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Battery-Powered Electric Vehicle


Preliminary Design Review

November 1, 2004

Presented By:
Ryan Bohm
1355 N. 400 E. #1
Logan, UT 84341

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BEVC Project Summary

Project Stage: Preliminary Design Review

Objective: To convert a conventional gas-powered vehicle to battery-powered electric

and observe public reaction to electric vehicles as an alternative form of transportation.

Principle: Most commuter vehicles use an internal-combustion engine which is fueled

by gasoline. Gasoline combustion engines are inefficient, noisy, require frequent maintenance,
and require non-renewable resources to power. Electric motors are virtually maintenance free,
quiet, efficient, and can use renewable resources as a power source. A gasoline combustion
engine can be replaced by an electric motor.

Project Lead: Ryan Bohm

Finish Date: December 2004

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Welcome / Introduction 1 min.
Executive Summary 2 min.
●Project Objective
●General Theory of Operation

Dismantling of Internal Combustion system 1

Drivetrain 3 min.
●Electric motor
●Coupling motor shaft to flywheel

●Coupling motor to transmission

●Cooling motor

Batteries 2 min.
●Battery racks

Power Brakes 2 min.

●Vacuum pump
●Vacuum tank

Power Steering/Air Conditioning

2 min.
●Accessory motor
●Mounting bracket
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Heater 2 min.
●Theory of operation

●Removing dashboard

●Building heater housing

●Hall-effect sensor unit

Motor Controller 2 min.




●Throttle control

●Tach sensor

Controller interface
Battery Charger
2 min.
●Battery Regulators
●Charging connector

Accessory Electronics – 12V system 1 min.

Isolation of High-Voltage and 12V system 1
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Circuit Breaker and Main Fuses 1 min.
Battery Voltage Monitoring 2 min.
●Interfacing with dash gauges
●Block diagram


Current Sensing Unit 1 min.

●Block diagram

1 min.
1 min.

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Executive Summary
Ryan Bohm

Utah State University

Logan, UT 84321
Phone: 435-755-5754

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Project Objective

•Convert a 1984 Nissan 200sx conventional internal-combustion

vehicle to battery powered electric.
•Display to the public the feasibility of battery-powered electric
vehicles for short-distance commutes.
•Fulfill the requirements for Computer-Engineering Senior
Design Project and Utah State University.

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Theory of Operation

Battery Bank



Electronics Box

High-Current Cables

Charging Cable

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Dismantling ICE Components

Items to be removed:
●Gas tank

●Exhaust system

●Internal combustion engine

●Fuel lines

●Rear seats

* Care must be taken to mark electrical connections, nuts,

and bolts to ensure that parts which will be reused can be
properly identified and placed.

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Drivetrain: Electric Motor

A series wound DC motor with the following

characteristics will be used:
●20 HP (continuous rating)
●Series wound

●96 Volts (will be run at 144, which is within working


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Coupling Motor to Flywheel

Motor shaft coupler and adapter plate will be designed

and manufactured by Electro Auto. The motor
coupler is a critical component of the drive train,
through which all torque is transmitted.

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Coupling Motor to Transmission

Once flywheel has been attached to the motor shaft, a

new clutch is installed. Then the motor can be
attached to the transmission.

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Cooling Motor

An internal fan pulls air through the motor to keep it

cool during operation, but this fan is insufficient at
lower speeds or extended high-current situations. An
external 12v blower will force air through the motor to
keep it cool.

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The battery is the “gasoline” of the electric vehicle. It

must be able to handle large current surges and deep
This electric vehicle conversion will be designed with
quick acceleration and limited range (10-15 miles) in
mind. A suitable battery for these conditions must be

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Choosing Battery Type

•Flooded lead acid (Pb) batteries have limited maximum

current draw, typically < 500 amps.
•Sealed Lead Acid (SLA), or Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM)
batteries such as the Optima Yellow Top or Exide Orbital can
handle extreme current draws in excess of 2000 amps.
•12 Exide Orbitals will be used in this conversion.

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Battery Racks

Batteries weigh 41 lbs. each. Total battery weight is 492 lbs.

Batteries must be arranged for low center of gravity, and low
polar moment of inertia for good handling characteristics. To
achieve this, 10 of the 12 batteries will be placed in a metal
rack built into the rear seat. The rack must be able to contain
the batteries in an accident. The remaining 2 batteries will be
secured to the electronics rack in the engine compartment.

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Power Brakes

The original vehicle was equipped with a power brake

booster which was vacuum powered. This vacuum
came from the intake manifold of the combustion

For similar driving characteristics and safety, this

vacuum must be supplied by another source.

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Vacuum Pump

A 12v, 9 amp vacuum pump replace the vacuum provided by

the internal combustion engine.

An adjustable vacuum switch will turn on the pump when

vacuum falls below the set value.

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Vacuum Tank

The vacuum pump alone will only provide about 1 assisted

actuation of the brakes. By using a vacuum tank, multiple
assisted actuations of the brakes can be made.

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Power Steering/Air Conditioning

The original vehicle had both power steering and air

conditioning. The decision was made to keep power steering in
the electric conversion for safety and convenience reasons.
The air conditioning system will also be retained for comfort
during hot summer months.

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Accessory Motor

The traction motor does not need to idle at stop conditions like
the internal combustion engine. This makes powering the
AC/PS off of the traction motor undesirable, as there would be
no power steering assist when the vehicle was not moving, and
the air conditioning would not perform when the vehicle was at
a rest.

Consequently, a 1.5 Hp. accessory motor will be used. This

motor will run whenever the ignition is in the “On” position
and the vehicle has been “started”.

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Mounting Bracket

A mounting bracket will secure the power steering pump, air

conditioning compressor, and accessory motor. It will be
mounted to the front face of the traction motor.

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The original heater core obtains its heat from the

internal combustion engine cooling system. A heater
is important for driver comfort during cold winter
Since there are no appreciable sources of heat in the
electric vehicle, an alternate form of heating must be
chosen. Several alternatives exist.

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Heater Choice

Alternate forms of vehicle heating include the following:

●Electric element

●Electric water heater/pump

●Fuel-fired heater

●Peltier cooler in reverse

Each option has its own advantages/disadvantages. The

electric element option was chosen due to recommendations
by other EV users for its high-output, quick heat
production, and minimum use of existing vehicle real-
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Heater Theory of Operation

The electric heater elements are positioned where the existing coolant-
heated core was located. High-voltage DC relays are controlled by a circuit
which determines if the fan switch is turned on, and the heat selection
control switch is in the half or full on position.

Fan Speed Sw. 1 1 Gnd

Temp. Select 2

Air Flow
144v H.V.
2 Gnd

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Removing Dashboard

•To replace the existing heater

core, the entire dashboard must
be removed.
•The procedure shown in the
vehicle repair manual will be
•All electrical connections must
be marked carefully to ensure
proper reassembly.

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Building Heater Housing

The 2 electric heater elements come with a special plastic

housing capable of withstanding the high temperature of the
element. This housing will be modified to accommodate the
elements in a “sandwiched” configuration. An aluminum
housing will be manufactured to fit in the footprint of the
original heater core.

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Hall-effect Sensors

Heater element selecting will be performed by two Hall-effect

sensors mounted on the back of the heater element housing
box. Magnets are embedded in a control arm which previously
opened/closed a coolant valve, and was actuated by moving the
temperature control lever.

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Motor Controller

The motor controller delivers current to the electric

motor. It also controls the motor voltage. The
controller should also have the ability to protect
against over-revving, self over-heating, and contactor
failure. Few options exist for high-current motor
controllers in the electric vehicle arena. Curtis, DCP,
and CafeElectric DC motor controllers exist with
current capabilities of 500 amps or higher. A
CafeElectric Zilla Z1k will be used in the conversion.

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Controller Specifications

The CafeElectric Z1K has the following features:

●1000 amps maximum motor current

●Over-rev protection

●Water cooling

●Contactor monitoring

●Silent high frequency PWM (15.7 kHz)

●Upgradeable firmware

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Controller Mounting

The motor controller will be mounted inside an

electronics box which will reside in the engine
compartment. This electronics box will keep
moisture, dirt, and dust from the controller and other

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Controller Cooling

The motor controller should be cooled using a pump

and small radiator. This allows for optimum
performance of the controller. A 120VAC pump will
be powered by a small AC inverter. The coolant will
pass through the coolant lines to a small radiator.

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Controller Connections

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Throttle Control

The motor controller throttle input is a 5K Ohm

variable resistor (potentiometer). A pre-built unit
from Curtis will be used. This potentiometer has a
built-in return spring and will connect directly to the
existing throttle cable. An additional return spring
will be used for safety.

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Tach Sensor

To emulate the tachometer generating signal for the

on-dash tach and to supply the motor controller with a
signal for over-rev detection, a tachometer sensor will
be designed.
The controller tach signal must be pulled low 4 times
per revolution. The motor controller has an output
signal that is connected to the vehicle tachometer
which provides the necessary pulses.

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Tach Sensor Construction

The tach sensor is a Hall-effect sensor and 2

capacitors epoxied in a copper cap housing. Magnets
are embedded in a nylon collar which mounts on the
motor tail-shaft.

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Controller Interface

Controller parameters such as motor voltage and current can be adjusted

through a serial connection to the controller. A Palm IIIe PDA will be used
as the interfacing device. A 12v to 3v converter board will be designed to
provide constant power from the vehicle 12v system, thus eliminating the
need for battery changes in the PDA. The PDA will be mounted within
reach of the driver using a cell phone mount.

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Battery Charger

The battery charger is an integral part of the electric vehicle. Many charger
options exist. More expensive chargers have pre-programmed charging
algorithms and require minimal user interaction. Other options are less
expensive but require user monitoring and attendance.
For ease-of-charging, a Manzanita Micro PFC20, 20 amp charger will be
used. This charger has the capability to interface with battery regulators to
avoid overcharging, and will be able to charge the 144v pack in about 2.5

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Battery Regulators

Battery regulators will be used in conjuction with the charger. When

charged in series, lead-acid batteries do not charge evenly. Consequently,
some batteries may be under-charged, and others over-charged. Battery
regulators detect when the battery has reached full charge, and pass current
to avoid over-charging. The regulator will also talk to the charger over a
network to signal when the battery has reached full charge.
The PCBs and components will be ordered, and the regulators assembled in-
house at a lower cost than purchasing pre-assembled.

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Charging Connector

The battery charger will plug into the 120 or 240 AC grid using a permanent
twist-lock connector located where the gas fueling door resided. All
charging connectors will be rated for 20 amps.
A Hall-effect sensor and magnet on the fuel door will send a signal to the
motor controller to indicate if the fuel door is open or closed. The controller
will not allow the motor to turn if the fuel door is open to prevent driving
away with the charging cord connected.

Hall-effect sensor
Stationary Plug

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12V System

The existing 12 volt system will remain to power accessory devices such as
headlights, horn, radio, and dashboard instruments.
During normal operation, the 12 volt system will be powered, and the 12
volt battery charged, by 2 IOTA DLS-55 DC/DC converters (actually dual-
purpose battery chargers), with a maximum rating of 2 x 55 = 110 amps.
This exceeds the original alternator output of 60 amps.

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The 12V chassis ground must be isolated from the 144V

system. This is to ensure that through error, or accident, the
chassis ground cannot complete a 144V potential loop. The
144V system has no common grounded chassis like the 12V

+ +
12V 144V
- -

Chassis Ground

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Fuses & Circuit Breakers

All load lines will be equipped with fuses and/or circuit

breakers. The main 144V feed line will have a fast
semiconductor fuse for protection of the system. The 144V
line will also have a high-current circuit breaker within easy
reach of the driver to disconnect power in case of an

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Battery Voltage Monitor

The existing dashboard fuel gauge will be used to

display the battery state-of-charge (SOC). A battery
voltage monitor unit will be designed to interface with
the dashboard fuel gauge. The battery voltage monitor
will calculate the SOC, and will also interface with the
low-fuel dashboard light, and charge warning light
(previously the alternator error light).

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Voltage Monitor Block Diagram

Inputs HV+ voltage divider & Program.


Current (from current sensing unit) Low Fuel Light

PIC 16F76
High Volt.
Temp. Sensor divider
5V voltage bus
Ω Fuel guage

+12V LM7805 optocouplers Battery Error Light

12V Gnd Temp. PIC 16F76

Sensor Low Volt.
HV +
HV Gnd optocoupler
12V LM7805
Bat. Reg. Signal
Bat. Reg. Signal Out

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Programming Voltage Monitor

The voltage monitor unit will contain two PIC

microcontrollers. These microcontrollers can be
reprogrammed in-circuit to change the software. This
will be necessary to adjust for errors in the initial
program calibrations.
Code for the microcontrollers will be written in PIC
C++. A USB In-Circuit Serial Programmer will be
used for programming.

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Current Sensing Unit

It is useful to see the instantaneous motor current draw

while driving the electric vehicle. An analog Hall-
effect sensor will be used to detect the magnetic field
produced by current flowing in the main power cables.
A ferrite core will initially be used to increase the
magnetic flux to the sensor; however, this may prove
unnecessary with the high currents being used.

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Current Sensing Block Diagram

Main HV Conductor Sensor

PIC 16F76

Resistor Network to dash gauge

Programming Bus

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Programming Current Sensing Unit

The current sensing unit will be programmed in the

same fashion as the voltage monitor unit. It is
anticipated that calibrating the unit will require a fairly
significant amount of trial and error.

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With the large amount of wiring required for the electric

vehicle conversion, the following guidelines will be observed:
●Use existing wiring whenever possible

●Make quality connections: Western Union joints, solder all

connections, cover with heat-shrink tubing

●Use only proper gauge of wires

●Use high pressure crimping of terminals and lugs on main

power lines guage

●Use rubber grommets whenever wires exit/enter metal


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●High quality components will ensure reliable operation.

●A simple user interface and ease-of-driving will allow the

vehicle to be driven without special expertise.

●Attention to details will produce a safe and reliable

●Public reaction will be observed to view the acceptability

of electric vehicles for short-range commuting.

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