This is the longest show we've done to date at about 2.5 hours. Kind of beyond "feature length movie" all the way to "made for tv mini series." I fear it may be an endurance test.
But we did some neat things. We did describe in at least vague terms the theory of operation of a DC series motor and what a PWM controller is actually supposed to do. These little chalk talk sessions are risky. Too little detail and I get clobbered by every designer on the planet on all the stuff I've left out, including the part they consider MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL. Too much detail and I just walk away from those without the basic electronics and electricity fundamentals. Actually those are the viewers we're doing it for. The designers already know how it works.
So it's kind of a no-win for everybody. But I do read my e-mail and respond to what I can. And a basic undestanding of a series DC motor is in order and a basic understanding of a PWM controller and why that's what is almost always used is useful for some viewers. It kind of sets up the background of what we're looking for in a GOOD PWM controller and what is not so terribly important.
And that sets us up for the review of the Soliton1. There are no perfect controllers and I can spend the next hundred blog pages and a career in online video listing all the things I wish this controller did. Excitement about additional features that just need a LITTLE MORE to be perfect is a sign you have a good product.
If everyone dogpiles you with ways to fix what you're doing, you must be doing something right to get their attention. If you do something and nobody complains, then it probably wasn't worth doing at all. I suppose the same could be said of videos.
But watch the video. We basically howl in glee over the Soliton 1. It's a great package and I can say that without reservation. Since the video was made, we've done some further testing, and found a few peculiarities. But we've also demonstrated 1000AMPS for real out of this thing. Measured by the Zeva and displayed in real time on a new 10K tachometer I had to get just to show 1000 amps where I could see it for sure.
Bottom line is the physical package of this Soliton1 ought to get a design award somewhere. Sure it's big. It has to heat sink a 1000 amp switch 8000 times a second.
The configuration software is what configuration software OUGHT TO BE universally. It's very easy to configure and you can do it with any computer really, LInux, Mac Windows. It's very intuitive and for what it accomplishes, really quite simple. Late in the video, I even found provisions for updating the software via a text file upload through the browser interface. I really COULD have used a Mac laptop to upload the update.
Wiring it in was probably the easiest hardware install we've had of ANY controller. I just detest the crimp pin connectors we always have to deal with on these things. Do the terminal strips look a little old school? Sure. They're also legible, readable, and large enough even for my eyes. And you can make sure you have a good connection.
In operation, we have some questions. A mysterious but effective limp mode has appeared when we were trying to use a motor temp switch input. The device is CURIOUSLY sensitive to 12v. 11.6 volts just doesn't cut it and it throws errors if your DC-DC isn't up to Soliton's expectations. The RPM cutout is a little touchy. But these are minor. In operation it will really draw 1000 amperes of current from the batteries and apply some portion of that at least to the motor. It will do this at 188 volts, and we're told at up to a little over 300 volts. And the "control" is really quite smooth with regards to low speed control and you can easily configure the pedal, the power curve resulting from pedal input, and the build rate (slew rate) of the application of power.
Today, we did some 0-60 tests and got 10.0 seconds flat with a kind of portly 2385 pounds of vehicle, plus 450 pounds of people. So we were over 2900 pounds. That's at a slew rate of 2000 amps per second.
As our brushes seat and we gain confidence in this setup, we'll gradually increase that slew rate. The max is 25000 amps per second which would get us from 0 to 1000 amps in about 40 milliseconds. I'm going to guess we get a pretty nice 0-60 at something shy of that. As I said, we're currently spending a leisurely 500 ms to build to 1000 amps.
Our ambient temperatures are sub freezing right now. The Soliton and the motor hardly get to body temperature. The pump doesn't even come on - with a 40C snap switch on the pump ground.
So on packaging, configuration, installation, and operation this Soliton1 looks like a winner all around. They are regularly updaing the software. In fact, if you watch closely on the video we "update" to version 1.2. Actually we've already updated again to the January 9 1.3 release. So minor input/output questions etc. are easily dealt with in the normal cycle of things. We'll be unlikely to come up with much they are not already hearing from their growing user base.
We'll have a bit of a drive, and hopefully a much SHORTER show next week wrapping Redux up. We'll talk about a few things and update you as they get worked off, but we're pretty much done with the Speedster Redux rebuild. We added 21 cells and 350 lbs but we should be able to do 150 miles in this thing now.
We're planning on taking both Speedsters and the Spyder to the Carlisle Kit Car and Import show in May in Carlisle Pennsylvania.
We learned a bit about the Soliton1 on this build, and it is with much relief and joy I must say. Because what is coming next will be the most daunting build we've ever considered and it must needs be doomed to failure on so many fronts I get weak in the knees.
And that is the 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT. This will use DUAL Netgain Warp 11's and DUAL Soliton1 controllers.
Voila! First pictures of the completed Jim Husted (Jimerico) dual Netgain 11 assembly. He's painted them gloss black with polished metal accents to match our vehicle. He asked us a number of times for what "EVTV" logo we wanted on them. I asked him to just "sign" the motors with his signature instead.
The idea has apparently grown into a new SIgnature Series. Very well, let it be scribed on all temple walls and obelisks throughout the realm, EVTV is using the FIRST of the new Jimerico Jim Husted SIGNATURE SERIES motor, based on TWO of the Netgain Warp 11 models in our Cadillac Escalade EXT build. They look gorgeous and we're hoping to have them next week.
If you think we have a secret plan for this vehicle, you're reading messages from God in cloud formations. We do not.
We have an assorted collection of ideas and notions we'd like to try out on a large vehicle to see if it can be done. We want to wind up with an effective ride for 4-5 adults with some cargo space and a good all season environmental experience - full heat for winter, including heated steering wheel, seats, and heated washer fluid, AND full blown air conditioning literally blown up my skirt through the seat cushions.
We're going to try to develop:
1. An effective blower cooling system for the motors.
2. A REALLY effective hot water heating system from available junk.
3. A heated battery box.
4. Most likely a largish sized ultra capacitor box.
5. Pretty good sized Vicor DC-DC converter.
6. An aux shaft accessory plate with our Air Conditioning compressor and a fluid pump for both power brakes and steering.
I kind of plan on buying a couple of benches just to mount the transmission, the motor, the Solitons, the cap box on to get all of it running and do a little bit of turn testing BEFORE mounting it all in the vehicle.
So this promises to be a long conversion, with a lot of interesting new things - automatic transmission, etc.
Stay with us. There's more to come...