My official Prius Plus mods thread.

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Accessories & Modifications' started by Cheap!, Nov 29, 2006.

  1. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    I plan to convert my Prius to a Prius-Plus or Pi-Prius with the help of Calcars and Priuschat. I figure that there are Prius chatters interested in this conversion, if not in actually doing it then at least in theory. Once again I am putting my car on the line for you.

    I want this page to be a technical discussion about the conversation and not about the merits of, or the financial return of the conversion. Also I want to put detailed information about this modification here. Let me state here and now that I will most likely pay more for my daily driving with the conversion rather then without it. Let’s have those conversions elsewhere. Why do it then? Well, for me it is about getting off of foreign oil as much as possible. For others it is about global warming, and for a few it is about the cool factor of having the EV range.

    First I needed to pick what type of conversion I wanted to go with. From what I understand now there are three main ways to convert you Prius. Please correct me if I am wrong about any of this stuff as I am learning too.
    1. Prius Plus method
    2. PiPrius method
    3. Hydromotion method

    The Prius Plus method uses a second pack to feed power into the hybrid system, and to retrieve regenerative power from the hybrid system during operation. The Prius Plus method uses a set number of batteries to obtain a voltage of 240 volts and uses a specific charger to charge a battery pack at that voltage. Usually the pack is 20, 12volt batteries.

    The PiPrius method uses a second pack to feed power into the system and I am not sure if it can accept regenerative power back into the second pack. That would be a great question to answer here. However one advantage is that it uses a custom charger to both charge the pack and to convert it voltage to the needed 240volts. Another question we need an answer to, is the PiPrius feed voltage into the hybrid system 240volts. The second advantage is you can use fewer batteries as the charger/voltage converter changes the voltages fed into hybrid system. For example you could have 10, 12volt batteries with a voltage of 120volts and convert it to 240 volts. This can save you some of the battery expense but the charger is twice as much.

    The Hydromotion method removes the original Hybrid battery all together and replaces it with a Li-Ion pack. Because of this the entire battery control unit (brain) must be replaced with a new one made by Hydromotion, or I guess, you could make your own.

    Ok from all this I started looking for similar main parts of the conversion.

    1. They all have a second battery pack.
    2. They all need a charger.
    3. They all need a control system for putting the packs in parallel and taking them out. In the hydromotion case they still need a control system to operate the new pack.
    4. Prius Plus and PiPrius need CAN-View and I don’t know about the Hydromotion conversion.

    Since I am not shelling out $12,000 for a Hydromotion 10 mile PHEV rage, nor do I want to design my own battery computer, I will not be going that route. So I figure if I go the Prius Plus or the PiPrius method, I can start with buying the parts that could be used in either system. For now lets not get into the resistor level of the parts that would be needed, let’s start with the main stuff.

    CAN-View “V4â€

    Both methods need a CAN-View so I started there. I have a 2006 Prius so my MFD can’t be used for the CAN-View at this time. For that reason, you need to buy a second touch screen for your car.

    Pros. I can use my MFD for what it was intended such as my navigation system and audio controls while the CAN-View is operating on the other screen.

    Cons. The second screen costs $351.00 and it takes up more space in your car then just the MFD alone.

    You can’t just get any touch screen as each have a different set of USB communications, so you have to choose between the two types of screens the CAN-View has written USB interface drivers for. CAN-View is run as a one-man hobby business and he was nice enough to seek out the cheapest screen on the market and created a driver for it. Then when they became in short supply, he found the next cheapest screen and created yet another driver for it. He is a very nice guy, and very helpful.

    Now I was going to get a CAN-View one day anyway so for me that is not part of the expense to convert my car, however it would be for someone else so I have to keep that cost in this equation.

    CAN-View for a 2006 A.K.A. “V4â€

    Base Cost $299.00
    Relays for controlling the second pack $50.00
    Serial port for capture of data (Not needed but the information will be beneficial to Calcars so I sprung for it.) $40.00
    Shipping could be up to thirty bucks, but for Houston it was $14.00
    Touch screen $351.00
    Shipping for touch screen I’m guessing $20.00 (I’ll buy the screen next paycheck and update that later.)

    CAN-View total $774.00.

    If I go for the cheap lead acid batteries I’m already about a fourth of the way there on the total cost of this conversion, and I wanted CAN-View anyway.
     
  2. elecblue

    elecblue New Member

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    Are you in Houston?

    Up north we just completed the most recent PiPrius conversion. V3 CAN-View, but I have an '05. Things are working well. I'll install the battery voltage regulators in the next week or so.
     
  3. sub3marathonman

    sub3marathonman Active Member

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    When I look at the PiPlus conversion that elecblue did, it seems that the charger/inverter used, at about $2000 or so, takes up such a huge portion of the conversion cost. On top of that, you've got to add the battery monitors too for keeping each battery at the proper level relative to all the other batteries. I'm not sure how much more that will add, but it is probably significant.

    What I wonder, without being an electrical engineer/genius, is why you need such a spectacular charger that can do virtually anything for any type of battery chemistry being used for just charging a lead-acid battery. It seems like having a Z06 and driving it the three blocks to work in bumper to bumper traffic. Yes, it works, but there is so much more it could do.

    For the price of the charger/inverter and monitoring system, couldn't you use 18 batteries for 216 volts at the low end and about 240 volts at the high end when the batteries are charged, and eliminate the need for the inverter? Then too, couldn't it be possible to isolate each battery with a disconnect relay or something so that when you recharge the batteries each battery could have its own charger. Yes, 18 chargers, but still much cheaper than the current method.

    Of course, the only problem is I don't know if this is possible. I guess I'll have to first start counting how many electrical outlets are in the garage.
     
  4. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(elecblue @ Dec 1 2006, 01:09 AM) [snapback]356120[/snapback]</div>
    Yes, I am in Houston. Did you "Complete" the PiPrius conversion, or do you still need to install the voltage regulators? I should receive my V4 early next week, but I still have to order my screen for it. I would love to chat with you regarding the PiPrius as I may have to go that route if I am able to get the battery pack I want.

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(sub3marathonman @ Dec 1 2006, 08:59 AM) [snapback]356171[/snapback]</div>
    Simple answer is, Yes! You figured out what most, including myself, couldn’t on their own. That is what a Prius Plus is. Twenty batteries for 240 volts charged at night with a cheaper "Delta Q" charger and no DC to DC voltage converter. The “Delta Q†charger charges the whole pack at the same time, so you only need one charger and only one outlet in the garage.

    Look here is the deal I decided long ago to get a CAN-View, so for me that is just a given. Once I have it, what is the cost of the conversion for me? Well, about $700.00 less then someone, with a 2006, who did not have a CAN-View already.

    That being said you now have to get a pack with a voltage of 240 volts, or you have to get better more expensive batteries put in series. Since the better more expensive batteries cost so much you may only want ten of them, so you have to get yourself a DC to DC converter.

    So now that we have come full circle you have to decide for yourself on a cheaper conversion now using 20 batteries, or a more expensive charger that is also a DC to DC converter so you can use fewer batteries, to off set its cost.

    On top of all that how much do they weigh? What are their dimensions? Will they fit? Will they be too heavy for the springs? Do they get hot during charge or discharge? Can they be charged cold or do you have to provide heating for them to take a good charge?

    Thank you both , this is exactly why I wanted to post on Priuschat. There is a lot of factor that need to be ironed out for my conversion and I am still learning. This helps.
     
  5. dmckinstry

    dmckinstry New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Cheap! @ Nov 29 2006, 09:12 AM) [snapback]355253[/snapback]</div>
    I'm quite interested in what you're doing, but won't be making an attempt at actually converting for several years. Maybe when Li-ion (or even nano batteries) becomes readily available.

    I was thinking of getting a ScanTool(or whatever it's called) or CAN-View, but thought maybe the ScanTool, as it's much less pricey. Is CAN-View really the only option for this, or could a ScanTool(or some equivalent device) be adapted.

    If only CAN-View, I'll have to rethink my purchase plans.

    Dave M.
     
  6. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    To be honest, I don't know right now. The V4 can come with relays on the board for an extra 40 bucks. They are controlled by parameters as requested by Calcars.org. I asked Ron of Calcars it I need the relays and he said yes. Truth be told when I get this all figured out I will post what it is doing and if it is really needed. I see you have a 2005 so you can use the V3 that way you won’t have to buy a second screen, but you will have to buy a separate board with the relays on it.

    We will figure this all out soon as a group.
     
  7. sub3marathonman

    sub3marathonman Active Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Cheap! @ Dec 1 2006, 12:50 PM) [snapback]356193[/snapback]</div>
    I'm glad if I could possibly help, even in the smallest amount. The truth is that both you (Cheap!) and elecblue are the ones doing the real helping. I have seen the photos of elecblue's conversion at http://www.eaa-phev.org/wiki/GrayPerl and it is very impressive what the people are achieving.

    As far as the "DeltaQ charger," won't you still need all the battery monitoring equipment becuase the charger is charging the entire battery pack? The "DeltaQ" may be more of a sedan than a Z06 in the charger world, but I'm thinking of VW Bug, simple, effective, and reasonably priced. It still seems easier and cheaper with 20 individual chargers and eliminating the monitoring equipment.

    The batteries are of course very important, and I've been researching batteries for another project. Battery lifetime is hugely dependent on depth of discharge. You might get only 200 cycles at 80%, but maybe 500 cycles at 50% and maybe 1000 cycles at 30%. And of course, there are true deep cycle batteries and the starting battery, which will die quickly when used improperly. The extra price for a quality battery is more than made up over the battery lifetime.

    The problem in the Prius is of course getting the quality true deep cycle battery yet not breaking the rear axle. With elecblue's method they were able to use high quality batteries because they were able to use only 15 batteries, but then they had to use the expensive inverter/charger. I haven't figured out the price ramifications for that method over the CalCars method. Finding a true deep cycle battery in the Ah range that could fit 20 in a Prius may be unobtainable. Then you would have to go to the next best solution, a battery such as Powersonic which is used in UPS systems and such. I don't know how much experimentation has been done for battery lifetime compared to depth of discharge on these other batteries.

    I'm also not 100% sure why the Can-View is needed though. Are people switching things through this system as they're driving, or is it just to monitor things so the batteries don't get wrecked?
     
  8. elecblue

    elecblue New Member

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    I need to check my posts more often!

    I wasn't even aware that Rich had dubbed the car "Gray Perl", although we did discuss it a few weeks ago during the conversion. Anyway, following the link that you have provided (thanks!), at the end of Day 4 there is a picture of some of those who helped out. Yours truly is on the far left. Rich is holding the sign, a little advertising! Besides that, I didn't even know that I showed up on the EAA-PHEV list.

    You're absolutely right about the cost - the expensive charger/converter option is very pricey. But, we're doing it for the good of mankind - actually, to prove to the manufacturers (Toyota) that it is both technically feasible and there is demand for this product. Something Toyota probably suspected within 2 days after releasing their 1st Gen Hybrids.

    Anyway the PbA batteries sag during acceleration, too low for the Toyota computer to handle. Therefore, the charger/converter keeps the batt voltage to the NiMH pack to a nice 240V. Works well, although I can't figure out the A+ max yet.

    Anyway, email me privately for more details. Would I love to be in Houston right about now! (it's 20 F here).

    [email protected]

    ps - I'm not sure if Rich spelled "Perl" that way on purpose, but I'll have to take a good picture of the car for my profile, and I might just change the name to "Gray Pearl".
     
  9. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    sub3marathonman,
    You know you might have found a cheaper way to do this conversion and we can elaborate on that. For someone like me or you that might work with automatic switches that can isolate the batteries for charge and a special 40 pin plug that plug all 20 chargers in at the same time. However, I can't picture most people getting home and connecting 20 chargers. It is something to consider though.

    elecblue,
    It is the low 40s, or upper 30s here in Houston tonight.
     
  10. dmckinstry

    dmckinstry New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Cheap! @ Dec 1 2006, 03:47 PM) [snapback]356476[/snapback]</div>
    I guess the relay board for the V3 is $75 bucks, so that brings the CAN-View total to about $465 for a '04-'05. I'm guessing that when I get the money, I'll order the V3 with the board so I don't have to later pull the unit to install the board.

    Anyway, thanks.

    Dave M.
     
  11. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    Moving On!

    I just received my CAN-View "V-4" today and it is so small as compared to the V3 I saw before. I would guess 1"hight by 4"wide by 5"long. I could plug it in right now, but I need for the screen to come it first. I am opting for the more expensive screen as it has an auto on feature and that should come in handy.

    So the screen is the next step and I hope to get that here in about a week. I would like the thank Norm as he worked with me as I wavered back and forth on whether or not to get the USB programming port added. I ended up with it after all. I may decide to change the mounting location to under the dash as I think the wiring may be easer that way, but I can worry about that next week.
     
  12. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    Picture Time!
    V4
    [attachmentid=5844]
    Inputs/outputs
    [attachmentid=5845]
    [attachmentid=5846]
    This is the screen I need to order. (Lilliput629GL-70NP)
    [attachmentid=5847]
     

    Attached Files:

  13. elecblue

    elecblue New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Cheap! @ Dec 4 2006, 09:15 PM) [snapback]357703[/snapback]</div>
    Jim - good job on the V4! Did you get the PHEV features?
     
  14. mrbigh

    mrbigh Prius Absolutum Dominium

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Cheap! @ Dec 6 2006, 11:14 AM) [snapback]358438[/snapback]</div>


    One thing to have in consideration and being that you are NEW to the CANview experience; the screen needs to be touch and some times very often, so plan it for a very handy location and at almost point of sight, if it is to low it is not convenient, and this screen is a focus of distraction from the road while driving. My 2 cents.... don't do anything permanent, experiment first until you fill comfortable with the final destination. ;)
     
  15. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    Thanks the Lilliput is a touch screen and I do most of my mods so they can be removed without a trace. I've been thinking right in front or to the left of the steering wheel, but as I am right handed I may move it later.
    Thanks.
     
  16. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(elecblue @ Dec 5 2006, 11:06 PM) [snapback]358319[/snapback]</div>
    Yes. You can see them on the board. They are the six black boxes closest to the relay connector.

    Once my CAN-View V4 is installed, I only have two other sections for this project, the Battery, and the control system. The control system I need, will change depending on the batteries I get. However, I want to document the installation of the V4 first. Due to the separate screen needed for the 2006 and higher models, I am rethinking the placement of the CAN-View box. I am leaning toward an in or under dash mount for my project as there is no need to tap into the NAV system any longer. By doing this, the monitor cables will not need to be lengthened, and the cables overall can be shorter thereby saving money, and time.
     
  17. John in LB

    John in LB Life is good

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    Just out of curiosity. Wouldn't it be easier to just put a second Prius battery pack in the back and wire it up directly in parallel with the first? There would be no voltage or amperage issues since the 2 battery packs would have the same characteristics.

    With the 2 packs in parallel, you would double the amount of energy storage... which, when coupled with the EV mode, would give you more range (but not any more power). The energy management system and displays that are currently in the car should work exactly the same.

    The second battery pack could be acquired from a destroyed Prius.
     
  18. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    John in LB,
    That is a great idea, however there are some issues with that. First, without a plug the power still comes from your gas tank. The batteries would be charged by the engine to 80% and then used, down to 60%. That would give you an EV only range that would max out at about 3.5 or 4 miles with that second pack. Next there are heating and cooling issues with this type of pack upon charge and discharge so you will need to account for greater cooling. Finally, you would be carrying more weight so you efficiency would go down slightly.

    This has been done and I don't have the link right now but it is being tested.

    What I am trying to do is to get everyone to switch to pure EV cars. Being a reasonable man, I know that is not going to happen in our culture, so I am working on the next best thing. Cars that can, for most people, run all week on pure EV to get them to and from work and also to do some errands. Then whenever needed the same car can be used for longer trips without stopping to recharge as the U.S. does not have a "quick" recharging station infrastructure yet. These conversions turn most hybrids, not just the Prius into PHEVs. For some, like myself, I will be working on obtaining a new house where I can put photovoltaics and small wind turbines on the roof for charging my car. For others they can just plug in where ever they park.

    We have been told that nobody wants those stupid hybrids! As we have seen, those auto manufactures that have produce quality hybrids have had their profits skyrocket. Obviously, we are willing to do things that are better for the environment if “reasonable†alternatives are presented to us. While I feel that a $36,000 PHEV conversion is not only “unreasonable†but “insane,†we have to start some where. I am working on converting my Prius PHEV to use in shows and demonstrations whenever possible. However, I will still need to use it as transportation to and from work witch will allow for a lot of data to be collected.

    I can only afford to do a PHEV10 conversion but my commute is about 30 miles each day. At this time I have not picked my battery pack yet, but if I do have to go with a lead acid pack, I hope to keep the price as low as $2,500 with a little ingenuity and recycled parts.

    Your question, one I had myself, shows you might be on your way down the path to a PHEV one day. Prices on Li-ion should drop as production and demand increases. Until then we have reasonably priced lead acid batteries.
     
  19. dmckinstry

    dmckinstry New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Cheap! @ Dec 6 2006, 11:11 AM) [snapback]358547[/snapback]</div>
    Even getting 10 miles off a charge would be a vast improvement for my in-town driving. As it is, I never (except when going into Spokane or off to Olympia) travel more than 2 miles without turning off the car. Using EV mode lets me drive home from work (about 1.2 miles) without starting the car. To work is more up hill and it's cold going out so, the ICE has to go on. Everytime I drive (not using EV) the mileage drops by 0.5 - 1 mpg.
    Right now it's about 40 mpg. The daytime temperatures are in the 20s (F) right now.
    Dave M.
     
  20. John in LB

    John in LB Life is good

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    thank you for your reply.

    In terms of charging your battery. you may think I am crazy... but your house has 240 VAC. If you rectify this to DC - you would then be able to charge the batteries with it.... the only thing is you will need a choke to limit the amps going into the batteries.

    Rectifying the AC into DC is very easy - it just requires 4 diodes and a basic electronics book.

    If you really want to push the technology, you might consider coating the roof with a solar panel. that can be configured to also pump out 240 VDC - which can then be directly applied to the battery. It would work all the time, even while you are driving, to maximize your range.

    Best of luck to you.
     
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