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Discussion Starter #1
I've heard great things about the Zilla controllers but I understand they
are both very costly and there is a long waiting list for them. I am an
electronics engineer and would consider building my own controller. Are there
plans any where? Is there a schematic for the Zillas avaiable?

Thank you,

Dave Delman
1981 Electric DeLorean Project



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Discussion Starter #3
Dave, this was a re-post of this link back in September 2006...

<snip>
...there is this 150V 400A open source project
http://vehiculeselectriques.free.fr/racingcontroller.html
that was posted by Philippe Borges
under the thread RE: Building a Controller Yourself
<snip>

Mike,
Anchorage, Ak.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]]On
> Behalf Of [email protected]
> Sent: Sunday, August 19, 2007 5:03 PM
> To: [email protected]
> Subject: [EVDL] EV Controllers
>
>
> I've heard great things about the Zilla controllers but I understand they
> are both very costly and there is a long waiting list for them. I am an
> electronics engineer and would consider building my own controller. Are there
> plans any where? Is there a schematic for the Zillas avaiable?
>
> Thank you,
>
> Dave Delman
> 1981 Electric DeLorean Project
>
>
>
> ************************************** Get a sneak peek of the all-new AOL at
> http://discover.aol.com/memed/aolcom30tour
> _______________________________________________
> For subscription options, see
> http://lists.sjsu.edu/mailman/listinfo/ev
>

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Discussion Starter #4
Re: [EVDL] EV controllers

<<<< You can't get a schematic for the Zilla's because it belongs to the
designers and they will probably protect their intellectual property. They
make a living selling their controller, so they probably don't want to give
away the design. You could try asking them about it at their website,
though. [http://www.cafeelectric.com/]

I'm also looking at building my own controller. I was just going to design
it myself; I was thinking of basing it on a half-bridge circuit with
parallel'ed Mosfet's. IGBT's would be nice, but big ones are hundreds of
dollars each and small ones don't parallel well. >>>>

Otmar has spent so many thousands of hours perfecting the Zilla,
you're getting your money's worth. Now if he could just keep up with
demand...

DIY controller design always brings up Lee Hart's coffee can rule
about dead silicon. You either know how to make one already or you buy
- the learning curve could take longer than the Zilla's lead time and
make *your* time worth less than a buck an hour (unless you consider
it entertainment!)

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Discussion Starter #5
cool, join the club.
there are a lot of naysayers here. like a crowd of high salary lawyers
hiding in the closet that comes running out to discourage anyone daring
to think it can be done relatively easy. the french project you were
linked is in my opinion a mess simply because the documentation lacks
concision. certainly not of the kiss school of thought.

although not a full car controller I'm much more enthusiastic about this
'core' design: http://zeva.com.au/speedy/ by Ian Hooper (it works
running a little old trolley car:). he and I seem to agree more on
design philosophy. it's based on a very easy to work with
microcontroller and although the design doesn't have the functions
needed for a full car controller (like current sensing so you dont fry
stuff and motor rpm so you don't over rev it) it does have a basic
design that should be possible to extend to a fully working simple and
cheap design.
the microcontroller has enough input channels to handle 'everything' so
the circuit complexity can be kept low. perhaps a few temperature
sensors too.

I have been able to extract some experience from a sometimes unwilling
crowd here :) and I'm sure I forget some but I can mention a few insights.
(we should probably have a site with really good controller building
pointers)

It seems that all commercial controllers use many small transistors in
parallel instead of fewer larger ones, simple because the price is lower
that way. the disadvantage seems to be that you have to watch for
manufacturing differences in them so one doesn't try to take all the
burden, then fry and take the others down with it causing a spectacular
cascade failure (a common occurance among first timers from what I
understand :) I figure some math and some overkill might be able to
handle that problem though.
The curtis controller uses some 30+ of a very common mosfet BUZ30A of
form factor TO-220
http://www.ortodoxism.ro/datasheets/siemens/BUZ30A.pdf
(very small, not something you would expect could provide power for a car)

The zillas use a similar number of TO-247 form factor IGBTs which is
also a small component. although several people on this list know which
component it is they wont tell us. apparantly we don't share experience
here. (they will give you an ocean of excuses why not. all wrong)

both controllers use a similar number of 'small' capacitors in parallel
and surprisingly they seem to be greatly underspec'ed currentwise. when
it comes down to it the batteries carry the bulk of the ripple current
from the PWM paradigm and apparently it works out ok anyway. the curtis
even have caps of a particularly poor quality from what I gather :) with
maybe a 40A total ripple current rating on a 550A controller.
Ian Hooper summed the parts on a curtis once and it has roughly 80$
worth of power electronics in it.

MOSFETs are faster but more expensive when it comes to higher voltage
and power than IGBTs. I happen to think we have to move towards higher
voltage because of significant advantages in efficiency, wire thickness
etc but there is perhaps some advantage of ease in going with the lower
curtis voltages because of batteries and typical motor designs. still a
bit unclear on the motor theory.

A picture inside a curtis: http://www.df-cad.dk/web/ev/Curtis.jpg
and one of the Zilla2k http://www.df-cad.dk/web/ev/Zilla2kdiscovery.jpg

both controller seems to switch in the 15kHz region. I will be looking
into switching at a much lower frequency because it costs energy each it
switches and that is heat inside the transistors which you don't need.
rough estimate that about half the heatloss in an IGBT at 15kHz is from
the switching and the loss is linear with frequency. that's my
impression so far at least.
The current rating on power transistors are usually higher than you can
use them at. some say a factor 2. some say a factor 3. depends on
cooling, frequency etc

there is more but that's what I could think of right now

oh from what I gather the current limit problem is most pronounced at 0
rpm where the motor is largely a short circuit. especially if locked in
place as the backemf only start to act like resistance when motor is
turning (doing work, eating voltage and not just amps)

Lenz's law helps you out a little but the inductance in these motors are
not high enough to save you for many microseconds so the current sensor
has to be quick to save you from frying everything :)

cool going with the DeLorean btw :) I considered it myself but they are
not cheap and not terribly well built so I figured it would be
expensive. but done right it could be a real crowd pleaser :) I'm
thinking chrome the body work :)

Dan





[email protected] wrote:
> I've heard great things about the Zilla controllers but I understand they
> are both very costly and there is a long waiting list for them. I am an
> electronics engineer and would consider building my own controller. Are there
> plans any where? Is there a schematic for the Zillas avaiable?
>
> Thank you,
>
> Dave Delman
> 1981 Electric DeLorean Project
>
>
>
> ************************************** Get a sneak peek of the all-new AOL at
> http://discover.aol.com/memed/aolcom30tour
> _______________________________________________
> For subscription options, see
> http://lists.sjsu.edu/mailman/listinfo/ev
>
>

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Discussion Starter #6
Was there a Discovery Channel program on EV conversions or something?


-----Original Message-----
and one of the Zilla2k http://www.df-cad.dk/web/ev/Zilla2kdiscovery.jpg

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi EVerybody;

Waiting for a Frederikson controller, sounds good. Hope Dan can put it
together, he makes it sound easy? He makes a few good points as I have scene
My Curtis apart at Lee Hart's and the many tiny looking diodes and stuff
look SO small to run a car. Lee pointed out that there ARE BIG diodes,
IGBITS or whatEVer it takes to handle the hi power, over the counter stuff.
The devil is the DETAILS! Protective circuits, we went over on the loooong
drive with Lee to Fla and back. Had him trapped in the car. Ha Ha! He
couldn't escape my "How to build a Controller" quaries. He sure made me
appreciate what goes into them, you just don't throw stuff in a purple/green
box and go! Taint that easy. Do-able, but you will be spending alota time
designing protective circuits as EV controller stuff isn't mainstrean
electronics like TV sets, washing machines. Ya looked at the NEW washers?
All the electronic shit on THEM! Whatthehell is wrong with a cam timer that
they have used since I was a kid, thousands of years ago?!FEH! Good folks
like Otmar have DONE all the safety and control stuff, just for you.

Yeah! I know the shit's expensive, but price out building, say a V-8
from scratch;cast the block, get the crank forged, pour yur own babbbit
bearings,cast aluminum pistons. IF ya had to converyt say EV-1's to gas, and
no cheating; hafta BUILD your own gas engine? Even a one lunger, it would be
a long time and money thing.One lung 6" piston for more torque?No Briggs and
Stratten here<g>!

Anyhow that's my input on controllers, for now. Start savin'

Bob
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dan Frederiksen" <[email protected]>
To: "Electric Vehicle Discussion List" <[email protected]>
Sent: Monday, August 20, 2007 2:57 AM
Subject: Re: [EVDL] EV Controllers


> cool, join the club.
> there are a lot of naysayers here. like a crowd of high salary lawyers
> hiding in the closet that comes running out to discourage anyone daring
> to think it can be done relatively easy. the french project you were
> linked is in my opinion a mess simply because the documentation lacks
> concision. certainly not of the kiss school of thought.
>
> although not a full car controller I'm much more enthusiastic about this
> 'core' design: http://zeva.com.au/speedy/ by Ian Hooper (it works
> running a little old trolley car:). he and I seem to agree more on
> design philosophy. it's based on a very easy to work with
> microcontroller and although the design doesn't have the functions
> needed for a full car controller (like current sensing so you dont fry
> stuff and motor rpm so you don't over rev it) it does have a basic
> design that should be possible to extend to a fully working simple and
> cheap design.
> the microcontroller has enough input channels to handle 'everything' so
> the circuit complexity can be kept low. perhaps a few temperature
> sensors too.
>
> I have been able to extract some experience from a sometimes unwilling
> crowd here :) and I'm sure I forget some but I can mention a few insights.
> (we should probably have a site with really good controller building
> pointers)
>
> It seems that all commercial controllers use many small transistors in
> parallel instead of fewer larger ones, simple because the price is lower
> that way. the disadvantage seems to be that you have to watch for
> manufacturing differences in them so one doesn't try to take all the
> burden, then fry and take the others down with it causing a spectacular
> cascade failure (a common occurance among first timers from what I
> understand :) I figure some math and some overkill might be able to
> handle that problem though.
> The curtis controller uses some 30+ of a very common mosfet BUZ30A of
> form factor TO-220
> http://www.ortodoxism.ro/datasheets/siemens/BUZ30A.pdf
> (very small, not something you would expect could provide power for a car)
>
> The zillas use a similar number of TO-247 form factor IGBTs which is
> also a small component. although several people on this list know which
> component it is they wont tell us. apparantly we don't share experience
> here. (they will give you an ocean of excuses why not. all wrong)
>
> both controllers use a similar number of 'small' capacitors in parallel
> and surprisingly they seem to be greatly underspec'ed currentwise. when
> it comes down to it the batteries carry the bulk of the ripple current
> from the PWM paradigm and apparently it works out ok anyway. the curtis
> even have caps of a particularly poor quality from what I gather :) with
> maybe a 40A total ripple current rating on a 550A controller.
> Ian Hooper summed the parts on a curtis once and it has roughly 80$
> worth of power electronics in it.
>
> MOSFETs are faster but more expensive when it comes to higher voltage
> and power than IGBTs. I happen to think we have to move towards higher
> voltage because of significant advantages in efficiency, wire thickness
> etc but there is perhaps some advantage of ease in going with the lower
> curtis voltages because of batteries and typical motor designs. still a
> bit unclear on the motor theory.
>
> A picture inside a curtis: http://www.df-cad.dk/web/ev/Curtis.jpg
> and one of the Zilla2k http://www.df-cad.dk/web/ev/Zilla2kdiscovery.jpg
>
> both controller seems to switch in the 15kHz region. I will be looking
> into switching at a much lower frequency because it costs energy each it
> switches and that is heat inside the transistors which you don't need.
> rough estimate that about half the heatloss in an IGBT at 15kHz is from
> the switching and the loss is linear with frequency. that's my
> impression so far at least.
> The current rating on power transistors are usually higher than you can
> use them at. some say a factor 2. some say a factor 3. depends on
> cooling, frequency etc
>
> there is more but that's what I could think of right now
>
> oh from what I gather the current limit problem is most pronounced at 0
> rpm where the motor is largely a short circuit. especially if locked in
> place as the backemf only start to act like resistance when motor is
> turning (doing work, eating voltage and not just amps)
>
> Lenz's law helps you out a little but the inductance in these motors are
> not high enough to save you for many microseconds so the current sensor
> has to be quick to save you from frying everything :)
>
> cool going with the DeLorean btw :) I considered it myself but they are
> not cheap and not terribly well built so I figured it would be
> expensive. but done right it could be a real crowd pleaser :) I'm
> thinking chrome the body work :)
>
> Dan
>
>
>
>
>
> [email protected] wrote:
>> I've heard great things about the Zilla controllers but I understand they
>> are both very costly and there is a long waiting list for them. I am an
>> electronics engineer and would consider building my own controller. Are
>> there
>> plans any where? Is there a schematic for the Zillas avaiable?
>>
>> Thank you,
>>
>> Dave Delman
>> 1981 Electric DeLorean Project
>>
>>
>>
>> ************************************** Get a sneak peek of the all-new
>> AOL at
>> http://discover.aol.com/memed/aolcom30tour
>> _______________________________________________
>> For subscription options, see
>> http://lists.sjsu.edu/mailman/listinfo/ev
>>
>>
>
> _______________________________________________
> For subscription options, see
> http://lists.sjsu.edu/mailman/listinfo/ev
>
>
> --
> Internal Virus Database is out-of-date.
> Checked by AVG Free Edition.
> Version: 7.5.476 / Virus Database: 269.11.15/949 - Release Date: 8/12/2007
> 11:03 AM
>

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Discussion Starter #8
Re: [EVDL] EV controllers

[email protected] wrote:
> DIY controller design always brings up Lee Hart's coffee can rule
> about dead silicon. You either know how to make one already or you
> buy - the learning curve could take longer than the Zilla's lead time
> and make *your* time worth less than a buck an hour (unless you
> consider it entertainment!)

Please pardon a stupid question...

As I understand it, controllers are complicated and expensive because
very extensive and, as you say, debugged logic needs to be rendered into
silicon.

Wouldn't it be easier to build a more generic 'sensor' end of the
controller and pass info on to a generic PC where the actual decision
logic is put into software? That lowers the cost and increases the
flexibility and ability to update the code.

I appreciate any thoughts on the matter, so long as they don't come
wrapped around an e-brick 8).

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Discussion Starter #9
Re: [EVDL] EV controllers

Greg Owen wrote:
> As I understand it, controllers are complicated and expensive because
> very extensive and, as you say, debugged logic needs to be rendered into
> silicon.
>
> Wouldn't it be easier to build a more generic 'sensor' end of the
> controller and pass info on to a generic PC where the actual decision
> logic is put into software? That lowers the cost and increases the
> flexibility and ability to update the code.
>
>
And each time you have a software bug, you just blew another can full of
IGBT/MOSFET/Whatever parts.


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Discussion Starter #10
Re: [EVDL] EV controllers

> And each time you have a software bug, you just blew another can full of
> IGBT/MOSFET/Whatever parts.

The Zillas are completely worth every penny Otmar is asking for them,
and then some. I mean, nobody even MAKES DC controllers with his
specs, let alone with his reliability, tech support, and so on. Rather
than criticize him, people should be INVESTING in CafeElectric so he
can hire more people to MAKE more of em faster!

And come ON folks. He is not making himself rich with this. He is
making a living, to be sure, supporting himself, his entire family,
and his staff, but not rich. He'll be becoming rich when he has a
fully automated plant operating, making 1000 units per day and still
having a backorder.

:)

--T

PS: Check out Gumstix computers: http://www.gumstix.com/

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Discussion Starter #11
Re: [EVDL] EV controllers

On 20 Aug 2007 at 9:50, John G. Lussmyer wrote:

> > Wouldn't it be easier to build a more generic 'sensor' end of the
> > controller and pass info on to a generic PC where the actual decision
> > logic is put into software? That lowers the cost and increases the
> > flexibility and ability to update the code.
> >
> >
> And each time you have a software bug, you just blew another can full of
> IGBT/MOSFET/Whatever parts.

You'd also need a computer suited to the auto environment - heat,
vibration, moisture, etc. A "generic PC" wouldn't last very long.

Hmm, I wonder if there'd be a way to corrupt an ICE's ECU for this purpose.


I'm biting my tongue so I won't make operating system jokes. ;-) Seriously,
for something like this you'd probably have to write custom software that
would work right down on the hardware, especially if you recycled an ICE
ECU.

David Roden - Akron, Ohio, USA
EVDL Administrator

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Discussion Starter #12
Re: [EVDL] EV controllers

John G. Lussmyer wrote:
>> Wouldn't it be easier to build a more generic 'sensor' end of the
>> controller and pass info on to a generic PC where the actual decision
>> logic is put into software? That lowers the cost and increases the
>> flexibility and ability to update the code.
>>
> And each time you have a software bug, you just blew another can full of
> IGBT/MOSFET/Whatever parts.

Oh, that's simple. Just write bug-free code.

Seriously - I would think that hardware is just as likely to encounter
'bug' conditions as software of similar complexity (haven't I heard a
bit about the raptor hardware being dicey for requirements?), and that a
proper solution - hardware, software, or both - would involve fail-safes
and pre-set safety limits. The difference is that software can be tuned
more easily.

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Discussion Starter #13
Re: [EVDL] EV controllers

But you blow up parts while debugging and testing your code... I know,
I've done it. Stop the software debugger in the wrong place to check
some registers etc, and poof there goes a FET that's been on longer
than it should. Controller parts are gonna be *much* more expensive
than the cash drawer circuits I've blown up. I've designed both
circuits and microcode, and there's always been way more bugs in the
code than the hardware during the design process. There are orders of
magnitude more bugs if you're talking an OS, even a good open source
embedded one, than dedicated microcode.

> Seriously - I would think that hardware is just as likely to encounter
> 'bug' conditions as software of similar complexity (haven't I heard a
> bit about the raptor hardware being dicey for requirements?), and that a
> proper solution - hardware, software, or both - would involve fail-safes
> and pre-set safety limits. The difference is that software can be tuned
> more easily.
>

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Discussion Starter #14
Re: [EVDL] EV controllers

your on the wrong list serve for nice responses, but
seriously i know very little about the inside of a
controller and i agree that if a controller could be
made cheaper they would be and that controllers like
Zilla's are correctly priced

but:

can you build a simpler controller that is cheaper?
the controllers i am familiar with regulate voltage
and amps based upon the logic of the controller, but
could you build a controller where you manually
control the amp and voltage?

--- Greg Owen <[email protected]> wrote:

> I appreciate any thoughts on the matter, so long as
> they don't come wrapped around an e-brick 8).


Albuquerque, NM
http://geocities.com/hendersonmotorcycles/blog.html
http://www.austinev.org/evalbum/1000
http://www.austinev.org/evalbum/1179
http://www.austinev.org/evalbum/1221
http://geocities.com/solarcookingman



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Discussion Starter #15
Re: [EVDL] EV controllers

You don't know anything about controller design yet you know they are
priced right?
is that perhaps more a case of blind faith?

from what I understand a 'manual' control of amps would be at least as
difficult. besides current limiting/sensing is not a costly thing in a
controller from what I understand. more a case of having the expertise
the design it to work right more than cost of the elements doing it.
thus once designed has no significant adverse effect on production cost.

Dan

dale henderson wrote:
> you're on the wrong list serve for nice responses, but
> seriously i know very little about the inside of a
> controller and i agree that if a controller could be
> made cheaper they would be and that controllers like
> Zilla's are correctly priced
>
> but:
>
> can you build a simpler controller that is cheaper?
> the controllers i am familiar with regulate voltage
> and amps based upon the logic of the controller, but
> could you build a controller where you manually
> control the amp and voltage?
>
> --- Greg Owen <[email protected]> wrote:
>
>
>> I appreciate any thoughts on the matter, so long as
>> they don't come wrapped around an e-brick 8).
>>
>
>
> Albuquerque, NM
> http://geocities.com/hendersonmotorcycles/blog.html
> http://www.austinev.org/evalbum/1000
> http://www.austinev.org/evalbum/1179
> http://www.austinev.org/evalbum/1221
> http://geocities.com/solarcookingman
>
>
>
> ____________________________________________________________________________________
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>
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Discussion Starter #16
Re: [EVDL] EV controllers

On 20 Aug 2007 at 10:58, dale henderson wrote:

> can you build a simpler controller that is cheaper?

Simpler controllers are already available - and at rather low prices. Buy a
Curtis or Alltrax.

David Roden - Akron, Ohio, USA
EVDL Administrator

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Discussion Starter #17
Re: [EVDL] EV controllers

Ignorance is fine as long as it isn't willful.
You don't actually have to make custom silicon. There is a category of
components called microcontrollers.(not to be confused with the EV sense
of the word controller) essentially a small cpu with a tiny bit of ram
and flash ram built in. these can be programmed just like a pc although
much simpler software of course.
it will then remember the software even in power failure and resume
proper activity when power resumes. just as if it was custom hardware.
the chip used in the previous trolley controller design is an AVR which
is an 8bit cpu in the 286/amiga MHz range (up to 16Mhz iirc). it has
several analog to digital sampling channels that can be used to monitor
various signals as well as several PWM channels which can be used to
pulse control the transistors for motor drive as well as the 12V DCDC
supply if so desired. it costs 4$ and made by atmega. they do chips for
automotive use too meaning they stand by the reliability. the zilla has
such a chip as well although perhaps from a different brand. the curtis
is analog which actually complicates the circuit design a lot.

Dan

Greg Owen wrote:
> Please pardon a stupid question...
>
> As I understand it, controllers are complicated and expensive because
> very extensive and, as you say, debugged logic needs to be rendered into
> silicon.
>
> Wouldn't it be easier to build a more generic 'sensor' end of the
> controller and pass info on to a generic PC where the actual decision
> logic is put into software? That lowers the cost and increases the
> flexibility and ability to update the code.
>
> I appreciate any thoughts on the matter, so long as they don't come
> wrapped around an e-brick 8).
>
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Discussion Starter #18
Re: [EVDL] EV controllers

yes there are and well priced, but even these have
programing of some sort that regulate the amps and
voltage applied. my question is can a simpler
[cheaper?] controller be built where the amps and
voltage are under manual control [might not call it a
controller anymore?]

if you hold the throttle at full power most
controllers [as i understand them] start off with high
amps and low voltage then [on their own] lower the
amps while increasing the voltage.


--- David Roden <[email protected]> wrote:

> On 20 Aug 2007 at 10:58, dale henderson wrote:
>
> > can you build a simpler controller that is
> cheaper?
>
> Simpler controllers are already available - and at
> rather low prices. Buy a
> Curtis or Alltrax.
>
> David Roden - Akron, Ohio, USA
> EVDL Administrator
>
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Albuquerque, NM
http://geocities.com/hendersonmotorcycles/blog.html
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Discussion Starter #20
Re: [EVDL] EV controllers

My first rides are always with a pair of jumper cables. Is this what you are after? It is definitely cheaper and the user is in control rather than a microprocessor and a bunch of expensive electronic parts.

You will have a hard time beating the price of an already engineered high amperage DC controller. Your only reasonable alternative on price alone is to find a bunch of appropriately sized surplus contactors and possibly diodes to build a contact or rectactor controller. Even this is hard to do for less money but if you get just the right hardware at a good price you can do it.

Most of the cost of the controller is in the high current switching, not in the brains.

damon
> Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 12:27:20 -0700> From: [email protected]> To: [email protected]> Subject: Re: [EVDL] EV controllers> > yes there are and well priced, but even these have> programing of some sort that regulate the amps and> voltage applied. my question is can a simpler> [cheaper?] controller be built where the amps and> voltage are under manual control [might not call it a> controller anymore?]
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