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AEM VCU-200 anybody running it successfully

13258 Views 74 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  joekitch
I've been watching the AEM VCU-200 for a while now, but I haven't found anyone to successfully run it besides AEM in their black mustang and when they redid the EV West van. But I am assuming that both of those took forever to work and I am not really interested in being their guinea pig.

Is anyone running this and how hard was it to setup?
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Edited my post, thanks for that correction Mojave

Not really sure as to the specific layout Floyd? I dropped aem tech an email asking for more specifics, this is kinda important for me since it may be more cost effective to get batteries with fewer cells
 

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Might be boned in my conversion, at least when it comes to the bms-18

Discussing with the techs over email, it seems like the vcu200 can only have one bms-18 connected to it? Meaning my maximum number of cell taps tops out at 108 which seems low

The newer LG chem bricks seem to have a minimum of 13 cell taps coming out of them, 12 bricks x 13 cell taps is 156...and the older LG chem bricks have 16 taps per battery so 196(!) Connections.

They're saying having two parallel strings of these bricks would be not a great idea, and better to parallel then at the cell level and have one tap per paralleled cell, gives you better power output which would also equate to faster charging (yay)

They drew me a fancy diagram to illustrate, attached (below is the default battery, and what I thought I was going with)


However I don't think making them parallel at the cell level is feasible, it may not even be safe

I think I'm just missing something here, but a max of 108 taps per install seems to massively limit the flexibility of the system, which doesn't seem like something aem would do. For instance that design completely cuts out the Chevy volt packs, I think that also rules out some larger configurations of Tesla modules? That can't be right.
 

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Just want to correct something here, the AEM CCS solution WILL consist of an add-on CCS module. The CCS program is ongoing at AEM and no announcement or product is imminent, I just saw this and didn't want to let it hang out there when I knew it was incorrect.

Thanks!
Is this controller going to be a PLC to CAN bridge or will it have custom protocols between the VCU and Powerline Comm? I ask since this would be huge for the community if it didn't require the VCU and one could integrate it with their own BMS through a DBC file or something like that.
 

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I'm 90% sure the AEM solution, whenever it happens, will be using their VCU and their bms-18 system, so it's all one big ecosystem

Also for my conversation I found a workaround of parellalizing cell taps across modules, so I can make 6 sets of three Pacifica modules but to the bms its still 96 cell, fitting neatly within the bms-18 108 max
 

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Someone there who knows if it's possible to use the AEM VCU-200 with any inverter brand? We are developing an electric car and our inverter, BMS, pump, etc runs with CAN, but we are not sure if there would be issues depending on the inverter model. AEM doen't aswer us for the moment. Thanks in advance
 

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Is this controller going to be a PLC to CAN bridge or will it have custom protocols between the VCU and Powerline Comm? I ask since this would be huge for the community if it didn't require the VCU and one could integrate it with their own BMS through a DBC file or something like that.
The VCU doesn't seem to talk to many other devices. Just the inverter, direciton selector, BMS, charger, cooling, and not a lot else. If you want to hook up other items, it seems like using the AEM carbon dash and an array of compatible CAN devices is the way to go.
 

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I think AEM really wants to drive the support questions through the resellers (EV West, etc.) so that is why they aren't easy to get a hold of. A few things I learned during my install:
1. As your testing and programming, try to avoid disconnecting the 12v battery a lot. I found that it wouldn't always retain it's settings and made troubleshooting hard.
2. Along with the comment above, if you disconnect the battery a lot you can lock up the VCU. I had to get a reset file from AEM to get it back working.
3. If you get this error "Loaded Defaults - Error Reading EEPROM" just go ahead and reach out to AEM before you waste your time. I spent hours and hours troubleshooting to find out that the VCU needed to be reset.
4. It took me a long time to get everything to the right state where it would fire all the contactors, etc. After that, it has been flawless.
 

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The one thing I'm curious about is how much the VCU interacts with an AEM BMS. I kept my Zeva BMS because I didn't want to tear the battery apart. AEM allows you to have 4 different performance modes, I would assume ideally you set one of them with zero regen for when your battery is at a full charge and then switch to one with regen as the battery decreases in SOC.
Does the AEM BMS facilitate this automatically?
One option is to run the AEM 8-button keypad so you can manually change driving modes on the fly, but the look of that doesn't really fit in my build...

If anyone has come up with a different way to switch drive modes over CAN please let me know. I would love it if someone built a sub-controller that we could activate with more OEM looking buttons.
 

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got an email back about my canbus woes finally
apparently can2 is going to be reeeeeal quiet until i push the LDU firmware to the vcu200, a step i didnt realize existed, and put the cascadia LDU drive board in line with my benchtop setup and give it power etc

the email they respond on is [email protected] ?
 

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Alright apparently I'm missing some crucial detail somehow but what procedure should I be following to load the necessary firmware for the drive unit control board? Does the firmware get loaded to the control board or to the VCU?

The documentation linked on this page
For the inverter control board

Mentions loading firmware to the board using the gui (although again, not sure if the VCU needs a firmware load too), and selecting G on the little switch thing for gui programming, but all that seems to require the board to be installed in a drive unit which I don't have yet. Without that, the big combined plug thing which came with the board won't work

Which begs the question, how can I power the drive unit control board on a bench? I want to get some traffic on can2 for some testing
 

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Alright apparently I'm missing some crucial detail somehow but what procedure should I be following to load the necessary firmware for the drive unit control board? Does the firmware get loaded to the control board or to the VCU?

The documentation linked on this page
For the inverter control board

Mentions loading firmware to the board using the gui (although again, not sure if the VCU needs a firmware load too), and selecting G on the little switch thing for gui programming, but all that seems to require the board to be installed in a drive unit which I don't have yet. Without that, the big combined plug thing which came with the board won't work

Which begs the question, how can I power the drive unit control board on a bench? I want to get some traffic on can2 for some testing
This is where the interface with Cascadia comes in. The LDU board has to be flashed using the software available in the support section of Cascadia's website. There are instructions with the LDU board that cover the exact how to once you've downloaded the widgets.
There are also a few parameters that the boards NEED to function, which is why they have to be installed into the LDU first. The most important being the coolant temp sensor. If this doesn't read a real result, it defaults to a level that limits the available power to about 10 Amps. We fought with this for a while before AEM tech happened upon this as a condition. He was able to hard code it out for me and we got the unit running.

The VCU 200 is not entirely intuitive to use as there are a lot of individual parameters that have to be set just so (once could call it too many options), but it's absolutely needed if you're doing something a little bit oddball.
 

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This is where the interface with Cascadia comes in. The LDU board has to be flashed using the software available in the support section of Cascadia's website. There are instructions with the LDU board that cover the exact how to once you've downloaded the widgets.
There are also a few parameters that the boards NEED to function, which is why they have to be installed into the LDU first. The most important being the coolant temp sensor. If this doesn't read a real result, it defaults to a level that limits the available power to about 10 Amps. We fought with this for a while before AEM tech happened upon this as a condition. He was able to hard code it out for me and we got the unit running.

The VCU 200 is not entirely intuitive to use as there are a lot of individual parameters that have to be set just so (once could call it too many options), but it's absolutely needed if you're doing something a little bit oddball.

Hey Mek, do you mind sharing that instruction? As far as I know there is no software patch available for TESLA LDU as all those FM patches are for Cascadia Inverters only...
 
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