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Last spring, during the early stages of the pandemic, LiU Formula Student had to pause all work on their current project ER20. As such, the newly elected management for the ER21 project sat down to discuss what direction the next year’s car should take. The decision to build an electric car was quickly established and we were all excited to bring a new flare to an organisation that has built combustion cars for close to a decade.
One of the first things we had to decide upon was whether we wanted to purchase OEM electrical components such as a vehicle control unit or a battery management system. We decided to design such systems ourselves and quickly realised that we would need a reliable electronics manufacturer to make that happen. Thankfully, we have had great success partnering with Eurocircuits in the past, giving us confidence that they could deliver quality-built PCBs. This allowed us to design circuits tailored for our needs and therefore optimize performance and lower costs.
The new major systems we decided to develop ourselves for the ER21 project are the accumulator management system (AMS), the vehicle control unit (VCU), and the tractive system active light (TSAL). I will briefly go through the concepts for each system below.
The AMS monitors always control the battery pack to ensure that it works as intended. Batteries in large quantities can potentially be hazardous if not handled properly due to the large amount of energy they store. Our battery pack houses 8 kWh of energy fully charged which will allow us to finish the endurance race at a formula student competition.
The VCU is the brain of the race car. It oversees the acceleration pedal and commands torque to our motor accordingly. This is accomplished using an Arduino Due together with a self-developed CAN-BUS shield to allow communication to the motor controller.
The TSAL is an essential system to make certain no unintentional interaction with the tractive system voltage occurs. It measures the voltage across the motor controller bus and an LED illuminates bright red if the voltage surpasses 60V. If the measured voltage is below 60V the car is considered to be in safe state and only then work can be done on the car by non-electrical safety officers.
We are very grateful for our partnership with Eurocircuits that allows us to do this project. The above-mentioned systems are very important to safety and performance of our car, and could not be built without the help of Eurocircuits.