. I ran down to the car, hooked everything up and saw/heard an unexpected spark as the wire made contact. Nothing blew up.
I also got one of the cheapest 12v car devices I could find that was still a little useful, but I wouldn’t mind having it blow up if something I did would destroy it. I found a volt meter with 2 usb ports. I plugged it in and it showed 12.7 volts. Everything worked in both the 24 and 48 volt configuration.
Given that I saw the spark, I knew this would always be on, even when nothing was plugged into it. I went ahead and placed an order for a fancy latching switch button that lights up when the power is on. It comes with a pre-wired socket, and I believe I can setup the LED to run off of the 12v supply while the 48v power only flows through the switch itself.
In the mean time, I installed the other socket onto my accessory battery.
Dual USB Car Charger 4.8A Output Cigarette Lighter Voltage Meter
19mm 3/4″ Metal Latching Pushbutton Switch 12V Power Symbol LED
I purchased a little T600 Universal GPS Smart HUD. This thing is more of a curiosity to play around with, but I got it because I needed a battery monitor, and I like some of the features it came with.
This thing feels and looks cheap. It simply gives you the bare bones of features it advertises. The most fancy display has a round swoosh below your current speed.
I had to configure it first to bring the speed adjustments down to 100% and offset to 0 mph. I also played around with the three colors that it shows text in.
The features I like of the T600 Universal GPS Smart HUD
Teddy and I started our trip to pickup some supplies to change the cars axle oil, and to pull the motor off to take a closer look at the spline for the shaft of a new motor. As we pulled into the parking lot, there was a police car strait in front of us. Sometimes I think they are going to make up an excuse to pull me over just so they can have a closer look.
We wern’t at the store for too long, as it was an online order for pickup. It started to rain a little when we took off. I took Teddy over to Gertrude Miller community park on the way home. It got really dark, windy, and rainy very quick. I started wondering if the wind was strong enough to blow the car over.
The trip home was… interesting. The roads were wet. The rain was pretty hard. I had the wiper running along with the lights. I saw my voltage on the accessory battery was down to 12.0v. I even tried the defroster to see if I could defog the window. When I turned on the fan, I didn’t feel any air coming through the window vents. The simple fix was to use my hand to wipe down the window. I’ll have to look into what I can do to defog the windows later.
Dead after arrival
As we pulled into the garage, I turned off the lights. Since I was playing with the GPS HUD, I flipped the switch for the lights back on and see how much they impact the accessory battery.
I suspected that a fuse had blown. I grabbed my multi-meter and tested all seven for continuity. I found the bad apple. When I matched the position up to the cover plate, it was labeled as a fuse for the break, turn signal, and horn. I turned on my turn signal and it worked. I pulled out the fuse… still works. I’ll need to re-label these fuses later. Even if I was reading the panel upside down, the other label indicated it would have been the controller.
Luckily for me, one of my first investments in the car was to purchase a variety of fuses and throw them in the back of my car. The cover plate indicated a 20 amp fuse would be adequate for the lights. I replaced the fuse, and all was well with the world.
I took a look at the burnt out fuse and noticed it was rated for 30 amps! My speculation is that the previous owner put that in there because they got tired of replacing 20 amp fuses. Since this happened at the tail end of the trip, I’m guessing that the wiper motor had too much trouble as I entered the garage. Since it wiped away all of the rain, there was a great deal of friction to continue.
In the meantime, I have a DC fuse block on order with sticky labels and LED’s that light up when a fuse is blown. I’ll add the lights and windshield motor to my list of things to upgrade later.
Regarding the GPS HUD, there were a few things enlightening about it. The speedometer on the car was reporting 4 miles faster than what I was actually traveling at. I was able to set my phone next to the GPS monitor and confirm its accuracy. I thought I was going amazingly fast the other day pushing the car to 33.5 mph, only to realize now that I was going under 30.
On a related note is that the distance I have driven on the odometer is much higher than this new gadget is reporting. There seems to be a large discrepancy in just a few short miles. When I punch my routes into Google Maps, It’s sitting in the middle of the other two.
Advanced Auto Parts
Gertrude Miller Park
With the battery voltage meter, I felt better to see how the lights and a wiper affected the voltage with a general idea of the batteries health. I would still prefer to see a capacity meter of some kind with a percent, colors of red/yellow/green, and a bar showing how much is left.
I used the altitude feature to get an idea about how high the hill is to get out of my little neighborhood. The top of the hill is at 648 feet above sea level, and the lowest point is at 508 feet. Every time I go on a little trip, I’m starting out with a 140 foot tall hill.
I know it’s super cheap, but here are some other things I wish it had
A separate set of leads to connect to your battery – monitor 48v battery voltage while connected to a dc-to-dc 12v converter
A switch to turn it on
Buttons on the front
Better sticky pad. It keeps pulling up from the dash