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Discussion Starter #1
I am trying to help my 85 year old uncle realize one of his bucket list items while there is still time, to drive this car at least once. He has been working for over 30 years to slowly build an electric car using the GE EV1-B controller that he purchased in 1984. The car chassis was hand built:


It was finally finished recently and is in a machine shop in Ludlow Massachusetts. When we attempted to power it for the first time it failed. Overview of controller assembly:


I have attempted to study the schematics and all available documentation. In my distant past I have a degree in electrical engineering so I should understand all documentation and pretty much understand how things should work.
Using the “General Electric EV-! B, C, D Panel Replacement parts Lists and Troubleshooting/Tune-Up Instructions” manual, I noted that with SEAT and BRAKE switches bypassed and KEY, FWD, and ACCEL switches appropriately set per 3rd bullet point in Symptom section 1B there is not BV at L3, L5, and L7, just minimal voltage. It appears but not confirmed that the new never used but 30+ year old EV1-B controller is defective and am at a loss on how to proceed. Any advice would be appreciated.
Paul Traceski
 

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I see that nobody has replied to your post from late September, so I hope my reply bumps it up so you might get some advice. This seems like a cool project, and perhaps there is a quick and easy way to get this EV running. The SCR type controllers are rather old technology and may not be very reliable, so I don't think repairing it is a good option. It would help to know details of the motor and the battery pack - then we might be able to recommend a compatible controller.

I have mostly worked on three phase AC motors driven by VFDs, and powered from 12-24 VDC lead-acid batteries with a DC-DC converter to boost to 250 VDC or so for the drive. So far I have only used this for a modified riding mower stripped down to be a utility vehicle or go-kart. It is a work in process and I haven't done anything on it for quite some time.

It may be assumed that your uncle's EV uses a DC motor, probably series wound, rated for 24, 36, or 48 VDC or so. Most early and low-cost conversions use similar components, often salvaged from fork lifts or golf carts, and the controller is usually simple PWM, using high current MOSFETs or IGBTs. There are many DC controllers available on eBay or surplus or from salvage yards, and there are also quite a few DIY designs posted here and elsewhere. If the drivetrain and other mechanical components of the EV are in good shape, you can probably get it going by dropping in a PWM controller.

For a small vehicle designed for local and off-road use, 1 or 2 HP would be barely adequate, and 5 HP should be plenty, especially since you can overload 2x to 4x for short periods of acceleration or hill climbing. So about 3 kW, or 62 amps at 48 volts, with surges up to 200 amps, will probably do the job.

Good luck on your project!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I am planning my next trip to the car and to open up the controller to see if I can troubleshoot components to isolate a possible simple fix before recommending a new controller. I do not want to ask my uncle to spend major funds to replace the controller without due diligence to do my best to investigate a possible simple repair. I need to do more study, and will make detailed posts prior to my next trip to the car to be as prepared as possible.
 
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