Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 3 2009

Day 3 was really pretty amazing. While our written agenda for the day, after discussion of the homework and reviewing Day 2's activities, included wiring in the old DC-DC converter, we switched that last task to addressing the on-board charger. Because there was no on-board charger in e-Van 2007, locating and properly mounting it needed to be done in order to incorporate it into the overall new wiring layout.

The charger is without a doubt my favorite upgrade. Wait till you see it!

So our work groups for the day became:
  • completing repair of van floor
  • installing the front drive battery racks
  • fabricating, painting and priming the rear trunk drive battery racks
  • mounting and wiring the potbox and controller in the engine compartment
  • mounting the battery charger
We also knew cables and lugs would be arriving at 10:30 a.m. so there would be crimping and heat-shrinking of cables to be done

During our morning discussion Matt shared with us a new mounting for the fusible link which serves as a safety fuse on the high-voltage wiring. As delivered to us from Bob Batson it was enclosed in thick, clear, flexible plastic. Matt mounted it on a rigid board instead which will also allow room for an identifying label. (Sorry, whoops no picture at the moment.) Labeling the high-voltage components and covering all the cable with orange sleeving are safety features we will implement during this upgrade. Leo is a volunteer firefighter and he tells us that, with the introduction of hybrid vehicles, all first responders are now trained to understand that orange cable means high-voltage, do not cut! This is a crucial safety tip for all drivers of EV conversions.

Matt had also done some homework on the physics of an accident involving heavy weights in the van. Here he is solemnly reviewing the physical forces involved if the batteries were to be released in an accident (this is just about them as inert, heavy objects flying loose around the van -- never mind the acid-filled and potentially explosive part for just now!)

Matt's lecture was a reminder of the importance of properly securing the batteries into the vehicle. The rack fabricated by the welding room team yesterday is pretty bomb-proof -- the tabs you see above are not what will be secured to the structural steel of the van, they are hold-downs for the top racks, made of angle iron. Long bolts will fasten the top rack to the bottom and be inserted into the tabs to make the entire containment system secure.

David and Rob are pop-riveting patches into place on the van floor. You can see that the patch was snipped out of the old front battery box (matching the rear one Rob is leaning on, which will remain as a storage compartment under the passenger seat).

JJ is cleaning the fans on the controller mount, which are filthy, of course (aren't fans always filthy unless someone cleans them?).

Bill introduces Paul to the small MIG welder in the autoshop. I learned yesterday that MIG stands for metal inert gas but I must admit that I had forgotten already. Now I've looked it up and maybe it will stick. Reading (or writing, in my case!) about this process really helps solidify all the information that is coming in so fast all day.

More information coming in fast as Leo explains something on the wiring diagram to Rudy.

Meanwhile Chris, Judy and Brett were working to locate that Zivan charger.

while John, Mike and Nick are working on the rear battery rack. (Leo and Rudy are still at the whiteboard in the background!)

We have two battery lifting tools. One is a flexible rubber strap with clips that is lightweight and mostly nonconductive. The other one is a big heavy clamp that is made of almost solid metal, with a wooden handle. Guess which one requires a lot of care and attention when you handle batteries with it (keep in mind that if you drop something heavy and metal on a battery, bad things can happen even when it's not wired up to anything). I wonder if Bill is having the students use that thing as a kind of Zen training in mindfulness when handling batteries at all times.

JJ and Leo are now working on hooking up the potbox and controller.

And Brett is under the van checking on charger location.

Nick is working on the angle iron for the front battery rack tops.

David, Vincent and Rob are working on the mounting of the front battery rack (also known to us A7n7 because of the two-by-seven battery configuration that it will contain).

The battery rack mounts need to be drilled...

and mounted, which involves a lot of under-the-van work.

Larry meanwhile is sketching out the rear battery rack configuration. I forgot to mention that he and I did a supply run to Hoover Steel for angle iron -- Larry's truck has now served to haul crucial cold rolled steel supplies for both workshops.

NMTCC faculty member Rich Matthias, who teaches engineering and robotics, came by to observe for a while and also took a spin on Matt's electric bicycle.
Modified from a standard electric bicycle called a "LashOut," this version tows about 4 times more oomf in the kiddie-cart behind. So today I got to ride briefly on an electric bicycle! That was a new one!

The top rack is coming into shape ...

and meanwhile crimping of cables has begun!

First one!

Failed the vise test! Oh well.

Drilling the front battery racks for mounting ...

and using a burr to smooth the mounting holes.

In the paint shop (that is, outside), the top racks ...

and mounting brackets are being painted, not for show but to protect against corrosion. Matt contributed the can of British racing green, which he had in his trunk.

The first finished and successfully vise-tested cable is measured, and it fits our battery configuration perfectly.

Now a cable-and-lug crew is formed.

At the end of the day, the potbox and controller were in.

Front rack battery racks were installed.

That beautiful 21st century-looking charger was fully mounted.

And there was an impressive pile of completed high-voltage cables, which I didn't get a photograph of, as you will probably be relieved to know because really this was more than enough!

But it was such a great day, and we got everything on our list done so wow! We are on schedule!

Till tomorrow, thanks for following along.

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