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Discussion Starter · #121 ·
I've been driving the EV for about 8 months now - no regrets, still have the grin!

Zilla was complaining about some hot temps (has not been a problem when it was -40!), so replaced the fan-driven 4" radiator with a 7"x12" aluminum transmission cooler - no fan, but I mounted it directly in the airflow behind the front bumper..

Also replaced a noisy strut-mount (nice and solid now).

Will replace my noisy vacuum brake pump today - using the VW/Audi pump now. I have been finding the reservoir does not hold as long as it used to - originally I got 3 pumps before the vac switch turned on, now only 2. I will look for loose fittings at the same time.

MY updated Zilla has been working well - no errors and better acceleration (originally I would get an error if I floored it - this was solved by limiting the throttle in the hairball firmware upgrade - now the power unit has been upgraded too, so back to full power).

I also got the BMS updated - the DC/DC converter was blown (likely my fault due to bad wiring - those darn tiny connectors on the BMS are a pain!). Elithion updated the firmware at the same time. My fuel gauge now works - the BMS outputs a 0-5V signal for SOC - I have a transistor circuit (from Elithion site) which drives the analog fuel gauge - only problem is that my Toyota has 2 resistive fuel level sensors (most only have 1) so my gauge shows 50% when it is full - I will have to play with the resistor values in the transistor circuit to figure this out.

In the old BMS version, any sag would result in SOC resetting to 20% - this seems fixed now, although there is less sag now that it is warm out (the real test will be next January). My charge current sensor is still not working, so I have to pull out the box with all the contactors etc.. to check it out.

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You have an exemplary build there Garth. I really like what your have done and the choices you made for this practical vehicle. Tell me, how are the heated battery boxes doing? Do you monitor temperature at all? and do you ventilate in the summer (assume enclosed boxes).


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Discussion Starter · #123 · (Edited)
Thanks Gary - the Farnam heating pads work great - all winter they kept the temps nice and cozy... I put them on a timer, so they came on a few hours before driving. I have some simple 120VAC thermal cut-outs, but never got around to using them. The boxes ended up with no insulation at all (not enough room) - with the heating pads it worked well though. I did not push high mileage though, and kept everything fully charged (mostly shorter drives) so not the best winter test.

There are fans in each bat box, tied into the Elithion bms (which measures the temps based on each cell board) - they have never come on yet (although this will be my first hot summer, so will see). They just vent into the car interior (I may have to change this).

I add a 240V/50A GFI box in my garage, so can now fully utilize my Manzanita 40A charger (before this I was only using 120/15A) - with the fast charger it always seems to be full whenever I go for a drive - should help the battery life. That said, on warmer days, I have to open the back door to keep the temps down inside the car - the charger throws a lot of heat.

Installed the VW pump - much quieter compared to the oil-filled muffler one I replaced. It is barely audible (compared to a incredibly loud HONKKKKK from the old one)... It is a higher pitch and runs for longer (much smaller pump) but all good. One note - the vent for the unit is a small hole at a joint (about the middle of the pump) - I thought it was the button on the bottom. I wrapped it with some insulation and duct tape (and covered this hole) and it kept running (ie did not produce any vacuum) - cleared the hole and all is well - most pleased.

Went for a 80 kM ride tonight (avg 80km/hr)- still had lots of juice left, no heating issues - all good.

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Discussion Starter · #124 ·
I did a bit of repair work this weekend - I have been driving my RAV daily for about 1.5 years now (about 20,000 kM) with few problems (so it was due).

My charger mains safety relay failed... The charger can be controlled in 3 ways:
- Manzanita has a constant V/Constant I profile - so if the pack volts gets high enough the charger will back down
- The Elithion BMS looks at every cell volts, and will tell the charger to turn off (while it re-balances the cells) - it also looks at the total pack volts and will turn off the charger
- final fail-safe relay (the one that failed) - the SSR relay's ground was fed from the BMS Fault signal (so if the BMS is off or Faulted, AC mains get opened).

I used a Crydom SSR relay for 240VAC, 40A - a few mornings I came out and found my GFI charger breaker had tripped... Finally sat and watched it - works for about 15 minutes, then the SSR started buzzing and eventually the GFI trips. It had a decent heat sink, so not sure why it failed...

Replaced it with a heavy ABB 3 phase contactor - the current draw on the 12V coil was too much for the Elithion FLT signal, so had to add another relay. Big clunk when I open the fuel door!

Overall a nice cleanup (3 phase relays allows 2 hots and the neutral to be switched with a single cable going everywhere).

One of my car seat heaters also failed, so probably it is next on the list...

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Discussion Starter · #125 ·
Haven't updated my build thread for a while - almost 3 years of driving, and still couldn't be happier... I drive this car every day summer and winter (even at -40C) and reliability has been good.

Finally got AC to work (new compressor and condenser, driven from tailshaft). AC works even when stopped at lights (ie it still blows cold due to thermal storage). I do not have a fan on my condenser, so not sure how things will work at low speeds on hot days... I may have to re-install a fan (fans are noisy, so trying to avoid). Many EV folks think AC is just a waste, but I wanted a fully functional car (small SUV, AWD, AC etc... are all not super efficient, but still popular).

Moved my Zilla cooling pump around a bit (to give more room for AC condenser and easier access).

Updated my Elithion bms to V2.x, which allows me to download and auto-update (required dial-in by Davide via the internet). Also bought a spare/used unit. Fixed both units to repair the DC/DC converter to get 15V out for the current sensors - both charge and discharge current sensors now work. Great support from Elithion!

Also updating my OEM fuel gauge - toyota fuel gauges seem to work a bit different (2 fuel float sensors in series) - the Elithion site documented a transistor circuit to get 0-5V from the BMS energy gauge to interface to an analog fuel gauge. I had to change the resistor settings (and am using a different transistor) - still calibrating/fiddling, but getting pretty close.

Also installed 2 serial to Bluetooth adapters on the Zilla and Elithion - lets me use serial terminal programs on my smartphone (without having to connect a PC).

Not many things left to tinker with - I want to change the temperature dial to add a rotary switch - when the fan comes on, I want the heat (to SSR relays to my electric heaters) to come on only if the temperature is in the red... In the blue, it should disable the electric heaters so the fan can be used on its own or with the A/C on (I have to pull fuses now in summer).

Battery range feels somewhat reduced, but have not formally checked it... Range in winter is definitely much reduced.

All for now!

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Discussion Starter · #126 ·
Friday was not a good day - my trusty Zilla fried... Was accelerating for a few seconds when I heard a big "pop" and then nothing (no runaway acceleration or anything - just a soft coast to stop).

To avoid cross-posting - see:

This is the first time I have been without a vehicle since 1981! I have always had a 1975 Ford pickup truck, but it is in the middle of a restoration.

I have only been left sitting one other time (weak circuit board connection) - not too bad in 3.5 years of daily driving I suppose!

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Friday was not a good day - my trusty Zilla fried... Was accelerating for a few seconds when I heard a big "pop" and then nothing (no runaway acceleration or anything - just a soft coast to stop).

To avoid cross-posting - see:

This is the first time I have been without a vehicle since 1981! I have always had a 1975 Ford pickup truck, but it is in the middle of a restoration.

I have only been left sitting one other time (weak circuit board connection) - not too bad in 3.5 years of daily driving I suppose!
bummer.... wondering if this may be due to bad build by EVComponents. I hope you're back on the road asap.

....I just read thru whole thread... enjoyed. ;) Didn't see any pictures of how you finally resolved clearance issue to transfer case. Did you just grind Warp9 case a little?

also, on your power steering. you stuck with the mr2 electric PS, right? did you stick with using your 36 tooth stock pickup and leaving the speed sensor, or just leave it on all the time? or, add microswitches/relays to turn on from steering column?

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309 Posts
Discussion Starter · #128 ·
Hi Dan:

My Zilla was built by EV components, but there was no indication of quality problems etc... I beefed up the cooling when I installed the re-built controller (I had occasional MIL light flashing on hot days on the highway - never for more than a few seconds) and this has improved things. So far so good!

The clearance issue was resolved by a slight grinding of the motor casing - worked well.

I stuck with the toothed wheel and stock rpm sensor - also has been 100% (almost 4 years now).

My MR2 pump stopped working a few months ago, and I have not done anything about it... I have a spare, and will swap it at some point (but no huge rush). I installed new tires, and went with a narrower 215 instead of the wider 235 (both OEM sizes for a RAV) - find it handles better and less wander when in rutted roads etc.. - also makes the steering easier.

My last upgrade was a Pioneer AppRadio head unit - this is an inexpensive touchscreen that mirrors my Android phone onto the car screen... I made a custom moulded mount so I can just drop my phone into a cradle, which then connects it to an MHL to HDMI adapter... This way my phone charges, mirroring is done via HDMI to the head unit, and all audio is high quality. All music, navigation, internet access etc... is handled by the phone, as well as hands-free calling etc... - ie "Hello Google", followed by "Navigate to work", "Call Kathy", "where is the nearest Tim Hortons" etc... Touchscreen on the head unit also works - a "big button" app called Car Home Ultra starts up when docked. There also is a backup camera, and integration with steering wheel controls is possible (although not on my car). An e-brake bypass relay can also be installed, which allows all Android apps to be used while driving (use at your own risk). Best system I have seen (including OEM stuff) and is only about $400 Cdn plus another $50 for the MHL adapter...

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Discussion Starter · #129 ·
Overdue update - I have driven a little over 31,000 kM - this has been my daily driver for 4 years now...

My battery range is reduced somewhat - worst case now in winter is about 70 kM (as opposed to a best case of 100 kM in summer) - still respectable...

I recently added a 12V timer to my charge circuit - when the timer expires (say after 3 hours) then this disconnects my charger relay, which reduces the draw (it is a big 3 phase AC contactor) on my 12V battery... Originally the 12V DC/DC was also energized when I was charging (ie topping up the 12V battery when the pack was charged) but I changed it so that the -ve contactor is totally open when charging (this keeps the motor completely isolated during charging). With 3 contactors it would be possible to keep the motor isolated, yet still connect the DC/DC - with the timer I find I do not run down the 12V battery anymore.

I also converted my steering wheel cruise control to control my stereo (next track, vol +, vol -, mute etc...) - I will post this separately.

So far so good - still got the grin!

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Discussion Starter · #131 ·
My head unit is a Pioneer AppRadio - SPH-DA110 (other models are available with CD/DVD players etc... too). I use the free AppRadio Unchained app (or a non-free unloaded version of the above) to get the mirroring and touchscreen to work. There also is a bypass relay required if you want to use all of the above while driving. An inexpensive backup camera is also wired in (with a wire from the reverse lights into the headunit to turn the camera on). There is an Apple interface to this as well, but I have not tried it.

Interior shot - my phone (Galaxy S4) slides into the homemade dock in the centre console. This connects the phone, to an MHL to HDMI adapter (which also provides power to the phone) - an HDMI cable carries digital audio and video to the head unit.

Head Unit is a touchscreen - AV come in from HDMI (or a backup camera analog video signal) and the touchscreen works via bluetooth.

Android app menu - any app can be installed (remember - it is the phone doing the processing, not the head unit - it is just like a touchscreen

Navigation works great (again standard Android KitKat with Google Maps) - voice commands are excellent.

There are lots of apps for "big-button" driving mode - this is Car Home Ultra:

Lots of good audio apps available too - I use PowerAmp.

The next few pics are from the Android Torque app - I added an ODB2 cable to my Elithion BMS, and then plugged in a Bluetooth ODB2 adapter (very inexpensive - maybe $10?). I customized the CAN bus PIDs based on Elithion BMS documentation to add all battery voltages, temperatures etc... Basically anything that the BMS records can be plotted on graphs, meters, dials etc... Here are some screen pics:

I wish there were more options to customize graphs with multiple curves etc... - using 40+ meters to show battery voltages and temperatures is a bit overkill - one graph with 40 curves would be better. I understand Torque developers are working on this - ideally a plugin with bar charts etc... specifically designed for BMS quantities would be ideal. Gets the job done for now though.

I also have serial port to Bluetooth adapters on my Zilla and Elithion BMS - I can open a terminal on the touchscreen, and via command line I can customize/view all available information.

Best head unit I have seen - definetely modernizes an old car!


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Discussion Starter · #132 ·
Its been a long time since I have posted any updates - this has been my daily driver since the start (summer and -40 winter days included).

Recent problems:
- had a charger failure - got my main charger fixed (totally new power section replaced), but also added 2 thunderstruck EV chargers (for redundancy - great deal and work well!)
- had a cooling pump failure (so replaced the small main coolant pump)

My range has definitely gone down over 6 years - probably down to about 70-80 kM (from slightly over 100). This is likely due to extra-cold days with the car left outside during the day, then driving home and immediately plugging in and charging (charging with cold batteries is not good). The delay charger time should resolve this.

Not too bad for reliability - its been my daily driver for almost six years and still going strong (still got the grin!).

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Discussion Starter · #134 · (Edited)
Have not posted in a while - REV4 is still my daily driver, although batteries are definitely wearing out. I figure charging when it is cold is the main culprit (I made a mod some time back to delay charging until batteries have warmed up).

Recently I had my IOTA DC/DC converter fail - replaced it with a Meanwell HEP-600-15. They have a 600C model (with a 12V battery charging profile) and a 600 model as a power supply - I went with the 15 volt power supply version, and trimmed the output to 13.8 V. When it is turned on into a depleted battery (ie low voltage) or too high of a load is drawn, it will keep its output current constant (which seems to fit the bill). Nice unit, well constructed, sealed, fanless etc...

I should add that this left my hanging last night - I new it was dead, but for the last week I would manually charge my 12V battery, and hope it would hold for the day... Last night we went to a hockey game (go Jets!) but could not get my regular indoor parking spot (-30C ish outside)... On the way home the car died and would not start (12V was down to 10.5V so not enough there to keep Zilla etc.. connected reliably). A boost was required, and got me home. This is the 3rd time (in 9 ish years) it has left me hanging (ran out of juice once before, had a motor controller failure once) so not too bad (probably similar to gas cars).

I also have on order new heating pads - I bought 4 350mmx350mm 600W 220VAC silicone heating pads (meant for 3D printers apparantely?) - I will operate them at 110VAC to get 150W each (300W in the front, and 300 W in the back). A bit more heat than my original Farnam units. I suspect a few of them have burned out (batteries are not getting as warm as they used too - it was -30C here recently and I had a hard time keeping them above 0C in a garage). I also got Inkbird 100 ~240VAC ITC-308 digital thermostats - they work from 110 or 220 VAC, keep settings when turned off etc... Will report back when these are installed.

No regrets on component selection really - DC Warp 9, Zilla controller, Manzanita Charger (and backup Thunderstruck Charger), Elithion BMS etc.. have been working well.

8 years and still grinning!

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Discussion Starter · #137 ·
Sorry for the very late reply - yes my rav4 EV conversion is still my daily driver (11 years and counting!). Battery range is reduced, but otherwise things are working well. I went through a few hairballs - Manzanita was very patient and repaired each board - the latest boards have extra conformal coatings installed and it has been good so far (as all my failures occured on humid days).

My most recent work is to replace brushes in my Warp 9 motor (should have been done some time ago actually!). One of the brushes actually wore down and the wire burnt off! You can see one of the old brushes on the workshop table (new ones are installed) - probably wore down to 2/3 of the orig length. When I was stopped and hit the gas, sometimes nothing happened (due to the broken brush wire) - if I got out and gave the car a nudge in gear it would run again. No big arc marks on the brush holders, rotor looked great, no slots pulled out, brushes were still moving well etc. I was very lucky I think (replace brushes much earlier folks!).

I was able to remove the motor CE without having to remove the entire motor from the car (a bit of fiddling but worked). CE end shown below - afer the 4 bolts were removed, I used a puller (but very mild force) to take it off without hammering on it.

Got new T300 split top brushes and upgraded/stronger springs (thanks to Hunter at Netgain and Todd at CanEV - good folks!) - they come shaped from Netgain, but I wanted to do a bit more breakin before running at 1000 amps. I first spun it with a 12v battery (smooth and reasonably quiet!) , but it uses more power than you think (even with the clutch in - more than a 10 amp 12V bat charger can handle). I want at least 6 hours of run time to reshape - although they were shaped from Netgain they were not fully contacting the rotor (and initially only were touching on the high side) . I will temporarily set the max speed on the Zilla to 1000 rpm (so I can just put a brick on the throttle pedal and let it run off the main pack (an idea from this site!) - I will try this tonight.

Also putting synthetic lube in all differentials and in the AWD transaxle (should improve efficiency on those -40C days) and building a better vaccuum bottle (longer 4" abs tube) as an emergency brake could feel weak due to lack of vacuum.


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Discussion Starter · #139 ·
My son stepped into the photo (barefoot) - or course I had my steel tow safety shoes on as usual..

Setting the Zilla max speed to 1000 rpm worked great - put a brick on the gas pedal and let it run to get the brushes to seat... If you go full throttle then the Zilla tends to be "jerky" whereas a partial gas pedal gives smoother 1000 rpm constant speed... Much easier to use the full pack rather then trying to use a 12V battery...

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Formally introducing myself - I am an Electrical Engineer working in power
systems (wind farms, HVDC links, machines etc...) and specializing in
computer simulation. I also have a bit of auto-mechanic experience (I
have owned a 1975 F250 4x4 Highboy since 1983).

I have been a long time lurker here - thank you all for the phenomenal
support/information - this is a great site!

I am also fortunate to have my nephew (Derek) helping me on this - he is
18 and will graduate from high school this year. He has an aptitude for
taking stuff apart and fixing things, so this is a win-win situation. I enjoy
working with him, and his help will be appreciated. We hope to work every
Saturday and maybe one evening during the week. I have 2 boys (6 and 8)
who play hockey etc... so I am already pushing the limits of my spare
time - this will be a very slow build...

I recently saw Rob's (RKM) Red Miata - this lit a bit of a fire, so here we go...

My overall plan is to convert a relatively new vehicle (>2000) and to make
an EV that works just like its ICE counterpart in all ways - it will have
power everything, heated leather seats, full trunk space, air conditioning,
AWD etc... The plan is to demonstrate that you do not have to give up
anything to drive an EV (in fact it will be faster and better). Of course this
will not be a cheap build, nor will it be a super-efficient low kWH/kM build,
but it will be a very driveable car I will use as a daily driver in all seasons
(also more on this later).

I really only need about 50kM of range per day, but given winter
conditions in Winnipeg, and my desire to not push any equipment close to
its ratings, I will try to squeeze in more batteries/range than what is
really needed.

I finally bought my donor and started work:
2001 Toyota RAV4, 135,000 kM, AWD

I choose the RAV as it is a family car (would love a light 2 seater
convertible but with a family of 4 it is a no go), has some height/weight,
plus it has a history/reputation for EV'ers (stock RAV4 Ev etc...). also
considered a Ford Escape or Honda CR-V...

Everyone loves pics (although this is only the stock car so far):

Yeah - I know - the big sticker on the hood has to go. You should have
seen the car before - it had "all available Canadian Tire options". I bought
an OEM leather interior kit, as well as some carbon seat heaters for driver
and passenger with 5 position dial (I can hear the groans from all the EV
purists who have scrimped on weight/features etc... to get max range!)

My "REV4" EV Conversion Plan (please - all comments/suggestions/feedback welcome!):
  • Warp 11 (or maybe even Warp 11 HV?) motor
  • Zilla HV 1K or Soliton1 (not decided yet)
  • SE or TS LFP batteries, probably 65*100AH (more if there is room - more on this later)
  • keeping the 5 spd manual transmission, have bought a new clutch

Note that the motor and controller are likely more than the stock
clutch/transmission/AWD system can handle - I figure that equipment that
is rated for higher duty conditions but driven "soft" will last longer, not
heat up etc... (definitely an engineer talking - over design it). I love the
power however, so will start with the max controller amps limited, then
increase it until everything feels shakey, then back it down a bit...

If the Warp 11 HV motor receives good tests reports, then it seems like a
no-brainer for the cost - I will use a high voltage and as many batteries
as I can fit.

I plan to put the majority of batteries under the hood (on top of the DC
motor, manual transverse transmission and AWD transfer case). There
also is room under the rear of the car where the gas tank used to be (2
smaller boxes) - keeping the 4x4 definitely adds a penalty here as the
rear drive shaft cuts everything into 2. I do not want to fill up the
trunk/back seat with batteries though.

The batteries are a big pain (a low-height LFP battery that can stick under
the floor pans would be killer) - in reality I only have about 11" to work
with (which means TS or SE 100AH batteries, which are 8.66" high - once
you add the BMS, enclosure, insulation and heating pads, this doesn't
leave too many options. There are also the new SE 240Ah batteries (6.73"
high, 17.72" long, 2.8" thick) but that massive 18" length just won't match
up with the room I have in the car.

Horizontal placement of the batteries would also work, but I have been
told by SE that this is not recommended and would void warranty.

I think I can fit about 20kWH of batteries into the 3 boxes - I will pull out
all the junk in the way before ordering batteries though (maybe a
reasonable priced A123 deal will come along between now and then?)...

One non-logical aspect to my choices are using a 1000Amp controller with
100AH batteries - 5C would be a huge draw (perhaps too much?) so higher
AH batteries would be a better fit - they are too darn tall however (or too
wide for the 240AH) so I am somewhat torn/stuck. All suggestions
appreciated here - what would you do?

I am undecided on many other parts - will be deciding soon though. I will need:

- electric vacuum pump for power brake booster (Rob/RKM showed me a
pump that was enclosed inside of the vacuum tank - that made sense to
- electric power steering pump (no-one in Canada has a 2000-2005 MR2
Spyder pump - trying hard to find one in US for a decent cost - let me
know if you find one!)
- hydraulic pump/heater for interior heat (will keep stock heater core and
fan/controls - I don't like the idea of electric heaters inside the interior
heater core)
  • 1000 Amp contactors/breakers/fuses?
  • battery heating pads (it gets to -40 deg in Winnipeg for a few weeks
every year and I have to get to work!).
  • BMS
  • charger (I want a dual voltage 120/240 charger - 30 Amps would be lots)

I plan to pull the motor etc... soon (1 or 2 weekends from now) - I will
take careful measurements for the motor and batteries and make some
decisions then...

I have never done this (and definitely respect the people who have) so
please - all comments/suggestions appreciated!

Hey Garth,

Thanks for the content in your post, very useful.

@ August 2021 what would you update about your original post? In terms of parts specifications, now that you have had chance to reflect on your conversion. Time has moved on, new tech has come on to the market, prices have reduced.

The reason I ask this question is, I live in the UK and have a RAV4 2002, manual powertrain 2000cc, petrol which I plan to convert to a EV. Chassis, body is in good condition, worth reusing as my model.
I've seen some approx costs for doing the REV conversion, I'm curious to know which parts to purchase?!?!

Hoping to have the conversion completed for me by a qualified auto electrician, mechanic at a EV specialist.

I intend to use the REV for town driving, less than 50 mile journeys each day. I live in a flat area, on the south coast, Poole, Dorset. it would be nice to have a range of 50-120 miles., for driving into London.
Plan is to use local charging points in regional towns, rather than have a charger fitted at my residence.

I have a UK Ltd company which is involved in generating leads for EVs and Hydrogen vehicles manufacturers.

Your response and comments would be most welcome.


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