Getting ZOE battery status into Node-RED

For those of you deep into home automation, using documentation compiled by Terrence Eden, me and Harm Otten wrote some Node-RED code to retrieve battery status from the same API that the the Renault Z.E. app uses. I’ll post it on github soon, but would be happy to share if someone “can’t wait”.

It outputs an MQTT message every 15 minutes. If there is more than one car associated with the login, more than one message is sent. A message looks like this

{“charging”:false,”plugged”:true,”charge_level”:100,”remaining_range”:132,”last_update”:1514654435000,”charging_point”:”INVALID”,”age”:”6:45″,”VIN”:”VF1AGVYA…..”}

In my setup the message finds it’s way to a dashboard on my Android phone using MQTT dash, a Node-RED dashboard and like all other MQTT messages a MariaDb database on my Synology NAS for logging.

The start button (while driving)

Somebody in the UK forum asked what would happen if you’d press the Start button while driving. Time for an experiment.

  • Pressing once: only thing happens is Cruise Control tripping off ;
  • Long press: nothing happens;
  • Five short presses: “ignition off”. Car starts coasting. No abrupt bleeding of speed. Brake servo remains primed, as is power steering.

To re-engage, let it coast for a few seconds, then short press again. It will do this even while the gear is in D!

One small software bug was detected while testing: the dashboard consumption / regeneration arc is gone and the “READY” label won’t go away until a “proper” cycle is done.

All testing was done done on the motorway, 100 km/h, 2013 Q210.

Disclaimer: don’t try this at home.

Another method to connect the dongle in a neat way

Picture tells more than words. Made from two sheets of back-to-back glued foam rubber, see this post. Thank you goingelectric.de user “TomTomZoe”!

 

Easy removal tip for the shelf hiding the SAE1961 connector for the dongle

goingelectric.de user “Urban” had this brilliant solution for the sticky shelf. We’ve published a more permanent solution here  but nonetheless I immediately applied some duct tape 😉

New release coming up

We have an exciting new release coming up in a few days. Next to the inevitable bug fixes, we have a few new features we think you will love.

  • In the technical section, there is now a separate screen for the 12 volt battery. You can monitor here the voltage of the battery over time. Maybe we need to add current later. We’re not entirely happy about the color coded status lines, indicating charging and car status, but it was a needed compromise at this moment to show the changes in time.
  • We have slightly modified the consumption screen. We removed the capacity in Ah from the upper graph and replaced it with the SOC percentage from the lower graph. In the lower graph, we added a gradient representing the difference between real distance traveled and the change in the range indicator. It starts in the middle and will go up (red) if the range indicator decreases more than the distance traveled, or down (green) if it decreases less. We believe it is much more useful because it indicates if your initial planning, whatever that was, is still on track. If you love the old version, it has moved to the experimental section. We might depreciate it later though.
  • There is an experimental option to make a raw dump of all the frames we use. We need both your help and this activity to check out reports we’re getting about weird values when CanZE is used on Q90 and R90 cars.

Stay tuned and feedback, as always, is much appreciated.

Dongle tester app

Why does my dongle not work? Is it working? What version is it? Why do only some of the values get displayed?

I recently discovered an app that can test a dongle and tell you what version it is, so also what features it implements:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.applagapp.elm327identifier&hl=en

Here is what the app produces for my MaxiScan dongles, which advertises itself as an v1.5 …

More battery change pictures

This time made by car mechanic of one of Bochane Almere, a ZE dealer here, through forum user “hachy”. Thanks for letting us use them!

Nice!

Reprogramming

Battery in situ. note the HV cable connected

 

Lifting the battery from the packaging

 

Careful now

Lift with positioning tool

Measuring leakage between chassis and the 400 volt bus at the HV fuses for the Climate compressor

 

Chimney closeup. Center is air in, others air out

Underside, battery removed

Edit: and lots more, with video, here.

 

The charge plug locking mechanism #3

See this post for the sometimes problematic cable locking mechanism.

Today my 2013 Q210 ZOE was at the dealer for it’s 4 year maintenance. I arrived there a tad low on battery so I asked them if they could please hook it up once they were done with it. No problem of course. Just as I arrived to collect it, I saw the chief mechanic getting in (it was already hooked up), so I walked up to him first. He was a tad nervous and said he had updated the charger firmware and now he noticed it wasn’t charging. I walked around only to hear the somewhat familiar cam wheel “whee whee” noise from the locker mechanism, so I joked: “well, luckily my friend, I do know what is wrong. Hooked the thing up again and all was dandy, though now of course I had to wait a bit to make it home.

Chatting along he told me the locking motor was now a new part number and maybe I wanted to replace it (80-ish euro). I decided to go for it. I have had a few early terminated charge sessions, and like the inner flap hinge, sometimes Renault does not always acknowledge a warranty issue, but they do improve the design over time. I’ll report back on this.

Dongle trouble #5

When I got home tonight the KONNWEI dongle I ordered on August the 29th had arrived directly from China.

I ordered it here. Less than 9 euros.

It had the proper 120 ohm resistance on the CANbus. Next, I opened it up and it is the new design, i.o.w., it seems like the error was found and new production runs are OK. Of course we don’t know how many old supplies there are and if by chance I got the top of a just replenished stack. YMMV.

Note in the previous post that the problem started occurring already in April. I didn’t know this but at least there is a fair chance the problem dongles are sort of slowly going out of stock.

Dongle trouble #4: solution. Sort of

Short glossary: We have no ties with KONNWEI. Actually KONNWEI902s are knock offs of real ELM327 based hardware, but they have been the only consistently stable ones we have found. And we haven’t spotted “knockoffs of KONNWEI knockoffs”. Yet.

It seems the manufacturer has cost-optimized the hardware, which is not bad at all. However, as said in the previous post, there is a problem with one component. Recent deliveries have not worked and actually I heard of a few drivers getting weird error messages in the dash. Not fun.

Long story short: we would gladly recommend something that works, but we have no decent alternative. The solution at this moment unfortunately is tinkering. It’s not hard to do and you don’t need fancy knowledge or tools. Just a fitting hex tool and a sharp exacto style knife. I did this on a non working dongle and can confirm it works.

  • remove the 4 screws
  • gently pry open the case. Be careful that the connector and the front stay in the half that has the main PCB mounted on
  • check this post to determine if you have the old or the new design. Unfortunately there is no way to check this from the outside *)
  • if the design is “old”, stop here. If your dongle does not work there is another problem
  • if the design is new, locate the chip with 8 pins roughly in the middle of the PCB
  • just above and between the 2nd and 3rd pin of that chip, there is a tiny black component (resistor), see picture below
  • carefully cut away the middle part of the resistor. Ensure you do not damage the track going up on the right side. Damaging the track on the left, going to the second pin is not a big deal. Of course if you have soldering skill, you can also de-solder the resistor.
  • close the case and put the bolts back in. Note that one side has hex formed holes, these are for the nuts.

Done!

I drove with a modified dongle today without any problems. The only issue I had were more than usual ATMA timeouts and I had the impression it was all a bit slower than what I am used to. The former I need to investigate a bit further, it can probably be fixed with a modification in CanZE, the latter might be subjective, or maybe the processor is a bit slower in the optimized design.

We fully expect KONNWEI to fix the problem in the long run, and it seems there are already new designs shipped with the new resistor. part of current stock seems to be troublesome though.

*) If you have a multimeter there is actually an external way to check the dongle. Measure the resistance between pin 6 and 14. If it’s 20 ohms, you have a bad dongle. If it’s 120 ohms, it’s fine. BTW pin counting is from right (1) to left (8), top row, meaning in the wider part of the connector first, then the bottom row, again right (9) to left (16) in the smaller part.

EDIT: The leafspy guys reported on this last April. Oops! Oh well! More pictures there too BTW.

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