EV supplies from Victron Energy are showing promise

Meet our newest sponsor: Victron Energy, supplier of EV components and a whole lot more. Whether your EV runs on land, water, or anywhere else you can imagine, Victron Energy’s products include sinewave inverters, sinewave inverters/chargers, battery chargers, DC/DC converters, transfer switches, battery monitors and more. Victron Energy has a strong, unrivalled reputation for technical innovation, reliability, and build quality. At first glance you may think of them as suppliers only for large industrial applications and not for the BEV market, but as we found out, that’s not the case.

As some of you may know, Seven’s original battery energy monitoring system was having a few problems with the noise from our AC drive system, for which AC drive systems are notorious. Although our original monitoring system came highly recommended and was purpose built for EVs, and our drive system in particular, it just couldn’t handle the noise our system was generating.

For the technically inclined the noise was at a frequency of 1500 hertz and less than 1 volt (that is, once our resident electrical genius, Nate, figured out that for the snubbers that are built into our inverter to work properly the powder coating had to be sanded off the bottom of the inverter casing to allow for a really good ground plan. Thanks, Nate. Before Nate figured that out the noise at 1500 hertz was up to a whopping 500 volts…ouch!).

Anyway, on with the story. Along comes Chris from Victron Energy. He’s been keeping tabs on the X PRIZE and Seven’s progress. He heard about our energy monitoring system issues and offered up a solution: Victron Energy’s Battery Monitor 600HS. It’s a really slick system, and install is a breeze (even I can do it): you simply hook up a shunt (included with system) at the negative battery terminal, run a positive voltage reference wire from the positive end of the pack to the connector for it on the shunt and then plug a phone cable (also included) into the connector on the shunt and into the back of the in dash display (yep, that’s part of the system too). That’s it. I couldn’t believe it, after all the issues with our previous system the 600HS plugged right in and worked!

It’s exactly what we were looking for in an energy monitoring system, not to mention it meets all the stringent requirements of the X PRIZE rules as well, and it retails at half the cost of our previous system.

So, long story short, don’t spend weeks fighting an energy monitoring system like we did, just go get one that works, and Victron’s 600 HS is the one that’s still working for us (and anyone that knows us…well me anyway…knows that we test systems not to see if they simply work but to see if we can break them, and so far I haven’t found a big enough proverbial ‘hammer’ to break this one with).

Here’s a link so you can check out the system and everything it does: http://www.victronenergy.com/battery-monitors/bmv-600s and bmv-602s/

Oh, and this may be of special interest to a couple teams out there, Victron also has a DC/DC converter that is extremely low noise and is reportedly as AC noise tolerant as their other systems. We may be getting one to play with in the near future, so keep an eye out and well let you know what we learn, because as always, the Illuminati are happy to share their secrets.

So give Chris a holler and tell him the Illuminati sent you.

Congratulations to Oliver and the Edison 2 team.

In case you didn’t already know, Oliver Kuttner, Team leader and owner of Edison2, has won the mainstream division of the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE. He did this by going farther than anyone has before in advancing the automobile in the areas of light weight, aerodynamics and engine efficiency, by going further than any other team in the mainstream class of the competition, and proving to the X PRIZE Foundation, as verified by their partners in this competition, Argonne National Labs, Consumer Reports, and the DOE, all experts in their respective fields, that Edison2 can and has built a consumer viable, 100 + mile per gallon equivalent vehicle. This is no small task…I should know ;).

The profound work and accomplishments of Oliver and his team epitomizes what the X PRIZE foundation stands for: the advancement of society through competition. Edison2, Li-ion Motors, X-Tracer, and all of the finalist teams have done a remarkable job in demonstrating not only to the public but to our political leaders, those with the ability to push through into law the changes we so desperately need, that it is possible to have an efficient vehicle that far outstrips anything the policy makers had previously dreamed. Many of these vehicles were present in Washington DC this last week for the awards ceremony, and could be seen zipping around DC, showing off their abilities, giving rides to the public and…taking liberties with several stretches of lawn in front of monuments for photo ops (they always were a group to push the limits). I’m proud to have had the opportunity to learn from them all.

Years ago, when I was younger and even more confident in my skills than my accomplishments could support, I met someone who became a great mentor. His name was Paul Cox. Paul and his wife, Monica, lived a block from my house and theirs was one of several lawns I mowed…yup, that long ago. Anyway, one day Paul asked me if I’d like to play a game of chess. I loved games, and thought myself to be exceptionally good at chess. None of my friends could beat me ;).

So, being cocky, I said I’d love to play, but warned him that I was pretty good, and that he wouldn’t be the first adult I had beaten. I found it tended to piss adults off when a kid beat them at games in front of their friends and family and since mowing his lawn was my source of income, I felt a little warning was in order.

With great chivalry he accepted my statement as truth and said that he’d be honored to play and be beaten by me. That Sunday we set up a time to play… and…well ….he KICKED MY ASS! Only after we played did I find out that mild-mannered Paul had a masters ranking in chess and what being a master really meant. Paul invited me to play again and I immediately accepted. I had to learn more and was excited to have such an opportunity with an exceptional trainer.

So you ask, what am I getting at in my usual long-winded manner? I learned a long time ago that being invited to play with, let alone beaten by, a master, is a great opportunity that one should never allow to pass. It took me almost a year to the day, playing chess every Sunday, but I finally won a game against Paul and he could never have been more pleased. I didn’t understand at the time why, since winning was everything to me, so I asked first if I had won fair and square or if he had let me win. Once he confirmed my win I asked why was he so happy that I beat him. Paul told me that there is no greater honor than having one’s pupil best them, for if I hadn’t, what type of teacher would he be?

Over that year I learned far more than simply chess. I learned about engineering, architecture, and anything else Paul would share. In that year I learned to take advantage of every opportunity to learn, especially when a master of the game is willing to conduct the class. And for that I owe him my deepest respect and life-long gratitude, as I also now owe to Oliver and his team not only for competing with but also being allowed to learn from true masters of the game. For I have also learned, with all due respect to Paul, that the greatest honor is to have a master that is willing to share their time so that one can learn.

And Oliver has proven himself to be a true master of the game.

Congratulations Oliver. Well done, well played, and thank you for the education.

Kevin Smith
Team Captain
Illuminati Motor Works

I’m proud (sinfully so) that my team was allowed to return and have our car displayed among the finalists of this competition. I met many amazing people and made many new friends through this grueling adventure, but none of them were more amazing than the friends and family that built Seven.

Thank you all.