I went out on a nice bright sunny day a few weeks ago. People around town were waving, shouting, and honking their horns. On my way home, I tried to honk back at one car and found that I couldn’t. On top of that, my the relay for my turn signals was no longer clicking.
Arriving home, I started diagnosing the problem. From what I found, I no longer had operating break lights, turn signals, windshield wipers, and a horn. I replaced a broken fuse, but nothing started operating again[
I’ve been troubleshooting these problems over a few weekends. Today I had my sights set on just getting the horn working. I confirmed that it was still operating by wiring it directly to my fuse block. I located the two wires in the turn signal controls that wire up to the horn. I then ran a wire from the fuse block to the steering wheel, and another wire to the front of the car and onto the horn. The horn now has its own 10 amp dedicated circuit.
The horn works again – but now the headlights and dashboard lights stopped working. Oh what fun times these are. I long for the days that Teddy and I can drive my little car on the streets again.
Quite a bit has happened since the last post where the majority of my nights and weekends were focused on the CitiCar, and a bit exhausted by time I’m done for the day. The videos were still being posted, but I just didn’t have the mental willpower to write up a detailed account of what was done. here is a brief summary of the last two weeks.
2015 Chevy Volt lithium batteries and charger installed into car and connected in parallel with cables from an old EV and a few battery cables that I made myself from materials provided by a local CitiCar enthusiast.
Battery terminal side-brackets installed.
Main Fuse & Switch
Installed an ANL fuse box to hold the 400 amp ANN fuse. “Sculpted” the cover to make it fit over the thick 2/0 cables and lugs connected to it.
Installed a heavy duty switch to disconnect the power that could handle the large number of amps that the motor will draw from the batteries. Purchased some screws at the hardware store to mount the switch.
Continuing to add cables along the path from the positive battery terminal to a switch, fuse, contactor, etc. Cleaning battery acid from cable lugs donated from another EV.
Fuse box mount
Created a backplate to mount a new 12 volt fuse block out of diamond plate aluminum, and mounted it into the car where the accessory battery had previously sat.
Wired up chargers charging wires. Zip-tied the extension cable going to the J1772 adapter along the cars frame. Ran 10 gauge wire to the front of the car, specifically to run the 12 volt DC-to-DC converter and to control the motor controller and contactors from the dashboard.
Wrapped power supply cable to the front of the car with split tubing to protect it.
Installed a 20 amp 12 volt power supply in the CitiCar to convert the batteries 48v power supply to 12v. At most, it can handle 240 watts.
Added a LED light strip with a switch.
Connect the dashboard to the 12v fuse block. Wire up the frame to the 12v negative. The cabin light is unable to get power. The original contactors are still activating.
Wires and Switches
Painting battery cables red. Starting to prepare other cables to paint.
Comparing two separate motor reversing SW202 style switches. Changing from 12v coils to 48v coils to simplify wiring and reduce the need for relays.
Change the old 120v charger cable into an extension cord by adding a NEMA 5-20R receptacle socket. Added a second charging cable plug to the car so that the batteries can be charged via J1772 in the back, or 120v on the side by changing which cord is plugged into the back of the charger.
Painting Battery Cables
Painting battery cables with Plasti Dip to indicate how they are connected to the batteries. Added heat shrink where it was missing. Cut off rubber terminal covers. Wrapped up terminal ends with painters tape.
Red – Positive, and motor A1
Black – Negative, and motor A2
White – Motor Negative
Blue – Motor S1
Green – Motor S2
Painting battery covers.
Plasti Dip Battery Modules
Continuing painting battery cables and the battery covers on the 2015 Chevy Volt battery modules. Problems with using painting tape to paint two colors of Plasti Dip, as well as an unexpected early morning rain getting things wet. Cleaning up and painting battery modules blue for a more appealing look. Finish painting the battery cables.
Finish Battery & Cables Paint
Finish painting the battery volt modules and peel off the painters tape. Clean and neutralize battery acid on battery cable lugs.
Clean and neutralize acid on passenger side battery box floor. Start laying down thermal layer and toolbox liner.
Improve technique to peel painters tape from wet Plasti Dip to have nice hard edges.
Added some corrasion/oxidizing protector to battery cable lugs and battery box floor.
Battery Box Liner
Line the battery compartment of the CitiCar with toolbox liner. The liner is preferred because it is non-conductive. The frame of the car is conductive and wired to the battery negative, so this helps prevent a short in case a battery positive wire accidentally touches the frame. The thermal barrier may help with battery temperatures and a little extra padding for bumpy rides.
Drivers side was neutralized. Corrosion protector was removed, as it left an oily residue and wouldn’t be suitable for applying adhesives to keep the toolbox liner attached.
High Voltage Stickers
Created some battery labels to warn about high voltage, and to provide details about the batteries.
Drivers Side Batteries Installed
Re-installing the drivers side painted batteries, main switch, and fuse after lining the battery box with toolbox liner.
Battery Terminal Caps
Cut motor mounting brackets down further with new diamond cutting wheels. More battery cables were installed. Created caps to protect exposed terminals from moldable plastic that melts in warm water. Installed shunt in a different position for easier access to plug in wires.
Wired up the motor and motor reversing switch. Setup switch and diodes on the front of the car to activate the contactors and let the motor controller know if the vehicle is moving in reverse.
CitiCar Runs Again
Troubleshoot contactor activation. Reverse direction of Forward/Reverse diodes. Got the wheels to spin (and in the correct direction). Go on a test drive.
Configure motor controller to accelerate faster, adjust voltage limits, and provide more amps to the motor. Since the motor was just replaced, I topped off the differential fluid. The speedometer wasn’t turning on, so I replaced it with a spare that I had laying around. Drove into town and ran into problems on the way back home with a burnt fuse and a disconnected high-pedal switch on the throttle.
A small fuse block arrived that can mount directly to a terminal, but offers only four fuses. I picked this up for the 48 volt system since there are not many things that the larger system voltage is needed for.
At the moment, I have a fuse for the DC-to-DC converter, Battery Capacity Monitor, and the battery Charger. The last spot will be for the combination of the key switch, main contactor solenoid, and reverse input. There are also relays for forward/reverse that allow 12 volts to activate the coils on the SW202 switch. I may eventually setup a second DC-to-DC converter that sits behind the dashboard.
In Other News
I’ve been reaching out to a few local business owners, looking into setting up a makerspace in my town.