Welcome to the CanZE app pages

canze-icon-shadingIf you want to learn about your Renault electric vehicle, you’ve come to a good starting point. We will supply you with an app that displays driving stats and lots of interesting information about your car. All you need is a Bluetooth OBDII dongle and an Android device. For a more detailed description of the app see the about or the screenshot page.

The app is also available on Google Play store here.

More BCB and filter pictures

Fred Leudon disassembled his Q model BCB himself and here a few of his pictures, now including the filter module!

Note that what I earlier identified as the flyback diode is actually a 63 uH coil. Also visible is the modest PCB of the rectifier module.

 

Here is the filter module, still closed. For orientation, note it is held upside down and the orange connector (normally connected to the loom going to the car’s “nose”), points to the front of the car when mounted. The four cables exit in the direction of the rectifier box; left side of the car. Also note that the N wire is substantially thinner than the three L wires (see below).

 

And here the filter is opened up, rotated 180 degrees when compared to the previous picture. The crimp on the center orange cable has it’s shrink wrap insulator removed. It was not properly crimped on the coil wires which made this module fail. The coils seem to be used both as filters as well as current sensors. Also note the black plastic box and a substantial PCB pair.

Now there is confusion is about the N <> L3 relay. My stance, based on what I saw on Renault provided schematics and me hearing clicking sounds, the black box should house said relay. The original author swears there was no power capable relay in the entire module, and that ZOE uses two diodes to N. At the moment, both stances are incompatible and we have no way to verify one or the other.

The much thinner N cable suggests there is substance to my stance, or the two diodes should be in this module. But that doesn’t jive with me, since all the rectification is done in the other box, but I am biased and could be totally wrong of course.

More investigation is needed. Maybe I will get brave and open mine……..

Thank you Fred and forumpro.fr user “Pixel”. Here a link to the original source and discussion.

V2G and V2H charger: Next step Chamelion?

In The Netherlands there is a car sharing initiative called We Drive Solar, basically using car batteries as PV grid storage on the neighborhood-level, as opposed to home-level. In that neighborhood (Lombok in the city of Utrecht), they have long said they have installed public charge-points capable of Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G). It’s a General Electric model if I am not mistaken.

I confess I have always been a bit confused and sceptical. Renault is heavily involved in the project and have stated they will build “custom modified” ZOEs for the initiative. I assumed this would simply be a “pre-2019 CCS enabled ZOE” sort of prototype as it would make the most sense: they had to develop that anyway, so why not pull it a bit forward? But what was nagging me is the charge-points. Looked pretty standard to me with normal Mennekes type AC plugs. Would it even have enough space for a multi kW rated grid inverter?

An unidentified source, so unfortunately unverifiable, has told me that I was wrong, and it is really interesting news: The V2G will be AC based. And it makes a lot of sense really. If the inverter is on board, simple Vehicle-to-Home (V2H, or “V2G light” id you will) will be very easy to implement. No home based special chargers needed at all and normally the charge-point is connected to a separate fuse group anyway.

As for the technicalities (i.e. communications on how much to feed-in), I have no details. However, there is a US filed patent, resembling the other one I mentioned here, describing an extension to the existing charger with just a few components to make it V2G/H-enabled, which I regard as mildly corroborating evidence. From a hardware point of view, it only needs a second black module; the bigger one shown in the third picture of this post. Looks like the Chamelion charger, dismissed nowadays by many “as charging will go DC”, has some extra life in it! Interesting times ahead!

Lead acid battery replacement advice

As there is no indication about a degrading 12 volt battery like a struggling starter motor in an ICE, it’s condition that can bite you, and I am sure that is the reason for Renault advising replacement after 3 years. A bad 12 volt battery leads to the “Check Electrical System” dash message, talked about earlier here. It’s both a somewhat confusing message, and it seems to be not exclusively for a bad 1 volt system.

Today I noticed there is a field the EVC called “Battery 14v to be changed display”, with possible values “-“, “Soon”, or “Now”. That seemed to be a fine candidate to add to the 12 volt screen. It’s already on the development branch on github and will make it in the next release. It’s the 4th line called “Replacement advice”.

Feedback is appreciated! We’re interested to know if there is a CanZE “soon” message before the dreaded dash message, if the dash message corresponds to this CanZE message, and if so, whether the “12 volt battery symbol” (rectangle with two knobs on top) was also lit on the dash.

 

 

Charger design

This is a companion post to the BCB pictures post. It makes sense to check all pictures and text there first.

A student in high power electronics contacted me to discuss some design issues and pointed me to this US patent. Doing some comparing it is obvious that the BCB is designed exactly according to the patent. So here is some extra information linking the picture and figure 2 from the patent, reproduced here.

  • The EMC filter (5a) is not in the image. It also contains the 1/3 phase switching (see this post). Maybe I will get my hands on some later.
  • The capacitor bank (5b) is the blue box;
  • The regulated rectifier (11, 12) and it’s control circuit (6) is the black plastic box. It’s incoming connectors are bolted on the capacitor bank with it’s three phases connectors, and it’s bottom is thermally bolted against the aluminium housing for cooling. This can be seen in the other BCB pictures;
  • The potted aluminum device is the free wheeling diode (13);
  • The input current measuring device (10) is tucked away in the far top left corner close to the Neutral point connector, which is actually the center wire of the motor (14). The current sensor is probably a Hall sensor. It’s control wire (blue-white in the picture, (8) in the schematic, running to the control circuit (6);
  • Everything else in the picture is control wires, CANbus and 400 volt distribution;
  • The entire inverter section (15, 16, 7) is located in the PEB.

Note there is a micro-switch at the left side detecting opening the cover. Hmmmmm.

It’s all rather cleverly done.

Only single phase charging failing.

Just like in brain research, often a lot can be learned when things go wrong. A friend driving a ZOE was struggling for months with the weirdest problem. The car charged fine on public chargers, but not at home. However, that home charger did it’s job fine on several other ZOEs. Dealer was helpful but couldn’t find a thing; charger supplier found nothing wrong.

Sequence of events was:

  1. cable plugged in and chargepoint light goes blue;
  2. the usual relays clicking noises from the car (the battery, and the 12 volt bus);
  3. the usual “CLOINK” of the contactor closing in the chargepoint;
  4. after 15 seconds and a bit of clicking in the car, contactors open, light goes green and everything stalls.

All this time, the dash shows “Ongoing checks”. No error, no red nose, but no charging.

After a few weeks of faffing around, trying here and there, including his fivari charger, he is suspecting it is one phase charging that fails, but three phase is OK (hint one). Everyone (yours truly included) says that is very unlikely. In private, he tells me he hears “electric sparking noises” from under the bonnet. Oh dear!

Finally, Renault NL is involved and I am gracefully invited / allowed to join in. So I head over on a misty Friday morning to his house. Three ZOEs present! CLIP tool hooked up and indeed an error is presented (DTC064063), suggesting either chargepoint, cable or filter in the BCB (hint two). All are a bit miffed the dealer missed this.

Then we open the bonnets of two ZOE’s and hook up the charger to each. Lo and behold, his ZOE made some soft, but scary noises the moment charging is supposed to start, just after the “CLOINK” (hint three). It’s not sparks, but it sure isn’t good, more like a rattle. The Renault tech pulls up the functional schematics and explains what might be wrong. To make a long story short: ZOE rectifies current from the 3 phases using a “three-phase full-wave rectifier”.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor 3 phase bridge rectifier

Note that the N (neutral) is nowhere to be seen. What ZOE does is when you connect single phase (between L1 and Neutral), a relay connects the N wire in the feed line to L3, so now the juice is between L1 and L3, and since L2 is not connected to anything, all is fine. Obviously said relay is not energized when on three phases. It is located in the filter module (see this post). It was this specific relay, or it’s control circuit, that had failed. Friend did a “yessss!!!” as he finally had a diagnosis and as he had confirmation he was right about the single phase after all.

The car has been repaired and is right as rain again. I am hoping for some more info on the filter module; how it works and what went wrong.

V/I graph of the ZOE charging

Harm Otten had a team from the local electricity distribution company over for an unrelated metering problem, and obtained from them a screen shot of the voltage / current curve of ZOE charging. This is a Q model.

The dark red voltage measurement is between one phase and N. The current, light red line, is measured in that particular phase wire. The current flat line around 0 is consistent with rectifying, and the “bump” after the current has swung up is consistent with 3 phase rectifying using a three-phase full-wave rectifier (see also this post).

What is harder to understand is why the charger is not able to let the current curve follow the voltage curve better, given the actual design seems to have full input control (see Charger design post).

Edit: I happen to believe, though I was not there, that they used a Fluke 435 using Fluke i430 current probes (Rogowski coils) for current measurement. That is pretty top of the line equipment, so unless they didn’t match up the voltage and current phases, I cannot explain the rather massive phase shift.

Android Auto – also on the oldest of ZOEs

It turns out even the oldest R-Link consoles have Android Auto support, though disabled. It takes some work to enable it but it is very doable. Need to drop a few huge thank-yous for people involved and I really hope I am not forgetting key players:

  • Cedric Paille for making and maintaining DDT4all, a wonderful CLIP like tool for tons of cars Renault;
  • The guy who wrote the instruction on goeingelectric.de, which again is based on a posting on cliowelt.de;
  • SpeakEV user “Tooney”, who tested and compiled this very detailed English version.

More on this soon. I made the required cable last week and just installed the required software on Ubuntu. I will try to do the procedure today.

PS: Any Android Auto developers out there? Please comment if we can meaningfully incorporate some of it in CanZE.

The charge plug locking mechanism #4

For a few days charging has been a bit problematic, and finally it quit altogether yesterday. The problem was now definitely the plug locking mechanism as it kept on clicking while the plug was surely locked. I removed the mechanism which usually helps as there is no force involved anymore. Not for me. So then I took it out of the car, opened it up and checked it the micro-switch was working, which it was. I was pretty baffled. I was actually afraid for an expensive cabling or BCB problem.

So this morning I called my dealer (Hans Jongerius Gouda), asked for advice, and luckily I could come. He had a Kangoo ZE on premise that nowadays uses the same lock motor so it could be swapped. Running on the last electrons I arrived there and he swapped the mechanism. Car was happy and started charging again. Fantastic service but WT*???

Long story short…….

The thing is so tight on tolerance that only a bit of wear and tear kills the micro switch engagement.

Dealer was unable to book it under the 5 year drive train warranty so I payed the bill myself (EUR 179.30) and I’ll see what I can do about that with Renault. However, since I did, I took the old part with me. I wrapped 3 layers of kapton tape around the lip that should engage the micro switch and all was dandy again. I’ll keep it “in stock” should it happen again or if some poor sod close by runs into this problem.

Edit: Renault refused to honor my warranty claim on this one. However, they made a gesture that was in my opinion absolutely fair.

Previous posts:

The charge plug locking mechanism #3

The charge plug locking mechanism revisited

The charge plug locking mechanism

 

 

UCM module fuses

This is a guest post by SpeakEV user modrich.

I managed to locate and replace the blown 10amp fuse that feeds the reverse light, camera and parking sensors. The reason for this post is that the fuse isn’t located in the cabin fusebox. The fuse is actually under the USM module which is located to the right of the 12v battery under the bonnet.

The USM module resides under this cover. To access it, release the 4 tabs on each corner of the cover (2 at the front, 2 at the rear) and slide 2x red latches (front and rear of the cover) to the right

This is the USM’s top side.

Lifting it up reveals the fuses and connectors. I was lucky as the fuse I was looking for was the red 10amp fuse which is relatively easy to get at with the fuse puller from the main fusebox, but if it had been any of the fuses at the back of the USM it would have been a different story as this would probably have meant unplugging the module, which I wouldn’t recommend without knowing the correct procedures for doing so. Putting the fuse back in was a fiddle, a pair of small bent nose pliers might have helped, but just about managed holding it between 2 fingers. So all done, and everything back to normal and working again

I ended-up in this situation after I tried to replace the reverse light bulb whilst the car was still in reverse and shorted the fuse, so note to self: Isolate or switch-off before replacing electrical components.

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.

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