2 Curtis Failures

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2 Curtis Failures

Tom Jones-4
Two of my friends have had a Curtis 1231C fail in the last six months.

Has anyone on the list had a good result with a Curtis repair? And, if
you have, can you please supply contact information?

In both of these cases the Curtis was probably getting hot and working
too hard on hills. Has anyone used a liquid cooling plate with these
controllers? Anybody have a successful solution to that problem? The two
EV's are in the San Diego area, so it can get hot and there are lots of
hills.

Thanks,

Tom

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Re: 2 Curtis Failures

martinwinlow

On 28 May 2011, at 20:47, Tom Jones wrote:

> Two of my friends have had a Curtis 1231C fail in the last six months.
>
> Has anyone on the list had a good result with a Curtis repair? And, if
> you have, can you please supply contact information?
>
> In both of these cases the Curtis was probably getting hot and working
> too hard on hills. Has anyone used a liquid cooling plate with these
> controllers? Anybody have a successful solution to that problem? The  
> two
> EV's are in the San Diego area, so it can get hot and there are lots  
> of
> hills.
>
> Thanks,
>
> Tom
>

Hi Tom,

According to the 1231C manual, the controller is protected from  
overheating by thermal cutback ( Manual , page 40) and the 'Curtis  
whine' sounding to alert the driver (if 50% power isn't enough).  So  
it seems unlikely that simple overheating was the cause for their  
failure.

Regards, Martin Winlow
Herts, UK
http://www.evalbum.com/2092
www.winlow.co.uk



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Re: 2 Curtis Failures

Cruisin
In reply to this post by Tom Jones-4
The Curtis 1231C can be repaired here cruisin@live.com The price would depend on what is needed to fix it.
email me for mailing instructions

Al
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Re: 2 Curtis Failures

Lee Hart
In reply to this post by Tom Jones-4
On 5/28/2011 2:47 PM, Tom Jones wrote:
> Has anyone on the list had a good result with a Curtis repair? And, if
> you have, can you please supply contact information?

I have fixed a couple of them myself. It's tedious work, so paying
someone to do it is likely to be expensive. There is often a chain
reaction failure, where dozens of parts get destroyed and need to be
replaced.

> In both of these cases the Curtis was probably getting hot and working
> too hard on hills. Has anyone used a liquid cooling plate with these
> controllers? Anybody have a successful solution to that problem? The two
> EV's are in the San Diego area, so it can get hot and there are lots of
> hills.

The Curtis is a good, though not great controller. It is reasonably well
made, but heat is its Achilles heel. Many people use too small a
controller compared to their motor and batteries, so the controller
becomes the weakest link. They then fail to provide sufficient cooling,
or drive in such a way as to force the controller to be in current limit
most of the time, or they run it at its absolute maximum voltage and
current as "normal". They don't last long when you do this.

Liquid or air cooling are fine; you just have to keep the controller's
temperature down. If it's too hot to leave your hand on it, it's too hot!

The small fins on top do essentially no cooling -- they are for looks.
All the heat is being dumped into the smooth bottom plate. You either
need a huge finned heatsink and fan(s), or for liquid cooling, a "cold
plate" (aluminum slab with cooling passages in it) with a pump and
radiator somewhere.

On hills, shift to keep motor RPM high so controller current is low. A
big mistake may first-time EV drivers make is to shift as if it's an
ICE, trying to keep motor RPM low. That's wrong for an EV -- shift to
keep the motor up at 3000-4000 RPM!

Don't use the controller at its maximum voltage rating. If it's
advertised as a "96-144v" controller, don't use it with a 144v pack --
you've left yourself no safety margin. Likewise, don't crank the current
limit wide open and try to get 500 amps out of a "500 amp" controller --
it will die young if you try this. Those are just marketing limits;
absolute peaks, and not continuous operating points.
--
Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen

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Re: 2 Curtis Failures

Lee Hart
In reply to this post by martinwinlow
On 5/29/2011 6:04 AM, Martin WINLOW wrote:
> According to the 1231C manual, the controller is protected from
> overheating by thermal cutback ( Manual , page 40) and the 'Curtis
> whine' sounding to alert the driver (if 50% power isn't enough).  So
> it seems unlikely that simple overheating was the cause for their
> failure.

The Curtis 1231 does indeed cut back power when hot. However, by then it
*is* hot. This feature is intended to keep you from killing the
controller *right now*. Operating it for extended periods this hot will
significantly shorten its life, so it dies young.
--
Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen

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Re: 2 Curtis Failures

lectrk
In reply to this post by Tom Jones-4
2 years after the factory rebuild for my Curtis 1231C controller I had another failure. I am convinced that it was caused by over heating. City driving, standard air-cooled heat-sink with fan on top, behind the battery box. Does anyone manufacture a cooling plate specifically for this model? I'm considering having it rebuilt for 1000 amps and driving like as I was in the 200-300 amp range up hills. Here's the current specs: http://www.evalbum.com/3662
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Re: 2 Curtis Failures

Peter Eckhoff
A friend of a Fiero EV driver did some calculations and the 1231C Curtis
controller in city driving needs a big finned heat sink.  I do not have
the calculations handy but as a result of those calculations, this
fellow is driving a Fiero where the heat sink has 3 inch long fins with
a big fan blowing air across those fins.  He has had no problems with
controller failures since then.

He found his heat sink by going online.  There are a number of places
that sell heat sinks.  He found a site that not only sold finned heat
sinks but for a few dollars more, would cut the heat sink to size and
drilled the holes for him.

I remember Lee Hart had some insights a while back on the weaknesses
(and strengths) of the Curtis Controllers.  You might find his
discussion in the archives.  I think it was within the past year but it
might have been longer than that.

Has anyone hooked up two controllers in parallel so that it relieves the
strain on the other controller?  Is this practical?  I can envision that
if one controller goes bad, you can always disconnect the bad one and
limp home on the other.

Peter

On 8/26/2012 4:26 PM, lectrk wrote:

> 2 years after the factory rebuild for my Curtis 1231C controller I had
> another failure. I am convinced that it was caused by over heating. City
> driving, standard air-cooled heat-sink with fan on top, behind the battery
> box.
>
> Does anyone manufacture a cooling plate specifically for this model? I'm
> considering having it rebuilt for 1000 amps and driving like as I was in the
> 200-300 amp range up hills.
>
> Here's the current specs:  http://www.evalbum.com/3662
> http://www.evalbum.com/3662
>
>
>
>
> --
> View this message in context: http://electric-vehicle-discussion-list.413529.n4.nabble.com/2-Curtis-Failures-tp3558139p4657515.html
> Sent from the Electric Vehicle Discussion List mailing list archive at Nabble.com.
>
> _______________________________________________
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Re: 2 Curtis Failures

Mike Beem
The previous owner of my daily driver ( http://www.evalbum.com/4181) which
has a Curtis 1221-B, created a liquid cooling system for it which passes
through a heat exchanger under the aluminum mounting plate for the
controller. It is driven by an automotive fuel pump (12v), and has a
cooling loop that runs inside the frame around under the car. I don't care
for the continuous sound of the pump, joined in symphony with the vacuum
pump for brakes, but I haven't had any controller issues yet--which I was
concerned about when I changed from 108v lead/acid to an LiFePo4 pack that
charges to 140v, and sits around 133 in no-load times in driving. I very
seldom drop below 120v under load--only on one significant hill on my
return home, and even then, only as I get in the last 30% of my range.
Michael B
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Re: 2 Curtis Failures

Cruisin
In reply to this post by Lee Hart
Lee, your advice on the cooling of Curtis controllers is RIGHT on the money. All users of any controllers, DC and AC should take your advice. I have always used water cooling on all of my customers installations and to my knowledge, none have had a failure. Heat is probably the culprit to early failure.
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Re: 2 Curtis Failures

lectrk
In reply to this post by Mike Beem
Sounds interesting. Any chance of getting contact info for the former owner who did the cooling design for the Curtis controller?
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Re: 2 Curtis Failures

Jay Summet
In reply to this post by lectrk
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

I've been driving an S10 pickup with a Curtis 1231C at 120 volts for a
year and a half now (pickup has a total of 13K miles on it electric,
not all by me...) and haven't had any problems. It's driving a
FB1-4001A Advanced DC Motor.

It uses the aluminum cooling plate from the EVA kit (mounts to the
bottom of the Curtis) which has two fans blowing on it from the bottom.)

I don't know if they sell just the plate outside of their kit, but
here is the price list for the kit:

http://www.evamerica.com/031011120vtruck.pdf

Jay

On 08/26/2012 04:26 PM, lectrk wrote:

> 2 years after the factory rebuild for my Curtis 1231C controller I
> had another failure. I am convinced that it was caused by over
> heating. City driving, standard air-cooled heat-sink with fan on
> top, behind the battery box.
>
> Does anyone manufacture a cooling plate specifically for this
> model? I'm considering having it rebuilt for 1000 amps and driving
> like as I was in the 200-300 amp range up hills.
>
> Here's the current specs:  http://www.evalbum.com/3662 
> http://www.evalbum.com/3662
>
>
>
>
> -- View this message in context:
> http://electric-vehicle-discussion-list.413529.n4.nabble.com/2-Curtis-Failures-tp3558139p4657515.html
>
>
Sent from the Electric Vehicle Discussion List mailing list archive at
Nabble.com.

>
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Re: 2 Curtis Failures

Lee Hart
In reply to this post by lectrk
On 8/26/2012 3:26 PM, lectrk wrote:
> Curtis 1231C controller... Does anyone manufacture a cooling plate
> specifically for this model?

I don't know of one *specifically* for this model, but the make "cold
plates" in all sizes. A cold plate is basically just a slab of aluminum
with holes or slots in it for the tubing through which the coolant will
be passed.

But... the Curtis 1231 case already *has* two lengthwise channels
extruded into it. If you're up for an experiment, I think you could
drill and thread holes in each end to attach fittings, and pass coolant
through the case extrusion itself. These channels aren't in an ideal
location, but they may work well enough to provide the extra cooling you
need. :-)

> I'm considering having it rebuilt for 1000 amps and driving like
> I was in the 200-300 amp range up hills.

If you're already having overheating and reliability problems, I'd be
concerned that these "upgrades" are going to make things *worse* instead
of better. The fast-buck rebuilders just slap some bigger MOSFETs in,
and assume (wrongly) that the existing diodes and capacitors are up to
the extra strain. They aren't. :-(
--
First they ignore you; then they mock you; then they fight you; then you
win. -- Mahatma Gandhi
--
Lee A. Hart http://www.sunrise-ev.com/LeesEVs [hidden email]

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Re: 2 Curtis Failures

Rush Dougherty
Lee,

I just noticed your new tag in your signature!!!!
Fantastic! Good for you!

Rush
www.TucsonEV.com


> -----Original Message-----
> From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On
> Behalf Of Lee Hart

> Lee A. Hart http://www.sunrise-ev.com/LeesEVs [hidden email]




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Re: 2 Curtis Failures

Marc Michon
In reply to this post by Tom Jones-4
I am not that familiar with the 1231

but am familiar with the 1236 & 1238 AC controllers

Will hit thermal cut off, shut down. 195 degrees or so.

They will not operate without a heat sink or cold plate.

 I made several for electric motorsport.

Did yours hit thermal cut back fault and quit working till cooled off?

Does the 1231 have a thermal cut Off?

In the programming?

Seems it would shut off from thermal cut off many times before total Failure
.

Yours does have a heat sink on it?

A heatshink will keep controller below thermal cut off

So maybe it is operating  at 160- 180 degrees

maybe this is too high operating temperature over time

The controller burns out?

These are forklift controllers

So remember sitting on your forklift

The controller is bolted to all that large amount of iron

 huge heatsink

Curtis manual does state you need a heatsink

Have a thermometer on controller/heatsink?
I have some aluminum  plate and copper tube laying around

Cold plate will keep below 120-130 degrees

Using a 120 degree on switch for pump. Could go less

But on a 100 degree day in sun controller will be 100 degrees

I could make you a cold plate for ya

I'll email you off photo album

Marco



From: lectrk <[hidden email]>
Subject: Re: [EVDL] 2 Curtis Failures
To: [hidden email]
Message-ID: <[hidden email]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii

2 years after the factory rebuild for my Curtis 1231C controller I had
another failure. I am convinced that it was caused by over heating. City
driving, standard air-cooled heat-sink with fan on top, behind the battery
box.

Does anyone manufacture a cooling plate specifically for this model? I'm
considering having it rebuilt for 1000 amps and driving like as I was in the
200-300 amp range up hills.

Here's the current specs:  http://www.evalbum.com/3662
http://www.evalbum.com/3662





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Re: 2 Curtis Failures

Lee Hart
In reply to this post by Rush Dougherty
On 8/27/2012 12:52 AM, Rush Dougherty wrote:
> Lee, I just noticed your new tag in your signature!!!!
> Fantastic! Good for you!

Thanks, Rush. Glad you noticed. :-) I'm trying to get something going to
generate revenue for the Sunrise EV2 project.

--
First they ignore you; then they mock you; then they fight you; then you
win. -- Mahatma Gandhi
--
Lee A. Hart http://www.sunrise-ev.com/LeesEVs [hidden email]

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