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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all!

I am just about to install my leaf motor in my van.

I have a few 1967 Ford Econoline HD vans to work with. and almost 2 complete Leaf systems.

Leaf parts:

2014 motor
2014 VFDrive
2014 6.6kw charger
2014 24kw battery (66,000km)

The charger, drive, and battery all match and were salvaged from a single car.

I also have a second motor, inverter, transaxle, driveshafts etc just in case.... (2016 model)

I have a fiat 20spline clutch fitted onto the motor shaft

I am purchasing 7.4 - 1 ratio gear set for the Ford 9" differential.

I will run the motor directly to the driveshaft

I would prefer to use the Leaf pack as a whole unit still in original case. It fits on my van floor easy for now.

I have the Thunderstruck VCU kit with pedal and contactors.

I have MOST of the Leaf wiring harness that will be needed.

And now my big question::::::::::::::::::

I hope to use the battery as it is. I see it has all the bms, contactors, heaters etc in it... Is it possible to use this battery in its stock form with the Thunderstruck system? I mean use the Leaf battery, Leaf contactors and Leaf charger all in its orriginal metal shell with the Thunderstrukc VCD?

Although I have read a TON of stuff over the last decade and built a dozen or so RC ebikes etc,,,, I am a newbie to the Leaf stuff. But very eager to learn!

Looking forward to working with you guys through my project. As soon as i figure out these last wiring bits ill be rollin!!!!!!

shnitzel
 

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I have been looking forward to more forward-control/cab-over-engine van conversions, because they could result in a very nice van with flat floor and no engine doghouse. So far, Yabert has the best one (Westfalia T3 with Chevy Bolt drivetrain), but it's a rear-engine VW van so it still has the rear step up in the floor. It would be nice if someone could build an early Econoline like this without the doghouse - or with a smaller doghouse that can be stepped over and doesn't intrude into the cargo area.

Yabert managed to use the complete Chevrolet Bolt battery pack, but it hangs low under the van and one end still sticks up through the floor. The Leaf battery pack is an even more awkward shape, so fitting it under the floor would be even more difficult, and a shaft to the rear axle from a motor mounted in the front would make it impossible. These old vans are also very short in wheelbase (90" or 2290 mm for a first-generation Econoline) so there is little room for a pack.

What is different about the Heavy Duty (HD) version? Just different suspension?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The Heavy Duty means 3/4 ton suspension, 9" rear end and the 240 motor... i think...

for getting started i am just bolting the battery on top of the floor in the van. not permanantly, just to get touring and gaining some experience. i will fully do the van another day. i have already removed the doghouse. my leaf battery will sit where it was and under the seats.

so battery up in the van on the floor. motor under the van connected to driveshaft. no interference.

that being said, do you think i can use the leaf battery unopened? with the leaf contactors and bms? or do i need to open the pack and rewire everything?

Shnitzel
 

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The Heavy Duty means 3/4 ton suspension, 9" rear end and the 240 motor... i think...
Thanks. The engine no longer matters, of course, and the rest makes sense. :)

so battery up in the van on the floor. motor under the van connected to driveshaft. no interference.
Right - I was only referring to interference when (later) the battery is to be located under the floor.

... do you think i can use the leaf battery unopened? with the leaf contactors and bms? or do i need to open the pack and rewire everything?
I don't know how workable the Leaf BMS will be for you, without the rest of the Leaf components all communicating by CAN... but I can't think of any reason you would need to rewire anything internally in the pack, unless you have to change BMS.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I am very ignorant so far with all the "Canbus" stuff. but im learning fast!

im wondering if when the Thunderstruck VCD, the Leaf inverter, and the battery BMS all have their "Canbus" wired together;; if this makes the leaf battery happy.?

it seems the Leaf battery has a computer inside it, and all this runs the internal contactors. so i need to learn to operate the internal contactor relays with the Thunderstruck VCD..???

once again, sorry for my ignorance. i generally dont like asking questions on the net as the info is generally all readily available. however, here i am ;) and VERY MUCH appreciate your help!

Ill take some pictures soon to keep your interest ;)

shnitzel
 

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The contactors are just giant 12V relays. They can be controlled easily from the round connector coming out of the battery pack. Three wires are ground, and then there is a wire each for the negative, main, and precharge contactors. The Thunderstruck VCU has contactor and precharge signals; I use the ignition to trigger the negative contactor to ensure it is engaged before the precharge. The Leaf shop manual is fantastic (though long-winded) and shows the pinouts of all connectors and how they tie in to the system: https://www.nicoclub.com/nissan-service-manuals

The battery has no computer, but the BMS is a computer. Someone on this forum claims to have gotten the Leaf BMS working with some simple CAN commands, but I can't find the thread or the YouTube video. It involved a CAN board and custom code. This is the largest hurdle. If you can get the BMS to work, you won't have to open the pack. You might have to get clever with the contactor logic, though, as they'll need to be closed for charging to work. If you can't use the Leaf BMS, you'll need to open the pack and swap something like the Thunderstruck BMS in ($1500), and splice all 96 wires. You could probably close it back up afterward, but it is nice to use the serial port to see what's going on with each cell.

I don't believe anyone has gotten the Leaf charger to do anything useful yet.

You'll have to figure out your own heater logic. I'm not aware of any feature to heat batteries in Thunderstruck's stuff...You might be able to rig one of the output wires to trigger at a particular thermistor temperature...I dunno. Maybe you can hack the BMS to get thermistor info...

Cool van.
 

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Hello all!

I am just about to install my leaf motor in my van.

I have a few 1967 Ford Econoline HD vans to work with. and almost 2 complete Leaf systems.

Leaf parts:

2014 motor
2014 VFDrive
2014 6.6kw charger
2014 24kw battery (66,000km)

The charger, drive, and battery all match and were salvaged from a single car.

I also have a second motor, inverter, transaxle, driveshafts etc just in case.... (2016 model)

I have a fiat 20spline clutch fitted onto the motor shaft

I am purchasing 7.4 - 1 ratio gear set for the Ford 9" differential.

I will run the motor directly to the driveshaft

I would prefer to use the Leaf pack as a whole unit still in original case. It fits on my van floor easy for now.

I have the Thunderstruck VCU kit with pedal and contactors.

I have MOST of the Leaf wiring harness that will be needed.

And now my big question::::::::::::::::::

I hope to use the battery as it is. I see it has all the bms, contactors, heaters etc in it... Is it possible to use this battery in its stock form with the Thunderstruck system? I mean use the Leaf battery, Leaf contactors and Leaf charger all in its orriginal metal shell with the Thunderstrukc VCD?

Although I have read a TON of stuff over the last decade and built a dozen or so RC ebikes etc,,,, I am a newbie to the Leaf stuff. But very eager to learn!

Looking forward to working with you guys through my project. As soon as i figure out these last wiring bits ill be rollin!!!!!!

shnitzel
Smart conversation as your weight will match or be lower than a Leaf. You will need all of the Leaf electrical system. Brain, buss all of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
update and questions...:

i got the old van motor and tranny pulled out of it last night. drug it out from under with my honda and onto the driveway!

i wired up all the leaf components to the Thunderstruck VCM.

i got the Leaf pack internal relays working to precharge the main leads.

and i got the Thunderstruck VCM talking with putty.

when i turn on my ignition switch i hear the precharge and main negative relay click inside the pack. then i check the voltage entering the traction inverter and i see 384V there.

HOWEVER, Putty keeps repeating the line "inverter voltage too low 0v".

i do have the green and blue canbus wires directly from the VCM to the nissan inverter. maybe im missing a terminal resistor or something?

i also have keyed power and ground going to the inverter.

im missing something still.......... ill just keep googling and reading!!!! ;)

sooooo close to a running bench test.........

shnitzel
 

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One thing that confused the hell out of me is that Thunderstruck uses green for CAN Hi and blue for CAN Lo...Nissan uses green for CAN Lo and blue for CAN high. There's no standard and I just...didn't think about it.
 

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One thing that confused the hell out of me is that Thunderstruck uses green for CAN Hi and blue for CAN Lo...Nissan uses green for CAN Lo and blue for CAN high. There's no standard and I just...didn't think about it.
It's worse than those two possibilities, and from my memory of the history of CAN I'm not surprised. This Electrical Engineering Stack Exchange describes the situation well:
What is the color code for CAN Bus?
As you said, there is no industry standard color code for CAN, or even a single color coding within a vehicle.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
ha ha ha, ok... watching the "how to videos" they expressed how the colors of the canbus wires lined up. ha ha..

ill switchem tonight and see if thats my problem.

shnitzel
 

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Discussion Starter #12
i couldnt wait till after work... i just slipped out and switched the can bus wires... victory!!!!!!!!! green to blue, blue to green. i have a running bench test!

i set the throttle so it has a dead spot at the beginning. and i set the torque down to 300nm.

pushed the throttle and it spun up! and then it kicked out.... im going to sort out my wires more when i get home and make sure im not getting feedback because of proximity.

thanx for your help!!!!!! im making progress!

shnitzel
 

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Discussion Starter #14
thank you for your compliment! 9 days of progress and then 3 days stumped... ha ha ha...

i cant get the motor to run consistently. i have de-tuned all the settings. i have put 2 x 120ohm resistors on each end of the canbus. i have disabled canterm in the vcu. i have relocated all throttle and canbus wires away from any other wires.. all grounds are seperate and tied to the same bolt on the inverter casing. i have wrapped the canbus + throttle wires in tinfoil and grounded that to the motor... still same...

if i VERY gently press the pedal i can get the motor to move forwards. and i can make it move backwards. sometimes several times in a row. but always by the 2nd or 3rd throttle blip it faults and the green light flashes.

if i quickly press the pedal it revs up, jolts a bit and faults.

so im kinda winning... but confused. thats enough for tonight. supper time and cartoons next!

shnitzel
 

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It might be worth asking Thunderstruck and sending them your config. They're pretty responsive and might have ran into similar behavior.

I think CAN is more robust than is commonly discussed. I had horrendous wiring in my first iteration and it was never a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I have emailed Thunderstruck about the issue. Sent them a picture of the config file and my set up.

As i took some pictures for them, i thought i would share them with you! Sorry they are from a gopro, all i had to take pictures with.

shnitzel
120638
120639
120640
 

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I had this issue when I first built my Mercedes. Use the command to measure the throttle (thmeasure, I think...) and monitor it while blipping it. I found that poor routing of the ground wire (and grounding it to the chassis away from the VCU) resulting in a lot of noise on the line. This led to the throttle signal occasionally going out of bounds. When that happens, the unit shuts down and has to be power cycled to come back online. I think it’s a safety feature. Check your throttle wiring, make sure it’s twisted, and ground it directly to the VCU. Avoid running it near the inverter or power cables.
I have emailed Thunderstruck about the issue. Sent them a picture of the config file and my set up.

As i took some pictures for them, i thought i would share them with you! Sorry they are from a gopro, all i had to take pictures with.

shnitzel View attachment 120638 View attachment 120639 View attachment 120640
 

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Discussion Starter #18
thanx Jeff! ive watched all your videos.... ;) i do have my throttle grounded to the same point as the VCU. both grounded to the aluminum case of the inverter. the battery is also grounded there. and the throttle wires are routed far from any other cables.

John at Thunderstruck has lead me to a relay issue.

when i turn on my ignition toggle it sends 12v to the precharge relay and the main (-) relay in the pack. then when it senses voltage it turns on the main (+) relay.

i havnt opened up the leaf pack. so far i have just tapped into the 3 relays inside. i am assuming the bms will still keep the pack balanced without the whole car attached??? i am assuming......

i checked for running voltage after VCU startup... i clipped my voltmeter to the high V terminals on the inverter and it reads 383v at precharge, then the VCM clicks the high V contactor and turns solid green on the light. and then the voltage starts to drop off slowly while the green light is still lit. then when i reset the 12v toggle it starts over....

so i have to learn more about how to make this pack work. i dont want to open it up if i can help it. but am willing to do whatever it takes!

so, volts dropping after the main contactor "sounds like it closes".. this is definitely my problem.

Jody Willcock
 

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thanx Jeff! ive watched all your videos.... ;) i do have my throttle grounded to the same point as the VCU. both grounded to the aluminum case of the inverter. the battery is also grounded there. and the throttle wires are routed far from any other cables.

John at Thunderstruck has lead me to a relay issue.

when i turn on my ignition toggle it sends 12v to the precharge relay and the main (-) relay in the pack. then when it senses voltage it turns on the main (+) relay.

i havnt opened up the leaf pack. so far i have just tapped into the 3 relays inside. i am assuming the bms will still keep the pack balanced without the whole car attached??? i am assuming......

i checked for running voltage after VCU startup... i clipped my voltmeter to the high V terminals on the inverter and it reads 383v at precharge, then the VCM clicks the high V contactor and turns solid green on the light. and then the voltage starts to drop off slowly while the green light is still lit. then when i reset the 12v toggle it starts over....

so i have to learn more about how to make this pack work. i dont want to open it up if i can help it. but am willing to do whatever it takes!

so, volts dropping after the main contactor "sounds like it closes".. this is definitely my problem.

Jody Willcock
Ahhh, I see what you’re saying, now. The inverter has a resistor that will bleed off the voltage in the capacitor slowly. If you close the contactor and open it, you may see the voltage drop slowly back to 0 in the inverter. Perhaps it’s an issue of the contactor not closing at all, and you’re hearing the precharge contactor open? Maybe it’s just a little wiring issue.

I can’t help much with the Leaf BMS, I’m afraid.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
does the precharge relay stay closed during running???? i have my main(-) contactor wired to the precharge relay circuit. so maybe after the VCU sees everything is good it drops the precharge relay? if so this would also drop my main(-) relay and i would not have a circuit anymore.....

or does the precharge relay stay closed during running?

shnitzel
 
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