ElectroClassic EV
Classic Cars Reborn into the Electric Future

Brain Boot

hpev_masthead1I recently drove the 914 EV to Ontario, CA, so High Performance Electric Vehicle Systems could update my Curtis software and adjust some of my controller parameters. HPEVS builds the AC-50 electric motor system that I installed in my Porsche, and has all the equipment to keep it running at its peak. Their facility is 45 miles door-to-door from my home, which puts the 90 mile round trip about 20 miles beyond my fully-charged pack range. This was hardly an obstacle, because they gladly offered to set me up with 220VAC charging power for the duration of my visit.

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brian_curtis_updateBrian Seymour, owner of HPEVS, uses his laptop to talk to my controller directly. He does this by plugging into the 8-pin connector that is normally used for the controller dash display gauge. But since I installed the Orion BMS and Galaxy 7″ tablet display, the unused pigtail for the gauge has just been hanging loose inside my center console. We simply fished it out, jacked-in, and launched the controller software update.

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curtis_software_1Here is a shot of the Curtis Instruments software updater, running on Brian’s laptop. The update to version 5.13 took about 20 minutes. One huge advantage of the new software is the ability to edit controller parameters using the original LCD display gauge as an interface. In the past, the only way to do this was using a laptop. The update also allows CAN bus communication with the Orion BMS, idle settings, regen brake lights, graduated regen, limp mode settings, tachometer frequency, and a slew of features that are listed in the software manual.

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curtis_7601_blinky_lmsVisible next to the nearest red power cable (marked with a W), are blinking LEDs that signify new software is being loaded into the Curtis controller. With the deck lid open, I received several compliments on the construction of the racks, and the arrangement of all the batteries and various components. It was a high honor coming from those that created my EV’s pumping heart!

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curtis_software_2As mentioned earlier, the controller parameters can be edited to modify key behaviors of the EV’s performance. Here, Brian is using his laptop to change various settings, which includes boosting the acceleration from 1 second to 1/10th of a second. This reduces the amount of time reserved to build up the electromagnetic fields in the motor coils when current starts to flow. We also boosted the regenerative braking from 15% to 35%, and then re-calibrated my throttle, which was defaulted to 65% for some reason. A test drive showed dramatic improvement in responsiveness off the line, much more power during acceleration, more oomph at higher speeds, greater stiffness during motor braking, and more current sent back to the pack during regen. My EV began to really express its Porsche attitude, and I was thrilled. Once we were happy with the settings and performance of the 914 EV, I pulled back into the shop and plugged in again to finish charging.

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hpevs_911_evThis gave me some time to ogle the 1983 Porsche 911 conversion that HPEVS completed and had been driving for a few years. I noticed that their scheme of mounting the controller on a pedestal over the AC motor was exactly the same design solution I had employed, with battery racks on either side, and the remaining pack up front, where the gas tank formerly resided. More pictures of the 911 build are viewable on their website, as well as their Corvette, Scion and Jetta conversions.

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hpevs_jetta_evSpeaking of the Jetta, Brian offered to let me take it out, and it proved to be a sweet ride. It was very comfortable, quiet, handled well, and had decent acceleration despite the battery pack nearing the end of its life. They had programmed the controller to idle the electric motor at rest, so the belt-driven power steering pump and air conditioning condenser would remain functional when the car was stopped.

When all was said and done, it was a great hang. I got a crash course in the advanced features of the new software, drove the electric Jetta, fielded kudos on my own conversion, and talked shop with the whole HPEVS crew. What’s more, the 914 EV had docked with the mothership, had its brain upgraded, and left feeling like a completely rebooted vehicle. I also made it home with range to spare!

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