We Have Life!

I wrote a few emails back and forth with Allen from Wilderness EV and got some good information. I flooded him with emails on Sunday night trying to give him all the information I could about the installation so we could get the problem diagnosed and fixed.

Allen was very quick to answer my emails and questions. He agreed that everything was connected correctly. He said it appears that the throttle box was functioning correctly also. He suggested getting an RS-232 cable from Radio Shack and hooking my computer up to the controller. Alltrax (the makers of the controller) has a program that you can use to change a good number of settings and dictate how the controller functions. I called my wife and she ran to the store and got me the cable.

I looked at the Alltrax website at some of the screen shots of the software program that communicates with the controller. Almost immediately I saw the problem.

The controller has what’s called an Under Voltage setting. This setting governs when the controller will stop sending current to the motor. This is to prevent battery damage. As you use up the energy in a battery, the voltage begins to decrease. So when the voltage drops to X volts, the controller basically shuts off and doesn’t drain your batteries any further. This is a great feature.

The controller came to me programmed for a 72 volt battery pack and the Under Voltage shutoff was set to 60 volts. My tests on Sunday were conducted with 36 volts. So the controller thought I had a really dead 72 volt battery pack, and thus refused to send current to the motor.

I got to the shop just after 8 Monday night with my laptop in hand. My brother and I pushed the car into the shop and raised it about 6″ with the lift. Next, I popped the cap on the top of my controller (the black disc near the front) and plugged in the data cable. I fired up the laptop and opened the program from Alltrax. They connected just fine. I turned the Under Voltage setting down to 16 volts, wrote the changes to the controller, and disconnected my computer from the car. We both crossed our fingers as I pushed the lever on the throttle box. Nothing. I pushed a bit further. Nothing. I got a bit frustrated and pushed the throttle all the way open and then magic happened. The motor and wheels started spinning – just barely making a sound. IT WORKED!

Immediately, I dropped the car to the floor and hopped in. I backed it out of the shop, and then drove back in. This was hardly enough of a first test drive. Back in the shop, I connected another 12 volt battery to the existing wiring in the car so I could have headlights. I got right back in the car, backed out of the shop and drove a little ways down the dirt road there. It moved along well. You can’t hear anything when driving, just the sound of the dirt under the tires. It’s amazing! After all this time the plan is coming together.

I would’ve had some video and pictures, but someone forgot to put the memory card in the camera (I won’t say who).

I’ll be back quite often this week so I will be sure to get some.