Saturday, March 20, 2010

Motor Controller: Testing

So I finally finished the controller!! Time to see if I messed anything up, or if it works!

Last night a friend of mine was over, and while showing him the controller, I decided it would be a good idea to test the control board, since we were waiting for the JB Weld he lent me to settle.

So I hooked up a 12 volt battery to the control board to see if everything was working alright.
As you can see in the video, the green light was on, and the yellow was flashing; I mentioned how this is what Paul had told me in one of his emails, I WAS WRONG! Both the LED's are supposed to be constant on, not flashing. As Ben pointed out to me, this was because I didn't have the current sensor or throttle plugged in to the control board, both of which will cause the yellow LED to blink!

So here I went back out later and plugged in the current sensor and the throttle. I didn't realize this until later, but I still wasn't getting the LED's to light up correctly. The yellow LED just randomly started flashing like crazy, and I didn't know why, so I just unhooked it from the battery, and hooked it back up again, and it seemed to be fine; although the yellow LED was still not lit, even though it should have been.

I started to get really excited, so I decided it was time to move the controller inside and see if I could get it to communicate with my computer correctly via a USB-Serial Cable. This of course led to Ben saying that the best way to test it was to hook up a motor and truly see if it worked; so I eventually did and I have a video of everything working. But before we get to that, I'm going to explain some of the little problems I was having getting the controller to communicate with the RTD Explorer software Adam wrote.

One of the first problems was that no matter what COM port the serial cable was on, RTD Explorer was unable to find it; this turned out to be a simple problem. Because I hardly ever reboot my computer or shut it down every night, the USB-Serial cable must not have completely installed itself with the drivers and what have you; a quick reboot solved this problem. The next problem turned out to be simple as well. I finally got the computer to connect to the controller, but RTD Explorer was spitting out some funny numbers/characters (and nothing was being graphed). This turned out to be a problem with the serial cable; it turns out that when it was installed, the baud rate defaulted to 9600 bits, and RTD Explorer was coded for a serial connection with a baud rate of 19200 bits; a quick setting change in device manager fixed this and the computer was finally able to connect to the controller and graph everything correctly!!! NOW, I'll show you the video of everything working!!

From where I am right now, theres not really a whole lot I can do with the controller until I get it hooked up in the motorcycle. There are a few modifications I would like to make to the general design of the controller, including making the controller smaller (by cutting the aluminum base plate/cover), adding a small fan on one of the sides to circulate air, and maybe adding some LED's in the controller to make it look even cooler!!! I plan on emailing Paul to ask him what he thinks of these ideas (along with going more in detail of what I would like to do). After researching the stuff a little more, I'll play around with the possibility of these.

Until then, my motorcycle is going to need turn signals and brake lights, and rear brakes! I'm going to see if I can slowly work on these so I can get the bike done ASAP to enjoy in summer!!!!