Friday, 13 March 2015

Meltdown on the Powerlab!

Here comes another failure! I was picking up on the testing rig the other day and after starting a test smelled the bad smell of burning plastic, I began checking over all the battery connections with my nose looking for the source and then the charger quit with “Banana plugs disconnected” during the test. Checked the plugs and sure enough the negative terminal on the Powerlab 8 had melted! Bugger.
Luckily I had a stack of these sort of banana sockets (albeit for old school jacks) that just so happen to be a perfect fit, and after investigating an exact replacement I discovered that they were originally of a distinctly poorer quality than the ones I had in stock, Also luckily my partner had a kids birthday party to attend with our kids so I managed to find a couple of hours to affect a repair (and a pretty nice one at that) Confident that the issue was resolved I went straight back to testing, Successfully now the melted plug has been replaced, I replaced both the –ve and +ve connectors just for ascetics reasons and made a much better mechanical connection that the poor soldered connection that were present originally.
I think the reason for the meltdown was due to the fact that my battery testing rig has a set of buss bars that are connected via banana plugs to the Powerlab 8 which means that I am not plugging and unplugging the banana jacks after each test (as you would normally if you were just testing a single cell pack) so any degradation of the banana jacks was not being noticed until it caused a problem (i.e. melted) So in order to prevent the same happening again I replaced the faulty banana jack plug with a shiny new one (stripped from a dead cell pack) and cleaned the banana jacks pin with wet and dry paper. I will just have to check the jacks more often between cell tests.
I can honestly say that if there is one thing I have learnt (the hard way) it is that the most common cause of problems with HV EV tech is bad electrical connections.

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