Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Testing - volts LED, Power distribution and crank breather

First chance to run the engine in ages.

Three changes to test:

Success 1
LED indicator works fine - showing red when ignition is on, and then flips to green as soon as it sees the voltage climb, that should be easier to read at a glance than the volts clock.

Success 2
Power routing changes are excellent - between .5 and 1volt more showing on the volt meter - I actually see 14.5 volts when charging at ~1,000 revs. Well worth doing to make the shortest cabling runs with fewest connections possible.

On the flip side my Idle is all over the place.
So that could be any number of things - ECU is now compensating for a decent power level, car has been sitting for 4-6 weeks without being started or the crank case breather changes.

Once the weather picks up and I can test outside (rather than stinking out the house), I'll take a look at what the ECU thinks is going on.

Something to mull over.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Peter and Ian

Sad news yesterday as another of the 2014 Scotland group passed away. It seems all too fast - meeting people and then suddenly they're gone.

Yesterday we lost Peter - back row second from right. 
Ian - kneeling far right - passed away last year. 

Of that memorable road trip many of the cars and drivers have moved on to something or somewhere new.

Chatting about something with Peter at Stoneleigh in 2016. Peter gave me driving music advice for the Barcelona run - I gladly took it and played Led Zeppelin very loud -on speakers- back through France for motivation!

Happy recent memories, condolences to both families.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Crank case breather - drilled PCV

Time for a change, another one that isn't because something is particularly wrong - but just to see what the difference is.

Pulled and drilled through, rather cut the end off, the crank case breather PCV. Literally a 10 minute job with the Dremel.

The stock oil separator is still in place - but effectively more like a stand alone catch tank now with a wider unobstructed path, through the open PCV, up to the vent at the back of the cam cover. There should be a significant difference between the 6x 1-2mm holes in the end cap vs a direct open flow.

The only difference I'm expecting is perhaps a change in the volume of residue around the breather filter.

Original setup including the breather filter detailed here.

Update - smooth idle lost, so still playing with this change.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Power distribution changes - battery fusebox prep

Re-working the power distribution circuit.
There was no massive issue with the original standard setup however - reading through various sites over the years I noticed there was always at least a fusable link somewhere in the setup and on many modern cars a fusebox right on the battery. 

The stock Zero had no such built in weak point - just massive 35mm² cabling, and plenty of it from the positive battery terminal in the engine bay and behind the firewall before any fuse. When everything works, as it has for 4.5 years, its fine, but a failure in any of these cables insulation could be serious.

Power distribution layout changes

The stock Zero cabling is routed: Battery->fusebox binding post->starter->alternator.
The isolation switch is my own addition - helps ensure everything is off when the car isn't actually being driven.

The new arrangement will have physically shorter runs, not via the firewall, not taking the usual alternator->starter route which is significantly longer on a RHD Zero. It also minimises cable joins.

I'm moving my isolation switch to the negative side of the battery at the same time - again safety - less unfused cabling just waiting to find a short.


a. If the alternator fuse blows with the engine running, the alternator is likely to cook itself. I'm positing if this fuse goes I've probably got bigger issues to worry about anyway!

b. If the isolator is used with the engine running its also likely to blow the alternator. The switch is only used to disconnect the battery when I'm not driving and/or working on the car. Its an isolator not a kill switch.

Battery mounted fusebox 

The positive battery terminal to be replaced with a fusebox - found on ebay by searching for 'Renault battery terminal' - its perfect for the job, originally used on Renault Scenics so should be up to the task.
   1x CAL 1 Powerfuse for the starter, 
   1x 80A midifuse for the main fusebox
   1x 80A midifuse for the alternator

My alternator is 40A output could hit ~50, therefore fusebox should only be drawing ~50A and fuses sized at 80A to run at ~75% of their rating and well under the 16mm² cable rating.

The box required a couple of minor modifications, first picture, the midi line exit holes in the case needed a little adjustment to accept a standard 6mm cable end.

The lid also needed a little of the bottom edge removed to fit around my battery.

Offered up, I think I'm going for this orientation - two cables leaving for the starter and alternator, one the other side toward the fusebox. There's plenty of room under the bonnet at this location.

Polyswitch bypass

Moving the isolation switch to the negative lines means I need a different approach for a permanent live. My radio and immobiliser flashing LED need a trickle current even if the isolator is turned off, they draw around 10mA total.

Going back to the polyswitch approach, this time a modified blade fuse which can sit in a standard holder. This sits across the isolation switch and will let low currents pass but then open completely if, for example, the ignition is turned on or anything tries to draw more than 100mA. Once the current drops below 50ma it resets itself and everything is back to normal.

Update - jury is out on the PTC - problem is if I turn on the hazzards (which are live even with ignition off) they trigger/reset the PTC continuously due to drawing the trigger current then immediately turning off, PTC doesn't mind - but the flasher relay will.

Update 2 - engine run test, better voltage indicated on the clocks so thumbs up for the wiring change. The significantly shorter runs and fewer joints have given me a good 1/2 a volt perhaps more indicated - I'm now seeing 14.5V on the volt meter instead of the usual 13-13.5.

All set for final assembly and testing.
(Garage is still to cold to work in for any length of time)

Update - up-rated 2x midi fuses to 80A for more headroom.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Volts - dashboard LED indicator

Couple of hours spent on a project to enhance battery voltage reading.
The unit I'm installing produces various LED colour combinations to flag over and under voltage, so the same information as the existing dial based volt meter - except - its in a more 'in my face' or 'read out of the corner of my eye'  way.

I know I'm tight on electrical power when pausing in traffic with idle revs and headlights on, i.e. usually right at the end of a long road trip. I usually only remember when I start to lose smooth idle. Hopefully this LED catch my eye and I'll be ready to manage the revs a little.

Simple tap into the existing volt meter loom - just need the +ve and -ve feeds.

The 5mm LED discretely installed next to the volt meter, if you didn't know it was there you'd probably miss it.

The widget is a self contained micro-controller and RGB LED, sold by Gammatronix on Ebay at a delivered price less than I could have achieved with off the shelf parts.

Two modes to show alternator output/charging or static battery levels. I'm interested in the former so cut the yellow line - potentially a pushbutton across that line would allow both modes.

All tests fine on the bench, road tests will have to wait until I re-install the main high current power distribution circuits via a battery top fusebox.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Wiring diagrams - power, dashboard and aux panel

Starting to document the wiring with the parts I have, or am in the process of, modifying.

Detail on components used to follow.
Common lines - +ve, ground and illumination omitted for clarity.
Colours directly indicating wiring colouring.

The pictures are large - right click and download for full resolution.

Power distribution

Some adjustments from the stock loom part way through implementation - with a battery mounted fusebox eliminating all unfused cabling. 
- The isolation switch is an FIA type switch, not used for engine cutout (it would blow the alternator if the engine was running) but generally used to isolate the battery when the car is parked or when I'm working on the electrics. 
- The PTC is a Polyswitch to allow trickle current for the radio and immobiliser permanent live even when the isolation switch is open.

Dashboard loom

Mostly stock, with some additions: The secondary 'in my face' direction indicator warning light (to stop me leaving them on), a shift light triggered by the ECU and a secondary volt meter LED warning light.

Aux Panel Loom

This one very heavily modified on the panel and main loom side to include: a map switch, 12v back panel power outlet and radio/amplifier system. The switches are all back lit when side lights are on and telltale brighter illumination when switched on.

The holy grail is a clear fusebox wiring diagram, that one is going to be a little time consuming!

Update - Adding in connector diagrams and Polyswitch bypass on the power distribution.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

2018 Projects/ideas

As soon as the weather improves a bit, and sub 10ÂșC temperatures desist in my garage I can hopefully make some progress on the 2018 to do list.

Must do - before driving/short term

1. Drivers seat loose from Vienna run
Its not going anywhere, but theres a definite clunk/movement if its waggled left/right - something is amiss somewhere.

2. Complete the headlamp wiring mod
To support LED bulbs or revert to standard H4s, and if the former get the beams checked for MOT suitability.

Should do - medium term improvements

3. Battery fuse box
Add an on-battery fusebox and eliminate unfused cabling from the loom: lines to the starter, alternator and permanently live fusebox internal busbars. Remove the via-fusebox binding post routing of the main high current starter cable and move my FIA cutout to switch the battery ground line.

4. Tale-tale indicator on the volt meter
To flag under-voltage. Simple little gadget which uses a red-amber-green led to flag the state of the battery and alternator charging.

5. Replace the timing belt bottom cover
The original never went back on after replacing the timing belt. I found a cheap £6 one, so may have another go at getting the harmonic pulley off and re-installing the cover.

Could do - rainy day projects

6. Loom wiring diagram
A project to fully document my loom. No issues with it as such, its just the one part of the car with no comprehensive detailed documentation and apparently none available from the original vendor (Kitspares).

7. Stand alone direction finder
An electronic compass type instrument based on Arduino, accelerometer and GPS module. Similar in principle to an aircraft (ADF) Automatic Direction Finder but using GPS coords rather than radio signals.

....and some random stuff like a 'Seven' grille and 'GT' boot badge....

Road Trips

Plenty of grey dots/ideas on the map, however lots going on away from the car so it might be a quiet local/UK year depending how things pan out.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Lego GBS Zero - build complete

The transformation is complete and now in real life.

Stock 21307 Caterham Lego model modified to be closer to GN13 both physical features and colour scheme.

Some license with the exhaust exiting the bonnet and 4x pipes to the collector and silencer, while not strictly accurate it looks the part.

I'm leaving the brick colours stock, while I could spray the grey to be silver - as soon as I do that its not really Lego anymore.

Happy with that, I think it captures the spirit of a Zero.


Design software courtesy Bricklink.com, parts via the Bricklink community.
The downloadable design is available here: 21307 to Richards GBS Zero - Structural changes.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Mini Richards GBS Zero - more Lego

Lego is addictive!

Modified a small Seven type MOC to 'Zero it' a little while waiting for parts on the main model. There is no room at this size for wheel arches so left in the red bonnet stripe to give the model a more cohesive colour scheme.
Background is Valentia Island from the Ireland trip in 2017

The design for this model, including driver, crash helmet and ear muffs is available on BrickLink called 'Mini Richards GBS Zero'. The only downside I've found with BrickLink, a swap website for lego parts, is the postage costs tend towards £10 per vendor typically and can push overall model costs prices if you have to source from 3-4 vendors.

Really must get back to playing with the real thing...

Update - v3 has some changes to the exhaust and nose area in collaboration with D Austin on Bricklink - thank you for the ideas!

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Lego Zero - design

Christmas/New Year break. It's been too cold to be messing about with the real car in the garage so in Christmas tradition I've been playing with toys instead...

Found the Lego Caterham 620R Set #21307 on sale and my wife bought a set for me. Once built, seeing as it is lego, started to think about transforming it to something a little closer to GN13.

Lego Caterham original

Nice model in its own right - my plan is to make the modification non-destructive to let me revert to the original kit at any time.

Lego Zero conversion

  - GRP panels to Red, Stainless panels to Grey,
  - Zetec nearside exhaust,
  - Engine intake/exhaust sides reversed,
  - Windscreen frame added and wing mirrors modified,
  - Front indicators moved to the nose,
  - Front number plate blank...

  - Dashboard colour change
  - Dashboard dials re-arranged into a single row,
  - Aux panel added,
  - Gear lever, handbrake lever and tunnel area re-worked,
  - Fuel filler moved to nearside,
  - Boot mounted spare wheel,
  - Orange rear indicators,
  - Rear number plate blank.

It would be possible to re-spray, but I'm keen to keep the model stock lego as much as possible and make non-destructive changes to the original parts - Lego models are more a caricature of the real thing than a faithful reproduction.

In monetary terms its madness... :)   but fun all the same!

Update -
Parts for the main build waiting on one more delivery from Hungary, meanwhile - can't help tinkering with more options and an engine mod. Really need the weather to cheer up so I can get back out in the real car before I break the bank on plastic!