OK Dumb Question Time: About Golf Cart Controllers
I got my hands on an old Kango 1.2 electric go-kart, and I am trying not to spend too much money in the process of testing it. So, I have one 12v deep cycle battery set to test the systems, but I see that it doesn't do anything. Now for the "dumb" question: The Kango has a golf-cart type speed controller and the whole thing is rated for 36 volts; Would it run at all on 12 volts, or must I put 36 volts to it? The motor is a Leeson PM 36 volt DC motor, 1.5 hp @ 28 amps. The Kango is said to be rated to run 28-32 mph, which sounds very optimistic to me, but I want to make this a first-timer's project to modify it to get the most performance with the least cost. Any and all advice is appreciated!
It would be helpful to have 36 volts. But usually you can run a controller below its rated voltage.
Who made the controller? If you visit http://www.evparts.com you'll find they sell Curtis controllers, some of which are 36 volts, and often Curtis controllers are used in golf carts.
If the controller has a cutoff voltage than 12v most likely is lower than this. 24v might be just within the operating range so that might work for testing if you can find another battery.
I was told by a golf cart guy that it may be a Curtis... He said the Kango was definitely using a golf cart-type control system. I'd like to approach this project like I do when I build a computer... Start with what I have and upgrade it one piece at a time. So it will probably be a second battery, then we'll see what's what.
If it's a brushed motor then you could also bypass the controller and see if the motor spins. i.e. determine the +ve and -ve connection on the motor and wire your battery straight to it (be careful when you complete the circuit that the wheels are off the ground and free to rotate without ensnaring anything and also be wary of any big sparks!).
If the motor spins then it might be the controller cut off (the cut off is to protect the batteries from being discharged too far). Of course it might be a dead controller, or a tripped breaker, or a blown fuse or a whole host of other things ;-)
So, I'd try the direct volts to the motor and see if she spins. Start from a known "good" and work backwards up the chain. Hope this helps (and I'll say it - there are NO dumb questions (as long as you don't ask usatracy for a signed bill of sale instead of an MSO ;-)))
I think it needs 36v to run. I'd guess the controller has a low voltage cutout circuit that will stop it from running on a 12v battery. You could possibly use some much smaller batteries just to see if the motor can run (wheels off the ground).
The motor spins @ 12 volts, I tested the motor with a battery charger before I would buy it... (gave $70 for it complete but no batts) Is there a way to check the speed controller with a multimeter? Also, there is an 80 ohm resistor across two poles on the last voltage regulator, I know there is a reason for this but I can't remember what it is...
OK - things will go much easier if you find out the details of the controller. Are there any markings on it? Do you want to post a picture?
I bet it is the low voltage cut off so more batteries is the way to go. If for some reason you don't think it is then try testing that the throttle input on the controller is receiving a change in voltage when you goose the throttle.
Is there a way to check the speed controller with a multimeter?
I don't think there is with just a multimeter.
If you don't have any batteries around for testing than you'll need to get some. Do you have a ups system or know anyone that does that you could borrow the batteries out of? Is there any place that takes batteries for recycling nearby that you could perhaps borrow for testing? Do you have a few cars or motorcycles/scooters around that you could pull the batteries out of?
If nothing else, you can get four 9v batteries and get test jumper leads and disconnect all the existing wiring to the controller except the input from the throttle. Get a 120v light bulb to connect to the output. It will help a lot of you can find a wiring diagram of the controller and maybe post it here so I can explain how to wire it up.
I finally got around to taking pics of the Kango and scanned the wiring diagram... I was also wondering if there are other improvements, such as new and beefier brushes, changing sprockets for different gear ratios from the original, etc., would be helpful...
And now for yet another question: Do I really have to have the solenoids for the system to operate? As I understand it, their purpose is to act as a sort of 3-speed transmission for parents who want to control the max speed of the Kango for their young'uns... So, can I just totally eliminate them and connect straight to the speed controller? :?
I'd advise you to leave everything as is if all of the components work. The two solenoids in the middle of the diagram are for reversing while the one above them is for energizing the system. The solenoids may have dirty contacts and you may need to clean them if they are not working.
I'd think reversing is pretty much essential for a go cart unless you are riding on a track. If you really want to remove them than its best to leave the energizing solenoid in for safety.
That's funny, I would have thought the single solenoid would be for reverse, I should look at the diagram again, this time read it right lol... I am now considering gutting the electrics off of this kart for use in another project, but only after I check everything out. I'm trying to get three batteries to test the controller et al, spending little or no money if possible. I don't have much disposable income, so am trying to do this 'on the cheap'.
You might try to find someone who services UPS's for computers. They usually replace the batteries every so many years and recycle the old ones. Many times the pull-out are still good, and free....
Same goes for hospitals. We change out the batteries on critical life support equipment when they are still good and just recycle them.
What is the typical voltage and amperage of such batteries as the ones from the hospitals? And would I speak to the Maintenance Department or ask who has the contract to maintain the electronic equipment? I would not have thought of that particular source of battery power...
I'm trying to get three batteries to test the controller et al, spending little or no money if possible. I don't have much disposable income, so am trying to do this 'on the cheap'.
Check with any place that sells automotive batteries. I think they all take batteries for recycling and these may work if you can borrow some.
You can borrow batteries off vehicles. They don't need to be the same size if they are just for testing.
Go to a junk yard and try and find some cars/motorcycles with the batteries in. I don't know if the batteries are the first to be taken so good luck with that. If you get a bad battery you may be able to add water and get some charge in it but you'll need an automotive charger.
Hmmm i found that a lot of power adapter for printer or various larger electronics run on 30V or so. If so you can def run that to your cart. You'll be lacking torque since most of these adapter spit out max 1A but hey at least you'll know what run and what won't. You'll have the cart off the ground so it's a low load test anyway. Good luck. The cart look cool. Although when you first mention cart i was thinking of those racing go cart with no cage and 2cycle engine. Wish i have the money or local facility where i can run those thing. I'd love to build an electric go cart.
If you do that, you can put a 120v light bulb in place of the motor. This is a good way to bench test a controller and see that it varies the output properly. But please be advised that the output from a power supply can be somewhat "dirty", and not pure DC like from a battery. This can potentially damage some controllers.
Okay, I finally took your suggestion and have obtained about a dozen motorcycle batteries from a local mc salvage yard. (Thanks to Marc for his help!) Several of them have tested close to a full charge still (!), so I will top them off and use them for the testing of the controller :-). I have also decided what I am going to do with the Kango. I was inspired by a Youtube user by the name of AprolDan, who converted his lawn tractor to electric using a 1.5 hp motor. I was impressed by the video where he played tug-of-war with his wife, the e-tractor vs. a Toro 18.5 hp lawn tractor and the Toro would not budge the e-tractor! Nice! So, my project will be to convert my 12.5 hp riding lawn mower to electric. :) I've already got someone wanting to buy the frame for the same amount I paid for the whole thing, so I will be out exactly $0! :)
Anyways, I have another question. Can I just mount the electric motor in place of the ICE, mating it to the original belt-driven system and use the clutch and transmission of the riding mower to control the vehicle's speed? Or should I continue to use the speed controller to perform that task? Any input is, of course, appreciated! BTW, I found and bought a good used Black & Decker electric push mower for $20! I'm on my way to a gas-free mowing season! :) P.S.: Can you tell I'm a happy camper?
UPDATE: I have tried to use 3 mc batts in series to make 36 volts to test the speed controller and got NOTHING... So, I pulled all the electrical parts from the go kart (which will be sold this Saturday) and I wonder if the diode or the resistor on the #1 solenoid (see wiring diagram above) was bad, and could that prevent the system from working? I never could definitively identify make and model of the speed controller, it had a sticky label on it that read "484017" and on the underside someone had handwritten "48 volts"... HMMMMMM... It doesn't look like any Curtis or Yamaha controller I have seen on the Net, so I am at a loss there too. Anyone have any wisdom?
take a pic of the contactor and controller, we should be able to help.
UPDATE: I'm attempting to convert a riding lawnmower to electric, using the Leeson motor and have given the controller 'n works to my stepfather to try out with an old golf cart my nephew brought to him. In return, he is going to build me a controller specifically for my application, and (knowing him) I know it will work. And if the old controller can be fixed, I know he's the man who will get the job done! Thanks to all for your feedback, and I will update this thread to let y'all know how the lawnmower comes out!
UPDATE: I have no idea what I could have done wrong, but my stepfather reports to me that the controller works just fine! He put it in the EZ-Go golf cart and it runs all day long! He tells me he will custom-build a controller for the golf cart, and that I can have my controller back when he's done. He also tells me that this controller can handle up to around 400 amps (!) so I can see using it for a "future project" that would include a much larger motor and whatnot... Can anyone say 'electric motorcycle'?
I just got a Kango cart, and it is fabulous. Now I have a problem. It goes too fast. When I push on the accelerator it burns rubber. This thing is a fast monster. I want to slow it down when my grandkids go to ride it. I found a wiring schematic with a section for the speed generator, but the print is too small to read.
It looks like Kango made a plug in module that could be moved around to slow this thing down or speed it up.
Does anyone have a big copy of the wiring diagram? Maybe if you have a PDF of it I could blow it up to study it.
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i wanna buy the curtis 1205M-5601 and i wanna to program the controller but the Curtis 1313 handheld programmer is to expensive
there is a way to program the controller whit a pc ?
thanks for read me