Leaf SOC-Meter Build Party

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Nissan did a great job with the Leaf, but I do have one gripe: the lack of a state-of-charge meter with enough precision that you can understand how much energy you use and how driving conditions affect efficiency. Having a good SOC meter allows drivers to comfortably use more of the car's range.

Fortunately, there's a strong Leaf community with a lot of smart owners. Generous owners have spent probably thousands of hours decoding the messages available through the Leaf's on board diagnostics (ODB) port, creating software to interpret those messages, and designing hardware to view and log this information conveniently.

About a month ago, I realized my efforts to build a gizmo and contribute to the community effort were stalled while I worked on other projects, so I suggested we buy one of GaryGid's SOC-Meter kits. As long as we were doing it, I thought it would be fun to invite other owners in the area to do a group order.

Cathy liked the idea and organized the purchase and a build party. We got enough interest to order 10 kits, which arrived in time for Cathy to build our meter in advance so she understood the assembly and could help everyone with the build. In addition, she updated the build manual and added photos.

We arranged to meet at a local Maker space, StudentRND, in Bellevue. It's a great shop, with lots of room to work and cool tools like a laser cutter. If you're in the area, we recommend checking them out.

We met on Saturday. Despite the inclement weather (we had to shovel two inches of mostly ice from our steep 500-foot drive to get our Leaf on the road), we had a good turnout. Here's a photo Cathy took early in the process:

A little later, there was more going on as people made progress on their kits. I'm in the back of the photo, working on my iPhone program for logging EV data.

The only barrier to getting the assembly done in a couple of hours is letting the silicone adhesive cure for an hour in the middle of the process. Still, we had a couple of folks finish and test their meters during the meeting. Cathy is putting the finishing touches on an update to the assembly manual with some insights she learned from the party.

The final product is pictured below, including labels that Cathy added to the kits for our build group.

We now have our meter fully installed in the car. It's awesome.

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This page contains a single entry by Tom Saxton published on January 22, 2012 9:44 PM.

Watt Fun: Driving a Nissan Leaf was the previous entry in this blog.

News Flash: Electric Cars Like to Be Plugged In is the next entry in this blog.

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