More than three years have passed since Tesla announced its Cybertruck, and while not a one has been delivered, the first Tesla truck, Truckla, has kept on truckin’. [Simone Giertz] just posted an update of what Truckla has been up to since it was built.
[Giertz] and friend’s DIT (do-it-together) truck was something of an internet sensation when it was revealed several months before the official Tesla Cybertruck. As with many of our own projects, while it was technically done, it still had some rough edges that kept it from being truly finished, like a lack of proper waterproofing or a tailgate that didn’t fold.
Deciding enough was enough, [Giertz] brought Truckla to [Marcos Ramirez] and [Ross Huber] to fix the waterproofing and broken tailgate while she went to [Viam Labs] to build Chargla, an Open Source charging bot for Truckla. The charging bot uses a linear actuator on a rover platform to dock with the charging port and is guided by a computer vision system. Two Raspberry Pis power handle the processing for the operation. We’re anxious to see what’s next in [Giertz]’s quest of “picking up the broken promises of the car world.”
There are plenty of electric vehicle (EV) chargers out there that are underutilized. This is particularly common where older EVs are involved, where the cars may only be able to charge at a few kW despite the charger being capable of delivering more. [Nick Sayer] regularly found 6.6 kW chargers being used by vehicles that could only draw down 3.3 kW at his work. Thus, he built the J1772 Hydra as a nifty double-adapter to charge two cars at once.
The Hydra comes in two versions. One is a “splitter,” which is designed to be plugged into an existing J1772 AC charger. The other is a version designed for permanent installation to an AC power supply as an EV charger in its own right. Either way, both versions of the Hydra work the same way. In “shared” mode, the Hydra splits the available AC power equally between both cars connected to the charger. When one completes, the other gets full power. Alternatively, it can be set up in “sequential” mode, allowing one car to first charge, then the other. This is great when you have two cars to charge overnight and don’t want to wake up to shift the plugs around.
Computers! They’re in everything these days. Everything from thermostats to fridges and even window blinds are now on the Internet, and that makes them all ripe for hacking.
Electric vehicle chargers are becoming a part of regular life. They too are connected devices, and thus pose a security risk if not designed and maintained properly. As with so many other devices on the Internet of Things, the truth is anything but.
One of the drawbacks of being an early adopter is that you might end up investing in equipment that becomes obsolete rather quickly. Although it’s clear that electric vehicles are here to stay, those who bought a charging station for their EV a few years ago may find it slow and incompatible with modern cars or billing networks, necessitating an upgrade to one of the latest models.
If you don’t mind tinkering, these older chargers can provide an excellent base to construct your own state-of-the-art charging station, as [James] over at Diary-of-a-Geek did. He bought a Chargepoint CT2000 series charger and installed a brand-new charging unit inside based on OpenEVSE components. The CT2000 is an older model that’s no longer manufactured, and although it can still connect to Chargepoint’s network, a subscription renewal would cost several thousand dollars. [James] was not willing to make that investment for a unit that he was going to install at home anyway, so he decided to buy replacement parts from OpenEVSE, a supplier of open-source EV charging stations and components.
The insides of a charging station are actually pretty simple, since the real battery charger is inside the car: the station just contains a beefy contactor to switch the AC current on or off, along with some circuitry to measure the current flowing and an interface to connect to a payment network of some sort. The first step therefore was to hook up the contactor and current transformer to the OpenEVSE controller. This was easy since the new part was way smaller than the original and could simply be mounted onto an existing bracket.
The second step was to provide the user interface and network connections. [James] removed the displays and wireless systems from the head unit and cut a large hole into the front to provide space for new LCD displays. A set of status LEDs plus WiFi connections completed the system, which now looks just as professional as the original. Tests showed that the LCDs were hard to read in bright sunlight, so [James] replaced them with OLED displays, but otherwise the renovated charging station worked perfectly.
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”→
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.
This is one of those hacks that scares me a little bit. The ‘Bad Boy’ charger was created by Tom Martin to charge EV battery packs. [Pictured is one built by Mike Chancy] You can find the schematic under austinev’s tech files. This thing is a bare minimum power supply – it’ll deliver loads of essentially unregulated power into a set of batteries. If you check out the circuit, you’ll see just how scary this thing really is, but according to its users, it works.