Sunday, August 9, 2009

Heat Sink Pt. 1

Electric vehicle controllers produce a lot of heat, and their performance is greatly affected by how hot they become. The Electrocraft controller is mounted to a thick U-shaped piece of Aluminum to help distribute the heat, but it didn't have any fins or fans to help air flow pull the heat away.

From reviewing other converters build pages, it seemed most of them added additional cooling to their controllers (regardless of the manufacturer). The top of my controller is really just a thin aluminum cover to keep the internals protected from the elements. It's not used by the controller to distribute heat, so there isn't much purpose in cooling it. Ideally I would have mounted the controller upside down so I could mount the heat sink / fans on top, but hind sight is 20/20 and I can't change my copper connectors.

The long sides of the controller are part of the U-shaped aluminum plate the controller's electronics are mounted to, so it is beneficial to pull the heat from those. I picked up a couple CPU heat sinks/fans and removed their stock mounting hardware. I then fabricated metal end tabs and cut an aluminum rod to length.

After applying a thick layer of thermal paste, I mounted the heat sinks against the controller and screwed the tabs into place. Not perfect, but it seems to hold pretty well. I'll come back another day and hook the fans to the car's 12V system. I'm feeling a lot better about my controller's cooling with this relatively minor addition.

Batteries are scheduled to arrive tomorrow afternoon via FedEx!

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