Wednesday, March 4, 2009

More Success! Plus Video!!!

I put the Duster through some more strenuous testing today and it performed very well. More about that in a moment.

I suffered a small setback the other day before my first test drive. My Link-10 meter broke before I even got to use it. I spent $339 on this wonderful piece of equipment (with accessories) to monitor everything about my battery pack and the car's performance (volts, amps, amp hours consumed, KWH, time remaining). I even built a cute little console (with cup holder) to house the instrument.

After it broke (for no apparent reason) I did a little checking in the on-line forums and discovered that it is pretty common for these to break or lock up - even by just putting power to them in a way they "don't like". Great, more stuff learned the hard way! Well, I really need to monitor the performance of the battery pack, especially during testing, so I can tell how hard I am pushing it. So I thought I might just purchase a replacement to use while I send this one back to get repaired. I went on-line to check prices only to find out that the Link-10 has been discontinued as of about a week ago. Yes, this is exactly how I have come to EXPECT things to go on this project. I have contacted the company on-line for product support but have not heard back from them yet. See one of my older posts for my rant about the lack of customer service I have experienced during this whole endeavor. I don't think I will hold my breath. I do think I will have to come up with something different for instrumentation.

Anyway, I decided to go ahead with the test driving without metering anything. I just won't be able to push it to the limits until I solve the instrumentation problems. Today, I drove up and down my street more aggressively and even took it around the block. I probably put a total of about 2 miles on it, reaching a speed of about 38 mph. Each successful drive boosts my confidence in the controller a little more. Although I still have visions of it exploding.

What I noticed during the test drives:
  • Acceleration is not near as good as it was with the 360 cid V8 I replaced. (Ha, no surprise there).
  • Shifting is natural and easy without the clutch, as expected.
  • It accelerates from a stop best in first gear. I had actually expected second gear to be best because of the motor torque curve. I guess the extra weight of the car overcomes the instant torque.
  • One rear tire rubs on the wheel well lip. This is an easy fix with a hammer.
  • The front battery rack supports rub the front tires when turning full in either direction. This is an easy fix with a grinder.
  • There is quite a bit of rattling - probably because the steel battery restraints are still loose from temporarily addressing the problem of pack voltage leaking to the car chassis.
  • I do not yet have a feel for how fast it will go. I need a tach and an ammeter before I push it much harder.
  • I do not yet have a feel for how far it will go. The short drives I have made did not use much of the battery capacity, which seems to bode well for the range.
  • Braking is very good. I did not really "feel" the extra weight - even when braking hard.

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