Meet [Daniel Öster]. [Daniel] is a self-professed petrolhead. In other words, he’s a hot rodder who can’t leave well enough alone. Just because he’s driving a 2012 Nissan Leaf doesn’t mean he isn’t looking for a bit more kick. Having already upgraded the battery, [Daniel] turned his attention to upgrading the 80KW inverter. Not only was [Daniel] successful, but the work has been documented and the Open Source code made available on GitHub. Part of [Daniel]’s mission is to open up otherwise closed ecosystems and make EV hacking and repair approachable by mere mortals.
To get an extra 50hp, [Daniel] could have just swapped in the 110KW drivetrain from a 2018 or newer Leaf, but a less expensive route of swapping in only the 110KW inverter was chosen. By changing out just the inverter, the modification becomes more affordable for others to do. [Daniel] expertly documents how the new 110KW inverter has to be matched to the existing motor by setting a resolver correction value in the inverter.
Cutting into the wiring harness of a vehicle that one is still making payments on is an exercise reserved for only the most dedicated modders, but a change in connectors between 2012 and 2018 made it necessary. The only tools needed were wire cutters, a soldering iron, heat shrink, and perhaps some liquid courage.
Although the hack was successful, no performance gains were had initially, because the CAN bus signal going to the inverter never told it to provide more than the original 80KW. A CAN bus Man In The Middle attack was done by adding a CAN bridge device that listens to traffic on the CAN bus and bends it to [Daniel]’s will. By multiplying the KW signal by 1.3, the 80KW signal becomes 110KW, and full Ludicrous Speed is achieved! Excellent gains in 0-100kph times are seen, but [Daniel] isn’t done. His next hack will be to put in a 160KW inverter for even more go-pedal madness.
It’s an involved swap, requiring the substitution of several parts and surgery on the wiring loom. Cost of components was just 700 euros but the swap required 20 hours of labor. The vehicle in question is an early model Leaf that was already fitted with an upgraded 40 kWh battery, and the owner desired an upgrade to CHAdeMO fast charging to better use the larger pack.
The swap required the power distribution unit to be replaced, and the CHAdeMO port to be installed in the front of the car. The vehicle control module (VCM) also had to be opened in order to run a wire to a relay to activate the fast charging subsystem. Finally, wires had to be spliced to get everything to play nicely between the car and the fast charger.
[Daniel] had the benefit of quality forum resources and a Nissan Leaf that already had CHAdeMO to reference, which helped a lot. At the end of the day, the fast charger worked first time, much to [Daniel]’s relief. We’ve featured his work before, too. Video after the break.
Electric vehicles are becoming more and more common on the road, but when they’re parked in the driveway or garage there are still some kinks to work out when getting them charged up. Sure, there are plenty of charging stations on the market, but they all have different features, capabilities, and even ports, so to really make sure that full control is maintained over charging a car’s batteries it might be necessary to reach into the parts bin and pull out a trusty Arduino.
This project comes to us from [Sebastian] who needed this level of control over charging his Leaf, and who also has the skills to implement it from the large high voltage switching contactors to the software running its network connectivity and web app. This charging station has every available feature, too. It can tell the car to charge at different rates, and can restrict it to charging at different times (if energy is cheaper at night, for example). It is able to monitor the car’s charge state and other information over the communications bus to the vehicle, and even has a front-end web app for monitoring and controlling the device.
The project is based around an Arduino Nano 33 IoT with all of the code available on the project’s GitHub page. While we would advise using extreme caution when dealing with mains voltage and when interfacing with a high-ticket item like an EV, at first blush the build looks like it has crossed all its Ts and might even make a good prototype for a production unit in the future. If you don’t need all of the features that this charging station has, though, you can always hack the car itself to add some more advanced charging features.
It’s often said that one of the advantages of owning an electric vehicle is reduced maintenance costs, and for the most part, that’s true. That is, until the vehicle’s battery pack starts to show its age. Then you might be on the hook for a repair bill comparable to swapping out the engine on your old gas-burner. Depending on the age of the vehicle at that point, you might find yourself in the market for a new ride.
But in his latest video, [Daniel Öster] demonstrates that you can replace the battery in a modern electric vehicle without breaking the bank. While it’s not exactly an easy job, he manages to swap the pack in his 2012 Nissan LEAF from the comfort of his own garage using common tools and with the vehicle up on jack stands. The old battery wasn’t completely shot, so he was even able to recoup some of his costs by selling it; bringing the total price of the operation to approximately €2,122 ($2,500 USD).
While that wouldn’t be a bad deal even for a simple swap, the operation was actually an upgrade. The car was originally sold with a 24 kWh battery, but [Daniel] has replaced it with a 30 kWh pack intended for the 2017 LEAF. His car now has a greater range than it did the day it rolled off the assembly line, though as you might expect, the installation was more complex than it would have been with a contemporary battery.
[Daniel] has produced a kit that has all the adapters required to perform your own battery upgrade, including a module that translates the diagnostic signals from the newer battery into something the older vehicle can understand. With all the electrical bits simplified, all you’ve got to worry about is drilling the new battery mounting holes in the frame.
Batteries wear out. If you are an electric vehicle enthusiast, it’s a certainty that at some time in your not-too-distant future there will be a point at which your vehicle’s batteries have reached the end of their lives and will need to be replaced. If you have bought a new electric vehicle the chances are that you will be signed up to a leasing deal with the manufacturer which will take care of this replacement, but if you have an older vehicle this is likely to be an expensive moment.
Fortunately there is a tempting solution. As an increasing number of electric vehicles from large manufacturers appear on our roads, a corresponding number of them have become available on the scrap market from accident damage. It is thus not impossible to secure a fairly new lithium-ion battery pack from a modern electric car, and for a significantly lower price than you would pay for new cells. As always though, there is a snag. Such packs are designed only for the cars they came with, and have proprietary connectors and protocols with which they communicate with their host vehicle. Fitting them to another car is thus not a task for the faint hearted.
Hackaday reader [Wolf] has an electric truck, a Solectria E10. It has a set of elderly lead-acid batteries and would benefit hugely from an upgrade to lithium-ion. He secured a battery pack from a 2013 Nissan Leaf electric car, and he set about reverse engineering its battery management system (BMS). The Solectria will use a different battery configuration from the Leaf, so while he would like to use the Leaf’s BMS, he has had to reverse engineer its protocols so that he can replace its Nissan microcontroller with one of his own.
His description of the reverse engineering process is lengthy and detailed, and with its many photos and videos is well worth a read. He employs some clever techniques, such as making his own hardware simulation of a Li-ion cell so that he can supply the BMS known values that he can then sniff from the serial data stream.
[Jay] got a pretty good deal on a low milage Nissan Leaf battery. Unfortunately, it came wrapped in a wrecked Nissan Leaf. There are more and more electric cars on the road each year, and that means there are more cars coming off the road as well due to accidents. Electric cars are specifically designed to protect their batteries, so as we’ve seen before with Tesla vehicles, a salvage car often will still contain a serviceable battery pack. [Jay] used this knowledge to his advantage, and walks us through his experience buying, testing, and dismantling Hoja, his very own salvage Leaf.
[Jay] set up an account on Copart, an auto salvage auction website here in the USA. “Live” online Auto auctions tend to work a bit differently than E-bay, so [Jay] walks us through the process of buying the car, and gives some tips for getting through the process. [Jay’s] particular car was delivered to him on a trailer. It had been rear ended so hard that the rear tires were not usable. The car was also electrically dead. Thankfully, the electrical problems turned out to be a discharged 12 volt accessory battery. A quick charge of the accessory battery caused the Leaf to spring to life – and display a ton of trouble codes. [Jay] cleared the codes with his trusty OBD II scanner, and the car was ready to drive, at least as much as a wrecked car can drive. It did move under its own power though – with the rear end riding on dollies.
Now that the battery was known to be good, [Jay] set about liberating it from its crushed Leaf cocoon. Nissan’s service manual assumes one would be doing this with a lift. [Jay] had no such luxuries in his driveway, so he used 3 floor jacks to lower the 600 lb battery and dollies to pull it out from under the car.