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Epever Tracer 4210AN MPPT Charge Controller MOSFET Repair

Failed FETs
Failed FETs

Here’s some damage to a 1-week old Epever Tracer 4210AN MPPT Charge Controller, where some of the power FETs have decided they’ve had enough of this world. These are Alpha & Omega AON6512 N-Channel Enhancement devices, rated at 30V 150A. From probing around, these seem to be on the battery bus for output protection – they’re just used as power switches in this application. The controller did work in this state, but charging from the solar input was accompanied by a very strong burning PCB smell.
I’m not sure what caused the failure, but as they’re all in parallel, if a single device failed, then it’s likely that the remaining parts having to then compensate for the extra load put them under enough stress to cause a failure.

Cleaned PCB
Cleaned PCB

The hot air gun was used to get the old parts off the board, which had got hot enough to fully oxidise the solder on the thermal pad, along with causing a bit of damage to the PCB itself. I scrubbed the board with a fibreglass pencil to try & get all the Magic Smoke residue off, along with any oxide on the copper. There has been some flaking of the soldermask, but luckily only between connected pads, and not around the gate pads. There was some unfortunate collateral damage to the main fuses, with minor melting of the plastic case, but they’re still electrically intact.

Reflowed Replacements
Reflowed Replacements

Replacement MOSFETs were sourced from Farnell, in this case ON Semi NVMFS5C628N parts, rated at 60V 150A. Since these parts are in a DFN package, solder paste & hot air was used to reflow them back onto the cleaned pads, and then everything checked for short circuits.
The replacement FETs have slightly higher RdsOn resistance, but this shouldn’t be an issue.

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BMW Series 5 Hybrid Battery Contactor Pack Teardown

Main Connectors
Main Connectors

Now it’s time to dig into the main contactor pack from the hybrid battery I tore down in a previous post. This unit contains the main output relays, precharge components, current measurement & protection. It’s pretty heavy, which isn’t surprising when you realise how much copper there is in this thing! Manufactured by Lear Corporation in the US, this is a seriously heavy duty piece of electrical engineering.

Cover Removed
Cover Removed

Once the cover is popped off, the first thing is a large PCB on the top, and some low current wiring. Not much to see yet.

Control PCB & Current Sensor
Control PCB & Current Sensor

The main control & current measurement PCB is on the top of the unit, in a plastic frame. This is a complex arrangement in itself. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to identify any of the main components on here, as everything is conformal coated, so the numbers are obscured!

Main Control PCB Top
Main Control PCB Top

Removing the assembly from it’s plastic frame reveals a flex-rigid assembly, which is normally folded in half. The main CPU is on the top layer, and most of the power supply & measurement electronics on the bottom. There’s some serious isolation here on the right as well.

Main Control PCB Bottom
Main Control PCB Bottom

The bottom has the connectors, and some power supply components. The main current shunt is on the left, this would be in the negative return side of the main battery bus.

Main Control PCB Reverse
Main Control PCB Reverse

Not much on the backside of the assembly, apart from a few transistors & passives.

Control PCB Removed
Control PCB Removed

Once the control PCB assembly is removed from the main frame, the high current bus bars become visible. There are 3 switching devices in here, two for the main battery bus, and a smaller one for the precharge function. There’s also a main fuse hiding in the middle.

Main Positive Contactor
Main Positive Contactor

The main battery positive contactor is tucked in on the left side, with the precharge leads across it’s contacts. This normally isolates the car from the batteries when open.

Precharge Components
Precharge Components

Precharging is dealt with by this collection of components. A smaller relay, and a large ceramic 15Ω resistor limit the current that can be drawn when the vehicle is enabled. Closing the main contactors first would potentially cause damage due to the enormous inrush currents caused by the large filter electrolytic capacitors in the traction inverters.

Main Battery Fuse
Main Battery Fuse

The main battery fuse, in the DC + line from the cell modules is a 350A rated unit, 450v DC. Being a HRC type, this is capable of breaking 6kA under fault conditions.

Panasonic AEV14012 Contactor
Panasonic AEV14012 Contactor

Here’s one of the pair of main contactors, Panasonic AEV14012 400v DC, 120A rated units. These are serious devices, having a hermetically sealed ceramic capsule around the contacts, and a Hydrogen filling! 

Main Contacts
Main Contacts

Connections are made via big copper slugs, with M4 screws in the ends. There’s a barrier between them to protect against flashover.

Ceramic Capsule
Ceramic Capsule

Pulling the top plastic cap off reveals the ceramic capsule containing the contacts. This is the Hydrogen filled space of the contactor. The reason for the hydrogen fill is arc quenching.

Arc Magnets
Arc Magnets

The contact capsule sits in a permanent magnetic field, provided by these small ceramic magnets. These assist in pulling any arc towards the ceramic walls of the contact capsule, helping to cool & extinguish it.

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BMW Series 5 Hybrid Battery Pack Teardown

Here’s something I didn’t think I’d be doing! Here’s a teardown of a BMW 5 Series G30 530E Hybrid Battery pack – a monster 351V, 9.2kWh Lithium pack, obtained for it’s cells to replace the boat’s aging lead acids.

This is something I didn’t have the safety gear to do right of the bat – opening one of these packs is a potentially lethal exercise, with 6 unfused battery modules in series, quite capable of blowing pieces off a nice conductive sack of salt water like a person. Cue the purchase of high-voltage rated gloves for protection, just while I got the pack split into something more manageable.

Needless to say, the combination of current capacity & voltage present in EV or Hybrid vehicle battery packs is nothing short of lethal, and these units should be treated with considerable respect.

Hybrid Battery Pack
Hybrid Battery Pack

Here’s the beast of a battery. Enclosed in an aluminium cast housing, it’s very heavy, and definitely not a one-man lift!

Cover Removed
Cover Removed

After removing the top cover, secured by combination Torx/10mm hex bolts, the internals of the pack are visible. There’s no sealant on the cover, just a large rubber gasket, so this came off easily. There are 6 individual modules in this pack, all wired in series with massive links. There’s also a cooling system for each battery module, supplied with refrigerant from the car’s AC system – there’s a TXV mounted on the side of the battery pack. I didn’t see any heaters present, but I don’t know if BMW have done any neat reverse-cycle magic to also heat the modules if required using the AC system on the car.

Left Side Modules
Left Side Modules

The modules are arranged 3 to a side, double-stacked at the back, then a single module at the front. The pack would normally sit under the rear seats of the vehicle, hence the unusual shape. The refrigerant lines going to the evaporators on this side of the pack can be seen in the bottom right corner.

Output Cables & Contactor Pack
Output Cables & Contactor Pack

The main contactor pack is on the left side, just behind the massive DC output connector. I’ll dig into this in another post later on.

Right Side Modules
Right Side Modules

The right side of the pack is arranged much the same as the left, the main difference here being the battery ECU is tucked in at the top here, along with the interface connector to the car, and the refrigerant lines to the TXV on the outside, which I’ve already removed. Each module has a cell balance control unit, in this case one is mounted on the top of a module, and on the side of the module in the lower right corner.

Cooling Evaporator
Cooling Evaporator

Once all the modules have been removed, the evaporator matrix is visible on the bottom, a series of very thin aluminium tubes, designed for the best contact with the aluminium frame of the battery modules.

Module Cell Layout
Module Cell Layout

Popping the plastic insulating cover off the battery module reveals the internal construction. I’ve not been able to find exact data on these cells, but I’m assuming them to be a similar chemistry to the ones used in the BMW i3 packs, so 4.15v Max, 3.68v nominal, 2.7v Minimum. The alloy frame itself is of laser welded construction, and there are 16 cells in series per module, giving about 58.8v per module. These will need to be reconfigured as 4 sets of 4 cells in series for 14.72v.
All the individual cell taps are nicely loomed down the middle of the module to each cell, and there are 3 temperature sensors per module (the red epoxy blobs).

Cell Welded Links
Cell Welded Links

The individual cell links are laser welded to the terminals of the cells, so this does make life a little more difficult when it comes to reconfiguring them. The links appear to be made from Aluminium, so soldering is going to be a bit more tricky than usual.