EV Charging Connectors Come In Many Shapes And Sizes

Electric vehicles are now commonplace on our roads, and charging infrastructure is being built out across the world to serve them. It’s the electric equivalent of the gas station, and soon enough, they’re going to be everywhere.

However, it raises an interesting problem. Gas pumps simply pour a liquid into a hole, and have been largely standardized for quite some time. That’s not quite the case in the world of EV chargers, so let’s dive in and check out the current state of play.

AC, DC, Fast, or Slow?

Since becoming more mainstream over the past decade or so, EV technology has undergone rapid development. With most EVs still somewhat limited in range, automakers have developed ever-faster charging vehicles over the years to improve practicality. This has come through improvements to batteries, controller hardware, and software. Charging tech has evolved to the point where the latest EVs can now add hundreds of miles of range in under 20 minutes.

However, charging EVs at this pace requires huge amounts of power. Thus, automakers and industry groups have worked to develop new charging standards that can deliver high current to top vehicle batteries off as quickly as possible.

As a guide, a typical home outlet in the US can deliver 1.8 kW of power. It would take an excruciating 48 hours or more to charge a modern EV from a home socket like this.

In contrast, modern EV charge ports can carry anywhere from 2 kW up to 350 kW in some cases, and require highly specialized connectors to do so. Various standards have come about over the years as automakers look to pump more electricity into a vehicle at greater speed. Let’s take a look at the most common options out in the wild today. Continue reading “EV Charging Connectors Come In Many Shapes And Sizes”

DIY Arduino Based EV Charger Saves Money, Looks Pro

Electric vehicles (EVs) are something of a hot topic, and most of the hacks we’ve featured regarding them center on conversions from Internal Combustion to Electric. These are all fine, and we hope to see plenty more of them in the future. There’s another aspect that doesn’t get covered as often: How to charge electric vehicles- especially commercially produced EV’s rather than the DIY kind. This is the kind of project that [fotherby] has taken on: A 7.2 kW EV charger for his Kia.

Faced with spending £900 (about $1100 USD) for a commercial unit installed by a qualified electrician, [fotherby] decided to do some research. The project wasn’t outside his scope, and he gave himself a head start by finding a commercial enclosure and cable that was originally just a showroom unit with no innards.

An Arduino Pro Mini provides the brains for the charger, and the source code and all the needed information to build your own like charger is on GitHub. What’s outstanding about the guide though is the deep dive into how these chargers work, and how straightforward they really are without being simplistic.

Dealing with mains power and the installation of such a serious piece of kit means that there are inherent risks for the DIYer, and [fotherby] addresses these admirably by including a ground fault detection circuit. The result is that if there is a ground fault of any kind, it will shut down the entire circuit at speeds and levels that are below the threshold that can harm humans. [fotherby] backs this up by testing the circuit thoroughly and documenting the results, showing that the charger meets commercial standards. Still, this isn’t a first-time project for the EV enthusiast, so we feel compelled to say “Don’t Try This At Home” even though that’s exactly what’s on display.

In the end, several hundred quid were saved, and the DIY charger does the job just as well as the commercial unit. A great hack indeed! And while these aren’t common, we did cover another Open Source EV charger about a year ago that you might like to check out as well.

Continue reading “DIY Arduino Based EV Charger Saves Money, Looks Pro”

The State Of Play In Solid State Batteries

Electric vehicles are slowly but surely snatching market share from their combustion-engined forbearers. However, range and charging speed remain major sticking points for customers, and are a prime selling point for any modern EV. Battery technology is front and center when it comes to improving these numbers.

Solid-state batteries could mark a step-change in performance in these areas, and the race to get them to market is starting to heat up. Let’s take a look at the current state of play.

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Hackaday Links: March 20, 2022

Well, that de-escalated quickly! It was less than a week ago that the city of Shenzhen, China was put on lockdown due to a resurgence of COVID-19 in the world’s electronics manufacturing epicenter. This obviously caused no small amount of alarm up and down the electronics supply chain, promising to once again upset manufacturers seeking everything from PCBs to components to complete electronic assemblies. But just a few days later, the Chinese government announced that the Shenzhen lockdown was over. At least partially, that is — factories and public transportation have been reopened in five of the city’s districts, with iPhone maker Foxconn, one of the bigger players in Shenzhen, given the green light to partially reopen. What does this mean for hobbyists’ ability to get cheap PCBs made quickly? That’s hard to say, at least at this point. Please feel free to share your experiences with any supply chain disruptions in the comments below.

Better news from a million miles away, as NASA announced that the James Webb Space Telescope finished the first part of its complex mirror alignment procedure. The process, which uses the complex actuators built into each of the 18 hexagonal mirror segments, slightly moves each mirror to align them all into one virtual optical surface. The result is not only the stunning “selfie” images we’ve been seeing, but also a beautiful picture of the star Webb has been focusing on as a target. The video below explains the process in some detail, along with sharing that the next step is to move the mirrors in and out, or “piston” them, so that the 18 separate wavefronts all align to send light to the instruments in perfect phase. Talk about precision!

Is a bog-standard Raspberry Pi just not tough enough for your application? Do you need to run DOOM on a  platform that can take a few g of vibration and still keep working? Sick of your Pi-based weather station breaking own when it gets a little wet or too hot? Then you’ll want to take a look at the DuraCOR Pi, a ruggedized chassis containing a Pi CM4 that’s built for extreme environments. The machine is in a tiny IP67-rated case and built to MIL-STD specs with regard to vibration, temperature, humidity, and EMI conditions. This doesn’t really seem like something aimed at the hobbyist market — it’s marketed by Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions, a defense contractor that traces its roots all the way back to a couple of bicycle mechanics from Ohio that learned how to fly. So this Pi is probably more like something you’d spec if you were building a UAV or something like that. Still, it’s cool to know such things are out there.

BrainLubeOnline has a fun collection of X-rays. With the exception of a mouse — the other kind — everything is either electronic or mechanical, which makes for really interesting pictures. Seeing the teeth on a gear or the threads on a screw, and seeing right through the object, shows the mechanical world in a whole new light — literally.

And finally, would you buy a car that prevents you from opening the hood? Most of us probably wouldn’t, but then again, most of us probably wouldn’t buy a Mercedes EQS 580 electric sedan. Sarah from Sarah -n- Tuned on YouTube somehow got a hold of one of these babies, which she aptly describes as a “German spaceship,” and took it for a test drive, including a “full beans” acceleration test. Just after that neck-snapping ride, at about the 7:20 mark in the video below, she asks the car’s built-in assistant to open the hood, a request the car refused by saying, “The hood may only be opened by a specialist workshop.”  Sarah managed to get it open anyway, and it’s not a frunk — it’s home to one of the two motors that power the car, along with all kinds of other goodies.

How Can 335 Horses Weigh 63 Pounds?

Koenigsegg, the Swedish car company, has a history of unusual engineering. The latest innovation is an electric motor developed for its Gemera hybrid vehicle. The relatively tiny motor weighs 63 pounds and develops 335 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. Dubbed the Quark, the motor uses both radial and axial flux designs to achieve these impressive numbers.

There is a catch, of course. Like most EV motors, those numbers are not sustainable. The company claims the motor can output peak power for 20 seconds and then drops to 134 horsepower/184 lb-ft of torque. The Gemera can supplement, of course, with its internal combustion engine — a 3 cylinder design.

Continue reading “How Can 335 Horses Weigh 63 Pounds?”

China Loves Battery Swapping EVs, But Will They Ever Make It Here?

Electric vehicles promise efficiency gains over their gas-fuelled predecessors, but the issue of recharging remains a hurdle for many eager to jump on board with the technology. The problem is only magnified for those that regularly street park their vehicles or live in apartments, without provision to charge a vehicle overnight at home.

Battery swapping promises to solve that issue, letting drivers of EVs change out their empty battery for a freshly charged one in a matter of minutes. The technology has been widely panned and failed to gain traction in the US.

However, as it turns out, battery swapping for EVs is actually thing in China, and it’s catching on at a rapid rate.

Continue reading “China Loves Battery Swapping EVs, But Will They Ever Make It Here?”

Exploring Tesla Model S High Voltage Cabling

When he’s not busy with his day job as professor of computer and automotive engineering at Weber State University, [John Kelly] is a prolific producer of educational videos. We found his video tracing out the 22+ meters of high voltage cabling in a Tesla Model S (below the break) quite interesting. [John] does warn that his videos are highly detailed and may not be for everyone:

This is not the Disney Channel. If you are looking to be entertained, this is not the channel for you.

We ignored the warning and jumped right in. The “high” voltages in the case of an electric vehicle (EV) like the Model S is approximately 400 volts. Briefly, external input via the charge connector can be single or three phase, 120 or 250 VAC, depending on your region and charging station. This get boosted to a nominal 400 VDC bus that is distributed around the various vehicle systems, including the motors and the battery pack.

Rear Modules

    • Charge receptacle
    • On-board charger module
    • Rapid splitter
    • Rear motor inverter

Front Modules

    • High voltage junction block
    • Cabin air heater
    • DC to DC converter
    • Battery coolant heater
    • Air conditioning compressor
    • Front motor inverter

He goes through each module, showing in detail the power routing and functionality, eventually assembling the whole system spanning two work benches. We liked his dive into the computer-controlled fuse that recently replaced the standard style one, and were impressed with his thorough use of labels.

If you’ve ever been curious about the high voltage distribution of a EV, grab some popcorn and check out this video. Glancing through his dozens of playlists, [John]’s channel would be a good place to visit if you’re interested any topic related to hybrids and electric vehicles, drive trains, and/or transmissions. We’ve written about some Tesla teardowns before, the Model 3 and the Model S battery packs. Have you worked on / hacked the high voltage system in your EV? Let us know in the comments below.

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