Teddy and I headed over to Gertrude in the CitiCar late in the evening. It was getting into the twilight hours, and we had our lights on. Arriving back home and hooking up the charger, I noticed the cover for the contacts was fairly warm. I’m concerned that there is some arcing going on, or too many amps are passing through. It could also have something to do with the proximity of the new charger next to it.
Back to Front
I removed four of the 12 volt battery chargers in the back of the CitiCar as well as their quick disconnect plugs from the battery terminals. I moved the last 12v charger to be next to the accessory battery. I sat the Lester charger next to it as well. I got underneath the car and ran the charging wires from under the seat to the front of the car. While I was down there, I ran an extra set of wires to the front to hook up my battery meter.
I no longer need to open up the seat to check the voltage. The Lester charger bumps the voltage so high that the volt meter no longer operates until the batteries stop charging. Unfortunately, the wires and chargers look like a giant rat nest.
The charging app had settings for the cable size at 12 gauge. I have a smaller 14 gauge wire from the battery to the terminal bus bar, but the app wouldn’t let me select a smaller size. To work around the problem, I added an extra 14 gauge wire to both the positive and negative busbar terminals.
I’ve noticed that the wires for the power strip and the Lester charger tend to heat up. The Kill A Watt meter shows a 20% higher wattage being used than the charger is rated for. My goal is to wire up the outlet in the front of the CitiCar to a standard household outlet, and remove the power strip. I’ve also noticed a smell of spoiled eggs when charging. I keep leaving the garage door open just to feel like I’m doing something that might be safer.
I’ll need to wire up a J1772 inlet into the same line, but first I need to find a 12 volt charger that can sense if it is connected to 120 or 240 volts.
I saw a video on YouTube where someone was demonstrating the effect aluminum has on detecting GPS satellites. I moved the speedometer GPS sensor to another part of the car.
In other news
Rather than splitting out my biweekly deposit through weighted positions in my portfolio, I decided to throw it at Tesla. The companies stock usually does so well that my deposits usually go to everything else that is underweight unless I manually intervene. I feel like I’m playing catch up. It’s nice to finally see the number of shares rather than just the price going up for a change.
Today is Tesla battery investor day. A vacation day was in order. A quick trip to the registrar for some early voting was followed with a relaxing vacation day with Teddy.
Gertrude, as with most trips, was first on our list of destinations. Teddy slowly made his way around the park. We hung out on the side of happy creek by the wooden overlook. Small fish were swimming about, and Teddy found an old mangled baseball in the creek.
We were soon on our way over to KFC. I made sure to ask for a cup holder since the CitiCar doesn’t have a place to hold drinks.
One of the great things about a CitiCar is that you can back into a space half-way, and have quite a bit of room to sit on the curb and lay out your meal on the ground behind the car. In Teddy’s case, I’m able to put a cup of water and some ice cubes on a lid that he can’t knock over and spill.
The next stop was at B&L Custard. The owner asked us where our little red car was. I pointed, but a larger car was obstructing her view. Teddy had his usual “Pup Cup” and got a bit messy with it. I had a strawberry shortcake sundae in a waffle bowl.
Next on our little trip was a visit to Bowman park. It’s a small park that I rarely visit, and we hadn’t driven to the the park with the CitiCar yet. A few picnic tables and benches are scattered throughout about an acre of land on a gradual incline. The park has very old and thick trees. Acorns were falling fairly often, but I didn’t see any squirrels.
Laying against a tree for awhile, I had started to lose track of time until the church bell rang at half past four. It was time to be on our way back home.
The Lester Summit Series II charger arrived while we were out on our little trip through town. I plugged the car into the regular battery chargers and started to look over the instructions for the new charger, attaching wires and screwing the cover on. Tesla Battery Investor Day started while I was going over the details and I had a live stream playing while I continued to work on the charger.
The ring terminals that came with the charger were too small for the battery terminals that came in the CitiCar. I created a pair of wires with ring terminals large enough to connect to the battery terminals and connected them to bus bar terminals. The charger powered up and I was able to connect to it via Bluetooth.
The default battery profile was for 22001. It wasn’t all that descriptive. I went to the battery profile selector, choose battery manufacturer as “Interstate”. After being unable to find my battery model number, the app told me to contact Lester Electrical by phone. The office was closed. I left a message with technical support.
I looked into what 22001 was about. The profile information said it was for a 48v flooded/wet lead-acid battery pack with a 20-hour rating of 225-260 Ah. I don’t know what effect amp hour capacity has on the charging process. I didn’t know what kind of Amp Hours my batteries had.
Reserve Capacity (RC)
190 @ 25 amps
Guessing: 190 minutes / 60 minutes
3.166 hours @ 25 amps
Guessing: 3.166 hours * 25 amps
79.166 Amp Hours
79 Amp Hours
I decided to give the default setting a go. I immediately noticed a difference in the amount of watts used to charge the battery. When using the five individual battery chargers in the past, they used a combined wattage of about 333 watts. The charger was using 1165!
The CitiCar batteries were charging up fairly quickly. It was great being able to see the current state of charge, phase, and predicted time for the charging process to complete. With the other chargers, I would have been waiting 11 hours to recharge at a rate of 0.8 miles per hour,
Towards the end of the charging cycle, I noticed that the voltage was fairly high for charging batteries at 64.1 volts (16.0 volts per battery). In the past, my other chargers would only go up to 14.5 volts on an individual battery. I went to check on the car and it sounded like the batteries were boiling. I opened the garage door as a precautionary measure to ventilate. I didn’t smell anything, but I wanted to be safe. I reached out to other C-Car owners. One confirmed that they had this issue as well and were told the batteries were okay.
The last phase seemed to drop the estimate drastically, stating 13 minutes, but was off by almost two hours. I thought maybe the temperature drop outside was having an effect on the chargers thoughts on how much the voltage needed to increase as the weather got colder. At least I now know that my batteries can hold 50 amp hours.
A review of the first charge cycle
The end result was a charge that would normally take 11 hours was done in five and a half. I was charging at 1.63 miles per hour! Unfortunately it looks like the quick charge rate also increases the watt hours per mile. I’m often averaging around 280 watt hours, but the recharge from this trip was 391 watt hours per mile.
Due to the quick charge rate, I could potentially take two trips in the CitiCar per day. I could take off with Teddy to the dog park in the mornings and go for a second ride in the evenings.
One thing to consider is that the batteries were being charged for a little over an hour on the old chargers before switching over. I may have been able to shave an hour off of the charge time if they started out on this charger from the beginning. The results from the next trip may give a better baseline of what to expect in future charge times and costs.
I’m hoping that the over-charge voltage was a one-time conditioning of some kind. I don’t like the idea of degrading the batteries from overcharging. When looking at the logs, I suspect that this will happen every time. I’m hoping that it will consider the time from prior charges to improve the accuracy of estimated time remaining on a charge.
If everything works out well, and there is a profile for the Chevy Volt batteries, I’d like to use this charger for the lithium ion batteries as well since it has quite a lot of features through its app, and it also has extra wires to give it the ability to prevent the car from going anywhere when connected to AC power.
After the batteries were charged to 100%, the charger wasn’t registering any power on the Kill a watt meter at all. Not even a watt. It’s powered by the battery pack alone. The other chargers that I had would always draw about two watts each after the batteries were fully charged – adding to the overall cost of maintaining the battery pack that that I don’t record in my logs. They would also draw more power every now and then in the “float” phase to maintain the battery voltage over time.
In Other News
Battery investor day went well. I just wish I could get ahold of some of those new batteries for the CitiCar. It’s an interesting concept to use the batteries as structural support as part of the frame. The whole car frame of the CitiCar is already used as ground. I went ahead and put in an order for another $500 of TSLA shares in the morning.
The speedometer has trouble getting a GPS signal sometimes, resulting in unaccounted miles if I take off before it acquires its position. In addition, the speedometer does not report speed until it has a signal. The sky was clear today and I would be waiting for a minute or two waiting for the timer to catch the signal.
A large part of Sunday was spent walking throughout Eastham park. Although they have a large dog park, the one for large dogs is currently closed. It was a clear day and very enjoyable to walk along the Shenandoah River. With a large number of squirrels darting around, Teddy was alert and ready for the chase.
The next stop was at McDonald’s. Meals are eaten outside, often setting on the curve next to the CitiCar. Teddy is learning not to beg during meals, but he earns a nice reward at the end.
The trip home from the dog park on Sunday was a bit of a fright. Although there was power, the CitiCar would not supply power to the motor. In town, it’s fairly easy to find a spot to pull over and park to diagnose the issue. It was suspected that the contactor fuse may have blown.
Upon inspection, the main fuse looked fine. The wires from the 12 volt battery were made more secure the other day after a loss of power disconnecting wires from a hard turn. The main power wires from the 12 volt accessory battery looked fine as well. The repairs were holding it in place.
A quick hop into the car to confirm the issue was still present revealed that it went away on its own. As the key turned, the main contactor click could be heard. It is thought that maybe the switch on the brake was stuck in position, preventing the main contactor to be activated when braking.
It’s now known that the CitiCar starts to get exhausted around ten miles. Rather than setting destinations to push the limits, rides have become more casual. It’s great knowing that certain destinations are within range. There are many parks, restaurants, and events on main street accessible within just a few miles. Having success at a charging station adds to the freedom to go anywhere… within an extra mile.
The battery chargers have been left connected to the batteries while driving around in the CitiCar. The time to setup for charging has been simplified to connecting the power strip to the main power in a house, or to the J1772 power converter.
Steering Wheel Adjustments
There have been a few problems with the steering wheel alignment since the turn signal switch has been replaced. Each time that it appears to have been fixed, the next trip reveals a little more fine tuning is required. It’s now to the point that the steering wheel is rotated by one or two splines after each trip.
In the middle of adjusting the steering wheel, Teddy finally caught a squirrel in his own yard at home. It was difficult to break his concentration. He finally had to be pulled off and go inside to calm down with a treat and let the squirrel get away.
The next goal is to get the contactor switch, motor controller, and forward/reverse switches installed under the seat. They don’t need to be wired up just yet. A mounting bracket arrived this morning, and there were a few metal angles purchased at the hardware store to help fasten things into an area in front of the motor. Each step is being worked through and planned out. One of the problems that has popped up is that the bolts with the solenoid mounting hardware are too long.
Tomorrow is Battery Investor Day for Tesla. It was an excuse to take the day off of work. An extra $500 was invested into the company this morning. The unrealized value is roughly half of what is needed for a Cybertruck reservation.
After two repairs by a tow truck driver and a neighbor, the SUV shifter cable has been replaced by the professionals. It was noticed that the rear passenger window is unable to be opened from the front driver-side buttons.
The buttons arrived for the GPS speedometer. Installation continues tomorrow.
There is an issue arising from a battery monitor that I purchased in China at the beginning of August that hasn’t arrived yet. The seller claims it has already been delivered, but the post office claims they haven’t received the package yet.
Teddy and I hopped into the CitiCar and left town for the first time. We took a little lunch break just outside of the city at Riverton Commons shopping mall. An EV charging station is located there with four Tesla destination chargers, and one J1772 charger. I pulled up and parked the CitiCar next to a Tesla.
I fumbled a little, connecting the EVSE to the converter, but I was able to get it. The Kill A Watt meter showed that I was getting voltage. I proceeded to hook up the chargers to the batteries and saw the usual 333 watts being drawn by the five 12 volt lead acid battery chargers.
Teddy and I grabbed a bite close to the station at Checkers. When I got back to the car, I saw that the chargers were no longer getting any power. One of the C-Car owners on the forums mentioned that some charging stations required at least a kilowatt of power to continue operating. Looking back at some video footage, I saw that the power strip was upside down. I believe I may have turned it off when I started spreading out the chargers so they weren’t all setting next to each other. I’ll have to make another attempt to verify.
While I was there, the owner of the Tesla came out and talked about a Comuta-Car he had owned for awhile. He ad a few questions and we chatted a bit before I left.
The whole trip was 6.0 miles. It was shorter than I had thought given that I always looked up directions to the Walmart in the same shopping center, but would have added an extra mile to the round trip. This trip was mostly going up a gradual hill in a 45 mile zone on the way up. I held the throttle down for most of the trek.
As the efficiency of the car improves, more locations become accessible. I now know that I can make it to the two plazas across from each other with the newer big-box stores out of town. I can visit a grocery, hardware, coffee, pet, and craft store as well as a bank ATM.
Access to more locations is fairly important at the moment because my other two vehicles are disabled. The SUV was fixed two weeks ago, but had broken down on Sunday with the same problem. The hybrid car simply needs a new battery and an inspection. I also need to reattach a plastic rock/air-drag guard that is dragging along the road under it.
EV Charging Station
In other news
I haven’t received the Zero to J1772 adapter needed for the lithium battery charger that I purchased in July. I hadn’t heard a reply from three weeks ago when I inquired about the status of the order. From other C-Car owners I’ve talked to, this person is very responsive, but another C-Car owner was going through the same issue as I am. I decided to contact Tucson EV via PayPal communications.
Tucson EV got back to me the next day and stated that they thought it was already shipped, and that the adapter will be shipped tomorrow morning with a tracking number.
I suspect the mixup was due a shortage of the J1772 active vehicle control modules (AVC) available at the time . These are small PCB boards (AVC1) enclosed in a plastic box (AVC2) that do all of the communications for you if you want to wire up your own custom made adapter. Everywhere I looked, these things were out of stock. I found EV West had them and ordered one at the end of July. They quickly notified me that it was out of stock. It was later shipped on September 1st.